Another night at the theatre

Last night, my mother and I went to St David’s Hall to see Anton du Beke and Erin Boag in their new show, ‘Steppin’ Out’. And it was fabulous! We had left it a little late to book tickets, and so ended up sitting in the choir stalls behind the stage, but we enjoyed it enormously despite that! And in fact, I think we had better seats than the people who were sitting in the high tiers at the back of the hall.

Anton and Erin were dancing to swing music in the main, and were accompanied by four more fantastic dancers and singer Graham Bickley. There were some ‘talky’ bits in between times, including a Q and A session in the second half. I think my favourite dance was either the tango, the dance to the music from ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ or maybe ‘Let’s Face the Music and Dance’ which was right at the end of the show. I think to narrow it down to just three possible favourites is fairly impressive!

The two hours of the show was over before we knew it, it really did go amazingly fast! I think Mum and I could happily have sat through a show twice as long, although maybe Anton and Erin would have been a little tired after a show that length!

Well, if they bring another show back to Cardiff, Mum and I will definitely be in the audience…and we’ll make sure to buy tickets earlier next time. There’s a Strictly Come Dancing show in the spring which we’re considering, as well as a Latin show starring Darren Bennett and Lilia Kopylova at the end of June. Depending on my mother’s globe trotting, if we’re lucky perhaps we’ll manage to go to both!

Two in a row!

Last night, I had my second night in a row at the theatre! A very different production this time though, as I took the kids to see the pantomime in Cardiff’s New Theatre. It was Robin Hood, starring John Barrowman (from Torchwood and Doctor Who) as the eponymous hero. It was a great production – I saw him three years ago in Jack and the Beanstalk, but I’d forgotten what a giggler he is, and I was duly amazed that he was still finding some of the jokes so funny after nearly a month of performances already!

The kids loved it, and I cheered and booed in all the right places! I’m looking forward now to seeing it for a second time when I go with my husband, my mother and some of my friends towards the end of the month!

An evening at the theatre

So, last night I went to the Wales Millennium Centre to see the 25th Anniversary Production of ‘Les Miserables’. My ticket was my Christmas present from Maria. I didn’t know a lot about the show before I went, the bare bones of the story and the more recogniseable of the songs was as far as I went, so I really didn’t have much of a clue what to expect. And it was fabulous! It was a new production, so apparently different in some aspects to the famous London production which Maria had already seen. This new production is by Cameron Mackintosh. There were some very clever uses of the screen at the back of the stage to portray movement of the characters from one place to another. At times it was almost like watching a film rather than being in a theatre.

The actors were all brilliant. The only name I recognised was Gareth Gates, who played Marius (although that was probably more due to the lack of big productions I’ve seen than to anything else). In the eight years since I saw Gareth Gates on Pop Idol, his voice has really matured and was lovely to listen to. But then, so were all of the performers. There truly wasn’t one weak one in the whole cast. Jean Valjean was brilliant, the three main females were fabulous, the three children were excellent, it was tremendous casting.

There was audible sobbing at the end of the performance (unfortunately I must have a heart of stone as I didn’t succumb!) and the applause at the end was both long and loud. I couldn’t clap for very long because of my stupid hands, but I was applauding wildly in my head!

A quiet (yet productive) day!

So, now that I’ve wated an entire morning on the internet, reading and commenting on blogs, updating my Amazon Wishlist and looking at various bits of the Ravelry website, it’s time for me to do something properly productive.

Yesterday was a good day. I visited Maria in the afternoon (who is suffering with a bad back at the moment, so lots of healing thoughts would be most appreciated for her) and took my Mum‘s Christmas present to work on (she knows what it is, as I took it to her on Christmas Day in it’s nearly finished state!). Mum, you’ll be glad to hear that I’m much nearer to finishing it, and it should be with you (finally!) in the next couple of days. I also finished the knitting on GG’s second slipper sock, although I need to do the lining and the non-slip sole before it can be officially called finished. I’m half way through Cheeky’s first slipper sock. I couldn’t finish that as I’d forgotten to measure the length of his foot before he went to bed, and I thought that he probably wouldn’t take too kindly to being woken up by my drawing a template of his foot at 10pm! It was very quick to knit though (I’m using aran weight yarn and he still has cute dinky little feet!) so I’m hoping to finish the second one today, then line and non-slip both those and GG’s second one tomorrow morning.

Tonight, though, I’m off to the theatre to have my Christmas present from Maria, so I’m very hopeful that I’ll have a good review to write tomorrow. I’m just praying that her back is feeling sufficiently better that she can sit comfortably in the theatre, otherwise it could be a bit of a miserable experience for her.

The Sound of Music on tour

I was lucky enough, last night, to go and see “The Sound Of Music” starring Connie Fisher and Michael Praed at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay. I went with my best friend Maria and a few of her friends and family, and we had a wonderful evening. The performance was truly stunning – the Mother Abbess’s rendition of ‘Climb Ev’ry Mountain’ gave me shivers!

It was very well cast. Having watched “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria” on the BBC avidly when it was originally on, I was delighted to have the chance to see Connie Fisher in the lead role. She didn’t disappoint. She really did manage to portray a Maria who might ‘climb a tree and scrape her knee’ and whose ‘dress has got a tear’! She was very believable as a young novice who isn’t quite mature enough at the start of the play for a life in the convent, and later on as a confused young woman who doesn’t quite know what to do with her feelings for Captain Von Trapp.

The children were really good, especially whilst performing the choreographed routines in ‘Do-Re-Mi’ and ‘So Long, Farewell’. Max Detweiler and the Baroness have much more to do in the stage version than in the film, including a coupe of songs.

All in all, the stage version was sufficiently different to the film that I didn’t feel the need to compare the two. All the performances were very good, and the evening passed incredibly quickly. Maria enjoyed it so much that she wants to follow the tour round the country and see more performances! However, we have more musicals to look forward to, as Maria has already bought us tickets to see ‘Les Miserables’ at new year, ‘Chicago’ will be in the Wales Millennium Centre in January, and, of course, there’s the Christmas pantomime to see as well!

Calendar Girls

Last night I had a second night out in a row, this time to the New Theatre in Cardiff to see the new stage production, “Calendar Girls” by Tim Firth. The tickets were my present to my Mum for Mothering Sunday (early!). In fact, we bought the tickets back at Christmas and I’m glad we did as it has been completely sold out for a good while now.
It was a fantastic production – I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much (apart from whilst watching “Marley and Me” on Tuesday!) and was superbly cast. If you’ve seen the film you’ll know what a moving story it is, and also how much humour is in it. I’d forgotten how many fabulous one-liners were in it, and barely paused for breath between laughing! But they also managed to satisfy the sadness and tenderness in the illness and subsequent death of John Clarke from cancer.
The nearly two and a half hours that the play lasted passed in the twinkling of a eye, and I’d go to see it again in a heartbeat if it wasn’t sold out! If it is coming to anywhere near where you live, and you are able to get tickets, GO! You’ll have a fantastic night, and it’s a real tonic and a pick-me-up to have such a good laugh at the end of a long winter!
Oh, and as a bonus, I got my programme signed by Lynda Bellingham afterwards! I was so impressed to see her and Elaine C Smith outside afterwards doing a signing, as they were on the stage almost the whole time and must have been really tired by the end of the show. And yet they stood outside for ages, talking to the audience members who waited to have programmes signed, and seemed genuinely lovely ladies. Oh, and for any “Loose Women”  fans, ‘Mr Spain’ was also there!
Calendar Girls programme, autographed by Lynda Bellingham

Calendar Girls programme, autographed by Lynda Bellingham

Happy London Saturday

(Written on Saturday morning, extremely early!)

I’m off to London for the day today. I’m on the train at the moment, having left Cardiff at stupid-o’clock this morning. I got up nice and early so I could get myself ready, as I don’t generally wear make-up unless I’m going somewhere nice. Well, today qualified as a make-up day, so I had to allow extra time for that! I obviously have forgotten how long it takes to do a full face of make-up, as by the time I had finished I had no time left to make breakfast. So, instead of the lovely sandwich and couple of pieces of fruit I had planned to take with me, I bought myself a packet of mini-Eccles cakes at Cardiff Central station. [For my overseas (non-UK) readers – do you have an Eccles cake equivalent? It is a cake made with flaky pastry which contains dried vine fruits, and is named after a town in Lancashire, England.]

I’m travelling with a group of friends who all have children in school with my boys. Once of them, A, celebrated her 40th birthday recently and so T, who organised the whole trip has brought Bucks Fizz, strawberries and chocolates and even disposable champagne flutes along for the train journey! And so the party is really getting started, before 8am! T is justifying it as a champagne breakfast; I can see that I (I don’t drink) am going to end up carrying half of them around Covent Garden on my back! (Only joking – they are all, of course, mature, responsible ladies 😉 )

I think the plan is to get into London by about 9.30, spend the morning shopping, so and see the show, have a long and relaxed dinner and then make our way back to London Paddington to catch the train home. After which I will write an update on our day. Happy Saturday!

So, my day went more or less as I had expected. We had a cooked breakfast when we arrived in town, which set us up for the day. We spent the morning and early afternoon walking around the Covent Garden boutiques and then the Jubilee market. We had the obligatory pub stop before heading off to the theatre to see … Dirty Dancing! Yay! It was fabulous! I’d not seen the film for several years and so it was lovely to be reminded of all the more subtle nuances!

The dancing was fantastic and the singing awesome. I really thought that there was a CD playing until I saw the lips of one of the girls moving and realised that it was her singing! ‘Baby’ looked just like the actress who played her in the film. The time flew by, and it wasn’t until we were on the train on the way home that I realised that it was three hours long.

More about my day and photos tomorrow – this post is getting a bit too long and it’s time for me to get ready for bed (I’m exhausted!) so I’m going to split it in two!


Hamlet poster

Only about five weeks to wait now! I got soooo excited as I passed this poster yesterday!

I’ll fill you in on the reason that I was passing this poster when I’ve caught up on my sleep tomorrow. Until then, I’m going to sit and look at the photo I’ve taken!

David Tennant in Hamlet

I was thrilled, recently, to be able to buy tickets to go and see Hamlet, starring David Tennant and Patrick Stewart, in London during Christmas week. I had to become a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company for a year in order to obtain tickets early, and I am so glad that I did as almost all of the tickets were sold out even then (that was about a month ago). However, my mother and I have our tickets now and are very excited that we will get to see this production. I haven’t been able to go to many major productions due to childcare issues and the costs of actually going, and my mother has found it difficult for some years as she was living in mid-Wales and it would have taken a good six or seven hours to get to London by train. But now she is living in Cardiff we are pleasurably anticipating being able to get to many more productions and events like this. Anyway, I digress…

Before I go on, I must admit to the teeniest, tiniest crush on Mr Tennant. I’ll not go on about that here, but suffice it to say that you shouldn’t expect a wholly unbiased view from me, although I promise I’ll do my best!

The BBC have today published a review of David’s Hamlet on their website as have the Times Online, both of which I am delighted to say were very very good. There are also a selection of videos on the subject (such as this one) which interview David, interview the director (Gregory Doran) and generally discuss the production and his success in the role. All of which is making me more and more excited to see it at Christmas time! What a Christmas present! I can’t wait to see it for myself and review it for you!

My sons are actually quite disappointed that they aren’t going, being such big Doctor Who fans, but I’ve promised them that when David next appears in a stage play which is a little more light-hearted than the story of the Prince of Denmark we will make every effort to all go to it.

South Pacific

Tuesday was my Mother’s birthday and, as I didn’t want to buy her the same old chocolates and toiletries that she always ends up getting, I suggested that I could take her to the theatre. It just so happened that South Pacific was at the New Theatre in Cardiff this week, and, as we’re both big fans of musicals, we decided to give it a go. And we were really glad we did – it was a fantastic production and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

It stars Dave Willetts, who has formerly starred in Phantom and Les Miserables among many other noteworthy productions (so a fair pedigree then!) and Helena Blackman, who is probably best known for being the runner up in BBC’s ‘How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria’. I performed in a school production of ‘South Pacific’ (only a minor role) so I know all the songs (and a lot of the dialogue!) and I really really enjoyed it. Even the minor characters were a delight, and everyone was very watchable. I may have mentioned before, but my benchmark for judging the quality of a performance (film or theatre) is how far into the performance I look at my watch. I can honestly say that I didn’t even think about glancing at my watch until the curtain came down for the interval. It was really good and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to any of you that can get to see it.