Monthly Archives: May 2017

The Crucible.

Saturday 27th May 2017, back in Cardiff, on this bank holiday weekend, at the New Theatre for two performances of the 1953 play written by Arthur Miller ‘The Crucible’. A partially fictionalised story of the Salem Witch trials in Massachusetts in 1692/93.

The cast includes Charlie Condou (Coronation Street) as Reverend Hale and Victoria Yeates (Call the Midwife) as Elizabeth Proctor. A very powerful performance from all the cast, lots of emotion thrown in, as we see life in 1600’s flash before us. With talk of Witchcraft and courtrooms, seeming to hang women as witches, for the slightest of things, it seems very harsh times in this period of American history. Eoin Slattery as John Proctor with Victoria and Charlie, bring the story to life with some wonderful performances, very gritty and dark to watch, but with the brilliant acting skills of the cast, draw you in and keep you glued to every scene, which meant the first act was over in a flash.

Act two brings with it even more emotion and suspense, the courtroom scene is so well put together, with the arrival of the Boston judges,(played brilliantly by Jonathan Tafler (Judge Danforth) and Patrick McKenzie (Judge Hathorne), along with the testimony of the children and others. I actually had tears in my eyes in the next scene as John and Elizabeth Proctor plead with each other in the face of a public hanging. The play had that much of an influence throughout, you couldn’t help but feel something for the characters portrayed in the whole show.

An extremely well written play which does draw the audience into this world. At 3 hrs (with interval) it really does go so quickly, but it’s totally compelling to watch. A brilliant play, extremely well executed, which I thoroughly enjoyed, seeing it twice in one day was well worth the trip. 

 Die Fledermaus.

The second show of the day is at the Millenium Centre here in Cardiff Bay, with the Welsh National Opera’s  current production of this summer’s season, ‘Die Fledermaus’, from Johan Strauss II. Tonight’s opera, stars one of the greatest voices in world opera at the moment, the Amazing vocal talent of  Mary Elizabeth Williams. It’s brilliant to see her back with the WNO for another season, listening to her sing is heaven to the eardrums. 

The WNO never fail to put on a good show, on everything they do, so tonight should be another belting performance. Tomas Hanus comes in as the new Musical Director of the company and will also make his debut as tonight’s conductor of the fabulous WNO orchestra. 

Tonight has been an incredible comic operatic masterpiece, with some wonderful voices on show. Rhian Lois (Adele), Mark Stone (Eisenstein), Alfred (Paul Charles Clarke), Ben Mcateer (dr Falke), Emma Carrington (Prince Orlofsky) and of course the magnificent Mary Elizabeth Williams (Rosalinde). Not forgetting a special mention to Steve Speirs for his brilliant comic routine in act three, and the WNO Chorus, who, as usual, were superb. 

I have to say the set and lighting were excellent, along with the costumes. Such a joy to sit and watch this performance unfold in front of your very eyes. This Opera is definitely one to watch again and again, so, hopefully I will be back at a later date, for more. 

Out of Order.

The weekend is back around, with two shows on the go today, Saturday 20th May 2017. First up, this afternoon is the comedy play ‘Out of Order’ at the New Theatre in Cardiff. Written by Ray Cooney, this play has a host of well known tv actors within it, including Shaun Williamson (Barry in Eastenders), Sue Holderness (Marlene in only fools and horses), Andrew Hall, Susie Amy and Arthur Bostrom (the inept gendarme in ‘Allo Allo’) to name but a few.

The play, set in a fictional hotel room, and of course, being a comical farce, anything could happen. And as you’ve guessed it, it does. Extremely funny, plenty of innuendo, and brought up to date with reference to current affairs, as the story centres around a junior minister, and his affair with a secretary from the opposite party.

The comedy acting and timing is really good throughout, with so many funny scenes, and may I say James Holmes is fabulous as the aged waiter. In fact very impressed with the whole cast.  British comedy has always been the best, in my opinion, and as the play builds, we see why. With cast members husbands and wives appearing all over the place, just to put a damper on any misleading plans the lead cast had of ‘getting away’ with any credit at all, then this play is perfect. Brilliantly written to cause extreme laughter from any audience, that watches, this becomes a masterpiece  of comedy. 

A perfect start to the days theatre going experience, I could watch this again, very easily, and look forward to a few more fabulous British comedy’s due to tour in the next few years.

Ward Thomas.

Wednesday 17th May 2017, with an afternoon off work to visit the Tramshed in Cardiff, for a chance to watch the fabulous Ward Thomas.  I have been so looking forward to seeing these girls perform live, since I first heard their songs on Radio 2, (god bless Bob Harris country). With The Shires already one of my favourite bands of the moment, Ward Thomas are up there with them. The amazing harmonies the girls seem to create around each other are just phenomenal.

First up tonight, the support band, Wildwood Kin. A band made up of three girls, all related, from Devon, who were just fabulous. These up and coming Country bands are getting better and better, they sound amazing live.  Beautiful harmonies from all three and they play all their own instruments. The half hour they played on stage was perfect, it went so quick, I could have listened to these girls for ages.  I don’t watch many live gigs, but I would pay to go and see these perform again. Very impressed with Wildwood Kin.

    Next up Ward Thomas. Oh my god, how good are these girls live. Absolutely fabulous, so impressed with their voices, it’s like they were singing off the cd. With a brilliant backing band behind them, a light show to be proud of and a glorious sound system, Ward Thomas did not disappoint. Every song they sung tonight was perfect, live bands rarely sound as good as these did tonight. With the Shires, The Corrs and now Ward Thomas I’ve seen three incredible live band.
    The music was again superb. Cartwheels is a fabulous album and most of the songs were done tonight, with a new one, a few covers and and a track from the fist album. In all a brilliant night, well worth a visit to see them on tour. If you get the chance go, they are excellent.

    Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

    Saturday 13th May 2017, with my second blog of the day. Another milestone for me this weekend,as it’s been one year since my first ever blog (WNO’s In Parenthesis on 14th May 2016). This afternoon and evening I’m back at the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay for three performances of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Another musical I have never seen before, so not sure what to expect. Although I think watching it three times should give me a good insight into the show. With the music written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and the lyrics from Tim Rice, it does show a great deal of promise to a first time viewer, and even though I’ve heard the music from the show (CD), you can’t really put it all together from that part alone.

    With some well known celebrities taking the role of Joseph in the past, for this tour we have Joe McElderry playing the lead, who I must say has a fantastic voice along with Lucy Kay as the narrator. Lucy has such an amazing voice, so good. The singing in the show is phenomenal, with beautiful choral voices from the children of the choir (from the Bristol school of performing arts), mixed in with the brilliant voices eminating from the ensemble and lead cast members.

    This show has so many different musical genres from Country music scenes, a singing Elvis as Pharaoh (played brilliantly by Ben James-Ellis), and a bit of Calypso music at the end of the show. Joseph is a real family fun filled show, it has great staging with a wonderful light show to add to its many attributes. The band in the pit are also magnificent, playing for the whole show, this fantastic ‘ALW’ score. Such a treat to watch this musical 3 times in one day. The dance routines scattered within the show were so crisp and sharp throughout all three performances.May I also add how surprisingly good the whole show was, I even cried in some parts, mainly due to the wonderful singing on show. An absolutely magnificent show which really impressed me totally, definitely one to see next tour.

    There is one last thing I would like to add in an attempt to make audiences more in touch with the performers. I’ve noticed recently that not many shows are using a cast board to make people aware who plays who. As I write a blog for every show I see, it would be nice to know these facts, as more of the ensemble would probably get a bigger mention, and therefore more publicity, which could lead onto bigger roles and so on. So come on you show producers out there, get more cast boards on tour productions.

    Lucie Jones at Eurovision.

    Saturday 13th May 2017 and tonight is the Eurovision final. I’m not really fond of this contest recently (can’t think why), but tonight is different with one of the best young musical theatre singers I have ever heard, the brilliant Lucie Jones sings live in Kiev. Having seen her 5 times in Rent at Cardiff, I know just how good she is. Everyone in the U.K. needs to get behind this fabulously talented actress/singer. So a massive good luck to Lucie for tonight’s show.

    Also Lucie will be appearing in the final few weeks of the Rent UK tour, if you get the chance go and see it, its brilliant. I myself am looking forward to seeing her in Legally Blonde when it comes to Cardiff in November. If the producers of the Wicked UK Tour are reading this, then I think Lucie would make an excellent Elphaba, well that’s my opinion. So to finish off, a massive good luck to Lucie tonight, let’s hope it goes really well.

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

    Saturday 6th May 2017, back at the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay for two performances of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Another milestone for me today, as this will be my 100th blog, all about shows I’ve seen during the past year since my first ever blog (14th May 2016). This is another thing I love about the theatre, publishing my writings, in the hope that like minded people can share my thoughts, on what I love most about the brilliant shows I constantly see.

    I love this play, it’s so well put together, so imaginative and just a complete joy to watch. I first saw this a few years ago on a previous tour, and totally blew my mind watching it. I saw it 4 times in the week it was here, and could have seen it a lot more. I’m lucky this time around to see it twice more, although, I have to say, a week in one venue isn’t long enough, two would be better, so I can watch it again and again, as usual I’m just being greedy now.

    The show itself is phenomenal following the adventures of Christopher, a young boy with Asperger Syndrome, who finds a dead dog in his street, and sets out to find its Killer. The story moves progressively onwards and covers various themes in his life, his love of Mathematics, for example, followed by his epic search for his Mum in London. A very powerful performance from Sam Newton as Christopher, in the matinee show, had me in tears for most of the production, with brilliant back up from the rest of the cast. Lucianne McEvoy (Shobhan) plays a cracking part as Christopher’s calming influence, and Teacher. The roles of Christopher’s mum and dad are also brilliantly played by Emma Beattie and David Michaels, adding so much emotion to the play as it moves along at breathtaking speed. 

    With giant screenes surrounding the whole production, and an incredible light show pinging around the stage,  this play just gets better and better as it goes on. Another fabulous aspect of the play is the timing involved throughout, as in act one we see Christopher building a train track at various stages, which comes to life at the end of the first act, leading to the interval. A well rehearsed, choreographed piece of theatre magic. I have to admit, that as usual, I never want it to finish. You get so carried away by the brilliance of the play, you never want it to end, with emotion and comedy mixed to perfection, spread throughout this two and a half hour play.

    The evening performance has Scott Reid Playing the role of Christopher, giving us yet another powerful and emotive performance throughout. Again I’m so lucky to have been able to see both actors playing this role, and both giving such fabulous performances on the day. Even having the same tears in the same place for both shows. A truly magnificent days entertainment, with a play I will definitely be back to see again on its next uk tour.