Does anybody besides me have a mental list of the most exciting moments of their life? Our wedding day in 2002 was (and probably always will be) the #1 most exciting thing that ever happened to me, followed closely by the day we got engaged in the year 2000. Seeing all four of the Monkees perform together in 1989 was ‘up there’ as well (if you’re coming in late, I was a big ol’ Monkees geek from the mid-1970’s into the early 1990’s), as was our very first Sing Live concert in Orlando in 2007. My 5th most exciting moment was last year at our Sing Live 10th Anniversary concert at the Royal Albert Hall, simply because it was the biggest audience any member of Sing Live USA had ever seen as part of that chorus (2000 people, maybe?) and, let’s face it, it was the Royal Albert frickin’ Hall, people! But I have to say that being a part of the Night of 1000 Voices has worked its way ‘up there’ too, because….wow. Just…wow.

The alarm was set for 6am but I had had a sucky night of sleep so I re-set it for 6:30am. So I had a whopping 4.5 hours of sleep for what was promised to be one of the most long and arduous days of my year? Sure, no problem! Adrenaline, PLEASE kick in!

The plan was for Joe, Darlene and I to walk to the RAH because, as what always seemed to be the case (at least it was last year), Sing Live USA was in the 2nd tier of buses (read: Bus #1 would pick up singers from one or more Sing Live UK group(s), drop them off at the concert hall and then come back to do a second run), which usually meant the last pick of “good” seats, or just getting there at an ungodly late time (it took 90 minutes for the 2nd wave of buses to drop us off at the hotel after our “day before the concert” rehearsal last year). Unfortunately, it was raining that morning. And not a drizzle, either. I mean a solid, steady rain, complete with wind and temps in the high 40’s. Welcome to London, huh? But I was not to be deterred and still planned to walk…well, not until we walked to the Starbucks and back and I (admittedly the stubborn one with the harebrained schemes) realized how miserable it really was out there. So Joe, ever the loving, patient husband who puts up with me, suggested we take a taxi. Sure, that’d work! But by the time we got back to our hotel, the first wave of buses were already leaving so I finally relented and agreed to just “bus it”…getting a bad seat in the dressing room wasn’t worth having wet pants/socks/shoes for most of the day.

"The Elevator Gang" getting ready to go to RAH

We waited with the other “2nd run of the bus” people (all 9 Sing Live USA singers and a bunch from some of the other groups), the 8:40am bus arrived around 9am (Mmmm hmmm) and off we went!

I was assigned to Dressing Room 11 (same one as last year) and Joe was in Dressing Room 12, which was a little bit down the hall and across the way. I was tucked in the far corner of the room, but it didn’t matter much since we spent so little time in there. We had a schedule set up and, except for the bus being late, it was followed pretty much to the minute:

8:30am -9:00am Arrive
9:45am -10:15 am Choir seating
10:30am – 12:10pm Technical rehearsal
12:10pm – 12:30pm Break
12:30pm – 2:30pm Technical rehearsal (continued)
2:30pm – 3:00pm Stage & rehearse finale (remember, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” was something of a last-minute addition)
3:15pm House opens
3:30pm – 3:55pm Be in our line up spots to go on stage
4:00pm -6:45pm Matinée show
7:15pm House opens
7:30pm – 7:55pm Be in our line up spots to go on stage
8:00pm-10:45pm evening show

I had time to eat the sandwich I had brought as they called us to line up room by room, section by section (and apparently top to bottom, because it took them a long time to call the second sopranos on the lower rows). They already had a list of how tall everyone was and after lining us up in the order we would go in (small mix-up with our line – we were queued up in size order, instead of reverse size order, so the shortest went in first and the taller singers had to sort of go around us. That got fixed the next time around, LOL!), they sat us based on singing parts, generally according to height. Albeit with some changes here and there as needed (i.e. one singer uses a wheelchair so his spot needed to be accessible. Also, several women were using crutches due to foot/leg injuries/issues so they were generally seated closer to the “walk in/out” area so they wouldn’t have to travel as far). I was in what has generally become my “usual spot” for concerts (looking at the stage: first row, all the way on the left side) when all of a sudden Irene (who was indeed next to me) and I were told to go into the second row. No idea why, other than “Mr. Wooldridge wants it that way. And what Mr. Wooldridge wants, Mr. Wooldridge gets” (To my credit, I didn’t ask so I don’t know why I was told that. But yes, that’s really what was said, LOLOL!). Shrug, whatever…the way the seating was set up, there wasn’t anybody in front of me so I could still see.

I really don’t have many comments about the rehearsal itself – once again we were not allowed to use cameras or recording devices (so no taking notes on my iPhone) and since it was a technical rehearsal, I left the notepad, which was so helpful during yesterday’s rehearsal, in the dressing room. I remember we had to stop and re-start several numbers. I recall Hugh giving direction via the microphone from the sound board, to tell a dancer or soloist to “move there” or telling a few singers to “take off your black sweater” or, more forcefully, to “stop talking” (it sort of reminded me of the faceless Zach in “A Chorus Line”). I think there was a spark of fear from everyone whenever Hugh ran from his spot by the soundboard in the back, all the way down the aisle – his assistant running a few paces behind him – who was going to get spoken to this time? But once again, this was his show and he had told us yesterday that today was a day to “behave.” I, for one, made sure that I did! I also found it very amusing that as well-kept a secret Brian May had been, it was just about 2pm when he came on stage for the first time and started rehearsing the song(s) in which he would be involved – just as a RAH tour group was coming through! LOL! So much for that secret…

We had a very short break between the technical rehearsal and the matinée show – just enough time for a wee, a protein bar and to put my makeup on. And then we were queued up again, ready to go on stage.

And then it was time…all our rehearsing was for this one moment in time and all I can say is WOW, was it exciting! Here’s the play list (just for the record, Sing Live is credited as The Night of 1000 Voices Chorus, part of The Company AND as Sing Live UK/US. We also took part in some songs that did not list us as being included…I guess they figured it doesn’t count when we only sing 8 notes at the end of “Nobody’s Side”, LOL!):

PART ONE
Broadway Fantasy Overture
The City of London Philharmonic – 40+ piece orchestra
Another Op’nin’, Another Show (Kiss Me, Kate)
The Company
Aled Jones introduction and speech
It Ain’t Necessarily So (Porgy and Bess)
David Michael Johnson and The Company
Caroline Jones, Rachel Muldoon, Zizi Strallen, Lucie Waugh
The Tonight Quintet (West Side Story)
Tabitha Webb, Patrick Smyth, Katie Rowley Jones, Leo Andrew and
The Company
You’ll Never Walk Alone (Carousel)
Kenneth Nichols and The Night of 1000 Voices Chorus
The Ballad of Sweeney Todd (Sweeney Todd)
Philip Quast and The Company
Being Alive (Company)
The Company
Sunday (Sunday in the Park with George)
The Company
Unusual Way (Nine)
Katie Rowley Jones
Nobody’s Side (Chess)
Kerry Ellis (and 8 notes by Sing Live, LOL!)
Pity the Child (Chess)
Adam Pascal (and some “ah’s” by Sing Live)
Anthem (Chess)
Philip Quast and The Night of 1000 Voices Chorus
Buenos Aires (Evita)
Debbie Kurup
Ashley Andrews, Caroline Jones, Matthew Malthouse, Rachel Muldoon, Callum Nicol, Zizi Strallen, Lucie Waugh, Jason Winter
You Must Love Me (Evita)
Jessie Buckey with Chris Hatt (piano)
Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina (Evita)
Kerry Ellis and The Night of 1000 Voices Chorus

Interval of 20 minutes
Organ recital by Stephen Disley

PART TWO
The Jellicle Ball (Cats)
The City of London Philharmonic
Superstar (Jesus Christ Superstar)
David Michael Johnson and The Company
Aled Jones speech
The Rhythm of Life (Sweet Charity)
The Night of 1000 Voices Chorus
Tiffany Graves with Ashley Andrews, Caroline Jones, Matthew Malthouse, Rachel Muldoon, Callum Nichol, Zizi Strallen, Lucie Waugh, Jason Winter
A Good Thing Going / Not A Day Goes By (Merrily We Roll Along)
Philip Quast
Stars (Les Miserables)
Philip Quast
Do You Hear The People Sing? (Les Miserables)
Leo Andrew and The Night of 1000 Voices Chorus
You, You, You (The Visit)
Teri Bibb and the Men Soloists
Kiss of the Spiderwoman (Kiss of the Spiderwoman)
Ricardo Afonso with Debbie Kurup and The Night of 1000 Voices Dancers
The Time Warp (The Rocky Horror Picture Show)
Sing Live UK & US with Robin Cousins and Ainsley Harriott
One Song Glory (Rent)
Adam Pascal
Will I? (Rent)
The Soloists
Seasons of Love (Rent)
The Company
No One But You (We Will Rock You)
Kerry Ellis (and Oooh’s and ahhh’s from Sing Live)
Who Wants to Live Forever (We Will Rock You)
Kerry Ellis and Adam Pascal (and oooh’s and ahhh’s from Sing Live)
Special appearance by Brian May
We Are The Champions (We Will Rock You)
Ricardo Afonso, Adam Pascal, Kerry Ellis and The Company
Special appearance by Brian May
Jerusalem (traditional)
The Calendar Girls and Special Guests
Happy Birthday (traditional)
Everyone
Can You Feel The Love Tonight (The Lion King)
Aled Jones and The Night of 1000 Voices Company

I’m glad we were instructed to watch the performers, because I wound up doing it anyway, LOL! DMJ was as flirty with the audience and the dancers as I suspected he would be (and I thanked him in my head for not making the “we will follow your lead” verses TOO hard to follow in “It Ain’t Necessarily So”!) and Adam Pascal struck me as a “regular guy” who even acknowledged us, the chorus behind him, to the audience. Brian May also made it his business to turn around and give us a raised fist in a “rock on” sort of salute. As I said, Ken Nichols’ voice in “You’ll Never Walk Alone” was simply incredible. I remembered Robin Cousins from when I took ice skating lessons when I was a kid and there I was, no more than 20 feet from him. And boy, did I have fun doing the Time Warp on stage at the RAH again! (with Adventurers Club Salutes added in during BOTH shows – so that’s 3 I’ve done now…who else can say they’ve done THAT at the Royal Albert Hall, huh? LOL!)

Brian May was the biggest thrill though…not so much because of who he was (I’ll be honest…although I knew of Queen and Freddy Mercury, I did not know Brian May by name when this whole thing started. I told you I lived under a rock!) but because he had been a very well-kept secret by EVERYONE and I knew the audience was going to totally FREAK OUT when they saw/heard him. And FREAK OUT they did! Do you know that “mass crowd applaud/scream” sound that’s reserved for the likes of World Series champions and Paul McCartney? That’s what Brian May got. And we all saw it coming. We felt it, too. The air was literally filled with electricity because we knew what was happening next (we knew when he was going to come onstage because of the rehearsal) and we got that sound…5000 people cheering like crazy. Not that any of it was for us but we WERE on stage WITH him, not in the audience, so we could at least PRETEND to feel like a little bit was for us, LOL! The guy is legendary, especially in the UK and overall, it was a very exciting moment!

Picture that I found on the 'net

Another picture that I found on the 'net & you can even make me out in this one - top left corner, wearing red, 2nd row up, 3rd one in from the left

In the course of what felt like 10 minutes, it was one concert down, one to go! We had 45 minutes between shows – just enough time for a quick wee, eat another bar or two, refill my supply of Ricola, put on more lipstick and, because the rain had stopped, grab a quick shot of Joe and I outside the RAH.

The second show was nearly the same as the first, albeit with a few more stars on the stage here and there (i.e. unlike at the first concert, the women who played The Calendar Girls in the stage show came on stage with the actual, original Calendar Girls), because they were there for only the second show.  Plus, whereas Linda and John were introduced as “The Founders of Sing Live” during the matinée, only Linda was introduced during the second show; John wasn’t brought on stage at all. A staged whispered, “Where’s John?” rumbled through the singers. Was he OK? Were his parents both OK? We didn’t know and it was unsettling. I also noticed that the response to Brian May was oh-so-slightly less than during the matinée, but a friend of mine said it best: “The evening show is full of rich old folks who don’t care about Brian May” LOLOL! Maybe he’s right…but except for being concerned about John, the whole show was still LOTS of fun!

All too soon, it was all over. After gathering our stuff together, Joe, Matt and I walked “home” (we could have taken one of the buses but it wasn’t a long walk). There was a party for the chorus up on the 1st floor (remember, in England, the bottommost floor is the Ground Floor) of our hotel but I remember last year that it was hot, stuffy and crowded as hell (I’m not claustrophobic but I don’t do well in crowds – all I see are boobs and shoulder blades), with mondo expensive food and cash bar, so we opted to not go this year. Joe and I helpfully move the sign that directed people where the party was, since it was so far away from anything that no one could see it, LOL! We heard later on that the party had its share of challenges, including the fact that the DJ never showed up.  Eventually someone plugged an iPod into the ballroom’s speaker system so they had music and, after someone ‘spoke’ to whoever needed to be spoken to, the hotel offered free bar until the party’s end, to make up for the loss. I heard someone say that the party didn’t end until 4:30am! Far cry from last year, when the hotel, as per the DJ, was trying to break the party up at midnight – after most of us had arrived at 11:15ish! Have I mentioned that I hate the Holiday Inn Kensington Forum hotel?

Without plans to go to the party but still wanting to do something, Matt, Darlene, Joe and I freshened up a bit and went down to the pub that was attached to the hotel. We saw John and Marge sitting in one corner (Marge seemed OK but John didn’t look good at all – he was all slumped over and staring into space) and a handful of Sing Live Liverpool altos and sopranos at a different end of the room. We exchanged some niceties with the Liverpool girls (who told us some unnerving information about something that had occurred between the matinée and the evening show) as they were leaving. Not knowing exactly what was going on, what to think or who to believe at that point (some time later, the story the Liverpool girls told us was confirmed by 2 other people who “would know”. Overall, it was…sickening. Pitiful, but sickening), the four of us sat by ourselves on the far end of the room, reviewing the events of the evening. John and Marge eventually joined us (it wasn’t comfortable under the circumstances but it’s not like we could get up and leave as they approached our table, y’know?) and we all left a little after 2am, when the pub closed.

What a day! What a long, tiring, but overall thrilling and exciting day! Definitely something I’ll keep in my head for a long, LONG time to come!

To my knowledge, the concert was not officially videotaped or recorded in any form (stupid copyright laws) but we saw a LOT of camera lights on when certain people were on stage. This is what I found so far:

AUDIO of “Nobody’s Side”

VIDEO of “Stars”

AUDIO of “One Song Glory”

AUDIO of “Seasons of Love”

AUDIO of “No One But You”

VIDEO of “No One But You”

AUDIO of “Who Wants to Live Forever” (listen for the cheers at the 2:00 mark!)

VIDEO of “Who Wants to Live Forever” (Part 1 – and yes, it’s upside down?)

Click Here to see it

VIDEO of “Who Wants to Live Forever” (Part 2 – right side up now, LOL!) and “We Are The Champions”

Click Here to see it

VIDEO of various Kerry Ellis clips during the concert

The official pictures of the event (and the matinée, for that matter) are now posted and available for purchase. They can be found at this link (click on “Client Area”). If any of you, dear readers, have found any other audio or video clips of the show, as well as unofficial pictures, please let me know!

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EDITED/ADDED AUGUST 29, 2010

I hadn’t checked YouTube in a while and, as it turned out, there were a few “new” clips of “our” concert that have been added. So here goes:

AUDIO of Katie Rowley Jones singing “Unusual Way”

VIDEO of Philip Quast singing “Anthem”

VIDEO of Philip Quast singing “Stars” (alternate view)

VIDEO of Philip Quast singing “A Good Thing Going / Not A Day Goes By”

VIDEO of Kerry Ellis singing “Nobody’s Side”

Hugh Wooldridge, the producer of Night of 1000 Voices has also posted some stills of the evening on his Night of 1000 Voices Facebook account. They may be a selection of the same pictures that were on Chris Christodoulou’s site but since I can’t find the Night of 1000 Voices pictures on Chris’s site anymore (I think we got bumped off Page 1), it might be the best we have. So click here to see them (you don’t have to be a member of Facebook to have access – it’s a page that’s open to the public): http://tinyurl.com/2e6xnub and then click on “Pictures.”

That’s pretty much all I’ve found to date. As always, if anyone knows of any other footage, please let me know!

I’ve read in a small handful of articles online that Hugh Wooldridge is considering a Night of 1000 Voices event for May of 2011 (I believe it used to be an annual event until the economy tanked and it’s only been every other year for a while now). It would be a lot of “ifs”…IF he does it…IF Sing Live is involved…IF Sing Live USA is invited…IF it works into our vacation schedule…yep, a lot of “ifs”. But IF it were to happen, well, how cool would that be? Fingers crossed!

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