OK , so that is NOT how the famous saying goes , but I will never forget 02/11/2013. It was the day a lot of people had been dreading, the day a popular show was taking it’s final Curtain Call. The West End stage show Rock Of Ages.
Luckily, or unluckily, depending on which way you looked at it, the week leading up to the 2nd had been one of the worst in my whole 27 years , so believe it or not, the fact that my favourite show was closing got pushed to the back of my mind. At one point, I wasn’t even sure if I was going to be able to make it, so as I sat down on the train waiting to take me to London, I didn’t feel emotional at all. I just felt happy that I was going to be part of this special day , and I wanted to make sure the cast had a good send off.
After a 45 minute train delay, an annoyingly loud man munching on cheese and onion crisps for what felt like the whole journey and the usual rudeness on the tubes, my happiness was being deflated!
But it soon came back when I arrived at Leicester Square to see my best friend Ali waiting outside the tube station for me, just like the other 10 times we had been to see it! I’m usually late, but it is NEVER my fault. The usual hugs and bickering between us took place as we made a mad dash to Earls court to dump our bags. We wanted to catch the cast before they went in today because we knew it would likely be mad after the shows and we had cards to distribute to cast members.
As we neared the theatre, I started grinning like a loon. There, at The Garrick Arms was none other than Paps Baps AKA Eleanor Page. I am sure if you are reading this, you will know who she is , but I will give you a brief description anyway. Nuts, tends to get people in trouble on twitter, spends her days coming up with weird end of world scenarios and usually seen with a camera in front of her face. Pretty sure you all know who I mean now. Anyway… hugs happened. I love that girl, she has a heart of gold.
Then I spotted Jus and Jess, the two J’s who had been making my Rock Of Ages experience more awesome by the day. They were also sitting outside the pub, and yes, they looked like pissheads but who was I to judge when I could usually be found in the very same pub downing malibu and cokes with Ali before each show?! Ha! Kidding girls. You are awesome.
As I glanced down at the theatre , I saw a familiar bright red head of hair through the massive crowd that had gathered. It’s a good job Alison has bright red hair, because she is so tiny that the cast can and quite often do pick her up with one hand. We made our way towards her saying hello’s to her amazing Mum Mandy, her best friend smiley Sarah (Never without a smile on her face) and Tanja.
Tanja is one of those unexpected things in life, like winning a tenner on the lottery or standing in dog crap by accident. OK , the dog crap thing is a bad example, Tanja is ace and hugging her was the first time my heart of steel felt something that day!! We had been messaging each other throughout my week of hell and she had been a light through the darkness, so it was a special hug.
I kept darting between the pub and stage door in search of my best ROAdie friend Stephy. But more about her later.
Ali and I managed to give our cards to Simon and Ross, Ali handed hers over with sweetness and smiles, I just sort of chucked their cards at them while announcing to the whole of London I was broke so they didn’t get a gift. I chickened out of giving my card/gift to Sandy, so I settled for sticking it in Jus’s gift bag for him to make sure he got it. I hate giving gifts, I get really embarrassed, so I completely wimped out of handing it over personally.
We entered the theatre for Muck Up Matinee and I still didn’t feel at all emotional, just happy to be there, see new friends that had recently been made and finishing this journey with the best friend I started it with.
Muck Up Matinee did not disappoint! I won’t list all the muck ups, because I have a shite memory and most of you would have been there and seen them, but I will tell you the three bits in the show that had me crying with laughter.
1) Tim Howar as Stacee Jaxx uncontrollably fake laughing to the point he where he fell off his chair before Dead Or Alive.
2) The Lipkin in the whole suspenders get up, confirming to the whole audience that yes, he does have an enormous penis. Or good padding.
And 3) Simon Lipkin and Daniel Fletcher making out.It was like a really bad gay porn movie. And I have never even watched a bad gay porn movie. Or a good gay porn movie. So that is how bad it was. But hysterical.
The one bad thing about the whole show was Sandy Moffat not pulling his entire Leotard down after Hit Me With Your Best Shot. Let’s face it, that would have been an epic muck up and after Simon in the erm…. hooker ‘outfit’ and Dylan Turner in the …. nothing outfit, the Sandy fans were owed a bit of nudity. Totally kidding. Sort of.
Everybody in that audience came out with a huge grin and tears of laughter in their eyes. I still had to give Dan his card so we gathered outside the stage door with none other than SitOnStephy and her lovely niece Danii. We got ushered into the alleyway bit to free the crowded pavement and after a few minutes, Sandy started making his way down the line of fans. I was sort of prepared to say my goodbyes, good lucks and thank yous until Steph turned to me and said “I’m going to ask him if he got your gift.” . I may have looked horrified, protested, realised she wasn’t going to back down and ran away like a kid. But I was so pleased I made that choice because as I ran for my life , I bumped into Noor. This bit is going to sound really cheesy , but if you have never met Noor then boy are you missing out. Little ray of sunshine describes her perfectly. Her smile and energy is contagious and she is probably the only person I knew I would love before I ever met her.
So while I spoke to the gorgeous Noor, Steph was delighting in torturing me by asking Sandy if he had received my gift. Thanks Steph…. I owe you one. Not.
Dan appeared eventually and I yet again announced I was broke and shoved a card in his chest. I’m a classy girl I know. Our group managed a quick chat with The Lipkin , where I told him I would not be crying because of my heart of steel, then we went to get a drink before the evening show.
Sitting back in the same seats that we had for our first ever show was a weird moment.
That cast gave the performance of their lives for that last show. It was magical.
Natalie – Beautiful, teary and classy as ever tugged at everyone’s heart strings when she broke down in More Than Words /Heaven . The audience sang the words for her when she choked up, although here is my confession. I didn’t. I couldn’t. My heart of steel was turning to mush and I knew that if I attempted to sing I would start crying. And I wasn’t going to cry right?!
I have seen Natalie 10 out of the 12 shows and I can promise you all that she has been flawless every single time. Never a missed line, never a fluffed note…. OK , so maybe she lost her composure a teeny bit during muck up matinee when Nathan full on tongued her and Dan licked her and all that jazz , but we can let her off for that!
I have no doubt in my mind that we will be seeing that girl as our leading lady once again very soon.
Simon Lipkin was , and always is magic. He lights up that whole stage. Every time it got too emotional, he would inject a bit of laughter back into it. Even though I would like to say I started crying during Hit Me With Your Best Shot at the thought of never seeing Sandy’s legs again,It was actually when Simon and Dan were singing Can’t Fight This Feeling. You could see that Simon was trying to hold it together,and what is usually such a funny song ended with me sobbing like a baby. I was no calmer by the time Every Rose came on. God knows what I must have looked like, mascara streaming down my face, but hey we were all in the same boat right?!
The end speech Simon done summed everything up perfectly. I really have nothing but praise for Simon. What a dude.
Obviously I have to say a little bit about Sandy Moffat. He’s incredible. There you go. Done. Ha!
I could say things about every cast member but this post has gone on long enough and I am not close to wrapping it up yet but I will say that I felt honoured to be part of that special closing night. Seeing Ross’s dimples quiver as he tried not to cry was adorable, Seeing Jodie’s tears as the job she loves leaves her was heartbreaking, and seeing Rohan hobble onto that stage to be back where he belonged for the last night was amazing.
Stage Door was manic as predicted. We got to say a few goodbyes to the cast that had made us all so happy for the last two years.
After a horrendous awkward sort of goodbye with my favourite West End man forced by Stephy and Paps Baps (Thought you would have my back Ele!) and the standard penis jokes (Hope Baxter,Looking at you….) It was time to say goodbye.
This was harder than I imagined actually, saying goodbye to people I barely knew, yet seemed like I had known forever. I didn’t want to say goodbye to Noor, and the lovely Sigal made my night with a beautiful comment she knows meant the world to me. Saying bye to an emotional Paps was hard for me, I had just witnessed something so heartwarming with her at Stage Door that it had me in tears all over again. And of course Stephy! I walked away before the tears started up again.
I met some fantastic people, from the Dylan and Cam mad Saz who I will forever bicker with, to Tobey the friendly tall German, to Ale , our resident sticker writer who was missing that day. I am sure there are too many to mention, and this is always a risky business, but thank you to, Ali, Stephy, Jess, Jus, Eleanor, Danii, Alison, Sarah, Tanja, Ale, Saz, Noor, Sigal, Bonnie, Rachel, Mandy, Ann, Nicky, Laura, Hope, Natalia….. Nope, Ok , I am all out. I know there are more of you, and probably even important ones I have forgotten, and I am sorry for that but you are all awesome.
It especially felt like a closed chapter the next day, after I said goodbye to Ali. It’s hard having one of your closest friends live hours away from you, and we had such a good time with all our Rock Of Ages shows this year that it was awful saying goodbye, knowing that we wouldn’t be seeing each other until way after Christmas.
So yes , it is a closed chapter. Rock Of Ages is no more. But I was so happy to be part of it. And that’s how our story wraps up.
But I know one thing for sure, they will all be back on a stage very soon, and I can’t wait to see what they do next!