A few weeks ago I turned 40. Those of you who read the blog regularly will know that I had my birthday celebration in September – The Bloke and I went to London for a few days and did lots of eating and exploring. (In case you missed it, you can find the post here). Rather than sending me a present in November, my family and friends had very generously gifted me some birthday money towards it – it was very reminiscent of our honeymoon in New York four years ago in which we did as much as possible, took photos of what the money was spent on (which were predominantly glorious meals in random places all around the city) and sent them to everyone with a thank you message.
Consequently, my plan for the day of my actual birthday was to do nothing. My Out of Office was switched on, my social media clients were informed that I was on annual leave and I told The Bloke that I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything other than watch my favourite films and have food brought to me. It was definitely the right decision – it was freezing cold and we had an unexpected and rather large amount of snow (yes, I can hear my Canadian friends laughing at what we term as a large amount) which would have made a trip anywhere difficult.
Written by Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice, with music by Bob Gaudio and lyrics by Bob Crewe, the award-winning Jersey Boys tells the true story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, from their beginnings as four guys from New Jersey, to their meteoric rise to fame with their distinctive style and eventual induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While this may appear as a classic musical rags-to-riches story, we get to see the real trials and tribulations of behind one of the biggest bands in history – from stints in prison and run-ins with the mob, to debt, divorce and the loss of Valli’s daughter.
There’s nothing better than speaking to someone who genuinely loves what they do, and Norton James is clearly one of them. Currently starring in the UK Tour of smash-hit musical Jersey Boys, I had the chance to have a chat with Norton and find out more about his life as an actor, being on stage and what it’s like being in an award-winning show.
Tell me a little bit about you! How did you become an actor?
My dad trained as an actor and he ended up running a theatre which actually isn’t too far from Birmingham so it was always in the family! It started with a teacher called Tom Goodluck who gave me the role of Mr Bumble in Oliver as I was the biggest kid in school, and I thought “oh, I quite enjoy this!” and it all kind of started from there. I was playing rugby and I found theatre and I thought “ah, I prefer that!”. From that I went off to drama school and I’ve focused on it over the last five years and I’ve been very fortunate to work and keep everything going.
You’ve done it. Your book has been planned, drafted, written and re-written multiple times, sent to beta readers, sent to an editor and re-written again. You’ve created a cover design or hired someone to create one for you, suggested some changes and approved the updated version. You’ve formatted it, put together a launch plan and then, (finally), your shiny new book is published!
Alice in Wonderland is a retelling of the Lewis Carrol classic, with a young cast of performers from BOA (Birmingham Ormiston Academy).
Creatively reimagined, Alice in Wonderland focuses not on Alice herself, but the experiences of her three daughters as they navigate the eclectic and bizarre world of their imaginations. Alongside the well-known characters of the story – the White Rabbit, Mad Hatter, Cheshire Cat, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum and the Queen of Hearts – we are introduced to plenty of weird and wonderful personalities, from talking doors and playing cards, to a crab, Pat the Guinea Pig, Bill the Lizard and a rather hilarious cook.
We all want to meet people from history. The trouble is everyone is dead! So it’s time to prepare yourselves for Horrible Histories live on stage with this special production of Barmy Britain!
I was unable to attend, but my friend Anna was more than happy to oblige on my behalf!
Directed by Neal Foster with music by Matthew Scott, Horrible Histories is the stage adaptation of the critically acclaimed franchise. The show is unusual in that it stars just two performers – Jack Ballard as Rex and Morgan Philpott as Roger. Would this take anything away from the performance?
Note: This is a review for the 2021 UK Tour of Death Drop.
Starring Ru Paul’s Drag Race legends Willam, Ra’Jah O’Hara, Karen from Finance and the UK’s very own Vinegar Strokes, Death Drop is killer comedy that is set in a mysterious mansion in 1991, as group of rather flamboyant and unique guests gather for a dinner party to celebrate the 10th wedding anniversary of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. With plenty of hidden secrets and shady behaviour, the ferocious finger pointing and savage speculation begins as one-by-one each guest is murdered.
Starring Ru Paul’s Drag Race legends Willam, Ra’Jah O’Hara, Karen from Finance and the UK’s very own Vinegar Strokes, the killer comedy is set in 1991, as a gaggle of guests gather on the mysterious Tuck Island for a dinner party like no other. The tension rises as the outrageous guests reveal their questionable pasts and hidden secrets. As the ferocious finger pointing and savage speculation begins, one by one they sashay away, until at the last, nerve-shredding, side-splitting moment we find out who-dunnit!
I got the chance to have a quick chat with Ra’Jah O’Hara at Mailmaison Birmingham ahead of the Birmingham shows to find out more about Death Drop, her character Summer Raines and what makes the ‘Queen of the Death Drop’ tick.
Note: This review is for the 2021 UK tour of 9 to 5.
Dolly Parton’s smash hit musical returns to the Alexandra Theatre direct from rave reviews and sold out shows on the West End and I couldn’t have been more excited. I was lucky enough to see the show just over 2 years ago on the same stage so I already knew that it was going to be a good night.
Based on the 1980 film starring Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton, the show has an Oscar, Grammy and Tony award-nominated score by Dolly Parton herself, and a book by the iconic movie’s original screenwriter Patricia Resnick.
When three orphaned children – Charlie (Conor O’Hara), and his siblings Carrie and Paul* are reluctantly evacuated from wartime London following the death of their parents to live with the eccentric Eglantine Price (Dianne Pilkington), they have no idea what adventures lie ahead. They discover that Eglantine is a trainee witch, who is learning magic from spells she has bought from Emelius Brown (Charles Brunton). Complete with a flying bed, an enchanted bedknob, a broomstick and a book they go on an incredible adventure to find a secret spell that will defeat their enemy, which takes them from Portobello Road to the depths of the beautiful briny sea.