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Wet Wet Wet and Mad Mad Mad
05/29/10 @ 07:21:23 pm, Categories: General, 949 words   English (US)

As correctly predicted in the BBC weather spot rain set in at 9am and we knew it would only ease off around 1pm. Not good! Never mind a wind channel. There’s nothing worse for a stage door than rain, but we have been lucky the last few days. So this is it, we won’t moan. We got there nice and early, chatted a while, tried to keep the umbrellas straight and waited for Michael to walk down the alleyway.

Well, he did not. Instead he arrived in a car, driving himself. Actually reversing impressively towards us all. It was a huge car. We would never dream of such a manoeuvre. First thing we learned is that he had hurt his back. So at least there was one reason to be happy that this was the last night for two months. No one kept him in the rain for too long. Short and sweet.

Many of you will be happy to hear that we made it in time for the matinee. We have a feeling that this will stay with us forever. We even received text messages reminding us of the correct starting time!

We still had no Fender and Linda was back. Furthermore Velma was played by the “Female Authority Figure” (Yvonne O’Grady). For us it’s always interesting to see the understudies perform. It was a good show, great reaction and as was expected a teeny weeny bit of mischief was going on. Seeing it was Michael’s last matinee for a while and the last time he would play with Les Dennis we had thought there would be something going on. And once we got to “Timeless” we were proved right. When Wilbur closes the shop and the rubber chicken falls down (this must sound really weird for someone who has not seen the show!) Michael exclaimed “It’s a Puppet!”, which happens to be Brian Conley’s catch phrase. Also after Wilbur convinces Edna to kiss him again they kept smiling and giggling at each other until Edna finally gave in. “Three times is the cure!” and we got an extra kiss. The audience went crazy.

The stage door between shows was the usual madness, but the rain had stopped. And after most of the cast had left for their break and we knew Michael would not be long now bunny Kerstin made a somewhat shocking discovery. The memory card for the camera was still in the laptop in the hotel room from uploading the latest pictures. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEK. Panic. But luckily this is a very intelligent camera and has internal memory. So all the photos you see from between shows are there thanks to the clever Nikon designers. For not only did it save the photos, but it also let us copy them back onto the memory card once we were back in the hotel room. The joys of modern technology.

While we were waiting to be allowed into the auditorium (you can tell we were there very early) we sat in the bar downstairs and eventually a double row of signed photos caught our eye. Among them a signed photo of a very young Michael and dedicated to everyone in the Mayflower. The photo was early 90s, so we concluded he must have toured there, which was later confirmed by other fans.

The evening performance went relatively smoothly. Apart from an open flies (as we all know Michael plays a woman, so it weren’t his) and one open tap shoe after “Big Dollhouse”. This time it was Michael’s and he, Tracy and Penny did their best to close the shoe again… to no avail. Luckily all prisoners have to hand in their tap shoes on their way out. So he did not have to endure that for too long. Also we saw him mouthing something along the lines of “That hurt my back!” during “Big, Blond and Beautiful”. But apart from that nothing to report.

The final bow was very emotional. Lots of hugging going on and a solid standing ovation.

Now let’s come to the madness bit of this blog. As we said earlier Michael has arrived in a car. Now this was parked halfway down the alleyway. He worked his way up there, said good bye to everyone (his family was there too) and got into the car to drive away. Ambitious seeing that there was still so many fans and theatregoers around. But he managed very slowly, taking it very easy, but at the end of the street he was stuck. They had closed the street with chains, which had been open in the afternoon. So now he was trapped and still people kept walking really close past his car. Some seemed really keen to be run over by a West End star. After a few moments he decided to turn left and simply drive on the pavement. So he passed the theatre….. in his car … on the pavement … it was hilarious and earned him a round of applause. Problem solved. And off he went. Edna had left the building.

Here we are back in our hotel room. We switched the telly on to be live witnesses of Germany winning the Eurovision Song Contest. What a strange, strange evening! Please keep your fingers crossed for us that the BA strike won’t affect our journey (well, on a second thought it really would not be too bad to be stuck in the UK plus we very kindly have been offered shelter by Barbara, thanks for that!). But work would complain and so we will now pack our bags and count the days till Manchester! Talk then.

Timeless to us
05/29/10 @ 03:09:18 am, Categories: General, 488 words   English (US)

After a bit of sightseeing (three hours of solid walking around Southampton, which is a lot for us, I’m afraid) we arrived at the stage door nice and early at half past four. One after other we were joined by fellow fans and chatted a bit. It was rather cloudy, but luckily none of the announced sharp showers made an appearance. But oh god, the wind. After an hour of being stuck in what turns out to be an excellent wind channel (anyone need to check the aerodynamics of a new car? We know just the spot!) it felt like winter all over again. Everyone took a lot of comfort from the idea that he would be there any minute now. Brian Conley leaving the theatre after some rehearsals served as a good distraction. And he was greeted enthusiastically by many fans. He assured them that no, Michael is not in there rehearsing with him. At 6 some asked theatre staff, but no, he still was definitely not in. Everyone got really nervous. The only good thing is:
We have been there, done that. At one point, when Hairspray was still running in London, we waited as long as ten to seven. So when Michael arrived at half past six, all relaxed and well (see photos) many breathed a sigh of relief and we were just so glad to be able to get inside the warm theatre.

We were back up in the balcony and full of pity for those who had to stand through the show. We noticed a new dress on stage during Good Morning Baltimore and yup, come roll call moment and we have lost Fender and won Linda. And they managed rather well. Yes, Velma still asked Fender to get rid of the padding, although it was Brad, but Link managed to remember: “Knock it off F…Linda!". We always marvel at understudies. Every dance move was perfect. How they do it, we don’t know. Hats off to her anyways. A great performance.

The audience was very generous…except for a small group of women sitting in front of us, who made a point of not clapping along (one even explicitly stopped her applause when it was Michael’s turn to take his bow…we almost whacked her with a programme! Nah, just kidding, not even the bunnies are that fanatic. Freedom of mind, taste, applause etc etc.
The stage door afterwards was really busy but we managed to exchange a few words with him (we’ll be seeing Michael on stage for the 150th time today. A third of this was seeing him in a dress…who knew!) and someone asked him about the next tour and he promised it would be next year and we tried finding out a bit more (WHEN!) but naturally that remains a secret for now, but quite excitedly he added “to be announced really soon!”. Woohoo!!

Ups and Downs
05/28/10 @ 05:21:48 am, Categories: General, 1199 words   English (US)

When we got up in the morning, little did we know, we’d be in for another first today, but let’s start at the beginning.

As we are used to, when being in England we woke up at 7am, always great, when you really have the chance to sleep as long as you wish to. At least it gave us time to get something for breakfast and enjoy it in our hotel room. It was rather late for us, when we got out of our room to get to the stage door.

Yes, we were surprised how many people were already at the stage door. We just had enough time to greet friends, when all of a sudden Mr. Ball came strolling down the alleyway, looking fabulous (oh really, we hear you say). Still we just thought, well, he is early, that has happened before. And it was only 15 minutes.

As always he took his time to pose for photos and sign away. Lovely for us as we could take our time to appreciate how amazingly gorgeous he looked today. You can tell we are used to the rough style at stage doors. Also gorgeous, but if an ordinary man put in a suit can look great, you just know what such a suit can do to Michael! When he got over to us he told us he was having a bad cold… or hayfever, he really could not tell. Poor boy! For two years Kerstin is suffering the same and we just don’t know, how he can sing and dance and work through it like he does!

Afterwards we formed a little group of 6 and went to a café for a quick salad and something to drink and basically exchanging the latest news (or gossip). Two of us (Joan and Pam, who by coincident had seats next to us and are always in the know) left an hour before the show started to walk around a bit before sitting through the show. The German contingent (Helge, Petra and the bunnies) stayed behind, chatting. Finally, at 5 past two, we decided to brave the (luckily very) short walk up to the theatre. On our way we picked up a promotional brochure of the Mayflower Theatre. Kerstin started flicking through it while we walked and started discussing the missing of other theatergoers. Suddenly she called out to us: “TWO PM! The matinee starts at 2, NOT at 2:30!” We thought she made a joke, but she had just found it on the Hairspray pages and we got the tickets out and started disbelievingly at the merciless 2:00 pm printed on the bottom. Every other matinee starts at 2:30. We couldn’t believe it and ran the rest of the way as – you guessed it – we were already 8 minutes late. We were told to wait until the current song was over. Seeing we had tickets in the front row (usually reason for a big YAY) we were not too pleased at the prospect of arriving late and not only making everyone stand up but also for the entire cast to see. We had to wait through Good morning Baltimore (amazingly!) and just prayed that we’d be seated BEFORE Michael was on stage (imagine the comments when we’d arrive in the middle of his performance….). it was nerve wrecking. But, big PHEW, not only were we seated minutes before Edna makes her first appearance but also we had tickets for aisle seats, so no one was disturbed too much by us sitting down.

That was it: the very first time we ever missed the beginning of a Michael show! You should think we have learned a lesson or two after 148 of these events and 44 Hairsprays, but alas we have not!
At the risk of repeating ourselves, the show was just amazing. The audience was great and they were cheering after each and every single song. The “Har-De-Har-Hut” behaved, everything went smoothly. Luckily we had forgotten just how fabulous it is to see the show from the front row. Tonight will be rather tough, as we are going to sit in the balcony again, sigh
After the show we went to get something to eat with Helge and Petra and rest assured everyone was reminding us about the starting time of the evening show. Mind you, with chatting away in the sunshine and a quick visit to the toilets before the show we just sat down 2 minutes before the show was about to start.
The show was once more fantastic, the audience even better than in the afternoon. Everything went according to plan, well, apart from Wilbur’s exploding bubble gum which didn’t explode and so he just shrugged, smiled and said “Bang!”. True professionals will not be shaken by a prop not functioning. “Timeless to Me” definitely deserves a special mention. All who have seen the show more than once know that lots of the giggles between Edna and Wilbur are not happening spontaneously. This time however, the audience reception was just so good that Les got the giggles (real ones, not the scripted ones) and couldn’t get his line out for a little moment. When the laughter of the audience had dimmed slightly, Les finally got out his “[It’s Jewish] for kiss me again” and Michael smiled and replied “This was so worth waiting for”. Needless to say the audience was hysterical with laughter.

Afterwards there was quite a crowd outside. It took a while before Michael got out and he was in a rush. Apparently there was a do planned with the cast. Or so it seemed. He rushed through autographs and photos and after some confusion as to which way to go, he and Andrew walked up the alleyway (slight slope) and vanished around the corner. We remained standing at the stage door saying goodbye to everyone and chatting a little about which cities we will be at (Manchester, Dublin and Edinburgh) and whom we will meet there etc. etc. When suddenly there was a little commotion at the end of the street. Some fans who were on their way up had spotted Michael rushing back down again! What came next was a bit….well, let’s say he was practically running, commenting “I cannot believe we walked up there” and “where is the coach”…so OBVIOUSL in a big hurry and STILL some fans asked for a photo and signature. Being Michael, he couldn’t say no, but it clearly didn’t help his rush. It was nice to see him again so suddenly, but our little group contented itself but watching, smiling and making sympathetic noises. such a bonus to see him again. We hope he caught the coach.

After that we walked back to our hotel and said goodbye to Helge and Petra who sadly had to leave again. We will miss you! Have a safe journey! See you in Dublin!

Today we will have a walk around the harbor (if we find it) and keep our fingers crossed that the rain showers we saw in the forecast will stay away….or at least stop for the stage door. Sun for now.

Talk soon!

Southampton – 26 May 2010 Getting there!
05/26/10 @ 06:53:26 pm, Categories: General, 440 words   English (US)

We have had some travel adventures in the past, but never ever was there a natural disaster between us and the Ball. Can you imagine what it feels like to watch news on volcano ash and flight bans when you have front row tickets on your desk? Not good!
But joy, oh joy in the last minute the volcano decided to behave itself again and went back to sleep for the time being. And just as we had recovered from this shock there was the news of the pending BA strike. Needless to say that we were booked on BA flights! Then the strike was called off and the next day it was back on again and more and more flights got cancelled as we watched. We had some sleepless nights leading up to today.

To cut a long story short: we got here and everything went dramatically smoothly, only one minor worry remains: We still don’t know, whether our flights back home are being operated, but hey, better stuck in England than in Germany.

We got our rental car, no accidents, found Southampton alright and located both the theatre and the stage door in time. We met up with Helge and Petra and had great fun waiting for Michael. The stage door is great in so far that you can watch him walk down a fairly long alleyway …. Always nice to watch. There weren’t too many of us there. We had a quick fun chat and he looked really handsome (can be seen on the uploaded pictures, enjoy!).

The Show

We had Balcony Seats, because we could not bear the thought of standing through another 2 hours. Balcony means Upper Circle, that’s the fifth floor or 84 steps above stalls level as we were warned by a sign at the foot of the stairs. Well, at least you can see the choreography from up there. It was good to be back.

The audience was a bit quiet where we were, but the cast seemed ever so much more confident and we really enjoyed the evening. Michael and Les were on superb form (the Har-de-har-hut wasn’t. It did not fully cooperate, but if you did not know the show, you would not have noticed. At least there was lots of cheering and a standing ovation at the very end. We never sat in a balcony as quiet as this one.

The stage door afterwards was good fun. He again stopped for a few words and we thoroughly enjoyed these few moments of bliss.

Tomorrow we will be in the front stalls, hooray! We cannot wait to be back!


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