News, Reviews & Interviews

La Cenerentola (WNO) ~ Birmingham Hippodrome

Star rating: ****

Rossini’s La Cenerentola makes for a refreshingly vibrant, light and comedic Opera. Welsh National Opera’s latest production is a festive treat indeed just ahead of December too, perfect timing!

It’s essentially a Cinderella story as it revolves around a kitchen maid by the name of Angelina (Tara Erraught) who is bereft of her mother and has a cruel, domineering Step-Father, Don Magnifico (Fabio Capitanucci) to blame for her diminished status. No Cinderella story is complete without the step-sisters, in this case they’re the sneering, simpering and vanity-driven Tisbe (Heather Lowe) and Clorinda (Aoife Miskelly). Hell-bent on getting their mitts on the coveted throne which can only be achieved by wooing and marrying Don Ramiro (aka the Prince played by Matteo Macchioni) and he has his own agenda. He’s coerced his attendant, Dandini (Giorgio Caoduro) into swapping places with him so that he can choose his own match, undercover.  Meanwhile, Angelina’s unwavering kindness includes showing compassion towards a beggar (who is actually Alidoro (Wojtek Gierlach) in disguise – he’s Don Ramiro’s tutor). The same gentleman is shown disdain by Tisbe and Clorinda, therefore they’ve unwittingly forced themselves out of the picture even before we have the ball scene!

Directed by Joan Font and designed by Joan Gullen, the spectacular production lit up the Birmingham Hippodrome stage, it’s an action-packed, farcical-paced piece. The score is uplifting with traditional undertones as befits a timeless tale and the intricate Italian language enhances beautifully. Tara Erraught shines as Angelina – even in her rags she’s a Princess in the making and her vocal ability is effortless. She is well matched with Matteo Macchioni as Don Ramiro, her Prince. Wojtek Gierlach commands the stage and adds a glorious air of mystery to the role of Alidoro, who is in effect, the Fairy Godmother of the show. Giorgio Caoduro brought many laughter-inducing moments to the role of Dandini, his vocals lent themselves exceptionally. There was a slight lack of the dastardly which I’ve come to associate with the character – however this did not detract from the overall performance. Fabio Capitanucci made Don Magnifico the villain of the piece, however and as Angelina’s Step-Father he cut an imposing presence. The highlights of the production however came in the form of the Step-Sisters, as Tisbe and Clorinda – Heather Lowe and Aoife Miskelly are a force to be reckoned with. Their facial expressions match every nuance of the lyrics they sing so magnificently. I particularly enjoyed the subtle differences between the characters too, Clorinda appears to be the plotter whereas Tisbe seems to be less ambitious. Both characters are portrayed to perfection.

Overall La Cenerentola is a production I’d highly recommend to everybody, as a first Opera it would be an ideal experience. The Italian language is translated into English by way of subtitles which are easy to read from anywhere in the auditorium. The story is so familiar to most people that it’s simple enough to follow even with the initial language barrier if you don’t happen to be fluent in Italian. The bright, almost psychedelic colour scheme and assorted rats who scamper about, flocking around Angelina at every turn would also be extremely appealing to younger patrons and indeed a number of them were present in the audience.

Catch La Cenerentola on tour at a venue near you, it’s a delicious fairy-tale delight not to be missed. Book here: La Cenerentola Tickets

Image credits: Jane Hobson 

Advertisements

My Mother is a Christmas Elf by Chantelle Joy Otto ~ Book Review

Star rating: *****

I’m a self-confessed Christmas-holic! I start my Christmas shopping as early as I feel I can get away with and try my best to take as much time off from my day job over the holiday season. The opportunity to review a book written by a fellow Christmas nut was too good to pass up and I’m delighted to have shared a piece of author, Chantelle Joy Otto’s childhood and festive memories through this endearing story.

With an over-excited four year old son who dreams of nothing but Santa at the moment, it’s a great fit for his age group and also for early readers. The pictures are simple, full of life and of course – Christmassy! The story is simple, beautifully effective and tells the tale of the author’s childhood festivities which were humble yet always magical with thanks to her special mother whom the book is written about.

The story works on many levels as it’s a wonderful Christmas story for youngsters and teaches the more savvy children the lesson of less being more. It also doesn’t hurt for us adults to be reminded that not everybody’s Christmas might be as privileged as our childhood Christmases were. However, although it becomes clear that the family rely upon donations in order for Santa to do his job, it’s not a subject that’s dwelt upon with melancholy undertones. It’s simply a stitch in the tapestry of the author’s memories.

I think the idea of mum being a Christmas Elf is a fantastic idea and the book helps us readers remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Read it, enjoy it and share it with your children and their friends, it’ll warm the heart of even the less festive of you! It might also put you in a Christmassy mood!

Do you want to get hold of a copy? Here’s your chance to buy or download the book and kick-start the festivities!

 

Buckt ~ Review

Have you explored your City and its surrounding areas recently? Are you aware of all it has to offer? As I discovered when I signed up to Buckt, when my family and I plan a day or evening out, we’re only just scratching the surface of what Birmingham has to offer.

Why Buckt?

Buckt is an innovative new company who offer a fantastic option to subscribe on a monthly basis to receive vouchers. These vouchers come complete with a code which enable you to participate in lots of different and fun activities in the area you live in. There’s a good selection to choose from, and the best thing is that your booklet of fun comes in a box, hand-delivered to your door each month.

How Much Does It Cost?

£25 for a duo box (just £12.50 each) or £17 for an individual box. When you see the 5 mystery activities available to go out and do locally, you’ll clock just how much you’re saving by subscribing to Buckt.

What Are the Activities on Offer?

Here at Entertainment Views we’ve received three of these little boxes of wonder from Buckt so far this year and the activities we’ve been offered include:

  • Go Karting at Full Throttle Raceway
  • Museum of the Jewellery Quarter – Birmingham Museums Trust
  • The Donkey Sanctuary
  • Laser Tag – Laser Quest Birmingham
  • ‘The Ward’ – Walsall Scare Maze
  • Improv Class with Box of Frogs
  • A choice of three Ice Hockey Matches – Coventry Blaze
  • Board Game Night at Northfield Arts Forum
  • The Jungle Hut – The Jungle Ranger Wild Experience
Are They Worth It?

Absolutely yes! So far we’ve tried the Donkey Sanctuary and the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter and we can’t wait to try everything else in our Buckt boxes!

Christmas Gift Guide

Are you looking for an alternative Christmas Gift? This year Entertainment Views have compiled a Christmas Gift Guide jam packed full of Entertainment goodness and we highly recommend a subscription to Buckt as a brilliant festive gift idea! Why not give the gift of mystery activities and fun? *

To find out more about Buckt and to subscribe, click the link and take a look: Buckt

 

*For our full published gift guide check back soon!

Brick Live! ~ NEC, Birmingham

Lego has been a firm favourite of mine since I was 4 or 5 years old, probably – although it wasn’t entirely clear who loved building with the popular blocks more – me or my dad! With a son now aged 4 (almost 5 years old) who is already interested in the many movies Lego have released and has jumped headlong into building Lego houses, Brick Live! seemed like the ideal opportunity to fuel the passion and be a big kid myself, not that I need an excuse…

The NEC played host to the event and it’s taken place over four days 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th November.  We attended on the opening day and the highlights of the day were plentiful. It’s the perfect family day out and a fantastic indoor event to take the kids to during half term holidays too.

Here are a few of the features we loved:

Lego Statues

The giant Lego statues were more of a fascination for me than my youngster, however he was particularly taken with the witch, given that we have just celebrated Halloween she was a draw for his eager eyes! I personally adored the Mystical Creatures feature and thought the Cyclops in particular was inspired. It only goes to show that the builds you can make with Lego bricks are limitless.

Have a go….

Lego pits were situated all over the hall and they were in regular use by all of the small guests who thought nothing or launching themselves in to the bricks (even though all of us parents know what it’s like to accidentally step on an offending piece of Lego!!). Duplo was available too for the less dexterous and little fingered enthusiast as well as larger rubber bricks which were fun for all. The more seasoned builders could avail themselves of the various stations situated around the venue and leave their makes out for all to see. There were some amazing quick makes to be seen, there are some very talented young builders around!

Robot Wars

Who doesn’t love robot wars? We see a lot of battles at Comic Con when MCM visit the NEC and it’s always a marvel to see, when the robots have been built with Lego it’s all the more exciting. There’s good sized arena for the audience to sit and watch too.

Aim high

Have your kids tried a climbing wall before? If not there’s a chance to do just that and everybody taking up the challenge looked like they were loving it. What a brilliant idea.

Meet Friends

Lego Friends are the new-ish addition to the Lego family and four talented young ladies represented the popular characters superbly in the Lego Friends section of the show. Offering a dance demo then opening the floor to their young fans, the girls led the throng of wannabe dancers who joined in. My little boy thought it was amazing and it was one of his personal highlights. The final tune they danced to, from Disney’s Zootropolis summed up what I felt was the ethos of the show, ‘try everything’ and Brick Live! has plenty of chances for everybody to try everything. The photo opportunity with the girls afterwards didn’t go amiss either.

Game on!

Do you enjoy gaming AND Lego? Consoles were available for anyone who fancied a break from hands on building and the Super Mario Party stand seemed to be the place to be.

Save your pennies up

There’s plenty of merchandise to buy and having an event so close to Christmas means that it’s tempting to make a few festive purchases as gifts (especially while your kids’ backs are turned!). Lego has never been an inexpensive hobby of course, so it’s worth saving those pennies if you fancy treating yourself or your loved ones! It’s worth checking out the exhibition prices applied to some of the sets if you’re in the market to add to your collection or someone else’s.

As the queues outside the Lego store in London’s Leicester Square go to prove, Lego never loses its place in the hearts of small and big kids alike – so Brick Live! is an innovative idea which attracts all age groups and we’ll be very excitedly anticipating a return visit in the future. Everything is awesome!

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 Changeling ~ Five Scary Moments

The 1980 incarnation of the spectacular chiller thriller The Changeling was released on Blu-ray on 20 August this year and it’s lost none of it’s appealing jump-a-minute drama – in fact it’s even more horror-tastic than I remember.

It’s a movie that has been described by King of horror, Stephen King as a film that has scared him personally “A child’s ball bouncing down a flight of stairs was enough to scare the daylights out of me” quotes King, and I have to agree with him. The subtlety of suggestion is one of the film’s many strengths.

The story follows central character, John Russell (George C. Scott) as he starts a new life in the wake of the tragic death of his wife and daughter in a car crash.

To choose the top five scariest moments to get into the Halloween ‘spirit’ is easy! There are five stand out scenes that have me racing for the back of the sofa, so without further ado:

Watery Grave

The apparition of a boy in the bath tub – I find it horrific on every level. From the way the scene is shot to the implications, it sets the tone.

Audio Disturbance

The voice of the spirit (Joseph Carmichael) heard over audio during a séance is psychologically disturbing. It’s quite clear and that makes it all the more effective!

The Chase

When Claire Norman from the historical society is chased down the stairs by a wheelchair, the horror ups its game again, and this is towards the climax of the film too. Given the year of the movie’s production it feels all the scarier in the first incarnation too.

Tune in…

To end a film on the note of a lullaby from a music box, given that the storyline revolves around the murder of a six year old boy, absolutely messes with my mind! It’s actually one of the most chilling scenes of the movie as it’s not entirely overt and extremely suggestive.

For the full review of the film, check this out from my viewing this summer: The Changeling

Purchase your copy of The Changeling here:

The Music of Silence ~ Film Review

Star rating: *****

As a newly converted Opera fan, The Music of Silence was of particular interest to me, especially as it charts the story of internationally renowned tenor, Andrea Bocelli. His spectacular vocals can be heard providing the soundtrack to this life affirming biopic which promises to leave the viewer feeling that the sky’s the limit. You don’t have to be a classical music fan to find the heart of this story to be a touching and important message.

Toby Sebastian (well known for his role in Game of Thrones) plays Andrea and he’s glorious, such perceptive casting and it’s easy to forget that he’s not personally singing. We learn that Andrea was born Amos Bardi, he was almost completely blind from birth. However, it’s while he’s away at a ‘school’ for the visually impaired that he loses his sight entirely following a tragic accident. It’s such a heart wrenching moment and yet with prior knowledge that he has carved such a fantastically successful career as a tenor, one feels quite a short-lived fear for his younger self, that’s the rub with already knowing the end I suppose. Although, as a fan of biographies, I was fascinated by the transitions and challenges he faced to live his dream of being a serious Opera singer.

It’s beautifully directed by Michael Radford and the locations used to punctuate the story are quite breath-taking and extremely atmospheric. The use of Bocelli’s voice is the icing on the cake as we learn that the journey this extraordinarily talented man has travelled has culminated in determination and a Maestro (played by Antonio Banderas) with a similar goal. What a stunning relationship that is to behold!

Give this a try because you’ll be surprisingly drawn into and engaged by the life of a living legend.

The Music of Silence arrives on DVD and Digital 29 October 2018: The Music of Silence

 

 

 

Xtro ~ Five Scary Moments

Xtro, the 1982 cult classic has been released on Blu-ray in time for Halloween and it is one of the most truly gruesome movies of its time in my opinion! Directed by Harry Bromley Davenport, it’s a gory hybrid of sci-fi and horror not for the faint hearted! It starts with an alien abduction – a father called Sam (Philip Sayer) being the target and finishes in the most twistedly disturbed and horrific way possible.

First released in the UK in December 1982 (an unlikely festive treat, it must be said!) it was met with mostly negative reviews and it’s easy to see why, however for the hardened horror fan it’s a must-watch. Finding five of the top scariest moments was no mean feat, but here they are:

Killing Spree

The first jump-inducing moment that gave an indication of the scenes that might follow is when two short-lived characters, Ben and Jane are killed by a half-human half-alien creature. The creature itself isn’t a pretty sight but the murders are indicative of the running theme!

A Pregnant Pause

The hybrid creature impregnates a woman – that’s scary enough, however when the unlucky victim regain consciousness and the fetus grows at a ridiculously fast rate (no 9 month gestation period here!) and she gives birth to a fully grown human. He bursts through her dress and there are a number of shots that don’t shy away from how gruesome this very messed up scenario is. Of course she dies – but when Sam (who was given up for lost years ago after the mysterious light took him away) appears as the ‘new-born’ it’s clear there are more sinister turns to come.

Who wants eggs for breakfast?

Sam’s son Tony is on his radar to track down, and his wife, Rachel (she has a new fellar in tow, called Joe). Once a seemingly amnesia-riddled Sam moves in with them, he displays strange behaviour which makes for disturbing viewing – eating the eggs of his son’s pet snake and drinking his son’s blood. As I say – not for the faint hearted!

This isn’t child’s play…

A human-sized toy soldier used by Tony to kill the annoying neighbour, a bit extreme? Oh yes! However she killed his pet snake and he’s discovered he has certain powers! His use of powers resulted in something reminiscent of IT for me… shudder!

To be continued!

The scene that had me hiding behind the sofa – Sam rekindling his romance with Rachel and making love to her. It was never going to end well, and his decomposing skin was also somewhat of a turn off for his unsuspecting wife! So the cycle of half-human half-alien life continues…

Make sure you nab a copy of Xtro on Blu-ray… it’s worth it for the ‘xtra’ Xtro features!

Interview with Casualty’s Cathy Shipton ~ What next for Duffy?

Duffy and Chuffy fans who tune in regularly to the BBC One drama, Casualty will be in for a few surprises. The popular Nurse, who’s already in the throes of dealing with her diagnosis of Clinical Depression and Anxiety, is set to behave uncharacteristically and become a worry to her husband, Charlie (Derek Thompson) for more reason than one.

Entertainment Views caught up with actress Cathy Shipton who plays the troubled Nurse.

Thanks for talking to Entertainment Views, Cathy – we’ve seen Duffy diagnosed with Clinical Depression and Anxiety, which she hasn’t revealed to Charlie yet. What are you able to tell us about the latest storyline? 

You’ll have just seen the episode with the CQC inspection where Duffy was called in by Charlie even though she’d just done a twilight shift. Charlie’s been working days while Duffy’s working nights so they’re on parallel lines and not communicating very well. During Duffy’s interview with the CQC Inspector you might have noticed she’s a bit jaded in her response, she’s knackered though and almost pulled a 24 hour shift as well as al the while losing confidence in her abilities.

The miscommunication between Duffy and Charlie almost led her to make a fatal error on that extra shift…

Yes, but did she mishear Charlie’s instructions because of her anxiety which has made her slightly unfocused?

(C) BBC – Photographer:

So her way of dealing with the altercation with Charlie was to call Bill! 

She calls Bill and he meets her at the pub. What you’ll see next at the start of the subsequent episode is Bill and Duffy in a hotel room at a Boutique Hotel! The room is littered with all their clothes, Duffy wakes up not knowing where she is and Bill walks out of the bathroom in a robe!

Is this the beginning of the end for Duffy and Charlie? 

Duffy tells Bill to get out and is clearly angry that it has happened. She’s trying to get away and ends up called back to settle the invoice just as a guy runs out to alert them to the fact his girlfriend’s been in the hotel swimming pool and can’t breathe.

And of course, Duffy is a Nurse….!

Yes, so Duffy goes to attend to the hotel guest and upon calling 999, she’s met by Ian and Ruby who are questioning as to why she’s at the hotel. Duffy says she’s been attending a conference there but she cant look either of them in the eye.

Will she tell Charlie the truth? 

Duffy’s been AWOL over night so Charlie’s been worried about her and wants to know where she’s been. She tells him she had to clear her head and needed space and admits that she spent the night in a hotel. He’s trying to make it up to her by suggesting they do things together, like swimming at the hotel she’s just spent the night at. Duffy is desperate for him not to be nice to her though!

So it hasn’t taken long for Duffy and Charlie’s marriage to hot the rocks,  but is Duffy’s behaviour a ‘side-effect’ of her state of mind? We’ll have to wait and see! Thanks as always to Cathy for a fantastic interview, looking forward to seeing where this storyline will take the character. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: