All posts by deanhbarnard

About deanhbarnard

My name is Dean Barnard I live in Bargoed and work in Cwmbran. I am a huge fan of the theatre and visit The Millenium centre and other venues in Cardiff weekly to see shows and concerts. I have started writing review blogs about what a I like of the shows I have seen.

The Addams Family (4th and 5th performances).

Saturday 12th August 2017, finally the weekend has come, and the final chance to get a few performances of ‘The Addams Family’ in the bag. This brilliant comedy musical ends it’s two week slot at the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay before moving on to another venue, on its UK tour. I must admit to a little sadness after tonight’s show, I’m really going to miss this production, it shocked me last week at just how good it was, I was not expecting it to be this good, but after 10 minutes I just fell in love with everything about it, to the extent I watched all three Performances last weekend, and could easily have watched loads more. Getting the CD starring Nathan Lane was even harder, thank god for EBay and an international seller, I finally managed to get a copy (well in about 4 weeks time that is).

Today has been another amazing day, arrived early, walked for miles around the Bay, taking in the picturesque scenery as I’m going, a show then another walk before finally seeing the show again.  To sum up the last two weeks and 5 performances, this class musical has been awesome, I can’t stop talking about it in work, (to the extent I’m now banned from ever speaking about it again), but when a show is this good, then all my mates and colleagues need to hear about it. 

Again today two fabulous shows, made me laugh (loads), made me cry (a lot), made me happy, made me sad, so many emotions but so brilliant to go with it. I love the soundtrack, the music, the singing, so many wonderful voices packed into two and a half hours of pure enjoyment. This is why I love the theatre, its magic unfolds in front of you, and leaves a lasting impression on your every being. So beautiful, can’t wait for my CD to arrive.

The Addams Family (3rd performance).

An added bonus to this weekend, its Sunday 6th August 2017, and I’m back in Cardiff Bay for a matinee performance of the superb ‘Addams Family’ comedy musical. Another real treat on these boring Sundays, I wish all touring company’s would do a few Sundays during extended runs, it really does brighten up the whole weekend, well it does for me anyway. As usual I arrived in the Capital early, had a three hour walk around the bay before lunch, building my step count up significantly, before the show this afternoon.

Having watched this musical twice yesterday, I just couldn’t wait to see it again. As I said in my last blog, the show was superb, so much talent and good music on show, with an excellent score to really admire. Today I’d like to mention the costumes and set design along with the lighting effects. 

Costumes for the show range from ringmaster to jesters, matador to ballet dancers, and gave a really authentic look to the proceedings. Mixing brilliantly with the kooky set and imaginative lighting designs, the whole thing comes together to make the show flow nicely from scene to scene. When you add on the fabulous voices of the lead cast and ensemble, (who, as usual were magnificent in everything they do), the show gets even better. 

Today was no exception, the more you see it, the more you want to see it just that one more time. I, for one, could watch this musical everyday, it never seems to get boring, even after 3 straight shows, that is a sure sign of a wonderful show, brilliantly done. Again I cried as soon as Carrie Hope Fletcher began singing, her voice is just fabulous, I must admit also to having shed a tear at quite a lot of the singing as well, especially with Festa’s moon song, it’s so beautiful, as are all of the songs in the whole show. So looking to next week, and the chance to see it again.

The Addams family (1st and 2nd performances).

Finally the weekend is upon us, after a hard week in work, it’s nice to be back in Cardiff Bay on this glorious Saturday (5th August 2017), for two performances of ‘The Addams Family’, live from the Millenium Centre. I’m having a great day already, with a 4 mile walk around the bay to get me passed 10,000 steps (hoping to reach 20,000 by tonight), taking in the magnificent views the Bay has to offer. When the sun is out, for me, this is just the best place in the world, there’s so much to see, take photos of, or just enjoy the surroundings, as you peruse this wonderful part of the City.

Then onto the next highlight of the day, my first ever showing of this musical extravaganza. So looking forward to this, with another chance to see and hear the truly incredible voice of ‘Carrie Hope Fletcher’ who plays Wednesday Addams. She has to be one of the best voices in the business, and to see her here at the Centre again is just fantastic. My day just gets better and better. 

Can I just say ‘Oh my god, what a fantastic show’, this has taken me by surprise, I never expected it to be so good, I literally fell in love with the show in the first 10 minutes. Carrie Hope Fletcher lived up to expectations, with her stunning voice. Samantha Womack and Cameron Blakely were also brilliant, in fact the whole cast were just excellent. A special mention, as well, to Les Dennis as Festa, a really fabulous performance, showing just how talented this man is.

I had never heard any of the music before, which was really impressive and, in places, extremely beautiful to listen to, and played brilliantly by the orchestra in the pit. I know when there’s something special on the go, that’s when I start to cry, and many times during these performances I found myself doing just that. I would have never guessed that a comedy from years ago, revived on stage, could be so wonderful to watch.

Grease (3rd and 4th performances)

Saturday 29th July 2017, back in the magnificent Cardiff Bay for two more performances of the hit Musical ‘Grease’. Getting here early has been a real bonus, as I’ve had the chance to walk around the bay, past the very impressive swimming pool and the white water rapids, crossing the walk bridge and along the Penarth side of the bay and the Marina, before heading back over the Barrage, to the Millenium Centre. A fabulous walk, with some stunning views of the whole area, making the perfect start to my ‘show day Saturday’.

Today’s first performance is at the slightly later time of 5pm with the evening performance starting at 8.30pm, which means another walk after lunch, this time around the ‘Wetlands area of the Bay’ and a few other places before show no 1. As well as watching brilliant theatrical shows and photography, my other pleasure in life is walking around this magnificent city of Cardiff and the Bay, really makes the whole day so special, every time I visit.

Getting back to the show and yet again I’m really impressed with how great this looks on stage, a superb opening, with all the cast singing the title song, (Grease, being one of my favourite songs from the whole show), from the middle of the stage, its Grease down to a tee. The singing and dancing as last week, was just sublime, with so much talent on show, the producers seem to find this endless stream of brilliant singers show after show. Not just Grease, but almost every show I get to see. As with last week, I totally adore the voice of Danielle Hope as Sandy, such an incredible talent and beautiful voice to go with it.

I’ve also seen two superb performances of Teen Angel, last week with an incredible performance from Landyll Gove, and this week with the ageless Jimmy Osmond, who, I must say, still has a superb voice. With both guys really hitting those high notes. Another amazing treat to see another big star here at the Centre.

The whole show has been brilliant from start To finish. Fabulous scenes made the show sparkle, the more you saw it, the better it got. Today has been so good, with two shows back to back, finishing off another fabulous Saturday in Theatreland. Grease is such a feelgood musical, you can’t help falling in love with this iconic show. I feel really privalaged to have seen this 4 times over the last two weeks, and probably would have seen it a lot more given the opportunity.

Grease (1st and 2nd performances).

Another weekend comes around, it’s Saturday 22nd July 2017, and I’m back at the Millenium Centre here in Cardiff Bay, for two performances of the hit musical ‘Grease’. I’m not a massive fan of the film, but I’ve seen the stage version before and found it a lot better than the film version, (although Olivia Newton John was practically perfect as Sandy).

I’m so looking forward to listening to Danielle Hope as Sandy. She is another really talented singer who has graced this Millenium Centre stage. Having last seen her in a touring production of ‘The Sound of Music’ playing Maria, she was just awesome, I would even go as far as saying her voice was just as good as Julie Andrews, maybe even better. 

The show is a happy, feel good musical, that gets everyone in the audience in a fabulous mood. The singing, from all the cast is once again phenomenal, so many superb voices ringing out over this amazing auditorium and the brilliant Danielle Hope leading from the front, with her incredible voice. 

Another stand out feature of this musical is the dancing, so well choreographed, it just wants to make you jump up and jive in your seat. Very accomplished routines done with precision, so crisp and sharp throughout, with all the cast getting in on the act. With exceptional music playing from the onstage band, your toes keep taping throughout.

I was also quite impressed with the set and lighting for the show. Very bright on the stage, with a great use of the spots to illuminate each section of the stage, at the times they were needed. I love the way they created ‘Greased Lightning ‘ (the car), a real crowd pleaser. Another section was the Teen Angel sequence, with great costumes, fabulous singing and so beautiful to watch on stage.

I didn’t think this show would turn out as good as it has, but I must say, can’t wait to see it again, just to make my day even better than it has been. Seeing it twice in one day was incredible as well. 

Jack Whitehall: At Large.

Saturday 15th July 2017, so glad to be back at the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay, after a long working week, to watch my first ever live comedy show, with Jack Whitehall: At Large. Tonight will be yet another milestone for me, as it is my 300th performance of a show at the Millenium Centre. For the record, I’ve now seen 140 single shows, over 370 performances of those, In all venues, since December 2012. So my 300 at the Centre reminds me just how much I enjoy watching shows and visiting one of the best theatres in the world, on a regular basis. 

The theatre means so much to me at the moment, I’m trying to watch as much as I can, from as many different genres as possible. Throughout the vast quantity of shows I’ve seen, I personally have yet to see a bad one, everything has been brilliant.

On to tonight’s performance, first up a comic called Lloyd Griffiths, with a 20 minute (ish) set, very funny,  getting the audience laughing from the start, a great warm up act, to get the ball rolling. For my first live comedy show I didn’t know what to expect, but I came out laughing like all of the others. Thouroughly enjoying it so far.

Jack bounds on stage to huge applause and carries on in the same mode, extremely funny throughout his act, I don’t think I stopped laughing at all. Loved everything, fabulous material and so well put over. Really impressed, so much so I think I’d like to come back to the Centre to see more of the same. We shall see. 

Another brilliant Saturday comes to an end, with a new found genre to visit on later occasions, so let’s see who else is on the bill in future months. 

Funny Girl.

Saturday 8th July 2017, and after another long week at work, I’m back in Cardiff Bay for two performances of Funny Girl. Another musical I have yet to see, so once again I have no idea what to expect, although the reviews I’ve seen through various media sites have been very positive for this production. It’s also the perfect opportunity to watch Sheridan Smith playing the lead, everything she does seems to bring her fantastic reviews, and I must say say I have enjoyed watching her previous TV appearances, over the last few years. 

Yet again another fabulous afternoon and evening theatrical masterpiece. Sheridan Smith is just brilliant as Fanny Brice, a fabulous actress and a superb voice to go with her many wonderful attributes, it was a real privilege to sit and watch a world famous star appear on stage at the Millenium Centre. I cried twice, on both shows in the same place, especially her renditions of ‘People’ and ‘Don’t rain on my Parade’. Just brilliant to listen to, and so well sung.

Another actor who greatly impressed me was Tom Partridge as Nick Arnstein. Tom is the understudy for Darius Campbell in the role, and what a performance he gave. Another brilliant voice lighting up the auditorium. But don’t let me stop there, the whole cast were magnificent, with the ensemble giving us fabulous song and dance routines, playing their part to perfection, as all ensembles in every show I’ve seen adhere to.

The music and lyrics for this show are also fabulous, with loads of songs known by almost everyone in the theatre. Credit to the Orchestra in the pit for supplying the music, again to perfection, to allow this brilliant musical to take shape. I would say that a week is not long enough for a show of this stature, a two week run would have been brilliant for me, so I could marvel at the musical again next week, but at least I get to see it twice while it’s here.

The show has everything, it’s funny, it’s sad, it’s timeless and it’s brilliant. I must admit to having tears in my eyes for most of the performance (as usual), it’s getting a bit embarrassing, seeing a grown man cry at shows, but when it’s this good it takes you along with it, giving you a truly wonderful experience in theatrical magic. Yet another totally amazing show to add to my growing list.

Jane Eyre.

Saturday 1st July 2017, and another glorious day here in Cardiff Bay, where I’m back to watch two performances of ‘Jane Eyre’ at the Millenium Centre.  Another play I have yet to see, I don’t think I’ve even watched a television adaptation of the ‘Charlotte Bronte’ book. So today is going to be brand new, with a chance to broaden my literary works, and witness something completely different to my usual viewing habits. I must also admit that I’ve been looking forward to this play for a while, I’ve read good reports on its tour so far.

Firstly may I say, Oh my god, I was not expecting that, what an absolutely magnificent production. I was hooked from the very start, and had tears in my eyes constantly. So beautifully done and extremely powerful, with some stunning background music live on stage,along with the amazing voice of Melanie Marshall, yet again another fabulous voice filling this brilliant auditorium.

Nadia Clifford is just brilliant as Jane, with Tim Delap as Rochester, both have great back up from all the cast, and a special mention to Paul Mundell as Pilot (Rochester’s dog), playing his part brilliantly. With the show over 3 hours long I never lost interest for 1 second, as the cast and musicians on stage, held me, stuck to my seat for the whole show, totally engrossed in the proceedings. Also the way the cast worked for each other, supplying props and just supporting through the show, for me that really made the show so immense.

The adaptation is incredible, with a great set and lighting, bringing the whole show to life, combining with great and believable sound effects, this is one of the best plays I think I’ve ever seen. Credit must go to the National Theatre, whose plays just get better and better.  With War Horse touring again next year this is another show I really can’t wait to see. Such a fabulous show and I so enjoyed both performances, really made my Saturday come to life. 

Die Fledermaus (3rd performance).

Saturday 24th June 2017, and after a torrid week recovering from the effects of sunstroke, it’s nice to be back at the Millenium Centre here in Cardiff Bay, for my third and final performance of ‘Die Fledermaus’, before it leaves Cardiff to begin its tour.  The two operas on show this season have been immense. Having seen Die Fledermaus three times and Der Rosenkavalier twice. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Louise Alder for her performances as Sophie (Rosenkavalier) and at Cardiff Singer of the World final, where she won the Audience award.  Her singing voice is just stunning, and thouroughly deserves the credit she has. I would love to see her sing again with the WNO in future productions.

A special occasion tonight as we are in the presence of royalty, as Prince Charles is in attendance for the evenings proceedings. 

Tonight, for the third time, I also get to listen to even more stunning vocal performances, with Die Fledermaus, especially the wonderful Mary Elizabeth Williams as Rosalinda and Rhian Lois as Adele. The standard has been incredible throughout this seasons productions, and a massive thank you to everyone involved with the WNO, for making these shows so watchable again and again.

Tonight promises more excellence once again. As well as the magnificent singing on show, I have yet to mention how good the set and lighting has been, again Cardiff Theatrical Services have Surpassed themselves. As the main set builders they always deliver staging to impress. 

Another special mention to the Orchestra an chorus (conducted by Tomas Hanus), who again were just brilliant. So much talent from both disciplines. So enjoyed every performance. The end of another season at the Centre, looking forward to sept/oct for more opera, can’t wait.

Der Rosenkavalier (2nd performance).

Saturday 17th June 2017, and a scorching hot day in Cardiff Bay, where later this evening, I will be at the Millenium Centre, for my second performance of the WNO’s production of Richard Strauss opera ‘Der Rosenkavalier’. Having arrived really early, I’ve taken the opportunity to walk around the Bay a few times today. For me this area is stunning, I love it, with the heat this weekend the Bay is packed. With Army regiments on show for the Queens birthday celebrations and the Celebration of the life of Jo Cox, everyone in the Bay today are just living life to the full. The atmosphere here is incredible, wonderful what a bit of sun on a special occasion can muster up.

Tonight’s opera promises to be something special as well, to go with today’s celebrations.  As this is my second time watching this fabulous opera, I’m still so looking forward to see it.  With the magnificent Rebecca Evans at the helm, this is going to be a class occasion. Once again the singing is phenomenal, so effortless, keeping the standard going for the best part of 4 hours. The ending was again so beautifully done, as usual I cried again, in fact the whole performance was so beautiful. 

The WNO orchestra, who, as they always do, provide excellent musical accompaniment to the evening’s proceedings, bringing so much enjoyment to the assembled audience, with every performance. With a huge applause at the end the whole cast and orchestra richly deserved this fabulous accolade.

A truly fabulous season of opera, with one more to go next weekend, so looking forward to ending on yet another high.