“It felt lustrous, weighty and above all – special. Its glass beads lay heavily against my body like armor, scales and drops of deep red picked out against a nude gauze – a deep flame pattern pouring from its shoulders down my torso, trailing to the floor. It had been hired for the occasion, and I imagined the performers who had squeezed themselves into this magnificent 1940’s gown before me. As I waited in the wings, watching the other actors complete their lines, dance their steps, respond to the audience’s willing laughter which bubbled up encouragingly over the stage. You’d have thought I should be nervous at that point, worried about forgetting my lines or staring blankly into the spotlight, but that wasn’t the feeling at all. I blinked lazily from under my giant false lashes, heart beat slow, ready and sure. That dress made me feel like an 18-year-old valkyrie at the peak of her powers. Impenetrable, beautiful, a lead character waiting to take command of the show.
The scene was set, the cue was given: I stepped out onto the stage and felt entirely Reno Sweeney, belting out Anything Goes complete with jazz hands, spirit fingers, high kicks and even an air lift. Looking back on my life performance so far, with all its little risks and chances, my willingness to present myself to the world and say hello, I’m here, this is what I’ve got to share – I think I might have internalised a little bit of that red valkyrie dress. I could certainly feel it swishing ’round my ankles at this special Anything Goes themed shoot from earlier in 2015.”