Tuesday, 10 May 2016

HAIRSPRAY THE MUSICAL


The award-winning Musical, Hairspray is in Stoke for the first time ever, it's a musical I'm familiar with and love many of the songs and the storyline.

It's set in Baltimore in 1962 where a larger than life teenager with big hair and big personality, Tracy Turnblad (played by Freya Sutton) dreams of dancing her way onto national TV. She soon becomes a local star and uses her fame to fight for equality and changes the rules that black dancers are allowed to join together on The Corny Collins show. Freya played the part fantastically, with a great voice and comedy which had the audience laughing out loud in the first half. Tracy's love interest, Link Larkin was played by Ashley Gilmour and portrayed a slick, heartthrob with great charisma. 

There were great comedy moments between Tracy's mother, Edna played by Matt Rixon and her father played by Peter Duncan. I never even knew Peter was a performer! It was a pleasant surprise and a nice pairing.

Dex Lee as Seaweed impressed with his slick moves and the bedroom scene with Penny Pingleton (Monique Young) was hilarious. Duane was played by Layton Williams from Bad Education wowed us with his flips. 

Claire Sweeney is Velma Von Tussle, the bitchy producer of The Corny Collins show and pushy mother of Amber who she wants thrusts in the limelight. She was brilliant and hilarious when she was clambering over some unsuspecting members of the audience in the stalls. Her daughter, Amber was played by Lauren Stroud, with such a beautiful face, voice and talented dancer. 

Brenda Edwards is cast as Motormouth Maybelle, she was an X Factor semi-finalist and a real powerhouse, I felt so emotional watching her especially as I saw her being interviewed on Loose Women a couple of weeks ago talking about her current battle with breast cancer and had chemotherapy only days ago, what an absolute inspiration and strong lady. 

The whole cast deserved the standing ovation at the end and the audience were clapping and singing along. A real feel good musical that you should definitely not miss the opportunity to see whilst its in Stoke! 

Tickets are still available until Saturday 14th May


Friday, 29 April 2016

BACK TO SCHOOL - HORRIBLE HISTORIES


Since being a Mummy, everything has been a learning curve especially since Luke's been at school. I am learning more and more, especially when it comes to his different topics. I was never interested in history and actually can't remember that much about it from my school days. Last year I was fortunate enough to visit Chester and the Deva centre in Chester on Luke's school trip, it was very interesting so I've made a conscious effort to learn more history!

Last Christmas I bought Luke the full box set of books of 'Horrible Histories', it's a popular TV series too that makes History interesting, and from what I've heard shows a lot of gore and hilarious songs.

The Birmingham Stage Company were performing at The Regent Theatre, Stoke had 2 live shows of Horrible Histories, Groovy Greeks and Incredible Invaders, we went to the Groovy Greeks. The cast consisted of 4 performers who played a modern family wanting to learn about Greeks.

There were quick costume changes, singing, dancing, comedy, sound effects and audience participation. The timing was immaculate which showed how well rehearsed it was, there were some funny references to modern TV shows too, our favourite was 'The Gods Have Talent'

The best part for us was the second half where we were given 3D glasses in the interval. Absolutely fantastic scenery and trickery.

We thoroughly enjoyed it and as soon as we got home, we looked for the 'Groovy Greeks' book in the box set and started reading immediately!

I would highly recommend to anyone to take their kids to see this, it's a fab way to learn History!


Friday, 1 April 2016

CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG - Truly fantasmagorical!



Being a Mumpreneur is the best job in the world, especially when it comes to school holidays. We have had a busy time meeting friends, play dates and today, a special trip to the theatre to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at The Regent in Stoke. On a long flight to Thailand when Luke was 3, we watched this film on loop about 3 times, so we're both very familiar with the story.


It was a star-studded cast, with Comedian Jason Manford playing the lead role, Caractacus Potts. He was charismatic and his smile lit up the stage. His voice was strong and operatic and it gave me goosebumps when he sang 'Hush a bye mountain'. I was impressed with his energetic song and dance during 'Me Ol' Bamboo'. Truly Scrumptious was beautifully played by Amy Griffiths with a voice to match, she had a lovely connection with the Potts children too. The other big names, Phill Jupitus played Baron Bomburst and Michelle Collins as the Baroness had a comical pairing. The lovable Grandpa Potts was played by the talented, Andy Hockley.

The childcatcher played by Martin Kemp was spooky and the projection of his shadow was spine tingling, I didn't hear one child utter a noise when he was on the stage. Personally, I would have liked to have seen more of him!
The biggest laughs were for the two Vulgarian spies played by Sam Harrison and Scott Paige, they were hilarious.

There were lots of gasps when Chitty was transformed from the rusty old car to the shiny new flying machine, it was truly magical and the graphics of the scenery was convincing and enchanting.

The Potts children were superb and I the Sewer Children were played by local children who also were brilliant.

You know you've seen a good show when you hear people singing the songs when you leave the theatre.

It's not too late to book tickets so you have until 9th April with matinee performances which is perfect for the school holidays!
http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/chitty-chitty-bang-bang/regent-theatre/#performance_tabs=tab_tour






Tuesday, 2 February 2016

ANNIE - REGENT THEATRE STOKE

My 8 year old, Luke loves the pantomime and will watch virtually anything on the TV so I was really pleased when he said he would accompany me to see Annie. It was his first proper musical and I know he wasn't disappointed. We watched the original film version only last week to learn the main storyline so of course Luke was making comparisons, as we all do!

Annie is set in 1930's New York during the Great Depression, living a life of torment and misery in an orphanage run by cruel Miss Hannigan her luck changes when she is chosen to spend time with Billionaire, Oliver Warbucks.

Annie played by Madeleine Haynes was superb and did not lose character once, such a fantastic talent, her accent was convincing and singing and dancing all perfect for the role. Her partnership with the other orphans had us captivated and I had a lump in my throat hearing her sing favourites like 'Tomorrow' and 'Maybe'. The saying never work with children and animals was untrue when you saw the connection between Annie and Sandy the stray dog, played by 2 year old Labradoodle, Amber. As a dog lover I would have loved to have seen more of Sandy but was fun to spot him running across the stage.

Playing the part of Miss Hannigan was Lesley Joseph, best known for playing Man-eating Dorien Green in Birds of a Feather. She impressed us with her gin-swigging rendition of 'Little Girls', I never knew she had such a powerful voice. Occasionally her American accent slipped but she was still endearing. 'Easy Street' performed by Rooster (Jonny Fines) and Lily (Djalenga Scott) was entertaining with a wickedness and humour too.

Oliver/Daddy Warbucks was played by Alex Bourne and his pa, Grace Farrell played by Holly Dale Spencer had a charming bond. The dancing was strong by all the cast and it was nice to hear extra added songs to the movie version.

The scenery was a fun and colourful jigsaw puzzle which captivated throughout. Dancing, singing, costumes and humour kept us entertained.

I asked Luke which was his favourite part and his answer was 'All of it'! That is one happy customer!
I would highly recommend for all ages, you will not be disappointed and I guarantee you will be singing in the car on the journey home!

Tickets are now on sale and are available from The Regent Theatre Box Office, by calling 0844 871 7649 or visiting www.atgtickets.com/stoke   




Wednesday, 20 January 2016

THE SOUND OF MUSIC - REGENT THEATRE



The Sound of Music is my all time favourite film, I have watched it over and over again and know all the songs word perfect, My favourite things, Do-Re-Mi, Climb Ev'ry Mountain, Edelweiss and of course The Sound of Music. I was delighted to have been invited to watch it at The Regent Theatre, Stoke with my good friend, Pip who shares the same enthusiasm for the greatest musical of all time. We have lost count how many times we have seen the 'Sing along' and stage versions.

I saw the 'Live' version on television over Christmas, which I admit left me a little disappointed, mainly, due to chopping and changing well known songs and adding extra ones. I hadn't realised a new version had been written, it was probably for the 50th Anniversary in 2015, but to see the magnificent staging and scenery, and even with random unfamiliar songs, I thoroughly enjoyed it. There was romance, tears and laughter, just like in the film version.

Lucy O'Byrne takes on the role of Maria, she was the runner up on BBC One's The Voice, there was no hint of her Irish accent and she took to the acting role as well as the singing.

Award winning TV heart-throb, Gray O'Brien plays Captain Von Trapp, very dashing and handsome, especially in his Captain uniform. There was a great spark between Maria and the Captain particularly during the 'dance' section.

The seven Von Trapp children were all equally talented, timing was impeccable and showed great confidence.

The nuns and especially Mother Abbess, played by Jan Hartley gave me goosebumps. Her voice was uplifting and powerful.

The Baroness (Isla Carter) and Max Detweiler (Duncan Smith) sang the extra unfamiliar songs, you can't help but compare to the Film but it was a welcome addition and both had magnificent voices.

The cast deserved their standing ovation and there is nothing like leaving a theatre with an overall feeling of great pleasure and satisfaction.

If like me you are a lover of this film, you can see this new stunning production until Saturday:-

http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/the-sound-of-music/regent-theatre/



Saturday, 19 December 2015

SNOW WHITE & THE SEVEN DWARFS

I was lucky to have been invited to another Anton Benson Production. This time it was to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the new venue, Northwich Memorial Court.

The cast consisted of Edwina Currie as the Wicked Queen, Ex Corrie star Bruce Jones as her loyal Henchman and Celebrity Big Brother Runner Up, Austin Armacost as The Prince. There were a few sound technical difficulties in the first half, the microphones were way too loud and gave me a headache, not sure I could have stayed till the end if it hadn't have been sorted out. Fortunately, it was much more bearable in the second half, thank goodness!

Libby Gore was a brilliant Snow White and sang and looked beautiful. Keeley Fitzgerald played the comical, Trixie the Pixie with a very modern twist. I always love a 'Dame' in a panto and Steve Moorewood was fabulous, his pairing with Ryan Greaves as his son was hilarious. The one-liners were great and the 'Magazine' script had me in stitches.

The costumes, scenery and dancers from local dance school, Masquerade were professional and showed such talent.

The seven dwarfs were masked and their timing to the audio was impeccible, well done to the youngsters who played them.

The 12 days of Christmas is a favourite of mine and Luke's (my 8 year old), we always sing along and love all the cameraderie on stage. Lots of props were being thrown off and onto the stage and we the laughed from beginning till the end.

If you haven't booked to see a panto yet check out ticket prices http://www.antonbensonproductions.com/snow-white-2015.html


Friday, 11 December 2015

PETER PAN - REGENT THEATRE STOKE


I can't believe its that time of the year again.......oh no it isn't, oh yes it is!
One of my favourite parts of Christmas is my annual trip to the pantomime.

This years performance at The Regent Theatre, Stoke is Peter Pan, I was lucky enough to be there on opening night with two excitable 8 year olds, both with their glowing light sabres ready to join in the fun.

It's a special Anniversary performance for cheeky chappy, Jonathan Wilkes as it is his 10th year. He played Nanny McSmee and Mr Smee, and had us all shouting 'Ay Up Smee!' on his entrance. His love of Stoke is apparent and opened with a cleverly penned song 'All I care about is Stoke' including references to Oatcakes and his beloved Port Vale. There was a hilarious scene where Captain Hook (Christian Patterson) dressed up as Peter Pan and Wendy Darling, Patterson wrote the play and he and Johnny directed it, the comedy pairing was genius.

Peter Pan flying around the stage was magical and very seamless, played by Shannon Paul Lane he had us convinced in believing in Fairies which we were all chanting at the end. The rollerskating Tinkerbell was glittery and enchanting, a part of me feared for her every time she skated onto the stage. The dancing and singing was brought to us by a cast of young performers from Wilkes Academy, great to see local talent. The songs were modern and certainly had us dancing in our seats.

The costumes and scenery were colourful and bright and there was many an innuendo for the adults and jokes for the children too. 

There was the lack of an actual Panto Villain, my son generally enjoys the hissing and booing at the baddy but it was a fabulous family show, packed full of glittery entertainment. We gave it a definite thumbs up!

To book your tickets without delay go to http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/regent-theatre/