Merrily We Roll…

Merrily We Roll Along 

 So another week of rehearsals rolls by, with me still dashing and dancing between here there and everywhere…  

 Another few of early morning meetings started off my days, and what with the rain being torrential it made driving across town to make it in time to start rehearsals pretty hair raising!  

 Wednesday was great, during the day I took a couple of hours away from shouting “5678” to film with lovely people from the Ben Kinsella trust about a celebrity bake book I’m involved in.  I’ve donated my recipe from The Great British Bake Off – a gingerbread cake with Megamix icing to be used in a fantastic cookery book, with all proceeds going to the trust, which helps to prevent gang violence and keeping knives off the streets. http://www.benkinsella.org.uk/  Recipes have been donated by people from the world of sport, politics and entertainment, and you can get involved by sending in your favourite recipe to hopefully be included along side all the others. To enter go to http://celebritybakebook.com/category/news/ 

That evening I had dinner with my dear friend and the original director of Starlight Express Trevor Nunn, whom I haven’t caught up with for years.  We talked and talked for hours over a delicious meal at Julie’s in Holland Park, and it was close to midnight before I made my way home to climb into bed, ready to start another day in the studio.

 The rest of the week flew past, and it was soon Friday.  The afternoon was spent watching a run through of the show, and at the end I ran as fast as I could to the car as I had a long drive ahead of me to Herefordshire, where I was taking part in a charity event for Hereford Cathedral the following day. I was judging a dance competition alongside the gorgeous Larry Lamb, Sir Roy Strong and the Dean of Hereford Cathedral, and it was a fantastic evening with fabulous food, wine and a huge amount raised. 

 Sunday morning I drove home through what was practically a rainstorm to make it safe and sound and into the waiting arms of my family, who have barely seen me this past few weeks!  We had a lovely dinner together, it was just the perfect end to another week, and gave me all the strength I needed to start my challenge…  As I mentioned last week, I’m taking part in Living Below the Line, where I shall be feeding myself this week with just £5, so that’s £1 per day.  THere is still time to sponsor me here http://bit.ly/J3P6Ub  to raise money for my chosen charity helping the prevention of Malaria, and raise awareness about the unimaginable poverty people are living in.  A huge thank you to all that have donated so generously so far, it all really does help.

 So that brings me up to today, where once again I shall be all things Starlight  http://bit.ly/I7Mz6Y and sadly missing out on the Dance Uk’s Conference on nutrition for dancers, artistry, athleticism and the role of the multidisciplinary support team, from 9am – 5pm at the Royal Society of Medicine in London, and there may still be tickets available here so try and head down www.eventbrite.com/event/3053540221

 Oh and I’ll be skating off from the studio to join the Loose Women on Wednesday so keep an eye out for me!

 Until next week…

Much love, Arlene x 

Short, Sweet and Still on Skates

Short, Sweet and Still on Skates

Hello all!

Yes once again it has been a week of Starlight, and it’s going to be much the same for the next month! Still, as always, I have plenty of exciting things to tell you about that are happening outside the world of rehearsals…

Tuesday morning I had a wonderful early breakfast with my newest and dearest friend Russell Grant, who is always a joy to start the day with. As well as the usual banter and gossip, he is in fact a really wonderful person to really talk to, and I found myself so deep in conversation I barely made it to rehearsals on time! Sadly I couldn’t make it that evening to the opening of Midnight Tango in Manchester, which I am thrilled to say got fantastic reviews and a standing ovation.

Wed was rehearsals rehearsals rehearsals and no lunch break as I had an interview with LBC radio all about, you guessed it – Starlight! I tell you what though, despite me talking about all things skates, people still manage to try and sneak those Strictly questions in… Let’s keep it current!

Thursday was a crazy busy day, starting with a very early meeting with my accountant (boring!) a slightly less so but still early hair and makeup with Alana for a quick interview in town I was filming for a documentary called God Save the Queens. I was talking all about my favourite and most fabulous gays! Kenny Everett, Julian Clary, Paul O’Grady, Danny La Rue, Graham Norton to name a few, and of course my darling Freddie Mercury, and the many amazing memories I have of my time working with him. A hectic afternoon in rehearsals followed, and then a dash home to scoff down some delicious dinner, a quick change and a touch up of the hair and makeup once again with Alana, and then off I went to the House of Commons for the Body Confidence Awards, where I was presenting the award for the celebrity who inspires, and it went to the lovely Davina McCall.

Friday was our first run through of the show that I think everyone knows the name of by now… and it went surprisingly well! I say surprisingly because to be this far along in such a short space of time is just amazing, It just goes to show what a superbly talented and hard working cast we have. After the run I had a long meeting that afternoon about all the exciting new musical arrangements Andrew himself is creating for the show, and the more I hear the more desperate I am to be able to share it with you, but it’s just going to have to wait till the show opens, and I can promise you will all be blown away…

Saturday was our last day out at Three Mills studios – thank goodness! We’re moving the Starlight stage to a giant new studio out in Park Royal, it really is from one extreme to the other for me, East to West, and then in a couple of weeks time I’ll be heading south to open the show in Wimbledon! Why can’t we just do it here in Belsize Park… You can still book tickets for the show here http://www.reallyuseful.com/uncategorized/starlight-express-uk-tour-dates/

Sunday I was rehearsing again although this time it was with my favourite dancers Tommy Franzen and Maria Swainson for a top secret project we’re working on. We were having so much fun creating and dancing I barely realised the day slipped by, and before I knew it it was time to pack my bags for another week of all things U.N.C.O.U.P.L.E.D. and enter phase two of rehearsals, getting on the set..

So I’ll be back next week to let you know how we’re getting on with our journey towards opening night, and keep checking my twitter for sneak preview behind the scenes pics live from the rehearsal room @arlenephillips

Love Arlene x

Hello again!

So as I mentioned last week, I got on a a bit of a chocolate high due to all those Easter eggs and forgot to post my blog! Anyway, here’s what else I got up to over Easter

I managed to make it to the countryside where I had four amazing days of doing what I always do when I’m there – eating, drinking and being very merry!  The eating part as always is my favourite, and I was overwhelmed with the amazing meals we had with some of our friends. Fresh oysters, grilled lobster, roast chicken, the naughty roast potatoes, tons of fresh vegetables and delicious salads, and of course copious amounts of chocolate eggs.  The drinking isn’t alcohol for me, but these amazing juices and cordials I buy from the Ludlow food centre, my favourites are the elderflower and lime cordial, and the pink lemonade, just heavenly.  And we had several very merry meals and catch ups with all our lovely friends there, including Coco and her family who hosted a dinner party fit for a king – or me as the Queen of Dance!

I had a long week ahead once again of Starlight rehearsals, so I made to most of my weekend, and although was sad to drive home again, was excited to get back in the studio and on those skates!  Well, to be fair it isn’t me on the skates any more, although once upon a time back in 1984 I was whizzing around that set.  I’m so thrilled with how fantastically the show is starting to come together, and what an amazingly talented cast we have.  If you scroll up to the previous post you can read my assistant PA Tully’s blog on his experience at rehearsals, and I know Abi is writing something to post up later on too, we’ve all gone Starlight crazy!

The week came and went with me even managing to squeeze in the odd meeting here and there either super early before I set off, or late in the evening after I got home, so it has been a very tough few days.  Even Saturday, there I was demonstrating steps and shouting “5678” at people, so much so I think I was even saying it in my sleep.

Sunday was, as I always love, family day.  We all went for a roast lunch down in South End Green at a lovely pub just next to Hampstead Heath, and although I ate all my chicken and vegetables, I managed to leave the roasties alone after last weekend’s gorge on them.  I had to admit, a few mouthfuls of everyone else’s puddings may have gone amiss…  But I couldn’t possibly say where…

After lunch I made my way back home to start getting ready for that evenings Olivier Awards I was attending.  Alana as always did my hair and makeup, and I wore a beautiful vintage Jean Muir coral dress, with my favourite lilac Aspinal bag, nude Louboutins and some fantastic handmade jewellery I bought on my last trip to LA.

The evening was exciting, glamorous and I felt every inch ready to walk the red carpet. It was a pity it was only available to watch on red button, as some of the outfits and the stars there were just incredible.

One of the highlights of the evening was catching up with my very dear and long time friend Trevor Nunn, who is the most brilliant director I had the pleasure of working with back on the original Starlight!  Much to both my daughters jealousy I caught up with the extremely beautiful Douglas Booth, who caused such a stir in Great Expectations last christmas, and he was every inch the gentleman Pip was.  I also got to chat to Celia Imry and the hilarious Zoe Wannamaker, and also see Vincent and Flavia, who were there to represent our nomination for Midnight Tango, and even though sadly we didn’t win, it was still an amazing event to be part of. Sophi Evans who is our current Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz sang Over the Rainbow, and Elaine Paige sang Don’t Cry For Me Argentina better then I have ever heard it in my life before, it was truly spectacular.

As always, another early morning and long week ahead was awaiting me, so I did my usual half an hour at the party then it was ‘home James and don’t spare the horses’!

Which brings me to say have a wonderful week ahead everybody, and I’ll be back next week with more exciting gossip…

Till then

Arlene x

Tully’s Travels to Starlight Express

Hello bloggers! 

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Tully and I work as Arlene’s Assistant PA.

As I write this, I am watching the cast of the international phenomenon that is Starlight Express in rehearsals for their UK Tour. Arlene reminded me this morning that the very first time I saw Starlight Express was on a school trip when I was 7. Now at 20 I have very little memory of what the show was like. 

Every person I have spoken to about the show coming back has been over the moon, and until now, I couldn’t understand or share in the excitement. 

The cast of this show are all previous Starlight cast members from all over the world, and you can really tell. They all know the parts like the back of their hands. For the first 3 hours of rehearsing, I sat in awe as the entire ensemble were able to continuously sing, dance, act and even perform huge stunts, all while wearing roller-skates! I can’t even stand up on wheels, let alone attempt to try and move. 

This is what makes Starlight Express unique. The cast have to be the best of the best. And to be the best of the best 8 times per week.

The music is brilliant. The musical directors have adapted the original music slightly to bring it up to date with current artists. Think Black Eyed Peas, Bruno Mars, Pixie Lott and Adele. But for all the ‘first round’ Starlight fans, the original tracks are there in all their glory.

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Arlene working with the 4 female carriages; Pearl, Dinah, Ashley and Buffy.

 

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Rusty, Pearl, Dinah, Ashley and Buffy in action.

 

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The Starlight Express rehearsal room during a well earned tea break.

 

The fact that I am able to sit here and write this when the rehearsals are still at such an early stage, really shows just how phenomenal this show is going to be. I can now officially say I am a Starlight Express fan.

Roll on May 10th.

Tickets and all the venue information can be found here: http://bit.ly/StarlightDates

Have a nice weekend everyone, and Arlene will be back with her weekly update on Monday!

Tully – Follow me on Twitter @tullybloom

Hello all!Due t…

Hello all!

Due to the fact I clearly overdid the chocolate eggs over the weekend I completely forgot to post my blog!  So here it is, and I hope you’ll all catch up with the next one in a few days to hear all about what I got up to over Easter! xx

After last week being beyond crazy, it’s been a welcome few days of normal workload, mainly rehearsals for Starlight, which have all been going fantastically well – despite the hour and more drive there and back to the rehearsal studios all the way across London.  Saying that, it was certainly worth the drive on our first day to hear the legendary Richard Stilgoe give the company a talk and tell them all about when we created the original show way back in 1984! Hearing his stories brought back such wonderful memories, and gave me another shiver of excitement about creating Starlight all over again for 2012.

 Other than being immersed in the world of skates, highlights this week have mainly revolved around food and missed shopping opportunities! I had a delicious breakfast meeting at the Charlotte St Hotel, two fabulous lunches at Chez Bob in Belsize Park, one with my dear friend Frances Rufelle, the other with another friend from many years ago Cjay Ranger, both filled with gossip and secrets.  Another divine brunch was with my new found fabulous friend and current Wizard of Oz Russell Grant at my new favourite The Delaunay, who tweeted afterwards “Start your day the Arlene way” – think it’ll catch on?

 As far as missed shopping opportunities go I was sadly stuck in rehearsals and missed the Zatchel party.  I did so want one, and hope I’ll be able to pick one up soon in my favourite hot pink. 

 I managed to cram in a trip to the hairdressers – finding the time is getting be to be near on impossible at the moment!  That and a catch up with the lovely Rob Carey who worked on Flashdance with me took up my lunchbreaks on Friday and Saturday, and Saturday night I was in bed by 8 as I knew Sunday was going to be a long one…

 I was involved in the filming of ‘Best Possible Taste’, the Kenny Everett tribute documentary, as I was involved with the series all those many years ago.  It was great fun getting some new dancers to recreate Hot Gossip, who became know for their ‘naughty bits’ on the show, that so famously outraged Mary Whitehouse.  It was a long day, out at the Oceana nightclub in Kingston, which although has a fabulous light up floor, it sure was sticky! 

By the way, did anyone get any April fools tricks played on them?  I managed to avoid falling for any this year, you’ve got to get up early to catch me out!

 One very glamorous invitation I had was from Samantha Cameron to attend a charity event at Number 10 Downing St, where myself and several others were there to honour the amazing work Save the Children are doing here in the UK as well as overseas.  I met the exquisite Erin O’Connor, who’s beauty is just breathtaking, as well as having a lovely catch up with original Strictly winner Natasha Kaplinsky. It was a wonderful evening, and I felt very proud to be involved.

 I was beyond thrilled to receive a surprise visit from my darling Louanne Madorma on Wednesday, who popped over from Vegas for literally a 24 hour visit due to a family commitment, and managed to fit me in just to grab a big hug.  Also, having the Lorraine crew come in to Starlight rehearsals to film in preparation for my appearance on the show early Thursday morning was a welcome visit and the cast were skating around like maniacs showing off their tricks.

 I’d like to say a massive thank you to Dove for their amazing goody basket I received – my skin now smells and feels like a million dollars after using copious amounts of the bodywash and shea butter lotion!

 On that note, I’d like to say Happy Easter!  I hope you all find and scoff lots of eggs, and take the time to see and appreciate your families, well that’s what I’ll be doing anyway…  And to all those that are avoiding the eggs for whatever reason, have a lovely Pesach and enjoy your Matzos!  

 Much love as always

Arlene x 

 

 

 

 

 

After last week being beyond crazy, it’s been a welcome few days of normal workload, mainly rehearsals for Starlight, which have all been going fantastically well – despite the hour and more drive there and back to the rehearsal studios all the way across London.  Saying that, it was certainly worth the drive on our first day to hear the legendary Richard Stilgoe give the company a talk and tell them all about when we created the original show way back in 1984! Hearing his stories brought back such wonderful memories, and gave me another shiver of excitement about creating Starlight all over again for 2012.

 

Other than being immersed in the world of skates, highlights this week have mainly revolved around food and missed shopping opportunities! I had a delicious breakfast meeting at the Charlotte St Hotel, two fabulous lunches at Chez Bob in Belsize Park, one with my dear friend Frances Rufelle, the other with another friend from many years ago Cjay Ranger, both filled with gossip and secrets.  Another divine brunch was with my new found fabulous friend and current Wizard of Oz Russell Grant at my new favourite The Delaunay, who tweeted afterwards “Start your day the Arlene way” – think it’ll catch on?

 

As far as missed shopping opportunities go I was sadly stuck in rehearsals and missed the Zatchel party.  I did so want one, and hope I’ll be able to pick one up soon in my favourite hot pink. 

 

I managed to cram in a trip to the hairdressers – finding the time is getting be to be near on impossible at the moment!  That and a catch up with the lovely Rob Carey who worked on Flashdance with me took up my lunchbreaks on Friday and Saturday, and Saturday night I was in bed by 8 as I knew Sunday was going to be a long one…

 

I was involved in the filming of ‘Best Possible Taste’, the Kenny Everett tribute documentary, as I was involved with the series all those many years ago.  It was great fun getting some new dancers to recreate Hot Gossip, who became know for their ‘naughty bits’ on the show, that so famously outraged Mary Whitehouse.  It was a long day, out at the Oceana nightclub in Kingston, which although has a fabulous light up floor, it sure was sticky! 

By the way, did anyone get any April fools tricks played on them?  I managed to avoid falling for any this year, you’ve got to get up early to catch me out!

 

One very glamorous invitation I had was from Samantha Cameron to attend a charity event at Number 10 Downing St, where myself and several others were there to honour the amazing work Save the Children are doing here in the UK as well as overseas.  I met the exquisite Erin O’Connor, who’s beauty is just breathtaking, as well as having a lovely catch up with original Strictly winner Natasha Kaplinsky. It was a wonderful evening, and I felt very proud to be involved.

 

I was beyond thrilled to receive a surprise visit from my darling Louanne Madorma on Wednesday, who popped over from Vegas for literally a 24 hour visit due to a family commitment, and managed to fit me in just to grab a big hug.  Also, having the Lorraine crew come in to Starlight rehearsals to film in preparation for my appearance on the show early Thursday morning was a welcome visit and the cast were skating around like maniacs showing off their tricks.

 

 

I’d like to say a massive thank you to Dove for their amazing goody basket I received – my skin now smells and feels like a million dollars after using copious amounts of the bodywash and shea butter lotion!

 

On that note, I’d like to say Happy Easter!  I hope you all find and scoff lots of eggs, and take the time to see and appreciate your families, well that’s what I’ll be doing anyway…  And to all those that are avoiding the eggs for whatever reason, have a lovely Pesach and enjoy your Matzos!  

 

Much love as always

Arlene x ImageImageImage