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Stephen Jackson's Roller Diner opening night fright

Tue 13 June

Stephen Jackson was looking a little green in the bar after the official opening night of his show Roller Diner so we thought we’d check how he was feeling…

From Opening Night to Press Night – Roller Diner’s rollercoaster ride!

How did I feel watching the opening night of Roller Diner – my Verity Bargate Award comedy musical at Soho Theatre? I was stunned! Overwhelmed! Numbstruck!

Numbstruck because I could still talk. I could hear my voice burbling gibberish as people asked me what I thought of the show – but the rest of me was on overload. I couldn’t take it all in.

I hadn’t seen the set before, or the staging, or the lights… I hadn’t experienced the sound effects and music full on. My little show had grown up while I wasn’t looking. Roller Diner now sounds like a Hollywood musical, it looks like a West End spectacular in miniature. I was blown away.

And where had the actors gone – the actors I had last seen a week before wearing loose baggy clothing in the rehearsal room? They were nowhere to be seen. Instead on stage were the characters I’d written, dressed for work in their Roller Diner uniforms. It was an astonishing transformation! And the audience loved them.

Later in the bar, everybody was buzzing. The actors had returned to human form… and I overheard a couple of them saying that they’d never before experienced such an enthusiastic audience response on an opening night. I was hugged by a hundred people.

After I caught my train home and finally fell asleep (about 48 hours later), I knew I needed to see the show again asap. But the theatre gods are cruel – I woke up with a migraine the size of Canada complete with flashing lights, bells, whistles and shooting stars – followed by two days of fever! Where did that come from? Clearly my body had been saving up every known germ in the universe ready to unleash on me the moment the opening night was over.

Could I recover and make the press night? Everyone is nervous of press nights – but what could go wrong? The cast were feeling great, the crew were quietly confident, the audience feedback was terrific… and then at the last minute the word went round: the press night is CANCELLED! One of the actors – poor Lucy McCormick – had been cruelly stricken down with a bug! Noh!!!

Terror gripped me! I thought, please don’t die, Lucy – I might never see my show again! Relax… Lucy has bounced back – she’s a tough little stage trooper! And the Roller Diner rollercoaster is already rolling again (two curtain calls last night!) – and I’ve already calmly re-taken my seat and clenched my teeth… and other parts of my anatomy… ready for the next phase of the ride…
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What an experience! Roller Diner is on until Saturday 24 June, 7pm. Catch before it’s too late.

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