Part Three, The Food…

Finally, last but not least, Part Three The Food.

As I’m sure you know by now, my love affair with food is a never ending battle. Having been so good for the start of the year, juicing and “getting my healthy on”, I decided to let go and eat whatever I wanted, Vegas style.

Starting with our dinner the night we flew in at Nick and Mary Ellen’s house, that I mentioned in Part One. We’re talking the most enormous steaks I have ever seen, freshly purchased from Whole Foods and grilled to perfection. Accompanying them was homemade corn pudding, fresh baked bread, grilled mushrooms, steamed sprouting broccoli and roast potatoes. Of course there was also a delicious green salad, but that got slightly pushed aside to make way for more roasties! Had I not been so exhausted from the flight, I honestly could have have sat there and eaten all night. As it was my eyes were closing in my dinner by 8pm, but the food was so heavenly I just had to keep going.

The next day was Alana’s choice of restaurants, starting with lunch at Spago in Caesars Palace. Having taken her there since she was small, it’s a firm favourite with the Phillips family, and did not disappoint. My crab and avocado salad was perfection, and the girls split a delicious looking oven baked pepperoni pizza and caesar salad, with probably the strongest garlic dressing I have ever smelt, thank goodness it was just us that day! After watching Michael Jackson that night it was back to Caesars, this time for some Tex-Mex at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill. Although not my favourite type of food, it had just opened there to great reviews and with Alana raving about it having eaten at the branch in the Bahamas, I decided to give it a go. We all just shared a few starters as by the time we arrived after the show it was already 10pm, so just wanted something light. The flavours were subtle and delicious in everything apart from the fiery mustard in the twice baked, baked potato that Alana seemed to end up eating both orders of! Would I go back, no, but would certainly recommend it for Tex-Mex lovers as I hear it really is the best.

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The next day really went from the sublime to the ridiculous, with our first stop for brunch at the Four Seasons. The choices were endless, and yet we all settled for the “American” breakfast, eggs any style, hash browns, crispy bacon and the largest choice of toast I’ve ever seen. Fresh coffee and orange juice we the perfect accompaniment, as we sat poolside next to a giant fire heater to warm the crisp morning air. As I said, from the sublime to the ridiculous – or more like from the Four Seasons to roadside In N Out Burger for lunch! One of Abi’s favourite burger chains, sadly only in the US, we munched on burgers and fries and it was heaven! Simply because we clearly hadn’t eaten enough that day, we had dinner at Koi before seeing Britney Spears that evening. Located somewhere impossible to find in Planet Hollywood, it was Japanese delight of a meal, and most definitely my favourite. Rock Shrimp Tempura, Waygu Beef on Crispy Rice, Stir Fried Mushrooms and Asparagus, fresh Sashimi and steaming hot Edamame, simply heaven.

Having rather overdone it the day before, it was simple bagels and cream cheese for breakfast that morning from the Brooklyn Bagel Company, and of course the pre requisite Starbucks that everyone seem so obsessed with. (Surely coffee is just coffee?) As we spent the rest of the day following the mantra “shop till you drop” it came to just before our first show of the evening and we realised we hadn’t eaten anything else all day! A quick sandwich in the beautiful Chandelier Bar at the Cosmopolitan, plus a cheeky cocktail, and we were back on our feet and ready to go.

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Friday was once again a light bagel breakfast, as lunch and dinner that day was set to be an epic blowout. It was the cafe at the Wynn where all my milkshake dreams came true, a Smores milkshake, which for those of you who don’t know what Smores are, they are layers of melted chocolate and marshmallows sandwiched between two Graham Crackers, then this is blended into a milkshake, and I am in heaven. This was to accompany my club sandwich, the size of which has never been seen. As was the case with Abi’s burger, and Alana’s buttermilk fried chicken sandwich. I honestly dread to think what size I would be if I lived there permanently!

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Dinner that evening, although still a sizeable meal, was a much more glamorous affair with a Valentines meal in our own private room at the Four Seasons. Organise by my darling Jerry Nadal with his family, we ate our way through one delicious course after the next, and quite honestly but the time we arrived back at the Wynn to watch the late show of Le Reve, both myself and the girls were fit to burst! Just have a look at that menu, talk about perfection…

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Saturday, our final day, and it was a last minute burger dash to Jack in the Box before the big flight home, well we couldn’t very well leave on a salad!

So I’m back, god knows how many pounds heavier, and ready to get back on the juice, wish me luck!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my Vegas blogs, and I’m looking forward to sharing more of my adventures with you soon,

Love Arlene x

Part Two, The Reviews

Hello again,

So I’m back with my reviews on the wild and wonderful shows I got to see last week in the one and only Las Vegas!

Starting with One, the Michael Jackson show from Cirque du Soleil at Mandalay Bay. We entered into the theatre that was surrounded with images on giant screens of newspaper headlines from all the tabloids about Michael, and a bunch of “paparazzi” running around the auditorium taking pictures of the audience with these huge flashbulb cameras as they arrived. As with so many of the Cirque shows, I love that you feel involved from the minute you walk in to the rapturous applause as you are leaving. 
The show itself was very interesting. I felt that the opening number was so immense, it was almost too hard to focus on as there was so much going on, each bit as brilliant as the other and I just didn’t know were to look, fearing I would miss something spectacular. Once this was over however, the journey of four kids through the world of Michael’s music began, and I was able to sit back and relax, and enjoy the brilliance before me. From spectacular acrobatics, iconic choreography, mind blowing effects and music that went through you the show was nothing short of incredible. I loved the pole dancer who performed to Dirty Diana, wow that girl had thighs of steel! Also the slack wire and the trampoline acts just mesmerising, but what really blew me away was the dancers performing alongside an image of Michael, that was one of the most brilliant things I have seen in a long while. Overall I’d go with an 8 out of 10, as they lost points for the crazy opening, and a couple of the acts were a little too long for my liking. Still, an absolute must see for all Cirque and MJ fans alike. 

Next up, Britney Spears Piece of Me at Planet Hollywood. A 5000 strong crowd screaming for Britney, who bless her looked a bit like she’d woken up on stage and didn’t really know what was going on. I’m sorry I can’t write a better review for this one, I might have been able to were the audience not encouraged to stand up the entire show and take as many pictures as they liked, so I therefore found myself watching through the camera phone of the man stood up in front of me… However! The sets were imaginative, the music her greatest hits, and despite it not being the most amazing show I have ever seen, getting to see Britney live in Las Vegas I know is a once in a lifetime experience and was thoroughly enjoyed by all. (especially Alana who was up and singing along like a true Britney fan!) Piece of Me gets a 7 out of 10, as despite not being able to see, and it all being a bit haphazard, it was still a fantastic evening. 

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Again another slightly disappointing review next for Nocturn at Rose Rabbit Lie at the Cosmopolitan. For what had been described to me as the new hot show to see, it was a rather bland dinner theatre cabaret that was a little disappointing.  Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t the sexy, jaw dropping excitement I had been led to believe I was going to see. A couple of close up circus acts, a card trick or two and some rather bawdy hosts for me does not the experience make. We didn’t eat, and I have to say the divine looking food floating past me might have made it all the more enjoyable. All in all, a six out of ten from me. 

Later that evening we hotfooted it over to the MGM Grand to see Cirque du Soleil’s KA, only the most expensive show in the world… Designed my my dear friend, the late Mark Fisher, from the minute you walked in to the epic theatre, it really was like entering another world. Surrounded by towers and facing one of the largest stages I have ever seen, KA was a heart stopping show from start to finish. It was also the first show from Cirque I have seen that had a really emotional story, all about love, family, war and please, and it took you on a magical journey throughout land, sea, sun, sand, snow and starlight. With people flying through air, ninjas spinning, tricks that made me hold my breath till I realised I was nearly blue in the face – it was non stop. Another absolute must see, getting a 9 out of 10 from me, losing one point for the fact it did seem rather long, although this might have been due to my extreme jetlag!

Last but not least Le Reve, The Dream at the Wynn hotel. This I had been dying to see, having taken a backstage tour with Louanne earlier in the week. Standing up at the top of the theatre, 85ft in the air looking down to where the cast jump from into the water below was simply terrifying! With people swimming through the water one minute, dancing on it the next, and then dropping down from the ceiling into the depths below, I was mesmerised from start to finish. The story of a young girls dream, designed by the visionary Franco Dragone, full of magic and beauty, giants flowers opened up, trees arose from the water, and fire raged around us. The only thing I was slightly unsure of was the ballroom dancing, not that it wasn’t brilliantly done – I just wasn’t sure quite where it fitted in. Again, Le Reve also gets 9 out of 10, losing the point for the Ballroom and Latin, but still a mind blowing 90 minutes of brilliance. 

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Finally, I know this isn’t Vegas – but I had to catch you up on my review of the wonderful production of Drunk that I got to see just before I went away. Devised and choreographed by the immensely talented Drew McOnie, his company performed brilliantly stylish choreography, strutted sexy costumes and with such a clever concept I was truly excited from start to finish. Have first judged Drew on the second series of So You Think You Can Dance a few years ago, I knew he was one to watch, and I am so proud to see just how far he has come. A perfect ten! 
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So make sure you look out for my third and final part of the Vegas Review, The Food… 

Las Vegas Blog Part One, The Trip…

Hello all,

This blog is a three part wonder due to the immense week I have just returned from in Fabulous Las Vegas! I literally have so much to share with you I couldn’t possibly fit it all into one long post, so over the next week keep your eyes peeled for Part Two, The Reviews, and Part Three, The Food…

So starting with Part One, The Visit. I realised it had been such a long time since I had been to Las Vegas, having had several shows there over the years, and I wanted to go over and see not just all the amazing new shows, but also some of my dearest friends. Not to mention, of course, set up a few meetings about some incredibly exciting projects I think would rock Las Vegas. 

We (being myself, Alana and Abi) arrived at the airport to a wonderful welcome from my fabulous friend Louanne, who I have mentioned in various blogs having worked with her for many years and is one of my closest friends. Louanne is now the Creative Director for Le Reve at the Wynn hotel, and words cannot express how proud I am of her. We all bundled into the car and headed off to our home for the week, the Bellagio, also home to the famous dancing water. We were right in the middle of the strip, and in perfect position for getting to all the different hotels and shows we wanted to see. Louanne had taken a few days off to be our chauffeur, tour guide, and serious shopping buddy as it couldn’t all be about work! Seeing as on my return to London I have so many TV appearances lined up I thought it only fitting to shop till I drop, Vegas style. We scoured every mall, outlet mall and hotel shopping centre going, and I have to say despite passing every designer label known to man, you’ll never guess where I found the majority of all my new things, Forever 21! Their store at the Fashion Show Mall is the size of a small country, and I found the most fabulous blouses, trousers, dresses and coats for what would have cost me half a pair of shoes in Prada! (Not that I’d say no to those either mind…!) 

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I had the most fantastic meeting with Jackie Murphy, who I worked with on EFX at the MGM Grand many years ago. Jackie designs the most wonderful costumes, and I have the most fantastic project I’m in talks about that I know his vision would just be perfect for. 

Vegas would not be Vegas without catching up with my darling Jerry Nadal, who again I know I have mentioned countless times in my blogs. Jerry is one of the top dogs at Cirque du Soleil, and knows everyone and everything about shows in Las Vegas. He made it possible for us to see all the fabulous new and exciting shows over the week, but I’ll tell you more about those in Part Two. It was so wonderful to catch up with him and his partner Gene, and their two angelic twins Wilson and Harrison over a divine Valentines dinner in our own private room at the Four Seasons! You can read all about that in Part Three, but for now let me say how wonderful it was to hear all the Vegas gossip, having know Jerry for something like 20 years! He trusts me. You know what they say, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

I caught up with the fabulous Brian Burke, a choreographer I met quite recently, and had a fantastic time with him and Louanne sitting round a fire pit, drinking coffee and laughing till our sides hurt and discussing all the upcoming new Vegas shows.

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Lastly, I had the most fantastic time with my long time friends Nick and Mary Ellen Howey, who invited us over to their beautiful home in the hills overlooking the city. With so much to catch up on the hours flew past, and having met them just after we landed I was almost asleep on my feet by the time I got back to the hotel! Talk of our many past and hopefully future shows together didn’t feel like it actually happened.

Las Vegas has changed so much since I was last there, and now getting between the hotels is easy as can be due to the new connecting walkways and monorails. The hotels we visited were Mandalay Bay, The Four Seasons, Excalibur, The Luxor, MGM Grand, Planet Hollywood, The Cosmopolitan, Caesars Palace, The Venitian, The Wynn and Encore, Treasure Island and The Mirage. Phew! It’s funny how Vegas looks so different with so many new hotels springing up, and yet walking into some of those places that I spent such a huge portion of my life in, just haven’t changed a bit, and all the memories came flooding back of times past. I hope you enjoy all the pictures I took of being out and about, and can’t wait to share more of my trip with you tomorrow!

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Much love
Arlene xx

 

Rainy and Fabulous

Its a very wet and windy hello from me this week, what is with this relentless rain?!

I have, of course been keeping insanely busy as usual throughout and have so much to tell you. So I’ll start off with my weekend in the country, where we hosted a huge dinner party for our friends, and it was nothing short of sensational, if I do say so myself!  Food, wine, friends and family, what more you could ask for? Well, maybe a bit more sleep? It was a very late night.
It was back to London, and of course more meetings about Monty Python. The more we do the more excited I become, and the more I want to share all the secrets, but of course I won’t, you’ll just have to wait till July…
I mentioned a couple of weeks ago about a photoshoot for Femail Magazine I did, well here it is!
I was quite nervous about how it was going to come out, as there was a couple of outfits that I wouldn’t normally have picked for myself, but I have to say seeing it on paper sure changed my mind, and has really given me a new found confidence. I was surprised how well some of the styles suited me, and I think a cheeky shopping trip might be in order to pick up a few new looks!
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I’ve also been doing a bit of secret filming for Sport Relief this year, exactly what I can’t say, but it is coming up soon so keep your eyes peeled.
I spent a wonderful evening with my darling Debbie Moore at the fabulous UK premier of some never before see or exhibited photographs of Kate Moss at the Savoy by the Zebra One Gallery. The photos were by Kate Camer and Mick Rack, and were simply stunning. I also that night had a chat with a local journalist that resulted in this! How funny! Another chat I had that night that’s one for the boys is here.  I’m definitely looking forward to hearing all about your Valentines day dancing so tweet me about it @arlenephillips
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It’s actually been a rather ‘Kate Moss couple of weeks” what with standing at Fuerzabruta by her last week, the Zebra One Exhibition this week, followed later that night by a fabulous makeup launch at the new Kate Moss 40 Exhibition by Russell Marshall. This was for the launch of  Studio 10 makeup, a new makeup for mature skin that claims to “change the face of time”. It was hosted my my lovely friends Phil Turner and Gary Cockerill, who were definitely the hosts with the most. A glass of bubbly, a bit of hot gossip, and I was once again home before twelve like Cinderella.
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I’ve certainly been doing the rounds with the press the last couple of weeks, as here’s another funny article I had a great time doing.
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I also managed to get away for another weekend in the country, this time in the beautiful South Downs visiting my dear friend John Napier. Us along with our partners, spend the weekend once again eating, drinking, attempting a walk and then returning for more food! Perfection.
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I love how after all these years, me and some of the other mums from Abi’s old school still keep in touch and find time every few months to get together for dinner or coffee. The girls were all at the same school from the years of 4-18, and although many of them have gone their separate ways to university and such, its great to find out how all the kids are doing, and to still have that little mums network of friends for so long. We headed out for a lovely dinner and catch up, and just sat and talked for hours about “the good old days”.
Another fantastic dinner I had this week was at Brasserie Zedel, where I’d gone with my partner to see the divine Frances Ruffelle singing at their Crazy Coqs Cabaret. The food was wonderful, the entertainment heavenly, and the company, well, I guess after 25 odd years together I’d say its pretty great. Check it out here.
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Yesterday was my day trip to Liverpool accompanied by one of my fabulous assistants Ashley Nottingham. Ashley was demonstrating for me during a lecture I was giving at LIPA, the incredible performing arts school there, that I was so proud to been awarded a Companionship of by Sir Paul McCartney back in 2004, for my contribution to dance. I loved working with the students and mentoring them, as they head into the exciting but difficult future of being a performer.
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So that brings me to today, with a long overdue office catch up with Coco, and much excitement for tonight’s entertainment in the form of Drunk, the new dance show from Drew McOnie and his company at the Bridewell Thetare. News on the grapevine is that it’s nothing short of sensational, and I can’t wait.
I’ve bumped into a few friends on my travels this week, so here’s some pictures for you to enjoy as I leave you to have a wonderful weekend, and to tell you that next week I’m off to fabulous Las Vegas! I’ll be back week with all the gossip stateside so make sure you check it out…
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Much love
Arlene x
PS. If you love my Rose Dress as much as I do, head straight to Topshop!