Wicked (28th and 29th all time performances).

Saturday 3rd November 2018, and finally a chance to to watch Wicked at the Magical Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay. As you can see from the title I’ve seen this show a few times, and it’s still the best musical I have ever seen, I also intend to view this on a few more occasions while it remains in the Capital.Time to reintroduce myself with the cast for the two performances today. Elphaba is played by Amy Webb (first time I’ve seen her in the role), with Charli Baptie in the role of Glinda. Aaron Sidwell is Fiyaro (Benjamin Yates takes over for the evening role). Stephen Pinder plays the Wizard, Kim Ismay is Madame Morrible, with Nessarose played by Emily Shaw. Having been at the tour opening in Bristol back in March, it will be nice to see how far this cast has come, although I must say that they were excellent then, so they should be absolutely phenomenal now.

Firstly I have to commend Amy Webb on such a commanding performance as Elphaba, I’ve seen Amy (Ross) and Nikki on previous trips to Wicked (Bristol) with both totally magnificent, today Amy added a third to that list, such superb talent from all three so far. Her voice was amazing, so good to listen to.

Charli Baptie’s performance as Glinda today was another massive positive for the show. Fabulous rendition of the role and superb voice to go with it, couldn’t have wished for two amazing Elphaba’s and Glinda’s to start my run of shows at the Centre.

Let me mention the amazing support cast who kept the show alive with some incredible performances to match the principle actors. Wicked has me in tears for most of the show, and today was no exception, made by this superb cast. Two performances today really made my day, so brilliant to watch, I will never get fed up of this tremendous musical, really can’t wait for more chances to visit this show. Watch this space.

Rob Brydon (I am Standing Up).

Wednesday 10th October 2018, a rare midweek day off so, as usual I’m down at Cardiff Bay on a really hot autumn day. Today I’m at the Millennium Centre to meet the new members of the development team for a chance to air a few ideas etc, then I have an opportunity to watch Rob Brydon with his ‘I am Standing Up’ tour. Really good day so far, one of my best midweek days for a long while. I rarely get to watch comedy, so it’s nice to be able to broaden my theatrical horizons, with the hope of the watching different forms of entertainment on the big stage.

After the events of the day I realise just how much this theatre means to me and how it has totally changed me whole way of life. Watching all these wonderful shows, in these magnificent surroundings, with so many people I can call my friends, has been a revelation.

Time to talk about tonight’s show, first off was Andrew Bird with a 20 minute slot, very funny and no obscene language, which is nice to see, for a change. A nice warm up for the main event.

Rob Brydon was absolutely brilliant, laughed all night, great jokes along with his impressions especially Ken Bruce, classic. Really good singing voice, well he is Welsh, wouldn’t expect anything else. Fabulous night entertainment, with both artists never going down the smutty line of comedy, for a change. Feel the need to watch more comedy shows after tonight.

Amazing day today, really glad I took the day off.

La Cenerentola.

Sunday 7th October 2018, the final Opera of this season takes place today with a rendition of Rossini’s ‘La Cenerentola’ at the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay. With the Cardiff half marathon on today as well, got here early enough to watch some of the runners go through before a quick walk around the Bay on a glorious day in the Welsh Capital.Another Opera that is totally new to me, although I have to say I loved it, the complex singing combined with amazing togetherness of the principle cast members, all working so well, the speed and accuracy of the singing was so impressive with fabulous voices from all the cast and the Chorus, just phenomenal to listen to.

The Music surprised me as I did not think I would enjoy it, but as usual I was totally wrong, I loved that as well, fabulous music beautifully written and played to perfection yet again by the brilliant Welsh National Opera Orchestra under the Baton of Tomas Hanus.

The set and lighting were excellent with plenty of colour from the stage and cast throughout, really brightening up the experience of watching this amazing Opera. Also the six dancers who played the Mice on stage were just phenomenal, really added to the event as a whole. So enjoyed this show, I would love to have seen it more but alas only two were done here at the centre.

Summing up I have to say this was probably one of the best I’ve seen from the WNO, even though I’ve also loved everything I’ve seen from this incredible company.

La Traviata (2nd performance).

Saturday 6th October 2018, the weekend is upon us yet again, so I’m back in Cardiff Bay at the Millennium Centre for another performance of Verdi’s ‘La Traviata’. Another chance to this superb Opera so close to home, brought to us by the wonderful Welsh National Opera company.This weeks cast has Anush Hovhannisyan as Violetta, Alfredo is played by Kang Wang alongside Roland Wood as his father Giorgio Germont. This trio were superb in my last showing of this Opera (last week), their voices are just phenomenal, and I must say just as good tonight.

Talking of voices I have to mention the WNO Chorus who, as usual, were exceptional, they always produce the goods when required and have become an integral part of any Opera from this incredible company.

If the singing was excellent, then the musical accompaniment was of impressive quality, as Usual the Orchestra of the Welsh National Opera, under the baton of James Southall,were on fire tonight, giving the audience a superb display of musical prowess.

Today has been another superb day for me, a long walk around the Bay, taking in the sights, followed by an amazing Opera at the magnificent Millennium Centre. What more could anyone want from a weekend trip to the theatre.

La Traviata.

Sunday 30th September 2018, and a nice treat on a Sunday, an extra day in Cardiff Bay at the magnificent Millennium Centre to watch another amazing Opera put on by the WNO. Today is my first performance of Verdi’s ‘La Traviata’, another of my favourite pieces, that I’ve had the pleasure of watching a few times previously.Today’s cast has Armenian born Anush Hovhannisyan playing the role of Violeta, with Australian – Chinese tenor Kang Wang in the role of Alfredo and Roland Wood playing Alfredo’s Father, along with a few WNO regulars playing vital roles along the course of the opera.

La Traviata has to be one of The most beautiful operas you will ever have the privilege to see, even with its tragic ending it’s still such a pleasure to watch. Once again the WNO company has exceeded expectations with a superb production, the singing was once again exceptional, the music, beautiful and played to perfection from the WNO Orchestra, today under the baton of James Southall.

Add in the fabulous set and amazing costumes, the whole experience came alive, another tremendous day at the theatre, two days in a row the WNO operas have been just brilliant, and with one more week to go in Cardiff, there should be more to come.

War and Peace (3rd performance).

Saturday 29th September 2018, and another chance to watch this epic Opera, with the WNO version of ‘War and Peace’ from the pen of ‘Prokofiev’, at the magnificent Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay on a glorious Autumn day.Today will be my third visit to this production, and I must say it’s been brilliant to come and watch such a beautiful opera, performed by a fabulous company. As usual the WNO have excelled in all departments for this Opera. As I’ve mentioned in the past, the singing has been phenomenal from all the cast, and today’s final performance,before going out on tour was no different. Just superb and totally worth three visits.

The costumes on show for this Opera are amazing, a credit to the wardrobe department of the WNO, always excelling in everything they attempt. A final word to the wonderful Orchestra of the WNO, who as usual were just superb, again watched it three times and on all occasions just thoroughly mastered the whole show. Another fabulous days entertainment, can’t wait for another helping of opera very soon.

War and Peace (2nd performance).

Saturday 22nd September 2018, another weekend visit to Cardiff Bay and my 2nd performance of ‘War and Peace’ at the Millennium Centre. So looking forward to watching this epic opera once more, I was really impressed with last weeks opening night, so much going on with superb singing from all the cast, and probably the biggest cast I’ve ever seen on this stage.

The plot set around the book by Tolstoy and music by Prokofiev, hits the mark from the start, a massive opening, played wonderfully by the excellent ‘Welsh National Opera Orchestra’, Mixing the dramatic with the tender and sometimes beautiful melodies Prokofiev conjured in his mind, while writing this incredible musical piece.

The set is pretty expansive and uses a huge screen at its rear, to project relevant scenes of the proceedings to the audience, adding to the drama of the whole occasion. Also a wide array of costumes are on show throughout the performance, depicting everyday life in these turbulent times.

As usual the singing from the WNO company tonight was superb, add the magnificent musical prowess of the Orchestra and you have a show that lives up to the standard that one gets used to, week in week out with this company.

More opera to come in the next few weeks and hopefully another opportunity to watch this once again before it tours.

War and Peace (WNO).

Saturday 15th September 2018, Opera season begins with ‘War and Peace’ from Prokofiev, at the magnificent Millennium Centre here in Cardiff Bay. Another to add to my collection of new productions in the theatre world. I’m quite looking forward to watching this, while all the while wondering how you would take an epic story to an Operatic stage performance and make it work.The cast for this opening performance has the beautiful voice of Lauren Michelle in the lead role of Natasha, with Mark LeBrocq as Pierre and Jonathan McGovern as Andrei to name but a few. As usual the singing from all the cast is excellent and really reverberates around this incredible theatre. A huge cast for this production with a massive Chorus really adding extra impetus for the bigger crowded scenes on stage, just fantastic to listen to.

I was a little shocked at how good the music to this opera actually was, having not expecting it to be, but honestly I was very impressed, it had everything from heavy full orchestra music to stunning beautiful melodies all in one movement, played brilliantly by the Welsh National Opera Orchestra conducted by Tomas Hanus.

An opera I will happily see again, and most probably will in the next few weeks, during its run in its home theatre in Cardiff, before moving on tour.

Evita.

Saturday 1st September 2018, another weekend rolls into place, with an opportunity to watch one of the best musicals ever created, at one of the best theatres in Britain today. So I’m at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff for a performance of ‘Evita’ from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. I absolutely love this musical, having seen it previously at the New Theatre here in Cardiff, on many occasions.

Today’s cast has the absolutely amazing Lucy O’Byrne as Eva Peron, with Glenn Carter as Che, while Mike Sterling plays Juan Peron, who were also just superb in each role. Loads of great voices pack the Ensemble, including Oscar Balmaseda as Magaldi and Peron’s mistress played by Christina Hoey, who I’m so looking to see as she gets to sing one of the best songs in the show ‘Another suitcase in another hall’.

So many excellent songs through the performance, ‘ Oh what a circus, On this night of a thousand Stars, Eva beware of the city and Buenos Aires’ all follow on from each other and set the tone for the rest of the first act. The highlight of act two of course is ‘Don’t cry for me Argentina’ along with ‘High flying adored’, ‘Rainbow High’ and ‘The money keeps rolling in’, to name but a few. Although I have to say that all the songs are just superb, and sung brilliantly by the cast.

Getting onto the singing, I thought the standard was out of this world, I’ve mentioned Lucy already, but I need to reiterate just what an amazing voice she has along with Mike and Glenn, they added so much to this production. Whoever the producers cast on any given tour, give their all and it shows in the quality of these productions.

The dance routines were really good to watch as they took place throughout the show. I should also commend the Orchestra in the pit for their stunning portrayal of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s excellent music.

This musical is up there in my all time favourite top ten. It’s just superb and beautifully put together. It remains iconic in every way and will continue to watch on every tour possible, for as long as is humanly possible.

Let It Be.

Saturday 25th August 2018, and after a trip to Whitstable earlier in the week for a family wedding, (which was absolutely incredible), I’m back at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay for the Beatles musical ‘Let it Be’. Another musical I have yet to see, so this will add to my growing collection of shows. I’m quite looking forward to this, although I must admit to not being a huge Beatles fan, I prefer the band members solo careers, but knowing me as I do, I’ll probably love it.

The cast has Emanuele Angeletti as Paul, Michael Gagliano as John, John Brosnan is George, Ben Cullingworth as Ringo, with the fifth member the ‘musical director’ Michael Bramwell, who played all the other instruments the cast couldn’t.

These guys have actually blown me away, for me they are better than the original band, I’m loving this show, now that’s something I never thought I’d say. I love the little interludes between each set, showing different themes and songs of the period as the band progress through their timeline. I’d forgotten how many good songs these guys actually wrote, with the choice of playlist suiting this particular musical, only including their best songs, in my opinion anyway.

If the first act blew me away, then act two just sent me to moon and back. The imaginary concert was just superb, with loads of my favourite solo tracks played even better than the originals. I even had tears in my eyes at some of the songs, which I never thought I would for this musical. I have to mention the guitars during the show, played brilliantly by the onstage cast, in fact the whole session was jam packed full of magnificent musicianship (if that’s even a word) and amazing singing. A truly magnificent cast and only 5 people on stage.

I was a bit apprehensive about ‘let it Be’, but as usual I was wrong, it’s a absolutely fabulous musical extravaganza and definitely one to watch again.