Our last day in Dublin and guess what? We were “snowed in” in the middle of the night. At least it was enough to create little adventures on the way to the theatre. Plus useless fact of the day: Within ten years of traveling England, Scotland, Wales and now Ireland it’s the first time we ever got snow here.
On the way to the stage door Kerstin had to realize here shoes were not really up for the snowy conditions. By the time we got to the stage door, they were wet through and through. Did that stop us? Certainly not!
We waited patiently, which was made so much more enjoyable bye an unprecedented act of kindness. The time went by quickly(thanks Philip). And then there he was: Michael in all his glory and happy to be going back home. We do the same, but we are certainly not as happy.
Great news of the day: Sunday Brunch will be back next year and there will be plenty to be had of it. YAY. He is very pleased with the album. We chatted for a short while and were alone with him for another time. Not that we complain.
As it was rather “warm”-ish (compared to the last two days) we took our chance and asked for a belated birthday photo and of course he obliged.
Tracy was back, but we had some other changes. The original Penny was gone and Lauren Stroud, who usually plays Brenda stood in for her and we had another Tammy. Everything was fine, even for Velma, until she and Amber are freed from the Baltimore Women’s House of Detention and she would usually inform Tracy and gang that she has a “National Television Spectacular” to produce. Well , let’s say in this version she had a “National Protection”. You could see the blank faces in the audience around us. For us it was good fun. Apart from that everything went swimmingly and once more there was an ecstatic crowd in the end, cheers, standing ovation and roaring applause.
In between shows even in all this cold Michael came out between shows, signed stuff and posed for photos. We finally got to say hello to Steve and Emma (apologies, if some sentences don’t make too much sense, we are a bit distracted by watching the snow flurry from our hotel window). Anyways, it was lovely just standing and watching the Ball do his bit and the fans do theirs.
You know you have seen too many shows, when the ushers or in this case usherettes greet you with enthusiastic “you have been here the night before!” and then even says personal good byes at the stage door.
Nothing went wrong, all in all we had a smooth evening performance and Michael was on top form. The audience was amazing and “Timeless to me” was once again the highlight of the show. They even did some real ad-libbing here. What amazes us each time we see this scene is, although none of it really is improvised Michael and his Wilburs always manage to make it feel spontaneous and fresh (oh dear! The flakes get bigger and bigger! Our taxi for the airport leaves at five am. Streets are all white! This does not bode well, wow! But it looks really pretty). The audience really gave the show and the cast a proper send off. We know we are repeating ourselves, but we were so impressed with the reception, that we even looked up when the first tour date is. Sadly it’s a Tuesday, 24 May, so we cannot make it!
Okay, getting back to the show or rather already stage door it was once again incredibly cold and windy, mind you: no snowing at the point. Sorry, we are weather obsessed at the moment. Even though there were quite a few people there, Michael made sure he posed for everyone and signed everything before he left. We wished each other a happy Christmas and a safe journey home. And there we were. Another Hairspray trip over. And one of the best birthdays ever for Kerstin, thanks to Julia, without whose persistence we would not have been here this week.
We have taken some photos today, which we will post tomorrow, when we are back home.
LOL, dear me, the weather here really does not bode well for our flights tomorrow. Fingers crossed however. Wish us luck.Permalink
Imagine our surprise when the curtain went up and we had another Tracy. It must be very hard to be understudy for a main character, but we have to say that Dina Tree did really well. No one who has not seen the show before will have noticed the difference.
This time there were no sound problems, but a lot of Hairspray cans which misbehaved. Also Velma lost one of her shoes during “Miss Baltimore Crabs”. She put it back on very elegantly after holding it in one hand for quite a while. Apart from that everything went smoothly.
We were amazed by the incredible audience reaction. All around us people almost collapsed with laughter. The final applause was like nothing we have heard before. The place went completely wild. It’s no wonder Michael loves the Irish audiences.
Afterwards there was quite a crowd and so many people were taking photos, that we thought: What the heck. So yes we did it. A few photos to show you what the Ball looks like at the moment (nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnice!). It was freezing cold. It actually seems to get worse every night. Wind chill is minus 7. You know it’s winter when you pray for a stage door to be over quickly. An explicit Thank You for Michael on behalf of everyone there for taking his time despite the icy wind. How he manages to smile on all these photos when it’s so desperately cold is quite a minor miracle. We were very busy not shaking so much that we drop the camera equipment. But you know what? It’s still worth it.
We would probably stand there and do what we do even if there was an arctic blizzard going on, because we are like that. Maybe we will find out tomorrow as they predicted snow. We will keep you posted.Permalink
Dublin – November 2010
Sorry about the prolonged silence. We were off the internet for a few nights. But anyways, here we are again.
We arrived in Dublin on Wednesday night (well, parts of us, the flights were some 5 hours apart). Got a taxi and drove straight to the theatre of course. Stage door was really busy and there were quite a few groups of hysteric youngsters. We just said a quick hello to the man and stood and watched otherwise. Sorry, no picture material as all equipment was stored away in our bags. It was a lovely surprise to meet Pam, Joan and Nadine there. They also were so kind to show us the way to our hotel as they stayed in the same one. Unfortunately this was their last night so we have been on our own since then.
We have a lovely hotel and river view. Just ten minutes walk (or 15, it all depends on the footwear). But it’s freezing cold here. First thing we did the next morning was buying gloves for Bunny J. We also saw the new Harry Potter and urge everyone to go see it. It’s the best so far, epic and really sad. We actually saw it twice already (have to make the most of the original version as we get only dubbed movies in Germany and the voices are horrible).
Thursday was Kerstin’s birthday (won’t tell you which). So there were pressies at midnight, Harry in the morning, some sightseeing in the afternoon and stage door + show in the evening. Talk about the perfect birthday. The sun was out (nevertheless freezing cold, the occasional snow flake made its appearance) and the Christmas decorations are up in the streets.
We were all alone at the stage door (almost frozen to the spot as it’s another wind channel). We walked up the street with Andrew and was on his way to grab some food. We handed over some pressies asked about the TV show (he is not sure whether he will have time to film it) and then let him go get something to eat. Oh and there were birthday hugs and kisses and it was all lovely (sorry, couldn’t resist to add this, meant to keep this report gushing-free). No photos as it is always weird to get the equipment out when you are alone with him. Also eventhough the stage door is lit (and there is a roof!Yay) it is too dark for photos and you’d need to use flash and this is something we try to avoid.
First of all the theatre is huge and brand new and gorgeous….all red inside and a very nice piazza at the front. We had tickets for row C which turned out to be the front row!! What a pleasant (birthday) surprise. It was great to see the show up close again. We have to say that it has evolved a lot. Everyone seems settled in their characters and they actually are playing around with them a bit, adding a few more gestures here and there which make it much more alive. Before it always felt a bit clinical, if you know what we mean. Too true to the book. Penny really stood out, made us laugh and laugh. Velma’s microphone died during Miss Baltimore Crabs. Luckily we were close enough to hear her lines anyways. They acted quickly and very elegantly smuggled a hand microphone on stage. She was all pro about it and made it look like part of the number. The sound problem was fixed soon afterwards.
Edna and her new husband get along well. It was nice to have a Wilbur who is a singer and the audience (which really was as enthusiastic as Michael had promised at the stage door the night before) went completely wild during Timeless to me. Instead of what became the standard dialogue between them (“I can’t concentrate when you are jiggling behind me” and Wilbur says “You never complained before!”) there was a new line “That’s not what you said last night”. Well, let’s just say the lady next to us nearly choked from laughing.
As there is no direct link between the auditorium and the stage we were wondering if Mrs Pingleton would comment on the audience, as there were not people to chase up from their seats. She came on from the wings but still remarked how many people there were and that they looked a bit weird, then apologized for the comment and said the classic “this is what happens when you are sitting in the cheap seats”.
It goes without saying that there was a standing ovation at the end (started for Michael).
There were not too many people at the stage door afterwards. Some photos and signatures, the usual. More birthday congratulations (Kerstin shares her birthday with Liam, who is Link in the show).
Friday, 26 November
More Harry Potter and sightseeing for us. Glorious sunshine and a walk down Grafton Street.
Yet another lonely stage door, he arrived at 5 we talked Harry for a bit then he spotted two dogs inside the theatre (no, not his) and dashed inside to cuddle them. And that was that.
Now we are getting changed for the show and will report back afterwards. Still no birthday photo…maybe tomorrow (at least there will be daylight then as it’s a matinee day, but they said it will be snowing all day…eek!).
This got your attention, did not it?
Much to our surprise our seats were not only in the front row of the stalls, but in the very centre. Wow, it felt like being back at the Shaftesbury.
It was great to be back where the action was. It is incredible what a big difference a change of perspective makes. We know it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but for us there is nothing better than seeing the show up close and personal. Especially as a certain housewife was on a roll yesterday. Sometimes you just know that Michael has guests in the audience. It was a joy to watch. Edna on speed. Michael later confirmed our assumption saying that his parents had been in tonight.
Everything went swimmingly until we got to “Timeless To Me”. When Edna discusses with Wilbur that Hallmark does not do cards with names “for women who have abandoned their daughters who gotten themselves arrested for trying to integrate s sop hop type television show” (imagine having to say that sentence very very quickly without breathing and try it at home) something historical happened: Michael got it wrong. At some point mid-sentence it all became gobbledegook. The audience almost died laughing and once he had recovered a bit he started a second attempt. “What I wanted to say was: There are names for women who abandoned their daughters who gotten themselves elected….. Oh I can’t remember it!” It was hysterical. Wilbur replied “You can’t worry about people calling you names!” And Edna inserted “I certainly won’t now!” When usually she kept quiet until he finished his sentence. As you can imagine everyone went wild during the actual song. As Michael correctly says: the audience loves it when things go wrong. At the very end when Edna begs Wilbur to be strong, because he’s giggling behind her Michael added “It’s gone bad enough already” More laughter.
It was a magical night. And all around us we had people who had never seen the show before and were in complete awe. An older gentleman on the left of us kept repeating “Wonderful, fantastic” throughout the entire show. We still are a bit envious on those who can see it for the first time and feel so very privileged to have seen so many shows.
The stage door afterwards was manic. Actually so much so that Andrew policed the crowds and asked that those who already had their signature or photo would please move to the back so that others had the same chance. Michael was in high spirits and promised “I will do you all!”. Now that got a few cheers. A quite ambitious plan. Sadly though he stuck to giving autographs and posing for photos. Not the “doing” we all had in mind. We said our goodbyes and watched him disappear into the night. This was it. No more Hairspray until November.
On a personal note: we have survived the night in our “hotel”. Okay, so we had to move the pillows to the foot end and sleep the other way around, because the mattress was damaged and we did not dare use the shower and we don’t want to know the origin of all the hairs on the bed, but we live. Still we checked out rather early and arrived at the airport four hours before our flight departs, but well, it was our little adventure.
Our next blog will probably be about the recording of Michael’s TV show on September 9th. See you soon.Permalink
As we already moaned about we needed to change hotels in the morning. Let’s just say we are too old for youth hostel standards, but it will have to do for one night. At least there is free wifi in the reception area.
We have had two stage doors already:
the first one was a lot quieter than we thought. Especially Michael walked down a different street and so some groups of fans who had been waiting a bit further away only got there with a slight delay. But everyone got their photo in the end and he was all relaxed and smiley.
As we had not managed to get any tickets for today’s matinee we spent the time in the cinema instead. It’s great to be able to see the original versions of movies without German voices dubbing them.
Back at the theatre it got really a bit frantic at the “between shows” stage door. Very much a push and shove affair, but we loved this purple shirt.
So now all there is to do is getting ready for our final Hairspray in Manchester and lo and behold we will see it from row A of the stalls. This will be quite a shock after the upper circle..Permalink
Shortly before we left home the fan club had sent out the information that this Friday there would be a camera team filming at the stage door for a new DVD release. This is why we got there early expecting a huge crowd. Imagine our surprise when even at five o’clock there were only about ten fans. The camera team consisted of two nice blokes who told us all kinds of niceties about Mr. Ball. They told us that they would be following him around a bit, filming also at the BBC (Sunday Brunch) and on one of his TV show dates. Michael himself has already been inside the theatre, but got out, talked to everyone and left for dinner. When he got back we had a nice, but rather quick stage door. We managed a few photos anyways.
Tonight we sat in the very front row of the Gallery. It was incredible how much closer we felt. What can we say? Show fab, audience fab, evening fab. The stage door afterwards was incredibly busy. After a few quiet days we are dreading tomorrow a bit.
What was funny though was that after saying good night to us all Michael and Andrew walked up half the street that leads to the pub only to stop midway and walk back towards us all (we had flashbacks of a similar situation at a Southampton stage door). While walking past he informed us all that he changed his mind and did not feel like going to the pub anymore. And off he went.
Tomorrow will be a long day for not only do we have to move hotels, but there are also two shows and our last Hairspray for quite a while (till the end of November). And the other hotel we won’t have internet in the room, but we will try our best to keep you updated throughout the day anyways.
Take care and talk soon.Permalink
We had seats in row N of the Gallery and while this might sound not too bad it was actually the one but last row in the Upper Circle. The Manchester Opera House has a really high ceiling and after a steep climb we could almost touch it.
It was good to see Hairspray again and from the distance we could only tell that we had a different Brenda in the typical understudy dress. Most remarkable was the interval when the safety curtain suddenly sprang to life and they actually made it a commercial break showing fully fledged advertisements. We’ve never seen that before and felt like in the cinema.
The stage door between shows was not as crowded as we anticipated. He was wearing shorts and when someone remarked about him being very quick to de-make up he commented that he does not know what women make all the fuss about. He takes it off in one swipe.
We then grabbed some food and dashed to the hotel to edit the photos for you. All too soon we were hurrying back to the theatre as usual underestimating the time photo editing takes.
This time we sat in row H of the Gallery so that was a real improvement in a way had it not been for the group of small very active and very bored children in front of us. What was fantastic about both performances so far was the audience reception. That’s why we always do Manchester on a tour. There was clapping and wohooohing and standing ovations, just fab.
What was really funny was that poor Liam (Link) lost one of his shoes during “The nicest kids in town". Luckily he was wearing blue socks to his blue shoes and also he just carried on dancing and singing as if nothing happened. Even when he got his shoe thrown back at him from the wings and he had to hold it in his hand for a little while he performed as if the mega heartthrob was not holding a shoe in his left hand during his big number.
We have to admit that we still miss Les Dennis, but Michael and Nigel Planner had the audience in hysterics in both shows. Mind you the group of very cool teenagers who sat behind us almost died when Edna and Wilbur kissed. And then they kissed again….
All in all everyone seemed more at ease with their parts compared to four weeks ago, but the show we have seen was exactly the same. We still miss the little bits and pieces that the cast adds to the scenes. Just little things, no adlibbings or similar. At one point in Southampton for example Link has climbed the bars of Tracy’s cell in a bit to get in to her. We loved that, but it is gone again. This is probably because the strict producers want the show to remain exactly as it was, but we cannot know that for sure.
The stage door crowd was not too large and he was able to leave rather quickly for his drink with the rest of the cast.
We will get back to you with the latest from Manchester as soon as we can. Have a nice day.Permalink
Yesterday evening - after a really long journey - we arrived in Manchester. Promptly got lost and ended up on the Ring Road no less (we should mention that we don’t have a car, so yes, we always end up being lost on the Ring Road).
Finally found the hotel and the stage door. It was a bit chilly considering that we left from 35 ° C and sunshine, but never mind.
Much to our surprise we met Fran and Audrey whom we thought we would miss by one day. What fun we had and girls we really hope you got home okay. Michael was one of the first to be out with the fans he was all smiles and it felt great to be back. The stage door is rather narrow and there is a scaffolding. It really feels like home.
Today no rain as yet even though the Metoffice gave a severe weather warning. There was a small crowd and when he arrived he took time for everyone. Enjoy the photos we have taken and talk to you after Hairspray.Permalink
As correctly predicted in the BBC weather spot rain set in at 9am and we knew it would only ease off around 1pm. Not good! Never mind a wind channel. There’s nothing worse for a stage door than rain, but we have been lucky the last few days. So this is it, we won’t moan. We got there nice and early, chatted a while, tried to keep the umbrellas straight and waited for Michael to walk down the alleyway.
Well, he did not. Instead he arrived in a car, driving himself. Actually reversing impressively towards us all. It was a huge car. We would never dream of such a manoeuvre. First thing we learned is that he had hurt his back. So at least there was one reason to be happy that this was the last night for two months. No one kept him in the rain for too long. Short and sweet.
Many of you will be happy to hear that we made it in time for the matinee. We have a feeling that this will stay with us forever. We even received text messages reminding us of the correct starting time!
We still had no Fender and Linda was back. Furthermore Velma was played by the “Female Authority Figure” (Yvonne O’Grady). For us it’s always interesting to see the understudies perform. It was a good show, great reaction and as was expected a teeny weeny bit of mischief was going on. Seeing it was Michael’s last matinee for a while and the last time he would play with Les Dennis we had thought there would be something going on. And once we got to “Timeless” we were proved right. When Wilbur closes the shop and the rubber chicken falls down (this must sound really weird for someone who has not seen the show!) Michael exclaimed “It’s a Puppet!”, which happens to be Brian Conley’s catch phrase. Also after Wilbur convinces Edna to kiss him again they kept smiling and giggling at each other until Edna finally gave in. “Three times is the cure!” and we got an extra kiss. The audience went crazy.
The stage door between shows was the usual madness, but the rain had stopped. And after most of the cast had left for their break and we knew Michael would not be long now bunny Kerstin made a somewhat shocking discovery. The memory card for the camera was still in the laptop in the hotel room from uploading the latest pictures. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEK. Panic. But luckily this is a very intelligent camera and has internal memory. So all the photos you see from between shows are there thanks to the clever Nikon designers. For not only did it save the photos, but it also let us copy them back onto the memory card once we were back in the hotel room. The joys of modern technology.
While we were waiting to be allowed into the auditorium (you can tell we were there very early) we sat in the bar downstairs and eventually a double row of signed photos caught our eye. Among them a signed photo of a very young Michael and dedicated to everyone in the Mayflower. The photo was early 90s, so we concluded he must have toured there, which was later confirmed by other fans.
The evening performance went relatively smoothly. Apart from an open flies (as we all know Michael plays a woman, so it weren’t his) and one open tap shoe after “Big Dollhouse”. This time it was Michael’s and he, Tracy and Penny did their best to close the shoe again… to no avail. Luckily all prisoners have to hand in their tap shoes on their way out. So he did not have to endure that for too long. Also we saw him mouthing something along the lines of “That hurt my back!” during “Big, Blond and Beautiful”. But apart from that nothing to report.
The final bow was very emotional. Lots of hugging going on and a solid standing ovation.
Now let’s come to the madness bit of this blog. As we said earlier Michael has arrived in a car. Now this was parked halfway down the alleyway. He worked his way up there, said good bye to everyone (his family was there too) and got into the car to drive away. Ambitious seeing that there was still so many fans and theatregoers around. But he managed very slowly, taking it very easy, but at the end of the street he was stuck. They had closed the street with chains, which had been open in the afternoon. So now he was trapped and still people kept walking really close past his car. Some seemed really keen to be run over by a West End star. After a few moments he decided to turn left and simply drive on the pavement. So he passed the theatre….. in his car … on the pavement … it was hilarious and earned him a round of applause. Problem solved. And off he went. Edna had left the building.
Here we are back in our hotel room. We switched the telly on to be live witnesses of Germany winning the Eurovision Song Contest. What a strange, strange evening! Please keep your fingers crossed for us that the BA strike won’t affect our journey (well, on a second thought it really would not be too bad to be stuck in the UK plus we very kindly have been offered shelter by Barbara, thanks for that!). But work would complain and so we will now pack our bags and count the days till Manchester! Talk then.Permalink
After a bit of sightseeing (three hours of solid walking around Southampton, which is a lot for us, I’m afraid) we arrived at the stage door nice and early at half past four. One after other we were joined by fellow fans and chatted a bit. It was rather cloudy, but luckily none of the announced sharp showers made an appearance. But oh god, the wind. After an hour of being stuck in what turns out to be an excellent wind channel (anyone need to check the aerodynamics of a new car? We know just the spot!) it felt like winter all over again. Everyone took a lot of comfort from the idea that he would be there any minute now. Brian Conley leaving the theatre after some rehearsals served as a good distraction. And he was greeted enthusiastically by many fans. He assured them that no, Michael is not in there rehearsing with him. At 6 some asked theatre staff, but no, he still was definitely not in. Everyone got really nervous. The only good thing is:
We have been there, done that. At one point, when Hairspray was still running in London, we waited as long as ten to seven. So when Michael arrived at half past six, all relaxed and well (see photos) many breathed a sigh of relief and we were just so glad to be able to get inside the warm theatre.
We were back up in the balcony and full of pity for those who had to stand through the show. We noticed a new dress on stage during Good Morning Baltimore and yup, come roll call moment and we have lost Fender and won Linda. And they managed rather well. Yes, Velma still asked Fender to get rid of the padding, although it was Brad, but Link managed to remember: “Knock it off F…Linda!". We always marvel at understudies. Every dance move was perfect. How they do it, we don’t know. Hats off to her anyways. A great performance.
The audience was very generous…except for a small group of women sitting in front of us, who made a point of not clapping along (one even explicitly stopped her applause when it was Michael’s turn to take his bow…we almost whacked her with a programme! Nah, just kidding, not even the bunnies are that fanatic. Freedom of mind, taste, applause etc etc.
The stage door afterwards was really busy but we managed to exchange a few words with him (we’ll be seeing Michael on stage for the 150th time today. A third of this was seeing him in a dress…who knew!) and someone asked him about the next tour and he promised it would be next year and we tried finding out a bit more (WHEN!) but naturally that remains a secret for now, but quite excitedly he added “to be announced really soon!”. Woohoo!!
When we got up in the morning, little did we know, we’d be in for another first today, but let’s start at the beginning.
As we are used to, when being in England we woke up at 7am, always great, when you really have the chance to sleep as long as you wish to. At least it gave us time to get something for breakfast and enjoy it in our hotel room. It was rather late for us, when we got out of our room to get to the stage door.
Yes, we were surprised how many people were already at the stage door. We just had enough time to greet friends, when all of a sudden Mr. Ball came strolling down the alleyway, looking fabulous (oh really, we hear you say). Still we just thought, well, he is early, that has happened before. And it was only 15 minutes.
As always he took his time to pose for photos and sign away. Lovely for us as we could take our time to appreciate how amazingly gorgeous he looked today. You can tell we are used to the rough style at stage doors. Also gorgeous, but if an ordinary man put in a suit can look great, you just know what such a suit can do to Michael! When he got over to us he told us he was having a bad cold… or hayfever, he really could not tell. Poor boy! For two years Kerstin is suffering the same and we just don’t know, how he can sing and dance and work through it like he does!
Afterwards we formed a little group of 6 and went to a café for a quick salad and something to drink and basically exchanging the latest news (or gossip). Two of us (Joan and Pam, who by coincident had seats next to us and are always in the know) left an hour before the show started to walk around a bit before sitting through the show. The German contingent (Helge, Petra and the bunnies) stayed behind, chatting. Finally, at 5 past two, we decided to brave the (luckily very) short walk up to the theatre. On our way we picked up a promotional brochure of the Mayflower Theatre. Kerstin started flicking through it while we walked and started discussing the missing of other theatergoers. Suddenly she called out to us: “TWO PM! The matinee starts at 2, NOT at 2:30!” We thought she made a joke, but she had just found it on the Hairspray pages and we got the tickets out and started disbelievingly at the merciless 2:00 pm printed on the bottom. Every other matinee starts at 2:30. We couldn’t believe it and ran the rest of the way as – you guessed it – we were already 8 minutes late. We were told to wait until the current song was over. Seeing we had tickets in the front row (usually reason for a big YAY) we were not too pleased at the prospect of arriving late and not only making everyone stand up but also for the entire cast to see. We had to wait through Good morning Baltimore (amazingly!) and just prayed that we’d be seated BEFORE Michael was on stage (imagine the comments when we’d arrive in the middle of his performance….). it was nerve wrecking. But, big PHEW, not only were we seated minutes before Edna makes her first appearance but also we had tickets for aisle seats, so no one was disturbed too much by us sitting down.
That was it: the very first time we ever missed the beginning of a Michael show! You should think we have learned a lesson or two after 148 of these events and 44 Hairsprays, but alas we have not!
At the risk of repeating ourselves, the show was just amazing. The audience was great and they were cheering after each and every single song. The “Har-De-Har-Hut” behaved, everything went smoothly. Luckily we had forgotten just how fabulous it is to see the show from the front row. Tonight will be rather tough, as we are going to sit in the balcony again, sigh
After the show we went to get something to eat with Helge and Petra and rest assured everyone was reminding us about the starting time of the evening show. Mind you, with chatting away in the sunshine and a quick visit to the toilets before the show we just sat down 2 minutes before the show was about to start.
The show was once more fantastic, the audience even better than in the afternoon. Everything went according to plan, well, apart from Wilbur’s exploding bubble gum which didn’t explode and so he just shrugged, smiled and said “Bang!”. True professionals will not be shaken by a prop not functioning. “Timeless to Me” definitely deserves a special mention. All who have seen the show more than once know that lots of the giggles between Edna and Wilbur are not happening spontaneously. This time however, the audience reception was just so good that Les got the giggles (real ones, not the scripted ones) and couldn’t get his line out for a little moment. When the laughter of the audience had dimmed slightly, Les finally got out his “[It’s Jewish] for kiss me again” and Michael smiled and replied “This was so worth waiting for”. Needless to say the audience was hysterical with laughter.
Afterwards there was quite a crowd outside. It took a while before Michael got out and he was in a rush. Apparently there was a do planned with the cast. Or so it seemed. He rushed through autographs and photos and after some confusion as to which way to go, he and Andrew walked up the alleyway (slight slope) and vanished around the corner. We remained standing at the stage door saying goodbye to everyone and chatting a little about which cities we will be at (Manchester, Dublin and Edinburgh) and whom we will meet there etc. etc. When suddenly there was a little commotion at the end of the street. Some fans who were on their way up had spotted Michael rushing back down again! What came next was a bit….well, let’s say he was practically running, commenting “I cannot believe we walked up there” and “where is the coach”…so OBVIOUSL in a big hurry and STILL some fans asked for a photo and signature. Being Michael, he couldn’t say no, but it clearly didn’t help his rush. It was nice to see him again so suddenly, but our little group contented itself but watching, smiling and making sympathetic noises. such a bonus to see him again. We hope he caught the coach.
After that we walked back to our hotel and said goodbye to Helge and Petra who sadly had to leave again. We will miss you! Have a safe journey! See you in Dublin!
Today we will have a walk around the harbor (if we find it) and keep our fingers crossed that the rain showers we saw in the forecast will stay away….or at least stop for the stage door. Sun for now.
We have had some travel adventures in the past, but never ever was there a natural disaster between us and the Ball. Can you imagine what it feels like to watch news on volcano ash and flight bans when you have front row tickets on your desk? Not good!
But joy, oh joy in the last minute the volcano decided to behave itself again and went back to sleep for the time being. And just as we had recovered from this shock there was the news of the pending BA strike. Needless to say that we were booked on BA flights! Then the strike was called off and the next day it was back on again and more and more flights got cancelled as we watched. We had some sleepless nights leading up to today.
To cut a long story short: we got here and everything went dramatically smoothly, only one minor worry remains: We still don’t know, whether our flights back home are being operated, but hey, better stuck in England than in Germany.
We got our rental car, no accidents, found Southampton alright and located both the theatre and the stage door in time. We met up with Helge and Petra and had great fun waiting for Michael. The stage door is great in so far that you can watch him walk down a fairly long alleyway …. Always nice to watch. There weren’t too many of us there. We had a quick fun chat and he looked really handsome (can be seen on the uploaded pictures, enjoy!).
We had Balcony Seats, because we could not bear the thought of standing through another 2 hours. Balcony means Upper Circle, that’s the fifth floor or 84 steps above stalls level as we were warned by a sign at the foot of the stairs. Well, at least you can see the choreography from up there. It was good to be back.
The audience was a bit quiet where we were, but the cast seemed ever so much more confident and we really enjoyed the evening. Michael and Les were on superb form (the Har-de-har-hut wasn’t. It did not fully cooperate, but if you did not know the show, you would not have noticed. At least there was lots of cheering and a standing ovation at the very end. We never sat in a balcony as quiet as this one.
The stage door afterwards was good fun. He again stopped for a few words and we thoroughly enjoyed these few moments of bliss.
Tomorrow we will be in the front stalls, hooray! We cannot wait to be back!Permalink
After what will be known as „The Perfect Stage Door“ forever we had gone back to our hotel room to get changed (and gush about what had happened on this blog). Our friend Angela came with us and together we relived our special moment until it was time to leave. Jokingly we said to her, you have our tickets, right? And she laughed and replied nah, I gave them to you, remember? In December? Now that she mentioned it…..oh god! We had completely forgotten about already having our row A (that’s sixth row) centre seat tickets being no longer at Ange’s (where they would have been safe) but with us. EEEEEEK!! Being a calm and positive person, Angela reminded us that she had the credit card the booking was made on with her (originally she didn’t plan to take it with her but somehow she changed her mind in the last minute. PHEW!) and we should get reprints fairly hassle free. Quick walk to the WMC, ticket desk, yes no problem. First line of address and telephone number? Here are your reprints. Double PHEW!
Got the colour brochure (indeed, there is a photo of the new finale dress, but due to lighting it looks purple when in reality it is pink) and some orange juice and couldn’t believe the proximity of the stage! Like in good olden days….
It was like watching a whole new show again, as seeing the faces clearly does make a difference. We no longer imagined the “old” cast but finally saw the new one. Naturally now that we had really, really seen it, we didn’t want it to end…but all of a sudden we found ourselves in the middle of You Can’t Stop The Beat (the score board showing Tracy’s and Amber’s votes behaved for once. During one show Amber was declared the winner even though Tracy’s votes were much higher). It was 5:35 pm when Michael left the stage. We thought of the poor driver who now had to make it to London in two and a half hours.
We waited for a bit afterwards to say good bye to Andrew and that was it. Our first bit of the Hairspray Tour.
We had a lovely meal with Angela’s family during which her little son asked whether we would come back home with them. No, we explained, we had to fly back home to Germany the next day. That startled him: ”Why?!,” he asked. “Exactly! That’s what we wonder every single time!” we laughed. After that we had a last stroll around Cardiff Bay (well, two actually, one in daylight, one at night time). The next morning meant getting up really early, catching our train to London, getting into the city, grab some food (always a joy with luggage) and then start our journey up north to Stansted airport.
We have to say though that UK trains are wonderful: quick, quiet and clean. All for little money and it is great to enjoy the beautiful landscapes together for once. We will definitely go by train again.
Our next stop will be Southampton (from 26 – 29 May). We hope to see many of you there!
Thanks to everyone who helped to make this trip to Wales one of a kind!!Permalink
Just back in our hotel after what has to be called the perfect stage door….still floating actually. We met up with our friend Angela (and say hi to her hubby Darren and sweet son Jayme), so have been there rather early. And while the three of us were sitting in the foyer chatting away happily suddenly the Ball walks up to us and says hi (broad grin on his face, we must have been quite a sight, staring at him as if he were an apparition). Usually he is rather late, so we didn’t in a million years expect him to be there. And having him walk up to us was a whole new experience. Just wow.
He told us he would have to dash straight out after the show as he has to be in London at 8 pm and would we please give his apologies to people afterwards. But of course we would! Naturally this was not a photo moment; we only took one of him with Angela and had a lovely relaxed chat. It was….perfect. No other word for it. Thank you Michael!
And thank you Angela. She really is our lucky charm. Always very special stage doors when we meet up with her. She has to travel with us now all the time!
Now we got changed and are ready to leave for our last Hairspray for a month.Permalink
Saturday 10 April
It was another sunny day in Cardiff. After breakfast at the bay and a bit of a stroll up and down the promenade we found ourselves back at the WMC. Another round of pleasant conversation with fellow fans (our special thanks goes to Barbara who even offered us shelter! Brave, brave woman! No, seriously, we had a great time and thank you so much!). When Michael appeared he took a brief stop at the merchandise stall before walking up to us. There were not too many fans there, so it was a relaxed affair. We got a few pics and a nice hello. What more can a fan want? We positively begged him to consider doing the musical Hair next (because most of the cast is stark naked at the end of act 1 but he insisted the illusion was better than the real thing…so no such luck ladies, but we at least tried!;-)).
We resumed our standing seats once more and have to say you really get used to all the standing and we know the basic steps of many numbers now for you have enough room to try them. Everything went smoothly and we get more and more used to the new voices and different interpretation. Some things are dearly missed, others are hilarious in this version, so an all and all enjoyable experience. Audience a bit slow, especially for a matinee. But at the end they came round.
Stage door between shows was well organized. A lady security guard was well in charge of the entire thing and so there was no chaos. Michael had guests so we were informed he’d only come out quickly. When he finally did he was in company, so we decided to be nice and well-behaved fans. Not a squeaky lot (dignity etc etc). But when he asked us how we were, everyone just said “yes, fine” or something, clearly lacking the enthusiasm he expected from us all.
So he imitated our tired greeting “Yeeeeeeeeeeees it was aaaaaaalright” and laughed. We all felt a bit guilty when he reached the group of people we had never seen before (theatre goers as opposed to the usual fans) and got a screaming reception. Okay, definitely embarrassing for us! This was when we decided o give him a big WOOHOO after the evening performance. That was for sure.
Brief lunch, getting change, check in into the new hotel (we could only do that in the late afternoon), getting changed and then back to the back of the WMC. Another great performance, the audience much more responding than in the afternoon (good thing, as his mum was in! How strange it must be to see your son looking like your mum… according to his dad….). A quick stage door afterwards, as he was rushing to join his mother, of course. But still took his time for photos and autographs. We really are lucky. The more we hear about other, very famous singers handle their fans….trust us, we are VERY lucky.
We then had a wonder around Cardiff Bay at night, beautifully illuminated and that was it: our standing days are over. Today, at last, we will be sitting. Sadly it’s our last show here in Cardiff. Southampton next.
We also booked a few more seats for the other venues we are going to, just so we don’t have to stand through most of them LOL Also we just booked another night in our current hotel. Cannot BEAR another move! And it is absolutely gorgeous with great beds etc.
Talk to you after the matinee.Permalink
Another day, another hotel . Thanks to our brilliant planning - or in this case not-thoroughly-thought-through planning - we had to check out of our first hotel by noon. Beforehand we only wanted to put our photos, video clips and the little report online. As you can see this didn’t work out: the tool we normally use to edit the photos refused to cooperate (hence the Picasa gallery) and the camcorder and laptop are not speaking with each other (they must have had a row between the tour and now as it worked wonderfully back then) and suddenly we only had 10 minutes left to check out before having to pay for a second night! Eek!
We managed to change the hotels more or less smoothly. Then we got ourselves tickets for Friday and Saturday… apart from the odd single seat there still had only been standing tickets. So we decided to go for them. At least we can finally start to learn the dance moves when we are behind everyone and in the dark (we only dance in the back when there is no one else standing next to us, don’t worry).
We had a wander around Cardiff Bay for a while, found food and beautiful views and then returned to the venue (as they provide very comfy seating). We didn’t have to wait alone for too long as we were joined by fellow fans and ended up having a great time chatting away happily, waiting for Michael’s arrival (only 5 of us there that day). When it got to half past five we had decided he probably went in through the other door which we couldn’t see from our position. You can imagine our stunned faces when he walked in at ten to six, all smiles and relaxed (the bunnies had been busy planning their pre-theatre shopping at Tesco’s mentally, so we really were not prepared to see the Ball. This is our excuse for being completely star struck and not managing to think straight when he suddenly appeared. After ten years of this you would think we get used to the occurrences…). He exchanged a few sentences with all of us and hinted there would be a photo of him in his new finale dress in the brochure before long (YAY!). No photos or video this time, sorry. It’s just wrong to point a camera in his face when there are so few of us.
We had what we have become to call “standing seats” in the dress circle this time. Those in the stalls were all sold out! As the standing area is further up but at the same time a lot closer to the stage than the one in the stalls, it wasn’t too bad.
This performance was special because on the left of the stage in a spotlight they had a lady who “translated” the show into sign language. It was fascinating to watch and more than once we caught ourselves watching only her and not the stage. We now know the sign for Hairspray, Bells and Ball. It was really interesting to try and interpret the various signs. Well, and then we got to Timeless To Me…. as you may imagine Michael couldn’t NOT comment. So when they got to the end of the song, where Edna usually tells Wilbur he needs to stop jiggling behind her or she couldn’t concentrate, instead she opted for something along the lines of “Oh darling, sometimes I have the feeling there is a third person in our marriage” and both of them then turned to the poor lady who was busy translating the subsequent one-liner exchange based on her presence. (Among them was what we think to have been a tongue twister! The poor woman…. But as the audience was laughing so loud at Michael and Les having…well, a ball, that it was hard to tell from up where we were. She managed it all with a smile and professional ease, of course. ) It was light-hearted banter, please don’t get us wrong. Hilariously funny!
At the end of the show she got her exclusive bow and sufficient cheers from the audience and applause from the cast.
Stage door-ing was okay, as there were fewer people there. At first it looked as if Michael would leave without coming back into the building (where we all waited) but he then re-appeared and took his time despite having guests (when we left we could still hear him laughing somewhere in the foyer, so we assume they had a bit of a party there).
Today, Saturday, the sun is shining into our hotel room, we are showered and packed and will move to a hotel around the corner before going to the stage door. Should you need a hotel recommendation for Cardiff in the future, just ask us, we have seen them all! ;-)
At long last we are back in the UK. After a day and a half in London (if you can, do go and see Hair at the Gielgud! Amazing, simply amazing.) we travelled to Cardiff (by train, fast and convenient, German trains could learn a lot from the UK). All dry and bright here, a nice change. Spring has sprung.
We managed to find the millennium Centre just in time to see Mr Ball arriving. Well, one saw, the conversation went like this:
Julia: There he is!
Kerstin: WHO? (dear me)
Julia: (now whispering, as we were getting closer) he! there!
Dear me, whom have we been following around the UK? Whom have we dedicated a whole huge website too? Exactly! But, Phew! some undignified rushing, but hey, that’s what we do. He seemed happy and relaxed and was looking goergeous (photos and videos to follow). The “stage door” is indoors (now a tiny part of us is actually hoping for a little rain), a unique experience. After this first excitement (and I am not talking about getting off the bus one station too early, about trying to check in to the wrong hotel, about finding
out we are actually staying a bus ride away AND will move hotel EVERY day - what HAVE we been thinking when booking all those months ago?!) we tried to get last minute tickets. Nothing to be done of course. we only managed to get decent ones for the Sunday matinee when they went on sale originally. BUT they sell standing tickets. So that is what we will be doing for the next few shows. We could even store our luggage there for free. It’s a great place!
So the moment was there: Our first Hairspray after a long, long wait.
The sets have changed (as they originated from different productions) but not ramatically. A fresh lick of paint if you will. Just enough to recognise it’s something new but feel like coming home at the same time. A few new dresses here and there, too. The new cast is really enthusiastic and so talented! Where do they find all this talent? Naturally it is quite a difference to be used to old pros who have been with the procution for months and months and now watching the ensemble testing new things, getting to know their characters
better. It feels like a new show sometimes, because it’s all back to the beginning (the add libbing will come with time and confidence). So it has a very fresh feeling to it. New Velma, Ines and Wilbur stick out particularlly. Naturally the leads are really good. It was wonderful to see and hear Sandra as Motormouth again.
Now, Edna. What can we say? It was such a joy having her back and the new finale dress is just incredibly beautiful. A lot more in style of the Welcome to the 60s dress with feathers and very light material (she can show some leg), simply stunning. It’s so good to have her back!
The audience in both shows was … Welsh. Meaning really going for it, all cheering, big standing ovation and the end of the show, just the reaction we always want for everyone up on stage. That’s why we always try to do Cardiff when he tours.
Michael also mentioned his family from Mountain Ash will be in at the weekend ("Mountain Ash will be empty!"), so this will be fun!
Stage doors are very busy (as it is on the way to a car park, Café and lift) but he did come out between shows, so many people had their chance to get a photo or autograph.Permalink