An Introverted Actress

The Not-So-Glamorous Theatre Life

Opening nights! Red carpets! Spotlights! Roses! Champagne! Theatre does have it's beautiful moments that you never forget. I have a little box in my brain filled with such little trinkets and I'm sure there will be more to come (I hope there will be more to come...!)! However, it's only the tip of the iceberg. There's so much shielded from view by the curtain that an audience doesn't see and it's probably the 80% of what makes up the entire life of an actor. This blog may be the beginning of a series because I feel like I have so many stories and little moments saved up from my time in theatre that often confuse the people I tell because it's contrary to what they initially thought! 

So let's dive in and start with touring! 



When you tour with a theatre production, you are paid a "touring allowance" which covers the cost of "digs" (the places you stay). I think the standard is £235 a week which usually just about covers it. Sometimes, it doesn't and you have to pay the rest out of your own pocket and sometimes, you find somewhere super cheap and have a little bit left over which you can either save for yourself or to put towards slightly swankier digs in other cities! It's up to the individual. Now, the reason we're paid a touring allowance is because actors are not only in charge of getting themselves to and from each venue, they're also in charge of booking their own digs. The more organised of us will have all digs sorted before the tour even begins but if you're anything like me, you'll be scouring through Air BnB and TheatreDigsBooker the week before you're headed to the next venue, trying to find the place that looks least like a crack den whilst still being within the allowance! If you've followed me for long enough, you will know that I usually stayed with Scott Paige for the duration of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Addams Family because it made it cheaper for the two of us and was also a LOT of fun. But boy did we stay in some weird arse places. My favourite was in Plymouth. From the outside it looked like DisneyWorld's Haunted Mansion. It was huge and undeniably beautiful but as we walked up a long pathway a big 'VOTE LEAVE' signed loomed in the window...and then another...and another...until we released that most of the windows bore the slogan. The woman insisted on giving us a tour of the house before we settled. The house was mahoosive but all the rooms felt cold and draughty and myself, Scott Paige and Ross Russell kept giving each other side glances, sharing the same thought: 'We're absolutely going to die in this house'. We passed one hallway and Scott suddenly yelps 'WHAT IS THAT?!' as he holds up a shaky finger to one of the most terrifying painting's I've ever seen. It was of a woman dressed all in grey, unsmiling, with eyes that could bore holes in steel and the background was a deep shade of red as if everything behind her was on fire...and it was her doing. 'That's a portrait that actually came with the house!' the woman smiled. 'This way!' As we were the first to arrive of about twelve of the cast staying in the house, we had first pick of the rooms. I picked the brightest room, with walls all painted cream and two giant sash windows. The high ceiling made everything feel spacious and it had a large double bed. Thrilled. I dumped my case and went to the loo and by the time I got back there was a Scott shaped lump under the covers. 'Ahem, what do you think you're doing?' I laughed. 'I CAN'T STAY IN THAT ROOM ON MY OWN CARRIE THIS PLACE IS HAUNTED AND A LITTLE GIRL GHOST IS GOING TO KILL ME IN MY SLEEP PLEASE DON'T MAKE ME SLEEPN ON MY OWN!' So Scott and I spent the next six nights sharing a double bed in what is undoubtedly one of Britain's most haunted houses. (One of my favourite moments from staying there was when Scott and I were lying in the dark, both of us on our phones desperately trying to get some kind of signal. Out of the silence Scott whispered "This wifi is slower...than my metabolism." I laughed for about half an hour). The second of my favourite terrible digs was in Bristol. It was the top floor flat in a shabby block that was attached to a gorgeous Georgian building. There was no lift so dragging our cases up four flights of stairs was a task in of itself. The flat as a whole was actually very homely if a bit rickety but it was the stain on the carpet of Scott's room that concerned us the most. Blood. It was definitely blood. There was no two ways about it. A long streak of it across the carpet that spattered out here and there. We all saw it, we all chose to step over it and we all ignored it. 




I have SO much to say on the topic of touring but let's save that for another time. Onto theatre make-up! 

Now, I think the Elphaba's have the hardest time with regards to getting make up off at the end of the day. Big task. However, when you play certain roles in Les Mis, you have a similar, less green but still grubby task. My chest was permanently tinged pink for three years from the fake blood I had doused on my boobs every night. My hair often got caught in it during Eponine's death and so in certain lights my hair looked dip-dyed! I also had to be covered in mud pretty much from head to toe as my legs were on show for the first act. I often couldn't get it all off before leaving the theatre so got some odd looks from strangers on the tube but strangers were the least of my worries. My greatest dilemma, was when I was sort of "dating" someone during my time at Les Mis. He wasn't in the theatre world and near the end of the show, after the point I'd usually shower in the upstairs cupboard (The shower was literally in a costume cupboard...), he text me asking if I fancied going over that night. YES PLEASE, I thought. It was only later, when we were snogging on his sofa, that I realised my error. Sometimes, I couldn't be bothered to shower during the show and would wait until I was home and could have a nice relaxing bath. That night was one of those nights. So my legs were completely covered in make-up mud! Not exactly sexy when a guy wrangles off your tights only to be confronted with the legs of a filthy street urchin. I had to confess and explain the job hazard and sheepishly ask to have a shower. Whoops.




A post shared by Carrie Hope Fletcher (@carriehopefletcher) on


Finally, sweat...

Theatre is a sweaty business. Most actors in Les Mis start the show by wearing eighty-thousand layers and as the show continues, shed layer by layer like a snake to become new characters. Going from a beggar in the beginning of At The End Of The Day into a factory worker was literally a case of running into the upstage the wing whilst throwing off my coat, shawl and gloves and then emerging back onto stage in the downstage wing! This makes for a very sweaty few hours! However, nothing, and I mean NOTHING, could have prepared me for the sweat-fest that was Heathers The Musical. Veronica Sawyer leaves the stage about five times during the show however two of those are quick changes, two are to run around the crossover and come on from different entrance/exits and only one is long enough to actually sit down whilst Martha sings Kindergarten Boyfriend. From Big Fun choreo, grinding in Dead Girl Walking and just generally running about the stage with the energy of a seventeen year old who's involved in a lot of shenanigans, all whilst wearing a thick blue blazer...I must have sweat out about eight gallons of water every night. It did wonders for my fitness but...my blue blazer was only dry cleaned once a week. It had a vodka and tea tree oil spritz every night to kill the bacteria but by the end of my run at The Other Palace that jacket was enough to make your eyes water. It STANK. So much so my singular request when we moved to Haymarket was Please, for the safety of the cast's nostrils and my own gag reflex, can I have a new blue blazer?! 

Celinde Schoenmaker also has a great sweat story about Phantom of the Opera which I'll try and get her to tell in one of our podcasts!  (Speaking of our podcast...have you listened yet?! It's just up on the right of this page in a little player! Go have a listen!)

Please don't take any of this blog as a complaint. I LOVE my job and happily take all of the grim with the glam but it's always fun and interesting, I think, to share these little stories to those who have no idea that they exist!







18 comments

  1. Please make this a series! I adore hearing all of the behind the scenes stories from working in the theatre - it's so interesting! X

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  2. I absolutely loved reading this. Scott's comment about the wifi just made me laugh so much.
    The blue blazer story not only made me smile for "the safety of the cast's nostrils and my own gag reflex", but because it reminded me of this Friend's episode where "Donald Trump wants his blue blazer black" (everything becomes a Friends reference to me, sorry!). Anyway, great blog post Carrie. X

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  3. I loved reading this! Can’t wait to read more fun/awkward/horrible stories! x

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  4. You first time reading your blog and honestly can’t stop laughing at these stories. Please make this into a series !

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  5. I loved this blog! Please continue with these anecdotes and stories, I’m laughing out loud! Much love to you Carrie ❤️ xxx

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  6. I cannot wait for your theatre book if it's going to be stuff like this and more, I live for these stories

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  7. It's crazy to think this all goes on as you work through blood sweat and tears to ensure a perfect performance is on every single night! I honestly applaud you and everyone else in the industry. <3
    https://lucyjadewrites.blogspot.com/

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  9. Funny enough I know what house you're on about in Plymouth​ as I had to walk past it everyday at the place I used to work so I understood where you are coming from with that one.

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  10. Every girl must have a sexy tights moment! Xx (hahahahahah I think we’ve all been there!) x

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  11. I love your writing, it makes me laugh, the haunted house lol. Hoping to see you in another show soon and please, keep on writing and doing show vlogs. Missing being on stage, paid or none paid. You have my dream job, being an actor. There's nothing like showbusiness :) x

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  12. Love the stories. Please keep them coming. It's a taste of how theater really is like...that we can rarely get anywhere else.

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  13. I'd really love to read more of these theatre stories. It's such an interesting profession and I love to have a little look behind the scenes with your stories. :)

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  14. This was my favorite blog so far! Loved all the stories

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  15. My not-so-glamourous story of being a crew member in theatre shows? It involves the fact that you get home anywhere between ten thirty and midnight every night, proceed to sleep until midday and don't really start your day again until 5:30 that evening. My roommates have far too often started to fall asleep at the dinner table while I idly chat away about my day as if it were only six o'clock in the evening and dinner time!

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  16. Please make this a series! I'm an actress so I always find it interesting to her fellow actors and actress talk about different aspects of their jobs!

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