At the beginning of 2022 I set up a double page spread in my bullet journal titled ‘Memories and Highlights.’ This created a space where I could record all of the individual exciting things I experienced throughout the year and served as a reminder that this year hasn’t been as bad as I thought.
Because let’s face it, in terms of the year from a national perspective, it’s been a dumpster fire with a dose of accelerant thrown on top. Three prime ministers in a year, the worse economic position in decades, food, gas and electric prices skyrocketing to the point where people are having to choose between heating their house during the winter or feeding their children while utility companies boast about record profits, workers from our postal service, trains, nurses, paramedics have been forced to strike… and to top it all off our Queen died. So many of us are tired, worried and angry.
Usually in the build up to Christmas I post at least something about getting ready for the festive season, what I plan to watch and comments about our wonky tree (that is now so ancient I’ve started to refer to it as ‘Old Faithful’).
This year, however, I was whacked by all the flu and cold germs flying around and my body semi-shut down and went NOPE for several weeks. I know exactly where it came from too – in early December a woman who had a raging cold sat next to me on a train when I went up north to visit my mum and for the entirety of the trip she was coughing and spluttering and wiping her nose on her sleeve. I started to feel ill about four days later. Nice.
Combined with the fact that I had been caught in multiple downpours and the freezing temperatures that hit the UK, I also think that I was burnt out. The last few months in particular have been ridiculously busy and I haven’t been great at taking care of myself. In a way, it felt like the universe was stepping in and telling me to rest.
A little while ago I was given the incredible opportunity to see a preview of the Christmas show at The Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham: Dreamgirls.
Dreamgirls tells the story of Effie, Lorrell and Deena – three talented young singers in the turbulent 1960s and 1970s, a revolutionary time in American music history. We follow the journey of the three friends as they embark upon a musical rollercoaster ride through a world of fame, fortune and the ruthless realities of show business, testing their friendships to the very limit.
Directed by Bill Kenwright, Saturday Night Fever tells the story of Tony Manero (Jack Wilcox), an Italian-American living in Brooklyn, New York with his family. Working as a paint clerk during the week, Tony lives for the weekend where he is the undisputed king of the local disco. When a dance competition is announced, he meets the beautiful and talented dancer Stephanie Mangano (Rebekah Bryant) and convinces her to become his partner.
Sephy and Callum sit together on a beach. They are in love. It is forbidden. Sephy is a Cross and Callum is a Nought. Between Noughts and Crosses there are racial and social divides. A segregated society teeters on a volatile knife edge. As violence breaks out, Sephy and Callum draw closer, but this is a romance that will lead them into terrible danger…
Based on the first book in Malorie Blackman’s Noughts & Crosses series, directed by Esther Richardson and adapted by Sabrina Mahfouz, Noughts & Crosses offers a love story (very loosely based on Romeo & Juliet) set in an reimagined society. The Crosses – all people of colour – hold the power, while the Noughts – the white population – are at the mercy of the discriminatory rules and restrictions placed upon them. Sephy (Effie Ansah), a Cross, is the daughter of the Home Secretary Kamal Hadley (Chris Jack) and lives a life of privilege. Her childhood friend Callum, a Nought, has won a place at her prestigious school for Crosses, causing a violent series of protests and backlash. Their developing romance is strictly forbidden, and both sides face huge barriers and prejudice while trying to simultaneously be together while finding their own paths.
Presented by Bill Kenwright, directed by David Esbjornson and adapted from the novella by Owen O’Neill and Dave Johns, The Shawshank Redemption tells the story of Andy Dufresne (Joe Absolom), who is wrongfully convicted of the murder of his wife and her lover and is sent to the notorious Shawshank facility to start his double life sentence. As he deals with the harsh brutality and cruelty of prison life, he strikes up an unlikely friendship with the prison fixer Ellis ‘Red’ Redding (Ben Onwukwe). However, when his talents for accountancy are discovered by Warden Stammas (Mark Heenahan), he realises a desperate plan to escape is needed…
Back in July I acknowledged how much my working life had taken over and decided that I needed to break out of the little work / sleep / work / sleep bubble I had created for myself. Thankfully, I have been able to do just that, but this hasn’t freed up much time or improved my ability to sit down and actually write about it. In a desperate attempt to catch up, here’s three months of life experiences in a single post, just in case I don’t get the chance to write another one for a while.
I have still been able to do my regular reviews at the theatre which I look forward to. It’s a great way to spend the evening – a lovely team, great building, and when you get a show that absolutely blows the roof off, it leaves you with a buzz that can last for days.
One of those shows has been Bat Out of Hell. Within the first five minutes when I saw it in January I knew that I was watching something special, despite that fact that I had absolutely no idea what was going on for some of it. Just like my RENT obsession that developed some years ago, I have fallen equally in love and decided that I absolutely had to see it again. So, I booked The Bloke and I tickets to see it at The Winter Gardens in Blackpool and a hotel room for the night.
It’s been a few years since we last visited, so we set off super early to avoid any potential M6 traffic hell, and found ourselves stood on the pier on a dull, but very warn day at 8.00am. For the rest of the day we were shameless tourists – we went to the top of the tower (during which The Bloke mustered up enough courage to actually walk on the glass), won prizes on the horse racing game and played on the 2p machines in the arcades, ate junk food and bought snacks from a shop where the guy behind the counter was actually wearing a bullet proof vest. And then we saw the show, it was amazing, and I was so overwhelmed that I cried on the way back to the hotel. It was just fabulous, even with the drunken men who decided to sing so loudly that two rows physically moved to get away from them.
As news spreads of a murder in London, a group of seven strangers find themselves snowed in at a remote countryside guesthouse. When a police sergeant arrives, the guests discover – to their horror – that a killer is in their midst! Which one is the murderer? Who will be their next victim? Can you solve this world-famous mystery for yourself?
Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap at the Alexandra Theatre plays for six nights as part of its 70th anniversary tour and was a fantastic way to spend Tuesday night this week, and a full house no less. Lucky for us, The Mousetrap has continued to delight audiences for much longer than the initial fourteen months that Christie herself said she would “give it,” in the fifties when it debuted.
Decades before the boy band explosion of the 90s was The Osmonds, a clean-cut, all American family of musicians who grew up on the television. From their star residency on The Andy Williams Show to the arrival of Donny and Marie, The Osmonds lived a remarkable life recording chart topping albums, selling out vast arena concerts and making record breaking TV shows – until one bad decision cost them everything.
Directed and co-written by Shaun Kerrison, written by Jay Osmond, the story of The Osmonds is told through the eyes of Jay in a series of flashbacks from their beginnings as a group under the watchful eye of their military father, the success of Merrill (Ryan Anderson), Alan (Jamie Chatterton), Jay (Alex Lodge), Wayne (Danny Natrass) and Donny (Tristan Whincup) as a band, sister Marie (Georgia Lennon) and little brother Jimmy (Samuel Routley), their meteoric rise to fame and subsequent fall, and the trials and heartbreak that accompany being a member of one of the biggest musical names of all time.