Thursday, 29 December 2011

Blog 76!!! Last Ever Blog! (of 2011) See you next year!

Hey Everyone,

Happy Thursday,

How are you all? Fat and hung over from a successful festive period? Hope so! I had a really great time with my family. I'm writing this on the train back to London as I am heading to Prague tomorrow with 11 friends to celebrate the New Year weekend and I arrive back in London on my birthday which is Monday 2nd January. Good weekend ahead I hope!

I have only really realised this morning that two weeks tomorrow is my opening night as Sam in Ghost. We did three weeks rehearsals before Christmas and I was ok about it all because Siobhan (Molly) and I were always saying "we've got the Christmas period to let things digest in our heads" - well that christmas period is nearly over, we've just had our schedules for the next two weeks rehearsals and it's suddenly all a little more real! Yikes. Don't get me wrong though I can't flaming' wait! If I could, I'd say 'shoot me now and let's crack on with it!'

So it's been a busy week - however I'm not gonna bore you with a lot of what we do as a family over Christmas because let's be honest a lot of what we all do is pretty much the same, we wake, we see if Santa has been, we eat turkey, open presents, watch new DVD's whilst eating Quality Streets and tangerines, have a nap, eat turkey sandwiches and then play family games before bed! Am I right?

So I got back to Wales on the Wednesday of last week and had a catch up with my folks before heading to bed. I woke on Thursday morning to do a series of press interviews that my manager had arranged for 'when I have a bit more time' (3 days before Christmas!) and then worked on my guitar before heading to do a big food shop with my Mum and popping to the cemetery to visit my Nanna! 
This was the first Christmas without any grandparents so it was a little sad and difficult at times but we're lucky we have a big family to support each other.

Friday I spent the whole day with my friend Aimee at her house. We only ever see each other if she comes to London, or pops to see me at my folks farm or if we are working together on West End In Wales stuff so we decided instead of making proper plans, I would go to her house and we would lay on the sofa all day and eat as much as we can possibly fit in our faces and stomachs and watch films! It was perfect!

Christmas eve I left Aimee's house to meet another mate of mine who came back to the farm and we went for a long walk around the hills which was great as I felt I was walking off a large amount of the carbs consumed the day before!

The night of Christmas Eve I went to sing at 11.15pm at our local chapel's midnight carol service which was lovely. It made me feel very festive and it was great to see lots of the locals from our village. I couldn't help but laugh though, our minister was reading out the first verse of the last hymn of the evening and all of a sudden he announced "and I've just realised I've forgotten to print out the lyrics to the chorus for this song, but I'm sure we all know the words"  - It was Hark The Herald Angels Sing, in Welsh. It was funny because I could tell that everyone was thinking the same thing 'i'm sure the words will come to me when we get to the chorus' - well sure as hell they didn't! Picture a congregation of passionate Welsh folk singing at the top of their voices through the verses and then getting to the chorus and it was just one massive combined mumble of vowels with the odd consonant thrown in for good measure from the few folk who tried to make it sound as if we were at least singing words even if they weren't the right ones. I suddenly felt my shoulders starting to shrug with laughter and I left that service in such a good mood because I'd had the hardest internal laugh I'd had for a while! Very funny evening!

I woke Christmas morning and was straight on the bucks fizz with mum, she thought it was orange juice and was happily sipping away, not realising there was alcohol in it! ha.
The christmas day panned out as I described above albeit with me having a bit of a hangover by 8pm due to morning drinking!

Boxing day, Mum and I hit the sales because I wanted some running gear so I could work off some of the week's indulgences. We shopped for quite a while and then I headed home and went jogging for a few miles before hitting my sisters' gym! Felt much better afterwards and less fatigued and lethargic and enjoyed a chilled out evening. That evening was one of the best in a long time. I decided to sort through all my old CD's and music collection from when I was a teenager! I laughed so much at some of my dreadful purchases and also reminisced over really good times whilst playing some of the CD's loudly and belting my (aching from the gym) tits off! I kept all the discs (hundreds of them) and have recycled all the cases and album sleeves to make a little more storage space at my mums! 

I went to bed that night thinking a lot about what life was like when I lived at home 10 years ago! Then I remembered about my TV documentary which is funnily enough being shown on TV for the first time tonight! If you are a regular follower/reader of my blog you will know that for the whole of this year I have had a TV crew follow me around at some of the biggest events and occasions I have had, including opening night & backstage at Wicked, my album recording, my album launch, West End In Wales summer school and at home on my parents farm! And it's all been put into an hour's TV special for S4C at 8.25pm tonight! S4C is available to watch live online if you visit my Facebook page it has all the info on it if you click the little 'S' at the bottom it will give you subtitles so you can understand the welsh.

The channel is also available on SKY! It contains the only footage ever to be filmed officially of our cast including my Dancing Through Life with the company and As Long As Your Mine with the one and only Nikki Davies-Jones! I'm gonna be watching from behind a cushion remembering some of the year I'd forgotten! (It even briefly includes me meeting Ben Stott who played Boq for the first time ever!) 

If you watch it please let me know what you think on twitter or my Facebook page!

And on that note, i'm about to arrive London Euston. I need to head home so I can pack for Prague, or as the natives call it Praha! The last time I was there was over 3 years ago with Ashleigh Gray (duet on my album) & Caroline Keiff! I was working with them both on Wicked at the time! It was great! Can't wait to whack on my long johns and get back to one of the coldest yet beautiful places I've ever been!

Have an amazing new year folks! Hope to see you all in 2012 at some point. How about we all agree right now to make this next year a bloody cracking one! 

Love your lives and love your selves! 

Big Sh-boom!!!


Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Blog 75!!! It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!!

Hey Everyone


I'm writing this week's blog a day early because I don't get internet signal at my parent's house in North Wales and I want to have a chilled out Christmas so I'm writing this whilst sat on the train home.
I would just like to mention that this train is extremely busy and luckily I got a seat thanks to a friendly lad who helped me fit all my luggage in. However there was one seat I tried to sit in before hand, next to what looked like a lovely kind old lady……well let me tell you, she was a BITCH!!! She looked at me with the filthiest look and said, "I hope your not going to sit here and eat that food" I said "I'm sorry?!" She repeated herself and I said "well I was planning to yes" she replied sarcastically "well isn't that just wonderful!!!"  - baring in mind all I had to eat was a salad from The Camden Food Co, it's not like it was a stinking burger from McDonalds or something. I decided I'd rather sit on the floor than sit next to a moaning misery like that. I simply smiled and said "well I hope you have a wonderful Christmas" - Little does she know that my extremely heavy guitar case is now stored in the rack above her head……all that needs to happen is a little jolt in the train line and bam…..merry christmas scrooge!!!! Ouch!!!

Anyway, I'm back to the festive cheer now! I cannot wait to be home with my family. I spoke to my eldest niece earlier on the phone, she's 5 years old. She said "Uncle Mark, I watched you on the telly this morning in the Marcaroni Christmas special. You were acting really stupid again", that's clearly how she sees me - Uncle Mark who acts stupid for a living. Actually she's pretty much hit the nail on the head. I love that I get paid to act stupid! I'm going to spoil them rotten when I get home and I don't care what anyone thinks of it!

So this week has been great.

Thursday I headed back to Ghost rehearsals after being in Cardiff at the beginning of the week. It was good. We had started running things in sequence ie 4 or 5 scenes straight after one another to get a feel for the shape of the character journey. So from that moment, everything started coming together in my head quite nicely. So it was a good day. I then headed to the gym before meeting a friend to randomly go and watch the film Seven Brides For Seven Brothers at the BFI (British Film Institute) on the Southbank. It was great to watch it. I used to put the video of it on at my Nanna's most weekends and sing along and fast forward it to the dance routines and then my first professional job when I graduated from college was a national tour of 7 Brides playing brother caleb. That was 6 years ago and I haven't watched the film since before that so it was SO good to watch it on the massive screen. It was a really fun night. 

Friday I was at rehearsals again but was exhausted by the end of the day and had a guitar lesson which made me feel a bit disheartened because I hadn't had any time to practise because of filming in Cardiff etc so I felt I'd taken a couple of paces backwards, so I decided to go home, chill out and try and get an early night instead of letting things stress me out. 

Saturday morning I arrived the rehearsal studio an hour and a half early to do some extra work on my script by myself and to do a good 45 minutes on the guitar and then felt really prepared for a great first run through of the full show. We ended the week feeling we had really achieved a lot from running the show for the first coupe of times.

I met a couple of good friends on Saturday night and we went to one of my favourite restaurants Inamo which I've mentioned before. It was great to eat the amazing food, drink lots of bubbly and have a good laugh. I was quite drunk at one point and it felt really good! Ha. Sunday morning I woke up early and headed into central London by 10.30am to do all my Christmas Shopping, completely forgetting of course that the shops don't open until 12 midday on a Sunday. They all do that thing where they allow you to browse but they legally can't make any transactions from any purchases until midday. So I ended up shopping until about 5pm. I was exhausted by the end of it and my arms were really aching from carrying all my cool (yet heavy) presents around. It was a very successful day though.
That night I went to watch a couple of friends in Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker at Sadlers Wells Theatre. My friend Edwin was playing the Nutcracker and he was brilliant. The whole show is great and I really enjoyed it. After a few drinks afterwards and catching up with mates I headed home because I had a long day ahead of me the next day. 

I woke on Monday and needed to be at the studios where we film and photograph the footage and shots for the projection walls and video/photographic montages in Ghost. It was basically our only chance to do all the stuff with the understudies too. So it was a case of "Hi, I'm Mark, nice to meet you, let's snog!". So there were many combinations of people doing sequences and photos together to make sure they're covered for every possible scenario with who ever will be playing Sam & Molly during holiday dates and sick/injury time etc. So it took a lot of patience and organisation but it was great to meet the other cast members and it was a fun day on the whole.

We finished a little early which was nice, so I went to buy a few more things for Christmas gifts and then met my wonderful manager Rebecca for dinner and a good catch up. It was a lovely night and I enjoyed my first (of many I'm sure) Christmas dinner. MMMMMMMM TURKEY AND ALL THE TRIMMINGS!!!!! It's Chriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiistmas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Headed home and attempted to wrap some presents and was just too desperate to get to sleep so I hit the hay!

Tuesday (yesterday) was our last day of rehearsals for Ghost before our Christmas break. We ran the show and had a good vocal session with the music supervisor. I'm just gonna put this out there - I love singing the songs in Ghost. Had lots of tweets asking what my favourite part of the show is so far and favourite song to sing is and i'd probably say that at the moment I probably enjoy singing 'Rain' at the top of act two the best, but I love it all!

After rehearsals I went to the gym for a good session before going for a haircut and then meeting our producer, resident director and Siobhan (who's playing Molly) for drinks at the Ivy Club (which had carol singers last night - lovely) and then dinner at Les Deux Salons which was beautiful. We had a lot of fun and it was a lovely way to finish our initial rehearsal period and toast to a good Christmas and an exciting 2012 working together. 

The next time I see them all will be when we start the technical rehearsals at the theatre on January 3rd - just 10 days before opening night! Aaaaaaarrrrggggghhhhh!

So I woke this morning feeling particularly tired but happy to be heading home. I had to pop into Covent Garden by 10am today to go shopping with the costume designer of Ghost to buy a suit for my 'work outfit' for the show. It literally took 15 minutes. I tried one on, it fit and they bought it. Easy as that. It's a lovely suit and I will be pleading with them to let me have it by the end of the show next year! ha.

And then I popped home to wrap some presents and catch up with todays Marcaroni programme on as it was a half hour Christmas special (all the stuff I worked on last week!) - My niece was quite right, I did just act stupid for half an hour but I loved it, I think it's great and it made me feel really Christmassy!

And on that note I would like to wish you all a very VERY merry Christmas. I shall see you on the other side, probably a little fatter, but hey why not it's Christmas. Have a wonderful time.

Thanks for reading.  



Thursday, 15 December 2011

Blog 74!!! A Wicked Farewell!

Hey Everyone,

Happy Thursday.

Well this week has definitely been an eventful one and an incredible one. I am typing this blog very early this Thursday morning before heading to rehearsals for Ghost.

Last Thursday after rehearsals I had to leave early to get to the Apollo Victoria Theatre by 1pm to read out one of the winning pieces from the 'Wicked Young Writers' awards'. Michael Mapurgo was hosting it and HRH The Duchess Of Cornwall is the patron for the project. It was wonderful to meet her and we were all very impressed with the entries that were read out and it was great to meet all the youngsters who were finalists in the competition.

After that I hit the gym with my mate Paul from the Wicked cast and we worked hard before heading for dinner. It was nice to actually do something different to just rehearsing or performing. Thursday night's show was good - it really had got to the final countdown! Went to bed thinking "Only three more times to dance through life!" (stagey thought i know!)
I am very good at making the most of things and taking mental images and storing them in my brain's memory box to think back fondly. I have had an incredible 10 months at Wicked and I'll fast forward from Thursday to Saturday morning (all that happened friday was a Ghost photoshoot and performing Wicked) I went to my Saturday morning guitar lesson which I loved and then headed down to the theatre for the last time.
I arrived stage door and there was a big group of people there with gifts and cards and taking pictures and were wonderfully supportive and wishing us all well. It put me in a really good mood and then I headed to a really fun last ever warm up on stage with the cast. We were doing silly dances and singing stupid stuff. Rachel Tucker (Elphaba) was lying on her side on the stage and I decided to lay down behind her and spoon her like we were asleep. Next thing we knew we were having an additional cast member every couple of seconds laying in front or behind us until the entire cast was in a long diagonal across the the stage in a big spooning line with hundreds of photographs being taken. Good times!

The matinee was really fun. There were lots of subtle little fun jokes and pranks played on each other and the audience really enjoyed it. The atmosphere in the theatre all day was great on and off stage. 

After the matinee, myself, Rachel Tucker, Ben Stott, Zoe Rainey & Louise Dearman had what we called 'The Last Supper' in Rachel's room. We all brought in food and really had a giggle and made the most of being in each other's company in that theatre for what was quite possibly the last time ever. 
Then it was the half hour call for the final ever performance of WICKED. So I rushed over to whack some make up on in my room before the 15 minute call arrived which is when the 'cast change conga' happens. It starts with the swing boys on one side of the building departing their dressing room and they conga all the way around every dressing room in the entire backstage area (and it's massive!) picking up the cast members from those rooms, culminating in the entire cast being collected on stage in hysterics, feeling exhausted yet full of hyper energy ready for the last show! Perfect!!! 

Then it was show time. The audience on Saturday night was insane! If you were there, which I imagine a considerable amount of you reading this would have been, thank you for being such an amazing crowd. The atmosphere on stage, in the audience and in the wings was just insane. It was very emotional but I think that's mainly because the subject matters in Wicked actually consist of many references to goodbye/ friendship/ the end/ time to leave etc etc and so it's hard to say these things for the last time to your fellow cast members on stage without it being with an element of sincere personal truth - 
Fiyero:  "It's time to go" 
Elphaba: "We can never come back to Oz can we?" 
Fiyero: "No" 

One of the hardest things was singing 'As Long As Your Mine' which is the love duet with Rachel Tucker (Elphaba-the green witch). We get on so well and have so much fun working together that it is really sad when it comes to an end. I'll miss working with Rachel! I'll be honest, whenever I finish a long contract of a show, I always feel ready to move on and leave and start something new. I'm sure many of you find that odd, but as much as you love Wicked or any show, imagine performing it 7 days a week, 8 shows a week, for over 10 months - the same lines, the same songs, the same choreography, it does become difficult to find the inspiration to  think of ways to keep it as great as you can possibly make it. I think 10 months playing Fiyero, was for me, the perfect length of time. I enjoyed every day of it but was ready to pass the role on to someone else by the end, feeling I had taken every bit of enjoyment and pleasure out of an amazing job without it turning boring and stale in the slightest. 

Wicked will always be a VERY special part of my career and life.

So after the show there were lovely speeches made on stage and then after meeting and chatting to loads of people at stage door (a couple of hundred at least) we headed on down to the end of cast party which was a lot of fun. The best thing about it was having the opportunity to drink alcohol with Louise Dearman and Rachel Tucker! The roles in Wicked are very demanding  vocally so having to be weary of alcohol consumption is a must but we all let out hair down for a very special occasion on Saturday.

I woke Sunday morning with a delicate head and at a relatively slow pace, I began to sort through the bomb site otherwise known as my flat. I had been clearing things out of my dressing room for weeks but not had the chance to arrange or sort it once I got home - so it was all just in piles of mess in my bedroom - it was not what I wanted to be doing on a hungover Sunday but I was relieved to get it done and headed over to a friends house on Sunday night to chill out and watch the TV.

I woke on Monday morning and had a horrendous journey into London for rehearsals. I often find that if you have one thing that goes wrong at the beginning of your journey in London, the whole thing goes a bit 'tits up' as they say! Luckily I managed to get to rehearsals on time. There was a lot ot do on Monday and we didn't have a lunch break because I needed to leave at 3pm so we worked right through then I rushed to get on a train to Cardiff where I got picked up and taken to the recording studio to lay down the songs for the Marcaroni Christmas Special which I have been filming for the past two days. Well we didn't finish recording until 11.30pm in the studio so it was a good 14 hour day and then Non (who I play opposite) and I were driving around trying to find our hotel for ages afterwards. By the way the Blueberry hotel in Pontypridd in South Wales (which we found a half hour later) is amazing! Really nice - incase you ever need somewhere to stay if you're around that area! Loved it there. 

Woke on Tuesday morning at 6.15am as I needed to be in the make up chair for 7am! I looked rough as a……..something really rough! It's a wonder what a ton of Channel base can do for ones pig like face of a Tuesday morning! Thank god for make up!

It was a long day filming and acting like a hyperactive idiot on set all day - The story of the Christmas Special was that my character, Marcaroni (who is very excitable anyway) doesn't know what Christmas is, so everyone informs him of all the amazing things that happen that time of year and he gets stupidly hyperactive! It was in one word……EXHAUSTING!!! 

Tuesday night I was planning on seeing the Cardiff Panto but because we were behind schedule I couldn't make it in time and so ended up having nice food and a few drinks with friends in the hotel and got to bed.

Another early morning yesterday (Wednesday) and it was basically a whole day of playing catch up with the schedule. It ended up being a 13 hour day with only one break of 40 minutes to wolf down to lunch and sit down for 5 minutes! It all got completed though (albeit 2 hours later than we were supposed to) and it is actually a ridiculously quick turn around and will be on the TV next Wednesday morning, Friday and Christmas Day on S4C (Available with subtitles on Sky or online!) 

Although it was a really loooooooong day and very tiring, I do feel a little more Christmassy since doing it. I can't believe it's Christmas a week on Sunday - I have some serious preparations to get on with! 

Speaking of getting on with things I best stop typing and get to rehearsals. I am loving learning everything for Ghost. We open January 13th and I cannot wait! Just hope we're feeling well prepared by then! (We shall see……..!) 

Thank again to all of you who are Wicked fans and fans in general for all of your support, not only over my last weekend in the show but throughout the year! I adore you all!

Only one more blog before Christmas! Woohoo! 

Have a great week everyone! Love you're lives and enjoy these last few weeks of 2011 - I can tell already that 2012 is gonna be a great one! Can't you??

Keep smiling



Thursday, 8 December 2011

Blog 73!!! Last one from the Emerald City!

Hey Everyone,

How you all doing this fine Thursday morning?

It's pretty bloomin' cold eh?! I think I've been cold all week really, maybe that's cos i'm training to be a Ghost? I always remember Casper The Friendly Ghost being told he felt cold by the girl in the film when he touched him- maybe I'm a real method actor without realising it! 

I digress…..

So here's week's antics. Last Thursday after posting my blog I hopped on the train to rehearsals and practically plummeted into all the high drama scenes (which is the majority of the show to be honest cos hey, I'm dead!) but basically I got murdered for the first time on Thursday morning. I'll say this about the show, it's so well written scrip-wise and the music is so incredible that it really takes you to some immense places in your mind when your acting it. It's like being in a film the way it's all been orchestrated and directed. I finished one scene and said "I had heart palpitations just then, I'm sweating but I'm cold and my face is fuzzy!!!" - again maybe this is the process of actually becoming a ghost. haha.

Rehearsals were great and then I headed to work and more or less did the same thing on Friday. Most days this week have had to be as follows: Wake up, eat, rehearse all morning, eat, rehearse all afternoon, travel to Wicked, eat, perform the show, eat on the train home and then get to bed! My priority in my day is neither one of the West End shows I'm working on, but rather my daily consumption of food of course. I really enjoy food but also consider it as exactly what it is - fuel, and as soon as I get hungry, it's all I can think about and I am not happy until I eat.

I forgot to add to that list that I have a good 17 toilet breaks during the day (at least). Siobhan (who I'm rehearsing with and will be playing opposite in Ghost) and I seem to have synchronised bladders. We both look at each other and kind of say "do you need to pee? cos I do" and the other answers "yes I do" so we have a loo break! 
One thing that really concerns me about this is that although a large amount of water intake each day is very important, particularly for the voice, once I start the beginning of Ghost, I barely leave the stage for the entire first act which potentially means I may have to surgically insert a pee bag, else the intense drama might be ruined as Sam wets himself on stage which in turn will be slightly distracting for the audience I imagine.

Anyway, my mind is on a rambling streak this evening…. it's probably trying to get rid of some of the new information I'm shoving in there and hoping that it will somehow be retained in order to feel prepared and confident for the first performance of Ghost on January 13th.

I had a great weekend. Saturday I did some early morning Christmas shopping before heading to my second guitar lesson, which I loved. I then went to work and after the matinee we had our WICKED SECRET SANTA! We all picked a name of a company member out of a hat and then we had to buy that person a gift from Santa!

My gift was from Gemma Atkins in the ensemble (that secret didn't last long). She bought me a mug with a picture of the 5 girls from her dressing room who I very often join in between shows on a matinee day for something we call chicken club where we all chip in to buy a meal (usually containing chicken hence the name) and enjoy chilling together. So the mug had a picture of the chicken club members on it and I had some tea bags to go in the mug. Gemma had also, very kindly baked me some cakes. Four red and green cup cakes and one big cake in the middle shaped and iced like a Christmas tree. It was a great gift and I loved it!

Saturday night I headed home to sort my flat, my life and my schedule for the next week out so that I'd be able to chill out on my precious Sunday off. 

I woke Sunday and headed to meet a few friends to go to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park which was perfect. I had a great time in a festive environment with great company. I then headed back to my mate's house to chill, decorate the christmas tree, have a big meal and play boardgames. It was the perfect Christamassy day and I loved it.

I woke on monday morning feeling really ready for a good week. It was sunny and the air was crisp and it was one of those days that I walked to the Piccadilly Theatre by 10am through Trafalgar Square and thought to myself "I love living in this city". I am a very positive person in general but I had a wave of "wow things are really good at the moment" and those moments don't come around often enough so it put a smile on my face and I've kept it for the rest of this week. I think I'm also relieved that I have finally fully gotten rid of the cough I had since my chest infection. Still need a tissue for the ole shnozzer occasionally but that doesn't bother me. Fighting fit, healthy and happy - what else could you want in the run up to Christmas? (Some time to buy presents maybe?) 

Monday night's show was good. I had a fair few friends watching and it was great to see them briefly afterwards. I sat on the train home on Monday night and thought "my goodness, that is the last time I'll perform WICKED on a Monday night, ever!" and it was a little odd. I am ready for new challenges etc but I shall definitely miss playing Fiyero and that theatre and those people and that show. It's been an incredible 10 months and I am eternally grateful that I had this wonderful opportunity.

Tuesday at rehearsals was good again and then I headed to work to perform the last ever Tuesday show of Wicked. After the show I headed home and packed a few things in a suitcase. Basically Wednesday (yesterday) morning I had to take a suit case to rehearsals with me and then to the theatre because I needed a smart suit for our Wicked Awards Night (last night) The awards happens at the end of a cast's contract - it's called the OZcars. And I also needed to leave a suit at the theatre ready for this afternoon as I shall be attending the WICKED YOUNG WRITER'S AWARDS at the theatre - at which, there will be a member of Royalty present. Camilla (my mate) is the patron for this amazing scheme that Wicked launched last year and are promoting really well to encourage and support young talented writers.

So the two shows yesterday were great and the party (OZcars) was very good, very funny and a little emotional as we watched a video montage of great memories.

And so on that note I shall finish my last ever 'blog whilst playing Fiyero in Wicked' by thanking each and everyone of you for your incredible support this year. I look forward to seeing lots of you at the Piccadilly Theatre stage door from January and at many other things I have planned for the new year! 

2012 is gonna be a great year.

Massive love to you all! Love your lives please.



Thursday, 1 December 2011

Blog 72!!! A Ghostly Week!!!

Hi Everyone,

Happy Thursday,

So I'm guessing now you have all heard my most recent news??? It was officially (and finally) announced in the press on Tuesday of this week that I am currently rehearsing to take over the lead role of Sam in Ghost the Musical which is playing at the Piccadilly Theatre in London's West End. 
I was offered the role about 4 weeks ago and have not really been able to chat about it until the official announcement but I had a couple of rehearsal sessions last week and started full time rehearsals on Monday of this week and it's going really well. I open in the show on January 13th opposite my new leading lady Siobhan Dillon who will be playing Molly. We open a month before the official cast change in February as we are replacing Richard Fleeshman and Caissie Levy who are going to play the roles in New York when the show opens on Broadway in March.

These two weeks are to be very exhausting (and already are) but I'm making sure I really make the most of my last couple of weeks playing Fiyero in WICKED because I LOVE IT!!! 

So this week since my last blog - After I posted last week's edition I headed into town to start working on Ghost. I had a voice session - which really helped to combat some of the gunk that was still on my chest from my illness, and then I had a couple of hours working on the accent of the character which was great fun, before heading to Wicked to do my first show back after a week of being sick as a dog (a very sick dog at that - infact, the dog I'm comparing myself to, I imagine was the sickest of dogs that ever did exist!) It felt great be back in the show and no longer lay in bed feeling sorry for myself.

The show was easier than I imagined but I think that was probably because of adrenaline too. I have to admit, I desperately needed my new inhaler after having a little dance through life but other than that it all went swimmingly.

So I woke on Friday morning to tidy my flat a little whilst talking to myself in my new American accent and then headed in to the Piccadilly for a costume fitting and then my first ever guitar lesson. Now I have a confession to make. One of the main reasons I started to teach myself the guitar back in June was because I watched Ghost and saw that the character Sam played the guitar, and for those of you who follow me and what I do, you'll know that if I want to do something, I do everything in my power to make sure it can happen. So I thought "Mark, if you wanna play that role, you gotta play the guitar" - so I did and I now have to iron out a good few bad habits but I really enjoyed my first proper lesson on friday with my new teacher Andy and I can't wait for my next one. I still can't quite believe that the first time I ever played my guitar in public was at the auditions for Ghost and that I am actually going to be playing on a West End stage but hey - if you're gonna do something, might as well be thrown in at the deep end right? (good job i'm a good swimmer!!!) 

After my guitar lesson I headed over to Wicked. Friday night's show was a lot harder because I didn't have the adrenaline of the night before to get me through and it was a struggle to keep my energy levels up but still enjoyed it non-the-less! After the show I hung around in Victoria near the station because my friend Aimee was driving down from North Wales to stay at my flat with her mum for the weekend and so they picked me up (after getting lost and being late, haha) and then we headed back to my place. I was sleeping on the lounge floor as they were in my bed. 
We woke Saturday to work on some preparation for the first WEST END IN WALES Sunday Funday which we did on Sunday. We then headed into my favourite breakfast place in Victoria, Le Pain Quotidien for brunch before I headed in to do the matinee and then met them for tea before they watched the evening show. Saturday night was rather emotional at Wicked as we said farewell to one of the ensemble guys Anthony Hansen who has left early to go and play Aladdin in Croydon over Christmas. It was a real wake up call that it was the beginning of the end and that we only had two weeks until the majority of us were leaving. I don't want to think of it as a sad time, I really want to try and just celebrate an incredible time in the show. I will of course be emotional on the last day, I think we all will, because not only do you work with these people, you also see them every day and they become very close friends, and no matter how often you keep in touch and meet up after the show ends, you'll never see people as much as you do when you work with them and that's the best thing about working in theatre, is that you get to work with people who are so similar to yourself. I've made some incredible friends at Wicked and I shall treasure them forever.

So Saturday night after the show we headed straight back to my flat to get to sleep as we had a 5.30am wake up call on Sunday to do the car journey back to Rhyl in North Wales to run the Sunday Funday. It was a very long journey and I'm very grateful to Aimee for driving the whole way. I was trying my best to fight my eyelids and stay awake but I failed miserably a good few times and left her to fight the tiredness whilst I slept next to her.
The workshop was exactly as we wanted it.  A relaxed fun day of acting, singing and dancing but primarily the chance to catch up and enjoy a chilled out 4 hours in the company of like minded people who have a real passion for performing. The group that Aimee and I had were fantastic and I felt inspired by working with such imaginative creative young people. Well worth the journey back. 
Immediately after the workshop finished at 4pm I jumped straight on a train back to London to try and get to bed as early as possible to start rehearsals for Ghost properly on Monday morning. I have to admit, I was exhausted by the time I got back from Wales - A 5 hour car journey, a 4 hour workshop then a 4 hour train journey! My bed was very welcoming on Sunday night!

I woke on Monday morning raring to go with the rehearsals and headed to the theatre to work with the creatives and my beautiful Molly, Siobhan! It was great to finally get stuck in with learning the roles. We have an insane amount to learn but it's all going in very quickly and it feels great. I am already getting excited thinking of the opening night.

There's not much I can really report since Monday as all I've done is either be in rehearsals or at Wicked (or travelling to and from each venue and home to my flat). Wednesday I had some family watching the matinee and then some friends watching the evening show which was nice. I am trying my best to sleep as much as I possibly can at the moment because there's not much down time for my brain. 

Anyway I must stop writing now and get a wriggle on to get to rehearsals by 10am.

I can't thank you enough for all your amazing messages of congratulations and for all your support since the official GHOST announcement went out on Tuesday. I look forward to seeing you all in the audience sometime next year.

Keep loving your lives and I'll start the new Ghostly saying right now……. BELIEVE!!! 

Enjoy your week.