The clanging of a school bell. A gaggle of chattering school-children file along the central aisle and onto the stage. Behind them Our Hazel, in smart black trousers and white frilly blouse, hair tied back in a bun which
would have looked strict and prim were it not for her sweet, beaming face.
She looks like every child's favourite teacher - pretty, smart, smiley, caring. She reminds me of Miss McNeil, the Eldest of the Darling
Daughters' Australian teacher who brought a guitar into class on her first day and proceeded to sing "Getting To Know You" to her enraptured pupils. It wasn't only the pupils who fell for the charms of Miss McNeil. There was, I seem to remember, a sudden and
unprecedented rush by fathers to take their turn attending Parents' Evening.
The orchestra strikes up and Hazel begins to tell the story of "Joseph", he of the Technicolor Dreamcoat. Oh, and look! Here he
comes, Our Jack, resplendent in white and gold, singing "Any Dream Will Do". On his way to the stage he stops to kneel beside a little lass with an excited face and hair tied in high bunches. She listens to him sing, awe-struck. Next he stops to put an arm
round Mr B and sings to him. Mr B sings along. I weep. It won't be the last time this evening.
As regular readers know, I can never bear to miss out on anything, especially something Family Related, so when
I realised that most of the family were watching the Saturday afternoon performance while we had tickets for the evening, Mr B and I spontaneously decided we needed to join the fun. Why watch a show starring your very own grandchildren just once, when you
could watch it twice in one day?
A useful fire alarm halfway through the afternoon performance gave me much needed time to chat to family and friends, not to mention to give the Eldest of the Darling Daughters
her birthday presents. In between shows twelve of us repaired to a nearby Pizza Express: the Middle of the Darling Daughters enjoying a rare afternoon's freedom from her lively trio; my sister Maggie and her fella making time to take in the show on their way
home from a holiday in the Lake District; plus Anne, Susan and David, lovely cousins of the Son In Law (known to some of you as Uncle Dunk'em Dave due to certain exploits on Family Beach Days.)
We are back
in our seats for the last performance of the three day run. What a fast moving, funny, poignant and colourful production this is. Hazel still looks a little pale from her day's sickness but throws herself into her role with her customary exuberance. As Narrator
her job is not simply to tell the story but to be part of the action. She is by turns funny and tender - and always watchable.
Jack, as Joseph, is similarly mesmerising. Here is Joseph swaggering about in
his amazing coloured coat, bringing down on his head the wrath of his jealous brothers. Here he is thrown into jail, singing Close Every Door To Me with pathos and passion. Cry? What, me? Well, yes.... Here he is in Egypt, imperiously challenging his grovelling
brothers. And finally here he is driving
in his chariot of gold to meet his father Jacob. OK so I knew that the chariot was actually a mobility scooter borrowed from the local Shopmobility. The one condition on its
loan had been that Jack had to drive it all the way from the Shopmobility centre to the college where the production was being staged. Collections were taken at the end of performances for Shopmobility as a thank you. I hope we proved a generous lot.
Much, much later we take to our beds. I know I am not going to be able to sleep and I suspect the Youngest of the Darling Daughters is having the same trouble in the next bedroom. We could have kept each other company
but then we would never have managed a moment's shut-eye.
In my over-active mind, a swirl of images to accompany the tunes playing over and over again inside my head. For a while I give in and enjoy
reliving the magic created by so many of my young theatrical friends. Ollie as Zebulun, pretending to be devastated by Joseph's "death" and reassuring his bereft papa that there is yet one more angel in Heaven; Connor as Reuben, leading the brothers in Those
Canaan Days; James, playing Judah, bringing the house down with his Calypso number. The fella sitting in the row behind had never seen Joseph (how did he live so long without seeing it? Had he been a member of our family he would have known every word) and
kept marvelling: "Where did that come from?" each time the music switched to a new beat.
Most of all, I see in my mind's eye my Jack and Hazel (she is all dressed up for the finale in a dress of glittering
gold) standing together, centre stage, brother and sister enjoying yet another standing ovation. It was a truly magical moment. Pure gold.
At which point, I decide I need a good talking-to. "Just stop thinking
and GO TO SLEEP!" I command myself in an imperious tone almost worthy of Joseph in the final scenes of the show.
Any Dream Will Do.