The Sleeping Beauty (Birmingham Royal Ballet).

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.

Brendan Cole – All Night Long.

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.

Sunset Boulevard.

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.

Wicked (number 26 and 27).

Wednesday 28th February 2018, (day one), my mini break begins with a trip To Bristol Hippodrome for two performances of the superb musical ‘Wicked’. This will be my last visit to this show here, until it’s arrival in Cardiff throughout November, so I’m making the most of it today. With the rest of the week off work I’m on a musicals short holiday (weather permitting) between Bristol and Cardiff over the next four days. Bristol is bathed in sunshine, but it’s freezing to go with it, lots of hot coffee and Costa’s to come.

For both the Matinee and Evening shows we have Amy Ross playing Elphaba with Helen Woolf as Glinda. I have yet to mention the role of Nessarose, played beautifully by Emily Shaw, who has a great singing voice, fitting into the role perfectly, and a real joy to watch. It’s a shame the character doesn’t have a bigger part, I think that’s the only thing I would change in this fabulous musical.

Yet again both performances were superb, the bond between the characters keep growing and getting better with every performance. Amy and Helen are just brilliant together, add in Aaron as Fiyaro, and you get a wonderful mix. All the cast are exceptional making this an absolutely stunning affair, one that I cannot stop watching.

The set, lighting and costumes are so bright and cheerful, adding a huge amount to the brilliance the show produces. With its superb music, played to perfection by the musicians in the pit, the all round quality just impresses enormously, just can’t get enough of it at the moment. So looking forward to November when I can see this wonderful musical again.

Don Giovanni (WNO).

Saturday 24th February 2018, another glorious but cold weekend in prospect, so after my walk around Cardiff Bay for a few hours, I’m back at the Millenium Centre for the final show of this seasons Opera’s before the WNO start their tour around various theatres in the UK. Today’s final offering is ‘Don Giovanni’, written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

For today’s show we have a few new faces, well new to me. Emily Birsan plays Anna with Gavan Ring as Don Giovanni, Katie Bray as Zerlina, all making their debuts with WNO. Also the return of Elizabeth Watts to the scene as Elvira, with her stunning voice ringing out over this impressive auditorium, and David Stout as Laporello. Although I have to say that all the principles are just tremendous, with such fabulous voices.

When you add in the magnificence of the WNO Orchestra and the incredible set for the show, then you have a brilliant end of season extravaganza. This season has been immense, with three stunning Opera’s, culminating in such a wonderful experience that will last for a lifetime, a real pleasure to have had the chance to watch such brilliant productions.

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.