Spring Things

Hello all!

Spring is in the air, and I have finally sprung from my bed after round two of this hideous virus I’ve had for weeks now, which just doesn’t seem to want to go. However I wasn’t going to let it stop me attending one of the biggest nights of the year in Showbiz, the very glamorous Olivier Awards.

Not only did I have the most fabulous night catching up with friends old and new, watching incredible performers, and being surrounded by more talent than I could dream of… I also managed to make it to No.1 on a worst dressed list, I mean I’ve never won at anything! Apparently I looked a bit too like I was going to the office, well I don’t know about you but I certainly wouldn’t wear a black jewelled dress and drop earrings to the office! What do you think?FullSizeRender

From one amazing night to the next, I was thrilled to attend last nights opening of the much anticipated Sunset Boulevard, starring the legendary Glenn Close, and boy did it live up to the hype. Along with co stars Micheal Xavier and Siobhan Dillon, Glenn Close had me on the edge of my seat, and of course in floods of tears. I have to say thank you to Harry and Jackie Brunjes at the ENO for one of the most memorable nights of my life. Beg, borrow or steal a ticket, it’s an absolute must see. IMG_3027

It’s competition time! Did you know McCarthy & Stone are searching for the nation’s most Colourful Characters? People aged 60 and over who are living life to the full, 
redefining retirement and doing anything but acting their age!  The overall winner will receive a trip of a lifetime for two from Saga.You can nominate yourself, or enter a friend for their chance to win. Just follow the link below for details…
Meanwhile I loved working with Philip Price today and chatting all about it!

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And finally… Has anyone else tried matcha and black sesame cake? Strange but true, lovely to look at but not sure about the taste…IMG_3011

Love,

Arlene x

 

The Xtra Gift

Hello again all, and OMG it’s nearly Christmas! Last week was definitely my “prep” week as I know what’s coming up, and I can’t be one of those people battling through the crowds looking like they want to cry the day before Christmas Eve… I took full advantage of Selfridges 20% offer, and while I was there I even managed to fit in an eyebrow tint and shape at the fabulous Blink Brow Bar!

My week was less running around, more office catch up with Coco, and lots of looking over the new Monty Python script, that I just can’t wait to get started on. I had a fantastic meeting with Eric Idle, and I don’t think next spring can come soon enough to start rehearsals!

I attended a wonderful event for Karen Betts at Vanilla in Central London called the Gift of Confidence, that was all about the amazing effects of medical tattooing. Karen is the eyebrow goddess I keep tweeting about, who has not only worked her magic on my brows, but has transformed the lives of so many others in the most incredible ways. Bringing confidence back to people who have lost their hair through chemotherapy, or tattooing a lipline to reconstruct a clef palette, not to mention her work with burns victims through the Katie Piper foundation, her work is truly amazing. You can check her out, and all the other treatments available through Nouveau Beauty Group here http://www.karenbetts.co.uk

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I was fortunate enough to see the third year students at RADA in their musical High Society, and what powerful performances from the leading roles,to the smallest part. I was truly blown away, and wish the graduating year all the best of luck, but especially my dear friend Paul Jacobs, who I am immensely proud of. He completely changed career from producing at the BBC, to a tremendous actor, and all I can say is wow.

Of course my week would be incomplete without some form of gossipy brunch, this time with my dear friend Cjay at the fabulous Soho House, where no subject was off limits! Having known each other for what must be thirty years now, I am so excited we are going to be working together next year on what is going to be the project of the decade!

Over the weekend I had a heavenly lunch with my sister and her husband, and our dear friend Fiona, of Skin Associates that I clearly owe my “youthful” complexion too! It was the first of many Christmas meals to come, so let’s hope I have enough time to keep going on the exercise bike!

Sunday night was X Factor time, and I was appearing on the Xtra Factor after watching the show. I went along with my girls, all in support of the adorable Luke Friend, who more than blew me away in the  sing off, where I can’t believe he ended up yet again! I was surprised Tamera went, I had thought it would probably be Rough Copy to go, as charming as they are, I don’t think the vocals stand up to the other contestants. For example Sam Bailey, talk about a voice – but oh my goodness someone needs to teach that girl to walk in a pair of heels! It was interesting to watch James Arthur perform live, he does have a beautiful voice, although he clearly needs to think a little harder before he opens his mouth to speak… I had wonderful catch ups with Sharon, who looks unbelievable I might add, and of course my darling Louis, who as always has me in hysterics with his naughty, naughty gossip. It was a fun night, and a fabulous end to the week, before the next round of madness starts… and you can read all about the next time!

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Much love
Arlene x

Chasing The Week Ahead

Hello again,
So I left you last week on my way to the country for the weekend, I find escaping from the madness even for a couple of days makes all the craziness in London seem so much less, well, crazy! (That and all the local delicious Chase Vodka!)
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The week started with a rather long drive home, battling through traffic to make my way back for the launch of Kelly Hoppen’s fabulous new book, which was one of the most star studded events I have ever been to. Victoria Beckham, David Gandy, Jo Wood, Brix Smith Start, and looking fabulous as ever of course Kelly Hoppen, the list was endless, as was the glamour, and of course me being me and rushing there last minute was definitely anything less than! It was wonderful to catch up with Jason Gardiner, and the book itself has so many inspiring ideas everyone was talking about what they wanted to do next. As always I was home and in bed before midnight, just like Cinderella, before all the glamour around me faded away.
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Tuesday was the long awaited and top secret Monty Python meeting ahead of Thursday’s big press launch, which of course was also top secret, so I literally spent the week walking around on eggshells so as not to reveal my excitement!
One thing I’ve been drying to show you is the Christmas Jumper campaign I’m involved with for Save the Children, that was released last Wednesday, and so here it is! http://bit.ly/1g2HQ7X http://bit.ly/18d3JSc Just click on the links to see how you can become involved and learn the routine along with me and my boys. I also  that day managed to fit in a visit to my dear friend Phil Edwards, who I am sure you have heard me talk about many a time as we go way back to Starlight 1984! After being rather poorly, I am so thrilled so see him back on his feet and getting back to hi musical brilliance.
Thursday finally arrived along with the much awaited Python’s press conference and it was in a word, sensational. Also, I can now officially reveal I will be choreographing the show for the 02 next year, and I’m stunned to say that it sold out in 45 seconds! So of course more dates were added, that apparently took a further 9 minutes to sell out as well! I can hardly describe my excitement at being involved in such a huge event, and also at getting to work with the Pythons again after choreographing the Meaning of Life, and other projects for them all those years ago. Of course I will keep you posted on the progress, and you can look forward to some top secret behind the scenes pics next year… http://bit.ly/1fm52Ag
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Friday I was back doing my Starlight thing with auditions for the show in Germany. I always love seeing the familiar faces, as well as all the hot new talent and the amazing things people bring to their auditions. Casting is well underway, and again if you haven’t seen the show there it really is worth a visit for the sheer excitement of skaters flying past inches from your seats, leaping through the air and skating like you have never seen. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1WRYoM6vRM
The weekend was filled with family and friends, with my sister Karen coming to stay, and having a divine afternoon tea at the Charlotte Street Hotel with and old friend who was in town from LA, Julie MacDonald. It was gossip a plenty and cakes and other delicacies sat temptingly in front of us, far too tempting that we ate the lot!  On sunday we cooked lunch for our friends Larry and Maryrose – I say we, my partner made the most heavenly fish soup with homemade croutons and roué, and Maryrose brought my favourite fruit salad she makes for dessert. I do love those weekends of filled with all my favourite things, and being able to start my weeks with a smile.
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If anyone missed the latest episode of The Sound of Musicals that I helped produce you can check it out here  http://www.radiotimes.com/episode/cqfxsp/the-sound-of-musicals–series-1—episode-3  Enjoy! x

Hello again!

I feel like the past few blogs I’ve posted have been filled with promises of more frequent updates, and yet every time I do it’s always a good couple of weeks until the next! Somehow my life currently seem to be moving faster than I can keep up with it, and so although my blogs are fewer, there’s certainly more to talk about in each one!

I managed to get back to my hideaway in the country for a week, which was wonderful as ever. We were also joined for a couple of days by our long time friends Flea and John ,who arrived in spectacular style! John is the drummer for Spandau Ballet, so there was lots of rhythm and music the whole weekend. There’s some lovely pics of the weekend John posted to my twitter so make sure you have a look @arlenephillips

Between long walks, long dinners with friends, and dare I say it one or two longs naps… I was refreshed and ready to hit London and the long week ahead.

I arrived back to Alana in the office as Coco was away on holiday (goodness knows she needs one after running my crazy life!) so we hit the ground running with the piles of emails I had tried to ignore whilst away. I’d just like to add it’s not that I ignore them through choice, my family usually try and hide my computer so that I do actually take a break!

The week was filled with so many different and exciting things, starting with a hilarious mornings filming at the ITV This Morning studios. I’m not allowed to tell you what it’s about yet, but I can give you a clue…
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Whilst I was there I bumped into a couple of celebs in the form of the adorable Shane Filan from Westlife, who was debuting his new single, and also the wonderful Ruth Langsford who so brilliant supports the Alzheimers Society alongside me.
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As always I do love trying out new places to eat, so this time it was the turn of Cicchetti in Picadilly, the sister restaurant to family favourite San Carlo in Manchester, which I wrote about last time. The whole family came with to celebrate Alana’s birthday, and after feasting on a variety of mix and match dishes including mini pizza and lobster pasta, The Dessert arrived. A wonderous plate of miniature Italian pastries, Tiramasu and Ice Cream, we left feeling suitably stuffed and ready for a lie down!

I managed to get in some theatre (of course) and watched The Colour Purple at the Chocolate Factory, where I cried my eyes out for at least three quaters of the show. It was brilliantly done, with a truly outstanding cast although I think it is sold out, beg, borrow or steal a ticket and get yourself down there. I was also lucky enough to bag tickets to see Lady Gaga in concert at the Roundhouse for the Itunes festival, which was a sumptuous theatrical feast in itself. Her voice live is as powerful as you would expect, with an array of costumes like you had never seen. It truly was a once in a lifetime experience and I loved every second.

On a complete whim on Friday evening, myself and the family decided to head down to the cinema for a bit of Alpha Papa action, starring the brilliant Steve Coogan. Having loved Alan Partridge since the early days it was great to see a whole movie dedicated to his self obsessed idiocy, and the film didn’t fail to deliver it. I’ve also worked with Steve on a couple of occasions, and find his genuis quite staggering. Although not the most fast paced of films, I found myself laughing out loud alongside the rest of the cinema, and was still laughing all the way home.

All of a sudden it was the weekend again, and it started off with a brunch for 20 members of my family, who had arrived from Leeds, Cheshire, some had even come all the way from the Kings Road, which when you live in North London even seems far!  Fresh bagels wiht cream cheese and smoked salmon were piled high, along with a giant box of cupcakes from Dixie’s, owned by Apprentice finalist (and daughter’s best friend) Luisa Zissman. Of course they were too delicious to resist, but I only had the one. (Ok two…)

As I had family staying for the rest of the weekend it was pretty much taken up with trips here and there around London, a gorgeous dinner up in Hampstead, and a wonderful home cooked Sunday lunch. After saying my goodbyes, that evening I said a very big hello to my darling Patrick Murphy who is visiting from his new job in Australia, and I have been missing him so much! We gossiped and laughed as much as we possibly could, as I know it’s gong to be quite a long time till I get another chance.

I was bursting with excitement about a very special dinner with my dear friend Jerry Nadel, who currently runs all the incredible Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas. We met many years ago when Starlight Express was there, and have remained friends ever since. We ate delicious sushi at Roka, and pretty much tried everything on the menu!

So it’s now Thursday, and Coco is back, and here we are in the office, still since Monday doing crazy amounts of catch up and sending lots of love to you all and hoping the rain isn’t getting everyone down!
So until next week…..

Love Arlene x

A Fabulous Grindstone

What a week it’s been, and it’s only going to get busier!  Work this past week has been like a box of Pic & Mix, crazy, fun, and each experience totally different!
It started with a bit of filming at home, featuring me and my “best friend”… our dog Polly!  It was an experimental film about celebrity dog owners, and the relationship that they have, so of course I jumped (Polly literally…) at the chance.  I though the fact that Polly is not only ridiculously untrained, but also clearly in a world of her own, would make for rather hilarious viewing.  In fact (and I’m sure just to show me up) she was as well behaved as can be, sitting, following, and generally obeying all orders perfectly.  Dogs hey!
Then it was off to the other side of town (London Bridge to be exact) to film a short interview about my dear and long time friend Michael Crawford. It was wonderful talking about my memories of all the projects we’ve worked on together, from the Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber tour where we flew around the world, his magic extravaganza EFX in Las Vegas, to the Wizard of Oz right here at the London Palladium.  All that from our first meeting teaching him to dance at his home in South London in the early 70’s!

I had a very nerve wracking day filming my first cinema campaign for the RNIB, that basically involved me, in extreme close up, wearing virtually no makeup! Eeek! Honestly it was one of the most terrifying things I have ever done, feeling so exposed and at my age… It all went great though, and I can’t wait for you to see it.

Over the weekend I had a wonderful lunch at the Delaunay to celebrate my CBE (again!) with all the people close to me I have to thank for my career.  The food was perfection, with everyone barely being able to walk out the door after three courses and petit fours! It was a real walk down memory lane, and really did make me well up at one point thinking about everything my family sacrificed so I could dance, to the many people who helped me along the way. It was however a truly joyous occasion, and something I know will last in my heart for a long time.

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Me and my Alana at lunch!
Monday came around again, and it was back to the grindstone, although a fabulous and theatrical one! I got to talk all about my dear Andrew Lloyd Webber, and our experiences of Starlight Express for a special show being made about him, which I filmed at the Apollo Victoria, the very theatre Starlight opened in back in 1984.  I also did some filming over at We Will Rock you for the Time Out audience award at this year’s Oliviers, so if you haven’t already voted you can do so online! Continuing in the theatrical vein I also popped in to see my show Midnight Tango, with the divine Vincent and Flavia, and the enigmatic Russell Grant. It was as breathtaking as ever, and as always wonderful to see everyone.
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With my darling Russell Grant
I went to a lovely gathering at the home of a very old friend, John Reid, and spent much of the evening in conversation with Michael Cashman, one of the founders of Stonewall.  It was so fascinating hearing all about how and why he set it up, and I was really touched by the story.
I had a wonderful breakfast at the Ivy club, hosted by my fabulous agency, for me and some of their other clients, including the Olympian Peter Wilson, who let me wear his gold medal! It was great  for everyone to meet up, swap numbers, gossip and experiences!  It was such a lovely morning, and I really felt part of the ROAR family, and I’m so excited to be working with them.  Another great meeting I had was afternoon tea at the Ivy Club with Katie Taylor, one of the heads of entertainment at the BBC. It was again non stop gossip, and much fun and cake was had by all.
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Olympic Double Trip Champion Peter Wilson, and medal!
A minor gripe next, but Apple you are in my bad books! I can’t even tell you how many times my computer has been in and out of “Apple Hospital” and each time it returns with a promise it’s all better, and lo and behold it’s sick again! Grrrrr
Finally, please do check out this very exciting dance announcement http://danceamatic.com/announcement-3/ where you can enter a very special competition for which I am one of the judges
Until next week then…
Love Arlene x

Up till Midnight Tango

Hello again all!
I left you last week with my return from Barbados and the sunshine (which I am fully pining for…) and the crazy week ahead of me.  It continued in the same vein with meetings galore in London, one with the very fabulous Russell Grant, who is becoming a permanent fixture in my life these days – and who is about to appear in the amazing new production of Midnight Tango with Vincent and Flavia, providing his sprained ankle heals up quick! http://www.midnighttango.co.uk/?gclid=CL-VpPOnjbUCFfHJtAodExMAfg
 A weekend is never a proper “weekend” as there’s always something to do, and last Saturday was my appearance on Gaby Roslin’s Saturday Show, on Radio 1. It was lovely to spend the morning gossiping away, and seeing as I was in town anyway, it would definitely have been rude not to hit the shops for a bit afterwards! A relaxing afternoon and then Sunday followed, and before I knew it, it was Monday and the start of my ‘Workshop Week”.
Although I can’t say anything at the moment, I’m working on a very exciting new musical project, and I spent all of last week surrounded by the most wonderful and creative people, all bouncing ideas off each other, dancing and singing, and generally having a wonderful time.  I feel so lucky to be able to say how much I love what I do, and sometimes it’s easy to loose sight of that when you’re tired or having a bad day, and it’s week’s like this that really remind me how fortunate I am to have a career that I love so much.
Although I was busy dancing around all day every day this week, I managed to fit in a few extra things as well. Meetings with Producer Supreme David Ian, lunch with my Barbados cohort Nigel Wright, and then my dear friend Louanne arrived from Fabulous Las Vegas to stay for the night while she was working here. We stayed up chatting long and late, as its not often we get to see each other, and then before I knew it she was off to travel round Europe on the next leg of her work trip. I know I’ve mentioned her many times before, but incase you’ve forgotten, Louanne and I go way back many years, having worked together on a huge range of productions in the US and Germany, and I consider her to be one of my nearest and dearest.
Friday was a crazy dash from the end of the workshop to Channel 5 news, where I was talking about being an ‘older mum’. Having had my girls at 36 and 47 which was quite rare 20 odd years ago, new statistics show that almost half of new mothers are now aged 30+.  What you do think about this? I’d love to hear your views, so tweet me @arlenephillips, or leave a comment on the blog!
A couple of things to keep a look out for are articles I’ve written for the Observer, and Good Housekeeping magazine, both of which I shall keep you up to date with when they’re published…
So it’s a busy few days catch up in the office with Coco this week, who I’m glad to say is feeling much better after her awful bout of norovirus last week, which left her in bed, and Alana in the office fielding calls and emails, whilst running between her makeup jobs, and Abi dealing with all my online enquiries – it was hectic to say the least! Coco what would I do without you…
I’m off to a very exclusive and currently top secret party this year, and all wil be revealed next week about that and what else I get up to this week, so make sure you check in…
Until then
Much love, Arlene x

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