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

The Matinee

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

- the tea towel with William and Kate made another appearance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you and good night.

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

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

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

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

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

Bristol - 29 April 2011 - The Royal Wedding

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

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

Royal Wedding Day

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

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

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

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

The Show:

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

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

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

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

Here’s to the last two…..


On the road with Michael Ball.
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