Posted in Children's Literature, Musicals, Play, RSC, Stratford upon Avon, Theatre Review, UK

The Boy In The Dress – RSC Production

“I think I might be different. I might not be the same.”

Hello lovely people!

Well the first two weeks in the new role has hit me like a brick in the face – that’s for sure. I hope everyone is having a lovely and positive start to January 2020.

I am hear today to tell you all about my evening at the RSC in Stratford – upon – Avon where I saw The Boy in the Dress.

You may remember back in April that I managed to bag myself a front row ticket, something I don’t think I’ve ever done before in my life. Therefore, I was VERY excited. Let’s get on with the review!

Plot

Back in April I did review the book written by David Walliams. You can read this here. In summary, the story follows a young boy called Dennis, who at 12 years old, is the schools star striker. However, when his mum leaves home, life isn’t all that great. The only reminder he has is a photograph of her in a yellow dress. A similar dress is also on the cover of Vogue magazine in Raj’s shop and Lisa James, the most beautiful girl in school, is sketching in her pad. How can the world of football and dresses collide? Especially when the mean headmaster, Mr Hawtrey, likes things to be very normal…

Cast

I always get myself a programme whenever I see anything and I’ve kept them all from any show I’ve ever seen. It’s just a bit of a routine to mooch through and see who I know in the cast. This was no exception. I saw faces and names that I knew and had seen them perform in other RSC shows. However, what was most excellent was seeing names from Matilda the Musical. Toby Mocrei played Bruce Bogtrotter in the production I saw and I was so thrilled to see him again as Dennis. He is an inspirational young chap indeed.

Also, the role of Dennis’s Father is played by none other than Rufus Hound who was excellent! His part was emotive, relatable and sensitive which struck a chord with the adults in the theatre.

I also really liked Asha Banks who played Lisa James. She has an incredible voice and because I was lucky enough to be at the front and her stage position was mainly in front of me, I could hear her most. That being said, her powerhouse voice filled the whole theatre. She played the part really exceptionally well.

One particular highlight is the casting of Oddbod the dog. I won’t spoil that for you but it really is genius! I’ve never seen a better dog in a theatre ever.

I could use the same superlatives for all the casting really. You can get more information regarding casting via the RSC website.

Staging

Like Matilda, the staging for The Boy In The Dress is full on! There’s doll houses, footballs, numerous disco balls and a variety of different back drops. Basically, the stage is constantly moving and changing. I took a picture at the start, during the interval and at the end, just to give you an idea.

Singing & Dancing

There are a number of quite complex dance numbers with up to twenty actors on stage at one time so I was really mesmerised and found myself wanting to join in. (I didn’t because that would have been embarrassing!)

The music team on this production has some big names: Robbie Williams, Guy Chambers and Chris Heath, to be exact. It’s easy to see why the songs are catchy and good fun.

There’s 19 songs to this musical, opening with Ordinary and closing with Disco Symphony. Some notable songs are Mr Hawtrey’s I Hate Children and Is There Anything More Beautiful Than Lisa James and If I Don’t Cry sang by Dennis and his father.

Overall

I left feeling positive, upbeat, singing the songs, wearing the t shirt from the shop and wanting to install a disco ball when I got home. I also booked tickets to see the show again. It’s just THAT good. So far in my life, I’ve only seen the same production of a show twice and that was Matilda. I just can’t wait to go back and see this all again.

Also, the fact that the novel has translated so well onto the stage is a real bonus. All the characters are included, the plot is the same. It’s just brought to life the whole book. The biggest thing for me is the joy of celebrating the fact that you can be different. Boys can wear dresses and play football. People are just people. This should always be championed and this show is the epitome of that.

View the trailer for the show here and book your ticket right now!

Big love all xx

Posted in Photography, Rocks, Stratford upon Avon, Summer 2018

Stratford Upon Avon Rocks!

Morning Beauties!

It is summer and it’s still glorious out there. I hope you’re all keeping cool as taking care of yourselves.

All my July posts seem to be about places and adventures and I make no apologies that this post is sort of similar. I want to share with you something is happening in my home town which is completely awesome! By sharing with you all, you may find that where you’re from also do this and may wish to take part, or set one up for yourselves.

The idea is pretty simple: you paint and decorate rocks, hide them, search for others and post a picture on social media to show where they’ve been. You write a little message on the back so you know which social media site to post it to. For me, it’s Stratford Upon Avon Rocks. They’ve welcomed me with open arms which is just so lovely.

I’m not artistic in any way but I’ve had so much fun taking part in this. During the last half term at work I painted and decorated 20 stones of 5 designs. I really really enjoyed it! These are my first ever attempts.

I’m quite proud of these because I think they’re actually ok! I love my little ladybirds the most. So I set off on a little mission early one morning this week, to hide all of these for anyone and everyone to find. Stratford is quite a big town so I decided to stick to a walk all along the river, across the bridge and all along the other side and back again. I was having a lovely walk, with beautiful scenery and was hiding little stones for people to find. Perfect!

Whilst I was on my travels, I found my first rock. I was so excited, I can’t explain. My first rock was really apt too! For those of you who know me, you know I’m a massive Harry Potter fan. My first rock find was real perfection seriously!

What really is amazing is when you see people find your rock and post it online! It’s like spreading joy and excitement. What could be better? I must admit, every time I’m around now I keep an eye out to see what I can find! Last night, on my way to dinner, I found another in the car park. He had to come with me!

So I’m also thinking about my next lot of rocks that I’ll decorate. We had a little hedgehog visit our garden last night so maybe I’ll start with that. Any ideas? All welcome but remember I’m no artist. Some out there are incredible! I’ve seen portraits, chocolate bars, animals, famous faces – it’s endless! Now to find my next beauty…

I hope this inspires you to take part in a community project like this or set one up. It’s ridiculous how much joy I’ve taken from this and I wish you all happiness and joy too.

(FYI: Books will be returning as my next post will be my review of the July book for the Read the Year Challenge!)

Big love all!

Xxx

Posted in Gardens, Stratford upon Avon, UK, William Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s New Place

Hey guys! 

Today’s post comes from a recent trip to Shakespeare’s New Place in Stratford upon Avon. As you know, I always feel incredibly proud to be from here; to have this as part of my heritage. 

Back in 2016, work started on transforming this incredible garden. A massive 6 million pounds was spent. It ran behind schedule and a year later, I have finally managed to visit. It was incredible. 


A brief history:

New Place was Shakespeare’s family home from 1597 to 1616, when he died. It was decided in 1759 that the house would be demolished to make way for a garden to commemorate the site and to allow visitors to make their own connection with Shakespeare. 

Features of the original property are marked out and preserved, such as the family well. Some of these features were only unearthed once work began on the gardens. 


Now I can relate to this because I spent a lot of time growing up in Stratford. I used to spend many a summer afternoon reading or seeing friends in the original gardens here. I was excited about what changes would have been made. But, I was worried that I wouldn’t feel my personal connection with the new greenery there. 

Since I’ve been, I can honestly say I was worried about nothing. I felt so inspired in that garden. It’s hidden behind new incredibly impressive gates with a number of awe inspiring sculptures. 



What I love:

First is a sculpture of the deeds to the house. ‘Murder’s shadow lifted. Shakespeare has the true title to his house.’

My favourite sculpture is by Jill Berelowitz and is called ‘His Mind’s Eye’. Cast in bronze, the sculpture shows the world nod a large tree. The interpretation is that the tree is Shakespeare (his influence) and the smoother side is visually showing the impact that Shakespeare has. The more bumpy side is yet to be influenced by Shakespeare. What do you think? 

I also really liked the representation of Shakespeare’s chair and desk. This was amazing because you can cast your mind back, hundreds of years ago, to imagine Shakespeare writing such plays like The Tempest. I was convinced to have my photo taken. Not sure it’s my finest pose! 

There are numerous sculptures around the garden depicting a range of Shakespeare’s plays. One of my favourites: Macbeth. I don’t claim to be knowledgable about sculptures. However, I do like to think about what elements are being shown. This intrigued me immensely; the merge of faces in particular. 

Finally, the Knot Gardens are really quite lovely. They feature a rose in the middle with a variety of flowers outside. They smelt wonderful: the epitome of a summery day. 

The couple of hours I spent here made me feel incredibly calm and at ease. This hidden gem really needs to be visited. I bought myself a year pass because I want to see the flowers change, the colours develop and deepen, the leaves fall and make a carpet on the floor, new life forming next year. I just had to share one of my great loves with you all. 


Big love xx

Posted in Photography, Places, RSC, Stratford upon Avon

Stratford upon Avon 

Hi all,

Just a quick post. Life is pretty busy (when isn’t it!) but I managed to sneak off for a couple of hours by the river. I took a couple of photos that I wanted to share with you all. 


It always amazes me how beautiful this town is. I feel so lucky that I am from here and I can experience this place with ease. The memories it holds for me makes it just as special. I love sharing them with people. 


This made me laugh. I just had to take a photo. Littering, yes. Humorous, absolutely. 

You never really realise how much a place can make you feel until it’s tested. Life throws things at us on a daily basis; small personal challenges or larger issues which require plenty of thought. I’d temporarily forgotten the sense of serenity and calm this place gives me. 

Whatever challenge you currently might be facing, find your place to think and feel personal peace. 

Big love xx

Posted in Photography, Places, Stratford upon Avon, UK

The Big Wheel – Stratford upon Avon

Hey guys!

How are you all? Today was amazing because the sunshine came out so I finally got chance to get on the Big Wheel in Stratford. 

Firstly, the river and theatre looked beautiful. It really is quite breathtaking. 

I have to say, it was amazing. The views were stunning. Apologises about some of the glare on the photos. However, it doesn’t matter. It was just lovely. I genuinely have so much love for my home. For a price of £5 we spent about 5 or so minutes going around, taking in the scenery. 

I had the best time. There’s always so much to see. The town was thriving today as well. This Wheel caused a lot of controversy with the locals. Yet, I loved it. I see it as a positive to see the amazing views of our town. It made me incredibly humble for what I’ve got on my doorstep. 


Finally, my mum took this photo of me. It’s not horrendous but I wasn’t feeling particularly well as it was rocking at the top! A sunny but breezy day. 


I hope you’ve enjoyed these pictures. I loved it I have to say! 

Big love all xx

Posted in Autumn, Photography, RSC, Stratford upon Avon, UK

Hello Autumn 


Hey guys! 

Isn’t this time of year just beautiful?! I really love to see all the colours and the different leaves. I love to hear the crunch under foot. I just feel like everything is more crisp and lovely in Autumn. 

Whilst I had a small window of opportunity today, I decided I needed to have a little time to soak in beautiful Stratford upon Avon. The colours were indescribable. I wanted to share this with you, in the hope that the 5 minutes you spend looking at this, you feel as inspired and calm as I did. 

*all photos are taken by myself with no filter. 


It’s the first time in a while I’ve felt calm and at ease. The fresh air always makes me feel better. Sometimes you need to just stop and take it all in…

Big love xx

Posted in RSC, Stratford upon Avon, William Shakespeare

Shakespeare Celebrations: 400

Wow! What an incredible weekend. Firstly, my apologies for not being around, but I’m sure you’ll forgive me once I’ve told you all about this magical weekend celebrating the greatest playwright of all time.

William Shakespeare: legend. April 23rd 1564 – April 23rd 1616. 400 years since he died. Aged 52. What an inspirational legacy that has been left behind…

So, being a Stratfordian (how my students cringe when I say that!) I had to take part in the celebrations, and naturally Stratford upon Avon threw an incredible event. There was the parade, performances, floral tributes, fireworks and even a visit from royalty! The worlds media was there as was I. I feel honoured to have been a tiny part of it.

There were 10,000 of these…and everyone who littered the streets wore them. 


The parade was, dare I say it, a roller coaster of emotions. It began with the funeral bells from Holy Trinity Church and the marching of a mini coffin and floral tribute. We were to throw rosemary as it passed. The streets smelt wonderful after this. 


We had visitors from all around the world come to pay their respects. The sun was shining and the flags were waving proudly. 


There were some beautiful national dress… 


And an incredible jazz band from New Orleans… 


King Edward Grammar School opened its doors to the Guild Hall and Shakespeare’s classroom. It’s really beautiful. The picture of Shakespeare hangs proud. Such humble beginnings. 




And from past history, to making new history. Shakespeare is still inspiring millions today. A project for the children outside Shakespeare’s birthplace. 


The parade marched to Holy Trinty Church where all the flowers from the parade were laid at Shakespeare’s grave. I honestly don’t have the words to describe the smell. It was heavenly and so fittingly decorated. 


Finally, the RSC did a live production which was streamed all around the world, with a star studded cast. There was only one way to finish this off: fireworks. 


So, thank you Stratford for being so beautiful. I’m so proud that this is my heritage. Thank you Shakespeare for transforming the lives of millions by the power of the written and performed word. How staggering it is that it makes as much sense today as I did back then. But, most of all, thank goodness that things like this are still celebrated. Here’s to the next 400!


To close, one of my favourite Shakespeare quotes:

“This above all: to thine own self be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Hamlet.


Big love x

Posted in Photography, RSC, Stratford upon Avon, UK

A Tourist In My Own Town

Hey everyone! 

You may have guessed from my previous post that it is in fact half term. This morning, as the frost cleared and the sun came out to dance along the pavements, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to play tourist again. 

Despite coming from Stratford upon Avon, it’s always changing and there’s always something new to see. Today, I decided to take a trip up the RSC tower to see the panoramic views of my beloved town. 

  

The tower stands at 36 metres tall, giving you the best views of Stratford. It’s approximately 7 double decker buses high! But, it’s definitely worth it. 

  
Firstly, my favourite view: Bancroft. The river was slightly frozen over today, but by the time I got there it was shimmering like crystal. 

  

Secondly, the contrasting buildings that Stratford embody, from the trademark black and white thatched buildings, to the new builds. 

 
Apologies for the glare, but that’s the angle of the sun for you! I love how Holy Trinity Church is peeking out towards the left hand side. 

  

Riverside: beautiful. It’s always a favourite habit of mine to have prosecco by the river at Carluccios. 

  

Finally, the obligatory selfie. Despite the sun beaming down, it was still fur coat weather. Trademark. 
  

Hope you’ve enjoyed my photos! If you’re ever near Stratford and it’s a sunny day, take a trip up the tower. You won’t regret it! 

Big love xx

Posted in RSC, Stratford upon Avon, Theatre Review

Wendy and Peter Pan – RSC, Stratford upon Avon 

  

Happy new year everyone! 

Hope you’re all well and 2016 has started off in the best way for you. My new year started with a visit to the Royal Shakespeare Company theatre in Stratford upon Avon with my best friend to see Wendy and Peter Pan. There aren’t enough words to describe how amazing, clever, magical and funny this show is. Being the grand young age of 25 means that we got tickets for £5 too. Such a bargain! 

I should just state here that all photos used in this post are from the RSC website: https://www.rsc.org.uk/wendy-and-peter-pan/about-the-play

  


Plot:

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the title of this production is an inversion of the original, placing emphasis on Wendy as well as Peter. Ella Hickson, writer and adapter of Wendy and Peter Pan, was really clear that in the original it was Peter having all of the fun, whereas Wendy was just playing mother. She wanted to tell her version from Wendy’s perspective. 

There are many aspects that are true to the original: Peter, the Lost Boys, Neverland, flying, Tink, Hook. They have just been tweaked and changed for a modern audience. It must be noted that a modern audience is both adults and children. There is humour for youngsters and intricate plot details for the adults. From start to finish the laughter echoed from the walls from young and old alike. A particular favourite part of mine, when Wendy was teaching the Lost Boys how to shake hands and say “How do you do” Curly says: 

“How do I do you?”

Also, to differ from the original plot, Hickson invents a third sibling, Tom, who suffers from an sickness. This is where the older, more metaphorical interpretations of the novel are explored through drama. 

  


Casting and characters:
Firstly, I need to say how brilliant this production cast were. There were a range of ages within the production team as well as experience, but all were equally amazing. 

Wendy, played by Mariah Gale, was exceptional. She portrays her devotion, rejection, hurt and happiness all explicitly and effectively. She was a fabulous Wendy. Her brother, Tom, is always at the front of her mind. She’s desperate to find him, for him to be with the Lost Boys. Thus, she can make herself happy again. 

Peter Pan, played by Rhys Rusbatch, was sublime. He played the part of Pan really well, focussing clearly on how he never wants to grow up. The cheeky chappy is portrayed not only through dialogue but also his gestures. His flying, and his shadow should be praised equally too. 

Hook and Smee, played by Darrell D’Silva and Paul Kemp respectively, were the epitome of the villain character. The banter between the two was hilarious and true to the original text. The relationship was portrayed really accurately. They made me smile, but I could see the children in the audience really boo-ing them. Always the sign of a good villain. 

Martin, played by Adam Gillen, was the pirate who couldn’t ARRR. I recognised his voice, he has naturally humorous tone to his voice. (I finally remembered he was from ITV’s Benidorm!) The audience naturally feels for him because he’s quite clearly not a pirate and he’s clearly not a Lost Boy, so he doesn’t really fit with anyone. 

Finally, and perhaps my favourite of all the characters in this production, Tinkerbell, played by Charlotte Mills. A cockney, naughty pixie. Who’d have thought it?! Her one liners, her reactions, her movements were just incredible. I laughed so hard at her. She’s just amazing. 

“Oh, a little blab, did you? Lack of oxygen up there on your high horse?” 

  

Setting:

Staying true to the original, the production was set in the children’s nursery or Neverland. The nursery, with swords, beds, teddies and a mobile was really picturesque. (Image by me) Then when it came to Peter’s home, the stage came alive from the ground upwards, with Tink hanging on from a bed, a bath tub and fairy lights. Hook’s ship was also an incredible piece of craftsmanship. A whole ship on stage. Just wow! 

  

  
All in all, it was pure magic. Glitter, flying, ships and laughter. I want to see it again! It was just the best way to start this year off. 

So I left feeling like I always do, incredibly lucky to have the RSC on my doorstep at home. 

  

Big love x

Posted in Days Out, Historical Fiction, National Trust, Photography, Stratford upon Avon, UK, Victorian Lit

Charlecote Park – The National Trust

Morning everyone, wherever you are! 

As you may know, I am a lover of Victorian novels, and my love for all things Victorian meant that I was incredibly excited to visit Charlecote Park yesterday. It’s not too far from me, being near Wellsbourne, Stratford upon Avon. 

It’s a grand, elegant and beautiful Victorian house, belonging to the Lucy family for over 900 years. You may remember I mentioned Mary Elizabeth Lucy’s memoirs in a recent post. It was really special to experience her house, influenced by their many travels abroad, and their beautiful grounds with her book in the back of my mind. 

  
Within the house, we can only see the central part because the family still live here. The paintings were bold and proud, the wallpaper still in its original form in a number of the rooms dating back to the 1830s. 

  
For me, the library is impressive. It boasts of views across the River Avon, books all around, a comfortable fireplace for winter, and inviting seating. I could have happily moved in. Once more, it is easy to imagine the family reading together, and Mary writing her memoirs here for her grandchildren. 

    

As I’ve mentioned already, the grounds really were spectacular. Deer and sheep roam freely, and it is really quite beautiful and tranquil to see. It’s easy to see how inspiring this place is. 

   
 
One little anecdote that does make me smile from Charlecote, is it’s link to William Shakespeare. It is believed that a young Shakespeare was caught poaching deer from here and was sent to Magistrates court. In his ‘revenge’ it is also believed that in The Merry Wives of Windsor, where the Lucy coat of arms, as well as a poaching incident are referenced, that the character of Justice Shallow is based on Sir Thomas Lucy. Naughty Shakespeare! 

  

There’s also a brilliant bookshop here – I picked up a bag full. Before I spoil it for you, make sure you visit yourself. It really is breathtaking. 

To find out more visit:

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/charlecote-park/ 

BL x