Monthly Archives: August 2016

Mandela Trilogy.

Back yet again to the Millenium Centre here in Cardiff Bay. It’s Saturday 27th August 2016 and I’m here for a single viewing of the Mandela Trilogy. Staged by the Cape Town Opera and the Wales Millenium Centre. As it is only here for 4 days this is the one and only chance I have to view this production, which is a real shame, I like to see shows a few times just to get the feel of them.

Of course we now have Opera season when the company of the Welsh National Opera take over the Centre for a month, with some really good looking shows to see, and some amazing singing, no doubt, also another chance to listen to that fabulous orchestra live in Cardiff.

And so onto tonight’s performance. The story of Nelson Mandela told in Three acts, from his youth in the late 30’s / early 40,s covering act one. In act two we move to 1955 where Mandela becomes heavily involved with the protests and speeches concerning the draconian laws of the ruling government. Finally to act three, set between 1960 and 1994 during his incarceration in prison, and subsequent release. 

Act one started with some Authentic African tribal dancing and singing as Mandela is growing up and becoming part of the tribe. Some fabulous singing throughout and a great start to the show. We also had the young Mandela In Thato Machona, a great performance and traditional tribal dancing really made the act come alive.

The second act Jazz 50’s style with the middle Mandela, played by Peace R. Nzirawa, who was amazing and a fantastic voice to go with it. Such a different feel  to the show and really made a difference. With some great dancing to move the act on, but also some brilliant singing from the whole cast. 

Act three, back to traditional opera with the older Mandela, played by Mandla Mndebele. Who also narrates a lot of the show. Again the singing in this section was just sublime from all the cast. The Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra were also superb, playing this wonderful music to perfection. 

The whole cast and orchestra were immense throughout and I have to say I really enjoyed this Opera. My only regret is that I only saw it once, I could have watched this over and over again. It was just brilliant. Looking forward to seeing the Cape Town Opera back for another new show next year. And I also must say a big mention to the fantastic production team at the Millenium Centre for putting on this amazing show, and offering me something new to be amazed at, again.

¬†Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (10th performance).

Sunday 21st August 2016 at the Centre for the final performance of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, on its Cardiff leg of this tour. As you can see from the title I have now seen this exquisite musical a massive ten times, and I would have seen it more, if I could, because it really cheered me up after a hard week in work. Actually couldn’t count the hours to my next show quickly enough.

I think watching a show is even better when everything around you is just perfect. That’s when the Millenium Centre and Cardiff Bay come into their own. I love this area, I spend hours here on show days, taking photos, (which is my other passion in life), and just wandering around, taking In the spectacular views. The staff at the Millenium are just so good, I have a lot of friends there now, and they all make me feel so welcome, every time I walk into the building. I suppose that helps to make every visit so gratifying.

Which brings us nicely into today’s last performance in Cardiff, before moving on.  Yet another fabulous show from all the cast, as usual, I can’t fault anything in this show. The family scenes with the Potts And Truly are just lovely to watch. Great comedy from the Vugarian spies Boris and Goran (Sam Harrison and Scott Paige). 

I have to mention Claire Sweeney, as this is really her first few weeks with the show, watching her progress in the role of the Baroness has been amazing. It now looks like she’s been with them for ages, and how brilliant she actually is. Having met her a few times, she is also a lovely person to talk to and wish her luck with the rest of the tour. She also seems to work well with Shaun Williamson (as the Baron, also his last show today with Chitty and a fitting ovation at the end of the show) whose scenes are also very funny. 

I’m really going to miss this show, as I keep saying all the time. Especially the amazing voice of Carrie, so good it still gets me every time, to Lee’s fabulous version of Hushabye Mountain and the genuine feel good atmosphere the show generates at every performance. I think I cried throughout the whole performance, just fantastic to see the last show at the Centre. Brilliant just brilliant.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (8th and 9th performance).

Really glad to be back at the Millenium Centre here in Cardiff for two more performances of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It’s Saturday 20th August 2016 and with only three more shows to go until it’s run in Cardiff ends. Chitty moves on to another city, to wow audiences there,as it has done here. A fabulous feel good show that’s fit for all the family. I categorically love it, just wish it was here a lot longer, but you can’t have everything you want in life, that would be too easy.

Today’s action begins with the matinee performance, and as usual, runs like clockwork. I have to say each show is amazingly similar to the others I’ve seen, everyone in the right place at the right time, so slick in its production with sets and props, leaving nothing or no one hanging around waiting for cues etc. For me this is the sign of a great show, with everyone working in unison and harmony, to provide the audience with the best show that could possibly be given at any performance, on any given day. Works for me every time.

 Again I have to say I’m so impressed with Carrie Hope Fletcher, her voice is so good, it’s a privilege to hear her sing time after time, she is amazing. I know I keep saying this, but it’s one of  the main reasons I keep coming back to watch. Along with the brilliant Lee Mead, who’s voice is also amazing and probably the best I’ve heard playing Potts.

I can’t credit the whole cast enough, every person, from the Children to the Ensemble and all the main cast not to mention the Orchestra are just superb. It’s so special for me to come here and watch show after show, still laugh and cry in the same spots during each and every performance. I must be getting sentimental in my old age, I’d probably cry at Peppa Pig,knowing me.

I must admit to now being hooked on the theatre, my whole week revolves around visiting on weekends and whenever I can,to watch brilliantly executed shows. I have yet to see a bad show, and probably in my lifetime, never will, as I seem to love everything I see. 

So to the evening performance and yet another fantastic show, so many fabulous scenes, everyone of them is just brilliant to watch, and so magical, giving the audience something to marvel at, every time.  So it’s home now but back for the last show tomorrow. 

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (7th performance).

Here at the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay for my 7th performance of this magnificent show that is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. This musical has really surprised me, I didn’t expect it to be as good as it is. I knew I would enjoy it, but didn’t think to the extent that I could watch this every night and never get bored with it.  I think it’s down to the amazing cast the production team has assembled, a massive credit to them.

Without further ado on to today’s performance. There are 6 child actors and actresses playing the roles of Jeremy and Jemima Potts. (Henry Kent, Hayden Goldberg and Elliot Morris playing Jeremy with Lucy Sherman, Caitlin Surtees and Darcy Snares as Jemima). I have to mention them as they are so brilliant, just like Billy Elliot previously, and have a lot of pressure on them to perform in front of huge crowds at the Centre. I suppose it’s hard enough for seasoned actors to stand on that huge stage and portray a good performance, with those masses of filled seats rising up as far as the eyes can see. But for young children to come out day after day and perform to the standard I’ve seen so far, is really incredible. And a huge credit to them, as some of them could be major stars of the future. Let’s keep this standard going and encourage our young stars for the work they can achieve in future years.

Of course if we are talking children, we have to mention the dreaded Childcatcher (played wonderfully by Matt Gillet). We first see him at the end of act one. His costume and makeup is really good and actually is a little scary, especially with the voice he has as well. Very authentic and chillingly good. In act two we see a lot more of him as he tries to take Jeremy and Jemima prisoner in his cage. Of course he gets his comeuppance as all baddies do, but still very convincing.

Finishing off the act is the lost children in the sewers, and as I always say these kids were brilliant and well deserve another mention for just being brilliant,(as I might have said in my first blog on Chitty). Again I have to say another great performance by all, well loved by a very pleased audience including me. Well that’s it for today, back next week for more Chitty, can’t wait.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (5th and 6th performance).

Well it’s Saturday 13th August 2016, and I’m back in the Bay at Cardiff’s Millenium Centre for two more performances of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. 

During my working week I downloaded (with i books of course) a copy of Carrie Hope Fletcher’s new book ‘On the other side’. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. I struggled to put it down and actually finished reading it 24 hrs after I started. A wonderfully written piece of literature and totally blew me away. I laughed, cried and really got so into the book so much, I’m re reading it, as it’s so good. Not only is Carrie an amazing singer with a beautiful angelic voice, she can write a really good novel as well. I look forward to her next book, and her next musical role after Chitty. 

Today I need to mention how good the set for the show is. It’s well constructed with a giant windmill frontage as its base. The use of projection imagery adds to the quality of the show, especially on ‘Hushabye mountain’ where a moon and yacht drawn on the windmills interior wall literally comes to life in front of your eyes. The scene is so beautiful, with Lee Mead singing as well, it reduces me to tears every time. 

Imagery plays a vital part in all the car scenes as well. (I have to say the car itself is just magnificent, and gleams from all sides as it manoeuvres around a fixed stage on its very own base). I love the way the car follows the scenery as it turns on its axis, such well choreographed scenes by the technical department of the show. It makes you appreciate just how much effort goes into this musical to make it so polished day in day out, for the audience to wow at every performance.  And that’s just act one. 

In act two the set is a little more easier to manage with roll on pieces. Except for, of course, Chitty herself, where we have the full regalia laid out for her, as we head to the finale. The sewer scene is another of my favourite sets and actually looks like it’s supposed to, only larger and cleaner.  A really good set, like this, can help to make the audience bond with the show, drag them in and make them feel ‘one of the family’, so to speak, as this clearly does for me anyway. I think that’s another reason why I see so many shows, quite a lot of times, in any particular run.

Couple the set and Chitty herself, with the fabulous singing voices of Lee,Carrie, the two amazing child actors (who play Jeremy and Jemima) and all the cast, a superb storyline (that almost everyone knows and loves), easy to remember songs played wonderfully by the orchestra and you get this finished product, which dazzles and delights throughout.

To finish off tonight I have to say that the two performances I watched today were outstanding. It really made my whole day to view these, and can’t wait to come back tomorrow for one more show this week.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (3rd And 4th performance).

Sunday 7th August 2016. Back at the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay for two more performances of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. After watching two shows yesterday can’t wait for today’s instalments of this wonderful show. With a small cast change as Nia Jermin comes in as Baroness Bomburst. I must admit she was very good in the role and proves that understudies from the Ensemble are worth their weight in gold.

I’ve been wondering why I keep crying at most of the shows I see, I think I can now explain it a little better after watching this show. The music is brilliant and starts off at a great pace, but then all of sudden there is a quiet reflective scene, where everything slows down and this amazing song hits at your heartstrings. The song that starts that off is ‘Hushabye mountain’ sang by Lee Mead in act one. Another is ‘Lovely Lonely Man’ from Carrie Hope Fletcher.  And finally ‘The Doll on a Music box’ sung by Carrie and Lee, both from act two. These three songs are exquisitely sung and just make me drift away to another realm, tearing at my emotions, causing the tears to flow. I think every musical I’ve seen has these mascara moments built in, and for me it really makes the show come to life, as so many different emotions run through your head, for a few hours of release from the humdrum working day.

Moving on to the other songs in the show, which most of the world and his dog know, the most famous being the title track itself, followed closely by Truly Scrumptious. The songs here work a lot better on stage than the film version, mainly due to crowd interaction with the onstage cast. ‘You Two’ and ‘Toot Sweets’ are well worked numbers  with Potts and his two children coming together for the former, and introducing Truly to the mix for the latter.

Everyone remembers ‘Me ol Bamboo’ sung at the fun fair with some Morris dancers thrown in for good measure. And not forgetting ‘Posh’ with Grandpa, Jeremy and Jemima.  We all know these tunes and it’s nice to get them out of the cupboard and have a good old fashioned sing along with them (not out loud of course). And that’s only act one.

Act two has’The Roses of Success’ another popular song with Grandpa and his 6 inventors jollying along the proceedings. Then after ‘lovely lonely man’ we have the unforgettable ‘Chu – Chi face’ by the Baron and Baroness, who later perform ‘The Bombie Samba’ to great applause.  Another of my favourite scenes is ‘Teamwork’ where Potts and Truly meet the lost children and together set about a rescue of Grandpa, Jeremy and Jemima. A great song performed by Lee, Carrie and the child Ensemble (who again are just so good). I must say that both performances today were brilliant as always and I can’t wait to come back next week for more of the same. With so many timeless, classic songs ringing out in this huge and fantastic theatre, no wonder I truly love this show. Any musical that can reduce me to tears every visit must be really good. 

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1st and 2nd performances)

Saturday 6th August 2016. Yet again back at the wonderful Millenium centre. For my first two performances of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, on its three week run in Cardiff. Another show I’m really looking forward to see, especially the amazing voice of Carrie Hope Fletcher, ( it’s worth going to see the show just to see her perform). 

Firstly may I say what a wonderful show this is, great fun for all the family. For me Carrie Hope Fletcher as Truly is just magnificent. Her voice maybe the best I’ve heard at the centre (in a musical), and I must admit to having a tear in my eye as soon as she started to sing, as her Angelic tones rang through my head reducing me to real tears,as she sang ‘Lovely lonely man’in the second act. An absolute joy to watch and listen to, can’t wait for tonight’s performance.

 Chitty has a great blend of comical scenes,dance routines and general mayhem. The really good set helps the show to flow along seamlessly, with of course, the car as its main centrepiece, looking so good you want to leap on stage and drive it home after the finale. 

Lee Mead as Potts jnr is fabulous, as he marries his acting skills and singing voice together perfectly. The brilliance of Andy Hockley as Potts snr is totally believable and really well played, he also has a good singing voice. The young actors playing Potts children (Jeremy and Jemima) were so so good and deserve a special mention for just being brilliant, (reminds me of Billy Elliot all over again). And of course Carrie Hope Fletcher as Truly Scrumptious, just Magnificent (as I might have said a little earlier).

The scenes with Boris and Goran (Sam Harrison and Scott Paige) as the bumbling Vulgarian spies along with the Baron And Baroness played by Shaun Williamson and Claire Sweeney, provide the comedy slapstick section of the show, with a wonderful Samba dance by nearly the whole cast and a great performance by Claire adding to the proceedings, (I have to say Claire has a great singing voice as well). Matt Gillet as the scary and creepy Childcatcher, He played his part to perfection, looking menacing from the moment he came on stage, with some fabulous make up and costume to match. And not forgetting the toymaker (Ewen Cummins) and his part in a memorable performance of Chitty.

As usual the Ensemble were tremendous and always deserve a mention, every time they perform. Along with all the other child actors who graced this fabulous stage, they also must be mentioned for, again being so brilliant. And while I’m on the subject praise the Orchestra, as they were just superb throughout

The evening show was also so amazing and I even cried in the same place as I did for the afternoon. Again Lee Mead and Carrie Hope Fletcher were amazing.I’ve been lucky enough to see Carrie in Les Mis, War of the Worlds and now Chitty, what an amazing talent we have in our theatres at the moment. I would also say the whole cast were totally brilliant again. Really made my day to watch two brilliant shows with such a wonderful cast.

I was very impressed with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and would urge people to go and see it before it’s run in Cardiff. I’m back tomorrow for more shows, so something different to talk about then.