The week before last I completed not one but two things on my bucket list. This blog I’m going to focus on the big dream I finally ticked first and an experience I’ll never forget #snaps
It all started with just one tweet, but before all that I was at Milton Keynes Theatre watching Legally Blonde with my dad, it was a Christmas gift from me to him. I’ve actually seen Legally Blonde before, it was five years ago and Sheridan Smith was playing Elle and it was incredible so seeing it again this year it was amazing. My dad and I both love musicals and over the years since I was a child we’ve seen so many from Les Mis, to Hairspray, to Cats, to Blood Brothers, to Rent, to Annie, to West Side Story, to South Pacific and many more. Growing up I was part of my local Youth Theatre Company in Norwich and I loved it. Acting was my passion and when I was struggling both physically and mentally it gave me an escape, a different part to play ,a story to tell with passion and music to wow the stage. I loved all that and miss it a lot so watching musicals is one of my favourite things to do (as well as dancing/wheelchair moving round the living room to the songs singing my heart out! Which is also a lot of fun and we should all do as it’s a good way to relive stress and let go).
So on the 22nd May on the way home from Legally Blonde singing loudly along in the car I thought “why don’t I just send a tweet? Life is too short not to and the worst and most likely thing they will say is no”. The reason I wanted to send a tweet was because of my bucket list which is the reason for this website. You can learn all about my list and the details of how it started on the main website (in brief it started because of my first of multiple intensive care/coma admissions) but the most important thing to know is that my list is all about living life to the full with a life threatening condition. It’s about grasping every moment, feeling the fear and doing it anyway and appreciating the little things in life and never taking anything for granted. My list is full of everything from the big to the small to the downright mad but it’s all about having fun, experiencing life’s moments with the ones you love and making a difference where you can big or small, stranger or friend we can all make a difference. So as you might have guessed Legally Blonde is on that list and one of my dreams has always been to be able to go backstage with one of my favourite shows and meet the cast. I didn’t expect much from my tweet especially as I don’t use twitter all the time and they are all very busy people. Literally less than five minutes from when I sent the tweet I got responses coming in, OMIGOD OMIGOD you guys.. (okay no I’m getting carried away again that’s the show’s song #omigodyouguys) but it really was an OMIGOD moment!
These replies made my day, my week and meant everything to me. That night I could hardly sleep knowing there was a small chance I might actually have this dream come true! Then the lovely David (who plays Emmett in the show) sent me a private message on twitter asking when could I come? That’s how it all started and forward one month later to Friday 22nd the day I was having one of my dreams come true and one I thought would be impossible but such kind, down to earth and caring people decided they wanted to help make it happen which I think is just quite incredible on its own? There can be so much hate in this world, so much bad news we’re constantly hearing on tv and the radio yet at the same time there is also so much good that happens too and goes so easily unnoticed. In our world there is so, so many good, kind and amazing people who so often put others before themselves and I want David, Helen and all the cast to know that they are those sorts of people and how thankful I am for what they did for me.
Friday came around and I woke up early at 6/7:00am as I couldn’t sleep as I was just so excited! I had asked Kandy to come with me who is one of my really close and amazing friends who also loves musicals and loves Legally Blonde just like me. She also really deserves this too as she fights like me daily with a really cruel lung condition and we’ve both fought for our lives in intensive care so we are all about living for today and making each and every moment count.
Waiting by stage door we were both so excited. I messaged David and he came out to meet us, he then showed us around the theatre (Wimbledon Theatre in London) and where everything was and how it worked. It was fascinating seeing it all up close! Seeing the set, costumes and stage you only normally see from a distance yet here I was standing right next to it! When I arrived a lot of the cast were on stage doing a warm up as well as going over the main routines as there was a few of the main cast like Elle (played by Lucie Jones, understudy – Becca Stonehouse) unwell so there was a number of roles moved around with the understudies being used but that’s part of being on a year long tour and something they are very used to doing and very good at as well! It was so awesome to be seeing all of this happening in front of me and to be sat there side of stage watching them warm up whilst David talked us through what everyone was doing was something so special. Once the warm up had finished no one rushed past me as everyone wanted to say hello and were so polite and kind taking the time to speak to both me and Kandy. I then suddenly remembered I had a card for all of the cast in my bag and before I forget I quickly got the card out my bag and gave it David telling him to promise me that he’d show all the cast and remember every word I wrote in it is true and very important to remember especially when you’re having a bad day. I wanted them to know what a difference they make to my life and how their performances give me just a small break, distraction and escapism for just a few hours into the incredible, witty and heart warming stage show Legally Blonde the musical is.
After everyone had finished the warm up and saying hello most people went back to their dressing rooms so at that point the stage was free to go on and so of course we did just that. Walking (well wheeling, but I’m not going to say that so you know what I mean) out on to the stage was incredible and once I was in the centre stage I put the brakes on my wheelchair and looked out, an empty audience of course but that didn’t matter because I was back on stage a place I used to love and once I got unwell I never thought I would get to be there again but yet here I am. Looking out made me really miss my own stage experience a lot and being honest it got me a little emotional but turning around to see one of my closet friends, the cast of one of my favourite musicals and being backstage on a west end show how could this girl not be beaming with happiness right now? I took a moment to take a deep breath in (breath it all feel all those halogens warming your.. no wait I’ve gone off track again I’m doing the songs #takeitlikeaman) and treasure it because these sorts of moments are so precious and I’m not wasting a moment. David then introduced me to other cast members like his other half Helen who is super lovely and I’m so glad I was able to meet (Helen plays Brooke #whippedintoshape – also if you’re interested in fitness then look her up #skypthegym on twitter. It’s honestly incredible what you can do with just one skipping rope! Trust me! If I could walk I would totally be doing this! Maybe one day they’ll be a better way for wheelchair users to do more fitness easily and join in with things like this.. but anyway I’m getting off topic that’s for another blog!)
I then went on to meet even more cast members and each one of them took their time to say hello, speak to me and have a photo which when you’re a busy (and I’m sure very tired at times) cast member I appreciate a lot. David also introduced to (some would say) the star of the show and the whole tour.. BRUISER! Who was so, so adorable (so tiny compared to my Willow!) A well trained dog on tour (he even has understudies too!) He was so cute the way he obviously loved David and Helen just hanging on to David’s shoulder everywhere he went, it was lovely to be able to meet him finally and for any dog to be on stage months on end is one special dog indeed! We then had a group photo on the stage with all of the cast which was wonderful and a photo that is already added to my collection of photos on my wall at home, the ones I look at when I’m at home and in hospital struggling to keep me fighting and this one certainly reminds me to do just that. Legally Blonde is one of two of the main soundtracks mum plays to me when I’m really poorly including when in intensive care and there’s been times when I’ve wanted to give up but listening to the songs, the story, the words kept me holding on and still do to this day.
I was then surprised with a Legally Blonde poster given to me by David and signed by all the cast which I wasn’t expecting and meant the world. Having this whole experience was just wonderful and something I’m so grateful for and Kandy I know is too, we both couldn’t stop smiling throughout! To top it all off David (and his very kind manger) sorted out tickets for us to see the show, again but I’d never say no to seeing a west end show especially one of my favourites! Just as I was turning my phone on flight mode I saw this notification come up and it was the icing on top of a sensational day..
Especially the hashtag #honourarycastmember
Another bucket list ticked and this one was a really big dream of mine: Going backstage on one of my favourite musicals, this one being Legally Blonde UK Tour 2017/2018: TICK!
Looking back now to just over three years ago when I first started my list after that first coma I would never have dreamed it would have come true like it did. But it did and do you know what when I first wrote that tweet to the cast I wasn’t 100% sure about doing it and I could have easily said to myself “they won’t respond to you, don’t bother”. Instead I believed in myself, took a chance and said in that moment “well what’s the worst that can happen Ruth? Feel the fear and do it anyway, no regrets. No day but today. That’s what this list is all about”.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog and thank you if you have as I know it’s one of my longer ones but I wanted to get everything in and to me every bit matters as I mean every word and I want to share that. If any of the wonderful cast are reading this then a massive thank you for making myself and Kandy feel so welcome, meeting you all and letting me feel that incredible feeling of being back on a stage once again. Legally Blonde is always with me and your performances too. I hope you were able to read the card but if not just know you’ve made more of an impact then I can ever explain and kept me going through the hardest of times, when you’re struggling any of you and anyone in general know you make a difference to me and so many others. We all do, big or small we all make differences and the best thing we can do is pass that on, be kind and make the most of every moment in this life.