[personal profile] wanda1969
Title: "Back Stage: Enter Stage Left, Act I"
Rating: Varies between chapters- all warnings posted with each chapter.
Spoilers/Disclaimers : Torchwood, belongs to the BBC and RTD, I’m just borrowing the characters- I own nothing here, nor do I make any money! So please don't prosecute! It’s an AU story, so I’m pretty sure that it shouldn’t spoil anyone’s enjoyment of Torchwood itself.
Summary: Torchwood characters in a story set in the contemporary world of UK theatre/entertainment.
A/N: All typos etc. are mine- after reading through this several times, I’m beginning to be unable to see all the errors! I'm still having a problem posting in rich text- please bear with me re the format changes and links!
Chapter Lists-
DW: http://wanda1969.dreamwidth.org/23356.html

Chapter 6

***

The schedule for the next few days was more gruelling than the last week, with its rigging and Tech rehearsals, and had only been made bearable for the Technicians by vast quantities of Ianto’s superior coffee. The coffee machine had been moved up into the Lighting Booth and Control Room and Owen had been banned from using it, with dire threats of the consequences of ignoring the ban.

***

For a man such as Jack, so used to London’s West End and much longer preparation time for a show- sometimes weeks of informal and formal rehearsals followed by a week, maybe up to a month, of Previews- the schedule was hectic. But he had cut his teeth first on American daytime soaps, and later, in the UK, on live TV shows and provincial musicals, as well as his own fair share of Pantos. He threw himself into work, a tactic which left him a little less time to ponder his attraction to Ianto Jones.

***

The curtain fell on what had been, to all intents and purposes, a successful First Night for Aladdin. There had been moments of panic as the crew had raced against time to complete the quick scene changes, or when lighting and sound cues were a few seconds too late, but nothing that the audience had appeared to notice- their applause had caused two extra curtain calls at the end of the show.

Back stage, Adam, who had kept the cast back for ten minutes, congratulated them before reminding them all that the Grand’s large function cum rehearsal room- The Anthony Hopkins Suite- was set for the First Night party.

“So, well done, you lot,” Owen added. “And if I were you, I’d get a move on getting changed- I have it on good authority that the bar’s free for the first hour…” He certainly didn’t intend to hang around. He had even agreed to leave re-setting the Stage for Sunday’s matinée until the next day. After a quick wash and brush up, it was his aim to be among the first in that queue for a free drink.

***

Sitting in front of the large Dressing Room mirror, wiping off the greasepaint with a large, soft tissue soaked in cold cream, Jack heard a loud knock accompanied by soft feminine tones- “Jack, it’s only me, Martha.”

Martha Jones was Jack’s Agent, and he also considered her one of his best friends. They had met when she was first starting out and he’d been pretty low down on the West End circuit; dissatisfied with his own Agent, he’d quickly signed up with her. Almost, ten years, later and she was still in her early thirties, but was quickly becoming one of the most successful Agents in London’s Theatreland.

“Come on in!” he shouted.

Martha pushed open the door. “Darling, you were great. We’re on a winner!”

“Ah, the Voice of a Nightingale!” Jack watched her reflection through the mirror as she entered the Dressing room.

She walked over and kissed him on the cheek oblivious to the traces of stage make-up still there. “That was just brilliant, Jack. As you know, I’m not the biggest fan of Panto, but I loved every minute of it!”

Jack knew that wasn’t necessarily true- Martha happily filtered out anything which hadn’t got anything to do with the big, set pieces, concentrating more on the crowd pleasers. She viewed everything as he did: a job. But if that job could propel you forward to bigger and better things, maybe get a bit more publicity, well, hey, that was good enough in her eyes.

“Thank you, Martha. I’m so pleased you could make it down here!” He was truly glad that she’d managed to make the journey down from London to offer her support tonight.

“As if I’d miss the First Night. I’d be a bad Agent if I did that,” she smiled cheekily.

“Come on, Martha, be honest. You just came all this way to see me.”

“I see you’re still struggling to conquer that shyness, Jack?”

“Admit it, you missed me. It’s the jawline, y’know. Once seen never forgotten.”

“Well, there is that…” she put on an exaggeratedly thoughtful air. “And then there’s business… We’re reaching Box Office records here in Cardiff. It wouldn’t surprise me if we get the best- selling show this year.”

“I hope so, Martha,” Jack responded as he stood up, wiping the last of his make-up off and disposing of the tissue paper in the basket at the side of his dressing table.

“I was chatting to Yvonne during the interval, she’s pretty impressed- says she wants to talk ‘business’…”

“Really?” Jack raised his eyebrows excitedly.

“One of next year’s Pantos, and she’s talking about another couple of shows, too. Like everyone else it seems she thinks that Torchwood’s going to be a hit, and I have to agree with her.”

The actor looked even more excited.

“And talking about business, what say I go downstairs and do some more schmoozing, while you get a shower and I’ll see you at the party?”

“It’s a plan.” Jack pecked her on the cheek.

***

The lights in the Anthony Hopkins suite were dimmed to a subdued level. The room was packed with virtually every worker associated with the production of Aladdin; actors and actresses, all of the groups of dancers, Musos, technicians, front of house staff, back office personnel, even the cleaners for the theatre. Tables were dotted around; at one end of the large room, a dance floor had been cleared and a DJ’s equipment had been set up. At the other end, the screens which had hidden a small bar area during the cast’s rehearsals had been removed, and now a fully stocked and bar, packed with guests eager to take advantage of the first hours’ complimentary drinks. A covered table to one side was undoubtedly home to a small buffet.

It had taken Jack a rushed thirty minutes to clean off his stage make-up, shower, dress and make his way downstairs from his dressing room to the party.
His efforts to get to the bar were hampered by his fellow actors’ congratulations- each of which had to be responded to with an equally effusive compliment to stroke the other’s ego.

“Jack, darling! You were absolutely wonderful!”

Jack found himself accosted by Melvyn LaRue, a well-known Pantomime Dame and female impersonator and a stalwart of the Entertainment circuit. Dressed in dark slacks, and without his Dame’s make-up, wig and dress, it was still impossible for even an outsider to think he was playing anyone other than Widow Twankey.

“Thank you… So were you, Melvyn. The laundry routine had me in stitches!”

Melvyn grinned and took a step forward reaching out to squeeze Jack’s upper arm. Standing far too close for Jack’s comfort, he continued to gush about the show.

Five minutes later, looking over Melvyn’s shoulder, he was relieved to see Yvonne Hartman, the Managing Director of the Production Company, immaculately dressed, as ever, this time in fitted cocktail dress in the deepest of reds and talking to Martha. She always tried to make a point of at least attending each of her show’s First Night performance, although wasn’t always possible at Christmas time, with Hartman Productions putting on several shows across Britain at more or less the same time. She finished talking to the Theatrical Agent and a moment later, she caught Jack’s eye, smiled and held up two glasses of white wine as she weaved through the guests towards him. It appeared that rescue could be on its way.

Jack looked back at the ‘Dame’, who was still talking, although Jack hadn’t been listening for the last minute or so. It was quite a compliment for Yvonne to have turned up when he knew that the Glasgow and Birmingham shows were opening on the same night.

“… of course, that was before all of this Health and Safety rubbish. You could throw anything at the kids on your first entrance… sweets, toys… shoot at them with water pistols. Nowadays you could apparently have their eyes out…”

Jack was nodding at the comment when Yvonne reached them and passed him one of the glasses of wine. “Oh, I’m so sorry, Melvyn. I could only carry two glasses and I hadn’t spotted you over here. You were brilliant, dear. Best Dame in the business.”

“Why, thank you Yvonne…”

“I hope I can count on you next year?” she asked sipping at her glass.

“Of course, it would be an honour,” he preened. “ I…”

Yvonne didn’t let him finish. “Excellent, excellent. By the way, Adam was looking for you, Melvyn. Something about tightening up the quick change for the ‘Ghost gag’.” She waved towards the other side of the room.

If Melvyn was put out by her dismissive behavior, he didn’t show it. “It’s all work, work, work,” he said before cheerfully turning to walk away. “I’ll catch up with you later, Yvonne.”

“Not if I see you first,” she said under her breath when she was sure that he was out of earshot, and Jack had the feeling that Adam hadn’t been looking for Melvyn at all. “Ah, the perils of being a Producer!” she grinned, before looking more serious and reaching out to steer Jack a little away from the crowded area near to the bar. “Anyway, Jack. Your Act I finale was a tour de force.”

“Thanks, Yvonne. I’m really pleased that you enjoyed it.”

“Me and the rest of the audience, judging by that round of applause. It was almost a standing ovation. I’ve rarely seen an audience that uninterested in the interval snacks.” Jack smiled at her words as she took another draught from her glass. “I was also looking at the latest figures down at the Box Office.

Apart from a few of the shows after New Year, we’re sold out. Seems that those appearances in Doctor Who and on Saturday TV are really drawing the crowds in…”
The actor laughed and swallowed a mouthful of wine. “I gotta admit that the ‘phone’s been pretty busy recently,” he conceded.

“Well, about that… I had a quick chat with Martha earlier. I’ve got a few short tours coming up- a bit of song and dance from the musicals. Ruthie Henderson’s signed up, and if your diary’s free I’d love it if you’d come on board…”

Jack let out a low whistle. He’d known Ruthie Henderson for years, they had even worked together before she’d had a number of best-selling CDs and had become one of the best known stars of the West End. If she was in on it, he’d make room in his diary. “You can count me in if I’m free, Yvonne. I’ll check it with Martha.”

Yvonne took a few minutes to roughly outline the dates and venues for the shows, and Jack continued to try to show just how interested he was in her proposition.

They were eventually interrupted by the arrival of Martha, who had been trying to escape the attentions of an inebriated Vusi N’komo, who was playing a very acrobatic Genie of The Lamp, for what seemed like the last half hour.

“Oh my God, I thought I’d never get away!” Martha cried, exhausted. “Seems Vusi’s looking for an Agent… and someone for a bit of… ‘company’”.

“Oh, dear…”

“It’s OK, Yvonne… I told him I was getting married next month… and that I was a strict Anglican.”

Yvonne laughed. “I was just talking about you,” she continued, conspiratorially. “And I’ve been trying to talk him into those shows we were discussing earlier… Anyway, I’ll leave you two to have a chat. I’ll be in touch, yeah, Martha?”

“No problem, Yvonne. Just give me a call,” Martha responded to a retreating back. “So, then, Jack, do you want to hear the offer?”

***

Over at the DJ’s sound desk, Ianto and his fellow Technicians were helping out Rob, who had been ‘volunteered’ to provide the evening’s music and sound. In what would be considered inappropriate clothing for a twelve year old when he was a kid, a group of the Junior dancers congregated near the dance floor, rehearsing a small dance routine. Ianto’s eyes strayed from the spectacle, and he spotted Jack at the other side of the room. He was laughing and talking with a slim, dark skinned woman dressed in a fashionably tailored, but tasteful silvery-grey dress, hair piled on top of her head in a large ‘bun’. Well, he thought it was a ‘bun’; perhaps he should read more of Lisa’s fashion magazines.

She was strikingly beautiful. In fact, she reminded him of Lisa. As she laughed, though, he realised that he rarely saw Lisa that happy and carefree these days; the two of them hardly ever seemed to have time to go out by themselves. Work could be all consuming, but even when they both had the evening off, Lisa often chose to see her friends from work instead of spend a night out- or in- with him. Ianto knew that she’d never wanted to come to Cardiff, and sometimes he was sure that she resented missing out on the life she led in London. He had often wondered if they had made the right decision in coming back to his Homeland, but he loved his job at The Grand and Lisa had made friends and settled at The Arts’ Theatre. Still, there was no denying that they weren’t the contented couple he had always thought they were a few years ago; they had settled into a routine and he sometimes felt that they were more like flat mates than lovers.

He put these thoughts to the back of his mind, and instead speculated on who the woman could be. Jack hadn’t mentioned a girlfriend, but the Party was open to partners, but it was rare that anyone took up the invitation, often because, if they did have partners or spouses, those partners and spouses were either working away, too, or back at home.

The woman laughed again and Ianto felt a pang of jealousy course through him, presumably due to there being so little laughter in his own relationship at the moment, he thought. That and the woman was stunning.

***

To Be Continued…

Notes:
Muso- a musician. At panto, often part of a two piece band: Keyboards (often inc. prerecorded sound effects, or backing tracks- if the Soundie trusts them and lets them, that is!) & a Drummer/percussionist (again, including off the cuff sound effects i.e. cymbal crash or drum beat as a comedy fall/incident takes place).
‘Ghost Gag’- Panto gag which involves several of the cast looking for a ghost/monster/etc. whilst asking the audience if they have seen said ghost/monster. Correct audience response: “It’s/he’s behind you!”

Date: 2012-03-11 03:45 pm (UTC)
reddevilpoes: he cheats (Default)
From: [personal profile] reddevilpoes
great update! Already eager to read the next!

Date: 2012-03-11 05:23 pm (UTC)
badly_knitted: (Jack - Big Smile)
From: [personal profile] badly_knitted
Yay, new chapter! So Martha is Jack's agent, that's great! She'll take good care of his career!

It's sad for Ianto though, the realisation that he and Lisa are more like flat mates these days. Their relationship is crumbling, but I happen to know there's a leading man who wouldn't mind sweeping him off his feet!

Date: 2012-03-12 02:04 pm (UTC)
milady_dragon: Dragon Myfanwy (Default)
From: [personal profile] milady_dragon
Great update!

Poor Ianto, seeing his relationship crumbling, but Jack is there and he'll take care of things! *grins*

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