Words by Eva Devore, Photography by Mia Maraschino and Etienne Reynaud

Welcome back to Cherry Poppers, our handy how-to guide for new performers who are taking the leap to their first solo performance! In parts One and Two, we looked at applying for shows, and how to prepare in the lead up to the show. In our final instalment of Cherry Poppers, we’re going to share all of our secrets for the big day, from packing lists to pre-show nerves!

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It’s show day! Make sure to check your call times the night before the show, so that you can wake up with plenty of time to prepare! This is also super important to prepare in case you have any other commitments on the day of the show. Check transport and parking options for the venue, and plan your trip to ensure you arrive on time.

It’s best not to schedule any practice time for the day of your show, as over-doing it can stress you out more, and magnify those nerves! Give yourself a relaxing morning in the lead up to the show, and make sure to eat properly and drink plenty of water, to fuel you in the lead up. Nerves can take a toll on your body, so you want to keep your energy levels up!

Pack your bags either the night before, or the morning of your show! Give yourself plenty of time to pack your bags and make sure that you have everything you need. A great way to make sure you’ve got all your costume pieces is to put the whole costume on, and then pack it piece by piece as you take it off. Check out our handy packing guide below for more packing tips and tricks.

Most venues have small backstage areas, so doing as much of your hair and makeup at home as you can will save you time and stress. Your base and eye makeup can easily be done at home, and you can pre-curl your hair, or style it up in an up-do if that is your look. Once you get to the venue, all you’ll need to do is touch up and you’ll be stage-ready!

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Make sure you are on time! Not only does it mean you will get to rehearse and prepare without stress, but it also makes a great impression. A prompt, professional and polite performer will be booked again and again! When you arrive at the venue, introduce yourself to the producers and/or Stage Manager, and let them know you have arrived. It’s also a great chance to meet the other performers!

Your Tech Rehearsal is an opportunity for you to test your lights, sound, rigging and prop setup. Depending on the venue, and the allocated time, you may get a full run through, or you may only get to run the first minute of your act. You tech run should not be treated as a full practice session! Your act should feel polished and ready to go without it. Be patient with the sound and light technician, and work with them to make your show shine. If there are any issues with the sound, lighting, stage, or your act, this is the time to voice them and ensure you are all ready for your performance!

The most important things to communicate to the Stage Manager and Stage Assistants are:
- Your stage cue: Are you starting on or off stage? Are you moving through the audience?
- Where should your props be set up?
- Do you need any assistance during your act? Ie, something handed to you?
- What needs to be collected and brought back after the act?

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Everyone has a different process for how they prepare to perform. Some performers like to go out and socialise, and watch the show before they hit the stage. Other performers like to create a quiet space for themselves during the show, where they can stretch, warm up, listen to their music and get into the zone. Finding what works best for you will help you feel as calm and confident as you can!

If you’re going out to watch the show, make sure to do so quietly and considerately. Don’t go out during another performer’s act, wait until the MC is talking before you come out, as this can be distracting. Be a good audience member, and cheer for the other performers! Make sure you know which act is 3 or 4 acts before yours, so you can head backstage and prepare with plenty of time.

Start preparing for your performance 3 or 4 acts before you are on. If your act is particularly athletic, you may need more time to completely warm up. Change into your costume, do any last minute touch ups, and gather your props for the stage assistants to set up. Your Stage Manager will call you 2 acts before yours, and you may need to be waiting in the wings while the act before you is on.

For those pre-show nerves, it’s all about harnessing those butterflies into energy on stage! Take a few slow, deep breaths, and centre yourself. This is the moment you’ve been working towards, so try to relax, trust in yourself, and just have fun on stage! If you look like you are having fun, the audience will have fun too, and that is going to be the most entertaining part of all.

Backstage tips from Stage Manager extraordinaire, Miss Mouse

“Know where your stuff is! Pack your things in advance, and use a checklist to make sure you bring everything you need. Before your performance, lay out everything you need so that it is easy to pick up and put on, or grab before you go. Hang your costumes or keep it all organised in your suitcase before you’re ready to get dressed.

Just stop and breathe - running it a thousand times before the show won’t make you feel any more prepared, just stressed! Take a moment to breathe deeply, stretch, and approach your performance with a calm mind. If you need to, find a friend for a pre-show cuddle. You will enjoy the experience so much more if you let yourself relax and take it all in.”

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Packing your things for your performance can be a daunting task, as you want to make sure you have everything you need to perform your show perfectly. You need to think about your costume, make up and hairstyling, clothing that you might need before or after the show, props, performance aids like grip-aid or stretching equipment, and more! Having a good-sized bag, like a duffel bag or sports bag, or a small carry-on sized suitcase can help you to keep all your things together in one place. Backstage areas can be quite small and crowded, so it’s best to limit the amount of bags you bring!
To keep everything organised, try to keep each category of items separate. Keep all your hair and makeup tools together, costume pieces together, and accessories together. Zip-lock bags or drawstring bags (like the ones that Pleaser shoes come in) can be really useful to help keep costumes all in the one place, especially if you have multiple acts!

Below is a sample packing list. While this list doesn’t go into much detail, you could easily create one that lists each individual piece of your costume, That way, you, can tick it off as you pack it into your bag!

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