It's such a long time since I went to a Nativity Play. When I read other people's blogs about shepherds whose tea towel headdresses fall over their faces at the pivotal moment when they were due
to exclaim: "I see the star!" I sigh in bitter sweet remembrance.
Likewise when I hear of the inn-keeper determined
that strangers will be allowed into the stable "over my dead body"; or the angels weeping because their haloes are digging into their heads (always the problem with a halo, I've found, it's why I don't wear mine too often...); and don't get me started on the
wise men who wander aimlessly across the stage looking like their sat nav has gone wrong...
The older grandkids are all long past the nativity
play stage and my Little Welsh Boys are just so far away that I've yet to see any of them star in the Christmas story. Maybe now I'm retired I might manage an appropriately timed visit? They wouldn't even need to "star" as such to satisfy me. A donkey
would be good. Or a sheep. Maybe next year?
However I did, instead, have the benefit of proudly watching Jack and Hazel in Les Miserables. A school
production of such quality that we were all transfixed in our seats. Jack's first appearance was as the bishop, the man who sets hero Valjean on the path to redemption. A couple of scenes later he turned up in a rowdy inn scene, quaffing from
a large bottle of something liquid with a realistic swagger. His other grandmother and I were amazed at the transformation. He went from holy to Holy Moly! in a matter of minutes.
Hazel Bagel has a starring role in pantomime (as a burger bun, regular readers will recall) so her part in Les Mis was confined to the chorus. Had it not been for her "other commitments" she might have been cast as the
person who gets trapped under a cart before being rescued by Valjean. Is this a better part than a burger bun? I can't tell, not until I see the panto on Boxing Day. However you can always count on our Hazel to stand out from a crowd,
so even in the chorus, with mussy hair and dirty face, she was hard to miss.
She also had her own "fan club" in the fourth row back - her three
friends, Connor, Zoe and Alyssia - who enthusiastically swayed to the music during all the "big numbers". If they had had a large red flag between them, I feel sure they would have waved it. They didn't quite storm the barricades, but it was a close
thing. It was obvious that Hazel had spotted them and was trying, not completely successfully, to keep a straight face. A major requirement, as you know (or could guess), for a part in Les Miserables is the ability to look, well, miserable.
Not that the audience looked at all miserable at the end as we gave the whole cast - and the orchestra - a standing ovation. Drained, perhaps - it's that
kind of a musical, isn't it? Like the Nativity Play, it's a story that bears re-telling. No donkeys, no angels, no babes in a stable and no shepherds with tea towels on their heads. But it packs the same kind of
emotional punch. Particularly for parents. And grand-parents.
And in one important respect, it was exactly like a Nativity Play. I needed