Last week was my 2nd wedding anniversary, and what other way is there for a Theatre blogger to celebrate than to see a play? Not just any play, but the Christmas favourite ‘Nativity! The Musical’.
Currently running at the REP in Birmingham, before it tours the country and lands in London, this is one of the most glorious musicals I have have ever seen. This production is an even more musical adaptation of the wonderful British film ‘Nativity!’. The tale is the same and still set in Coventry. Mr Maddens (Daniel Boys) and Mr Poppy (Simon Lipkin) need to help St Bernadette’s Primary School pull off a Nativity production fit for Hollywood (due to a slight misunderstanding). There are of course , twists and turns, and laughter and tears along the way, but it is a really charming tale with all the spirit of Christmas.
From the moment you walk into the theatre, the atmosphere is one of clear excitement. The audience of all ages were clearly huge fans of the film and could not wait for the performance to start. As the stage comes alive and the adventure begins you are swept away. Every member of the company (and especially the children) is clearly having the time of their life bringing the show to the audience. Simon Lipkin (who I was lucky enough to see earlier this year in Wind in the Willows) is the most fabulous Mr Poppy, playing the character with such humour and affection, In fact at one particularly emotional moment, a young member of the audience called out ‘I love you’ to Mr Poppy as he shed a tear.
I was also really pleased to have the chance to see Daniel Boys in a musical, as I was a big fan all those years ago when he was a contestant on ‘Any Dream Will Do’. (That is one off the bucket list as I have now seen my three favourites from that show in musicals – so easily pleased). He did not disappoint; such a lovely singing voice and overall fabulous performance.
However, the real stars were the children who injected so much enthusiasm and humour into their parts the audience was always cheering along with them.
I laughed all the way through the production (apart from the couple of moments where they don’t just tug but yank on the heartstrings and even Mr BookwormandTheatremouse might have had a lump in his throat) and leapt to my feet when the finale was on. In fact, it almost feels like you are celebrating with the cast.
Overall, this is a loyal adaptation of the film (all your favourite parts will be there) and it will leave you feeling very happy and very festive. Bravo to all!
This was a title that had been intriguing me for a while. I had seen a few people out and about reading it and I had added it to my mental ‘to be read’ list.
So, when I found myself without a book on a recent day trip, this was the book that I picked up – and I am glad that I did. This novel reminded me of the classic crime of the Queen of Mystery, Agatha Christie. The reason I make such a bold statement is because the characters were so well developed throughout the tale. Each appeared to have no or very little connection to each other, yet they are drawn together by the mysterious death of their school mate, Simon. There is also a clever use of ‘secrets’ to help weave the tale as it reaches the conclusion. After all, will they work to protect them or free themselves from their burdens?
Although this is a YA novel that works well as an adult novel, I think those of us a little older than the intended audience may read it with a little nostalgia in their hearts. I felt there was a little nod to all those teen ‘friendship’ groups we loved growing up, such as Buffy and her friends (although this novel has nothing to do with vampires, other than a slight goth character), or those misfit teens we spent detention with in ‘The Breakfast Club.’
So, it you love classic crime and want to be reminded of those ‘popular culture’ teen years, then this is the novel for you.
This was not a title I was sure I would enjoy – despite how beautiful the cover is – however, I really enjoyed it.
This was an engaging tale of mystery and intrigue. Set in the world of gaming, it reminded me of the Hunger Games as the teams took on their challenges, although it is all a virtual world. However, virtual reality does not mean it keeps the central character Emika Chen any safer – in fact, it probably puts her in more danger. Is she blinded by the ‘new’ life she is experiencing in Tokyo as part of the games? After all, it gives her the kind of life she has probably been craving for longer than she realises.
For me, the attraction of this tale was that nothing at all is as it seems. It is a clear warning of the power that too much technology could give one individual. Will we reach a point of technology giving too much control to the minority rather than the majority – an all-too-real fear even now in the 21st century. Lu cleverly leaves you wanting more as she concludes this novel, leaving it on a clear but not too dramatic cliffhanger. I certainly can’t wait to find out what happens next.
Any one else given Warcross a go? Have you found it a surprise?
I always love bookmail; a combination of books and snail mail is a dream. So, when ‘The Dry’ turned up thanks to my Auntie, I was excited.
I had heard of ‘The Dry’ but was not really sure what it was about, however when I realised it was a thriller, I may have picked it up sooner. The atmosphere jumps out of the book from the moment that you start reading. You can immediately sense ‘The Dry’ and the impact that it has on the people of the small Australian town. It also adds to the thrill of the read, as it almost gives each character an additional edge as they deal with the past, present and uncertain future. So much of the tension comes from the environment that it is all taking place in, especially at the thrilling conclusion.
It can be hard to review a thriller without revealing spoilers. All I will say about the plot is that Aaron Falk is a character that you have sympathy for, as his story, past and present, unfolds with each page. There are two mysteries all the way through the novel: who killed the Hadler family? And is it connected to an unsolved death many years before? The present-day crime certainly stirs some ghosts from the past and it does not take long for the people to be pushed to the limit.
This novel certainly has you wanting to know what happens next. It is quite a debut from Jane Harper; I hope we see many more stories from her pen.
Have you read any great debut novels? What would you recommend?
One think I love about Autumn (although there are many) is that so many wonderful books are published. 2017 has meant a new Marian Keyes novel and I was counting down until it was published.
I was not disappointed when I picked this book up – immediately I was drawn into the ‘adventure’ all the characters were about to embark on.
It is a fascinating study of all sorts of relationships. This tale is not just about ‘The Break’ and the impact that it has on Hugh and Amy at the centre of the story, but the many ripples that come from it and impact other characters. There is, also, a clever reflection of how life carries on for everyone, despite what other events may be taking place. For me, the inner strength that so many of the characters found in tough times was inspiring and, in fact, ‘The Break’ did not just apply to Amy and Hugh and what they went through, but also the desire that others may have to find a ‘break’ from the lives they’re living.
As always Marian Keyes handles all the issues she tackles with humour and warmth. She manages to empathise with so many experiences that her readers may be facing and it always seems to be like you are reading about friends and not strangers.
As I read this novel, I laughed, I cried (just a little) and I never wanted to put it down. I have to thank my lovely friend Erin Green for introducing me to the novels of Marian Keyes one World Book Night a few years ago, because, since then, she has become one of my favourite authors.
Have you ever read any novels by Marian Keyes? Do you have a favourite?
It is that time of year again, another reason why I love Autumn, the second Theatre Club of the year. This time it is my turn to be surprised and it was the best surprise – in fact it was the exact show I was hoping for – the glitzy and glamorous ’42nd Street’.
Now, I really admit that I did not have a clue what the musical was about, but I could just tell that it was going to be a smashing musical. We were in the gallery of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane (a theatre we already love as we saw ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ there on another Theatre Club trip) and the view was perfect.
The show starts as it means to go on, with a beautifully choreographed tap routine. The tale is one of a young, talented potential star wanting to take on Broadway, as another ‘older’ star could be ready to give up the stage for the man she loves, as the company tries to get the show ready for the stage. Throughout the production, the performances were stunning. The singing was fabulous and all the dance routines were jaw dropping. I was certainly ready to put my dancing shoes on by the end of the show.
CJ Johnson was fabulous in the role of the established star Dorothy Brock and Clare Halse was absolutely stunning as Peggy Sawyer; he dance skills were mesmerising from start to finish. However, as always the whole cast, ensemble and orchestra made the show the memorable performance it was.
I can guarantee that if you take the opportunity to see this West End gem, you will come out tapping your feet and humming all the tunes.
So, the big question is, what to see for the next Theatre Club – any recommendations?