Sunday 30 September 2012

Mamma Mia here I go again!

On the morning of Saturday 22nd September 2012 I caught the train to London via Witham looking forward to being transported to a Greek Island in the West End that afternoon. I was on my way to see Mamma Mia! the smash hit musical based on the songs of Abba at the Novello Theatre.

Mamma Mia! tells the story of a young woman on a quest to find her real father. Sophie Sheridan is about to be married and desperately wants her father to give her away. Since her mother refuses to talk about the past, Sophie reads her mother’s diary and finds the contact information of three men that she had intimate encounters with. She invites each of the men to her wedding and they all come. Eventually, however, it is clear that Sophie’s paternity is undetermined. But everyone involved agrees that they want to be a part of Sophie’s life.

Every Abba song sounds magical so this was always going to be a wonderful experience in the West End. Judy Craymer has created a story with strong female characters that gives a big feel good factor. She asked Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson to take a chance on me and we are all glad they did. Chiquitita, Dancing Queen, Knowing Me, Knowing You and Money, Money, Money are all brilliant songs from Act One. In Act Two there's S.O.S., Super Trouper, Thank You For The Music and The Winner Takes It All bringing us more Abba magic. In total 22 Abba songs are performed during the show giving the audience a tremendously enjoyable time.

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Life is a Cabaret!

On the evening of Thursday 20th September 2012 I attended the performance of Cabaret at Norwich Theatre Royal. This production starring Will Young as Emcee and Michelle Ryan as Sally Bowles which attracted a capacity audience to the Theatre Royal will be opening in the West End in October.With music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb Cabaret is a brilliant musical full of amazing songs. What good is sitting alone in your room? Come hear the music play. Life is a Cabaret, old chum, Come to the Cabaret.

Cabaret is set in Berlin in 1931. The Nazis are beginning their rise to power, and In the seedy Kit Kat Klub, young American writer Cliff Bradshaw is drawn into a poignant love affair with a 19-year-old English cabaret performer, Sally Bowles. The drama of their love plays out beneath the ever-present gaze of the mysterious Emcee of the Kit Kat Club, which serves as a symbol of the oppression and excess of Germany's Weimar Republic.

This has to be one of this year's highlights at Norwich Theatre Royal with both Will Young and Michelle Ryan putting on strong entertaining performances to make this a night to remember. Directed by Rufus Norris this revival of Cabaret was a spectacular stage show. The story maybe dark but the audience were completely captivated as Cabaret thrilled us all. Come to the Cabaret, it's divine decadence darling!

Monday 17 September 2012

Dirty Dancing at Norwich Theatre Royal

On the evening of Monday 3rd September 2012 I attended Dirty Dancing at Norwich Theatre Royal as this classic story on stage continued it's first ever UK National Tour. It's the summer of 1963, and 17 year old Francis 'Baby' Houseman is about to learn some major lessons in life as well as a thing or two about dancing.

On holiday in New York's Catskill Mountains with her older sister and parents, 'Baby' shows little interest in the resort activities, and instead discovers her own entertainment when she stumbles upon the staff quarters when an all-night dance party is in full swing. Mesmerised by the raunchy dances move and the pounding rhythms, 'Baby' can't wait to be part of the scene, especially when she catches sight of Johnny Castle the resort dance instructor.
'Baby's' life is about to change forever as she is thrown in at the deep end as Johnny's leading lady both on-stage and off with breathtaking consequences. Now I've had the time of my life, no I never felt like this before, yes I swear it's the truth and I owe it all to you. This was night for dreams to come true at Norwich Theatre Royal as Jill Winternitz as Baby and Paul-Michael Jones as Johnny Castle took us to Kellerman's for a summer never to be forgotten.
There was an amazing atmosphere at a sold out Norwich Theatre Royal as we all knew that we were witnessing something very special. There was great music and dancing during the evening throughout Dirty Dancing until we reached the iconic ending which almost lifted the theatre roof. This was definitely one night that I felt like I was having the time of my life.

Friday 14 September 2012

Blue skies over Eaton

On Sunday 2nd September 2012 I attended The Jay Singers concert in the Eaton Concert Series at St. Andrew's Church, Eaton, Norwich. This was a wonderful afternoon to be in Eaton at the first concert in the 2012/13 Series. The Jay Singers were directed by Neil MacKenzie who was a founder member of The Sixteen. Piano accompaniment was provided by Neil Ricketts.

The programme consisted of Full fathom five (from The Tempest) - Shakespeare, Full fathom five - Charles Wood, Look, stranger - W H Auden, Just as the tide - Ralph Vaughan Williams, The Lover's ghost - Ralph Vaughan Williams, Neither out far nor in deep - Robert Frost, Break, break, break - Alfred, Lord Tennyson, There rolls the deep - Hubert Parry, The sea hath its pearls - Ciro Pinsuti, Walking Across the Atlantic - Billy Collins, Fear of Falling - Jehane Markham, Seal Lullaby - Eric Whitacre and Three Shakespeare songs - Ralph Vaughan Williams. There was an interval of 20 minutes and time for a refreshing apple juice before an exciting second half to the concert.

After the interval the programme consisted of Sea Fever - John Masefield, Cargoes - John Masefield, I love my love - Gustav Holst, Matelot - Noel Coward, arr Vlasto, Blue Skies - Irving Berlin, arr Woods, Not waving but drowning - Stevie Smith, The Last Swim - Michael Laskey, Meerfey - Robert Schumann, Der traumende See - Robert Schumann, In Meeres Mitten - Robert Schumann, The Owl and The Pussycat - Edward Lear, Shallow Brown - Percy Grainger and I'm seventeen come Sunday - Percy Grainger.

This was a splendid afternoon of music and poetry with the theme of the Sea as The Jay Singers took us on a journey to the seaside. It was brilliant to hear a couple of Percy Grainger songs along with a reading of The Owl and The Pussycat. A fun and enjoyable concert from The Jay Singers which proved to be the perfect opening to the 2012/13 Eaton Concert Series.

Sunday 9 September 2012

Starlight Express at Nottingham Royal Concert Hall

On Saturday 1st September 2012 I returned to Nottingham for the matinee performance of Starlight Express at Nottingham Royal Concert Hall. With music from Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics from Richard Stilgoe this musical opened in March 1984 and now in 2012 a whole new generation can enjoy the spectacle and fun of Starlight Express.

The show is a complete theatrical experience with love, triumph, sportsmanship, rivalry, danger and thrills. Complete with 3D film and new sounds and projections this is one event I definitely didn't want to miss. This show is a full two hours full of roller skating fun with a brilliant soundtrack that will have you tapping your feet.

The plot revolves around a group of toy railway trains, portrayed by actors on roller-skates, who come to life inside the mind of a small boy. The characters race to become the 'fastest engine in the world', and in the end, the underdog, Rusty,  triumphs, winning the race and the heart of a beautiful observation car, Pearl. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Nottingham Royal Concert is a brilliant venue and was the perfect place to witness Starlight Express. It was an exciting afternoon which takes you to another dimension. Don't be a laughing stock be the king of the track. If you can, go and see this new production of Starlight Express. It's lots of fun.

Drama in Chipping Cleghorn

On Saturday 25th August 2012 I attended the matinee performance from the Norwich Players of Agatha Christie's A Murder Is Announced at the Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich. Published in June 1950, Agatha Christie's book A Murder is Announced saw the return of Miss Marple after a seven year absence. The novel was adapted for the stage and debuted in London in 1977 by Leslie Darbon.

A murder is announced and will take place on Friday October the thirteenth, at Little Paddocks at six thirty pm. This is placed in the personal column of the Chipping Cleghorn Gazette that very morning. When the appointed hour arrives the house is full of guests who find themselves thrown into pitch darkness as the lights go out. The door slams shut and shots are fired. Someone falls to the ground amongst the panic. It is left to Miss Marple to unravel this tantalising mystery.

The Norwich Players aim was to make a powerful contemporary version of the play setting it in the present day. This was a classic closed room whodunit set in the front room of Letitia Blacklock's large house in Chipping Cleghorn. This was another wonderful afternoon to be at the Maddermarket Theatre as the Norwich Players put on an entertaining and interesting performance.