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London, Olivier Awards 28/04/2013
29/04/13 @ 08:46:11 am, Categories: General, 1181 words   English (UK)

After a lovely breakfast in Birmingham we left for London town to witness the most glamorous theatrical event of the year – albeit from the outside. No tickets for us as they were 90 Pounds each and for this you would be sitting up, up, up above the stage in the uppermost circle you can imagine. But naturally we wanted to show support so we arrived at 2pm and positioned ourselves at the beginning of the red carpet where the cars would be stopping…in three hours time.

We were surrounded by theatre maniacs and autograph hunters – felt a bit like a Saturday night post-musical stage door. It was an impressive sight with the whole of the front street of the Royal Opera House covered in a bright red carpet, countless signposts and flags, all bearing the Olivier logo, huge spotlights, two large golden Olivier statues framing the carpet and already a considerable crowd of spectators and press (those with accreditation for the red carpet itself in very glamorous frocks and tuxedos). They also had hired very polite security staff (all in tuxedos of course) who allowed the curious bypassers to take the occasional photo of their loved ones posing on the very beginning of the carpet. It was fun to watch and excitement mounted. Luckily no rain, just icy gusts of wind every now and then which kept the security occupied as they hand-picked white petals from a nearby cherry tree off the carpet all the time. When the first cars started to arrive it was mayhem around us. We got squashed into the barriers surrounding the carpet and people around us where beside themselves with all the celebrities to ogle. We have to admit that we probably only recognized a tiny percentage of them but those were impressive indeed. A very gracious Kim Catrall signed autographs for almost everyone, making polite conversation and looking absolutely dazzling in her bright blue gown. Suddenly Daniel Radlciffe stood in front of us and even when his PA tried to usher him on most urgently he took time for everyone. A very humble and friendly young man. And such talent! We fondly remembered Equus where his performance was outstanding. We also saw James McAvoy, Damian Lewis, Mylene Klaas, Idina Menzel, Matthew Morrison, David Essex, Leigh Zimmerman, ElaiePaige, Louise Dearman, Brian May (who was later to present the award to Michael) and Helen Mirren. Imelda arrived a short while before Michael with her husband and daughter. She was smiles all around and took ages signing autographs and chatting to people. She seemed very relaxed indeed. Michael was among the last few celebs to arrive and did look dashing with Cathy, smiles all around but tense. Through the frenzy of security people and Olivier staff we sadly could not get his attention but he signed a few photos for the waiting crowd.

We entertained the idea of going somewhere warm and comfortable to sit down after our 4-hour wait but then found the screens mounted on Covent Garden Piazza around the corner where the BBC showed the event live (WHY OH WHY not on television??!!). We then could not tear ourselves away from the coverage as we really wanted to be part of all the excitement. They had set up a stage between the two big screens and this was used for live performances from Matilda and Billy Elliott and two presentations (one by Sheridan Smith and one by Hugh Bonneville and Elaine Paige). The atmosphere was great as apparently there were several teams from various theatres out there as well as many drama students etc. Many, many cheers throughout the evening. Sweeney Todd got the loudest of them all whenever it was mentioned. This of course meant another four hours of standing in the cold but what the heck. No one forced us to stay. There was only the briefest of showers but this did not really diminish the masses.

Award ceremonies are really stressfull when you are cheering for specific people. We never fully realized this until this very night. The first three categories where Sweeney was nominated (light, sound, costumes) went by without a win and suddenly we got very anxious. Surely they would give the three big ones to what has to have been the most outstanding production of 2012?! What if they didn’t?! And we knew Michael would have to perform at the end of the ceremony – Olivier or no Olivier. Oh dear, what if, what if?! You can tell we were a bit emotional by then, frozen to the core but only realizing this when attempting to go somewhere for the loos and noticing we couldn’t feel our legs anymore and walking felt quite peculiar indeed.

And then, FINALLY at the very end of the ceremony, it got to the interesting nominations. Best Revival first. God, the WAIT until the winner was announced and then the RELIEF when it was Sweeney and Jonathan Kent. The place erupted with delight. Clearly theatre folk had expected this and was very happy with the outcome. Fan folk agreed wholeheartedly.

We barely had our bearings gathered again from shouting with the best of them when Brian May and Lynda Bellingham took to the stage to present the award for best actor. This felt like hours and watching the faces of the nominees while they waited for their verdict was excruciating. Michael had the vote of the theatre folk around us clearly. But, oh, the wait. And then she opened this envelope and said the magical words: “Oh joy! It’s Michael Ball!” This was cathartic. Utter bliss. So well deserved, so hard worked for, so absolutely wonderful. Like totally amazeball!

And what a beautiful speech he gave. Thanking everyone who had faith in the production and all the immense talent coming together and mainly his two leading ladies: Imelda who taught him so much and Cathy who believed he could do it.

When Imelda was called up to the stage a few moments afterwards we felt on a complete high. This was just as it should be. For once the good guys had won and the world was a better place for it….you can tell we REALLY needed to get somewhere warm to sit down and quickly LOL

The announcement for the tribute to the wonderful Gillian Lynne went by in a blur as Team Germany was busy celebrating (that’s Petra, Helge and us) but then we were treated to a beautiful rendition of Love Changes Everything, complete with large choir from Arts educational centre and a very emotional two-time Olivier Award winner rounding the evening off quite elegantly.

What a rollercoaster ride it had been and we feel privileged to have been part of it all. Raise your cups, glasses, bottles to Team Todd who deserve all praise they get and more. What a perfect end to a perfect production.
We are heading to Plymouth while we type this and cannot wait to party with the best actor in a musical – as if we hadn’t known this all along. ;-)

Birmingham 27/04/2013
29/04/13 @ 04:16:57 am, Categories: General, 518 words   English (GB)

What a couple of days. We only just arrived on Friday, have another two weeks ahead and it feels as if we are about to leave just because we have seen so much already, had a fabulous time with Petra and Helge (and the Ball) …. And spent a work day’s worth standing around in the cold dreading with anticipation… more about that later.

Birmingham – 27 April 2013

The weather forecast predicted heavy showers around the time of his arrival. We could not believe this, when we were sitting in the blazing sunshine, having a coffee / hot chocolate outside the Bullring shopping centre. Once we decided to leave our lovely space the weather took an extreme turn for the worse. Within minutes the blue sky was gone, heavy gusts shoved us in the direction of the stage door and by the time we were only five minutes away the heavens opened. We were sure this was the moment he got in, as it was a similar situation in Blackpool. And we were right. We missed him by a few minutes, so sadly no stage door photos .

We were quickly reminded that Birmingham is our kind of crowd. There was no polite clapping, but wild reception he deserves from the moment he entered the stage and throughout the concert. Michael was born near Birmingham you see, so he is always very well received. He even remarked something along the lines of this always feeling like coming home. This is how we like our concerts.

“On the Edge of Glory” – Was it ever more poignant than this very night merely one sleep away from the Oliviers?

The Symphony Hall is such a great venue and felt just right for the more loungy feeling of the first half. It is our favourite of all the three local venues we have been to.

He was on top form. The audience clearly knew their stuff for it was the first time Both Sides Now received an applause or recognition when the first few notes were played (usually this is reserved for the more familiar tunes of Empty Chairs and Love Changes).

The second have was over far too quickly and indeed some people did rush to the front BEFORE he even finished Love Changes. Come on, surely this is not on? You spoil your own enjoyment of the money note, the enjoyment of others who want to sit and appreciate it and judging by his tweet his joy of performing it! There is plenty of time to get down to party as he leaves the stage before the encore/party time. Let’s see what happens in Plymouth tonight.

After a mad dash to the stage door (gate) we were rewarded with a prime position to wave Michael good-bye. It was Saturday night and the clubs around were brimming with life. The stage gate itself was blocked by a police people carrier and we thought this was an extreme use of tax payers’ money should he be sped off to London in this ;-), but it soon left so that the tour coach could leave.


On the road with Michael Ball.
April 2013
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