The Daily Blog Four

So something doesn’t work on a Sunday, and it’s either me, or the internet… Take your pick!

Anyway, I’m back this sunny Monday morning ready to get my week off to a good start… and here are some amazing and exiting pictures of the new laser display and lighting we have put in at Starlight Express Germany to get you going!

stex laser standing ovation round the tracksgirls in spot

Also to inspire you to get up and about, here’s me teaching a disco dance class over at the Alzheimers Society, we were definitely getting our Saturday Night Fever on!

Arlene DAW 15 Arlene DAW 2015 photo

I’ll be back again tomorrow with even more dancing news, so make sure you keep checking back, and I hope you’re all enjoying my mini posts…

Happy Monday!

Love Arlene x

TO also get you

Something for your Sunday

Hello again after another crazy couple of weeks!
I’ve been a busy bee, running, dancing, hopping and yes even spinning around London and a little bit of Germany thrown in for good measure!
I’ll start with my wonderful Valentines day treat to see Atomos by Wayne Mcgregor and Anish Kapoor at Sadlers Wells. It was beautiful and vibrant, and made all the more wonderful because I got to share it with my parter, which as some of you may know is a bit of a rarity!
I had a fabulous time at the Roundhouse with Penny Woolcock for an upcoming project called The Only Place I Can Breathe, which I will tell you more about as soon as I can…
I am also beyond thrilled to announce that I’m working on a dance project with the divine Ed Watson, principal dancer and icon of the Royal Ballet. It’s going to be so exciting getting to create something new and different with a dancer who can move in ways I have truly never seen.
I had a great morning at the BBC for their Get Creative launch catching up with faces old and new. I’m always happy to see dance being championed, and you can bet your life I’ll be there cheering along! You can check it out and get involved here http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/sections/get-creative
I was so lucky to be invited to a special tasting dinner at the Westbury Hotel, which somehow I also managed to get my partner to come along to – that’s twice in one week! As you can see from my pictures, it was beautifully presented, and tasted like little bites of heaven. I will say though, I lost count after roundabout the fifth course and just sort of melted into a food coma! It was perfection all round.
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Make sure you book into the Dance UK conference, I’ll be compering at the launch with the amazing Ashley Banjo on Thursday 9th April to open the amazing programme of events! For more info here http://www.danceuk.org/conference/
I’ve just got back from a few days in Germany working with the new cast of Starlight Express, I swear they just keep on getting more and more talented every year!
I’m totally proud to say I rocked my first spinning class this week, no easy feat I can tell you with my knees, but nonetheless I powered through to sweaty glory.
APspin
Finally, a couple of familiar faces I bumped into this week, the enigmatic Judge Rinder and the angelic Jaymi Hemsley from Union J, both firm family favourites in the Phillips house.
AP & Judge Rinder AP with Jaymi
I’ll be back in a few days with more glamorous gossip, so until then I’ll leave you with my new blog sign off I’m calling Arlene’s Advice…
This week is to make the most of every day!
Love Arlene x

Hong Kong Crazy

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A very long and overdue hello to you all! I have been on a whirlwind trip all over the world this past few weeks, and aside from barely being able to find any internet anywhere, I wouldn’t have had a second to post anything anyway, it has been madness! As there’s so much to “show and tell” I’m writing this blog firstly in two parts, and secondly as more of a picture diary, so look on and enjoy…

I arrived in Hong Kong after massively delayed flight (three hours, thanks British Airways!) but arrived safely at the beautiful Hyatt hotel in Hong Kong, where my view was exquisite.

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There’s no rest for the wicked as they say, so it was straight to work on Starlight Express getting the show ready for opening night, and the work clearly paid off as Hong Kong took us into their hearts. Here’s a little clip.

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Of course it wasn’t all work, and I managed grab few hours sightseeing…

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One evening I hopped on a train and headed out to the ladies market which was full of goodies, most of which I didn’t want, but I did find a fair few fabulous bits and pieces…

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I had found a good friend in Shen, my interpreter for the night, who knew what prices to pay, and if they weren’t good enough she marched me along, away from the beautiful scarves I so desperately wanted!

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Another evening, I was taken out for a glorious dinner with some of most powerful people in Hong Kong, where we ate the most delicious sushi,i and enough Kobi beef to feed an army! It was truly delicious, and I am not ashamed to say I have been dreaming of it since…

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ON my last morning I took the peak train to the highest point in Hong Kong, where the views were simply breathtaking.

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Although as well, there is a view  of Hong Kong Harbour with all the smog and pollution which is such a shame to see

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So finally after am amazing week, I left Hong Kong with memories of Starlight Express and the “piggie blessing” they gave to welcome us fading away

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I left Hong Kong for a 16 hour flight to New York where I arrived 12 hours before I left! In a daze, I headed straight to my favourite Manhattan deli to eat the best matzoh ball soup in town. Who doesn’t love a bit of comfort food!

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The Adventures Before My Adventure

Hello from Hong Kong! Yes it’s finally arrived and here we are ready to open the international tour of Starlight Express! Despite the final rehearsals running from morning till night I’m hoping to be able to get out and see some of the city before I head on to my next port of call, New York! I’ll tell you all about HK, and what I’m doing in NY when I check in next week.

But first let me tell you all about last week’s adventures. It was pretty busy as I was doubling up between The Wright Stuff every morning, and Starlight Express rehearsals all afternoon and evening – however I did manage to fit in a few other exciting things….

Did you catch me on the Wright Stuff? If not there’s a few episodes here and you can see me in action, so to speak! I had such a great time, and loved meeting Jolly Olly, Ana Matronic, Louis Emerick and Cian Ciaran!

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Tuesday was the only day that week I didn’t appear on the show, and that’s because I was in Leeds for a very special 100th Birthday party! My brother in law’s Aunt Rose, who is, at 100, still the sharpest, most switched on and fabulous lady I have ever met. She really is an inspiration in the truest sense of the word, and I can only hope to be laughing away as brightly as she was in years to come.

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Wednesday I managed to fit in a wonderful couple of hours between The Wright Stuff and Starlight, attending the Arts Lunch at the Science Museum, hosted by Christopher Hastings. The guests included Reece Shearsmith, Terry Gilliam, Janet Suzman, Michael G Wilson, John Sessions, Margaret Drabble, Imogen Stubbs and Miranda Richardson The food was divine, the conversation scintillating, and the exhibition that was to follow after lunch looked incredible. Unfortunately I had to dash back to rehearsals so couldn’t stay to see it, but I will be there as soon as I get back from my travels.

Thursday we had our final run through of the show before we left, and it is looking truly phenomenal, if I do say so myself! Now let’s go show Asia what we’ve got!

Friday afternoon after my final morning on The Wright Stuff was just meeting after meeting and an intense catch up with Coco as it was the last day I had with her, and I’m not back for three weeks… So you can imagine it was rather hectic. After getting everything pretty much sorted I was looking forward to a lazy Saturday of packing, when disaster struck…

As I mentioned earlier after my trip to HK I’ll be winging my way to the US, where for the first week I’ll be rehearsing for the American tour of We Will Rock You somewhere in upstate New York called Utica. (Anyone? No, me neither!) So there I’ll spend my first week, then of course it would be silly to be so close and not get to one of my favourite places in the world, New York City baby! Anyway, as I was glancing down my itinerary, I realised that my hotel dates for staying in NY had been booked for September! Panic set in, how had I not seen this before? How had no one spotted it? I was beside myself having managed to find a fabulous deal on a hotel right there in midtown, would they even have any rooms left and worst of all had I lost all my money?! I’m happy to say that there was another room for me, and thankfully was only charged for one night cancellation, or you would have heard me screaming all the way to the city!

That being resolved I was able to head to dinner that evening with a smile on my face. It was my Abi’s 23rd Birthday, and we were celebrating with dinner at the fantastic new restaurant Chotto Matte on Frith St, where I swear every dish they brought out was more divine than the next. We had the most wonderful evening, finished off with desserts from heaven!

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Sunday and leaving day seemed to arrive so soon, and I spend my final hours at home surrounded by my wonderful family having a delicious Birthday brunch of blueberry waffles and pancakes with bacon and maple syrup, all homemade by my better half! After a few tearful goodbyes – yes I know I’m only away for three weeks! – you’d think after all the drama on Saturday I’d have had my share, but of course I couldn’t get off that easily – after a traffic free ride to the airport, there was me thinking I was out of the woods and on my way… but of course the flight was delayed from 10:30pm till 1:30am, how boring!

Still we arrived safe and sound, and here I am! So until next week where I’ll be writing to you from Utica (again, anyone?) for now it’s Zai Jian from me!

Love Arlene x

Parliament and a Banana Split

Hello!
I am writing this to you on a surprisingly sunny afternoon, and I have to say what a treat this weather is! It’s yet again been a busy week full of comings and goings, and here’s what’s been going on…
Last Monday the Wizard of Oz opened in “Fabulous Las Vegas”, and although I wasn’t there to celebrate it myself (sad face!) I sent the cast a good luck message and lots of love. You can follow @yellowbrickroad on Twitter for updates and backstage pics, and for all my followers in the US you can book tickets here!
I had a very nerve wracking morning in Parliament speaking for the Alzheimer’s Society, and all over twitter you can see the amazing support of MPs pledging to raise awareness of dementia and improve services. Find out how you can make a difference and become a dementia friend http://www.dementiafriends.org.uk/
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I had another fantastic morning filming a new campaign for Save the Children, all about getting kids involved in reading. They have teamed up with a company called Beanstalk who have volunteers to work with kids who for many different reasons either have trouble, or lack the confidence with their reading, which studies show can greatly affect their chances for good GCSE grades later on. I spent the morning reading and talking with some of the 7yr olds from a primary school in North London, and was amazed at the progress they were making with the help of their reading mentors. As soon as I have the pictures to show I will post them up!
A photo that I DO have to show you is one that I’m very proud of, and also very proud to be a part of the campaign… Yes the Bearfaced picture I mentioned I was shooting a few weeks ago for Children in Need is finally out and I love it! Do you Dare to Bear?
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As I’m sure you know I am still all Starlight Starlight Starlight, and have been busy with interviews and rehearsals for the International Tour that’s about to roll out across the world!  Tickets.  And you can also check out the new video here.
Someone who I am sure is thrilled by this little patch of sun is my partner Angus, who braved the rain and the cold to go camping in Devon last weekend, and came back utterly bedraggled poor thing! Anyway while he was in one kind of tent, I was sort of in another – although it was more of a marquee at a Birthday garden party I was at on Saturday night. It was my friend Wayne Garvie, who had decided to throw a mini fete, complete with garden games and a gorgeous food! Delicious chicken and lamb wraps, with different salads and fillings, and then huge plates of piping hot churros with thick chocolate dipping sauce. I think thats all I need to say about that…. *stares off into the distance dreaming of churros*
Following on the food theme, I’ve had a couple of lovely breakfast meetings this week, one at the Ivy Club, which is always a treat! I also went to a party at the Soho Sanctum Hotel in Picadilly to celebrate the launch of my darling Sam Dowler’s new PR company, Big Smoke that he has started with Made in Chelsea’s Cheska. It was filled with the usual faces like Lizzie Cundy, PR Guru Nick Ede, several of the Chelsea crew such as Ollie Locke whom I adore, and a few other very fashionable people that I probably should have known! True to form I didn’t stay long, and somehow managed to make it home with a giant caramel ice cream cone from Scoop that just happened to be by the car park…
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Another blog worthy addition is the secret filming I did for ITV, yes frustrating I know that I can’t reveal all yet, but as always it’s worth the wait…
Did anyone catch me on the charity version of Fifteen to One last Friday as part of the Channel 4 80’s night?  All I can say is that I had major question envy!
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Friday was also a trip to the eyebrow goddess Karen Betts for a much needed top up on my brows, and as ever I love hearing about the amazing work she does with the Katie Piper foundation, she really is a genius.
This weekend I was lucky enough to snare tickets to Chimerica, and it was well worth the wait to see I can tell you. A genuis production, made all the more incredible by the young ages of the writer and director, who are truly brilliant, as was the production.
Sunday was a wonderful end to week with a fabulous Sunday lunch at The Delaunay, where my heavenly lobster cocktail and banana split was devoured in an instant!
So for all those that missed me this morning, you can catch me on The Wright Stuff this coming Wednesday, Thursday and Friday on Channel 5, so make sure you tune in!
So until next week, let’s hope this weather continues!
Love Arlene x

Something Fun for Friday

Hi again all,
 
There’s been lots going on since I last checked in, so here’s what I’ve been up to…
 
Wed was the obligatory office catch up with Coco, so not much to report there other than it was crazy!
 
Thursday I was up bright and early to film a new Saturday Night TV series called You Saw Them Here First. It basically involved me watching these hilarious clips of myself from the 70’s, talking about all the various projects I was working on at the time, such as Can’t Stop The Music with the Village People. All I kept thinking was how thin I used to be! One thing that hasn’t changed however is my big lips and cheeks, hopefully this will put an end to how much filler I’ve allegedly had!  After filming I sped off to a gorgeous lunch at the Charlotte Street Hotel with Ben Jones, and boy do we love a good gossip!
That evening I went to watch Harold Pinter‘s Hot House, starring the superb Simon Russell Beale and John Simm.  It was utterly brilliant in every way, and on at the Trafalgar Studios so get down there! http://bit.ly/181AwFA
 
Friday was a very glamorous brunch at the Ritz, a late lunch at the Wolsey – both of with whom I couldn’t possibly say yet… and then a fabulous dinner at the very exclusive Balthazar with my dear friend Iain Burton of Aspinal, and his exquisitely beautiful wife Mariya. Their current collection is divine, and I am pining for most if not all of it! http://bit.ly/16fDtVr
 
The weekend was a blissfully quiet affair, with lots of relaxing, reading the papers and trying to recover from eating myself silly all day Friday
 
Monday came, and I was so nervous, as I was up and off to my shoot with THE photographer himself Rankin. The nerves were double the usual amount as the shoot was part of the Bare Faced campaign for Children in Need, and yes, I was going to be completely bare faced. An easy task for some, but at 70 it takes quite a bit of guts! The lighting was phenomenal, my hair styled to perfection, and the shoot was a dream from start to finish. As soon as the pics are out I shall be posting them with pride. From there I made my way over to the auditions for the Worldwide Starlight Express tour due to roll out soon.  We saw some truly fantastic people, which as much of a joy as it is, makes my job so much harder having to choose! I barely made it home to jump into the makeup chair, get my Spanx on, grab the Loubis and get on my way to the Sony Music Radio Awards where I was presenting as award that evening. I was chatting away with the hilarious Patrick Kielty on the red (well purple actually) carpet, and a dashing waiter sauntered past with some Sambuca. Whatever has come over me recently and my penchant for trying new and exciting cocktails certainly got the better of me and I drank – just the one – away. Which of course led me to totter on stage to present my award, with the host Chris Evans and the star studded audience finding it most hilarious. It was a fantastic evening, and one I did well to remember!
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This week is Starlight Starlight Starlight, and you can hear all about my adventures on wheels next week…
 
Until then
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.
Medal!
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