Here there and everywhere!

 Another two weeks has gone by and of course it has been crazy busy as usual…

 I have been up to so many different and wonderful things and have finally found the time to put it all together…

 I drunk lots of champagne at the Beaufort Bar at the Savoy with Kathy Lette and Horrid Henry superstar writer Francesca Simon which was quite fabulous

 I spent a very special evening with my Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music director Jeremy Sams watching Le Weekend, which he composed the glorious music for, then eating an even more glorious dinner!

 I’ve been trying out a juice diet by juicemaster extraordinaire Jason Vale, and aside from a couple of slip ups (which I can explain!) I have done pretty well! I’ve been carrying my juice to all my meetings and events, and aside from a dinner out and long overdue lunch with my darling Molly Molloy, I have rocked this diet!

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 Having my juice to hand has meant I’ve taken some pictures of me drinking in some very strange places, for example at the final of Britain’s Best Cat that I was filming over at This Morning. As I mentioned last time, the cats who performed so well in all the rehearsals, basically refused to so much as glance in the right direction, which made for an utterly hilarious final of what was pretty much “Britain’s Most Useless Cat! To say that these cats unwillingly went where no cat has gone before is an understatement, but all made for some hilarious live TV. It was wonderful to work with fellow cat lover Tom Fletcher from McFly, and I’m looking forward to checking out the McBusted tour next year alongside my gorgeous Matt Willis, who I worked with in Flashdance a couple of years ago.

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 Another “juicy” filming day was me talking all about my work and friendship with Freddie Mercury and Queen for an upcoming show called “The Nations Favourite Queen Song”. It was such a rush watching all those old videos again, as the memories came flooding back of such significant points in my life, and just talking about Freddie and how flamboyant and fabulous he was, brought tears to my eyes. It strange even now after all these years how much I miss him. Of course I will keep you updated as to when it airs, and you’ll hear all the secrets behind some of the most famous videos ever made.

 Thank goodness I had finished juicing in time to attend the launch of Bakers Toolkit, the new business from Apprentice runner up and family friend Luisa Zissman. It was cakes and sweet things galore, alongside heavenly pomegranate vodka cocktails I was in my element! I met the gorgeous Francine Lewis, and would have met a whole host of other celebs had I not have done my usual early disappearing act, but it was a fabulous party nonetheless.

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 I had a truly wonderful evening at the Collars and Coats Ball for Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, which was to raise money for the new dogs housing unit. It quite honestly broke my heart seeing the conditions some of these dogs have to live in, and to give them the love, care and attention they so deserve is all down to the generosity of the public. There were some of the dogs there on the night, and to say I fell in love with one or two is an understatement, and have not so subtly been begging my partner to head down there with me so we can pick out a new friend, so I’ll certainly keep you updated as to how that one goes…

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 Another awesome event I had the pleasure of attending last week was for, of course, Children in Need that I have been working with again this year. Gary Barlow was hosted a magnificent dinner at the Grosvenor Hotel in London, and it was about as star studded as they come. I was sat next to magical genius Dynamo, who made me continuously rub my eyes in disbelief as things flew across the table, cards swapped places in people’s mouths without them realising, hands and fingers bent into impossible positions, it really was an experience I will never forget, Among the other celebrities I caught up with were the divine Ben Shepherd, Louis Smith, Eamon Holmes, Dave Myers of the Hairy Bikers, and not forgetting one of the most hilarious conversations of the night with the one and only Louis Walsh. Watching the performances during and after dinner from artists such as Ellie Goulding and of course Gary himself was simply thrilling, and again an evening that will stay with me for along time. I’d also like to add my congratulations to Terry Wogan, Lizze Fee, and all the team who made this years Children in Need smash last years record by I think 5 million, bringing the total up to £31 million, which is just astounding.

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 Another charity event I was involved in last week was the recording of the flash mob dance I have put together for Save the Children, that will be going ahead on the 13th of Dec, so grab your Christmas sweater, get online, and get learning the dance so that you too can help break the world record for the most amount of people dancing together in Christmas sweaters – and raise money doing it! Me and my boys Ashley and Ashley show you how step by step, and we will be posting the link as soon as it goes up for you to get involved.

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 Filming over and sweaters laid to rest, I was off to experience another kind of dancing at Sadlers Wells with my dear friend Pamela Stephenson, to watch M’Longa, a tango show that was an absolute triumph and a joy to watch.

 I had bit of a brush with radio as I stood in for Vanessa Feltz on the panel at Radio London, and I have to say what an experience! I got into a rather heated debate with the, shall we say “mildly opinionated” Katie Hopkins, who really should as far as I’m concerned keep her mouth shut once and for all! Of course I’m all for people standing up for what they believe in, but to be that prejudiced in this day and age is just beyond me.

 So feeling much calmer, I made my way to Parliament to support a new venture I am involved in for the National Youth Arts Trust set up by my friend Fiona Laird, alongside patrons such as Grayson Perry and Ewan McGregor, that involves mentoring young people who want to be involved in the arts, and for various reasons are unable to do so due to lack of funds, It is such an amazing collective to be part of, and just seeing the hope and happiness it brings makes it even more worthwhile. I will introduce you all to the fabulous girl I am mentoring soon, and I can’t wait to keep you informed of her progress.

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 So there you have it, my last two weeks, and hopefully the last time I will be so behind on the blog for say, another how many weeks…!

 Just kidding, so until next week…

Much love,

Arlene x

 

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Madness in New York, a story in pictures

 PART II

I was up early again the next morning as I left the city and headed upstate to Utica, no I’d never heard of it either.

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It was a slow but immensely pretty journey, travelling through all those places that all had famous music halls, such as Yonkers and Secaucus!  I was in Utica for technical rehearsals for the new We Will Rock You US tour, that was opening the following week in Baltimore. I have to say that Utica really is the strangest of places, this once thriving and wealthy town now lays empty except for the Rock You Rockers that took over the Hotel Utica! It was built in 1812 and has hardly been updated since, and is not only haunted by ghosts of guests past, but will continue to be by the noise cast made from the den they created on the derelict 14th floor to party in! 

You can tell it was once a wealthy place 

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 But now there is barely a shop open 

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Or people on the street 

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However, people came from far and wide, young and old to see our opening night, and let me tell you they went crazy! They were screaming in the aisles, cheering and clapping like you’ve never seen! I met the most adorable little girls who were so proud to show of their t-shirts.

 

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 I bid farewell to Utica with a delicious lobster roll…

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And headed back to the city and my beautiful girls who had flown in to meet me! We headed straight out to take in the sights, and the first stop was the iconic Brooklyn bridge.

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The rest of the afternoon we shopped until we dropped, as there was more work to do that week and I was desperate to get some bargains in before I had to leave again! 

It seemed no sooner had I arrived, I took the super fast and super efficient AMTRAK rail to Baltimore for some final work on We Will Rock You, and our phenomenal opening night! Watch exclusive video with Rock God himself Brian May here. 

Of course no opening night is complete without my picture with Galileo, and this one literally rocked my socks off!

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Back in New York it was meetings oh, and meetings and some more meetings and of course a couple of shows (and did I mention some meetings?) I went to watch Pippin, where my protege from Britannia High, Matthew James Thomas was appearing as Pippin.

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It was the most stunning production I have ever seen, of what isn’t really one of my favourite musicals, and I have to tell you I was absolutely blown away. It brought a tear to my eye as Pippin’s magical word became reality, and the beautiful stillness of the performers as everything disappeared around them was so moving. The interval was however a much jollier affair, as I was whisked up to the company managers office for drinks and a bit of incredible history. The office was originally Irving Berlin’s office, and aside from the fascinating photographs on the walls there was a much bigger secret to it as well. The theatre was built in the prohibition era, and there was at the back of the room, a hidden doorway to a secret room where the liquor was kept! This included the original ice box and hidden panels, that was just incredible to look at.

 

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I also managed to get to see the new Broadway hit Kinky Boots, which featured some fun songs, fabulous drag queens, and fierce costumes! Of course I couldn’t leave NY without a bit more shopping as I had so many television appearances on my return, I needed to update my wardrobe, of course, in my new larger size… Suitcases laden, 5am taxi outside, I made my way to the airport for my final flight, and arrived into the waiting arms of my family, and I was home at last.

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