As part of our creation of The Ruff Tuff Cream Puff Estate Agency, we have worked together with Underground Lights to offer two placements for work shadowing to their members. Getting to learn about staging a new musical and being a part of a working theatre team provides a direct experience in what takes place ‘behind-the-stage’ of a large-scale touring show. One of the members shares their experiences on the second week of their Ruff Tuff placement.

For our second week, we once again we had the opportunity to spend time in the costume department with Costume Supervisor Sarah Holland and Stage Designer Ruth Sutcliffe. This time, actor Matthew Burns was there for a costume fitting. Ruth and Sarah were assisted in the costume-making by Steph Harvey, who had worked with children’s TV stars Iain Lauchlan (Belgrade panto veteran and co-creator of The Tweenies) and Justin Fletcher, who plays children’s TV character Mr Tumble.

We learned that the Ruff Tuff costumes are a combination of garments from the Belgrade Theatre’s stores and new items. Buying these has been made easier, as seventies fashions are back.

We then got stuck into painting flags with Assistant Stage Manager Ella Stewart. Fortunately for me, they were supposed to look home-made!

Cardboard Citizens’ Marketing Manager Richard Bailey explained his role to us over Zoom. Richard also manages the creation of the show’s artwork and its online presence, including on social media. He deals with communications, such as interviews with the cast and creatives. The day we spoke, the team was excited because a forthcoming episode of Radio 4’s Front Row, recorded at the Belgrade, was to feature a performance of the song “B.N.V.A.Rfrom the musical. It also featured an interview with composer Boff Whalley.

Sitting in on another musical rehearsal, I took in the authentic props such as a cream rotary telephone and a metal typewriter. The Directors had to make sure that nobody performing a particular song would just have come off stage dressed as a different character. I had to resist the urge to clap at the end of the songs!

Keep an eye out later this week for the next blog from our other placement, as we hear from the pair each week in the run-up to The Ruff Tuff Cream Puff Estate Agency.