Saturday, 5 January 2013

Devil's Horsemen Pantomime - The Christmas Queen

October and November may have been pretty quiet, but December was anything but!  For the sixth year running we were going to part of the Devil's Horsemen Christmas Pantomime, this year called 'The Christmas Queen'.  So mid-December we trucked down to their base in Buckinghamshire and set about two days of rehearsals.  This was a very welcome change, as usually we arrive on Boxing day for just a few hours of rehearsal before the first show that evening, but two full days was a luxury and very much appreciated!  Following the rehearsals we did three shows over three evenings - all of which went really well.  

It's a good job we had had some practise, as not only was I dancing and vaulting with Tinker, but I also had to be an elf, Snow White (for Tink's dance, but with some dialogue afterwards), then a quick change and tack up for our vaulting act - and that was all just in the first half!  The second half I rode Dali in a carousel as a Super Hero, before doing some comedy vaulting on Moonshine (an enormous and very gorgeous black Canadian Percheron).  Then it was another quick change into the Spanish red dress for a dance with Dan and Dante, in again for the mini finale with Jigsaw and Felix the Super Elf, then standing on the whips for trick riding, and finally racing backstage to jump on Dali for the full finale - phew!

I enjoyed the shows so much, but was slightly disappointed with Casper.  Despite him doing really well at all our shows throughout the summer, there is something about the shed there that he really doesn't like.  It is quite a small space, and very intense with all the lights and loud music.  We didn't have a crowd smaller than 400, and that's a lot of eyes on you all at once!  During the two days of rehearsal I realised that despite my best efforts he just wasn't going to settle enough to be able to perform at an acceptable level.  This was a great shame, as he really does the most beautiful dances and clearly enjoys himself when he does (much as I hate to admit it, he is far better than Tinker at dancing when he puts his mind to it!).  I just have to be grateful that he works in arenas for Galloping Acrobatics' shows and dislikes the Devil's Horsemen shed, and not the other way around!  I'm sure if I had pushed him he would have been able to do something, but not at the level of which I know he is capable, so it would have been doing us (and himself) a disfavour.  As it was, I used Tinker for both the dance and vaulting, and he was absolutely superb!  He really is a one in a million horse, and I am eternally grateful to him - I would be totally lost without him!  The other advantage of Tinker doing the dancing was that he got to go into the shed and see the audience before having to go back in for the vaulting.  He very much enjoyed himself, and really got into the swing of things - whilst we were backstage waiting to go on for the dance he wouldn't stop nodding.  Are you keen for some dancing Tinker?  Yes, yes, YES!!

After the first three shows we came back home for ten days, and had a lovely break.  As well as Christmas I had my 30th birthday, so it was celebrations all round.  I even got to have Boxing day at home - the first time in six years!  It was then back down to Buckinghamshire for round two of the pantomime.  We had a show every evening for seven nights, including one on New Years Eve.  All the shows went really well and it was lovely to see so many friends - everybody seems to come to panto at some point!  We had an especially good night on New Years Eve.  We started the show slightly later, so by the time we'd finished, sorted the horses out and got changed it was nearly half past eleven - party in the shed!  The seating had been taken down from the dance floor in double quick time by the boys, so there was plenty of music and dancing, including a congo around the arena - as if we hadn't run around in the sand enough already!  Fair to say it was quite late (or very early, depending which way you look at it!) by the time we finally got to bed, and not only were there a few sore heads in the morning, but a lot of very sore legs from so much dancing!

When it was finally time to come home I was genuinely sorry to leave.  I had a really good time and it was lovely to see and spend time with everybody.  All good things must come to an end though, so it was back up to Yorkshire with us and back to reality.  Tinker is having a well earned rest, but no such luck for Casper - he hasn't earned it!  We've got lots to do to get ready for our season, and although the first show isn't until May it will be here before we know it.  We've got ten shows booked in so far, and they're all over the country, so make sure you have a look at the map and calender on the website to see when we'll be near you.  In the meantime, click here to see some photos from 'The Christmas Queen' - more to be added as and when I find them!

Lots of love,

Rosie x