I sat in the very front row, as befitting my indisputable role as Hazel’s Proud Nanna. I was wearing my red slippers, a nod to the production about to take to the stage at Hook Primary School - “The Wizard
of Oz” - though I wasn’t completely sure whether my granddaughter would notice, or appreciate, my gesture of solidarity. On stage, Hazel as Dorothy, started off the show: “Somewhere over the rainbow,” she sang in her clear, sweet voice.
You know me, emotional as ever, more than one traitorous tear crept down my cheek…
Perhaps a year or so later (time flies when you’re having fun)
I was back in the school hall to watch the story of Scheherazade played out on stage, my granddaughter heart-stoppingly beautiful as the heroine of 1001 Arabian Nights. Do you know the story? A Sultan, furious at being cuckolded by his wife, vowed to marry
a virgin every day, before having her beheaded the following day. Scheherazade, in a bid to stop the fate of more and more young girls, married the Sultan herself - but evaded death by telling him each night a story so mesmerising that she won a stay of execution
for 1001 nights. I wasn’t the only one in the audience sobbing - the woman sitting next to me, unaware of my status as Scheherezade’s Nanna, whispered to me, through her tears: “She can’t die, can she?” Unlikely in a school production,
you’d have thought, but that was the Power of Performance.
Over the years since then, Mr B and I have proudly watched Hazel, often accompanied by brother
Jack, in so many roles, from leading parts - such as Cinderella in “Into the Woods” and an energetic narrator in Joseph to minor roles requiring an imaginative interpretation. You really haven’t ever seen such a charismatic burger bun as
Leaving school she could have carved out any number of successful career paths - but she was set on a stage career. Nothing else would do. She
knew exactly where she wanted to study, prestigious Arts Ed in London, and nothing else would do. Even when she (inexplicably to me) missed out on a place on the three year degree course after completing a successful Foundation Year, she wouldn’t give
up, taking a year out and re-applying the following year. I was so proud of her tenacity, her resilience, her unstoppability. Many would have settled for less but not our Hazel.
Perhaps the setback strengthened
her resolve, her vow to realise that dream:
“I can’t help it,” she told me once, “I don’t mind what I do - I just want to be on that
Now she is. And what a stage! On Monday she starts in rehearsals for the 2022/23 West End production of Les Miserables - arguably the most
iconic musical of the last ever-so-many years. I’m crying as I write because nobody deserves this more than my Golden Girl. In my imagination, I’m back in the Hook School Hall, watching the emergence of a shining star.
“Somewhere over the rainbow
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.”
So they do, dear Hazel, so they do.