One day more…

Well – we’re nearly there!!

Tomorrow is the last day in the UK for the Azura cast for some time, as we fly out to Monfalcone Shipyard   in the morning of Thursday 18th March, and won’t be back until the beginning of April.

We finished up our London rehearsals on Saturday with a bit of revision of the shows we have learned so far. It was tough week last week, as we needed to prepare a ‘show off’ of Hitsville USA, When Swing was King and also Destination Dance with a new number included (watch out for flying flags… that’s all I’ll say!)

So it was a fairly frazzled cast that said ‘Cheerio‘ to Alford House on Saturday evening, headed home and will be meeting up again at Heathrow at 9.00am on Thursday morning for our flights over to Europe … “Do not pass go; Do not collect £200; Do not enter the Duty Free”!! 🙂

So the next instalment should be from somewhere in Italy – watch this space!

Rehearsals Day 57 – Ain’t no mountain high enough…

Phew what a long day! Good, but tough… there’s a touch of the “lurgy” floating around, so all the numbers are interspersed with the odd cough and splutter! Hey ho… get it all out of the way now 🙂

It’s hard to believe that we are in our final week of rehearsals in London (it’s arrived AT LAST!) It seems like a lifetime ago that we all arrived on the 4th Jan, nervously introducing ourselves in the green room at Alford House on our first day. All old friends now… nice 🙂
Yesterday saw us revising our swing show – “When Swing Was King“, and also the Motown singers’ show “Hitsville USA“. Talk about a lifetime ago – until last weekend we hadn’t visited Hitsville since January, so we needed some fairly hefty “reminding”, I can tell you. No worries though, as we have spent the bulk of today working through the show and polishing it up. Also, we’ve been working in a more precise space which matches that which we’ll be working on onboard. Hitsville is the show that we will be performing more as a lounge show, and not in the Playhouse Theatre, so it’s more intimate. It will be great doing this kind of show in that setting – it just means we mustn’t get TOO carried away with big dance moves!
The dancers had spent all day working on our Boogie show (“Blame it on the Boogie“) and “Destination Dance“, as we’ll be performing these later in the week. And then – bless them – Jerry our Choreographer brought them all downstairs to watch our run of Hitsville to give us an audience… Awww!
So – we are ploughing headlong into our final few days of rehearsals on land. A little sign that we’re almost there appeared yesterday as well, with the arrival of our Seaman’s Discharge books… get us, all official! No stopping us… roll on Thursday 18th March – Azura here we come 🙂

Rehearsals Day 29 – When will I see you again?

How did that happen?? Day 20 to Day 29? I can assure you it isn’t because we HAVEN’T been rehearsing – far from it!

Let me do a quick recap – Day 20 was our “show off” for ‘Destination Dance’ with a wee bit of ‘Hitsville USA’ thrown in for good measure.
(Richard explaining some moves to the guys)
We arrived in the morning to be presented with a few props, costumes and bits of set to work with during the run – which added to the panic factor a little! But it went smoothly enough, and we had a little re-cap session with Richard at the end of the day to get our heads back into ‘New York City Rhythm’ which we dived back into on the following day.

Day 21 (“in the Azura House” ) onwards we carried on working with Richard putting NYCR on it’s feet.
(Charles & Neil giving Sara a boost in ‘Native New Yorker’)
His choreography is fab, exciting and quite complex, and eminently frustrating when you can’t get it right!! But it is often the case that when you let go of the stress of trying so hard to get it right, it falls into place. So once it’s there, it’s there 🙂

Monday this week – Day 25 – was our “show off” for NYCR, which seemed to go well enough.
(Scott, Dom & Dan giving it macho!)
As these are all brand new shows, we’re quite aware that there will no doubt be some changes and alterations – probably right up to the first time we perform the show for the passengers, but that’s fine – all adds to the excitement.

And now? Well now we’re about halfway through ‘Blame It On The Boogie’ which is – have you guessed yet? Yep – a whole heap of 70s!! So we’re funking it up with the Bay City Rollers, The Drifters, The Nolans, The Who… you name it. All held together by Charles’ multi-character DJ. I’m just looking forward to the platforms and flares… can’t wait 🙂

Rehearsals Day 19 – Where is it all going…

The time, that is. I can’t believe that we’re already into week 4 of rehearsals…. how with THAT happen?

My slightly ‘sporadic’ posting during last week was down to nothing more than tiredness and lethargy on my part. It was a hectic week with lots going on, and it clearly took it’s toll on my ability to do very much in the evenings at all – other than stretch out my aching bones!!

Last week, once we had given our “show off” of Destination Dance and some snippits of Hitsville USA to the powers that be, we started off with our next show – New York City Rhythm. Another doozy, with some great songs, and some pretty funky dance moves from Richard – our illustrious choreographer for the show. This one is also a little different as there is an original story running through the show, linked together with scripted passages and scenes – nice to have something to get your teeth into.

As we have a big “show off” for even MORE people from head office tomorrow, we spent today working through and cleaning Destination Dance, with some minor re-shaping and adjustments to make sure the show is “just so”. This does appear to involve some fairly full on “flesh on leather” action (don’t panic- it’s nothing dubious – think more panto than porno!) – but nothing we can’t handle.

We should also be getting hold of some of the props and ‘accessories’ that we will be using in the show from tomorrow, so it’ll be great to start to get used to using those. And Neil and I got a sneak preview of our big heads (no comments please…) that we will be sporting for the opening section. Photos to follow 🙂

Rehearsals Day 15 – Ease on down the road

Ouch… everything is aching now. I’m sure in some way it’s good for me… but I’m yet to be convinced by that!! I think perhaps after a hot bath I may feel differently 🙂

It’s been a day of cleaning and running “Destination Dance” today, with a little “Hitsville USA” thrown in. We’ve set the whole of the dance show now, which is nice to be able to get a feel for the whole thing. And of course we need to get used to doing it repeatedly, as once we’re on board any evening we are performing we will be doing the show 3 times. That’s should certainly help with the keeping fit!

We will be showing the material we’ve learned to some visitors from “the office” (as in our bosses, and not the TV sitcom!) tomorrow, so we have been polishing the various sections, and also smartening up the Motown numbers we worked on during the first week. It seems like a lifetime ago already…

I took a few photos yesterday, but you’ll have to wait for those until I retrieve my cable to get them online. I know – I am normally a little more organised.. maybe next week?

Rehearsals Day 13 – A little bit of Africa

OK. So it is still a bit chilly – hardly some sub-Saharan savannah; nor is it really anywhere near the equator – more like Kennington, but we have been trying to bring a little bit of Africa to rehearsals today. We’re working on the next number in ‘Destination Dance‘, and for much of the day we have been singing Ingonyama nengw’ enamabala – which for those of you who are not fluent in Zulu translates as:

A Lion and a Leopard come to this open place

So there! In case you come on board and see the show, you will now be able to impress you fellow audience members with your vast linguistic knowledge. Definitely something to amaze and astound people with over dinner!

The dancers have been hammering through the numbers in the show, finishing off the Bolero number, a bit of leaping and stomping in the Lion King number, and putting together the final bits of the Irish section. Bless them – they’ve been taking in a lot over the past few days!

As we will be showing the ‘powers that be’ some of the material we covered thus far, we had a good run through our Motown show “Hitsville USA” with Sarah giving us some help and cleaning up what we’d done. And it also gave Neil a chance to have a real go at it, as he missed out on those rehearsals at the start.

So we have a couple of days of cleaning up and perfecting (well, you know what I mean!) the dance show before showing it off and then moving on up to the next one. No rest for the wicked 🙂

Rehearsals Day 12 – Piling it on…

Yes – I know there was no “Day 11”, but you’ll have to get used to that. I was far too tired to write anything on Friday night!!

Today was the last day of week 2, and we are getting towards the end of “Destination Dance” – just a couple of numbers to get through now. A lot of the day was taken up with the guys learning the Bolero section (which I don’t feature heavily in… probably for the best!) and then doing a run through for Steve of everything we’ve done on the show so far.

I can’t deny feeling a few aches and pains on getting up and travelling into work over the past couple of days – it’s my age, clearly! I think mainly brought on by the hoe-down stuff we’ve been doing. Oddly, it’s actually only about 3 minutes of material, but feels like much longer when you’re in the middle of it and the legs are having difficulty keeping up with the brain, which is having difficulty keeping up with the music. It’ll get better I’m sure, but I am slightly worried that with all that concentration going on I had the classic “rabbit in the headlights” face on for most of it!

(OK… Rabbit, Monkey – same difference! )

A couple more days on this show for next week, and then – following another run through of the show – we will be moving onto the next one. Crikey. 3rd show in as many weeks. No chance to get bored that’s for sure!

Rehearsals Day 9 – Will drive you Maaaaaaad!

Today has been an odd one, it has to be said. More snow traumas for everyone trying to get into rehearsals for a start. It’s tad boring now! And it really makes you yearn to be sailing away on the Azura somewhere warm…. ahhhhh.
Also,  our Ashley has moved onto a different ship (no, not ‘The Great Cruise Ship in the Sky’ – it’s not THAT serious!), so we had our Neil joining us today. Bless them both. But I guess things in life are sent to test you, so you bite the biscuit, pick yourself up, wake up and smell the coffee, knuckle down, buckle under, shake rattle and roll, and weave a tangled web. No… wait – I think I’ve mixed my metaphors somehow…
Anyway. On with the show. Rob is putting the dancers through their paces this week (well, it is the dance show after all!) and we got some time to go over stuff with Neil – as he has a week’s worth of material to catch up with. We’ve got quite a way through “Destination Dance” now, and covered a fair few dance styles already. (Shimmying-around-in-an-oversized-head” style is currently my personally favourite!)
(La, la, la, la, la, laa-la… etc. the guys having a little ‘rest’ after the Can-Can)
Our “scrunchy” vocal version of ‘A Nightingale Sang…’ will be gorgeous (when we nail the lyrics!) and the girls are gliding around behind us – almost literally – and making us look pretty, which is never a bad thing! Should be a lovely moment.
And then they up the ante when Emma & Neil and the rest of the gang with something a little more up tempo. I think we’re busy changing into Laderhosen at that point (don’t ask!)
(Neil & Emma giving us their routine)
We finished off the day with a run-through of everything we’ve done so far on this show. Quite exciting really – until it hits you how much we’ve still got to learn, as we’re only on show 2!! Eeek….

Rehearsals Day 8 – Scrunchy

That’s a reference to our harmonies – and nothing to do with our costumes (I hope…).

We spent the bulk of today revising the work we’d started with Leigh yesterday on ‘Destination Dance’, and on our close-harmony ‘ Nightingale’ – which is going to be awesome (even if I do say so myself!). Dominic is involved in this one, with Steph, Sara and myself. So we disappeared off and learned our individual lines separately and then slowly built it up, adding each of us until we were all in the mix. And it’s fab; and tight; and scrunchy – mmmmmm!

The dancers had been working on the next number to follow the carnivalistic (I believe I may  have made that word up!) opening, which is a slightly sexier one – you’ll have to wait and see what it is. Needless to say,  Valerie is once again doing her special ‘thang’, and the boys are doing their utmost to keep it sexy. No comment.

Rob asked us to take a look at the finale of the show (which involves the stuff the dancers had been working on during their trip away… and no I’m not bitter) which will eventually involve all of us flinging our legs – but I may be foregoing the pleasure in this case, and leave it to the youngsters. We’ll see… perhaps I may be flown in for it… 🙂

For some reason, I didn’t take any snaps today – so I’ll try and remedy that tomorrow.

Rehearsals Day 7 – A new week – a new show!

So that’s it – we’ve moved on! Hitsville USA is in the “ongoing” pile, and our next show – Destination Dance is at the top of the agenda. (Don’t believe what hear that where the Singer’s dancing is concerned it has been nicknamed ‘dance disaster’ – that’s a cruel rumour!)

(Valerie doing what she does best!)

The Dancers have returned from their sojourn to the outer reaches of Greater London and are back from their extended weekend break. Not that we’re bitter… It’s great to have people back in the same place – Alford House was a little empty last week without them. Quieter, true, but empty nonetheless.

And today is the FIRST time the whole Azura Headliners cast has been together. Daniel has finished his Panto up in Derby (yep – it would have been a little too far for him to travel each day!) and Natalie has joined us ( – having only auditioned and got the part on Saturday… good girl!) we we’re complete. Hurrah!

And no sooner had we all met together at last – than we all scampered off our separate ways to start working on the new material; singers to your singing room; dancers to your mirrors.

(Steph takes to the stage, have done a shimmy or two with her ‘dancer boys’ [and doesn’t she love it!] and the girls join to do her number.)

There is a little less material for us singers to do in this show, as it’s the dancers’ showcase. So it’ll great to have the chance to see a bit of what they’ve been doing as well.  The show combines some classic dance music, some musical theatre, some film music and some good ‘ole Rock & Roll 🙂 We will be getting the chance to do some really exciting close-harmony work on a version of “A Nightingale Sang In Berkley Square” … but we’re saving that for tomorrow!!

(The dancers get to grips with some Carnival…)
And to finish off the day, Ashley and I were put into the opening number… and forewarned about the big Brazilian Carnival costumes we will have coming our way – comedy! Shimmying to my heart’s content 🙂 I can’t wait until there are some photos of that to show you!