The Railway Children – 21/02/2015

First of all, please let me apologise for my shocking lack of posts recently. I’ve been somewhat incapacitated thanks to a dislocated hip I picked up over the New Year (I wish I could blame it on the drink but I was as sober as a judge!) This combined with the very strong pain medication I’m on has meant I’ve not been able to attend any shows recently, so this is my first show of 2015!

I wanted to see The Railway Children for two reasons. One; I absolutely adore the film (the 1970s version with Bernard Cribbins and Jenny Agutter) and two, as clichéd as it sounds, I am a railway child myself. I practically grew up on the East Lancashire Railway which runs from Bury to Rawtenstall in the North West – almost every Sunday my Grandad and I would ride the train to Rawtenstall and back, occasionally stopping for a cup of tea and a blueberry muffin at the Co-op on the way home. We also took many trips to the National Railway Museum in York, which is where the engine used in the play was loaned from, and I’ve even travelled on the Worth Valley Railway where The Railway Children was filmed. It’s safe to say I’m a bit of a geek in the steam train department!

My Auntie was my designated minder for the day (I use the word minder as I am still heavily reliant on a crutch to walk around, and people do have a tendency to ignore that fact completely and push me out of the way) and before the show we decided to visit the brand new Theatre Cafe on Shaftesbury Avenue. I won’t give away any details as I’m planning a more in-depth post after a few more visits, but I recommend that you go as soon as you can!

After a cup of tea and a scone (how British) we headed back to Kings Cross and found the theatre just behind the station, at the top of a huge gravelled hill (gravel and crutches don’t mix). We both remarked that it was a bit cold that afternoon, and we were a bit worried about freezing to our seats, as the theatre was essentially a huge tent built around an old siding in a goods yard. Once we’d collected our tickets and a lovely usher helped me down to the platform in a lift to avoid the stairs, we found that our fears were not only unjustified but just plain ridiculous.

Entering the “waiting room” was like stepping straight into E. Nesbit’s beautiful book. The entire area was furnished like a railway waiting room, with old fashioned suitcases dotted around and adverts from the era adorning the walls. As I looked around in awe I couldn’t help but notice I was the oldest “child” by around 15 years (it also slipped my mind that it was the half term so really, I didn’t think this through at all!) Seeing lots of young girls with their Grandads did give me a slight twinge as I lost my beloved Grandad four years ago, but it was also lovely to see them as happy as I used to be on my days at the railway. There was another issue – my Auntie hates kids!

As we took our seats I had a good look around the (toasty warm) auditorium. There were probably two children to every adult, all with flags and whistles from the shop in the waiting room. I must admit I was a bit wary, but every child was very well behaved throughout the show, which had just the right amount of crowd interaction and participation to keep even the youngest children engaged and entertained.

The railway children themselves, Bobbie, Peter and Phyllis, played by Serena Manteghi, Jack Hardwick and Louise Calf respectively, narrated the story as it progressed, as if they were now older and recounting the stories of their youth, with a little help from Jeremy Swift who played the lovely Mr Perks (my favourite character). The “stage” was a wooden platform either side of a railway line, with a very clever floating segment running on the rails so that the cast could be transported up and down the line as the story progressed. Of course everybody was excited to see the steam engine but they didn’t use it gratuitously, which was a relief. Whenever a “train” went past the children stood on the fence and waved, and clever sound effects combined with very convincing clouds of steam made it feel like a train really was running through the theatre. A personal highlight was when the children wave at the Old Gentleman (Moray Treadwell). The actor sat on a chair on the floating platform and literally steamed along, and it really did look like he was on a train. The children in the audience were absolutely enthralled!

I won’t even begin to try and track through the story of The Railway Children (mainly because I love it so much I can quote it verbatim) but the play was very true to the book and the film. It was particularly impressive how they portrayed the landslide that blocks the line – at one end of the stage was a bridge, used by the cast to get from one side of the platform to the other, and to facilitate the entrance and exit of the floating platform. This was then completely blocked by falling debris and panic ensued as Peter realised the 11.09 train had not yet passed through. As the children waved their flags made from red petticoats (one of my favourite moments in the film) a full-sized steam engine came gliding into the auditorium. The gasps from both adults and children were audible as the train stopped just in time and Bobbie fainted dead away on the line (full credit to Serena Manteghi for that – she was very convincing!)

There is only one problem with The Railway Children which unfortunately I did not remember until the interval – the ending makes me cry. Every. Single. Time. And here I was in a sold-out theatre full of children who clearly don’t get emotional at a mysterious figure emerging out of the fog. I was in serious trouble, especially as I knew that the quality of the acting on stage would mean that moment would feel very, very real.

I started the second act determined not to be emotionally involved as I was in the first, but that didn’t last very long thanks to the compelling story told so beautifully by the three children. As the play drew to a close and, even though I knew what would happen when Bobbie decided to go to the station alone, I could still feel the tears welling up. I was just about holding myself together until those three little words. “Daddy! My Daddy!” I was a mess.

It’s not many plays that can hold the attention of hundreds of small children for over two hours but The Railway Children did it with ease, creating pure magic on that stage and bringing to life a story that I have loved my entire life. I left the auditorium with a huge smile and tears still drying on my cheeks, and if that isn’t the mark of something truly special then I don’t know what is.




My 2014 in pictures

I really enjoyed putting together my 2013 in pictures and so I thought I’d post my 2014 in pictures – as always please feel free to leave a comment with your own memories of 2014!

January – Center Parcs

I started my 2014 in a beautiful villa in Sherwood Forest with my lovely Mum. We went swimming, she kicked my arse at Scrabble and fell off her bike in spectacular fashion. I remember feeling very peaceful and content during this trip, and it was a lovely start to the year.


February – My beautiful Grandma.

In February it was time to say goodbye to my wonderful, kind, inappropriate, hilarious, completely unique Grandma Margarette. She fell asleep with her family around her and never woke up, and I am confident that she was comfortable and unafraid. I am so lucky to have known this glorious woman for 19 years of my life and, even though I miss her every single day, I know that she is with me wherever I go. She’s definitely kicking arse up there!


March – Finding my first flat.

March was a bit of a whirlwind for me, but the highlight was definitely finding my beautiful flat! After a (very long) drive to Kent we signed the paperwork and the moving process began.


April – Tenerife.

It’s always nice to relax in the sun for a week!


May – Angela Lansbury live on stage

May was a very stagey month for me, with my Restricted West End project and four Scott Alan concerts in four days, but the highlight has to be seeing my childhood idol Angela Lansbury live on stage in Blithe Spirit. It was an absolute privilege to see such acting royalty in action and it is an experience I will not forget for a very long time to come.


June – Moving day!

After months of stress and preparation it was finally time to make the move to Kent. It was scary and emotional and I did have my moments when I thought I’d made a mistake, but I love my little flat and I’m so glad I had the guts to go through with my ridiculous plan to start again in a new county!


July – Finding a new job.

Step one – find a flat. Step two – find a job! I absolutely hate job interviews but luckily I only had to attend one and was offered the job on the spot! Working in a kitchen is ridiculously stressful and sometimes I wonder what the hell I’m doing with my life, but I have met so many genuinely lovely, kind, caring and bloody hilarious people in the five months I’ve been working there that I couldn’t imagine working anywhere else. A new uniform would be nice though.


August – University confirmation.

It was a bit of a relief to know that my big gamble was worth it!


September – University!

Move to a place I’ve never heard of before? Done. Find a job after two years of being unemployed? Done. Enroll on a university course despite not finishing my A Levels? Done! This was a huge day for me and a mark of how far I’ve come in the two years since leaving college. I felt very proud of myself that day!


October – Reconnecting with old friends.

I had three lovely days at home in October and was lucky enough to spend the majority of it with my high school/college friends. Some had drifted apart but we came back together in the end and it was great to see so many familiar faces all at once. And I had the biggest Sunday roast you’ve ever seen!


November – Old friends, new friends.

Back up to Manchester again, but this time I was taking my other half with me. The poor thing met my Dad, Nanna, Grandad, Step-Mum, five Great Aunts and two best friends all in the space of three days! Oh, and the family tortoise.


December – Christmas Day.

It’s no secret that I hate Christmas, but unfortunately my other half loves it and made it his mission to give me a proper family Christmas. We spent the day at his house with my Mum, his parents, his sisters, his Nan and the two dogs and do you know what? I loved every second.


Once again I have to apologise for my lack of posts recently, but as you can see 2014 has been pretty hectic! My New Year’s Resolution once again is to post at least once a month so watch this space and have a very happy New Year!!

20,000 views (edited)

I am so happy and proud to say that today Theatre Therapy reached 20, 000 views! I still can’t believe it and I want to say a huge HUGE thank you to everybody who has put up with endless blog-related spam, conversations, photographs and more, you have no idea how much I appreciate it. I put my heart and soul into this blog and to see that my posts have been read twenty thousand times just blows my mind.

[Edit: December 2014] I had planned a very exciting collaboration to celebrate this milestone however due to circumstances beyond my control this had to be removed.

Busy busy busy!

For the past month or so I’ve been very aware of the fact that I’ve been neglecting my blog, but there is a good reason – there’s only one of me!

Since my last update, “Times Are A-Changin” my life has changed beyond all recognition (again). I did make it down to Kent and I absolutely adore where I live now, and I have loved putting my own stamp on my very own flat. Unfortunately the job with PGL fell through due to a clause in my lease that states the flat cannot be left unattended for more than 8 consecutive weeks. This was a blessing in disguise, however, as I now have a job in a kitchen that I absolutely love, despite it being VERY stressful at times!

I’ve also officially enrolled as a student at the University of Greenwich, and have been studying in Dartford for just over a month now. My aim is to post a blog at least once a month whilst at University, and October’s post will be my second visit to see “The Perfect Murder.” I’ve been doing a lot of creative writing recently for various assignments and I have thought about posting them on here but a) they’re not theatre related and b) they’re not very good! If you’d like to read some of my original writing please let me know but I will try and stick to theatre posts for the time being.

I want to thank everyone who has continued to support my blog while I’ve been too busy to do so myself, and I will try my absolute best to continue posting as often as possible.

Alison x




Urinetown – 30/09/2014

*warning – this post contains spoilers, fake blood and public urination*

I’m still not entirely sure what the hell I watched at the Apollo Theatre, but I know that it was sheer genius. I’ve been aware of the director Jamie Lloyd for a while – he is renowned for creating dark, sinister and sometimes gruesome pieces – but I’d never actually seen one of his productions. I missed Urinetown when it was at the St James Theatre in March and, having heard nothing but praise for this bizarrely named musical, I was very excited to hear that it would be transferring to the West End.

The cast remained almost the same as at the St James, although sadly Richard Fleeshman would not be reprising his role as the hero Bobby Strong. There was one addition to the cast who I was fairly excited to see: Nathan Amzi would be taking over the role of Officer Barrel from Adam Pearce. Fairly excited? Try running around the house screaming and immediately booking two opening night tickets excited.

I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this show, all I knew was that it was based in the future, where water has become scarce and all toilets are owned by a mega-corporation “Urine Good Company” (isn’t that great?!) who charge you extortionate fees to pee. I met several people outside the theatre who I knew either from sight or from Twitter, and swore them to secrecy. I didn’t want any spoilers; I didn’t want to know anything! Believe me, that would come back to bite me on the arse later.

I didn’t realise how close my seat was to the stage – I was dead in the middle of the second row. The stage was quite high and the set was split into two levels, and was very dark and grungy which made the whole theatre seem quite sinister. The musical didn’t start with a big fanfare or even the rising of a curtain, just with Officer Lockstock (Jonathan Slinger) and Little Sally (Karis Jack) wandering onto the stage and going about their business.

Jonathan Slinger is probably one of the most talented actors I have ever had the privilege to witness on stage. Right from the get-go he established Officer Lockstock as a sleazy, creepy, slightly demented police officer who gave you chills. I squirmed in my seat as he leered at the audience from the stage and began to tell the story of Urinetown.

Soon we are introduced to Penelope Pennywise played by Jenna Russell. Miss Pennywise runs Public Amenity #9, assisted by Bobby Strong (Matthew Seadon-Young). The ensemble come together to perform “Too Much Exposition” and it is rare to find such a strong cast as this. Jeff Nicholson and Katie Bernstein particularly stood out, giving outrageously hysterical performances as oppressed members of the public.

Bobby’s father Old Man Strong (Cory English) cannot pay the admission fee and decides to pee in the street, which leads to the arrival of Officers Lockstock and Barrel (again, how brilliant is that?!) I’m a bit shady on the details from this point because I was too distracted by the fact that Nathan was on the stage in front of me for the first time in over four months. I picked up the story again as the two policemen took Old Man Strong down to “Urinetown” which is basically a euphemism for “we’re going to beat the crap out of you now.” It was so well done – the policemen were nowhere near the prisoners they had captured but as they swung their truncheons the prisoners fell, blood spewing from their mouths and flying all over the stage. This musical is definitely not for the faint hearted but I thought it was bloody fantastic. No pun intended.

If there’s one thing that lets this musical down it’s the love story between Bobby Strong and the heiress of Urine Good Company, Hope Cladwell (Rosanna Hyland). To me it felt like their union was shoehorned in, because all good musicals have a love story, and it was a bit clunky at times. Rosanna Hyland was fantastic, although a little inconsistent. I loved Hope’s trilling, high-pitched voice but unfortunately Rosanna didn’t maintain this all the way through. I do think, however, that she would make a cracking Glinda in Wicked in a few years time.

I wasn’t overly impressed with Matthew Seadon-Young as Bobby either. He did have his moments – a particularly impressive riff in the second act comes to mind – but his voice was a little weak, especially against the flawless ensemble. I felt at times he needed to command the stage a bit more to prevent himself getting lost in the busy background action.

There was one moment in the musical that I did not like one little bit (this is the part that contains spoilers). Officer Lockstock and Officer Barrel are patrolling the sewers when Officer Barrel declares his love to Officer Lockstock (sound familiar? At one point I thought they were going to whip out the Fogmaster 5000 and sing an 80’s love song.) I thought this was a really sweet moment and was quite happily watching Officer Barrel declare “that went well” when someone snuck up behind him, slit his throat and sprayed his blood all over the stage. I screamed. Did they just kill Nathan?! I told you that “no spoilers” bullshit would come back to bite me. I would like to point something out at this point – telling me that somebody kills Nathan is not a spoiler, it’s a health warning. I honestly believe my heart stopped when it happened, and I was sat incredulously staring at the stage in utter shock and disbelief for the remainder of the show.

That little hiccup (total mental breakdown) aside, I absolutely adored the show. It was incredibly surreal and messy and weird, but it was also hysterically funny and so ridiculously tongue in cheek you couldn’t help but love it. (Towards the end Officer Lockstock claims he knew he’d survive because he’s the narrator).

The absolutely sensational cast received a well-deserved standing ovation at the end and again I have to mention Jonathan Slinger because I can’t get over how bloody brilliant he was. Creepy as hell, but brilliant.

I didn’t really have time to visit the stage door before my train home, but I had to check that Nathan was in fact still alive. When he came out looking fresh as a daisy I told him that I’d actually screamed when it happened, and he said “I know, I heard you.” That’s mildly embarrassing. After lots of big squishy hugs (I missed those!) and a quick photo I really did have to run. For the entire train journey home I was trying to figure out what the hell I’d just watched, but then I decided to stop analysing it and just accept that it was weird, it was sinister, it was vulgar, but my God it was good.







Skylight – 20/08/2014

I really don’t know where to start. First of all, I booked this show to see Bill Nighy. I didn’t know anything about the play or the playwright; I just knew that if Bill Nighy was going to be on a West End stage then that’s where I needed to be. The tickets weren’t cheap and I’d love to say it was worth it but it really wasn’t.

I’d spent most of the day in various states of panic – everyone who had been to see the play had said the same thing: Bill Nighy is an absolute gent at the stage door. He was generous with his time and posed for photographs for up to an hour each night. Now I just had to comprehend the fact that I would be meeting the man whose films I had adored for almost eight years. Ha!

The play itself was… awful. There’s no other way to describe it. It has been suggested that maybe I didn’t understand the play and that’s why I didn’t enjoy it, and I find that extremely offensive. I understood it perfectly, I just didn’t like it. I didn’t connect with it on any level and the only thing holding it together was Bill Nighy’s exceptional talent.

The plot was that a young woman, Kyra, (Carey Mulligan) had had a six year affair with an older, married man named Tom (Bill Nighy) whilst living in his family home with his wife and son. When Tom’s wife found out, Kyra disappeared. Shortly after, Tom’s wife died of cancer and a year later he tracks Kyra down. Not exactly earth-shattering but enough to keep the audience engaged, if it were not for the fact that Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan had absolutely zero chemistry. It wasn’t even believable that they’d met before let alone been madly in love for six years. The only thing holding the play together was Bill Nighy – with his charm and grace it was easy to believe that a younger woman could have fallen for him (I certainly did!)

Carey Mulligan, on the other hand, was absolutely dire. She was so preoccupied with ensuring her diction was perfect and her voice carried that she forgot to inject any kind of personality into her character, and created a role so instantly dislikeable that the entire plot was ridiculed. Even her character’s appearance was infuriating – an incredibly baggy jumper she didn’t stop messing with for the entire play and a chin-length hair cut that she was constantly pushing behind her ears, only to have it fall directly back into her face. It was so frustrating!

Despite my grievances I sat quietly in my seat and basically watched Bill Nighy for two hours, wishing he was onstage when he wasn’t because that was the only time the play had any kind of life. He generated laughs from a fairly mundane script and even from a single look at times – he is a very talented actor and it was a privilege to watch him in action.

After the play had dragged to a close I clapped politely and then headed to the stage door. I was so intent on getting there that I didn’t utter two words to my Mum, but when we arrived we took one look at eachother and burst out laughing. What the hell had we just put ourselves through?! At least I was safe in the knowledge that it was over, and now I’d get to meet Bill Nighy as so many others had done before me. Ten minutes passed. Twenty. Thirty. By fifty minutes the crowd were starting to get a bit edgy, but I wasn’t worried. He always came out, everybody said so. I’d seen the pictures myself! Then a lovely man named Stephen from the Wyndham’s Theatre came out of the stage door. “Unfortunately Mr. Nighy and Ms. Mulligan have exited the theatre via the front door and will not be coming to the stage door tonight.”

I’m not going to lie, I felt like somebody had slapped me. To my acute embarrassment I felt my bottom lip begin to quiver and, without a word to anyone, I ran away from the crowd as quickly as possible before bursting into tears just around the corner from the theatre. I know I shouldn’t have got my hopes up and he’s only human and needed to rest etc etc, but what am I, a duck? I had to be in work for 6am the next day, I’d paid well over £100 to attend a show I didn’t even like and at the end of it? Nothing. Oh, and my make-up was ruined. All in all, a bitterly disappointing night.

Oh, and if you’ve seen Skylight and loved it and got to meet Bill Nighy and everything was wonderful – I don’t need to know. That’s like saying to someone “aww, your kitten died? I love playing with mine we have so much fun!”



Genie, you’re free.

Sixteen years ago, on my very first trip to the cinema at the tender age of three years old, I came across a man named Robin Williams. He played an eccentric professor with a strange green substance called “Flubber” and I was hooked. Throughout my life this wonderful man was a constant, whether it was as a housekeeper or a robot, a doctor or a genie. He brought laughter to my life at times when there was none. I can’t count the times I’ve played “Friend like Me” at full blast or watched Mrs Doubtfire to cheer myself up, and it worked every time.

It was a little after 1am when I discovered that this brilliant, shining star had taken his own life. I cried and cried for this poor man who, despite bringing joy to millions of people, in that moment at least, could find none within himself. I cried with grief and sorrow, but most of all, I cried with fear. I don’t pretend to know what personal struggles Robin was going through or what finally tipped him over the edge, but I know the feeling of utter hopelessness all too well.

I was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety at the age of sixteen, mere months after my Grandad died. It was my first experience of death and I went to pieces. I lost a part of myself the day he died and sometimes I fear that it will never come back. Depression is just a word that people throw around so carelessly, but it should be treated with great respect, because it can kill. If someone is diagnosed with cancer there are treatments available, set plans and schedules to follow, and the outcome can be predicted with reasonable accuracy. But what if someone is diagnosed with depression? They’re told to “think positive” or “be happy.” That’s like telling a cancer patient to “think healthy.” It’s just not going to work, it’s insulting and it can often make the situation worse.

Depression should not be kept in the shadows. It needs to be treated like any other illness – raise awareness, talk about it, teach people to recognise the signs. For months I felt like I was in a pit so cavernous I could never claw myself out, and the more I tried the deeper I buried myself. I didn’t know I was suffering from depression, I didn’t even know what depression was! I am so lucky that my Mum recognised the signs and convinced me to get the help I needed.

Robin Williams had family, fame and fortune, but he also had demons just like so many others. His battle with depression was devoured by the media but never understood. While there are still people thinking “what has he got to be depressed about?” there is work to be done. I am not ashamed of my depression and neither should anyone else be.

The world is so lucky to have had someone like Robin Williams, who brought laughter to so many even when he couldn’t laugh himself. I will remember him for his spirit, his talent and his selfless nature. He may not have been able to save himself but he saved many, including me. I’m not sure I believe in heaven and hell but I hope that Robin is in a place where he can finally be at peace with himself.

Genie, you’re free.


Dessa Rose – 01/08/2014

*contains mild spoilers*

After about three false starts trying to write this blog, I’m not sure I’m ever going to be able to do this show justice. I’d never heard of “Dessa Rose” before – I didn’t even know where the venue it was being held at was – but I did know the name Cynthia Erivo and that was enough for me. I’d had the pleasure of seeing Cynthia live at one of Scott Alan’s concerts back in May and she truly is an extraordinary talent.

As it turned out, I’d walked past Trafalgar Studios hundreds of times before on my adventures around London. It’s not one venue but three, each studio putting on a show simultaneously. “Dessa Rose” was being held in Studio Two, a room with just three rows of seating on three walls, with the front wall serving as a backdrop for the show. The musicians were dotted around the room and it reminded me immediately of the Southwark Playhouse, although much more intimate.

“This powerful and moving story, set in 1846 in the ante-bellum South, follows two young women on their journey to acceptance. Passionate and innocent Dessa Rose is a young slave faced with a barrage of hardships because of the colour of her skin while Ruth, a young white mother, faces difficulties because of her gender. Through this extraordinary tale, Ruth and Dessa discover the value of unconditional friendship and establish a deep and lasting bond.” That synopsis was all I had to go on, so when the show started I had no idea what to expect.

One of the first things that struck me was Cassidy Janson. She played Ruth alongside Cynthia Erivo’s Dessa Rose and she was a fascinating actress to watch. Ruth’s mother had always told her to act as a lady – straight back, proper dress, polite demeanour. Throughout the show I noticed little things about Cassidy’s performance – she would sit down and slouch slightly, and then draw herself back up, her back poker-straight, as if she was remembering the lessons her Mother had taught her. Such a simple touch that could easily be missed, but her commitment to the role and her understanding and portrayal of Ruth was something very special to watch.

From the outset there were some shocking moments that had me crying out and reaching towards the stage as if to try and stop the horror unfolding. The choreography of these moments was so precise that it really did seem violent and spontaneous – there was no time for the actors to think, they just reacted and it made the show so raw that it was almost uncomfortable to watch. I had to remind myself several times that, while this story may not be true, thousands of others did suffer like this. It wasn’t just the product of some warped mind, deliberately setting out to shock and stun. It was real.

Jon Robyns played Adam Nehemiah, a man who had come to see Dessa, now pregnant and languishing in prison, to document her story. Day after day he listened to Dessa’s plight and, although it was never spoken, it was clear through his actions and things he said to himself, that he was falling in love with Dessa. It seemed that Dessa was intrigued by this man too – until she took advantage of his lapse of concentration by hitting him over the head with a bedpan and making a break for it. I have to admit I didn’t see that coming!

With the help of her friends Harker (Gabriel Mokake) and Nathan (Edward Baruwa) Dessa escapes to Ruth’s farm where she has her baby, who Ruth begins to nurse because Dessa is too frail and emaciated to produce any milk. Dessa sees this as Ruth taking ownership of her child and, despite Ruth’s insistence, refuses to name her child until she is free.

I have to mention Edward Baruwa who plays Nathan. I fell head over heels for the energy and mischief surrounding his character and, through the whole of the second act, was sat on the very edge of my seat praying that nothing bad would happen to him. In another show his forbidden romance with Ruth would have been cliché and maybe even a bit boring, but the way Cassidy Janson and he played it, you longed for them to be together and cursed the fact that they could never be. Their love scene was delicate and hesitant and beautiful and I found myself holding my breath, not wanting to intrude on their very private moment.

I won’t tell too much about the ending, only that it was an unexpectedly happy, albeit bittersweet one. Cynthia Erivo is a truly sensational talent, playing Dessa Rose perfectly, not once breaking character despite a few scenes which must have been tough to perform. She was in love, heartbroken, bitter, hardened, happy, desolate, broken, scared and oh so beautiful and you couldn’t help but care for and even cry for this poor young girl.

The entire cast was flawless, especially performing in such an intimate space where it must have been so hard to concentrate and stay in character with the audience in such close proximity. I made a point of tweeting the director Andrew Keates to tell him what an absolute gem of a show he has created, and he and the cast and crew fully deserve all of the praise being heaped on them. “Dessa Rose” is a hard-hitting yet beautiful show with a solid cast and a storyline that makes you weep with sadness and joy and I cannot recommend it enough.


An Evening with Kristin Chenoweth – 12/07/2014

I first got tickets to see Kristin Chenoweth in April 2013, but unfortunately she cancelled the night before due to a problem with her work permit (she didn’t have one). When she announced her concert at the Royal Albert Hall I was in the process of moving from Manchester to Kent, and so money was tight and I knew I’d miss her again. Then, What’s On Stage started a competition on twitter – share the link they posted and you’d be entered into a draw to win a pair of tickets to see Kristin Chenoweth. I shared the link and didn’t think about it again – until they messaged me saying I’d won! After lots of jumping around and screaming I rang my Mum and told her that I wouldn’t be coming home to visit that weekend because I’d won two tickets to see Kristin Chenoweth – I’ve got my priorities in order!

I decided to take my lovely friend Becky who I met on Twitter and who is also a massive Kristin fan. Neither of us had been to the Royal Albert Hall before – that was an experience in itself! Probably the most beautiful venue I’ve ever been to although I felt very out of place in the posh borough of Kensington! What’s On Stage didn’t tell me where I would be sitting so we were both nervous and excited as we queued up to collect the tickets, which turned out to be for two seats in row 14 of the stalls. Not too shabby!

As the lights went down the band played an instrumental medley of a selection of songs from various musicals that Kristin had appeared in, and that’s a fair few! This went on for a while and the tension kept building until all of a sudden Kristin appeared on the stage. I couldn’t believe she was actually here! She is so petite it’s hard to believe that she can belt out those big notes but she did it with ease. She performed “Maybe This Time” which is a personal favourite of mine, and it was such a treat to see her perform it live. A few songs in she introduced her first guest (I didn’t even know there would be guests) and it was Peter Lockyer, the West End’s current Jean Valjean! Becky and I looked at eachother, both absolutely stunned. It really was our lucky night!

The thing that I love about Kristin is that she is so versatile – she can really let loose with those high notes but she can hold back too; she can sing anything from Country to Disco to Classical and each song sounds entirely unique to Kristin. There were so many moments that made my jaw drop throughout the night, but a personal highlight was when Kristin sang a version of “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables. When she announced she was going to sing a Les Mis song I presumed it would be “On My Own” or “I Dreamed a Dream” so when I heard the opening notes of “Bring Him Home” I went into shock! I have heard that song performed by some truly exceptional male vocalists, but Kristin’s version was so stripped back and so pure that she made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. By the time she’d finished I was covered in goosebumps and had tears streaming down my face – as did every other person in the audience!

Kristin also performed a self-penned song named “WWDD?” or “What Would Dolly Do?” inspired by her idol, Dolly Parton. Halfway through the song Kristin stopped singing and said “you know what, what WOULD Dolly do?” then pulled out her phone as if to make a call, and a video of Dolly Parton answering appeared on the big screen! It was so well done and so simple yet really effective and more than a little bit impressive!

Kristin’s next guest was none other than the fabulous Kerry Ellis who was the UK’s first Elphaba almost 10 years ago. The duo then went on to perform “For Good” from Wicked which is a big, emotional song. I was in absolute awe of Kerry and so was Kristin, who was so mesmerised that she almost missed her cue! I’ve listened to the Wicked soundtrack hundreds, maybe even thousands of times but to see Kristin perform this song live was truly special, especially with such a talented singing partner. She also sang “Popular” from Wicked after talking about all of the different Glindas around the world, and sang different parts of the song in different languages, complete with her own little Glinda traits. That must have taken so much time and concentration to learn but she made it look effortless!

Kristin’s final guest was the incredible Alison Jiear and I’m fairly sure that the Royal Albert Hall roof is still in orbit somewhere after they blew it off with their insanely powerful duet of “No More Tears (Enough is Enough).” It was quite a bizarre sight – Kristin is so teeny tiny and Alison is big and beautiful but they matched eachother note for note with neither of them holding back.

The most moving moment of the night was when Kristin performed Lady Antebellum’s “I Was Here.” The lyrics touched my heart and Kristin performed the song with such passion and raw emotion that I was holding back the tears. She told the audience to always follow your heart and work hard towards what you want to do and never ever give up. It was such a magical moment – I felt like she was talking directly to me. I’ve been having a very hard time lately trying to find my path in life, but Kristin’s words touched me and renewed my determination to succeed, doubters be damned. The word “inspiration” is thrown around so often these days that it has lost some of its meaning, but Kristin is definitely an inspiration to me and, in that moment, she saved me.

I want to thank Kristin Chenoweth for such an incredible, powerful, moving, magical concert. It’s not often you leave a concert or a show with a renewed sense of purpose and determination but Kristin spoke to my heart and inspired me to carry on and for that I will be eternally grateful.





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