King Kong is Back!

Fifty years after its first exhibition, a key piece of Birmingham history has returned to the city. 

The brainchild of Birmingham property developers Cordia Blackswan in collaboration with Hockley Social Club, a seven metre (22ft) statue of King Kong is on display at the the new King Kong Park on Great Hampton Row in the Jewellery Quarter. 

Created by artist Nicholas Monro, King Kong was commissioned in 1972 for display in Manzoni Gardens in the Bull Ring. Following the brief to make it ‘city oriented,’ the 18ft fibreglass statue (chosen because of its association with New York City), quickly became a popular icon but was sold four months later once sponsorship funding dried up. After being displayed elsewhere in Birmingham and then at markets in Edinburgh and Penrith, it now resides in a garden overlooking the Penrith Hills. 

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Press Review: Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em at The Alexandra Theatre

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ An evening of hilarious and unadulterated chaos. A joy to watch!

Note: This review is for the UK 2022 tour.

Based on the beloved 1970’s sitcom by Ray Allen starring Michael Crawford and directed by the award-winning Guy Unsworth, Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em tells the story of the accident-prone Frank Spencer (Joe Pasquale). His wife Betty (Sarah Earnshaw) has exciting news, but he’s preoccupied by possible newfound fame as a magician. Joined by Betty’s mother Mrs Fisher (Susie Blake), her boyfriend Mr Luscombe (Moray Treadwell), and priest Father O’Hara (James Paterson), there are plenty crossed wires, misunderstandings and mishaps as Frank and Betty attempt to host a dinner party and do an interview with the BBC. 

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Date Night in the City

Part of my Happiness List for July is Date Night – spending time with The Bloke for no other reason than just because. An opportunity presented itself recently to go out into Birmingham and do just that.

Those of you who have followed the blog for a long time will be aware of my obsession with the musical RENT. It has been something that has been a big part of our relationship – he has ‘No Day But Today’ engraved on the inside of his wedding ring, we walked back up the aisle to ‘I’ll Cover You’ after we got married, he even went along with it when I wanted to go and find Antony Rapp when we went to watch it in London in 2016 (read about the whole adventure here). While it’s our favourite show it’s rare that we get the chance to see it, so when an ad appeared on Facebook that there was a performance at the Blue Orange Theatre in the Jewellery Quarter that evening we booked tickets and decided to turn it into a pseudo-spontaneous date night. 

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An Interview with Hayley Ria Christian: Midnight Train to Georgia

Capturing the essence of the Multi Award Winning Ms Gladys Knight, Hayley Ria Christian performs the magic of Gladys Knight’s hits in Midnight Train to Georgia, appearing on stage at The Alexandra Theatre on Thursday 7th July.

I had the opportunity to have a chat with Hayley about the show, her love of Gladys Knight’s music and her own experiences throughout her amazing career.

I’m so excited about the show! Tell us more about it!

I created the show in mind of Gladys Knight’s story, with hits that you know she did, but also the hits that you’re thinking “ooh! I didn’t know she did that one!” too. She did a lot of covers, but also a lot of people have done lots of covers of hers. I want to introduce people to the original music and share the love. 

Hayley Ria Christian in Midnight Train to Georgia

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Creating a Happiness List

In light of recent revelations about changes that needed to be made and breaking out of the little bubble I have built for myself, I decided to start by breaking everything down and working out what it was that I actually wanted to do to make those changes in a productive way. 

I was talking to my sister-in-law recently and she suggested creating a Happiness List. It was quite a profound idea – thinking about what it is that creates happiness and actively working towards it. 

It’s sometimes difficult to remember that we are responsible for our own happiness – there is nobody else that knows us as well as we do – and a Happiness List is a great way to take charge and create a personal level of accountability.

I thought I would give it a try…

Image: Ivan Samkov on Pexels

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Breaking Out of the Bubble

At the halfway point of the year I have found myself reflecting on the last six months. At the beginning of January, when everything was feeling fresh and exciting with lots of new possibilities, I set just a single goal. Hitting the ground running I threw myself into making it happen, and so far it has. Unfortunately, the quest to achieve has started to have a detrimental impact in an unexpected way, and so I have decided to make a few changes.

I love my job. Genuinely. I love, love, love it. I get to work with fascinating people, learn new things and don’t have the confines of working for someone else. I don’t have a daily commute, my schedule is my own and I can take time off to suit my own lifestyle.

At least, that’s how it should be. 

Image by Andre Furtado – Pexels

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Press Review: Guys and Dolls at the Alexandra Theatre

 ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ A fun production for all the family!

Directed by Stephen Duckham, with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, and book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, Guys and Dolls is the latest production from the BMOS Musical Theatre Company, an amateur performing arts group with members of all ages from across the West Midlands. 

Revered as one of the classics, Guys and Dolls tells the story of Nathan Detroit (Pat Pryce) who needs $1,000 to host a crap game. In an effort to raise the money, he bets gambler Sky Masterson (James Gordanifar) that he can’t take the virtuous Sister Sarah Brown on a date to Havana, Cuba. Meanwhile, Nathan is also being chased by his fiancé of 14 years, Miss Adelaide (Jo Smith), who is desperate to get married and settle down…

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An Interview with Patrick Pryce from the BMOS Birmingham Musical Society

BMOS Musical Theatre Company returns to The Alexandra stage to bring to life Guys and Dolls, a fantastic and funny musical story of gambling, luck and love under the bright lights of Broadway. I had the opportunity to speak to BMOS member Patrick Pryce who is playing Nathan Detroit.

Tell us more about the show!

Guys and Dolls is the classic 1950’s musical, made famous by the film starring Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra. It’s all about a gangster called Nathan Detroit who is trying to run an illegal crap game for some dodgy characters in New York, and he’s got to find a venue but he needs $1,000 but he’s broke. He’s constantly being chased by his fiancé of 14 years, Adelaide, to get married. He comes up with a scheme to bet a high rolling gambler – Sky Masterson – $1,000 to raise this money that he needs. He bet’s Sky that he can’t take a girl from the Salvation Army, Sergeant Sarah Brown, to Havana in Cuba. The hard-nosed, high-flying Masterson does take her to Havana by tricking her in saying that he will bring some sinners to her prayer meeting, but he falls in love. 

The thing with Guys and Dolls is that the show is hilarious – it’s zany, funny, it’s got all the magic numbers like Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat, Luck Be a Lady, If I Were a Bell, it’s amazing. 

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When the Universe Steps In…

… or, Queen + Adam Lambert, doing too much and getting covid.

At the beginning of May I proclaimed that my goal for the next few months would be to take it easy.

The intentions were good, but I ended up doing the exact opposite. 

That is, until the universe stepped in. 

May and June were filled with lots of positive things and brilliant opportunities. 

Work-wise, it was crazy busy, in a good way. I often find that freelancing is comparable to buses (ie. you wait for one for ages and then three all arrive at once) and this is what happened as soon as I decided to take a bit of a step back – it went nuts. I LOVE what I do it, but it isn’t the work itself that takes the time, it’s the calls, meetings, planning and set up that really sucks the minutes from the day. Admittedly, there was a period of a few weeks where I was worried that I had taken on more than I could handle. I eventually figured out the best way to move forward, got into a routine and it has been much better since, but I’ll be more cautious in the future not to take on that amount all in one go again!

On a Saturday morning a few weeks ago, I was downstairs in the living room watching TV, and I heard The Bloke thundering down the stairs. He rushed into the room, almost yelling:

“Want to go and see Queen and Adam Lambert?” 

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Press Review: 25 Years of Lord of the Dance at The Alexandra Theatre

In 1994 I watched (along with millions of others around the world) as Michael Flatley, Jean Butler and a troop of incredible dancers performed a new take on Irish dancing during the interval show at the Eurovision Song Contest in Ireland. A rare moment where the interval act eclipsed the main show, Riverdance went on to become a worldwide sensation.

I still get goosebumps thinking about it. 

Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance debuted on July 2nd, 1996 and 25 years later, I sat in The Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham as the next generation of dancers, singers and instrumentalists (most of who weren’t even born during the original performance) brought Lord of the Dance to life on stage.

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