Musical Legends 2023
June turned into July, and the day of our big summer concert dawned. The Beatles had brushed down their jackets, Elvis had adjusted his quiff, Coldplay had tuned their guitars, and Kate Bush had put on her eponymous red dress.
Kris had gathered together the brilliant orchestra for a rehearsal at lunchtime, which included Dave, the drummer, who had been awake since 6am on Friday!
The Phoenixes came together at 4:15, full of nervous excitement; some had already been beavering away (sorry, Gail), feeding the orchestra and creating incredible decorations to bling up the hall ready for tonight’s party:
*Fiona was stringing up an assortment of T-shirts showcasing musical legends at the back of the hall.
*The hall was spangled all round with feel-good stars hanging from the walls.
*Merridan and Kathryn were creating an ingenious red carpet leading to the drinks table, a walkway labelled with the stars we were showcasing tonight.
We soon took our seats for rehearsal, adhering to Kris’s seating plan. Alex, up to his usual wisecracks, was seated at the front, between Laurie and Gail, which worked out well, as it meant they could keep an eye on him! It was lovely to rehearse with the orchestra again and, very appropriately, Sara arrived while we were rehearsing ‘Make You Feel My Love’. She had come armed for making some delicious fruit mocktails to serve in the interval. Adrian, meanwhile, was carrying out an incredible juggling act of attending to the mikes and the sound system, while simultaneously practising his base part for the songs. All things considered, we had reason to be pretty chuffed with ourselves at the end of rehearsal, seeing as we had mastered a few numbers in no weeks flat; namely our Elvis medley and ‘Simply the Best’, our last-minute tribute to the recently departed Tina Turner.
After the main rehearsal we had time to grab something to eat and drink, and psych ourselves up for the main event. Never fear, there was still beautiful music floating round the hall, as people practised their solos. Needless to say, some nerves were floating round too. But the brilliant Ben summed it up: “Just forget everything else, all your little doubts and worries, and just enjoy it!” It was just the pep talk I needed.
Before we knew it, the audience was arriving – it was great to see so many. We kicked the show off with the feel-good hits ‘Mr Blue Sky’ and ‘Walking on Sunshine’ – both appropriate for summer, especially after a record-breaking hot June. There were one or two surprises for both audience and choir along the way: for example, Laura produced an appropriately Christine-esque red cloak and Myron a Phantom’s mask for their beautiful rendition of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s love song ‘All I Ask of You’ from Phantom of the Opera.
The solos all round were amazing, and our line-up of songs surely had something for everyone: from Peggy Lee’s feet-tapping ‘Fever’, as performed by Katrina and Lynn, to Bette Midler’s heart-soaring classic ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’, sung beautifully by Sally. Hats off to Fiona for singing fluently in French that world-renowned ‘Je Ne Regrette Rien’. It was lovely to hear Vickie sing a solo too. And Kris was quite right to declare Adrian a musical legend for stepping in at the last minute to sing ‘Stars’ from Les Miserables, which, as Adrian pointed out, seemed highly apt, considering the riots going on across France at that very moment.
Another musical legend worth a mention is our Concert Manager Merridan, who organised the raffle profits to go towards Yeovil Opportunity Group. It was truly moving to hear her describe the work this charity has done for her son Austin in such a short space of time.
All too soon, the time came for us to sing our finale act, (and my own personal favourite), the choral highlights from Mamma Mia. A definite workout for the voice, this one – particularly for the bases during ‘Take a Chance on Me’ – but it’s a cold heart indeed that isn’t lifted by hits like ‘Dancing Queen’ and ‘Waterloo.’ It’s hard to put in words the thrill that singing songs gives us phoenixes, particularly when performing to such a warm audience. This evening couldn’t have happened without them, without our forever modest chairwoman Gail, and the constant guidance, inspiration and laughter provided by Kris. And, of course, the musical legends that make up our orchestra and choir. WELL DONE, EVERYONE! This was a night to remember – it may not win a Grammy Award but it was nonetheless a great celebration of some of our country’s most loved songs and artists!