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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!!


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