This was a long day. It started in Manchester at 10:15am when I got on the train to London Euston with my Mum and my Auntie, Sarah. To make things confusing, we were going meeting my friend Sarah outside the Garrick when we got there. It was West End Live – a free event in Trafalgar Square where all the shows on the West End perform snippets of their musicals to encourage more people to go to the theatre. Like I need encouraging. The Saturday would be mainly shows and then on Sunday there would be various performers including Oliver Tompsett, currently leading man in We Will Rock You and also currently releasing two tracks a month from his new self-written, self-produced album, Resolution.
When I got to London it was 12:20pm – We Will Rock You would be performing in Trafalgar Square at 12:40pm. Plenty of time. I threw my bag at my Mum and told her to go and check in at the hotel, and then ran to the underground. Problem. Some genius had decided to close the Northern Line – the link from Euston to Leicester Square, where I needed to be. Instead I had to get the underground to Kings Cross, switch to the Piccadilly Line and get to Leicester Square that way. Kings Cross is a bloody labyrinth of underground tunnels, escalators and staircases. It was a tad stressful. By the time I got to Leicester Square I was ready to drop but I still had to get to Trafalgar Square and find Sarah who was somewhere in the crowd. I got there just as the We Will Rock You cast took to the stage – there aren’t many sights more impressive than Brenda Edwards in full Killer Queen gear. I rang Sarah who said she was on the steps outside the gallery. Eventually I decided to just stand still and told her to look for me (I had bright pink hair at the time – it wasn’t hard to spot.) Finally we found eachother and, although I was on the verge of collapse, we ran to the back of the stage where the We Will Rock You cast would be coming out after their performance. There really is nothing more bizarre than seeing the cast of a show, all still in full costume and make-up, walk out of the performance area and climb into a taxi. God knows what the driver thought.
After a quick hug each from Olly and a chat about his upcoming solo performance (he was so nervous! I have no idea why, the man is flawless) we walked back to the Garrick to meet Sarah and my Mum, after a small diversion to Tesco to get a drink each and a box of chocolates for Tim Driesen for his birthday. Having two Sarahs was very confusing, so from now on my friend Sarah will be referred to as “my Sarah” and my Auntie will be… “Auntie Sarah.” (Original, I know.) We all met at the Garrick at around 12:30pm and settled down to wait for the cast to appear. I was having major problems with my skirt – it’s a very lightweight leather-look skirt and it was a windy day. I was giving Marilyn Monroe a run for her money. Short of standing there with a hand in-between my legs to stop it from blowing up (not at all ladylike) there was absolutely nothing I could do to control it. “You know what’s going to happen,” I said. “Nathan (Amzi – my not-so-secret favourite cast member) is going to come walking down the street, I’ll go to give him a hug and my skirt will blow over my head.” It could, and, knowing my luck, probably would happen.
After about five false alarms (seriously, there are so many people who look like Nathan in London!) I spotted him walking down the street with Dan Fletcher who plays Dennis Dupree. Skirt firmly in hand, I walked up and gave them a hug each. “We’ve been waiting for ages!” I joked. “Oh we know,” said Dan. “We saw you arrive from the cafe across the road.” That’s slightly embarrassing. When they’d gone inside, my Sarah felt the need to point out that Nathan had probably seen several of my skirt fails. Thanks for that. With no sign of Tim Driesen we grabbed Scarlette Douglas, another cast member, and asked her to give him the chocolates instead. There was also no sign of Simon Lipkin who plays Lonny, and it occurred to me that it could be Nathan playing Lonny…
With just over an hour to go before the show we decided to go to the cafe that Dan and Nathan had just come out of. After a very filling meal (you should have seen the size of my Sarah’s jacket potato – it was at least the size of my head!) we headed to the Garrick. As I walked into the lobby I glanced at the cast list as I always do – “The role of Lonny will be played by Nathan Amzi.” Not going to lie – I screamed. I was so happy! Other covers included Carly Mercedes Dyer as Justice, Scarlette Douglas as Waitress #1 and Tim Driesen as Stacee Jaxx. Thanks to my Sarah dayseating for the tickets we were in row BB, seats 5-8. VERY close to the front. Auntie Sarah had only seen the show once, in November 2011 when I dragged her to see it. Despite my best efforts she’d not seen it since.
As the lights went down and the music started I was bouncing up and down with excitement. When Nathan burst out of the door at the top of the stairs I screamed as loud as I could and I swear I got a wink. He was spectacular, as always, as were the rest of the cast. At the interval my Sarah and I received a tweet from Tim Driesen “thanks for the chocolates!” What a cutie. Just before the second act started there was an announcement: “Due to the indisposition of Scarlette Douglas the role of Waitress #1 will be played by Carly Mercedes Dyer.” Flipping heck! After a quick tweet to Scarlett to check that she was ok I turned to Sarah – that meant Carly would be playing Justice AND Waitress #1- that also meant some VERY quick costume changes for her. Poor Carly! To her credit, she pulled it off flawlessly and managed to portray two completely different characters.
After Rock of Ages it was time for… Rock of Ages. Straight after the show the cast would be heading to Trafalgar Square to perform their slot at West End Live – a last minute arrangement made by Nathan. We all headed straight to Trafalgar Square and found a spot where we could see the big screens and escape to the stage door quickly afterwards. Natalie and Ross stepped up and began to sing “Here I Go Again,” the “Act One finale”, and then Nathan came running onto the stage with Dan “woah woah woah stop the music!” Instead of performing a song, they were going to try and break the world record for the most people playing the air guitar at the same time. Awesome. After teaching the crowd three different moves, they blasted Sweet Child O’ Mine from the speakers and went for it. It looked amazing!! From our viewpoint we could see the whole of Trafalgar Square simultaneously head banging to the music. It was later confirmed that we had succeeded in breaking the record. Not bad for a last minute performance! After performing “Here I Go Again” – properly this time – they left the stage and my Sarah and I ran round to greet them. After lots of hugs and shouts of “that was totally awesome!” they had to head back to perform their second show of the day at the Garrick. We also bumped into Oliver Tompsett again, who, as the original Drew Boley in the West End, was there to support the Rock of Ages cast.
Despite the fact that we were all dead on our feet we still had one more stop – a trip to see Daniel Radcliffe in The Cripple of Inishmaan at the Noel Coward theatre. After a quick Burger King in Charing Cross Station we walked to the theatre – and bumped into Nathan and Dan. Again. They were stood outside a pub and my Mum and Auntie Sarah, who were quite a way behind us, didn’t see them until Dan walked up to me and my Sarah, put his arms around our shoulders and said “so where are we going now ladies?” When Dan had wandered off and my Mum and Auntie Sarah had caught up they said “who was that random bloke with his arms around you?” “Dan.” Me and my Sarah said together.
I was so excited to see Daniel Radcliffe on the stage – I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan so it would be interesting to see him in something completely different. The Noel Coward is a nice little theatre and me and my Sarah quickly located the bar and ordered a Bacardi and coke each. As the lights went down I squeezed my Sarah’s hand with excitement – she’s a big Potter fan too. There was almost a whole scene before Daniel came onstage and when he did there was a collective intake of breath. His entire left leg was bent inwards and he walked on tiptoe, limping along the stage. His right arm was also bent at the elbow and he held it close to his chest. They weren’t kidding when they called him The Cripple of Inishmaan! It couldn’t have been comfortable but he didn’t shift his position for the entire show, and his Irish accent didn’t slip once. I was really impressed with the show and joined in with the standing ovation it received at the end.
Of course me and my Sarah wanted to meet Daniel, but my Mum and Auntie Sarah weren’t bothered and so they went back to the hotel. As me and my Sarah rounded the corner to the stage door we stopped in our tracks – there were hundreds of people already there! Some of them hadn’t even seen the show which seemed a tad unfair. It was now 10:20pm and it was cold and raining. Everybody was pushing to get to the front, and I do not do well in crowds however I gritted my teeth, thankful that there was a breeze at least and I could see the sky. There was a fair amount of pushing and one idiot with a huge backpack who started off behind me shoved his way forward, hitting me in the head with his backpack in the process, and refused to budge. Every time he turned to talk to his friend his backpack would hit me in the side of the head, which I greeted with a very loud, exaggerated “OUCH” before “accidently” digging my elbow into his ribs. Stage doors can be brutal. After half an hour or so Daniel finally came out… signed five posters and went back inside. I didn’t even see him. Everybody surged forward and I thought “sod this,” gave my programme to my Sarah and got the hell out of there. A security guard then came out of the door and informed us that Daniel had left via the front exit. Bloody charming. At this point I was cold and piss wet through and very very annoyed. When I met David Tennant he stayed until every single programme was signed and had time for everyone – Apparently Daniel Radcliffe is too good for that kind of thing. He has gone way down in my estimations I can tell you that. Me and my Sarah headed back to Leicester Square station, and, for the fourth time that day, bumped into Dan and Nathan. They probably thought we were following them. After having a rant about Daniel Radcliffe, me and my Sarah decided to sod the underground and walk back to the hotel. At least it had stopped raining.