Cast As A Leper: My Experience Of The 24 Hour Show

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I’m jovially stirring a steaming pan of what can only be described as green lentil mush, noting how brilliantly domesticated I’m being, while humming tunes from the (very few) musicals I know. “What can it be?!” I think to myself as I pack 3 tupperwares, 4 smoothies and a packet of raisin and hazelnut Frusli bars into a canvas bag.

The 24 hour show, put on annually by SUSU Showstoppers, is an end-of-year excuse for students to stay awake for around 24 hours in order to produce and perform a musical, all in the name of charity. And the catch? (as if there wasn’t one already) We only find out what the musical is the day before we perform it…

So off I go: canvas bag, fluffy pink throw and owl cushion in tow, with a foreseeably naive grin slapped across my face. How I got into the cast I’ll never know. We all sit in The Annex anxious yet excitable, as a power point is loaded onto the screen. We’re under strict instruction not to have any caffeinated drinks for the entire 24-hour period so as to avoid any re-enactments of the infamous scene from the Inbetweeners, and we’re encouraged to eat as often as possible (hence the mush). A Big Brother-like camera is set up in a back room so we can record our emotional ‘journey’ of highs and lows, tos and fros, joys and woes… or, just to record myself stuffing as many grapes into my mouth as possible. Whatever. “And the 24 hour musical is… JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR!” The room explodes with cries of “I KNEW IT!” and “oh damn, I really thought it would be Grease this year…”.

One by one the cast is announced and I discover that I’ve been cast as a leper. A LEPER.When I finally stop worrying about this horrifying fact, (“but seriously, do I have leper features? Is it my hair? Do I have LEPER hair?!”) we all break off into our various groups to begin learning the music. A muddle of songs is rushed through in record time, including the unforgivingly relentless ‘The Temple’. We’re singing, acting, laughing, dancing, gesticulating, harmonising, yawning, napping, waking and crying until 5am. When, finally, we’re told that we’re allowed an hour’s break. One hour to revitalise our souls and rejuvenate our minds. One holy hour! I bolted back to Glen Eyre quicker than you could say Jesus of Nazareth.

It’s 7am. My hair’s a mess. My mush has congealed. And my throat feels like it’s been scraped along the floor of Jesters. “At least you’ll look the part when playing a leper!” my mum titters encouragingly down the phone. But it’s show day, and in true theatrical spirit, the show must go on. After 33 hours of sleep-deprivation, I am finally coming round to the idea that I may never see my bed again. The dress run goes abominably. I run across the stage in a true first century market seller fashion, shouting “buy Jesus a flower,  s’only a PAAAND” , and fall off the edge after skidding on Jesus’ blood. It’s been tiring, demanding and draining, but, although we hate to admit it, we’ve had the best worst night’s sleep we’ve ever had. There was nothing more we could do. It was time.

An excitable audience saw Jesus reading his lines from his faithful Bible, the disciples eating Cheesy Balls at The Last Supper, and King Herod spontaneously asking an audience member if they’d like to “touch his royal knob”. I’d say it went pretty well…

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