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Monday, 22 December 2014

My 2014 Theatre Awards

Again just for fun and following up from my own little awards for the shows I saw in 2011, 2012 and 2013 I am continuing by doing it again for 2014. It's all just a bit of fun and my own personal opinion.

The winners will be in bold.

Best Supporting Actress In A Play: (2013 winner - Rose Reynolds)
Charlotte Mills - Tink (Wendy and Peter Pan)
Lydia Leonard - Anne Boleyn (Wolf Hall/Bring Up The Bodies)
Miranda Raison - Anne (Strangers On A Train) 
Hannah McPake - Mistress Merrythought (The Knight of the Burning Pestle)
Paola Dionisotti - Mistress Quickly (Henry IV Parts One and Two)
Flora Spencer-Longhurst - Lavina (Titus Andronicus)
Lily Cole - Helen (The Last Days Of Troy)
Samantha Colley - Abigal Williams (The Crucible)
Maggie Stead - Queen Margaret (Richard III)
Laura Elphinstone - Flaminio (The White Devil)
Emma Barton - Dolly (One Man Two Guvnors)
Alicia Davies - Rachel Crabbe (One Man Two Guvnors)
Sarah MacRae - Silvia (Two Gentlemen of Verona)

Best Supporting Actor In A Play: (2013 winner - Pearce Quiqley)
Guy Henry - Hook (Wendy and Peter Pan)
Nathaniel Parker - King Henry VIII (Wolf Hall/Bring Up The Bodies)
Sean Gilder - Bosola (The Duchess Of Malfi)
James Tucker - Adriana (The Comedy Of Errors)
Alex Waldmann - Jasper (The Knight of the Burning Pestle)
Oliver Ford Davies - Shallow  (Henry IV Part Two)
Obi Abili - Aaron (Titus Andronicus)
Joseph Chance - Puck (Midsummer Night's Dream)
Jake Fairbrother - Achilles (The Last Days Of Troy)
Keir Charles - Mosby (Arden Of Faversham)
Adrian Schiller - Reverend John Hale (The Crucible)
Jo Stone-Fewings - Buckingham (Richard III)
Philip Cumbus - Richmond (Richard III)
Joseph Arkley - Lodovico (The White Devil)
Patrick Warner - Stanley Stubbers (One Man Two Guvnors)
Michael Dylan - Alfie (One Man Two Guvnors)
Nicholas Gerard-Martin - Turio (Two Gentlemen of Verona)
Jay Simpson - Dog (The Witch of Edmonton)

Best Leading Actress In A Play: (2013 winner - Pippa Nixon)
Fiona Button - Wendy (Wendy and Peter Pan)
Gemma Arterton - The Duchess Of Malfi (The Duchess Of Malfi)
Pauline McLynn - Citizen's Wife (The Knight of the Burning Pestle)
Indira Varma - Tamora (Titus Andronicus)
Lisa Dillon - Moll (The Roaring Girl)
Sharon Small - Alice Arden (Arden Of Faversham)
Kirsty Bushell - Vittoria (The White Devil)
Pearl Chanda - Julia (Two Gentlemen of Verona)
Eileen Atkins - Elizabeth Sawyer (The Witch of Edmonton)

Best Leading Actor In A Play: (2013 winner - Jonathan Slinger)
Sam Swann - Peter Pan (Wendy and Peter Pan)
Ben Miles - Thomas Cromwell (Wolf Hall/Bring Up The Bodies)
Lawrence Fox - Guy (Strangers On A Train)
Jack Huston - Bruno (Strangers On A Train)
David Dawson - Ferdinand (The Duchess Of Malfi)
Will Featherstone/Matthew McPherson - The Dromio's (The Comedy Of Errors)
Matthew Needham - Rafe (The Knight of the Burning Pestle)
Alex Hassell - Prince Hal (Henry IV Parts One and Two)
Jasper Britton - King Henry IV(Henry IV Parts One and Two Two)
William Houston - Titus (Titus Andronicus)
Richard Bremmer - Zeus (The Last Days Of Troy)
Trevor White - Hotspur (Henry IV Part One)
Anthony Sher - Falstaff (Henry IV Parts One and Two)
Ian Redford - Arden (The Arden of Faversham)
Richard Armitage - John Proctor (The Crucible)
Martin Freeman - Richard (Richard III)
Gavin Spokes - Francis Henshall (One Man Two Guvnors)
Mark Arends - Proteus (Two Gentlemen of Verona)
Michael Marcus - Valentine (Two Gentlemen of Verona)

Best Set Design: (2013  winner - Mark Thompson)
Colin Richmond - Wendy and Peter Pan (Royal Shakespeare Company)
Tim Goodchild - Strangers On A Train (Gielgud Theatre)
Brian Thomson - Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert (UK Tour)
Paul Moore - Hairspray (Curve)
Morgan Large - Water Babies (Curve)
Philip Witcomb - South Pacific (Kilworth House Theatre)
Naomi Dawson - The Roaring Girl (Royal Shakespeare Company)
Merle Hensel - Arden of Faversham (Royal Shakespeare Company)
Soutra Gilmour - The Crucible (The Old Vic)
Bob Crowley - Once (Phoenix Theatre)
Soutra Gilmour - Richard III (Trafalgar Studios)
Mark Thompson - One Man Two Guvnors (UK Tour)
Paul Wills - Two Gentlemen of Verona (Royal Shakespeare Company)
Andy Walmsley - Blood Brothers (UK Tour)
Al Parkinson - The Sound of Music (Curve)

Best Lighting Design (2013 winner - Nick Richings):
Oliver Fenwick - Wendy and Peter Pan (Royal Shakespeare Company)
Tim Lutkin - Strangers On A Train (Gielgud Theatre)
Richard Howell - Drunk (Curve/Bridewell Theatre)
Michael Odam/Nick Schlieper - Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert (UK Tour)
Philip Gladwell - Hairspray (Curve)
James Whiteside - Water Babies (Curve)
Anna Watson - The Roaring Girl (Royal Shakespeare Company)
Tim Lutkin - The Crucible (The Old Vic)
Natasha Katz - Once (Phoenix Theatre)
Charles Balfour - Richard III (Trafalgar Studios)
Bruno Poet - Two Gentlemen of Verona (Royal Shakespeare Company)
Tim Mitchell -  The Witch of Edmonton (Royal Shakespeare Company)

Best Costume Design: (2013 winner - Colin Richmond)
Colin Richmond - Wendy and Peter Pan (Royal Shakespeare Company)
Christopher Oram - Wolf Hall/Bring Up The Bodies (Royal Shakespeare Company)
Jonathan Fensom - The Duchess of Malfi (Shakespeare's Globe)
Ryan Dawson Laight - Drunk (Curve/Bridewell Theatre)
Tim Chappel/Lizzy Gardiner - Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert (UK Tour)
Stephen Brimson Lewis - Henry IV Parts One and Two (Royal Shakespeare Company)
Amy Jackson - Water Babies (Curve)
William Dudley - Titus Andronicus (Shakespeare's Globe)
Takis - The Sound of Music (Curve)

Best Choreography: (2013 winner  - Drew McOnie)
Drew McOnie - Drunk (Curve/Bridwell Theatre)
Lee Proud - Hairspray (Curve)
Mitch Sebastian - South Pacific (Kilworth House)
Drew McOnie - The Sound of Music (Curve) 

Best Solo/Concert Performance: (2013 winner - Rent: 20th Anniversary Concert)
Curve's 5th Birthday Gala - Curve, Leicester
Lauren Samuels Homecoming Concert - Civic Hall, Bedworth

Best Ensemble Performance: (2013 winner  - As You Like It: Royal Shakespeare Company)
Bring Up The Bodies (Royal Shakespeare Company)
Drunk (McOnie Company)
Midsummer Night's Dream (Propeller Theatre Company)
Once (Phoenix Theatre) 
Richard III (Trafalgar Studios)
One Man Two Guvnors (UK Tour)
Phantom Of The Opera (Her Majesty's Theatre)

Best Understudy Performance: (2013 winner - Kara Lane)
Sophie Linder-Lee - Glinda (Wicked)
Billy Boyle - Grandpa Joe (Charlie and The Chocolate Factory)
Nicky Swift - Madame Thénardier (Les Miserables)
Helen Owen - Eponine (Les Miserables)
Jade Davies - Cosette (Les Miserables)
Joe Bannister - Greene (Arden Of Faversham)
Sophie Reid - Girl (Once) 
Best Supporting Actress In A Musical: (2013 winner - Natasha J.Barnes)
Sue Kelvin - Madame Morrible (Wicked)
Zizi Strallen - Penny Pingleton (Hairspray)
Carrie Hope Fletcher - Eponine (Les Miserables)
Lauren Samuels - Ellie (Water Babies)
Wendy Mae Brown - Bloody Mary (South Pacific)
Lucy Schaufer - Mother Abbess (The Sound Of Music)
Lara Martins - Carlotta (The Phantom Of The Opera)

Best Supporting Actor In A Musical: (2013 winner - Matthew Barrow)
Graham Weaver - Adam (Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert)
David Witts - Link Larkin (Hairspray)
Cameron Blakely - Thénardier (Les Miserables)
Anton Zetterholm - Enjolras (Les Miserables)
Andy Gray (Jock), Samuel Holmes (Terrence) and Tom Davey (Claude) - (Water Babies)
Daniel Robinson - Luther Billis (South Pacific)
Tim Prottey-Jones - Billy (Once)
Mark Inscoe - Max Dettweiler (The Sound Of Music)
John Ellis - Ubaldo Piangi (The Phantom Of The Opera)

Best Leading Actress In A Musical: (2013 winner - Gemma Sutton)
Willemijn Verkaik - Elphaba (Wicked)
Sophie Linder-Lee - Glinda (Wicked)
Gemma Sutton - Ice (Drunk)
Rebecca Craven - Tracey Turnblad (Hairspray)
Louise Dearman - Mrs D (Water Babies)
Celia Graham - Nellie Forbush (South Pacific)
Sophie Reid - Girl (Once)
Maureen Nolan - Mrs Johnstone (Blood Brothers)
Laura Pitt-Pulford - Maria Rainer (The Sound of Music)
Emmi Christensson - Christine (The Phantom of the Opera)

Best Leading Actor In A Musical: (2013 winner - Douglas Hodge)
Jeremy Taylor - Fiyero (Wicked)
Joe Pasquale - King Arthur (Spamalot)
Noel Sullivan - Tick (Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert)
Richard Grieve - Bernadette (Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert)
Damian Williams - Edna Turnblad (Hairspray)
Daniel Koek - Valjean (Les Miserables)
Tam Mutu - Javert (Les Miserables)
Thomas Milner - Tom (Water Babies)
Mark Inscoe - Emile de Becque (South Pacific)
David Hunter - Guy (Once)
Sean Jones - Micky (Blood Brothers)
Michael French - Captain Von Trapp (The Sound Of Music)
Geromino Rauch - The Phantom (The Phantom of the Opera)
Liam Tamne - Raoul (The Phantom of the Opera)

Best Royal Shakespeare Company Production: (2013 winner - As You Like It)
Wendy and Peter Pan
Bring Up The Bodies
Wolf Hall
Henry IV Part One
Henry IV Part Two
Arden Of Faversham
The White Devil
Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Witch of Edmonton

Best Play (not RSC): (2013 Winner - A Midsummer Night's Dream (Globe)
Strangers on a Train (Gielgud Theatre)
The Duchess of Malfi (Shakespeare's Globe)
Kidnapped (UK Tour)
The Comedy Of Errors (Propeller)
The Knight of the Burning Pestle (Shakespeare's Globe)
Titus Andronicus (Shakespeare's Globe)
The Last Days Of Troy (Shakespeare's Globe)
The Crucible (The Old Vic)
Richard III (Trafalgar Studios)
One Man Two Guvnors (UK Tour)

Best Long Running Musical: (2013 winner  - The Rocky Horror Show)
Wicked (Apollo Victoria Theatre)
Spamalot (Playhouse Theatre)
Les Miserables (Queen's Theatre)

Best New* Musical: (2013 winner - Chicago)
Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert (UK Tour)
Hairspray (Curve)
South Pacific (Kilworth House Theatre)
Once (Phoenix Theatre)
Blood Brothers (UK Tour)
Water Babies (Curve)
The Sound Of Music (Curve)


*first time I'd seen this production

Thursday, 13 November 2014

The Relationship Interview, Team M and M.



Today, the 13th November 2014, me and Megan celebrate 18 months of our very loving relationship.  We have had an incredible 18 months together. It’s been an amazing journey. To celebrate our relationship I came up with the idea to do a kind of interview blog of each other. I hope you enjoy reading it.


Mark: What was the feeling you had when you first spoke to me on Twitter?
Megan: I thought you were a kind loving man with a true heart. 

West End Live 2013. Our first photo together.
Mark: When was the moment when you fell in love?
Megan: We first sold spoke after I posted on twitter saying I was down and you told me to keep hold of hope the world will be good again soon. After that we spoke every day I believe the love grew within me. It was the day we went to the Olivier awards where we met for only 5 minutes and you left I missed you like crazy and from then I knew I loved you.

Mark: What have been your highlights of our relationship?
Megan: Ah hard one! It’s all but I guess my highlight is that we are just a perfectly match couple rubbish answer but we are always laughing smiling messing around also being are self’s around each other nothing fake!

Dress up fun in Stratford-Upon-Avon.
Mark: What have been your three favourite dates that we’ve been on/had?
Megan: Oh man! Another hard one, hmmm I am going to say the Oliviers. Walking down the red carpet linked arms just so perfect! Our first ever date where we shared our first kiss! Very romantic in St James Park! A recent date we went on to Nottingham. You took me to the most amazing vintage shop and Bella Italia that does gluten free food! Yummy!

Mark: Describe me in 3 words
Megan: perfection handsome incredible

Mark: What does our relationship mean to you?
Megan: It means more than anything in the world!! I love you more than anything, its dream of a relationship and I will always be so grateful to you!

Dress up at Bosworth Battlefield Centre.
Mark: What do you want for our relationship in the future?
Megan: To be married, have a house of our own also enough money to live comfortable.

Mark: If you could write a film about our relationship, what would you call the film?
Megan: A dream come true

Mark: What are my strengths/weaknesses as a person?
Megan: you have loads of strengths, to many to list but some are that you help others, put yourself before them, a strong amazing man! Be proud of you self always please! Weakness, we all have them but I guess your confidence in yourself. You don’t see that amazing person we all see.


Bed snuggles.
Mark: Is there anything you could change about me, if so what?
Megan: I would take your eczema away because it knocks your confidence also gets you down and it kills me to see you down.

Mark: If we were a Disney couple, what Disney couple would we be?
Megan:  Cinderella and Prince Charming because Cinderella goes through a tough life and the prince saves her.  
 

Megan:  When you first spoke to me on twitter did you ever think we would have a strong friendship or even date?
Mark: When we first spoke, like on the first day I guess not, but then again who does? You wouldn’t go into speaking to someone thinking ‘this will lead to a strong friend or date’, but I guess you can hope. When we got speaking more and more then I knew I had a strong friendship beginning with you and obviously from there our feelings developed into something more.

In the car.
Megan: When you finally met me in person, what did you think of me?
Mark: One word, WOW. I was stood in the crowd watching the Oliviers live in Covent Garden, time was flying by in the evening, I had a train to catch to get home (damned set time trains!),  but you weren’t there. I’d kept looking around, and I thought you’d arrived but it wasn’t you. Next thing I know just as I had to leave, you arrived. I recognised you instantly. You couldn’t see me, so it was up to me to wander your way. I was SO nervous. This was it. I walked the few yards that I had to, and next thing I know I was stood right behind you. I gave you a little shove, you turned round and you just stunned me. You looked so stunning. I mean even if you hadn’t looked stunning I think my feelings were already there, so I felt like I’d just won the lottery rollover, a real beauty and with a great personality. I didn’t want to leave, this moment was over before we knew it, one  hug and I had to go, but a moment that I won’t forget.

Megan: What’s my worst habit that really annoys you?
Mark: Honestly, I’m trying to rack my brain on this one, and not just being a soppy person or anything but you have bad habits (everyone does!) but they’re not major ones. Okay I could say when you pick my eyebrows, or pluck my hairs, or your ability to lack confidence in your looks. But I guess that’s cause of your high standards of looks (doing make up and all must lead to that). 

At Lizard Point in Cornwall.
Megan:  We are both huge Disney fan as a couple, which characters do you think we relate to the most?
Mark: Belle and the Beast. I’m not saying I’m at all beast like but I say that you don’t see my faults like my dry skin. It doesn’t bother you, you love me for me and that’s like Belle for the Beast.

Megan: From when we started talking what moment did you release that I was your one and wanted to be with?
Mark: A gradual growth of feelings really but I think it was the night that you went to Alfie Boe at the Albert Hall. I just missed you so much and I remember that night telling you I had feelings for you.

All dressed up for the Oliviers.

Megan: What song do you think is our song?
Mark: ‘I’ll Cover You’ from Rent. That was our first song and I guess will always be OUR song now.

Megan: In our relationship we have traveled around but what place would you like to explore next?
Mark: Paris? Can I say that. Because I can’t honestly wait till we get to go next year. It’s going to be truly incredible! Other than that, there’s a lot of places I’d like to go, Ireland, other places in France, Spain, Italy. The place I’d most like to go and I know we discussed it is New Zealand, but it’s just so far away!


At Chichester Cathedral.

Megan: Where would you like to see us in 5 years’ time?
Mark: Married and possibly in our own place. Still loved up and being the same couple we are now, I don’t want our imperfections to go because that keeps us human.

Megan: If someone gave you endless money to do something for me, it can be anything what would you do?
Mark: I’d get you the cure for knees. No matter how much or what I’d love to take that pain away for you. Other than that a big nice house somewhere for me and you to settle in and be loved up.


In the gardens near Chichester Cathedral.

Megan: Is there one present that I have given you that stands out and you love?
Mark: The greatest gift you’ve given me is your heart and love.

Megan: What’s been your favourite date and why?
Mark: The Olivier’s 2014 weekend, it was just pure loved up magic. I don’t think it’s one I’ll ever forget. After all it’s the place we met. We got tickets to awards and the after party. A £300 meal voucher and a stay in a 5 star central London hotel. I mean you won the prize and you chose to take me! I felt so lucky. It felt so special. I loved it. Thank you for taking me.

One year anniversary trip to Les Miserables.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Sheridan Smith


I first saw Sheridan Smith when she was performing as Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors which had transferred from the Menier Chocolate Factory to the West End’s Duke of York’s theatre. I remember being utterly amazed by her performance. I had the joy of meeting her at the stage door after the performance, she came out with her dog Barry, and she was just truly lovely. I can’t remember all the stage door experiences I’ve had over the years but the first time I met Sheridan I can vividly remember. In the years that have followed from that day it’s been a pure joy to see her reach such highs of success. I owe a lot to Sheridan...

Photo: Rex Features.


Later on during the run of Little Shop (which later transferred from the Duke of York’s to the Ambassador’s Theatre) I had the pleasure of meeting people like Sophie, Laura and Amanda through a Sheridan fan page on MySpace. I got to meet them after the performance of the show on the 1st September 2007. I still count myself very lucky to have got to know these fellow supporters.
Now as I’m sure the guys will tell you from back then I was never very confident and I do honestly believe through meeting Sheridan and her fans (whom have subsequently become friends) that my confidence came out and it’s made me a much better person. 

As Audrey in Little Shop Of Horrors.
Seeing Sheridan develop further I had the chance to attend a few studio recordings of Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps and Grownups at BBC Television Centre. There would often be a group of us gather around 3-4pm and queue outside the studio’s to get in and get the best seats. The waiting made fun by just catching up with everyone. Sheridan once got me production tickets which meant we got to go into the bar with her afterwards and just chill.

The greatest times personally with Sheridan were in the early days, maybe because she was less famous but she used to have so much time, like after a massive group of us went to see her last performance of Tinderbox at the Bush Theatre that we all took a group of ‘stupid’ presents for her forthcoming birthday, we had great fun watching her open them. 

As Vanessa alongside co-star Bryan Dick in Tinderbox. Photo: Alistair Muir
As I previously mentioned about meeting people through Sheridan, I got to meet further fans like Bryan, John, Martin, Blay, Nickie, Rob, Sarah, Hayley, Leighton, Jon (and many more!), and in 2008 we had a Two Pinter’s BBQ weekend at Nickie’s. It was basically a fantastic gathering of fans, where we spent a couple of days together ending the BBQ weekend with a trip to Runcorn where Two Pints is set. 

Sheridan was cast as Elle Woods in the West End production of Legally Blonde which was to play at the Savoy Theatre. I remember her excitement as she told us after a recording at the BBC. This role was probably the making of her really; it got her huge recognition and an Olivier. She has gone on to play some fantastic stage parts Doris in Flare Path (which brought a second Olivier), Hedda Gabler in the play of the same name and Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. 

Sheridan with Charmain Biggs
On television she was outstanding in Mrs Biggs, for which she won a BAFTA. She’s always been amazing to watch. I loved her in one of my favourite programme’s Eye’s Down (set in a Liverpool Bingo Hall) playing alongside Paul O’Grady. She was brilliant for all the years in Two Pints, as she was in countless programmes; Gavin and Stacey, Love Soup, Grownups, Jonathan Creek, Benidorm, Panto and many more. 

She is currently wowing in the ITV drama biopic series of Cilla, showing all sides of her talent. The second episode airs on the night I’m writing this blog and I just know from the advert it’ll be as superb as the first episode. I think Sheridan could again win awards for the performance.

Sheridan as Cilla. Photo: ITV.
I just owe so much to Sheridan for the brilliant times I’ve had and the friends I’ve made. I must say that Sheridan fans are a lovely bunch of people as are Sheridan’s family, her Mum and Dad Marilyn and Colin are great people as is Sheridan’s talented brother Damian. Thank you Sheridan (and all the people I've met).

 I hope and know that Sheridan will continue to have great success. There is no-one more deserving. I’m more than looking forward to following her journey further…

Me and Sheridan.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Once (Musical)

I finally got the chance to see the West End production of Once this weekend, and I must say I'm very pleased that I did.


I'd wanted to see the show for sometime now but this was the first real opportunity I had to see it. My lovely partner Megan had previously seen the show and recommended it and we were very fortunate to get two seats in the stalls at one end of row F for £22 each, which I must say was a HUGE bargain, sure these seats were possibly off to the side a little but for such a major reduction in the price these seats are an absolute steal. The theatre was probably less than half full (with the upper circle completely closed off) and this did mean we moved further up our row after the interval but even if we hadn't moved I had no problems with our original seats.

Once was a new show completely for me, having only previously heard a couple of the songs and I must say it's the music that makes this show stand. It is absolutely superb. I could hardly recommend getting the soundtrack more (something I've done instantly now). The actor/musicians are effortlessly talented. The music penned by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová (and Martin Lowe, Andy Taylor and Enda Walsh who wrote 'Abandoned in Bandon' and Fergus O'Farrell who wrote 'Gold'). Songs include the Oscar winning 'Falling Slowly', 'Gold' and 'Leave' some of the stronger ones.


David Hunter is currently leading the cast as 'Guy', he's excellent. A fantastic vocal performance, one that makes me eager to hear him sing a lot more. I had the pleasure of meeting David after the show and we discussed the shows familiarities to 'The Hired Man' which I'd previously seen David perform in last year, both shows have a real folk air to the music. For the performance I attended we had Sophie Reid understudying the part of 'Girl', she was brilliant. I think understudies are massively under-rated (David has taken over the role after of Guy after understudying the previously two male leads), and this was another example of this. I'd gladly see both David and Sophie leading shows again in the future, and I hope they both get this chance.

The ensemble, as previously mentioned, are also the musicians for the show and are on the side of the stage throughout the performance. I think Once is the best show I've seen for live music (not taking anything away from the other shows that use more orchestral scores), everyone was just superb and the sound they gave off made the show a joy to watch. I don't feel it'd be fair for me to pick out names as everyone was equally as good.


The added factor of the bar on stage meaning the audience can go on the set and buy a drink (although very expensive) before the show and at the interval made the experience something unique and about 20 minutes before the actual start of the show the cast came on stage and played a few songs, meaning you can be on stage whilst the cast are performing. I must admit it felt unusual but I really enjoyed being right up close as they played.

The only lacking factor of Once for me was the story, there really didn't seem to be much of one and the ending left me just a bit disappointed but the music had probably distracted me from it all. The show does have real warmth, heart and soul. I couldn't recommend seeing it highly enough.

If you're struggling for what to see in the West End you'd struggle to find a more charming show than Once. I hope it continues to run and run...

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Suffering eczema.

I've never really written about the suffering I go through but I just want to write about it, and explain to people who don't know what eczema is. Eczema is a skin condition, which makes the skin very dry and inflamed. I suffer severe eczema. From head to toe my body seems to be covered in it. It makes most days a living hell.

The itchiness caused through it is a nightmare. It's horrible, you just want to scratch yourself away. I know for one that I've scratched myself, sometimes to cutting and blood. I made a big cut on my elbow over this weekend because of the pain and the suffering of the itching I was going through. I know it's simple to think not to scratch but words are easier than actions.

It's been really really bad of late, it's affected my sleep, it's affected my personality, it's affected my entire lifestyle. The suffering is something I wouldn't even wish on my worst enemy. I've been so low and deflated. I don't and won't write everything that has happened on here but seriously it's been like going to hell and back.

I've been put on creams, and now tablets, but it's just a case of wanting to pain to go away. It's horrible. I am very lucky to have the support around me,but I am also so sorry that people have to see me suffer, and how it's changed me. It really has had a big effect on me. I try not to let it but it's just so hard. I've almost torn myself apart. I've hurt myself deeply.

I also just want to aplogise for not being myself recently. It's just all got me really down. I'll be back again soon.

I just wanted to thank my mum, Richard, my Dad and especially my girlfriend Megan. They've been my absolute rock. I can't be sorry enough for the pain they must go through seeing me in such a state. I'd also like to thank everyone who has been kind and supportive over me. I'm really struggling right now but having good people around me is a real help.

I just want it all to go away, and now. PLEASE.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Carrie Hope Fletcher.

Carrie Hope Fletcher, some of you will know, and some of you will not. She's a YouTube star, a west end performer and one of the kindest people I've ever encountered.

Carrie is a year younger than me and has a loyal group of fans, called Hopefuls following her. The following has rapidly grown and she now has a Twitter following of over 316k. She regularly posts videos, blogs and messages that are brilliant. They vary from of range of subjects, from toilets to biscuits.


To be her age and have such a loyal group of followers, who are usually young girls, is just a pure credit to Carrie. She is beyond lovely to everyone. I have witnessed her at the stage door of Les Miserables, after a performance, she comes out and over to a fairly sized crowd and makes time for each an every person. When I last went to the show I was one of the first people to speak to her with my girlfriend, after seeing Carrie we'd waited to see a few of the other cast members and gone to a shop and Carrie was still at stage door. I don't know many West End performers who make such a dedication to speak to their fans. She is so down to Earth too and anytime spent in the company of Carrie is a joy. 
Me and Carrie in December 2013.

Carrie is also an excellent performer and her Eponine in Les Miserables is superb. I recommend you all catch it by next year when Carrie departs the show (also you can see Carrie in War Of The Worlds at the end of the year).

I know this blog has no real point or meaning other than just to promote Carrie (not that she needs it!). You all who haven't need to watch some her videos on her Youtube page - ItsWayPastMyBedTime. Also her websites - http://carriehopefletcher.com/ and http://alliknownow.com/

Alongside all of the above Carrie has her first book being published in May next year and is available to pre-order on Amazon now, it's entitled 'All I Know Now: Wonderfings and Reflection of Growing Up Gracefully'. Pre-order from this link: Amazon Link

The world needs more people like Carrie, she makes the word a more enjoyable and pleasurable place. Hats of you Carrie, you're a star and an inspiration. The Hopefuls are lucky to have a great person to follow.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Friends.

I was out on a walk yesterday in the lovely summer weather and I just felt reflective. I was thinking back to all the wonderful experiences I've been lucky enough to have. The people I've had the pleasure of growing up alongside and spending time with. This little blog is more will take me back through some of the great times and fun I've had. I know I simply can't mention every person and if I don't mention you it doesn't mean our time was amazing, it means I'm just forgetful!!

I guess you start early with friends, and I guess childhood friends are almost the most special, the ones that share the early years with you. The time you play most, get to explore and enjoy the freedom of youth. I had some great friends during my childhood years, the likes of Adam and Kim (also notable mentions for the likes of the two Matthews, and Mr hands and faces), whom I spent many happy hours with, they lived across the road which made them easily accessible. We had such good times, playing games, and being young. Walley (squash but with a football), bushey (same idea but a bush instead of a wall), podey (defending the lamppost!) and I guess even tag. We had great times just being kids in the bushes (sounds weirder than it should!) for which for some reason we never seemed to be allowed to play in or some creepy guy would tell us off. Being young I guess we did a lot of stupid things too, I certainly remember running around the playground of our old school on a Saturday evening, I also remember the time a cow escaped. We used to have great laughs, and the time just flew by.

Going into school, also inevitably gains you friends, the friends you'll stick with for the years of primary and somewhat the future years after. The two friends I stuck most of a friendship in my primary school days of Thythorn were Stephen and Nilesh, two great lads. Both of which lived in the next street. We'd have spent many hours in and out of school in our childhood having a laugh. I can name many people from Thythorn still, and I still occasionally see people out and about and remember names and faces.

From left to right, Me, Donna, Lucy, Nathan, Lewis and Rhien.
Developing on from leaving Primary school and into Abington High School, where we set into form groups, I stuck with Nilesh and Stephen, and developed a great group of friends at Abington, the likes of Nathan Patrick. There's fewer more people that I'd call a good person than Nathan. I never ever spend enough time with him that I'd like too. I guess by the stage of high school, the friends you've been accustomed with start going separate ways, where as in primary school you'd be in pretty much the same class for everything you'd go into different classes for different lessons in high school. I recently found my leavers book from Abington and looking through it made me smile immensely, I didn't get many people to scribble in it, but the ones that did are the ones I'll remember in years to come. Abington is where I met Luke too, whom I'd spend a great few years attending Leicester City matches with, we both got a season ticket together and attended matches in the Family stand before moving to the Kop. I also developed a friendship more with Scott who was also at Thythorn. We'd as a group go and play football at Little Hill park, sometimes even till it was pretty much dark.

Moving on into Guthlaxton brought even more friends, and probably my most significant friend to date, Lucy. Lucy was the biggest influence on me. She is just special. We met luckily, and I remember the early meet ups were a bit awkward as I was quite a quiet and shy person (I probably still am!). There's simply too much to mention about the times I've spent with Lucy as there's so many, but I can pick out a few. We had a brilliant week in Blackpool (bag or badger? the mystery will never be solved), Alton Towers, Horse Racing, Birmingham adventures, Jessie J trip to London. As I say there's so many, I love Lucy. We pretty much spent a whole summer together one year. Lucy is the friend more than any other that I regret drifting apart from.

Lucy and Me
A few more awesome friends from this period I must mention our Lewis, pure quality. Donna, Heather, Bryony, and anyone else I probably forgotten. I also must mention Cherry, Tom and Rhien, 3 legends, who have definitely suffered seeing my drunk too much...

With the internet and the sites like Facebook and Twitter it becomes so much easier to meet to talk and meet people. I've been very lucky to meet someone awesome friends on the web. Katie from South Shields sticks out, we had a couple of fantastic meet ups where I went to stay at hers. Sadly I don't speak to Katie at all now, I loved those times, walking along the beach having  a great chat. I also had a couple of great trips to Scotland, with Deb, Kathryn, Steph and co (most of the time I was drunk again on this one!). In Wales, Seren, Leslie, Soph and Hannah, four more great people. In Blackpool, Philippa and Beth.

Two Pints friends, left to right, Ade, Mum,  Leona, Hayley, Blay, John, Ash, Laura, Michelle, Me, Amanda, Bryan
The most awesome gang of friends I met through Sheridan Smith, I got a great bond of friendship with the likes of Laura, Jonathan, Bryan, John, Suzi, Caroline, Hayley, Martin, Leighton, Rob, Katy, Sue (and all of you guys!). There a great set of people whom I'm lucky to call friends. I dont see them enough. The Two Pints summer BBQ was one of the best weekends of my life. I wish we'd been able to have another one.

Londoners, left to right: Soph, Me, Seren, Jon, Laura and Bryan.
I've a great set of friends through theatre, the likes of Jenny, Helen, Hannah, Eline, Anne, Rob (and MANY more!), another set of people I don't get to see enough. Of course the Rocky Horror gang too, Katie, Carol, Mike, Rob, Julia and more.

I must of course mention my bestest friend and my lover, Megan. She's my guiding light, my star. I am very very lucky to have her in my life and to be hers. I love her so so much.

Me and Megan at the Oliviers.
I guess friendships disappear and float apart over time, but all the people I've mentioned in this blog and the one's I've simply not been able to remember at the time of writing are special. You guys hold such a special place in my heart, whether if we met for 20 seconds or hours. I can't thank you enough, you make me happy when I'm feeling rough and for generally sticking by me. There's so many of you I've probably been rubbish and not kept in contact with enough, for which I am just an idiot.

I'd love to catch up with some of you guys mentioned, whether it's just a chat or whatever I'd love an update on your lives, whats going on. I still see posts on Facebook and Twitter and love seeing them.
"The greatest gift of life is friendship, and I have received it." Hubert H. Humphrey.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

West End Live Memories.

 West End Live has always been a special weekend, a weekend of brilliant live West End Musicals and many other talented performing to a large crowd that gathers in Trafalgar Square (a much much better place than the original Leicester Square location). The best thing about the whole event is that it's free, free to enter, free to watch the greatest musicals around.

The crowd at West End Live 2013.
I've attended every West End Live from 2008 onwards, and have always loved it. Hanging out with some brilliant friends and just enjoying the fun. Great memories over the years include me and my friend Laura dancing around in Leicester Square at Burn The Floor, when it absolutely chucked it down during Jersey Boys performing a few years ago (horrible yet great fun!) but maybe last years stands out the most.

Me and some friends after West End Live a few years ago.
Me and my girlfriend, Megan, met for the first time at the Oliviers in Covent Garden in April 2013, we literally had the chance for a hug and a quick hello as I was running off to catch my train home. We were really close already by that time but not a couple, we got together on May 13th, I know it's probably not the most romantic way to ask someone out but I did it over Facebook, and she said yes. In a way I think its maybe why we're such a strong couple because we got together based on personalities, we were together and we'd only ever met for about 2 minutes.

This is where West End Live comes in, this was our chance to properly meet. I attended last year with my good friend Jon and we stood mainly at the back of the huge crowd that had gathered in Trafalgar Square. We watched the first selection of shows including Wicked and Les Miserables. It got to around 1/2 in the afternoon and me and Megan had yet to meet, we had been constantly texting trying to sort it, only problem was Megan was right at the front, and we were at the back.

First picture of me and Megan taken at West End Live 2013.
Luckily Megan wanted to go to the back of the stage and meet some of the casts which meant she left her space. This meant when she'd finished we'd arranged a spot and we're now ready to meet up. We were meeting up at the back, I remember the moment walking across through the crowds being incredibly nervous about this meeting. Our eyes met and we walked towards each other, the world stopped, the sound of the stage and the crowd stopped, all I could hear in that moment was blissful happiness, me and Megan then engaged in the biggest hug. We hugged for nearly 2 minutes. It was a special moment. We were together.

We got to spend around 30 minutes together but Megan had to go back, and me and Jon went off to get lunch. I felt crushed leaving her behind but thankfully we returned later in the evening to Trafalgar Square where we got to see each other again. Then of course we had the Sunday where we spent even more time together, and enjoyed watching more shows. These two days set up the future of meet ups for me and Megan and it's lead us to present day, one year on from the day we met at West End Live.

So, thank you West End Live for all the memories over the years. Happy 10th birthday, I hope there's many many more years of this fantastic free event. Sadly I'm not there this year but I will be back next year and I cant wait. Thank you for giving me the chance to meet my love. I hope everyone who is there today and tomorrow enjoys themselves. It's a special event.

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