Midnight Tango with a Rollerskating Wizard

Hello from Auditionland! Yes I’m still up to my eyes in casting the new Starlight Express UK Tour and the Wizard of Oz, although this week I can see the light at the end of the tunnel…! We’ve finally found our new Wizard, the one and only Russell Grant! I’m really looking forward to working with him and seeing what I can create to make the role individual, so around all my other engagements I’ve been dashing to, the majority of my time has been spent with my assistants coming up with hilarious new ideas for him.

Well, the majority of my time in the day, as every evening so far this past week has been spent in the theatre with my show Midnight Tango, getting it ready and polished for the upcoming opening night next week, but more to come about that in a moment…

Tuesday I was on the News Review section of This Morning, with of course Holly and Phil, and Carol Malone on the sofa with me talking about the disappearing Captain on the Costa Concordia, and I have to say I’m deeply saddened by the whole event. Just looking at the pictures coming through that morning, it almost doesn’t look real, and my thoughts go out to all those affected.

Wednesday was a grand affair, a fundraising lunch with Princess Anne for Sense, a charity for deaf blind children that I support.

Another exciting event was a meeting at Sony, where I met the supremely talented Andy Serkis, or as some of you may know him as Gollum from the Lord of the Rings. I have to say I was a little bit starstruck.

On saturday I finally started my filming of the Big Dance DVD for schools, the project I’ve been talking about involving 5 choreographers developing ways to get dance involved with children’s education. It was also lovely to have Giorgia there with me as my assistant, its like her body can speak the words of what I want to create, so working with her is always a joy.

Sunday was one of my typical family days involving lots of food, lots of company, lots more food, lots of guilt over all the food, and a lovely lazy afternoon on the sofa.

Monday was an insanely manic day, starting with a shoot for
Woman and Home magazine with Alana, who was being photographed with me. A few fab outfit changes later it was off to rehearsals with Russell the Wizard. After spending day in day out devising new choreography for him as I mentioned earlier, it was wonderful to finally put the steps to the face. You can buy tickets to see him http://bit.ly/WOZTickets. Then a quick production meeting, followed by a dash over to the Aldwych to watch the Midnight Tango preview, which I’m thrilled to say was a standing success, ending with another production meeting until I finally climbed into my bed ready for another hectic week ahead.

Tuesday I was made a visit to Body and Soul on behalf of Sport relief. Meeting David Tennant is aways exciting, but even more exciting was seeing the work Body and Soul does on behalf of young people with HIV AIDS and the incredible creativity of the people we met, watching their films, listening to their music and hearing them talk about their lives was truly inspiring. I’m really looking forward to teaching a class in their studio and working with some of these amazing kids.

Finally, Marisota are running a Twitter competition to win one of my dresses, and you can enter here! http://bit.ly/xpst7T

So until next week
Much love, Arlene x

Midnight Tango On Its Way

So it’s been a couple of weeks since my last blog due to a surprisingly busier than usual January!

It has been audition central for me. First the auditions for the new Starlight Express tour which has been a fun but crazy few days, and I’ve loved seeing all the gang back together again. Also I’ve been and still am knee deep in Munchkins for the re cast of the Wizard of Oz, aah the delights of auditioning children! Starlight is opening on the 10th May in Wimbledon and then goes off on a full UK Tour! http://bit.ly/AjaNJV Oz as always is at the Palladium, you can book tickets here http://bit.ly/wUywSp

I took a break from the yellow brick road and had a wonderful dinner at the sparkly new Delauney with Debbie Moore and Max Dundas. The food was divine, and it was gossip gossip gossip as always!.

I don’t know if you managed to catch me on The Great Sport Relief Bake Off last week, and despite my terrible attempt to make a flan and something that was supposed to be a banana loaf, I have been inundated with tweets from people asking me to come and bake for them, possibly just to laugh at me doing it though! I did have such a fantastic time filming the show, despite not making it through to the final! http://bbc.in/A3ZR5c

Another series I’ve been recording is The Story of Musicals, and you can catch up on Ep 2 & 3 if you missed them http://bbc.in/x3lDw7 Part Three is all about The 90’s and 00’s and the the rise of the “jukebox musicals” such as Mamma Mia! and my very own We Will Rock You.

I had a fabulous night out at the Royal Albert Hall to see the incredible Cirque du Soleil show Totem, which was, as Cirque always is, breathtaking. I had a great catch up with the gorgeous Dean Piper, the supremely talented Ashley Banjo and his Diversity crew, my cheeky Gerard McCarthy and the hilarious Jimmy Carr, who always manages to leave me breathless with laughter. Another theatre outing was with Abi and Tully to see Matilda, which was one of the best pieces of musical theatre I have seen in a very long time. If you haven’t already and can still get tickets, go go go! It was in a word, amazing.

You can still catch my Inheritance Tracks http://bbc.in/yotOjH presented by Richard Coles with fashion icon Twiggy, poet Luke Wright, a woman whose baby was born in the back of a cab, a boy who drives his own school bus, a 70 year old Hollywood body double, a man who speaks 26 languages – and me! Another Radio programme I always love to appear on is Woman’s Hour, and this time I was discussing the sexualisation of women in music videos with music video director Dawn Shadforth and music journalist Jacqueline Springer. Have a listen here http://bbc.in/wnr3hu

I had a very exciting meeting with Anne Beresford at the Hospital Club in Covent Garden about The Big Dance Films. Myself and four other choreographers including the brilliant Wayne McGregor are making 5 new films about dance for use in education. I’m so excited to be able to make dance a part of people’s every day lives and show how it can help in so many ways. I start filming for that on Sat 21st January with two of my favourite dancers.

Who saw the manificent Vincent and Flavia on This Morning http://bit.ly/zaNkyv talking about Midnight Tango, which is opening on the 31st Jan, previewing from the 20th at the Aldwych Theatre and you can book online here http://bit.ly/wdldM5 I went down to the the theatre over the weekend to watch a run through of the show and they are just phenomenal. The show has been touring to sold out houses this past year and I am so excited about it’s West End debut!

Another exciting piece of news is my new Marisota collection is out soon, with some big surprises in store! You can order from Marisota online here: http://bit.ly/xoMl4N or call for a catalogue 0871 984 6000, and make sure you keep an eye out for what I know is going to be a major talking point!

One last thing, a dance competition I’m is backing for The Red Cross and I’m posting the details here as I would love you all to get involved…
“Do you love dancing? Get a taste of stardom with the British Red Cross dance competition for young people of all abilities aged 4-18. Anyone can have a go and finalists get to perform at the IndigO2 at the O2 in London. All it takes is enthusiasm and a sense of fun” http://bit.ly/xcA5nr

So lots going on, lots to tell coming up, so look out for my next blog and keep up with mu daily tweets @arlenephillips on twitter!

Take care, Arlene x

Christmas crackers

So Christmas is over, its the first day of 2012, and what a holiday period its been! I spent my time in the country with my family, seeing friends, stuffing my face and trying to avoid the various disasters that unfortunately befell over the Christmas period.

As beautiful as our house is, secluded and peaceful, being without phone or internet for days at a time can be rather trying. As you all know I’m such a workaholic, and even though I was taking a break and not responding to emails, it still drove me round the bend when I couldn’t receive what I wasn’t going to respond to! Also, due to the house being a good forty minute drive from anywhere with shops and phone service means having a car is a necessity, so therefore I was mortified to hit a rock and bust my oil sump on boxing day! It was all kinds of drama having to get my partner to come and rescue me and the girls, and being over christmas was even more of a nightmare finding a garage to fix it. When I managed to finally get someone to come and pick up the car, it was nearly dropped off the pickup as the man had tried to load it at the wrong angle! A few wrong turns later it was dropped at the local garage to be fixed, sometime over the next few days…

The last drama in what was otherwise a truly perfect Christmas was that my partners mother was taken to hospital for an emergency operation, so we’re all wishing for her speedy recovery.

Doom and gloom aside, we did keep laughing about the fact it seemed to be one thing after another, and the weekend was just blissful. A 14ft tree, stunningly decorated in all kinds of purple baubles and miniature fairy lights by Abi, a dinner fit for a king cooked by my partner, and Alana and myself wrapping presents and hanging cards all around the house to make it festive. I received the most wonderful and thoughtful gifts, and felt truly blessed and grateful for everything.

We spend the eve of Christmas day having a wonderful turkey roast with all the trimmings at some friends of ours, and that included a big helping of Christmas pudding with brandy butter. Oh I forgot to mention I’d already had a turkey roast at home for lunch with my family earlier on – yes that’s right, two roasts in one day. I was broken by the time I got home, and on boxing day I rolled out of bed feeling like I was the Christmas pudding.

Dinner and drinks with various friends and relatives over the next few nights kept us ticking over until New Years Eve was finally upon us. We spent it at our dear friends the Crowleys, who we have know for over 20 years now, and spent many if not almost every new years with previously. I spoke to both my girls at midnight who had scampered back to London to party the night away, and of course got all emotional about how grown up they are now.

Finally, as I return to London and the week ahead I want to say Happy New Year to you all. May it be filled with love, happiness and success, and that all your hopes and wishes come true. Its back to work for me in the morning, and I’m sure for many of you too, so let’s make it a good one!

With all my love for an amazing 2012
Arlene x