Here, There and Everywhere

Hello again on this cold and rainy afternoon! I’m writing this to you en route to what is hopefully sunny Southport and leaving the London showers behind… I’ve been all over the country this past few weeks visiting various homes to dance, chat, eat far too many cakes and talk all about my life and times, and I have to say I’m pretty exhausted, yet always spurred on by the thought of inspiring more people my age to get dancing!

Meanwhile back in London last week, I attended the Dot.Com Children’s charity ball hosted by Kristina Rihanoff, along with some other Strictly famous faces, and it really was a moving and beautiful evening I was thrilled to be a part of. I also got to meet Strictly’s new hunks Gleb Savchenko and Giovanni Pernice, I think this year is going to be hotter than ever! It was of course wonderful to catch up with Anton who was hosting the event, and to see my darling Sinitta who once we start the gossip doesn’t stop. You can read all about it in this week’s Hello magazine, and here’s a couple more pics from the event..

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I also managed so squeeze in a fabulous photoshoot for the British Heart Foundation, encouraging people to donate all their unwanted clothes for their latest campaign, and it really was the dream team on board – Alana doing my makeup, the fabulous Mitch Lumsden on hair and the equally fabulous Nicky Johnston snapping away in what is the most divine lighting I have ever encountered! Here’s a few from behind the scenes…

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And finally, look who I got to have afternoon tea with, it’s only my dear friend Mark Aldridge and the one and only Holly Johnson, Frankie says relax, so I did! We had a wonderful afternoon catching up over a glass of bubbly of two, and what a treat it was.

That’s all for now, but I’ll be back with news and pics of my exclusive afternoon at the Science Museum, and all the gossip from the opening night of Kinky Boots!

Love Arlene x

Caught in the Flashbulbs

Hello!

 

So as I mentioned last week, I hopped over to London for a crazy few days before my last week in Canada where I’m currently in the preview stages of the show.  Working on this production of the Wizard of Oz has been such an incredible experience, but I’ll tell you all about that next week when I’m back, and knee deep in turkey and presents.

 

My week as always was a whirlwind of meetings, emails, fabulous parties and trying to catch up on sleep and family time, which I have literally had none of for almost three months!  The first fabulous event I attended was the opening of Viva Forever, the Spice Girls musical, produced by my good friend Judy Craymer.  Sally Anne Triplett and Sally Dexter were phenomenal.  The party was incredible, in a huge opulent marquee, with a full roast dinner being served, at least twenty different desserts, cocktails, music and more.  All the Spice Girls were there, and Posh definitely stole the show in a beautifully tailored pair of cropped trousers and a classic white shirt, it was understated and total perfection.

 

Another wonderful event I attended was the Queens Jubilee Volunteering award, and as the ambassador and champion for Big Dance, I was delighted to join Jacqueline Rose and a volunteer in receiving this award for Big Dance. I saw Dame Kelly Holmes, and we had a great chat all about how she stays looking so fit!

AP & Dame Kelly Holmes

As always I found myself dashing home and out again, this time to a special Christmas party and showing of the Nutcracker at the Coliseum.

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I go every year with my girls, and every year it’s just as magical.

AP and girls at nutcracker

The ballet was beautiful and the performances breathtaking, and it was lovely to catch up with so many friends at the party.  I had a great chat with Hollywood superstar Luke Evans, who I auditioned for Danny in Grease many years ago, and who I’m proud to say has just opened in the new Hobbit movie!

AP & Luke Evans

I also met the gorgeous actors Luke Treadaway and Robert Sheehan, and had a gossip with Samantha Janus of Eastenders fame, who was my Sandy back in 1995… How time flies.

AP & Sam Womack

 

And on that note, the week flew past, and before I knew it, it was Friday and the big day I’d been planning with British Airways for months had arrived.  Twenty of their staff won a place to compete in a special dance day, where they learnt a routine in the morning from Latin and Ballroom champion Shem, had a glamorous makeover from Alana and her glam squad, and then got to perform the morning’s routine to be judged by none other than me.  As well as a Q&A session over lunch, and being styled for their performances by stylist to the stars Sophie Robinson, the day was absolute success.  However, I think more than anything, everyone was most excited about the huge display of Eyelure eyelashes on Alana’s table! They were literally queueing up to wear them, and then parading around batting their lashes and pouting in the mirror. It was such a wonderful day, and the response and thank you’s I received was more than I could have dreamed.

 

I also hope all involved in the opening night of We Will Rock You in Basel that Friday night had a wonderful show, and continue on to a happy and successful run.

 

So it’s back to Canada for the last time, I can’t believe the last three months are coming to end, and I’ll finally be home for Christmas.  I’ll miss everyone there so much, and the hard work and creativity I got to experience and work with was really overwhelming. So off I go to open the show… and I’ll be back and checking in before the new year, to share my final week and new years resolutions.

 

Have an wonderful Christmas, love to all

Arlene xx

The Final Countdown

I wish just for one week I could write “This week I did nothing”…  but of course it has been another jam packed couple of weeks once again zooming between London and Toronto.

I left the semi final hightailing it to the airport to fly home on the back of hurricane Sandy, and in the spirit of all things speedy we made it back in just 6 hours 10 minutes exactly. (The guide time is roughly 7 hours 20…)

So my three days back in London went something like this… Meetings, meetings, Wizard of Oz meeting, agents meetings, lunch meetings, brunch meeting, I honestly managed to pack in about five a day.  I did however find the time to attend a conference hosted by Flora, all about keeping your heart healthy, and I tell you some of the case studies I saw have made me all the more determined to stick to my healthy diet!

 

I also managed to make it down to Brixton to see Taboo, the Boy George musical they have revived at the the Playhouse.  It was such a fantastic production, updated from the original (which my Alana was in before her makeup days!) with a supremely talented cast, including the phenomenal Paul Baker, who is reprising his role as Philip Salon.  It is most definitely a must see, and now the run is being extended till March so make sure you get down there.

After my hectic three days – which felt like a month in three days – I flew back for the final show, accompanied this time by a very special guest.  Andrew Lloyd Webber was coming back for the show, and the night before the final he took myself, Nigel our musical supervisor, Yvie our vocal coach, and the three final Dorothys out for the a fantastic meal with some of the most inventive and exotic food I have ever tasted.  It was such a lovely evening, and a wonderful end to what has been an immense eight weeks.


Between filming the show, the dinners and of course more meetings, I managed to get over to St Lawrence market early on Sunday morning to hunt down vintage finds, which of course you all know is my favourite past time! I picked up the most fantastic miniature vintage sewing machine that i lugged it all the way back home, as well a few great clothing pieces I can’t wait to wear!

So of course I can now reveal who our Dorothy is… it’s Danielle!  A strange coincidence that it was also a Danielle who won the original London show. and I know our new Danielle will do the show just as brilliantly.  She has a beautiful voice, she’s a wonderful actress, and most of all has a real childlike vulnerability about her and really does embody the character perfectly.  I said a sad farewell to all at the aftershow party, and thanked everyone for their hard work and commitment over the past couple of months, and then for the last time I made the crazy dash to the airport to fly home to my family.

Although if you think that’s the last of my Canadian adventures… think again!  In a weeks time I start rehearsing the actual show!  Yes I’ll be be back and forth once again until sometime in mid January, however this time I’ll be getting to spend a little longer in each place, although will that make my jetlag worse?  We’ll just have wait and see…

Keep your eyes peeled for my next blog all about last weeks adventures in London…

Until then
Love Arlene x

Better Late than Never!

Hi all,

So it’s the start of the so called summer holidays, who’s stuck here in the rain and who’s managed to escape for some sun? And could someone please bring some back for me?

I’ve super busy this past week, and let me tell you finding glamorous outfits to wear in this weather isn’t easy!

Wednesday was the launch of The Big Dance 2012 http://www.bigdance2012.com/  at St Pancras station, where the fabulous choreographer Kate Prince had young dancers from all over the UK strutting their stuff and getting everyone around them up and dancing, including myself and the Mayor Boris Johnson!

Then it was on to fittings for my new Marisota collection that I had a shoot for later in the week (more about that to come!) and I know I always say it but I really am most excited about the latest designs.  It’s very different from anything I’ve done previously, and you’ll soon see why…

Thursday was office mania with Coco and Tully – it’s getting so hectic even my PA needs a PA!

Fri was an early start in Manchester where I was filming for a campaign I’m working on with Save the Children, that highlights the unimaginable poverty kids are living in right here in the UK.  We visited a young girl and her 2yr old son who lived just outside of Bradford in Keighley, and the steps she has taken towards making a better life for her and her son by using the help available from Save the Children is just fantastic, but still heartbreaking to see.  To find out more about how to get involved or donate click here  Bizarrely, it’s the second time filming in the exact same area in one month, as I was there only a couple of weeks ago with the Antiques Roadtrip, and not only that, until then I’d never even been there!

The weekend was great fun, on Saturday I attended a fabulous fundraiser dinner for the Jamie Oliver foundation, where we were entertained and scammed by Alexis Conran from The Real Hustle

I spend most of Sunday rifling through the rails at a local vintage fair, that I always get very excited about whenever it’s on, and this time was no exception!

Monday I was thrilled and very lucky to attend a private viewing of the Picasso exhibition at the Tate Britain that was arranged by the wonderful Margaret McCabe of Debate-Mate.  I learnt so much my brain was practically spinning, all of it utterly fascinating though.

Tuesday was the auction for Richard Hopkins, a young, enigmatic producer I had the pleasure of working with at the BBC for many years, who sadly passed away from cancer last year.  It’s tragic for someone so young with so much talent, and the support from all in attendance to raise money to help fight this so far incurable disease was really overwhelming.  It was at the Paramount club at the top of the Centrepoint building on Tottenham Court Road, where the views were simply breathtaking.  It was lovely to see so many familiar faces, and some of the prizes available in the silent auction were just mindblowing.

I spend Wednesday running around in town trying to find all the bits and pieces one seems to need on a regular basis, until it was time for grand opening of my dear friend Fiona’s new beauty clinic Skin Associates on Wimpole Street.  It’s a one stop beauty shop with anything and everything you could possibly want.  From the the more lightweight options such as nails, tanning, lash extensions, massage and facials, the non surgical procedures such as the Indiba machine that I used to keep my skin firm, laser hair removal and some magical sounding weight loss laser (which I’ll be queuing up to get on!) and then of course for the more daring of your there’s all sorts of Botox and fillers, and even their very own top plastic surgeon Paul Banwell who can pretty much do anything you want! I’m am however most proud to say you’ll be able to book my very own personal makeup artist (and daughter!) Alana there for anything to do with makeup you could imagine.  Makeovers, tips, celebrity makeup secrets, weddings and more, book in with Alana to find your perfect look http://www.skinassociates.co.uk/

After I left Fiona’s I made my way across town to the screening of the upcoming BBC4 Kenny Everett biopic that’s showing this autumn, and is an absolute must see.  I sobbed all my makeup off, and was still going when I got home!   The drama is so true to life, and it brought back so many wonderful memories of my days working with him and Hot Gossip, and just what a special person he truly was.

Thursday was a long yet very exciting meeting with the Lord himself, Andrew Lloyd Webber and the rest of the creative team all about the new changes going into the upcoming touring production of The Wizard of Oz in Canada.  Then it was off to Milton Keynes to check in on Midnight Tango, and make sure the show is still looking as fantastic as ever, and boy was it!  Vincent and Flavia are utterly spellbinding, and if you STILL haven’t seen it then GO!  I was accompanied by the show’s director and my long time friend Karen Bruce, and of course the two of us not paying any attention managed to get on the slowest train possible, but filled the time with the fastest gossiping ever!

Friday was Youth Dance England’s U Dance festival, where dance groups from all ovet the country performed pieces they had choreographed themselves, the most powerful and definitely my favourite was a group from Cardiff, with kids aged from 8-18yrs called Unique that really blew me away.

Saturday was spent with my wonderful family, as being here there and everywhere during the week meant I didn’t get to see too much of them!

To finish off my week of dance I spend Sunday at the 02, judging the Dance Make You’re Move contest on behalf of the British Red Cross.  It was an extraordinary event where dance and storytelling was brought together by schools from all over the UK creating pieces depicting events that the Red Cross has been involved in, many of which moved me to tears.

So after such a busy time I’m going to pretty much hibernate over the next few days, and I’ll be back with more stories soon.

Enjoy the rain…

Arlene xx