Press Review: Chicago at The Alexandra Theatre

Note: This review is for the 2022 UK Tour

The last time I saw Chicago on stage was on the West End about fifteen years ago. I have vague memories of enjoying it but nothing of note stands out, so I was looking forward to seeing it again. 

With multiple Broadway and West End revivals, tours and a 2002 Hollywood film starring Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones, multi-award winning Chicago is one of the most revered and well-known musicals in history. Set in 1926, Chicago tells the story of Roxy Hart (Faye Brooks), who faces trial for murder after killing her lover. To avoid an almost-certain conviction and death sentence she hires charismatic lawyer Billy Flynn (Darren Day), who concocts a sensationalist storyline to dupe the public, the tabloids, her rival cellmate Velma Kelly (Djalenga Scott) and downtrodden husband Amos (Joel Montague). 

Continue reading

Press Review: The Addams Family at The Alexandra Theatre

Note: This review is for the 2022 UK Tour of The Addams Family.

They’re creepy and they’re kooky… and absolutely hilarious. 

The weird and wacky Addams Family were on stage last night at The Alexandra Theatre, and if ever a show surprised me, it was this. 

The cast of The Addams Family. Photo: Pamela Raith

Continue reading

An Interview with Kara Lane from The Addams Family Musical

Everyone’s favourite kooky family are coming back to the stage in The Addams Family, a spectacular musical comedy from the writers of multi award-winning hit musical Jersey Boys, with music and lyrics by TONY AWARD nominated Andrew Lippa.

I had the honour of being able to chat with Kara Lane, who plays Alice Beineke in the show. With a lovely Australian accent and a great sense of humour, I wanted to find out more about The Addams Family musical coming to The Alexandra Theatre this week and her experiences as a performer.

I’m so excited about the show! I’ve have seen the TV show and the movies but the musical is new to me. Tell me more about The Addams Family and what can the Birmingham audience expect from the show?

It’s fun, it’s silly, it’s witty, it’s such a great form of escapism which is what I think we all need right now!It’s the same kooky family that you know from the TV show, the movies and the cartoons, but with a brand new adventure. It’s actually set a little bit later in time – Wednesday Addams has grown up and she has found a boyfriend. You’ve got Joanna Clifton playing Morticia, Cameron Blakely (who has done countless West End roles) playing Gomez, you’ve got Scott Paige (Uncle Fester) and Kingsely Morton who is playing Wednesday. She is fresh out of college, although when I say fresh out of college I mean before the pandemic, so life has been on hold since then. I love that all of them in the family have really captured the essence of the characters that we all know and love without impersonating them, they’ve been able to bring something fresh to the roles. I grew up watching the 60’s TV programme so it’s quite close to my heart, and when things are that close to your heart you tend to be a bit biased to the original, but I think everyone has really nailed their characters. It’s such a fun night out!

You play the role of Alice Beineke in the show. What preparation have you done to get into character and to develop your role?

Alice is the mother of Wednesday’s boyfriend, Lucas (who is played by the lovely Ahmed Hamad), but she’s not a character that the audience may have any preconception about, unlike the rest of the family, so it has been a lot of fun to create a character almost from scratch really. Without giving too much away, she definitely goes on a journey throughout the show, trying to be the perfect wife to her husband Mal, played by Sean Kingsley. 

Kara Lane as Alice Beineke in The Addams Family

Continue reading

January No Spend Challenge Update: Week 1

At the beginning of January I set myself a challenge to spend as little money as possible over the month. There were a few reasons for this:

  • I needed a new challenge to try 
  • My goal for this year is a financial one
  • January is the quietest month in terms of birthdays and events 
  • I needed something to kickstart a frugal mindset that I hope will carry me through the rest of the year.

I set myself some rules for the month:

  • Money can (and should!) be spent on rent, bills and essentials like groceries, toiletries and petrol.
  • Money can be spent on parking should an activity be free. The reason why I am including this is that we have several press reviews at the theatre coming up over January, and while the tickets are complimentary we pay a few pounds for parking.
  • Should I need to go somewhere, I am allowed to spend money on bus fare, but not on a taxi unless it is an emergency (Note: I never learned to drive, hence why I am including this).
  • I am not allowed to spend money on non-essential items, including new clothes, books, takeaways, snacks, meals out, taxis, drinks at the pub etc.

Before I started I was unsure of how much I spent each week. I don’t really buy much online except for the birthday and Christmas presents. Fashion isn’t my thing – I have a few nice outfits for when I go out but my wardrobe generally consists of hoodies and sweats. I do love my makeup but my last big purchase was a Pat McGrath palette a few months ago which will last me quite a while, and replacements of eyeliner and mascara were bought for me as Christmas presents. What on earth was I going to do a no spend challenge if it didn’t appear that I spent much money?

It turns out, I had very little idea about my spending habits.

Continue reading

Press Review: Bat Out of Hell at the Alexandra Theatre

Note: This review is for the UK 2022 tour. 

Bat Out of Hell is a rock musical with with music, lyrics and book by Jim Steinman. Steinman was a prolific songwriter, with hits including Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart, Celine Dion’s It’s All Coming Back To Me Now and Air Supply’s Making Love Out of Nothing at All, but is probably best known as the composer of the songs for Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell album trilogy. These are predominantly the musical numbers that feature throughout the show. 

Continue reading

How to Do a No Spend Challenge

In yesterday’s post I mentioned that I had just one goal for 2022, which was financial. To kickstart this goal I have decided to participate in a month-long no spend challenge.

What is a No Spend Challenge?

A no spend challenge is setting a period of time to spend as little money as possible. In my case the no spend challenge is lasting for a month (the entirety of January), but no spend challenges can be followed for one day a week, a weekend, a whole week, fortnight, month or even a year.

There can be numerous reasons to start a no spend challenge:

  • To get back on track financially after a period of excess – Christmas, birthdays, holidays etc.
  • To stop impulse spending and being more mindful of where your hard-earned money goes
  • To kickstart your savings
  • To pay off debts
  • To change your mindset towards money and finances
  • To help break addictions (eg. smoking)
  • To avoid becoming overwhelmed by the rapidly increasing cost of living

Personally, I am primarily doing a no spend challenge to start really building up my savings, be more mindful of how and when I spend my money, and to stop impulse spending on things that are irrelevant and unnecessary for the lifestyle I want. 

How to Do a No Spend Challenge

Continue reading

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

New Year’s Eve was both a good and sad day. The Bloke and I had a buffet of party food and watched The Proposal, only to see the announcement a few hours later that Betty White had passed away. I was genuinely gutted about it – I think the reason why we watched the film was because I had seen Ryan Reynold’s tweet a few days before and we realised we hadn’t watched the film in ages, and it was a genuine shock when we checked our social media afterwards. Such a sad loss and an incredible woman.

Continue reading

2021: A Year in Review

The Bloke asked me the other day of my opinions of the last twelve months. Admittedly, my initial thought was to respond with “dumpster fire.” On a general day to day basis it has been tough. Working from home sometimes means that it is difficult not to get into your own head and can feel like you’re spending 24/7 within the same four walls, and during moments of extreme stress there is little escape. However, amidst the lows there have been a number of highs.

The start of 2021 was indeed a dumpster fire of epic proportions. Within the first month The Bloke got covid (this was before the vaccinations were available) and was incredibly ill for weeks while being quarantined upstairs, two family members had heart attacks (both are thankfully doing okay), the roof in the kitchen started caving in after five years of asking the landlord to fix it and when I lost my temper he put our rent up in retaliation. A few weeks later I had to have a tooth removed – a small filling fell out just before covid hit in 2020 and dentists were closed for months – and after a year the tooth became so damaged the only option was to take it out. 

Continue reading

Chrimbo Limbo

It’s that point between Christmas and New Year where many of us feel like we are in Chrimbo Limbo. Christmas is over but it’s not quite time to take down the decorations yet (although I do know a few people who have), and there are still a few days until the new year. I’ve seen quite a few social media memes about not knowing what time of day it is or what is happening, and I can relate. 

For the first time in almost a year I took a period of annual leave that was more than just a few days. After working so hard for such a long time and experiencing high levels of stress over the last few months I found it disorienting and difficult to relax at first – even when I was in my jammies and watching Christmas films I felt a little agitated, like I should be doing something and it took a few days to be able to get into the it’s ok to have a rest mindset. I think I needed to decompress. It has made me think about the importance of regularly taking some time for myself next year – the mental state that I was in before Christmas wasn’t an entirely healthy one and despite the fact that I enjoy my job, I need to start setting some very clear boundaries when it comes to workload and client demands and expectations. 

Continue reading

Christmas in Narnia at Castle Howard

Earlier in December I took my Mum to York for her birthday. This was something we had been planning for a while – neither of us had visited before and it was a great opportunity to spend some time together as we hadn’t seen each other in person since June.

Part of the trip was to explore Castle Howard. Mum had wanted to visit since watching the Brideshead Revisited series in the 80s which was filmed there (in fact, it has been used as the location in many movies and TV shows, most recently serving as the family home of the Duke of Hastings in Bridgerton), and I discovered that there was a Christmas in Narnia event taking place at the time we wanted to go. Perfect. I booked us a hotel in the centre of York so that we could also explore the city.

Continue reading