Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Bravo Amanda

I've been busy having fun since Thursday night when I was offered - and half heartedly accepted - a free ticket to the opening night of a new show. I met Ernie, my date, at Taylor Square and we shared a taxi to that awful place where people get blinded by dazzling lights and the chance of winning a fortune (whilst their kids are locked in the car). I didn't really know what to expect, but I always have fun when I'm in Ernie's company so I had nothing to lose. The show (and group) is called Bravo and I guess it's basically jumping on the Il Divo bandwagon - handsome guys singing new versions of popular songs. Ian Stenlake, Scott Irwin and James Miller make up the trio accompanied by a great mini orchestra complete with string section.

We arrived in time to order a beer before the show and then met up with Ewan and Gary. Ewan works in the world of Theatre and had organised our tickets. Gary works in Television and often appears as Ewan's handbag. Being opening night I was scanning the foyer to see who was there. Rachel Beck was an early arrival - she just happens to be married to Ian Stenlake, but apart from her and Pippa Grandison (E Street, Muriel's Wedding) I didn't notice any other familiar faces.

The bell rang, advising patrons the show would soon be starting, so we made our way inside and found the little table reserved for the four of us. This is when I began to think it could be a better night than anticipated. The table wasn't too far from the stage and more importantly it was packed with booze - beer, wine and champers on ice. And it was all free.

The show got underway and I was mostly impressed by the range of songs - a few classics such as Unchained Melody and some surprises like Howzat (the Sherbet song) and Only You (Yazoo). If you don't know any of these songs it's because you weren't around in the '70s and early '80s and all I can tell you is, they were big in their day. There was a Simon & Garfunkle medley, which was a crowd pleaser, though Ernie couldn't understand why Mrs Robinson had been omitted, then at some stage Bravo sang a version of Cool Change (Little River Band), which was one of my favourites throughout the night (along with Only You).

Bulldog-like broadcaster Alan Jones was sitting nearby and I had some evil thoughts when I saw him get up during the show to go to the loo. With the knowledge of him being caught some years ago loitering in a public toilet in England I considered following him into the men's room and seeing what happens next. Perhaps I could've gone to the tabloids the next day with a juicy story. It's a good thing I believe there's no such thing as a missed opportunity...

The first half of the show was quick n slick with room for improvement - it was their first night - but the interval was confirmation that I had done the right thing when I'd accepted Ernie's invitation. When the lights came up I could see who else had come along to enjoy the night. There was Tom Burlinson, Peter Cousens and his wife Suzanne Roylance, an actor from Home & Away and sexy Simon Burke who was seated down the front not far from the incomparable Amanda Muggleton. A writer friend, Marcus, came over to say hello at interval and he was as excited as me to discover Amanda was in the audience. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Prisoner, the Aussie soap set inside a women's prison. Amanda made a huge impact in the early daze of the cult soapie as tarty Chrissie Latham. She went on to establish herself as one of this country's most formidable talents with roles on stage in Steaming, Shirley Valentine and Master Class (to name a few) and another great TV performance as Connie Ryan in Richmond Hill.

Marcus, who grew up watching as much television as me, was making cracks about Chrissie Latham having escaped from Barnhurst - another fictitious women's prison from Prisoner - when Ewan decided to bring Amanda over to our table to say hello. She was introduced to Marcus and Gary and greeted Ernie who she knows through mutual friends. When she was introduced to me she said she remembered meeting me many months ago at the Stables Theatre in Darlinghurst. This really made my night. I've admired her since first discovering her in Prisoner and apart from other stage work I saw her in Steaming more than once.

Amanda and I have actually met a few times. The first time was many years ago in Melbourne when she was performing in Shirley Valentine. After her performance that night (she received a standing ovation) I sat spellbound with friends in her dressingroom as she regaled us with story after story. She's an absolute delight. As we said our goodbyes I sheepishly asked her if she'd mind signing my programme. She was more than happy to oblige and wrote something I'll always cherish: "Never live a little life". It's something I sometimes lose track of, but it's still something I try to live by.

The second half of the Bravo show was entertaining, as was the party afterwards. Ernie, Gary and I were three of the last to leave (nothing unusual) and then Ernie and I ended up at the Oxford Hotel chewing the fat and drinking 'til about 2AM. The night turned out to be one of those occasions where despite initial misgivings I made the effort to get out of the house and had a ball


Blogger Sheila said...

Dear Nash,
Your night sounds wonderful. I wish I'd been there. I would have forced you into that bloodly toilet with Alan Jones whether you liked it or not!

April 25, 2006 8:10 PM  
Blogger nash said...

Hi Sheila, and I would've made you take the photos

April 25, 2006 8:41 PM  

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