By Jess Morley: actor, bassist, and beer-drinking, dog-loving Roaring associate.
As some of you may know, we were meant to be on tour right now with Beach Body Ready. And whilst I am strangely readjusting to my new routine of cleaning, DIY, dog walks, making Pom Pom puppies, and drinking too much beer, our tour is always at the back of my mind. I haven't turned off my calendar notifications on my phone, so I still get daily reminders telling me where we were meant to be on our tour that day. "BBR in Wells-next-the-Sea" popped up the other day. I smiled. I love the sound of this place, it looks so lovely. I’d scrolled through google images of beach huts and boats and quaint little pubs. It looked like the perfect place to take Beach Body Ready! My favourite thing about touring is getting to explore new places, and this tour was going to be taking us to a lot of places I’ve never been before. Looking at my “Wells-next-the-sea” notification, I started to imagine a “Sliding Doors” scenario, and began contemplating the chaos we’d be causing if we were there right now. What if that announcement from Johnson advising everyone to stay away from theatres didn’t happen just as we were pulling in to Kings Cross Station to start our London run (seriously).
All this got me thinking about... The Tour That Never Happened.
23rd March 2020 Our time at Vault Festival went, actually quite well. In fact so well that we won the capital over with our adorable regional accents, quick wit and charm. People asked us “where have you come from??” And we cried out with pride… "Hull!" We shouted from the rooftops about the incredible artists and brilliant work being made in our beloved city. Critics and programmers immediately booked train tickets to our magical land of culture, chip spice and cheap beer!
8th April 2020 Today we celebrated my 29th birthday in Barry starting with (yep, you guessed it) the Gavin and Stacey tour! Our dramaturg Lydia joined us cos she loves Gavin and Stacey! And because she’s missed us obvz. We saw all the G&S sights, including Nessa’s tattoo parlour and so, in homage, we got matching beach ball tattoos.
28th April 2020 We’re in Isle of Wight, I love it here! We got stuck on The Needles Landmark chairlift for four hours and it was hilarious. We later visited Monkey Haven where we befriended a gibbon who we named Miriam (Margolyes) and she’s decided to join us on tour! Yes, we now have a tour monkey.
30th April 2020 We are in Wells-next-the-Sea, it is beautiful here! The show went really well and our audience was so lovely. We’ve decided to stay for a few days for a bit of down time, which is much needed after the day we’ve had! We almost didn’t make it here. Grab a drink, get comfy, and let me tell you what happened. Brace yourselves... We were in convoy cruising down the motorway when Miss Vanjee, aka Vannie Lennox, aka our tour van, got a bloody puncture. “It’s okay, I have cover with AA” I exclaimed as I paused The Vengaboys and whipped out my phone. But Jenni turned to us, and like a pink haired Captain Marvel she said, “girls, we don’t need the AA.” With that she ordered Siri to play Lizzo’s ‘Like A Girl’, and pulled in to a nearby service station (which had a maccers! Hallelu!). We exited our tour vehicles in super sexy slow motion. We hadn’t told the girls travelling in the car what was going on but we didn’t need to. We’ve played enough complicity warm up games in the past that they just instinctively knew. We nodded to one another.
Cue Beyonce’s ‘Run The World’.
We knew what needed to be done. (The following is still in slow motion by the way, very important detail. Just think The Avengers.) Jenni grabs the spare tyre. Lizi grabs the front of Miss Vanjee and prepares to lead this operation to success. Shaunagh whacks her laptop on the bonnet of Lizi's car and begins rerouting our journey to make up the lost time whilst simultaneously phoning the theatre, emailing the van hire company and crocheting a scarf. Sounds impossible but this girl laughs at the impossible! Rach and I take up our positions squatting either side of Vannie. I roll up my sleeves and summon the power of my biceps. Rach rallies us by quoting inspirational women while she channels her cheerleader strength. Sarah’s Welsh flag, draped around her shoulders like a crusader's cape, ripples in the wind. She pushes up her magnificent bosom and grabs Vannie’s rear. Miriam the monkey takes a nap in the front seat, (we know she’s cheering for us deep down). On Lizi’s mark, we all roar in to the air as the four of us lift Miss Vanjee off the ground. Jenni rolls the spare tyre over and gets to work.
Shaunagh types, phones, crochets and shouts words of encouragement and support. Lizi conducts us like a feminist orchestra. Sarah twerks, Rach whips her hair, I sip beer. All the while, Vannie remains safely suspended in our grip. Men, women, children all look on in admiration. They lay Krispy Kremes at our feet, live stream and hash tag as together, we triumph. A news helicopter circles overhead, we make the BBC Look North lunchtime news as our friends and family watch from their sofas with pride. “Motorway closed as giant inflatable flamingo causes chaos after flying out of back of van.”
Tyre successfully changed, we gratefully take our Krispy Kremes, sign autographs, hold strangers’ babies and then continue on our journey. We make it to the theatre with 5 minutes to spare. Minus Francois the Flamingo, sadly he didn’t make it.
22nd May 2020 Turns out Lizzo (!?!?!) saw our valiant tyre changing efforts online and flew over to see our show tonight in Howden! She joined us on stage, jiggled her belly with us and naturally we’ve all become bezza mates. She asked us if she can join us for the rest of the tour... Lizzo!!!
21st June 2020 We’re in Portsmouth! We’ve met a bunch of fab women here and they invited us to join them for karaoke after the show! Whilst belting out some Adele, Sarah was scouted and we’ve somehow ended up with a Roaring Girls record deal?! I know! 90% of us can’t sing but it’s happening anyway!
4th July 2020 We end our tour tonight in Bristol, what a few months it’s been! We’ve been to so many lovely places and had sell out shows! Our hearts have swelled as Roaring Girls across the country have tagged us in photos of themselves at the beach, sporting our T-shirts, badges and bags! We’re all sad that it’s over, but looking forward to heading back to Hull for a Pattie butty and £2 pint!
5th July 2020 - The Roaring Girls’ End Of Tour Beach Party! We’re celebrating the end of the tour in true Roaring Girls style...Hundreds of women are joining us in Hornsea for a day at the beach! Together, with Miriam and Lizzo, we pack the BBQ and the factor 50, whack on our swimwear and drive Miss Vanjee in to the sun.
Okay, while most of that absolutely, almost definitely would’ve happened, it’s the smaller, more likely events that I miss most right now. Driving up and down the UK in Miss Vanjee with the biggest and baddest boss ladies I have the privilege of calling my mates. The Weatherspoons we’d have after theatre get ins, the post show pints with our audiences, long chats in hotel bars until 2am, the 6am Maccy D breakfasts we’d have as we set off to our next venue, singing along to Rachael’s “Independent Ladies” playlist bangers at the top of our lungs. I miss all the women we’ve not yet met. Meeting them and sharing stories, hugs and tears and throwing ripped up magazines in the air together as we stick a collective finger up to the way society tells us we should look.
I miss the girls, I miss our audiences, I miss theatre. I cannot wait for us to be able to bring Beach Body Ready out in to the world again next year, (everything crossed)! Who knows, maybe we’ll convince Lizzo and Miriam the monkey to join us. It’s going to be so magic to be in a room with you all again! The hugs will mean so much more, the laughs will be louder, the dancing will be even more joyful. I can’t wait. Until then, keep dancing to Lizzo, show your tummies some love and stay safe.
Lots of love ❤️ xxx
PS I might’ve written this after a few beers. Makes sense now right?