All posts by deanhbarnard

About deanhbarnard

My name is Dean Barnard I live in Newport 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.

Matilda (4th performance).

Saturday 29th December 2018, my last show for this year, and it’s at the Millennium Centre here in Cardiff Bay to watch my 4th performance of ‘Matilda’.

I’ve talked about how brilliant this cast is so I’d like to move on to the music and songs for the show, written by Tim Minchin. Act one begins with ‘Miracle’ sung by the children’s ensemble at first until the adult Ensemble come in later in the piece. A great introduction to the proceedings as it gives the audience a chance to assess all the Ensemble cast working together.

Next up we have ‘Naughty’, and a chance to here the voice of Matilda as she sings her first solo piece of the musical, a cracking little song, always sung brilliantly by the Matilda appearing in that performance, tonight was the turn of Nicola Turner, who was outstanding in the role.

The scenes move quickly to the next piece entitled ‘School Song’ which is sung by the both Ensembles as school children, another great song which is far better watching live on stage than the CD would suggest, involving the school gates and some letters, a really fancy creative piece and choreographed to perfection.

‘Pathetic’ appears next on the playlist when we get to here the beautifully stunning voice of ‘Miss Honey’ (Carly Thoms). This piece moves onto the entrance of Miss Trunchbull, a rather fearsome headmistress, and the first song of her repertoire, ‘The Hammer’ another piece where we first get to hear the singing voice in action, quite impressive it is too, lots of action involved, a very energetic song to go with it.

Next up is a song to broadcast the voice of Mrs Wormwood, with ‘Loud’ a dance spectacle with her and Rudolpho. Yet another energetic song written to make the actors work for their money. Another song better seen live than the CD would suggest.

Just after ‘Loud’ we have another brilliant song, sung by Miss Honey entitled ‘This Little Girl’, about Matilda and how special she is. This is a short piece of music but again really beautifully sung, and one of my favourites within the show.

The final song of act one is simply entitled ‘Bruce’, as we see the cake eating scene brought to life. Another superbly written song, choreographed and sung by the children’s ensemble. Yet another song needed to be seen live on stage to appreciate the intricacies of the scene.

The cast for tonight’s performance appears in the caption below.

Matilda (3rd performance).

Christmas Eve 2018, back at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay for my third performance of ‘Matilda’, during its run in the Welsh Capital over the next few weeks.

Yet another superb show graces the halls of the Centre. I’m loving it so far, and quickly entering the catagory as one of my favourite musicals, joining a long list of shows already included.

The all important cast list for today’s performance appears in the caption below.

A very impressive performance from everyone today, especially Nicola Turner as Matilda, who I last saw playing the small boy role in Billy Elliot a few years ago. I’ve now seen three different Matilda’s and they have all been amazing. So much talent for one so young, as I’ve said all along the future of theatre is in safe hands with these youngsters. One other to mention is the role of Bruce, played brilliantly today by Tom Lomas, a great voice, especially on the last song of the show ‘Revolting Children’, yet another talent for the future.

Matilda (2nd performance).

Saturday 15th December 2018, back in Cardiff Bay on a miserable wet day to watch another performance of ‘Matilda’ at the Millennium Centre. Even this terrible weather cannot dampen the spirit of watching this fabulous show.

looking at the cast list it’s nice to see a few familiar faces making a return to the Centre, a few of them appeared in the touring production of Billy Elliot, including Isobelle Chalmers who played the young boy (in Billy Elliot), and is now one of the young actresses playing Lavender in this show. Seeing so many shows it’s brilliant to be able to watch these youngsters growing up, so to speak, and appearing in different shows as their stage careers progress, just look at where Carrie Hope Fletcher is now. These amazing shows give these youngsters a chance to shine and most of them take that chance.

Again I have to reiterate just how good these kids are in this show. Matilda’s (tonight played by Scarlett Cecil) role is almost non stop, with some complicated lines to learn, but they just role them out as if they were talking to you over dinner. I think that’s why this show is so good, the kids take centre stage and just thrive on it, going from strength to strength as they progress. The applause for these young actors and actresses at the end of the show, goes to prove that.

Let’s move on to the adults with Miss Trenchbull, a fabulous role, with a menacing presence throughout, wonderfully played by Graige Els or recently Steffan Lloyd-Evans has taken the role. Brilliant to watch on stage as well. Also nice to see Dawn Williams back at the Centre, (her last few visits have been in Mamma Mia and Shrek).

War of the Worlds.

Monday 10th December 2018, a day off work today as I’m heading to the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff City Centre to watch the utterly brilliant ‘War of the Worlds’, a masterpiece from Jeff Wayne. Yet another one of my favourite shows, having grown up listening to this album constantly throughout my teens and early twenties. The newer version of the album is just as good as the old, a bit more up to date, for the times we live in. I must say though I still love both versions, they are part of my musical history experience.

A fabulous cast has been assembled for this tour, and I’m delighted to once again hear the silky, smooth, absolutely stunningly beautiful, effortless voice of the great ‘Carrie Hope Fletcher’ in the role of Beth (the Parsons wife), probably one of the best stage and theatrical voices I’ve had the privilege to see and hear in the last few years.

Jason Donovan also returns to the show playing the slightly mad parson ‘Nathaniel’. Together Carrie and Jason get to sing my favourite song from the soundtrack ‘The Spirit of Man’ in the second act.

Liam Neeson is seen in Hologram form and his interaction with the cast throughout the show is amazing, with extremely well put together scenes it’s worth watching just to glimpse the spectacle of it all.

Newton Faulkner and Adam Garcia join the cast for this tour as the ‘Thoughts of the Journalist’ and ‘The Artilleryman’, respectively. Both big roles to fill in this adventure, and one which they do extremely well. Let’s not forget another fabulous voice that appears in this superb production, that of Anne-Marie Wayne, playing ‘Carrie’, the fiancĂ© of the Journalist.

The musical itself is such an incredible spectacle to watch, the set is enormous, with a huge screen situated behind it and to the sides. The special effects on screen and around the auditorium need to be seen to be believed and a superb sound system amplifies the Band and the Orchestra to reach every part of the huge auditorium. The lighting involved is also quite spectacular, with an impressive array of colours hitting the audience from all directions. This is probably one of the best lighting shows you will see on any theatrical show you intend to visit.

This 40th Anniversary production has been absolutely stunning from start to finish. A Real treat to watch an iconic musical soundtrack come alive in front of your eyes. You just have to sit back, take it all in and wow at what the creative team have achieved putting this show together.

Matilda the Musical.

Saturday 8th December 2018, today I’m back at the Millennium Centre here in Cardiff Bay for a performance of the brilliant ‘Matilda the Musical’.

Yet again another amazing musical, and already one of my favourites. I particularly love the interaction between the kids and the so called ‘grown ups’ throughout the production. The child actors and actresses are phenomenal (as was the case when Billy Elliot toured the uk), they seem to be so comfortable on stage, for their young ages. Annaliese Bradbury was absolutely brilliant as Matilda, with a strong cast of children working feverishly at her side. A full cast list can be seen below.

Another highlight for me was ‘Carly Thoms’ as Miss Honey, her voice was just incredible, and beautiful to go with it. Really enjoyed this incredible show tonight and looking forward to more shows leading up to the end of the year.

Wicked (49th and 50th all time performance).

I can’t believe I’m finally going to achieve this incredible milestone of watching Wicked for the 50th time. It’s Saturday 24th November 2018, at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay and the Evening performance will be the magic number 50. I’ve watched the last 20 shows (23 in all on this tour) here in Cardiff, and each one has been so special, watching different cast members playing Elphaba and Glinda has been just brilliant, with everyone giving everything on each separate performance. Everything about Wicked is incredible, with the finishing touch being this excellent cast that has played here for the last 4 weeks. The cast list for this afternoon Matinee can be seen in the caption below.

The cast list for the final performance here in Cardiff is the same as the matinee. So we have two fabulous shows to end its run here, so glad I came to watch as much as I did, and tonight’s 50th really lived up to expectations, even if I did get a little emotional, mainly all the way through, got to say it was worth it. Can’t wait for the next tour.

Wicked (48th all time performance).

Friday 23rd November 2018, nearing the end of my two week break, watching Wicked at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay, which I have to say has been one of the best breaks I’ve had, (apart from visiting my kids that is), watching my all time favourite musical in my own backyard.Today I just want to talk about this evenings performance. So far I have covered so many different aspects of this production, it’s time to just sit back and enjoy this wonderful Wicked experience, before it comes to an end in Cardiff.

Therefore the cast for tonight’s show appears in the caption below.

Tonight we have our two leads sharing centre stage in the brilliant Amy Ross (Elphaba) and equally brilliant Helen Woolf (Glinda). All of the other main leads have mostly remained the same throughout my visits, whom have also been brilliant themselves.

Another superb show again, this time I’ve just sat and watched from start to finish, not analysing anything to put in the blog, just listening to stunning voices, brilliant and bright sets, beautiful costumes, amazing light and sound shows, that is the magic of Wicked.

I’ve now seen loads of back to back performances and I still love every show I’ve seen, just as if it’s my first time ever watching. It’s so infectious I really don’t want it to end here in Cardiff.

Wicked (46th and 47th all time performances).

Thursday 22nd November 2018, a bright sunny morning here in Cardiff Bay and I’m at the Millennium Centre for another two more performances of Wicked.Today I’d like to talk about the role of the Cast Ensemble, another group of people I have to mention whenever I can. These actors and actresses are worth their weight in Gold to the production. The amount of singing and dancing required to make a good show, comes from the likes of these amazing people. Wicked has lots of instances where they stand out, in many of the songs throughout the show.

This Ensemble also has some fabulous voices in their midst. I love the voice of Howard Ellis, during the opening scene as we meet Elphaba’s parents, the note he has to hold is incredible. Also the solo singers in ‘Thank Goodness’ at the start of act two. Their contribution to ‘No one mourns the wicked, Dancing through life and the brilliant ‘March of the Witch hunters’ to name a few, is just phenomenal, and helps make this musical so impressive to watch.

The other role of this superb Ensemble is to provide cover for the main stars of the show. Two absolutely brilliant actresses spring to mind. Charli Baptie as Glinda and Amy Webb playing Elphaba. These two have been amazing covering for Helen and Amy (Ross), and I have to say their performances so far have been excellent, fabulous voices from both. A credit to the Ensemble to be able to find cover of their quality to act up into the main leads.

The cast for the matinee can be seen in the caption below.Today is a welcome return to the brilliant Nikki Bentley as Elphaba, who I’ve not seen since Bristol. So good to have the chance to watch 3 amazing Elphaba’s in one place, over the weeks it has been here.

Oh my God, what a performance Nikki gave, I’ve forgotten just how good she is, a beautiful voice and totally nailed everything she sang, I have to admit to having tears in my eyes every time she burst into song. It’s not everyday you get to watch two amazing Elphaba’s in one day, as Amy Ross is on tonight, along with another ensemble member in the also totally amazing Charli Baptie. Tonight’s cast list appears below.

Two totally fabulous shows today, with two different Glinda’s and Elphaba’s, could not have wished for a better day. So impressive and it seems the partnerships work brilliantly with Helen and Nikki on the matinee performance, along with Charli and Amy for the evening. Absolutely fabulous day of theatre, which is another reason why I love Wicked so much.

Wicked (44th and 45th all time performances).

Wednesday 21st November 2018, another visit to the Welsh Capital for two more performances of Wicked at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay. This evenings show will be another amazing Milestone for me, as this will be my 500th performance of a show, in all theatres that I have had the pleasure to visit over the last 6 years (414 of those have been at the Centre).Today I would like to talk about the Superb Orchestra, who work tirelessly every show to bring the Wonderful music of Wicked to a packed auditorium. From the opening bars to the closing sequence the music is fantastic, it can be beautiful in places, deep and meaningful in others, but above all probably one of the best musical scores in theatre history.

The Orchestra for this tour leg in Cardiff has been led by Dave Rose or Jon Aspital, and I have to say the many shows I’ve seen lately, this Orchestra has been incredible, giving maximum performance on all these occasions. The orchestra literally play for quite a long time in each act, so to keep their concentration going for that amount of time is a master feat in itself, but they pull it off every time.

The cast that this excellent Orchestra play for can be seen in the caption below (Matinee). I have to commend Amy and Helen for the professionalism shown during a prop malfunction in act one, totally brilliant recovery by both.

The cast for tonight’s performance can be seen below.

Wicked (43rd all time performance).

Tuesday 20th November 2018, another trip to Cardiff Bay and the Millennium Centre for another performance of ‘Wicked’. Today’s theme will be the costumes for the show. Once again this colourful aspect of the show shines out through this incredible musical. At the start we have old fashioned style clothing with large coats and dresses, very impressive costume sets, which look fabulous on the big stage. Before the arrival of Glinda, in a beautiful Ball Gown, an amazing start to the show costume wise. I have to mention the rich red costume worn by Elphaba’s father during the first few scenes. Two elegant pieces of costume which happens to look really good among all the Green.

The university days come next with stylish Blue and White outfits, where everyone looks immaculate, Glinda, of course, wears a stunning white Outfit which sets her apart from all the others. Very bright and very colourful, once again.

The Emerald City costumes are even better, with some amazing shades of Green, including the dark Green and gold uniform worn by one of the Wizards men. Stunningly beautiful dresses and suits combine with the set and lighting to produce incredible scenes of Green, lighting up the whole stage and most of the auditorium to go with it.

Glinda’s costumes are really awesome, once again fabulous colours and just beautiful to look at. She has Ball gowns, two piece outfits in White and Pink and a glorious Blue at the start of act two. While Elphaba’s costumes seem a bit more dreary and Blue, until the fabulous Black dress she wears for the second act. This has so many parts to it, even though it’s black with very dark colours mixed in, its stunning to look at, and sets her apart from the others as well. One more reason, of many, as to why I love this show so much.

While I’m talking of the costumes, I have to mention the back stage Dressers of the wardrobe department, another unseen group of talented people, who keep all these costumes at hand, making sure that every person to go on stage is in the right place at the right time and in the correct costume for the scene they appear in. These guys are another of the unseen heroes of the theatrical world, working tirelessly to bring the best show to the audience at every opportunity.

So, to the cast for tonight’s show, who will actually be wearing these fabulous costumes, can be seen in the caption below.

Yet again another fabulous show with some incredible singing from all the cast, as is the norm these days.