Monthly Archives: April 2017

Sister Act (3rd and 4th performances).

The weekend is back upon us, it’s Saturday 29th April 2017, and I’m back at the Millenium Centre here in Cardiff Bay for the last two performances of Sister Act, before it moves onto another venue. Today will be the perfect opportunity to watch both leads. Alexandra Burke has been playing the evening performances with Joanna Francis taking over on the Matinee shows. I’ve already seen Alexandra twice, so it will be nice to watch a different actress with a different take on the role of Delores van Cartier.

For this afternoons performance Alice Stokoe will take over the role of Sister Mary Robert with the absolutely superb Sally Peerless returning to her role as Tina, also appearing in the Ensemble and playing her flute and sax to perfection, I really enjoyed all her performances I managed to see.

The talent on stage is amazing, with yet again, all the cast being totally fabulous. Joanna Francis is a brilliant Delores, and such a great stand in for Alexandra, keeping up the pace of the show, as if she has been doing it all year. Alice Stokoe is another actress with a fabulous voice, and being really new to the musical didn’t show at all, again, it looked like she had been there all along. All the leads in this production are so good, with a massive help from the Ensemble, really bringing the music and harmonies to life, from start to finish. I must admit to some tears falling at certain stages, mainly due to the incredible vocals in the show, (I must have mentioned that at least a hundred times already), but when a show can make you laugh, cry and say Wow in all its entirety, then that is the sign of a great show, in my eyes.

For the evening performance we have Alexandra Burke back as Delores,who was just brilliant, as usual. Again yet another fabulous show, two in the same day and both phenomenal performances, every person seems to put in so much into each and every show, making the audience love every minute. For me watching brilliant shows like this really helps and just makes the whole weekend come alive. 

One more thing before I end. April has been an incredible birthday month for me, with 18 performances of shows over the period. Dirty Dancing, Cirque Berserk, Rent, The Commitments, The Play that goes wrong, Sister Act and Caroline Sheen. Quite a lot to put in over 30 days. I loved every show I watched, but I have to say that Rent was just Brilliant, probably one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Caroline Sheen was Magnificent. Also Alexandra Burke and Sally Peerless from Sister Act have been immense on the performances I’ve seen so far. Wouldn’t it be brilliant to see Caroline Sheen, Christina Modestou and Lucie Jones, with backing from Andrew Hopkin (Piano) and Sally Peerless (Vocals and Sax), and a guest appearance from Alexandra Burke, appear in Ffresh Caberet bar for a few evenings, now that would be a classy evening’s entertainment. Although I think I may be dreaming a little bit, but you never know, stranger things have happened.

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Sister Act (2nd performance).

Saturday 22nd April 2017, and would you believe it, I’m back at the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay for my 2nd performance of Sister Act. This has been a phenomenal weekend for me, with the superb vocal talent of Caroline Sheen on Friday, (who I’m still raving about to anyone who will listen), a show I will never forget in my lifetime, have I mentioned just how brilliant Caroline’s show actually was, and that voice, fabulous absolutely fabulous. On to tonight and the vocal talents of Alexandra Burke and Sally Peerless, three superb vocalists in the space of two incredible days.

Sister Act is another ‘feel good’ show, with again some fabulous singing from a Fantastic cast. With most of the cast playing the instruments live on stage, the backstage band covers the times we don’t see the on stage musicians. The set is designed to maximise the space on the stage, with a balcony area for the musicians to assemble for the big numbers, along with a glamorous, party-like finale to the show, where all the stage areas are used to their full potential. 

So to tonight’s Performance, and as usual, the singing was outstanding, from all the cast. The scene where the Nuns enter, playing their instruments and singing horribly out of tune, bring laughs galore to the auditorium. Although it must be so hard to sing that badly when you know yourself, just how good you can sing. The music is definitely 70’s style, with that disco feel to the proceedings, and I must admit to loving the music of the late 70’s and early 80’s, so this is right up my street.

I have to mention Just how amazing Alexandra Burke and Sally Peerless were in tonight’s show. Both have beautiful voices and use them so well. If Caroline Sheen was also in the show, it would have been absolutely superb.

Caroline Sheen.

Friday 21st April 2017, another day off from work today, so a chance to visit the Millenium centre in Cardiff Bay, to watch Caroline Sheen live in Ffresh, a restaurant and cabaret venue based at the Centre. This is my first ever visit to this bar, as a music venue, so to prepare I’m going to watch Act one of Sister Act in the Donald Gordon Theatre, before venturing down to Ffresh for the rest of the evening’s entertainment.

Caroline is a Welsh actress and singer who has appeared in countless West End shows and touring productions in her career to date. She has a fabulous singing voice, having seen her a few times in various shows over the past few years. I have to say her role in the Centre’ s production of ‘Only the Brave’ was phenomenal. That was my first show I’d seen all 8 performances, and was probably one of the best musicals I have ever seen. 

To tonight’s performance by Caroline, Wow, what a voice she has. When your in a small room with a small audience and a piano you have to be good. Tonight Caroline’s voice was exceptional, a real pleasure to sit in a small delightful setting and listen to her belt out some fabulous tunes. One of my favourite songs ‘On my own’ from Les Mis had me in tears, with her rendition of the song, which was so beautifully sung, reminding me of my trip to Queens to watch this amazing musical, Caroline brought it all back tonight. Everything she sang sounded brilliant. Just so good to listen to, very impressed with the first act, beautiful is a word I use frequently in my blogs, and it definitely gets loads of mention’s tonight.

The whole show was amazing, Caroline just shone on every song she sung. Another of my favourite songs ended the show, a fabulous rendition of ‘Feed the Birds’ from Mary Poppins, again brought tears to my eyes, with her fabulous voice again just hitting the right spot. With help from her Pianist ‘Andrew Hopkin’ the night was totally brilliant for me, I would say to anyone reading his to go and see her in the Centre on Saturday, it’s well worth a visit to hear a fabulous Welsh musical singer, live in Cardiff. A tremendous night and one I will never forget in long time. 

Sister act.

An unexpected extra birthday treat today (Monday 17th April 2017), with a visit to the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay for a performance of Sister Act. This musical has Alexandra Burke (in the lead role), as Delores van Cartier and is directed and choreographed by Craig Revel Horwood. So it promises to be another feel good show, to round off the Easter holiday weekend.

One of the changes for tonight’s performance sees Sally Peerless as Sister Mary Robert. I remember a few years ago watching Saturday Night Fever which featured Sally in the cast, she played a mean saxophone live on stage, and was brilliant,just thought I’d mention that. One other thing to add, what a fabulous voice she has to go with her musician skills.

Alexandra Burke is fabulous, her voice is just heavenly, and she has great support from all the other cast, who also have some really amazing vocal ranges to choose from. Aaron Lee Lambert as Curtis was also brilliant. Another part of this show I really like is that most of the cast play the instruments live on stage, which add to the party so much, making you realise just how talented this assembled cast must be. 

I was very impressed with this production, very funny, brilliant music, fabulous singing and a very colourful set with a tremendous light show. Definitely one to watch again, which I probably will biting its two week run at the Centre.

The Commitments (2nd performance).

Saturday 15th April 2017, and for my second treat on my birthday I’m back at the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay for the evening, and 2nd performance of the feel good musical ‘The Commitments’. Having watched it last night, this is yet another show I can’t wait to see again.

The cast for this musical are fabulous, with so many great vocals filing this vast auditorium, it’s a pleasure to sit and listen. Brian Gilligan (last Night) and Ben Morris (tonight) were brilliant as Deco, both of them have excellent voices. The three girls in the band also have tremendous voices, Amy Penston (Natalie), Leah Penston (Imelda) and Christina Tedders (Bernie). Yet another treat for me to listen to today. A special mention to Sam Fordham as Mickah, truly terrifying and brilliant at the same time. A wonderful performance.

Another feel good show full of life and exuberance. The band themselves made up from the cast were again superb, really rocking the foundations of the centre to its core. Thoroughly enjoyed myself tonight, definitely glad I got to see it twice before this week.

So today has been another great birthday. Two excellent shows to add to my growing collection, and still more to come over the next few months.

  

The Play That Goes Wrong.

Saturday 15th April 2017, today is my birthday, so I’m celebrating with a trip to Cardiff for two shows today. Firstly I’m at the New Theatre in the heart of Cardiff City Centre, for the Matinee performance of ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’. The reviews for this play have been phenomenal, so really looking forward to watching this and having a laugh while I’m there.

This play is based around the adventures of the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, under the premise that if something can go wrong, then it will go wrong. Even as people are taking their seats the fun goes on, and never really ends until the interval. The comic timing is superb, with so many laughs as things start to go wrong from the very start. I have to say the actors are magnificent in their portrayal of inept characters in a murder mystery play. The first act is extremely funny and in some cases you know what’s going to happen next, yet you still laugh at the sequence that follows, due to the fact that it’s actually choreographed so well.

The second act was just as good, with so much slapstick comedy and sets failing all over the stage, it makes for a fabulously entertaining afternoon. With so much going on, actors getting hurt and set guys filling in, with such hilarious consequences, you just had to laugh, it was impossible not to. Again the cast were so good, brilliant in fact, to be able to carry on the way they did without falling about in stitches themselves was unbelievable. Definitely one to watch and rewatch again and again. I hope it tours again soon or Peter Pan goes wrong and I’d love to see the new one about a bank robbery. So good to watch and just have a laugh on the way.

So part one of birthday shows completed. Moving off for part two at the Millenium Centre.

The Commitments 

Friday 14th April 2017, start of the Easter break, so I’m back at the Magnificent Millenium Centre in the equally magnificent Cardiff Bay, for a performance of the hit musical ‘The Commitments’. One of the many shows I’ve never seen before, I don’t think I’ve even watched the film version either. Although watching tonight will add another musical to my growing list.

The story centres around a young man who tries to put together a soul band in Dublin. A fast paced, funny, musical with great singing by a fabulous cast, most of them playing the instruments on stage. I have to say the music was excellent, some of my favourite musical pieces, sang live, with plenty of heart and conviction.

Really enjoyed tonight’s performance, nice and loud and getting everyone in a great mood, which is what amazing live theatre can do. It’s well worth a visit to watch this show. I have to say it’s fantastic and really looking forward to another visit tomorrow for one last show before it moves on. 

Apologies for the short blog tonight, I intend to write a bit more for my next visit to this entertaining musical. 

Rent (7th and 8th performances).

Saturday 8th April 2017, day 6 of my visits to the magnificent Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay, for my last two performances of Rent, before it moves on to another town on its anniversary tour. A cast change for today’s performances has Christina Modestou playing the role of Maureen in both shows. Having seen both Lucie and Christina in this role, I have to say just how exceptional they both are, a real treat to watch either.

As this is my last blog on Rent this week, I want to sum up all I’ve seen over the past 8 shows. If this had run for a week longer I think I would have booked another week off to watch the other shows as well. The cast have been absolutely magnificent all week, with every member giving their all, with tremendous singing from every single cast member, on every performance. 

The onstage band have also been amazing, bringing the sound of Rent to life, giving it extra meaning to the live performances. I haven’t mentioned the set and lighting that much over the last week, with mostly fixed stairs and corridors, only one area moves to create the presence of another room in the disused building that Rent is centred around. A really straightforward set that sums up life in the poor parts of  New York. The lighting works well, creating areas to focus on, when there is so much stuff going on around the rest of the stage. The whole thing combines brilliantly to make this the spectacle it is, a beautifully made piece of magical musical theatre.

Of course none of this would have been possible without the talents of its creator Jonathan Larson. (sadly, Jonathan died on the night of the dress rehearsal,of an aortic aneurysm, aged 36, never getting to realise just what a brilliant piece of musical theatre this show has become). Jonathan worked on Rent for seven years before this even got to be seen. What a show this has turned out to be, with so many different themes, wonderfully written songs and an energy from the cast who make it come to life. The genius of the show, for me, is its mix of musical themes, from rock to sweet sensitive music. One example of this would have to be mixing the raw, raucous sound of La vie Boheme with a beautiful ballad that is ‘I should tell you’, then finishing off the act with more from La vie Boheme, but yet it works treat, making you want even more from act two. That’s the beauty of the writing that makes this so good.

There are a few of the songs which are quite weird, and take a while to get used to, until you see it live on stage. When it finally makes sense and becomes a vital part of the whole plot. This is again due to the thought of the creator, who took a chance and made it pay off, without ever realising just how influential this musical has become.

Even though I have seen it loads, mostly from the front of the upper circle, I’ve decided to upgrade to the stalls. What a difference, to see the emotion from the cast, so close up, it makes you realise just what it must mean to them, to be involved with such a fabulous show, I know I got so much more emotional myself just by moving seat positions. Watching the emotion on the face of Philippa Stefani (Mimi) at the closing scenes made me cry even more. I hadn’t noticed this at the start of the run, but I’m glad I’ve changed seats to really experience this show a little better.

I have to say when I first bought the CD I didn’t really like it, but I persevered, buying the live stage production on Broadway on DVD, and then being blown away by just how amazing it actually was. I am so glad I have had the opportunity to watch this live, and in my favourite theatre of all, here in Cardiff Bay.

I’m so going to miss this show when it leaves Cardiff. I just hope that I don’t have to wait another 4 years to see it again. It would be nice to have exactly the same cast again, as they have all been phenomenal throughout, giving amazing performances at every show, (as I’ve been saying all week). Wow had loads of tears for final show, so moving, so emotional, so going to be missed.

Rent (6th performance).

Today is Friday 7th April 2017, and once more I’m back at the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay for another performance of Rent. A breathtaking, simply brilliant musical, that I can’t stop watching.  My last blog got to the end of act one. Today I will concentrate on the songs of act two.

As the second act begins, all the cast descend on stage for a superb version of another fabulous song from the show ‘Seasons of Love’, beautiful harmonies ring out before three great solo sections take over. Christina Modestou starts us off, Kevin Yates then takes over before Jenny O’Leary completes this wonderful song. I have to say these three have such amazing voices, with great appreciation from an adoring audience. Probably one of the loudest applause you will hear for any part of the show, and so well deserved. As the applause dies we move onto the first scene, as the gang try to get back into the padlocked building, with ‘Happy new year’, a quirky up beat song that gets all the main cast involved, with a few interesting costumes to go with it. 

The next scene moves a few months ahead, and another brilliant song takes shape, with Maureen and Joanne singing ‘Take me or leave me’, yet one more favourite to add to the collection, and sung wonderfully by both girls. As I’ve seen Lucie and Christina play Maureen along with Shanay and Jenny as Joanne, I have to say all four of them are just superb, and add so much to the flow of the song. After another short blast of ‘Seasons of love’, we have another beautiful song ‘Without You’ sung by Mimi (Philippa Stefani) and Roger (Ross Hunter), although during this song Angel is dying and as the scene moves on we see him comforted by Tom and the others, making this an extremely sad moment in the show, a few tears have started to flow during this scene.

As Angel lay dying the next scene ‘Contact’ goes really weird, with all the cast involved, this has to be seen as it’s a bit difficult to describe, but leads onto Angel’s death. After a short few words from Angel friends we move onto the reprise of ‘I’ll cover you’. Sung by Tom and the cast. This is when we discover the true brilliance of the voice of Ryan O’Gorman. With really beautiful harmonies surrounding the whole song, Ryan really belts out the main lyrics, and what a voice he has, it actually brings a tear to your eyes, just listening to his tremendous tones, as the song plays out.

The show moves onto ‘Halloween’, after Angel’ s funeral, Mark (Billy Callum) sings about what lead to this moment in time. Before changing yet again to another great song, ‘Goodbye Love’, where the friends argue in song, a well written and incredible piece of musical theatre, which puts the whole show into perspective. Also some fabulous voices from the cast, who never disappoint, no matter what is sung. 

As the show enters its final scenes, Mark and Roger duet to yet another magnificent song ‘What you own’, a really upbeat song to change the pace again. The finale changes again  after a fun section as Mark tries to show his work before the power goes. Tom enters and sings a honorarium to Angel (Santa Fe reprise), then Maureen enters with a dying Mimi before Roger sings his song to her ‘Your Eyes’ again a beautiful song, that also brings tears to my eyes.  As Mimi wakes the show comes to a close with the whole cast singing ‘No day but Today’, a magical ending to a magical show.

A word on tonight’s show, brilliant, yet again, the cast have been amazing all week, and still continue to shine every show.

Rent (4th and 5th performances).

Today Thursday 6th April 2017 and another day at the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay, for two more performances of Rent. I honestly cannot wait to watch this again, as soon as I get home after each show, I’m almost getting ready to come back down, although a little sleep in between helps a bit.

So yesterday I began talking about the songs I love in the show. I ended at ‘Another day’ a duet between Roger and Mimi. Carrying on from that moment, the show moves on to a really beautiful piece called ‘Will I’. One of my favourite songs of all, as the cast sing individually, the harmonies blend together to provide two minutes worth of vocal perfection, which tear at the heartstrings and leave you sitting in awe at the beauty of this incredible song.

Moving on to another excellent song in ‘Santa Fe’ sung by Angel (Layton Williams) and Tom (Ryan O ‘Gorman) and a little bit of harmonising from Mark (Billy Cullen). Ryan has such an incredible voice, and together with Layton form such a great pairing. The following song is even better as Angel and Tom carry on the performance with ‘I’ll cover you’, another one of my favourite songs in this superb musical. Brilliantly sung by both of them.

After Joanne does a singing phone call to Maureen and work, we move onto a street market and ‘Christmas bells’, another great number with most of the cast, especially Tom and Angel, who have a few solo pieces among the ensemble’s voices, before we get to meet Maureen and her protest song ‘Over the moon’. I have to admit I never liked this song, until I saw it live for the first time, then it totally blew me away. Lucie Jones and Christina Modestou have been absolutely superb, how could I have ever doubted just how good this is, again it has to be the ‘live’ performance which changes everything.

As the end of act one approaches there are two more amazing songs to go. ‘La vie Boheme’ and in the middle a really beautiful piece sung by Roger (Ross Hunter) and Mimi (Philippa Stefani) called ‘I should tell you’. la vie Boheme is one of the iconic songs, where all the cast are at a cafe to celebrate Maureen’s concert. A really wild song, full of great voices and loads of musical innuendo to really ramp up the party. Before slowing down midway for I should tell you, a love song between Roger and Mimi, who again, have amazing voices. The act ends as we go back to the party for one last burst of La vie Boheme. What an ending to the first act, which has been superb, with so many wonderful voices on show throughout, I can’t stop mentioning the voices, just because they are mindblowing brilliant.

I think I will leave this blog at the end of act one, and continue with songs from act two on my next visit. One last word on today’s performances, brilliant (both shows).