On Sunday evening the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden put its glad rags on, rolled out the red carpet (a huge one) and popped corks to inject added fizz into the 40th Olivier Awards.
I'm an award ceremony debutante (the oldest on the block, no doubt) but when my sister was nominated and invited me to join her it felt like the right moment to dip my toe in the waters of the glitzy side of our business.
We suited and booted ourselves in red carpet glam and, after an unceremonious hobble through the Sunday shoppers of Covent Garden, we smoothed out our creases, took a deep breath and strolled up the shag pile towards the flashing lights of the foyer. It was a strange and surreal experience treading a carpet laid over an entire street. Both sides of curb were fenced, and public and paparazzi alike squeezed and pushed to get the best advantage for a snap. Not of us of course. We're the equivalent of the back end of the donkey in the business - essential but unseen.
The greater part of the industry is made up of an ensemble of back-ends so to speak. For every performer that stands on stage there's a designer, a make-up-artist, a lighting designer, a sound engineer, a stage manager - I could go on - standing in the wings.
My sister Katrina was nominated for best costume design. It's so much more than meets the eye. The essential thing is that costumes look like clothes and every detail of the colour, texture, weave and weight of a fabric is considered before any pattern is committed to. It's the first step in the process of dressing a show. Towards the final stage of proceedings others become involved and designers like my sister rely on dedicated and passionate individuals to carry through their original thinking into production. The wardrobe team is essential to this.
Over my years of working in the business I've often taken sanctuary in the warmth of a theatre wardrobe department. Great chat and cups of tea always seem to be on hand as clothes are prepped on a daily basis for evening shows.
Working in wardrobe requires a very particular personality. All of the wardrobe mistresses/masters I've met have oozed patience, kindness, charm and good humour. They are the people who ensure that the right shoes go on the right feet and that costume changes run like clockwork. Without them doing their work well, the show would, quite literally, be bare.
The Olivier Awards recognise a particular aspect of creative talent. This week I'd like to applaud the work of wardrobe teams across the land and remember the wonderfully enthusiastic and skilled Paula McIntosh who gave DTP an instructive and intimate insight into her work as the wardrobe mistress on Private Lives. We salute you.