As a jaunt I flew to London for two days to check out the Year 3 West End cast, who had opened only a few days earlier. There’s nothing like landing at 630am and heading to a matinee that afternoon to perk the spirits up, but after a hearty English breakfast and a coffee from Monmouth, I felt ready to face the (other) Palace again.
Toured the dressing rooms saying hello to the old and new faces – there’s probably been a change of around half the cast since last year – we’ve got Richard Grieve and Mark Moraghan joining us as principals, a new Marion (Selina) and Shirl (Liz), two new Divas (Lucinda and Gemma – coming soon) and about half the ensemble. The matinee was in great shape, led by Don (who joined in Year 2) and Oliver (our remaining lead from the original cast). The dynamic between the three is lovely, and Mark has one of, if not THE best Australian accent I’ve ever heard. The ensemble were tight and and had the tone of the show down. And William, the Benji, was adorable with a spot-on accent.
I watched it twice more over the two days period, taking friends along with me, who adored the show and couldn’t believe how fun and fresh it still was after two years on the West End (they’d both been there on opening night 2009). It was quite full on taking in a completely different production after weeks of watching the Broadway one – apart from the different people onstage there’s the fact that Venus occurs, that Felicia loves Kylie and just random assortments of dialogue here and there.
It was lovely to catch up with the originals like Oliver, Steven, John(s), Amy, Dani (who is booth singing on maternity leave), Tristan – and impressive how committed to the show they were after that amount of time. Which is of course a testament to the work that Graham, John and Will, our team on the West End, have done. Everyone was fascinated about the changes for New York and how the show in general is being received. They wanted to know is it getting that crazed, early-days reaction (Yes). But it was pretty amazing the reaction it was still getting, two years on, in the West End. Also gratifying, as they head into their third year of performances.
And then it was back to Heathrow, JFK and the Palace. I caught the last half hour of the show, and, yes – it was that crazed, early-days reaction. Last show tonight before the day off, and then the final week of previews. In one week’s time, we open on Broadway!