The Shires (supported by Sinead Burgess).

Monday 14th May 2018, another extended weekend for me, with no show on Saturday, I’m heading for St David’s Hall in the City centre, for an evening of superb music with one of my favourite bands of the moment, ‘The Shires’. As usual I’m in Cardiff early for a walk around the bay, with camera, on this beautiful sunny day making the most of my extra day off. I’ve now seen ‘The Shires’ three times in the past few years, I love the style of music they write, bringing British Country music into the limelight, along with another of my favourite bands, Ward Thomas, both bands are superb, with their live sets a must see.

Tonight’s support artist is Sinead Burgess, a singer/songwriter from Australia. A very talented individual with a superb voice. Every song she sang was just so beautiful, so impressed by her half hour set, would definitely like to hear more. One for Bob Harris Country in the near future, maybe even do a recording session on his show. I’d like to hear that if it ever came about.

The Shires were totally awesome tonight, they get better everytime I hear them. Ben and Chrissie have superb individual voices which are also phenomenal when they team up, which is the case for most of their songs. Tonight’s was the best I’ve seen, the more albums they record, the more fantastic material they have to offer. The lighting for the show was also something to behold, along with an excellent band backing them up. In all a fabulous evenings entertainment, and the best thing as well, I get to hear them again this week on Bob Harris Country on Thursday at its new time of 8pm on Radio 2. Can’t wait for The Shires to come back to Cardiff once more.

Titanic the Musical.

Saturday 5th May 2018, yet again another glorious and sunny day here in Cardiff Bay, and another visit to the most impressive Millennium Centre, for two performances of ‘Titanic the Musical’. Another musical I have yet to see, although reading a few of the recent reviews, I’m really looking forward to watching this production.

From the start of this amazing show I couldn’t believe what I was watching and listening to. I honestly never imagined just how beautiful this production was. The music combined with the amazing on stage voices was just phenomenal, I think I had tears in my eyes on every song throughout. So emotional from the very start, within minutes you felt for everyone boarding that doomed ship, and got to know them in a very short space of time. The writers of this musical really pulled out all the stops in this fantastic show.

The cast in this production are so good, I’ve mentioned how good the voices are, with so many different singing ranges to choose, from all the team players. Also so many great scenes to take in throughout the show, meeting the main characters at the start, to the way the different classes of people were treated, and (for me) a beautiful ending, so tastefully done, with more stunning singing to close the show. Above all this musical really surprised me as it was just so brilliant from start to finish.

Judgement day.

Saturday 28th April 2018, today I’ve no show, but i’m with my son Andy and Hannah, visiting the Principality stadium in Cardiff city centre for ‘Judgement day’, superb rugby between the four great rugby regions of Wales.

Wow what a fabulous day we had, plenty of food, booze, and great friendship from all we had the pleasure of meeting. It’s so great to go out with my kids and their respective partners to witness life’s great adventures at first hand. I’ve forgotten how much I love my kids, and actually spending the time to get to know them and their loves as well. This day has been a brilliant chance for me to get back to the days of old and embrace my love of what means the most to me, and that is the happiness of my and my children.

Shrek the Musical (number 21).

Sunday 22nd April 2018, I’m back at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay for a rare Sunday Matinee, this week its ‘Shrek the Musical’, on it’s last day in the Capital before moving venues. I always like to catch the last show at the centre if possible and have done so on many occasions during my theatre visiting history, over the past 5 years or so.

For this afternoon performance we have Steffan Harri alongside Amelia Lily in the title roles, with Samuel Holmes and Marcus Ayton as Farquaad and Donkey respectively. I’ve mentioned before how brilliant Lucinda Shaw is as the voice of the Dragon, I also need to praise Jemma Revell as Gingy, so impressed with her voice too, as Gingy happens to be one of my favourite characters in the show. I remember how brilliant Nikki Bentley was in the role on the last tour, she is now wowing audiences as standby Elphaba in Wicked uk tour, we may even see Jemma doing the same in the next few years.

Yet another impressive performance from a talented cast of actors, it’s gone so quick these past two weeks, it’s amazing to have the chance to watch this show so many times over these two tours, and especially at the best theatre in the world, according to me anyway.

Shrek the Musical (number 19 and 20)

Saturday 21st April 2018, another glorious weekend in the making, so I’m back in Cardiff Bay to watch two performances of one of my favourite shows, ‘Shrek the Musical’, at the Millennium Centre. As you can see from the title, I’ve seen this show a few times over two tours, I never get bored watching it, the show is perfect for kids and adults combined. Both of my sons have now seen this, having grown up watching and loving the film, and I’m happy to announce they thought it was really good.

Today I get the opportunity to watch another actress playing the role of Fiona. Last week I got to see Laura Main, this week is the turn of Amelia Lily as the feisty Princess. Both were just brilliant, and may I say, have excellent singing voices to go with it. I also have the chance to watch Stefan Harri playing Shrek, again another lead with a great voice. (last week it was Micheal Carolan in the lead role). I have to commend the alternative cast members who are brilliant at what they do, as they add a different perspective to the part they play.

so many great things I love about this musical. Some amazing songs and music powerfully sung throughout, especially the Dragon scene (superb voice), the end of act one with ‘Who I’d be’ and also ‘Freak Flag’ in act two. The scenery, lighting and special effects also add to the spectacle that this show offers, to everyone in the auditorium. The comedy aspects of the show are also impressive, with most of the laughs arising from Lord Farquaad and his scenes. This spell in Cardiff has gone so quickly, with the final performance on Sunday, before the tour moves on.

Shrek the musical.

Saturday 14th April 2018, back at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay on this glorious sunny day (finally), for a performance of the utterly brilliant ‘Shrek the Musical’. Tonight’s show will actually be my 18th in all, over two tours, with a new cast to go with it. This happens to be one of my favourite musicals, although I love everything I see, but there are a few that stand out for making me feel so good about myself, this is one of them. It’s so funny with fabulous songs, you walk out of the theatre with a huge smile and feeling contentment throughout your whole self (if that makes sense to anyone but me).

The cast for today’s show consists of Michael Carolan as Shrek, with Laura Main as Princess Fiona, Samuel Holmes as Farquaad, Marcus Ayton playing Donkey and Joseph Dockree as Pinocchio. I must say the voice of the Dragon (Lucinda Shaw) was absolutely outstanding, as Candace was on the last tour. If I’m honest all the cast were again just brilliant,as usual. Another surprise was just how good was the voice of Laura Main, having watched call the midwife for so many years, I never realised she could sing, but was I really proved wrong with an excellent performance tonight.

Another favourite role in this show tonight would be that of Lord Farquaad (Samuel Holmes), he is hilarious, with great songs and quirky dance routines to aid him and his ensemble in supplying the big laughs throughout the show. Talking of the ensemble, who I mention on every occasion I can, were superb again, they perform every day with such precision and rarely get a mention, so it’s up to me to sing their praises.

On my birthday weekend I’ve had such a great day, watching one of my favourite musicals along with my son (Andy) his Girlfriend (Hannah) and my Mum (Hilary).

Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella.

Saturday 7th April 2018, and after a really difficult week in work, I’m back at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay for two performances of Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella. Another milestone for me this weekend, is tonight’s show will be my 450th performance of a show. For the record I’ve only seen 161 shows, but seen those 450 times (365 of those at the Centre), so another special day today.

For today’s matinee Cordelia Braithwaite will be playing the role of Cinderella, a beautiful dancer with so much grace and elegance, throw in the brilliant Liam Mower as the Angel and Dominic North playing the Pilot and you have the perfect trio for such a fabulous performance. Again the whole Ensemble just blew me away, the dancing was just impeccable, combining fabulously with the Prokofiev music at the heart of the show.

For the evening show (my 450th) we have Ashley Shaw as Cinderella, Andrew Monaghan as the pilot with Paris Fitzpatrick as the Angel. Once again the dancing from Ashley is spectacular (as with Cordelia in the matinee), enormously impressed with both leading ladies. The standard of dance from both shows was outstanding, and a fabulous opportunity to watch them today, before they head off to Liverpool.

The set, lighting and sound effects were excellent, probably Matthew’s greatest Ballet to date, so moving, and bringing a classic up to date with a Second World War theme was a stroke of genius, that only he could possibly get away with. I also love the costumes for this production, just adds that 1940’s hit of reality to this show.This really perked up a bad few days for me, bringing my Saturday to an amazing end.

Strangers on a Train.

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.

Spamalot.

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.

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.