Saturday, 27 August 2016

I've Got My Ticket... Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - The Musical

Just the mention of this extraordinary movie and I break into the song. It really can’t be helped when the featured lyrics are so snappy that not singing along would be incredibly difficult, even if you wouldn’t exactly call yourself a fan of them.

The accompanying melodies are what push the film way above a magnificent rating. Although it might shock me to be informed if people my age hadn’t seen the 1968 release which was initially a book, the title theme tune must at least ring a bell for them.

When it comes to musicals there has always been three that I have wanted to catch live on stage – this being one of them. I was in high spirits after the announcement that the UK tour would be making a stop at a nearby theatre. Shortly after my entry passes were confirmed, and I was raring to go…

Show Name: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - The Musical
Venue: The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
Performance Dates: Wednesday 24th July – Saturday 3rd September 2016
Starring: Lee Mead, Carrie Hope Fletcher, Andy Hockley, Claire Sweeney, Matt Gillett
Musical Director: Andrew Hilton

Brief Information:
Established from the novel written by Ian Flemming, this adventure starts out on British turf. Caractacus Potts is a struggling inventor with the wackiest of ideas and whose father is far from boring either. Both of these enthusiastic personalities live with the younger of the two’s pair of children, Jeremy and Jermima. Given their money circumstances the family is still, overall a happy one indeed. However, when the brother and sister find a non-functioning Grand Prix car that they would like as a toy, their dad scrapes together all that he can to purchase the vehicle.

After a fair amount of mechanical tweaking the vehicle begins to demonstrate some unusual behaviour (and eventually takes to the air to fly). The important character of Miss Truly Scrumptious has some motor issues of her own, but in the form of a bike. Caractacus offers to take a look, except instead of a 'thank you' and 'you're welcome', multiple disagreements are what follow. Still, this doesn't stop his children’s from asking her to join them on their picnic outing to the beach. When all goes well, she accepts to a repeat of this plan for the very next day, prompting an unpredicted romance between Truly and their dad, Caractacus.

When word gets around about the astonishing car that was once thought of as useless, a lot of attention is gained and a scheme is made to steal Chitty. If this wasn’t enough drama, then a false identity kidnapping, an encounter with a buffoon controller and plenty more are sure to hold your attention.

My Opinion:

Who could ever live up to the outstanding performance of the lead actor, Dick Van Dyke, in the original film? Lee Mead (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) had big shoes to fill, as did Carrie Hope Fletcher (Les MisĂ©rables), of whom I didn’t expect to be selected for the head female role, being that she appears slightly younger than twenty-three. Nonetheless, my concerns were soon whisked away by the stellar performances on both parts. You also couldn’t fault what great energy TV actress Claire Sweeney (Brookside) had as Baroness Bomburst and the whole cast too.

What did you like?
I was curious as to how Chitty was going to be presented to an audience on a platform, however the production team managed to pull it off without this appearing overly pretended. All of the songs of course! The ‘Toot Sweets’ scene was a standout moment for me, probably because I get wrapped up in it whenever this segment is on my electronic screen. Even though I was aware that Carrie possessed an amazing set of lungs from watching her Youtube channel, it was wonderful actually acknowledging this in the flesh.

A mention of the duo who played the two spies and the wonderful Andy Hockley (Grandpa Potts) I feel is a must. Whilst all three had me laughing a fair bit, I was also very impressed by the acting of the main child stars.

What would you change?
I wouldn’t make any adjustments to the show. It was just a teeny bit disappointing afterwards having to return to a normal mode of transport, which will forever have to travel on the road by its four wheels and nothing else.
My star rating out of five:

Find out more about Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - The Musical, including ticket prices and performance times:
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Friday, 12 August 2016

Next Destination... San Antonio Bay, Ibiza

It often gets to a certain point in the year when most of us feel ready for a break, some time off, a holiday perhaps? And if you are a British resident like me - some sunshine wouldn't go amiss either.  


Our family try to go abroad at least once every twelve months, sometimes twice, depending on whether we can find a low cost deal or not. This May we packed our suitcases (well, luggage trolleys) and took an outbound plane to the Balearic Island of Ibiza.

Minus the 2am wake-up call because of our early departure time and the two-hour-and-ten-minutes (leaving via London Gatwick) flight journey was overall quite pleasant. The weather was absolutely glorious and reached 29 degrees Celsius at one point, which was a lot higher than what the forecast had been reporting back home (nothing to complain about).

The three-star-rated Playa Bella Apartments in San Antonio Bay where we stayed provided all of the simple items that we needed, such as a fridge, kettle, toaster and so on. This 155-room building was also connected with a swimming pool, plus multiple facilities like a newsagents and an eatery. From a disco to a game of bingo, all sorts of entertainment were advertised each night here too.

Aside from our breakfast and lunch, we like to eat away from our accommodation, visiting different restaurants and tasting the local food, which are the reasons for us choosing the Self-Catering option. Although, we did order at the snack bar on a couple of occasions when we felt like having a 'lazy' night in. When we did have dinner the menu at The Old Tavern appealed to us the most, as did their live music and quizzes, typically held after 8pm.

We saved money, especially on our midday meals because of the supermarket down the street from us that sold pretty much everything you could require at really cheap prices.

While there was shops on either side of the road from us, the main outlets in San Antonio were either a forty minute walk from us or around half an hour by the bus that made regular pick ups and drop offs throughout the day. Along with places to get your souvenirs or grab an ice cream from was the harbour where you could book trips for entering caves, going inside an aquarium and extra things. Drinks and snacks were also included with these excursions. You could also catch the public transport to the Old Town, which was combined with newer structures and had further retailers and nail salons there as well.

A fair amount of our holiday was spent walking. My mum, dad and I have trouble keeping still for too long. Give me a couple of hours sitting down with a book and I'm done. Feeling the sunshine on my face, a soft breeze through my hair and stretching my legs whilst admiring the beautiful views around me - That is more like it. 

I was met by the glistening sight of the sea when a journey on foot took us to Port d'es Torrent. This was a shorter hike compared to when we had a trek over to Cala Bassa, taking three hours in total (there and back). But it was SO worth it upon seeing the gorgeous beach that gave the impression of being a private spot because of its quietness.

There is such a misconception about Ibiza being the area of the world to go partying in, and while this might be true, there is more to explore than just that. Travellers, especially families, can now be reassured knowing that relaxation and other ways to have fun (nowhere near the nightclubs) are within reach on this fabulous island.

Have you been to Ibiza or some other location that has taken you by surprise?
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Wednesday, 3 August 2016

I've Got My Ticket... The Rocky Horror Show

You know that anything featuring the classic dance floor anthem 'The Time Warp' is going to be enjoyable. Well, I think so anyway. Looking back on most of the birthday parties, garden barbecues and New Year celebrations, which I attended as a child and this tune wasn't ever missing from the playlist.


  Nor is it absent from the musical that popularised the track. The Rocky Horror Show had its first performance at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in 1973 and it hasn't paused for a break since. At some point my parents went to see one of the performances, which I clearly recall because they spoke very highly of it. Both also communicated that many of the audience had been dressed up. We're talking men and ladies in corsets, stockings and other daring women's lingerie - the same as those on stage.

Show Name: The Rocky Horror Show
Venue: The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
Performance Dates: Monday 1st August – Saturday 6th August 2016
Starring: Lauren Ingram, Richard Meek, Liam Tamne, Paul Cattermole, Norman Pace
Director: Christopher Luscombe

Brief Information:
This production, which was written by Englishman Richard O'Brien, is the story of Brad and his fiancĂ©e Janet, two college students who avoid anything that might land them in trouble. Sometimes people change however and the couple are about to discover this when they have car trouble outside the home of Dr. Frank-N-Furter. Unalike anyone they have ever associated themselves with before are a bunch of the houses quirky characters, eager to ask the pair in for a lively experience where fun is always present.

My Opinion:

It was unfortunate that Diana Vickers (who was originally cast for the role of Janet) sustained an injury prior to the opening night, though Lauren Ingram did an excellent job filling in.

Music, comedy, science-fiction and, well - horror, were each introduced into various parts of the two-hour (including a 20-minute interval) duration. These subjects aren't your usual blend, but were still appealing when brought together. Focusing on the wardrobe side of things, I had a vague idea of what would be flaunted. Yes, there were more than a few daring get-ups - both from the cast and seated viewers.

What did you like?
I respected the great quantity of silliness involved, how a lot of imagination had obviously gone into the whole staging and that ticket holders seemed to have their own role, such as joining in with the additional rhythmic numbers like 'Dammit Janet'. Another contribution by those in the audience were multiple gags thrown in whilst the entertaining Norman Pace (of comedy duo Hale and Pace) was narrating, of which he chuckled at and responded with even better comebacks.

To date this is definitely the most startling production I have ever seen. I was utterly transfixed, especially by Liam Tamne (a former contestant on series 3 of BBC1's The Voice) and the masterly act he gave. Then at the end, an encore of 'The Time Warp'/'Sweet Transvestite') was an inclusion that I'm glad was repeated.

What would you change?
No improvements are required, but personally, there was enough freakishness to last me a year or so before wanting to relive this experience again.

My star rating out of five:
Find out more about The Rocky Horror Show, including ticket prices and performance times: