The Early Bird Catches the Blog

So as you know, I have been (and will continue to be!) completely wrapped up in the crazy world of Monty Python and the upcoming reunion show. However, I can’t only write about that for the next few months, so it’s just as well I’ve been out and about doing lots of exciting things I can share with you…

I’ll start with my day of filming the ever challenging Countdown. I had so much fun the last time I was there, so I was thrilled when they invited me back to Dictionary Corner to challenge myself once again. It really is a mind blowing workout trying to solve all the word puzzles, and the number puzzles – forget about it! It was also lovely to catch up with all the gang there, and catch up on the latest goings on at the BBC in Salford. I have though to say what a ridiculously long day it was – starting with leaving the house at 7am to get the train to Manchester, arriving straight into hair and makeup, filming all the episodes, then jumping in a car home after and arriving back at 1am! All in a days work…

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The next morning I had to be up super early as well for a long day of Python auditions, followed that evening by the opening of Urinetown. I went with my partner, who isn’t usually the first to volunteer to be my date to the theatre, but I can safely say he was very glad he did! It’s a fantastic production, and even I was surprised how much I enjoyed it, not being the biggest fan of the production I saw on Broadway. Everything about it came together beautifully, and I would most definitely recommend it as the hot ticket this month. It was also wonderful to bump into musical theatre to Hollywood superstars Luke Evans and Samantha Barks. Luke who I watched many a time in the West End is now on of Hollywoods hottest action heroes and it great to hear all about his life in the fast lane! And Samantha, well what can I say, only that the shy girl I saw as on the BBC’s search for Nancy is now an absolute goddess, and I wish her all the best of luck.

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Another fabulous event I made it to was Pineapple Dance Studios 35th Birthday. I can’t believe it has been that long since my darling Debbie Moore literally saved our dance community after the Dance Centre on Floral Street was closed down, by finding an old pineapple warehouse and converting it into what is the now the most popular studios in London. I gave a little speech that had everyone in stitches with my impression of Debbie, and it was just wonderful to celebrate what she has achieved for the world of dance. Congratulations, and Happy Birthday Pineapple! The wonderful night was only marred by my Abi’s cat Romeo disappearing for several hours and causing us all to go into panic mode that Abi would arrive home to some sort of terrible news. He did finally turn up at the 11th hour, when hope was almost lost, to an abundance of cuddles and treats, and one very relieved family.

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On the final day of Python auditions I somehow managed to come down with an evil cold that totally knocked me out for the weekend. It was out of nowhere, I just woke up feeling utterly dreadful and have continued to do so through much of this week as well! I did managed to perk myself up enough to head down the road to the cinema in Belsize Park to see Grand Hotel Budapest, which was utterly beautiful. The vat of ice cream I made my way through also did wonders for my throat (any excuse!)

There’s also been a couple of events I have attended over the past couple of weeks that have somehow managed to escape my previous blogs! I had a truly fantastic and genuinely moving night at the Orpheus trust, judging their “Strictly” competition. I can’t tell you how wonderful the work they do there is, and it’s nothing short of inspiring seeing the happiness and joy that Orpehus brings to so many with so much hardship in their life. It’s been wonderful as well seeing the centre develop over the years, founded by the incredible Richard Stilgoe, who I first worked with on Starlight back in 1984! Congratulations Richard on such an incredible achievement making the Orpheus Centre what it is today. http://www.surreymirror.co.uk/Dance-icon-Arlene-Phillips-judges-Orpheus-Centre/story-20830164-detail/story.html

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Another night of inspiring dance was my night out at the Zouk festival with the fabulous Pamela Stephenson. When I tell you that we danced the night away, I mean we DANCED the night away! Couples had come from all over the world to take part in this three day Brazilian dance festival all about Lambazouk, the style of dance that has inspired Pamela and I to develop the most phenomenal (if I do say so myself!) show. Hopefully debuting later this year, I can’t wait to share with you the movement and culture that both of us have fallen hook line and sinker in love with.

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One other thing totally missed last week as my head has clearly been in Python Land are the pictures from my delicious tea last week at Fortnum and Mason! So here you are…

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So along with Python meetings, meetings, auditions and more meetings, that’s all there is for now, but make sure you check in next week to hear about the opening night I’ll be attending of Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Prince of the Pagodas (and of course more meetings about Pythons…)

Much love

Arlene x

P.S. You can still bid here http://bit.ly/1eVNyq0 for my fantastic prize in the Dance UK Charity auction… x

Tea, Tea, and More Tea

They say no rest for the wicked, and that’s exactly what I must be as since arriving back from the crazy week that was Las Vegas, I have barely stopped. As always I’ve been busy with the weird and wonderful workings of a life in theatre, and here’s what I’ve been up to…

 
I had a wonderful night out at the opening of The A-Z of Mrs P (not self titled haha!) and I thought it was fantastic, particularly my darling Frances Ruffelle who gave as always a truly outstanding performance. The party was a very gossipy affair, and I spent a lot of time talking to the now Dame Gillian Lynne, who I am so proud to congratulate! I also had a catch up with singer Eliza Doolittle, Frances’ daughter, who was telling me all about what’s she’s got coming up, and of course it’s all very hush hush but very exciting!  
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I had a great time filming at the one and only We Will Rock You alongside the gorgeous Kian Egan for a piece on This Morning, he really is a charmer that one! 
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Did you catch me in the new Little Mix video for Sport Relief? I can finally reveal that’s what I was up to all those weeks ago when I was sneaking around with Louis Smith and Kevin Adams! It was such a fun day, and the girls were not only gorgeous but so lovely to chat to as well. I want to wish the girls the best of luck with the single, and hope it raises as much money as possible for the amazing work that Sport Relief are doing.Check it out here, and don’t forget to donate!  http://bit.ly/MQKO5y 
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I was so proud to be invited to the International Womens Day conference this year. Lead by Esther McVey, there were many inspirational women spoke that about everything that can be achieved, from those coming from the worst of backgrounds, to others such as Gloria Hunniford who suffered the devastating loss of her daughter. There was a woman heading up a bank in what’s perceived to be a “man’s” world, Barabra Windsor and myself doing for older women, and of course my darling Debbie Moore, founder of Pineapple and the first woman on the stock exchange! By staying strong and supporting those around us, I believe women really can have it all. 
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Did you see the campaign The Sun has been running? Check ‘em Tuesday, targeted at women to check for breast cancer, it really is essential, so get checking! 
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I’ve been greedily eating afternoon tea at not one but two fabulous locations,  namely the W Hotel and Fortnum and Mason. The first was just a treat from me and my girls, and what a tea it was.The Rock Tea at the W was a divine assortment of rock and roll themed cakes and pastries, from Purple Haze, Cherry Bomb and Dark Side of the Moon to name a few delights! The afternoon tea at Fortum and Mason in Piccadilly was with two winners from a competition I ran with Save the Children, and it was classically British and brilliant. I had such a wonderful time chatting away over scones with cream and jam, sipping tea and eating cucumber sandwiches I felt like The Queen! So much for my ever present diet…
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Finally, I’d like to ask for your help once again. I’m signing up for the Live Below the Line challenge to raise money for Malaria No More. I’ve done it the past two years running, and quite honestly the thought of living on nothing but porridge and beans again makes me want to turn tail, but I believe it’s so important to do what we can to help. Keep an eye on my twitter for how to get involved!
 
So this coming week I will be buried in auditions for Monty Python, and I’m sure I’ll have plenty of gossip to share about it all next time, as well as a couple of brand new theatre reviews, so don’t miss it! 
 
Much love
Arlene x