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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Time for a Catch up!

 

My goodness where has the time gone? This past coupe of weeks have flown by, and I realised it’s been what seem like an age since I last cheked in! Seeing as there’s been so much going on, I’ll give you the edited version rather than make you sit through what could easily be a five page (yet still very exciting!) essay.  

 Starting way back on Monday over two weeks ago, I was treated to a gorgeous long lunch at Le Caprice with my agents, and it was as delicious as you could imagine. The rest of the afternoon was filled with a couple more meetings, a voiceover, and a quick change back at home to get ready for dinner at my new favourite place Balthazar to discuss an exciting top secret new film project! Full as can be from what was essentially a day of dining, I made my way home to bed as the rest of the week was looking busier by the minute…  

 Tuesday I was up early to get my hair done, and of course I couldn’t just sit and relax like most people do in the salon, I was busy giving interviews! You can read my one with the South Wales Echo http://www.walesonline.co.uk/whats-on/former-strictly-stars-flavia-vincent-4694501) and listen to my one with Gordon Burns here http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p01b1yzl/Gordon_Burns_Arlene_Phillips

After the mornings chat and colour… I arrived at a studio in Islington for my Save the Children Christmas Jumper Campaign shoot. As soon as I have all the details about how you can get involved with their new initiative I’ll let you know, but what I can tell you is what a great afternoon I had! It was lovely to catch up with some of the other celebs involved, including Myleene Klass and Ashleigh and Pudsey, and before I knew it I was jumping in my car to the next port of call! I was opening a new centre on Harley Street for Alliance Medical alongside Joanna Lumley, and I have to tell you the things they can do with these new machines that can somehow make a 4D scan of your body is just remarkable. 

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It was another early start on Wednesday, as I made my way to Denman College, Oxford University. I was there to meet the WI to give a talk on Dementia and give exercises and rhythms that may help in the fight in keeping the brain and body active! That evening I went to watch Billy at the Union Theatre, directed by Michael Strassen. It was a stunning production, and lovely to bump into my dear friend and producer extraordinaire David Ian.

 Thurs was yet another early start for a long day of interviews for Care UK, and drinks in the evening with the wonderful Rob Jones.

 Friday was a REALLY early start with an appearance on Daybreak talking about the Nations Favourite Dancer that was on the following Saturday night. Did you watch? Did you agree with the best dance moments – and if not then what are yours? Tweet me and let me know @arlenephillips! 

 The Weekend was a bit of a disaster, starting with driving three hours out of our way to get to a party in Surrey for the Orpheus Trust 15th Birthday.  Nerves fraying, we arrived only a couple of hours late… but I tell you what it was worth every second of temper tantrums in the car to see the incredible work the trust does in providing a music education and  life skills to disabled students. 

 

Sunday morning I managed to put my back out on the exercise bike, so spent the rest of my day in bed!

 Monday I was feeling a bit more mobile, and managed to make it to a meeting at Andrew Lloyd Webber’s offices about the upcoming Wizard of Oz tour in America.  Then seeing as I was literally next door, I popped into the Ivy Club to meet my darling Debbie Moore for a quick catch up before retiring back to my bed and trying to get the back, back to normal!

 Tuesday I was feeling right as rain, and made my way into town for some top secret filming. I can’t tell you what it was for, but I can show you it involved this lot…

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After my more hectic than usual week I was definitely in need of some R&R so I headed off to the country for the week. It was as always utter bliss, and although I popped back to London for some filming over the weekend (more about that in a minute) I’m still here and the relaxation programme is going strong, however I do hate being away from the gang at home, but someone’s got to keep Phillips Towers running!

 As I mentioned, I came back to London for the weekend to film a celebrity edition of The Chase! I was fretting about it for weeks – have you seen some of the questions they ask?! I can’t tell you too much about it yet (as it seems with so much at the moment…) but there was both excitement and stupidity.

 I turned up at auditions for the new cast of We Will Rock You and saw some fabulous dancers and after watching all that activity, I went on eating overload at the opening of Five Guys in Covent Garden.

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 I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my adventures in showbiz land this week, and I promise to keep up to date so expect more hot gossip coming soon! 

 

Love Arlene

PS If you’re keen to get your dancing seen check this Dance competition from Danceamatic out! 

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cM9lKSjG1U

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!

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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.

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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!

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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