All posts by deanhbarnard

About deanhbarnard

My name is Dean Barnard I live in Bargoed and work in Cwmbran. I am a huge fan of the theatre and visit The Millenium centre and other venues in Cardiff weekly to see shows and concerts. I have started writing review blogs about what a I like of the shows I have seen.

Tosca (2nd performance).

Wednesday 21st February 2018 and an unexpected bonus tonight, with a chance to watch another performance of Tosca from the Welsh National Opera company, at the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay.

Another surprise tonight was a cast change from my last visit to this Opera with the brilliant Mary Elizabeth Williams playing Tosca, sharing the role with the equally brilliant Claire Rutter. Having only seen Mary last weekend in another opera, (La Forza Del Destino). Her voice is just as perfect as ever with one aria in act two bringing tears of joy, as she sang through it. Along with Hector Sandoval as Cavaradossi and Mark S Doss as Scarpia, the three of them made this Opera so beautiful to listen to.

So again today, I’ve managed to see two fabulous shows in two different cities, as I’ve achieved on the past three Wednesday’s off work. What a superb way of spending my weekday off work, couldn’t hope for much more than that.

Wicked (number 25).

Wednesday 21st February 2018, another weekday off work for a trip to Bristol and the Hippodrome, to watch the best musical in the world, ‘Wicked’. A glorious day weather wise and perfect for walks around the river and a bit of shopping on the side, in my other favourite city, alongside Cardiff of course. Today is another milestone for me as I’ve reached a quarter of a century of watching Wicked, 25 shows in all and I still can’t wait to see the next one. As I’ve mentioned before I totally love this show, it never fails to impress on every level.

For this afternoons matinee performance we have the brilliant Amy Ross as Elphaba with the equally brilliant Helen Woolf playing Glinda, this is my third main lead partnership of this tour so far, the first time I’ve seen these two together, from what I’ve seen so far, I’m expecting another absolutely fabulous performance, and guess what, I was right, what a performance, these two are just superb together. Whatever team they put on, the performance is just out of this world. I also have to say that I’m really impressed with Aaron Sidwell as Fiyaro, he has a great voice and is growing into the role every week.

Wicked the Musical has just made my whole day so much better, for almost 3 hours I’m in another world, transfixed by the excellence of this show, and how magical I feel in myself while watching it. This is one of the reasons I’ve totally fallen in love with this musical.

La Forza Del Destino. 2nd performance (WNO) .

Saturday 17th February 2018, and after a few torrid days at work, it’s back to the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay for another performance of the WNO production of Verdi’s ‘La Forza Del Destino’. After a really long walk around the Bay today, I’m back to my brilliant best again. To be honest it was such a beautiful day today you couldn’t help being perky and full of life. There is no better place to walk around than the Bay Area in the Sun, listening to great music on the way. Extremely emotional walks today.

Anyway enough of me let’s talk about this fabulous Opera on show today. This gives me one more chance to watch the brilliant Mary Elizabeth Williams as Leonora along with two fabulous Male voices in Gwyn Hughes Jones and Luis Cansino. With some beautiful music throughout this opera, played superbly by the WNO Orchestra under the baton of conductor Carlo Rizzi, this gives the artists on show the chance to really impress with their amazing voices.

Another thing that impressed me about the WNO is how good the sets and lighting has been for a lot of their recent productions, using this huge stage to its maximum on many occasions.

Once again another fabulous production comes to an end, stunning singing, as usual, just so beautiful to listen to, so glad I had the opportunity to watch this twice in its run in Cardiff.

The Sound of Music.

Wednesday 14th February 2018, and after my visit to Bristol, I’m back in Cardiff for ‘The Sound of Music’ at the New Theatre, yet another fabulous show, and the second week in a row I get the opportunity to watch two different shows on the same day in two cities.

This epic musical has Lucy O’Byrne as Maria, with Neil McDermott as the Captain, although for tonight’s performance we have Katie Shearman as Maria, with Holly Willock playing Liesl, and yet again these two actresses are absolutely brilliant playing some of the lead roles, as I’ve always said the Ensemble are worth their weight in gold when they stand in and really shine.

This is such a feel good musical, with every live show I’ve seen being absolutely brilliant, and after tonight this one is just the same. The singing is exceptional, the nuns are so good, with such beautiful voices, you would think they had a full choir instead of 7 people. The children, again 7 in strength, were incredible tonight, so in tune, in step with each other all the way from Liesl to Gretl, with each and every one of them brilliant, there is so much young talent coming through the ranks these days, it’s no wonder these youngsters are so good.

In fact all the cast were superb tonight, it’s really worth a visit to watch this iconic musical just to feel good about the world and that wonderful things can happen from just a few hours at your local theatre.

Wicked (Number 24).

Wednesday 14th February 2018, another day off work, so I’m back in Bristol at the Hippodrome, for another showing of my favourite musical ‘Wicked’. It seems as though the last tour never ended, because this latest venture is also just superb, with a different cast (bar a few names from the previous tour), who seem to be growing nicely into the roles they portray.

Talking of the cast, we have a few changes from last weeks show, playing Elphaba for this Matinee performance is the brilliant Nikki Bentley, who was again exceptional, she just oozes quality in every performance. Very difficult to separate Nikki and Amy at the moment, both are just brilliant.

Alongside the also brilliant Helen Woolf as Glinda, who, I must say was also incredible in this afternoons show. These two worked so well together a few weeks ago, its fabulous to get the chance to watch them again.

Yet again, another stupendous performance from all the cast. I love the character of Elphaba, the actresses playing her have been exceptional over the past few years, and the current two (Amy Ross and Nikki Bentley) are just superb. I have to mention the first Elphaba I ever watched, the utterly brilliant Nikki Davies-Jones, she was stunning in the role, and made me fall in love with the show, mainly for her immense vocal talent.

The show just gets better and better every time I watch, I don’t think I could ever get bored watching this superb musical. Still the good news is that I still have more shows to come in this tour, both at Bristol and Cardiff in November.

Tosca (WNO).

Sunday 11th February 2018, I’m back in Cardiff Bay for a visit to the Millenium Centre for my second Opera of the weekend, this time its ‘Tosca’ from the Welsh National Opera company. This one I have seen before, back in 2013, and just happens to be the first ever opera I visited from the WNO.

The cast for this day’s Opera includes Claire Rutter in the lead role, Hector Sandoval as Cavaradossi along with Mark S Doss as Scarpia. Once again the Opera springs into life with some wonderful singing from all, with the chorus at the end of act one really adding to the emotion of the piece. Beautiful music and even more memorable singing from the main leads really make this opera such an amazing production that it is.

What makes it so special for me is the WNO themselves, everything I’ve seen them do over the past few years has been superb, with a Chorus and Orchestra the envy of loads of operatic companies, and its choice of leads throughout the years, has really made me want to see more and more of the work this company does.

One final thing to mention today was the costumes and the set for this opera, very impressive indeed. Thoroughly enjoyed my weekend and the Opera.

La Forza Del Destino (WNO).

Saturday 10th February 2018, it’s now been four weeks since my last visit to the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay, I’m finally back here for another show, this time an Opera from the wonderful Welsh National Opera company, with its take on Verdi’s ‘La Forza Del Destino’. This is another new Opera for me to watch and brings my total of new shows to 154, and counting.Tonight’s cast includes the magnificent voice of Mary Elizabeth Williams as Leonora, her singing is just unbelievable, with amazing voice control throughout the performance, many times I just closed my eyes and listened to her incredible voice, especially with the chorus joining her, so fabulous to hear, sheer perfection.

Gwyn Hughes Jones and Luis Cansino were also quite spectacular with vocals to die for, amazing talent from the three main leads, who just made the whole evening such a special event for me.

I must also say a huge round of applause for the other main cast players, who were also outstanding, with even more superb voices adding strength to the whole show. Again the chorus of the WNO were simply stunning, a mass of unbelievable voices ringing out among the whole auditorium.

And what can you say about the WNO Orchestra, playing this wonderful music to absolute perfection. So beautiful to listen to and combined with the exceptional voices on show, this opera really was incredible. Can’t wait for my next visit after this.


Thursday 7th February 2018, and after my trip to Bristol for Wicked, it’s a quick train journey back to Cardiff for a performance of Flashdance at the New Theatre. Might as well make a proper day out of my leave and watch an extra show in the Evening.

I’ve never seen this show or even the film before, so this is going to be a new experience, although it’s worth the entrance money alone to see the totally fabulous Joanne Clifton in the lead role, who just happens to be excellent as Alex, her dancing is fabulous, and she has a beautiful singing voice, which I never realised she had, really impressed with her all round talent, and from what I’ve seen so far, she could be in even more dance themed musicals for a few years to come.

Another good partnership begins with Joanne and Ben Adams as Nick Hurley, as with Wicked’s leads these guys work well together, with some lovely duets during the performance. Very impressed with Joanne and Ben, can’t fault anything they set out to achieve with this show, simply brilliant.

This is a really good musical with some impressive performances from all the cast, singing and dancing wise. It’s a feel good show, with lots of eighties music, superb dancing throughout and a good storyline.

I’ve seen two fabulous shows today, really glad I’ve had the opportunity to watch both in the same day, with another new show (Flashdance) to add to my growing list of shows I’ve seen.

Wicked (number 23).

Wednesday 7th February 2018, another day off work and another trip to the Bristol Hippodrome to watch the best show in the world ‘Wicked’. As you can see from the title this will be my 23rd performance of this incredible musical, over the past few years since it first toured, back in 2014/15. looking back at last weeks show, Wicked has a really great cast with some stand out performances throughout. So I’m really looking forward to this afternoons matinee, just to make my midweek excursion out of the Welsh valleys another day I’ll never forget.

Talking of the cast, we have a few changes from my last visit with Amy Ross playing Elphaba and Charli Baptie as Glinda. Seeing it so many times gives me the opportunity to hear different actors and actresses playing the main roles, which for me, shows the strength in depth in the theatre world that the UK currently has in abundance. Last week I managed to catch the superb partnership of Nikki Bentley and Helen Woolf, today a different one. And what another fabulous performance given by Amy and Charli, these two Also work well together, with again such wonderful voices ringing out around the auditorium. this has been yet another immense privilege to watch these amazing performers live on stage.The frame has Helen Woolf (Glinda), Amy Ross (Elphaba) and Aaron Sidwell (Fiyaro), as the three lead performers of this fabulous musical.

Yet again another fabulous performance from everyone on show at Wicked on tour. Even though I’ve seen this so many times, I still have a few tears in my eyes on certain sections of this wonderful musical, as I keep on mentioning on every visit. I love this show so much I really can’t wait for my next visit, it can’t come around quick enough for my liking.


Thursday 1st February 2018, a day off work today, visiting the city of Bristol and the Bristol Hippodrome to see my favourite show of all time, the brilliant ‘Wicked’, I’ve been looking forward to this musical for so long now. Since it’s last tour I watched this incredible show a total of 21 times, so today is obviously my 22nd and counting.

For today’s Matinee performance we have Nikki Bentley as Elphaba, Helen Woolf as Galinda, playing Fiyaro is Aaron Sidwell, Nessarose is played by Emily Shaw, with the Wizard, Madame Morrible and Boq, played by Stephen Pinder, Kim Ismay and Iddon Jones respectively. I have to mention that the standby for Elphaba is the brilliant Nikki Bentley, who I last saw in the previous tour of Shrek, she played understudy Fiona and Gingy on the tour, and was just superb in the roles, she has a stunning voice, and just so happens is appearing today as Elphaba in place of the also fabulous Amy Ross. What a stunning performance she gave today, I was so moved by her portrayal of Elphie that I actually had tears in my eyes so many times, it was incredible to watch. Helen Woolf was also brilliant as Galinda, her partnership with Nikki was just amazing to watch. Need more shows, one isn’t enough.

The Ensemble were just excellent, as they always are, in every show I’ve ever seen. I have so much respect for all of these amazingly talented actors and actresses, who just give their all to make these musicals so special, adding so much to the overall effect of a superb show.

The orchestra has a 16 strong team belting out this magnificent music throughout this incredible musical. I can’t say a bad word about anything this show offers, it’s just perfect, and it has a cast board in the foyer to tell the audience who’s who, I think all shows, however large or small should have a cast board, people like to know who they are watching. Just to sum up ‘Wicked’ is the best show I’ve ever seen, and after today’s performance, I know now that for certain.