Shane Filan ‘Love Always’ Tour ~ Town Hall Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Shane Filan is on UK Tour and you can catch him at any of the venues on this list: Shane Filan Tour Dates

Star rating: *****

Well-known as the frontman of boyband, Westlife, Shane Filan is currently on a solo tour off the back of his new album ‘Love Always’ and he was certainly well received when he appeared at Town Hall in Birmingham last night.

The excitable crowd were entertained with a selection of original solo numbers having opened with ‘When You’re Looking Like That’, my personal favourite which is a great upbeat song and had the audience on their feet. It set the tone for the evening.

Supported by a four piece band, we were treated to some amazing cover versions: Eternal Flame, Uptown Girl and Hey Now Hey Now (Don’t Dream It’s Over) to name a few. He offered the right mix of slow ballads and numbers we could all get up and dance to.

Considering that he is so well know as a boyband singer, he held the stage brilliantly as a solo artist. I’m a self-confessed Westlife fan anyway, but what stood out for me last night was the overall format of the concert and the verve of the atmosphere that Shane created effortlessly. His popularity never wanes and his fan base remains as strong as ever. The defining moment for me was ‘Beautiful In White’ which is my all-time best loved ballad and one of my over-riding memories of the evening.

Catch Shane Filan on tour while you can, I’d go back to watch him again if I could!

Reviewed by Guest Reviewer: Jenny Woodward 

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The Real Thing ~ Malvern Theatres

The Real Thing stays at Malvern Theatres until Saturday 21 October 2017 before continuing with the UK tour, book tickets here: Malvern Theatres

Star rating: *****

The Real Thing by Tom Stoppard is not a piece I was readily familiar with, however the themes and intricacies of the script certainly don’t cover unfamiliar territory.

The opening scene is set in one of Henry’s (Laurence Fox) productions, although that’s not evident until the action moves on from the set to which Charlotte (Rebecca Johnson) and Max (Adam Jackson-Smith) are portraying. Henry is essentially a romantic and we first meet him while he is searching through records for his Dessert Island disc choices. Henry’s taste in music could be described as ‘corny pop’ which his wife, Charlotte is ready to point out to him. The pair have a mutually mocking relationship and they don’t shy away from it when Max and his wife, Annie (Flora Spencer-Longhurst) – who is also an actor, arrive to indulge in a spot of Bucks Fizz. The assumption in the offing when the couple arrive is that Annie and Henry are having an affair. Which of course, they are – it’s predictable from that perspective. However, not so predictable is that Annie and Henry make a life together out of the affair and despite plenty of room for jealousy, what they have is ‘the real thing’.

It’s a fascinating exploration of relationships, not only romantic ones but friendships and the parents/daughter dynamic too. There’s also the recurring undercurrent of politics as Annie supports her controversial jailbird ‘pal’ Brodie (Santino Smith).

The set is contemporary chic and moves smoothly with the action. The simplicity of it allows the dialogue and interaction to take the lead and with a wordsmith such as Stoppard at the helm, I feel that’s necessary.

Laurence Fox is exceptional in the role of Henry, he gives the character an air of vague nonchalance while simultaneously bearing his feelings with raw honesty. His chemistry with Rebecca Johnson as Charlotte is particularly notable and their scenes set the pace for the piece. Johnson embraces the absurdities and quirks of Charlotte and embodies the character completely. I always enjoy her work and this another example of her remarkable talent. Adam Jackson-Smith gives a strong performance as Max, coming into his won when he realises his marriage to Annie is over. Flora Spencer-Longhurst is also a revelation as Annie, a character who could almost be played as a flighty, yet it’s reigned in to allow the journey to unfold steadily. Kit Young is definitely one to watch, he plays Billy, a youthful actor who develops a crush on the leading lady he’s working with – the leading lady being Annie.

Stephen Unwin has worked his magic again and directed a play which challenges, questions and leaves plenty of room for analysis. A fine production of Stoppard’s work which I could watch multiple times and not tire of. Go and see it – there are a few weeks of the tour remaining.

Blogger Recognition Award Nominations!

You may have noticed my excitement on social media – Break A Leg has been nominated, not once, but twice for a Blogger Recognition Award! I am honoured and absolutely delighted that both www.carolinerevello.com and Tim Burge nominated me and my blog.

The Blogger Recognition Award is given to bloggers by bloggers and it is a way to show appreciation for the commitment and hard work that is needed to start a blog. 

Rules for accepting this Award:

Take the time to thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog

  1. Write a post to show your award
  2. Give a brief story about how your blog started
  3. Give pieces of advice to new bloggers
  4. Select 10-15 new bloggers you want to nominate
  5. Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them, provide the link to the post you created.

**************************************************************************************************

The Award

So I very humbly accept the award nominations, writing a blog and maintaining is not as easy a combination as it sounds and I’ve started a second blog now, too (I must be mad!) www.tvandmoviescene.com

How I started Break A Leg…

I started Break A Leg back in 2013 having written for online theatre reviewing publications and deciding I could have a try at this caper, myself. It started out as a west midlands based theatre review blog and has since become so much bigger than that. Although I’m regularly at the theatre in the Midlands, I also review all over the country, interview all manner of performers and creatives from across various genres of entertainment. I also include gig reviews and stand-up comedy so I’ve really broadened the scope. There are so many theatre bloggers out there that evolving is what’s driven Break A Leg forward and I was also absolutely delighted that the Break A Leg Awards which I debuted last year have really taken off. Read all about those here: Break A Leg Awards 2016 and here: Break A Leg Awards 2017

Advice For New Bloggers

  1. Select a niche and write within that niche, try to keep your social media posts for the blog within the parameters of your niche.
  2. Choose a subject you’re passionate about, it will shine through if you love what you’re writing about.
  3. Networking, Networking and yet more Networking! I can’t stress that enough.
  4. Remember that you’re the face of your blog and your reputation will precede you.
  5. Help your fellow bloggers, especially those who write within the same niche – it’s not a competition, we’re all in this together and everybody wants to get something different out of it.

My Nominations

  1. Frantastic View – an amazing blog from Francesca Mepham which is reflective and positive.
  2. Mama Geek – Zoe Corkhill’s fantastic blog which is a font of all knowledge from both Zoe and her children’s perspectives.
  3. Life Of Ellie Grace – there’s a great mixture of everything on this blog and I happened upon it while seeking Manchester based bloggers for a PR job!
  4. I Talk Telly – From Elliot Gonzalez who loves telly as much as I do, so he talks about it!
  5. As Seen On Jean – a really chatty blog which I recently discovered and pop in on from time to time, now.
  6. Cityscape Bliss – I happened upon this blog when I attended a fantastic blogging workshop and it’s a real inspirational read.
  7. The Best Version Of Kelly – I really like the mixture of reviews and posts on this blog and I know that Kelly is new to it – but she’s doing a fine job.
  8. Inept Ramblings – Chloe Buckles is the owner of this one and I think it’s a great conversational read about life’s observations. Chloe has been known to guest blog for me, too. Thank You Chloe!
  9. Life In A Breakdown – This blog is brilliant for hints and tips plus there is something that everyone will identify with on there. Plus I’m supporting a fellow midlands blogger who is doing an incredible job.
  10. Carry On Blogging – I am an unashamed Carry On film fan, brought up watching them and still love to watch them now. So this blog is right up my street, ooh matron!

 

 

The Hunting Of The Snark ~ Malvern Theatres

The Hunting Of The Snark is on UK tour of various theatres, catch all the tour dates hereThe Hunting Of The Snark

Star rating: *****

Inspired by Lewis Carroll, The Hunting Of The Snark is a musical cornucopia of delights, silliness and adventure. A fantastic show for kids and adults alike and engaging from beginning to end. I am inclined to say that it captured the imagination of my three year old son just a touch more than any show he has seen, and he’s seen and loved many productions.

The story follows a boy (Jordan Leigh-Harris) who is desperate for a relationship with his father, the Banker (Simon Turner), it’s just the two of them since they lost mum and the boy is often left waiting at school for an hour to be collected. the Banker is greedy for more money and has discovered that a Snark has been spotted on Snark Island. Thought to be extinct, finding the Snark would mean a ridiculous amount of money in return. The boy is also exited at the thought of such an adventure, but his father recruits The Bellman (Ben Gaplin) to assist, and he brings a beaver with him. Naturally! With the boy stowing away on board the ship to the island, danger looms and the arrival on Snark Island is not a smooth one. The group encounter a mad Butcher (Polly Smith), a trouser-loving JubJub (Ben Gaplin), a Baker (Will Bryant) with amnesia and a Bandersnatch (Will Bryant) who collects everything he can get his paws on.

The songs are catchy, vibrant and tell the story as articulately as the script does. The puppetry enthused all of the children in the audience, he was my Son’s favourite character. Jordan Leigh-Harris was excellent in her professional debut, she played a boy quite convincingly in fact! Simon Turner was brilliantly bolshie as the Banker, Ben Gaplin was highly entertaining as The Bellman and hilariously funny as the JubJub. Polly Smith gave the stand out performance, not only as the extremely creepy yet amusing Butcher, but also with the various cameo appearances that she made throughout. Her ability to mimic any accent sees to know no bounds!

I highly recommend the show as an alternative to the usual Alice in Wonderland which tends to be the Lewis Carroll story that is usually on offer. From the simple yet effective set to the tight, strong cast – go and see this while you can, it’s already wowed the West End!

Coventry Comic Con ~ Review

Comic Cons are one of mine and my family’s favourite things to go to together and Coventry Comic Con offered every opportunity for some fantastic memorabilia and nostalgia in the company of cosplayers and a number of celebrities.

The venue, Sports Connexion was the perfect venue for an easy and effective layout. Plenty of space between the stalls and no shoving and pushing to have a look at the all important merchandise (yes, I came home with not one but TWO bags to satisfy my loud and proud geeky side). There were stars at every turn signing autographs and enjoying selfie time! Notably, David Prowse (Darth Vader… DARTH VADER!!) was present and Sylvester McCoy, my Doctor, was also in attendance with his companion, Ace (Sophie Aldred). Patricia Quinn of Rocky Horror fame was also looking resplendent as ever and loads more cult television series and movies were represented – it was an impressive line up.

The piece de resistance was the panel talks – well organised, a good range of guests and I loved listening to Sylvester McCoy, everyone should hear him talk about Doctor Who and anything else for that matter.

Comic Cons are great fun, where else can fans walk around in costume with the only form of judgement being the cosplay competition they can enter. There are so many to choose from and if you’re taking young children, the smaller-scale events are often a better starter – not so overwhelming but still generating excitement in the little ‘uns. Our three year old is still talking about Coventry’s.

Want to know amore about this fantastic event for all the family? You can read more about it here: Coventry Comic Con

 

The Wedding Singer ~ Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

The Wedding Singer runs at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until Saturday 7 October 2017 – book tickets here: Wolverhampton Grand Theatre Box Office

Star Rating: 

I confess that The Wedding Singer is one of my favourite films, it’s not even a guilty pleasure, it’s just sheer eighties throwback joy and cast brilliantly. I was open-minded about the musical version which is based on the film, the soundtrack to the film is so perfect in my humble opinion, that I couldn’t imagine watching a version punctuated with new songs. It definitely works though, the musical adaptation is not trying to be an incarnation of the film, it stands up by itself as a feel-good, cheesy musical and some of the musical numbers are quite something.

The story follows Wedding Singer, Robbie Hart’s heartbreak when dumped at the alter by Linda, his love of seven years. He’s flanked in his downward spiral by his band members; Sammy who likes to think he’s a jack the lad but only had eyes for waitress, Holly, then there’s George, who looks like and might even believe that he is Boy George. Holly’s cousin and fellow waitress, Julia Sullivan completes the picture, she’s hoping to get engaged to her boyfriend, Glen – a cock-sure Wall Street type who has been cheating on her many, many times over. It’s a love story, naturally, with kinks along the way and a happy ending.

The set for the piece is completely eighties in every respect and to look at the staging was akin to stepping back in time. The layout lent itself to the various scene changes and these all happened seamlessly.

As Robbie, Jon Robyns couldn’t have been more different to Adam Sandler, however he certainly made the role his own and I found myself willing him to get the girl and be happy. His vocal ability is exceptional and he really owned the version of ‘Grow Old With You’ that is straight out of the film. It was Ray Quinn as Glen and Ruth Madoc as Grandma Rosie who stole the show for me though, Quinn was all slimy creepiness and his dance moves served as a reminder as to why he did so well in ITV’s Dancing On Ice, years ago. Ruth Madoc is still as entertaining as she ever was and Rosie is perfect casting for her, comic timing and a great song ‘A Note From Grandma’ to showcase her vocals. Stephanie Clift was also well cast as Holly, although occasionally her diction was lost, however she characterised the role brilliantly. Samuel Holmes was a knock out as George, not quite so overt as George from the film, but it worked. Cassie Compton made a gentile and sweet Julia, there is no doubt that she has a beautiful singing voice and it lent itself to the various numbers she sang, however her American accent let her down. It didn’t suit the character, it almost sounded like she was playing a cartoon character at times and it didn’t match the beauty of Compton’s singing voice.

There are many musical numbers to mention, most of which were highlights of the show – however I will give a special nod towards ‘Awesome’ which was great fun and sung superbly by Robyns and Compton.  I also felt that the ‘money’ song was ‘All About The Green’, pardon the pun!

Overall, I haven’t come away with the buzz that a musical normally leaves me with and it’s the first time in memory that I’ve come away from this genre of show without having given a standing ovation and with most of the audience not having given one either. Something was lacking, hence the star rating. Although I would recommend this as a great feel-good show which offers copious amounts of eighties fun.

OCAIAF 2017 ~ Press Release

OCAIAF 2017, 5-11th October

London, UK

London’s 2017 Open Central Asia International Arts Festival highlights the best in contemporary arts and culture from this vast region. Curated by Orzu Arts, OCAIAF, now in its second year, brings you outstanding talent from East of the Caspian Sea, with prominent artists and performers from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan alongside friends of OCAIAF from India, Cyprus, Russia and Belarus.

OCAIAF 2016 offered unforgettable film screenings, concerts, lectures and dance workshops from Central Asia and USA. Building on last year’s success, the 2017 festival programme features 6 theatre pieces from 6 countries, 2 independent film screenings, visual and applied arts exhibitions, ethnic-folk concerts, talks by distinguished theatre directors and actors from Central Asia, Eastern Europe and India, alongside regional cuisines and a Central Asian crafts bazaar.

Programme:

OCAIAF 2017, 5-11th October

Venue: The Courtyard theatre

Adress: 40 Pitfield St, London N1 6EU

Nearest tube station: Old Street

                                                                     Theatre groups

5.10.2017

Opening Gala

Starts 18:30 Ends 21:30

1. Welcome speech by festival curators Yuldosh Juraboev, Amita Shankar, Joseph Sanders

2. Welcome speech by Baroness Alison Sattie

3. Welcome speech by Kyrgyzstan’s peoples artist Sultan Raev & award winning director Ovlyakuli Khodjakuli

4. Performance by Orzu Arts & Mugam Central Asia – Guljahon Bais Uzbekistan/Tajikistan/Kyrgyzstan/Turkmenistan

Venue: White room & main theatre space

5. Networking, drinks

6.10.2017

1. 18:00   Opening of the Art Exibition from Central Asia/Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan & Belarus . White room.

a) Opening speech by festival’s curators Joseph Sanders & Amita Shankar

b) Opening Speech by exhibitions curators.   

2. 19:30 -20:30. Medea. Orzu Arts. Uk/Uzbekistan. In English. Main Space 

3. 20:30 – 22:00 Networking, drinks

7.10.2017

1. 18:00 -22:00 Art Exibition from Central Asia/Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan & Belarus. White room

2. 19:30 – 20:30 Ilegileg. (White crane) Play by S. Raev. Kyrgyzstan. In Kyrgyz language with English Subtitles. Main theatre space

3. 20:30-22:00. Networking evening. Drinks at the bar

8.10.2017

 1. 18:00 -22:00 Art Exibition from Central Asia/Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan & Belarus . White room

2. 19:30 -20:30. Marriage . By Gogol, russian classic. .Goodge street theatre. UK/Russia

3. 20:30-22:00. Networking evening. Drinks at the bar

9.10.2017

1. 18:00 -22:00 Art Exibition from Central Asia/Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan & Belarus. White room

2. 19:30 – 20:30 Marriage 2.Goodge street theatre. UK/Russia

3. 20:30-22:00. Networking evening. Drinks at the bar

10.10.2017

1. 18:00 -22:00 Art Exibition from Central Asia/Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan & Belarus. White room

2. 19:30 – 20:50 Era Androgyne . Play. Belarus. Physical theatre. Main Space

4. 20:30-22:00 Networking evening. Drinks at the bar

11.10.2017

1. 18:00 -22:00 Art Exibition from Central Asia/Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan & Belarus . White room

2. 19:00 -20:10 To be or not to be. Film screening. Kazakhstan. In Russian with English subtitles

Closing Gala ( tckts £35 )

To get tickets for the Closing Gala please contact Orzu Arts directly at yjuraboev@gmail.com

21:00 – 00:00 Closing Gala and Award ceremony at Pasha restaurant.

Venue: Pasha Hotel

Address: 158 Camberwell road. SE5 0EE

Nearest tube station: Elephant and Castle

Special Guests of the evening.

a) HE Ambassador of Tajikistan

b) HE Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan

c) Merlene Toh Emerson, MBE UK/China

d) Irina Kara cinema and theatre actress UK/Russia

e) Multi award winning theatre director, associate professor of NSD in India. Turkmenistan, Ovlyakuli Khodjakuli

With love,

Yuldosh Juraboev

Curator and artistic director OCAIAF 2017

W1A Series Three, Episode Three ~ Review

W1A, oh how I wish we could have a weekly dose of this, 52 weeks of the year! I’m already preparing myself to be missing it desperately when it finishes in a few episodes’ time!! This week’s instalment saw a disaster befall the team as the BBC Swing Band went on the attack. 

Will Humphries (HUGH SKINNER) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Jack Barnes

Ben & Jerry ~ It’s D day for Ben and Jerry, so they’re trying to out-do one another with additional dialogue and they’ve both looked at ways of streamlining the BBC services. With hilarious consequences ….and disastrous consequences, yes exactly yes!

BBC Orchestras ~ The BBC has six orchestras, Ben or Jerry, or Jerry or Ben have found that out during in-depth research(!) so the suggestion of amalgamation is raised. It’s also thrown out, however word gets around the BBC Swing Band is in line for the axe. How are they going to get around this one? I don’t wanna sound negative or anything but I have a bad feeling about this…

Sub-titles ~ The sub-title voice-recognition system is up the swanny (b*llocks!) and Neil is tearing his hair out. Baggy Smith (instead of Maggie Smith) being the final straw. It’s always going wrong in the news department and Neil is always apologising for something – and I admit to having a slightly warped liking of watching it all go wrong!

BBC Me ~ BBC Me is still in its pre-launch stage and Siobhan, together with her team at Fun are brainstorming ideas with fuzzy felt. Michael has a winning idea, get rid of the bikes and just film a selfie. Cue silent disco to S Club 7!

Ailing Anna ~ A bit of a cliff hanger to end on too, this week as Anna keels over in the taxi on the way back from a meeting with the charter renewal team. What will become of our favourite BBC ‘robot’? yes, exactly yes!

Credits

Role Contributor
Jack Patterson Jonathan Bailey
Barney Lumsden Alex Beckett
Ian Fletcher Hugh Bonneville
Faiza Rajah Priyanga Burford
Tracey Pritchard Monica Dolan
Jerry Guildencrantz Ivan Gonzalez
Siobhan Sharpe Jessica Hynes
David Wilkes Rufus Jones
Izzy Gould Ophelia Lovibond
Chloe Rose Matafeo
Ben Rosenstern Max Olesker
Anna Rampton Sarah Parish
Fiona Craig Pooky Quesnel
Zoe Emma Sidi
Will Humphries Hugh Skinner
Lucy Freeman Nina Sosanya
Simon Harwood Jason Watkins
Neil Reid David Westhead
Karl Marx Joel Fry
Adam Brady Laurence Howarth
Matt Taverner Daniel Ings
Ray Fredericks Jeffery Kissoon
Fiona Craig’s PA Emily Lloyd-Saini
Michael Chung Will Sharpe
Coco Lomax Sara Pascoe
Donna Fredericks Shauna Shim
Himself Lenny Henry
Himself Jeremy Paxman
Herself Louise Minchin
Himself Dan Walker
Narrator David Tennant
Producer Paul Schlesinger
Director John Morton
Writer John Morton
Executive Producer Jon Plowman

Texas on Tour ~ Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Texas are on a worldwide tour and dates can be found here: Texas Website

Star rating: *****

Texas punctuated my teenage years and their classic hits have followed me into my twenties and thirties. The opportunity to see them in concert was one I clutched with both hands and to coin their lyrics, the entire two hour gig ‘touched my inner smile’.

The band have a new album out called Jump On Board and I think it showcases some of their best work to date – however if you’re off to see one of your all-time favourite bands live on tour, you want the old hits in the mix too. I am happy to report that I was not disappointed, with Ms Spiteri bounding onto stage and kicking off with ‘Halo’, I think that memory will stay with me for a long time to come. The classics kept on coming, from more recent track ‘Conversation’ to one of my personal highlight ‘Summer Son’ and of course they had to play ‘Black Eyed Boy’. To hear the band live is akin to listening to one of their albums and none of their unique sound is lost. Symphony Hall lent itself superbly, the acoustics were absolutely perfect and the full house were mostly on their feet from beginning to end.

Classic tracks aside, I loved ‘Midnight’ from their latest album, it’s catchy with all of the elements that Texas are renowned for. It’s easy to spot a Texas song a mile off, yet they are all so markedly different.

Spiteri has a down to earth warmth and engaged brilliantly with the audience, more than happy to She’s a natural comedian as well as an exceptional vocalist and guitarist – and she certainly knows how to make you feel as if you’re part of the ‘family’.

There were encores, many encores and two hours flew by in the blink of an eye. With mostly original material in the set, I was quite satisfied – but when they do a cover, they REALLY do a cover. Suspicious Minds blew me away, it rivalled Elvis (and it’s not often I say that).

I’m still buzzing from a night of music de force from a band who have enjoyed twenty successful years, here’s to the next twenty and many more amazing concerts from them.

 

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