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Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Thanatophobia

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK and I wanted to open up and talk about something that I've never really shared before. I was on my Snapchat earlier today and on one of the newspapers feeds there was an article about Charlotte Crosby and her talking about thanatophobia and I also wanted to share my thoughts and experiences with this.

Thanatophobia is the fear of death or death anxiety. It's something I battle with on most days. It's obviously a part of life. Like part of living is dying but that doesn't make the anxiety or fear any better.

When my mind starts rolling those thoughts about how there'll be a time when I don't exist and like we all don't exist anymore it sends everything tumbling. I go into a major panic, I start shaking, I feel like my heart is going to jump out. The fear takes over. It's uncontrollable. It's horrible.

Life and ultimately death is obviously something I have no control over. When my time comes it comes. I can't do anything about that but the whole thought and fear of it sets it off all and sends me absolutely spiralling out of control. I find it hard to discuss anything to do with death as that sets it all off again.

I think having this fear or phobia is a major player in my anxiety. Like I get scared about long car journeys, bus journeys and even sometimes just going out to the shops or whatever can be tricky as the fear of anything bad happening really can hold me back. The pure anxiety and worry about bad things happening is the reason sometimes I just can't get myself off the bed. I'm safe here, why move if I won't feel safe?

I believe that my fear of death and dying is the one reason I never really could self-harm. I only ever did it once and I honestly put that down to two things, the support from those around me at the time and also my fear of death. The same goes for any time that suicidal thoughts came or come to mind. I can't actually physically bring myself to do anything in sheer fear of death.

Seeing Charlotte speak about her experiences with this really made me also want to open up about it. It's probably the one thing I've kept hidden away as I guess I find it the hardest thing to deal with. It's the one thought that can keep me awake the longest at night. If the fearful thoughts start then that will mean I won't be able to shut off for quite some time.

I will most certainly try harder to discuss this when I see the doctor next or when my CBT starts in a couple of months

Thanks for reading this short and letting me open up.

Love to all.
Mark

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Happy Anniversary Disneyland Paris.

As Disneyland Paris turns 26 I'd like to celebrate the magic of Disneyland Paris.

I first went to Disneyland Paris is 2001. We went with my high school for a week to Paris to take part in activities, things including going up the Eiffel Tower, visiting Notre Dame and a tour of the Stade de France. To end the week we spent the final day in Disneyland Paris. I wish I had more of a memory of it but I remember going on the train and being chased by Tweedledee and Tweedledum and Jafar. Fast forward to 2015 when me and Megan booked our first break together to visit the parks and here my life changed.

Only Disney fans will understand how special and meaningful the Disney Parks are. I've personally only been to Paris thus far but hopefully, in the future, I'll get to visit more of the parks. The parks are 'home' to a lot of us. I can't think of anywhere else that gives me the feeling I get when I approach the parks. The buzz getting off the train at Gare De Marne-la-Vallee-Chessy and seeing the Disney village again. That feeling is pure exhilaration and pure joy. At that moment all my worries and troubles seem to disappear. It's like Disney wraps me up and makes everything okay.

Sitting down on Main Street.
Only Disney fans too will understand the feeling when you walk under the Disneyland Hotel and to the ticket gate. Enter the gate and you see Main Street Station, walk under the station and enter the square, the gazeebo there in front of you. As you walk through the square there it is, Sleeping Beauty Castle, perched at the other end of Main Street. It's such an emotional feeling, one that I can't describe in words. All you Disney guys that read this will know exactly what that feeling is though.

One of the things that makes me feel back 'home' when I enter the park is the music thats played. The music gives me so much happiness. One of the main things I hate about leaving the parks and entering 'the real world' again is that Disney music isn't playing everywhere! I adore the sights and smells of Disneyland Paris too. The smells vary from food, that smell of Pirates of the Caribbean or the parade! They are comfort.

Minnie, Me, Megan, Mickey.
I've been lucky to have 8 trips to Disney now and every single time I have the best time. I've experienced different seasons, Spring, Frozen Summer Fun, Halloween, Christmas and off season. I adore the theming of the seasons and the amount of work that goes in to creating them. Halloween is my favourite, simply because the Halloween Parade and the song 'Vive La Vie' means so much to me and bring back so many happy memories.

Many of my happiest life memories are of times in Disneyland Paris. I've been blessed to enjoy some truly incredible moments. None more so than the unbelievable 25th Anniversary day on April 12th 2017. Waking up at 5am, queuing outside the gates from 6am, the mad scram when the gates open, getting an amazing spot on Main Street, seeing the Grand Celebration and all the amazing characters. The 2 runs of the anniversary cavalcade, meeting Cathering Powell, seeing Stars on Parade. That day was one of the best I'll ever live. 

After Illuminations.
As well as all the incredible character meets (I could talk about them, but if I start I'll never stop!) there is also the brilliant rides. My favourites are Big Thunder Mountain, Rock and Roll Coaster, Pirates of the Caribbean, Peter Pan's Flight, Small World and Tower of Terror. As well as the characters and rides, there is of course the shows and parades, my favourites are The Halloween Harvest Parade, Magic on Parade, The Forest of Enchantment and the Starlit Princess Waltz. 

Disney Dreams. The nighttime spectacular. A show I shall simply never forget. Every time I saw it I would feel emotional. It was the most amazing show projected onto the castle and the use of music, fireworks and the water fountains. Of course I was a sucker for the Hunchback scene (Hunchback is my favourite Disney film), but all of it was stunning. As much as I do like Illuminations which replaced Dreams for the 25th Anniversary, nothing will ever match what Dreams was to me. 

Through trips to Disneyland Paris and because of the impact of social media in the world I've been blessed to meet some remarkable people because of mutual love of Disney and Disneyland Paris. Spending time with loved ones and friends at Disney is the most joyous thing. I am very lucky to have met the people I have both in person and online because of Disney.

Christmas Photopass by the castle.
Disneyland Paris has been there through my darkest days and kept me going. Although its now nearly a year since I last went and I have currently no plans to go back (although I really want to!). Disneyland Paris is the happiest place on Earth to me and sure I've not been as many times as others or whatever and I'm not the best at keeping up with the latest developments or being active on social media but I love DLP. 

The buzz about the developments that are coming, in particular to the Studios Park is amazing. Disneyland Paris will continue to go from strength to strength as these developments take place. 

I must before I wrap this blog up praise every single cast member I've ever encountered in DLP (sure there's been some bad ones too) but generally they are the most awesome people. They make magic and bring the magic to life and that's a special thing. 

So here's to many many more years of Disney magic at Disneyland Paris. Happy 26th Anniversary. Thank you for being a special place to me and many others.

Joyeux Anniversaire Disneyland Paris.
Christmas Season Main Street.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

The Importance of an Understudy.

To those who aren't regular theatregoers, an understudy is a member of the company that covers a different role. Understudies are the life and soul of a show for me. Although sometimes it can be disappointing to arrive at the theatre to find who you aren't seeing it can also be a thrilling experience to see an understudy perform.

On Saturday I had the pleasure of seeing the UK tour of Legally Blonde for the second time. The first time I saw the show back in October of 2017 in Northampton I had the full company performing but this second visit this time in Norwich saw a few understudies performing. I know a few of the company tweeted on Friday how it was a very hectic show that night where they all pulled together and got through. I think the Saturday when I attended was a little calmer and the understudies and the whole company were superb.

The Legally Blonde understudy board.
At the performance, we had Helen Petrovna as Vivienne, he powerful vocals made for a fantastic performance. Due to Helen covering Vivienne, it meant Rachel Grundy (who I'm completely biased about) was moved to cover Helen's role of Brooke Wyndham. Rachel who is always amazing gave such a great performance. The song 'Whipped Into Shape' is probably the hardest one as the choreography involves skipping ropes. Rachel wasn't fazed (or it didn't appear that way!) and pulled it off in style. We also had Alexandra Wright covering Margot and Sally Frith covering Serena. Both of whom were great.

It was the lead role of Elle Woods that had the finest understudy though. The role is usually played by Lucie Jones, who I saw play the role on the previous visit in Northampton but this time was indisposed. The role was played by Rebecca Stenhouse, who was absolutely incredible. I was blown away. Right from her first scene, she was a joy. She brought the character of Elle to life like no actress I've seen do (and I've seen some great Elle's: Sheridan Smith, Emma Bateman, Amy Ross, Jennifer Harding and Lucie Jones), she was a constant joy and you simply couldn't take your eyes off her. Her vocals too were flawless. I adored seeing Rebecca in the role. Undoubtedly one of the best understudy performances I've ever seen but also generally one of the best performances I've seen.
Rebecca Stenhouse backstage as Elle Woods.

Something I discovered a few years ago at the Royal Shakespeare Company was their understudy performances. A staged performance of their productions but with all the understudies performing which gives them a chance to perform in front of an audience. I saw a brilliant performance of The Comedy of Errors in 2012 which saw the twins played by the same actor (Ankur Bahl), it was such a brilliant performance where he interacted with himself. The RSC understudies performances are a great way of seeing the stars of the future.
Ankur Bahl backstage as the Dromios for The Comedy of Errors understudy performance.
In 2016 I took a return trip to the Kinks musical, Sunny Afternoon, at London's Harold Pinter Theatre. On this occasion, all four of the band members were played by the understudy. This was due to the fact the 4 actors who usually played the lead roles were away performing at a concert. We had Ryan O'Donnell (Ray), Robbie White (Dave), Alex Tosh (Pete) and Nick Sayce (Mick). Whilst I still found it questionable that us paying theatregoers were left without the four lead actors for the performance I must say it was a thrill to see the 4 understudies performing together.

The understudy board at Sunny Afternoon.
Some of my other favourite understudy performances include; Tabitha Webb as Christine in The Phantom of the Opera, Alice Fearn as Fiona in Shrek The Musical, Kara Lane as Nancy in Oliver!, Charles Brunton as Miss Trunchball in Matilda, Gemma Salter as Rita O'Grady in Made In Dagenham, Callum Francis as Lola in Kinky Boots, Lisa-Anne Wood as Christine in The Phantom of the Opera, Kristen McGarrity as Lise in An American in Paris and Emily Squibb as Elizabeth Benning in Young Frankenstein.

Some of my favourite understudies.
To me, an understudy is a vital part of a show. I'm rarely disappointed by an understudy and that is to the great credit of the numerous performers I've seen cover roles and most of the time very pleased with their performances (and sometimes prefer them to the actual people who usually play the roles!). So let's support the understudies more. Theatres should do more to let audiences know when an understudy is performing.

All hail the understudies!

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Life After Disney.

Hello all.

I hope you're well and that you have had a lovely start to 2018 (can you believe it's already nearly February?). This is my first personal blog post of the year and I just wanted to write an update for you all to have a read.

Firstly I'll start with the big issue of work. Those who have followed me or read my previous blog know about my mental health struggles. You would also know that I started working at the Pop-Up Disney Store in Leicester. I thought I was ready and I thought it was the right time to get back on my feet after a period of absence from work. Clearly, it didn't work out for me. I'm really disappointed in myself for failing but I'm pleased I recognised when I needed to get help. I was honestly at my lowest ebb again and had the darker thoughts come back. I saw my doctor who placed me on sick leave, after a call to a meeting it was decided to terminate my probation period. It was a fair decision and it's something especially my doctor agreed on. 

So what now? I'm going to work on my confidence again. The doctor thinks I should get back in touch with Lets Talk which are the counselling service I have been under previously. I'm not 100% sure about it as I don't think it particularly did much for me last time but we'll see. I've turned down any medication for now as I've had 4 different types of anti-depressants and none of them seemed to have much of an effect.

It's just a re-build period again now. I hope I can get back on my feet in due time. I've recently bought a notebook and filled it with my daily tasks. This way I know what I need to do on a certain day, at the end of the day I go through and write positive things that happened on the day. This will hopefully focus me a bit more on things and build up my self-belief.

Away from this though I did enjoy a nice Christmas which I got to spend with Megan and her mum. I had a rare let my hair down night on Christmas eve and may have been a bit tippled. Megan then came up to Leicester and we had a few quiet days here for New Years which was super lovely. I've been going to the cinema quite a lot with our Odeon Limitless card. I've seen in the past few weeks since Christmas; The Greatest Showman four times (each time in a different cinema and with different people), Paddington 2 (with my mum), The Darkest Hour (with Megs) and most notably Coco at the BFI which included post-film Q and A with the films director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson. It was a really wonderful occasion. 

One of the things I'd love to do is to interact with people more, especially on social media. Like I'd love to have a proper conversation with you guys rather than just a few tweets here and there. That would be awesome. I'd particularly love to hang out face to face if my anxiety could cope with it. I know so many awesome people who are just a face on a screen which I'd love to get to spend real time with. If you'd be interested in more detail conversations and meeting up please let me know - I know you won't but PLEASE do.

But onwards we go. I've reached today's goals already. So going to relax this evening and watch a film. 

I hope you're all doing well. 

Have a great evening (or Morning, Afternoon or Night depending on when you read this!).

Lots of love,
Mark
24/01/18

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Disney/Pixar's Coco

Pixar's latest movie finally arrived in UK cinemas yesterday (Friday 19th January 2018). The newest movie from the studio behind such movies like; Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc have once again created a cinematic masterpiece.

Coco UK Poster
The story follows Miguel and his family's baffling ban on music. Miguel has ambitions to become and musician and his dreams lead him to n enchanting adventure through the Land of the Dead.

I'll be honest prior to seeing the film, I was excited but I was apprehensive. Visiting the land of the dead doesn't exactly scream out for a family film when I saw Paddington 2 a few weeks ago and the Coco trailer played before it a child along my row said to his grandparent how he didn't want to see the film. I needn't have worried. There's so much to love about the movie.

The animation is mesmerising and astonishing. The walk across the bridge into the land of the dead is possibly the best animation I've seen. It's a beautiful, the sheer detail in each individual component of the bridge. The Land of the Dead is breathtaking too. The whole film you just feel immersed and mesmerised in the animation and the lands of the living and the dead.

Miguel crossing the bridge to the Land of the Dead.
I adored the humour in this movie. It's full of great moments of comedy, one of my favourite moments is at the gates of the land of the dead when the dead have to declare what they've brought back from the land of the living. They declare Miguel and the skeleton's jaw falls off with the shock. There are also great moments like the scene Miguel imitates how Hector walks and the selfie moment is brilliant.

The film is littered with a great set of characters. Miguel, the lead character is amazing, you invest in him right away. There's Hector, he is one of those Disney/Pixar characters that everyone falls in love with. He is funny, charming and brilliant. The relationship between the two characters is wonderful. Ernesto de la Cruz reminds me a little bit of Hans from Frozen, in terms of what happens. Dante, Miguel's dog is just adorable, I think he almost deserves his own movie! It's Mama Socorro "Coco" that really moved me the most. A fantastic voice cast brings these characters to live. Anthony Gonzalez is excellent as Miguel. He sings so beautifully too.
Hector and Miguel
The soundtrack to this movie is stunning. With a score by Michael Giacchino and songs by Germaine Franco, Adrian Molina, Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. The music really adds extra character to the film. The song "Remember Me" is magnificent and an instant classic. It really captures the whole theme of the film. I adored the songs "Un Poco Loco" and "La Llorona".

The movie really captures the traditions of a culture and the feeling of Mexico. It represents them so well. I know from the Q and A I attended with the film's director, Lee Unkrich, how hard they worked on the cultural aspects of the movie. I found the Q and A fascinating to attend. To hear the director talk about things was really special. I loved the easter eggs that were brought up, like the Pizza Planet Truck, the Pinatas and more.

The whole film is all about family and the message of once somebody leaves the land of the living that they live on in the memory of those who loved them. It's something that everyone can relate too and it's a movie that I think will touch everyone who sees it. The feeling of loss is something we all can relate too and this beautiful story is a gorgeous treat that has to be enjoyed.

Coco is a movie that I can't stop thinking about. It is special. It's remarkable. It's deeply touching. I couldn't recommend it more to everyone.



Sunday, 31 December 2017

12 Songs Of My Year

Hello Blog Readers. Hope you're having a lovely day. It's been a busy period since my last blog post. Lot's has been happening with my mental health but here's a more cheerful post.

As it's only a few hours away from the start of a new year I've decided to pick 12 songs (one for every month - except I've done 2 for March and none for February!). These songs bring back so many memories of things that have happened this year. I'd love to know what your 12 are.

January
The year started off with very regular cinema trips for me and my partner Megan. We both joined Odeon Limitless in November 2016 and in the early months of this we saw numerous films like Moana, Beauty and The Beast, Patriots Day, Hidden Figures, Moonlight and Passengers to name just a few. No film entertained me more than La La Land. The gorgeous musical film, a real nod to the classic days of cinema starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in the lead roles of Sebastian and Mia.
I saw it in the cinema 7 times, in the end, a couple of times I even went on my own which was a lot to me back then with my anxiety struggles but it gave me a couple of hours of joyful escapism. One of the best things about the movie is the incredible soundtrack. There are great songs in the movie including 'Another Day Of Sun', 'The Audition', 'Someone in the Crowd' and 'A Lovely Night', my personal favourite and much listened to my song for January, 'City of Stars'. I love both versions of the song that are in the movie but adore the duet version most.


March
Leicester City winning the Premier League Championship in the 2015-2016 season will forever go down in history as one of football's most remarkable achievements. I shall never forget some of the moments along that journey but the game against Everton in May of 2016 was special. As a reward for finishing so high in the league, Leicester qualified into the Champions League, a competition between Europe's best teams. The best moment of this came in the return leg at home to Sevilla in March. We'd lost the first leg which was away 2-1 with a huge away goal scored by Jamie Vardy. The return leg was at home at the King Power Stadium. There was a special atmosphere and we marched on and beat Sevilla 2-0 with goals coming from Wes Morgan and Marc Albrighton. This meant we qualified through to the last 8 of the competition. It was a special night and the roar of the Champions League Theme after the teams enter the pitch is always special.


March was also special for the release of the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast. My partner Megan is absolutely obsessed with the animated version but I was a bit more apprehensive before we saw it. From the clips, before seeing the film it seemed Emma Watson really wasn't going to be a great Belle but I was completely wrong about her. She is absolutely resplendent in the role and gives a wonderful performance. The whole cast is excellent and it's a truly remarkable movie. It's got all the joy and feel of the animated movie but also develops parts of the story more, thinks like Belle's mum, the enchantress and more. The classic songs are there, including 'Be Our Guest', 'Gaston' and the title song 'Beauty and the Beast'. There are also some wonderful new songs too, 'How Does A Moment Last Forever' is sung by Maurice in the film and by Celine Dion on the credits. It's a gorgeous song but my pick of songs that sum up the live-action remake is the stunning 'Evermore'. It's probably my second all time favourite Disney song. It's such an excellent song and sung to perfection by Dan Stevens and also by Josh Groban on the credits. I adore this song.



April
This year Disneyland Paris celebrated it's 25th Anniversary since it opened. We were lucky enough to spend the week of the 25th Anniversary in the parks. The week was full of joy and fun. We met lot's of friends and made countless memories. No day was more special than the actual 25th anniversary day itself, Wednesday 12th April 2017. We got to the park gates for 6am and queued to get in. We then got a great spot on Main Street for the big Grand Celebration which was simply incredible. So many characters and special moments. During the rest of the day, we watched the special Cavalcade which again featured numerous rare characters. It was such a wonderful day and the atmosphere in the park was magic. The song that was much played on the 12th, as well as ever since is the anniversary song 'Everyday's A Celebration'. The song is so catchy and joyous and gives me such joy taking me right back to the moments in April. I've chosen the live version from on the 12th April as you get to see some of the celebrations.


May
In May of this year, we finally were able to see the London production of Half A Sixpence. It was truly the most amazing theatrical experience. I sat completely amazed, eyes wide open and fully engrossed. A truly magnificent production. Charlie Stemp truly was truly incredible as Arthur Kipps as were the supporting cast including Devon-Elise Johnson and Emma Williams. I fell completely in love with the production and show. It means SO much to me personally and has helped me so much. I was devastated when the show closed but so thankful I got to return a few times including sitting in the front row on my last visit. The song I've picked is my favourite from the show 'Pick Out A Simple Tune', a new song for this production by Stiles and Drewe. It captures everything about the show and is simply so joyful. It's my most listened to song this year and will continue to get listened to probably daily.



June
Seeing Take That live again was such a highlight of the year. They always put on a spectacular show both vocally and visually. This 'Wonderland' tour was probably the best gig I've been too in my life. The idea to set the whole show on one circular stage in the middle of the arena was genius. They performed some of their greatest hits including 'Never Forget', 'Back For Good' and 'Relight My Fire' as well as performing some of their songs from the Wonderland album. I've chosen 'Giants' as the standout song. It's such a brilliant song.

July
One of the loudest and most enjoyable theatre shows of the year was Jim Steinman's Bat Out Of Hell The Musical. Playing at the huge London Collisieum it was packed out with excited people in anticipation of the show. The guy behind us had even seen it 30 times already. The show plot may be a bit bizarre but it's all about the songs. The live musicians and cast couldn't have sounded any better. Belting out the classic songs to rich acclaim. The original London cast album that was released in November has been listened to so much. The song I've chosen from this is 'Objects In The Rear View Mirror', I adore the vocal performances on this song especially from Dom Hartley-Harris. It's such a beautiful song.


August
August is pretty much my favourite month of the year. It's summer so the weather is good, generally, everyone is more positive and it's also my birthday. I was very lucky to see a few shows for my birthday this year. I saw Vice Versa at the Royal Shakespeare Companies' Swan Theatre on the day. I love the show. Also in August, I was very fortunate to have 3 more trips to Half A Sixpence. As I said previously the show meant so much to me personally. On these two August visits, I was very lucky to sit in the stalls, once in a box, once on the second row and then once on the front row. Seeing the show was the front row was the most incredible experience and was such a great way to see the show for the final time before it closed. I've chosen the classic song 'Flash, Bang, Wallop' as the song for August as it's just a joy.


September
One of my favourite night in September came when our wonderful friend Kelly came around to ours for a Harry Potter themed night. We had snacks and even made our own Butterbeer and watched The Philosopher's Stone. Kelly and Megan made such an effort with their outfits and Kelly even brought props like a wand and glasses. She also made Bertie Bots Beans packed and filled them with jelly beans. I really enjoyed the night and can't wait to do it again. The song I've chosen for this is the theme 'Hedwig's Theme'. It's such an iconic piece of music and a work of John William's genius.


October
Having seen the musical An American In Paris back in August, I fell in love with the song 'Stairway to Paradise'. I adore the version they sing in the show and also in the movie but the version I discovered one day on YouTube would change it all. The Rufus Wainwright version sung in the movie The Aviator is just wonderous. I absolutely adore it. The first day I listened to it I sat with it on repeat for well over 30 minutes. I adore the section of the song when the musicians hit full flow. It's just glorious. The best version of the song and one of my all-time favourite songs now.

November
Our Christmas started really early this year with a festive visit to Birmingham on the 5th November to see the stage version of the brilliant Christmas film Nativity. Debbie Isitt's magnificent work adapted to the stage at The Rep Theatre. It's is just a magnificent show. Simon Lipkin gave a stupendous performance as Mr Poppy. Kids and adults in the audience lapped it all up.Simply a joy. The show is touring again next year around the festive season and if you didn't manage to catch it this time around make sure you see it next year! I've picked the song 'Sparkle and Shine' which was in the movie too. It's a great song and the kids give it their all. I've chosen the movie version as the cast recording is yet to be released.


December
The Greatest Showman is a movie I'd been looking forward to for so long. Ever since we saw the first trailer a while back. We saw it on Boxing Day and it absolutely blew me away. The film is stunning itself but the soundtrack is even better. The music by Benji Pasek and Justin Paul is nothing short of perfection. There are 11 songs on the soundtrack. Each of them is gorgeous. 'The Greatest Show' is a great song that bookends the film. 'A Million Dreams' is beautiful. 'This Is Me' is such an anthem and the lyrics are powerful. Keala Settle gives one of the films best performance and she absolutely belts out this number. The song I've chosen though is 'From Now On'. It's joyous and magical. It gives me such a thrill. If you have yet to see the film then you're missing out. Catch it at your local cinema now.


I hope you enjoyed this blog post of my 12 songs of my year. I'd love to hear what your songs are. Please let me know in the comments or on my social media.

I'd like to wish you all a very happy and healthy 2018.

Thanks for reading.
Mark


Thursday, 28 December 2017

2017 Theatre Awards

The Full List of Nominations for My Personal Best Of Theatre in 2017 Awards. I've done this yearly for about 5 years now and you can check out the previous years on my Blog.

Winners are in Bold.

Best Set Design
Gary McCann - La Cage Aux Folles (UK Tour)
Lily Arnold - Snow in Midsummer (RSC - Swan Theatre)
Paul Brown - Half A Sixpence (Noel Coward Theatre)
Diego Pitarch - The Addams Family (UK Tour)
Colin Richmond - Vice Versa (RSC - Swan Theatre)
Peter McKnight - The Wind in the Willows (London Palladium)
Jon Bausor - Bat Out Of Hell The Musical (London Coliseum)
Bob Crowley - An American In Paris (Dominion Theatre)
Diego Pitarch - Crazy For You (UK Tour)
Beowulf Boritt - Young Frankenstein (Garrick Theatre)
Douglas W. Schmidt - 42nd Street (Theatre Royal Drury Lane)
Ian Westbrook 3D Creations - Dick Whittington (London Palladium)


Best Lighting Design
Ben Cracknell - La Cage Aux Folles (UK Tour)
Ben Cracknell - The Addams Family (UK Tour)
Patrick Woodroffe - Bat Out Of Hell The Musical (London Coliseum)
Bruno Poet - Miss Saigon (UK Tour)
Natasha Katz - An American In Paris (Dominion Theatre)
Howard Hudson - Crazy For You (UK Tour)
Nev Milsom - Legally Blonde (UK Tour)
Tim Mitchell - Nativity (UK Tour)
Ben Cracknell - Young Frankenstein (Garrick Theatre)
Peter Mumford - 42nd Street (Theatre Royal Drury Lane)


Best Costume Design
Gary McCann - La Cage Aux Folles (UK Tour)
Paul Brown - Half A Sixpence (Noel Coward Theatre)
Diego Pitarch - The Addams Family (UK Tour)
Colin Richmond - Vice Versa (RSC - Swan Theatre)
Peter McKnight - The Wind in the Willows (London Palladium)
Jon Bausor and Meentje Nielsen - Bat Out Of Hell The Musical (London Coliseum)
Bob Crowley - An American In Paris (Dominion Theatre)
Ron Briggs/Hugh Durrant/Mike Coltman - Dick Whittington (London Palladium)

Best Choreography
Nick Winston - The Wedding Singer (UK Tour)
Bill Deamer - La Cage Aux Folles (UK Tour)
Andrew Wright - Half A Sixpence (Noel Coward Theatre)
Sam Spencer-Lane - Kiss Me Kate (Kilworth House Theatre)
Aletta Collins - The Wind in the Willows (London Palladium)
Emma Portner - Bat Out Of Hell The Musical (London Coliseum)
Christopher Wheeldon obe - An American In Paris (Dominion Theatre)
Nathan M. Wright - Crazy For You (UK Tour)
Anthony Williams and Dean Street - Legally Blonde (UK Tour)
Susan Stroman - Young Frankenstein (Garrick Theatre)
Randy Skinner - 42nd Street (Theatre Royal Drury Lane)
Karen Bruce - Dick Whittington (London Palladium)

Best Supporting Actress in a Play
Rebecca Collingwood (Hero) - Much Ado About Nothing (RSC - Theatre Royal Haymarket)
Sophie Wong (Fei-Fei) - Snow in Midsummer (RSC - Swan Theatre)
Ellie Beaven (Voluptua) - Vice Versa (RSC - Swan Theatre)
Dakota Blue Richards (Geraldine) - What The Butler Saw (Curve)

Best Supporting Actor in a Play
Martin Hutson (Cassius) - Julius Caesar (RSC - Royal Shakespeare Theatre)
Jon Trenchard (Terence) - Vice Versa (RSC - Swan Theatre)
Matthew Pidgeon (Herod) - Salome (RSC - Swan Theatre)
Jasper Britton (Dr Rance) - What The Butler Saw (Curve)


Best Leading Actress in a Play
Lisa Dillon (Beatrice) - Much Ado About Nothing (RSC - Theatre Royal Haymarket)
Katie Leung (Dou Yi) - Snow in Midsummer (RSC - Swan Theatre)
Sophia Nomvete (Dexter) - Vice Versa (RSC - Swan Theatre)
Catherine Russell (Mrs Prentice) - What The Butler Saw (Curve)

Best Leading Actor in a Play
Edward Bennett (Benedick) - Much Ado About Nothing (RSC - Theatre Royal Haymarket)
Colin Ryan (Handsome Zhang) - Snow in Midsummer (RSC - Swan Theatre)
James Corrigan (Mark Antony) - Julius Caesar (RSC - Royal Shakespeare Theatre)
Felix Hayes (General Braggadocio) - Vice Versa (RSC - Swan Theatre)
Matthew Tennyson (Salome) - Salome (RSC - Swan Theatre)
Rufus Hound (Dr Prentice) - What The Butler Saw (Curve)

Best Direction
Chris Luscombe - Much Ado About Nothing (RSC - Theatre Royal Haymarket)
Rachel Kavanaugh - Half A Sixpence (Noel Coward Theatre)
Matthew White - Kiss Me Kate (Kilworth House Theatre)
Janice Honeyman - Vice Versa (RSC - Swan Theatre)
Rachel Kavanaugh - The Wind in the Willows (London Palladium)
Christopher Wheeldon - An American In Paris (Dominion Theatre)
Paul Hart - Crazy For You (UK Tour)
Debbie Isitt - Nativity (UK Tour)
Susan Stroman - Young Frankenstein (Garrick Theatre)
Mark Bramble - 42nd Street (Theatre Royal Drury Lane)

Best Understudy Performance
Max Westwell (Jerry Mulligan) - An American In Paris (Dominion Theatre)
Samantha Hull (Flo) - Half A Sixpence (Noel Coward Theatre)
Sarah Jane Buckley (Mrs Johnstone) - Blood Brothers (UK Tour)
Kristen McGarrity (Lise Dassin) - An American In Paris (Dominion Theatre)
Sarah Bakker (Milo Davenport) - An American In Paris (Dominion Theatre)
Emily Squibb (Elizabeth Benning) - Young Frankenstein (Garrick Theatre)

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
Lucie Jones (Maureen Johnson) - Rent (UK Tour)
Mazz Murray (Tanya) - Mamma Mia (Novello Theatre)
Bethany Huckle (Flo) - Half A Sixpence (Noel Coward Theatre)
Monique Young (Lois Lane) - Kiss Me Kate (Kilworth House Theatre)
Carrie Hope Fletcher (Wednesday Addams) - The Addams Family (UK Tour)
Emilie du Leslay (Portia) - The Wind and the Willows (London Palladium)
Sharon Sexton (Sloane) - Bat Out Of Hell The Musical (London Coliseum)
Danielle Steers (Zahara) - Bat Out Of Hell The Musical (London Coliseum)
Zoe Rainey (Milo Davenport) - An American In Paris (Dominion Theatre)
Caroline Flack (Irene Roth) - Crazy For You (UK Tour)
Sarah Earnshaw (Jennifer Lore) - Nativity (UK Tour)
Summer Strallen (Inga) - Young Frankenstein (Garrick Theatre)

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical
Mark Newnham (Dave Davies) - Sunny Afternoon (UK Tour)
Samuel Holmes (George) - The Wedding Singer (UK Tour)
Layton Williams (Angel) - Rent (UK Tour)
Gerard Carey (James Walsingham/Photographer) - Half A Sixpence (Noel Coward Theatre)
Simon Lipkin (Rat) - The Wind In the Willows (London Palladium)
Neil McDermott (Chief Weasel) - The Wind In the Willows (London Palladium)
Rob Fowler (Falco) - Bat Out Of Hell The Musical (London Coliseum)
Dom Hartley-Harris (Jagwire) - Bat Out Of Hell The Musical (London Coliseum)
Haydn Oakley (Henri Baurel) - An American In Paris (Dominion Theatre)
David Barrett (Emmett Forest) - Legally Blonde (UK Tour)
Jamie Chapman (Patrick Burns) - Nativity (UK Tour)
Patrick Clancy (Inspector Kemp/Hermit) - Young Frankenstein (Garrick Theatre)
Ross Noble (Igor) - Young Frankenstein (Garrick Theatre)
Christopher Howell (Bert Barry) - 42nd Street (Theatre Royal Drury Lane)

Leading Actress in a Musical
Philippa Steffani (Mimi) - Rent (UK Tour)
Sanne den Besten (Sophie) - Mamma Mia (Novello Theatre)
Devon-Elise Johnson (Ann Pornick) - Half A Sixpence (Noel Coward Theatre)
Caroline Sheen (Lilli Vanessi) - Kiss Me Kate (Kilworth House Theatre)
Christina Bennington (Raven) - Bat Out Of Hell The Musical (London Coliseum)
Sooha Kim (Kim) - Miss Saigon (UK Tour)
Leanne Cope (Lise Dassin) - An American In Paris (Dominion Theatre)
Charlotte Wakefield (Polly Baker) - Crazy For You (UK Tour)
Lucie Jones (Elle Woods) - Legally Blonde (UK Tour)
Clare Halse (Peggy Sawyer) - 42nd Street (Theatre Royal Drury Lane)

Leading Actor in a Musical
Ryan O'Donnell (Ray Davies) - Sunny Afternoon (UK Tour)
Jon Robyns (Robbie) - The Wedding Singer (UK Tour)
John Partridge (Albin/Zaza) - La Cage Aux Folles (UK Tour)
Charlie Stemp (Arthur Kipps) - Half A Sixpence (Noel Coward Theatre)
Matthew McKenna (Fred Graham) - Kiss Me Kate (Kilworth House Theatre)
Cameron Blakeley (Gomez) - The Addams Family (UK Tour)
Rufus Hound (Mr Toad) - The Wind In the Willows (London Palladium)
Andrew Polec (Strat) - Bat Out Of Hell The Musical (London Coliseum)
Tom Chambers (Bobby Child) - Crazy For You (UK Tour)
Simon Lipkin (Mr Poppy) - Nativity (UK Tour)
Ashley Day (Jerry Mulligan) - An American In Paris (Dominion Theatre)
Hadley Fraser (Frederick Frankenstein) - Young Frankenstein (Garrick Theatre)

Best Live Orchestra/Band
The Wedding Singer (UK Tour)
Rent (UK Tour)
Half A Sixpence (Noel Coward Theatre)
The Wind in the Willows (London Palladium)
An American In Paris (Dominion Theatre)
Crazy For You (UK Tour)
Young Frankenstein (Garrick Theatre)
42nd Street (Theatre Royal Drury Lane)

Best Ensemble
La Cage Aux Folles (UK Tour)
Half A Sixpence (Noel Coward Theatre)
Vice Versa (RSC - Swan Theatre)
The Wind in the Willows (London Palladium)
Bat Out Of Hell The Musical (London Coliseum)
An American In Paris (Dominion Theatre)
Nativity (UK Tour)
Young Frankenstein (Garrick Theatre)
42nd Street (Theatre Royal Drury Lane)

Best Royal Shakespeare Company Production
Much Ado About Nothing (Theatre Royal Haymarket)
Snow in Midsummer (Swan Theatre)
Julius Caesar (Royal Shakespeare Theatre)
Vice Versa (Swan Theatre)

Best Touring/Regional Production
Sunny Afternoon (UK Tour)
La Cage Aux Folles (UK Tour)
Rent (UK Tour)
Kiss Me Kate (Kilworth House Theatre)
The Addams Family (UK Tour)
Crazy For You (UK Tour)
Legally Blonde (UK Tour)
Nativity (UK Tour)

Best NEW* West End Musical
Mamma Mia (Novello Theatre)
Half A Sixpence (Noel Coward Theatre)
The Wind in the Willows (London Palladium)
Bat Out Of Hell The Musical (London Coliseum)
Young Frankenstein (Garrick Theatre)
42nd Street (Theatre Royal Drury Lane)

*first time I've seen it, not necessarily a new musical.

It's been a truly incredible year in terms of theatre and I hope 2018 is as strong. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

A New Start

Hello again. Can you believe it's been 2 months since I wrote my last blog post? For those of you who have followed my journey through my mental health struggles, I am very grateful. I had such a lovely response to my last post.

Following on my from my last post where I was on the verge of seeing a psychiatrist about my mental health. I think that appointment really helped. It was nearly an hour and Megan (my partner) came with me. I'll be honest I was given a leaflet about the

It's been just over a year now since I was first signed off from my previous job and now I'm on the verge of starting my new one. I don't really want to go into the whys of leaving my last job. I honestly regret how it happened. I honestly thought I had a good working relationship with everyone I worked with but clearly as I spiralled out health wise I destroyed all that. It's something I wish hadn't have happened as they were all really great to me during my two years.

Over the past year, I've had struggles with things like self-harming and suicidal thoughts and obviously, that's a challenge to battle through. My advice, especially on self-harming, is that what does it actually achieve? Sure the darkest of nights where I sat with a pair of nail scissors and hacked away at my arms, maybe my mental troubles turned into physical pain and that gave my mind something else to think about. Truly I regret harming as I know the effect it had not only on me but on the others around me.

Over the past few months, things have been difficult with my partner Megan moving back down to Essex to be a carer for her mum and now her to have started a new career too. I'm very proud of her but when she's not here with me or I'm down there with her it can be really hard and lonely again. Days like today can feel empty. I have a wonderful set of people in my life but I find it so hard to reach out and contact people when I probably just need them.

I've been gradually building my confidence again and I'm very excited to have secured myself a new job working at the Disney Store. Those who know me know that I LOVE Disney and the Disney Store so I'm very excited to be working for my favourite company. The response to me saying I've a job again and to saying where has been incredible. Every message has meant the absolute world to me. I truly can't thank everyone enough.

I just want to say to you all that no matter how dark things get there can always be some light. If you can find one small bit of inner strength and grasp too and try and make that strength grow then you'll achieve again. Don't worry if you have mental health problems and you're not feeling strong, that is okay too. I just want you all to know that you're doing okay, don't let anyone tell you different.

Myself I'm looking forward to starting my new chapter. It's nerve-wracking but SO exciting. You CAN do it too. Believe. Dream. Achieve.

I hope you're all well.

Mark
07/11/17

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

A Few Little Things.

Hello again. I hope you're well and that you've had a good start to your week and of course the month of September. Can you believe it's almost winter again? I just wanted to write a blog to update you all on how I'm getting on with my mental health battle and a few other things.

I want to start with a subject that it's a bit of a hard one for me to explain. It's simply going out. For those of you who follow me on social media like Twitter, Facebook or Instagram then you'll see that I'm still going out, mainly to the theatre but occasionaly to other places too. You may think along the lines of how can he manage to go there if he's struggling so much with his mental health and anxities. I'll simply answer this with that theatre is my biggest love and passion. It's where I feel safe and free. It can be hard to get there but once I'm inside and in my seat then I'm usually okay and then I can lose myself in the show. It's the one reason I'm glad my anxiety hasn't stopped me doing the thing I love most. My anxieties may have knocked my confidence in many ways but I'm clinging on to my love of the theatre.

I did go to London on my own and managed it. I wanted to catch Half A Sixpence one last time before it closed and I found a cheap deal and I went on my own. As soon as I'd left Megan at the train station that morning I was in a panic and my anxiety kicked in. The whole train journey from Chelmsford train station to London wasn't fun. I tried to lose myself in my music but I was super nervous, BUT I didn't let that stop me. I got myself to London, I walked around a little bit and I got myself to the theatre and like I say once I was there I was okay. I had my usual bout of 'wee nerves' though (more on that in a minute). Towards the end of the show, I began getting super nervous again. I don't know why but I did, maybe it was the thought of being outside on my own again, I don't know. I went to the stage door to see if I could stop any of the performing company. I simply couldn't manage it until I saw Emma Williams, I went over and stopped her and I also managed to stop Devon-Elise Johnson and we had a lovely chat. I did stay on and see An American In Paris in the evening, as I got a ticket for £10 via TodayTix, again on my own. I managed it. After the show, it was dark but thankfully the tube station I needed (Tottenham Court Road) is right by the entrance to the Dominion Theatre where An American In Paris is playing. I got back to Chelmsford, okay, but once there I had to wait outside the train station for about 20 minutes as my taxi was late. This really racked up my anxiety, but once back with Megan at her mum's house I felt SO proud of myself for doing it, for managing it and for having a good time.

Wee nerves. I don't know if anybody else suffers this or something similar. It's basically the fear of needing the toilet. I get it mostly when I'm out, so like the theatre, at the football or the cinema. I basically get worked up with the fear that I'm going to need to the toilet, that sometimes I make myself actually need it when otherwise I wouldn't have. On Football days, in particular, I have a 12 pm drink cut off point for a 3 pm kick off. Even then I'll still have to go to the toilet before the match and at a halftime because of my 'wee nerves'. I've not found a way to get over them yet, and I don't know if I will.

One of the things I've found especially most recently with my depression/anxiety is having really low energy and low motivation. I'll use today as an example. I was awake by around 10.30am today, once awake I got up, got myself a drink, but then came back to the bed. I just lay in bed, I couldn't get going. I did try doing some exercises but this just completely tired me out. I did play Fifa 17 for a bit of the PS3 but after that and had lunch around 2 pm I just crashed out on the bed and suddenly the day was gone. I'd just lay on the bed feeling really low and no motivation to do anything. I really hate it, I try and I tried to get myself going today but I just couldn't manage it. It's something I find being apart from Megan now that she's in Essex caring for her mum. When I'm with her I'm fine but without I'm pretty useless.

Something else I'm still struggling with is the feeling of feeling alone. I know I have people but it's really hard to reach out sometimes. In these days of social media, it can be even harder. Obviously, you see people having a much better time than yourself and you can easily feel jealous of them. I've tried my best to keep m social media usage down but sometimes it's just impossible. Without it, I'd feel completely useless at times and with it it makes me feel useless too. At times you just want to reach out to people on there but then you kind of realise that most people actually don't really care. Sure they may follow you or whatever but do they actually have the time or even actually care for you? Again it's probably just my mental health struggle that is making me think this way. I just wish I had more like 'real' friends and not ones that I have to talk to one social media. I know I have wonderful people on social media, and PLEASE don't think it's me saying that I don't care or need you, I need you SO much. You guys are a real escape and I need you. It's just hard to know who cares, who is just popping up and doesn't actually care but says they do or whatever. If that all makes sense.

In recent weeks my skin has been a bit of a nightmare again which makes things difficult too. That brings me down a lot and it's hard to keep fighting it. I feel like I'm just itching, scratching or applying cream all day. I hate having eczema and I really hope one day I wake up and it's all just disappeared and that I am free from it. It's horrible. I'm increasing anxious about winter as that tends to be the worst time, especially ones the really cold weather starts to kick in and the heating has to come back on in the house. Summer is usually a good time for my skin, but this time that doesn't seem to have been the case. I have my next dermatology appointment at the hospital on Wednesday next week so at least I have that which might help.

Finally, from me on this update, I've a big appointment on Monday, I'm seeing a psychiatrist about my mental health and my problems. I saw my doctor in July and we discussed progress. We stopped all my anti-depressants and I stopped my CBT. I felt my CBT wasn't going anywhere, I'd had 7 sessions and my therapist, Craig, was wonderful. I couldn't fault him but I just don't think it was for me. I went in feeling okay and usually come out feeling worse. I do still use the techniques that I picked up from those sessions though which is good. I'm super nervous for the appointment on Monday afternoon though. I'm hoping it will be a real help.

So that's all from me for this update. I hope you're all keeping well and I'd love to chat with more of you, especially about your mental health. How you cope and how you manage etc. I wish you all the best and thank you for reading.

Mark
05/09/2017



Saturday, 29 July 2017

5 MUST See Shows This Summer

Now that the summer is upon us I've picked out my five shows that are a must see for the holidays.

Bat Out Of Hell
Jim Steinman's Bat Out Of Hell is blasting the roof off London's Coliseum on a nightly basis. The show is mad, loud and brilliant. The classic songs are given a fresh lease of life with a cast that are just incredible. Andrew Polec leads the show as Strat, leader of the Lost, and he is a revelation on his UK debut. His voice is stunning and he hits all the big notes, especially those towards the end of the title song "Bat Out Of Hell". Strat's love interest, Raven, is played by Christina Bennington who like Andrew has a huge voice. The pair are show-stoppingly good. The duet of "For Crying Out Loud" is a standout. Raven's parents are played by Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton, they are just a joy together. "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" is easily the best moment of the first act. Dom Hartley-Harris was my favourite in the show, his vocals in particular in "Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are" are beautiful. There is fine support by Giovanna Spano, Patrick Sullivan and Danielle Steers. All 3 are brilliant, in fact, the whole company are brilliant, find me a better sounding company you won't. The stage is a visual treat and the use of cameras is clever. The show is littered with huge songs, "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)", "Dead Ringer For Love" and What Part Of My Body Hurts The Most". It's a show that you simply won't forget and I highly recommend it.

Photo by Specular
Bat Out Of Hell runs at London's Coliseum until August 22nd, before it transfers to Toronto in October. For more information, click here.



Half A Sixpence
They joyful musical Half A Sixpence plays at London's Noel Coward Theatre. It opened to rave reviews in 2016 in Chichester before its London transfer. The musical based on H.G. Wells novel Kipps is given a fresh revival by the team who brought Mary Poppins to the stage. Downtown Abbey creator Julian Fellows has written the book, British songwriting duo George Stiles and Anthony Drewe have added new songs and re-orchestrated some of the classics by David Heneker. The music is fantastic, "Pick Out A Simple Tune" is one of the best new songs in any musical in recent years. The classic "Flash, Bang, Wallop" is sensational.

Photo by Manuel Harlan.
The company are so strong, Charlie Stemp's Arthur Kipps is incredible, his energy and stage presence is special, you simply can't take your eyes off him. Devon-Elise Johnson is charming and brings the feisty Ann Pornick to life perfectly. Emma Williams is beautiful as Helen Walsingham, every show Emma is in she is utterly radiant. Ian Bartholomew a joy as Chitterlow. Bethany Huckle is a stand out as Flo, she is a fantastic younger performer, I'd keep an eye out of her in the future. A fantastic ensemble adds great spectacle to the group numbers. The musical is guaranteed to leave with a huge smile on your face.

Half A Sixpence runs at London's Noel Coward Theatre until September 2nd. For more information click here. 



Vice Versa
As part of the Royal Shakespeare Company's Rome Season, Vice Versa, a hilarious comedy by Phil Porter lovingly ripped off from the Roman comedies of Plautus. The whole production is hilarious. The jokes are perfectly pitched and the humour is clever. The company of actors are excellent, their comedy timing is superb. Felix Hayes is excellent as General Braggadocio, he is a highly talented actor and he does comedy roles so well (I previously saw him in the Comedy of Errors and Twelfth Night at the RSC). Sophia Nomvete steals the show as servant Dexter, she runs the show and her energy and performance is of the highest quality. Steven Kynman and Byron Mondahl give hilarious turns, especially as drunks in the second act. I generally don't think I have laughed at a performance in quite a long time. I highly recommend it.
Photo by Pete Le May.
Vice Versa runs at The RSC's Swan Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon until September 9th. For more information click here. 


La Cage Aux Folles
The fabulous La Cage Aux Folles is currently on a UK Tour which is nearing its end. The show follows Georges and the dazzling drag artiste Albin, star of La Cage Aux Folles, who live an idyllic existence in the heart of St Tropez. But behind the curtains of this sparkling extravaganza, all may be about to change. The show is great fun and with a fantastic heart. John Partridge gives a sensational turn as Albin/Zaza and his version of "I Am What I Am" is majestic. Adrian Zmed as Georges and Marti Webb as Jacqueline. The show's Cagelles (The Drag acts) are just stunning. They all look and sound wonderful. It's a show you'll leave with a huge grin on your face and feel a lot better when you come out. "The Best Of Times" is a song that sums up everything joyful about this show. 

Photo by Pamela Raith
La Cage Aux Folles is currently on a UK Tour, with remaining venues; Sunderland's Empire Theatre, The Milton Keynes Theatre and finally a couple of weeks in Brighton's Theatre Royal. For more information click here. 



The Wind In The Willows
If you're looking for a show for the family this summer look no further than The Wind In The Willows at The London Palladium. The show is full of charm. Again the team behind Half A Sixpence have a hit on their hands. Jullian Fellows has done the book for the show, giving Kenneth Grahame's classic story a new lease of life. Song writing duo George Stiles and Anthony Drewe have again written some unforgettable songs, "The Amazing Mr Toad", "The Wild Wooders", "The Open Road" and "We're Taking Over The Hall" are my favourites. The show is a visual spectacle to with great costume and set design.


The acting company are first class too. Rufus Hound, who is always a treat to watch, is excellent as the mad cap Mr Toad. Craig Mather brings great heart to Mole. Simon Lipkin who is another actor who is always just a treat to watch and steals nearly every moment he's on the stage, he has a great charm and wit about his performances and a fine voice to match. There's fine support from Gary Wilmot as Badger and Denise Welch as Mrs Otter, also Emilie Du Leslay as Portia. The villain of the show is Neil McDermott's Chief Weasel and his great and has two of the shows best songs. The audience on the performance I attended was mixed with the older generation to large groups of school kids, everyone lapped up the pure charming entertainment.

The Wind in the Willows runs at The London Palladium until September 2nd. For more information click here. 



That's my five picks on the must see theatre shows this summer but whatever you see theatre is hugely important and hugely enjoyable. The joy that the theatre can give you is unrivalled from any other form of entertainment.