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Sweeney - Last Update
11/06/11 @ 04:03:02 am, Categories: General, 80 words   English (US)

We have just taken our breakfast and were joined by the other two couples staying here and guess what? All three of us have been to the show yesterday and they all loved it! Amazing! We could rename it the Sweeney Todd Bed and Breakfast.

Okay, but now off to good old London, though we will miss Chichester and would not mind, if he’d come back to Chichester…. well he certainly will be, but do something in the theater again.

Chichester - Last Sweeney Todd (here)
06/11/11 @ 02:53:28 am, Categories: Shows, Pre Stage Door, Post Stage Door, General, 878 words   English (GB)

So that’s it, the last two Sweeney Todd shows in Chichester. Thank heavens, the official announcement about it’s transfer to the West End came a day beforehand. Otherwise we would have been stranded with something we have not experienced for 5 years: Not knowing what he is going to do next. We have realized how spoilt we have been the last couple of years, as there was a time we would receive messages like: Michael is going to do a concert in three weeks time….

We got to the stage door in good time, just to be sure we would not miss him while we were circling to get a parking space, you know the story. This must have been one of the oddest and certainly shortest arrival stage doors for a last show ever!

Michael arrived, there were more than 50 people waiting for him. He parked his car as usual, he got out quickly and moved in front of his car and no one went to him to get a photo, a signature, nothing. We all stood there, around him, forming a huge circle. Helge handed him his and Petra’s present, after all it’s the last time we are going to see him before Christmas. Once Michael moved many of the people standing around moved back to give him space instead of the usual rush to him. He kept repeating, he’d be going in now and that is, what he basically did. Yes, he was finally asked to sign some stuff and pose for photos, but basically he was in very quickly as we all just stood there and stared in awe instead of speaking LOL. Stage doors sometimes are odd experiences.

The matinee performance was fabulous. Of course they have not really changed anything about the performances. Everything seemed to be more intense and the moment Sweeney killed his wife unknowingly was almost as horrible as the first time we had seen it.

The evening performance saw our first technical glitch for a very long time. At the end of the contest Pirelli walks over to Sweeney to hand him the 5 Pounds and he tripped over the trapdoor, that is used very so often during the show to put props and actors on and off stage. It’s centre stage and is usually shut and invisible unless used during scene changes. But this time you could see how one panel of it gave way under Pirelli and was half open afterwards. It refused to shut again. So once the scene finished all the actors left and a technician walked on stage informing us that there will be a short break. 5 people then worked feverishly on the malfuntioning trapdoor. I bet they wished the theatre had a curtain but no such luck. It must be VERY stressful to work with 1200 people watching your every move fretting that they’d have to cancel the final performance! But they did manage to get it to shut properly again and the performance continued as if nothing ever happened - well apart from the actors walking on stage from the sides instead of being lifted on and off and the props being carried by stage hands dressed in black. We wondered about the finale of the first act where Mr T and Mrs L disappear through said trapdoor (usually to tumultous applause). Would they walk off stage? Or disappaer into the back of stage? But just in time for this exit the trapdoor worked perfectly again and they had their usual disappearing act exit (indeed to tumultous applause). Naturally the break was used for some further mending of the faulty equipment and the second half went smoothly. Hats off to the actors who all adapted so well to the spontaneous change in routines. The joys of live theatre…what can you do?

While the audience in the matinee was a bit weird (there was MASSIVE applause when Sweeney finally gets to kill the Judge…Panto feeling) the evening crowd was quiet in the appropriate places and roared with laughter at the right moments, embracing this fabulous cast and Sondheim’s masterpiece just as it should be. in the end we all started the standing ovation for the ensemble (most of the times we have been it began with Michael and Imelda entering the stage again) and stood through the whole “curtain call". We screamed ourselves hoarse it has to be said. and it was so touching to see them all having tears in their eyes and Michael and Imelda in a big hug…a magical moment. And so well deserved.

And now it’s all over and we are back at our cosy bed and breakfast packing. Oh and guess what? We are only four guests here and we met the other two guests at the theatre! They also came to see the final performance! It’s a small world.

Now we will battle with fighting off our post-show blues (focus on March, focus on March!) and had back to Germany to give in to pre-Christmas madness and Sweeney ticket booking frenzy…

After chancing a first glance at the Adelphi on our way back to the airport. Afterall this will be “home” next year. And no doubt we will be back reporting from our London adventures then.

Sweeney Todd - 16 October 2011
10/16/11 @ 03:42:14 am, Categories: General, 482 words   English (US)

What a magnificent end to a perfect week! These two performances had the most eager audiences and both Imelda and Michael seemed really touched during their standing ovation which was accompanied by howls of delight from a wild crowd.

No one scares you finer than these two. An absolute delight to watch and listen. We certainly have not heard his voice being that versatile before…amazing highs and lows, one note held so long that you wondered whether he actually needs to breathe at all…we were in fan heaven.

We can only say that 10 times was definitely not enough and we cannot wait to be back in Fleet Street in 3 weeks for the final two shows. Fingers crossed that they had the go to transfer by then. The thought of never seeing Mr Todd again would indeed be unbearable – and who would have thought that at the beginning of our little journey? But since it is not absolutely certain that it will transfer (also a question of getting the right theatre and two VERY busy schedules synchronized) we can only urge you to come and see it. I would say words fail us to describe the utter triumph which is this production but we have been pretty wordy already, haven’t we?

It’s just that we will miss our favoroutie scenes so much: Epiphany of course, because it is just that. Worst pies in London, Have a little Priest (which got funnier every time we saw it, we think Mr Ball enjoys to get a few laughs himself now - the audience was in hysterics)and By the Sea - or as we lovingly call it “at home with the serial killers". Honestly, he is sitting in a comfy chair with a pussy cat cover! And that snog (intrigued now?) is just too wonderful for words.

But we will stop gushing - for now.

They now do merchandise for the show (t-shirts, hoodies and poster) but most stuff seemed to have sold out on the day. Stage door before was incredibly busy (we counted some 50 people) and afterwards but he was really generous with his time.

Afterwards we had a lovely after-show time with friends and half the cast (well, they were in the same room, naturally we did not stare, approach or anything). It was amazing though because at one point they sang Happy Birthday for one of their ranks and truly, we have NEVER heard that song sound like this. Just incredible! We wanted a CD of it!!

So now the bags are packed and we have to face the grim reality of flights, traffic jams and work (could we get one of those razors, please?). But the countdown is running. Soon we will back at the barber’s and tell you all about it.

For us Mr Todd is definitely not evil but merely morally challanged. Go Sweeney!

Sweeney Todd - 14 October 2011
10/15/11 @ 03:39:44 am, Categories: Shows, Pre Stage Door, 321 words   English (US)

Another fabulous night at the Barber’s yesterday. No Stephen Sondheim sadly, but he will be in next week we were told.

Stage door was good fun and we got our photo with Mr Todd. Mmmh all mean and glowering.

Unfortunately the pics came with a price. When Kerstin handed the camera to Julia the first bunny let it drop and while it’s still working it’s literally broken at the battery compartment. Great, not. Fingers crossed it can be repaired.

Totally overwhelmed again. Our final front row (for this run). There is no being too close for this show. The stage is very low and it is appropriately terrifying to be so close to those razor blades. This time it felt even more intense (lots of heavy breathing down Imelda’s microphone after Epiphany – chills down our spines!). No laughter at the death scene but instead (hooray!) a very impressed audience yet again.

We cannot believe the week has gone so fast. Only two more shows and then it’s packing time. At least it is a nice day. Sun is out (it’s cold though). And naturally we do keep our fingers crossed for Wales this morning.

Just like every day of the week we woke up with Sweeney tunes in our heads. At least it’s Worst Pies in London now and not the very life-affirming line “We all deserve to die! Even you Mrs Lovett, even I!”. While this number (it’s from Epiphany) is the absolute highlight of the show, it really does not help to cheer you up in the mornings.

Wouldn’t it be dreamy to get a DVD recording of this production (and an original Chichester cast recording while we’re at it)? We know this is not what happens with musicals these days and how theatre is all about being transient, but it would definitely deserve to be captured for posterity.

Sweeney Todd - 13 October 2011
14/10/11 @ 04:11:04 am, Categories: Shows, Pre Stage Door, Post Stage Door, 1212 words   English (GB)

Yesterday’s stage door was a short but sweet affair. We managed to ask him whether he’d be part of the post-performance discussion that was planned for this night. No, he said. Well, shame, as we thought it would have been interesting but you didn’t want to miss out on waving him good night, right? Okay, we are sure this is something only fellow fans will be able to understand. Ah well, we had a lovely post-stage door chat at the theatre bar next door and were soon back with Mr T and Mrs L.

If anything the show gets better with each viewing. There is always something new to discover and words simply cannot describe the sheer brilliance of Michael’s performance. Leaves us breathless and shaken every single time.

A special mention must go to the stunning visuals of the show. The lighting is superb and it really feels like watching an epic movie up for the Oscar for best photography. Some of the pictures they created (him backlit, a towering silhouette above the audience) will stay with us forever. No doubt about that.

Scene applause again for Epiphany. We are torn on that one, as there is really no question as to whether he deserves this (a revelation indeed), but it is interrupting a very tense moment. At least no laughter at Sweeney’s death this time.

So what to do now. Throughout the entire interval there had been loads of discussions whether we would all stay for the post-show talk or leave for the stage door. What if he did appear after all? Why wouldn’t they let us wave him good bye and then back in again? What to do, what to do? Our little group gathered in the auditorium for a quick pow wow after the final bravos of the evening. Word had it that he was doing it after all, so we gladly rushed back to our seats…to find them blocked by people who had moved forward a few rows. We all apologized and said that we had merely been talking to our friends down the aisle and most of the people moved back to their own seats or took one of the other vacant ones but not so much luck for Bunny Kerstin. The lady on her place refused to move. We had left our seats full stop. Heated discussion ensued and even an usher had trouble persuading the lady to take up one of the other seats. Not a lot of love around us after this intermezzo. Her friends were quite put out we fear, but come one, we had merely wanted to sit down again after having been away for 1 minute. And we were also sitting with friends.

Anyways, the cast appeared on stage to big applause (really many of them were so kind to spend a little while longer with us). When Michael came on stage the substantial crowd erupted into massive cheers. He did look rather delicious in purple shirt and jeans (no socks…mmmh). We were allowed to ask questions then. Many good questions from the audience. Imelda had brought her cute little dog (“This is Molly with her carer,” introduced Mr Ball LOL). Were they inspired by the movie, er no, not really did it look like it? The idea to set it in more modern times was to make it more relatable for a modern audience and also to shake off all the ghosts of past productions or indeed the movie. They had an incredibly short rehearsal period of 5 weeks to get to this perfection (Michael and Imelda had rehearsed an extra week together before this). Many young actors in the audience who wanted advise on auditions and getting into character. Really insightful replies by Imelda an all the others. Did they know they had a hit when still in rehearsals. You could tell they all thought yes, they did really, but didn’t want to sound too self-absorbed so went for they knew it when they had the audience in for the first time.

A daring question on the temperamental chute (some victims were rather hesitant to slide down into the bakehouse). They explained how the blood is based on sugar and is a very sticky affair. So at one point, when one poor victim was indeed stuck in the middle (we had seen this show) Michael told us all how eventually a hand came up from below and pulled the actor down and out of sight. And he had to remain singing throughout the entire drama! LOL mind you, as we said, we had been present at the incident and you couldn’t see the tiniest hint of a flicker of irritation on his face or hear it in his voice. That’s a true professional for you.

Another question surrounded the blood flow during the killings. As sometimes you hardly see a drop and at other times it’s splashing around like a broken water pipe. The guy who plays Sweeney’s first nameless victim explained the situation. When they started rehearsing with the blood they all had belts that made them look like suicide bombers, including blood packs and battery packs and so on. They needed to push a button and the blood was supposed squirt. At the beginning it merely trickled and then exploded into Michael’s face. Now they do this mechanically in a way. Actually he did not completely reply to this question.

There was lots of praise on stage and off stage for the actors, the musical direction, the sound design and the set. Michael explained how important the sound design was for the show as they did not use the existing system of the Festival Theatre, but had something individually designed installed. It’s rather complicated but there seem to be many small speakers that are individually controlled.

Then he continued to talk about the emotional impact of the opening scene, when he is still hidden from view and hears the almost operatic intro from the ensemble. He said the soundwaves hit you and what an amazing moment it is, when the entire cast calls out to him (“Sweeney, Sweeney…!”). So, if we ever get the chance…. This earned him a big laugh. As if they’d ever give us the chance to sit on that chair in turn…. We wish!

It was over all too soon, but they had all been very generous with their spare time.

At the stage door afterwards there was this huge crowd of acting school students and we thought he’d never get out of there, but just like in Rugby, where there is a huge huddle of players and the ball sometimes escapes unnoticed, he appeared in front of us after just a few moments and waved good night. How he did it, we will never know! The cast then went into the bar of the opposite Minerva theatre. So this was our clue to go. It’s really not the done thing to wait for him after he said good-bye. Did not stop some though.

The sun is shining in Chichester today and we cannot believe it’s Friday already. We’ll get back to you soon.

Sweeney Todd - 12 October 2011
10/13/11 @ 02:49:42 am, Categories: Shows, Pre Stage Door, Post Stage Door, 431 words   English (US)

The best thing about matinee days in autumn is that the stage door is in enough daylight for photos. When he usually arrives around 6 pm it gets a bit tricky, especially when there are clouds. Okay, so we had drizzle but are used to this now.

We keep wondering how he can do it twice in a row though. It’s such a demanding role, vocally but also emotionally. As you might have seen in his tweet he was not exactly jubilating at the prospect…but of course you could not tell that during the performances. Not even remotely. It was all there, tenderness, fierce fury, transformation from angry husband to vengeful god.

Audiences were a bit weird. No lack of enthusiasm or anything. Quite the contrary, we dare say the matinee crowd was the most enthusiastic we had so far. There was even scene applause after Epiphany (which STILL scares the hell out of us!). Well-deserved of course, but we feel that it’s not meant to be there as the music continues at the end of the song until the scene progresses. But they did laugh in the most peculiar places. We are now used to people laughing during Mrs Lovett’s death scene – but honestly people: laughing when Sweeney is killed?? I mean, he cradles his dead wife (killed by his own hand) and then embraces death by his own knife in the hands of a confused boy – where is the humor in that? Yes, okay, Germans are not famous for their sense of humor, but come on, surely there cannot be fun in a devastatingly sad scene such as this?

But anyhow, the applause at the end was rapturous and everyone loved it, so that was good.

No laughter at Sweeney’s death in the second show (phew!) but lots of gasps of horror and excited whispering all around us. You couldn’t tell it was the second show of the day, everyone seemed so fresh and gosh, is he a force to be reckoned with. We were still thoroughly enjoying every second of the show and this has been our sixth Sweeney. It just HAS to transfer. A mere 6 weeks is not nearly enough. Everyone should have the chance to see this. So keep your fingers (and toes) tightly crossed.

The poor thing looked sooo tired when he came out afterwards so no one kept him for long. He gave us all a royal wave from his beautiful car and here we are now. Only 4 more Sweeneys left this trip…we need a transfer date please!

Sweeney Todd - 11 October 2011
10/12/11 @ 04:42:53 am, Categories: General, 317 words   English (US)

We spent most of the day with a spot of sight-seeing and visited picturesque Arundel. We have passed the castle countless times in various tours. So it was about time. We were not disappointed, so go, if you can.

We sadly missed him go in, because they had a cover run, meaning that all the understudies get to “perform a matinee” without an actual audience. We had a lovely chat with Lucy May Barker (Johanna), what a sweet and lovely girl.

The Show:
What can we say? It gets better every time we see it. We are definitely in team Sweeney and have everything crossed for a transfer into the West End. Rumour has it that Stephen Sondheim will be in on Friday and if he gives his thumbs up the road to London should be pretty clear.

The audience was very keen, lots of laughter, lots of gasps, shocked murmuring and mostly in the right places. It escapes us completely however, why audiences insist on laughing when Mrs. Lovett finds her grizzly end. We can’t find a spot of humour in it.

There was a minor glitch that night as in one of Sweeney’s victims wouldn’t slide down through the chute to the bake house, but was stuck in the middle for a short time. It did work eventually though. Another rousing reception at the end.

What we have experienced ourselves and had in conversations with others is, that you should see the show more than once. You need a few viewings to get over the shock of it all. After four performances we are now thoroughly enjoying every second of it and are definitely in team Sweeney. We never thought we’d enjoy this so much, but really looking forward to every performance and we already wish we could stay longer.

So book this extra ticket and join team Sweeney in Chichester.

Sweeney Todd - 10 October 2011
11/10/11 @ 02:54:10 am, Categories: Shows, Pre Stage Door, 916 words   English (GB)

We have spent the day in beautiful, beautiful Chichester. We have loved the place for many years and are very happy indeed to have a reason now to spend a whole week at the south coast. Many thanks to Mr Ball for that!
We were much too early at the stage door but at least we had fun company and the wait would not have been a problem if it hadn’t been for a fierce wind that started t pick up in the afternoon. When we left our flat it was really warm (too warm for a jacket) but at the back of the theatre it was freezing cold after a while. Ah well, no on forces us to stand there for….let’s just say a long, long while. LOL

The crowd was smaller than Saturday (no surprise there). When Michael arrived he was on the phone in his car and very kindly finished the conversation before getting out to us (he could easily have gotten out, shrugged apologetically, waved and walked straight in). But naturally you want to give him some privacy, so we were standing there looking everywhere except for the car for several minutes. So imagine us all standing there trying desperately not to look at the very person we all came to do a proper looking at. Welcome to the twilight zone. LOL As always he took his time (and gosh is he looking fiiiine . A bit like Alex form Aspects with a beard. So THAT’s what has become of the boy – a serial killer.

Not much time for anything else after the stage door, so we rushed home, did the photos and changed.
Can we trust you with a secret? When we booked the tickets for this trip we thought we must have finally lost it. Everyone kept saying what a sad, sinister and depressing show Sweeney Todd was an we decided to spend the last few days of our year’s holiday seeing the show 8 times in one week (plus the two shows on Saturday when we arrived, so 10 time all in all this trip). We were sure we would need anti- depressants afterwards. And now guess what: we could not wait to be back in the theatre, to hear the first notes again, to enjoy the privilege of seeing a masterpiece in very able hands. The tunes stay with you and are very melodic in their melancholic beauty, the staging is just perfect (we feel very, very fitting for a West End stage) and we already dread having to fly home again, and then having only 2 shows left. 12 Sweeneys won’t be enough. It’s addictive!
So there we were again in the company of this haunting, terrifying, handsome stranger on stage.

Once you get over the shock of the gruesome story (yes, they really ARE discussing selling pies with human filling etc. etc.) you can begin to relate to Mrs Lovett finding a dark but compelling beauty in this desperate man. And the sadness…on the brink of tears we watched him mourn the loss of his wife and daughter on his knees (such a powerful gesture of resigned sorrow) and transform from avenger to merciless serial killer. There was a definitive urge to reach out and comfort him at one point, but we would never have Mrs Lovett’s courage to touch him while he’s holding a hungry razor blade ready to strike. Just to clarify, we STILL move as far backwards as the seats allow us when he gets all angry and bloodthirsty (utter terror when he is beginning to circle Mrs Lovett in the finale, really, this is utmost terrifying. A man turned predator.). Just because you can appreciate the beauty in the beast doesn’t mean you lose perspective. This is a deadly man and you would not survive his company long. So we enjoy sitting in the safety of the dark auditorium – spellbound and deliciously horrified at the same time.

It was another great night out and we could hear the people behind gasping in shock and fear every now and then. Always a good sign. And indeed the entire cast received a rousing applause and many bravos at the end. It’s a bit of a relief every time you see him smile at the “curtain call” (there is no curtain at the Festival Theatre), a genuine, warm smile. Not this cold, merciless smile of a stranger.

When it comes to audience reaction it is fascinating to see how people react to being afraid: whenever there is only the hint of an opportunity to do so, people will laugh with all their relieved might. Naturally Mrs Lovett’s character offers many a chance for this but it is the relieved laughter people display at the smallest hint of humor coming from Mr. Todd that is endearing.

What a privilege to be there and behold this breathtaking performance and to be able to go again and again. We would have regretted it not booking tickets for all the shows and one more trusting in Michael’s judgment paid off. He knows his stuff, we know we like his stuff, so we book it, whatever it is. This has been our policy since the Donmar all those years ago and we were never disappointed.

More sightseeing today and then it’s back to the theatre for another rendezvous with Mr. Todd (maybe it’s best to be wearing a scarf…).

Sweeney Todd - 8 October 2011
10/09/11 @ 06:29:57 am, Categories: General, 1854 words   English (US)

Some of you seem to love our little travel talk or our travel “nightmares”. No such thing this time. Yes, we both independently circled London with our planes for some time and flights were slightly delayed even before this, but that’s usual.

Should you remember the tour, you might remember that one of us (aka Kerstin) managed to leave the sat nav at home. Well, who needs a sat nav, if you are travelling the roads of England and Wales for two weeks? Exactly. We got ourselves a car for the Chichester week to get around a bit. Now, you might guess, what the last phone calls between Julia and Kerstin went like (J: Don’t forget the sat nav! K: No, I WON’T! J: go and check again. K: I don’t have to, I know I packed it. J: Are you really 100% sure? And so on….). Well, and she did indeed pack it, she even packed both (aka, the one bought in Birmingham in June and the old one).

So everything was perfect, until we were almost there and the sat nav said the battery was low, although it was stuck into the lighter socket. Shortly after that message it went dead and could not be resurrected again. Eeeeek. Luckily we know the region around here well enough and managed to find the Travelodge for our first night without trouble, but what would we do for the rest of the week, if our sat nav would not charge?

Then the next morning and with daylight, we could see that our car had a separate socket for sat navs and stuff like it. WE plugged it in and tada! It was charging again. Phew.

Stage Door:
We already knew that Michael is his own chauffeur for the Sweeney Todd run, but it was still weird to see him drive up himself. We were quite impressed with his reverse parking skills, especially when you have 20 people watching you drive a big car. Hats off. AS far as stage doors go, this was semi-crowded, but there’s a lot of space so it was not too bad. It also seemed as if there was an invisible line at a certain point that no one crossed, so he could walk the last few yards undisturbed. For some reason we felt he looked more different with this smaller beard than he did at Kismet. If you don’t hear him talk and don’t watch closely, you would not know it was him. Naturally we do look closely, it has to be said. Appropriately stage dooring seemed quieter than in Hairspray days. Most people there knew what was to come and as Andrew so aptly put it: “This is very different from Hairspray!” We saw Imelda Staunton arrive as well. She was on the phone. No one except a group of autograph hunters disturbed her.

It’s good when there is a bigger crowd on the first day of a trip. It gives you the opportunity to get used to the shock of seeing him in the flesh so close after such a long wait. And other people having him sign things and pose for photos you can lean back, enjoy the view without having to kick yourself afterwards for not speaking to him when you had the chance and were all alone. Plus it was not raining. A good start.

Everything went smoothly after that (almost). We collected the keys for our really nice holiday flat (YAY! We can pretend to be living in England! We even have a washing machine! ) And we only almost missed our first performance…it was a close – wait for it – shave! Haha. We simply underestimated the parking situation before the matinee (there is this huge car par for 900 cars right in the back of the theatre) and had to head for the estate agents to collect said keys. When we returned to the car park there was mayhem! What with shoppers and two theatre with matinees 900 spaces can be too few indeed. We circled and circled and the clock kept ticking. 1:50 pm, 2:00 pm, 2:05 pm – the matinee would begin at 2:15 and we really, really did not want t be late for our first show. We wouldn’t know if they would have let us in before the interval. But then: RELIEF! A car left and we managed to get into the theatre just in time. And completely freaked out of course. Perfect mood….

And now off to the reason we are here for: Michael Ball and Sweeney Todd at the Festival Theatre in Chichester.

Sweeney Todd:
Sweeney Todd is the story of a barber with his beautiful wife, who is charged for a crime he did not commit by a jealous judge who desires the beautiful wife. Benjamin Barker (that’s Sweeney Todd’s real name) is condemned to serve a life sentence in Australia. The play sets in when he returns home, having escaped the prison island to search for his wife and daughter.

He now goes under the name of Sweeney Todd. When he returns home he finds out by the owner of a run down pie shop (Mrs. Lovett) that his wife had been raped publicly by the judge and then took arsenic as she could not cope with the shame. The judge took away his child and raised her as his warden. Todd wants revenge, Mrs. Lovett has kept his razor blades and so the story unfurls until he gets to cut the judges throat.
Many a men dies on his barber chair providing the filling for Mrs. Lovett’s pies. Her business is booming and she is madly in love with deadly Mr. Todd. The only tiny detail Mrs. L kept from him was the fact that his beloved wife survived the arsenic, but has lost most her mind from it. She’s still wandering the streets as a beggar woman, unrecognizable. In the heart-breaking finale he kills her not knowing who she is and only recognizes her when it’s too late. Mrs. Lovett doesn’t survive this and Sweeney who has been found out being a serial killer by Mrs. Lovett’s shop assistant embraces death readily, when said shop assistant kills him.
There is a very small happy end though: He comes very close to killing his daughter (who is in disguise) too, but she escapes him and runs away with a nice young sailor. Phew.

Our thoughts:
We have never seen Sweeny Todd so we did not know what to expect apart from “Not While I’m Around”, “Pretty Women”, lots of throat-cutting and Sweeney Todd dying in the end. We knew it would be emotional and not happy-go-lucky, what we did not expect however was the emotional impact this show would have. It’s as compelling as it is brutal. It has hilarious moments and those of utter despair. The score is amazing. Everyone on stage was perfect. The set is fantastic and so clever, the (invisible) orchestra is great. Now we know why this has been Michael’s ambition for many, many years.

First things first: Imelda and Michael received a very enthusiastic standing ovation after both shows on Saturday. The audience loved the show, the evening crowd seemed even more delighted than the matinee one.

Many have said that the director should not have changed the era the show is set in (from Victorian to the 1940s). Yes okay, the lingo might be Dickens, but the story itself is timeless and surely the misanthropical age of war and industry goes very well with the hell in which Sweeney Todd lives.

Lots of metal on the stage, cold and rusty, people in need, many people no one cares for, no one will and misery are not bound to a certain period sadly. WE felt this was rather fitting. And as today directors insist on staging Mozart operas in Ikea furniture I am sure we can cope with a Victorian musical being transported to the 1940s.

We know it has been said countless times before, but Michael is indeed virtually unrecognizable. Straight dark hair, a beard and even his body language is different. This should not surprise anyone. An actor who can play a woman to perfection can play anyone. This man is so angry and so sad that it breaks your heart. In every move you see barely contained fury. In most scenes he does very little indeed, just sit or stand watching in disgust everything around him and he is eminating such dark menace that it’s breathtaking at times.

He scared the hell out of us to be perfectly honest. The contrast between Imelda Staunton’s tiny frame next to him being so tall and muscular is exquisite. This woman is so brave. It seemed like she was living with an aching tiger constantly ready for the kill and the tiniest mistake could trigger an outbreak you would not survive. She manages to calm him, but only just. A doomed couple with death waiting for both of them. This was always tangible.

The one before the last song before the interval is called Epiphany and it does what it says on the tin. For this one song alone he deserves another Olivier. Such brutal and cold or hot anger, such despair, a real demon, a real human, it was literally breathtaking to watch.

Mercifully this is followed by one of the funniest duets we’ve ever seen on a stage. Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton are a match made in heaven. Both with perfect comic timing of course. They make up a plan to use Sweeney’s victims as fillings for the pie and come up with different flavours of for example priests, lawyers or generals. It’s wonderfully disgusting and evil. Great fun.

So this piece is not too gloomy, which was surprising. The character of Mrs. Lovett has a dry wit, which has the audience laughing out loud. Naturally everyone embraces a laugh gratefully after all the horror and sadness, but the inevitable end comes and quickly. 2,5 hours fly by in a whirlwind of horror and delight. So we watched Michael die on stage. A very new experience, but as it is his salvation it’s not too bad. The problem is witnessing his heartbreaking when he holds the body of his wife, died by his hand. He’s completely shattered, so vulnerable. And the voice, oh the voice. You don’t even recognize him when he’s speaking. He sounds like a completely different person, but when he is singing…. Such a variety from utmost tenderness to soaring money notes, very dark and rich, very intimate too. Some moments very reminiscent to Alone Together at the Donmar ten years ago. Raw and honest, no kitsch, no frills, just perfection.

This show took a long time coming for him but it’s well worth the wait. He is Sweeney Todd and we cannot wait to be back next week, to be chilled to the bone and touched at the heart. Roll on Monday.

Sweeney Todd
08/10/11 @ 08:38:17 pm, Categories: General, 79 words   English (GB)

We are finally back online, but please bear with us. This is the second night in a row where we have been out and about until 2:30am. Review and photos to follow tomorrow (or rather today). Definitely after sleep though.

What we have to say though is WOW! WOW! WOW! He had us terrified. What a transformation. What a performance (both). Incredible. Buy a ticket, if you possibly can. Try not to miss out on this career defining performance.

Brighton - the final concert
06/27/11 @ 03:53:58 am, Categories: General, 1254 words   English (US)

The first two rows of the flat stalls in front of the (very high) stage was mainly a MBFC affair. We were on the far side but still on stage level. There were still 10 seats furtehr down the row who mainly had wall and security people in front of them. We felt thes should not have made the rows as wide but with the high stage the view hopefully wasn’t too bad.

For the first time during our leg of the tour the entire audience was on their feet when he appeared on stage for the opening song. And we are happy to report that this reception set the tone for the entire evening. He had tweeted “Brighton…come and get me!X” and we think Brighton did.

At least in our block the vibe was electrified. Lots and lots of noise, standing ovations in all the right places. The New York medley was interspersed with applause for each one of the five talented singers. As we had anticipated with the sun being out and being the last night of a successful tour Michael was “fristky as anything” agrain. He also asked whether anyone else had got sunburnt, because they forgot to put their factor on.

When we got to Misty and him saying that the radio host was played with Clint Eastwood, stressing the uncanny resemblance that got a good laugh. He looked all confused saying “And that’s funny why?”

We even had a final matinee moment during “Rhapsody in Blue” which is usually a very intense moment, with Roger on top of the show stairs in dramatic lights, playing this beautiful music. Michael listens to him then turns to us all and usually says “Mr. Roger Wilson!” and starts singing “New York State of Mind".

Was not quite as sophisticated tonight though. The problem was that we were sitting to the far side, so we could not see, if it was Roger or someone else. But anyhow, this person wore a long wig and looked anything but glamorous. Michael had a right laugh, he obviously had not expected that. Instead of “Mr. Roger Wilson” he managed to get a “What a talent” out between laughing.

After the New York Medley, when he had introduced his five co-singers, he thanked them for making the tour so special. After this mometn of emotion he again praised them for being young, athletic and handsome and announced in consistence with the night before, that they’re fired now.

We could not believe how fast we were back in the second act and he was talking about young, live, virile Marius and that he could still do the juvenile lead. This received a lot of approval from the audience. We all insisted that he did not have to be a mile away, but as we know this is just the intro for getting to Sweeney Todd. He stressed how this was happening very soon now and how his co-star was Oscar-nominated and BAFTA-winning. For once he looked positively terrified, covered his face with his hands and said “Oh God, what am I doing?". A beautiful rendition of “Pretty Women” and “Not While I’m around", which he then dedicated to Imelda Staunton. Wow! We had sat in the same auditorium as Dolores Umbridge.

Party time was a riot and he seemed genuinly touched by the rousing reception. He thanked all the fans for their support and said again what a wonderful tour it had been. He even called yesterday the perfect day. And he said tomorrow (today) would be his 39th birthday. Everyone in front of the stage had a good laugh, but you know, those who don’t know his birthday by heart would probably have believed him, fit as he is.

This was the third concert in a row and yet he was in top form. The sounds this man is making are uneblievable. We will miss the “Somebody to Love” money note. And it is so impressive how he can switch from the very naughty “Help Yourself” to a so sincere and gentle rendition of “Love changes everything” again with sensational money note. We have heard him live many many times and still this tour kept sitting there with mouth open, spine tingling in complete awe. A true phenomenon. We do hope this will come across on the DVD recording, but nothing will beat seeing him live. It was a wonderful last concert and we all felt rather emotional on our way out.

Back at the stage door the barriers now formed a rectangle with two barriers on each side of the door and two on the street, so he had a good sized space to move around in. We stood just opposite the door and could see the dressing room windows. They had lined up all the cards he had received and at one point Andrew and Imelda Staunton glanced down at us all. Eventually Michael came out in a beautiful flowery shirt (blue) giving his little thank you speech and introducing Ms Lovett to us all. She looked seriously impressed with the amount of ecstatic fans present. Inevitably someone started singing “Happy Birthday” and everyone joined in. While we can understand that you’d want to congratulate him it still felt a bit weird, seeing how superstitious he is and at home we say it is unlucky to congratulate someone before his actual birthday. But anyways it sure sounded nice and he even came to the barriers and signed whatever people popped in front of him. It was quite a frenzy and after a few moments he was back in the remaining tour bus (alone this time the singers would leave in a taxi and waved us all good-bye). The Heroes Tour 2011 was over.

We stayed behind saying good-bye to the boys and then stood a long time, chatting with friends about a wonderful experience. The weather was still brilliant and it was a very warm night, seagulls still over our heads, you could hear the waves crashing at the beach. He was probably right, it was the perfect day!

We are off home today, but will raise a glass to him at the airport. It feels strange to leave the country on his birthday. We hope he has a lovely party and then a well deserved rest before the Sweeney rehearsals. God October feels a long while away, but at least there will be Sunday Brunch against the withdrawel syndrome.

Many,many thanks to all those who have made our summer holiday extra special: Angela and family, Helge and Petra (we hope you have a lovely honeymoon in Hawaii!), Pat and Linda and gang, Pam and Rose-Marie, Bev and Hilary, Gill and Maureen, Joan, Faye, Barbara and Andrew and Saffy, Steve and Emma and everybody else who came up to us and said hello. It was such a joy to meet you all.

A blogged standing ovation to Sandra, Laura, Holly, Gary and Adrian! You guys have been amazing. As we have said; ear and eye candy.

We feel we don’t do this often enough, so we will do it now: Thank you Andrew for taking such good care of Michael and dealing so patiently with all our follies.

As always our final note of thanks must go to Mr. Michael Ball. Without him we would not have met any of the people mentionned above and it’s like he said, we hope we can still do this in 25 years time! Talk to you in October.

Brighton - Review to follow tomorrow
06/26/11 @ 07:45:22 pm, Categories: General, 55 words   English (US)

Hi there, just so you know, we are half falling asleep here. Will be doing the review blog for the show first thing tomorrow.

A brilliant concert to end a tour with and we had Imelda Staunton in the audience and at the stage door afterwards. Fabulous day, but really don’t want to leave tomorrow.

Brighton Stage Door
06/26/11 @ 12:12:11 pm, Categories: General, 864 words   English (US)

Yseterday we made an enormous mistake: We told Michael we did not have any travel nightmares this tour. Then we left Bournemouth in the midddle of the night to get to our Premier Inn in Fareham. We had the route planner, our sat nav and the address. Shortly after we started, we were both desperate for … the powder room… an found none. Then the fuel level warning light came on, but we decided, we’d get to the hotel soon anyways and everything should be fine. And it was that moment, when we discovered our motorway would be closed. Or at least several junctions (one of which was ours) were. PANIC. We had to do a detour, lost time, lost more petrol than anticipated (it kept making reproachful noises), but we would be there any minute now surely. Emily (our Sat Nav) directed us, we followed thinking, now this is an odd place for a hotel - a residential area. Most strange. We just wndered how they had obtained planning persmission for this type of house in this type of area when she said we had reached our destination. It was a dead end and we were parking in fornt of a very neat semi-detached house. Pretty roses in the front garden but they would probably not have been too chuffed if we rang the door bell at 1:30 am asking for a twin room in their attic, we don’t think. Naturally our hotel confirmationwe only had the post code and this seemed to be it. Again the car moaned for fuel. Right. Okay. Deep breath, no panic: ask clever sat nav for accomodation in the vicinity and lo and behold it came up wth our hotel and it turned out it was just around the corner at a different roundabout exit(ironically we had gotten off the roundabout at this very exit only seconds before, drove past the correct steet and then followed her instructions to get to the afore mentioned residential area instead). But we had found the place AND a petrol station. So all’s well that ends well.

On to the next morning. After a lovely shower, we got ready for the journey to Brighton. We told Emily (Sat Nav) to get us to Brighton, West Street. The streets were incredibly busy, although it’s hardly a surprise, when it’s Sunday, blazing sunshine and you are heading for a seaside town.

We have done the route from Portsmouth to Brighton countless times and were a bit surprised when Emily told us to drive on to places we’ve never heard of before and Brighton disappeared from the signposts. Did we trust our instincts? No! We thought she was being incredibly clever, using some sneaky route into town, we’ve simply not seen before.

Weeeellll, let’s just say we really enjoyed our brief stay in 1 West Street in Rottingdean ( A ). Mind you, it was a very pretty place and we passed another famous school this trip: Roedean, which also has a Michael connection as it featured in one of his lines in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. So we are now convinced Emily just wanted to show us new places.

We then got to dhe Brighton Centre fine (eventually).

We did some shopping and card-writing, had a look at the beautiful beach and had enjoyed the first real summers day in the UK (shame that we will travel back home tomorrow).

As we had expected there was quite a crowd at the stage door, but we had all left a nice space for Micahel to walk past in a guard of honor-manner, but this is Brighton and they are mad about security there. So at a quarter past four two security men rushed out of the stage door. They moved the fans a bit further apart and put barriers up, where we had to stand behind. This would have made perfect sense, if he had arrived in a tour bus, so he could have got out and in quickly, but the bus was safely parked a few yards down the road. So we told the security person, Michael would walk to the venue, but he said the production company insists. Well they never had this at any of the other 11 venues we had been to, so we had our doubts.

And guess what happened? Exactly! Michael walked to the stage door. This naturally meant that the people behind us could not see him too well, because of the barrier, but we hope they just walked up to him in the end. We waited near the door, asked for a posed photo and listened to his little speech. He wants us all to make a noise tonight and we will.

We will be sitting in the front row and remember Brighton as being very ,very strict when it comes to photos, so we cannot promise you some from the concert, but we will do our best of course.

We promised to mention Emma and Steve, so here goes: Emma and Steve (LOL ;))

No, but seriously, we had loads of fun at the stage door just now, saying thank yous and good-byes to Gary with them. Enjoy your pizza guys!

Bournemouth - 26 June 2011
06/25/11 @ 09:10:47 pm, Categories: General, 648 words   English (US)

We felt quite at home being back at the BIC in Bournemouth. When we arrived a little crowd had already gathered at the stage drive. For those who don’t know the venue: the stage door is mainly a driveway leading to the subterranean car park for the buses and trucks. What we were prepared for was standing at the side of the street, waving at him on his way in.

Imagine our surprise when he appeared behind us all, having just come up from the beach. No rain this time! As always he was very patient with us all, telling us he had had a beach hut for the day. So we really should have done the sensible thing, meaning going for a walk on the beach instead of standing on some driveway, but on the other hand, we probably would have died from embarassment, if we had run into him down on the beach.


Whatever he was on tonight, we want some of it! He told the audience he was frisky as anything and in a good mood, but by then we knew that already. Lots of bouncing around the stage. Many little dances. We experienced something like a parting of the ways: Whereas we tend to get evermore depressed towards the end of a tour, he seems to be on an all-time high, but this is fine. It’s more fun that way.

For the group flash he did all kinds of poses and had a little rant about mobile phones and texting in theatres. Some poor souls were late for the show and as we told you before, you really, really don’t want to get caught by him when sneaking in late. They got the usual “You missed a lot!", but he also stopped the entire show and waited for them to find their seats. Constantly adressing them: “That’s alright, Take your time, I’ve got nothing else to do! or should I start over again?” (we all shouted yes, he should naturally).

It was such a laugh. Oh and also everyone was on their feet for the first song. That made a nice change to Plymouth. Everyone around us was so excited, it was great.

When we got to Misty and the Clint Eastwood analogy he said that he heard laughter when explaining how the movie cast with Clint Eastwood was the first obvious similarity.

No one reacted when he said New York was his second favourite city. So he turned around to everyone. He said “I said 2nd one - Work with me Bournemouth” This got him a huge laugh.

After having introduced his five co-singers he said they were young, athletic, good-looking and that this really gets on his nerves “ThatÄs it! From tomorrow you are all fired!”

We were thrilled by the incredible reception he received, but Bournemouth is really mad about the Ball. They cheered, they stood, they clapped along and when we got to the final encore and he had his little talk about the fine and having to stop by ten pm, they even gave their game away, saying: “I’m only teasing. You’ll have to drag me off stage. I’m having such a good time here.

What can we say about the voice? He makes it sound so effortlessly and delivers notes that make your heart skip a beat, literally. He’s incredible and for fear of overusuing oue belooved amazing, we have looked up a couple of synonyms:

awesome, fascinating, incredible, marvelous, prodigious, shocking, stunning, surprising, unbelievable, wonderful

Pick whichever you like from the above. They are all true.

Right now we are in Faremham, which is midway between Bournemouth and Brighton. We cannot believe that today (it’s 3am) we will really se the final concert of the tour? Where has the time gone? We hope to get back to you between stage door and show. Good night.

24/06/11 @ 08:14:45 pm, Categories: General, 762 words   English (UK)

After the RAH concerts we had to get Julia’s mum back to Heathrow and then headed on to Plymouth for the (sadly) last leg of the tour. Can 2,5 weeks really almost be over?

We arrived quite late as we lost some time having a look at Windsor and Eton on the way. A detour that was well worth it. Once we got to the hotel we saw that there was a small cinema just across the street and we thought we might just pop in and watch “Green Lantern". Little did we know, that in this case you really should judge a book by its cover. We cannot give any names, but we swear we ended up in the shabbiest cinema of the Western Hemisphere. It was smelly, it was derelict, the 3D glasses only almost worked (making it 2.5 D we guess) and we did not dare take off the jackets or place our bags on the floor as everything was a bit sticky. This overshadowed the movie somewhat, but we survived. And let’s not even get started with our hotel room….

But anyways, after some frantic online weather forecast checks we bought a second umbrella and made our way to the stage door. We already had a small crowd and this kept growing and growing. The final headcount brought us to a little over 50.

Just when a light rain had set in we could see Mr. Ball walking (!) towards the venue. Last tour Plymouth was a drive-in and come to the barrier affair. So this was a nice surprise and credit where credit is due. He really worked his way through the entire crowd very patiently, even when the rain intensified. So many thanks for that!

We then had a table booked in the restaurant in town, that’s why we could not get back to you sooner, sorry. For the show we had seats at the very end of the third row, which means practically at the side of the stage and underneath all the speakers, but there were no seats in front of us, which we knew would mean a speedy exit to the stage.

During the opening number you can always tell who did the presale and who did not. That is why we always have a look around. It was quite patchy, fans gathered here and there and we feared this would put a daper on the atmosphere, but no, after a “slow-ish” start Plymouth really got going. The one thing that did surprise us though was the zero-reaction to his statement that he went to school in Plymouth, just down the road. Usually you’d expect cheers, but none came.

Michael had tweeted before the concert that he was “in a frisky mood". And so he was. Bouncy Ball is what we thought, ots of jumping up and down, always in motion. He was on a high from the opening notes. It was quite a joy to watch.

When we had the group flash, he had a little rant over mobile phones and flash photography. We would like to add singing along to songs Michael is singing to that list! At the Albert Hall someone behind us sang the entire Les Mis section with him, and badly! But you really don’t want to argue during “Empty Chairs".

When he talked about Neil Diamond and how Michael became really interested in music in the 70s he said that all this happened in Plymouth as he grew up there. Another Plymouth memory was going to the pub around the corner from the venue with Stephen Sondheim when they did Passion there. You could really tell that he felt a strong connection to the place.

Party time was a riot with almost everyone on their feet and lots and lots of cheering. It is great that he takes out one of his ear monitors before “Can’t help falling in love", which means that he can hear all the buzz from the crowd.

Afterwards he even came down to the fans and signed some more and took photos, when he could just as well have jumped into the bus and waved at us all. Oh and they did leave all in one bus (Michael and his singers). It seems that we have lost his bus and driver. We will keep you posted on this.

So ten down and two to go. Tomorrow morning we will be off to Bournmouth. It will be great to see the BIC again after our little venue tour. And we might even get some sunshine…. at last.

London - RAH - 22 June 2011 - Concert
06/22/11 @ 09:01:57 pm, Categories: General, 862 words   English (US)

Quote from Michael Ball on Twitter after the first RAH concert:

“That was one of the best nights on a stage I have ever had. Amazing audience at the RAH and we get to do it again tomorrow. I am blessed:)xx”

Couldn’t agree more, but could it be just as good as the first one or even better? Really hard to believe, but we were just too willing to find out.

Our seats were again on the fifth row, but this time smack bang in the middle. Disadvantage: People in front of you, Advantage: great view, if the people in front of you are not too tall.

You know the standard bits of the tour script by now. Coming to the Misty story Michael amazed us with some German, when he compared himself with Clint Eastwood, saying they could be doppelgangers (yes, we know it is common overhere as well but still made us smile). Then he continued with the restraining order and the bad boy had a go at the poor lady, who did not know what hit her.

He pointed at her and went through with the restraining order story with a lot of gusto going on an on about this particular fan going too far until he finished with a gleeful: “She’s looking panick-stricken right now…and so she should be: The police is just there!” (pointing to the end of the hall). Poor thing!

What can we say about the show? The longer we keep being with the tour, the quicker the concerts are over. You barely sat down after Holding out for a Hero and just a minute later Michael sings “Weekend in New England” an the first half is over. And this is actually the same with the second half.

There were no major glitches (apart from his microphone that was not switched on when he got back on stage for the encore but this was solved after one line).

Funnily enough the jokes that tended to give him the biggest reactions at the other venues went without any laughter or at least much less (where we were sitting). One example for this would be his comment about New York being his second favourite city etc. No real reaction eventhough this time he really means it! London is his home after all. No reaction whatsoever at the mention of teh 10th anniversary concert of Les Mis but cheers for the 25th.

Apart from that, everything went perfectly well. He received so much applause and cheering, it was just fab. They absolutey loved every second of it. And when party time started they pulled out all the stops. The noise was deafening and Michael was enjoying himself immensely. He seemed so hyped up, we are pretty sure he won’t be able to sleep for another couple of hours.

Once we reached the point where “Love changes Everything” started, Michael told us that one of his biggest heroes was in attendance. Someone whom he owes a lot and without him, he might not be here (on stage) and who has written this next song. Of course he was talking about Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, who was in a box somewhere in the back of the Hall. One of the most amazing renditions we ever heard of “Love changes Everything” was to follow. Breathtakingly beautiful.

The evening flew by and was over far too soon. He raised the roof tonight-and considering that this very roof weighes 600 tons (see, we have been at this very informative venue tour) this is an incredible achievement. The Great Ball On Fire, that’s what he was. Hopefully the three remaining venues can compete with the amount of (well-deserved) excstasy of the RAH crowd (mind you 5000 people can make some noise ineed…this will be diffecult at a smaller venue).

Now coming to the initial question as to whether this second night could even beat the first. He was in top form and Michael Ball at his prime is delightful for both, ears an eyes! Also apart from the usual show stoppers “Love changes” and the Sunset Bouleavard songs were sublime (a lot of extra care as the composer was present) and the audience reaction was definitely equal to the one before. The first night was extra special though. Oh we cannot decide an call it a tie.

As to the man himself, what can we say? He looks amazing, as you can tell from the photos. Sometimes even as if he were in his mid-thirties and after two nights of outrageously wonderful singing his voice did not show any real signs of strain. A phenomenon if ever there was one.

Plus we had one added bonus: The magic of the Royal Albert Hall. This place is immensely beautiful, huge and at the same time intimate, with all the history of the place and all its splendor it really always is quite an experience and a privilage to just be there. We vow we will not let another decade go by before returning to the RAH!

Will any of the remaining venues be able to top these two concerts? We will keep you posted.

Royal Albert Hall Stage Door
06/22/11 @ 11:20:44 am, Categories: General, 273 words   English (US)

We are just back at the hotel to get changed for the concert.

We spent the morning taking a backstage tour through the Royal Albert Hall and we are glad we did it. Quite impressive and interesting. The added bonus was that we could keep looking at Michael’s elegant set, which our guide aptly described as slick and with having a night-club feeling to it and everybody (there were 20 people)agreed. While we were at the very top of the hall, the gallery where the promenaders can stand for the Prom concerts, they were just having a light test and we were astonished what fantastic light tricks this clever stage can do (we don’t see half of it durgin the actual show). Amazing. We were shown around, but naturally there was not chance to get on the stage or into the dressing rooms (so be still all beating hearts out there), but nevertheless it was great to see this dressing room door with the MICHAEL BALL sign outside and topicture him taking this route onto the stage.

After that we had a stroll through the Victoria and Albert museum, just to be back at the stage door five minutes before Michael arrived. As he was extremely early, it was still very empty and we were maybe 15 people (?!). He looked gorgeous and asked if we had heard the radio show, which must have been hilarious according to him.

He took his time for photos an quick chats and was just ever so kind and giving before he had to go in. So now off to have another Ball. Will come back to you tonight!

London - 21/06/11
06/21/11 @ 08:44:26 pm, Categories: General, 1242 words   English (US)

What can we say? Wow! The RAH concert was just out of this world. If you may allow though, we might fill you in on what happened over the last two days.

Our mothers had seen Michael in Hairspray before, but they had never seen him live on stage in concert as himself. So, when the tour was announced and we knew Michael would do the Royal Albert Hall, we knew we had to get them into this fantastic venue so they could finally see and understand what all the fuss was about. Yes, they had met him and they liked him quite a lot on and off stage, but you know just how blxxxdy brilliant Michael is in concert.

So fast forward to last Monday, we finally collected Julia’s mum from Heathrow. Due to unforeseen circumstances Kerstin’s mum could not make it unfortunately, but her time will come as well.

As Monday was one of our few Michael-less days, we needed to find some other occupation for the evening. With brilliant timing we had read before leaving home that Rupert Everett would be doing Pygmalion in London in June. A quick check and moments later fabulous seats were booked.

As a Michael connection: Rupert had done the play in Chichester. So when we sat down and flicked through the programmes it was a nice surprise to find a “Sweeney Todd” advertisement inside. Pygmalion was great and Rupert Everett was just everything you would expect. Diana Rigg did a great job as Prof. Higgins’ mother, but a special mention has to go to Kara Tointon. She was just amazing.

However, the weird part came when the show was over and we decided to see if the stage door would really be just next door to the exits and it was. We waited for a bit and finally got signatures of Rupert Everett and Diana Rigg, who obligingly signed programmes and posed for photos although it had just started to rain ever so slightly. Kara Tointon signed as well and was just so lovely and easy to chat with. Glad we did it.

Okay, but now you want to know about today. No stage door report and photos today. We skipped this one as we were invited to the wedding of our friends Helge and Petra. They are fans from Germany as well and decided to marry in London in a little German church close to Harrods. It has been the most amazing day. Thank you both for allowing us to share this special occasion with you! We even had a sightseeing tour in a special bus and a wonderful dinner in Chelsea. The sun was shining, the service was just beautiful (we all got to sing Love Changes Everything!!) and there were a few other fans from the UK, the States and France there so it was a truly international affair.

The seats we had were just brilliant. Arena to the left hand side in the fifth row, which was effectively the third row and for Kerstin even a front row, as she had no one in front of her.

We took our seats, enjoyed the view and could not believe to be back at the Royal Albert Hall for the first time in almost 11 years. Fate would have it that he either did the Hammersmith Apollo or we could not come to London when he had appeared at the Hall in recent years. So as you can imagine we were quite excited to be back and Julia’s mum was so in awe to be at such a famous place….pre-concert nerves on our part….cannot even imagine how Michael will have felt!

Michael burst on stage and you could tell the Royal Albert Hall was special to him. And what a welcome home he received! After either “Bad Things” or “Don’t stop believing”, we cannot remember just now, Michael turned to his band and singers, pointed over his shoulder and exclaimed excitedly “The Royal Albert Hall!”. His excitement was infectious. You just could not help but smile back. Lots of dimple action and we could not believe how close he was and how low the stage was. We had forgotten about the dimensions of the arena. London just loved every second of it and Michael truly gave us his all. How he does it we will never know: song after song, money note after money note delivered with utter perfection. We screamed ourselves hoarse and were by far not the only ones making a noise. Kerstin sat at the receiving end of the Misty/restraining order pointing and nearly broke Julia’s hand LOL

We have said it before but it is a bizarre phenomenon that we go to a concert to be (sublimely) entertained on the one hand but on the other hand our main goal is to show our appreciation to this incredible performer. And the happier he is with the reception he gets the better we feel about a concert and so both sides of the stage keep egging each other on to new heights. This happened tonight. With every roar or applause or standing ovation he seemed to be trying even harder to impress and we all tried to show even more appreciation… It was bliss. Those endless money notes or silky lows…suffice to say that by the end of act 1 Julia’s mum sat there open mouthed and speechless (and she has seen all his concert DVDs several times and enjoyed them immensely. But there is nothing, nothing whatsoever that compares to experiencing Michael live on stage. We knew that of course ;)). She could not believe how any singer could be this perfect, how a voice can be this versatile and how loud a proper money note REALLY is. It was such joy to see her excitement.

The show tunes did go down very well indeed with the already ecstatic crowd and it seemed like mere minutes until we came to party time. This time he even said something along the lines of “join in on the fun” for Avenues and Alleyways as everyone was dashing to the front anyways. We managed to position Julia’s mum directly at the stage so she was as close as possible. And he rocked the Hall!

Everyone was on their feet and before the encore the stalls seemed to explode with the stamping of feet to call him back on stage. He was so touched it was adorable to watch. Makes you want to hug him – very tightly. Genuine delight in our host’s face and lots of figurative audience hugging as he asked us all to do him a favour and come back tomorrow. Well, most of us fans will most happily oblige. It was the perfect concert.

We were once more amazed at the sheer force of the final few lines of Love Changes Everything after he had delivered this tour de force of a concert. 2 hours flown by like nothing at all. All too soon he was off the stage and we were left to leave the Hall in a happy daze. Met many friends at the VERY busy stage door and after a long wait and the late arrival of his car we waved him off for tonight.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings. We will get back to you as soon as possible with further news from beautiful London.

Southampton – The Concert
06/19/11 @ 07:00:24 pm, Categories: General, 436 words   English (US)

It was great being back at the Mayflower again. We remembered many happy Hairspray Hours. We were sat in row C, centre block, at the aisle. Perfect seats (apart from front row obviously). It’s always fun to watch the entrance standing ovation in “Holding out for a hero”. You can tell exactly who bought their tickets in the pre-sale and who rather remained seated. Patches of eager fans everywhere, but everyone greeted Mr. Ball with the appropriate glee.

We had another group flash moment. So he will probably continue this at all the venues. It was not as mad as Bristol though.

From the second song on we knew he would do everything to try to keep Southampton forever in his concert schedule. They just loved him. All this excitement let to a few more embellishments during the Clint Eastwood Misty story. And he went on and on about the fan getting a bit scary, ignoring the restraining order, kept pointing, then abruptly stopped, laughed and said “Oh no, she looks all terrified now!” This was so much fun.

After the New York medley, when he went on how fabulous the gang was and how much younger than him and what talented singers they were , he finally exclaimed “Go home!”

Tonight the medley was a huge hit with the audience, meaning that almost every segment of the medley got its own round of applause.

The show tunes of the second half hit the spot and at one point we actually feared the young man in front of us would jump out of his seat out of excitement. Follow spot had a slight problem again, but as soon as Michael said “I’m in the dark, where am I?” the spot found him.

Naturally he thanked Southampton for the wonderful Hairspray experience he had there and everyone seemed truly sad that Edna had left the building and he would no longer shaving his parts.

This second half flew by so fast. The one moment he is Norma Desmond and the next we are in the middle of “Somebody to love”. Again the mad rush started with “Avenues and Alleyways”. It was a great party down there. The response he got was amazing and you could tell he was truly touched. He kept thanking the audience and he even promised that from now on they would come back every tour.

Southampton definitely got Michael there. The Royal Albert Hall next. Oooooh, scary! But we know it will be just as magical as every concert has been so far. Looking forward to London and talk to you soon.

Southampton - 19 June 2011
06/19/11 @ 11:52:53 am, Categories: Pre Stage Door, 269 words   English (US)

Touring can be mad at times… well most times. In these past three days, the schedule took us from Portsmouth ( A ) to Bristol ( B ) and then to Southampton ( C ).

For both trips we chose to drive via Bath and Salisbury on the A36 and strongly recommend that route to anyone who wants to see a bit of scenic England.

Anyway, we’re back at the coast and we’ve been here before. We came and visited Edna in May 2010 and not much has changed, apart from one vital bit: The stage door is on the other side of the building now! But luckily we have wonderful fan friends who informed us of this innovation the night before.

We got there nice and early and watched the ominous dark grey clouds gather. The buses arrived shortly after four pm and then nothing happened for 15 minutes. We thought this is odd, when suddenly he appeared at the bus doors and stood there chatting to his crew for a few seconds before anyone really noticed him. We all cottoned on quickly though and he apologised and explained that he had to finish watching a movie in the bus. Surely it must be odd knowing that there are 30 women waiting outside your tour bus to watch you walk into a building while you are immersed in watching a movie.

We can happily inform you that although the clouds grew darker by the minute while he was finishing his movie it remained dry until the second he was out of sight! Perfect timing! Enjoy the photos and we will get back to you after the concert.

Bristol - 18 June 2011
18/06/11 @ 07:56:04 pm, Categories: Shows, Pre Stage Door, Post Stage Door, Travel, 706 words   English (UK)

Took the scenic A36 to Bristol instead of the quicker, but more boring motorway. Got there with plenty of time, met up with Angela and family and eventually joined the other fans at the stage door.

The Colston Hall has several back doors, so we were relieved that the others had sussed out, where he would go in. At roughly 20 to five he came walking up the street, tour bus safely parked at the curve. He took his time with everyone and even held a baby of one of the fans. That was so cute.

We spent the rest of the day with Angela and her lovely family and time jsut flew by. For this concert we had tickets in row G and had been busy moaning about being so far back, but you know what? Those were excellent seats, we were in the centre, surrounded by lots of fan friends and all in all had a much better view than from row C on the side in Portsmouth.

From the final Hairspray show we knew the Bristol crowd could make some noise and we were not disappointed.

Quite a few flashes went off (although were we were sitting, it was not as bad as it has been at Portsmouth) and we got the group flash again. This is a fabulous idea and we had already liked it in 2005. Sadly not everyone got it and there were still several flashes going off through the next song, but after that it got much better.

The New York Medley got a great reception with lots of applause after every single sequent. Certainly a highlight for us. Again Michael said they would be all so young, attractive and stars of the future and again he wondered “What the hell am I doing? I must be out of my mind!”

He also told us all that he had met Barry Manilow, when Michael was hosting the Laurence Olivier Awards.

After the interval Michael re-appears on top of the stage at the end of the Sunset Boulevard Overture. This is a quite dramatic entrance as he is already full in character, performing “As if we never said goodbye". Tonight however the audience got a bit distracted. Due to the confined stage Michael had to make his entrance through the opening in the middle of the starry curtain. And his microphone was already on, when they parted it and you could clearly hear the ripping sound of the velcro strips. But this was only a moment of laughter, then everyone listened in awe.

He praised the Bristol crowd for having given Hairspray and Edna the perfect send-off and then talked about Sweeney a bit, saying he was really, really nervous about it, which led to a lady from the circle shouting something encouraging to him and he said he wished he could hear it and took out one of his ear monitors and actually had a quick conversation from stage to circle. It was quite hilarious.

Party time again saw people running to the stage for “Avenues and Alleyways". A security guy sent about two people back, but then gave up and a few latecomers joined the crowd during “A pencil full of lead". By then the audience just went wild. Sometimes during “Help Yourself” it felt like Lady’s Night at a high end night club! Bristol really loves Michael and it’s always a joy to see him getting the reaction he deserves. We like a noisy crowd.

The person who designed the light show really deserves a special mention. For the first time during this tour we could fully appreciate staging. The set with its many clever lights seems like one of the performers. It has its own role to play and sets the tone beautifully. These lights can be anything, fromt he star-spangled banner to the skyscrapers of New York, but also a dramatic Sunset. Quite amazing.

This reception must surely have meant even more to him as Cathy was in the audience tonight.

And it did not rain. What more can a fan ask for? Tomorrow we’ll head back down to the coast for the Southampton gig. Another Hairspray venue, so we expect a lot of noise again. YAy.

Portsmouth - 17 June 2011
17/06/11 @ 07:16:59 pm, Categories: Shows, 532 words   English (GB)

We have been looking forward to this concert as Portsmouth is always so very enthusiastic seeing that Michael is a “homey” (his second home is just a few miles down the road). The fact that it had finally stopped to rain was an added bonus.

This time we had seats at the side and it was an intersting change of perspective. Portsmouth did not disappoint. He got a very warm welcome and the crowd seemed determined to love whatever he was giving them. We love these kinds of concerts.

In contrast to the previous shows we’ve been to there were many flashes going off during the first few songs, which must have annoyed Michael quite a bit as he then said he’d forgotten to make an announcement. He asked to refrain from using mobile phones, recording devices and flash photography. Instead he re-introduced the classic “group flash". This means that he asked everyone to get their cameras out and promised he would pose for one shot. The ensuing thunderstorm of flashlights when he poses looked really rather pretty. A few still kept going on and he told individuals off for flashing him.

While introducing “Misty” and mentionning the uncanny similarities between Michael’s and Clint Eastwood’s characters life (both have their own radio show) Michael announced that Sunday Brunch would be back from 3 July! YAY!

As a side remark: Michael mentionned he first saw Tom Jones live in Portsmouth.

After finishing the New York medley and having introduced his five guest singers he remarked how they were all good-looking and younger than he was. “What the hell am I doing sharing the stage with them!?!”

Talking about being now “Bessie mates Bazza Manilow” and him having lent Michael the sparkly show biz jacket he joked “Yeah I wish I could get into anything of this” (awww).

In the second act, when he had finished the Les Mis section he said he could still be Marius, if “you (the audience) are a mile away". We learned that rehearsals for Sweeney Todd would start really soon. Exciting times!

The rest of the evening went swimmingly, except for one thing. Most people ran to the front straight after “Somebody to love". Could we here now please start a petition to officially start party time with “Avenues and Alleyways"? It is an uptempo song, everyone thinks it’s the beginning of Party time anyway and you end up way behind everyone for waiting until “Pencil full of lead". Please let us run for “Avenues and alleyways".

But anyways, everyone was having a great time. He received tumultous applause and seemed truly happy with the reception he got. He told us all how this was a special evening as it was the first “Michael Ball concert” for his nephew and niece, who were sat in the circle. They sure seemed to have a great time.

They could not have picked a better venue for their premiere and boy did he deliver. Another brilliant, amazing, fantastic, super tour concert. And when we all waved his bus off it still was not raining, bliss!

So off to do it all again tomorrow in Bristol. Let’s see if he gets them too!

Portsmouth Stage Door - Wet Wet Wet
06/17/11 @ 12:08:18 pm, Categories: Pre Stage Door, 307 words   English (US)

For us it was another typical Portsmouth stage door. Just as the Met Office had predicted: 4pm saw the beginning of heavy rain showers.

At school we were taught the saying: “It’s raining cats and dogs". Now we know what it means. Quite amazingly the crowd was bigger than the one in Ipswich, where it was a fine dry day. As we stood there for an hour in pooring rain and gusts of icy wind, we wondered more than once whether we could explain this sort of behaviour to a non-fan. Probably not.

Eventually the band started arriving. Twice we were told that we were very brave and this just shows how bad it was. Whenever we thought it eased off a little it just came back with a vengeance, completely soaked to the skin. That’s what we were.

Another first time: A crew member came out and handed small packets of crisps to everyone. This was so kind. Finally at 5pm the bus arrived. We were quite impressed with how he reversed through very narrow gates. Not a job we’d want! We all were sure that in this weather, Michael would simply wave and dash off and quite rightly so. But oh no, he got an umbrella got out, we all formed a nice line at the open gate and he came to chat for a short while.

This was so sweet of him, okay, so he called us all “drowned rats", but we feel this was appropriate. We could not get the proper camera out in all the rain, but managed a few shots with the mobile phone. Sorry about that, but we did not want to risk damaging our equipment, as has happened before … and yes that was as well in Portsmouth.

Enjoy piccies and we will get back to youz after the show!

Ipswich Concert
06/15/11 @ 08:24:32 pm, Categories: General, 693 words   English (US)

First things first: the auto cue was not ideally placed for taking photos (they made an announcement saying no flash photography and we really did not see many go off. It was great!) but the view was fine as the stage was not too close.

There were not too many people on their feet when Michael made his entrance but he nevertheless received a warm welcome. Ipswich is always good fun and tonight was the same. During Bad Things the ladies sitting in the first row of the side block went completely wild when he approached them. We loved that of course as this is one of our favourites…and really oh so naughty.

Michael seemes relaxed and chatty and the voice was in fine form. And you know what it’s like: the more the audience gives the more we receive - some of these notes were out of this world.

The Misty story was back complete with retraining order and pointing at fan and tonight the follow spot worked perfectly (in Oxford it came on much too late and Michael - in complete darkness - said that it was rather dark here….no reaction “Hello!?!” and then it finally came on).

Really, really loving the New York section (and have to admit we prefer Laura’s Empire State of Mind to the original actually)! All the gang are so talented. After Michael was back on stage he said how wonderful they all were, very attractive, bright future ahead…"they make me sick” LOL Yeah, we feel you…nah, just kidding of course. A joy for the eyes and the ears indeed.

Did we already mention the fantastic light concept of the show? Probably, but we hope you will see for yourself on some of the pictures.

Oh and there was a photographer there for the opening number. So watch out for tomorrow’s newspapers local fans! Sadly we are already en route to Portsmouth ourselves.

Can we just say again hhow much we love Sunset Boulevard? It’s not a mere song anymore it’s a short play! We are now spoilt forever of course, no one else can sing and perform that one like him.

Dito “Somebody to Love". The arrangement is fantastic and it’s alomost overwhelmingly brilliant.

The party time was so much fun. The place went completely crazy! BUT it was not a pushy affaire. Or at least not at the stage, we couldn’t say about further back. You had room to wriggle but everyone was down there having a good time.

The intro to One Step Out of Time is a bit different this tour. Love the new elegance of those first lines.

And that last note of Love Changes…? To die for - how he manages that after 2 hours of singing is an utter mystery to us. But thank you so much for working so hard for us all!

Afterwards we floated back to the “stage gate". Quite a crowd already there. The gates were open which was unusual, but as musicians and staff left through there with their cars it could not be helped. We could see that near to the bus a small group of people in wheelcharis were waiting for Michael with programmes ready. We were so pleased for them as often at places like Ipswich with gates instead of doors soemone who cannot stand and fight to the front will hardly ever get an autograph. Michael got out to them almost unnoticed by the large crowd waiting on the outside of the gates but then you could see flashlights from the cameras down there and suddenly most people started rushing down to the bus and Michael. This sadly meant that the time the little group had with him was shortened drastically as he practically ran to the bus saying he had to leave and thanks everyone for coming and was gone.

Apart from this little incident of fan madness it was a most enjoyable evening and we look forward to returning for the next tour. Always a great crowd in Ipswich. :)

Day off tomorrow with some sightseeing and then he will come and get Portsmouth. Can’t wait!

Ipswich Stage Door
06/15/11 @ 12:18:17 pm, Categories: General, 318 words   English (US)

After a fabulous last night and a great time with Angela, we had to get her to the train station and get on our way to Ipswich.

Everything went smoothly. Well, once we were in Ipswich and received our tickets (front row, dead centre, but well…. the auto cue might mean we will only be able to listen to the concert, fingers crossed we will see though)… Kerstin’s mum phoned to tell her that someone English phoned, all she understood was Travelodge as she does not really speak English. So now we have to find out, what this all was about. Fingers crossed, we will have a hotel tonight!

When we got to the “stage gate” (just cannot call it stage door), Michael’s still damaged bus left. Ten minutes later, when we were still alone it got back, but no Michael inside. He finally arrived in the second bus with the other singers.

We actually asked Michael’s bus driver what happened to the bus and he said a lorry reversed into it the other night, when he was asleep in it. They are going to get the damaged window repaired tomorrow.

So, the bus with Michael entered through the gates and by the time Michael got out the gates were closing again, sadly! He commented, that this is how he likes his fans: Behind bars. And then somehow the gate opened again. Leaving him shouting: Are you mad, opening these gates? But we were only a small crowd and behaved. This means we all remained standing as if there were gates and he stood in the middle and chatted to us all.

Various people commented on the great set list and he agreed, adding that it was very demanding. We believe him! So many money notes. It was a very relaxed affair and after a few minutes he left for the sound check.

So that’s it for now.

Oxford - 14/06/2011
06/14/11 @ 07:52:46 pm, Categories: General, 369 words   English (US)

What a fantastic night!! Oxford just LOVES Michael. Best audience reaction we had so far (see “Michael cuddles the audience” photo).

Fab night! Okay, so he had to start On Broadway again because he and the band were out of synch but that was much fun. He laughed (tho we know he is not too keen on things going wrong) and took it in his stride of course.

Lots of joking about him as young, virile, handsome Marius and the fact that he could still play this part of course…

A couple came late – sometime after Bad Things - and they had the misfortune to arrive between two songs and Michael naturally commented, saying something about along the lines of “you missed loads”. Mental note: never be late for a Michael Ball concert and try sneaking in unnoticed. He WILL comment.

We were at the side, on the aisle, in front row. Just about perfect. Voice was fine and they didn’t mind photos so we took a few (without a flash of course and with the display switched off). We hope you enjoy them!

There was an orchestra pitch (band was on stage as always of course) so there was no hand holding/fan kissing during the Elvis number.

The day was perfect not least because we were joined by our darling friend Angela and had a fab stage door (unusual for Oxford he didn’t just step out from the bus and into the building but instead got out of the bus at the end of the lane and walked past all the gathered fans). We finally got to say a proper hello to Sandra and Adrian and the sun has finally made an appearance. It was the first proper summer day we had on this trip.
We noticed the windscreen of the coach was damaged. This must have happened sometime between Cardiff and Oxford. It looks dangerous and expensive. It must be difficult to drive this huge bus on the wrong side (it’s an Austrian tour bus).

Tomorrow we will head off to Ipswich - and upload the stage door photos from Oxford. Running late again (1:45 am) so we concentrated on the concert ones first.

Cardiff - the show
06/13/11 @ 05:50:46 am, Categories: General, 457 words   English (US)

Michael leaves the stage during the New York medley (at the beginning of Fame). He makes his entrance during New York New York, where he elegantly walks down the steps, singing. And this time finished of with a little hop at the bottom. After finishing with an amazing money note, he admitted to almost slipped down those stairs and whose idea were they anyways, and “did you ever try to walk down stairs with a spot light” on yourself. “Whose idea was it anyways?” (we bet it was his).

Party time began a bit early. “Somebody to love” received a well-deserved standing ovation, which led to party time beginning one song too early as the front row just remained standing throughout “Avenues and Alleyways". The seats are very close to the stage anyways, so there was no mad rush to the stage. This must have been the most relaxed party time we ever had. We went to the stage at the beginning of “Pencil full of Lead” and it was nice to be able to dance with loads of space around you, with no one pushing from behind. A very calm affair. Fabulous!

We were amazed how the audience reaction changed throughout the concert. At the very beginning (and we were sitting in the fourth row on the aisle) hardly anyone around us stood up for the first song. It were basically the first two to three rows. The same goes for the usual standing ovations after “New York” Medley and “This is the moment". Many stood, just as many remained seated, but towards the end of the concert, when it was time to party: Boy, did they party! The floor was actually vibrating and moving under our feet, it was almost scary, but in a good way, if you know what we mean.

It was fantastic and wonderful show. He sounded so fantastic and it’s remarkable how effortless all these money notes seem. Just a great night.

Stage door afterwards was very interesting. They had cordoned off the stage door area. There were three security people, who btw. were very fierce throughout the concert and stopped people taking photos throughout the whole concert. So we did not bother.

When Michael finally arrived it was apparent that he was in a real hurry. He thanked everyone and said he was off to do some filming and needed to rush. Hence we have just one photo of the Ball in motion.

All in all it was great to be back in Wales and see Debbie again and the show of course. Another great memory.

Today is a day off and we are bound to explore the coast a bit. We will get back to you from Oxford tomorrow.

Stage Door Cardiff
06/12/11 @ 12:01:38 pm, Categories: General, 107 words   English (US)

We are just back at the hotel after a quick stage door trip. The good thing about the Millennium Center? You don’t have to stand in the rain and storm, which is a very big pro today. The big problem: It’s inside and it’s dark and tough on photos and Michael will come walking down from the stage door to the fans. And that’s what he did. He said he was a bit tired and you could tell. However, he stayed for two or three photos, which was lovely and went in.

And now we are getting ready for the concert tonight. so talk to you later.

Arrived in Cardiff
06/12/11 @ 09:34:56 am, Categories: General, 179 words   English (US)

Thanks to Faye’s and Joan’s good advice we found a bargain sat nav in Birmingham this morning. Thanks a million! Mind you, once we had it set up and typed in the hotel addy it kept saying place not found….then we tried Cardiff as such and it said “Town not Found". Hum, this was odd, surely even with dated maps a whole town shouldn’t disappear! And then we started the process again and foudn out we had to change the country! From England to Wales. Appologies to the Welsh for our ignorance but we had no idea LOL were quite desperate at one point and almost went back to the shop claiming our money back :oops:

Anywhere, just got here via incredibly landscapes…some parts of the country simply look better in the rain. There were clouds stuck in the hills and everything. Magical.

It’s pouring down and the wind is fierce, but the Millennium Centre is all lovely and you can wait inside.

We will get back to you as soon as possible after the stage door.

Birmingham - He came and got us!
11/06/11 @ 09:16:56 pm, Categories: General, 2012 words   English (UK)

The morning started…. well… we tried to find out how much a sat nav would be for our 16 remaining days. And guess what? Avis would charge so much money… we can well buy a new one and keep it at that price. So we spend the day searching for sat navs, which is far less easy than one should think and we have not been successful yet. Hopefully tomorrow.

Stage Door

We decided to go there early as todays concert was to be filmed for DVD release, so we figured he might be earlier than usual for additional preparations. A small-ish crowd had already gathered and we were informed that the bus has just left to pick him up. Spend the short wait with catching up with everyone and at a quarter to four he arrived.

The bus reversed into the parking area and heavy gates were shot behind it. So it was a Ball behind bars scenario. Very kindly though he walked up behind the gates, even though he was not meant to be out in the cold. Sadly we were standing at an unfortunate angle so could not take photos due to the bars. And once he walked up and said hello the camera batteries were flat, so no stage door photos. Sorry everyone. It was short and sweet and then he was off. Our first tour stage door, over. We can tell you one thing though: He is looking mighty fine. We are quite jealous at all this weight loss.

We spent the remaining hours with our two favourite Australians and had such a laugh. Thanks girls!

The Show

Beforehand everyone has told us to be prepared. His voice was amazing, the show was amazing, the set was amazing, everything was amazing. And what can we say? Everyone was completely right!

when he came on stage in a beautiful jacket and unforgettable dark gray jeans sounding the best we have heard in years, we were completely blown away. This was it, we were really there. The stage was not too high and we were sat on the second row on the aisle. Perfect seats. It has to be said that some people in the front row will have had trouble seeing anything at all. The teleprompters are huge, so we were very happy wehre we were.

The set list has not changed and we hope Emma doesn’t mind us copying hers:

Act 1

Overture - various movie themes including Indiana Jones, James Bond, Flash Gordon

Holding Out For A Hero: Wonderful choice, set the mood brilliantly, loving it.

Bad Things: We have anticipated this moment with a passion since the beginning of the tour. We have always wanted him to do the opening song of HBO’s series True Blood. It’s utterly sexy and so very naughty. To be completely honest with you, parts of us were borderline hysteric due to the song being included in the set list and we were not disappointed. With his very deep notes and tantalizing lyrics the first highlight of the evening came very early on. A big thank you to Michael for granting us our biggest wish.

Don’t Stop Believing: We are old enough the remember the Journey version. great song.

He introduced the Heroes theme and also mentionned that it was appropriate he was recording the concert in Birmingham, where he was born (down the road in Bromsgrove). He grew up playing and listening to the music of his heroes. Some of the choices he made were more obvious than others. Some were and some weren’t. So he asked who was a fan of Long John Baldry and as several stated they were he said that some might not have heard of him. He thinks he is brilliant and he has chosen his biggest hit:

Let The Heartaches Begin

The next choice is no big surprise as it is a hit by Neil Diamond. It had to be from the 70s as that was the time Michael started to really getting into music. Michael was at his most open than and listened to the lyrics and was not only into the mainstream stuff, but the lyrics were important. He believes Neil Diamond to be a real poet and the song he chose demonstrates that:

Play Me

Misty is supoposed to be one of Johnny Mathis’ most romantic songs and it was used in a movie that starred Clint Eastwood. “So the similarities start there already.” He was a radio host (just like Michael) and he had loads of fans, “yes this is working and one of these fans got a bit carried away. Used to go everywhere, did not listen to the restraining order (he picked one person of the audience and kept throwing evil looks at her, then pointed at her and said) Could be in trouble". The film of course is “Play Misty for me":


I’ll Never Fall In Love Again: Lovely deep note in here. Wonderful edginess after all the polished romance. Shows off his wide range. Great song and stunning performance! Later he mentionned that it was recommended to him by non other than Mr. Tom Jones. “Mike, you want a good song? That’s the one!”

Roger Wilson from Michael’s band played a stunning solo of “Rhapsody in Blue", amazing lightshow as well, this will look spectacular on the DVD. He got an extra applause for that. Well deserved. Perfect opening for:

New York State of Mind

He knew he wanted to sing NY State of Mind and this inspired him to include a whole medley of NY themed songs. NY is an amazing place, there is nothing like it. “It’s exciting, terrifying, invigorating, it’s exhausting, it’s overwhelming and it’s possibly my 2nd favourite city in the world (pause - laughter from the audience) work with me here, Birmingham!” He wanted to pay a tribute to a city and if ther is a place that is heroic, that is New York.

On Broadway (with Adrian and Gary): Michael is alone on stage, then Adrian joins him and we get a kind of stroll-on-Broadway dance routine, where they are finally joined by Gary. Eventually they were joined by the three girls Holly, Laura and Sandra (all five of them looked glamorous) and that kicks of a fantastic rendition of:

Empire State of Mind (Laura)

Englishman in New York (Gary and Michael): We are not so keen on the original (sorry Sting), but this arrangement was fabulous.

Fame (Holly): Amazing! Dance routine and all. Such a joy to watch.

Broadway Baby (Sandra): Sandra is just fantastic, we love her! We were so happy when we learned that she would be on the tour with Michael. A phenomenon.

New York New York: Well a classic, with money note. Mind you, sadly, as it is a NY medley none of the songs is sung in full. At some point during the medley we lost Michael and he returned for this song, waring a jacket with lovely sparkling lapels. And the beloved starry curtain is back (in contrast to last tour however, the curtain did not receive an entrance applause).

A well deserved standing ovation at the end of the New York medley.

He introduced the final number of the first half by saying that the best thing about being in NY, when you live there, is getting out of New York. He described the beauties of New England, Indian Summer, the quietness after the hectic city. There is a song dedicated to this beautiful place, which was written and performed by Barry Manilow, who Michael had met very recently (as you do!). Apparently Michael has played him his (Michael’s) version of his (Barry’s) song and he (Barry) had said that it was the first time that he had heard record it. Quote: “I know, me and Bazza! He lend me the jacket!”

Weekend in New England

Act 2

Sunset Boulevard Overture

Michael returned in a tuxedo, complete with a bow tie and patent leather shoes. YUMMY.

As If We Never Said Goodbye

Sunset Boulevard: Amazing, Amzaing, Amazing! (Sorry, we know it’s repetitive, but it’s in the middle of the night, bear with us). We’ve never heard a better rendition of the song. He really acts it and, oh, can he be bitter and angry. Just fantastic, a real highlight.

Before he started introducing Les Mis, we noticed him pointing at the auto cue monitors and looking sideways to the sound desk several times. So apparently something was not working properly. Apparently this was fixed after a little while. He finished his introduction, where he talked about the 25th anniversary, saying that he hoped that he will still sing it in 25 years and that we were still be there to listen to him sing it (so do we!).

Empty Chairs At Empty Tables

I Dreamed A Dream

“Who would have thought 25 years ago, that I would be an overweight, agoraphobic housewife from Baltimore, 25 years later. Where did it all go wrong?” He told us how much fun he had doing Hairspray, but that Edna was gone now, that he was hanging up the high heels, the fake boobs and the big hair, well at least in public. “What I do in my private life is my own business!” He then told us all about his next role, being a serial killer and that he always dreamed of being Sweeney Todd. To introduce it, he had combined two songs of the show:

Pretty Women / Not While I’m Around

This Is The Moment: second standing ovation of the evening.

Somebody To Love: Just Great!

Avenues and Alleyways: Always takes us back to Dreamboats and Petticoats, which we saw twice in London with Ben James-Ellis and Tony Christie. We are pleased to report that unlike the night before, no one came to the front too early.

Pencil Full of Lead: Rush to the stage, which as we said was not very high and so you felt really close to all the action on stage.

One Step Out Of Time: Can we call it a classic?

He said he left his greatest hero until the end: Elvis Presley.

I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You: A beautiful rendition. Elvis songs always suit him so well.

He said the first good-beys for the night. The crowd was really enthusiastic. It was a great mock end of the concert. Naturally he returned after a few minutes after frantic applause, stamping and cheering.


Help Yourself: oh, those hips! And he knows that he’s looking mighty fine! A joy to behold.

Love Changes Everything:
Stunning money note. How he does it after two hours of singing, we will never know.

For Once In My Life: A tender “good night” after a spectacular show.

And that was it. Our first tour concert. You would not have noticed that he was so ill that he had to cancel a concert a few nights ago. The voice was so smooth and tender at some notes and so precise and strong at others. Constant shivers down our spines. Quite an experience after so many years with our beloved Edna. We hope he is pleased with the result of the recording. It was a special night. Truly magical. Sorry about the gushing but we were on concert-withdrawal. Cannot wait for the 11 concerts to come and the dvd, of course.

At the stage door after the show he walked up to the gates again and thanked everyone before climbing into the bus, waving at the gathered crowd.

We spent of “after show party” at Barbara’s hotel room together with husband Andrew (who had the most amazing stories to tell about their journey to Germany), Steve, Emma and Tina - oh and Saffy the dog, of course. We had such a good time (even got Will & Kate paper cups! Yay!!). Thank you for having us. This of course meant that we got “home” a bit late and thus it is no ten past three.

We will get back to you from Cardiff tomorrow. Good night everyone!

On the road again
06/10/11 @ 06:44:40 pm, Categories: General, 588 words   English (US)

Unfortunately we cannot provide you with a fantastic review of the first Birmingham concert as we only just arrived… after the concert, but that was planned.

So let’s see, how has our trip been so far? (prepare for a long moan)

Julia flew over to Kerstin in the early morning (after a very long night of frantic packing), so we could travel together to Birmingham. First problem: Her luggage weighed 22 kilos (it’s 17 days after all!!) - but the airline allowed only 20 which meant she had to repack at the check-in desk at her airport in front of a VERY long queue and with hand luggage that was already full to bursting (yes, I am aware of the fact that 70 % of the clothes will travel back home without having been worn once…but it’s 17 whole days and 12 concerts!). Sqeezed a pair of evening shoes and some bits and bobs into her now worrisomely bulky hand luggage and the kind check-in person let her pass. Phew.

Arried at Kerstin’s: Rain. A few hours of frantic packing (Kerstin) and tired staring at the TV(Julia) later we were on our way to Dusseldorf airport on the train (with two very large and heavy suitcases and heavy hand luggage…it felt like a small move. Why oh why do we always take the entire wardrobe?? Will we ever learn? Nah, guess not.

Once we got on our way we were joined by a huge group of young, very drunk and very loud Dutch boys, who added the fun to the fact that we had to stand for the whole train ride. Fed up before we even started? You bet.

It was equally crowded at the airport, security and at the gate, but at least we eventually got seats there. So everything was fine…. Until Julia handed her ticket and passport to the steward, who greeted her, took her ticket, told her they had to change our seats for technical reasons. Great. and then he ripped her ticket apart and handed her a new one. Guess what? Of course we were not meant to sit together anymore. Which is really fabulous as for the first time ever we paid money beforehand to choose our seats! So we basically bought them half a year ago and now they separated us. Thank you Flybe, that’s what I call service and rest assured we want our money back!

Good news. Lovely lady sitting next to Julia agreed to swap places with Kerstin. Happy Bunnies.

Then we got our luggage, intact and everything, got to the car rentals and weyhey, got an upgrade and now we are driving a sparkling new Volkswagen Golf, which feels extremely like home. So all’s good? Nope! 11 years of travelling and rest assured there is always something very important Kerstin manages to leave at home. This time it’s the Sat Nav! GURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

Let’s put it this way, we printed route planners, just in case… and it said the trip would last 22 minutes, but we managed to make 45 out of it, because we just could not find the blxxdy hotel.

So, yes, here we are, back in England, back in Birmingham and back on tour. And tomorrow we will try our best to get to Avis and ask for a sat nav. Fingers crossed.

On a happy note. We are glad Michael is feeling a bit better and able to perform. Get fighting fit again soon MIchael and we hope it went well for you.

So Tour 2011, we are coming to get ya!

04/30/11 @ 07:20:28 pm, Categories: General, 1466 words   English (US)

The Matinee

The final matinee in the run is always worth seeing, because everyone is allowed to have fun with it. We still remember well the final matinee at the Shaftesbury. It was a riot! So we knew we were in for a treat. Here are just a few of the tricks we spotted:

- the tea towel with William and Kate made another appearance

- “Nicest Kids in Town": When they all sing “Once a month we have a Negro day” the black kids briefly appeared on the left side of the stage and waved and sang along

- Link: “The guys were all over me. I don’t know how Rock Hudson stands it!". Usually it’s “The girls were all over me….”

- during “I can hear the bells", when Corny and Mr. Spritzer appear as priest and .. well Triangle player they were joined by a nun, played by Tracy’s walking cover Dina Tree

- When Lil Inez comes to audition for the show, she usually says “Hello Mam, can I please audition?” and Velma replies “But of course not, but you can bow and exalt…". They’ve changed it and Lil Inez now says “Am I too late to audition?” “Not too late dear, just too black!”

- When Penny gets Tracy’s parents to “come see what’s on TV", Edna replies “Don’t tell me there’s another Royal Wedding!”

- at one point you could see some of the nicest kids in the background pretending to be painting the walls of the set.

- “Welcome to the 60s": The three Dynamites were joined by two additional Dynamites from the wings. Also Dina made another entrance as Mr. Pinkie’s assistant. When Edna emerges all glammed up she was sporting a new wig, Tracy in blond. It looked increditbly cute.

- “Scatter Dodge Ball": Hats off to Liam (Link). He had the guts to walk on stage in nothing but black speedos (swimming trunks). Incredible, we almost choked and died laughing. Naturally everyone wondered, when he would be able to dress again, because Link’s on stage for a very long time there. It was very cleverly done. Just before “Run and Tell that". Link usually asks Whether it’s safe for him and Tracy to join Seaweed at his mums party. He now was getting dressed again, while asking that and where Seaweed would usually say “Don’t worry cracker boy, it’s cool” he now says “Don’t worry naked boy, it’s cool!". Poor Liam did not have a shirt on stage, so he desparately tried to close his jacket, so his bare chest would not distract anyone too long from the scene, but the zip would not work. At one point even Tracy tried to help, but they eventually opted for a quick change in the wings and gave him a black t-Shirt.

- At the end of “The big doll house” the prisoners were joined by all the boys dressed as women, plus Dina as an extra hooker. The stage looked really crowded.

- “Timeless to me": nothing! Really, honestly, nothing! The only new thing for us was Wilbur’s line at the very end, when Edna says she can’t concentrate with him giggling behind her and he usually would reply: “You haven’t complained before!” he now would say: “That’s not what you said in the dressing room!” While that was really funny, we had heard it on Friday already. So really nothing during “timeless to me”

- “Without Love": Towards the end, when you see all the dancers silhoutted in the background all of us in the front row quickly spotted an unusually big dancer with stunning legs. So we knew it had to be Michael up there! And really, when the curtain was lifted he was there with the Male Authority Figure dancing with the others in a very short dress and his new wig. He looked completely edible. Those legs, we are dead jealous

- At the Baltimore Eventorium, when Velma calls in the studio guards we could see that they were sporting a Scream-Mask and Sandra looked quite furry.

- “You can’t stop the beat": Lil Inez had changed her wig into pigtails. Penny was wearing a different wig as was Motormouth. Penny’s Mum appeared with her skirt messed up and a bit of loo roll sticking up.

And these are only the few things we jotted down. It was hilarious, what a laugh! We were actually still laughing, when we were waiting for him at the stage door. No one could believe Liam, outrageous, such fun!

They had already parked the equipment truck at the back of the theatre, which made the stage door a very narrow affair. Most people were standing down the road and the barriers were still up. So when Michael came out, he oculd not reachc most of the people who wanted their programmes signed, which resulted in us at the front passing a seemingly endless number of programmes to him and back to the owners. He commented “We have quite a production line going girls!”

And that was it for the funny bit of the day. Next came the final performance of Hairspray. Well what can we say? The audience was fantastic, every number got cheers and massive applause. The guys on stage gave everything. It all seemed fresh and perfect. To be honest with you, it still has not sunk in, that this was really the final ever show.

The tiniest bit of addlibing came from Michael during “Timeless to me", when he asked Wilbur to be strong for him one last time.

We can proudly say that Sandra finally received her own standing ovation at the end of “I know where I’ve been” and the conductor even kindly played the last note a lot longer than usual. So it could last a bit longer. It’s incredible how fast we found ourselves in the middle of “You can’t stop the beat” and Edna emerged from the can for a last time, sounding a lot like Michael Ball in the first frew lines, it has to be said (meaning he did not sing in Edna’s voice at first).

Just before Tracy calls out to Bristol to come out and let’s dance, Michael stopped the show and gave a beautiful speech, explaining that this was the last night ever, praising the talent on stage, backstage and of the musicians. The Leading Ladies received flowers. It was a very emotional moment. They finished it off with a final rousing rendition of “You can’t stop the beat” reprise and got the reception they deserved from the audience. What a perfect send off for the perfect show.

Stage door afterwards was really busy and still very confined due to the barriers and the equipment truck. Merely two rows of people could squeeze between the two and the majority stood down the pavement and on the road. At some point a man came out of the stage door and asked us all to move further down the street so they could put equipment boxes past where we stood. We think what he really wanted was us to clear the pavement completely, but that did not happen. Not in Michael’s final night. Everyone shuffled down a bit, but no one was prepared to leave until Michael was gone. Our advice for the future, wait with your equipment until the star has left the building.

Michael had guests in so it took him a while to get out. When he did, he introduced us to Freddie’s vet who got an extra round of applause. He did not give a speech, but just said how wonderful it has been and how much he was looking forward to touring. He actually took the time to sign things and even pose for one or two photos in all the madness.

And suddenly, everything was over. He had gone and we were saying our goodbyes to friends. An era had come to an end after almost four years.

we know that we will miss Edna terribly. We’ve actually seen Michael on stage dressed as a woman in over one third of the perfoamnces we’ve seen so far. All in all, we have been lucky enough to have seen Hairspray 68 times (don’t laugh Joan) and it had not once been boring. The show will forever have a special place for us in our hearts and whilst we look forward to the tour and Sweeney Todd, we just know we’re gonna miss it. A lot.

This has been a great journey. Our thanks goes to everyone involved (especially Michael, of course) and what a joy it has been to be surrounded by all this talent, wonderful music, sublime dancing and feel good atmosphere for such a long time.

Thank you and good night.

Last Arrival Stage Door
30/04/11 @ 07:44:04 am, Categories: General, 151 words   English (GB)

We cannot believe the day has finally come. First and very important. Although two days ago we had horrible forecasts predicting rain and thunderstorms we now have blazing sunshine, glorious weather and just what Edna deserves.

Michael arrived on foot and looked absolutely fabulous. You can see the pictures on the site. Everyone behaved and he walked slowly towards the stage door, stopping for greeatings, photos and autographs. Again asked for Freddie he said Freddie received a hip replacement and something on the back was done and he was now having physio (rehab just sounds wrong LOL).

Anyway, then he was in and we are now getting dressed for the last ever matinee. He promised we were going to have some fun. So … no… we just cannot say, roll on, because it will be the last matinee and the penultimate show. Just let’s have fun and we’ll talk to you later.

Royal Fun
04/29/11 @ 06:36:15 pm, Categories: General, 621 words   English (US)

Bristol - 29 April 2011 - The Royal Wedding

We arrived in London on Thursday evening, got our car and decided to take a quick peek at the decorations in the city before heading west for Bristol. Much easier said than done. It took us ages to get near Picadilly and even more ages to find a parking space. All the usual ones were blocked or off limits due to the wedding.

Even though it was almost midnight the city was teaming with people and we marvelled at the variety of items you can print the Royal Couple on. To cut a long story short: We arrived at our hotel at almost 3am, but it was lovely to see London again after all that time. Well worth it.

Royal Wedding Day

We have to confess to an unprecedented decadence: Not only do we stay at a really nice hotel, but we also ordered breakfast via room service to be served at 10am. So we woke up, switched on the telly for the wedding coverage and had our full English Breakfast in bed, fab!

we have to say we loved every minute of it, watched the entire ceremony, the highlights and the drive back to Clarence House. Fairytale stuff. What a beautiful princess. You Brits really know how to stage such an event.

Afterwards we walked across the street to the theatre and found our final Hairspray Stage Door (location). We had a lovely time chatting to everyone and were surprised that the stage door crowd was not as big as we anticipated.

Michael arrived a quarter to six. He walked down to us all, chatted about the wedding, said a few naughty things about certain outfits, posed for photos, gave autographs and told us he did not know how he’d feel on Saturday. He suspects tears, so do we.

The Show:

It was great to be back in Baltimore in 1962. We have to say though that it has not sunk in yet that this was antepenaltimate (no we did not google that, promise ;)) show. We have been with Hairspray so long … but let’s save the melancholy for tomorrow. Everyone knew The Wedding would play a role tonight and it did. When Edna first appears on stage, ironing, it was a William and Catherine tea towel. Also when Tracy first appears on the Corny Collins Show and Penny tells Mr. and Mrs. Turnblad to “come see what’s on TV” Edna exclaimed: “Is it highlights from the Royal Wedding?". And finally: during “You Can’t Stop The Beat” Edna wore two little Union Jack in her hair.

Apart from that we had a different Fender and a great time. The audience was wonderful and Michael’s dad was in attendance. When we got to the stage door after the show they had put up barriers, but only two and they were made from plastic. He took a while to come out, but then happily chatted, signed and posed as usual. He has lost weight abd looks mighty fine (see photos as evidence).

He told a fan that poor Freddie (one of his dogs) would have to stay at the vets for at least another ten days and how Ollie is pining for him. He also told us to be prepared for a bit of fun in the matinee.

Incredible. This has been our 66th Hairspray performance and we still enjoyed it ever so much. We will miss Edna terribly. On the one hand we know the matinee will be hilarious, there is his tour to look forward to and Sweeney Todd, but ont he other hand we dread Saturday evening, when we will hear “Welcome to the 60s” for the final time.

Here’s to the last two…..

Edinburgh - 9 January
01/10/11 @ 04:03:48 am, Categories: General, 563 words   English (US)

We are quite used to the Saturday being the last day of performances. So it was a nice change (apart from Cardiff) to have a Sunday matinee. A much better feeling to be seeing it again on Sunday.

The stage door was something to be seen. After Edinburgh the cast will have a week off. So you can imagine they wanted to make the most of it, meaning almost everyone went home straight after the show. It was amazing to see all the luggage that was involved. Tiny girls with positively enormous luggage. Poor things. One dancer even arrived with her own radiator. Amazing.

As this was supposed to have been Michael’s last night as Edna (until he added Bristol and Wimbledon) we knew it would be very crowded and it was. Mind you, not as bad as we initially expected.

Michael arrived rather late, got out of the car, smiling at the gathered crowd, saying “Now, is this a good time to announce I’m not finishing in Bristol and there’s another 7 venues?". You should have seen the faces and hear the strangled noises! Everyone was struggling with the urge to shout NOOOOOOOO! He had SUCH a laugh but was just kidding of course.

He was really good and took some time to get inside. Once he was in we left for a final hot chocolate in our usual haunt and the time flew by. None of us could believe it would be our last show out of 9! Incredible how this week just went.

The show itself was a joy to behold (as it would be). During Mama I’m I Big Girl Now Tracy got a bit overenthusiastic and accidentally nearly slapped Edna. You could tell Laurie was killing herself laughing whenever she wasn’t singing, also during the scene at the record shop Link nearly missed catching Edna’s earrings, went after them in a hurry and nearly fell. Off stage we could see the conductor laugh throughout. They have little cameras and monitors installed so that he can see what goes on in the wings and they can see what he does to get their cues. We think they must have held messages in the camera as he kept looking at the monitors and chuckling. At one point he himself held a note into the camera that read Dancers Go Home! LOL

The cast got a good send off we think. We had experienced more eager audiences but it was good fun and they got a massive cheer and standing ovation at the end.

Stage door afterwards was busy as it would be. Everyone got to say their good byes and off he walked into the sunset - or rather the cold, cold night up a steep slope.

It is a weird thought that the next time we will see Hairspray there will be only three performances left until it’s bye bye to Edna forever (well, for the time being, we are positive it will not be forever actually).

We had a lovely dinner with friends and then saw The King’s Speech. Fantastic movie!! Very impressive acting.

After that we joined Joan and Faye in their hotel room and once again wouldn’t leave until they made us. Thanks to you girls for your patience and hospitality all week. It was such fun!

The bags are packed, skies are grey…and off we hop.

Edinburgh - 8 January
01/09/11 @ 04:08:58 am, Categories: General, 628 words   English (US)

We had snow! We are almost afraid to admit that as people obviously had problems with travel etc. but we really had hoped for a bit of mild snow as we simply knew Edinburgh would look amazing in snow and it does! On our way to early morning shopping we had to stop several times to take photos of the Old Town (which is on a forma volcano, meaning above the newer bits) looking very romantic. Especially the castle.

Anyways, we got to the stage door in time. There were more fans than in the last few days but considering this was the last Saturday it was quite empty down there. Many had apparently sold their tickets on as it now wasn’t his last week. It was a joy as always to see him arrive and do his bit while we all did our bit (he signs, we swoon). We then passed the time till curtain up in our usual café and actually they could have charged us for the view that day. It’s situated right at the exit driveway of a shopping centre and apparently the road that lead out of the centre and onto the main road was covered in ice…it also is quite steep (we are in Edinburgh after all). So you could see cars sliding down every now and then. It was always a bit of a shock when some drove with neck breaking speed regardless of the street conditions, it has to be said. Those ended up sliding down sideways. But it was only a small part of the street that was really bad. So thankfully nothing happened and we did keep in mind to only cross the street when there were no cars in sight.

The Matinee was madness, not with regard to what happened on stage. Everything was business as usual on that front (meaning nothing went wrong, everyone was energetic and enthusiastic as always) but the audience was really…shall we say into it? They certainly loved every second of it but towards the end it was a bit like being in panto! When Penny’s mum makes her way through the audience some woman shouted “She (Penny) is behind you!” But it was good fun and the roar of applause in the end gave everyone such a buzz. It was wonderful. Another reason why we wanted to see Hairspray in Scotland. Brilliant audiences all week.

Stage door in between shows was a bit weird as it was only “the usual suspects”, no audience member who just wanted their progamme signed or something. So it was a quick one for him.

The evening show was fabulous. Audience reactions were great, everyone on stage was really giving it their all…. The perfect theatre evening.

A bit more crowded afterwards at the stage door but not much. The slope downwards had been cleared and so a few more fans had braved the decent. He was very good, signing away and then told us all how the cast were having a bit of a party in the pub and could we please respect their privacy and so on. Yes sure, we all said – and later learned that nevertheless some followed Michael up the street and inside the pub. Why, oh why would you do that?
We had a lovely after show party ourselves…without the Ball but with good friends in a hotel room being up till 2 am. Then had to walk home to our own hotel and to bed around 4 am. The alarm clock wasn’t our best friend this morning! Ugh.

So here we are, our final show for four months. We will only be back for the final three performances in Bristol. We will keep you posted.

Edinburg - 7 January
01/08/11 @ 04:39:32 am, Categories: General, 240 words   English (US)

Greetings from snowy Edinburgh!

After a day of sightseeing and moderate shopping (luggage weight restrictions are a pain!)we met with our little group of fans and had a lovely pre-stage door meal. A mere coincidence (well, the price of the buffet went up after 5 pm) got us to the stage door rather early and we prepared for a long, long wait in the cold. But a mere 10 minutes passed and here he was. On foot again. Had a quick chat (only six of us, so no photos, sorry) and off we all went.

When it was time to walk up to the theatre it had started snowing! huge flakes, really romantic.

We sat on the very end of the front row and on the not-Michael side. This side of the stage was where Hairspray had started for us so it was quite nostalgic actually.

The audience loved it, but wasn’t quite as loud as the night before. That had been special, really.

Only three of us braved the snowy slope down to the stage door afterwards (it wasn’t that bad really, fresh snow has lots of grip. Michael was out first of the cast! Quick good nights and the hint that everybody else was waiting at the top of the hill. No problem for the lovely Audi so everyone up there got their wave and good night as well. :-)

Now off into the snow for two shows today.

Edinburgh - 6 January
01/07/11 @ 04:37:57 am, Categories: General, 315 words   English (US)

Yesterday was the first day without a matinee so that meant we managed a bit of sightseeing and shopping, paying a visit to the Royal Mile etc. The weather was glorious, blue skies, not too chilly.

We had a lovely meal with Joan and Faye (these poor things really cannot escape us this week!) and then went back to the stage door (as you do). It being winter means it is dark outside by 5 o’clock. Hence there are only a few photos. You don’t want to flash him too much. The little group of us formed him a guard of honor and he quite enjoyed that. We all had a laugh. We tried to get some tour info, but oh no, he couldn’t be persuaded.

The show did get a stunning reception. Really enthusiastic audience, hysterical laughter all around us. It was great!

Afterwards they did open the fire exits and leaving the building took only a few minutes and was not traumatic for once. Yay! A little group had gathered at the stage door. There was no car waiting for him so naturally we had a moment of panic, but no, he didn’t leave via another exit. All was well. Took his time with us all and told the small gathering that even now, after all the publicity Hairspray has had, there had been a stunning 17 people at Southampton who complained that Michael Ball was not in the show!! Imagine that! He is on every poster! Also someone commented on his beautiful legs and oh yes, he knows! (You could guess I think by the amount of leg Edna shows off…)

He then took off on foot.

Another day of sightseeing for us (we intend to do a bus tour – now that was a really interesting bit of information, ey? Sorry) before we do it all over again. Talk soon!

Edinburg - 5 January
01/06/11 @ 06:06:32 am, Categories: General, 365 words   English (US)

Here we are with our second day at Hairspray and our second consecutive matinee day. This meant we were back at the stage door around noon, again having a lovely time with fan friends. No rain, no snow. All was well. Despite a few autograph hunters present the stage door war another relaxed affair. He caught us out on not having listened properly to the new Asians/agent line due to laughing too loud at the time. So stage door was a laugh.

Back at the theatre we started feeling for the cast. 4 shows in two days must be extremely exhausting. The show went smoothly but the audience reaction was a bit slow we felt. Standing ovation took a long time coming. Didn’t stop us though.

As usual it was a question of grabbing some food in between shows and heading back to the theatre. Matinee days mean you do not really see much of your surroundings sadly. But that’s what we have planned for today (Thursday) and Friday.

The audience for the evening show was much more lively. No glitches until we got to You Can’t Stop The Beat when Mr Spritzer offers Velma a new job and completely forgot all the wonderful benefits he offers her. It was good fun for the audience. Great reception and well-deserved standing ovation at the end.

One has to say that vacating the theatre after the shows is a nightmare. There are fire exit right to the stage door or the other side of the building. But they rarely open these. So some 3000 people have to squeeze their way back up to the main doors. This takes aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaages. You do not want to contemplate what would happen if a panic broke out….

Anyways, we finally made it down to the stage door and Andrew told the waiting fans Michael would have to leave in a hurry. Well, as usual this did not work as people still needed things signed and photos to be taken….

So today is one show only (feels weird to still be at the hotel and not on the way to the stage door!) and we will report back tomorrow morning.

Edinurgh - 4 January 2011
01/05/11 @ 05:59:12 am, Categories: General, 901 words   English (US)

Edinburgh – 4 January 2011

For some time we all believed Edinburgh would be Michael’s last venue of the Hairspray tour. Therefore we planned to stay a week for once. Usually it’s extended weekends for us. But this is Edinburgh – our second favourite place in the UK.
In the meantime of course he has extended and will be doing Wimbledon and Bristol as well. But seeing that we had plenty of front row seats and it was Edinburgh we did not think long about changing plans. So here we were after an uneventful journey. The second we got off the bus we knew we had made the right decision to come and see Edinburgh in winter. There is a fun fair all around Princes Gardens, the trees a beautifully decorated and we even had a bit of snow. Magical.
We arrived on Monday evening (very relaxing to arrive on a day when there is no show on, no rush) and decided to go to the cinema. We went to the one just adjacent to The Playhouse (where Hairspray is running). And guess who greeted us on the glass front of the VUE cinema: Edna, Tracy, Link, Motormouth and Wilbur printed a lot larger-than-life on the glass front. Really impressive and of course we will take some photos and post them. Brian Conley’s Edna dress is on display as well.
We saw Burlesque by the way. Stunning dance scenes, great soundtrack. Go see it, if you get the chance.
Due to the holiday season Hairspray does have 9 shows this week. A really tough schedule (we actually thought we got the schedule wrong on the website until we got to booking tickets).
The stage door was a pleasant affair (it’s sheltered by other houses so NO wind!!). Just a hand full of fans and we had a great time chatting to everyone. Michael arrived eventually and wished us all a happy new year. He told us all he had had a magical festive season and that Edinburgh is the second place in the UK where he would consider living at (man of good taste obviously! We had a laugh and said that’s what we were always saying, too). Apparently they had struggled with cast members falling ill and at one point there were 9 original cast members off sick! “There was only one black boy in the whole of Baltimore!” is how Michael put it.
After that we grabbed a hot chocolate nearby (poor Joan and Fay, they could not get rid of us all day…).
When it was time to take our seats for the matinee it was so wonderful to be back in a proper theatre again. It felt just like home (the Shaftesbury). The playhouse is all plush and dark red, also you are very close to the stage. We all felt a bit nostalgic.
The show was great as ever. Michael was on such a high, whatever he had taken we want some of it. He really enjoyed himself. There were some glitches and as we learned later a bit was changed. When Tracy is back home and receives the call from Mr. Pinky with the offer to become his spokes person, she says “I am very flattered , but all business must go through my agent” Edna now says “I don’t know any Asians. There’s a nice Samoan family down the road.” Well we were killing ourselves laughing and then we thought it was a glitch, but it appeared again during the night performance and Laurie (Tracy) later said they changed that and she was doubtful it would work.
Apart from that nothing really has changed and as already mentioned we were lucky enough to have just one boy off. Everyone else was there although some of the cast are suffering from end of flu symptoms.
It’s a bit annoying to get out of the theatre. The theatre holds something around 3000 people and all have to exit through one and the same exit. So it takes ages to get out of there. But we made it eventually, risked the steep climb down to the stage door (glad it’s not freezing) and he did come out to sign stuff and have his picture taken (which is when we took the photos on the website, no chance with the arrival stage door as we were only 5 fans there).
We had lovely company to pass the time until the evening show would start.
Again Michael was having a blast. The Asians stayed with us, as mentioned beforehand. The only glitch happened at the beginning of Scatter Dodge Ball. The teacher usually blows a whistle, but as that still hung around her neck she threw a raspberry instead. Again much to our laughter.
The stage door was quite fun, with much chatting to friends. Then Michael emerged and something happened we never ever experienced at a stage door: It was absolutely quiet! You actually had the urge to whisper, like in a library! The quietest autograph signing ever.
Mr Ball than gave us all a royal wave from a very nice car and (after making a derisive sound along the lines of “ugh” on learning we were staying at a low price hotel chain – cheeky!) disappeared into the night.
And now we are almost on our way back to the theatre , another matinee and other evening show. Yay!


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