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Singing in the rain at Regent's Park on WOS Outing

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Last night (2 July 2012) over 110 of our Whatsonstage.com theatregoers gambled on the elements and turned out for our Outing to Ragtime at the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park.

The venue's commercial director Andy Locke told me beforehand that despite the wettest June on record, they've only had to abandon four performances so far this season (including the press night of A Midsummer Night's Dream, as Michael Coveney blogged about at the time).

It therefore seemed reasonable to hope that, as we assessed the admittedly ominious grey skies overhead, we might just get lucky.

An hour later, huddled under a poncho and squinting at the stage through my rain-spattered spectacles, I was forced to concede our luck had run out. What we'd seen of the show had gone down a storm (pun intended), but the stirring Act 1 duet of Rolan Bell and Claudia Kariuki ("Wheels of a Dream") proved to be our denouement.

A manful team of moppers took to the stage amid much heckling ("give us a song", "missed a bit" etc.), but their task proved akin to Sisyphus as they attempted to dry the concrete playing space in an ever-strengthening downpour.

The mopmen and the cast were applauded with equal gusto, and we all decamped to the studio to warm up and mingle, lubricated by generous amounts of beer and wine. It was nearly 11pm when I finally left for home.

The meet and greets are a great way to rub shoulders with the stars and the stars-in-waiting (Terri tells me that back in 2002 when they did a post show meet-and-greet at the Open Air following a performance of Oh! What a Lovely War there was a certain Benedict Cumberbatch among the ensemble).

They also give the actors a chance to get some direct feedback from the paying public - more than once I overheard our theatregoers promise to make use of the ticket exchange envelopes and return to see how it ends. "We've got one-and-a-half shows for the price of one," said a gentleman cheerfully.

A huge thank you to all those who stuck with us - cast, crew and audience - and put a bright silver lining on some very dark clouds.

- Theo Bosanquet, editor


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