Stage Struck is one of the few semi-autobiographical segments from my novel Just Say It!
The only difference is that my MC, Lisa Grant, got her project off the ground, I didn’t. I failed to persuade pubescent English public school girls to audition for the parts of the heavily tattooed sailors.
In the end, my teenage theatrical exploits failed to make the final draft! But here is the scene, for one final curtain call.
At the age of fifteen, Lisa believed she was going to be a one-woman equivalent of Rodgers and Hammerstein II and mounted a production of her first musical.
South Sea Island Blues was a skit on one of her favourite shows, South Pacific. She auditioned feverously. Despite the initial reluctance of pubescent British public schoolgirls coming forward to audition for a part as one the eight heavily tattooed sailors in the show, she got the project off the ground.
It was always Lisa’s intention to cast herself in the leading role of Nollie Fairtree, having learned Nellie Forbush’s part in South Pacific off by heart by the age of six. After which she performed Honey Bun to any easily bamboozled audience. So she snuck that song into her own show, as a tribute to Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II.
Unfortunately, her self-indulgent casting caused some friction between herself and Connie. Unbeknown to all her friends, Connie was harbouring an ambition to make acting her career. A goal that was harshly squashed after Connie left school and auditioned for RADA.
Lisa wrote some big tunes for this one-off performance, especially the finale number. Predictably called South Sea Island Blues, Lisa and the ensemble got the audience – most of the villagers who had been coerced into going, the rest of the school, of course, and all their teachers – on their feet and singing along.
I’ve got m’look, I’ve got the sun, I’ve got m’number one tan,
I’ve got the South … sea … island bluoooooes!
But it was Lisa’s performance of Honey Bun, that stole the show, much to Connie’s pique. The highlight of her thespian career as it brought the house down, as well as the curtains. After several curtain calls, the curtains finally fell off the rail and into the audience.
Lisa was pleased with how the show had gone, especially as it raised £300 for charity.
After the initial post-production fervour, it was time to knuckle down and study for her O’Levels, and her dream of winning a Grammy for writing a musical began to fade.
South Sea Island Blues was Lisa Grant’s first and last musical theatre production. She became less stage-struck and more drawn towards becoming the next Germane Greer.