Birthday Blog-Post

As you know, dear readers – I don’t often take to my blog for particularly personal posts, however my big 40 arrived on Monday and it’s inevitable that I’ve reflected on the past 10 years. Where in my standard day I’ve been able to fit in this reflection is a bafflement when I spends most of my waking hours trying to remember everything my social butterfly son has going on in his little life! I wouldn’t have it any other way though.

Entertainment Views (previously known as Break A Leg) turned 6 years old last month so blogging has dominated my 30s for sure. It’s no wonder my husband and son roll their eyes when they spot me with my laptop – which at times has been almost permanently glued to my knees.

One of my favourite shows of 2019 – Club Tropicana

Theatre has been at the heart of everything I’ve done, and it will certainly continue to be as my passion for it has been awoken ten fold over the past months. Music goes hand in hand with theatre of course so that has taken a prime position in my blogging career and I will also be carrying on with as many movie reviews as I can squeeze in, it’s easier now that the youngest reviewer in the ‘team’ can sit still for at least 5 minutes in the cinema.

When I turned 30 I had very little to think about apart from myself, which was a fairly easy task…. sometimes easy…. occasionally easy…. not all that easy! A month after I turned the big 30 I joined a local amateur musical theatre group to have a go at performing on the stage myself, something I’d often given thought to but not considered myself cut out for. My amateur performing career started with a bit of fun in the chorus of Hello Dolly and finished with the role of one of the daughters in The Pirates of Penzance – I met the man who would become my husband and we have our own little family now. Although my days of cavorting about the stage are over, my husband will never leave performing behind (and so he shouldn’t, he’s ace!) and our son is a born performer. I, on the other hand prefer to write about it!

Another memorable occasion from my 30th year was a double show day in London’s West End with my very best friend, Hayley. We had both hit 30 that year so we celebrated with a matinee of Blood Brothers and an evening performance of Phantom of the Opera. It was the first time we had seen either show! Those of you who follow my blog will know that we have seen ‘Blood Brothers’ many many times since and we could probably play the roles of the boys in a gender swapped production, we know it so well!

Sarah Jane Buckley as Mrs Lyons in Blood Brothers

As I enjoy the last few days of my 30s I’m hugely grateful to the various people who’ve come into my life over the past decade. They might not be so grateful… but I am. The vast majority of them have stuck around and become friends whom I treasure, some have come and gone quickly and taught me a lesson along the way.

One of the most poignant moments occurred on Wednesday night, I had been kicking my heels up in London (I say heels, for the most part I was sporting Mickey Mouse trainers… what else?!). In the afternoon my friend Jen (whom I met four years ago through my blog) and I had been sitting level with the most humungous chandelier. We were in the cheap seats at the Old Vic, watching open mouthed as the legendary Sally Field and Bill Pullman did their thing on stage in All My Sons. In a traditional two show day to celebrate her birthday and mine, we strolled across the river to watch Mamma Mia! which was light relief after the intensity of the previous production we’d chosen. Joining us in the audience that evening was one of the most recent friends I’m delighted to have in my life, Yvonne Howard. I had seen her play Katisha in The Mikado with ENO when Sky Arts had broadcast it and thought she was the bees knees. As I sat in the beautiful Novello Theatre, Jen on one side of me and Yvonne on the other, with my three favourite Dynamos (Sara Poyzer, Kate Graham and Ricky Butt) being their usual talented selves on stage together with another new friend of mine, the wonderful Stephen Beckett (nobody wears the finale costume like Mr Beckett does!) – it was akin to a culmination of my past 6 years as a blogger. A Night to remember for sure, one of the happiest places for me is singing Abba tunes in amongst a full standing ovation surrounded by friends on stage and off.

MAMMA MIA! London Cast 2018/2019

There are moments in life we never forget, however large or small – and most of my treasured memories have taken place in the theatre in one way, shape or form! So here’s to my 40s and more years of spreading the word about entertainment goodness.

To complete my rambling I’d like to give you my top 40 theatrical moments from the past decade – indulge me if you will, the list has been a joy to reflect upon!

Iolanthe (ENO was one of the highlights of my year in 2018
  1. Top of the list has to be first being introduced to Sara Poyzer, Kate Graham and Ricky Butt as the dynamos in Mamma Mia! Not only did their stunning performances reawaken my love of musical theatre, their sheer exuberance, energy and talent has turned me into a life long fan of all three ladies.
  2. Stephen Beckett must come next, not only for his brilliant portrayal of Bill Austin in Mamma Mia! but also for his memorable performance as Prospero in The Tempest at Stafford Castle.
  3. Yvonne Howard’s performance as the Queen of the Fairies in Iolanthe at the Coliseum last year. She is responsible for my interest in opera going beyond Gilbert & Sullivan, even though this particular production was a G & S.
  4. Sticking with Yvonne Howard, I’ve yet to see her live as Katisha in The Mikado with The ENO – however watching her via the broadcast on Sky Arts was one of the pinnacle moments in my love of theatre.
  5. All My Sons at the Old Vic was firmly on my radar as soon as I knew that Sally Field and Bill Pullman would be leading the cast. It’s not every day that Hollywood legends perform on stage and certainly not a regular occurrence for that to happen in London. I will never forget the buzz of seeing them right there in front of me bringing a level of intensity to a classic play that moved me immeasurably.
  6. Blood Brothers ~ the countless amounts of times I’ve watched the show speaks volumes. Plus I LOVED Sarah Jane Buckley playing the role of Mrs Johnstone, she understudied the part so opportunities to see her were limited, but thank goodness I was able to see her.
  7. The Girls – or Calendar Girls the Musical was so good I saw it twice in the West End and I’m all set to see it on tour too. One of the best moments in the West End version was Claire Machin as Cora singing ‘Silent Night’.
  8. Club Tropicana was one of the cheesiest musicals I’d ever had the pleasure of reviewing, but it was absolutely brilliant and Kate Robbins stole the show.
  9. Cats, I’ve seen it plenty of times before, but I went to review it at New Wimbledon Theatre with my lovely friend Judy Buxton and she had never seen the show. So not only was I blown away as usual by the content, I was also overwhelmed to watch my companion’s reaction as she was overcome by the emotion of the show.
  10. Move Over Mrs Markham at The Mill at Sonning was a fantastic highlight of last year, starring the aforementioned Judy Buxton, her husband, Jeffrey Holland, plus the super talented Finty Williams. A farce de force!
  11. Sunset Boulevard at the old Comedy Theatre, London (now the Harold Pinter Theatre) was a defining moment of my 30th year – I adored Kathryn Evans as Norma Desmond and the show inspired me to have a go at treading the boards myself. In fact it was ‘With One Look’ that I used to audition to join a musical theatre company.
  12. Gypsy at the Savoy Theatre absolutely rocked my world. Imelda Staunton has long been a favourite actress of mine but this performance was on a whole new level. I will never forget Julie Legrand as Electra either!
  13. Wit at the Manchester Exchange Theatre starring Julie Hesmondhalgh has to be one of the most poignant pieces of theatre I have ever seen. She is so much more than Hayley from Coronation Street and the sublime Julie Legrand also starred in the production.
  14. I think that Jeffrey Holland is one of the most talented stage and screen actors around and his one man show And This Is My Friend Mr Laurel is exceptional – I can’t wait to watch it again.
  15. The Rocky Horror Show has to be seen to be believed and is one of my best loved musicals. Audience participation aplenty and great fun to dress up as weirdly and wonderful as we all like. Let’s do the time warp again!
  16. Evita – not only one of the most powerful Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals in my humble opinion but one that holds s many special memories. One of the most poignant being my son’s first kicks when I was expecting, it was during ‘Peron’s Latest Flame’.
  17. The Mousetrap, a legendary show that I was delighted to finally see – it’s an intricate tale and what a superb set!
  18. 42nd Street was one of the first musicals my parents took me to see so to be able to review the production in the west end last year was an amazing opportunity. Clare Halse was an incredible Peggy Sawyer.
  19. Wendy and Peter Pan at the RSC still resonates now as a production, it was magical and enticing. I loved Rebecca Johnson’s performance as Mrs Darling too.
  20. Present Laughter, the Noel Coward play was on my radar when it toured as it starred Phyllis Logan and I had been keen to see her on stage. It did not disappoint and neither did Ms Logan. Rebecca Johnson also co-starred and gave yet another excellent performance.
  21. My second experience of watching the marvel that is Phyllis Logan on stage was provided by a two-hander play called Switzerland and it was spell-binding.
  22. The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium was glorious, I’d invested my time in watching the search for Dorothy on BBC One so to be able to see the winner in action was quite something. Plus Michael Crawford was outstanding.
  23. Wind in the Willows which was also on at the London Palladium was so much fun, I loved the songs and Jenna Boyd was a real treat in her roles as well as the irrepressible Rufus Hound.
  24. Over The Rainbow starring Lisa Maxwell and Gary Wilmott was a stunning piece of theatre, heartbreaking and packed with biopic content. Maxwell’s performance was second to none.
  25. Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour was a raucous riot of a show from beginning to end and a fabulous afternoon out with the girls, especially with Hooch on offer!
  26. King Lear at the Globe Theatre was worth all the standing up to see Kevin McNally as the King and a fantastic cast – it was one of the best incarnations of the piece that I have seen.
  27. Avenue Q brings puppetry and inappropriateness galore, it’s one of the most hilarious evenings in the theatre I’ve had. You’ll not be able to get the lyrics out of your head.
  28. The Lady Vanishes is one of my favourite plays from this year so far, I’ve not been so engrossed in a mystery on stage in a long time. Tension in the auditorium created by the drama on stage was palpable.
  29. The Snowman is one of my favourite films and on stage it’s a wonder. Ballet and enchantment, it’s not to be missed and I will definitely watch it again in the future.
  30. I’d never seen Ruddigore before, however last year I was delighted to have the chance to see it at Malvern Theatres. What a performance the whole cast gave, they were a sensation.
  31. Night Must Fall was a gripping thriller I had the pleasure of reviewing in Malvern a few years ago, starring the marvellous Gwen Taylor. It’s a play I’d be interested in reviewing again as I spent so much of the previous experience on the edge of my seat!
  32. Ghost Train was another fine example of a play which left me with many questions. Judy Buxton was memorable in this as an eccentric older lady. She was great fun to watch.
  33. Anita and Me was a fine example of a poignant play set ahead of its time. and with a stellar cast too it’s one of my favourites.
  34. Brassed Off was a wonderful production which started life at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre and was yet another chance to see Jeffrey Holland on stage. Beautifully done.
  35. Jersey Boys was an emotional one to watch, one of our best friends whom we lost at the end of 2016 adored the show and had seen it many times. I could see why he loved it so much, it was joyful and also informative.
  36. The Buddy Holly Story is one of my all time favourite shows, it’s got all my best loved hits in it! Of course it’s tinged with over-riding sadness but anyone who knows the story before they watch the show will be expecting the inevitable.
  37. 9 to 5 at Upstairs at the Gatehouse was such a fabulous show and worked in the small scale space. Pippa Winslow was on fire as Violet.
  38. Pippa also starred in The Sound of Music on tour and I loved that production, it was well cast and the closest to the film version that I’ve seen.
  39. Funny Girl, a show I’d managed to miss in the west end however on tour I saw Natasha Barnes, much celebrated for stepping into Sheridan Smith’s shoes and boy could I see why. Nova Skipp did an excellent job of standing in as Fanny Bryce’s mother too.
  40. Finally, nobody shines on stage quite like my husband Garry McWilliams, he’s the consummate professional even when he’s appearing in amateur production. His training at Arts Ed never fails to show and I think he’s a talented performer. I am biased, but it’s also true!
Jeffrey Holland – And This Is My Friend Mr Laurel

That’s all folks! I can’t wait to make more memories and fall in love with many more productions during the next decade. I’ve got lots in the diary so I look forward to sharing my thoughts on my theatrical meanderings during my first year in the 40s club.

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Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels

Hard to believe it’s been 30 cracking years since that loveable double act, Wallace & Gromit first graced our screens and quickly gathered a cracking following of fans of all ages. They’re one of my favourite animated duos of all time, in fact my little family and I met Gromit at Blackpool Pleasure Beach last year! Are you a fan of Wallace and Gromit too? If so, read on!

Carrot Productions team up with Aardman Animations for Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels UK tour in Spring 2019

The 38 date tour will feature live orchestral accompaniment from a professional orchestra drawn from members of the Hallé and BBC Philharmonic orchestras among others.   

In May and June 2019, Carrot Productions will tour Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels to 38 major venues across the UK, including London’s Barbican Centre, Manchester’s The Lowry, and Birmingham Symphony Hall.

Speaking about this new venture for her organisation, Carrot Productions’ Managing Director, Rachel Whibley, said: “We are so delighted that Aardman have granted us exclusive rights to launch this tour in the UK. With six years’ experience behind us of presenting The Snowman to thousands of satisfied audience members across the country, we are well placed to deliver this wonderful Wallace & Gromit programme. It will be a pleasure to present such a high-quality show in partnership with the inspirational team at Aardman, providing huge fun for audiences of all ages”.

Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels features Wallace preparing to perform his musical masterpiece My Concerto in Ee Lad with help from his faithful companion Gromit. This interactive experience features specially created animations as well as live orchestral accompaniment and escapades from the Picture House Orchestra and presenter Matthew Sharp. The show also exclusively features a screening of the all-time classic animation, The Wrong Trousers, again with live orchestral accompaniment.

Sean Clarke, Head of Rights and Brand Development, Aardman added: It is wonderful to see Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels going on tour in 2019, the 30th anniversary year of Wallace & Gromit! Carrot Productions have produced a fantastic show, featuring live orchestral music for one of Aardman’s best loved shorts, The Wrong Trousers, and we look forward to audiences across the UK having the opportunity to enjoy this unique musical experience.”

Carrot Productions are an innovative organisation: over the years they have commissioned several new works – both music and animation – to perform alongside The Snowman. They are relishing the opportunity to cover further new ground with this ambitious Wallace & Gromit tour.

Aardman, the world famous, four times Academy Award® winning animation studio, are creators of Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep, Creature Comforts and Chicken Run among others. Nick Park’s Oscar-winning The Wrong Trousers was Aardman’s first 30-minute film and is one of the most successful animated films ever made.

Presenter Matthew Sharp is an internationally renowned musician, actor, director and performer.  He is recognised as both a compelling classical artist and a fearless pioneer, with his adventures in music and across disciplines described as ‘unrivalled’ and ‘unprecedented’. Booking for the tour is now open via the Carrot Productions website https://www.carrotproductions.com/

(c) TM Aardman/W&G Ltd. All rights reserved.

Bobbi Brown Red Carpet Make-Over

It’s no secret that I attended the National Television Awards at The O2, London last month. Two of my buddies and team-mates joined me for the experience and we had a fantastic girls day and night out. As luck would have it, Bobbi Brown UK had re-launched a studio in the Oxford Street John Lewis store merely months before we planned to celebrate awards season.

Thanks to their wonderful PR, the three of us were treated to a red carpet make-over so that we were awards ready and the hassle of applying our own make-up was one thing ticked off our list for the evening ahead.

We were greeted by Molly, Aaminah and Kyah who immediately made us feel at ease (none of us are regulars when it comes to putting ourselves in the hands of make-up artists!) and we were quickly seated in front of the mirrors ready to put out trust and faith in these wonderfully creative professionals.

Molly immediately started to work with the colours of my dress for the evening which I was conveniently wearing for the session. You’ll see my before and after photos below, the first being of my completely make-up free face and the second being the after result.

My skin treatment and makeup from the Bobbi Brown UK range included:

Skincare – Cleanser/Toner – Extra Treatment Lotion, Treatment – Extra Repair Serum, Eye Cream – Extra Repair Eye, Face Cream – Extra Repair Moisture Cream

Skin Foundation Stick Shade – Porcelain

Corrector Formula – Creamy, Shade – Extra Light Bisque, Concealer Formula – IEC, Shade – Porcelain

Foundation Formula – Extra tinted balm, Shade – Alabaster tint, Correct & Perfect – Skin Stick – O

Powder Formula – Nude Finish, Shade – Porcelain

Bronzer – Stonestreet, Blush – Pink Brightening Brick, Highlight – Pink Glow

Lip Colour – Rose Petal Nourishing, Lip Pencil – Pink Mauve

Brows Formula – Brow Shaper, Shade – Brunette

Long Wear Eye Base – Light, All Over Shadow – Cream (Night Drama)

Lower Lid Shadow – Torched (Night Drama) Sunflare Luxe, Crease Shadow – Heat Ray Luxe

Eye Liner Formula – Black Ink/Charcol, Shade – Ogel/Eyeshadow

Mascara – Smokey Eye

Hayley Makepeace – Before Photo

My long-time very close friend, Hayley Makepeace experienced the Party Ready treatment from Kyah – you can see her make up free photo above and below is her finished look…

The result! Make-Over completed and Party ready!

Hayley’s look was achieved with the following Bobbi Brown UK products:

Skincare – Soothing cleansing oil, Treatment lotion, Hydrating eye cream, Vit enriched face base, Extra illuminating balm – bare glow

Instant Full Cover concealer, Shade – beige

Skin foundation, Shade – beige

Nude Finish illuminating Powder, Shade – Nude

Bronzer – Medium, Blush – Tawny, Highlight – Afternoon Glow

Lip Colour – Downton Plum Luxe, Lip Pencil – Pink Mauve

Brows Formula – Perfectly Defined LW Pencil, Shade – Mahogany

Eyes – Golden Bronze Shadow Stick, Crease Shadow – Taupe

Eyeliner Gel – Sepia Ink, Shade – Black Ink

Smokey Eye Mascara

Allspice Sparkle Shadow

Clear Brow Shaper

Jen Franklin – without make-up!

Jen Franklin is a close friend I met on social media a few years ago and we share many common interests. Jen was treated to a Soft Glam make-over. Check out her before photo above and the finished picture below!

The result! Jen’s Soft Glam Look…

Jen’s Bobbi Brown UK Make-Over was achieved by Aaminah with the following products:

Skincare – Hydrating tonic, Hydrating Eye Cream, Hydrating Gel Cream

Skin Foundation Stick – Beige #3

Corrector Formula – Creamy Corrector, Shade – Bisque, Concealer Formula – Instant Full Coverage, Shade – Beige

Foundation Formula – Skin long-wear weightless, Shade – Beige #3, Correct & Perfect – Skin Weightless Powder Beige #3

Powder – Nude Finish Illuminating Powder, Shade – Nude

Bronzer – Natural, Blush – Tawny Brightening Brick, Highlight – Pink Glow

Neutral Rose Luxe Lip Colour, Lip gloss – Nougat

Brows Formula – Powder, Shade – Mahogany

All Over Eye Shadow – Golden Bronze/All Spice, Lower Lid Shadow – Rich Brown

Smokey Eye Mascara

3-in-1 Hydrating Setting Spray

Here we are – ready for the National Television Awards. Thanks Bobbi Brown UK!

Highlights of 2018

I’m late with last year’s highlights but suffice to say that 2018 was a fantastic year for shows of all genres. A great mix was on offer for Entertainment Views to attend and there have been so many wonderful memories made along the way. Here are just a few of the stand-out opportunities I had…

Iolanthe (ENO)

Gilbert & Sullivan’s operettas have been on my radar for years and I’ve watched many of them, however I had never seen Iolanthe nor the wonderful ENO performing one of their famous operettas. So – the chance to see Iolanthe performed by the ENO at London’s Coliseum was too good a chance to miss. With Yvonne Howard giving an outstanding performance as the Fairy Queen and a cast de force, all I can say is bring on its return! Iolanthe Review

Hotel Transylvania 3

What a movie! My movie of the year for sure! If you’ve never seen the other movies in the franchise it doesn’t matter, you can dive into this one and soon get the gist of the hilarious plot and get to know the madcap characters. A great film for grown ups as well as kids.

Falstaff (Garsington Opera)

Opera is one of my new loves and Falstaff was one of my first experiences of a non-operetta style. It starred Yvonne Howard who (as you already know) is one of my all-time favourite performers and Henry Waddington was exceptional in the lead title role. Garsington offers beautiful surroundings and a unique setting – I hope to return this summer.  Falstaff Review

Falstaff by Verdi;
Garsington Opera at Wormsley;
13 June 2018;
Sir John Falstaff – Henry Waddington;
Conductor – Richard Farnes;
Director – Bruno Ravella;
Designer – Giles Cadle;
Lighting Designer – Malcolm Rippeth;
Movement Director – Tim Claydon;
Photo credit: © CLIVE BARDA/ArenaPAL;

Coventry Comic Con

One of my favourite Comic Cons returned for its second year and it was a glorious set-up as expected. Plenty of stalls, activities and cosplayers as well as a great spacious layout. Our who family love this one and can’t wait to go again this year. Coventry Comic Con Review

Blood Brothers

I adore Blood Brothers, it’s one of my all-time favourite musicals and for the past couple of years one of the best actresses (in my humble opinion) has been playing Mrs Lyons and understudying the role of Mrs Johnstone – the brilliant Sarah-Jane Buckley. I was lucky enough to see the show a few times in 2018 and look forward to seeing it again this year, although a few cast changes are afoot… Here’s one of my latest reviews: Blood Brothers Review

This Morning Live! 

I am a huge fan of This Morning and for those who know me well, you’ll be aware that I am also a massive fan of Ruth Langsford and Eamonn Holmes. In Birmingham we’re really lucky to have the This Morning Live! show at the NEC and it was a superb experience. From shopping to cooking masterclasses to meeting the presenters themselves (I only managed to meet Alison Hammond this time around but she is amazing and so lovely) – I couldn’t recommend the show more. This Morning Live! Review

Sixties Gold Show

I’ve long been a fan of The Searchers and I’ve supported them on solo tours on many an occasion – however this was the first Sixties Gold tour I’d been to. It was one of the biggest highlights of my reviewing year and I’m really looking forward to the next one. It was such an amazing night, buzzing! Sixties Gold Tour Review

BBC Good Food Show

I’ve been interested in going to the BBC Good Food Show for years, I finally grabbed the opportunity to attend their winter show and it was everything I hoped it would be! I’m looking forward to attending the summer show this year. BBC Good Food Show

Claire Richards solo gig

I adore Steps, I have so many favourites from among their epic back-catalogue, however I am also loving Claire Richards as a solo artist. She’s got such a powerful voice and her versatility knows no bounds. A superb gig at Birmingham Town Hall showcased her talent, the album is out very soon and my review of her gig is here: Claire Richards Review

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Malvern Theatres)

Malvern Theatres has long been top of my list of midlands-based theatres and their production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was a brilliant cornucopia of mad-cap stereotypical panto antics. Su Pollard was a revelation and stole the show. A well deserved five stars! Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Review

The Future of Entertainment Views

On a final note, I wanted to update all of my valued readers and subscribers on the direction that 2019 will most likely see my small corner of the internet, taking. You can find a bit about this particular rambling on my https://entertainmentviews.co.uk/about/ but I wanted to use this post to chat a bit more about blogging and me. As an established blogger juggling a young family as well as having a bash at hanging on to a day job too, I’m often asked all of the questions I’m about to answer…

When

In 2013 I branched out as an independent theatre blogger, reviewing shows at the local theatres I’d built up a relationship with on behalf of an established review site which sadly no longer exists. Break A Leg Review was born at around the same time as I discovered I was pregnant so my progress was slow to begin with, although I kept up with it as much as possible. I worked full time in a day job with the NHS and my morning sickness was as backwards as I can be, in that it appeared in the evenings!

Where

I was reviewing in and around the West Midlands as that’s where I’m based and I had managed to secure a place on press lists at most of the theatres that I frequent. In 2015 I was lucky enough to connect with London theatres and due to suggestions from the various people I was interviewing, meeting and liaising with – I added movie and television reviews to the mix as well as music too. My blog took off in ways I could never have imagined during that year.

Why

I made the decision to reach out to London theatres (and many other venues around the UK) as well as add other types of review to my blog because I had become a mum in 2014. That’s the quick answer. Becoming a mum changed my life in thousands of ways. To begin with, I was so consumed by the tiny little boy in my life that I considered giving up my blog. However, having returned to my day job on a part time basis while I searched for a different career that would suit motherhood and the juggling, I was considering blogging and therefore working from home, as a viable option. I ended up in another NHS job working unsociable hours instead, however so draining on my mental health was this new job, that it became even more of a goal to be able to work from home.

How

I took yet another NHS job to keep the bank account happy and which made my mental health happier (for a limited period of time!) and worked hard throughout 2016 to try my hand at other things such as social media management and website creations. I might have been working part time in the NHS but with my other work (blog included) mounting up – it felt like the right time to take the plunge and work solely from home. Timing was good as 2017 was my little boy’s last full year at nursery before he started school in 2018.

And…

Truthfully, it worked for a while and was even enjoyable at times. I branched out into entertainment PR and dabbled in many areas. However, what I learned was that working from home and making a career out of blogging is not my thing. I still love to blog of course, but I don’t want my blog to be the be all and end all. The family dynamics change once your little one goes to school too. I found I couldn’t just pop off to London and I didn’t want to. I lose 6 hours a days for 5 days a week of my lad’s company during term time and I love being able to drop him off at school and pick him up. The smile on his face when I’m waiting at his classroom door is more moving than any theatrical performance I’ve reviewed.

What’s Next?

2018 saw me start another job with the NHS (it’s what I know!) and that works at the moment. I like leaving the house to go to work and although it’s been a slightly awkward transition for my boy as he got used to me being at home, we’re all getting on with it.

2019 sees me being less of a critic and more of a cheerleader as I share all my positive experiences with you. I also have a few new ventures on the horizon which will hopefully help my much-desired career changes to take shape – but at the heart of everything are my boys – my husband and my son.

Have you tried to combine blogging with parenthood and career juggling? I’d love to hear about your experiences too! 

Festive Greetings from Entertainment Views

It’s CHRISTMAS! Yet another Christmas season is upon us closely to be followed by the back of 2018. How has it been for you? Upon reflection this year’s been one of change in many ways:

  • I changed the name of the blog to Entertainment Views which was a bold move but one that’s enabled me to branch out and take opportunities which were offered due to the wider range of genres of entertainment I could cover.
  • I returned to a day job! Having been freelance for just over a year it seemed to be the right time to return to stability.
  • Connor (my little boy) started school – which limited my availability for taking opportunities outside the midlands on the regular basis I’d become used to. It pulled me up sharp but now I have a firm direction in mind for my little ’empire’.
  • As a family we’ve been invited to review so many fantastic family fun entertainment activities and we’re having a ball. I love being able to have the boys on board with me. It makes such a difference!

I’d like to say a huge thanks to everybody who got involved in the Entertainment Views Awards this year. What a terrific response! It was great fun putting together the videos used to announce the results and I am so lucky that so many guest presenters came on board to help. Especially given the time of year I was asking them for their blood, sweat and tears! Check out the results here: https://entertainmentviews.co.uk/entertainment-views-awards-2018/

If you watched the short video I made to announce the winner of Best Stage Play (well done Alice in Wonderland (Kew Gardens)), you’ll know that this was our last annual awards – at least for the time being. Life moves on and I have plans to make a few changes in the new year. As you know, aside from my brilliant aides; Hayley Makepeace and Jen Franklin, I run the awards as a one-woman-band so I need to have the time to devote to making it the best it can be. Never say never and watch this space, though… I’ve also been so fortunate to have sponsors every year which means the winners have trophies – it makes it so much more than a mere online vote and I know that little touch is appreciated.

One thing I can guarantee is that my blog will continue to be knocking around the blogsphere, the diary is filling up for next year with plenty of comic cons, gigs, family events and opera on the radar already. I’m also expanding the movie and television review section so stay tuned!

All that’s left in this Queen’s speech (I have a crown you know… it might be a plastic one from Claire’s Accessories but it’s a crown, nonetheless!) is to say a huge great big stonking THANK YOU to everybody who stuck with the blog as it took the transition this year. Your support is invaluable, please carry on chatting to me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – it stops me taking to myself… occasionally… Have the best Christmas and a very happy 2019!

Bobbi Brown Studio Re-Launch, John Lewis & Partners, Oxford Street

Entertainment Views Awards 2018 public vote closed on 1st November and we’re very excitedly preparing for the cyber ceremony which is due to be broadcast across our social media channels on 15th December 2018. With our guest presenters lined up to announce the winners in the fourteen categories it’s all systems go.

Awards season is upon us, the first round of The National Television Awards 2019 public vote has also closed recently too. Entertainment Views will be in attendance and while we can’t wait to see who’s wearing who, we also look out for make-up choices on the night. Styles vary from year to year – bold colours, neutral shades and always synchronised with the colour they’re wearing on the red carpet of course.

On 18th October Bobbi Brown Cosmetics re-launched their new studios at John Lewis & Partners, Oxford Street and with their assistance, team Entertainment Views will be getting the red carpet look ahead of the National Television Awards ceremony at London’s O2 on 22nd January 2019.

Here’s the press release from the re-launch, why not book yourselves an appointment and see what the new space has to offer:

Bobbi Brown Cosmetics are taking their consumer experience to the next level with a bold re-design. Carefully conceptualised through the consumer’s eyes, this new space ensures a seamless journey of discovery and play, with a primary focus on bringing the best possible service and experience to the heart of Oxford Street. The re-imagined studio space will feature the first ever private Makeup Room within a central London department store, hosted by a colour brand.

The Makeup Room offers the flexibility of personalised appointments and beauty services, converting to a fully private room with a screen to close off the space if required.

In addition to the new design, Bobbi Brown Cosmetics will launch three new services, exclusive to John Lewis & Partners, Oxford Street.

To celebrate the launch of this innovative new space, the esteemed Bobbi Brown Pro Artists made guest appearances during the month of October, giving customers the opportunity to book personalised makeup lessons and receive bespoke tip and tricks based on their beauty needs.

We are excited to report from The National Television Awards in January with our glam new looks courtesy of Bobbi Brown make-up!

 

The Amityville Horror ~ Five Scary Moments

Halloween is creeping around the corner, so what better excuse do you need than to turn the lights off, light the pumpkins and get ready for a fright in front of a classic horror movie? The Amityville Horror is one of those classics, it’s spawned many sequels and spin-offs and I always feel there’s a part of this film’s content and format in every good scary movie.

With a first class cast including James Brolin, it’s a must-see and should have a place on everyone’s Halloween hit list.

Synopsis: When George and Kathy Lutz and their children move to Amityville Long Island they believe they have found the perfect family home. But the house has a shocking history and within its walls a demonic presence lies in wait that will turn the Lutz’s lives into a living nightmare.

Sounds like a scare-fest? Here are my top five scariest moments in The Amityville Horror

  • The first alert for me that this is going to be a frightening ride is when the babysitter (Amy Wright) is locked in the bedroom closet and it seems like nobody has done it, it’s just ‘happened’. She’s supposed to be taking care of the Kathy’s (Margot Kidder) daughter Amy (Natasha Ryan) and I spent the whole fall-out of that scenario waiting for something to happen to Amy.
  • Amy’s pretend friend Jody gave me the chills, the supposed nature of the imaginary buddy is sinister in the extreme. Jody’s introduction is one of the key points of the film for me.
  • Red eyes outside Amy’s bedroom! Kathy spots them and they are enough to make any horror aficionado jump!
  • Kathy’s nightmares about the details of the killings that took place take in the house they’re living on take the scare-factor to another level. It’s clever because it’s gritty stuff, yet engaging on some level too. Although at that point I’d be running for the hills.
  • The music has to be one of the vital tone setters and ‘game changers’ for me, the accompaniment to the paranormal activity is the epitome of evil. One of the best horror soundtracks. Lalo Schifrin composed for the film and there’s an interview with him on the new Blu-ray edition of the movie.

Do you want to add The Amityville Horror to your Halloween horror must-watch list? Grab a copy on Blu-ray:

 

Seven Spectacular Family Shows to see this Autumn in the West End *Guest Post from TickX*

Our impressively sunshiny-summer has come to an end, meaning it’s time for families to head back to the office and back to school. Luckily, London’s theatre playground has a whole host of family shows to cheer up the Autumnal months, featuring well known classics and one-off specials. Whether it’s a midweek treat or a weekend adventure, head to the West End this Autumn with our sizzling pick of shows to see with the kids.

1. Matilda

The Roald Dahl classic gained its second wave of fame with the movie release in 1996. It was then reimagined as a stage adaptation by Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin and premiered at the Cambridge Theatre in 2011. The musical version of the gifted girl brings to life all the memorable characters before your very eyes; the vain and fraudulent Wormwoods , the adorable Miss Honey and the terrifying Miss Trunchbull, with a brand new cast set for September 2018. After scooping up a record number of Olivier Awards for a musical and receiving wide critical acclaim, Matilda the Musical is beloved by audiences of all ages.

The show is running at the Cambridge Theatre until October 19th, set to welcome its eighth million spectator after a stellar run in the West End. With magic and madness, Matilda is the perfect mid-week treat to get you to the weekend, and will now be showing at an earlier time of 7pm on weekdays to better accommodate families.

2. Lion King

It feels like this show has been around for a long time – and it’s simply because it really is that good. Similarly to the Disney film released in 1994, the award-winning musical pulls on heartstrings as it tells the tale of lion cub Simba and his quest to overthrow his uncle to become the rightful king of the pridelands. Set against the backdrop of the Serengeti Plains, the rhythmic African music and sing-a-long lyrics created by Sir Elton John and Tim Rice for the movie are brought to live in the evocative live score, while the colourful creative costumes are nothing but impressive. Children and adults alike will be immersed into the world of the Lion King, as characters such as Zazu, Timon and Pumba, Rafiki, the hyenas and more are played out on stage in a novel approach to children’s theatre.

The epic musical more than justifies its extensive run at the Lyceum Theatre. As the cool weather creeps in this Autumn, the Lion King guarantees to warm your soul.

 

3. Aladdin

Alternatively, swap African plains for Arabian nights and head to the Prince Edward Theatre for an enchanting magic carpet ride. Aladdin is another example of a Disney classic creatively remastered for stage, bringing all the best elements from the 1992 film to life as never before imagined. While some reviews have suggested the musical is a panto-in-disguise, there has been no doubt that the spectacular sets, special effects and jewel-encrusted costumes translate the magic of Agrabah to stage.

Furthermore, young children will be captivated by the larger than life characters such as The Genie, while the elder among us will revel in the plot’s synonymity with the Disney animation. Plus, any show that features hits such as ‘A Whole New World’ and ‘Friend Like Me’ is certainly worth its salt. The exotic escape is the perfect way to tackle the beginning of the new school year and the end of summer, uniting radiant colours, a golden lamp and youthful nostalgia to transport you away.

 

4. School of Rock

Nothing cheers kids up for going back to school than the School of Rock. This musical offers something a little more grown up than the likes of Disney, but is still very geared towards families and children aged eight and over. Based upon the 2003 movie starring Jack Black, School of Rock the Musical follows struggling and unemployed rock guitarist Dewey Finn as he poses as a substitute teacher to make some money. Finn realises his students are musically-talented, and so sets forth in spawning a school rock band who are to compete in the Battle of the Bands. The fun and rebellious West End production features music by theatre royalty, Andrew Lloyd Webber, combining songs from the film and new original numbers. Undoubtedly, the best part of School of Rock is the pocket-sized talent on stage, where the child cast can really rock out and impress audiences.

 

5. Wicked

The prequel to the ‘Wizard of Oz’ has become a global sensation. It follows two protagonists; Elphaba and Glinda, who grow up to become the Wicked Witch of the West and the Good Witch of the South. From their perspective, we learn what lead them into their distinguished roles, cultivating a story of friendship and rivalry, love and betrayal and importantly, Elphaba’s lapse into ‘wickedness’. Children will fall in love with the beautiful score created by Academy-award winning Stephen Schwartz while adults will cherish it’s associations to the 1939 classic starring Judy Garland as ‘Dorothy Gale’.

This Autumn, the gravity-defying musical will be celebrating a whopping 12 years in the West End, after surpassing its landmark 5000th performance at the Apollo Victoria Theatre last month. It has gained such uniform approval that there have even been talks of making it into a movie – just be sure to see it on stage first.

 

6. Paddington in concert

On Sunday 14th October, the Peruvian bear will commemorate its 60th anniversary with a live 60-piece orchestral accompaniment to the 2014 film ‘Paddington’. George Jackson will be commanding The Novello Orchestra with Nick Urata’s cheerful score, inducing the perfect introduction for young children to classical music. Moreover, the cute and charming film inspired by Michael Bond’s children’s books won the hearts of adults too, making it a great afternoon out for all the family. Hollywood stars Julie Walters and Nicole Kidman contribute to the film’s star-studded cast, while Ben Whishaw provides the voice for Paddington. It received plenty of praise and critical acclaim, founded upon its ability to transform a treasured classic into a modern movie with appeal for today’s kids.

The production is a one-off event set just before the busy half term. It promises to entertain and charm at the Theatre Royal, and even feature guest stars Nick Urata and Paddington!

 

  1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Enter a world of spells and sorcery this Autumn with the eighth installment of the wizardly-wonderful Harry Potter series by JK Rowling presented on stage. It famously secured the most Olivier Awards for a play despite only opening in 2016, and has been described as a ‘triumph’ (The Daily Telegraph) and ‘magical experience’ (London Evening Standard). The creatives behind Parts 1 and 2 of the Cursed Child include multiple award winning Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, responsible for writing and directing the play respectively, worked closely with Rowling to ensure the stage adaptation is as spellbinding and captivating as the book. It tells the tale of Harry Potter, 19 years on, tackling demons from his past. Similarly to the literary saga, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child live has proven popular across generations, with audiences of all ages leaving the Palace Theatre in awe.

Written by Aminah Barnes on behalf of TickX, a ticket search engine comparing events such as theatre, gigs and club nights across the UK.

 

Downton Abbey Movie ~ Is It Too Late?

I’m a self-confessed fan of the popular ITV series Downton Abbey, to the point of fan-girling, checking out the fandom activity and feeling fairly bereft when the Abbey closed its doors at Christmas back in 2015. News of a movie to enable Downton’s enthusiastic following to take another peek into the upstairs and downstairs goings on was met excitedly, by me and by fellow fans of the Fellowes drama.

However, as the years have rolled by with (from what we mere members of the public could tell) not so much as a sniff of a script and longstanding cast members almost continuously cagey when asked questions about a possible movie by the media, the question mark over the potential movie hovered precariously. As a blogger who predominantly covers theatre I was delighted to discover so many of my favourite actors from the drama series treading the boards. Phyllis Logan toured with Noel Coward’s ‘Present Laughter’ which in turn offered a superb opportunity I might not otherwise have had.  I took a trip to Chiswick to carry out an interview and enjoyed coffee and croissants with Ms Logan while I was at it, she’s an actor who has been high on my radar since she played Lady Jane in Lovejoy. Her colleague, Lesley Nicol opened my eyes to fantastic and extremely worthy charities, so I was over the moon (bears!) to interview her for my blog, too. With the vast majority of the show’s famous faces being kept busy in various ‘jobs’ (just check out the credits that Lily James who played Lady Rose has wracked up!) the movie seemed a distant and not so urgent thought.

Phyllis Logan appeared in the UK tour of Noel Coward’s Present Laughter in 2016.

When the announcement of impending filming broke, not so long ago, and just over 2 1/2 years after the festive finale, my initial reaction wasn’t to jump for joy. What year are they planning on setting it in was top of my list of queries. Are we picking up straight after their new year celebrations therefore following Mr Carson’s (Jim Carter) journey of enforced retirement or will we pick it up long after life has changed for Downton’s inhabitants? I’m the first to admit that my over-active imagination already sees the Carsons living a different life and has Mrs Patmore paired off with widowed hanger-on, Mr Mason (Paul Copley).

With the Downton Abbey film’s release date now set for 20th September 2019, my humble opinion of a movie following long after momentum has been lost has shifted. I think it was the Instagram post from Michelle Dockery (the ever-popular Lady Mary – follow her: https://www.instagram.com/theladydockers/ to check out the post I’m referring to) that not only cemented in my mind that this IS happening, but also transported me back to the good old days when social media buzzed with anticipation of the next series of Downton Abbey. I recalled the Duchess of Cambridge visiting the set while the final series was in production, the excitement surrounding that was palpable. So maybe regaining some of that old Downton Abbey-inspired joy will be just the ticket for 2019?

One thing’s for sure, I’ve moved from sceptic to eagerly awaiting and hope beyond hope that Fellowes won’t let us down! In fact, I have one plea to make – do what you will with all of the characters but please let Mrs Patmore be happy!! Back in the day I would have begged for Lady Edith’s (Laura Carmichael) happiness, however unless a curve ball is coming our way, it seems that her future was looking rosy by the time we bid au revoir to the Crawley family.

Bring on 20th September 2019, then…

 

Photo Credits: ITV & Nobby Clark 

 

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