I Feel Light
It's surprising how much time has passed since the end of The Light Princess' run at the National Theatre because the memories of closing night are still so vivid. The entire production was colourful and awe-inspiring with blue military costumes, puppetry bringing dragons to life, a luscious lake filled with critters and an actual floating girl who sang through it all. I had long felt that the musical didn't get the closure that it deserved so the announcement of a one of concert performance which would include some of the original cast was something I jumped at the chance to go to.
The run up to the performance was a little strange, details were thin on the ground apart from a few casting announcements. I knew that there wouldn't be a production behind the performance, but there were still a lot of unknowns going into the evening. Having Rosalie in the cast was cause for excitement and I really cannot imagine anyone else in the role and it was great to have Laura Pitt-Pulford & David Langham returning as well. I was excited to see how the new additions to the cast would make the roles their own, Hadley was someone I thought was an excellent choice for Digby, the fact that he's married to Rosalie made it even more special. When I found out Trevor Dion Nicholas was joining the cast as King Darius I was over the moon, I'd seen him play the Genie in Aladdin and knew that he had a voice that would do the role justice.
I had made the decision not to attempt any stage-door/meet & greet situation that may happen, first of all it was too hot and I would have burnt to a crisp, secondly I didn't want to expose Gavin to some of my crazier "Tori fan" tendencies that I can exhibit. The right decision was made and a relaxing day was had in the run up to the show, had a great meal with friends before we went to the venue. Arrived just as Tori showed up (broken ankle and all!) and the meet & greet was in full swing, glad that people got to say hi and share their gratitude for the show but it just wasn't in the cards for me that day.
For the performance we were sat in row BB dead center and you could almost feel the vocals hit you from the stage it was perfection. Stripping the show right back you could focus on the music and the powerhouse vocals that were on display...even if some of the plot was hard to follow without the production behind it. I felt for Gavin who hadn't seen the original run as he was a bit clueless about what was happening for a lot of the show. "She's floating now....and now she's in a lake?"
What I wasn't expecting was that I'd find the whole thing so emotional, it was clear that both Rosalie and Laura were taking in every moment that they were on stage. There were little tweaks and changes to some of the dialogue through the show, in part I think to help be amore descriptive in the absence of props and staging. There were some shortened sequences and unfortunately that meant that some of the roles like the Sergeant at Arms, Llewellyn & King Ignacio were vastly reduced compared to their original incarnations.
There were four main songs that I was eager to hear live again, "Darkest Hour", "Nothing More Than This", "Queen Of The Lake" & "Coronation", none of them disappointed. "Darkest Hour" which is heartbreaking was made all the more powerful by the occasion and Rosalie really poured everything she had into it, a few tears were shed because of this. The rearrangement of "Coronation" to include an incredible almost choral section of the entire cast singing with no music behind them was the absolute highlight on the night and felt just as joyous as the very first time I'd heard it, such a fitting exclamation point at the end of the story of The Light Princess.
If this is the end of the fairy-story then all I can say is that it was a privilege to have witnessed the journey. We were there for the previews and the tweaks to get the show ready. We were there for opening night when the show fully took flight. We were there for the closing night at the National, celebrating the achievement and hoping for some more that sadly wouldn't happen. Finally we were there for this performance, a bitter sweet love-letter to Althea and the closure to the story that Tori, Sam, Rosalie & the cast deserved.
The Light Princess may be over for good, she may return....nobody knows. If this is the end then thank you to all involved, Tori, Sam, Rosalie and the crew who put together this wonderful performance, it will stay with us all for a very long time.
I feel light.