Posted in Review

Son of a Preacher Man

Last night I went to see * Son of a Preacher Man at New Theatre Cardiff.

As with all my theatre visits with the exception of one of two I go in not knowing. I’m sure this adds to the fun as well as the no expectations and I must admit I’ve enjoyed everyone I’ve seen. Last night was the first time I came out not knowing what I thought! Whilst sitting waiting for the show to start I was quite excited as I knew the songs that were playing in the background.

Son of a preacher man was about three people Alison ( Michelle Gayle) Kat ( Alice Barlow) and Paul ( Michael Howe) needing guidance in the next chapter of their life, I was a little confused as to how these three people from three generations actually met and decided to visit the shop that was the preacher mans back in the 60’s.

Of course the preacher man was no longer there so these three random strangers turned to the preacher mans son Simon ( Nigel Richards) to help them out. Simon owns a coffee shop and this is where most of the story takes place, the cappuccino girls were bright and bubbly!

With some of the cast playing musical instruments including the trumpet and trombone I found sometimes this was a little to loud and had trouble catching the singers on stage, maybe if I knew the songs then that wouldn’t have been a problem?!

I don’t think it was what other people were expecting as a few sitting by me did actually leave Just after the second half, I wouldn’t have left it was still entertaining, with the odd few lines that made the Audience laugh. I thought Kat played a grumpy teenager well! Jess barker really stood out for me, she had a very strong voice and I think could have maybe been one of the main characters instead of one of the backing ones!

Of course like any love story everything works out in the end the son of a preacher man helped them all!

I think I was expecting the story of Dusty Springfield not a musical story with her music if that makes sense!

If you like Dusty Springfield’s music my mate enjoyed it and sang along throughout knowing the song lyrics, not even knowing all the songs I enjoyed it, it was bright and upbeat with a few laughs thrown in then you may as well go for an enjoyable evening out!

Son of a preacher man is at New Theatre Cardiff until Saturday 19th May and you can get your tickets here prices start from just £12.50.

* I was gifted my tickets for a review, opinions are my own.

Posted in Review

Love From A Stranger

I was asked back to New Theatre * to watch Love from a stranger by Agatha Christie and Frank Vosper based in 1958 in Bayswater, London, the cottage in West Sussex.

Cecily Harrington ( Helen Bradbury, and her friend Mavis Wilson ( Alice Wilson) won shares, they decide to let their flat as with the money Mavis is going traveling and Cecily is getting married to her fiancée of five years Michael, (Justin Avoth) but Cecily is having second thoughts, she doesn’t really want to get married she wants fun and excitement and to have some adventures.

Bruce Lovell ( Sam Frenchum) with his American Canadian accent comes to look at the flat, telling Cecily all about his adventures and stories from around the world, she opens up about breaking it off with her fiancée and wanting to travel with the money she’s won. Whilst showing Bruce around the flat we first see Bruce character when he picks up Cecily underwear, sniffs it and takes a photo. The stage here was cleverly set up, it’s moved! It slid to show more or less of what we needed to see and the lighting changed to more of a low light just to add in the creepiness!

It’s a whirlwind romance and we start part two with them married and living in a remote cottage. Here we meet the gardener, Hodgson and his niece Ethel who’s looking for a job. They agree to employ her even though you can see Bruce isn’t too happy, he doesn’t want any visitors taking away his time alone with Cecily. As she was running off stage doing her first job of employment she hit the prop over! It was quite funny, could see both Helen and Sam trying not to laugh with the audience! Sam saved it with a ‘she’s enthusiastic isn’t she’, to the gardener who replied whilst holding in laughter ‘she’s not a bad girl!’.

We start to see Bruce’s controlling side, no phone line, the resentment of visitors and sickness when Aunt Lulu comes to visit for the day.

Cecily Calls for the doctor when she thinks Bruce is having a heart attack, he’s not happy and doesn’t want him back. During this time the Dr notices Bruce’s criminology books.

When Mavis and Michael come to visit they also put two and two together.

The show ends and the audience leave all asking the same questions. Was she’s telling the truth? How did she do what she done? How did he do what he done? Was she really the character she was portrayed to be? Who planned it the most?

I thought it was quite cleverly written, I loved the way the stage moved, and we just saw the creepy side of Bruce, always lurking in the background, taking things in and planning. I couldn’t help but thinking he actually reminded me a little of Jac from Titanic! Maybe it was the clothes and accent?!

Love from a stranger is showing at New Theatre and you can book tickets here, prices start from £12.00

* I was gifted my tickets in exchange for a review.

Posted in Review

What The Ladybird Heard Live Review

As my previous blog post mentions I was quite excited for this one!

Z has read the story many times, and even though he doesn’t speak I’m sure he’s taking in a lot more than I’ll ever give him credit for. I’ve been telling everyone our plans for this week, obviously saying the theatre for What The Ladybird Heard! This week he’s been ‘reading’ his book, I say reading as I’m sure he is in his head!

All ready, we were a little earlier so my plan was grab the tickets * and maybe head to get him a doughnut, Z knew where he was going, and would not leave the theatre! He was dragging me upstairs, at one point I carried him outside but he was on the floor screaming so we went back in!

obviously being early we had a little wait. A cry, a throw myself on the floor attempting to get to the door and a packet a crisps later all was well!

We were greeted to a farm!

I loved the fact that it looks so basic but keeping within the colour scheme of the book. Reading the program later Lydia Monks was actually involved in the development!

With Emma Breton, the farmer, Emma Carroll as Lilly / Ladybird, Benedict Hastings and Lanky Len and Edward Way as Hefty Hugh it was a fun packed hour.

With the show running slightly late, half way through we’d ran out of crisps to keep Z still!! The first fifteen minutes or so, where the actors were getting the audience involved with animal sounds and making the animals, which were pretty impressive! did seem to go a little slow, but they even managed to get a reference to the Gruffalo in! Guessing that was wasted on the children! I know the show was aimed at 3 plus, but feel maybe it was for a little older with the audience participation, unless that’s just because of Z and his needs. E is 4 she could join in and enjoyed herself even though she had never read the story. When asked at the end did you enjoy it? She replied yes, and her favourite part was the Ladybird!

I enjoyed the way they sang (to me) the main part of the story, ‘The horse went neigh…..’ the singing always got Z’s attention and he would look and smile straight away. The other children seemed to like looking for the Ladybird!

With the use of such simple, colourful looking props I thought they made the story come alive, it was told well and if you hadn’t read the book you’d know the story from the show. With the cow and the cats singing and talking added that little bit more fun into it I thought. Using certain lines from the book Z knew what he was watching as he would smile to himself even trying to copy at one point!

What The Ladybird Heard Live is on an international tour, it’s on at New Theatre Cardiff until 25th of February before it moves on and you can buy tickets here .

I was gifted my tickets in exchange for a review all opinions are my own.

Posted in Review

What The Ladybird Heard Live.

Everyone knows this story right?!

‘And the cow said ‘Moo’, and the hen said ‘cluck’…….. one cat miaowed while the other purred……

‘And the ladybird said never a word’

No?

Just me then! ( if you did you read that fast didn’t you!) if you haven’t heard of it ask your children.

The book What The Ladybird Heard published in 2009 written by Julia Donaldson, you know the author of The Gruffalo, and illustrated by Lydia Monks, is coming to New Theatre Cardiff directly from the West End to entertain children 3+ before heading off on an international tour.

I’m very excited to be able to take Z on his second theatre experience, I’m hoping that as my love for the theatre grows the older he gets it’s something we’ll both enjoy together. We both know this story, I know he’s covered it at school and it a well read book at ours.

The story is about two robbers Hefty Hugh and Lanky Len trying to steal the farmers prize cow, but with the tiniest animal of all – the ladybird stopping them!

With the help of the woolly sheep, the hairy hog, the fat red hen and the dainty dog it’s looking to be an action packed 55 minute adventure of original songs, live music and plenty of laughs with plenty of audience participation and I for one am so excited!

What the lady bird heard live is playing at New Theatre Cardiff 22-25th of February, ideal for the end of the half term blues, some where warm and fun!

You can book tickets here prices start at £11 and you have a showing at 2pm on Thursday and 11am And 2pm Friday – Sunday.

*Im receiving my tickets in exchange for a review. All reviews are my own.

Posted in Review

The sound of music

Went to see the sound of music last night at New Theatre Cardiff.

This wasn’t one I was excited to be going to see.

Yup, you’ve guessed it, never seen the film. Despite working in Austria and this being on once a day every week I’ve never seen it. The dance in the show last night I remembered from Austria as at the time I thought it was a little like welsh dancing.

Each time I go to the theatre I’m taking much more notice of the surroundings last night I noticed how big the stage actually is. I loved how easily the props were used, with bookshelves and a stain glass window for the Abby, then at the family home the stairs looking like white marble and gold! The doors and windows at the front and back with the mountains in the background.

With not knowing the story of the sound of music from the show last night I’m not sure if I really know the whole story.

It started with Maria played by Lucy O’Byrne in the Abby with Mother Abbess, where we learn that Maria has to go to be Governess for the Von Trapp family. Where she could sing where she wanted and not just in the mountains. When they sang My Favourite Things, I knew I knew the song but I had thought it was from Mary poppins! The theatre teaches me something new each time! Captain Von Trapp played by Neil McDermott, he was in control of his children and his staff using a whistle, everyone would jump to attention. Maria didn’t from the start and we could see the relationship build with the children. It was mentioned that the children had played many pranks on their old governess so they would quit, from the start we could see that Maria had a good relationship with each child. She taught the children to sing and helped Captain Von Trapp to love his children as he would have if their mother was still alive. He was the kind caring loving dad and not the in charge man we first met.

There was a love relationship between the oldest daughter Liesl ( Katie Shearman) and Rolf (Jordan Oliver) was nice to see them sing and dance across the stage to Sixteen Going On Seventeen. Each child who was played by three different actors were brilliant, they were very confident and that was great to see from even the littlest. They each had a part to play throughout and done it very well.

When Maria went back to the Abby after she realised she was falling in love with Captain Von Trapp and Mother Abbess told her love works in different ways and she went back to find that Captain Von Trapp was getting married to Ursula, until Captain Von Trapp set eyes back on Maria.

They married, then every thing changed when the Nazis wanted him. They fled to Switzerland using the mountains. I loved the end when the net was showing the mountains in the background, and the family fleeing up the steps looking like they were in the hills.

I took my mam along to this, she had seen the film so knew what to expect, she was a little disappointed that certain songs were in a different place to the film, but not seeing the film this didn’t stop me from enjoying the performance. For one that I really didn’t fancy as much as others I’m glad I went. Even if it was to learn the song wasn’t from Mary Poppins!

I do think that as there were quite a few children in the audience that maybe the starting time should have been at the earlier time of 7 like other family shows have been in the past as it’s a long show of 2 hours 40 minutes.

Sound of Music is at New Theatre Cardiff Tuesday 13th – Saturday 17th February and you can get tickets here. *

* I was gifted my tickets for a review.

Posted in Review

Flashdance The Musical.

Another amazing night at New Theatre Cardiff for Flashdance The Musical.

Before the show started was chatting to a few other people and was pleased to find out that this time I wasn’t the only one who hadn’t seen the film!

Waiting for the show to start we had a a safety curtain with Lights and Flashdance in bright pink and purple.

When the show started, the intro song What a feeling, my first thought was it was like being back at the Madonna concert when I could only pay attention to the dancers, they were the best part of that show! Last night I was thinking there is no way they can keep up that level of amazing dancing through out, but they did. My legs and arms ached for them!

When the safety curtain went up and we could then see how fit each and everyone of them were I was in awe! Honestly, Joanne Clifton who plays Alex in the show even has a six pack! Yes I wouldn’t have known this as no I don’t watch strictly either! All through the first half I kept thinking Hurley looked familiar, or his voice sounded familiar, when I looked at the program Hurley was played by Ben Adams from the 90’s band A1! Wonder if stars actually get star struck too working alongside big names?!

The story is set in the 80’s, in a town where everyone wants something better for themselves. Alex of course, who dreamed to be a dancer, she was working as a welder and dated the boss, Nick Hurley, who at seemed to have it all when everyone else in the town was struggling. The girls work in a bar as dancers, this is where Alex first met Hurley, they are often poached for the strip club down the road that ‘pays’ more. Alex’s friend encourages her to apply to the dance academy but with no official dance training she’s reluctant. Hannah played by Carol Ball, is like Alex’s mento and encourages her to try out for the academy when she put her request in. Then she finds out that Hurley had paid money and she didn’t get the chance all by herself she wants to leave, goes to say by to Hannah and finds out she’s died she uses that as motivation to go anyways. She won them over with her own unique way of dancing.

What I loved is the fact that they used the props as props to dance to get them in position and also the use of the lighting at the audience so the stage was all light up for the big changes, something I’ve not seen before!

The audience were all up clapping at the end again to What a feeling! You could see how enthusiastic each and everyone of those cast members were, at 10pm they still had more energy than I do at 10am!

I’d say you have to go watch it, just to see them dance! You can buy tickets here . Flashdance is at the New Theatre from Tuesday 6th – Saturday 10th Feb 2018.

I was gifted my tickets for a review, all opinions are my own.

Posted in additional needs, Review

KayCey Bodysuit Review

Was very excited to be asked to review the short sleeve kaycey body suit for Z, from special kids . Company I choose the navy colour and I love it!

It’s soft and stayed soft after washing and didn’t loose any shape.

I love the fact it has one purple popper for the middle, how many times do you make mistakes buttoning up 3 poppers never mind 5!

When I put it on Z, he was running around and laughing, it was like being in shorts and a tshirt all in one.

He loves to take off his bottoms and sit on the floor I worry that the tops of his legs get cold with this body suit I didn’t worry as it kept the top of his legs nice and warm.

What he also likes to do disgustingly is rip off the outer layer of his pull up and eat it, wearing this body suit he couldn’t access his nappy to pick away at it!

The big one for us was to see how Z would manage wearing it for sports, would it roll up and be uncomfortable when he was running climbing and jumping? Would he get annoyed if it did curl up under bottoms?

No problems! He ran and climbed and jumped and was completely fine.

He loves climbing, it must be less restricted than the three popper ones, so I’m thinking do the three popper ones actually pull the nappy up? Where as this one just supports it.

When he wears it he’s smiling so it must be comfortable.

I can see that this is going to be quite handy in the summer, for those random stops at the beach, it’s just going to be like shorts and t-shirt and no one from looking at it will think it’s a specialist vest and that that happy child will have a swim nappy on underneath! Or when we’ve planned the beach, this will be great to just drive on home in. It’s during the summer when he got easy access to his nappy is when he eats away at it.

I’ve already recommended one to my mate for her little boy who loves to smear, there’s no way he’s getting to his nappy through this!

Posted in Review

New Jersey Nights

When I was asked if I’d like to review * this show, of course I said yes, I’m starting to really enjoy the theatre, the child free time, and each time I take someone new so it’s a good to spend time with people I wouldn’t normally.

In work when we had chatted about this my new adoptive nan was enthusiastic about it so I took her along with me and took her back to 16 years of age apparently! She was saying about the songs that the original group sang, I was like nope, duno them!

As my regular readers will know, every time I’ve seen a show I’ve had no idea what it’s been about and this show was no different. I had no expectations, which I love as I’m never disappointed!

We arrived and the stage was set up with a net curtain covering it so all you could really see was lights, my first thought was that would look lush in Z’s sensory room! When the show started Joshua Denver, William Hazel, Duncan Heather and Ricky Rojas were heard singing and the curtain was lifted, there the band was playing at the back, the singers and dancers dancing in front of a bar.

What I couldn’t help but notice and it continued throughout the show was they were all colour co-ordinated. So the dancers, in the opening scene the ladies had red shoes, then each one had a different coloured dress, grey, white and black. These were then matched to their partners it was quite clever! They also matched the props, with the red table and black bar, with red and black steps leading to the stage. When they had a change of clothes, the lights in the curtains changed to match those colours too.

The show along with singing some classic hits it told the tale of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and they sang some hits from other artists in that era.

We started with them singing oh what a night, in a bar as we learnt more about them they moved on to the studio, each taking a turn to be narrator telling the story of his life.

I didn’t know all the songs they sang but that really didn’t stop my hands from tapping along, or my foot going to the beat, it was something you kind of had to do! Well apart from the two sitting beside me that didn’t move! They didn’t so much as smile never mind clap.

I’ve not seen the audience engage so much before at the theatre, and when they messed up a little at the start of blue moon, it was just funny, think everyone in the audience laughed and joined in. ( Well apart from my neighbours !)

At the end of the show I don’t think there was a single person still seated, everyone had hands in the air clapping along swaying to the music, it really was more like being at a concert than the theatre!

I really would recommend it, even if like me you don’t know who they are! You will know some songs,’Big Girls Don’t cry, Why Do Fools Fall In Love and My Girl Just being a few.

New Jersey Nights is on at New Theatre Cardiff 23rd – 27th January 2018, prices start from £13 and you can get tickets here

* I was gifted my tickets in exchange of a review all opinions are my own.

Posted in Review, Uncategorized

A climbing frame to save our house!

Since before Z has been walking he’s been climbing, climbing everything from the settee to lately wardrobes. When he was little we had a slide/climbing frame in the living room, it did go into the sensory room for a bit then went into the garden, last year we got rid of it for his new climbing frame.

When last year he learnt he could climb the wardrobe and jump, or jump off the windowsill over and over again he cracked the ceiling in the living room, with the old lath and plaster it cracked and fell down.

I understand the climbing and jumping is all sensory, he needs to jump he needs the climb, the same way he has to run about.

We have the climbing frame, swing , slide set in the garden along with a trampoline, but he can’t play in the garden in the dark and rain at 8pm in the winter like he can in the summer months.

I needed to find something that he could climb, jump off if needed too, but was safe. I searched and searched the internet. I asked in groups and each time I was taken to sites that really wasn’t what I was looking for, until I came across sport kid.

Online help was great and I was talked through what I would need and how it would hold to the wall. No drilling!

Z’s mini gym / climbing frame was a go.

Ok, putting it together was a little harder but that may have been the instructions and me not making much sense of them, but once I started it was all up in the same day. Before we even got the net up Z was already chuffed with it and couldn’t wait to climb it.

We were going a little too slow for him so he had to try and help!

He’s played on it every day, he’s climbs, he’s swang, he’s ran, he’s climbed some more. He loves it.

Now I can’t wait to finish decorating his sensory room, mirrors will be next!

Being able to climb safely has helped Z’s mood, he’s been a calmer person, I’m not constantly following him around shouting ‘get down’, meaning he’s allowed upstairs on his own, as he’s not attempted to climb on the wardrobe since. He’s not trashing every room every two minutes, ok his room is still a mess but that’s his numbers and letters everywhere, that I can live with!

I’m thinking that this climbing frame really has helped Z with his sensory needs, my sanity as I can finally tidy the house!

I did receive a small discount for this climbing frame all opinions are my own.

Posted in Review

Meeting Santa at Hamleys.

We were very lucky to be invited back to Hamleys this year, and of course I jumped at the chance to take Z.

This year Z is that little bit more inquisitive, even walking through the arcade to get to Hamleys he was smiling at the tree and all the lights.

Once we got to Hamleys we were greeted by two of Santa’s elves. Who gave each child a name badge, this letting Santa call them by their name adding to the magic that Santa really does know everyone’s names. Of course Z wouldn’t wear his badge, but that didn’t stop both Santa and his elves knowing his name!

We all had to sing Rudolph the red nose reindeer walking up to the party room where I’m sure Z was singing in his own way, he was smiling and seemed quite excited to get into the room, as if he remembered from last year, which from an autism point for me is great as he knew what to expect!

Again, same as last year we had to use some magic elf dust to get into the room, meaning both the elves were interacting with the children which the children really enjoyed, could feel the excitement off them!

Whilst we waited on Santa there were a few arts and crafts to make, whilst everyone got to their seats Z had a bit of a run around, he looked at the tree, the decorations and noticed the huge cake on the ceiling! ( I have to admit it’s a pretty impressive cake!) The room is decorated with it’s Christmas tree and festive table cloth and it just makes it feel Christmasy.

This year he even helped to make a star, which is huge progress in itself!

When Santa arrived we missed him walk into the room as we were in the toilet! But when we came out Z noticed him.

Santa asked all the children to sit down and he read them a story, I love this as all the children sat ( even Z for a little while!) and listen in awe, this year it was the snowman and the snow dogs which was a pop out version so the children could see the pictures too. At this point Z noticed the gifts under the tree and done his best to open them.

After Santa had read them a story he played games, Santa’s footsteps and dancing snowmen, he was so fun, he interacted with each child, he made them all laugh and seeing those children smile was just fab. Come on how many times did you go to see the big man himself did he play games and call you by your name without even having to ask what it is. Bet you just sat on his lap told him what you wanted and had a lolly and was gone. How personal and exciting must that be to a child to play games and Santa calling you by your name!!

Z didn’t really join in this part it was starting to get a little too much, so he took himself to sit next to the tree with his iPad. We managed to get a picture with Santa and his iPad! Santa give him a lovely gift bag.

He then kept showing me the word store and stop, this was his way of saying let’s go.

As we were leaving the store we were given a cup to fill with sweets, this was a lovely little surprise as that meant Z was eating a lolly and wasn’t getting so distressed! Brilliant timing.

When we got home we had a look at what Santa gave us and what a lovely gift, there’s a hamleys bear, a tree decoration, a pack of colouring pencils and a book, and of course a cup of sweets!

At £19.99 I’d say that’s not as cheap as others for seeing Santa, but you get 45 minutes, so it’s no where near a rushed job! There’s no professional photo so you can have as many photos as you want if that’s individually or with siblings or even as a group. I think the contents in the bag would be equal to what you pay.

Z was treated the same as all the other children, the elves and Santa spoke to him like any other child which I love as so many people don’t ask him any thing else after he doesn’t answer the first question! Of corse Santa asked him what he wanted for Christmas, and was taking to him about the words he had on his iPad.

You can book here to get a great meeting Santa experience.

Z may not speak, but he sure knows what to say at the correct time, as we were leaving this is what he was showing me. (And yea it was before he had his cup of sweets!)

‘They have all the best stuff at this store’.

So thank you Hamleys Cardiff for inviting us back this year!