Summer Holiday.

Saturday 18th August 2018, and after a three week break from the Theatre, I’m back at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay for the stage presentation of ‘Summer Holiday’ with the brilliant Ray Quinn in the title role. A film I may have watched hundreds of years ago as a kid, probably haven’t seen again for over 40 years, but if I’m honest, I’m actually looking forward to it, a chance to add another new show to my growing list and experience the wealth of theatrical talent that the UK has in abundance.

The one thing that determines a good show for me, is how I feel coming out of the theatre. Today I could have skipped around the Bay. I thoroughly enjoyed this musical, so much fun, some iconic songs brilliantly sung, the band in the pit playing their hearts out, great dance routines and a totally fabulous ending, getting the whole crowd involved.

Ray Quinn has such a fabulous voice, as does Sophie Matthew, although I was quite impressed with the whole cast, they all had great singing skills, put to the test in a classic stage remake of a classic film. I especially love ‘Bachelor Boy’ in the first act, also happens to be one of my favourite songs as a young lad growing up in the valleys. Along with a cracking duet of ‘The Young Ones’ in Act Two. Come to think of it, I was quite impressed with all the songs in the show, all sung brilliantly by a talented cast. Another musical I would watch again, if it tours again that is.

War Horse.

Saturday 28th July 2018, back at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay, for the last two performances of ‘War Horse’ before it moves to another venue. Having the opportunity to watch this superb show eight times has been just phenomenal. So many different emotions come to light throughout, and even though I’ve watched many times, I still get that buzz every show.

Today I want to talk about the magnificent puppets used by this production. The use of puppet birds are the first we see as the opening sequence begins, followed by young Joey. The attention to detail on the horses are amazing, with great precision by the puppeteers to make everything realistic in the way the horses move. Young Joey sets the scene with some funny moments before the entry of the older Joey, a huge puppet horse, so realistic you forget that there are three actors operating it. Watching the Horse you realise very quickly the range of movement the main characters have been given, with the puppeteers able to move almost every part of the body when required. The choreography between puppet and other actors is just incredible to watch, interacting so perfectly from scene to scene.

The puppetry in act two becomes more incredible as the two horses appear even more lifelike when they set about staying alive during a ghastly war. The pulling of the field gun scenes are worthy of watching alone, just to visualise the sheer effort put into making this staging appear as realistic as possible. We even see a bond between the two horses form as the war goes on, adding yet another impressive realistic part to the show. I must mention the animal noises made by the puppeteers as they go through the show, again so realistic and helping the illusion of how real the horses actually look.

A final mention to the Goose, whose role is perfect to the comic relief in the first act, as we see Joey growing up with Alberts help. It really does make a huge difference to the way the show builds. An absolute epic production, brilliantly made and produced for the stage. Can’t wait for next tour.

War Horse.

Saturday 21st July 2018, another glorious weekend and a trip to the Theatre for two more performances of ‘ War Horse’, at the magnificent setting of the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay. Last week I talked about the production side along with the technical aspects of the show, today I’d like to look at the musical side to this drama, and the influence it has on this amazing play.

Most plays I’ve seen do not have a soundtrack as moving as this has. The opening sequence has a calming effect on proceedings with a beautiful piece of music set to represent the early morning before the fabulous voice of Bob Fox enters the fray, with his soothing Devonshire voice and accordion by his side, he almost narrates the story (in song) as the play moves along, the sequence then continues with the whole cast appearing on stage, joining in with the opening song, so superb to watch and brilliant to listen to. As the scenes progress the music links nicely to the scene it portrays, beautiful melodies as we see Joey and Albert bond over training and beyond.

Towards the end of act one, we see the mood of the music changes, from happy melodies to the brutal reality of war. Continuing in act two as the war progresses. Again superb pieces only this time more robust in nature depicting just how harrowing the First World War must have been for all those who were forced to participate in such violent years. The music adds so much tension to the war scenes, but the voice of Bob Fox appears throughout the act, seemingly calming everything down for a few moments before the intensity begins again, with loud explosions and gunfire filing the auditorium, the dramatic musical infill between these sections helps with the fluency if each scene, making it seem film like in it’s essence.

If you mix the fabulous music with the superb technical aspects of the show, you get a really amazing piece of theatrical magic happening on stage in front of your very eyes. Probably the best I’ve seen for a non musical production. Can’t wait to see it again, if I’m honest.

War Horse.

Saturday 14th July 2018, another glorious weekend is upon us, and back to Cardiff Bay and the magnificent Millennium Centre, for two performances of another of my ultimate favourite stage productions in ‘War Horse’. After last weeks double show, I have to make the same decision and repeat the feat. When a show this good comes to a theatre so close to home, you have to make the effort to watch as many times as you are able to, for me that’s every weekend on its run in Cardiff.Today I’m looking at the production side of this Play, the technical aspect of putting this together is just phenomenal. The Horses look spectacular, the detail in their mannerisms, all achieved by the puppeteers running them (which after a while you actually forget they are even there) just blow you away, I could sit and watch them for hours.

The scenes during the war can be pretty harrowing in places, but that adds so much to the production, telling you how barbaric that part of world history actually was. The choreography during these scenes were superb, with actors placed strategically around the stage to assist with following scenes, seamlessly interwoven during the play. To get everyone in the right place at the right time is such a feat to accomplish, but this show gets it right every time I watch.

Another impressive technical assist for the show is the sound and lighting. From the start the lighting focuses on the spot you need to be looking at, mainly on puppetry and keeping you there for the remainder of the show. The sound is also exemplary, especially in the war scenes, with huge explosions, gun fire and a great musical soundtrack to add to the occasion. Put these two together and the whole story comes alive in front of you, almost transporting you to the harrowing scenes contained in the War itself. I must also mention the amazing sound the horses produce throughout the play, even the hooves seem real as they move around the stage, along with the other horsey sounds made by said cast.

The whole show is sheer brilliance from start to finish, and I still want to watch over and over, next weekend I will get the chance to do it all again.

War Horse.

Saturday 7th July 2018, and I’m back in Cardiff Bay for two performances of ‘War Horse’ at the Millennium Centre. I absolutely love this amazing show, I’ve seen it before on its previous visit to the Bay, then it just blew me away. It’s got so much going for it, a great storyline, with scenes of comedy, heartache, and triumph all rolled into one, the amazing Puppetry on show really adds some sheen to each performance.One of the Musical highlights for me is the role of the Song Man with the brilliant voice of Bob Fox, adding a musical treat at strategic intervals throughout this incredible show.

Amazing choreography between the cast and puppets also add to the spectacle, making me forget that the horses are actually puppets and not controlled by three people. I’m also emotionally drained after watching two shows, I’ve laughed, cried and felt so many different emotions throughout the day, but it’s worth it just to see this beautiful show.

So looking forward now to next weekend and the chance to watch ‘War Horse’ all over again. knowing myself I’ll probably cry and laugh in exactly the same places as I managed today, we shall see.

An Officer and a Gentleman.

Saturday 30th June 2018, after a 6 week break with no shows, I’m finally back at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay, for two performances of ‘An Officer and a Gentleman’. Again this is one of those times where I never really took much notice of the film, in fact, I cannot even remember watching said film, so this is a new experience for me, and another show to add to my growing tally of theatrical entertainment.Firstly can I just say ‘Oh My god’ what a fantastic musical, I never expected anything like this, just superb from start to finish. The cast for today’s performances bring another set of new names to enthuse over. Once again superb singing from all the cast including Emma Williams, Jonny Fines, Ian Mcintosh ,Jessica Daley and Keisha Atwell, I love the way the production team have changed the iconic 80’s songs in the show, to match up with the scenes, and just how well the cast come up with superb renditions of each song.

As they sang ”I want to know what love is’, which just happens to be one of my all time favourites, I just had tears in my eyes, the same could be said for ‘Alone’ in act two, another one of my favourite 80’s songs, with the same outcome. Another song that took my heart was ‘Family man’ sung brilliantly by Ian Mcintosh. Every number in that show was sung just superbly, I couldn’t fault any of it, and wouldn’t want to. Even songs I never liked when sung by the original artists, I totally loved with this cast singing them, and for me that’s a major success for any given show. The vocal talent we have in the UK is just awesome, we get to see new singers every week who totally blow us all away.

The finale had me as well, sadness and happiness in the space of a few minutes and the whole cast joining in with with ‘Up where we Belong’ to enormous cheers from a full, gratified audience.

I was so impressed with the whole make up of this wonderful musical extravaganza, watching it twice is even better, the Orchestra in the pit really helped with some wonderful renditions of great songs, musically they were incredible, another I would watch over and over even on future tours. I’m so glad to be back watching brilliant shows at a fabulous theatre, I never want to leave it so long between performances again, six weeks is way too long.

The last Ship.

Saturday 19th May 2018, another glorious day, so I’m back at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay for Two productions of ‘The last Ship’, with music for the show written by Sting. I’ve heard good reviews for this musical, really looking forward to watching its last two performances at the Centre before it carries on with its UK Tour.

This show has been a complete surprise, thoroughly enjoyed it. The singing was just superb, fabulous voices and harmonies to die for. A huge set with fantastic graphics and images all over. Richard Fleeshman as Gideon Fletcher and Frances McNamee playing Meg Dawson are just brilliant, shining bright like the sun in the daytime sky, very impressed with these two individuals. Bring in Penelope Woodman playing Peggy White (Matinee performance), who has a stunning singing voice, and you have the makings of a great show with these alone. Joe McGann and Katie Moore (playing Jackie White and Ellen Dawson respectively) also impressed enormously, again fabulous singing voices. In fact some of the harmonies with multiple singers involved were enough to reduce me to tears, as they were so beautiful to listen to.

The influence of the music and lyrics from Sting were eminent throughout, played to perfection from the onstage band, and sang brilliantly from the entire cast (as I think I may have mentioned already).

A great storyline as well, with so many changing scenes, motivating the entire show, captivating the audience at every opportunity. A few tears in the second act, but I’m used to that now, I’d probably cry at Pepper Pig shows if I ever went to see one.

I have to say that for a new musical this could go a long way given the chance. For me it was superb, one to watch again and again, and luckily for me I get to watch the evening performance as well.

The Shires (supported by Sinead Burgess).

Monday 14th May 2018, another extended weekend for me, with no show on Saturday, I’m heading for St David’s Hall in the City centre, for an evening of superb music with one of my favourite bands of the moment, ‘The Shires’. As usual I’m in Cardiff early for a walk around the bay, with camera, on this beautiful sunny day making the most of my extra day off. I’ve now seen ‘The Shires’ three times in the past few years, I love the style of music they write, bringing British Country music into the limelight, along with another of my favourite bands, Ward Thomas, both bands are superb, with their live sets a must see.

Tonight’s support artist is Sinead Burgess, a singer/songwriter from Australia. A very talented individual with a superb voice. Every song she sang was just so beautiful, so impressed by her half hour set, would definitely like to hear more. One for Bob Harris Country in the near future, maybe even do a recording session on his show. I’d like to hear that if it ever came about.

The Shires were totally awesome tonight, they get better everytime I hear them. Ben and Chrissie have superb individual voices which are also phenomenal when they team up, which is the case for most of their songs. Tonight’s was the best I’ve seen, the more albums they record, the more fantastic material they have to offer. The lighting for the show was also something to behold, along with an excellent band backing them up. In all a fabulous evenings entertainment, and the best thing as well, I get to hear them again this week on Bob Harris Country on Thursday at its new time of 8pm on Radio 2. Can’t wait for The Shires to come back to Cardiff once more.

Titanic the Musical.

Saturday 5th May 2018, yet again another glorious and sunny day here in Cardiff Bay, and another visit to the most impressive Millennium Centre, for two performances of ‘Titanic the Musical’. Another musical I have yet to see, although reading a few of the recent reviews, I’m really looking forward to watching this production.

From the start of this amazing show I couldn’t believe what I was watching and listening to. I honestly never imagined just how beautiful this production was. The music combined with the amazing on stage voices was just phenomenal, I think I had tears in my eyes on every song throughout. So emotional from the very start, within minutes you felt for everyone boarding that doomed ship, and got to know them in a very short space of time. The writers of this musical really pulled out all the stops in this fantastic show.

The cast in this production are so good, I’ve mentioned how good the voices are, with so many different singing ranges to choose, from all the team players. Also so many great scenes to take in throughout the show, meeting the main characters at the start, to the way the different classes of people were treated, and (for me) a beautiful ending, so tastefully done, with more stunning singing to close the show. Above all this musical really surprised me as it was just so brilliant from start to finish.

Judgement day.

Saturday 28th April 2018, today I’ve no show, but i’m with my son Andy and Hannah, visiting the Principality stadium in Cardiff city centre for ‘Judgement day’, superb rugby between the four great rugby regions of Wales.

Wow what a fabulous day we had, plenty of food, booze, and great friendship from all we had the pleasure of meeting. It’s so great to go out with my kids and their respective partners to witness life’s great adventures at first hand. I’ve forgotten how much I love my kids, and actually spending the time to get to know them and their loves as well. This day has been a brilliant chance for me to get back to the days of old and embrace my love of what means the most to me, and that is the happiness of my and my children.