“THE REDCOATS ARE COMING” was the small poster on the office door of the main hall where we would be performing where there was a picture of a group of Reds (a lot younger of us) striking what I would describe a typical “Redcoat Money Shot” pose.
The staff were going out of their way to give us a strong build up and it was down to us now. The main hall lounge area of the care home was going to be our performance area where an uncarpeted corner was our “stage”. Under the directions of Steve Westwood, the former Stage Manager our stage was set, with a shimmering back drop and our portable sound system. It was finally SHOW TIME!
How did we do? I think we got away with it, the Tango certainly. As for the show, the video evidence is out there for all to see It went down so well, we were paid I think was the ultimate compliment. “They are normally fast asleep at this time,” said one member of staff. But our performing schedule was not over yet.
Before we got out of the door, we were asked to come back and do another show to celebrate Burns Night, back in our Reds of course, but this time, a strong tartan flavour, where our vocals would be really tested. Having got back into performing mode during the Scarborough Reunions, I was determined to keep it going whenever the chance. I was in character for most of it, but having taking a break from broadcasting for a while last year, I had been on a voyage of personal rediscovery.
When I was a Red, I was known as a dancer, who moved into compering, a bit of character acting and doing stand-up. With this second show, this was a chance for me to stop being some-one else and go back to my performing roots. I may have started dancing when I was eight, but singing was my first love, going back to the days performing in a local concert party to being a solo singer as part of a choir in a local musical festival to being asked to do a solo stint at a festival in Largs (I chickened out of that one) to doing lead vocal parts in school shows, local theatre productions; then my voice broke – what a horrible few months that was.
When my vocal chords were back to some kind of normality, I was very keen to get back to singing but when you worked at Butlins alongside so many fantastic professional vocalists, it was next to impossible. When I started doing stand up, I was determined to introduce music into my act, but my vocals did not set the heather on fire, for one very good reason – it was rubbish.
So when we started planning for our second show, we just sat around the dinner table picking songs for our “Burns Night” concert, I found myself being taken back to my concert party days where we did all the singalong and Scottish Classics. So when Jeannie asked me taken on a verse of “Bonnie Wee Jeannie MacColl” and team up with Andy to do a verse of a “Scottish Soldier”, I immediately said yes! I felt that this was me going back to my performing roots. When we returned to perform again, there was no choreography or comic routines, we were back leading what was some community singing, belting out the old favourites. Some of us sitting on the chair, other getting in amongst our audiences.
It was a success and that night, we packed away our Reds and had our Burns Night; Haggis, Neeps, Tatties – the works! It was the perfect way to end what was a perfect weekend with special people - having a fabulous time. And on April 2nd, it is going to be bigger and better when we get together again for another special show on the renovated Dunoon Pier.
This will be part of a day of events and activities for all the family. This time our group will be bigger with a number of legendary and talent people from our Butlin past joining us. It was a special moment doing those last shows in Dunoon, this next performance is going be one for the books. I am definitely putting in some extra singing practise for this one.