Category Archives: Music

An Interview with Angharad Lee and Beatbox Tangent

Hi Angharad and Beatbox Tangent great to meet you both , can you give our readers some background information on yourselves please?

Angharad: Hi I am a theatre director, educator, facilitator and lecturer. I studied and worked as a performer before turning my hand to directing. I have worked for many organisations throughout Wales, but am now a freelance director and Artistic Director of Leeway Productions. I am also a mam and the proud owner of cuddles the cat. I love Women’s rugby and until I broke my ankle a few months ago was scrum half for Merched Clwb Rygbi Cymru Caerdydd.

Hi I am Beatbox Tangent I  am a beatboxer from the UK, I currently live in Cardiff but I have performed  gigs; workshops and collaborations all around Wales. My love of art and music inspires me to create compositions that take vocal percussion to extraordinary heights.

So what got you interested in performance and the arts?

Angharad : I have always been actively involved in the performing arts since the age of 10. I guess my Welsh language education was quite enabling as I was steeped in the traditions of the Eisteddfod and therefore had plenty of opportunities to perform so to speak. It was a toss up between sport and the arts though as I was a nifty rugby and hockey player, but am glad I choose this path.


Angharad in Hen Rebel Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru

Angharad,  Beatbox Tangent has recently been involved in your 10 Minute Musicals initiative, can you please tell us more about this innovative project?

Angharad: 10 Minute Musicals is an innovative development programme to support musical theatre professional in Wales, with a particular focus on the writers and composers. Organised and delivered by Leeway Productions the development project 10 Minute Musicals is held three times a year at The Other Room in Cardiff and is also rolled out across the Regions as a part of our ‘Best of’ project.

We aspire to encourage and nurture new and existing creatives to write for musical theatre in Wales.International collaborations between artists is of huge importance to us. Over the next few months, we will be calling out to some more creatives who are keen to try their hand at writing a musical, and also, more established artists who may want to up skill and network with new creatives and artists. Creative participants can include composers, playwrights, librettists, poets, musician and lyricists.

10 Minute Musicals includes networking, development of current practice and examining and providing the support artists need when evolving, progressing and advancing their writing skills for this genre.

We encourage a continued conversation with creatives and believe that this creative development project is a great springboard towards casting a new light on how you usually work. Leeway Productions provide mentorship support throughout the process, and support artists as they find their way through what could seem like a daunting task. There is a sharing of your work at The Other Room as a culmination to the process and the participants’ hard work.

Thanks Angharad, as you mentioned 10 Minute Musicals has supported artists who wouldn’t think of writing for the musical theatre genre. Beatbox Tangent as you have mentioned you are a primarily a beat boxer do you think you have developed new skills through the process of being involved in 10 Minute Musicals?

Beatbox Tangent: I think I have to be honest. Collaboration is always an integral part of pushing your practice, so doing different activities and working creatively, especially with my partner on the project Rufus Mufasa has really pushed me as an artist and I’ve explored different avenues of creativity. Also, to break down those conventional barriers and really explore something new and using the Welsh language to do that has really opened my mind up to possibilities of language and music.

Musical Theatre as a form is rapidly developing and embracing new forms and styles. Musicals such as ‘In the Heights,’ ‘Hamilton’ and companies like ’20 Stories High’ are utilising a range of urban art forms in their work. Do you think this can bring new audiences to theatres which might be thought of as predominately white, middle classes cultural spaces?

Angharad: I don’t think we should burden artists with thinking about their audiences when we create work. I think that by activating all forms of culture to write for musical theatre, what willl happen is that the stories they want to tell will resonate with their communities, thus giving context and relevance to the work we create in Wales. We have a terrible habit in Wales of lifting existing models that work outside of our own communities and Country and imposing them onto our own landscapes. What this creates in a standardised approach to the arts. I am not personally interested in building mini London’s and mini England’s within our artistic infrastructure in Wales. We have a terrible obsession with critics outside of Wales, and 5 star reviews, but what about our audiences who are still terribly disenfranchised. So I guess the short answer to your question is, start with a story an artists wants to tell. Throw out all the pre existing models and build our own.

Beatbox Tangent: As an urban artist, I would say yes because the boundaries of Beat Boxing and vocal percussion are being pushed every day. Beatboxing has a very theatrical element to it. We have some great performers now, the likes of ‘Berry Wam’ from France who do all these covers of great commercial songs but some of them are classically trained, and you could easily take your whole family to see one of their shows. So yes, I believe it can pull new audiences in and ‘waw’ them. Beat Boxing is basically vocal percussion and what is musical theatre? It’s using the voice.

Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision. Access for diverse citizens is a key priority for a range of arts funders and organisations Are you aware of any barriers to equality and diversity for either Welsh or Wales based artists/creatives?

Beatbox Tangent: We are living in a very interesting time. We are living in a time where, how I like to describe it is a half light environment. We are living in the dark as well as the light when it comes to diversity and equality. We realise it’s important and relating this with music, and Welsh Culture, well…. actually, I believe the Earth is but one country and mankind is a citizen, so I believe I am a World citizen and although I have a nationality I belong to this earth. I think when it comes to arts and music it’s so important that you have that diversity. It’s like a man and a woman are two wings of the same bird and creativity doesn’t rise within one sex or culture. It’s a gift and as long as we have projects that bring different people together from every background I think we can create something so very beautiful and really expand Welsh Culture because we have so much to give.

Angharad: There are many, as there are barriers to a whole host of other provisions in Wales. I am currently working with D/deaf artists developing a musical and the infrastructure to support this kind of work is still very ambiguous and fragile. We have to work with artists who are deemed to have ‘protected characteristics’ (I hate buzz words by the way), in order to reach those diverse members of the public we seem to be forgetting about constantly. If the artists themselves are not represented then why would the audiences come and watch a story which is not relevant to them? Artists need more spaces at the heart of this cultural provision, within communities, to create work in order to reach out to a much more diverse audience. We are still so reliant on venues, and I believe this is a barrier in itself. There is such a drive for ‘excellence’ in the arts at the moment. Well, ‘rising tides raise all ships’ and I don’t know that giving so much focus to our venues helps with this little quote. I am such a believer in this quote and I am very concerned that the divide in this ever confusing world is growing and growing. The arts have a role to play here, because it is through storytelling we find truths and remind ourselves what humanity should look like.

There are a range of organisations supporting Welsh and Wales based artists and creatives, I wonder if you feel the current support network and career opportunities feel ‘healthy’ to you?

Angharad ; This is a tough one to answer as it’s such a complex time for funding in particular in Wales.The word ‘career’ in the arts is a dangerous one, because unless you work within an organisation, I don’t know that there is such a thing. Is there? I know of established artists who are still only earning about £13k a year, having worked for years and years. I’m not sure how this is sustainable to be honest, especially when kids come along, so then you get a fall out, and once again it’s all about ’emerging artists’ because all the established artists have had to take other jobs in order to survive, a vicious circle. So at a time when artists are ready to create outstanding work, they just can’t afford to do it. I have no answer, but this is a reality. I think venues have a duty of care towards artists, and Welsh artists, because they are the lifeblood. Jut to add to this also, because funding has become so fragile we don’t seem to be taking risks on those artists who create work that splits audiences right down the middle. That explores the extremes. I would much rather hate or love a piece of work rather than just sit through another piece which panders to the status quo.

Beatbox Tangent: I would like the help to be more visible. More transparent. At the moment, it’s hard to find those organisations. But it’s a learning curve. There are so many schemes at the moment, especially within education, and it’s great for me as a looper, beatboxer to have those opportunities to share my practice within schools, I just wish I could find the opportunities much easier.

If you were able to fund an area of the arts in Wales what would this be and why?

Angharad: I would give 10-20 freelance artists a paid yearly salary and give them the flexibility and trust to self regulate the work they do within certain communities in Wales. Simple. No box ticking.  I believe this could foster sincere change at grass roots and community level, because they would not be working towards prescribed objectives and would be able to shape shift and respond accordingly to what is in front of them. Artists like to make, I would give them absolute freedom to do just this.

I would also de-centralise our monster cultural epicentre in Cardiff, which consists of the Wales Millenium Centre, The Senedd, BBC Orchestra, Wales National Opera  it goes on and on. What’s that all about? Lol. It feels like a case of ‘ all the great and good may reside here’, and I don’t believe that is healthy at all.

Beatbox Tangent: There are more and more different types of creative art forms all making a contribution to Welsh culture and society. This will only increase through social media. I always feel in Wales though that people are not empowered and empowerment is necessary for them to feel confident about their practice. More funding is needed from different organisations to help creative practioners, empower other creative practioners. Thats why the Creative Practioner training is vital as you are linking up with other artists. It gives different artists the change to make connections. I am a beat boxer I might meet a skate boarder how can we work together to create something awesome? The Welsh Government really needs to understand that no matter what happens in our economy if its Brexit or something else, I don’t want to get political but the arts need to be at the forefront of everything in our society, money can be stretched, I believe everything that we have in our society is because of the creative arts.

What excites you about the arts in Wales?

Angharad: We are in a privileged position that we can foster relationships and networks which can be cohesive because we are such a small Country. Artists excite me. I have been working as a Creative Agent for Arts Council Wales for three years now and the artists I have come across are breathtakingly beautiful. There are art forms I had never even heard of and a generation who are creating and nurturing new and innovative art forms for themselves. I love this.

What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers?

Beat Box Tangent : The UK Beatbox Championships were incredible! Foe me personally getting the chance to work with Angharad on the 10 Minute Musical performances have been amazing. I am interested in pushing the boundaries in Beatboxing in Wales.

Angharad: I took my 10 year old daughter to see Slava’s Snow Storm at the WMC. A poetic, visual piece of brilliance when it comes to story telling. My daughter turned to me 10 minutes in and said ‘Mam, there are no words’. I explained that communication is not about words. It is about a visceral tempo rhythm one finds within the piece they watch. That communication begins with a buy in to a moment. She was confused. She kept watching. She came out and she cried. I asked her what was wrong. She said, ‘I don’t know. I just feel really sad’. That’s my kind of theatre. It hit her in a space and place she could not articulate.

Top Tunes with novelist and playwright Matthew David Scott


Matthew David Scott

 Photographic credit othercrowd.com 

Hi Matthew great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?

Hello! My name is Matthew David Scott and I’m a novelist and playwright. I’m originally from Manchester and have now settled in South Wales after a stint in the USA. I’ve published two novels: Playing Mercy (Parthian 2005), which was listed for the Dylan Thomas Prize; and The Ground Remembers (Parthian 2009).

I’m also a founder member of Slung Low, a theatre company based in Leeds, and have written around a dozen shows with them that have been performed at The Barbican, The Liverpool Everyman, car parks, fields and whole city centres both nationally and internationally.

This chat is specifically about music and the role it has played in your personal and professional life. Firstly to start off what are you currently listening to?

At the moment I’m listening to some of my favourite records of 2017 so I can put together a ‘best of’ list that nobody will care about. Currently in the running is  Currently in the running is: Adios Senor Pusscat by Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band; New Energy by Four Tet; Peasant by Richard Dawson; Black Origami by JLin; Arca by Arca; Dust by Laurel Halo; and Drunk by Thundercat.  DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar is probably my most played in the car, which is always a good sign.

We are interviewing a range of people about their own musical inspiration, can you list 5 records/albums which have a personal resonance to you and why?

This could be fifty albums long and change from week to week, so here goes:

1 Bob Marley & The Wailers – Legend: I’m sure fellow reggae snobs will turn their noses up at this but it’s a record I remember my dad playing all the time as a kid in the front room. One of his claims to fame is going to see Bob Marley live and telling Tony Wilson to sit down because he was stood on his chair ‘acting the goat’. I also drew a really terrible picture of the sleeve, of which I was very proud at the time but now recall looking a lot like an ill Howard Donald from late-period (first incarnation) Take That. Every time I hear Stir It Up I’m transported to that front room as a seven year old kid.

2 Hunky Dory – David Bowie: Bowie was also a big part of growing up and is one of the few artists whose death genuinely affected me. My mum’s younger siblings were a bit obsessed with him, and apparently my uncle once got caught stealing my aunty’s blouse to wear in the Bowie/Roxy room at a Manchester nightclub. This album, although not my favourite Bowie, holds special memories as it was the first of his I bought for myself. I got it in Tenby on a family holiday, the same day I picked up What’s Goin On by Marvin Gaye. It was an auspicious day for me and my Walkman.

3 Deep Heat 89: Fight The Flame – Various Artists: I think my obsession with dance music started with this fine double cassette. It has some absolute stormers on it including Voodoo Ray by A Guy Called Gerald (still in my all time top ten), Strings of Life, Stakker Humanoid, Promised Land… I’d like to say I was a regular at the Haçienda back then but I was ten. This was when, if you weren’t old enough to go clubbing or didn’t have an older brother or sister, the only way to hear this sort of music was the odd late night radio show; compilations like this; and the sincere hope that the specialist chart on ‘The Chart Show’ that week was The Dance Chart. I still remember seeing the video for Aftermath by Nightmares On Wax on that show and, shortly after a trip to John Menzies, my dad’s speakers were never quite the same again.

4 Definitely Maybe – Oasis: It was either this, Screamadelica, or the first Stone Roses album as representative of this period of my life but, if I’m being totally honest, Definitely Maybe has to be the one. It’s not the best of those records but being 15/16 when this came out made you feel like a king and walk like a fool. I saw them in ’94 at the Academy and it was life-changing (thanks for taking me, Aunty Paula), and their singles coming out were genuine events — the B-sides! Through them I discovered all those other bands they ripped off and for that, if nothing else, they deserve my undying love.

5 Tri Repeate – Autechre: On the personal statement in my Record of Achievement from school, it says my favourite bands are The Stone Roses and Autechre — just in case an employer wanted to know how incredibly cool I was in 1995. Autechre are brilliant. How they’ve developed and created a space totally their own over the last three (!) decades is an inspiration to any artist. There are records they’ve made that I’m still making sense of but this is their best and they are the DNA for many of the really great experimental electronic artists around today (the aforementioned Arca being one). I love them and imagine they have a sensational collection of outdoor wear.

Just to put you on the spot could you choose one track from the five listed above and tell us why you have chosen this?

I’m going to pretend I misread the question and pick Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell because it was the first dance at my wedding and when Marvin goes ‘whoo!’ at 1min 39secs a bolt of sheer joy fizzes through me.

Gwanwyn Funds Wales First Hot Tub Salon

Wales first Hot Tub Salon took place on September the 23rd 2017.

The topic: Creative Listening. The event was coordinated by Get The Chance, delivered by Third Act Critics, and presented as part of the Gwanwyn Festival of Creativity for Older People in Wales, funded by Wales Government and the Arts Council of Wales.

Creative Listening followed Advantages of Age successful season of hot tub salons in London. Advantages of Age received funding from Arts Council of England and were recently featured in The Sunday Times and this first event was, for all intents and purposes, the launch of Advantages of Age, Wales. Thanks to Suzanne Noble from Advantages of Age for her support for this first event.

You can read a blog post from Leslie Herman Jones on the background to this first event, here 

In Leslie’s words “We will be a gathering of human beings investing a few hours on a Saturday afternoon in September sitting in and around a hot tub exploring what creative listening means.”

We can share a video of this first event and some of the participants responses below. Many thank to everyone who supported.

What effect, if any, has this Gwanwyn Festival event had on you?

Made me think more imaginatively about how we talk to each other, how we listen – I’m used to using creative activities to engage people so that they feel relaxed and safe and can then discuss harder subjects but a hot tub? Wow. Well outside my comfort zone but it worked!

It was really great to get together with ladies of different ages to share our perspectives on a topic of common interest. It has helped my confidence presenting myself and my take on things to a larger audience. It has also helped my listening skills as so many of us had something to say and share so it was a great opportunity to practice the pause.

This opportunity has stimulated my thinking and encouraged me to rekindle the importance of creativity in my life. Sharing time with like minded people, most of whom I’d not met before, in such an unusual setting, was indeed food for thought! I would say that the event has definitely strengthened my belief in myself as a person who thrives on creativity on a daily basis. Since the event, I feel I have pursued ideas and ventures which might not have happened otherwise.

It made me more aware of the importance of listening and the value and power of being listened to.

It was an incredible experience. It really opened my mind to other ideas, and to be a lot braver.

Please tell us in your own words about your experiences today and how you feel they have benefitted your creativity and wellbeing. If there was any way the event could have been improved please let us know that as well. 

I was initially very uncomfortable with the idea of sitting in a hot tub with strangers – too far fetched for me – but I actually loved it. The meditation piece beforehand was definitely not me but I understand the thinking behind it and the value it might have for others. We needed more time – we just touched on our subjects – there was so much more to say. It was very well facilitated and organised by Lesley; a very professional and accomplished event and I was very pleased to have been a part of it.

As an Aries I am often a person who does a lot of the talking and favours leadership and presentation so it was an interesting challenge to be immersed in this informal group setting to work on my creative listening. I enjoyed the whole event, the hot tub, the lovely new friends I made and the examples they presented of how they use their creative listening skills in their every day lives; which really inspired me to join more groups and take part in more local creative activities. The hot tub was the perfect place to get to know each other and relax so that we could take part in a non-pressurised environment and the snacks and refreshments were wonderful and lovingly prepared. I enjoyed sharing my thoughts on the act of conscious listening and felt that what I had to contribute (metaphysical/esoteric perspective) was well received by most. This was also a great chance for business networking as well as making new friends and improving my health and well being. I think the next session could be a little more structured so each person could bring something they have prepared so that we don’t fall over our words. 

I was naturally a little nervous about exposing my views on creativity and talking openly in a hot tub with people I hadn’t met before. The introduction to the event was well delivered by Leslie and we were put at our ease as she explained the purpose and makeup of the event and what could be expected. We had a getting to know you activity and by the time we entered the hot tub, the atmosphere was relaxed and there was an upbeat sense of expectancy. The physical sensation of the warm bubbly water in the fresh light rainy open air was quite exhilarating and in a very short time, we were relaxed and engaged as a group. The act of speaking and listening flowed well and Leslie facilitated the conversation very efficiently so that everyone had a chance to express views and to engage with one another. She was highly skilled in allowing a relaxed conversation to take place, as well as encouraging focus on the themes of creativity and listening. As a facilitator Leslie was mindful of the timescale and brought the conversation to a natural close. By doing so, there was no doubt that the topic we had begun to explore could be developed and continued and this was a very positive outcome of my experience of the event.

I enjoyed meeting new people and listening to their stories. I felt a bit more alive and stimulated at the end of the experience.

I was so so nervous. And then more nervous! I am not very good at meeting new people even if there are people there I know. I did not know really what to expect but as I arrived I immediately felt I had done the right thing. Leslie was incredibly encouraging, kind and welcoming. I was still feeling uncomfortable during the discussion and ‘meditation’ but it felt similar to going to one of those serious situations where everything seems so serious you just want to laugh and I realised that others too were delving into the unknown.. I say ‘do something that scares you’ to the people I encourage and support in the week, and thought I should self prescribe. It was the fear of wearing.my swimsuit, a fear of sitting in water, very close to load of strangers which actually petrified me, the fear of people looking at me – a fear I have whether in a swimsuit, which I discovered had lost all its elasticity, or fully clothed. But once in pool, after hilarious clambering in a non-lady-like fashion, and supported on the arm of a very good friend with a great sense of humour. The fall of laughter, much of it my own, made me realise that actually I was starting to have a really good time. The focus was actually about being in a hot tub, relaxed and free to discuss creative listening, and god was I focused on listening, rather hoping that the incredibly floating ability of my upper regions would not pull focus. The gander of ladies, incredibly intelligent, bright, charismatic, funny, kind and quirky in and out of the pool made me realise how lucky I was to be there. The discussion took us in a direction I never really felt confident to discuss, but I was, and people were listening. Learning needs thrown to the side, my inability to sometimes get my words out, fear of failure and sounding like a right numpty forgotten, the discussions were helpful, interesting, thought provoking and engaging. The time went too quick and if I was going to make suggestions for the future, make it a whole day experience or even a weekend. I have made new friends, I am starting to look at the world in a different light and if I was going to suggest anything for the future it would be ‘more please!’

Leslie Herman Jones

Review, Heartbreak Talks, Fifth Floor by Gareth Williams

 

(3 / 5)

 

The debut album of Swedish duo Fifth Floor is a fine collection of tracks that draw together well-written lyrics and catchy musical arrangements. Imbibed with country-style riffs and rhythms, this selection of songs also features a fair bit of punkish attitude. Contrast that with some beautiful harmonies and you get an interesting overall sound from these ladies that makes Heartbreak Talks an intriguing listen.

You can hear the strength of their simultaneous singing in the opening track “Heart in Your Arms”. Despite the perceived weakness of their solo voices here, the two together create a really nice sound. It sets up their potential which is gradually fulfilled as the album progresses. The vocal arrangements on “Bought Me a Lie” are especially worth a mention. By the time we arrive at standout single “Sippin’ on a Coke”, not only do their combined vocals sound accomplished but there is real strength to their individual performances too. Though not quite my favourite, this song has a great chorus. Incorporating the themes of journeying and home, it reminds me a little of Ward Thomas’ A Town Called Ugley – its understated title line lends it a similar quirkiness though it is much more reflective in its overall tone.

Certainly, the end of this album heralds the strongest pieces from these two Swedes – Moa and Matilda – who moved to the UK in 2012. “These Days” is a lovely arrangement marked by a more stripped back style. The difficulty that I found with tracks “My Backyard, My Business” and “Diabolical” was that the musical power did not quite match the hard-edged attitude of the vocals – these rock-inspired tracks weren’t quite able to rock out. On the other hand, the title track, like “These Days”, with its more acoustic leanings, felt like a more natural fit for these ladies’ style.

Fifth Floor save the best until last. “The Girl” is a subversive ballad that combines the best of their punkish attitude with some gorgeous harmonies. It is understated, clever; heartbreak really does talk here. It leaves you in no doubt as to the theme that has been running through much of this album. Overall, Heartbreak Talks captures a really good, solid country sound. It is a really promising full-length debut from these ladies. Swedish they may be, but they are worthy of adoption into the ever-expanding UK country scene.

Review: How to Win Against History by Gemma Treharne-Foose

 

(5 / 5)

If you’ve never heard of the 5th Marquess of Anglesey or Henry Cyril Paget – that’s exactly what his family intended to happen when they erased him from their family history by burning every photograph and possession relating to his life.

Based on true story, this completely original production pieces together the charred remains and distant memories of the 5th Marquess of Anglesey – a cross-dressing dandy who inherited the keys to the kingdom in Victorian Britain, but lived fast and died young.

At one time the richest man in Britain, he rejected the duties of his title to live an outrageously opulent and controversial life, putting on elaborate plays, building over the chapel on the family estate to build a theatre and tour Europe with his ‘Electric Butterfly Orchestra’ – with himself as the leading artist, of course.

This is a fabulously foppish flight of fancy that will have you belly laughing from lights up until lights down.

The Marquess of Anglesey was an unapologetic narcissist, who if born in more recent times would no doubt be the subject of a gaudy commercial deal, a magazine spread or a reality TV series. But although the production pokes fun at the story, it is never cruel.

How to Win Against History is a high-camp, high energy extravaganza, subverting the almost homoerotic goings on within public schools, the aristocracy and the Empire.

Starring Seiriol Davies who plays (or should I say ‘slays’) as Henry Paget, this show chasses, minces and shimmies its way through his back story, shining a light on the social awkwardness of Victorian times, the absurdity and pomposity of theatre and the sheer hilarity of being a square peg in a round hole.

Matthew Blake plays the part of Paget’s right hand man – the Victorian west end actor Alexander Keith and the pair have incredible chemistry and comic timing. Every movement, sigh and flick of the hand is played up and milked for laughs.

Imagine a show featuring Lawrence Llywelyn-Bowen’s lovechild on acid at Mardi Gras, mashed up with Monty Python, Downton Abbey and Ru Paul’s Drag Race. That wouldn’t even come close to how remarkable this is.

Despite the madcap silliness and outrageousness though, it’s a show with substance and heart. Seiriol Davies has created something quite heartfelt and poignant, the music and lyrics are sharp and clever and the incredible vocal performances of the trio on stage meander from genre to genre.

You really want Henry Paget to win and the way audiences are responding to this production shows that in the end – he has.

Some lights are too bright to ever be distinguished.

Review Tiger Bay The Musical, Wales Millennium Centre by Patrick Downes

It’s quite fitting that just over 30 years since the redevelopment of the south of Cardiff began that Wales Millennium Centre presents Tiger Bay The Musical. Since 1987, what was the docks of Cardiff, and in particular, what was Tiger Bay, has changed dramatically, and this musical is a celebration of the diversity that is Cardiff now.

What’s it about? Set in 1900’s Cardiff, it follows a young woman’s determination to challenge society’s injustices, follow her heart and realise her dreams. Extreme poverty meets supreme wealth. Gangs of street children roam the docks. Coal is king. A revolution is brewing in the dark and restless world beneath the genteel surface of Cardiff’s Butetown. You could say there’s a level of current social commentary running through this.

The staging and sound are possibly the best I’ve ever seen at WMC, everything moved seamlessly on stage from one scene to another. The cast sound amazing, helped no doubt by the scoring of Daf James and the lyrics of Michael Williams, this production in association with Cape Town Opera has romance, drama, revenge, and some amazing ensemble pieces.

Back in 2011, I saw Noel Sullivan in We Will Rock You at the WMC. It was my first proper musical (that wasn’t on telly or in the cinema), and now six years later via some Dirty Rotten Scoundrels I see him again, and his voice has improved and matured. Hard to believe the same person sung an album track from Girl Thing that in turn went on to become the biggest song of 2001 (Trivia fans… that was of course Pure and Simple by Hearsay)

There is a tendency with some reviews to rave about everything – this might just end up being one of those. With talent such as John Owen Jones and Suzanne Packer, plus the aforementioned Mr Sullivan, it’s quite difficult to select a few stand out moments. Dom Hartley-Harris as Themba was just sublime. The emotion of his character was stunning to watch. But there’s no doubting tonight I saw two stars born.

Star number one is Vicki Bebb. The programme says she hails from a small village in South Wales. Well, let’s sort that out for starters. She’s from Cilfynydd, which is 3 miles outside of Pontypridd town centre. The same place that gave the world Sir Geraint Evans and Stuart Burrows – two amazing Welsh singers. Change that entry Wikipedia, there’s a third. Her name is Vicki Bebb, and going by tonight’s performance, the world is her oyster. I can say I was there the night I saw Vicki Bebb shine for the first time.

Star number two is Ruby Llewelyn who plays Ianto Louise Harvey also plays the role, but not tonight). She’s quite a little powerhouse of a vocalist and pretty much stole the show – even against John Owen Jones. In fairness the child cast were all brilliant, but for me, Louise is another one to watch for the future (once she’s gotten all her exams sorted first).

I am quite sad writing this review because it means my involvement in TBTM is now over. After blogging and talking about it for the best part of the last nine months, it’s time to say tara now – not goodbye, because I’m sure this little piece of Cardiff will travel and fly.

My advice is, if you like the likes of Oliver, Les Misérables, or even Wicked, you will love this. It’s a little piece of Cardiff past, with lot of the passion the city always had, and always will. Just imagine Les Miserables with a Kardiffian accent, and you’ll realise this is more than just a half tidy musical mind.

Tiger Bay-The Musical is on at Wales Millennium Centre till 25th November 2017.

REVIEW: @impatrickdownes

An Interview with Kyle Lima

The director of Get the Chance Guy O’Donnell recently met with actor Kyle Lima. They discussed his training, his new production Heat and Soul which will be performed at Wales Millennium Centre this November and his thoughts on the arts in Wales.

Hi Kyle great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?
Hi I was born and raised in Cardiff and grew up in Splott. I went to Baden Powell Primary school and Willows High School. I then went on to study drama on a foundation course for a year then a two year BTEC course at Coleg Glan Hafren in Performing Arts. I then went on to study at The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, graduating in 2009. I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked with the Artistic Director of the Bristol Old Vic and the visionary mind behind the world renowned production of ‘War Horse’, Tom Morris, in his BOV world tour production of A Midsummer Nights Dream in which I played the young lover Demetrius.

A Midsummer Nights Dream, Bristol Old Vic Theatre 

Most recently I have worked with the artistic director of the Shakespeare’s Globe, Emma Rice, in her production of The Little Match Girl in The Sam Wanamaker Theatre at the Globe,

The Little Match Girl, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

As well as Emma’s ‘Kneehigh’ production of ‘Tristan & Ysult’ in which I played the scheming right hand man of the king, Frocin.

Last year I was in Charlotte Churches ‘The Last Mermaid’ as part of the Wales Millennium Centre’s first Festival of Voice which was an incredible experience.

The Little Mermaid, Charlotte Church, Festival of Voice, WMC.

So what got you interested in acting and the arts?
I grew up loving films, TV and animation. I’d spent a lot of time drawing cartoons from the TV and eventually creating my own cartoon characters. I thought I was going to be an illustrator or work in animation but I as I got older I found drawing isolating and wanted to be more social. When I went to high school and discovered drama classes and found that I could make people laugh having absorbed so much performance ability from watching a lot of films and TV, I started to think that acting was something I potentially wanted to do. I had an extraordinary drama teacher at High School called Jo Bryant who was extremely encouraging and brought something out of me as well as every child she taught. At eleven or twelve years old In my first year of High School she told that I was going to be in the school play and that I basically didn’t have a choice. It was Little Shop of Horrors. It was a two week run. Jo told me she wanted me to play the crazy dentist one week and to be the voice of the alien planet, Audrey two, the next but even though I had performed in drama class to a small group of my classmates the idea of performing to the whole school terrified me so I asked if I could just play the alien plant because it meant I could play this brilliant character and sing amazing songs but all while standing behind a curtain speaking in to a microphone while some poor soul stood inside a giant foam plant puppet and moved it around to match the performance of my voice. That experience was wonderful! It was really was the start of my love of acting. I eventually did step on stage in further school productions as I got a older and grew in confidence. Jo Bryant was a ray of light and really opened the door to what I was capable of, not only as an actor but as a person. Jo passed away many years ago  due to illness but I think of her often. She was wonderful.

You have a new one man show called Heart and Soul at The Wales Millennium Centre on Nov 24th & 25th. Can you tell us more about this production?


Heart and Soul is a one man show about the great ‘heart’ and spirit of the Welsh, combined with the influential ‘Soul’ music, as well as other genres of the music of black culture. The Wales Millennium Centre will be housing the production. Heart and Soul is a show that celebrates the unique multicultural communities of Cardiff, performed by myself portraying characters based on different generation of my family and the people of Cardiff. It will be a combination of historic and comedic stories inspired by different periods of my family and other members of the Cardiff communities lives, interwoven with live music and songs of each characters heyday sung by me while accompanied on piano by accomplished musician Chris Hyson . The songs vary from Vocal-Jazz, classic soul, 90’s RnB & Garage and perhaps a few other surprises too!

Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision Are you aware of any barriers to equality and diversity for either Welsh or Wales based artists/creatives?
I feel the only real barrier is ourselves. We can be our own worst enemy in terms of not doing what we want and pursuing our dreams and goals. I know I’ve stood in my own way many times over the years but If you want something bad enough you have to step out of your own way. If you want to do something you have to do it. Take it. We don’t all start off in life from an equal playing field, that is apparent, in many ways more so than ever and there are those out there who will want to keep it that way, but you have to do want you want and go for it anyway. In terms of barriers within the arts, more doors must be open for people of diverse multicultural working class backgrounds to enable them to ascend to positions of power with in the arts and industries in general. When there is a variety of people at the top levels of decision making the opportunities will trickle down and we will see more equality. If we invest in young people from working class and multi culture communities who show a passion for the arts and if we continue to mentor them throughout their lives, they could potentially be the next future artistic director of a theatre company and having the perspective of their background and life experience they will then continue to create opportunities for those like them as well as others.
Organisations such as The Wales Millennium Centre have worked with the diverse communities geographically close to their venue for a number of years. Do you feel local communities have a genuine connection to the venue and its artistic programme?

With the production of the Musical Tiger Bay as well as shows like my own which give examples of the multicultural history of Cardiff communities I hope the people of Cardiff will come and see these shows and feel a connection to the artistic creativity that is coming out of the Wales Millennium Centre.
If you were able to fund an area of the arts in Wales what would this be and why?
I would invest funding in to programs for children and young adults to experience the arts more. If I wasn’t lucky enough to have had a great drama teacher at High School who was so enthusiastic about theatre and who showed me that I was capable of performing, I wouldn’t be the man I am today.

What excites you about the arts in Wales? What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers?


I know it’s not theatre but I watched the bilingual TV program Bang on S4C recently and was really impressed by the caliber of the writing, production value and performances as well as by the amounts of great young actors that were in it who had graduated from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Wales is in a  great place to nurture talent and I’m excited to see who will shine next. One actress in Bang was Alexandria Riley who I also saw along side Anita Reynolds and Seren Vickers in the Other Room’s production on Debbie Tucker Green’s play ‘Hang’, directed by Izzy Rabey.

That was a great show with brilliant acting from all three actors. Rachel O’Riordan also directed Alexandria in the production of Gary Owen’s adaptation of The Cherry Orchard which was the last thing I saw. That had great performances in it also.

Thanks for your time Kyle

Guy O’Donnell

Review Cilla The Musical, New Theatre, Cardiff by Danielle O’Shea

 

(2 / 5)

 

Cilla: The Musical follows the rise of Cilla Black from the small clubs of Liverpool to being a British icon. It demonstrates how large her impact was but this isn’t shown onstage but rather in the audience, who sang and danced the whole way through and hollered with every reference.


I am not a fan of Cilla Black and I would like to be upfront about this, but I do come from a family of them hence my going to see this performance. It seems that this was the main reason for my not enjoying it as it was solely a nostalgic whirl of songs of the time (from groups like The Beatles and The Mamas and The Papas as well as the songs of Cilla Black) strung together by a sometimes-flat performance.


However, there were positives. The performers were all musically talented and performed the rock and roll classics confidently and skilfully and the atmosphere of the New Theatre was warm and intimate yet again. But sadly this wasn’t enough to hold onto those in the audience who weren’t diehard fans.

 

Cilla: The Musical
New Theatre, Cardiff

http://www.newtheatrecardiff.co.uk/what%27s-on/cilla-the-musical/
November 2nd 2017
Running time: 2hrs and 42 mins
Director: Bill Kenwright
Design: Bob Tomson (co-director), Carole Todd (choreographer), Gary McCann (designer), Nick Richings (lighting designer), Dan Samson (sound designer), Richard Mawbey (wigs director), Scott Alder (musical director), Marc McBride (musical supervisor/arranger), Gary Hickeson (music producer and orchestral arrangement), Gabriella Ingram (costume supervisor), Helen Spall (company stage manager), Karly Hill (deputy stage manager), Erin Thomson (assistant stage manager), Paul Duffy (technical ASM), Steven Hoye (LX number 1), Freddy Marlow (LX number 2), Graham Burgess (Sound Number 1), Elliot Williams (Sound Number 2), Sarah Becs (Head of wardrobe), Rosie Daplyn (wardrobe deputy), Helen Williamson (Head of wigs), Claire Auvache (props supervisor),
Cast: Kara Lily Hayworth, Carl Au, Andrew Lancel, Pauline Fleming, Paul Broughton, Tom Dunlea, Billie Hardy, Amy Bridges, Gemma Brodrick-Bower, Bill Caple

Danielle O’Shea

REVIEW: Beautiful: The Carole King Musical – Wales Millennium Centre by Patrick Downes

If like me, you know a little about music, and the history of the pop song, then you can think again. People often deride modern music for being manufactured, but even way back in the late 50’s and early 60’s, the charts to an extent were the creation of just a few song writing powerhouses. The likes of Lieber Stoller, Dozier Holland, Lennon & McCartney and Goffin King were all part of the fabric that made the early days of pop what they are today. And it’s the latter partnership of Goffin King that forms the basis of Beautiful, currently at Wales Millennium Centre till 4th November.

As the website explains further; BEAUTIFUL tells the inspiring true story of King’s remarkable rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history. Along the way, she wrote the soundtrack to a generation, with countless classics such as You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman, Take Good Care of my Baby, You’ve Got a Friend, So Far Away, It Might As Well Rain Until September, Up on the Roof, and Locomotion.

There were countless moments for me to go “oh, she wrote that”, plus there was the time during the interval watching people sing some of the songs to try and explain the song – always entertaining. For anyone wanting to become a song writer, to watch this is certainly an education that no college or book can give you. To see some of the back story behind some of pop’s greatest hits was always going to be a massive bonus for me being such a music geek.

The performance of Bronté Barbé as Carole is quite amazing. You can close your eyes and you’d think it was the real deal. To capture the essence of someone is not easy, but somehow you have the vulnerability and the depth of character – together with a voice that provides the full package that is Carole King.

Kane Oliver Parry as Gerry Goffin shows the weaknesses that Goffin had, but also his song writing and creative processes. Amy Ellen Richardson as Cynthia Weil, and Matthew Gonsalves as Barry Mann, show also how the competitive the 60s were in terms of song writing. But out of that creativity, came friendship – and two very genuine performances from both.

It’s a well-paced production. There aren’t any times you’d be sat wishing for the next part. Musicals can sometimes suffer from being a little bit long, but at just around 2 hours 30 with an interval, that can’t be said of Beautiful.

There’s won’t be many people this won’t appeal to. If you have a love of music from the 60’s, this is for you. If you love a well-crafted and performed musical, this is for you. And if you love a night out for ages from 8 to 80, this is certainly for you.

Three things we also learnt;
1 The Locomotion was sung by Carole King’s nanny
2 Neil Sedaka was her boyfriend in high school (thus his song Oh Carol is about her)
3 She wrote The Reason for Celine Dion in 1998

It’s not too late to have one fine day seeing Beautiful : The Carole King Musical, at Wales Millennium Centre till 4th November 2017, and then touring around the UK.

REVIEW: @impatrickdownes

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Review: Emeli Sandé – Cardiff Motorpoint Arena by Patrick Downes

Having been a fan since “Our Version of Events”, I’ve waited patiently for Emeli to “pop round our place” and do a gig, although granted she did perform in Cardiff in 2012 as part of the Olympic Torch Relay concerts. Needless to say, the “Long Live the Angels” tour finally came around and descended on the Motorpoint Arena Cardiff last Saturday night and did not disappoint.

For me, the arena tends to have issues with the sound from time to time and some artists can be lost in the mix. There were times this was the case on Saturday evening but only because of the attitude of some audience members around the bar area. It’s a little bit of a pet peeve of mine when you pay to see a gig, and people around spend the time just having “a bit of a chat”. If you want to talk, why would you pay good money to see a gig? Anyhow, it only annoyed me a little bit, but maybe if the gig was all seated people might’ve spent more time watching/listening, instead of talking?

From the outset of the evening, Emeli kicked off with the first single from ‘Long Live the Angels,’ and you could feel the anticipation inside the venue. No special tricks, massive screen or pyrotechnics – just Emeli and her band. No choreography, just a tight sounding unit of sound that doubled up as her backing dancers, special mention to the brass section on that.

Even if you weren’t a massive fan of her work before, you’d definitely leave more knowledgeable, with all the hits including ‘Next to You,’ ‘Wonder,’ and ‘Read All About It,’ plus the new track EP track ‘Starlight.’

If that wasn’t enough, the B Stage and the baby grand piano brought her closer to the audience. Stand out highlight for me was the version of ‘Clown’ and ‘Beneath Your Beautiful’ – two proper hairs on the back of your neck moments.

If you were there earlier enough, you’d have been lucky to hear the talented Calum Scott as support. So far you may only know him for his Robyn cover of ‘Dancing on my Own’ needless to say, bigger things are to come from this former Britain’s Got Talent star.

Special mention to all those people that left after ‘Next to Me’ thinking that was it. “Well, she’d said her thanks and had played all her hits…”. Quick tip for next time, until the house lights go on, the gig is still on. Always remember, there’s always an encore (or if your Paul McCartney in Cardiff a few years back, there’s 3 encores). Always fun to watch people leave, the music start back up and watch them drift back “Well, we wanted to beat the rush”.

Her voice is faultless, It’s full of soul, gospel, r&b, and a whole load of quality.

You might not be a fan at the start, but by the end, you’ll be reading all about the wonder, next to me.

REVIEW: Patrick Downes