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