It really is over….very hard to get our head around that fact, which is why we didn’t write this yesterday night. The grim truth needed a while to sink in.
The stage door was lovely as you may have seen on our video. It even stopped raining when he arrived (usually it had been the other way around recently). He seemed subdued though. This may have been to rest the voice or because he was moved (he said that he doesn’t take the fan support for granted and was all sweet about it…glad he didn’t elaborate or we would have been in tears!)…or both.
We grabbed some food afterwards (he had been nice and early) did the website stuff and then got ready for the final concert of the tour. Back in front row which made a nice chance from being far, far away in Cardiff. It has to be said though that while we were standing in the aisle in front of the stage before the concert started, looking for our friends, one lady seemed to be most seriously displeased with us. No idea why really. We didn’t do anything, just stood there and scanned the audience. Ok, we were wearing the same dress (It’s a double-wide twin bunny thing) but that can hardly cause offence? Or can it? She gave us all sorts of displeased looks and sighed heavily, shaking her head. NOT the best start to the evening. Ah well, we hope she enjoyed the evening despite having two girls in the same outfit a few seats down the row LOL
Sadly once again the fans were really scattered throughout the auditorium, most a few rows back (or a few more) and not in one block. So while most of the audience was on their feet for the first song, many still remained sitting. Not the last night we had hoped for. Polite applause frankly is not what you want for him after a long tour. The ticket sales system killed the atmosphere; it’s as simple as that. We are all for a fan-block-allocation. Then those who want to clap politely can do so in peace and those who want to stand up for the first song and the one or other standing ovation can do so with like-minded people without getting on the nerves of others. Rant over, sorry about that.
Back to the show: Mack the Knife was by now firmly back on the set list, but seeing that in one point during Seasons of Love Michael’s voice was completely gone, we knew we wouldn’t get to hear Winner Takes It All again. While this was sad of course, we were happy he didn’t go for it no matter what. This tour has been very demanding with money notes left right and centre. The Pavilions being a smaller venue meant that we had the joy of hearing his actual voice again, not merely the speaker sound like in the big arenas. So we knew from the start that things were not 100%. But Michael Ball with a 90% voice is still a world more impressive than most singers on top form. He completely blew us away (slight rasp in the voice for us only adds to the pleasure, but we feel bad about it, for we know he will not be happy). Also there seemed to be a sound problem throughout the whole show, not so much
one that affected the audience but one that affected the sound for those on stage. There were a few occasions when the tempo was a bit off, probably because Michael couldn’t hear the band properly. Again, no one will have noticed…you’d have to have seen the show a few times to pick up on it. They are all professionals up there, quite impressive.
In the second half things seemed back on track (there were moments in the first half that had us really worried, but again those who only saw one show will not have noticed anything being wrong, apart from that moment in Seasons of Love, which he solved with a quick sip of water and a charming reference after the song). We did our best to memorise the sparkly tie and enjoy everything for one last time. Relishing in the songs, the music, the light concept…this was just SUCH a wonderful show. (Roll on DVD!!)
We can happily report that he even won the polite clappers over and in the end there was a healthy amount of partying going on. Everything was perfect…until…
He came back on stage for Impossible Dream…well, he made his little speech about having a truly blessed life and career and the mood was festive yet melancholic, everything was wonderful and he had started the first few lines when suddenly there was this almighty noise from the speakers. We think one of them had died. Poor Michael pulled his ear monitor out like a shot (just hearing this sound from standing in front of the stage was bad, we do not want to know what it must have been like for him) and looked over to the sound desk (someone will be in trouble there). Magical moment ruined. Naturally Michael turned that into a laugh and simply began again after a few seconds…still, it was not the perfect end to a wonderful concert that he’d have deserved after all this hard work.
Naturally we went to the stage door and of course it was massively crowded, so we decided to stand way back on the sidewalk and watch everything from a distance. Big thanks to Adrian and Ben for coming over to us and some friends for a proper good-bye.
The tour is over. Two weeks of travelling through England, Scotland and Wales, more money spent, than we wish to remember, some scary moments (car crash, locked-in car, three near crashes, because we were not seen – next time we will get a bright red or pink or such car instead of silver-grey!), approximately 5 years less to live, because of all the stress. Was it worth it you wonder?
Absolutely! The show was brilliant, not one song we wished to fast forward. Each night it felt like the concert got shorter. The last three we actually wondered, if he cut anything, because we could no believe we had already reached Jesus Christ Superstar. Off stage, Michael was his usual charming self. We had the added bonus of lovely and gorgeous Adrian Hansel, our one and only Link, Ben James-Ellis. It was lovely to see Emma Williams again after such a long time. “Hasn’t she grown nicely?” (quote Michael Ball). Oh , yes, she has! We should not forget the two main discoveries of the tour: the two Louises. Louise Marshall did such a brill job with the arrangements and she shone impressively during Tell me it’s not True and I don’t know how to love him. Amazing that she had once been one of Michael’s backing singers. Our main discovery though is Louise Dearman. We fell in love with her warm and stunning voice right from the start.
What else made this tour extra special? It’s our friends! The old ones, the new ones… Memories of the most hysterical stage door ever at Glasgow…..
Best concert: Manchester
Highlight songs: If Everyone was Listening, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Mack the Knife, Mercy
Miles on Motorway: way over 1000
With special thanks to: Michael & gang, of course; Andrew; Helge & Petra; Pam & Rose-Marie, Gill & Maureen; Pat, Stella, Linda & Pam; Bev, Hillary & Brian; Marilyn, Mary & Susan; Audrey & Fran; Lorrie & Sue; Joan and Sharon.Permalink
On our day off we had planned to drive around the south coast and we had a really good go at it. But then torrential rain set in and we fled the south. At some points it was so bad that we could not see the road properly. Rarely have we experienced anything like it. Apart from that we had a lovely day and made it in Cardiff in one piece.
Today the sun is out and waiting at the stage door (a gate) in the sun is much more fun than in the pouring rain. As is usual now they got the barriers out. We only wished this would have occurred to them in Brighton. So when the bus with the Ball finally arrived we all waved him caged in as we were. He came to the (open) gate, positioned himself in the middle and told us how he was not feeling too well, because they had a party last night. Lots of aaaahhhs from everyone.
When we almost feared he would just wave and go back in someone called him over for a photo or autograph and Michael being Michael, he obliged. He stood a while, talked to fans, signed things and then came over to our side of the barriers. With fans from America and Australia around us he commented, that he was now with his foreign contingent. Too true. It was lovely having him up close and relaxed. He said his voice was fine and he was determined to make some noise tonight, but that he’d probably should have taken a longer break between Hairspray and the Tour as he was exhausted. He looked mighty fine.
As you can tell by now, we were having difficulty getting the internet working at our hotel. Just fingers crossed we will be able to get it to work in Plymouth.
As is usual in Wales the audience is very giving seeing Michael is an “adopted Welshman”. Sadly however the fans were mainly seated in the block on the left hand side of the stage. This means virtually next to the stage or in the very back of the huge arena, but not in front of the stage. But he was in a fantastic mood and determined to have a good time.
During the first few songs excitement in the audience mounted and when we got to “Don’t stop me now” people were a bit previous and began singing along even before the actual line “Don’t”. Michael raised his eyebrows and stopped singing hands on his hips. His five companions on stage could not see that of course and sang merrily on. He turned round to them and said something to the extent “Either we do it together or not at all”. And then they sang it properly.
Just as in Brighton he sang Mack the Knife, but left The Winner Takes It All out.
He told us all how he loved being back in Cardiff and how he had insisted to kick off the Hairspray tour there. Massive cheers from the audience as you can imagine. He said he cannot wait to spend so much time in this beautiful city (So can’t we!)
The atmosphere was fantastic on and off stage. You can tell the tour is coming to an end. Elation on stage, nostalgia off stage. The last two concerts are always a bit weird. It was another great night and we could not believe how quickly it was all over and we were back outside to wave him in his bus goodbye.
Now, after several heavy downpours we are in Plymouth hoping for better weather for the final stage door,.
Just back in the hotel to get changed after the concert. What an amazing night. Michael was in absolute top form and Mack the Knife was back on the song list. Still no Winner Takes it All though. The stage door afterwards was hell. We have in our time been at many, many stage doors. Only very rarely have we experienced such frenzy. It was a tiny bit scary even. Pushing, shoving. It was as if someone had dropped a chicken wing into a piranha pool (Michael = chicken wing). And naturally the minute he stepped out of the building heavens open, but the cold shower did nothing to calm down the ladies around us. Ah well. We survived.
The show itself was wonderful. For the first time, we sat at the left hand side of the stage. A new perspective and we can honestly say, it does not matter where you sit, the show is lovely from all angles. Only sitting in front of the speakers was a bit iffy. Our ears are still ringing with every money note. But hey, we were so happy to have all the money notes back, well almost all.
A slight drawback of arenas like tonight is that even though the audience is very positive the vibe tends to get lost a bit. he did get his standing ovations and cheers and big applause, but nevertheless it felt more quiet. But that is only due to the massive space.
Party time was lovely. The one security man did not try to stop anyone as apparently he had learned the error of his ways when he walked past the stage during One Step Out Of Time. he was apparently trying to police a few people who had remained standing for the song. The stage in this venue is very high so the poor man had no idea that while he was walking past the blocks of people Michael caught sight of him and walked along on stage, grinning mischievously. The security guard proved to have perfect timing. It could not have worked better, if they had rehearsed it. Just when Michael had got to the line “Now that you’ve gone, will you tell me, where I’ve been going wrong". The man turned into an aisle and walked away from him. Michael had a good time, laughing during the song, and so had we. For the remainder of the concert he sat on his chair and did not interfere with the proceedings.
Mercy keeps getting even better every time we see it. one of our favourites from the start it just rocks!
Off to Cardiff tomorrow, hopefully via some scenic routes, well we will see, and you will readPermalink
Just a little quickie as we are in the hotel and have a couple of minutes before we have to get ready for the show.
We already told you Michael did a great job last night in Ipswich. He really was giving it all and did not spare his voice. We were a bit nervous, if he overdid. Apparently we did not need to worry. He arrived at that stage door, being absolutely relaxed and telling us we might get “Mack the knife” and “The winner takes it all” back. Fingers crossed for that.
If you are interested, we uploaded a video clip of the stage door onto the site. It’s Windows Media Player file and I hope it will work for everyone. Sorry, that the pics are not that great, but the Brighton stage door is a really dark place and it’s not easy to get anything decent.
So now off to getting ready for the concertPermalink
After Manchester we headed into the direction of Ipswich, but because of some nice hotel offers we ended up spending the night in Kettering. Actually it was a rather lovely hotel …. or so we thought until it was time to take a shower in the morning. There was one bunny watching daytime television, while the second bunny was taking a shower. Or should we say, tried to take a shower. The only trouble was: You could decide, if you wanted to get cooked or if you wanted to freeze to death. There really was nothing in between. Funnily you could get the tab for the bathtub more or less creating a bearable temperature, cold, but bearable. As soon as you switched the water to shower it would be cooking hot or ice cube cold. Dignified as we are we ended up kneeling in the bathtub, trying to wash our hair and everything else that needs washing. It was one of the … most….. undignified things we ever did. LOL, we should have re-enacted it fully dressed and then filmed it for posterity, but we did not.
It’s a minor miracle we made it out of the hotel in time. Unbelievable, but this kind of non-shower took us much longer than any shower ever had. By noon we were on the road again. Grey skies all around, but what the heck. The weather forecast told us about sunshine in the afternoon and we believed them. We were still rather positive, when we got into the Ipswich region. When we reached Kesgrave though our hope started to fade as light drizzle became fully fledged rain within minutes.
What did we do in Kesgrave? About a year ago Emma Dodd started a school for performing arts and today it would finally be opened with Michael as special guest. For those who cannot remember, Emma was a castmate of Michael’s in Hairspray. She had asked the fan club to spread the word and many fans had gathered to give him a good reception.
We knew he’d arrive at 3pm. By that time the community centre’s car park was full and we were fairly sure he’d arrive in a people carrier. After all, how should a tour bus be able to manoeuvre its way into the narrow lanes? We kept joking about this until the massive “Beat the Street” bus turned around the corner. Michael Ball superstar had arrived in his double decker tour bus (by the way, if you check out the bus operators website it is well worth to read their list of clients: …. Massive Attack, Metallica, Michael Ball….. It gave us such a laugh, what a line up). He certainly knows how to make an entrance. Even though he was running a bit late and everything was rather rushed because Emma needed to get back to London in time to appear in Hairspray he signed a few programmes and said hello to everyone. Once he was ushered inside we were told that there were enough spaces in the hall for all of us, yay.
From the back of the hall we watched the proceedings. Michael and Emma gave a little speech. Following that Michael ceremoniously cut the ribbon to open the school. Furthermore and to his great joy (he was literally jumping up and down with glee) he was also asked to unveil a commemorative plaque. Subsequently Michael, Callum, Adrian and Andrew took their seats in the front row and the big moment for the kids had come. Ryan was first to sing in front of Michael and not just any old song, but Stars from Les Mis. Kudos to him. It must have been nerve-wrecking. He did incredibly well. What a talented boy. We were then treated to a rendition of Hairspray, from Good Morning Baltimore to Mama I’m A Big Girl Now. That’s how far they had come in just three weeks of training. The kids were between 6 and 18. It was impressive and such fun to hear the tunes again and remember every single line. As an added bonus we could do a bit of dancing seeing we were right at the back of the hall. It was such good fun and the ensemble got a standing ovation. Well deserved. This was followed by a short raffle and a photo opportunity for the kids with Michael.
After one hour everything was over. And we headed into Ipswich to grab some food and get changed in the car. What a glamorous life we do lead.
This must have been our best seats ever! The front row in the Regent consists of six seats, smack bang in the middle of the stage. That’s where we were. Seeing the stage was rather high and the seats rather low you had the impression of Michael standing above you. A bit like in the cinema. Is there such a thing as too close? Nah! It was the closest we would ever get to a private concert. Wonderful stuff.
The show was still two songs short, but The Rose was back in the old key. Mind you, it might have been better, if he’d stuck to the version that was easier on those precious vocal chords, but oh no, he went for every money note. The full monty. It was to die for, but towards the end you could hear a slight raspiness, which while sexy still made us feel a bit guilty for enjoying those massive notes to much. He was on top form otherwise. Clearly enjoying every minute of the concert. Audience reactions were great, but nowhere near Manchester. Still he seemed sufficiently moved at the end.
You may remember how during Love Changes Everything he tells the audience NOT to sing along. Well, naturally in the first chorus he always says he would love to hear us all sing, points the microphone to the audience and they would sing, not this time though. Due to prolonged applause before the song he had to repeat the entry joke and apparently everyone took him seriously, so he pointed the microphone and you could hear a pin drop. This made him laugh and he tried one more time. This time everybody joined in.
Also before Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy he talks about how he loves vocal harmonies and how much he enjoys being part of a company. You could tell he was in a good mood for he continued with “I still prefer standing in the front.” Turns to the gang “Don’t get your hopes up”.
We keep hearing people discussing the sound of the concert. Luckily for us this has never been an issue. When we sat in the circle once the sound was perfectly balanced and on the other occasions we were lucky enough to sit so close to the stage that we could hear them all sing “live” without the need of speakers, which is why we love to be close to the stage (apart from the view obviously). You can actually hear the real voices. Without electronic enhancement.
After the show we saw everyone leave and headed down south through the most gruesome fog you can imagine! Never ever have we experienced anything like that! It was seriously scary, but here we are now. In Brighton, right next to the Brighton Centre. Apparently even with seaview, hooooray.Permalink
This morning we woke up to severe weather warnings and gales of 70 miles per hour. This slowed down our journey to Manchester, a bit. We would have been there nice and early, but Lisa (the sat nav) had decided to guide us through Manchester city, where we more or less stood for 30 minutes.
We got there in time for Michael, but unfortunately there was no space left for our car, apart from one car park belonging to a wholesaler. So, we just parked there and got to the stage door. We were a bit apprehensive about our little parking space, but then there was a continuous flow of traffic. So we stood there and waited in the freezing storm. We certainly had seen many nicer days. Roughly a quarter to five the “Star Security” began to move us all from the street, so the bus would be able to drop Michael off at the stage door. The bus finally arrived, reversed and stopped directly in front of the stage door. Michael got off, looking lovely and sounding much better than yesterday. He did say though that he had a tired throat. Naturally he got in rather quickly. We would not want him standing in a fierce storm.
But what happened next does not have anything to do with Michael, really, but it certainly cost us quite a number of years. Goooood….. okay, if you are only interested in the concert review, just skip this paragraph and get down the “the concert” bit. Otherwise, read on:
So: Here we were, Michael had just got in and we were happily talking to friends, when a quick glance to the car park stopped us dead in our tracks. They were just locking the gates and driving away. We tried to make a mad dash for it, but too late. The car was in there, locked behind a massive metal fence. All our belongings were in the car, including tickets (row F, Centre), the hotel confirmations, just about everything, apart from us and our purses.
Brilliant, just brilliant. First we phoned the company that guards the premises, but low and behold, they had no key to the car park (we still wonder how the hell they would be protecting the premises without a key to the gate!). Then we phoned the company itself, but of course no one answered the phone. With the help from our friends we even tried the non-emergency police hotline, no joy. We would have to wait until they opened again at nine am the next day. We should mention that our hotel was a 20 minutes car ride away. We were stuck, without tickets, without clothes to change, without anything really. Said friend offered to get us to our hotel after the show and we then decided to make the most of the rotten situation and try to get ticket duplicates. So we headed to the box office and asked for their help. The guy there could not really understand our problem and kept asking, if we could not just get the tickets out of the car. That would be much easier. “well, but would not be able to climb the fence!” we informed him. He then replied this would not be a problem, as they were using said carpark for the concert parking and would re-open it around six. The guy manning the main car park should have the keys. We could have kissed him!!!! A true Eureka moment. Oh and by the way, we have not been alone with our plight. There was another car locked in as well. If they had put up signs, saying they would re-open the thing it would have spared us a nasty shock, an hour of the day spent with desperate phone calls and the embarrassment at the box office. But hey, this is the kind of adventure that will make a wonderful stage door anecdote in the future. We then had a very rushed dinner (thanks for having us!) and did not get changed in the end. At least we had our tickets.
Initially we were worried about Michael’s voice, but this proved to be unnecessary. He sounded wonderful and the audience adored him. This was the reception he deserves every night. The place went completely wild and he seemed so relaxed and even added a little dance to “Human”. The key change in The Rose remained as did the two omissions. A little strain was still audible, but only when you were in the know.
Loads of standing ovations, standing through the first two songs too! Cheers and applause in abandon. This was the perfect audience. It was just such an enjoyable experience being part of the excitement and seeing how it moved everybody on stage.
Just before the encore Michael admitted to having been nervous before he got onto the stage, because of his voice, but everything was fine now and he was close to tears when he took his final bow, repeating “amazing” over and over again. For us this was definitely the best audience so far.
We love you Manchester and wonder whether this atmosphere can be beaten by any of the future concerts. We have our doubts. But we hope for the best. It was all so well deserved. The perfect end to a turbulent day. Next stop: Ipswich..Permalink
After a fabulous concert in Edinburgh we enjoyed a „day off“ or so it felt. We decided to drive down to Newcastle, slowly. Meaning we would not go down via the motorways, but rather take the smaller A and B streets. And it was so much worth it! We discovered some really lovely, pretty little towns and beaches, impressive castles and time generally just flew by until we reached Newcastle. We are happy to report that we did not experience any further scares en route.
In Newcastle we were greeted by fairly wet and grey weather. Nevertheless we had a wander around and took a few pictures, did some minor shopping until we finally made our way to the stage door. There were already a few fans waiting even though it was still early-ish for stagedooring.
We knew our friends would only get there around half past three so we hoped he would not arrive too early. They arrived just after the coach had left to pick him up. He arrived earlier than usual and his first sentence to us was, well it was more of a noise than a sentence. He demonstrated how his voice broke and said he was not a 100 percent. We all must have looked rather shocked for he quickly added “I’ll be fine!”. It was short, but sweet. And he looked gorgeous in that cap. We finally got to say hello to Andrew. Kimberly, we have your stuff. We then went to have dinner with the gang. Fabulous way to kick off a concert evening.
Unfortunately, we thought, we did not have the best tickets. For the first time and last time this tour we were up in the side balcony. The only thing that got us going was the change of perspective, which is a good thing once in a while…. Apparently. But the view was alright. Only the left side of the stage was completely invisible for us.
We knew we were in for a good one. The audience in the north is usually very enthusiastic. So once Michael got on stage there were massive cheers and applause, but hardly anyone got up! It was very strange sight to behold from above.
The first real signs of Michael not being in top form were audible in Human and they had actually changed the key of The Rose to make it easier for him to sing. Having said that, he did not spare himself the money notes. Oh no Sir! They were there! They had just taken the edge off some of the songs. And there we were sitting, silently willing him on, because we know he will be so unsatisfied with himself eventhough most of the audience probably did not notice a thing. This show is full of money notes and show stoppers. As he said himself: It’s a killer. And there came a point, where we actually thought it would have been better for him not to go on stage. We stress again, that this was not because he did not sound great, he did! It was just this anxiety whether or not the voice will hold on. Apart from that though he seemed chuffed with the reactions he was getting and the audience was loving every second of it.
Best fun was watching the ushers. In the beginning of the concert they were leaning on the wall with their backs to the stage. By the time we got to Human they had moved further down the aisle, so they could actually watch the show.
From where we were sitting we could see that when Michael leaves the stage for the Jesus Christ medley, the two people who are responsible for opening the back curtains for him apparently had missed their queue for he actually started doing it himself, before they got into action.
This change of perspective thing really worked out. For the first time we could properly see how during the Starlight Express medley Michael is actually mouthing each and every line of the others.
Generally he seemed much fitter in the second half. Whatever they gave him in the interval, it must have worked. He seemed relaxed and joked around with the audience. For his sake we hoped he’d cut The Prayer with its massive money notes. But he did not. Instead Mack the Knife and Winner takes it all had been taken from the song list.
During the first half of the show we were certain Manchester was not going to happen. Or rather in a fit of uncharacteristic selflessness we actually thought he’d rather rest his voice than do another show the next day. But that all changed during the second half. He seemed so much more confident and sounded fantastic, so we are back at being greedy and selfish and hope the concert tomorrow will go ahead as planned.
We had a fantastic night. It’s concerts like these that you will remember for a very long time. True showmanship and professionalism and boy that man can sing! He got a complete standing ovation at the end. Well deserved. Fantastic audience. We look forward to coming back to Newcastle for the next tour. Roll on Manchester (back in the stalls then, YAY!).Permalink
What we forgot to mention last night:
Michael got quite excited, when he told the audience about the upcoming Hairspray tour. He just could not wait to get to Edinburgh next year and an added bonus would be that he would spent New Year 2011 in Edinburgh. He was just like a little boy who could not wait for Christmas. At latest, when he started a little scottish dance you could tell, he will love every second of it there.
So, with brilliant weather outside we are about to leave the hotel soon and drive down to Newcastle taking a scenic coastal route. Talk to you soon.Permalink
We just got home (well back to the hotel) after a fabulous night out with Michael (in our dreams ) and lovely friends, but let’s start at the beginning.
Once Michael was inside the Usher Hall, we planned to get our car and search for our hotel. We did not hold much hope for a smooth journey. A) because we have satnav and because we have been to Edinburgh before (many times). That does not make sense? You may know that Edinburgh is just one big building site at the moment. Loads of streets were just dug up. So we just knew our sat nav would have to work overtime and it did. Nevertheless we got there quite quickly, checked in, got changed and yes, drove back to the venue by car, although it should have been walking distance. Somehow we just could not be bothered.
Unlike yesterday the concert started in perfect time. Our seats were in the front row, to the side, but still in front row. They turned out to be just perfect! The stage setting was a bit smaller than usual as the stage is rather tiny compared to the arenas we were used to.
From the beginning you could tell the concert would be fabulous! Michael was on great form and enjoying himself and so was everyone on stage. The audience loved him. He received very deserved standing ovations for Gethsemane, Love changes everything, The Prayer and This is the moment. Actually we felt, he should have got them for half the songs he was doing. It was just bloody brilliant from beginning to end and a complete triumph. Nothing went wrong, everything was just perfect.
After the show we got to the very crowded stage door. We managed to speak to lovely Adrian again, who just gets better and better. After he left it did not last long for Michael to appear and enter his coach. He even got to the front door of the coach, signed stuff, talked to people and was his usual lovely self.
It did not last long, but it was a nice and lovely end to a brilliant, near perfect day. Thanks to Michael and thanks to the bunch of lovely ladies (and a gentleman) whom we shared the post-concert time with. For us it’s off to Newcastle tomorrow morning, including some sightseeing in the way down.
So, see you in Newcastle Permalink
Weather is wonderful after a gray and drizzly start. Sunshine all over one of the most beautiful places imaginable. We LOVE Edinburgh.
What added to the perfection surely that there was a fully blown stage door today. No rushing, just walking pas everyone after arriving in a people carrier. All smiley and happy. A full 6 minutes of bliss that we could share with an amazing bunch of people (you know who you are). so there will be photos (and plenty) and we MIGHT even try to get a little video online, but not sure whether this will work.
Now getting ready for the concert. Cannot wait! Front row (but at the very side), yay!Permalink
Apart from a near-attack by a metal tube lost by the lorry in front of us on our way up to Scotland, the journey went by rather peacefully. We had a look at beautiful Lancaster and Morecambe at the coast and took it slowly from there.
The closer we got to Glasgow the greyer the clouds became. It was pouring by the time we had reached he hotel. But that doesn’t diminish our joy to be back in wonderful Scotland. After a day of chilling we decided to brave the walk to the stage door in posh shoes as it wasn’t supposed to be far….well, it isn’t…technically. Trouble was that we had to do two detours as the streets were blocked off for residents. So it did take us well over 30 minutes in drizzly rain. Arriving fairly shattered we joined our friends. There is a roof over the stage door and there is plenty of room. One of our fave stage doors actually. Despite cold wind and rain time went by rather quickly as we spent it with a great bunch of people. We had so much fun! After a while though we were told Michael would be late due to his TV appearance (we walked past the TV studios! If we had only stood there! But had no idea it was a live show, we thought it was pre-recorded.). It would be half past five until he’d arrive. It actually got a little later than that (which is great, over 2 hours of standing in the cold…the things we do). By then we knew: this would be a runner. He had the meet and greet to go to, so when he appeared he basically ran pas us all, saying how very late he was. He did look rather yummy though…but those of you who could watch his appearance on telly will know that. Seeing the whole encounter lasted about 30 seconds there are no stage door photos we are afraid.
Desperate laughter all around and we all dashed off to grab some food and get changed.
While we were waiting an issue came up that would have some effect on the rest of the evening: The venue had printed a wrong time onto some of the tickets! They read doors open at 8 pm!! This would indicate the concert starts at 8:30! A full hour late. Michael confirmed it was 7:30 pm, as usual. Ticketmaster claimed they had sent Emails out to the customers who were given the wrong time, unfortunately though none of us ever got that. So we really could not imagine the concert to start at 7:30pm.
We finally decided to get to the concert by car as we could not face such a walk four times a day. When we got there shortly before 7pm, we could tell, we were right about the concert. There was hardly anyone in the foyer. We have never seen it THAT empty. Getting into the auditorium was even weirder. You could count the people on two hands. By 7:30pm the auditorium was not even half filled. By then we had found out the venue would claim this was due to traffic jams that were caused by a football match nearby. LOL, yeah right, what a co-incidence. Some minutes later they even made an announcement the concert would not start before 8pm due to most attendees stuck in traffic. Well never mind, we had loads of lovely people to talk to. By 8:05pm finally the musicians took to the stage, as did Callum…. Needless to say to much applause by the audience. By now most people seemed to have arrived. And we discovered that the management of the Clyde Auditorium must have learned from the past. No ushers sitting on the aisles as they used to during the recent shows.
The concert started and everyone got on their feet and enjoyed themselves dancing for the first two songs. Michael was on top form and you could tell he enjoyed being back in Glasgow.
For one moment during The Rose there was a detectable strain in Michael’s voice. Spine chilling memories of this one concert 2 years ago when he suffered from a bad cold and could hardly talk. It was a memorable night, seeing him soldiering on so bravely. But luckily it was over quite quickly. Just goes to show to how much perfection we are used and how worried you get the second something doesn’t go to plan. But all was well.
After the interval we returned to our seats to find two ushers seated in front of the audience, backs to the stage, one in each aisle. The poor things. Will they ever learn?? But we heard how they were briefed to move back to row F before mayhem would break lose after the Duffy number. Phew.
The audience was quite….enthusiastic. When he recounted how he went to see Jesus Christ Superstar when he was 12 some people broke into hysterical laughter. Michael did a double take, smiling, saying a bit stunned: Yeah, I was 12…I know, I am older now..but I was 12 (with the what’s the big deal?!-voice).
We know the poor ushers were in for a comment from the stage. And sure enough at one point Michael quietly asked for a spot to be directed onto them individually. As they wriggled in their seats, their backs still turned to him he kept asking “Was it anything I said?” Giggles. The girl who guarded us was nearly dying of embarrassment, bless her. He said they were waiting for the attack, right? “You have no bloody hope.” Too true.
When he introduced the bit on Dame Vera Lynne and singing in close harmony there was a loud crack…something to do with the microphone. He jumped and laughed “Is she in then?”.
We got to Just When and he did the usual introduction, but added that this song was written for someone he loved very much and who happened to be in tonight – no pressure, boys. Having Cathy in the audience surely did add to his energy on stage. Family members in attendance always guarantee a great night for the audience.
He talked about returning to Glasgow for Hairspray and the place went wild.
Oh, we had such a great time! Party time rocked and the audience absolutely loved him. That’s what we enjoy so much about Scotland – apart from all our darling friends, there is always top reception for Michael.
After the concert we had the feeling he’d sneak out through another door. We kept our distance and saw him do just that, but naturally respected his wish for privacy and just stared from the shadows. Had a lovely chat with Adrian and Ben though.
Another wonderful evening…now it’s time to pack our things (oh god…the room looks like …we cannot even begin to describe what it looks like….packing may take some time) and head to Edinburgh. Hopefully with less rain and more stage door.Permalink
What an amazing show yesterday – but first things first. We arrived in Blackpool without another car crash. Yay! Result! Found everything okay, which is hardly surprising for we have a) sat nav and b) been to Blackpool several times already. From listening to Sunday Brunch (oh yes, we did, in our car) we knew Michael was having fun on Pleasure Beach, so there was no hurry.
Chatted a bit and waited until the tour bus (there were no less than 5 identical ones parked around the venue. But half of them belonged to another act) left to pick Michael, the boys and one of the Louises up from having fun on rollercoasters. It took them a while but sure enough after some 30 minutes the massive bus squeezed itself through the narrow lane. Michael waved from the front. But we guessed right: he’d step out from the middle door. This is fun and it means he has a shorter walk through the crowd. But he was very giving with his time, told us all about their Pleasure Beach adventure (apparently Callum had decided against one of the rides in the last minute) and said we should see the photos. Once inside the boys came along and Ben made the crucial mistake of showing the photos from the rollercoaster rides to us all. Millions of cameras were out, the poor boy looked like he was surrounded by piranhas LOL We made no exception of course. Hilarious pics! Had a quick chat with the lovely Adrian, too (he is staying in Hairspray till April and Verity is too! Yay! Will have to see it again before April! But he will not go on tour with the show. Crying shame.).
When everyone was in we had some food and set off to find our hotel which did prove quite a quest even though we had a) sat nav and b) knew the place. Took us almost an hour to find our way through the labyrinth of one way streets. But we made it and are in a massive room WITH sea view!! In a Travelodge that cost us 9 pounds, would you believe it?
The concert was phenomenal.
Mind you, we thought it was a bit of a slow start with only half the auditorium on their feet for the first song (fans are scattered through the auditoriums these days, no real group feel). Also clapping along didn’t work even when Michael tried very hard to get everyone going. BUT the applause and cheers after each song were generous and enthusiastic, so that made up the lack of audience participation during the individual numbers. Those who did stand up gave plenty standing ovations (it sometimes felt like exercise, we were on our feet almost every song LOL). His voice was in top form and they had so much fun up there. Sadly the sound was a bit…let’s say the venue is not equipped for the huge speakers and so it was a bit over the top at times. Party time saw the whole place on their feet, dancing along. We had such a good time and, most importantly, so had Michael and company.
Afterwards we wished the boys a good journey (as we knew they’d drive straight on to Glasgow) but were then told Michael had left through another door. Never mind, we had a fab stage door before the concert (those are the ones that count) and headed straight to the beach, admiring the illuminated Blackpool.
Now it’s our day off and we will drive up to Glasgow via scenic routes and in no hurry whatsoever. Can’t wait.
A line we had forgotten in the Birmingham blog, but love so much we keep repeating it on a daily basis: when Michael told us that he now has been doing this job for 25 years he rephrased: “You cannot call it a job, can you? 25 years of showing off!”
loved it! even thought about changing Justy’s tag line! LOL
It’s not even half past 7 and we are back up. Not because we have to but simply because that is how it always is in our UK holidays. We keep waking up at ridiculous hours…probably the excitement of it all.
Anyways, we thought we could use the extra time to do a proper write up of yesterday’s concert.
Michael comes on stage in a wonderful three-piece suit (it looks dark, grey or black, difficult to tell with the massive light show going on), white shirt, white tie. Loving it, seriously hot stuff. During the cause of the first act he loses the tie. V nice. When he comes back on stage after the interval he is wearing a longer-than-normal jacket (sorry, no fashionistas, don’t know the proper lingo), dark blue or slight purple (and patterned) shirt and matching tie. We just realised, we disagree on the colour, lol. Love this outfit, so very elegant. Then he changes once more for the build up to the finale and returns in black suit with white shirt and glitzy tie! It was most thrilling to see the posh fabric…it looks so soft…actually it’s rather tight fit at places (all the right places, we should add), so sometimes it is a bit distracting (in a VERY good way).
Whoever chose the outfit: Thank you. Sometimes their suits looked more like body painting, really gorgeous. Tight grey suits with even tighter t-shirts. Sometimes they wore the jackets, sometimes they did not. At the end of the show they changed into black shirts with a silver glitzy motive on the front. Gorgeous.
Well, they changed their dresses a couple of times and really looked stunning.
The First Act:
We were treated to an Overture of different songs (You can’t stop the beat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Don’t stop me now). It felt great to be back, but it was a bit weird to have Callum standing on the “wrong” side of the stage and not having any backing vocals. You can tell, we are not very flexible when it comes to our concert setting. But that will surely change. The guest singers finally appeared at the back of the stage and we heard “Please welcome Mr. Michael Ball!” To our delight the front of the stalls got up on their feet and danced for the first two songs (I was made for Loving you medley and One Step out of Time) and we had a great time enjoying our front row view Blackpool will be row H so we had to make the most of it).
This was followed by Human, sung as a solo by Michael. During this number we still had to come to terms with him being so close by (eventho the NIA is a bit of a heartless arena, the stage was fairly close), so will hopefully get a few more things to say about it as the tour progresses. Don’t stop me Now was arranged as a company number and worked really, really well. Just a crying shame the two Louises, Emma, Ben and Adrian are positioned at the back of the stage behind the musicians, meaning we missed some of their hip action. It has to be said though, placing this song at the beginning f of the concert meant we really had to struggle to urge our well-trained bodies to remain put and NOT dash to the stage when the line of the song that usually has been the signal for party time came. Sitting through this number was the most odd sensation. But Mr Ball had several of those moments in store for us.
For Seasons of Love all of them finally joined Michael on the front of the stage. The song being a company number from Rent, Michael explained how he could now stage it as it should be done when he previously only sang it alone. It’s all about harmonies and every member of the 6-piece-ensenble gets their chance to shine. It really is quite some experience. These kids are all so talented. Amazing.
Naturally we had read all the songlists that are around, so we KNEW he’d sing The Rose, a song that means so much to him and his family. We did look forward to it a lot and were indeed grabbed by the heartbreaking sincerity with which he performed it. Quite a killer really. It got us two bunnies really emotional.
Next on the agenda was Michael’s “classic album track” from Sunday Brunch. The first one to be aired in this section (his choice). Supertramp’s If Everyone was Listening. What a song! Couldn’t remember it from the show…but the gentleman behind us was quite pleased with Michael’s choice apparently for he started singing along! Luckily only for a short while (and a serious glance from us). Watch out for this song though. Great stuff.
When the old barstool came out we knew it was time for Empty Chairs. And we know it’s been said before, but he seems to have re-discovered the song…heartbreakingly beautiful and very fresh.
Tell me it’s not True from Blood brothers led us into the finale of the first act. Obviously this worked really well as a company number. Michael then left the stage and the fab five took over to give us a Jesus Christ Medly of sorts, acting out the songs. Very cleverly done and a joy for the ears. When Michael was back on stage we knew what had to come: Gethsemane. Wow. What can we say? Just wow. His voice….the emotion…everything was just perfect. A sublime stage moment. And luckily no one spoilt it by clapping into the dramatic pause towards the end. Phew. The audience was in the know.
What a finale. We were still quite stunned when the lights came back on and everyone had left the stage.
The second act started with some numbers from Starlight Express (Michael explained how this was the only Andrew Lloyd Webber musical he had never sung a song from before. So he thought it was time to change that and he really liked the songs). Michael and Adrian duetted on Only You. A sight to be hold and a joy for the ears (and eyes).
It was a bit weird to have Love Changes Everything in the middle of the concert and not at the end. Michael told us, we might be familiar with the song and if we knew the lyrics and felt the urge to sing along, then “DON’T!” We were actually quite happy to hear that. Then he got a giggle fit, because of the audience laughter and his own cheekiness. Towards the end of the song he actually did invite the audience to sing along (sadly).
As introduction to the next song he spoke about how a very young Michael once attended a concert of his then favourite band back in the 70s. He got a bit excited at the end and dashed to the front of the stage (he smiled at us and said, he has seen that happening since). Anyhow, while he was at the front of the stage he reached out and she back and for a blissful moment Michael and Agnetha were joined. Then we knew he was talking about Abba. Back on the barstool and we finally heard The Winner Takes It All, live for the first time. Definitely one of our big highlights! What a powerful and sad song.
We knew we were in for a lot of fun, when he talked about Vera Lynne, who is at the top of the charts at the moment at 92 years old. That gave him “bloody hope” he said. On a more serious note he talked about the creativity during the war years and how he loved the art of this period., Especially the closed harmony groups. He apologised for the Andrews Sisters and then the sextet formed a wonderful and sparkly rendition of the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, complete with fantastic choreography.
This led beautifully into the classic Mack The Knife from the Threepenny Opera (Dreigroschenoper in German). Why it took him so long to gather the courage to perform that we don’t know. It was perfect (we promised that we won’t moan that he did not sing it in German).
We knew he was about to leave the stage, when he started to talk about not having explored song writing enough, but that it was thrilling for a writer to hear his work interpreted by other artists. Naturely this song means a lot to him and they mustn’t get it wrong, no pressure! He left the stage and let Adrian and Ben sing a sweet rendition of the song.
Emma Williams had her chance to shine in The Prayer with Michael. And he is right. She has grown up nicely. The two voices do blend really well.
He started talking about Hairspray, but we knew it was too early for You Can’t Stop The Beat, so it had to be I Know Where I’ve Been. Truly amazing. This song is so full of hope and has such beautiful lyric. We are delighted that it will be on the DVD. Just WOW!
Next came the ultimate treat: Mercy. All six of them looking dashing in their finale frocks and suits. They were all having such fun and the song has so much vibrant energy, it’s wonderful. Stunning arrangement, we had the best time. And it’s absolutely one of our tour favourites.
This led into You Can’t Stop The Beat and a rush to the stage, party time! It was oddly familiar to hear the song and see the routine from the very front. We were half expecting Michael to pop out of a giant Hairspray can, wearing a glamorous red frock. He did not of course. But it was so good to be transported back to the era that was Hairspray and have everyone around you dancing.
Only two songs left and the official end of the concert was Put A Little Love In Your Heart. A joyous number performed beautifully by all of them.
Michael returned after a little while of thunderous applause to treat us to a phenomenal rendition of The Impossible Dream. His first ever audition song… and Yes, he did get the part.
When he left the stage for the last time, we could not believe it was all over. Time went by so quickly, but hey, nine more shows to come. So we will see it all again tonight in Blackpool. Can’t wait!Permalink
We are back in our hotel after the most amazing concert. Sitting in the front row, seeing Michael do a whole bunch of new material, several standing ovations and five stunning youngsters with him up there: life does not get much better than this. Very exhausted now, so we will concentrate on highlights.
- The suits: delicious
- I was made for loving you / Hot Stuff: fantastic and a blast from the past, seeing “Hot Stuff” was the first song of our first ever Michael concert
- … hummmm just realising that roughly every song is a highlight. So we might write a bit more about the line up after Blackpool, still some highlights in no particular order:
- Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy
- Mack the Knife
- Seasons of Love
- The Winner Takes It All
- The Rose
- Just When
- I Know Where I’ve Been
Why these are our highlights? We’ll get to this later on, as well as all the other stuff Michael says and does during the concert.
Sorry about that, we are just a bit overwhelmed and VERY tired. Our special thanks goes to Pam for just being herself. Good night everyone. Talk tomorrowPermalink
We won’t bother you with the drama preceding our arrival in Birmingham (flight cancelled, bunny K not on the new flight, delayed departure because of traffic over the channel to name but a few).
For us our tour started this morning, when we picked up our rental car (very nice! we got an upgrade). And the sat nav guided us towards our hotel. Only two crossings away from our hotel, we waited at a red traffic light. Then, suddenly, there was an almighty bang and jerk. The driver behind us had hit us. GREAT! A rental car. A four lanes road and we are stranded in the middle, in shock with heavy traffic all around us. It took us a moment to gather our bearings. The guy who hit us kindly helped to slow down the traffic and we could pull over to the left at a bus stop. Thankfully the car was still driving and the poor man was very apologetic. We phoned the rental company and he confirmed to them it was his fault. Luckily no one was hurt. Our car looks a little worse for wear though. The rest of the journey went smoothly…. Thankfully.
Then we arrived at our hotel and had a lot of time to wander around, have a look for the stage door and have something to eat.
This would not be a brilliant one for sure, it did not help that this must be the first time ever Michael did the NIA. This means no one knew which of the numerous entrances Mr. Ball would use. We settled for the one, where one of the tour buses was parked. The problem there was, that it was closed by a massive gate. So we knew at best he’d drive in and walk back up to us. In worst case, he’d just walk in.
We chatted to our friends and time went by rather quickly. Every now and then a member of the band arrived. And when Callum arrived we knew sound check was near. Excitement mounted when the second tour bus came up the road and drove past…. Oh no! Bugger, what now? We really really do not want to run. But then it stopped, mercifully reversing into the drive. Michael had fun, as you might see on the photos. And we were lucky as once the bus was safely parked he really did walk over to us all, chatted a bit, signed a bit and told us all he was tired. Also he encouraged us all to do a bit of dancing in the show, as he really like to see it, when people stood up (apparently there has been a bit of a lack of atmosphere during the tour due to the fans only having tickets further at the back – or so we were told). When Michael finally went in Ben remained there, working the crowd. We said our hellos and it was good to know he still remembered us.
With one hour to go to our first concert we will leave you now to get changed. Enjoy the pics of “The Ball Behind Bars”. Talk to you soon, we hope. Wifi permitting.Permalink
We are back home, sadly. We had quite a miserable time on Sunday noon, standing across the street from the theatre and looking at all the posters, which should be gone by now. And whilst we certainly wish the three new cast members all the best Michael Ball, Leanne Jones and Ben James-Ellis will be hugely missed. At the same time I am positive we are going to see it again before Adrian Hansel and Verity Rushworth will have left the show.
However, back to the matinee. We knew, we would have forgotten about some stuff and we are glad Joan and Pam added to our list. Firstly I have changed our original posting for Edna ironed a Michael Ball pillowcase and not the tea towel. The other stuff follows now:
- “Mama I’m a big girl now": when Edna slaps Tracy on the bottom, Tracy shots back on Edna’s bottom
- I Can Hear the Bells – Link gropes Tracy’s boob for much longer than the quick squeeze and also buries his face deeply into her boob rather than just superficially.
- Same Scene: Tracy dances in front of the girls with Record Box balanced on her boobs
- The Maddison: Link carries one of the ‘nicest kids on stage
- Same Scene: Tracy pinches Seaweed’s butt
- Same Scene: Tracy blows kiss to Sketch
- “Welcome to the 60s": Forgot to say that Link wore a hat during this scene.
- Same Scene: Tracy pinches Brads butt and he blows her a kiss
- Dirty Boogie: when Edna comes on she is wearing an Obama ‘badge on collar of suit.
- “Big Dollhouse": Tracy has pink and white socks on again
- “Timeless to me": When Wilbur can hardly control himself laughing, Edna said exactly: “It’s so very nearly almost over!”
- “You can’t stop the beat": The fairy lights, that Edna wore lit up, when it got dark on stage.
Unbelievable that we still missed so much stuff. It certainly was the most funfilled show I have ever seen.
Should we think of anything more, we will add again to the blog. Last night, we thought about one or two things we forgot, but of course cannot remember at the moment. gurrr.Permalink
After a refreshing 5 hours of sleep we’re back to tell you the rest of what happened on Saturday.
Once Michael had got inside and the masses had cleared slightly we remained in our pole position spot next to the door. It was wonderful to see the cast arrive and tell each and everyone of them individually how much we enjoyed their talent and saying good-bye.
When we returned for the evening we saw so many familiar faces in the audience, it almost felt like a tour concert. Cathy was in the audience of course as was Phil Bowdery (Michael’s manager). We sat in the first two seats of row K. After being used to front rows this seemed to be incredibly far away, but they turned out to be good seats with a good view and the added bonus: For the finale Leanne, Ben and Adrian stand right next to you, waiting for their big entrance.
As far as Hairspray performances go this one surely was one of the best we have seen so far. Even more energetic and rousing than usual. The audience reactions were fantastic. Everyone seemed determined to give the three leads the farewell they deserve. When we came to “you can’t stop the beat” Leanne was in tears and Ben was struggling. They stopped the show right before Tracy tells everyone to dance with her.
We had a preview of what was coming for the cast as a group of theatre staff had lined up next to us, each one of them with a large bouquet in their hands. One of the Hairspray producers then got on stage and held a moving speech about their three leads leaving and how their talent had made Hairspray the phenomenon that it was today. Tears all around at this point.
then one after the other of the theatre staff walked on stage and handed over 600 roses, one for each of the performances. And then poor Michael had to give a speech, which was not easy for him, you could tell. But Ben and Leanne looked even more shaken, so he spoke on their behalf as well. Naturally the whole audience was on their feet by now.
He talked about what this experience has meant for him, how wonderful everyone on stage AND backstage had been. That the audiences were fantastic and on a personal note he said his thank you for the support he had at the home front. He knew that coming to terms with this (indicating Edna’s fabulous finale styling) he jokingly thanked Cathy for the loan of the clothes. By now he could hardly speak for tears and one had to fight the urge to rush on stage and give him a big hug.
After all this both, Leanne and Ben, had gathered themselves enough to say a few words of thanks and they told us how Hairspray would always mean so very much to them. Leanne said how this has been living her dream and now it was all over. Michael had his hand on her shoulder and said “It’s only the beginning!". It was quite a scene to behold. And then they all took a deep breath and finished the song with everyone dancing in the aisles and that was it. 21 months over like a shot.
When we all gathered outside of the theatre facing the window where we knew Michael was due to appear the three security guards struggled enormously to move the crowd further up the street. Everyone wanted to have a clear view and would not budge. As seen before many cast members were taking photographs of the masses clearly enjoying the spectacle.
And after a bit of a wait Michael appeared in the window looking incredibly handsome in a black suit (William Hunt, Savile Row) and black shirt. He held a very sweet speech, thanked us all and on popular demand even sang a bit with us (We’ll meet again). He then said he is off to the best party of his life and is determined to drink on everyone of us, individually.
A few moments later he left the stage door and fought his way through the crowd to his car. Just like this afternoon he held another little speech while standing slightly raised holding onto the railing of the car. Finally he asked whether he could do a little Moses and part the masses. It did the trick and he drove off into the night. Michael Ball had left the building.
Not being able to let go just yet we lingered at the stage door and had the opportunity to say our last good-byes to Adrian and Ben, but sadly did not catch Leanne leaving. When the car returned to pick up Andrew he lowered the window to wave good-bye to the remaining crowd. We still could not tear ourselves away from the theatre and eventually stayed longer than the security guards. The police line was cut, all lines went out… The end of an era.
Sitting on our hotel bed the truth still has not quite sunk in yet. No more Hairspray. No more prescription free anti-depressant. No more Edna - No more? Upon leaving Michael asked us, whether we thought we had seen the last of Edna Turnblad and hinted “Probably not!” We live in hope.
We are sitting in our hotel room and it is half past 2… again. But we did not want to go to sleep without giving you some information on last nights events.
A few words of explanation for the stage door photos. When we started queuing for the stage door not 20 minutes had past before a hand full of builders arrived and they started to tear bits of the street apart. This involved considerable amount of noise, dust and smell. We could not believe it. Today of all days. Luckily the works did not take long. Also you will find photos of our police escort and we had a real police line up at the entrance of Grape Street. So we have caught a few impressions for you.
But now back to the matinee. We promised to tell you in detail about the little pranks in the show. So this is what we saw and can remember, but be aware, some of it might sound ridiculous, if you have not seen the show:
• Tracy wore pink socks with white hearts on them.
• Roll call at “Nicest kids in town”: Link ripped open his shirt and showed us his sixpack. Quite a nice view.
• Turnblad family living room: We have Michael Ball merchandise plate on the shelf, as well as a Michael Ball mug and Edna was ironing a Michael Ball pillowcase.
• “I can hear the bells”: Tracy’s final note is interrupted by a quick kiss from Link, which she clearly did not expect.
• Same scene: Edna had a little soft toy dog in her handbag. A bit like Paris Hilton come Balti-moron
• “Mama I’m a big girl now”: Tracy writes “I love Link” on her mirror with lipstick, no less.
• Same song: sprays her mum with almost the entire contents of the hairspray can and gets slapped on the bottom for it.
• “It takes two”: at the end of the song Tracy always pulled her skirt up, panting at gorgeous Link. Well this time, she actually pulled it all the way up to the waist line and revealed her black thong. She also nearly fainted when they kissed and poor Link had to drag her off stage.
• “Welcome to the 60s”: The Jelly Donuts were served on a Michael Ball merchandise plate and one of the Dynamites kissed it.
• Same song: Link entered the stage instead of one of the dancers. He had only a very vague idea of what he was doing.
• Same song: Tracy signed her autographs with a hot dog.
• Same song at the beginning: Edna wears something black under her housedress. We could not clearly see what, unfortunately.
• Dirty Boogie: well this is not easy to explain, but we will have a try: Usually Tracy and Link dance together, but this time Link found Tracy basking on one of the props (the platter display). So instead of dancing with her, he boogied with the display and had to lift her from it, in the end, both chuckling.
• Same Scene: When Lil Inez and Tracy meet they shake hands. This time Tracy simply would not let go of Inez’ hand and kept shaking.
• Doll House: Edna gropes Velma more than usual, which leads to Velma groping back
• Same Scene: Tracy steals Penny’s harmonica
• Same Scene: Edna does a far bigger money note at the end of the song – to die for.
• Timeless to me: When Wilbur closes up and the rubber chicken falls down Edna exclaims: “It’s a puppet!”. As we know by now, this was Brian Conley’s (Michael’s successor) catchphrase in his TV show.
• Same Scene: Photo of Michael on the shelf (the mouse-mat, we believe it was)
• Same Scene: When Wilbur shows the miniature version of the big hairspray can, there is a little teddy-bear inside, sporting a Michael Ball T-Shirt.
• Same Scene: Wilbur: “Shabbat Shalom” – Edna: “What?” – Wilbur: “It’s jewish for kiss me again!” – Edna “Are you sure?” Then Wilbur nods and Edna gets out some mouth spray for her and for Wilbur. Followed by a long, long kiss. Edna breaks off, panting, breathing “beautiful”
• Same Scene: When Wilbur is giggling behind her Edna comments her usual “Be Strong” and adds “It’s so nearly almost over!”
• Before “I know where I’ve been”: When Tracy remarks to Link “You could go to prison for what you did tonight!” and he hastily explains “Only for a space in the back of a cab, I swear.” Seaweed simply refused to congratulate his mate and just stands in the back with his sister, leaving Link all alone in the front of the stage, looking lost and a little bit heartbroken.
• “Hairspray”: Andrew pushes the Hairspray can on stage wearing a Michael Ball apron
• “You can’t stop the beat”: Edna wore several bits of decoration in her hair. A golden star, red fairy lights and lots more.
• Same Scene at the very end: Extremely long and intense snog between Link and Tracy, where she almost faints.
So this was all we remember at the moment and we are rather sure there was more stuff going on. Let’s just say it was hilarious and much more than we anticipated.
Afterwards the crowd on Grape Street was enormous. As promised Michael appeared at one of the windows wearing his “The Dogfather” t-shirt. He had said he would not sign anything, but could not refuse one fan and consequently ended up doing an impromptu windowsill signing session. At one point he remarked, that he wondered what happened, if he fell out of the window right now, as he was fairly high up. This did not seem to bother the crowd standing underneath, as they kept handing programms to one of the security guys to hand over to Michael.
Time for Bedfordshire. Enjoy the photos. And we will speak tomorrow.Permalink
We have just returned to our hotel room to get changed. What an experience!
The stage door road (feels more like a lane) was blocked off by a police line for today. Thank god for that! What a crowd, plus a camera team, filming material for Michael’s new DVD And three security guards AND two police cars! All this for a man coming to work on his last day in the job!
The matinée was SUCH good fun! We will report properly tonight (to cheer ourselves up)…but let’s say this: we now know how Ben’s chest looks like without a shirt blocking the view (rather delicious, it has to be said), we also know the entire range of MB merchandise and how Michael sounds when he is panting with… how shall we put it? delight perhaps…
It was hysterical! We took notes, so will get back to you with all the (gory) details.
Between shows Michael leaned out of one of the theatre windows. he said he’d not sign anything as there were far too many people there, but just like when he arrived, one pleading fan succeeded in begging him into signing her programme and then mayhem broke lose and the poor man was trapped signing dozens of programmes for people. A security guard had to hold them up for him, so he could lean on the window sill and sign away. What a spectacle. Loads of photos to follow…
But now we have to go as Michael put it so neatly: “tonight is for real".
Talk to you later!Permalink
Sorry about the delay in reporting about yesterday’s events. We were too excited to just go to the hotel (okay, the truth is: we couldn’t bear the thought that Friday was over already), so we made the somewhat mad decision to go and see a late night screening of Harry Potter 6 before we had to face the inevitable: go to bed and wake up to find out it’s Saturday. (If you haven’t already seen it, go and watch the movie, it’s fab!)
Friday, 24 July 2009:
The first surprise came at 10:30 am when we walked past the Facebook group who are q-ing since Thursday and they told us only a hand full of people had turned up for the day seats this morning. There would still be some available surely. Well…you know, yes, we had booked seats (and excellent ones,too) but we couldn’t miss the chance to have another front row, could we? So yeah, as many of you will guess we dashed into the theatre and got our day seats. One last front row before it was all over. Yipee! Also it would be a different perspective, as we were placed on the non-Michael side of the stage (ideal for Leanne, Ben and Adrian though).
Our little walk through London afterwards was interrupted by a heavy shower on Trafalgar Square, but the view from the National Gallery onto the pouring rain was somewhat impressive, so it didn’t matter (apart from the fretting about having yet another wet stage door, of course).
We got there early enough to secure a space next to the door. Luckily Leanne was there really early to do some last minute sorting out of dressing rooms and party dresses. She is such a sweet girl. we chatted for a bit and after months of carrying two Hairspray posters with us we finally got round to asking her to sign them (talk about cutting it fine!).
She told us about being in Panto in December and playing a Tracy fairy in Jack and the Beanstalk in December. She will be singing Hairspray songs. She was sad that Verity would be off that day, but she’d be back for the last day.
After a while more Michael fans turned up, but surprisingly enough there weren’t too many of us. It was a fairly manageable crowd. As is usual for a Friday Michael turned up early and looked incredible in a dark blue jacket and light shirt (see photos for proof). He positioned himself in front of the door, so we all could get a good view of him. Some last minute signing and photo taking, talking about the madness of Saturday and how he plans to come to one of the windows instead of fighting his way through was was going to be a massive crowd. We agreed that this was a good plan and found out that the little balcony we had hoped he’d stand on did not actually belong to the theatre (sad, we hoped for an Evita pose).
When he looked around, asking if people wanted anything from him and saw all the familiar faces he just said “You don’t want anything signed from me, you see me all the time!” But some of us actually did. He also asked us, whether we liked his new jacket. Indeed we did. And we had already guessed it was brand new, because the plastic thingy that holds the price tag was still in place on the sleeve. When we pointed that out to him he did not go inside to cut it off, oh no. He actually bid it off there and then. Lucky plastic thingy….
We already knew Verity was off, but were sad to find out Sandra was as well. But what can you do? As long as it meant she was going to be back on Saturday we did not mind too much. Apart from a few timing issues everything went really smoothly and we enjoyed the experience of seeing a “different” show on the other side of the auditorium. Some views we will never forget (the word thigh comes to mind…..). The audience was not as lively as we’d hoped, but still very enthusiastic at the end.
…. afterwards was madness, again. Especially when some tall blond guy (not Michael) left the theatre and pandemonium broke loose. We stood there, completely baffled, when everyone around us erupted in hysteria. When girl even turned around and screamed “i stepped on (what’s his name) foot” Thankfully Gill and Maureen came to our rescue and explained the mystery celebrity was Louis Walsh, a judge of the TV show X-Factor and former manager of …. we think Westlife… or was it Boyzone? Gosh, sorry, we are use there.
Shortly afterwards Cathy left the theatre (looking stunning as ever) and then there he was. Gorgeous Mr. Ball on a run. The bigger the crowds and the more pushy they get, the quicker he is off. So you can imagine he was gone like a shot. Mind you, due to a mini traffic jam his car did not get very far. A van in front of him could not drive on due to the Ben fans blocking the street. it got to the point, when Michael actually opened the door of his car again and laughingly shouted “will you let us through please? I need to get home!”
We lingered at the stage door for a little bit longer to soak up as much of the atmosphere as possible. we were very surprised to find Ben was still there talking to fans and it turned out he was also doing some last minute clearing of his dressing room. We had a quick chat and he was very sweet thanking us for being around all the time and so on. we actually helped him and held open the door, when he was carrying out arm fulls of stuff (but no mirror , thankfully. And that was it. Our last stage door before the final day. The countdown had started.
Saturday here we come.
So here we are again. Let’s see, where did we stop? Stage door, right? The matinee was about to begin and we learned why this was the first of a series of emotional performances: It was Charlotte Riby’s last time as Tracy. Seeing that Chloe Hart, who will take over from Leanne, is contracted for 8 shows a week, Charlotte will only have to come on stage in the unlikely event of Chloe being off sick. You may know that at the moment Charlotte had a regular spot as Tracy at the Thursday matinée.
You could tell form the first few notes into Good Morning Baltimore that she was determined to make the most of her possible last stint as Tracy. She really gave it her all. It was such a joy to watch (if you managed to forget the reason for all this exuberance)… She was making the most of the part and was infectious to everyone on stage.
“It takes two” was a killer. You know, when Link and Tracy end the song together and Tracy lifts her skirt a bit. Well this time it was not only a bit, but it got up, all the way. Ben could hardly finish the song.
Still: All was well until we got to I Know Where I’ve Been when Charlotte was in tears. Well up moment…
By the time we were almost through with You Can’t Stop the Beat there were many wet eyes on stage and in the audience and poor Charlotte struggled to get the words “come on everybody,let’s dance!” out properly for tears. And seeing Michael on the brink of tears did not exactly help either.
We are happy to report though that she got the enthusiastic send off she really deserved. The place was erupting with applause and everyone was on their feet. It was just fabulous. What this will mean for Saturday… gosh, we really do not want to think about that just yet.
Afterwards we got to the stage door on the other side of the street, just to catch a glimpse of Michael. Unfortunately for quite a number of fans of Michael and the show there were some autograph hunters, who just would not go away, but managed to get signature after signature. Even crossing the little barrier that was put up. Thankfully Andrew told him off for that… still, it was quite annoying, as it was really crowded there anyway.
Of course we were back for the evening show and we were quite sad, as this was supposed to be our final front row seats and after the show half of our final Hairspray week would be over.
Within all of the 34 shows we have seen so far hardly anything went wrong. however, when we got to “It takes two” Link got on stage and instead of the immaculate hairdo, one streak of his hair was pointing skywards. We could not help, but laugh and neither could Leanne. She even tried to smooth it down, during the song, but as he was unaware of the problem, he simply backed away all the time. LOL, poor boy, did not have the slightest idea why everyone kept laughing.
Nothing much more happened, well of course the show was brilliant as ever, but that’s not really a surprise. The stage door afterwards was complete madness, as you can imagine. As Michael has to clear his dressing room until Saturday evening, you can imagine Andrew has already started taking stuff out every night. The highlight was a huge mirror he had to get out yesterday. So big, it would not fit the Mercedes boot and had to travel in the backseat eventually. We felt for Andrew who had to brave the crowds several times and they would not move one inch.
Four down, three to goPermalink
Thursday, 23 July 2009:
Our day began at six in the morning for we had to get ready to join the queue for the day tickets. When we arrived a few minutes later there were already seven people in front of us and we knew we were in for a busy day… and a very long wait, make that… a couple of long waits. But you know what? We will miss it. Even the four hours in the cold wind. Admittedly, it did not help that we found out about an hour later that our flight for the tour (actually to the tour) was canceled. But somehow the tour seems so far away right now. It’s all a bit surreal and we will get there somehow, sometime.
When we finally got our tickets we saw the beginning of the queue for the Saturday shows (Yes, it was only Thursday - morning even). Boy, how glad are we to have tickets for the Saturday. If queuing for four hours seems long, imagine two whole days….
The stage door itself was madness, but not because of the fans (we all behaved and were less people than anticipated, but the cars are a completely different story. We had never experienced the street that busy and we have been there many times. Most of the time we spent snuggling up to each other to avoid being run over by everything from motorcycles to huge coaches.
when the clock showed 1:45pm we knew he’d do a runner (they all have to be in at 2pm at the latest for matinee days). When he still was not there at 1.55pm we knew he’d be fast as lightning and how right we were. He came dashing down the street.. a minute to two. He did not get very far, mind you. As soon as he was spotted at the end of the street fans ran to him begging for autographs and photos. so he tried to oblige them all while at the same time dashing to the door and begging everyone, if at all possible, could they please come back at another time. But you know what it’s like. He still had to sign quite a few programms and posed for a number of photos. Poor thing.
He was wearing a nice white shirt and looked very dishy altogether (see photos for proof).
So that was it. Our final pre-thursday matinee stage door. A quickie. Seeing we are very very tired after a long long day, we will tell you all about the two shows tomorrow morning. Please bear with us and enjoy the photos in the meantime.
Whenever there is no daily calendar you know that we are either in London or have a problem with Justy. This time luckily it was due to us being in London… once again. We did not have internet access yesterday, but have now moved into a hotel with wifi… Hoooray. So let’s fill you in on the last two days.
We won’t bother you with all the boring travel details. Everything went relatively smooth. As we had tickets pre-booked for the night we did not have to worry about dayticketing. So we arrived at the stage door rather early and at this point denial was no longer an option: It was definately raining.
After a considerable wait, when several more fans had arrived you could barely see anything, apart from multicoloured umbrellas. But what can you do? As always the waiting paid off. When Michael arrived he looked drop dead gorgeous (see photos for proof) and informed us, that he would be going out tonight. As it was still raining and there was quite a crowd the car dropped him off close to the stage door. He did not last long, but still stopped to chat a bit to say how sad he was. The final week. He posed for pictures and one of his first sentences was “It’s raining.” Yeah, right. we noticed as much.
Watching him walk into the theater gave us the feeling of being back home again, Grape Street has become the Bunnies natural habitat.
For us it was a blow to hear that Ben would be off this evening. Michael Steedon was his understudy and he did rather well considering it was only his third show as Link. Everybody else was in top form albeit you could tell that something was different. They all had said to us that it felt really surreal backstage. Only one week to go.
One thing that was slightly wrong happened during “I can hear the bells". When Tracy sings “my mother starts to cry” there was no mother in sight. After two more lines we got a bit worried, but then thankfully she appeared, crying dutifully.
It is amazing how well choreographed this show is. We still keep discovering new bits and pieces happening in the background. And we have seen the show for…. 32 times… we think (and no, this is not nearly enough!)
Wednesday, 22 July 2009
No rain! When we arrived at the stage door, we discovered that they had the builders in and consequently one side of the already narrow sidewalk was closed. So we could only stand on one side of the stage door. It got quite cosy after a while with more and more people arriving. After quite a long wait Michael walked down the street, looking rather dishy with sunglasses and a black jacket (see again photos for proof).
You have to excuse the lack of information concerning the things he said upon arrival, but for us it is all a blur. He’s just too handsome at the moment. sorry.
Ben was back, but then Verity (Penny) was unfortunately off. That was quite a blow, for we love Verity. Everything went fine and we had such a wonderful time. Oh, how we will miss Hairspray. After the show there was a rather large crowd waiting for everyone. And after a while they started singing songs from the show and they were really good. So when Michael came out, he actually joined them for a bit. Two down, five to go and we will keep you posted.Permalink
After almost exactly a year we thought we might re-activate this blog.
We arrived Monday night. Everything went smoothly and we are staying just around the corner from the Shaftesbury Theatre.
Yesterday (Tuesday) we met with Pat and Linda and had a fun night out (thanks girls). We also had our first encounter with the new Hairspray cast. They were all really good considering the original cast was such a tough act to follow.
We hope to be more detailed tomorrow (Wednesday).
We had a bit of a wait at a very cold and windy stage door. When Michael finally arrived all that was forgotten. We had a lovely chat and he hinted that we all might get to hear two more songs that he has recorded additionally to the new ones on the album. Intriguing.
Here is an impression of the stage door and we hope to get back to you tomorrow.