Category Archives: Music

An Interview with Christopher J Orton.

Christopher J Orton

Director of Get the Chance Guy O’Donnell recently spoke to Newport born, writer, musician and West End star Christopher J Orton. Chris talked about training opportunities, his career to date, barriers in the arts and his new musical ‘My Land’s Shore.’

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

Hi Guy, great to meet you too. I was born and raised here in Wales. After finishing school I moved away for a while to study and work but now I’m back. When I left school I studied opera in Manchester and then musical theatre in London. After that I was working as a professional actor. I’m a musician too and a lot of the productions I have been involved in I have played violin, piano and guitar as well as acted and sung. I also do a lot of writing. I write plays, musicals, songs, novels. I have also set up a vocal group called The FlyBoys that I sing in and manage. We perform all over the world. I have semi-retired from acting now to concentrate on the various projects I have been putting off for years! I also, weirdly, invent and make board games.

The FlyBoys

You are from Newport and have worked on an amazing range of productions. Do you have any advice for any of our readers interested in following your career path?

My advice would be to get a thick skin. As thick as possible. And don’t become bitter. Anyone wanting to enter the competitive world of theatre will face more rejection than success. And it’s easy to become disheartened and embittered. You have to stay strong. And always have other things going on. Don’t sacrifice a social life for success and whenever you can, try to create your own work. Keep yourself motivated, learn an instrument or a new language, anything to help you achieve your goals.

When you are involved in a big West End musical what does your normal day usually entail?

It’s not particularly glamorous! After the excitement of rehearsals and opening night it starts to feel more like a job. Depending on where you live in London it can take a while to get into the centre of town so you are preparing to set off around 3pm. It’s easy to fall into the habit of getting up late because of the late finishes but if you can get out of that habit and get up early then the day is there to do whatever you wish with! I used to write music or paint or make my games. I have a reputation for not being able to relax and sit still so I’d be up to all-sorts! Once you are at the theatre you have a warm up with the rest of the cast and then the show. And then you’re running for the train so you can get home as quickly as possible!

Christopher playing Tom Jones

You have played the role of Tom Jones in Tom the musical I wonder if you can tell us some more about this production?

The production of TOM holds a very special place in my heart and my career. It was developed and produced by Theatr Na Nog, directed by the lovely Geinor Styles. It was an amazing piece of theatre. More a play with music than a musical though. The show concentrates on the early years of Tom Jones, before he was famous. It’s about the young Tom striving for success and how it affects his relationship with his wife, Linda. The music in the show was all played live by a very talented bunch of lads who were also amazing actors. It focused on his time with his band, The Senators. He used to cover numbers by Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis etc so it was incredibly exciting to perform live every night. It was like a rock concert! It was the hardest and best thing I have done in my performing career. It’s also the reason I don’t really act anymore…there aren’t any roles out there at the moment that excite me as much as that role did.

You are currently involved in a very exciting new musical called ‘My Land’s Shore’ can you please tell us more about his production?

My Land’s Shore is a musical I have written with Robert Gould. He has written the book and lyrics and I have written the music and lyrics. It’s fair to describe it as my life’s work. I started writing it 16 years ago. It tells the true story of Dic Penderyn and his involvement in the Merthyr riots of 1831. He became the first martyr for the Welsh working class and is a symbol of hope and rebellion against the establishment. It has been described as the Welsh Les Mis. At the moment it is in rehearsals for it’s world premiere in London. It is being produced by an off West End theatre company called All Star Productions. A lot of people have asked me why it isn’t being premiered in Wales. The sad answer is we tried for years to get funding and support in Wales but there just isn’t the support for a Welsh piece of theatre, about Wales, and written by two Welshmen!! Baffling! If anyone would like to come and see it in London it runs from Feb 7th – 26th at Ye Olde Rose & Crown Theatre Pub in Walthamstow. More information is available at www.mylandsshoremusical.com.

You have a great deal of experience in musical theatre. Do you think this performance form still resonates for audiences and why?

I think musical theatre will always resonate with people. Music is a fantastic way into people’s hearts and sometimes words just aren’t enough. More and more people are being drawn towards it every year. And every year it becomes more and more accessible as genres evolve.

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?

I can only speak for myself and my own experience within this industry but I found a huge barrier was placed in front of us by the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff. It is supposed to be a centre for the arts that caters for all audiences and nurtures new and emerging Welsh talent. Sadly, I have found it to be completely inaccessible and incredibly blinkered.

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

I would fund new talent, whether it be writers, composers, performers, choreographers, whoever and whatever. I would listen to ideas and explore them. It’s a sad state of affairs when the people holding the purse aren’t necessarily creatively minded. Just think of everything we are missing because the same people are getting the same chances over and over again. It’s a very closed shop at the moment. I would fund the opening up of that closed shop!

Thanks for your time Chris and good luck with My Land’s Shore.

Review : Michael Flatley’s ‘Lord Of The Dance: Dangerous Games’ by James Briggs

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

This weekend Cardiff has had the luck of the Irish as Michael  Flatley’s worldwide phenomenon  ‘Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games’ has played in St David’s Hall. The tour is one of the biggest the UK has ever had and has currently been seen by 60 million people in 60 different countries on every continent. All of the stops are pulled out in this Irish Dancing Extravaganza with dancing that is simply mesmerising.

I have been looking forward to watching this show for a long time and being a tap dancer myself can appreciate the hard work and effort that goes into this form of dancing. I knew from the opening sequence alone we would be in for a good night. As the first half of the show begins the audience are greeted with a projected Michael Flatley and a giant clock alluding to the opening of the show.

The cast are very well cast and all of the characters within the show work well as a dance unit. The perfectly balanced ensemble of male and female dancers help to give depth to the story and in the dance sequences when they are all in a line and coordinated it really is something to admire. Their collective talent is unbelievable and there are moments where your jaw is in your lap watching their feet move almost as too fast to comprehend.  The  main lead Lord of the Dance was played by James Keegan and the Dark Lord was played by Zoltan Papp.

The show seemed to have a variety show feel to it with all of the acts being very diverse. They all managed to hold attention of the audience due to their frequent costume changes and the cleaver projections that portrayed Ireland as an Idyllic place filled with Unicorns and rainbows. The plot follows a little Spirit with a magic flute who battles against evil to save Ireland from being taken over by evil cyborgs. Along the way the Spirit meets different dancers as well as a Black Swan like love triangle that threatens to turn the head of Ireland’s saviour, the Lord of the Dance himself. The show culminates with a big fight for the title of Lord of the Dance.

You can’t help but have a big smile on your face when the full ensemble cast fill the width of the stage at St David’s Hall and with their legs kicking and tapping in perfect sync. The show’s best section and what will always be their most iconic is the ‘Lord of the Dance’, and the skill of the cast is amazing in which they gave four Encores at the end of the show of that very dance which was met with a standing ovation from the whole audience at St David’s Hall.

If you’re a fan of this type of dancing and the Irish music and culture this show is without a doubt the show for you to attend next. It provides a 5-star evening of entertainment with lots of ups and downs within the story. In my opinion this show is something everyone should experience once in their lifetime as it will enthral you.

For more information about the tour of the Lord of the Dance please visit the official website to see where the tour will be heading next. http://www.lordofthedance.com/

Review : La La Land by Jonathan Evans

 

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

La La Land is a movie that uses the same old tools from the classic musicals of old, like Singin in the Rain, Funny Face, My Fair Lady and Mary Poppins, but is used by a man from modern times and sensibilities.

Damien Chezelle has an obvious passion for jazz music and about perusing dreams despite all the obstacles. Here, like his last movie Whiplash, he crafts a similar story where two people live in L.A. where dreams can come true, but not easily.

Our characters are Mia (Emma Stone), a young actress that is working at a coffee shop at the Warner Bros. lot but wants to be an actor. She auditions for many things but nothing. Then there is Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a musician that loves Jazz more than just about anything, worshiping the greats and hating having to simply play the mediocre tunes he’s given for his job. He wants to open his own jazz club where the classics and his own music will be played, in the same venue that was once a legendary jazz bar. But they both must face the reality of compromising in the real world and the sadness that maybe their either not good enough or nobody cares about what they want. Stone and Gosling work together splendidly, from dialog scenes that are as dynamic as Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday and the low-key but cute choreography. The characters are brilliant concepts and the actors make them realized.

The songs are composed in the same vein as the classic Hollywood/Broadway numbers but the singing never reaches that truly glass shattering volume. This is a more subdued musical style. Most of them aren’t meant for that, they’re more like little tunes you hum to yourself while walking home all alone. The most haunting of them all is the main song of the movie “City of Stars” the simple tune will hook itself deep in your mind and not let go.

Channeling the movies of old it uses lush, glowing colours for its environments and the characters costumes. This movie is expertly lit and colour coordinated to fit the characters and their character arcs. There is a scene (whether deliberate or not) that reminded me of another similar scene from Adolescence of Utena.

La la is a term for the sightly crazy or obscene. Which is certainly L.A. in a nutshell, it is these characters facing the world with what they want and it is this movie that channels the old classics but both sets it in modern times as well as selling it to the now young. But in order to pursue your goals you must put aside reality, even just the most little bit and delve into your dreams.

Review : The Moot Virginity of Catherine of Aragon by Beth Clark

 

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)
Conor Mitchell, associate artist at Sherman Theatre and fronting the Belfast Ensemble has enlightened us with his creation as writer, director and composer of the chilling play The Moot Virginity of Catherine of Aragon.

The role of Catherine of Aragon is flawlessly performed by the award-winning actress Abigail McGibbon also part of the Belfast Ensemble creating the perfect duet between music, theatre and emotion. The play is a live concept album, each scene created resembles a live music track combined with performance; a powerful voice (without singing) and action! The way in which it was performed was beautiful.
What made this play so great? I felt as though I was inside the head of Catherine at times, a very tormented and religious woman grasping at straws when her reality as Queen is taken from her. The play takes us through her memories, through history, through war, the good times and the bad and of course the biggest divide in country, known to date.

When you walk into the theatre there is a strong smell and this sets the scene. The lighting, the costume and the make-up together with absolute discipline in role give Catherine a haggard, used and torn look about her with a modern twist, not something you would expect for our once Princess of Wales and Queen.
Mitchell’s absolute slay of music and scene setting was completely special and new for me. How often do you get to lie on the floor and watch an astounding actress bellow pain and abandonment whilst observing the composer, director and creator of such an art, almost dance with every touch of the piano, passionately stomping his direction to the violinists and leading us into deep historic heartache? Not often!

The music was intense, strong single cords and contemporary build ups. I especially enjoyed the scene where microphone techniques where used to full affect, almost like a horror movie. It was emotional and has had an effect my own story perspective. Have I made up my mind as to the real story of Catherine Aragon? No, not yet. Although, I do believe that the King was capable of anything and that she did seem very devoted, probably what sent her nuts in the end.
If you like history and appreciate magical contemporary music and art through theatre this is for you. It was absolutely… for me!

Get the Chance to takepART

Get the Chance recently had the opportunity to run some free critical workshops as part of takepART 8 at Venue Cymru, Llandudno. takepART is aimed at the 0 to 18-years-old age group, but its open to  parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents who all get  involved in workshops and craft sessions that take place throughout Venue Cymru.

 

Get the Chance was just one of the organisations running a series of free workshops during the weekend.

The Get the Chance staff had the opportunity to chat to some of the members of Young Critics North Wales who are supported by the venue.  Young Critics North Wales is based at Venue Cymru, Llandudno. It is supported by the Arts Council of Wales and is the first scheme of its kind in North Wales.

https://youngcriticsconwy.wordpress.com

We can recommend the scheme and If you would like to be a Young Critic please email joann.rae@conwy.gov.uk for more information.

We can also recommend the work of the Document Conwy who ran a free newspaper and photography workshops called The Daily PlanART

http://www.documentconwy.co.uk/the-daily-planart

The pop-up newspaper  returned to Venue Cymru’s take pART arts festival where young people were given the chance to learn some of the skills of a journalist and news photographer. Under the guidance of Editor Joann Rae, Chief Photographer Paul Sampson and Chief Reporter Tim Moxley, young people were assigned a story to cover and photographs to capture from all of the exciting events at take pART! All the work below has been created by the young journalists and photographers of the Daily PlanART

It was a very welcome opportunity for Get the Chance to develop its critical network in North Wales. We thank the Arts Council of Wales for funding this opportunity.

 

 

Review: Sunny Afternoon by Corrine Cox

With speckled references to the hits throughout the storytelling, this clever writing creates an enjoyably impatient anticipation for the big numbers but also the impression that we are watching the creative genius unfold.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

As we’re teased with references to the iconic You Really Got Me in the opening sequence there’s already a palpable sense of anticipation pulsing around the auditorium of the Wales Millennium Centre as the cast of Sunny Afternoon prepare to take us on a 2½ hour musical journey through The Kinks rise to stardom. From the early days in North London; their debut on Top of the Pops; the infamous American tour; through to their triumphant comeback, Joe Penhall ingeniously weaves the hit songs from the 60s into the storytelling of one of the most influential bands of the era.

Our story begins in Muswell Hill, with performances by Ryan O’Donnell & Mark Newnham perfect characterisations of the often tense professional relationship between the rebellious Davies brothers, as they navigate the initial tensions to discovering the bands distinctive sound, the start of a journey which would shape a unique musical identity that would inspire generations. Throughout the evening O’Donnell, Newnham (a highlight performance), Gallo, Rhys and the supporting ensemble, blend effortlessly to recreate the iconic sound of the band, in what is a moving portrayal of both the professional and the personal lives of the band and their adjustment to the pressures of stardom. With references to the hits speckled throughout the storytelling, this clever writing creates an enjoyably impatient anticipation for the big numbers but also the impression that we are watching the creative genius unfold.

Throughout the exploration of the soaring highs and the frustrating lows the band encounter, we join the cast in a celebration of how four working class musicians from North London changed the music scene for generations to come. Dead end street, weaved masterfully into Penhall’s narrative, particularly highlighting how the bands upbringing proved an ongoing source of inspiration for Ray’s writing with the majority of the works involving similar elements of social commentary, which inevitably played a large part in their then and ongoing appeal.

The staging enables the cast to create a certain intimacy during acoustic interludes including This Time Tomorrow and Thank you for the Days, contrasted with the gig feel of the iconic All Day and All of the Night & roof raising end sequence, and quirks of the choreography and use of props lend themselves especially well to the playfulness of numbers such as Dedicated Follower of Fashion.

The universal appeal of Sunny Afternoon makes it a must-see irrespective of whether you know the band or the songs. If you know The Kinks you’ll love it, if you don’t know the Kinks you’ll love it. A feel good musical and a moving portrayal to one of the defining bands of the 60s who will continue to inspire generations to come.

Ray Davies – Ryan O’Donnell
Dave Davies – Mark Newnham
Mick Avory – Andrew Gallo
Pete Quaife – Garmon Rhys
Music & Lyrics – Ray Davies
Book – Joe Penhall
Original Story – Ray Davies
Director – Edward Hall
Designer – Miriam Buether
Choreographer – Adam Cooper
Lighting – Rick Fisher
Sound – Matt Mckenzie
Musical Supervisor – Elliot Ware

Review: ‘Sunny Afternoon’ by Gemma Treharne-Foose

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

 

So it’s January, everyone is detoxing, skint after Christmas and bruised after Brexit, Trump and a string of celebrity deaths in 2016. I can hand on heart say that if you are suffering from SAD or have lost all hope for the year ahead, you need to find the sun behind those clouds and get your butt down to WMC pronto to see ‘Sunny Afternoon’, the touring production running until Saturday 21st, before it shuttles off elsewhere.

Even if you are not a fan of The Kinks or a fan of musicals featuring the back catalogue of certain bands (let’s not even mention ‘Viva Forever’ here!), you will be hard pressed to find a more inclusive and entertaining musical in 2017.

A real kick in the 60s!

The soundtrack to your Mam and Dad’s wild years, the show focuses on four working class lads riding the crest of the wave of the ‘British invasion’ in the 60s – the meteoric highs and the crushing lows.  Natalie Gallacher/Pippa Ailion’s casting of Ryan O’Donnell and Mark Newnham as brothers Ray and Dave is a triumph – the pair have sensational synergy and energetic friction on stage and O’Donnell’s sweet vulnerability shines through his entire performance.

Newnham is unmissable as outrageous rebel Dave, everything from his swagger, his cockney banter and his swinging from the chandelier in a pink dress had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand.

The most famous of the Kinks’ songs were cleverly deconstructed and re-packaged, allowing us to delve further into the back story to possibly the most influential riffs and tunes ever written.  The scene where Ray and Dave are trying to perfect the edgy baseline to their hit song ‘You really got me’ is pure magic, reverberating through your chest and rattling around your rib cage.

There are some delicious comic lines, especially from the plummy stockbrokers-turned-agents Robert Wace and Grenville Collins, who groomed the four for stardom, even coming up with their name, with the help of another agent Larry Page.  I couldn’t help laughing out loud when one of them says in a voice that may remind you of certain Harry Enfield characters: ‘Now…let’s talk about it over a nice plate of kippers’.

You’ll laugh when Ray’s Dad (played by Robert Took) complains about ‘wearing out shoe leather’, about the house prices in Muswell Hill (£3,500 – with a £500 deposit!)…and you wonder what the hell Mr Davies would make of the prices in Muswell Hill these days. This is nostalgic but not cloying, sentimental but not syrupy.

There are multiple sharp observations and throwaway comments referencing other 60s bands and celebrities. When the managers find Ray in a depression in bed with Rasa his wife, one of them quips: ‘You wouldn’t find John Lennon lounging around in bed with his wife!’.  Later on, when the band are on tour in America and are uneasy about the guns and violence there, their manager assures them ‘You’re a pop star! You’re not important enough to shoot!’.

A blueprint for future musical trends

The real pleasure for those not born in the 60s is the discovery of music you didn’t know existed – for my parents’ generation, it’s all familiar territory.  But if you only know a handful of the old (and most famous) of songs by the Kinks, you get to unwrap a new gift.

Aided by the clever studio/house/concert hall design of the stage by Miriam Bluether and the choreography by Adam Cooper, watching ‘Sunny Afternoon’ will transport you back to the excitement, the optimism and the feeling of being on the cusp of something completely original and unchartered.  

From the time THAT guitar riff kicks in, you understand exactly what it is your Mum has been harping on about all these years. It’s hard to imagine how utterly new, how extraordinary this must have felt for teenagers in the 60s, to go from stale crooners in suits to long haired rebels with rock guitars.  

The Kinks were the masters of social commentary which would foreshadow the later emergence of musicians and bands of my generation: the blueprint for American garage and rock bands like grungy Nirvana in the 80s and the Britpop boom in the 90s.  I hadn’t realised it until last night but ‘A well respected man’ was clearly influential for Damon Albarn and his crew with Blur’s hit ‘Country House’.

Delightfully rebellious, clever and heartfelt

Credit must be given to the wonderful pacing, characterisation and story for the musical by Ray Davies himself.  It’s clearly a personal and heartfelt snapshot of an incredible moment in history.  The result is rebellious, clever and heartfelt and I witnessed something I hadn’t yet seen at the Wales Millennium Centre: an entire audience on their feet, no awkward seat lurkers in sight. Inhibitions were gone and for a moment I felt like we were watching the real Kinks.  I was genuinely sad to leave the theatre and re-emerge into 2017.

My Mum, who had accompanied me (and by the end was a bawling mess) had enjoyed every last morsel of the show. I asked her why she was crying, she said: ’I remember it – I remember it all!’.  If only to see what your parents saw, feel how they felt and see how bloody awesome the fashion and sounds of the sixties actually were, this is an absolute treat of a show.  

Type of show: Theatre

Title: Sunny Afternoon

Venue: Wales Millennium Centre  

Dates: 17 – 21 Dec (Touring show)

Directed by:  Edward Hall

Music, Lyrics, Original Story: Ray Davies

Choreographer: Adam Cooper

Sound: Matt McKenzie

Musical Director: Barney Ashworth

Cast:

Ryan O’Donnell (Ray Davies)

Mark Newnham (Dave Davies)

Richard Hurst (Larry)

Tomm Coles (Grenville Collins)

Joseph Richardson (Robert Wace)

Lisa Wright (Rasa)

Garmon Rhys (Pete Quaife)

Running time: Approx 3 hours (with interval)

Produced by: Sonia Friedman Productions and Ambassador Theatre Group

Get the Chance to be a Critic with Take Part!


Are you aged 16-100?

Interested in theatre, dance, visual art, gigs, poetry, film and more?
Want to access a free workshop which will give you an insight into the role of a critic?
Then, this is for you!

What’s involved?
You will take part in a 1 hour workshop with Guy O’Donnell Director of online magazine website Get the Chance https://getthechance.wales

During the workshop you will be given an insight into the role of the arts critic. You will be given instruction on how to create a review and upload your response online. Participants will look at blogging, video, social media and much more! All workshop participants will get the opportunity for their reviews to feature on the Get the Chance website.

If you have one please bring a laptop, tablet and/or smartphone.
Workshops are on Saturday the 14th at 11.30 and 1.45 pm at Venue Cymru as part of Take Part 2017

https://venuecymru.co.uk/take-part-2017.html

 

Must-see cultural events in 2017

In the article below our members choose a range of productions and events they are looking forward to in 2017.

Young Critic Amelia Seren Roberts 

Rosalind Dance 4/James Cousins Company

“I’m looking forward to a production called ‘Rosalind’ by Dance 4 and James Cousins Company at Nottingham Lakeside Arts”

http://dance4.co.uk/event/performance/2017-03-03/rosalind

“I am looking forward to hearing more from Artes Mundi, and to see Castle Ruins (a show by artists rejected from the Nottingham Castle Open).”

https://www.facebook.com/events/300069073728104/?ti=icl

“The New Art Exchange has an interesting show coming up called, ‘Untitled: Art on the conditions of our time”

http://www.nae.org.uk/exhibition/untitled-art-on-the-conditions-of-our/114

“Leon Sadler has a show coming up at Syson Gallery that I think is definitely going to be something worth going to see:”

https://www.facebook.com/events/229217837532707/?ti=icl

Young Critic Beth Clark

Killology The Sherman Theatre Cardiff and Royal Court Theatre

“The show that I am most excited for this year is “Killology” at the Sherman Theatre, written by my absolute favourite Gary Owen and directed by my also favourite Rachel O’Riordan. Two of the most moving and real life productions of the last two years are Iphigenia in Splott which I saw in Cardiff and Violence and Son which I travelled to London to watch so you can imagine my excitement. I love Gary Owens raw approach on controversial, gritty and  jaw dropping subject matter. “Lie out darkest fantasies, but you don’t escape their consequences” a line used in the write up to the play… it gives me goose bumps as I know this play will take the viewers on a phycological trip they wouldn’t have imagined possible.I hope this play is in the studio theatre as the intense momentum that can be built up in there will be electric, with director Rachel O’Riordan no doubt  pulling out all the stops.”

http://www.shermantheatre.co.uk/performance/theatre/killology/

The Moot Virginity of Catherine of Aragon  The Sherman Theatre, Cardiff

“I am particularly interested in seeing this play as the writers and creative team alike are unknown to me so I am eager to enjoy and observe their styles and approaches in tackling such a controversial and historical topic.  I have recently watched the BBC drama “Six Wives with Lucy Worsley” which give quite a different perspective of Catherine to that I had imagined and observed to date. I wonder whether this show will evoke more feelings and insights into the life of Catherine of Aragon for me and can it change my strong views I already have on the story? We will see!”

http://www.shermantheatre.co.uk/performance/music/the-moot-virginity-of-catherine-of-aragon/
I, Daniel Blake  the film at Chapter Arts Centre

“I am so relieved that Chapter are doing more viewings of this as I have read epic reviews of this over last few months by some established critics. Always a good sign!”

http://www.chapter.org/i-daniel-blake-15

Drones Comedy Club at Chapter Arts Centre

“Operating monthly at Chapter Art Centre  and rated in the the Big Issues top ten things to do in Cardiff it is definitely a Friday night option and something I am looking forward to throughout 2017.”

http://www.chapter.org/drones-comedy-club

Zero for the Young Dudes as part of NT Connections at The Sherman Theatre 

“I am also drawn towards Zero for the Young Dudes performed by Sherman Youth Theatre which will be used as their competition entry to NTC festival. In attending the NTC festival in 2016 I am aware of the quality produced by these young individuals and in some circumstances when experiencing barriers which is always extremely insightful and inspiring to me. It’s also a good opportunity to catch glimpse of the up and coming stars that are going to rock the world of theatre in Wales and beyond for years to come!”

http://www.shermantheatre.co.uk/performance/theatre/nt-connections/

Music

“Firstly, Legend and a tribute to Bob Marley 28 January at the Globe being a 7 piece band which is noted to be a flawless musicianship. I am attending with a fellow reggae lover so set to be a fun evening.

LEGEND – A TRIBUTE TO BOB MARLEY

 

I am gassed for Cardiff’s very own asteroid boys who will be championing their recent success of their sold out tour and signing by Sony records and will be supporting Wiley at Y Plas event in one of my most memorial venues in Clwb ifor Bach”

http://www.seetickets.com/event/wiley/cardiff-students-union-y-plas/1054811

Im looking forward to any events for 2017 from Pryme cut and Rhyme cut entertainment incorporating Wild boys wasted and likes of Brave Mugraw, Crash, Lord Bendtner, Two Putt and more on battlers… Performers.. Saykridd, Jake the Ripper, Ferny Mac, Chew, Conrad Lott and Beatbox Hann plus much more as the events over the last two years have been something to shout about. These nights are open to any performers any styles making them completely diverse perfect for our very cultural city of Cardiff.

I am also looking for anything to attend that includes again Cardiff’s own Baby Queens with their album being released the latter end of 2016 and being noted in BBC online top 100 single. This band are the ones to watch.”

 

Get the Chance Creative Associate Jonny Cotton

The House of Bernarda Alba

By Federico García Lorca, Directed by Jenny Sealey
A Royal Exchange Theatre and Graeae Theatre Company co-production

Graeae has a new play, ‘The House of Benarda Alba’ which will be coming out in Feb and will be performing at The Royal Exchange in Manchester so I will be looking forward to see that.”

The House of Bernarda Alba

“My dream or wish is to see a disability-led organisation to come to Wales in 2017. Although I don’t mind travelling to see the likes of Fingersmiths, Graeae, Birds Of Paradise I would like to see them perform in Wales. That would be my wish! I think the difficulties is because of the Arts strands and lack of support from venues which preventing these organisations coming to Wales. We need to see a change in that!”

Young Critic James Briggs

“I am looking forward to this year there are two which I have already got press for in St Davids Hall and they are ‘Anton and Erin’ and ‘Riverdance’.”

Anton and Erin and Lord of The Dance/Riverdance

http://www.stdavidshallcardiff.co.uk/whats-on/anton-erin/

http://www.stdavidshallcardiff.co.uk/whats-on/lord-of-the-dance/

3rd Act Critic Chris Howell

 

Sunny Afternoon at the Wales Millennium Centre

“I am particularly keen to see Sunny Afternoon. It started its journey at the Hampstead Theatre, one of my favourite venues in London. Then, as most good productions it is home to, it made it successfully to the West end and now there is a touring company. It’s also the start of an era for me as the Kinks played the Capitol in May 1965, I was there and witnessed the altercation between Dave Davies and Mick Avory”

https://www.wmc.org.uk/Productions/2017-2018/DonaldGordonTheatre/SunnyAfternoon/?view=Standard

Community Critic Emily Garside

Killology by Gary Owen

“I am looking forward to another new work from one of Wales’ most interesting playwrights.”

http://www.shermantheatre.co.uk/performance/theatre/killology/

Young Critic Kat Leslie

“I’m looking forward to seeing Thunder playing live in March.

https://motorpointarenacardiff.co.uk/whats-on/thunder

I’m also going to see Footloose performed in June at the Wales Millennium Centre

I am also  going.to a festival that I go to every year in August called ‘Solarsphere Astronomy and Music Festival.”

http://www.solarsphere.events

3rd Act Critic Barbara Michaels

“Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes which is coming to Cardiff. I was fortunate to be given house seats at Sadlers Wells on Christmas Eve. It is arguably the best thing Bourne has ever done. On the home front WNO start the new season with La Boheme. A great atmospheric production and an excellent on to enjoy if you have never seen opera before. “

https://www.wmc.org.uk/Productions/2017-2018/DonaldGordonTheatre/TheRedShoes/

https://www.wno.org.uk/event/la-bohème

Young Critic Lauren Ellis Stretch

“I am looking forward to Killology at the Sherman Theatre and Funny Girl at the Wales Millennium Centre . The Other Room’s Spring season also looks thrilling!”

http://www.shermantheatre.co.uk/performance/theatre/killology/

https://www.wmc.org.uk/Productions/2017-2018/DonaldGordonTheatre/FunnyGirl/

http://www.otherroomtheatre.com/en/whats-on/current-productions/

3rd Act Critic Helen Joy

1
“Welshness

A rather controversial topic perhaps but one which raises its curious head regularly in conversation if not in print.

Having touched on this in my review of Bafta Cymru, I feel a personal need to explore the impact of Welsh identity projected in the Arts on audiences.

2
Opera & Dance

Having absolutely adored having access to so much of both through 2016, I plan on deepening my knowledge through further attendance at performances, continuing to draw at open rehearsals and through interviewing performers and artists.

3
Homelessness

Leaving events in Cardiff at night has opened my eyes to the problem of homelessness. The stark contrast between the opulent glories of the stage and the plight of living on the streets has been brutal to witness, far more brutal to those who live it. Everyone has a story and I would like to help those stories be heard.”

 

Review ‘Mary Poppins’, WMC by Kate Richards

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Sitting in the Wales Millennium Centre awaiting ‘curtain-up’ at Mary Poppins, I felt slightly sorry for the cast and production crew, at the huge task they faced in trying to impress the likes of me. Not a huge fan of musical theatre at the best of times, somewhat taken aback at the eye-watering cost of taking a family of four to the theatre at Christmas, and yet at the same time harbouring high expectations of being transported to a bright, magical world far away from Brexit, the state of the NHS and all the other gloomy headlines…..I was not disappointed.

As the curtain rose I felt my hackles rise slightly as the hubbub of the audience took too long to die down, but thankfully the volume and energy of the production soon drowned-out the residual noise and fidgeting of the younger audience.

What followed was a fast-paced, re-invention of the story that we know and love, interspersed with just the right mix of slick ‘magic tricks’ (pulling the hat stand out of the carpet bag, sliding up the banisters and making pictures come to life) and all the big songs you’d expect from this production. I was surprised at how different the story and structure was from the original film version, but this did not diminish the production at all – in fact it made it easier to watch for those of us that are very familiar with the dialogue of the iconic film.

The children, though ‘ringleted’ and clad in sailor dress and tank-top respectively, had a bit more attitude than I remember from the film, but I have no doubt this helped to make them more relatable to a modern audience, and helped make the whole thing a little less saccharine than I was expecting. The same could be said for Mary herself – though Zizi Strallen was every inch Mary Poppins from her clipped, received pronunciation to her turned-out toes.

I’m still not sure how Mary actually appeared on the stage, since we were distracted (not for the last time) by the creative use of lighting above the audience, so when our eyes returned to the stage – there she stood, perfectly poised.

The set was totally in-keeping with expectations of the house in Cherry Tree Lane (like the doll’s house you dreamed of as a girl but only collectors actually own), the colourful park and contrasting austere, greyness of the bank, and scene changes were slicker than other big budget productions I’ve seen in the West End. The pace and juxtaposition of the monochromatic scenes in London and the bank versus the vibrant colour of the park and the house scenes worked well at holding the attention of even the youngest audience members, and kept-up the momentum of the story.

I was amused to note that the ‘pre-teen’ beside me, pointed out every wire on the kites, and each cable used by Mary and Bert for their gravity-defying moves to her mother, but considering the challenges of staging this musical, it was actually gratifying that these were the only little bits of ‘reality’ she appeared to spot through-out the evening.

All-in-all it was the visual feast that I’d hoped for and it seems that the big budget really does buy you quality in everything from talent to sound, and costume to lighting. It is hard to pick out individual performances or highlights because the whole production worked seamlessly to create a theatre-going ‘experience’, where all the cogs meshed perfectly in a well-oiled machine. I went to see the production with my ‘Mum hat’ on wondering what my 6 and 10 year old nephews (and eventually my own child when he’s old enough) would make of it – would it be too ‘girly’ and surely there would be a very narrow window of opportunity when a child was old enough to sit through it, but not too old to dismiss it as ‘babyish’ or ‘uncool’? As I reflect on my experience, I know that my nephews would have been transfixed, and I would be so bold as to suggest that my husband would have enjoyed it too; the polished performance absolutely transported me to another world for a couple of hours so I concluded that it would be worth saving up for this as a special family treat at Christmas, and I might even give a few more popular musicals a try.