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 Β£200; Do not enter the Duty Free”!! πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚
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 πŸ™‚

Rehearsals Day 35 – How lucky can one boy be?

We ploughed headlong into our new show yesterday – so another gear change!

(Scott, George, Daniel & Emma blow off some steam on the Table Football before the show-off)

We finished off some cleaning on ‘Blame It On The Boogie’ before showing it off to the assembled masses. It’s quite a fast-paced show, so I think everyone was fairly knackered by the end of the run… hey ho, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!!

Yesterday saw the start of ‘When Swing Was King’ – our next show which is – yep, you guessed it! – a Swing show πŸ™‚ Jerry is choreographing us for this one, so it was nice to see him back again – as our first week spent with him working on ‘Hitsville USA’ seems like a lifetime ago now. (That reminds me – we haven’t finished learning that one yet!)

(It’s a cold day – you can tell by the queue for the coffee machine! Charles, Neil & Sara looking rather sheepish if you ask me…)

This one is packed full of all the classic swing / Rat Pack songs that you’d expect and a few surprises too – some great arrangements of songs you wouldn’t expect in a swing show. Don’t worry – you’ll be pleasantly surprised… trust me!

It looks like it will be a very classy evening (well, what else did you expect!) and it’ll be really cool having the band on stage with us for this show too. A big benefit of having quite a few different shows to present is that there’s a good variety. A real SmΓΆrgΓ₯sbord (and yes – I did have to Google the spelling!!) of styles and content so there’s something for everyone. Crikey – sounds like marketing pitch…!

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

Rehearsals Day 10 – Everything’s upside down

Mainly Sara, Scott & Neil as it happens! I feared for a short time that it was going to be me – but managed to persuade Rob that my talents would be much better employed dangling poor Scott by his ankles, head-first over the floor.

Scott and Neil were being dangled (Daniel was being Neil’s ‘dangler’!) in our number from ‘The Producers’. It’s fab doing a number from a show you’ve been in, and seeing done in a different way. There may not be any Adolf Pigeons in this one, but there’s a few surprises… of course including Valerie!

The next bit of “upside down” work was from our very own Sara, who was held aloft by Scott and Daniel for what seems an age during the Jive number – yes, another dance! If the look on her face following the ‘dismount’ was anything to go by, she had a whale of time!!

Charles & I spent the rest of the afternoon bombarding poor Neil with music and choreography from Hitsville USA, so he has a slight head-start when it comes to learning it. Yes, so what if it brought on a headache – it’s all worth it πŸ˜‰

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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚ I can’t wait until there are some photos of that to show you!

Rehearsals Day 6 – It’s like a Heatwave…

OK – so it’s NOT like a heatwave, it’s still blinking freezing – but anyhow!

Final day of the first week, so we’ve been adding on the choreography for a few numbers in Hitsville USA and smartening up the bits we’ve already learned.

(Here’s Charles and Sara ‘bumping’ their way through “Heatwave”)

Charles has been given a chance  to make use of his long legs, and has been taking over the mantle of ‘dancer boy’ for the girl’s numbers. Lucky him (and lucky them, of course!)

We’ll be moving onto a new show next week, which will be quite weird when it feels like we’ve only just started on THIS one! There’s still a bit more to learn, so we will no doubt be coming back to it again soon… fingers crossed!

(Sara getting the low-down on some of next week’s music from Leigh)

The Dancers have had the day off today (lucky buggers – school trip, hotel stays, exciting “off site pre-production work” (are you getting the idea with that yet?!), meals out, comedy paint effect… for some of them anyhow πŸ˜‰ Sounds like lots of fun to me – when’s our trip away?

Following the now almost daily trip to Tescos (eeek – that has got to stop!) we spent some time during the afternoon working on the Smokey Robinson section, which gives Ashley the chance to do his ‘thang’.

(If you look closer it’s easy to trace the tracks of his tears, ya know!)


With a quick look at the last number, the whole show is finally coming together. It’ll be fab once we can get the last few bits sorted and try the WHOLE thing. We’ve also been working with some tracks of the original artists, which has been helpful to get the feel of the styles and rifs and ‘interpretation’ – so now we need to do our versions. I am sure they will be definitive… in one way or another!!

And yet again, to end the day, I got over excited by some of the material in the next show – Destination Dance. Admittedly the ‘dance’ bit will not be down to us so much (!) but there are some great numbers in it – and a little bit of comedy to boot… watch this space πŸ™‚

(Charles and Sarah discussing the finer points of the Motown era…)