Part 2: The Party

I can’t even begin to work out how many hours of planning this party took, but let me tell you, every second of them was worth it!  From the moment we walked in, and guests started to arrive, up to the last person to leave – way past the cut off point I might add – it was an absolute success.

The Birthday celebrations had begun earlier in the day on my return from filming that morning on The Wright Stuff. I arrived home to find all my presents on the table, and a lunch of fresh bagels with smoked salmon, ham, turkey and cream cheese all beautifully laid out as a surprise. My gifts were so thoughtful and perfect, and I could hardly believe how lucky I felt opening one after the other, surrounded by my family. Unbeknownst to me, for the past few months my assistant Tully had been making a DVD of video messages sent in from friends all over the world, and I sat and watched it in tears as message after message played in front of me. Coco had also as a surprise made a book of all the birthday letters sent to me, alongside pictures from years ago I had never seen, and brought back so many wonderful memories. With emotions already running high, all the girls were buzzing around the house, in and out of Alana‘s magic makeup chair, until it was finally my turn. With my hair pulled back in a simple ponytail, and just some eyeliner and lipgloss, I wanted to go for something understated that said I’m 70 and I look fabulous! I wore a black vintage jumpsuit with a Vivienne Westwood broach, Louboutins and an Aspinal handbag, the look was complete, and I was off to party!
With 200 people there to celebrate with me at the Bloomsbury Ballroom, the night flew past as I greeted all my dearest friends and family, dotting around from one person to the next, only stopping to make a short speech to thank everyone for coming, and to say how special they were to me.  There was champagne, canapes and cupcakes, all of which was heartily devoured, and I could hardly believe it as the clock struck 11, an hour past my intended home time, and I quickly flew home before it reached midnight, and my sensational 70th Cinderella moment vanished in a puff of smoke.
I hope you enjoy the following pictures, and of course there are too many names to mention, but thank you to all the came, and especially to my darling family that worked so hard to make the night of my dreams possible
Love A x

 
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 With Russell Grant
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With Brendan and Zoe Cole
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 With Andrew and Madeleine Lloyd Webber
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With my gorgeous girls Alana and Abi

Part 1: The Week

know it’s been a while since I last checked in with you all, but when you read what I’ve been up to you’ll know why!

 
I’ll start two weeks ago, on the 14th of May, when I flew off to Germany and the land of Starlight Express Bochum.  There I spent a week, and every waking moment of it working on the show for the upcoming 25 year celebrations. We’re talking early morning to late at night meetings, rehearsals, conference calls, you name it we were busy doing it. So it was on barely any sleep I made my way home on the weekend from what was an exhausting, yet truly exciting week, all to be continued with the Birthday show itself in June…
This brings me up to the week just past, and it has truly been a week to remember. It was the week of my 70th birthday, and a week of being surrounded by friends and family from literally all over the world.  The first to arrive was my darling Cimone and her beautiful baby Hudson, who had come to stay with us for the week from Australia. Cimone was my PA for many years, and became a part of our family during that time, although of course there was no rest for the wicked, and having her there to jump back in where she left off was a godsend. Despite our constant contact of emails every week, it’s certainly been a good 4 years at least since we last saw each other, so there were many tears of happiness on arrival.
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With Cimone
 
Long before I had anticipated my birthday would become as big as it did, I had been booked to appear on The Wright Stuff every morning that week, so there I was, with Alana, up at 6am every morning to be in hair and makeup. ready for the morning ahead.  Over the course of the week there were some fascinating topics I got to discuss, with guests including Donal McIntyre, Amy Childs, Dan Wright, and Josh Groban. I had so much fun being on the panel, and I hope you got to tune in at some point over the week and catch me in action! 
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 With Matthew Wright
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With Josh Groban
 
On Monday after the show had finished, I made my way over to the Chelsea Flower Show with Abi, who as you know is the most amazing florist, and it was a dream for both of us to be in the presence of such floral beauty. I was particularly proud of the Alzheimer’s garden, which won a gold medal, which as you know is a charity so close to my heart. Abi and I had such a wonderful afternoon, it really is an event I look forward to every year, and am already eagerly anticipating what next year’s blooms will bring.
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Tuesday afternoon was a crazy catch up with Coco, as being away the previous week, and with every afternoon onwards being filled, left hundreds of emails for us to tackle!

Wed was The Birthday, and due to the party being such an event, I’ve written all about it in a separate post for you to read, complete with fabulous party pics!

Thursday was utter madness, as after The Wright Stuff, I had a photoshoot and interview with Femail Magazine for the Daily Mail, followed by a very grand dinner at the Savoy hosted by the fabulous Kathy Lette, all as well as managing to fit in a visit from my darling Louanne who flew in all the way from Las Vegas for one night to see me! The shoot was at the Kensington Royal Garden hotel, where she came to meet me and we managed to start gossiping straight away while Alana was finishing off my hair and makeup. http://dailym.ai/10Y4okd Two outfit changes, a quick chat all about turning 70, and I was out in exactly 2 hours, which left time for a little more gossip back at home before it was time to get my glam on, and get to the dinner!  It was the most fascinating evening, and I managed to get the hotseat next to the very hot Tom Hollander, who really wasn’t like Rev at all! Also on my table was Andrew Lloyd Webber, jewelry king Theo Fennell, Stephen Fry and Stephen Frears, Terry Gilliam and Nigella Lawson with Charles Saatchi, there were stars all over the room. Kathy certainly has the A list at her fingertips.  It was a thrilling evening, and already quite late before finally making my exit to get a couple more hours with Louanne before she flew back to Vegas early the next morning. I also popped up on the cover of Woman’s Weekly, did anyone manage to get a copy? 
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Friday was my final 6am start, and I’m sure you can imagine I was really starting to feel it by this point!  The last show over, I made my was back home for lunch with our dear friend Nick and Mary Ellen Howey, who had also flown over from Las Vegas for my party. There had been so many people there that night that I had barely had a chance to catch up with anyone other than to say hello and thank you for coming, so it was lovely to sit down for the afternoon and really relax and chat. That evening was our last night with Cimone, so Angus made a beautiful meal, and we all finally sat down, the week over, and nothing but rest over the Bank Holiday to come.
 
Saturday was spent mainly in tears over Cimone flying back to Australia, most of them during our last lunch together at Aubaine up in Hampstead, pretty sure the staff there must think we were all nuts! We waved her off that afternoon, Abi off to a party, and Angus off to the countryside, so it was just me and Alana left in what seemed a pretty quiet house after all the week’s madness. The day ended with some sushi and a very big cuddle, as I waved Alana off home, and finally, on my own, fell fast asleep!
 
I hope you have all had a wonderful Bank Holiday, and don’t forget to read part two of my blog, The Party!
 
Until next week, much love, 
Arlene x
 

Something Fun for Friday

Hi again all,
 
There’s been lots going on since I last checked in, so here’s what I’ve been up to…
 
Wed was the obligatory office catch up with Coco, so not much to report there other than it was crazy!
 
Thursday I was up bright and early to film a new Saturday Night TV series called You Saw Them Here First. It basically involved me watching these hilarious clips of myself from the 70’s, talking about all the various projects I was working on at the time, such as Can’t Stop The Music with the Village People. All I kept thinking was how thin I used to be! One thing that hasn’t changed however is my big lips and cheeks, hopefully this will put an end to how much filler I’ve allegedly had!  After filming I sped off to a gorgeous lunch at the Charlotte Street Hotel with Ben Jones, and boy do we love a good gossip!
That evening I went to watch Harold Pinter‘s Hot House, starring the superb Simon Russell Beale and John Simm.  It was utterly brilliant in every way, and on at the Trafalgar Studios so get down there! http://bit.ly/181AwFA
 
Friday was a very glamorous brunch at the Ritz, a late lunch at the Wolsey – both of with whom I couldn’t possibly say yet… and then a fabulous dinner at the very exclusive Balthazar with my dear friend Iain Burton of Aspinal, and his exquisitely beautiful wife Mariya. Their current collection is divine, and I am pining for most if not all of it! http://bit.ly/16fDtVr
 
The weekend was a blissfully quiet affair, with lots of relaxing, reading the papers and trying to recover from eating myself silly all day Friday
 
Monday came, and I was so nervous, as I was up and off to my shoot with THE photographer himself Rankin. The nerves were double the usual amount as the shoot was part of the Bare Faced campaign for Children in Need, and yes, I was going to be completely bare faced. An easy task for some, but at 70 it takes quite a bit of guts! The lighting was phenomenal, my hair styled to perfection, and the shoot was a dream from start to finish. As soon as the pics are out I shall be posting them with pride. From there I made my way over to the auditions for the Worldwide Starlight Express tour due to roll out soon.  We saw some truly fantastic people, which as much of a joy as it is, makes my job so much harder having to choose! I barely made it home to jump into the makeup chair, get my Spanx on, grab the Loubis and get on my way to the Sony Music Radio Awards where I was presenting as award that evening. I was chatting away with the hilarious Patrick Kielty on the red (well purple actually) carpet, and a dashing waiter sauntered past with some Sambuca. Whatever has come over me recently and my penchant for trying new and exciting cocktails certainly got the better of me and I drank – just the one – away. Which of course led me to totter on stage to present my award, with the host Chris Evans and the star studded audience finding it most hilarious. It was a fantastic evening, and one I did well to remember!
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This week is Starlight Starlight Starlight, and you can hear all about my adventures on wheels next week…
 
Until then
Love Arlene x

Oliviers Below The Line

Hello!

Who’s back at work, and who’s skiving off and still enjoying the sunshine? Make the most of it I say…
 
I hope you all had a wonderful bank holiday weekend, and for those of you back at work, hopefully my blog all about my past week’s adventures will cheer you up!
 
Firstly, may I just say another huge thank you to all those who donated to our Live Below the Line challenge,  http://bit.ly/TeamArlene we’ve raised  £7,375 so far for Malaria No More UK which is just incredible. If you haven’t already, you can still donate at the link above, or join in the fund raising and take the challenge yourself! You can see how we did it, check out what I ate and all our shopping here https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/arlenephillips
I spent the whole of my Live Below the Line week running all over town for rehearsals for the Oliviers, I must have seen every studio in London! It was tough as I didn’t have my usual amount of fruit and veg to keep my energy up, so I had to rely on rice and beans, it was a total carb fest! Thank goodness I was dancing so much…
 
Another Phillips running all over town was Alana, who was desperately searching for the perfect red carpet dress for me! I think we got so carried away buying and taking back, that we didn’t notice the “returns” policy at Browns, which isn’t a return at all but a credit note only, which is not what you want when you spend an embarrassing amount! I figured as it was such a huge event, and with my 70th coming up it might be nice to treat myself to something fabulous, but it had to be perfect, and although the dress was divine, it just didn’t fit me. So angry was I about not being allowed to return it, it’ll take me at least a year (fortunately the length of the credit) to walk back in and choose something else!  
 
Finally the big day arrived, the dress was chosen and fitted to perfection, and I was ready to get my red carpet on! You can see my interview here.
 
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As you know, I have been keeping a big secret for weeks about the Oliviers that was of course choreographing the opening number with the wonderful Sheridan Smith! I though her and my fabulous dancers did me proud as well as the truly incredible Matthew Morrison, who has been nothing short of a dream to work with. Here are my numbers incase you missed them! 
I managed to track down a few familiar faces at the after party, my darling Michael Ball, and the one and only Tim Minchin, who is as genius as they come. I was overwhelmed to meet Heather Headley, who’s performance on the night of I Will Always Love You had me in tears, and Alana in full on heart wracking sobs!
 
True to form, I gave it an hour and then was off home to bed after what had been an utterly exhausting week.
 
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The rest of the week was filled with various meetings, lunches, theatre trips and of course gossips and catch ups with as many friends as I could fit in! Here’s how it went…
 
I had a hilarious couple of hours filming with my (not so) new bff Russell Grant, for a little project he’s working on at the moment. We could barely get our words out for laughing, although that is all I can tell you about it for the moment…. You’ll have to as usual watch this space!
There was a big Starlight presence, with meetings about the 25th anniversary in Germany, as well a trip to Milton Keynes to watch the UK tour in it’s last week, before it heads off round the world!  It was sad to say goodbye to everybody, but I’m so proud off all the hard work and commitment everyone has put in this past year, and made the show such a success, so thank you to all.

I also went to the opening night of Merrily We Roll Along, which is an absolute must see. I loved it from start to finish, and was so moved by the performances.

 
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I had a delicious lunch with my dear friends Sam and Patrick, who I have know and worked with for many years, so it was wonderful for us all to be together, talking about the good old days…
 
All this as well as the usual catch ups with Coco, meant my week flew past and before I knew it bank holiday was here, and I was off to the country for more eating and meeting with friends!
 
The sun was out, and it was a glorious three days, oh if only it could be bank holiday week…. but now I’m back, and back on it! 
 
Look forward to telling you all about my upcoming week soon, until then…
Love A x