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So thats up to date at present- so as you can see I'm not idle!!Hello again everyone and thanks for coming to the website for news of what I am up to......and to be honest ...i'm not up to much at the moment...... I am more than delighted to say!!!
After 104 perfs as Susan Boyle in I Dreamed a Dream and then 62 as the Wicked Queen in Snow White at HMT in Aberdeen I think I deserve a lie down for a bit.
As many of you are aware there was a strong possibility of the show going to Australia and I was looking forward to going. I became aware of problems when we were told by the Producers there that the whole cast couldn't go and I really didn't want to do the show without them - though I understood the position of the creative trade unions about foreign shows coming in while their own members were out of work and I very much support that point of view. I also understood that the Australian producers did not want any conflict surrounding the production. So I was then persuaded by them to go out with our production team to audition and recast the whole thing for the tour there.
Until 10 days before we were due to set off I was definately going though I realised that it was a risk for all concerned and would also cause much disruption to my personal life -but felt it was worth it for the show and the producers.... I had misgivings about how long I was going to have to be there etc but I viewed it as an adventure. Sadly to my shock and surprise we were told suddenly that all the dates had been postponed. I have to say to all fans who were supporting the show and the 9000 or so folk that had already booked tickets that I am really sorry but also to inform you that the reason it isn't going on there has nothing to do with me at all.....the producers there are in charge and it was their decision.
I did have an amazing time on I Dreamed A Dream with a fantastic cast and amazing production team and crew.I don't think I will ever be able to thank the producer Michael Harrison enough for the investment, encouragement and belief he put into the show. This was two years of writing, changing and developing it and the strain on all of us to get it right was immense. ... We wanted to treat Susan's story with truth and dignity but also to give an accurate portrayal of her life as well as something that would act as a document about life in Scotland using our common experiences that would resonate with audiences here. This was probably the hardest, most knackering, most rewarding and difficult things I have ever done...well next to giving birth to my daughters!
So, much as I personally have huge disappointment over the situation - I am also relieved that I don't have to travel across the world for almost six months. I now have time to pause and consider whether I want to continue with the show or whether there is life still in it....I hope so...
The show won the Liverpool Post musical of the Year in December and I am heading down to Manchester for the Manchester Theatre Awards this month as I have been nominated for Best actress in a musical which is so lovely. I don't expect to win - I have never won an award for anything in my career- though I was nominated for a Bafta Scotland award this year for playing Mary Nesbitt (I declined the invite to go as it just felt like 20 years too late and I knew Gregor would win anyway as we were in the same category! Yes thats right...tells you all you need to know about film and telly in Scotland cos we make so few programmes here we don't even have Best Actress and Best Actor...we're all lumped together....bit of a joke really eh?).
Anyway, I am heading to Manchester with my sisters for a girls outing, to shop and party as well as go to the awards and have a laugh.
I am up against one of my heroines in life and a dear pal Sian Philips, who is nominated for her role in the recent production of Cabaret...so I genuinely hope she gets it...she is a true star....
I have been lucky in my career that all my rewards have come from a loyal and truly supportive audience who have stayed with me for almost 30 years and who continue to do so....so to all of you I bid a huge thank you for all the love and support that you have given me for so long. I could almost feel the audiences in Scotland during IDAD breath a sight of relief that said " See I tellt you she was good" as if their faith in me had been rewarded...so I hope it was!
Though I am now enjoying having a break- and I confess that I am feeling quite burnt out- I am enjoying seeing my daughters,sisters,friends and being able to plan holidays with my husband for the first time in years. I have been touring almost continuously for five years or more and to have a social life again feels wonderful.
Of course that time gets filled up with charity commitments etc., the campaign for a Yes vote in the referendum, after dinner speeches and many other things too.
I am recording a new series of Mum and Me for BBC Radio Scotland. I did the first series last year which I really enjoyed doing...met some quite amazing people with harrowing and uplifting stories and it was so well received that they have decided to do more.
I'm also doing a benefit for St Andrews Hospice in Airdrie( who took such wonderful care of my dad when he was dying) at Airdrie Town Hall on Thursday March 18th. Contact either the town hall or the events team at the Hospice for tickets.
A few days after that on Sunday 21st of April I am hosting ( along with my wonderful pal Ruth Wishart) a lunch for a truly great friend and great woman Janette de Haan who worked tirelessly for women's rights and against domestic violence and abuse against women and children for more than 25 years. She ran the Women's Support Project in Glasgow and sadly she died from cancer last year . We were all devastated and still are so all the proceeds from Janettes lunch will go to the WSP. It is at Oran Mor and tickets are £40 or tables of ten for £400. I am sure it will be a fab event.
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Okay I admit it...I'm pretty rubbish at this technology stuff...I keep vowing that I will do regular updates or a blog for the website and then get caught up travelling from place to place, checking in and out of hotels, driving or catching flights or trains, doing the show-8 times a week, publicity, interviews, buying my dinner for that night, trying to get a kip and having a life into the bargain...if you think the website has Ben ignored then have a word with my husband daughters and family!!! They barely recognise this vision of crabbitness that emerges in her nightie looking for tea and sympathy of a morning!!!!
The last few months have been amongst the most tiring and difficult that I can remember...writing, working on the show was very hard as my father Jimmy was very ill and sadly died just after christmas....performing in aberdeen that day and for the ten days after his death were some of the most difficult of my life and thanks to all the cast and staff at HMT in Aberdeen I got through...... As well as my sisters holding the fort and my amazing husband too.
These months since have also been the most wonderful and rewarding too.
The tour forced me to concentrate on other things apart from my grief.....and the cast and crew of 'I Dreamed a Dream' have been a amazing all the way through but these last four weeks in both Edinburgh and Glasgow just astounding....I actually feel quite overwhelmed by the response...the kindness, generosity and emotion from the audience and fans alike has been so moving with so many people not even realising that I can sing its been a surprise for the audience too. For the record that's what I wanted to be and started out as a singer who did a bit of acting but somewhere along the line I got famous for acting and that's been it .....so the opportunity to combine singing acting and writing has been just amazing. So thank you to all of you for your support and kindness.....and the dream continues next year but more of that when I have all the details.....
For the moment I am on a train to Aberdeen for the press launch of the panto At HMT..This is my fourth year there and I wasn't intending going back and having a Christmas off but I've never played the Wicked Queen before and Alan and Jordan are great to work with as is the fabulous Alex Norton who is directing again so I was persuaded. After the press launch it's London for a few days for costumes and songs and then home to lie down for a few weeks before we start rehearsals.....then you won't hear from me for a bit.two shows a day six days a week focuses the mind elsewhere...as well as trying to fit my Christmas shopping !!!!!!
I am so proud to have been a part of the Scottish Governments Breast cancer campaign and I have been so touched and moved by the response across the board....mostly from the women who have written to say that they have gone and got checked because of the advert . Some have now been diagnosed with Breast cancer and have written to thank me for the advert....in truth it is the Scottish government, the health service in Scotland and all the breast cancer charities and campaigners who should be thanked as they are the ones who did the work and believed it was a valuable campaign to do...we moan when they get it wrong so we should applaud them when they get it right!!!I
I know had my own mum seen it she would have sought medical advice sooner and that could have saved or prolonged her life so that she could have been in the audience to see 'i dreamed a dream' ...."she would have been so proud of it...but more importantly she would have seen her grandchildren grow and flourish and I want to be part of a campaign that allows that for other women and I know Stella would want that too.
So that's it...busy as ever...mad as ever...and all the best to all of you...
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I hit the work trail proper in November when I am back at HMT...with Alan McHugh, Jordan Young in Jack and the Beanstalk ( which I have never done before and Alan has written me great new role in it)...directed by the fabulous Alex Norton.
Until then I have a few events...
Documentary for TV about sitcoms.
Women in Scotland, From Austerity to Ambition Edinburgh.
Charity Ball for Nil by Mouth in Glasgow.
Rab C Nesbitt Series 10 BBC 2. ( also look out for Mocumentary anchored by John Sergeant...very funny...and then a showing of my favourite episode in Spain on BBC 3. Check listings.
Thursday September 29th
Wigtown Book Festival.
Moira Fund Ball ( I'm a patron of the Moira Jones Fund) also later that evening at the UCS at 40 at the Mitchell Theatre Glasgow.
Braidhurst High School Motherwell 50th Anniversary evening. Various other bits and pieces through October in for panto stuff like London for costume fittings, music rehearsals etc as well as writing and readthrus!!
Prestonfield House CHAS Ladies lunch.
November 4th, 5th 6th
The Ceilidh Place Changing Scotland conference.
Kilmarnock book festival.
Then PANTOLAND till mid January!!!
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Hello all...long time no hear..
I always have great intentions of doing a blog every other day but life gets in the way...or just watching Andy murray at the US Open in fact. But there's always washings to hang up, dishwashers to empty,food shopping to do, dog to walk, beds to make, daughters to shout at for doing none of the above- and all of them plus my work, a father who has been unwell and a few Zumba classes too...well they all seem to take priority over my blog!!
But here it is...I am knackered from staying up to 2 am watching Andy triumph over "Deliciano" Lopez and that was after a party thrown for my husband Bobs 60th birthday ( yes I live with a pensioner now!....well 2 at the moment as the lovely Brigit Forsyth is staying with us while rehearsing The Missing for the National Theatre of Scotland...I'm surrounded!!!). The 'do' was thrown by my sisters Louise and Diane...so I was a wee bit fragile in the first place!!! His big event to celebrate is later this month!!
Anyway, I finished panto in Aberdeen then went onto film the new series of Nesbitt ( out on the 28th of September) and decided to take as much time off as I could could and have a summer. I hadn't stopped for so long that it has been fantastic to be in my garden with a cup of tea, to be in Dunkeld, to stay with pals in North Berwick or have a fantastic trip to Glenborrodale...actually just to have a social life has been terrific!! I had hoped to see more of my daughters but Hannah has had her Higher exams as well as the SYT summer school and loved it and Katie has been working hard and then off in Mexico on holiday...so its been me Bob and the dog...though Bob has taken the birthday to be a great excuse to do more fishing...so actually its been me and the dog!!!
In many ways the break has been good because my dad has been very ill and I have been able to do my bit...he is 83 now and doing well but its been a hard few months for him and us...
Busy as ever with all my political and charity events...After a huge success and fab time at the Falkirk Comedy Festival ( a huge thanks to all the over 500 folk that turned up...you were fab)I then went to Parkhead to see the majestic Henrik Larson make a return....what a night...55000 people there and all the money going to Africa...and all of that when riots were going on elsewhere. Gave me some hope about humanity...
I went onto help launch the Jimmy Reid foundation which was just fantastic and a fitting tribute to a man I was lucky enough to call a friend and a great hero too. Well done to Robin and all the team at SLR for getting this off the ground.... then hosted the Princes Trust dinner and auction event in Perth on the 19th of August and went to Perth Races for the first time...a great day out and got a bit too pished with my dear pal Andy Gray...laughed all day!!! And it all raised over 200k for kids and young people in Scotland.
So its been a busy old time for doing nothing eh?
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I have also been beavering away with the lovely Alan McHugh...writing the Susan Boyle musical!!
Yes folks it is happening!! Contrary to all the press nonsense and speculation about a movie...the truth is that it is the stage show about Susans life which is fascinating.
We have been working on this for over a year...it all started with Susan saying that she thought I should play her if there ever was a film. i was very flattered but laughed knowing how Hollywood worked...that I didn't have a chance but that someone like Cher would end up playing it!!! Ridiculous and totally worng but hey its Hollywood. So I forgot all about it but mentioned it and all the press surrounding the story to the wonderful Producer Michael Harrison and said that though I would never get the movie I would be right for the stage show and said we should go after it ( thinking in 5 years time!!). Michael called back 10 minutes later and said that we should do it now!! I laughed and said that there was no way that we would ever get the rights ( I would only ever want to do the show if Susan and her management approved of it and me) and i assumed that Simon Cowell and Sony would just say NO.
But after a few months of Michael persevering we got meetings and a deal has been done. Susan and her team own half of the whole thing so there is no exploitation going on ( as some have suggested!) and Susans input has been essential. its been wonderful getting to meet her and to get to know her. She is great fun and smart with a terrific sense of humour as well as a great openess towards the whole project. it is important to me and our team that we don't present a "Then this happened," episodic sort of tale or one that is overly safe and sugary...but we also don't want a show that is full of misery and darkness...we want the story told accurately but creatively and theatrically with fab songs, cast and band....a good night out all round.
We start rehearsals after panto in February....open in Newcastle in March and then tour forever it seems....dates are on the website...
We are delighted that Cameron Mackintosh has given us the title "I dreamed a Dream" and are now around Draft 6 of the script and will be arranging readings with actors soon ( never a better learning curve for a writer than when its all read out loud!!!). We have a fab director in Ed Curtis, Musical Director is Kennedy Aitchieson and casting is under way... so its all moving on... etc.
Susan is involved in it all and I was delighted when she showed up with an ITV film crew to hear bits of it and one of the songs...nervewracking and we both ended up in tears...she started to cry and that set me off.... as its very moving at points...I don't know how I would feel if my life was being acted out in front of me...very weird... but she liked what we were doing with it...so far..so good...look out for the documentary coming out soon and a special appearance by Susan in Rab C as well as the likes of Jon Sessions
and the fabulous Richard E Grant and Andy Gray.
So thats all the news..
All the best,