Amongst a fair few months of jumping about between half a dozen different productions, July afforded the chance of almost three weeks in one place, helping out on the UK tour of Mary Poppins as the company finish up rehearsals for new cast members. Norwich, in July, with nice sunny warm weather, is a fantastic city to visit, and as temperatures went above 30C on the 19th July I was very lucky to spend my birthday picnicking on the beautiful beaches of Holkham in Norfolk with my sister and brother-in-law. In fact, just being "responsible" for playing a keyboard each evening, many a sunny day was spent exploring Norwich and beyond.
A run of 20 straight performances was certainly welcome, and the tour as ever is in tip-top form and thoroughly supported by the audiences in Norwich. It was also nice for the team at Cameron Mackintosh to provide nice accommodation for me during my stay - a very welcome change from having to scrounge for my own spare bed!
Away from Poppins, I had a couple of visits up to the North West, most notably to get back into the am dram spirit by playing on the annual Showcase at the Lowry, an utter pleasure every time and a great chance to finally gig with Patrick Murphy, currently the MD on the UK Tour of Billy Elliot, who also lent his fingers to the cause. It was also of course a pleasure to play once again with Simon, John, Danny and the Pauls.
I also had a great first proper visit to Arts Educational Schools in Chiswick. Traditionally they end each academic year with a little informal showcase, and I was tasked, along with Grant Murphy, to get a class of 1st years to learn a 5 minute blast of Young Frankenstein. The four-day project flew by and was a proper good laugh. Arts Ed are, of course, training the new batch of up-and-comers extremely well and they took to the score with gusto and we were all laughing and smiling for the whole project. I get the impression that the corridors of Arts Ed are constantly a happy and smiley place!
August includes my quadrennial leave for The Olympic Games. My staycation largely involves side-stepping into amateur journalism to be one of the main contributors at By The Minute which will be covering large chunks of the games with a live text service. A change is as good as a rest... that's what I believe they say!! Either side of the Olympics, I'm helping out with some holiday cover at Les Miserables this week, and then helping out with paternity cover over at Jersey Boys come the end of the month. The freelance snowball rumbles on!