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.

caught in the flash

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

My Crazy Commute Part 2

Image

Better late than never! 

Life really is a whirlwind at the moment, I’m not sure if I’m coming or going!  This week it’s all about my adventures in Toronto, but just before I headed off for the third 3rd I managed to squeeze in a couple of things in London, starting with a meeting in town with the enigmatic Sonia Friedman, the theatrical producer – she really is a powerhouse!

 

I attended a very fabulous party at City Hall for The Big Dance, where I was giving prizes to all the regional creators who helped make it the biggest dance event ever!  It was amazing to see inside City Hall, and I got to talk dance all night long, aah bliss!

Image 

Saturday was a wonderful family birthday lunch at Cecconis in Piccadilly, where we were busy stuffing ourselves with the most delicious food and cocktails, before I realised it was time for me to dash back home, grab my bags and head off to the airport, where this time I was going to be accompanied by my trusty Coco for the week.  All was in order, the taxi was on time, and I was filled with confidence that me, not the calmest of travellers, would arrive without a hitch. Being that I seem to do the journey to the airport far too regularly for my liking, I’ve become pretty good at knowing the quickest routes, and not wanting to tell anyone how to do thier job – but please Mr Taxi Driver listen to me next time so I don’t arrive shaking and barely in the nick of time because you won’t listen to me! Arriving the other end wasn’t much fun either due to Canadian Customs deciding that anyone arriving without a connecting flight should wait in a cattle pen for what seemed like forever, and me not being the most patient of people had had enough by this point… 

 

Finally at our hotel I managed to relax and get some sleep before the two shows ahead…

 Image

The Sunday show flew past, it was Musical Theatre numbers this week and some fabulous performances and then after I headed out for pizza with the Over the Rainbow gang including singing coach to the starts Yvie Burnett, Musical Supervisor Nigel Wright, and my dear friend and fellow choreographer Anthony Van Laast who also happened to be in town for his show Sister Act, which was opening in the week.

 

Monday was the hard decisions of the results show, and yet every week bring us closer to finding our Dorothy… Afterwards I went for a divine Italian meal with set and costume designer extrodinaire Rob Jones, and the rest of the creative team to talk over the new and exciting changes we’re making to the show.

Image 

Tuesday I finally got to do some exploring with Coco, and the first place we headed was Kensington Market and Augusta street.  I found some amazing vintage jackets and other fab finds in Bungalow, we ate weird and wonderful taffy, scoured up and down Queen St West, and ate the most fantastic lunch at Ban Mi Bros, that serve the most delicious Vietnamese sandwiches. I had the speciality – Tofu lemongrass and coriander with coleslaw and pickle in a bun! Trust me on this, they are too good to be true!  A bit more shopping, a quick drop of the bags at the hotel and a light dinner at a lovely French bistro in the setting sun, all before the grand opening of Sister Act and after party at Baton Rouge.

Image 

Wednesday morning was more shopping, this time in the glamorous area of Yorkville, and once again I find myself talking about food – but the sushi we had there for lunch was out of this world! The afternoon was spent at the costume makers Seamless, where I was surrounded by the most gorgeous fabrics in preparation for  the Emerald CIty numbers.  I couldn’t resist a trip to Honest Ed’s round the corner, the original pile ’em high and sell ’em cheap store, where I left piled high with bags of goodies!  That evening I watched War Horse, has anyone ever watched it and NOT come out crying?  It was on in the  beautiful Princess of Wales Theatre where the Sound of Music was on, and is sadly about to be pulled down to make way for condominiums and an art gallery.

 Image

 

Image

 

Thursday was a race against time to get to H&M where I managed to pick up some of the Anna Della Russo collection, and then more fabulous shopping at The Bay to choose my clothes for the final shows Over The Rainbow, I honestly could’ve spent the day there!

 Image

 

So yes I managed to shop till I dropped, and although I’ll be back in London next week, I’ll be staying out there with my girls soon and I think it mught have to be another round!  Toronto is just one incredible place to shop, eat, see, and shop round, and lucky me get’s to explore it for another month at least!

 

However, I do miss London and can’t wait to get back to my family, so I’ll be hopping straight on a flight after the Monday results and catching up with you all next week.

 

Until then…

 

Love Arlene x

Image

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