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Final ever Sweeney
09/23/12 @ 04:29:39 am, Categories: General, 1339 words   English (US)

Saturday 22/09/2012

Another morning after – after a final show, of course. Appropriately the skies are grey after yesterday’s dream weather.

Maiden Lane was heaving with fans for the arrival of the Ball. It will have been about 90 people in the end. He had the car stop and let him out a little further down the road, so most people could at least see him walking down the street, some even managed to get photos and signed programmes. He was still suffering from the cold he said but was determined to be ill on Sunday. At the door he said a few words of thanks and gave everyone the opportunity to admire his lovely suit (well, at least that’s what we did). What you don’t really see on the pictures: It was grey with thin lilac pinstripes and the seams were red.

We have to say though that our special stage door moment was quite a while earlier when there were only six of us there and Imelda arrived. She stopped and thanked us all for the support and was ever so sweet about it when we were all full of praise for her and Sweeney. Still makes us smile. A special few minutes. She also said that she had nothing planned for the matinee, just wanted to make sure these final two shows were done really well.

So, faster than you can slit a throat we were in our seats for the final matinee. Row C of the stalls was a solid fan row, as this is what you do isn’t it? You buy first night, last night and his birthday. We didn’t know whether anyone would do anything unusual as it is sort of not this kind of show. With Hairspray we knew there would be mayhem on stage – and there was! But with Sweeney? Well, no mayhem but a few little funnies DID make their way onto the Adelphi stage. And we are sure we did not see everything that was going on as this is the whole point of final matinee funnies. But here are a few things we did pick up on. Feel free to add in our Facebook group.

• before the show really starts the cast slowly gets on stage. This time everyone made it different to their usual way and it took them a lot longer to get into their usual positions
• the bird dealer is usually on the right hand side of the steps, today he moved over to the left hand side, making it ever so difficult for Lucy to perform her part
• the guy that is shaved by Sweeney during the competition did not wear simple stubble, but they painted him a Sweeney beard
• Pirelli did the money note at the end of the competition twice
• In the first scene of the second act one lady from the ensemble had a stuffed toy on her jacket pocket
• When Anthony is off to rescue Johanna he usually shakes hands with Sweeney. This time they did something like a gang handshake, really hard to explain
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The audience reception at the curtain call was wonderful. Everyone was determined to say a big thank you to this amazing cast. Every single person was on their feet. The youngsters were in tears already and we wondered how they’d take the final final curtain call.

We had a lovely dinner between shows – our first ever carvery (you have a choice of three types of meat which a chef will cut from a huge roast and then you can have the sides like at a buffet). It was delicious and in style at the Strand Palace! We had a great time with many fellow fans. Thanks for having us!

And there we were: the final ever performance of Sweeney Todd. Merely the thought of never ever seeing him perform Epiphany again is enough to bring on not so mild bouts of depression, so best not focus on this….

It was an incredible performance. Everyone on stage was determined to make it the best ever and the audience LOVED every second of it. So appreciative. Imelda had entrance applause (Michael’s first entrance sadly doesn’t lend itself to be interrupted by applause) and she stayed back after a momentous Epiphany so people had time to applaud him whereas usually with the new arrangement she would approach him very quickly and continue the scene so there is no gap for applause.

We tried to make ourselves aware that this would really be the last time we will see so much talent come together to perform this amazing work of art so we could appreciate it properly. The only downside was that a very eager crowd applauded over the final looooong note of Johanna. Sigh. What a shame. We can understand the urge to clap when he seems to sing this one beautiful note for an eternity but would have loved to have heard it till the end. Ah well, as Mrs Lovett would put it.

No speeches at the curtain call sadly. But most of the cast was in tears anyways with an audience making so much noise that it was probably heard all the way down Fleet Street! No one wanted to let this amazing cast go and so they had to return not twice (as is usual) but FOUR times to take their bows. Michael and Imelda always leading the pack. 1500 people on their feet and 40 performers in tears on the stage. It was just perfect. What a way to go.

Stage door afterwards was the expected chaos with the added complications of it being a Saturday and the pubs and clubs really busy. It was a wise decision of Michael to only to the “Evita act” and come to the window. So everyone would see him. As we are used to by now we were quite an attraction to the other cast members who rarely witnessed a crowd like this. They were leaning out of the windows of their dressing rooms, waving, calling out words of thanks, taking photos and filming us. Peter Polycarpou came to his window too and showed us his freshly shaven face and thanked everyone. We could see that Michael had his family in the dressing room and Connor and Grace dared a few glances out of the windows, waving at us all. They were ever so sweet.

Finally the main man came to the window – beardless. What a transformation! He said his thanks and Imelda joined him at the window. So the Ball is back, Mr Todd has left the building. Boy will we miss him! And will we miss the beard. We know many did not like it, but in our opinion, he looked amazing with it and we are not beard girls.

Joan Bowe (the Judge) was there as well and when Michael returned to the window to ask how everyone liked the beardless Ball John made like strangling his arch enemy. It was good fun. But then they retreated further into the room and a curtain was pulled. We knew they were having a little do in the theatre so this was our cue to leave the stage door. He has said his good-byes to everyone and should be allowed to party in peace.

It was very hard to leave Maiden Lane. What an amazing six months. A year when you count Chichester. We have seen a side of Michael no one knew existed and have heard music so beautiful it should be illegal (but luckily isn’t). Thank you to the wonderful cast of Sweeney Todd, to our wonderful friends who made the stage door-ing so much fun and especially to Michael and Imelda for letting us witness such glorious talent again and a again. Memories we will treasure forever for sure.

Back to reality now – and it is grey, wet and not in the UK. How sad. We need perspective, Mr Ball! Plans? Dates? PLEASE! And soon!

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Friday, 21 September 2012
09/22/12 @ 03:17:56 am, Categories: General, 590 words   English (US)

Friday 21/09/2012
As expected the stage door was really busy yesterday with about 40 fans waiting for Michael to arrive. When he got out of the car at 6pm with a big scarf around his neck he told us all he was having a terrible cold. Everyone was feeling with him as we all thought he should have been able to just enjoy these last few shows and not suffer through them.

It was quite dark at this time in the evening as it has been a very cloudy day already, so not much luck on the photo front, but we shouldn’t moan as: Once he was inside it started to rain.

We were having and half dreaded half anticipated his first entrance. But he sounded excellent. Lemsip Max seems to be working really well! Not one minute would you have thought that he was unwell. And what a performance it was! This man is a phenomenon. But it wasn’t him alone. Imelda, Peter…all of them put everything they have got (and that’s quite a lot!) into the performance. We just know that Imelda is trying to crack Michael up during By The Sea – and sometimes she is almost there, with his lips twitching into a reluctant half-smile (he has to sit and read a newspaper, completely ignoring Mrs Lovett, you see). Last night he turned his head away a tiny fraction to avoid a smile, we think.

Also when he is chasing around Toby in the Barber Shop the chair (the simple one, not the fancy red one of course) almost fell down but Michael caught it very elegantly mid-fall without losing the thread of the scene.

An example for the often quoted minor changes that change the feel of a scene: When Mrs L. Discovers Pirelli’s body she makes a great big fuss about it to then give up the pretence of shock, shut the lid of the trunk, shrug and say “ah well.” Yesterday the in went “Ah well, here we got.” Got a good laugh.

AND it was the first time since they changed the arrangement of Epiphany (no moment of silence, the plot goes on quickly so no one dares clapping after this tense moment) that the audience broke into massive applause. We have heard single people clapping (and can understand their urge because it really is his outstanding moment) but usually this is over quite quickly. Not so last night. Imelda had to wait for her line as the audience insisted on showing their appreciation.

We saw a lot of Matthew Gent (the “Michael lookalike” from the West End Eurovision appearance) as he was covering for an ensemble member. So this was an added bonus. The likeness really is uncanny.

Sadly we had a group of very giggly men behind us. Yes, men. You read correctly. They behaved like teenage girls but at least they were enthusiastic about the show. It was only unsettling when they laughed through every line of Mea Culpa. SO not a funny scene. We dreaded the finale – nothing worse than being all emotional and someone next to you is making fun of it. But oh no – they were quite then.

And what a roar the curtain call was. Everyone was on their feet and cheering for the cast and orchestra. Some of them were in tears already. It was really bitter sweet.

So the day has come: Sweeney Todd will thrill London one last day.

We will get back to you with all the news tomorrow.

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Thursday, 20 September 2012
21/09/12 @ 03:59:03 am, Categories: General, 329 words   English (UK)

Gosh, it is Friday already….why does time fly in the UK and drag on at home? So, yesterday. The stage door was lovely, the Ball looking good. He was walking down the street and sounded fine. After his tweet about an oncoming cold we hope it will not give him too much trouble. He deserves to be able to enjoy these last few shows!

Side remark: In the early afternoon Michael was spotted having a photo session placed on a lifting ramp not far from the Adelphi. Will be interesting to see, if we will get to see the pictures at one point.

We spotted Tony Christie in the audience and Michael’s dad was there as well. The air condition has been turned down a bit, so it wasn’t too cold anymore. Everyone was of course chatting about these concerts in Cork and starting to get organised should they really go ahead. As getting there from Germany is rather complicated we fear we will not be able to go. 

Everything went smoothly apart from the belt of the judge’s dressing gown misbehaving (he couldn’t close it after his mea culpa scene) which he did handle very well indeed and even made it add to the sleaziness of the judge’s advances to his ward.

Ecstatic audience reaction at the curtain call. Just as it should be. They all seemed really touched.

As is usual now he had guests in afterwards and we had the opportunity to admire the posh evening attire of the cast when they left for their end-of-run party. Michael was very patient with the crowd and had changed from the t-shirt of the afternoon into a dark grey suit, with matching grey shirt and grey tie with white dots. Mmmmmh nice.

Some sightseeing for us now and a spot of shopping, then back to the stage door (fingers crossed that the rain will really only come tonight) and the final one-show-day….

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Wednesday 19/09/2012
09/20/12 @ 07:46:04 am, Categories: General, 612 words   English (US)

We had so much fun at the stage door yesterday. It was quite crowded as more and more fans join us to say good bye to Sweeney. When Michael arrived he pretended to be rushing right past us all in a mad hurry to get away from the hassle into the theatre. Our faces must have been priceless; he had pity then, stopped right before the theatre threshold, laughed out loud and said he wouldn’t do this to us – even when he could!

We know we are spoilt by him and everyone cherished their stage door time with him a bit more after this little stint. He then stood very patiently in a very excited crowd and did the usual signing-posing routine. We managed to solve a little mystery that had come up on the fan club forum a while ago. A fan had found two photos that someone had uploaded on some social media platform showing young children (a class room pic and a pic of two small children together) and hinted that Michael was on both of them. We were doubtful but hey, why not use the opportunity while we had it and ask the only person who’d really know: the man himself. He had quite a laugh and said no, he definitely was not on either of the photos (which we had brought as a print out) and wanted to know who claimed that he was! We didn’t know this of course – just one of these things people pick up on the internet.

We saw the matinee from the stalls again. Another wonderful performance. His voice never sounded so full and clear. Another standing ovation of course.

The evening show was to be our final Sweeney from up high as we had gone for buying tickets in the centre of the front row in the upper circle. It was stunning to see the show from above again. The barber shop floor, which used to be plain brown wood when we first saw the show from up above in the beginning of the run, now has a red tinge from all the fake blood! And we tried to memorise all the clever staging and the bigger picture you have from this bird’s eye perspective rather than from below stage level like in the stalls. The sound up there is excellent AND it was all nice and warm. No freezing in the upper circle. There were only three empty seats on the whole of the upper circle and the audience loved every second of the show. We were worried that maybe the atmosphere up there would be a bit quiet – but oh no. Very vocal approval and lively discussions about Michael and Imelda’s wonderfulness all around us in the interval.

If anything he sounded even better than in the afternoon performance - he held that the last note of Johanna for an incredible 30 seconds! It’s a whole different song now with all the embellishments. Heavenly indeed. And in the end when he cradles his dead wife – he never sounded more desperate. It was heartbreaking stuff. We are dreading this final performance. No doubt we will be in tears.

He had guests in (among them Sandra Marvin from Hairspray) so we waited for a while but it’s always worth it for a smile and a good night. The dressing room is being cleared out bit by bit. So it really is happening: Sweeney is coming to an end.

But it’s not Saturday yet. Two “normal” shows to go until the VERY special ones on Saturday. No rain as yet. West End here we come.

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Signs and Firsts - 18/09/2012
09/19/12 @ 03:48:41 am, Categories: General, 818 words   English (US)

At home we have one of these calendars where every week shows a different picture and you can rip them off and keep as postcards. For years we have this with photos of the UK naturally. And you know what the picture for this week was? “A pieshop in London”!! We are not making this up. Actually we almost collapsed with hysterical laughter when we tore off the picture of the previous week on Monday morning and texted each other about it. Surely this has to be a good sign?

So for our final trip to the demon Barber we had formed an ambitious plan: We wanted to arrive in time to see him leave on Monday. Seeing that our planes would leave Germany at 8pm and take an hour and a half to get to the UK this has never really worked out before. What we would need for this miracle to happen would be the perfect journey. No delays whatsoever - clear roads, punctual trains, a quick passport control, quick luggage reclaim, catch the earliest possible tube and hope for no delays en route. And guess what? It really happened! Never ever did we experience a journey as smooth as this! We were in the flow. It was almost spooky.

We couldn’t believe it when we turned into Maiden Lane (where the stage door is) with our luggage and everyone was still there, waiting patiently for the Ball. We said hello to our friends and joined the fans. It felt so good to be back and also surreal – one minute we are still all stressed out at the office and the next we are in London at the Adelphi. Just like that. It was lovely to see him again, looking yummy in jeans and a dark shirt. After he left we made plans for meetings with our friends and couldn’t stop grinning on our way back to the hotel. We were back. Life was good – as you can tell the finality of this week hasn’t yet sunk in.

So that was the first first. We made it to London in time for the leaving stage door.

The weather is lovely but chilly. Lots of sun though which suits us just fine. And we have amazing views from our room – we can see Tower Bridge and the Shard and are staying right next to the Shaftesbury Theatre where Hairspray played.

We got to the stage door with plenty of time to chat to friends and exchange the latest news – also we came prepared as we wanted to give Mr Ball his end-of-the-run pressies today instead of Saturday as it would be madness at the door then. When he finally arrived he was in great spirits, chatted away happily, posed for photos and signed stuff. He also got loads of early pressies and we felt bad for adding to his load of gift bags but he said we shouldn’t appologise for giving him presents! He also said he was so unsure whether the fans would embrace his career choice of playing a serial killer but was so happy we did – on an afterthought he added that we all coped fine with him being a mother of one, so why did he ever worry?

It felt like coming home when we took our seats in the stalls. But here goes the second first: we were freezing in the auditorium! The air condition was working overtime and we sat directly underneath the vents, we think. There was a constant cold draft and we had to put our jackets and scarfs back on in the interval! LOL this has never EVER happened before. Usually theatres are boiling hot.

But this did not mar the joy to behold the Demon Barber on his dark journey. Sweeney still does fly by far too quickly and we have to say that “Johanna” gets better every time we see it. He finds these long notes at places we would never expect them and it is such an impressive display of his enormous talent – how he can hold these notes every night (as our friends assured us he does) and still have a voice at the end of the week we will never know. Again we found numerous little changes in the acting that have happened after we left in July – they are still playing around with it, changing only subtleties but they do make a difference when you have seen the show several times. A wonderful performance from start to finish and another well-deserved standing ovation.

Stage door was relatively quiet as he had guests in and took a while to come out. Still he was every so patient with everyone and we had a lovely good night moment.

A wonderful first day.

Now we are off to get some breakfast before it starts all over again for the final Wednesday.

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Final July Blog
07/22/12 @ 09:32:10 am, Categories: General, 454 words   English (US)

This is always the toughest part – being home again after a wonderful time in the UK. On Friday there were only four of us at the stage door so no going in photos. It was short and sweet and after a lovely dinner with our friends (albeit a bit rushed as the Ball was late going in – for our fan friends and himself we do dread the traffic situation in the week leading up to the Olympics, it’s bad enough as it is) we were back in the Adelphi for our last show of this trip. We tried to enjoy it even more than usual and remember every nuance of it for the next time we will be back it will be Tuesday of the final week. The mere idea of no more Sweeney is too depressing to ponder – a terrible shame that the show cannot be filmed due to copyright reasons.

Another great performance from everyone on stage. Feeling nostalgic we left the auditorium after the standing ovation and were back at the stage door. Quite a crowd plus all the club-goers. He was quick coming out (no celebrity guests for once) and completely took us by surprise when he stopped in front of us and asked about when we’d leave and would we see another show and basically was his charming self. Lovely chat, lovely hug - we left Maiden Lane on quite a high. One final stroll through the West End – no rain for once, it was a perfect last night.

Saturday we treated ourselves to a nice breakfast in Covent Garden, went to the stage door one last time (but as we had had our moment yesterday we stood in the back to take pics and film). All too soon he was in, the moment had come: we needed to head towards Heathrow Airport. It felt awful to walk past the Adelphi when everybody else went inside for the matinee performance and we had to collect our luggage and leave. The least favorite moment of the entire trip.

The journey home went okay and we would have uploaded the final stage door pics but Kerstin’s internet at home doesn’t work, but as soon as this is fixed the final photos will be online.

We will be back in London on 17 September (evening). And we have very mixed feelings about this trip: on the one hand it will be great to be back and see Sweeney again on the other hand this will be the final week – no more Mr Todd after that.

But we had a brilliant time – even with all the rain. Wonderful 10 days – thank you to everyone who had helped creating these special memories! :)

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Thursday, 19 July 2012
07/20/12 @ 05:07:59 am, Categories: General, 769 words   English (US)

As we got up on Thursday morning we feared for the worst. Early weather forecasts predicted heavy rain, thunderstorms and gusts. Not very promising, when it comes to stage door-ing. This morning finally all that changed and we were promised grey skies, no rain and temperatures around 20 °C. Those living through this year’s British summer know that it won’t get much better (well it will, once we leave the country, but let’s not go there). So, the weather should be nearly perfect. Warm-ish, dry and so we got dressed accordingly, but just when we wanted to leave our flat it started to rain heavily. Great! We changed into a warmer gear and left our flat.

Come the time to move to the stage door we had lovely sunshine and it was basically brilliant weather. Perfect timing as for the first time within this trip we did not have to have our brollies at the ready. There was no danger of rain. And then Michael arrived and we were so lucky that he was not in a rush.

This meant we had the time to congratulate him for his fabulous performance on Wednesday night. In our humble opinion it was the best of his Sweeney performance we had seen so far. He was brilliant, scary, menacing, dangerous, moving. He just WAS Sweeney. Outstanding performances, matinee and evening actually.

There were a couple of things we had to give him, other things we wanted to ask him and silly things we wanted him to do. The pictures on our website are the result. No, that was not the look we received when he saw it was us again at the stage door (phew!), but merely what you get when you ask him to look “mean and moody”. (someone had commented on one of our photos along the lines that he would look mean and moody as he wasn’t smiling [for once] and we thought oooooh no, he would look very different then LOL) He kindly obliged. Thank you Mr. B. You are a real star.
So yes, it was just a bit of harmless fun and he was ever so generous with his time to agree to this quick photo shoot. He was ever so patient with us “silly little Ninnynoddles” (Who can name the song this line is from? Guess the quote anyone?).

We are spoilt now, yesterday was the perfect stage door. Today it will be raining, but who cares?

The show itself was once again amazing. They were all on top form and we truly believe it belongs within the top 5 of our performances, if not Top 3. His voice sounds much better than it did last week and how he manages that with 8 performances a week and recurring bouts of hay fever is just beyond us.

We keep having weird audiences. On Wednesday we had a group of children who were just about the minimum age for Sweeney. We were a bit doubtful if it was the right show for them. Fascinatingly the worst behaved of them was their accompanying adult, who kept getting the sweet bag out, taking one or two sweets (loudly chewing them), neatly folding the plastic bag again and putting it into his shirts pocket, munching loudly on his sweets, before starting the whole procedure again.
Then there were the ladies behind us, who kept commenting on everything that happened on stage as if they were watching television in their living room – and with the same volume, too. Therefore it’s hard to understand why one rather tall guy in front of us had to stand up to see who was lying on stage, when Sweeney asked “You knew my Lucy lived?. We mean, the ladies behind us were discussing the fact that it was the beggar woman quite loudly and yet he had to stand up to make absolutely sure…we do live in a visual society apparently. Pointless manoeuvre anyways, as Sweeney continues to cradle her to himself, so everyone can then see it. Ah well.

We guess the most interesting part of the audience behaviour though is the reception of the whole show and the applause at the end. A rousing reception, people on their feet a very touched cast on stage. Just the way we want our curtain calls to be. Tumultuous is only adequate for the impressive display of immense talent we get treated to during every performance.

So today will be our last performance until the end of September (the dreaded last week), therefore it will be a sad day. Grey skies are appropriate.

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Wednesday - 18 July 2012
07/19/12 @ 05:07:44 am, Categories: General, 788 words   English (US)

So, we already told you, that we would be abandoning Mr. Ball for Madonna on Tuesday night. We have to admit it felt a bit weird to leave our friends a quarter to seven and walk away from the Adelphi.

Just plain wrong, actually. But we booked the tickets and wanted to see her, so what we really needed would have been a Time Turner and if you do not know what this is, attend the Harry Potter studio tour! ;-) We arrived at Hyde Park and there was this massive crowd at the entrance. We feared we’d be stuck there for ages. But no, the organizers really have made a fantastic job in terms of crowd control. We got onto the grounds in no time, especially considering that there were (albeit brief) bag searches in place. The longest time standing came at the merchandise stall. We found us a good spot to sit and marveled at the many screens, speakers and massive stage. Closer to the stage you’d have to stand, but as we were mainly there for the music and the shows we didn’t have enough ambition to squeeze through the masses of fans.

And what can we say? The stage show was fabulous. breathtaking effects and light show. Madonna looked and sounded great and played all the big hits. What a dancer! The sound was very good wherever you were and we had only a short burst of rain (2 songs). All in all it really was worth it. We were very grateful though that Michael does not play such venues with this number of people. We want to see him up close!

She finished just on time (there is a strict curfew in place – at 10:30 pm you must be done with your concert or they will pull the plug to protect residents against concert noise….). As there were some 60 000 people we dreaded the way out (don’t do crowds). But everything went really smoothly, we could walk at a leisurely pace out of the concert grounds and then through Hyde Park. No standing, no pushing and shoving, just a bunch of happy people talking about the concert while taking a night time stroll around London. The organisers had closed the whole Park Lane (which is HUGE) to accommodate all the concert goers on their way to the tube. Only Olympia cars were allowed. It was an amazing feeling to be walking along this massive Lane we usually only know from sitting in a car and dreading the mad traffic rush.

On earlier nights Michael was rather late getting out of the theatre. Should it have been the same way that very night we might even have caught him, but we did not try and went straight home, where we arrived a half past 11.

Wednesday
Yesterday we were back on track, meaning back at the Adelphi. We got to the stage door and met our friends. Naturally it was raining, as it usually does around stage door time, but this does not dampen the anticipation at all. There was a small crowd gathered and one fan had even made him an elaborate Sweeney birthday cake to take in. But we got ever closer to reporting time (the cast has to be in at a specific time) we knew he’d be late and in a mad rush. Shortly after 1pm Andrew arrived with Michael’s lunch, we suppose. He was rather surprised to hear Michael was not in already. Mad rush, definitely we thought now.

Traffic has been horrendous these past few days and he is a commuter after all. He finally came rushing down the street on foot, the driver having given up probably. Not a happy camper at all and somehow we had a feeling Sweeney would be especially ruthless tonight. But even though he was in SUCH a hurry he allowed for photos and was all sweet about the cake. This man is just too good to us fans. He definitely is!

And the show? Well, we thought it was just us, so we checked with our friends to make sure we all agreed and we did – these two performances and especially the one of Epiphany have been the absolute best we had ever seen it. Out of this world! So intense, so scary, very raw and just spellbinding. Just one example: When he throws Anthony out for hindering his murder of the judge we were close to running off as well, Sweeney was just THAT scary. Whenever you think he cannot get any better, he does. We sat there open mouthed (and thoroughly scared). Happily the crowd seemed to agree and the cast got a rousing reception both shows.

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13 till 16 July 2012
07/17/12 @ 05:25:11 am, Categories: General, 763 words   English (US)

Weekend Update

Sorry for the long silence. We’ve just been so busy this weekend…On Friday we fetched Julia’s mum from the airport (really interesting to watch the some Olympic athletes arriving and a committee to greet them with cameras and all) and after dropping her luggage at the flat we headed for the stage door. We had seen Michael’s tweet that he was invited to the Old Bailey for lunch by a judge with a sense of humour. Not that we were jealous or anything or doubted our career choices in the slightest…

It was only us three at the stage door when he and Imelda came strolling down the street looking extremely nice, very posh. His suit was just perfect, light grey. We had a quick chat (excellent pronunciation of “danke schön” – that’s German for “thank you” -, Mr Ball! We were deeply impressed). It was great of course that he was his charming self at the stage door (no rain for once!) and that Julia’s mum was faced with the harsh contrast of a very dark and menacing Sweeney Todd on stage. What can we say? She absolutely loved every second of it. She was in absolute awe of the overwhelming talent on stage. She was very much looking forward to going again on Saturday (phew!). Stage door afterwards was mayhem. We did try a photo of the nice suit but no chance. Too many people in a frenzy.
On Saturday we managed to squeeze in some sightseeing and visited Westminster Abbey. Then stage door again. We met our friends, waited and chatted in the rain…a dry wait would feel odd now. We are used to feeling damp now when he arrives. When he did arrive the rain had stopped but he was running really late (traffic had been a nightmare) and he hurried into the theatre.
Two shows that day and we were on a Sweeney high. You could tell the role is taking its toll on his voice. We cannot even begin to imagine how hard it must be to sing this part 8 times a week. We do like a husky voice though. It works very well with the character, we just hope it doesn’t hurt while singing.

Afterwards he looked so tired and kept telling the elated crowd that he needed to go home, still they followed him right until his car’s door and someone even asked for three photos as the others “hadn’t come out”.

On Sunday we visited the Harry Potter studio tour in Leavsden. What a fabulous day out it was. You actually get to walk through the Great Hall and see the real props and sets. We were especially happy to see the office of Dolores Umbridge and her costumes as this is the part Imelda played in the Potter films and even though this character is even nastier than Mrs Lovett seeing this gave us a warm fuzzy feeling. So if you are thinking about going but are in doubt: do go! It’s all perfectly organised by Warner and thus thankfully not overcrowded and the huge model of Hogwarts is worth the ticket money alone, we felt.

A wonderful end to a rather busy weekend and we dropped Julia’s mum off at the airport. It was great for once to be able to drive away from Heathrow without leaving ourselves.

Yesterday it were only 4 of us at the stage door so sadly no photos. Lovely quick chat and then the Monday show. We have been told that Mondays are great because everybody is rested from the Sunday off but we have for some reason never seen a Monday show. Now we regret that. It was just magnificent. Everyone was on top form and we could again see many little things that were changed and tested. Fascinating to see the show evolve. Another mad stage door afterwards. If the one photo we took came out we will upload it on Facebook.

Today was supposed to be the best day of the week – weather wise, dry and warm. Now we are back to rain in the evening, which is so typical as we are not doing Sweeney but will be seeing Madonna in Hyde Park. But we are used to seeing concerts in the rain. It will feel strange to see something else when we know Michael is on stage in the same city as we are. Anyways, the rain ponchos are packed.

Hope to get back to you sooner this time.

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12 July 2012
13/07/12 @ 03:32:56 am, Categories: General, 342 words   English (UK)

Yesterday we did something we have been talking about for ages but never really got round to: We rented one of the “Boris Bikes” and cycled through Hyde Park. The idea is that for a small amount of money (for free if you go less than 30 minutes) everyone can hire a bike from public stations all over London and leave it at another station when they are done with their cycling. Since the sun made on of its rare appearances we made the most of it and had a stunning view of the Royal Albert Hall and the Serpentine.

Sorry to report that there are no photos as it were only us two at the stage door and you really don’t want to get your camera out then but simply say hello. He was wearing the same blue top he wore the day before – the colour really does bring out the eyes wonderfully. Afterwards we headed to the box office to sort out a mystery about our Monday tickets. They were extremely helpful. We have rarely experienced such friendly and supportive BO staff!

The show went swimmingly – and no cheering when the Judge meets his untimely end. Phew. He was in fine voice and this new long note in Johanna really adds to the tender sadness of the song.
We sat next to Sweeney novices and there was a lot of gasping and “oh no”-ing going on. Always great when people get to into it all. Very happy crowd in the end.

Now we are off to pick up Julia’s mum from the airport as she really wanted to see this show an so she will join us for the weekend.

The weather forecast is a bit depressing as it is indicating it will always start raining (heavily) when we are stage door-in. But no one forces us to ogle at the poor man when he gets to work, so we cannot complain. Hopefully we can report back with photos today. Depends on the weather.

Talk to you soon.

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10 and 11 July 2012
12/07/12 @ 05:02:51 am, Categories: General, 664 words   English (UK)

10 + 11 July 2012

Back in the UK after two weeks. We got here on Tuesday afternoon. For once we have a holiday flat as we will be here for 10 days. This is great as you can pretend to be a proper Londoner even if you’d never be able to afford this kind of flat in this kind of area (Bloomsbury) in real life.

We got to the stage door and it was pouring. There were only four of us mad enough to stand there but we did and had a lovely time chatting. When he did arrive he kindly stood in the little hallway that leads to the stage door and took his time so one of our group could have a proper conversation and have her programme signed. As it had been so wet we didn’t even bring our cameras, so no photos. Sorry. What a great start to our holidays though.

Being back at the Adelphi now felt like coming home and we thoroughly enjoyed attending the tale. It felt like a different show! They are really experimenting with their characters now. Changing little things, not lines or anything as dramatic, but small gestures, or which word to stress in the dialogue, the way they deliver the lines (angrier, more ironic, funnier or devoid of emotion – that kind of changes). These of course are things only someone who has seen the show several times will notice. It was so good to be back.

On Wednesday the stage door was way more crowded as is usual for matinee days. We were meeting up with the friends we hadn’t seen for a long while (too long!) and had such a laugh. The sun was out briefly for when he arrived and everyone had a chance for some Ball attention. This time the weather was a little more accommodating for fan needs and we had the cameras ready. Photos are online. What was a bit unsettling was that we learned a Hyde Park concert for the evening had been cancelled because of the muddy grounds – we have tickets for Madonna next Tuesday – fingers crossed!

Again things had changed a little from the night before and we especially liked the new long note at the beginning of Johanna. As if the long note at the end (roughly 30 seconds) is not enough. He spoils us! Also loving the gusto with which Mrs Lovett throws herself at him during the kissing scene. Not that we are jealous or anything…..;-) You could tell though that it was matinee crowd. Many school children and people determined to enjoy themselves which was fine as it made a very enthusiastic audience but it also meant that the cheered, whoopwhooped and applauded when Sweeney finally kills the judge. Panto feeling.

The evening crowd was much quieter throughout the show but equally appreciative at the curtain call. Standing ovations all around. And a very happy cast on stage for both shows.

Oh and we have spotted an usher we knew form the Shaftesbury It really feels like the hairspray family fallows the Ball wherever he goes. Cast and crew alike. Adds to the homely feeling naturally.

Only slight drizzle when he got out after the shows. And he really did stop and take a photo with every single person who waited. Such a star.

Gosh, almost forgot: we have a new Pirelli. Comedian Jason Manford stepped in for Robert Burt for four weeks. He has a fine singing voice and plays the part a bit funnier than the original who seemed a little more menacing. The Irish accent is very Irish, or rather is pronounced enough so that we foreigners could identify it as such. We like him.
11
New day, new stage door and show. Sun is out just now but the forecast says heavy rain for the evening. We shall see. Thanks again to the gang – it’s been soooo good to catch up and we WILL see you on tour!

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27 June 2012: Michael's 50th Birthday
06/28/12 @ 02:53:27 am, Categories: General, 953 words   English (US)

We arrived at Stansted Airport at 11 pm, caught the train and got to Liverpool Street Station without any problems. Once we had disembarked the train we were greeted by several Sweeney posters which was ever so lovely. From there we needed to catch the tube to get to our hotel. We had just passed the ticket barriers when they announced that the final tube heading to the city center would be leaving in 2 minutes. This meant a little jog on our part, across two flights of stairs with the luggage. Thank heavens it was very light as we only came over for two nights. We had just about jumped into the train when the doors closed and it left the station. PHEW!

As it was the big day for not only the Ball but our Justy as well we were determined to get the new layout up and running. With internet being very temperamental this took till 4 am. But what can you do? Sight problem was that our room is right next to the breakfast room and from 7 am onwards people kept shutting doors and moving about quite noisily. Not much sleep then, but we were in London which was all that mattered.

The weather was lovely and we had great company while waiting at the stage door. A few minutes before he arrived we did a headcount: about 60 fans had come to congratulate Michael. It has to be said, the stage door was quite a relaxed affair. He even came walking down the street, took his time, even posed for photos and signed stuff. No struggling with coming to terms with the big 5-0. Just numbers, that’s what he said. We actually felt we had seen more of him this one day than we did in May when we had been over for almost a week. When he was in most people stayed behind and chatted with friends they hadn’t seen in a while and were basically having a great time. Suddenly he appeared at his dressing room window all dimpled smile and told us all to stop lurking and didn’t we have a home to go to – you can tell he was in a playful mood and so relaxed!

Once again we were amazed at all the slight changes we noticed since we had last seen it. They really are comfortable with their parts now, trying new things and approaches – adding gestures, changing the tone of individual scenes, just nuances that make quite a difference. We love watching a show evolve and cannot wait to be back a little while longer in July. Audience reaction was very enthusiastic but they did laugh at the weirdest moments. Actually that was quite strange – in both shows people laughed at inappropriate moments (for example when the beggar woman asks for alms) but at completely different scenes and moments. Standing ovation at the end for the leads.

The evening show was pure bliss. He had family in and undoubtedly other guests for the big day which meant an even more powerful performance than in the afternoon. This is such an amazing show and Epiphany still has us REALLY scared every single time. During the interval we wondered whether the cast would sing happy birthday at the curtain call – it was a very special day for Michael afterall but we wondered whether they might think the show itself doesn’t lend itself to something like this. So it got to the curtain call – audience was really wild. He was beaming at the ecstatic crowd when Imelda took a step forward and managed to get the entire theatre utterly quiet just with her finger pressed to her lips. Quite impressive. She then held a wonderful little speech saying some audience members know it but for those who didn’t she explained that it was a very special birthday for Michael, she wouldn’t say the number but put it this was that the “tricky teenage years” were over now. She praised his talent as a singer, called him dazzling and had him on the brink of tears with her heartfelt praise. He then received champagne and a beautiful bouquet of cream-coloured flowers. The mistress of ceremony then called all the backstage crew onstage to join the cast and the audience in a very festive rendition of “Happy Birthday to you”. Then John Bowe stepped forward and led the audience into three cheers of hip hip hooray for Michael. What an amazing sound it was when 1000+ people cheer as one! It was all done with such open affection and respect from both colleagues and audience members alike. What an appropriate way to celebrate this big milestone. We all left on a high.

Afterwards outside we expected mayhem, but it wasn’t, Just the normal after show stage door. He came out in a stunning suit (sorry, no pics, too dark) and said it was his birthday present to himself. A man of great taste, really it did look amazing. Fabric, cut, everything.

Again he took his time with everyone before he disappeared to his well-deserved birthday bash. It was so nice of him to give us all so much of his time when a party with friends and family awaited him – but that’s Michael for you.

We did have a little birthday party with Helge and Petra afterwards – no celebrity guests though;-)

And this is it – the big day has come and gone in a whirlwind. We are leaving London again in the afternoon. For once we are not too depressed though for we will be back in two weeks and then we will stay for 10 days. Whoop whoop! Counting down the days!

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Friday - 11 May 2012
05/11/12 @ 07:52:07 pm, Categories: Pre Stage Door, General, 2203 words   English (US)

Today we had sun. It was a glorious day and we found ourselves standing in the shades at the Criterion Theatre stage door, which is very conveniently placed in a sort of arcade. We stood there waiting for an hour. We should have enjoyed the precious rays of sunshine, but there you go.

He arrived at about 1pm and looked exquisitely yummy (see pictures). He said hi to everyone and that he had no idea, where he was going and unisono we all replied “there!” and pointed to the stage door. We must have looked like a mini musical number. Also we were a bit concerned like we were sending him away in hindsight. When he went in we went round the building and started the decline towards the stalls of the theatre as it’s underground. The auditorium itself was incredibly beautiful and it is a boutique theatre if ever there was one. Just small and pretty.

The stage was prepared with two chairs, a small table and some water. Quite a number of people had shown. Michael and his host came on stage to great applause, took a seat and it was he himself who poured in the water for both of them.

His interviewer was Mark Lawson from BBC Radio 4. He said how Imelda had been on this stage ten days ago and said how she had been very complimentary about Michael and what he had to say about her. “Of all the leading ladies I worked with, she is definitely one of them!” came the giggled reply. On a more serious note he said how funny she was, how dedicated, hard-working and how she pushed him as an actor. It was evident that there is a great mutual respect between these two and apparently a deep understanding, also the same humour.

They then talked about Sweeney being very much Michael’s project to which he agreed and said that he otherwise would never have been cast. He knows the business and he knows that he had made choices in his career that have not appealed to the high brow ranks in the business. He did things that were too commercial for these people, but he believes in commercial theatre and he just knew that nobody would have thought that he was born to play Sweeney, but he said that he believes he was (and we agreed whole heartedly).

Later on in the Question and Answer section the possible Broadway transfer for Sweeney came up and he confirmed that it was something that is being looked into, but basically depends on whether they can make it work financially and also he would want the entire ensemble to go, which might proof tricky with American Equity, but there is a way around this problem. Getting the amount of money required for this kind of production over there is not easy. He asked whether anyone of us would get out the check book out now. Sadly no secret millionaires in the audience. He said that they just about made the West End production work. So fingers crossed for them to get the necessary funding. He stressed again though that it would be a limited run, if it happened.

He was then asked to describe his average day. Obviously it’s training for the Marathon he joked, but no, he has no opportunity to do much else apart from Sweeney. He gets up, reads three papers, listens to the news, walks the dogs, has a nap at noon, watches some telly, on Thursdays he has massages and his Sundays are off. He said that he needed 24 hours of doing nothing, which is why he is not doing the radio show at the moment, but he loves it and hopes he will return to it in January! Of course this depends on whatever else is happening in his life then. He has said that he wants to record an album, then tour in late spring, early summer and he has a new project, which he is excited about. A show he wants to bring to the West End and is just busy acquiring the rights for the show. Naturally he could not and would not say what it was. Even though Mr. Lawson very cleverly kept asking for clues until Michael desperately begged him at asking questions, because he is so bad at keeping secrets (as we know from previous interviews). So it looks like he will be busy, but he said it might not come to fruition after all. You never know with these things.

It was very interesting to hear that he had had problems with his voice during the rehearsal period in Chichester and that a cold went around in the cast did not help obviously. The rehearsals for Epiphany were quite tough. He had to find the physicality of the piece and shouted a lot, then he had to change the register, but still had the big high notes. So it was very demanding and when the show started he had no time to recover. So this had been a real problem and he was desperate not to miss out on any shows during the Chichester run and we know he did not in the end, but it was a close call. He said that he had feared these problems would return with the West End transfer, but now that it was there everything was in place, he was experiencing no problems and he feels he never sung it better (too true!).

Mr. Lawson asked it Opera singers are too precious about their voice. “Absolutely!” came the instant reply. Michael explained how Opera singers when they faced doing a musical freaked completely at the prospect of doing 8 shows a week, whereas for a musical singer doing opera like he had done with Kismet and Patience is no problem whatsoever, because you keep having three to four days a week off. And he actually said, he thought he would love it, but the downside was, that after all this free time, every performance felt like opening night all over again. He said actually it’s the same for him and Sweeney on Mondays, which we thought was quite amazing, but could relate to.

Naturally Kismet came up and we all had such a laugh, but the audience and interviewer agreed that it was not too bad. The music was beautiful and Michael agreed that some good has come of it. He got really close with Alfie Boe. By god the rehearsal period for Kismet must have been adventurous to say the least.

Talk came from Kismet to Patience to Woman in White and he told us about an accident he had with his co-starring rat Beatrice, which ended in her losing a bit of her tail, which he seems to regret until this very day.

He also discussed the old Sondheim versus Webber debate and naturally praised them both. Actually he said they had both written good and not so good stuff. You could not really compare them. They also have a completely different approach to their work and that they are both perfectionists, which he loves, because it’s important and because they are quick with praise as well as criticism. Also he found that Hal Prince has added to both their greatest works (Sweeny and Phantom). Mr. Lawson was quite impressed with Mr. Sondheim coming to see Sweeney four times already. They quickly talked about Sweeney almost being a flop when it first opened in London. And Michael said, the Drury Lane Theatre would have been too big for the show and the Adelphi was pushing it, but it just about works.

There were some really interesting questions from the audience (not the usual “What is your favourite song / musical / etc. ). First questions was: Why Pirelli was looking like the “Go-Compare” man (that is a TV commercial character in the UK, who really looks remarkably like Pirelli). And he said that the designer simply did not know anything about this TV spot, but when the costume was revealed they all went “Oh, the Go-Compare-Man”, but the looks matches the character.

Someone else wanted to know whether back in Manchester, when he had been Frederick in “Pirates of Pencanze” could he have imagined being a star 25 years later. “Oh Yes!” He did have a laugh. He said he earned 90 pounds a week, “How times have changed”, but on a more serious note, that job had taught him so much about working in a company, about the right work ethic, about the star system and about him wanting to work in Musical Theatre. Mr. Lawson had asked whether he had been offered speech roles and he said, yes he had, but he did not think it would give him the same joy as singing.

Another question was if he wanted to direct at one point. Another big yes. He feels he is at a place now where he can give direction and there are talks about doing something in Chichester at one point.

He was also asked about career longevity. He said it was important that you show professionalism and are able to take direction and work good in a company. Should you happen to lead the company it was important to lead by example and also know, when to have fun and when to be serious. He sees the problem that young actors think, getting the job, is the job and they forget what a massive commitment a musical is and he said there had been occasions, where he had to take youngsters to the side and explain to them that their work ethic (or lack thereof) might eventually lead to them never getting another job, because the industry is so small and if you failed to show up on time or show up at all, people will talk and producers will hear of it. So professionalism was his number one advice, if you want to take on a career in the business.

Talking about the various TV shows casting people he said he does not mind them as an auditioning tool and watches them all, but it is important that the winners are cared for, because there is a lot of pressure in it and that they need to be up for the job and be able to do eight shows a week. Also he then wants to see high quality shows and no cheap touring versions.

Another question was how they kept the tension up, when they were in a long run. He said that it was important to keep it up and that you could do it by always ever so slightly modifying your performance which then leads to the others on stage responding to that and so it keeps it fresh. It was great to hear him say that. He mentioned Imelda’s performance in “Wait” and we found that so intriguing, because this is just what we had witnessed the whole week. Subtle changes. Sometimes only a small movement of the head or holding each others’ gaze a second longer. They do change the entire feel of the scene. Really intriguing.

We should make clear that this is by no means a complete report, these are merely the things we jotted down or remembered at almost 2 o’clock in the morning, but at least we hope it gives you an impression of the event. The whole thing lasted an hour and it was such a joy to hear all the stories. We are positive that you could listen a whole day without being bored. We are so happy to have been part of this. What an absolute joy. We then had time to get back to the hotel and get changed for the night. We met our friends again at the stage door and you will find that there are only three photos online. Well this is due to the fact that when Michael came to the stage door, he said he was bursting for a …… and had to get inside quickly and in he was. (aka: he needed to go to the powder room).

The show itself was well what Sweeney always is: Stunning, fantastic,fabulous…. ‘insert praise here’, but what impressed us most was seeing it evolve from performance to performance. Today there was so much going on between these two that we could hardly wait for the next scene to see whether there’d be a new nuance and there always was. The audience loved it (among them John Barrowman and partner). A full standing ovation and a double curtain call once again. It’s unreal how fast the time flies, when you are in the Adelphi. One moment you are taking your seats and the next you are standing up for the curtain call. WE know for a fact that the wait to see it again on Michael’s birthday will be far too long and we cannot believe our May trip is almost over as we have to leave tomorrow afternoon. So one stage door to say goodbye and a few more hours in glorious London and then 7 weeks of withdraw.

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Thursday - 10 May 2012
05/10/12 @ 07:50:04 pm, Categories: General, 238 words   English (US)

We were stuck inside a cafe due to an unexpected and prolonged downpour and came to the stage door a bit too late. So sorry, no pics – but there wouldn’t have been any even if we had been on time – no weather to get a camera out.

The performance was amazing though. We have to say that Epiphany is still deliciously scary even after what - 15 times? Something like that, we need to count properly. He really IS demonic up there! Wonderfully appreciative audience. Much more so than on Wednesday evening. Two curtain calls and a solid standing ovation - that’s how we like out theatre evenings.

Afterwards we overheard Robert Burt (Pirelli) tell someone that he has a slight neck problem after his fight with Michael. This would have sounded really odd to someone who doesn’t know the production (Sweeney and Pirelli engage in a fistfight before Pirelli meets his untimely end…)!

We took two photos when he was coming out afterwards. Really don’t like flashing at him but we wanted you to get a glimpse of what he looked like at least to make up for missing out on the going in stage door.

Tomorrow is “Lunchtime with” and we are quite excited. These things usually happen when we cannot get to the UK, so we are in luck this time and naturally will try and report back with all the info.

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Wednesday - 9 May 2012
09/05/12 @ 07:31:59 pm, Categories: Shows, Pre Stage Door, Post Stage Door, General, 804 words   English (UK)

WE got back to London on Tuesday and saw our first Sweeney after the opening night from the last row oft he Upper Circle (by choice!). since Chitty we have had the habit to see a show from different perspectives as you tend to find new bits and pieces here and there, depending on where you’re sitting. The view was very good actually and the sound up there is immaculate. We were quite impressed. There was a large group of school children, well teenagers, but young teenagers, sitting in front of us and they were incredibly well behaved and really into the show. We do hope however that the teachers will discuss the very challenging scenes at a later date (after all there’s murder, rape and child abuse to cover). We admit to having wondered whether they should have put up a firm age limit, but then again the youngsters today are made from much sterner stuff than we were, when we were as young.

Even up there we noticed slight modifications in the routines. It is all settled nicely now and everyone seems ready to experiment with their character a bit. It’s great to see Mrs Lovett getting more and more tactile with the emotionally remote Mr. Todd and we are just so jealous. This lucky woman, well, not in the end obviously…. The crowd was very enthusiastic and even warranted a second round of bows from everyone.

Today, well yesterday now, well on Wednesday we experienced the polar opposite and were lucky enough to sit in the stalls. Completely different experience of course for the matinee at least, because for the evening show we were back in the Upper Circle (not by choice this time, but we really can recommend the first three rows of the Upper Circle, the view is excellent, you can still see the faces, just the leg room is a bit limited).

The show is still as wonderful as it was back in March. It got even better now and we did not think that possible. Epiphany tonight was out of this world. Terrifying and mesmerizing. How he managed this twice in one day is beyond us. We just felt in complete awe to witness such talent and we know we are very privileged to be able to see the show as often as we do.

What was funny about tonight’s performance, we were up in the goods, as we said, and this time surrounded by a class of much older school children (probably 16 – 17) from Austria. We were quite curious to see how they reacted to the show. And you could tell they were quite unsettled in the Judge’s self-flagellation scene. It’s always intriguing to witness in every audience so far that watching this always gets a more emotional reaction that watching gruesome killings. So the feeling of shame seems to override the shock of murder. Quite intriguing really, but anyways….
During the interval we heard the kids speaking and nearly all of them complained that they could not understand a word of the dialogues and that there was too little blood. So they thought it was boring. We almost wanted to search for the teacher and ask them how they could choose this musical without going through the lyrics and vocabulary first. Such a waste and shame. Sondheim is very wordy and loosing out on these brilliant lyrics is just a tragedy. Luckily they did not fidget and actually did applaud loudly in the end. So we hope the music won them over after a while.

Sorry to bore you with audience observations, but really, what can be said about the show that has not been said before? Imelda and Michael are just outstanding. And everyone else as well. It gets repetitive. No obvious glitches, just the bodies sliding down ever so slowly now and then, but they all vanished eventually.

The arrival stage door today was lovely. A small crowd, no rain, a very handsome Ball (see photos for proof). Between the shows we wandered around Piccadilly and Leicester Square and happened to be at the right spot, because, just when we crossed the street at Leicester Square none other than Mr. Johnny Depp was chauffeured past us and to the Empire Cinema, where he opened his new movie Dark Shadows. We have been around Leicester Square for several opening nights, but we never heard hysteria like that! As we saw him on the big screen outside the cinema we contemplated grabbing him and drag him with us to the Adelphi to have him watch Sweeney Todd done properly (just kidding).

And the celebrity spotting continued at the stage door. When Michael came out after the show he was with Alex Kingston. Quite a glamorous da, for an ordinary Wednesday.

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Opening Night Sweeney Todd - 10/03/12
03/10/12 @ 08:27:46 pm, Categories: General, 931 words   English (US)

It goes without saying that we had to hop over to the UK for Mr. Todd’s arrival in the West End (almost in Fleet Street, too, which is amazing).

On the tube ride into town we were greeted by several large ST posters. In the city centre we encountered many buses promoting the show. London is fun when Mr. Ball is in the West End! Well, naturally it’s also fun when he isn’t, but it’s much more fun when he is, if you get our drift. Bear with us it’s almost 2am.

Having arrived late at night on Friday our first outing on Saturday took us to the Adelphi. We admired the posters and went into the box office. There was a considerable queue of people wanting tickets and they were actually sending people away, because tonights show was sold out.

We’d goggled at the merchandise (t-shirts, mug, fridge magnet, programme, cd and colour brochure with the latter “not available” of course). WE overheard a German couple unsure whether they would enjoy the show and wondering what it was all about and of course we could fill them in and make sure they grab a ticket during their stay. We recommended the singing performances to which they replied “Of course, Michael Ball is in it", which is always nice.

We then talked to the box office guy about day seats and he confirmed what we had heard before. They would be the last two rows of the stalls, not the front row.

We decided on one of the many many cafes around the theatre to write our card for Michael and have a hot chocolate. After finishing our drinks, we thought we’d wander to the stage door and see if we could hand in our goody bag at the stage door. Two autograph hunters were already wating there. We marvelled at the confined space of Maiden Lane and were just contemplating how the huge crowd will block the street entirely, when Andrew came out of the theatre. We wanted to hand over our little bag, but he said, he’d be right back and wandered down the street. We thought maybe he’s gone shopping in Covent Garden, when a very posh black limousine pulled up opposite the stage door and out stepped none other than Mr. Michael Ball himself. He looked utterly to die for (pun intended ha ha).

In a blue jacket, light scarf and grey cap. we changed a few words and in he was, not even the autograph hunters had got in gear. It happened all so quickly (hence no photos, sorry). That left us with much time at our hands and we used it for a bit of retail therapy and sun bathing at Covent Garden. 16 degrees and sunny skies. Utterly amazing. We sat there in t-Shirts (at home it’s still freezing cold!).

Since press night is only on the 20th of March we will refrain from saying anything about the show itself. These are still public rehearsals after all, but that doesn’t mean it did not go very very well. For us the transfer really worked and gave the production a new dimension. Mr. Sondheim was inattendance and we so hoped the London audience would embrace the show as much as the Chichester one had done. And so they did. The atmosphere was fantastic. A massive applause for individual scenes. Cheers of delight and at the end of Act 1 the sound of the audience was amazing. Everyone was gushing in the interval. Happy faces all around. And richly deserved. Fantastic performances throughout.

We were sat in row C with many other fans and our entire row was on their feet at the end of the show, when the cast started their bows, but a quick look over our shoulders showed that it was not just us. The entire stalls were standing and once Imelda and Michael came on stage, the place erupted and the entire theatre gave them a well deserved standing ovation, stalls, dress circle and upper circle. Too see them all overwhelmed by the borderline-hysteric reception was a pure joy.

Stage Door afterwards was mayhem. It’s a very narrow lane with a night clup, several restaurants and bars. So there was our theatre crowd, which was huge, all the people from other places plus some very frustrated car drivers who were stuck and some very relaxed riksha drivers who thought the whole scene was hilarious. People were chanting and screeming and shouting for Michael. Lots of pushing and shoving. It was madness incarnated.

Michael and Imelda did the very sensible thing and waved the crowd from a window (see video clip and photos). He also tried to leave the theatre through the stage door. From what we were seeing he was giving autographs by the dozen and naturally the crowd went completely wild. After a frew near collisions with rickshas and cars by several passers-bys, he deemed the situation too chaotic (we think), waved and went back inside to leave via the front. A very sensible decision as people did not really mind the traffic at all. It was an accidant waiting to happen from where we were standing (we were on the other side of the road).

So this was it, our first Sweeney Todd in London. There will be many more and we can only urge you to grab a ticket, if you haven’t. He indeed is a revelation and we will be back in May, counting the days already and looking forward to many rave reviews on the 20th (fingers tightly crossed).

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