Virtual Con ~ Your Online Comic Con

In this time of uncertainty with normal everyday life suddenly changing beyond recognition (temporarily I hope), the one form of entertainment I am missing most is Comic Cons! My family and I love them because as well as the opportunity to meet stars of large and small screen, geeky shopping sprees and all the cosplay, it’s an occasion we all take great pleasure in being a part of.

I’m a geek, and where does a geek go when they crave the company of fellow geeks for geekery? Well The Geek Asylum of course. If you’ve never heard of it, they are a 31k plus strong Facebook group of amazing people who share an abundance of interests in common.

The group are busier than ever before at this unprecedented time as they have come up with the inspired idea of an online comic-con! Want to know more about it? Of course you do…

💜Social Distancing Together💜

In this time where we’re all encouraged to keep our distance, our Facebook community based in the UK has decided to organise a WORLDWIDE virtual comic-con style event on 26th April so we can come together while being apart, with all profits going to the UN Foundation’s COVID-19 Solidarity response fundraiser.

This is being organised by The Geek Asylum, a Facebook group of over 31,500 members that promotes positivity, mutual love of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, gaming and more. We attend and support several comic conventions & events around the country, and raise money for the organiser’s choice of charity or good cause.

Virtual Con will have traders, cosplay, competitions, giveaways, celebrity guests and more – everything you already get at a comic con without leaving the house!

Already confirmed as guests are Pirates of the Caribbean star; Kevin McNally and puppeteer from blockbusters such as Star Wars Return of the Jedi and Labyrinth… Toby Philpott. Many more names to be announced! In the meantime if you are interested in participating you can find contact details below. Fancy buying a ticket to the event? There’s a link for that too! See you there. Stay safe ♥️

Trader enquiries – traders@thegeekasylum.co.uk
Artist enquiries – artists@thegeekasylum.co.uk

Tickets available here: Virtual Con tickets

What’s Love Got To Do With It ~ Preview


Smash hit tribute To Tina Turner heads out on second year of UK Tour

Elesha Paul Moses Q&A

Elesha Paul Moses has paid her dues in the entertainment world; she’s been striving for success in the music business for 20 years, via traditional grafting and TV talent shows.

And now, she’s taken her singing career to a new level starring in the mammoth tribute show tour What’s Love Got To Do With It?, celebrating the music and life of rock, soul legend Tina Turner.

Elesha, 39, who lives in Hampshire and grew up in Surrey, appeared on The X Factor in 2010, alongside One Direction, winner Matt Cardle and in the same category as the big-haired, bongo playing wild card contestant Wagner. She then reached the battle rounds – twice – on The Voice, with will.i.am in a duo in 2013 and Tom Jones as a solo act a year later. She had previously been mentored by Mathew Knowles – Beyoncé’s dad – on a Channel 4 talent show.

She is also touring the UK, and has performed in Europe and Brazil, as the late, great Whitney Houston in Whitney: Queen Of The Night – including five sell-out shows at the Savoy Theatre in London’s West End.

Brought to you by the award-winning producers behind Whitney: Queen Of The Night, What’s Love Got To Do With It? is the ultimate tribute concert paying homage to one of the most iconic musical artists of the 20th Century.

We spoke to Elesha about her love of performing, and how she loves to party with Tina fans all over the UK.

What’s Love Got To Do With It? launched in 2019, you’ve been on the road for a year now – how has it been, paying homage to a rock and soul legend like Tina Turner?

It has been incredible. Heading into the start of the show, I’d been pretty full on with Whitney: Queen Of The Night so didn’t have too much time to think about it… Then it was full on into touring mode for What’s Love Got To Do With It? and we’ve been up and down the country ever since. 

There has been so much love for the show from audiences and on social media – it’s been amazing. I’ve been working hard on the vocals, and the band, backing singers and costumes are fantastic. We love being on the road, meeting all the fantastic fans and that’s made preparing for the 2020 tour even more exciting, as we know what the reactions will be.

Fans have loved the show. What does it feel like to see such brilliant responses from the audience, and to receive the amazing reviews online?

It’s surreal, especially for someone like me as I’m really selfcritical; I’m always thinking ‘What could I do better?’, even when people are saying the show is fantastic. The comments we get are actually a little overwhelming, and we’re so very grateful for each and every one.

Seeing people in the audience having a brilliant night out, dancing and singing along is what it’s all about.

You perform as both Whitney Houston and Tina Turner – they’re very different artists. What’s it like recreating these iconic female performers live on stage?

It’s been a big learning curve, in the sense of keeping pushing on with everything I do for the two shows. 

Doing Whitney as well as Tina, you need a huge amount of stamina – vocally, physically and mentally, but in such different ways for each performance. Tina is much more the physical challenge, Whitney is the vocal challenge. But working hard to be at my best in both areas pays off on both shows.

And it’s funny really. They are such different sounding performers! Each role strengthens my voice in such different ways, but that only helps make me better in each show.

Tina’s not got a growl as such. People think it’s shouting but it’s not, it’s a very particular tone that she has, and she’s so free with her performance. 

Then when I’m on stage as Whitney it’s almost the opposite. You’re so exposed and there’s nowhere to hide as it’s a much slower, more mellow pace of show.

Compare that to Tina and What’s Love Got To Do With It?… Once you’re on stage, there’s no letting up from the moment you start. I love that very strong contrast between the two.

You have such a busy schedule with both shows running alongside each other. With two young children, how do you manage that with family life?

Mark, my husband is amazing; I have the best man in the world. I definitely couldn’t do it without him. 

My eldest daughter Kookie is turning eight soon, and she’s only ever known me to be a singer. So, in some ways, she’s used to it but occasionally she’ll say something. My little one Teddy doesn’t know any different to the schedule we now have, I’m lucky she’s so young.

For me, I’m able to shut it off to an extent, as I know this is all about building for their future – whatever job you have, you have to balance family life. I also think we’re so lucky to have things like Facetime now so you can catch up easily and see them if you are away for a few days at a time.

What’s your favourite song to perform as Tina Turner?

There are so many I love. Proud Mary is obviously so much fun, but I also love Typical Male and I Can’t Stand The Rain. But for my absolute favourite… I’ll go Proud Mary. It always used to be Simply The Best which people really loved and went mad for – but these days it’s definitely Proud Mary.

Tina Turner is still such a huge name in music, why do you think she’s still so popular?

She is just such a great all-rounder, and she appeals to men as well as women. She’s a great rock and roll artist. Her songs have never gone away. Even youngsters now, they know tracks like Proud Mary. You do those songs and they’re all over it.

Tina’s had difficult times too over the years, but she came through it. I think people like that side of her story too, as well as the brilliant music. 

How did you get into singing and performing as a tribute artist?

When I first realised I could properly sing I was about 13 – I was always mimicking others and that’s how I taught myself. But that real big belting voice wouldn’t necessarily come out. Then, listening to people like Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, those kind of artists, was when it really came to me. Funnily, I didn’t really listen to Tina Turner when I was younger, my parents played her music in the car, but it wasn’t what I took to at the time.

I was singing in a club and a friend said ‘We should do something different’, I said ‘Shall we try Whitney or something?’. I went home, put down a couple of lines of Whitney and thought ‘Oh, I can sound like her’. It went from there, and a similar thing happened when I started with Tina.

You’ve been working in the music industry for a long time – you started writing with a record company aged just 17 and have been on TV reality talent shows. Can you tell us about the switch to the world of tributes?

I never used to do tributes, I was striving to do my own stuff and put out my own music. Things happened in my life, and I was in between things not really knowing what to do. I didn’t know how to get into the tribute business, but at the same time I felt that by doing that I would miss doing my own thing too.

But I’d done my album and did lots of trying to make it before doing the TV shows. I’d tried the traditional, old fashioned methods to get signed. It was just never meant to be. So, I decided it was time to take it away from being me and into being someone else.

How was your time on The X Factor and The Voice – and what did you learn from the experience?

When I did X Factor – in 2010, 10 years ago, wow – I was in the year of One Direction and Cher Lloyd, and Wagner, he was in Louis Walsh’s Overs category with me, but I went home after judges’ houses. 

I was asked to audition for The Voice, and I first went when I was pregnant with Kookie – but I realised the live shows would be on when I was due with her so had to back out. But I auditioned again in 2013 as part of a duo [getting to the battle rounds in Team will.i.am], and again in 2014 [again, getting to the battle rounds with Team Tom]. 

Doing both of these did give me a boost at the time, even though I got so close but ultimately wasn’t successful. I don’t know what people think of me as an artist having done those shows, but I’m so grateful and glad to have moved on to what I’m doing now.

I’m 99.9per cent – no, make that 100per cent sure I wouldn’t be tempted to do it again.

Forget being mentored by Louis Walsh – tell us about working with Mathew Knowles, Beyoncé’s dad!

So, yes, I did a TV show a long time ago, where I was mentored by Mathew Knowles – Beyoncé’s dad – that was pretty mad. It was Chancers on Channel 4’s T4, and I won the chance from UK auditions to spend a month in Houston, America, where the group of us chosen had various challenges. Mine was to sing at the same studio where Whitney Houston had recorded.

That experience gave me a really tough skin, to know that whatever you do don’t worry about what’s happened in the past; it’s all brought me to where I am now.

Tickets are on sale now from www.cuffeandtaylor.com

History Boys ~ Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Star rating 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Alan Bennett has long been a playwright who’s work I jump at the chance to delve into. His penmanship is such that every character is formed before an actor and director even begins to put in their own interpretation. History Boys is long overdue a revival and the production (which has been meticulously directed by the hugely talented Jack Ryder) is a treat indeed. I could not fault it and thoroughly enjoyed a fantastic evening at the theatre.

History Boys is set in Sheffield and follows the story of a group of boys who have excelled at secondary school against many odds. Their headmaster (Jeffrey Holland) is baffled by their abilities in History yet keen to aid the lads in their Oxbridge quest and brings in a young teacher by the name of Irwin to keep them on track and give them all the help they need to pass the looming examination. We are also introduced to their current teachers, Mrs Lintott (Victoria Carling) and Hector (Ian Redford).

As we get to know each boy’s quirks, passions and ideals we also get a good insight into the lives of the teachers. There are also a few fast forwards to life after this momentous exam which are eye opening, heartening and alarming in equal measure. The set is fairly simple, making scene changes easy and fluid. There are monitors showing filmed scenes from the playground and we see madcap teacher, Hector on his ever-present motorbike. When the film picks up from the action on stage it’s wonderfully consistent and as enjoyable as the live scenes.

Jeffrey Holland is almost unrecognisable as the stern, bold Headmaster. I’m extremely familiar with him and I forgot it was Holland playing the role, he plays it brilliantly. Ian Redford is exceptional and superbly engaging as Hector. He’s quite a pivotal character and there are so many emotions in play at once, Redford explores the complexities of the role in an interesting way. Many of the laughs are induced by his lines. Lee Comley brings out the best and worst of Irwin, from his awkwardness and inner battles with himself to the passionate emotions he portrays when he attempts to push the boys beyond their limits. Victoria Carling as Mrs Lintott reminded me of one of my teachers. Compassionate, understanding and full of gumption. It’s an inspired performance of a character who could easily blend into the background.

The boys are all to be applauded for their team work, they managed to simultaneously perform as one while each showing the qualities of their characters. Arun Bassi brought a quiet confidence to the role of Akthar, Joe Wiltshire Smith was extremely entertaining as rugger-mad Rudge, while Adonis Jenieco brought Crowther to the fore subtly. James Schofield as Lockwood showed thoughtful characterisation as the cock-sure one in the group and Dominic Treacy is perfectly cast as Timms, he drew my attention for all the right reasons. Jordan Scowen’s job as Dakin was to show us a boy at odds with himself even though he appears to have no self awareness either, tricky role but he pulled it off flawlessly.

This cast give a masterclass in drama, it’s unmissable and with such a limited run catch it at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre before it finishes on 22 February: History Boys tickets

Photo Credits: Tim Thursfield/Express & Star

Blithe Spirit ~ Malvern Theatres

Star rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

One of my favourite Coward plays and starring the incomparable Jennifer Saunders in the resplendently iconic role of Madame Arcati! It’s a deliciously comedic role at the heart of a madcap tale involving a rather smug, second time married author called Charles. He’s looking for a muse to help him to write his next novel, and Psychic Medium Madame Acarti fits that bill. He hopes to find her out as a fraud and sets up a dinner party with his wife, Ruth, also inviting Dr and Mrs Bradman.

As the evening unfolds, accompanied by incessant clumsiness from new maid, Edith and much suspense when the bonkers Medium is going about her hilarious business, one thing Charles hasn’t bargained on is Madame Arcati not necessarily being the fraud he hopes she’s going to be. The reunion with his late wife, Elvira is wholly unexpected too.

It’s Coward at his best and for the most part the cast do it justice. The pace of their dialogue and interaction with each other is almost always spot on and characters who might be easy to discount and miss in the grand scheme of things are brought to the fore subtly and successfully.

Saunders triumphs in the role she was surely meant to play, she brought everything to the character that I expected her to bring. I was not disappointed in the physical comedy she added, the exceptional delivery of beautifully crafted lines and her facial expressions spoke volumes.

Geoffrey Streatfield plays Charles so meticulously that it’s easy to see his wealth of theatre experience has prepared him to do the character justice. Lisa Dillon is quite stunning as Ruth, it could be such a benign role if you allowed it to be and she has done a sterling job, a real class act. Lucy Robinson also takes a relatively smaller role (Mrs Bradman), makes it her own and engaged me in every scene she appeared in. Lucy is an actress with whom I’m familiar and it was a joy to see her on stage. Simon Coates was a great match for her as Dr Bradman, they were quite the comedy duo in fact. Rose Wardlaw provided many a laugh out loud moment as Edith the hapless maid, certainly an actress to watch out for as she really stood out for all the right reasons. Emma Naomi had wonderful poise and sensuality as the miffed spirit, Elvira, however she could have been a little more coquettish and mischievous. There’s a lot of fun to be had with that role.

Overall it was a great evening at the theatre. The set was sensational and lent itself brilliantly to the ghostly happenings. You’ll be sorry to miss this production. Some tickets may still be available: Blithe Spirit Tickets

Anton and Erin ~ Dance Those Magical Movies – Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Star rating: *****

What better way to cheer up a long arduous January than with the glorious partnership of Anton Du Beke and Erin Boag? You might know them both from BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing, although Erin finishes the show a few years ago now (and is much missed!).

The beauty of Anton and Erin’s tours is that Lance Ellington, known for his exceptional vocal ability which has been demonstrated on Strictly Come Dancing, provides vocals for their show. His velvet tones lend themselves wonderfully to all of the song choices and it was so fantastic to hear him live that I soon found myself looking him up on Spotify! If you love him too I suggest you do the same. Adding her strong voice and gorgeous dance steps to the mix is the talented Laura Emmitt. There are also six backing dancers in the company, all of whom are as engaging to watch as the main pair themselves.

From the waltz to the foxtrot to the quickstep ~ Anton and Erin led us on a journey of wonder and set the silver screen atmosphere with every ebb and flow. Accompanied by the mighty London Symphony Orchestra, it was a real treat from beginning to end.

Both stars have the gift of the gab and their chats with the audience were appreciated immensely. There’s also a chance to put your own question to them and that section of the show is as entertaining as the dancing itself. Not forgetting that Anton also has a rather decent singing voice and I adored his duet with Lance.

Dirty Dancing, West Side Story, Chicago, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Austin Powers are all included in the cornucopia of movie music choices. Austin Powers was a particularly popular option given the dance that Anton performed with his 2019 Strictly partner, Emma Barton (they was robbed!).

Make sure you catch this magical tour: Anton and Erin 2020 Tour

Aladdin ~ Malvern Theatres

Star rating: *****

Pantomime season is in full swing and there’s no denying that Malvern have the right recipe for family entertainment in UK Productions’ Aladdin. It was a Boxing Day treat indeed with a cast de force and a superb mixture of toe-tapping music too.

The show stars the inimitable Mark James, who has become a regular for Malvern Theatres (he’s already cast for next year’s production of Peter Pan!), with Jamie Steen as the most resplendent Widow Twankey and John Challis (Boycie!) as Abanazar. Audience participation was encouraged and embraced, the story was told articulately and it was traditional in the extreme which is just what I like.

There was not one weak link in the talented cast and the vocal ability of all who performed the cornucopia of well-chosen songs, was extraordinary. At times I felt as though I was watching a west end musical cast for all the right reasons.

Aaron Jenson was wonderfully engaging in the title role, he had notable chemistry with Joely Barbour as Princess Jasmine. Jacob Morris entertained as Genie of the Lamp and Loula Geater wowed as the Spirit of the Ring, comedic as well as a sparkling presence. I enjoyed Danny Rogers’ performance as the hilarious PC Pong and Gary Davis made the role of the Emperor his own, little nuances here and there transformed the part. Jamie Steen is by far one of the best Dames I’ve seen and he suited the role of Widow Twankey wonderfully. John Challis was pretty fearsome as Abanazar while Mark James as Wishee Washee had the audience on side with every appearance ‘where’s me mates?’ Brilliant!

There is still plenty of time to book your seats and I promise you won’t regret it. Oh no you won’t!

Aladdin tickets

Photo credits: Lisa Roberts photography

Dear Santa Live!

Star writing: *****

One of Rod Campbell’s classic tales is brought magically to life in festive style and you simply must catch it on tour this Christmas.

The story which undoubtedly captivated the imagination of children of all ages (even big kids!) centres around a very moralistic little girl called Sarah. Whilst decorating her Christmas tree she decides that she should write a letter to Santa. Does she ask for lots of toys? Surprisingly, no she doesn’t. Instead, in an unusual move, she asks for nothing and would prefer Santa to give her share of toys to children less fortunate than her.

There’s plenty of fun to be had with Santa’s Elf who gets the audience in an excitable mood ready for the arrival of Santa Claus. It’s packed with audience participation opportunities and lots of Christmas songs to be joined in with too.

The overall message is quite touching and Santa’s choice to give Sarah a very special present bears its own meaning too. It’s the perfect way to start Christmas and the kids can meet Santa and get a present too!

Book now: Dear Santa Live!

Dick Whittington ~ Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Star rating: ****

Panto season has well and truly started in the midlands, oh yes it has! What better way to kick off the festivities than with a trip to the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre on the theatre’s 125th birthday?

Starting Coronation Street’s Ryan Thomas in the title role, the show is jam-packed with all the old favourite pantomime traditions. It’s a fast-paced cornucopia of jokes for all ages, engaging choreography and songs that haven’t been plucked directly from the top 40, which we all appreciated in our little party.

Ian Adams (writer, director and Dame) should be glowing with pride at such a spectacular triumph. He’s a seasoned pantomime performer which shines through, however the talent he clearly possesses as far as writing and direction is concerned was not lost on me. Aaron James was on top comedy form as Jack, his impersonations alone were outstanding. Jeffrey Holland was a perfect choice for Alderman Fitzwarren, bringing his usual exceptional stage presence to the role. His energy is incredible and did cause me to wonder if he might still be able to play the Dame, a character I know he has played wonderfully many times in the past. It’s undeniable that the effervescent and incomparable Su Pollard stole the show as Queen Rat. What vocal ability! I loved her comedic take on the villainous character, she remains a force to be reckoned with for all the right reasons. As a Hi De Hi! fan myself, the reference to the show (which was fitting given both Pollard and Holland’s presence in the cast) made my night.

The special guest appearance made by Jimmy Tarbuck delighted the audience. What a superb treat! Due to the Grand Theatre’s big birthday, Tarbuck played the role of the Sultan. There were a few puzzled youngsters who wondered why there were two Sultans, as Tom Roberts actually plays the role and came on after him to carry on with the show after the special interlude. The adults in the packed auditorium were all in raptures though.

At this time of year it’s inevitable that the dreaded ‘lurgy’ will do the rounds and it does seem to be making itself known. However, this is a fabulously strong cast who gave their all, oh yes they did!

Book your tickets now: Dick Whittington

Images: Tim Thursfield – Express & Star

Six ~ Malvern Theatres

Star rating: *****

Welcome to the show to the historemix! What an inspired musical Six is! It is easy to see why it is an award winning piece of theatre and a sell out to boot.

It reminded me of a history lesson combined with the feistiness of the characters in the West End hit ‘Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour’ mixed with the vibe of The Spice Girls. Something for everyone? Most definitely and possibly a good way to introduce younger audiences to theatre too.

There was enough sequins to make the Strictly Come Dancing costumes look plain, the backing band wouldn’t have looked out of place with Robert Palmer and the cast had all the right credentials for a successful girl band line up!

Every tune was catchy and every girl had an amazing singing voice. Lauren Drew was exceptional as Catherine of Aragon, Maddison Bulleyment shone as Anne Boleyn, bold and ballsy lass indeed! Lauren Byrne provided stark contrast as the meeker Jane Seymour, Shekinah McFarlane was fierce as Anne of Cleves. Jodie Steele’s vocals were incredible as she rocked the role of Katherine Howard and Athena Collins gave a memorable portrayal of Catherine Parr the sixth wife.

You’d have to be as mad as Henry VIII to miss this lesson in history and life! Go, watch, enjoy and watch out for ‘Don’t Lose Ur Head’ that was my favourite. Book now:

Six tickets

Reviewed by Jen Franklin

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