Wednesday, 9 May 2018

I've Got My Ticket... Hairspray - The Musical

Although I had never seen the very original 1988 Hairspray film, the cinema trailer for the 2007 re-release was so vibrant and full of energy that I felt like I’d have been missing out on all of the fun had I not gone to watch it – And I was right!

Later on, when the DVD was available in stores I was soon purchasing my copy, then, before I knew it, I was watching the new musical version in London's West End, which I also loved.

That was a decade ago, and with it being far too long I was more than ready to see the current production that is touring around the UK and Ireland at the moment.

All I needed was to add some volume to my hair and grab my mum (who is also a big fan of the film) and I was all set for not having a lot of voice left the next day after all the singing that I would be doing.

Everything you need to know about Hairspray the musical and my overall star rating

Show Name: Hairspray - The Musical
Venue: The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
Performance Dates: Tuesday 8th May - Saturday 12 May 2018
Starring: Rebecca Mendoza, Matt Rixon, Norman Pace, Edward Chitticks, Brenda Edwards, Annalise Liard-Bailey, Layton Williams, Aimee Moore, Jon Tsouras
Directed by: Paul Kerryson 
Choreography by: Drew McOnie

Brief Information:
Based in the groovy 1960’s era, schoolgirl Tracy Turnblad isn’t your average teen, which is why the ladies of the ever so popular ‘The Corny Collins Show’ despise her, especially Amber and her mother. Velma Von Tussle works behind the scenes doing her utmost best to put her daughter in the spotlight - and she plans to keep things that way.

Like her mother Tracy has an appetite - and a curvaceous figure to show for it. Being a gutsy young lady however, she doesn’t let this prevent her from auditioning for a new place on the all-singing, all-dancing televised programme. After all, her humour, boldness and sheer determination are quite contagious, which is why the shows pin-up Link Larkin falls for her - much to the annoyance of Amber.

Tracy’s parents and her best friend, Penny, are beyond thrilled about her sudden rise to fame, as are the community of mixed races at the appearance of seeing someone a bit different on their television screens. In a time when people with a skin colour other than white are thought much less of, this  could be the positive indication that change is about to follow.

After landing herself in detention Tracy chats, harmonizes and shakes her hips with personalities of who it is ruled not to. Then, speaking up for those who are too shy to do so, she teams up with a crowd of them to publicize that no matter where you are from or what you look like, equality is a must. Tracy makes this an even bigger challenge for herself, aiming to get mixed races their own place on TV.

Prior to the show:
Even with the lively Nikky Blonsky, brilliant John Travolta and handsome Zac Efron from the 2007 film being, of course, absent from this theatre production it didn't faze me that the stage version maybe wouldn't excel.

The songs are absolutely brilliant on their own, but the inclusion of each character is a further asset because, although they may have things in common, each of them offers something individually. May it be through coolness, funniness or quirkiness, they are all relatable, and this is what charmed me, as did the motivating objective of the story.

What did you like?
Firstly, I was delighted to see, and needless to say, hear, the live band with this is a musical that definitely should not be without one. As for the cast, it was Jon Tsouras who initially impressed me acing the cool persona of his character, TV host Corny Collins. Layton Williams, who played the role of Seaweed, is another cast member that I can see keep progressing in his career. Whether it be singing, dancing, acting, or a combination of the three, his stage presence was honestly, exceptional.

Although it is made no secret that the role of Mrs Turnblad is in fact played by a man, not many audience members would have suspected that this certain theatre production was the professional debut of Rebecca Mendoza, who plays the starring character of Tracy.

Pantomimes are mainly the past theatre work of Annalise Liard-Bailey, who takes on the role as Tracy's best friend Penny, but you would have thought that she had been in the musical business for much longer going off of her fantastic performance. What is brought to the show by the remaining cast members, of which include 2005 The X Factor contestant Brenda Edwards (Motormouth Maybelle) and actor and funnyman Norman Pace (Wilbur Turnblad) indeed, deserved applauding too. The chemistry on stage between Mr and Mrs Turnblad was ever so funny that it caused outbursts of laughter in the auditorium for long periods of time.

I particularly admired the amount of thought and effort that you could see had been put in to the preparation of the eye-catching wardrobe pieces and striking hairdos fashioned by all of those seen involved. Both were undoubtedly noticed especially in my two same favourite song scenes as in the film - 'Welcome to the 60's' and in the final number 'You Can't Stop the Beat'.

What would you change?
Unfortunately on multiple occasions during the show I felt that Rebecca overdid it on the singing vocals of Tracy, resulting in sounding quite squeaky on some songs.

My rating out of five:
Find out more about Hairspray - The Musical, including ticket prices and performance times:
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Sunday, 29 April 2018

Five Good Things... April

I can't quite believe that we have almost entered the fifth month of the year already!

For me, time is passing by far too quickly, but having said that, when the warmer seasons of spring and summer arrive I welcome them with open arms
(even though it is pouring down with rain outside as I write this).

With it nearly being over, here are Five Good Things that I particularly enjoyed about April.

Five good things that really stood out for me this April month 2018.

Reading More:
If you scanned through my Reserve at the Library... My Favourite Authors post last year then you might remember about me mentioning how I don't get through many books now like I used to. I do try to have a book on the go however, even if it takes me six months to read the whole thing.

My current selection is 'The Creakers', which is written by Tom Fletcher of my favourite band McFly. As well as being an insanely talented musician his writing skills are also incredible. I would recommend getting a copy of this release or his 2017 festive publication of 'The Christmasaurus'. Both are engrossing stories and the printed versions also include multiple creative drawings by illustrator Shane Devries.

Hello Spring:
Like I am sure most of the British population does, I feel far better when the sun makes an appearance, the flowers begin to flourish and the sound of birds chirping can be faintly heard.

Another perk to the rise in temperature is being able to part with my coat so you can actually see the outfit that I am wearing underneath. 

I will almost always go for a walk every day, but often avoid going out if it is raining. Living in the countryside there are a variety of different routes that you can take and in April I took advantage of this more with the muddy fields being dry. As well as a frog sat beside a worm! I was met with a lot of stunning scenic views, some of which I just had to whip out my phone to take photo's of.

At the moment I am currently unemployed (more on that in an upcoming post). As well drafting together a few ideas for future posts I have been helping out at a couple of charities on various occasions recently.

These include at a diner that provides a hot meal, pudding and drinks to people with a low or no income, and the more established Sue Ryder, where I have been assisting with pricing stock in one of their charity shops nearby. The money raised from this cause goes towards supporting those who are diagnosed with life-changing medical illnesses. 

If you can spare even sixty minutes a week, I would encourage voluntary work. Your involvement will not only be making a difference, but you will also get to interact with different personalities and maybe gain some new friends too.

Free hot Drink & Cake Anyone?
It has been quite some time now that shop retailer 'John Lewis' have been treating my mother and I to a free hot drink and a piece of cake in their in-store cafe. We registered online years ago and every three months on average get posted a voucher each to redeem against these two choices.

With each visit I get excited thinking about what tempting flavours of cake they will have available on the day. My typical order is a big (and yes it is!) slice of either chocolate or carrot cake, plus a hot chocolate with very little milk.

My nan accompanied me this April to the cafe instead of my mum. She has a busier social life than I do, so it was really pleasant catching up whilst tucking into some tasty delights. Whilst she ordered a hot meal of meat and vegetable pie (which was huuuuge), chips and peas, I settled on the Victoria Sponge cake, which had an iced surface with some edible strawberry details and a filling of jam with buttercream.

McDonald's Magnificence:
Yes, whilst we are on the subject of food, I feel like I have spoken about the food and drink chain of McDonald's more in the past month than what I normally do throughout the whole year. This is because my parents and I have won numerous prizes through their Monopoly game. My mum and dad rarely get a burger, but did so recently, and we all appreciate the quality of their ice cream products.

It is very simple to play with it being that all you have to do is purchase a certain food or drink item in-store or through a drive-through of McDonald's and peel off the promotional sticker that should be stuck to the packaging. You will then be able to see if you have won an instant prize. I did and could choose between small fries or a milkshake, and being that I love these liquid choices I opted for the drink in the chocolate flavour.

There are other ways to play and more prizes of another kind to win. Although this promotion ends on the 1st of May 2018 I am sure that it will be back again. More information about this deal can be found here on their official website:

What good things have happened to you this April?
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Thursday, 29 March 2018

Eggcellent Ways to get Involved With the Easter Joy

Like Christmas I think that the general meaning of Easter is overlooked by many.

From playing out festive tunes to putting up the tree decorations, there are tons of things that you can do around the annual December day, but quite a few of us either don't bother or have not a clue of what to do around Easter time.

There are, in fact, lots of ways that you can get involved in celebrating this important Christian festival other than devouring chocolate after chocolate.

Here I have put together a small list of eggcellent things suitable for all ages to take part in this Easter holiday.

Here I have put together a small list of 'eggcellent' things suitable for all ages to take part in this Easter holiday.
Plus, they are either free or cost under £5.

  • Reach for the craft supplies and get your creative juices flowing by making Easter-themed cards, for instance. Poundland's current crafts stock will give you further ideas of items to make.
  • Exchange a pricey trip to the cinema for an Easter-related DVD to watch at home such as 'Rise of the Guardians' or, a personal favourite of mine, 'Hop'. Pick up enough popcorn and sweets to go around and you're all set for an entertaining film directly from the sofa.
  • Attend an Easter service at your local church. This one is very simple and usually free, although on occasions you might be expected to put forward a small amount as a charity donation.
  • Plan an Easter egg hunt in your very own back garden. Simply hide some chocolate goodies around the area, then, host a quiz where the answers to the questions asked will indicate as to where they can be found.
  • Do a website search of shops nearby that might be holding some Easter activities in-store. For example, the Waterstones bookstore closest to me is advertising four free events.
  • Have you heard?! McDonald's are relaunching their yummy McFlurry Cadbury Creme Egg and Cadbury Caramel flavours. Don't miss out as these are for a limited time only!    

I do hope that you like the bunny illustration shown above.
It was sketched and painted by me.

What is your typical Easter like?
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Saturday, 17 March 2018

Five Blogs That I Continue to Read

Every blogger deserves credit.

No matter whether they are new to the world of blogging or have been tapping away at their keyboard posting for years.

Some bloggers post daily, other weekly, or like myself - less often. Again, nobody should be judged on whether they have a posting schedule or not and instead actually be praised for their effort to write and share publicly in the first place.

As long as what is being published isn't offensive, expressing ourselves through our writing on one subject or more should be celebrated.

Here are five blogs that I continue to read ever since I first stumbled across them on the World Wide Web.

 Blogging goes way beyond just swinging a few words together to form a sentence.
For instance, a lot of us choose to take our own content photos, then there is the all-important matter of SEO (Unless you are dealing with websites please don't worry about knowing what this means) and the list goes on.

With all of this in mind I thought that I would show my appreciation for five blogs that I continue to read ever since I first stumbled across them on the World Wide Web.
This blog is named after the owner Victoria's two adopted pugs, so as you would expect these endearing doggy sisters show up every now and again in her posts.

Even though I don't know this Leeds located blogger personally she is the type of individual that I would like to meet with for a chat over a warm drink and a large cookie. You only have to take a single scroll through her blogs first page to see why that is.

As well as book reviews, inspirational quotes, cheerful snaps, and places she has journeyed to this 32-year-old documents about her ups and downs whilst recovering from glandular fever and chronic fatigue syndrome. Having had my own personal battle with health problems, which are still ongoing, she is definitely someone I can relate to.  

'"Ice Cream" whispers Clara':
It was the comment that Elizabeth left on my My Straightforward Guide for Entering Competitions post back in May that made me aware of her online presence. I am so glad that she left those sweet words as I would still be missing out on all of her enchanting photos and the intriguing subjects that she pairs with them.

Along with homeware and fashion wish lists, recipe ideas, beauty product reviews and Elizabeth's latest cute buys, there are some features on her little son and their family outdoor adventures together too.

Victoria's Vintage:
I have spoken about Victoria's delightful lifestyle blog before in my It's Simple Really!... Me, Myself and I: From A-Z post and I can't remember how I initially found her page, but after that one visit I just kept returning. This is because the diversity of what she chooses to write about is superb.

In the past Victoria has published posts on her travels, homemade bakes, shopping hauls, competition wins and eatery outings. You are sure to see a few on her two furry cats Merlin and Marshall as well.

We are both fans of turning something drab into fab and also saving the pennies instead of splurging out the dosh when making new purchases.

From Roses:
An array of beautiful images are what you will instantly be greeted with upon entering this captivating homepage of Rebecca's.

There is definitely something to gain the interest of every female human being teenage years and upwards here. Whether its make-up or outfit advice, interior solutions or, my particular favourite, her 'personal' posts that offer guidance on extremely important subjects like mental health, Rebecca has an amazing talent for writing about it honestly.

She is open about her own life battles, of many I have experienced, and with that I thank her for sharing.

Milk Bubble Tea:
Incredible dessert creations, blossoming flowers, scenic locations, fresh beauty product releases and new homeware additions are all of what Becky captures gorgeous images of through her camera lens and then comments on, and plenty more.

Whilst admiring her remarkable collection don't forget to look out for her miniature dachshund, he's a charmer.
 Which blogs do you continue to read?
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Wednesday, 21 February 2018

I've Got My Ticket... The Band - The Musical

Like many of the female population you will find plenty of CDs in my collection that are by boy bands, with Take That being among them.

I don't own each and every one of their album releases, its more like two, but from those couple of albums combined with what live footage I have seen of the group my opinion on them remains a very good one indeed.  
 With their ever growing legion of fans it is absolutely no surprise at all that their countless of hit songs have been worked into a brand new musical, of which is about to travel the UK, all before it graces a stage in London's West End.

Everything you need to know about The Band musical and my overall star rating.
Show Name: The Band
Venue: The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
Performance Dates: Tuesday 20th February – Saturday 3rd March 2018
Starring: Rachel Lumberg, Alison Fitzjohn, Emily Joyce, Jayne McKenna,
AJ Bentley, Nick Carsberg, Curtis T Johns, Yazdan Qafouri, Sario Solomon
Written by: Tim Firth
 Directed by: Jack Ryder
Choreographed by: Kim Gavin

Brief Information:
'The Band' follows the story of five teenage female friends in the year of 1992 who all have a major thing in common with each other - their love for the same celebrity boy band.

Now in the future, it’s been twenty-five years since the girls, who are today mature women, last met. Things have obviously changed, however the appreciation that they all shared for their musical heroes remains equally, if not more, as strong as before.

Finally together again after such a long period apart, it may be the last opportunity that the friends get to make their dreams of meeting the male personalities who had such a significant impact on their lives come true, which they are not going to let pass by.

Prior to the show:
I have had the advertisement page for this brand new show turned over at the edge ever since I first spotted it last year in my local theaters brochure, silently hoping that an invitation would be emailed my way (which it was - Yippee!).

Having spent a lot of time being a dedicated fan of fellow man band McFly, the plot captured my attention instantly and it was something that I knew I would most probably be able to relate to in multiple ways.

The winners of the 2017 BBC One television show 'Let It Shine' where original member Gary Barlow was a judge, were presented as having a vital role in this production. Known as 'Five to Five', they would be performing some of Take That's famed songs. In all honesty I had only tuned in to the programme on a couple of occasions after it first launched, so the quality of their vocals was something I had little knowledge of.

What did you like?
The leading female's undying love for their favourite pin-ups truly came across, as youngsters and in the present year. In the opening scene two of the teenage girls were not afraid to flaunt their passion in the corridors of their school, which had the audience roaring with laughter, as did further more comical moments.

I didn't expect as much singing from the female roles, but it was a great addition alongside the bands harmonious vocals, of whom had an impressive three changes of outfit in a single concert scene.

The inclusion of both old and new Take That songs was something I valued. A rendition of 'Never Forget' prompted the audience to join in with the recognised hand movements to this particular track. Plus knowing that Gary, Mark, Robbie and Howard have been officially involved with the creation of this production made it even more appealing for me.

I have never seen Take That in concert before, but this live experience gave me a bit of a taste to what attending a tour date of the real thing might actually entail. Not only that, but the small cast brought such vibrancy to this production that I could easily imagine being made into a blockbuster film... Watch this space.

Even if you are not a big Take That fan, you will be glad that you went to watch this new musical - I know that I am.

What would you change?
The unfortunate death of a vital character in the first half was saddening. Especially when before this incident there had been such a positive vibe.

My star rating out of five: 

Find out more about The Band - The Musical, including ticket prices and performance times: