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.

Die Fledermaus (4th Performance).

Saturday 14th October 2017, and after my superb break in Belfast, visiting Amy and Gareth, I’m back in Cardiff Bay, at the Millenium Centre, for an extra performance of ‘Die Fledermaus’ from the WNO. The final opera of the season, also bringing an end to this years offerings from the company, as the tour moves on from its base in Cardiff. It’s been a fantastic year for the WNO, with some exceptional Opera productions along the way. Looking forward to next years choices already.

Having seen three brilliant productions back in the summer, it’s nice to have it back for one last time.  There are some cast changes for this performance as Rosalinda is played by Judith Howarth, Prince Orlofsky by Anna Harvey, and Colonel Frank played by James Cleverton.

Yet again another masterful performance from the WNO. The singing, the chorus, the orchestra coupled with the comic talents of Steve Speirs, made this a fabulous nights entertainment. Look forward to many more next year.


The Addams Family (6th performance).

Saturday 7th October 2017, and a special treat for me today. I’m taking Gareth and Amy (my Son and Daughter in law), to a performance of ‘The Addams Family’ at the Belfast Grand Opera House. Another chance to see this wonderful musical, and also to share my enjoyment of shows with my kids, while visiting them in Carrickfergus. 

This show is amazing, with all the Cardiff cast in place , only one change, with the brilliant Scott Paige playing ‘Uncle Festa’ instead of the also brilliant ‘Les Dennis’.  The singing is once again superb, with Carrie Hope Fletcher leading the way with her stunning voice, as usual, although the show contains many fabulous voices throughout, as I’ve said in previous blogs. 

I never really noticed until tonight how family values dominate this musical, until Amy pointed this out to me in the interval, and I had an even greater respect for this show upon its finale. Amy and Gareth totally love it, and I’m glad they do, it really makes me feel so good that they get to see what I see in these fabulous show nights. I have been to this theatre twice now, it’s quite impressive, and have seen two great shows in the process. 

Khovanshchina (2nd performance).

Saturday 30th September 2017, and for my evening show I’ve rushed back to the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay for my second performance of ‘Khovanshchina’ from the WNO. Having seen this beautiful opera last weekend for the first time, I am so looking forward to watching this fabulous creation for a second time. I can’t reiterate just how good the music, singing and overall feel of the show is. Such a joy to be able to watch it again.

Today I’d like to concentrate most of this blog on the role of the WNO Chorus, who for me, are one of the best I’ve ever heard. With this production they sing more then ever, and from sitting in this superb auditorium is a chance to listen to sheer perfection. To describe these singers in action is like putting two of the best male and female choirs together, rehearsing for months at a time, then letting them loose to sing together on stage. These guys do this day in day out, with only just over twenty to forty members on stage at any one time, just incredible to listen to. The compactness of the combined voices is unbelievable, you have to be there to fully enjoy the most beautiful singing you will ever hear, the harmonies they produce as a team is quite breathtaking. I was so impressed with everything I’ve heard from this Chorus over the years, they just seem to get better and better.

The other factor to a beautiful opera is of course the music. With the WNO Orchestra, this time under the baton of ‘Tomas Hanus’, playing their hearts out for around three and a half hours, to bring this wonderful music to life, as only they can do. Some of the intricate manoeuvring of various instruments in each piece is quite superb, which in this auditorium, is quite easy to listen to and appreciate , in the way it was written. I  would describe the orchestra as one of the best I’ve ever heard, they are so consistent in every opera I’ve seen, they actually make it look so easy.

As I mentioned last week it’s not only the Chorus and orchestra who are fabulous, the entire cast play their part to perfection also. An amazing opera, and an excellent choice from the management at the WNO.

Blood Brothers.

Saturday 30th September 2017, and a really busy day for me show wise. First off it’s a visit to the New Theatre in Cardiff City Centre, for the matinee of the brilliant musical ‘Blood Brothers’, an absolutely superb show, it’s got everything, comedy, drama, and lots of mascara moments in this epic production, with an amazing score, sung with heart and sole, to an always appreciative audience. Having seen this before on its last tour, I knew what to expect, but I’ll still probably be in tears myself for most of the show.

A strong cast head up this amazing musical with Lyn Paul as mrs Johnston and Dean Chisnall (Shrek on its last U.K. tour) as the Narrator, Sean Jones and Mark Hutchinson play Mickey and Eddie respectively. For today’s show Eddie is played by Andy Owens, who just happens to play the role brilliantly. Also I have to say that Sean is incredible as mickey, the acting in the second act is just phenomenal, so lifelike. 

A few other names are familiar from previous tours, but everyone just fits in perfectly with this exceptional musical. With it’s comical kids first act, to its more serious adult second act, the show is just spectacular.

With a live band playing the music in the pit, everything just flows into each song, once again brilliantly sung by the cast. Lyn Paul has a stunning voice with added oomph from Dean Chisnall and Sean Jones (who is really magnificent as Mickey). I have to admit that as I predicted, I’m in tears for most of this show, it’s so brilliant yet emotional all at the same time. And that ending, so powerful and so emotional. A classic musical, which you could never get tired of watching. Looking forward already to it’s next tour.

Eugene Onegin.

Friday 29th September 2017, a well earned day off from work, so spending it in Cardiff Bay, walking around this picturesque part of the Welsh Capital, before getting myself ready for tonight’s Opera at the Millenium Centre, with a viewing of ‘Eugene Onegin’ by Tchaikovsky. Another Opera I have not seen, so not sure what to expect. Although if it’s as good as last weeks ‘Khovanshchina’, then I’m in for another treat tonight.

Moving onto the opera, which tonight, the magnificent WNO Orchestra is conducted by Ainars Rubikis. Yet again fabulous music played to perfection. So beautiful, so relaxing to listen to, with some amazing voices from this talented cast, along with the WNO chorus give no their all yet again. 

I have to impress on the vocal talent of Natalya Romaniw as Tatyana, what a superb voice she has, along with Claudia Huckle, Camilla Roberts, Jason Bridges and Nicholas Lester as Onegin. Although I have to point out that all of the cast are just superb, with stunning voices to match. It’s a pleasure to listen to such a beautiful Opera yet again, perfect in all its grandeur.

A quick mention to the wardrobe department of the WNO, for such wonderful costumes during this performance. Superb, as usual the WNO have done a tremendous job in putting on another fabulous opera.


After last weekend of no show to go to, its Saturday 23rd September 2017, and the start of the WNO autumn season of Operas. Starting with ‘Khovanshchina’ from Musorgsky. Yet another opera I’ve never seen, and if I’m honest with myself, never even heard of. But as usual, the WNO do their best to stimulate their audiences, with different shows, instead of ‘run of the mill’ operas every other company does, which usually work, supplying the viewer with quality opera not often seen. I must admit to watching a few of these operas I’ve never heard of, and been totally engrossed in the whole adventure, loving everything the WNO have done over the last four years.

This performance was no exception, the music was absolutely fantastic, played brilliantly, yet again by this magnificent orchestra, conducted by Tomas Hanus. The principal leads were also outstanding, powerful voices throughout the performance, really hitting the mark. What can I say about the WNO Chorus, tonight they were out of this world, the best I’ve heard, their combined voices were phenomenal, a total joy to listen to.  A beautiful opera, so well done. 

A shorter blog today, but I can sum ‘Khovanshchina’ up in one huge sentence. ‘One of the best Operas I have ever seen’. Can’t wait to see it again, if I get the chance.

Crazy for you.

Saturday 9th September 2017, and the weekend is finally here, so I’m back at the Millenium Centre in the magnificent setting of Cardiff Bay for two performances of ‘Crazy for you’ with the excellent ‘Tom Chambers’ in the title role, along with the equally brilliant ‘Charlotte Wakefield’. I also get the chance to see ‘Caroline Flack’ in a lead role at a theatrical event. So looking forward to this production, with so many great songs associated with this musical, it promises to be a wonderful days entertainment

The show, written by George and Ira Gershwin, has loads going for it. Fabulous songs played brilliantly by the onstage cast, who play all the instruments, live as it happens. I love that big band sound of the early music hall days and brought together with the absolutely gorgeous voice of ‘Charlotte Wakefield’ (wow, she has an amazing voice, yet another to grace the stage of this wonderful theatre) really makes this another superb show.  There’s also the comedy factor thrown in, with all the cast getting involved in proceedings. 

The dancing is wonderful, with a masterful display from Tom Chambers, showing us just how good he is, adding this to his-repertoire, along with the role as Jerry Travers in ‘Top Hat’ (another of my favourite shows). Charlotte adds the glamour to the routines, and can dance pretty well to go with her amazing voice skills. The whole cast were just amazing, so much talent on show. to sing, dance and play all the instruments live on stage, was just out of this world. So enjoyable, with a massive feel good hit straight to your senses. I must admit a few tears were had when Charlotte sang, just incredible, and even better live.

I have to say yet another fabulous musical I really enjoyed, a real shame it wasn’t on for another week, I don’t think one is long enough. Still I managed to get to watch this twice on its final day in the Bay.

Hairspray (4th and 5th performances).

Saturday 26th August 2017, back at the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay for two more performances of the brilliant Hairspray the Musical. Not only that, also this weekend we have the Extreme Sailing extravaganza going on, loads to photograph and watch between shows. The weather is glorious too, meaning the Bay is the best place to be this weekend. I’ve walked about 5 miles and taken about 150 photos before lunch, today is going to be brilliant and it’s Amy and Gareth 1st weeks wedding anniversary.

Today happens to be the last two performances of Hairspray at the Centre before it moves to another venue. I have been so impressed with this production, it has everything. Fabulous singing from every member of the cast, catchy songs to sing along with, superb dance routines, a great set and lighting to match, complete with a brilliant on stage band, playing to absolute perfection on every performance I’ve had the pleasure to watch.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous blogs, the cast for this musical has been fabulous, with so many names revisiting the Centre from previous shows I’ve seen recently. The quality of the touring productions has also been out of this world. I think I will never see anything as good as the last show, but then the next one up is just as good. So far I’ve seen 141 different shows and have yet to hate one, they are all so brilliant.

I have yet to mention the costumes for the show, so beautiful, bright and full of life, with so many fabulous shades and colours blending together on this giant stage, the end scene especially captured the shows essence to a tee.

Again, for the umpteenth time, I’m going to miss this show, so I’m glad I’ve got the CD and have just procured a copy of the American TV special on DVD (only available on region 1 DVD).

Hairspray (2nd and 3rd performances).

Wednesday 23rd August 2017, and another bonus today, as I get to see Hairspray twice at the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay, before I go back to work tomorrow. This has to be the best break I’ve had, with a superb wedding and a few shows to finish off, couldn’t be any better. 

After my first show last night I couldn’t get over just how good the singing was. But where to start, I think that belongs to Rebecca Mendoza as Tracy, a beautiful voice and perfect for the role. Brenda Edwards (Motormouth Maybelle) has such an amazingly powerful voice, which is just right for this huge auditorium. Gina Murray plays Velma, another with a tremendous voice. I’ve also heard Amana Jones (Little Inez), again so good, and she’s the understudy. All the female cast vocals are really impressive, I’m always hearing such high vocal standards, from everyone.

The same can be said for the Boys, with Layton Williams (Seaweed), Edward Chitticks (Link), Jon Tsouras (Corny Collins), to name but a few,  although all of the male cast are just as good to go with it. I have to say I love the work of Tracy Penn (Female authority figure), so impressed with everything she does for the show. 

Matt Rixon as Edna and Norman Pace as Wilbur are brilliant, really getting to grips with their characters, and providing plenty of humour on the way through this hugely impressive production, which seems to get better and better on every showing. Hopefully be able to catch a few more shows before it ends in Cardiff, bound for a new destination on its uk tour.


Tuesday 22nd August 2017. A perfect ending to a perfect week. After having such a wonderful and emotional time at Amy and Gareth’s wedding in Belfast over the weekend, where many tears of happiness were shed, (quite a lot of them from myself), I’m back at the Millenium Centre here in Cardiff Bay for a performance of Hairspray, my first of its two week run in the Bay.

Looking at the cast for tonight, my eyes focus on the brilliant Layton Williams, who played Angel in Rent on its recent tour (which I saw 8 times in the Centre). I haven’t seen this show for a while, but it promises to be another feel good, summer musical, with some toe tapping songs to get you in a happy mood.

And yet again, I was not disappointed. Another slick production, fabulous sound and lighting with really amazing voices from all the cast, literally ringing around this incredible auditorium. Will I ever see a show I didn’t like, probably not, and I hope it stays like that. 

So more shows to come this week, and after tonight I so cannot wait. So impressed with the levels of dance, singing and positive energy, you can’t help wanting more. Until the next time.