Category Archives: Musicals

2 out of 3 ain’t bad

Last Saturday, Kathryn and I set off to London on a  coach  to complete 3 of my challenges:

  • Challenge 2 – visit the Ritz (change of venue due to afternoon tea being a little more expensive than poor student (Kathryn) can afford
  • Challenge 3 – while in London for the Ritz, gone and see a show you haven’t seen before
  • Challenge 20 – try some sort of course with your daughter

Due to a change of plan with going to the Ritz, we were combining 2 and 20; Jordan had given us a Christmas present for the Cookery School in London to do a Cookery course. We picked an afternoon tea course so we were going to be shown how to make and also participate in making tea plus eat it afterwards.

With the show, we put the pressure on Jordan; Kathryn and I gave Jordan the name of 2 shows that we wanted to see and got him to pick one and organise the tickets for us. When we set off, we didn’t know each other’s choices and just had an envelope with tickets in and instructions to get us to the theatre. At the coach station, we told each other the choices.

Kathryn’s choices

The Lion King
Book of Mormons

My choices

42nd Street
Stepping Out

On the coach we opened the envelope. Jordan had chosen Stepping Out with Amanda Holden starring.

To relieve some boredom (and to get back at the fact my theatre choice had been chosen), Kathryn decided that I should have a German lesson. Well, I soon got her back for that; remember Phoebe trying to teach Joey French in one of the Friend’s episode. That was exactly what it was like. My pronunciation was definitely not coming out the same as I was hearing it. By the end of the coach journey, I could almost remember the German for:

I am an accountant
On Wednesday, I dance at Zumba
But last week I read

By the end of Saturday, I remembered nothing. Oh well, another challenge on the way.

We had lots of time before the course started so instead of taking the tube, we decided to walk. Walking instructions are easy to find when you have a mobile phone; following the starting instructions are another matter. No idea what go north on this road means. Needless to say, a few wrong directions but we did find our destination. On the way, we did pass the Ritz. We are going to have tea there one day.

We needed food. I spotted a Slug and Lettuce and decided that would be a good place to go. One of my things now I am 50 is to try to avoid the chains but Slug and Lettuce does give you reasonably priced food and a variety of choices. I went semi healthy and chose a chicken Caesar salad in a tortilla bowl. I wasn’t expecting this but it was nice.

It was then time to get wet. My weather app hasn’t been too helpful recently but it had said rain in London between 12 and 2 so I was prepared. Gave us an excuse to pop into some shops. Then we headed to Little Portland Street for our course.

We were both a bit nervous about this. There were eight of us altogether and the other people were very nice. We had a glass of wine at the start; probably not a good thing for me. Course started promptly at 2 p.m. and we were shown how to make a sweet pastry which we were going to be using for small lemon tarts. Then we were shown how to make bread and how to prove it. Some mixture had already been made to use for some rolls. This was our first job; we were expected to roll into rolls. Now something you should know is I hated home economics at school. I was never going to be a cook and I was happy to give up the subject. Ironic that as soon as I had my own kitchen and, with the aid of cookery books, I began to enjoy cooking. Memories of my dread at school came back and whilst I would never shine in this cookery course, I certainly know I had the skill to pull off some, if not all of the recipes. Some would need practice but in Tina’s way, I will do them.

We were soon filling pastry cases, watching lemon curd and jam being made, getting tips on how to make a ganache (I will be trying this), preparing scotch eggs, slicing and buttering bread (really do you need all that butter) and watching scones being made. It was soon time to eat what had been prepared. With a glass of sparkling wine, we sat down and toasted to our tea. It was all yummy and the cucumber in the sandwiches which had been salted and allowed to drain with a saucer on top, was very good. The rather delicious cake with cream in the middle and ganache on top but it was a little too much after all the other delights.

All in all, the course was very good and I came away with some good tips but I am not sure if I would take part in another course like this. I alway follow recipe instructions but do like to have the freedom to make my own mistakes and learn about them in my own.

The streets of London were very crowded and Jordan’s detailed instructions to get us to the theatre had to be abandoned due to the station being closed. We thought we would walk there. Once again, directions proved a little difficult to decipher and it probably took us longer to get there.

The show was at the Vauderville theatre situated in the Strand. On presenting our tickets, we were told to see one of the other ladies who would reseat us. I had given Jordan a budget for our seats and we should have been seated in the upper circle. We were changed to stalls and had a great position. Feeling very good for the change certainly encouraged me to buy a programme for my 50th box.

Stepping Out isn’t one of the singing musicals we normally go for but more a comedy with characters who had sad stories to tell but with a very good feel ending. It was written by Richard Harris as a play and later into a film with Liza Minnelli playing a former Broadway dancer. Mavis now teaching a weekly tap dancer to a group of women and one man who have different personal issues but enjoy their one night trying to learn to tap. Mavis hears about a competition and decides to enter the group in it.

I don’t think I have seen the film but it has always been highly recommended by Lana, our Zumba teacher. Amanda Holden, who plays Vera in the production we saw, actually saw the film and decided she would love to act in a theatre production with some of her acting friends.

I was intrigued by the play and I managed to escape to my own little world watching it. It was a play which I laughed so much at but cried too with the pain each character went through. The cast was fantastic and played each character so well. It was easy to miss something going on in the background. The first half is short. The final half longer and leads you up to the finale which you are expecting.

There are so many shows in the West End that it is hard to pick one to go to. That’s why we gave the choice to Jordan. The theatre wasn’t full which is why we probably had a change of seats but I really enjoyed the show and am pleased that we went to see something different.

On starting this post,2 Kathryn has told me that I am not allowed a tick for challenge 20 which disappointed me. With only 12 days left, I don’t think I’ve enough time to fit a different course in. Oh well, guess 2 out of 3 isn’t bad and going to have to get ready for not getting 50 ticks! We did have a lovely day in London.

Walk like a man (fly like a bird)

Today is my little boy’s birthday. Well, not so little; Jordan is 24 today. Probably not as excited about his birthday as he used to be but he is still home to celebrate with us.

I did get to spend a lovely Saturday with him last week. For Christmas, he had bought me tickets to see the Jersey Boys so we were off to see that. It had been Jordan’s first week back in London in a new job so he met me at Victoria. He was keen to show me his skills with getting around the city.

The day, February 18th, was glorious which was a big contrast to our previous day out on the 9th February which I will share with you later.

After a lovely lunch in a restaurant we found by exploring down a lane, we walked down Regent Street towards Oxford Street admiring all the big shops. On our way back towards the theatre, Jordan did have to consult google maps so he is not so hot on getting about when cutting through the little lanes. We did pass Carnaby Street which I must go back to.

Jersey Boys first opened in London in 2008 in Prince Edward theatre and moved to Piccadilly Theatre in 2014. The final performance is on 28th March. The 2nd national tour has started so the show is hopefully continuing in our local theatres.

Jordan had bought very good tickets in the stalls although they were right in the middle so we had to climb over everyone who had not had a problem finding their way to the theatre! It did mean that we decided to give interval ice-cream a miss.

Jersey Boys is the story of how the Four Seasons were formed and takes you from their downtown beginnings in New Jersey to finding success with their wonderful voices. We learn that The Four Seasons wasn’t their first name, the line up changed many times and whilst finding fame, the competition was tough.

The show was amazing and the cast was fantastic. I did enjoy learning the story about The Four Seasons and recognised all the songs. Whilst I would have heard the songs through my mum’s old record collection (I am sure she had many), my greatest memory of Frankie Valli was singing the title song of Grease and Beauty School Drop Out. Grease is actually one of my favourite top 10 films so very memorable. With so many shows I would like to see, I am going to be a bit picky about shows I see for the 2nd time. Jersey Boys is one I would go to see again because it was an interesting story with great songs.

Whilst we have a great time, Jordan did miss out on flying. He is learning to fly at moment and it is a hobby which is weather dependent. Unfortunately yesterday was too windy for flying so fingers crossed next week he will be able to fly and perhaps go solo (trying not to think about that).

Thank you so much, Jordan, for my Christmas present and have a great birthday.

Another song in another show

One of my favourite pastimes is going to see a show. I certainly went a lot in 2016; 2017 looks as if there might even be more.

I bought tickets as a Christmas present for Chris to see Evita at The Mayflower. It wasn’t on my list of shows I wanted to see but I was sure that he had expressed an interest. My memories of Evita was from watching the film with Madonna and Antonio Banderos. Despite liking both of them, I just didn’t get it. With my new open mind about how things, I was looking forward to seeing the show.

The show is telling the story of Eva Peron, wife of former Argentine dictator Juan Peron. Eva was played by Emma Hatton who had previously played Elphaba in Wicked, one of my favourite musicals. Gian Marc Schiaretti played Che, who is narrating the story.

Right from the beginning, all the songs started becoming familiar. When Che sang Oh What a Circus, I could hear David Essex singing it. The story is all told in song (not everybody’s cup of tea but I love it). It takes a lot of concentrating but I was mesmerised by it and just when I didn’t think anything could take away the beautiful voice of Emma’s, Another Suitcase in Another Hall is a song sang by Peron’s mistress who has been told to leave by Eva. When performed, if I had seen the show with Kathryn, we would have had one of our moments where we would have looked at each other with crumpled faces, not believing anyone could be so talented. It was so beautiful.

The second half starts with Eva singing the main song, Don’t Cry For Me Argentina. It was so powerful as you would have expected from Emma; as Elphaba she would have performed Defying Gravity many times. The second half was just as good as the first and I thoroughly enjoyed the show. I think Chris did too!

My theatre season continues in February with a visit to London. Jordan has bought me tickets to see The Jersey Boys.

Happy singing!

That’s Entertainment

Since reaching 50, I have been able to watch films without falling asleep which is a big thing for me.  I tend now to only watch what I want to and also do something when I am watching.  Can even cross stitch too.
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I have even been to the cinema four times and only paid for one of them.  Technically with the help of Tesco club card and Nectar I have though.  I have seen Me Before You, Ghostbusters (love those women) and Finding Dory which is a must for two 50 year olds.

The funniest film that I have ever seen and never stopped laughing so much, has got to be Bridget Jones’s Baby. I went along with Chris.  It was a packed cinema too and Chris was a bit of a minority in the audience.  There were probably only three men there. There are so many funny moments that when I talked about the film with Kathryn, I had forgotten about the man that worked at Starbucks! Trying not to give that away.

Bridget, played by Renee Zellweger, has grown up but still capable of getting herself into lots of trouble.  I so want her to be her.  Colin Firth is back again with the bumbling Mark Darcy and I can’t give anything away about Hugh Grant.  It was great to see the return of the old cast plus the gorgeous if not naughty Patrick Dempsey and one of my favourite’s, Emma Thompson.  I just love her.  It was probably the best of the three Bridget Jones films but I still love the other two. The soundtrack is wonderful too.   I now want to try the old glamping thing out.

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The same week was an annual visit to the theatre with my two friends, Kelly and Leanne.  This is our third show and we have previously seen Wicked and Stomp. This time it was the foot tapping Mamma Mia with all those fantastic Abba songs.  We enjoyed our usual pre-dinner and wine at Nick’s Restaurant before heading to the Mayflower theatre.    Mamma Mia is definitely a show you see with a group of people and you want to go along for a jolly evening.  It certainly had great reviews and as it was the first time in Southampton, I knew plenty of people going to see the show.  There were a few groups who had dressed in the 70’s Abba outfits and I certainly missed out on wearing my 70’s hat I had bought for an Elton Tribute night.

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I had seen the film and loved that.  The show did not disappoint and it was not hard to dance along to the music.  The actress who played Donna had an amazing voice and her two friends were very entertaining.  Wish I could do the splits like Rosie.  The three possible fathers were just like the characters from the film.  I loved the friends singing Super Trouper but I have no idea why but I do love Our Last Summer sung by Harry. I think it is the Colin Firth connection from the film.

It was the very good evening and a most enjoyable show.  Just have to plan our next year’s big night out.

Flash, Bang, Wallop – what a picture

I have mentioned before that I love my iPod and on it is stored lots of different music.  Included is music from West End Shows which I love.  As a child, I was lucky to go to some great shows at the local Kings Theatre in Southsea as our teacher was the Conductor with the Portsmouth Players.  I first went to a West End show on 18th October 1991 to see what will probably be my favourite show, Miss Saigon.  I remember seeing it being performed on the Terry Wogan show in 1989 and knew that I had to see it. It was a Friday night and going to see the show in Drury Lane was just magical.  It was an experience that will stay with me forever.

25 years after this and I have seen many musicals.  I say Miss Saigon is my favourite but each time I go to see a show, I love them all for different reasons.  The theatre experience is not the cheapest of night’s out but such an enjoyable one for me.  Even before I hit 50, my daughter insisted my birthday should start early and treated me to see Guys and Dolls.  We both went in not knowing what the musical was about and were treated to a brilliant show with some wonderful talent.  Hearing Richard Fleeshman sing just brought tears to our eyes – what a voice.  This is certainly one of the reasons why I love going to the theatre, and whether it is professionals or amateurs, I can’t help get goosebumps when I hear amazing voices.

I am lucky to live close to many theatres so do have quite a good choice of shows.  One of the theatres is Chichester Festival Theatre in one of our favourite cities which we love to shop in.  The theatre does have a lot of new musicals appearing in the Summer season and I have always said “I wish I had seen that show”.  When I saw that Half A Sixpence was going to be there for the summer season, I was determined to go.  I remembered watching the film many times as a child and loving Tommy Steele’s big grin in it.  Tickets purchased, we made our way to Chichester and I thought it would be a good idea to achieve challenge 37 – buy a new lipstick.

I decided that I would treat myself to a special one and as I haven’t got a clue when it comes to make up, I headed to the Clarin’s counter at House of Fraser and ask for assistance.  A lovely lady called Alicia tried three lipsticks on me.  She got the sale before even trying them on as she told me my lips were beautiful!  I liked all three but decided to go for the in between one called Rosewood.  Not too bold but would be fine for day time to night time.  It was a bit of an expensive purchase for someone who doesn’t spend on make up but it was worth it.

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New make up to put into a birthday present
New make up to put into a birthday present

After a downpour of rain which meant we stayed in House of Fraser for lunch, we made our way to the theatre in sunshine.  The grounds of the theatre are lovely and I did refuse a glass of champagne from the Nyetimber bus.  Reason being I would have probably fallen asleep whilst watching the show.

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Well there wasn’t any chance of me doing that.  I do get so engrossed in musicals.  I did love the singing and the familiar songs but I couldn’t keep my eyes of the lead, Charlie Stemp.  His dancing was fantastic.  I did love the Money to Burn song with the banjo music. The finale was the familiar Flash, Bang, Wallop which is such a joyful end to the show.  I certainly came away loving the show.

Well Flash, Bang Wallop brings me on to another completed challenge.  I had to buy a Lanzarote frame when in Lanzarote.  That was the easy part.

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I then had to print a picture of myself with my son and daughter taken whilst we were in Lanzarote.  Whilst we took lots of pictures, the only photos we had together were when we took the day trip on my 50th to Fuerteventura. Hopefully I will be allowed this one.

Flash, Bang, Wallop
Flash, Bang, Wallop

Now printing it wasn’t as easy as I thought.  It needed cropping and after a few failed attempts, Chris took pity on me and almost fitting some of the lyrics in Flash, Bang, Wallop, it was “stuck in the fam’ly album” – well frame!

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So there are two more challenges completed.  Must get on with a few more now.