Category: Entertainment and Arts
A film, to be made in New Zealand and starring ‘an international cast’, is to feature the life and work of pioneering plastic surgeon Sir Archibald McIndoe.
Called The Guinea Pig Club it will be directed by Roger Donaldson with a script based on extensive interviews with surviving members of ‘the world’s most exclusive Club’ – McIndoe’s former patients whose faces, and lives, were restored by the charismatic surgeon.
The movie has been eight years in the planning, but with casting currently in progress, filming is expected to start later this year.
Photo top: the statue of Sir Archibald on Remembrance Sunday last November
Posted in Entertainment and Arts, History, News Tagged with: film, Sir Archibald McIndoe, statue, The Guinea Pig Club
MERIDIAN FM’s rock show will be broadcasting a four hour Easter Bank Holiday special featuring exclusive interviews with 25 major and emerging bands and artists on Monday.
Presenter Guy Bellamy Said: “Very sadly, 2016 has already seen the passing of many great musical legends. Monday’s show is about looking forward and giving a platform to a next generation of bright acts and we hope every listener will discover something new and special to follow, music that should be heard on mainstream radio but seldom is.”
The afternoon features a series of 5-10 minute interviews with a wide range of acts spanning roll to folk, punk to soul. The show will also premiere the first UK play of a new song by Jackaman, an artist tipped by many for a huge 2016. There will also be interviews with Sussex bands The Colour of Noise and Dove House.
To keep a healthy variety to the schedule there will also be interviews on new material from a number of well established acts such as Joe Bonamassa and the Supersuckers.
Part two of the show will feature the second part of Meridian’s preview on the Wildfire Festival – now one of rock’s most respected national events. This section of the show will feature a 40-minute exclusive interview with festival organiser Dave Ritchie and a string of top rock bands including Inglorious, Bad Touch, Screaming Eagles and Thirteen Stars.
Tune in live 3pm to 7pm on Easter Monday or listen online via www.meridianfm.com
Posted in Entertainment and Arts, News Tagged with: Guy Bellamy, Meridian, rock show
FOUR Killer Women, a collective of crime writers who include a former Met detective, are are going to appear at Wordfest – Crawley’s annual literary festival – next month.
Between them the Killer Women write everything from best-selling detective novels to thrillers, radio dramas, historical crime and tales of espionage.
Carolyn Murphy, Crawley Wordfest Director said: “This event brings together three top crime writers and one very senior police-officer-turned-writer and TV script consultant to talk about crime writing from Agatha Christie’s Golden Age to today.
“We’ll be asking, are the rules of good crime writing the same now as they were for the Queen of Crime? Is it even more important to get the forensic facts right? And why do the most grisly events continue to be so appealing as subjects?”
The Killer Women coming to Crawley will be:
• Alison Joseph: a crime writer and award-winning radio dramatist. She is the author of the series of novels featuring Sister Agnes, a contemporary detective nun, and also Dying to Know a crime novel about particle physics. Her most recent novel (out autumn 2015), Murder Will Out, is the first of a new series featuring Agatha Christie as a detective.
• K.T Medina: a psychologist and former troop commander in the Royal Engineers, Kate released her debut White Crocodile in 2014. Set in the landmine fields of Cambodia it features strong yet emotionally-damaged mine-clearer Tess Hardy who is seeking the truth behind her ex-husband’s death. Her new book, Fire Damage, is released in March 2016 and will be the first in an exciting new crime series featuring clinical psychologist Dr Jessie Flynn.
• Louise Millar: originally from Glasgow, Louise is a journalist and author of four critically acclaimed psychological thrillers – The Playdate, Accidents Happen, The Hidden Girl and, most recently (autumn 2015) City of Strangers. Her latest book sees photojournalist Grace Scott returning from her honeymoon to find a burglar lying dead in the newly-weds’ Edinburgh flat. The closer to finding out what happened, the more dangerous it gets.
• Jackie Malton: a retired MET detective turned story consultant and writer, Jackie has worked on more than 500 episodes of crime drama including The Bill, Jury II and Prime Suspect – of which she was the inspiration for the main character. She has also written radio drama Be Mine, aired on BBC Radio 4 in 2012, about a charismatic ex-con and recovering alcoholic, who has been in prison for 26 years for murder.
* The FREE ticketed event takes place at 7pm on Tuesday 19 April at Crawley Library. To book your place, email email@example.com
or call 01293 651751.
Posted in Entertainment and Arts, News Tagged with: femmes fatales, killer women, Word fest
THERE will be a David Bowie Tribute show on 107 Meridian FM tonight from 5pm to 6pm when more than 15 national acts spanning rock, pop, soul, punk and folk will be sharing tributes to the music and creative genius of David Bowie.
Show producer Guy Bellamy said: “The hour reminds us that Bowie has influenced an entire generation of musicians from all genres. He taught many of them brave and try new ideas, for others his music was itself an inspiration. We’re thrilled to have such a line-up of top acts contributing to the show which we hope listeners will really enjoy.”
Among the artists taking part is East Grinstead’s rock legend Nick Van Eede who recently released a critically-acclaimed new Cutting Crew album
Posted in Entertainment and Arts, News Tagged with: Bowie tribute, Meridian FM
THERE will be a Poet’s Walk with Sian Thomas (right) on the Ashdown Forest on 5 April. The free, three hour writing workshop, based at the Forest Centre, includes a short walk along the Broadstone Amble.
Tea and coffee available will be available, donations gratefully received.
The workshop will take place on Tuesday 5 April 2016, from 10.30am to 1.30pm.
To book a place call 01342 823583 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Sian said: “In this walk and writing workshop Going Backwards we will explore our historical relationships with Ashdown Forest. We’ll think backwards, write backwards and possibly even walk backwards!
“Bring your Ashdown memories, along with a pen and paper, and wear suitable clothing and footwear.”
Photo top Simon Kerr
Posted in Entertainment and Arts, News Tagged with: Poets Walk, Sian Thomas
CRAWLEY WORDfest, a two week literary festival featuring author talks, a family fun day and a World Book Night, is back from 12 – 23 April.
The event will kick off with a comedy evening on Tuesday 12 April, followed by a range of exciting author talks, creative workshops, spoken word performances, recitals and more – mostly for free –before concluding on Saturday 23 April 2016 on World Book Night, an international celebration of reading.
Highlights for 2016 include:
Killer Women – Agatha Christie’s legacy, in fact and fiction. This event on Tuesday 19 April welcomes three top crime writers and a former Met-detective-turned-TV-script-consultant for Prime Suspect, The Bill and more, to discuss the huge influence Agatha Christie has had on the genre as well as what makes good crime writing
New Faces of Fiction: on Friday 22 April introduces two new writers as they prepare to unveil their first novels to the world – TBC and Rebecca Thornton. Discover how they successfully negotiated the turbulent world of publishing to make it.
Get Stuck in Day: on Saturday 16 April invites families to let their kids loose in the library for a fun-packed day of craft activities, workshops, games and children’s theatre – all for free.
Desert Island Books: on Thursday 14 April WORDfest invites three successful authors to share the books that they simply could not live without in a castaway situation.
Julia Crouch, Brighton-based novelist and WORDfest Patron, said: “With adventurous programming, ranging from theatre to literary events to active opportunities to create and tell stories, WORDfest provides a creative focus reaching out to all ages and reinforcing the importance of stories in our 21st century lives.
“Grassroots literary festivals are more than just the books and the authors, they are about celebrating reading and the community. Stories are a large part of what makes us human, and events like WORDfest give us the perfect opportunity to get together and discuss them.”
For news on the 2016 programme, follow on Twitter @crawleywordfest or www.facebook.com/WORDfestcrawleysussex
Posted in Entertainment and Arts, News Tagged with: literary festival, Wordfest
Sammi O’Neill of Theatre South East interviews magician Alex McAleer
DO you watch TV magicians and wonder how on earth they astound their audiences? Do you wonder whether they employ stooges or simply use camera tricks?
When I was at the Impossible Show launch last year, I got very close to the ‘magic’ but as close as I was I still couldn’t see how the tricks were done. So when I was invited to meet Alex McAleer, a man described as having ‘Uncanny powers of prediction’ I knew I had to take reinforcements – and who better than the most sceptical people I know, my 13-year-old twins?
These are boys who constantly try to guess how things are done, and I was counting on three pairs of eyes being better than just mine.
We met Alex at the Assembly Hall Theatre in Tunbridge Wells where he’ll be performing in Champions of Magic on Saturday 26 March and we were able to ask him a few questions before he attempted to read the boys’ teenage minds.
There are four acts in the show. Edward Hilsum who amongst other things produces lots of doves from thin air, Fay Presto who does the close-up magic aided by big screens, and Alex the mentalist mind-reader.
Completing the company are the double act Young and Strange who do the big illusions.
One of them gets inside a cardboard box which you can see all around and the other one sticks in lots of sharp sticks. Eventually it is so full of them that the audience assumes he is not in there any more until they see a hand sticking out and waving – it’s a great trick.
They also have a spectacular finale where they have a huge industrial fan onstage and one of them walks through the blades.
Obviously these ‘tricks’ are extremely well rehearsed, but are they dangerous, I asked Alex?
Once they were rehearsing for the show and some Health and Safety guys pitched up and told them that to comply with the insurance they had to declare how the trick was done. Young and Strange sent them a desktop fan and an action man and told them to work it out. I doubt if they ever did.
Alex then turned to my sons D & J.
Alex McAleer chose D to help him perform a mind-reading trick.
“He began by taking out a pack of cards and told me that one of the cards in the box was the wrong way round, and I was going to mind read him to find which card it was.
First he asked me whether the card was from a red or black suit, I guessed black, the next question was which of the black suits it was, I guessed spades.
He then asked me to picture in my mind but not to say out loud which number of spades the card was. I first thought of eight but he told me to think of a different number so I changed to six. I was then told to say out loud the card I had chosen, the six of spades. After opening the box he spread out the deck and picked out the card that was upside down. Amazingly, it was the six of spades.
Usually when you see these kinds of performances you think that it was set up and fake but this was completely new to me and all totally legitimate. Alex was outstanding and gave us a great insight to what it is like to be a magician.”
And victim number two!
Alex asked J to think of a word, anything at all as long as it was under seven letters. It could be an object in the room, a name, a place etc.
“I chose the word ‘light’. I had to write the word down and put it in an envelope so that I couldn’t change my mind.
Alex then asked me to think of the a letter in the middle of the word, I thought of the letter g before thinking that was too obvious and I then thought of h before settling on i.
‘Ok’ says Alex, ‘you bounced about a bit there, you went from g to h to I’. I had read somewhere that mind reading is all about facial expressions so I set mine to a neutral expression. But as soon as he said that I was so shocked my face must have changed entirely.
He wrote down what he thought the word was and showed it to me. It was the right answer…”
We asked Alex if he could share how it was done.
I’m always very clear when I go on stage to explain that I don’t profess to be physic or supernatural, he said. I only talk to the living and certainly can’t speak to the dead.
I use various techniques, I watch body language and facial expressions, I use suggestion techniques, psychology and lots of other tricks. Also when we are on the stage, nerves and pressure can also come into play because it is a big show. There are lots of elements involved.
How do you convince audiences that what you are doing is not set up and who you choose is completely random?
In the show I have a toy chimpanzee which I call ‘Chimp-ion’ (of Magic) and he gets thrown out into the audience and whoever catches it is invited on stage.
I always ask people to write their choices down as well so that they are not accused of agreeing with me.
How did you decide you wanted to make ‘mind-reading’ your career? It is not the most conventional of choices.
When I was 15 I became interested in mind-reading and memory tricks. I read books about neumonics and muscle reading etc and when I started showing off to family and friends I found I was quite good at it. Then I just progressed and learnt more and more, it is a set of skills and techniques that I have developed over the years.
A guy on twitter asked me today if I could read his mind, but it can’t work like that. It’s the same as if you went up to Dynamo in the street and asked him to make an elephant disappear – he couldn’t there and then.
Have you ever got it wrong?
Never in Champions of Magic – but yes it has happened. Thankfully, it is very rare but when it does I have to use my charm and try to dig my way out of it.
Alex McAleer performs as part of Champions of Magic which will be at the Assembly Hall Theatre in Tunbridge Wells on 26 March.
Buy tickets here
Posted in Entertainment and Arts, News, Theatre Tagged with: Champions of Magic, Theatre South East
Every week Pete, from Future Audio, tells us about the latest vinyl releases
LAST year David Bowie’s record label began a programme of re-mastering and re-issuing all David’s albums, in chronological order.
The first boxset, covering the years 1969-1973, included some great albums, six original studio recordings and two classic live albums.
You realise now how prolific that period of his life really was – Space Oddity, Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Pin-ups etc – all fantastic albums.
The quality and packaging was glorious, with the only off-putting aspect being the price, at around £200 for the box set.
Well now these great albums have been made available individually, at a much more pocket-friendly £21 each.
So if your original copy is getting tatty why not treat yourself to a crackle-free new one, pressed on new 180 gram vinyl.
All are available at Future Audio, East Grinstead’s only official record store.
But please don’t throw out you original copies of these classic albums – early pressings can be worth serious money!
Sadly we will have to wait until September for the next batch of releases, covering my favourite period of Bowie’s recording career,1976-79 Berlin era, responsible for the wonderfully atmospheric Low and Heroes.
In the meantime let’s see what gems are released for this year Record Store Day on Saturday 16 April – sure to come and join us.
Posted in Entertainment and Arts, News Tagged with: Dvid Bowie, Pete Gallon
MERIDIAN FM will be featuring a two-part interview with Fish, one of Rock’s great storytellers next week (14 and 18 March) as he prepares for the final live performances of his Misplaced Childhood tour across the UK in April.
The interviews will be the latest instalment in Guy Bellamy’s Great Music Story Series of hour-long features with national acts exploring the inspirations which drive major artists, their creative process and the story behind major bands.
Part One: Solo, at drivetime between 6pm and 7pm on 14 March, will see Fish discuss his first albums and tours as a solo artist following his departure from Marillion.
Part Two: Sunsets to Childhood, from 6pm to 7pm on 18 March, will see Guy and Fish discuss his albums since Sunsets on Empire, the moving World War One family story that inspired material for his acclaimed Feast of Consequences album and his preparations for his last-ever performances of Misplaced Childhood next month.
This second show will also feature some deep-cuts and seldom-heard B sides from the Fish recordings archive.
Guy said “The whole focus of the Great Music Stories series has been on storytelling, so it makes perfect sense to have one of rock’s great storytellers on the show.
“As Fish prepares to write his final album it seemed a fitting time to explore his rich music catalogue.
“Much of it is widescreen, epic music that doesn’t always fit the general radio format of 3-minute singles. It’s music that needs to be heard and framed by insightful conversation that will give listeners an extra dimension.
“So tune in – these are not shows to miss.’
Posted in Entertainment and Arts, News Tagged with: Fish, Guy Bellamy, Meridian
Review of ‘Allo ‘Allo at Chequer Mead by the Rising Stars Adult Theatre Company
A hugely successful TV series by Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft, ‘Allo ‘Allo ran for seven seasons before being adapted for the stage version which was at Chequer Mead this week. And if you had enjoyed the TV series there were certainly no surprises in the show which depicts life in Cafe Rene during WWII in occupied France.
All the ingredients which made the series such a success were back – the ludicrously cliche-ridden depictions of the French, the Germans and the Italians: Michelle, the Resistance worker played by Samantha Luke, who ‘vill say zis only vunce”: and the portrait of The Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies woven together in a melange of unashamed incorrection politique
But like familiar old friends it was fun to see them again and to listen out for the catchphrases which made us laugh 30 years ago, and had us laughing all over again last night.
The combination of high drama and low comedy translated well into a two-hour show.
Unlike the recent film version of Dad’s Army which felt stretched from its customary 30 minute slot for its 90 minutes on the big screen, there was enough “plot” in the sketches to bring the show together into a classic farce length piece.
And farce it definitely was.
Robin Shergold played Rene, the hapless cafe owner who lives in fear of being shot respectively by the Germans in general and the Gestapo in particular, his wife, and his twin mistresses should their menage a quatre ever be discovered.
Robin nailed world weary, war weary Rene, occasionally stopping the action with a click of his fingers as he talked the audience through the latest catastrophe to befall ‘im – and some deft physical comedy with a salami had one female member of the audience in absolute hysterics.
And as Edith, Rene’s wife, Hilary Reen was hilarious. In the misguided belief she is both a sexual siren and a chanteuse, Hilary’s tone-deaf singing was as ear-piercing as it was sidesplitting and earned her a huge round of applause.
There were lovely turns too from waitresses Alison Mc Donald and Amanda Fuller, as Yvette and Mimi, the unlikely lovestruck objects of Rene’s illicit affections. It was good to hear the old rolling-rrrrred cry of “Oh! Rrrrrrrene” whenever either of them got their hands on him – although we remained none the wiser about what the German actually did with the rhubarb when in flagrante.
Andy Wiggins had only to utter the classic words “Good Moaning” as Crabtree, the British officer impersonating a French policeman, to have the audience on his side: and David Burton appeared in numerous unlikely guises – including as Hitler himself – with the equally familiar, and funnier-every-time-he-said-it phrase “It is I, Leclerc…”
David Foster was Herr Flick, the Gestapo officer, and seemed equally at home in his long leather coat as in a rather more disturbing scene impersonating a one-legged usherette. While Kate Gledhill put in a lovely performance as his giggly love interest efficiently smitten with both his cold-hearted charms and his swastika underpants.
There is something in Richard Green’s bull-headed physique which made him a shoo-in for Colonel Kurt Von Strohm, and he had some lovely comedy moments about his decision to “vear a viglet” in order to take ten years off his appearance.
John Griffin’s Lieutenant Gruber was a camp as Noel and far more naughty as he exchanged misguided moments with Rene under the impression that not only was he, in the words of the original TV script, someone who had grown up in the town of Nancy, but an actual “Nancy boy”.
Bringing another politically incorrect stereotype to the stage was James Walsom as Captain Bertorelli, a man more concerned with the war of the sexes than anything more dangerous, despite his chestful of tin medals. And Des Henderson brought a swaggering menace to his role as General Von Schmelling, the only German in the comedy cast who actually had a whiff of any real danger about him.
The audience who came to the show knew what to expect, and got exactly what they wanted. It wasn’t big, but it was clever – and in a world where people are far too keen to claim victim status for being “offended” it was really rather liberating.
Posted in Entertainment and Arts, News, Theatre Tagged with: 'Allo, Chequer Mead, review, Rising Stars Theatre Company
THERE’S a last chance to see the Rising Stars Adult Theatre Company’s production of ‘Allo ‘Allo at Chequer Mead tonight.
Based on the hugely popular TV comedy series by Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft, the stage version of ‘Allo ‘Allo follows the adventures of Rene, the hapless cafe owner in war-torn occupied France, as he and his wife, Edith, struggle to keep for themselves a priceless portrait stolen by the Nazis, kept in a sausage in their cellar.
Tickets for ‘Allo ‘Allo can be bought from the box office at Chequer Mead – 01342 302000 www.chequermead.org.uk
‘Allo ‘Allo is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French Ltd.
Posted in Entertainment and Arts, News Tagged with: 'Allo 'Allo, Chequer Mead, Rising Stars
Every week Pete, from Future Audio reviews some of the latest vinyl releases
IT is fair to say that every genre of music has its greats, whether is rock, soul, country, rock and roll, jazz or funk.
And as music tastes change and styles develop, so more and more genres come along – acid, house, garage, grunge all deserve their followers.
If we cast our minds back over the years it was a much simpler music business. And who do we pinpoint as the greatest single influence on popular music? Elvis? Bill Haley? The Beatles?
Arguments will rumble on, and I guess if you lived through the most exciting of times you will have your favourites.
But if there is one style of music I struggle with, it’s jazz.
I have tried, believe you me.
I have even been told to stop chatting during a performance at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club.
But Future Audio tries to cater for all tastes in music, selling a broad selection of vinyl, and our two biggest sellers have proved to be Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd and Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, regarded by many as THE finest jazz recording, bar none.
Released in August 1959 on the New York Columbia label, Kind of Blue has seen many subsequent releases with sales of over 4 million worldwide – in its current format,180 grm stereo, packaged in a beautiful gatefold sleeve, at £23.
Miles Davis was well known for a particular style of recording. Musicians were allowed almost no rehearsal time, and were given the briefest of spec as to what was to be recorded, Davis preferring each musician to expand and improvise their input.
This method often meant live versions of the album were allowed to wander away from the recorded cuts, surely as all live music should be?
Unusually Kind of Blue was released on a 12” disc, instead of the more normal-for-the-time,10”, and in stereo and mono. In the 1950s mono was still very much the norm.
Future Audio also carry other examples of his work – Milestones, Bitches Brew and Sketches of Spain.
So if you would like to give Jazz the attention it fully deserves,come down and have a listen – it may not be to everyone’s tastes, but over 4 million people seem to like it!
Posted in Business, Entertainment and Arts, News Tagged with: Miles Davis, Pete Gallon
‘Elvis’ at East Court
ELVIS tribute act Fisher Stevens returns to Chequer Mead with his award-winning show Elvis in Vegas on 18 March.
A professionally-produced stage show celebrating the Vegas Years of Elvis Presley, it features a musical journey backed by an exceptionally talented group of musicians who have played all over the world.
Fisher Stevens is recognised as one of the world’s leading Elvis Tribute Artists.
Winner of the Elvis international Masters Championships in 2014 and a regular performer in Memphis during Elvis week, Fisher Stevens brings the essence of Elvis to Chequer Mead next month.
Friday 18th March at 7:30pm – Buy Tickets
Tickets: £16/concessions £15.
Posted in Entertainment and Arts, News Tagged with: Chequer Mead, Elvis, Fisher Stevens
EAST Grinstead Choral Society will present Mozart’s inspiring and much loved Great C Minor Mass together with Symphony No 40, Ave Verum Corpus and Laudate Dominum at St Mary’s at 7pm on Saturday 12 March.
Accompanied on period instruments by the Meridian Symphony Orchestra, leader George Clifford, with sopranos Lesley-Jane Rogers and Kirsty McLean, tenor Jon English and bass Robert Clarke. Musical director Richard Jenkinson.
Tickets: Adult £14, Student £7 from Bullfrog Music, online via EGCS website or on the door (subject to availability).
Further info: http://www.egcs.co.uk
Posted in Church, Entertainment and Arts, News Tagged with: Choral Society, St Mary's Mozart Mass
ALEX Gibney’s documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, has won the Writers Guild of America’s 2016 award for Best Documentary.
The film takes a controversial look at the inside workings of the secretive belief system, invented by science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard, which has its UK headquarters in East Grinstead.
Gibney’s film won three Emmys last year for Outstanding Documentary, Writing and Directing.
Posted in Entertainment and Arts, News
THE Dreamboys are back at Chequer Mead next month with their brand new 2016 show. One of the UK’s most popular male strip shows, they have made guest appearances on The X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, Celebrity Big Brother, Loose Women, This Morning, The Alan Titchmarsh Show and The Only Way Is Essex.
They sold out the theatre last time they were in town, so you’ll need to book early if you want to see them this time around.
Performance: Thursday 10 March at 8pm – Buy Tickets
Additional Information: Tickets are £22.50. Premium seats in the first two rows are £24.50
Posted in Entertainment and Arts, News
GRINSTOCK is back at the Dorset on 3 of March with a line-up of top notch UK stand-up comedians from the National and TV circuit.
Tickets sold out for last month’s gig and people were turned away at the door, so if you want to be sure of getting in, book in advance at www.wegottickets.com
March’s line-up is:
MC Chris Betts: Chris is one of Canada’s top stand-up acts and the former host of the only Canadian stand-up comedy the Liar Liar show.
Adam Riley: Adam Riley is a deadpan comedian who has won the King Gong Show at the Comedy Store and The Blackout at Up the Creek.
Jo Coffey: Jo has presented on Big Brother’s Bit on the Side, BBLB with George Lamb and appeared on This Morning.
Headliner Barry Castagnola: Comedian, actor and writer Barry Castagnola has been performing stand-up in the UK and internationally for over six years since blagging his way onstage at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles.
Date: 3 March, 7.30pm doors open / 8pm comedy starts
Venue: The Dorset Arms
Tickets: Adults – £10 in advance from venue or online at wegottickets.com/ £12 on the door
Concession – £8 in advance but only online at wegottickets.com / £10 on the door
Posted in Entertainment and Arts, News
Incredible Invaders | Review by Sammi O’Neill
EVEN my teenagers were excited at the prospect of going to Fairfield Halls in Croydon to watch one of the latest offerings from the Horrible Histories team.
It is easy to understand why…they are of a generation who have grown up with Terry Deary’s hilariously gruesome books and TV programmes about the macabre side of English History.
Currently touring nationwide with two shows, the energetic cast of four sing dance and educate us about all the bloodthirsty and gory bits of English history
The show we watched was called Incredible Invaders and it light-heartedly covers the numerous times Britain’s green and pleasant lands have been attacked by foreign invaders.
Evelyn Adams as Mavis the Celt provides the narrative as she guides us through some quite dramatic pieces of England’s past.
First the Romans save Mavis from being sacrificed by the Druids within her own Celtic village before teaching us quite extensively ‘what the Roman’s did for us’.
Once the Romans roamed back to Rome, England was invaded by the Saxons and Scots (and Picts!) consecutively.
Whereas in previous Horrible History shows the casts have relied on a huge variety of props and hats, here there is a huge computerised backdrop colourfully accentuating the story which the cast interact with and use to great effect with their perfect timing.
In the second act we were asked to wear 3D glasses and the screen came to life as the Vikings invaded. The audience dodged arrows, fireballs and a variety of animals and reptiles – even King Alfred’s burnt cakes came hurtling out at us.
The effect was astounding and the sounds of children gasping with mixed horror and delight could be heard across the auditorium.
There were clever nods to popular British TV programmes too. Grand designs, The Great British ‘Bust Up’, Come Dine With Me (Saxon Style) and my personal favourite Bob the Builder all made an appearance.
Towards the end there was a panto style sing-along too, and now I can categorically state that my family and I all now understand where English place names originate.
“Chester and Leicester are Roman,
Scarborough and Peterborough are Saxon,
Derby and Grimsby are Viking,
We know our way around!”
Horrible Histories is entertaining, educational and great fun as well. I have topped up my knowledge of all the Incredible Invaders – I just need to see their other show The Groovy Greeks and swot up on Greek Mythology now.
☆☆☆ Recommended for all young and old History Scholars.
Horrible Histories is on tour Nationwide, it features Evelyn Adams, Tom Moores, Holly Morgan, Elliot Fitzpatrick and Andrew Alton (Understudy) and is produced by The Birmingham Stage Company.
The show is coming to the Theatre Royal Brighton from 12 – 16 April. Box Office: 08448717627.
Posted in Entertainment and Arts, News, Theatre Tagged with: Horrible Histories
IT has just been announced that Paul Daniels, who cancelled his scheduled 12 February appearance at Chequer Mead, is suffering from an incurable brain tumour.
His wife Debbie McGee made the announcement on twitter “with great sadness” and thanked fans and well-wishers for their support.
Daniels, who was born in Middlesborough, found fame as a TV magician in the 80s with The Paul Daniels Magic Show having developed his skills, and his patter, at working men’s clubs.
His TV debut came about thanks to the talent show Opportunity Knocks in 1970, when he came second, and afterwards he became a regular on the ITV variety show The Wheeltappers And Shunters Social Club.
He became one of the biggest stars on TV, and in 1988 married his former assistant “the lovely” Debbie McGee.
His famous catch phrase “You’ll like this. Not a lot, but you’ll like it” was coined at a club when he had to deal with a heckler.
His agent issued a statement today confirming that all Daniel’s future shows have now been cancelled.
“We can confirm that one of our greatest magicians and entertainers of all times, Paul Daniels, has sadly been diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour.
“On behalf of Paul, Debbie and their families, we thank you for your kind concerns and support at this sad time and ask that their privacy continues to be respected. There will be no further comments at this time.”
Posted in Entertainment and Arts, News
Review of Cats at Chequer Mead, 18/19 February: matinee and an evening performance today.
I have been reviewing theatre for the past three decades, and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats is the show that got away.
I have never seen it, and knew none of the music except the hit single Memories, so I was delighted to see Bullfrog Productions’ show at Chequer Mead last night.
And what a show it was.
If you heard a sudden roof-raising roar over East Grinstead at around 9pm, that would have been the theatre erupting into applause as the audience gave the cast a standing ovation.
Sometimes I just want to write a review that says “It was fantastic – but don’t bother reading what I think, get on the phone and book your tickets before they are all gone…”
But I realise this approach would be disappointingly short on specifics.
So – with the caveat that this was a simply marvellous ensemble piece – here are some, and I stress the word “some” – of the show’s stand-out moments.
Such plot as there is in Cats is rather flimsy – simply a device to pull together some great songs and some wonderful – and very athletic – dance performances.
Essentially the cats assemble for the Jellicle Ball where the oldest and wisest of them all – Old Deuteronomy – will decide which of them deserves another life, in addition to their allotted nine.
Musical director Adam Hoskins put in a simply marvellous performance as Old Deuteronomy, his voice warm, wise and compassionate as he reviewed the claims of the various cats at the Ball.
And as Grizabella – the faded good-time girl tortured by her memories and seeking a word of kindness – Emily Price was quite simply heart-breaking. Her voice was powerful and she wrung every ounce of pathos out of her role as the shunned outsider down on her luck.
And Sam Parsons was outstanding in the role of Rum Tum Tugger.
He was drafted in with only three days to rehearse the role, but delivered a faultless performance both in terms of dance and as the coolest cat on the block.
Bustupher Jones, played by Ryan Cottee was a delight, and Lily Cooper put in a charming performance as Jennyanydots the Old Gumbie Cat. Ryan also appeared as Gus, in a beautifully touching duet with Victoria Hill playing a tender Jellylorum as he recalled the highlights of his theatrical career.
And there were terrific performances too from Tara Ushe and Daniel Chenery as Rumpleteaser and Mungojerrie in their comedy duet as the cat burglars.
Harvey Ebbage, playing Mr Mistoffolees, was indeed magical, and his gravity-defying dance leaps earned him huge and well-deserved applause. While the tiniest member of the cast, Callum O’Rourke, was a confident and nimble Skimbleshanks who gave a commanding solo as the train cat.
But this was a show in which the entire cast was involved from the marvellous and atmospheric smoke-filled get-go. For two hours they were cats – every sinuous move, every leap creating an evening of entertainment which was simply spellbinding.
The audience was hugely appreciative throughout the show – and in the car park afterwards there were plenty of plaudits being bandied about.
It was, quite simply, one of the best shows I have ever seen at Chequer Mead – and there are two more performances this afternoon and this evening so it’s not too late to catch it.
Mesmerising. Unmissable. And a half term treat that will create its own Memories…
A trailer for the show is below:
Posted in Entertainment and Arts, News Tagged with: A, Bullfrog Productions, Cats, Chequer Mead
SINGER songwriter Emmy Lee Moss – better known to her fans as Emmy the Great – is about to embark on a US tour starting in Boston on 23 February.
But as she prepares for the release of her third studio album Second Love in March Emmy has been recalling how East Grinstead charity shops were a source of inspiration and cheap vinyl when she was growing up.
“I bought all my first vinyl at English charity shops,” she said.
“A favourite school vacation activity for me and my friends was to attack the record sections in the Oxfam, Barnado’s, British Heart Foundation, or Christian Aid in East Grinstead, looking to spend around £5 on a big haul.
“Sometimes we bought for the music—like The Queen is Dead by the Smiths, which saw me through my teen years. Sometimes we bought for the covers, which is how I discovered the Captain and Tennille.
“Doing my early record shopping in charity shops taught me that there’s a world of music out there beyond the biggest songs and albums of any era.
“I’ve always had a soft spot for the longest, least catchy song on an album, and the weirdest, least accessible album in a discography. Spending so much time looking through funny titles and artwork has influenced my attitude as well—there’s always a part of me that is interested in being jokey and absurd with my own stuff.
“Years ago, an artist friend called Eugene McGuinness went against all advice and, apropos of nothing, decorated his album cover with a photo of himself in full fencing regalia.
“I really admired this. When the teens of the future rummage through their future bargain bins, I would like them to come across at least one of my albums and ask, ‘What was she thinking?’
“I now live with a vinyl collector, and have access to an amazing number of records, many from the ’60s and ’70s, through which I am still discovering albums I never knew about, most recently Sandy Denny and the Strawbs.
“Listening to these lushly recorded and mastered albums is like no other experience on earth. I’m so glad vinyl is making a resurgence.
“Vinyl taught me that when you make a piece of music, you have no idea who it’s going to reach. When I make an album, I don’t just make it for the person who will hear it next week, I hope that someone will pick it up at random when it is in an old and tattered sleeve, pay 30p for it, and use it for whatever they want—a poster, a birthday card, or a portal into a moment in time.”
But although she remembers the charity shops with fondness, Emma is shedding no tears about the demise of the 99p Store.
“They sold me substandard plastic tubs,” she joked.
Posted in Entertainment and Arts, News Tagged with: charity shops, Emmy the Great, vinyl
WINNIE the Pooh has been a childhood favourite since he first appeared in a short poem by A A Milne called Teddy Bear which was published in Punch magazine in February 1924.
Inspired by the stuffed bear owned by Milne’s four-year-old son Christopher Robin, the poem was included later the same year in When We Were Very Young, a collection of children’s poems illustrated by Punch cartoonist E H Shephard.
Winnie starred in his own book, Winnie the Pooh, two years later and has been a staple of childhood ever since.
In 1929, the Dominion Gramophone Company recorded a number of prominent British authors reading from their own works – who included A A Milne reading the third chapter of his book In Which Pooh and Piglet Go Hunting and Nearly Catch a Woozle.
So make a cup of tea, sit down, and enjoy one of Pooh’s charming adventures read by Milne himself:
Photo top: Pooh Bridge at Hartfield by Simon Kerr
Below: the original toys on which A A Milne based his books
Posted in Entertainment and Arts, News Tagged with: A A Milne, recording, Winnie the Pooh