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Wednesday, 13 July 2016

The Rocky Horror Show - Leicester

The Rocky Horror Show, the cult musical devised by genius Richard O'Brien, has last week completed a fantastic run at Curve here in Leicester. I was fortunate enough to attend 5 of the week's 8 performances. This may sound a bit extreme to those whom don't get it, it's simply a show you'll leave the theatre buzzing from and it'll make you want to go and grab more tickets to see it and experience it all over again.

I first discovered the show through Christopher Biggins. I'd seen Biggins in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium playing the role of Baron Bomburst and been awe struck, I wrote to him and he said I could meet him after seeing the show, I knew nothing of stage door in my early teenage years. After the run of Chitty had finished Biggins was taking up the role of the narrator in The Rocky Horror Show. Back then I'd never even heard of the show, and only knew Richard O'Brien through the Crystal Maze - although I'd met Richard at the final performance of Chitty in London as he opened the show in the role of the Child Catcher.

We were due to go away on holiday to Bridlington, and the Rocky Horror Show was going to be in York on the Saturday, so we decided to book to see the matinee performance in York and also a hotel before making the rest of the journey to Bridlington. I was still unaware what I was going too, and having looked on the Rocky website and looking at the backstage photo's I wasn't really sure what to expect, it all looked a bit bizarre to say the least! The day came and we took our seats somewhere upstairs in the York Grand Opera House. I can't really remember the performance but I remember absolutely loving it and was instantly hooked. As soon as the show finished, and we were about to exit the theatre, I convinced my mum that we MUST stay and see the evening show too, which we did - and the rest as they say is history.

Liam Tamne and Dominic Andersen.
Just over 10 years on since I saw the show for the first time and now 60 something performances later my love for the show is only stronger. I love experiencing seeing the show and have recently had the joy of getting my partner Megan well and truly hooked too. As soon as you enter the theatre and are surrounded by people in fantastic costumes and outfits you can feel the buzz of a unique atmosphere, an atmosphere you don't get with any other show. As soon as the show finishes you want it to start again. On Saturday evening after the 8.30pm had finished and I'd seen my 5th performance of the week I wanted it all the start again. I defy anyone not to go and see the show and have an amazing time.
Sweet Transvestite.
The current cast are simply fantastic, possibly the strongest overall. Liam Tamne is a strong and sensationally good Frank 'N' Furter, having seen Liam previously play Link Larkin in Hairspray, Enjolras in Les Mis and Raoul in Phantom of the Opera, I knew his ability but this is different side and his strong vocals and his general powerhouse performance as Frank is really enjoyable to watch. Diana Vickers, who I will admit I was VERY dismayed when the cast was announced and she was to be Janet but clearly I was wrong, is a great Janet. Her performance is sexy and cleverly portrayed, she catches all of Janet's personality really well. Richard Meek, returning to the role of Brad, is just perfect. He IS the role for me, he portrays every bit of the character and sings the songs so beautifully.
Richard Meek and Diana Vickers as Brad and Janet.
Kristian Lavercombe's Riff Raff is a masterpiece of a performance, he is better than Richard O'Brien's portrayal and I don't think they'll ever be a Riff Raff as strong. Kay Murphy's sexy Magenta and Sophie Linder-Lee's fabulous Columbia team well as Frank's 'family'. Dominic Andersen's Rocky is physical perfection and packs a great voice too. Paul Cattermole is a great Eddie/Dr Scott. Norman Pace is superb as the Narrator, and one of the stronger that I've seen, he holds the audience well and bounces off the shout outs with great humour and control. I must mention Lauren Ingram, who plays one of the Phantom's, our little Disney Princess, who understudies the lead roles, and is from what I hear a great Janet - hopefully she'll get the chance to take over when Diana leaves. Special mention also to Will Knights who understudied Rocky fantastically on Friday evening. All in all as you can probably tell by now I really like this current cast.

Special mention must go to Chris Luscombe who has been at the helm of all the tours I've been lucky to enjoy, also to all the wonderful friends I've made through the show, Katie and Rob in particular... who knows what crazy adventure will happen next time!

Last week was full of magic and pure joy, every performance was excellent and the audiences weren't too rowdy which is always a good thing. The week flew and now it's a wait till I get to see the show again but going to the show is a real experience and one all theatre loves should experience. Make sure you catch the tour, which is touring all over the country until December - find all the dates here.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Friends and West End Live 2016

Yesterday was magical.
Me and Megan on the train.
Me and my lovely lady Megan headed off to London to meet up with a couple of dear friends and also to catch some of West End Live. We traveled down to London via the train from Leicester, blasting out some big tunes on our iPod as we journey went on. Big hitters such as the Tots TV theme song and Try Everything from the recent brilliant Disney film Zootropolis.

We'd arrange to meet our friends, Emily and Kerrie at Planet Hollywood at 12 for lunch. Kerrie I'd met before some 3 and a half years ago and Emily never met but have chatted to so much the past few months. Settling in for lunch, Megan spotted a familiar face and almost popped with excitement, on the table next to us walked in West End Wilma, for those unfamiliar with her she is a theatre reviewer, blogger and great fun. We had a lovely lunch and then wandered off around to see what was happening at West End Live.
Me being excited about West End Wilma.

We caught the incredible Beverley Knight performed 'I Will Always Love You' from the Bodyguard which she is again starring in next month when it opens at the Dominion Theatre (www.thebodyguardmusical.com/). We also caught the incredible talent which is Michael Xavier and his fantastic rendition of 'Sunset Boulevard' from the show of the same title which he has just completed a run in.

We briefly departed West End Live to take Kerrie up to the Hippodrome Casino where she was attending Nadim Naaman's album lunch (buy his new album Sides here). We bumped in the Essex family off of Gogglebox on the way to Leicester Square and stopped them for a photo!

George Gibley, Me, Pete, Lynne and Megs.
It was a joy to see Kerrie again and I hope it's not as long next time! After this we walked up with Emily and said our goodbyes to her at Piccadilly Circus. Emily is one of those friends who everyone needs in their live, she is so sweet and kind. She feels like a sister to me and Megs and I can't wait to get to know her more and hopefully get to spend more time with her in the future. She's a gem.

Me, Emily, Kerrie and Megs at West End Live.
Me and Megs headed back to West End Live, via McDonalds and a lovely McFlurry, and caught the brilliantly talented Barricade Boys who performed 'I Dreamed A Dream' and 'One Day More' from Les Miserables. The Barricade Boys are a group of performers who have starred in Les Miserables on stage or screen and is the brainchild of Scott Garnham. The boys teased of a tour next year which will be well worth seeing. We also caught the brilliantly funny Ferris and Milnes who performed a medley of the songs from the West End of the past 18 months, brilliant. Following this me and Megs had a look around some of the tents and displays.

More fantastic performances followed, the uplifting West End Gospel Choir began a fantastic section of the afternoon. They brought real sunshine to the occasion. The always brilliant cast of Jersey Boys performed a medley of songs from the show. The current cast are excellent and possibly my favourite cast yet in the show. Matt Corner as Frankie Valli is superb and the ensemble cast are of such top quality. It was a real shame the microphones/sound didn't work for the female's who sung 'My Boyfriends Back'.

We were then treated to a performance from the beautiful Samantha Barks who has just released her debut self titled album. She sung 'Troublemaker' and the Les Mis song 'On My Own', the role which gave her the big break she deserves.

Murder Ballad, a forthcoming musical which has had successful runs off-Broadway, were the next performers. The production which comes to London's Arts Theatre in September stars Kerry Ellis, Ramin Karimloo, Victoria Hamilton-Barritt and Norman Bowman. All four of these really talented performers I've been lucky enough to see in other shows previously and I know they'll be great in this one. The two songs they sung sounded great and I'd certainly try get a ticket if you can. For tickets see here

The final performance of the day we saw was Breakfast at Tiffany's which is set to open at Theatre Royal Haymarket in London and will star Pixie Lott in the lead role of Holly Golightly. Pixie performed 'Moon River' from the show. Although personally the show doesn't really appeal to me I'm sure it's brilliant.

Unfortunately we had to leave now and catch our train home but we'd had a truly wonderful day with the best company possibly and watching some terrific talent. We're very fortunate that London theatre is filled with such an array of talent and that I know some truly incredible people.

Finally I'd like to dedicate this blog to all the victims of the recent tragedies, Christina Grimmie, Jo Cox MP and all the victims in the Orlando Shooting. Love shouldn't matter love, race, gender or anything! Love is love. Love for love. Don't be afraid to be who you are.

Thanks for reading and always be magic.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Who I think YOU should follow on Twitter.

Hello guys and thanks for reading.

In this blog I've decided to write a post about 5 pages I think you should be following on Twitter and why you should follow them. If you can recommend any to me who you think I should start following then let me know in the comments section.

ED92 @ED92live
Live updates from Disneyland Paris every day. Well worth following to find out whats happening in the parks. If you're to follow any Twitter page about Disneyland Paris then you need to make ED92 the one.

Ellie Steadman @elliesteadman
Youtuber Ellie Steadman has had a great rise over the last year or so, her Disneyland Paris and Disney World vlogs have had thousands of views on YouTube, and she now has over 15000 subscribers on there. She also does vlogs about beauty products. She is well worth a follow and you certainly need to subscribe for her vlogs on YouTube. click here for Ellie's YouTube.

WhatsOnStage @WhatsOnStage
The number one Twitter for stagey information and news. If you're like me a big fan of theatre then you definitely need to follow WhatsOnStage. 

Dan Jones @dgjones
Historian Dan Jones is someone I've only recently followed. I discovered him through the recent series 'Britain's Bloody Crown' which I'm half way through currently and I've yet to see his first series Britain's Bloodiest Dynasty: The Plantagenets but I will start that soon. I've also started watching his other series 'Secrets of Great British Castles. Both of these series you can watch on Channel 5 on Demand. Fascinating history told so well. Dan has also written 4 books which are available to buy from good stockists. You can find the books on Amazon.

Bethany Suthers @Suthersss
Actress, Blogger and Princess Bethany Suthers is well worth following. She has recently been working at Disneyland Paris. Her blogs make for great reading and you should also have a look at her Instagram which is full of great photos. Her blog  That Suthers Kid. Her Instagram.

and of course you should follow my amazing girlfriend Megan @showbunny24601 and you can find me @leicestermark

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Stagey People: Rachel Grundy

In this and a possible series of new blogs I shall be writing about stagey people who I recommend discovering and following. These people will tend to be names who aren't currently leading shows, but people who definitely should be.

On this blog I'm featuring beautiful actress Rachel Grundy. You can follow Rachel on twitter @rachelgrundy_uk

Headshot by Simon Mayhew.
I first discovered Rachel whilst she was in the UK touring production of The Rocky Horror Show in 2012/13 in which she played the role of a Phantom. Prior to the cast list being released for the production I'd never heard of the majority of the cast but I decided to go through and follow the large majority of them on twitter to discover who they were.

I didn't really tweet or interact with Rachel early on in the tour, and I only saw the show twice in the first 6 months of it being out on the road. At neither of these performances in Brighton or Aylesbury did I meet her afterwards. I began supporting and interacting with Rachel more through Twitter and she is such a sweet and lovely human, through the support I was given her she was nothing but grateful.
Rachel as Janet backstage at the Rocky Horror show.

In the tour she was also understudy for the roles of Janet and Columbia, both roles she got to play, but unfortunately I never was able to see her in these roles, although I did nearly go to Bristol to see her as Janet. I've heard nothing but great things about her performance as Janet. I can imagine her being wonderful playing her innocence mixed in with the sass and sex the character becomes.

I did get to meet Rachel for the first time when the tour arrived in Nottingham and she is such a great person. She's clearly just a lovely human who has great talent and that's just brilliant. Rocky Horror for those who don't know is a special kind of show where I'd say the audience is pretty much almost part of the cast and the fans have great interaction with the actors. The following times I met her she has always been a gem and always had time for a chat.

Between the end of the Rocky Horror tour in 2013 and last year I didn't get to see her until she reprised her role of a Phantom in the Rocky Horror Show at London's Playhouse Theatre which was also screened live across the world in cinemas. It was such a joy to see her again and now that it has been 5 months on I hope it won't be too long before I see her again.

Rachel in costume for Starlight Express.

In her career so far Rachel has played Dinah in Starlight Express in Bochum, Germany. To which my friend Vivi saw her and raved about her. She has also appeared in a couple of tours and pantomimes. To find out more about her previous roles please click here.

I sincerely recommend you all follow Rachel as she is truly lovely, slightly crazy and great fun. She's Princess like. I hope she goes on to many great things in her career and I'm sure she's a name that will be around for a long long time.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Fighting the Itch.

I have eczema (although I can never spell it correctly!). I had it as a baby, it went away for a good period of my life but unfortunately the last few years it has returned and it causes havoc in my life. For those that don't know what it is, it's described as this 'a medical condition in which patches of skin become rough and inflamed with blisters which cause itching and bleeding'. 

My eczema is wide spread over my body, arms, legs, back, face, you name and there's part of my body that has been attacked by it. I've had lotions and potions of all sorts, and this past week (today is the 5th February if you do read this in the future) it's been hell. It feels like a crippling thing, my body has been in agony when trying to move. I've been as dry as the desert. I can't put my finger on what's happened, as nothing has changed in my circumstances. I came in to the last weekend feeling very happy and positive about life, we're going away to Disneyland Paris again next weekend and I'd say everything at the moment is positive.

Then boom, this all happens. I probably don't talk to anyone about my skin and why would I? You guys who read this probably wouldn't know the inner workings of my life unless you asked and I doubt that I know any of yours. It's been so hard this week, I've been off work all this week and am very much looking forward to being back on Monday. It's been a painful dark week, and I've even had thoughts of with all this is it actually worth it? Thankfully all the time that answer has been yes, it's always worth it. I've so much to kee going for.

It has grated my confidence, and I do really some days not want to leave the house, in case people laugh or even just stare. I know it shouldn't be like this but I guess it is, it's just draining. It's hard to be itchy all day and not having a way of taking that away without scratching. People tell me to stop scratching, and I do wish it was always that easy. 

I have more creams that I was prescribed on Wednesday morning by my GP who was very helpful. I am also on a short 5 day course of steroid tablets that will also help it all calm down. I will continue to cream and hope it comes down and I am more than happy to put this week behind me.

I just wanted to write this blog as a thank you to everyone who has helped (I won't name people but you know whom you are), for a small insight into my world for those of you who don't know and just to any fellow eczema sufferer I hope your daily battles and struggles ease. I'm going to do another charity run this year (I think) to raise money for the Eczema Society, who are wonderful, please click here to read about them and find out more.

Keep going, keep creaming, keep fighting the itch. It's something that won't probably go away so it's finding the best ways of coping, but if any fellow sufferer reads this, I'm here, and I'd love to talk to you.

Thanks for reading, and keep smiling.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Facing Fears.

On Sunday me and my Dad went to Kew Gardens as we were staying just a short walk away in Richmond. I didn't know much about the place other than the fact it was a pretty big garden. When we got in and got maps of the gardens I spotted the intriguing 'Treetop Walkway'. I thought that sounds great fun. So there we headed. For those of you whom don't know me I am terrified of heights. We stood underneath the treetop walk, the walkway is see through and so were parts of the stairs.

I wanted to conquer this. I had something inside. We started climbing the staircase, I got about two thirds of the way up and my legs went and I got really panicky. I told my Dad to go ahead as I wasn't going to make it. I walked down a few steps, got out my phone and texted my partner and this somewhat made me have the desire to get to the top. So grabbing tightly to the side, so tight that even if there was a tornado I'd still have clung on, I wasn't letting the rail go. A couple of lengths of stairs and my feet reached the top.

I'd done it. I couldn't believe I was there at the top. Treetop level. I conquered it. My Dad by this point was all the way around the other side of the walkway. He came around to me and walking like I'd pooped myself I made it around, even managing to stop to take photos and look around. I felt so self proud, and I know that is such a wanky thing to say. After enjoying one full circuit we headed back to ground level. I felt so relieved. Like I'd achieved something.

Back in November when I returned to work after what had happened, I was very nervous and somewhat terrified walking in the first day I went back, but I faced that fear rather than putting it off any longer and with the support of my lovely colleagues I got quickly back to my feet. I still have moments of worries when, but I face them now, rather than putting it off. I have great people around me at work who are just if nothing else great people who help others.

In April of this year I'm going on my first plane as me and Megan along with Megan's Grandparents fly to Venice for a four day holiday. This is something I'm honestly petrified about. Me and my Dad went to Hampton Court on Monday and you can see all the planes taking off in the sky and it just looks something crazy, yet to think I'll be up in the sky myself soon is madness. I am looking forward to conquering it and I'm very excited for the holiday on the other side of the flight.

I'm very socially awkward and generally a quiet human so when invites come to events or things I tend to say no as I can't face up to the fears. I'm trying my hardest with these but I know I still fail miserably. I'm fine with friends and I'm happy and so comfortable with them. I hope I will get better at this eventually, I know that sounds stupid as I'm 24 and struggle socially but yeah that's me.

My fears in general are heights, darkness and people (oh and spiders... evil creatures). The heights I struggle with and I don't think I'll ever get past that. Darkness is horrible and nighttime I'm not a fan at all. I sleep with the television on to help. People, I guess coming from being assaulted and other bad experiences I still struggle with people. Social occasions, football matches and just generally being out sometimes but I'm getting better.

I'd say to anybody who is afraid to give things a go. Don't be too afraid, after all we're only here once. I know this is such a stupid thing to say as I know I probably don't believe it myself but yeah. You're all awesome and that thing you thing you can't do, you CAN do it. Go ahead and prove yourself wrong every know and then, you won't feel more alive.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

My 2015 Theatre Awards

Again just for fun and following up from my own little awards for the shows I've seen I am continuing by doing it again for 2015, this is the 5th year I've done it. It's all just a bit of fun and my own personal opinion.

My winners are in bold.

Best Supporting Actress In A Play: (2014 winner - Lydia Leonard)
Leah Whitaker - Princess of France (Love's Labour's Lost) @MsLeahWhitaker
Vivien Parry - Margery Eyre (The Shoemaker's Holiday)
Beth Cordingly - Fiormonda (Love's Sacrifice) @BCordingly
Aruhan Galieva - Blanche of Castile/Peter of Pomfret (King John) @aruhangalieva
Nadia Albina - Nerissa (The Merchant of Venice) @NadiaAlbina
Catrin Stewart - Abigail (The Jew of Malta) @Catistewart
Jennifer Kirby - Katherine (Henry V) @JenniferKirby08
Charlotte Mills - Tink (Wendy and Peter Pan) @charlottemills1

Nadia Albina as Nerissa in the Royal Shakespeare Companies production of The Merchant of Venice. Photo by the RSC

Best Supporting Actor In A Play: (2014 winner - Jo Stone-Fewings)
Sam Alexander - King of Navarre (Love's Labour's Lost) @Samhenryalex
David Troughton - Simon Eyre (The Shoemaker's Holiday)
Edward Franklin - Marlowe (Shakespeare in Love)
Jamie Thomas King - Fernando (Love's Sacrifice)
Alex Waldmann - Bastard (King John) @WaldmannAlex
Ken Nwosu - Gratiano/Morocco (The Merchant of Venice) @Ken_Nwosu
Lanre Malaolu - Ithamore (The Jew of Malta) @LanreMalaolu
Anthony Byrne - Pistol (Henry V)
Darrell D'Silva - Captain Hook (Wendy and Peter Pan) @ElvisDeSade

Lanre Malaolu as Ithamore in the Royal Shakespeare Company production of the Jew Of Malta. Photo by the RSC.
Best Leading Actress In A Play: (2014 winner - Pearl Chanda)
Michelle Terry - Rosaline (Love's Labour's Lost) @shellybrown27
Eve Ponsonby - Viola De Lesseps (Shakespeare in Love)
Catrin Stewart - Bianca (Love's Sacrifice) @Catistewart
Patsy Ferran - Portia (The Merchant of Venice) @PastyFerran
Mariah Gale - Wendy (Wendy and Peter Pan)
Catrin Stewart as Bianca in the RSC production of Love's Sacrifice. Photo by Helen Maybanks

Best Leading Actor In A Play: (2014 winner - Martin Freeman)
Edward Bennett - Berowne (Love's Labour's Lost)
Josh O'Connor - Rowland Lacy (The Shoemaker's Holiday) @JoshOConnor15
Orlando James - Will Shakespeare (Shakespeare in Love) @Conduittheatre
Matthew Needham - Duke of Pavy (Love's Sacrifice)
Jo Stone-Fewings - King John (King John)
Jamie Ballard - Antonio (The Merchant of Venice)
Jasper Britton - Barabas (The Jew Of Malta)
Alex Hassell - Henry V (Henry V) @HassellAlex
Rhys Rusbatch - Peter Pan (Wendy and Peter Pan)

Alex Hassell as Henry V in the RSC's production of Henry V. Photo by the RSC.

Best Set Design: (2014 winner - Colin Richmond):
Simon Higlett - Love's Labour's Lost (Royal Shakespeare Company)
Bunny Christie - Made in Dagenham (Adelphi Theatre)
Robert Jones - City of Angels (Domnar Warehouse)
Nick Ormerod - Shakespeare in Love (Noel Coward Theatre)
Anna Fleischle - Love's Sacrifice (Royal Shakespeare Company) @AnnaFleischle
Philip Witcomb - Singin' In The Rain (Kilworth House Theatre) @philipwitcomb
Anthony Ward - Gypsy (Savoy Theatre)
Lily Arnold - The Jew of Malta (Royal Shakespeare Company) @lilyarnold85
Matt Kinley - Oliver (Curve)
David Rockwell - Kinky Boots (Adelphi Theatre)

Set design for Made in Dagneham. Photo courtesy of www.sarahkier.com
Production of Made in Dagenham.

Best Lighting Design (2014 winner -Tim Lutkin): 
Howard Harrison - City of Angels (Domnar Warehouse)
Neil Austin - Shakespeare in Love (Noel Coward Theatre) @TheVictorianLD
Rick Fisher - Sunny Afternoon (Harold Pinter Theatre)
Lee Curran - Love's Sacrifice (Royal Shakespeare Company) @leecurran
Peter Mumford - The Merchant of Venice (Royal Shakespeare Company) @mumf40
Mark Henderson - Gypsy (Savoy Theatre)
Tim Mitchell - Henry V (Royal Shakespeare Company)
Natasha Katz - Mary Poppins (UK Tour)
Bruno Poet - Oliver (Curve)
Kenneth Posner - Kinky Boots (Adelphi Theatre)

Production photo for Kinky Boots.
Opening night photo of Kinky Boots. Photo by celebrityradio.biz.

Best Costume Design: (2014 winner - Stephen Brimson Lewis)
Bunny Christie - Made in Dagenham (Adelphi Theatre)
Nick Ormerod - Shakespeare in Love (Noel Coward Theatre)
Paul Farnsworth - The Producers (UK Tour)
Anna Fleischle - Love's Sacrifice (Royal Shakespeare Company)
Jonathan Fenson - King John (Shakespeare's Globe)
Philip Witcomb - Singin' In The Rain (Kilworth House Theatre)
Lily Arnold - The Jew of Malta (Royal Shakespeare Company)
Stephen Brimson Lewis - Henry V (Royal Shakespeare Company)
Bob Crowley - Mary Poppins (UK Tour)
Gregg Barnes - Kinky Boots (Adelphi Theatre)

Production photos of Kinky Boots. Photos by JoAllen PR
Best Choreography: (2014 winner  - Drew McOnie)
Aletta Collins - Made in Dagenham (Adelphi Theatre)
Drew McOnie - Oklahoma (UK Tour)
Lee Proud - The Producers  (UK Tour)
Mitch Sebastian - Singin' In The Rain (Kilworth House Theatre)
Stephen Mear - Gypsy (Savoy Theatre)
Adam Cooper - Sunny Afternoon (Harold Pinter Theatre)
Mitch Sebastian - Legally Blonde (Kilworth House Theatre)
Matthew Bourne/Stephen Mear - Mary Poppins (UK Tour)
Andrew Wright - Oliver (Curve)
Jerry Mitchell - Kinky Boots (Adelphi Theatre)

Production photo from Singin' in the Rain at Kilworth House.

Best Company/Ensemble Performance: (2014 winner  - Once)
Made In Dagenham (Adelphi Theatre)
Shakespeare in Love (Noel Coward Theatre)
Sunny Afternoon (Harold Pinter Theatre)
King John (Shakespeare's Globe)
Singin' In The Rain (Kilworth House Theatre)
Gypsy (Savoy Theatre)
The Jew of Malta (Royal Shakespeare Company)
Henry V (Royal Shakespeare Company)
Mary Poppins (UK Tour)
Rocky Horror Show (UK Tour)
Kinky Boots (Adelphi Theatre)

Production photos from Sunny Afternoon.

Best Understudy Performance: (2014 winner - Helen Owen)
Emma Linders - Beryl (Made In Dagenham)
Gemma Salter - Rita O'Grady (Made in Dagenham)
Nick Sayce - Ray Davies (Sunny Afternoon)
Samantha Noel - Narrator (Joseph)
Ryan O'Donnell - Ray Davies (Sunny Afternoon) 
Ryan O'Donnell as Ray Davies in Sunny Afternoon. .Photo by CiarĂ¡n Dowd photography
Best Supporting Actress In A Musical: (2014 winner - Zizi Strallen)
Emma Linders - Beryl (Made In Dagenham)
Rosalie Craig - Bobbi/Gabby (City of Angels)
Rebecca Trehearn - Donna/Oolie (City of Angels)
Tiffany Graves - Ulla (The Producers)
Lillie Flynn - Rasa (Sunny Afternoon)
Jenny Gayner - Lina Lamont (Singin' In The Rain)
Lara Pulver - Louise (Gypsy)
Jodie Jacobs - Paulette (Legally Blonde)
Rebecca Lock - Winifred Banks (Mary Poppins)
Megan Leigh Mason - Rasa (Sunny Afternoon)
Amy Ross - Nicola (Kinky Boots)

Lara Pulver as Louise in Gypsy.
                                                              Trailer from Gypsy.

Best Supporting Actor In A Musical: (2014 winner - Daniel Robinson)
Mark Hadfield - Howard Wilson (Made In Dagenham)
Nic Greenshields - Jud Fry (Oklahoma)
David Bedella - Roger De Bris (The Producers)
George Maguire - Dave Davies (Sunny Afternoon)
Matt Lapinskas - Pharaoh (Joseph)
Joe Tracini - Patsy (Spamalot)
Adam Margilewski - Cosmo Brown (Singin' In The Rain)
Peter Davison - Herbie (Gypsy)
Nadim Naaman - Raoul (The Phantom Of The Opera)
Milo Twomey - George Banks (Mary Poppins)
Kristian Lavercombe - Riff Raff (Rocky Horror Show)
Oliver Boot - Bill Sykes (Oliver)
Jamie Baughan - Don (Kinky Boots)

George Maguire as Dave Davies in Sunny Afternoon.

Best Leading Actress In A Musical: (2014 winner - Emmi Christensson)
Gemma Arterton - Rita O'Grady (Made In Dagenham)
Charlotte Wakefield - Laurey (Oklahoma)
Samantha Noel - Narrator (Joseph)
Sarah Earnshaw - Lady of the Lake (Spamalot)
Carolyn Maitland - Kathy Selden (Singin' In The Rain)
Imelda Staunton - Rose (Gypsy)
Jennifer Harding - Elle (Legally Blonde)
Celinde Schoenmaker - Christine (The Phantom Of The Opera)
Zizi Strallen - Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins)
Diana Vickers - Janet (Rocky Horror Show)
Amy Lennox - Lauren (Kinky Boots)

Imelda Staunton as Mama Rose in Gypsy.

Best Leading Actor In A Musical: (2014 winner - David Hunter)
Adrian der Gregorian - Eddie O'Grady (Made in Dagenham)
Hadley Fraser - Stine (City of Angels)
Tam Mutu - Stone (City of Angels)
Cory English - Max Bialystock (The Producers)
Jason Manford - Leo Bloom (The Producers)
Graham MacDuff - Don Lockwood (Singin' In The Rain)
John Dagleish - Ray Davies (Sunny Afternoon)
John Owen Jones - Phantom (The Phantom Of The Opera)
Matt Lee - Bert (Mary Poppins)
Danny Horn - Ray Davies (Sunny Afternoon)
Liam Tamne - Frank 'N' Furter (Rocky Horror Show)
Peter Polycarpou - Fagin (Oliver)
Matt Henry - Lola (Kinky Boots)
Killian Donnnelly - Charlie Price (Kinky Boots)
John Dagleish as Ray Davies in Sunny Afternoon.

Best Royal Shakespeare Company Production: (2014 winner - Two Gentlemen of Verona)
Love's Labour's Lost
The Shoemaker's Holiday
Love's Sacrifice
The Merchant of Venice
The Jew of Malta
Wendy and Peter Pan

Production photos from the RSCs Love Sacrifice. Photos by the RSC.

Best Play (not RSC): (2014 Winner - One Man Two Guvnors (UK Tour)
Shakespeare in Love (Noel Coward Theatre)
King John (Shakespeare's Globe)

Production photos from Shakespeare in Love.

Best Touring/Regional Musical: (New Category)
The Producers (UK Tour)
Joseph and his amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (UK Tour)
Spamalot (UK Tour)
Singin' In The Rain (Kilworth House)
Legally Blonde (Kilworth House)
Mary Poppins (UK Tour)  
Oliver (Curve)
Rocky Horror Show (UK Tour)

                                             Mary Poppins on the Royal Variety Show.
Production photos of Mary Poppins.

Best NEW* West End Musical: (New Category)
Made In Dagenham (Adelphi Theatre)
City of Angels (Domnar Warehouse)
Sunny Afternoon (Harold Pinter Theatre)
Gypsy (Savoy Theatre)
Kinky Boots (Adelphi Theatre)

                                                          Trailer for Sunny Afternoon

Production photos of Sunny Afternoon.

*NEW - first time I'd seen this production, not necessarily a new show.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Getting the help.

I want to start this post with a thank you to the lovely feedback from all the people who read my last blog entitled 'Living with my feelings'. I had some very nice comments from people who have read it, I hope it let people get to know me better.

Following my last blog I had my first counseling session with the Lets Talk Wellbeing service on Thursday. This appointment was over the phone, which before the call started slightly scared me, I didn't think I'd have the connection with the person down the other end, and I guess I felt they wouldn't listen as much as they couldn't see me. I was very wrong, the gentleman was lovely (I stupidly didn't catch his name through the initial nerves of the call).

We talked through things, I'd received a questionnaire sheet through the post which I was required to fill in before the appointment. We went through the answers on the subjects, the PHQ-9 score, which covers more the depression side of things which I scored 'low in mood', with struggle with things such as sleep and feeling down, both of these I struggle with daily. Sleep being the worse (more on that in a moment). My appetite has been pretty much the same, I'm still a gannet with my food! Thankfully I've not lost interest in doing things and I think this is why I have kept going with things such as work, which I've very much enjoyed my return to as full time.

My GAD 7 score which is more about the anxiety side, I scored nearly every day on 'Feeling nervous, anxious or on edge', 'not being able to stop or control worrying' and 'feeling afraid as if something awful might happen'. This is probably my highest problem, and we discussed this in length. My risk assessment was pretty much clear, I'm no risk to myself and I've never had any thoughts about self harm or anything. My work and social adjustment scale was middle-ish, with social occasions being the biggest problem, I'm very quiet and I guess anxiety is a big part of this. I've always been quiet, and I know people notice and I wish I was better at this. I hate struggling to know what to say to people even if I know them quite well. My IAPT phobia scale was quite middle-ish too, as I tend to avoid social situations, I definitely avoid things that would set my fears.

After going through this initial assessment we talked about things in the past, things like being assaulted a few years ago, which is where all this started I guess. It changed my life forever, it's always knocked my confidence and I guess I never had any real proper help then to let out all my fears and feelings and hopefully with the counseling session this will help me clear these worries.

We talked about nights, and sleep. Both are a big problem for me, I'm not keen on the dark and I do as I said in the last post have the telly on for a light to sleep too, I often have panics at night in bed when I'm trying to settling down to sleep. It generally takes me a while to fall asleep and then just thinking while trying to settle is horrible. The gentleman is sending me a CD of relaxation techniques which he said to try in aim to help me settle and calm.

After a long chat he reckons I have 'post traumatic stress disorder' which something the service can treat me with, but it's something I'd have to go higher in the system too, so I'm going back on a waiting list for a different counselor to chat with and I hope it helps.

After the session I felt really flat, I just felt so stupid and as I said on Facebook 'like a loser'. I just felt so crap for having all these problems in my life and I guess I just longed for a day that was more relaxed. I still long for the day I wake up and my skin is 100% free of problems but I know that's not likely to ever happen, it's just a matter of keeping it under control which more recently I've been able to.

I'd just like to say to everyone who has problems, please don't hold them in, let them out, talk to someone, anyone. A friend, a family member, a doctor, a counselor, just in general anyone. Sometimes a stranger is easier. I'd urge anyone to just get some form of help, even if it doesn't help, I don't think it can do any harm. I am just at the starting with my help and I'm hopeful it will help me, and I hope me blogging about this will help even just one person get the help they may need.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Living with my feelings.

For any of you who know me and to those that don't I've always been a relatively quiet person, I'm not one of the loud people within a group. I don't know why this is but it's just me, I guess I'll always be a bit of a shy person but recently my greatest worries have come to the surface again. I wouldn't say I've had problems for sometime, because for a long enough period of time I've been able to bury these feelings.

The last few weeks have been very tough, something happened at my workplace and that led to a downward spiral. Thankfully I've built up the strength again and have been back at work for the past couple of weeks doing phased return hours, but this week I'm back to my full time and I must say I'm enjoying it again. I work with such a good team of people.

Worries and anxiety has always been a problem I guess you could say but I've always had strong control of these feelings. Nighttime is always my worst, "maybe it's the dark" I tell myself. I've never been keen on the dark, I'll admit I always sleep not with the light on but with the television on, with either a film or a TV programme on so I've something to sleep to so it's not completely dark in the room. Thankfully my incredible partner Megan doesn't mind this. I do take a little while to get to sleep some nights as I can be just sat having worries and panics, but then I'd eventually drop off. I make lists on my iPod and things like that to calm my mind and this helps as I do eventually drop off. I wouldn't say I don't sleep well, but it takes me a long time to settle down.

Going out has always been a worry, especially of late (we live in scary times right now). I've never enjoyed evenings out at the pub or clubbing, hense I'd rather just have a quiet night at home. I guess this has affected my friendships, and I'd say my friends have simply drifted away because of me. I love my friends dearly but I just know sometimes I can be a crap friend. Social occasions have always been a struggle, and I tend to turn down more invites than I accept and I know I'm rubbish for it (and I'm sorry to everyone but I hope you understand). Football matches too, I love supporting my team yet I get great anxiety and fear attacks when I'm at matches and this can somewhat take away from my enjoyment. Theatre tends to be my best escape and the freedom I feel at the theatre is not match-able. Disney too, yes I'm a 24 year old male who has a big obsession with Disney, especially Disneyland Paris. Having 2 holiday there this year has been incredible, it's truly my happiest place on Earth.

I've decided to get help with all this and this week I begin counseling with the Lets Talk Wellbeing service and I have my first session tomorrow over the telephone. I hope this helps, I really do. I hope it brings out the bright side of me and helps me concur these worries and fears that I live with go away. I must say I feel anyone who is suffering don't be afraid to ask for help, ask others, ask your friends, colleagues, whoever it may be because I'm sure if they knew they'd be there for you. Don't let it bury you. I've found light from my darkest time and climbed back on my feet again.

I can't thank everyone who has helped me recently, my little love Megan, my family, my work colleagues, my friends and just in general everybody! You help me every single day, even if you don't know it. From reading your posts to Facebook or seeing pictures on Instagram, they're all entertaining to read. Having people's support is so special.

Thanks for reading and look after yourselves.

Friday, 4 September 2015

The Best Acting In Theatre I saw (2011-2014)

Coming up to nearly 5 years of me having this blog I wanted to celebrate by looking back on the best acting performances of theatre I'd seen in the last 5 years (I've not included this year as I've yet to decide what's been the best/may not have seen it yet!). What's been the best performances/productions you've seen? Let me know in the comments below.

You can look back at my theatre awards (I pick from the shows I saw what was the best, all for a bit of fun) for the past years, 2011-2014, on the links below:

Best Supporting Actresses in a play:
Lucy Briggs Owen in the Royal Shakespeare Company's Production of A Midsummer Nights Dream in 2011.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00qbqm7 - see Lucy perform the Lover's Scene on the BBC Shakespeare Unlocked website.
Susie Trayling as Constance in the RSC Production of King John in 2012.
Susie Trayling as Constance in King John. Zuleika Henry Photography
Rose Reynolds as Lavinia in the 2013 RSC Production of Titus Andronicus.
Rose Reynolds as Lavinia in Titus Andronicus. Photo by Simon Annand.
Lydia Leonard as Anne Boleyn in the RSC Productions of Wolf Hall/Bring Up The Bodies.
Joanna Horton as Celia in the RSC Production of As You Like It
Joanna Horton as Celia. Photo by Keith Pattison
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavina in the Shakespeare's Globe as Titus Andronicus
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia. Photo by Elliott Franks.

Best Supporting Actors in a play:
Martin Hutson as Prince John in the RSC Production of The Heart of Robin Hood.
Martin Hutson as Prince John. Photo by Eggert Thor Jonsson
Ray Fearon as Mark Anthony in the RSC Production of Julius Caesar.

Pearce Quigley as Bottom in the 2013 Shakespeare's Globe Production of A Midsummer Nights Dream.

Jo Stone-Fewings as Buckingham in the 2014 Trafalgar Studios production of Richard III.
Jo Stone-Fewings as Buckingham. Photo by Marc Brenner
Mark Rylance as Olivia in Shakespeare's Globe Production of Twelfth Night

Stephen Fry as Malvolio in Shakespeare's Globe Production of Twelfth Night
Stephen Fry as Malvolio. Photo by Simon Annand
James Garnon as Caliban in Shakespeare's Globe Production of The Tempest
James Garnon as Caliban. Photo by Shakespeare's Globe.

Best Leading Actresses in a Play:
Iris Roberts as Marion in the RSC's The Heart of Robin Hood.

Pippa Nixon as Bastard in the RSC's King John.
Pippa Nixon as the Bastard. Photo by the RSC
Pippa Nixon as Rosalind in the RSC's As You Like It.

Pearl Chanda as Julia in the RSC's Two Gentlemen of Verona.
Pearl Chanda as Julia. Photo by Simon Annand
Francess Rufelle as Edith Piaf in the Curve's Production of Piaf.

Best Leading Actors in a Play:
James McArdle as Robin Hood in the RSC's The Heart of Robin Hood.
James McArdle as Robin Hood. Photo by Eggert Thor Jonsson.
Michael Hodgson as Manny Rat in the RSC's The Mouse and His Child.
Michael Hodgson as Manny. Photo by Keith Pattison
Jonathan Slinger as Hamlet in the RSC's Hamlet.

Martin Freeman as Richard III in the Trafalgar Studio's Production of Richard III.
Martin Freeman as Richard III. Photo by Marc Brenner
Alex Waldmann as King John in the RSC's King John.
Alex Waldmann as King John. Photo by Keith Pattison.
Ben Miles as Thomas Cromwell in the RSC's Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies.
Ben Miles as Thomas Cromwell. Photo by the RSC.
David Dawson as Ferdinand in the Shakespeare's Globe production of The Duchess of Malfi.

Gavin Spokes as Francis Henshall in touring production of One Man Two Guv'nors.

Alex Hassell as Prince Hal in the RSC's Henry IV Parts One and Two
Alex Hassell as Prince Hal. Photo by Kwame Lestrade.
Jasper Britton as King Henry IV in the RSC's Henry IV Parts One and Two Two

Best Supporting Actresses in a Musical:
Hannah Waddingham as The Wicked Witch of the West in the west end production of The Wizard of Oz.

Victoria-Hamilton Barritt as Louise in The Curve's Production of Gypsy.
Victoria-Hamilton Barritt as Louise. Photo by Catherine Ashmore
Natasha J.Barnes as Svetlana in the Union Theatre's production of Chess.
Natasha J Barnes in rehearsals for Chess. Photo by mugphotography
Zizi Strallen as Penny Pingleton in the Curve's production of Hairspray.
Zizi Strallen as Penny (left). Photo by Pamela Raith
Ceris Hine as Columbia in the UK Tour of The Rocky Horror Show.
Ceris Hine as Columbia.
Sandra Marvin as Mama Morton in the Curve's Production of Chicago
Sandra Marvin as Mama Morton (left) with Verity Rushworth. Photo by Pamela Raith

Best Supporting Actors in a Musical:
Simon Lipkin as Lonny in Rock of Ages.
Simon Lipkin as Lonny. Photo by Ben Pruchnie
Nigel Harman as Lord Farquaad in Shrek the Musical

Oliver Boot as Captain Hook in Finding Neverland.
Oliver Boot (right) as Captain Hook. Photo by Brinkhoff/Moegenburg
Tam Mutu as Javert in Les Miserables.

Matthew Barrow as Amos in Chicago.
Matthew Barrow as Amos Hart. Photo by Pamela Raith.
Ian Stroughair as Angel in Rent

Daniel Robinson as Luther Billis in South Pacific.
Daniel Robinson as Luther Billis. Photo by Jems Photography.

Best Leading Actresses in a Musical:
Natalie Andreou as Sherrie in Rock of Ages.
Natalie Andreou as Sherrie.
Sophia Kiely as Matilda in Matilda.
Sophia Kiely as Matlida. Photo by Manuel Harlan.
Caroline O'Connor as Mama Rose in Gypsy.

Kara Lane as Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes.
Kara Lane (centre) as Reno Sweeney. Photo by Jems Photography.
Gemma Sutton as Roxie Hart in Chicago.
Gemma Sutton as Roxie Hart. Photo by Pamela Raith.
Willemijn Verkaik as Elphaba in Wicked

Louise Dearman as Mrs D in The Water Babies
Louise Dearman as Mrs D. Photo by Johan Persson
Emmi Christensson as Christine in The Phantom of the Opera
Emmi Christensson as Christine. Photo by Johan Persson

Best Leading Actors in a Musical:
Ramin Karimloo as The Phantom in Love Never Dies.
Bertie Carvel as Miss Trunchball in Matilda.
Ryan Molloy as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys.
Ryan Molloy as Frankie Valli. Photo by Hugo Glendinning.
Douglas Hodge as Willy Wonka in Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.

David Hunter as Guy in Once

Oliver Tompsett as Drew in Rock of Ages.
Oliver Tompsett as Drew. Photo by Ben Pruchnie
David Bedella as Sweeney Todd in Sweeney Todd.
David Bedella as Sweeney Todd. Photo by Darren Bell.