Monthly Archives: June 2015

A Night At The Moves: David Arnold Live in Concert ~ Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Reviewed by Helen McWilliams

26 Jun DavidArnold-2

Imagine an evening filled with themes from hit movies as well as television ‘suites’ and all played by the CBSO (City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra) together with the composer and songwriter for these iconic pieces. This show brings all that and much more, so atmospheric are the scores that Arnold has written, I felt I could close my eyes and be transported to the movie the superbly talented orchestra were playing a theme, from.

The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra is a jewel in Birmingham’s crown, their sound is inspiring, haunting, joyful, they cannot be summarised in one adjective. Their lead violinist was on fine form, playing a solo in the ‘Sherlock’ suite from the television series and bringing a tear to my eye in the process. There were also some incredible muted brass sounds and the percussion section were mesmerising as they moved about seamlessly at the rear. Also particularly notable were the cellists, who could be heard thoroughly at certain intervals making a strong and defined tune. It is my experience that they can appear to be lost and I am not able to pick them out, however CBSO have the perfect balance.

David Arnold narrated us through the cornucopia of themes which ranged from the unleashing of his ‘secret weapon’ David McAlmont who sang ‘I Play Dead’ from ‘The Young Americans’, a number from the recent musical version of ‘Made in Dagenham’, the theme used at the 2012 Olympics which was played while the winners collected their medals and of course James Bond (Casino Royal in particular). Themes from ‘Godzilla’, ‘Independence Day’ and ‘Stargate’ were also highlights of the evening.

It was fascinating to hear Arnold speak of his involvement with the films which were showcased and the back-story he provided, especially in the case of the ‘James Bond’ movies gave a new dimension to the pieces that were played, in my opinion. It was a privilege to hear the great man talk about his career, as well as to listen to him sing, play keyboards and guitar. This show is a must see for movie, television and music fans alike.

http://www.davidarnoldmusic.com can be accessed for more information about the award winning composer.

 

Spotlight On… Rob Sinclair

January’s Spotlight On…..

*** Rob Sinclair ***

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Can you tell us why you wanted to become and author and what it was that made you determined to succeed in an unpredictable industry?

It’s quite a hard one to explain really because until a few years ago I’d never written fiction in my life and was a keen but not voracious reader. This all started for me from a comment I made to my wife that I reckoned I could write a thriller to match the bestsellers. It was a seemingly innocuous comment borne out of frustration with some of the books I had been reading on holiday. It was at that point I started to think through a few ideas and when we were home from holiday I began to write them out and just kept going from there. Writing was something that just felt really natural to me and it seems strange looking back now that I’d never thought about it before.

It’s difficult to pinpoint the actual motivation! I’m a trained accountant and was seen as a bit of high flyer in my job (where I’m still working part time). I’m a really competitive person, was always striving for that next promotion and had my sights set on being a big cheese. It’s a stable career that comes with a great salary and great benefits and yet somehow writing has captured me and, even though I may never replicate the monetary rewards through writing that would be available if I pursued my accountancy career full time, I’m going to keep on going because I’m passionate about writing now.

I don’t think anyone should start out in writing with the sole goal to make big money. If that happens then great, but so few writers ever get to that point that you’ve got to love writing first and foremost. The question to ask yourself is “would I continue writing even if I never get paid a penny?” I’d like think I would.

On the other hand, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t striving to be an international success. Like I said I’m very competitive and once I’m committed to something I give it my all to pursue that goal. The goal is certainly for my books to be recognised as bestsellers. It’s early days but I’m not going to give up easily!

The industry is incredibly unpredictable and also highly competitive. There’s a lot of talent that never gets noticed and some of those that do “make” it do so through a large chunk of luck. But I’m a firm believer that the more effort you put into something the more chance you have of succeeding, and the more chance you have of catching that lucky break. There’s a great quote by Richard Bach: “A Professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit”. I love it because it describes writing so perfectly. There are so many people who have the talent to write a book but it’s those people who stick at it tenaciously and relentlessly who make a career from it.

Can you give our followers a brief synopsis of your book “Dance with the Enemy”

Dance with the Enemy is the first of three stories I’ve written about intelligence agent Carl Logan. They’re each fast-paced, action-packed stories that will keep readers turning the pages. They’re the type of books that I love to read myself. The second in the series, Rise of the Enemy is due for release in April 2015, the third one in 2016.

Logan works for a secret organisation. In Dance with the Enemy he’s assigned to track down and rescue Frank Modena, the Attorney General of the US, who’s kidnapped in Paris at the start of the book in a really brutal armed siege.

That’s where the action comes from but much of the story is about Logan himself. He’s got this really dark back story. He’s been a black ops agent for years, he’s highly trained – essentially he operated like a machine, a robot. He’s a loner, someone whose job was his life, who was trained to feel no emotion or pain. But all that came crashing down some months before the start of the story after he was captured and tortured by a sadistic terrorist, Youssef Selim.

So at the start of the book we have Logan, this guy who has all this talent, but who’s really just in a bit of a mess, not sure where his life is going anymore, struggling with all these new found emotions. And then, as he’s trying to deal with all that, Selim mysteriously reappears in Paris linked to Modena’s disappearance. You then have Logan hell bent on getting his revenge, and his people struggling to keep their man under control as he rampages on in search of Selim.

As you can imagine though, it’s never quite as simple as that and the true story of who took Modena and why only slowly emerges through the story, so expect red herrings and lots of twists!

Where did you get the inspiration from for this particular story?

The idea for the story originated from very little, really. Essentially my aim was to write something that I knew I’d like to read myself. I guess the inspiration is a combination of all the movies and TV I’ve watched and all the books I’ve read. It’s hard now to remember exactly where the story came from because so much has happened since I first started writing it but also because I started with just a small number of big ideas rather than a fully formed plot. I remember though that for Dance with the Enemy one of the key scenes in my head when I first started writing it was the kidnapping scene. I wanted a really explosive opening to the book that would get readers hooked from the first pages and show them what to expect from the rest of the story.

That one scene may even have come before I’d thought about who Carl Logan was. Again, I’m not sure exactly where he came from but I knew I wanted a character who wasn’t one dimensional. So whilst I needed Logan to be this highly trained tough guy, he’s also got a really vulnerable side to him which makes him more interesting in my eyes, makes him more human and real, but also is part of why I enjoy writing about him so much – I feel like I get to share his problems and feelings which is quite cathartic.

Who are your personal favourite authors?

I have many favourite authors really – all the mainstream thriller writers that most people are familiar with; James Patterson, Lee Child, David Baldacci, Harlan Coben, Mark Billingham to name a few. One of the things that has been great about being a new author though is that I’ve recently, largely through social media, gotten to know the names of a lot of other new thriller writers whose works I would probably never have come across before. Like I said there’s a lot of talent out there. If you’re an avid reader it really does pay to seek out and support indie authors.

What can we expect to see from you next?

Rise of the Enemy is the sequel to Dance with the Enemy and is finished now, awaiting release in April. I’m really excited about it and can’t wait to see what people think. It sees Logan struggling with his biggest challenge yet; dealing with the betrayal of those closest to him.

I drafted the third book, Hunt for the Enemy, last summer and I’m in the process of editing that now. My wife and parents read the first draft and, although it needs some work still, they all said it is my best yet so that’s great encouragement!

After that I’ve got two ideas; a fourth Carl Logan book and a standalone book that I’ve been playing with in my head for a while. I want to write them both, and will when I find the time, but I’m not sure yet which one I’ll go with first. Hopefully I’ll start one of those in the Spring.

Any advice for budding authors?

It depends at what stage people are at but my biggest advice is to simply start writing. I’m a great believer in getting your hands dirty. There’s a lot to be said for planning and learning and whatever but my theory is that you learn most from doing things, not thinking about them. Practice makes perfect. I think people are put off writing because they can’t imagine a whole story in their head in one go but that’s fine – I think that’s the same for most writers. Just sit down at your computer and start writing, even if it’s just individual scenes. At least that way you’ll know whether writing is for you and you never know, the ideas may start to flow (which luckily they seem to for me).

The other thing is to not jump too soon. If you’re looking to approach agents/publishers or to self-publish your work, make sure it’s as good as it can be. Don’t get over-excited about that first draft. I learnt this the hard way, that in the beginning my book just wasn’t good enough. It took a lot of work and a lot of re-editing and with hindsight I wish I’d been more patient because it would have saved me from a lot of rejection.

Finally, stick at it. It’s not an easy road to write a book, to get it published, and to get it to sell. But the more hard work you put into it at each stage, the more reward you’ll get – be prepared for that hard work. Most new writers will experience a lot of rejections when trying to get their work published and it can be very demoralising. But don’t let that deter you. Keep going and in the end, whether you get a good publishing deal or you choose to self-publish like I did, it’s the readers who decide whether or not your book is any good.

Spotlight On… Tracey Childs

February’s Spotlight On……

*** Tracey Childs ***

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Can you tell us about your new permanent role at the Mercury Theatre and what it was that attracted you to it?

I love Colchester Mercury Theatre – it was the first ‎theatre I visited when I moved to Essex, it was the first theatre I ever did a co-production with as a producer (Haunting Julia) and it was the first theatre where I was recruited to serve on the board so – when the producer role was advertised I knew I had to apply.

I hadn’t been looking for a permanent job but it felt like such a perfect fit that I was prepared to relinquish being an independent producer and a freelance actor. Now I have discovered the joy of getting paid regularly and having weekends (almost) off – bliss!

Does this mean that you’ve effectively ‘given up’ acting or are you of the opinion ‘never say never’?

I love producing, being proactive and making things happen (rather than waiting for the phone to ring) but never say never. The joy of my current position is that acting is now just fun for me. I occasionally do voice overs or Big Finish Dr Who audio plays or, in April I’m going to the Isle of Wight to do a poetry evening with 3 girlfriends, all of which are great fun and stop me missing acting. However, producing is absolutely my priority.

If you were to consider acting again, would there be a particular role or show which would force your arm towards that direction?

Curiously, my greatest ‘must play role’ was always Lady Macbeth and what was the show playing in the Main House when I joined The Mercury? Macbeth! I can honestly say I was too busy relishing my new Producer role here to spend a second thinking ‘what if…’ Therefore I am not sure what would tempt me back. I never expected to find anything I loved as much as acting but actually I find producing far more fulfilling. Lucky me!

Can we expect anymore productions from ‘Hall & Childs’ in the future?

Andrew and I are currently taking ‘a deep breath’ but watch this space, there will be more to come, I’m sure.

Which current theatrical production would you recommend that all our readers must go and see?

‘Sweeney Todd in Harringtons Pie and Mash shop’ I saw it at Tooting and LOVED it. I am so proud to be Associate Producer on this transfer to a restaurant pop-up on Shaftesbury Avenue. The joy of this talented cast standing on your table singing their hearts out is so exhilarating.

http://www.delfontmackintosh.co.uk/Tickets/SweeneyTodd/SweeneyTodd_TheatreInformation.asp

Favourite things (quick fire questions):

Favourite musical?

The Hired Man to listen to, Chicago to watch and High Society to appear in – Tracy Lord was one of my favourite roles ever – and yes, I know that’s three. I’m greedy, sorry.

Favourite co-star?

Matthew Kelly – has to be. We’ve worked together and played husband and wife umpteen times and it is always a delight. To know and love someone so well that on the first day of rehearsal you can say ‘OK, let’s go for it, you hit me and I’ll spit on you’ is very comforting!

Favourite food? (e.g. Italian, Chinese…)

FOOD! All food! I told you, I am a very greedy woman but, if I had to choose one then, Italian because it encompasses so many different choices.

Favourite animal?

Too hard to choose. I had always had dogs but, when I started working too much to own one, my husband bought me a huge rabbit hutch that has been filled with rescue bunnies until the last one died last week – I am missing them like hell but last summer I discovered the joy of kittens and currently our rescue brother and sister tabbies ‘Mr Spats’ and ‘Lulu’ are filling our lives with joy.

Favourite Doctor Who?

I grew up with Jon Pertwee but I would have to say Matt Smith – I think he was glorious – I am also loving seeing ‘my husband’ Peter Capaldi now playing the role and suspect he may become joint first VERY soon.

Spotlight On… Joanna Campbell Slan

March’s Spotlight On……

***Joanna Campbell Slan***

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Hi Joanna, can you tell our readers how long you’ve been writing for and what/who inspired you to start writing?

I grew up in a family of storytellers. Both my grandmothers were great raconteurs, as well as voracious readers. Because we lived in a small town, I was able to walk thirteen blocks to the public library. Those books set stories whirling in my head. Soon I was telling my own stories.

Can you tell us about your latest story, what can readers expect?

It’s a long short story called “The Glassblower’s Wife,” and it’s about Jewish glassblowers who worked on the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles. They were under a death sentence by the Doge of Venice, and the hall nearly didn’t get finished.

What led you to write this particular genre?

Actually, my sister found a piece about the glassblowers and I was so taken with the idea that I worked it up into a story. I love history, and human drama. This piece fits the bill perfectly.

Have you got any tips for writer’s block?

Yes.

1.) Get out of your own way. Start writing anything, and keep moving the work down the page. Eventually you’ll hit on an idea or phrase that gets you going.

2.) Start with the who, what, when, where, why, and how, and then elaborate on each of those points.

3.) Brainstorm a list of twenty things that could happen or that are related to your topic.

4.) Look up quotations and research on your topic.

5.) Take a walk on the beach.

Note: I never get writer’s block. I have days when I don’t write well, when each word has to be coaxed from me, and when I can’t concentrate, but I still write. It’s a discipline.

Do you work on more than one story at a time?

Yes, almost always. Right now I’m editing a book from the paper format, editing a serialized short story, writing blog posts, and revising The Glassblower’s Wife.

What do you think you’d choose as an occupation if you weren’t an author?

I’d probably be a craftsperson, doing miniatures for sale. Or a psychologist. Certainly a teacher. I loved teaching college.

 Favourite things (quick fire questions):

 Favourite actor?

Jeremy Northam

Favourite film? 

“Michael” starring John Travolta, although right now I can’t get “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” out of my head

Favourite holiday destination?

Home

Favourite colour?

Periwinkle blue

Favourite dessert?

The one that’s right in front of me!

‘The Glassblower’s Wife’ is available to pre-order on Friday 20th March 2015, and we highly recommend that you do. Links are below:

http://www.amazon.com/Glassblowers-Wife-
Joanna-Campbell-Slan-ebook/dp/B00UI4UTJ0
/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1426273872&sr=8-
1&keywords=The+Glassblower%27s+Wife   

 

– or –

 

http://tinyurl.com/GlassBW

Spotlight On… Susan Penhaligon

April’s Spotlight On……

***Susan Penhaligon***

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Hi Susan, you’re currently touring with Agatha Christie play ‘And Then There Were None’, how’s the tour going and tell us about your character, Emily Brent.
Emily Brent is a religious spinster who obviously has a past she doesn’t wish to talk about! It’s a cameo character role which I like playing.  It’s great to reach my age and I can leave the younger me behind, where I’m offered these kind of roles, a part where I can put a wig on and become unrecognisable. For me, this is what acting is all about.
Are you an Agatha Christie ‘fan’ and what do you think of this story in particular?
I am an Agatha Christie fan and I think ‘And Then There Were None’ Is is one of her best plays.
Have you a favourite theatre on the tour, and what’s the reason for your choice?
The Theatre Royal Bath is my favourite theatre.  It’s like playing to a big armchair which the audience is sitting in.
So, you’re a boat dweller, what triggered your love of boat dwelling?
I love the water, and it’s a great way to live in a large city like London, it’s the countryside in the city.
You’ve enjoyed a successful career on stage and screen, to date, but which medium do you prefer and why?
You have to be able to do all the mediums, stage, screen, TV, radio, it’s the only way to survive in the industry. I don’t have a favourite, I’m just lucky to be still working.
Is there a character that you have a burning ambition to play?
I like new writing, new plays, so any character within my age range would be my hope for the future. Having said that, Gertrude in Hamlet, any Chekov play, I love Chekov. Oh and of course, a part in Poldark 2.
If you hadn’t have embarked upon an acting career, which job could you see yourself doing?
I think I would have been a writer, or a journalist.
Favourite Things (quick fire questions):
Favourite poem?
I love Dylan Thomas, any of them.
Favourite playwright?
There are so many playwrights I admire, I can’t choose one, I’m sorry.
Favourite area of Cornwall?
My favourite part of Cornwall is the West Penwith area, St Ives to Lands End, the winding road that goes past Zennor to St Just. In the winter its magical, it’s brooding, old Cornwall, full of myths of Giants and Piskies and crumbling tin mine shafts with the ghosts of the ‘knockers’. My soul belongs in Kernow.
Favourite tipple?
Vodka and Slimline. Every time.
Favourite way of spending a Sunday?
Sunday lunch with my son cooked by me, a lounge on the deck of my boat in the sun, watching the river traffic pass by, my dog beside me, until the amazing sunset happens over West London, then watch a movie. Perfect.
Tour information for ‘And Then There Were None’ together with booking details, can be found by following the link below.

Spotlight On… Kevin R McNally

May’s Spotlight On……

***Kevin R McNally***

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Kevin – as a fellow Brummie, my first question is whether you have any allegiance to a Midlands football team? If so, which one? (dare I ask?)
I don’t really follow the footie. I have a Chelsea mad son who takes care of that for us. But at school, ‘who do you support?’ was a question that, if not answered right, could result in a kicking. Where I lived the Blues was a safer answer than Villa.
What are your earliest memories of growing up in Birmingham?
Extreme poverty, really. We lived in a two up two down terrace on Lauden Road ( gone now) near the City ground. Out door loo and the London train running past the end of the garden. No fence, different days.
It has not escaped my notice that you have a fascination with astronomy, what piqued your interest in this area and do you still indulge in your interest?
Yes I do. It was the late Patrick Moore who had a tea time astronomy show for kids. I remember the theme tune which was Jupiter from the Planet Suite by Gustav Holtz simultaneously sparked my interest in classical music. With the help of Moore’s book “‘O’ level astronomy” I managed to be one of the first to sit that exam and pass with an A. I met Sir Patrick at the BBC a few years before his passing and managed to thank him.
With an impressive film career under your belt, including all of the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ films, I’m sure our readers will be pleased to know that you’re filming the fifth instalment at the moment. Did you think that the films would carry on for this length of time when you first started and are you enjoying donning the whiskers to become ‘Mr. Gibbs’ again? (I presume the whiskers are back!)
I obviously had no idea the series would last this length of time but I am thrilled it has. As to the whiskers… where would Mr. Gibbs be without them.
With regards to your television career, many of our readers may not know that you appear in a series called ‘Turn’ in the USA. Can you tell me a bit about the show and the character you play?
It’s a period drama about Washington’s Spies in the Revolutionary War (or War of Independence as we are taught to call it.) I play a Judge loyal to the crown in Setauket Long Island while my son is secretly a spy for Patriots. Season two is airing in the States right now.
Moving on to Theatre, I’ve seen you tread ‘the boards’ before (‘Boeing Boeing’ in 2007), have you any plans to appear on stage, again and is there a role that you’d particularly like to play?
I am very keen to return to the stage after a two year absence. As to roles. I’ve learnt it’s the one you didn’t think about that works best.
Last year you recorded ‘The Missing Hanocks’ for BBC Radio 4, are there any plans to record more and what was it like to effectively step into Hancock’s ‘shoes’?
Yes. We are recording five more when I return to the UK then taking the experience of seeing a live recorded show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August. I was daunted stepping into his shoes. I am after all a lifelong fan, but the show has mostly been received well and the experience has been hugely rewarding.
You’ve worked with many well known actors and actresses throughout your career so far, who has been your favourite co-star? Is there anyone that you’re keen to work with in the future?  
The answer to both questions is Phyllis Logan.
Just one look at your CV shows what a varied and successful career you’ve had to date, what are your future ambitions?
More of the same but I would like to add a space film and a western.
The saying goes ‘Never Meet Your Heroes, they’ll only disappoint’, who are your heroes? Have you met them? Did they disappoint?
On the whole, no. But they tend to be unconnected with my profession. Some musicians, scientists etc.
If you could have a dinner party with five people (dead or alive), who would you choose and why?
I figure a night out with Marylin Monroe, James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Jimmy Stewart and Buster Keaton at Musso and Franks in Hollywood would be a pretty cool night out.
Favourite Things (quick fire questions):
Favourite song?
‘If I loved you’ from Carousel
Favourite composer?
Elgar
Favourite author?
P. G. Wodehouse
Favourite restaurant?
Peter Luger’s in Brooklyn
Favourite way to spend a weekend? 
Quietly at home with my wife, a few friends and an excellent Piedmontese white wine.
If you want to see ‘The Missing Hancocks: Live in Edinburgh’ you can find details and purchase tickets by following the link below:

Spotlight On… Jeffrey Holland and Judy Buxton

June’s Spotlight On…

*** Jeffrey Holland and Judy Buxton***

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I’ve now seen ‘The Ghost Train’ and thoroughly enjoyed it, can you tell our readers a bit about the story and your characters?

Judy: It’s about a group of travellers who miss their connection because of a ‘silly ass’ who’s hat blows off, so he pulls the communication cord. I play Miss Bourne, a rather feisty old lady who does get worried when she hears a ghost story told by the old station master, she ends up drinking rather too much alcohol and spends much of the play in a very comfy position on the table.

Jeffrey: I play the crusty old Station Master and the travellers want him stay with them to look after them because they’re in a remote location. They do end up persuading him to stay. The way we do this play so that it works, is straight down the middle, Arnold (Ridley, the writer of the play) was adamant that is must be played straight. There are some twists and turns the end, of course that I can’t possibly reveal!

Jeffrey, you started your career here at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry, what’s it like to be back?

It’s wonderful to be back, I was here for five years in rep and then I think the last time I was back here was with ‘Allo Allo’ with Judy. It’s changed so much, the area is different, especially with the Millennium Bridge. It’s not my Coventry anymore or my Belgrade but it’s great to be back here.

Do you enjoy working together?

Judy: Yes we love working together, we haven’t for about four years, but we work together very well. When we’re each playing our characters there’s no hint that we’re married.

Jeffrey: We’ve always  thought the same, we approach our work the same way. We’re similar that when we’re on stage playing our characters, that’s what we doing – and of course we save a fortune on phone bills!

What inspired you both to become actors?

Judy: I was sent to nursery school at the age of two, we had a German teacher so to ensure we didn’t pick up her accent we had an elocution teacher. I used to recite a lot of poems and it all started from there. I attended weekend drama classes and entered festivals, I think I did all the things that my mother, herself would have liked to have done.  I then went to Rose Bruford College at the age of 18 for a three year course.

Jeffrey: I became an actor as a result of my raging hormones, I was a member of a boring church youth group with my friend Peter, he suggested we go to a local drama group for something to do. I “I’ve never acted before in my life” and the last thing I wanted to do was to look stupid, but he told me there were girls there! I sat down, started reading a play, heard laughter and thought “I like this, I’m having some of this” and something went PING! That was it, I had the bug.

Judy, I first saw you in ‘On The Up’, what are your favourite memories from your involvement with the series?

Judy: Great memories of working with Joan Sims, crying with laughter, she always ended up crying with laughter which is catching, isn’t it. We had lots of giggles. Dennis (Waterman) of course I’d worked with before and we got on really well, he’s great to work with because although as you would imagine, he’s one of the lads – he’s friendly with everyone including the crew and knows everybody’s name. It really was a great cast, but it didn’t seem to take off. It was a nice character to play and people would say ‘you’re not like her, at all’. Funnily enough, it was at a Rose Bruford reunion that I didn’t particularly want to go to that I was offered the audition for the part of Ruth. It had to be run past Dennis Waterman for approval, first so they rang him up and I got his approval to play his wife!

Jeffrey, what are your favourite memories from ‘Hi De Hi!’?

Great memories of lots of laughs, especially with Su Pollard and the cast, I don’t have good memories of being thrown in the pool, it was freezing!

My favourite show was ‘You Rang M’Lord’, though, the role of James was a gift, it was a straight role in a situation comedy. I loved the set and the costumes, I also enjoyed ‘Oh Doctor Beeching ‘ and thought it was a shame that it wasn’t given the right time slot so the ratings were poor.

What’s next for you both after the tour is finished?

Judy: I’m going to be in a short play written by on the South Bank, I think that’s sometime in July.

Jeffrey: Details of the play will be on Judy’s Facebook page.

And what’s next for you, Jeffrey?

Jeffrey: I’m going to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with my one-man biography show ‘And This is My Friend Mr Laurel’, it’s a lifelong dream to play Stan Laurel, and I was in Edinburgh with the show, last year. It’s going on tour to UK venues in the Autumn.

Judy: And I’m going to be his roadie!

Are you going to be appearing in pantomime this year?

Jeffrey: No, we’re having a break this Christmas.

Judy: We might be able to have a nice holiday!

Favourite Things (quick fire questions):

Favourite Co-Star?

Judy: Oooh, I know! Jeffrey Holland!

Jeffrey: Ah, Ok then, Judy Buxton!

Favourite medium – theatre, television, film or radio?

Jeffrey: Having both done sit-coms, I’d say theatre, because of the audience feedback and laughter.

Judy: Yes, I agree with that as it’s different every night and it’s great to hear the laughter.

Jeffrey: I think most actors would say theatre is their favourite.

Favourite playwright?

Jeffrey: Ray Cooney

Judy: I was going to say Ray Cooney!

Favourite musical?

Jeffrey: West Side Story

Judy: Jersey Boys

(there was some deliberation after Jeffrey and Judy answered the last question as they have recently really enjoyed ‘Gypsy’ at the Savoy Theatre, so this is also their favourite musical!)

Follow the links to Jeffrey and Judy’s websites here, where you will find all information of their forthcoming work: http://www.jeffreyholland.co.uk/Jeffrey_Holland/Jeffrey_Holland.html http://www.judybuxton.co.uk/

Billy Ocean Tour ~ Town Hall, Birmingham

Reviewed by Helen McWilliams

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It’s been my past experience that ‘Love Really Hurts Without You’ or ‘When The Going Gets Tough’ fill a dance floor like no other, therefore Billy Ocean’s latest tour promised to be an evening of feel-good music providing the opportunity for a good ‘bop’. This was most certainly the case, with Mr Ocean proving that he still has ‘it’ after all these years in the business. His voice is still outstanding in tone and volume and he delighted fans with impressive dance moves, too – not bad for a man in his sixties!

Not only were the audience entertained with a string of hits from Ocean’s back catalogue, including ‘Love Zone’, ‘Red Light Spells Danger’ and ‘Stay the Night’, as well as ballads ‘Suddenly’ and ‘There’ll Be Sad Songs’ – but also some of his own favourite songs from other artists. Participation from the eager crowd was actively encouraged, with the house lights also illuminating us so that a ‘connection’ could be established, which made all the difference. A particular highlight was the chance to sing along with ‘The Colour of Love’, lucky members of the audience also received ‘shout out’s’ and birthday wishes from the man himself.

The band and backing singers all blended in well and the saxophonist was especially notable, however they all complimented the quality of Ocean’s performance, and didn’t merely sink into obscurity in the background. For a good evening’s entertainment listening to songs that ‘take you back’, this concert has something for everyone, whether you are a fan or simply enjoy the hits from the 70s and 80s that are still so popular, today.

Go and see this musical legend, if you can, remaining tour dates are here: http://www.billyocean.com/ and there are all details of the festivals that he is set to play at this year, too.