Saturday 31st March 2018, another long weekend again, so I’m back in Cardiff for a performance of ‘Strangers on a Train’ at the New Theatre. The classic film version was based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith and directed by the great Alfred Hitchcock. Having once again not watched the film in question, the stage play will be my first foray into this adaptation of the story.
Tonight’s cast has quite a few recognisable faces in its midst, including Jack Ashton (Call the Midwife), John Middleton (Emmerdale), along with Chris Harper and Hannah Tointon. Chris plays the role of Charles Bruno with an eccentricity, making him look like a total nutcase, intent on keeping promises made on a train journey in past times. The plot is fast paced, keeping everyone on the edge, wondering what’s going to happen next.
The set is designed brilliantly, with opening sections to both floors, bringing the action to life, in various guises, as the plot moves on. Very impressive use of space. I was also fascinated with how the second act unfolded with Charles getting drunker and madder, also Guy (Jack Ashton) getting more tormented as the act unfolds. Great acting by both. Although I have to point out that I was impressed with all the acting from all. It was nice to watch a play for a change, don’t get to watch many.
Today has been an extra treat for me, loads of walking around the Bay and the City followed by a wonderful play to round off a superb day.
Saturday 24th March 2018, another fabulous day in the Bay, and a chance to watch two performances of ‘Spamalot’ at the Millennium Centre, another new show to add to my growing collection. It’s fabulous to have such a wonderful theatre so close to home, capable to hosting any show the theatrical world can throw at it, I still consider myself so lucky to be able to watch these superb shows in the City I love so much.
For this run in Cardiff we have the legendary Wynne Evans as Sir Galahad, a real treat to see him in action on the big stage, and at the Centre to go with it. The show itself is typical Monty Python, very silly but great fun, with some excellent singing voices on show. Sarah Harlington as ‘The Lady of the Lake’ has a fabulous voice, very impressive. Although as usual, on every show I’ve seen, all the cast sing brilliantly, another reminder of the tremendous depth of talent we have around the UK at the moment.
The music and songs in the show are uplifting, funny and silly all at the same time, a great credit to its writers, giving the audience something to laugh at, at every opportunity, with quite a few modern day references thrown in for good measure. One song stands out, that we can all take heart from, ‘Always look on the bright side of life’ has a fabulous straightforward lyrical presence, which I myself would love to be able to follow, as I stumble blindly through life.
I have to say how thoroughly enjoyable this musical was to watch, very funny with some great singing, which made me extremely bright and cheerful on my drive home.
Saturday 17th March 2018, after a week off watching rugby, I’m back at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay for two performances of the Birmingham Royal Ballet production of ‘The Sleeping Beauty’. Having not had the opportunity to watch much Ballet over the last few years, today comes as an added bonus to my theatre culture, so really looking forward to this show. It’s a different experience to watch a Ballet, with stunning music (today’s written by Tchaikovsky) and dancing so graceful and effortless (or so it would seem) it just takes you into a different world, relaxing everything your body puts up against you throughout your working week, it’s the perfect de-stresser.
I have to commend the layout of this Ballet, with magnificent costumes and a lavish set to add to the superb dancing on show. The attention to detail is fabulous, with superb pointe work set against some fascinating dance steps. For the matinee Yvette Knight plays the role of Princess Aurora, with Maureya Lebowitz for the evening, their performances are just incredible with such poise and balance throughout. I’ve never seen anyone balance en pointe for so long in various parts of the Ballet, that was something to savour. In fact the whole cast are just superb, elegant, precise and a total joy to watch.
The Orchestra of the Birmingham Royal Ballet are another brilliant facet of this company. The music is played to perfection, giving the dancers plenty of scope to perform, with perfect timing throughout. I am so impressed with this company, everything they have done today has been outstanding, and watching it twice in the same day has been so beneficial to understanding just how technically perfect these dancers and musicians have to be. Another superb day at the Centre, well worth watching twice, and an amazing experience to see a classic Ballet performed to this standard.
Sunday 4th March 2018, another day in Cardiff Bay (weather problems again), and an unexpected treat tonight, with a visit to the Millenium Centre to watch Brendan Cole and his show ‘All night long’. So I get to watch one more in my mini break, which moves into day five. A really beautiful day today as well, with all that snow melting, well in Cardiff anyway.
Wow, what a superb selection of brilliant dancing from eight individuals. Brendan and his team are excellent, the speed, the teamwork and syncing together is just amazing, add that to the excellent band live on stage along with two fabulous singers in Iain and Jenna, and you have an absolutely gorgeous evening entertainment. The highlight being a Rhumba to gasp over, Jenna sang fields of gold so beautifully alongside Brendan and Faye dancing to perfection, I cried from the sheer beauty of it all, I’ll never forget that moment.
The whole night was just superb, I defy anyone to come out of that auditorium without a smirk plastered all over their faces. Brendan’s best show to date, although I must admit I’ve loved everything he’s done so far. The quality of singing, dancing musical choices just blew me away. One of the best nights I’ve ever had at a dance show, just wish it longer, went way to quickly. Look forward to next years show.
Saturday 3rd March 2018, day four of my planned showfest, the last two days though have been pretty harrowing, with all shows in Cardiff cancelled due to this extreme weather hitting the UK pretty hard. Today we have some thawing finally so I get to go to the Millenium Centre to watch two productions of ‘Sunset Boulevard’The reviews for this musical read well, but to be in that auditorium listening to it live was worth the wait. I’ve always wanted to watch it since I heard the Glenn Close cd version, and if I dare say it, this was better. Danny Mac as Joe Gillis is superb and has a great voice for the part. Molly Lynch (Betty) is another with a great voice, so impressed with both. Then you add Ria Jones as Norma Desmond alongside Adam Pearce as Max. The voices again are stunning, Adam has got max down to a tee, stunning vocals, and a huge range to his singing talents, then we come to Ria Jones, and let me just say, the best Norma Desmond I’ve ever heard, (I’ve heard a few people sing her on cd), the sheer quality, every time she sang I cried with joy, and the best bit is I get to cry all over again in tonight’s instalment.
May I also mention the Ensemble cast, yet again these guys were exceptional in everything they set out to do, fabulous voices in their sets as well. I always stake a claim for the Ensemble, they are the just brilliant. As were the Orchestra in the pit, playing this wonderful Andrew Lloyd Webber music to perfection. Once again these two sets of players are superb, I’ve yet to hear anything bad from any touring company, everyone seems to be on top of their game, on every performance, and show I’ve seen over the last five years or so.
Two stunning performances from the cast today, makes my mini break worthwhile, although not quite how I’d planned it, but, as they say, there’s nothing you can do about the weather,it’s an uncontrollable factor, that we have to bare, see I knew counselling Would work for me in the long run.