Beautiful.

Friday 3rd November 2017, and for my second show today, I’m back at the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay for a performance of ‘Beautiful the Carole King musical’. So looking forward to watching this, since it announced its tour dates, I’ve been told so many good things about this show from friends who saw the London cast version, now I have the chance to witness this first hand.

For tonight’s performance we have Leigh Lothian playing Carole King, and can I say now she was absolutely brilliant, what an amazing voice, just blew me away with her performance. In fact all the cast were just brilliant, so many great songs, superbly sung. This show has everything you could want from a musical production. 

Beautiful is just that, a great story of a truly magnificent song writer brought to life on stages around the uk. Has to be up there with my favourite shows of all time. The great news for me is that I have tickets booked for tomorrow as well, so I can talk more about this fabulous show for another day.

Advertisements

Afternoon Concert with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

Friday 3rd November 2017, a day off from work and a chance to watch a full days entertainment at the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay. First off, an afternoon concert at Hoddinott Hall (based in the Centre), with The BBC National Orchestra of Wales, today conducted by Otto Tausk. Along with the Welsh National Opera Orchestra, the Centre boasts two equally fabulous orchestras in its surroundings, not many theatres can say that against their name.

The first half was simply gorgeous. A beautiful piece by Bedrich Smetana began proceedings, followed by Antonin Dvorak with Song to the moon from the opera Rusalka, with Egyptian Soprano Fatma Said. Ending with four pieces by Richard Strauss.  An absolutely stunning voice, combined with the sheer perfection of the BBC NOW, really added to the beauty of this performance. 

For the second half we had another superb Soprano in Llio Evans, who this time became part of the orchestra, with her performance in Janacek’s The Danube. Before finishing the afternoon with Hungaria from Franz Liszt, and what a fabulous performance that was to end the concert. I even got to see a leader Solo, which I’ve never seen before. In all a really fabulous afternoon of music, stunningly played by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. 

One more thing about Hoddinott Hall that really impressed me is the sound quality in the Auditorium. Being a recording venue as well, you can almost hear every instrument being played, and even better can see and locate every player in the orchestra, such a wonderful venue, inside the Millenium Centre building. Really is why this is the best theatre in the world. 

Cabaret.

Saturday 21st October 2017, and onto my second show of the day, with a quick trip across Cardiff to the New Theatre, in the heart of the city, for an evening performance of ‘Cabaret’. Again, this is another show I have never seen, even the various films released I have been oblivious to, but this promises to be brilliant, with its casting of Louise Redknapp (Sally Bowles) and Will Young (Emcee), we have two actors with great singing voices, in the lead roles. I also note that Fraulein Schneider will be played by another fabulous actress in Susan Penhaligon.

Oh my god what a superb show, so impressed, the music, the singing, the theatrics, just oozes fabulousness. Really glad I managed to get a ticket for this sold out production.  Louise and Will are just brilliant, with Charles Hagerty as Clifford Bradshaw making a superb triple. The whole cast are just fabulous, and just make this show so  watchable. 

The ending was so harrowing, really putting into place the events of the past in Germany of old. I must admit to a few tears at that point, so brilliantly done with such dramatism. Has to be one of the best shows I’ve seen in my short history of watching great theatre.

 Slava’s Snowshow.

Saturday 21st October 2017, and the first of my two shows today, kicks off with a visit to the Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay, for a matinee performance of ‘Slava’s Snowshow’. This is an opportunity for me to see something completely different and unique. I’ve heard many good reports from people who have seen this at other venues, not sure what to expect but usually I have a good reaction to everything I see. 

A two hour show, with some great background music to support the clown activities. A bit of comedy, some really beautiful moments sprinkled into this act. A bit dark in places,which a few of the kids in the audience didn’t really get. Spectacular finale with storms, snow and huge balloons to end festivities, which the kids found fascinating. Not a bad afternoons entertainment, although I don’t think it’s a younger kids show, too many darker moments mixed in with lighter times, for a younger audience. 

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.

Khovanshchina.

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.