It’s amazing what the love of musicals can do . . .

I know I said that my next post would have a distinct Phantom theme – but I felt that a little change of course wouldn’t hurt!

The love of theatre, and especially musicals is one that is shared by many people all around the world. It is loved by all ages, all generations – no matter if you prefer the more traditional plays or the more modern “juke-box” style musicals.

And it was this thought that lead me to reflect on what has been an amazing couple of years. This love of the theatre that continues to grow within me has not only allowed me to see some of the most amazing performances and shows, but has also introduced me to so many people that I truly can call friends, as well as converting a few old friends into theatre lovers!

Firstly, let me introduce you to Jo and Charlotte. These are 2 of my closest friends – I have known Jo since we were at Primary School together, and Charlotte became a mutual friend 3 years ago. Now, I must explain, Charlotte was already a theatre nut when I first met her (although not as bad as me!) But Jo had been a tougher nut to crack! The 3 of us had been on several weekends away to London together to see various shows, but it wasn’t until this Easter that I believe she truly understood what we loved about it so much!

Me and Jo (left) with Alexia Khadime – Les Miserables (April 2012) Photo by O.Edmonds

Both Jo and Charlotte had braved the elements to stand with me in the queue to meet Ramin Karimloo at his Dress Circle album signing (more about that another time!), as well as seeing 5 shows in 3 days, and Jo decided to stay on for a few days after I had come home to “discover” London for herself! Let’s just say she finally gets what I have been going on about for the past 2 years!

Me and Charlotte (Left, in red coat) Outside Dress Circle Shop, April 2012 (Photo by O.Edmonds)

And then there is my Tweeps! Now, let me explain, I discovered Twitter last August, and never did I think that this discovery would introduce me to such amazing people – who all share a love of musical theatre (and of a certain Roaming Iranian – but as I keep saying, more on that later!)

My 1st opportunity to meet any of my tweeps was my visit to Manchester in April 2012. On my first visit to see the tour version of Phantom of the Opera, I had the honour to meet Selena. This was a brief introduction, but she struck me as a kind, gracious and funny person, who I was sure I would get on with. I am happy to say that, nearly 2 months on from our first meeting, I consider her to be one of my closest friends, who has allowed me to just talk at her when I needed to get things off my chest, has always gives such insightful words of advice, and always been there. Thank you for everything honey – it is eternally appreciated! I consider it a pleasure and my absolute honour to call you my friend and I only hope I can repay your trust and kindness one day!

Then, there’s Naomi! It was another Manchester visit – this time to see Ramin Karimloo in concert, that allowed me to meet this lady – another kind-hearted soul. In just one day, I think we learnt more about each other than most of me and my friends have in a lifetime – we are so similar – it’s freaky! I also consider it an amazing honour to have this wonderful lady as a friend – and I hope that our mutual love of such beautiful West End leading men, amongst other things, may let our friendship continue for many years to come!

Naomi, with the very lovely Hadley Fraser (Photo by N.Stevens)
Manchester also introduced me to the classy Rachel, the hilarious Kym Cruddas (always remember Menu Wars and Pizza Express), the extremely sweet Kay and the mature beyond her years Haleema – who is another tweep who I have so much in common with – it’s unreal. I swear me and Haleema must have been sisters in another life. Four stunning, fabulous ladies who I cherish dearly!

Top: Haleema with Danielle Hope – Manchester, May 2012
Bottom: Kay – Manchester 2012
(Both photos taken by O.Edmonds)
We then get back to my home town of Birmingham!! Yet another Ramin Karimloo concert (never a bad thing!) – and yet more new tweeps to meet!
Let’s start this time with the bonkers Leeanne (and that is meant in a good way!) We had briefly met in April at Dress Circle, but we had a proper chance to have a chat in May. Believe me when I say that this girl is a true force of nature – and look out if you get in her way, ha ha! Another great friend!!!
Left to right: Claire, me, Leeanne, Rachel and Laura – Birmingham, May 2012 (Photo by O.Edmonds)
I must not forget to mention my Brummie sweeties Rachel and Claire. Now, don’t get me wrong, you are probably looking at this thinking that I must be over exaggerating by saying how sweet these two are – but you couldn’t be more wrong!! 17th May 2012 was the first time I got to meet these two fantastic ladies in person, and within 1 hour of chatting with them, they are definitely my girls for life! Rachel is definitely a style queen who looks good in anything, and has the cutest laugh I have ever heard – she is that kind as well! She totally deserves all of the recent love and happiness that she has been getting – long may it continue!
And then, there is my little Claire bear aka my “musical sister!” I can’t put into words how much I love this girl as well, and, along with Rachel – there are not enough positive adjectives to describe what sweet, kind and generous people they are! Love you girls muchly!
Left to right: Claire, me, Selena and Ali. Birmingham – May 2012 (Photo by O.Edmonds)
I must also mention two very classy ladies – Emily and Ali! Emily is my fabulous and fantastic Midlands girlie. We have only had the chance to meet for about 2 minutes – but I think the words “peas” and “pod” certainly come to mind already. I look forward to many adventures with this girl – look out world when we get started!
I first met Ali in Manchester and again in Birmingham, and I know I have said it a thousand times already – we just clicked! We went into sneaky mode at Symphony Hall (Ali knows what I mean!), and we will be renewing our friendship in a couple of weeks, when we visit Sweeney Tood and Les Miserables – and I can’t wait! Thanks for everything Ali!
Me and Ali (right) with Jonathan Ansell – Birmingham, May 2012 (Photo by A.Broomfield)
I know this may sound like a massive love fest, but every word I have said is true! I must also say that considering the list of amazing ladies I have listed on here, there are so many more who I love and think the absolute world of – Nikki Turner, Charlotte Thompson, Sehar, Ella, Laura, Lara, Lucy, Helena Grace, Jacqui, Sian, Keiley, Josh, Bex, Whitnie, Hannah, Chloe, Courfeyrac, Miss Monique – the list goes on and on!
I am truly blessed to know you all – long may it continue!!!
Till next time folks, this is the Blue Eyed Girl signing off . . .


He’s there – the Phantom of the Opera!

Anyone that knows me will tell you what an absolute Phanatic I truly am! But I have only arrived at the musical recently – and yes, you guessed it – it is all down to my parents again!

Many years ago, I remember that they went away to London for a short theatre break. I wasn’t sure what they were seeing – but then again, I wasn’t sure of much at that time! When they got back, they gave me my present – a t-shirt from the show they saw, which was adorned with a certain white mask! They both told me on more than one occasion that it was the best thing they had ever seen in the theatre!

For many years, I wondered what this Phantom of the Opera was all about – and like many, the 2004 film version peaked my interest. However, it was not until Summer 2011 that I got to visit Her Majestys for the first time – and to say I was excited may have been the understatement of the century!

As I walked into the auditorium, I was overcome with emotion – seeing the whole stage, the props, the chandelier and the whole theatre was just everything I imagined it to be – and then some. Of course I had heard all of the songs and knew all the words, but I knew this was going to be a momentous experience.  To this day, I can still remember how ecstatic I was to see that Chandelier rise for the first time to that amazing Overture!

I came out 2 1/2 hours later – and it was done. I was a Phanatic!

Me on a recent visit to Her Majestys Theatre (April 2012)
I am so lucky to say that since that fateful day in August 2011, I have seen the show 5 times in total, both at Her Majestys and on the recent 25th Anniversary Tour version. I have also been blessed to have seen such a range of amazing stars play these wonderful characters.
These include Scott Davies, Earl Carpenter, Peter Joback and the divine John Owen Jones who have all donned the mask, while Will Barratt, Killian Donnelly, Nadim Naaman and Simon Bailey have played the charismatic Raoul, and the stunning Sofia Escobar and Katie Hall have been the truly angelic Christine. (Not forgetting the amazing Wendy Ferguson – who is the best Carlotta I have ever seen, as well as many amazing others!)
I can’t talk about Phantom and not mention the phenomenal 25th Anniversary tour that is currently running across the UK. I was truly blessed to see this version twice during a recent visit to Manchester.
Front of the Palace Theatre, Manchester (April 2011) Copyright – Cameron Mackintosh
Apart from the fact that it was a chance to see Phantom, I had to go and see this version for one main reason – John Owen Jones. Many of my Twitter friends (including @jacqui_archer!!!) could not believe it when I told them I had never seen JOJ live as the Phantom – and told me how much I was missing out on! I didn’t need telling twice!!
I have to say that seeing John Owen Jones sing live as the Phantom was one of the best things I have ever experienced – theatre or not! There is a reason why he is the longest running Phantom in the shows history – he is just an absolute revelation in this role! I still get chills when I remember hearing him sing “Music of the Night” for the first time and the fact that I cried my eyes out at his Final Lair scene (and I am NOT ashamed to say that!) If you have never seen him in this role – you are missing out on one of the most amazing, spectacular and unbelievable performances by an actor in the theatre EVER!!!
I must also say that teaming JOJ with the stunning Katie Hall and charismatic Simon Bailey was also a stroke of genius on the part of one Cameron Mackintosh as the 3 of them produce an absolute electricity when they are together on the stage – which for me, makes this version of the show as good, if not better than the Original!!!
(OOOOH! Did I just say that???)
I can also say, from personal experience, that they are also 3 of the loveliest, kindest and most gracious performers I have ever met. Even on a cold Saturday evening, they all took the time to chat to everyone at the Stage Door, signing autographs, and getting their thoughts on the show – a mark of true professionals!

(All photos taken by me. Manchester 2012)

If you haven’t got it by now, what have you been doing while reading this? 🙂 This is a once in a lifetime experience and if you have never seen Phantom, you should – even if it is only once! I guarantee you will come out, having loved every second!

I am currently planning a return to Her Majestys in the Summer (seems so far away!) and am already looking forward to the Tour Version hitting my hometown next March – that’s going to cost me a fortune!!!

My next post will also have a Phantom link – but for now! Goodbye everyone!

The Love of Musicals – where did it all start?

So like I said previously, the theatre is one of my biggest loves, and more specifically, I adore musicals!

The local pantomine is my earliest memory of seeing anything musical related. Visiting the theatre, usually around my birthday in February, we would always pay to sit in one of the posh boxes on the side with various family members and I always loved every bit of it! Believe me when I say, I was booing and “He’s behind you”-ing with the best of them!

As I got older, my parents decided I was too old for the pantomine (never!) so our visits dwindled as the years went by.

I made the progression to musical theatre in its’ current form in my teenage years. The one musical I seem to have the oldest memory of seeing was Grease! Like every other teenage girl, I had seen the film and was desperate to be a Pink Lady, so this was the obvious choice for my 1st musical. I remember several visits to see Grease through the years, but it was one visit to our local theatre in July 2009 that really ignited my interest once again!

The story to this actually starts at Christmas 2008, when my parents surprised me, as a Christmas gift, with tickets to see the touring production of We Will Rock You.  Granted, the production wasn’t arriving at our local theatre until July 2009, but this did not stop me being ridiculously excited! Not only that, it turned out that our trip to WWRY would coincide with the final day of my school’s Summer Term!

(Picture used from ticketmaster.co.uk)

The night that I went to see We Will Rock You is one I will never forget! The show was absolutely amazing and I loved every second of it! (And so did my parents – I think that was a first!) The entire company, lead by the charismatic Alex Gaumond, was magnificent from start to finish. I consequently went back to see the show at my local theatre twice more during its’ run!

That was it – my love of musicals was back – and more passionate than ever!!!

It was the following Summer when I embarked on my first West End trip – a week of shopping, sightseeing and musicals – and I have never looked back, having done the same trip in 2011, and the 2012 trip is currently being organised!

Since Summer 2010, I have seen The Lion King, Legally Blonde (twice), Sister Act, Wicked, Ghost, Shrek (twice), The Phantom of the Opera (4 times), We Will Rock You (London production twice, tour version once), Hairspray, Oliver (twice), Jersey Boys, Les Miserables (twice), Rock of Ages, Mamma Mia, Matilda – and I am sure I have missed some out!!! 

Some people may call me sad – but this is what I love. Being able to walk into a theatre and get lost in the moment for 2+ hours is my idea of bliss, and as I have said to many – if you don’t like it, TOUGH!!

This love of theatre, including musicals has also allowed me to meet some wonderful people via various means of social networking! All of them share in my love of theatre, and I am truly blessed to know such amazing people (More about Naomi, Leeanne, Nikki, Selena, Haleema, Rachel, Charlotte, Jacqui, Bex, Vikki and many more in a later post!)

For now people, a fond farewell!!

Welcome!

So here we go then – my attempt to be a part of the world of blogging!

Why am I even here? Writing to all of you? Well, one of the things you will learn about me is that one of my biggest loves in life is the Theatre.

I always ended up going to our local Pantomine when I was younger, but as I got older, musicals and other productions started to gain my interest and now, at the age of 27, I am very proud to say that I am an utter theatre geek!!

The people that I work with, who are the usual ears for my constant theatre ramblings, suggested that I should create my own blog to share my love of theatre, and my thoughts on the shows I have seen (as, apparently, I am ALWAYS at the theatre!)

And after giving it some thought, I decided to give it a go – and here I am!

I am also very lucky to be blessed to have many theatre/musical loving friends who I am sure will chip in from time to time.

So if you love all things theatre (as well as many other things), why not stick around? It’s going to be one hell of a ride!!!