Sister Act!

Hi all,

Coming to you with yet another review. Last night, I went to go see ‘Sister Act’ at The Regent Theatre in Ipswich. I arrived around half an hour before the show was due to start, which is normally plenty of time. But sadly not on this occasion. When I arrived at the box office to collect my ticket, the box office staff originally thought I had already picked up my tickets according to their paper work. I explained that I had not done so, so they spent a little time trying to find them. Whist this was going on the the main entrance to the theatre was already starting to fill.

This was opening night, so it was kind of expected. However, once I got my ticket, the crowd got to the point where you could blearily move. This for me is never good, as I find a get very disorientated. I would have liked the theatre as they knew I was coming to maybe notice I was struggling and take me aside so I was out of the massive crowd of people. Whilst waiting for the doors to open, so that we could go to our seats, it was announced that the show was going to be delayed by twenty minutes due to technical problems. So I began to feel slightly more stressed than I already was somewhat feeling. In the end, overall the show didn’t start until thirty minutes after the original time.

The show ‘Sister Act’ starred Alexandra Burke famous for winning the UK singing contest ‘The X Factor’ in 2008. Deloris Van Cartier (played by Alexandra Burke) a disco diva’s life takes a turn for the worst as she witnesses a murder. She goes to the police, and for her own protection they send her into hiding at a Convent. The last place where anyone will think to look. The first act, I felt was slow, and I struggled to get into it. The second act was more up beat and therefore I enjoyed it more than the first. Alexandra’s singing was brilliant, and you could see why she won the singing contest. However, you could also see that acting for her is somewhat of a new thing. I think after a few performances she would get into her stride within the role.

Overall, it was a good night out. I think more organisation in terms of crowd control at the beginning of the show could have been a lot better. I think for an  opening night of a show, could have gone a little better. If you want a good night out and some fun, then go and see this show, but I don’t think it is a must see. I came away from the theatre slightly disappointed if I’m completely honest. But I guess, they can’t go all completely to plan can they.  

Until Next Time

The VI Critic

Trailer:

“Lift Your Razor High Sweeney!”

Hi all,

Back again with another review. This time I went to see ‘Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street’ at The Mercury Theatre.

The show starred Hugh Maynard as Sweeney Todd, famous for being cast in West End shows such as The Lion King and Miss Saigon and also starring Sophie-Louise Dann. Famous for castings in West End shows such as ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ and ‘Made in Dagenham’.

Set in 19th Century London, the story is of the main character Sweeney Todd on the journey for justice and revenge. He returns after a life time of imprisonment to the dark and deserted streets of London, where he meets a lovely, but somewhat slightly mad pie shop owner Mrs Lovett. Together they plot a plan to help Sweeney with his individual goals, as well as helping Mrs Lovett’s pie shop get off the ground and stop her pies from being “the worst pies in London!”

Photo: Sweeney Todd holding high a razor, with Mrs Lovett in the background.

All of the cast throughout the show were fantastic, however I have to mention this next point. The chemistry between Hugh and Sophie was amazing! Watching them both on stage together, you honestly got a sense of the two characters having a close relationship. The singing from Hugh, Sophie and all of the cast was first class! Acting was second to none, and the use of lighting and steam/smoke made the sets feel so realistic.

The set itself was brilliant and something which I personally have never seen before on any stage. The only way I can best describe it, is a massive 3D cube, with a quarter of the wall removed, a platform forming Sweeney’s barber shop with Mrs Lovett’s Pie Shop underneath. With each side of the cube representing a different part of London.

Even if your totally blind, you will still get a kick out of the show. The Mercury Theatre offer multiple Audio Described Performances on certain Matinee performances depending on how long the show runs for. The package includes a ‘Touch Tour’ before the show, and then audio description headsets during the performance. This is something which I have experienced a few times at The Mercury and I honestly can’t fault it!

Photo: Me and the two main leads Hugh Maynard and Sophie-Louise Dann.

This show is defiantly in the Top Five shows I have seen so far this year, and yes I know there is more to come! Why this show and exact company are not performing this in London’s West End I don’t know, cause I sure would pay the money! If you have time in the next couple of weeks to go see this show, trust me you will not be disappointed!  

Until Next Time,

The VI Critic

Trailers:

Footloose – The Musical

Hi,

This week, I got the chance to see Footloose – The Musical starring Gareth Gates, Maureen Nolan and making her professional debut Hannah Price. Footloose is the story of Renn, who years after his father left his mother and him to fend for themselves they decide to leave the American city of Chicago and move to a small town called Bomont. Where there after a tragic death of four young teenagers have made it illegal to dance.

So, Renn along with his friends decide to change the law, so they can have a end of school year dance. The staging, lighting, music and vocals were excellent! You feel like you had a real connection to the story.

The theatre this time, was a lot bigger in terms of space, so was not very difficult to get around. I noticed whilst walking around that they had a few extra spaces for wheelchair users which was a nice thing to see. When I arrived, I was greeted by the manager who organises the press tickets at the theatre, he was really polite and friendly, and it felt like he was happy to have me there which is something I always like to experience when I arrive.

The service at the theatre was of a professional standard and I was sure that if I asked for help from a member of staff they would have been more than happy to. On this particular visit, I didn’t have a need to, but it was nice to know that the option was there. The only downside I would have with this particular theatre, is that there was not a massive choice in terms of food and drink. You had the usual alcoholic drinks, soft drinks, chocolate/sweets and crips (chips if you live over the pond). I felt there was very little choice in terms of options. Maybe the theatre would consider having some type of hot food available?  

Overall, it was a very good and enjoyable evening. Would I go and see the show again yes, would I rush to go see it…I’m not sure. I’m not saying the show was at all terrible because it honestly wasn’t, I just feel that maybe certain parts of extra things that come with going to the theatre could have maybe been a little better.

Until Next Time,

The VI Critic

(Please note: Trailer is from 2011 and not the current cast!)

Made in Dagenham – The Musical

Hi,

Back again for another review of a local theatre show. This time, it’s going to be a little difficult to cram everything into one review but I’ll certainly give it a go.

This is the second time I’ve been back to this theatre, since last week, when I went to see ‘All or Nothing – The Mod Musical’. If you haven’t seen that review, then trust me it’s worth a read. Anyway, this show is something completely different. Set in 1968, ‘Made in Dagenham’ is about a factory worker and mother Rita O’Grady played by Daniella Bowen. Who along with other fellow women workers including Beryl played by Angela Bain, who is shall we say, not afraid to say what she thinks in a whole manner of ways, decide that enough is enough and want to be paid the same amount as the men, and to have sex equality enforced.

So the women decide to go on strike, and the fight begins to stand up for what they all believe in. Performances by Daniella, Angela and all of cast were exceptional! You felt like you had a real connection with the characters, and even hated some characters on the odd occasion. The singing and musical performances from cast and band were outstanding! I even had the odd tear in my eye whilst watching certain scenes, I felt like you had a real connection with the shows. All the songs were catchy and really enjoyable. I even looked up the shows music on my phone during the interval so I could by the soundtrack at a later date.

Photo (above): Group photo of me with some of the cast!

The use of lighting and sound was good, I really liked the fact that the cast played the songs of the shows themselves. Seeing women, being the main focus of a musical, is something you sadly very rarely see so it was a nice change. The story was very easy to follow, which helped with the right level of humour made it even more enjoyable.

I got the chance to meet some of the cast after the show, and they were all really kind and friendly. A few signed my programme, then one of them ran off with it and got the rest of the cast to sign it for me, which was really nice so if your reading this thank you!! :). Sadly I didn’t get a chance to meet the leading lady, as she had to go home as she wasn’t feeling too well after the show, so if you too are reading this, I hope your get better and recover soon!

To end, I would go so far to say, this is probably the best show I’ve got the privilege to review! This show is a must see for sure! At the end of the show, the cast got a standing ovation and it honestly couldn’t have been more deserving! Absolutely brilliant!

Until next time!

The VI Critic

Trailer to the show:

All or Nothing – The Mod Musical

Hi,

I will start by being completely honest with you. When I first watched the trailer before going to see the show tonight. I wasn’t one hundred percent sure if I would like it, but after seen the complete show for myself my views on the show have definitely changed.

The show ‘All or Nothing’ is set in the swinging sixties in the East End of London. The show is based on the rise and fall of a well-known and popular band of the time ‘The Small Faces’. ‘The Small Faces’ consisted of four young men: Steve Marriott, Ronnie Lane, Kenney Jones and Jimmy Winston later replaced in 1965 by Ian McLagan.

Steve was not exactly a “goodie too shoes” at school and played up. With a passion to pursue a musical career, he got a job working in a music shop where later he met Ronnie, Kenny and Jimmy. They formed a band called ‘The Small Faces’ and started playing local gigs. As they grew in popularity, they started playing on TV shows like ‘Top of the Pops’ and touring around the world. But sooner or later the fame got to them and the band fell apart in 1969.

Having personally never heard of ‘The Small Faces’ before, watching the show felt like you went back in time and witnessed the musical culture of the sixties. All the music was played live, which was a nice touch. Both acting and vocals were excellent by all the members of the cast. The story was easy to follow, and the music I quickly got into, so at which point become very enjoyable and I couldn’t wait for them to start singing again.

Photo (above): Me and Tim Edwards, main leading man after the show!

It was narrated by Chris Simmons (famous for acting in TV shows, such as The Bill and Eastenders.) The way he performed his lines was outstanding whether he was on stage or in one of the chairs in the audience. He made the story very easy to follow, with the odd bit of humour thrown in here and there to make it more fun. But the acting overall from the whole cast was again brilliant! The use of lighting and staging were truly on par.

Photo (above): Me and Chris Simmons after the show!

The staff at the theatre were great! They even gave me a free t-shirt! Which I honestly wasn’t expecting. As well as free drinks at the interval. The hospitality at the theatre was really good. I couldn’t fault it in anyway. I could tell just by them talking to me that they had some previous experience helping people with a visual impairment, but at the same time you could always tell that they were not completely sure on what to do in certain situations, like helping me find my seat for example. This is something which maybe they could work on a little more. But I’m just nick picking here, so just something I thought I’d mention.

Photo (above): The ‘All or Nothing’ t-shirt they gave me!

I would highly recommend this show, you don’t have to know anything about “The Small Faces’. I didn’t and I was still able to follow the story with no problem. The music was catchy and vibrant, and you could easily sing along to them (unless your like me and didn’t know the words!) So if you have some free time, go and see this show. It is honestly great fun and a really enjoyable night out.

There was only one down side though…we did manage to get the car locked in the car park! Luckily some came out to let us in. Ah the extra experiences of going to the theatre!

Below is the trailer for the show!

Until next time!

The VI Critic

Wind In The Willows

Hi,

The story of Wind in the Willows, is a story that I’ve heard about but never actually read. So when going to see this show at The Mercury Theatre, I went into the show with a complete open mind.

I got lucky enough to go to a touch tour before the show in the afternoon. For those who don’t know, a touch tour is part of the access element which most shows and theatres offer even if it’s a local theatre or London’s West End. A touch tour is where disabled audience members get to experience a full feel of the show, getting to see/feel the sets on stage and costumes that the actors and actresses wear. In today’s case, The Mercury Theatre did this very well, each actor/actress came up to each person individually and allow them to touch their costume and whilst I was doing so, the actor/actress described the item in question e.g. the item’s colour, texture and where and how it was used in the show.

They did the same with the musical instruments and some were very different and some which I had never seen before e,g, various pots and pans you would use when cooking. After they showed us the instruments, they then played a sample of a song in the show showing how the instruments are used. After that we had a questions and answers section, but no one actually asked any questions so it just ended early.

After the touch tour had ended, I then went to the ticket office to collect the tickets for the show later that afternoon. I was also lucky enough that the also gave me a discount on food and drink. Now I am not sure if that was because they knew I was press or it was part of the disabled access, but either way it was a nice touch so I will never turn that down so other theatres reading this take note! :).

The show was overall very good. The acting was of a good standard, the use of setting and lighting added to the atmosphere of the whole show. I really liked the fact that the cast played most of the songs in the show themselves, which I rather enjoyed. Every song made me smile whenever they start singing so thats always a good sign. Their was a lot of audience participation for example during the chase scene, the cast would run through the audience so to heighten the atmosphere and as a audience member I really wanted the good character to get away. Throughout the show, all the cast would use the auditorium doors as a way of entering and exiting a scene, so it made you feel like you were part of the story.

Photo (above): Photo of the stage and some of the audience before the show started.

I felt that the first half of the story during the first half of the show was a little hard to follow and understand, but the second half of the show, I had a much better understanding of what was going on story wise. The cast increased the audience participation, so in terms of that alone by the end of each scene I felt like I was part of the show, and up there on the stage with them. However, the nicest touch I felt was at the end of the show, where the cast allowed members of the audience to come up and dance with them! As soon as they announced this, most all of the kids in the audience (and I must say some of the parents) ran down the stairs and went on the stage and loved being with the cast! This is something which I believe should be encourage within shows everywhere, not just local theatre.

I would highly recommend going to see this show! If you have young kids I strongly recommend you see this show with them, they will love it! The show is very family focused, both children and parents will find moments of the show hilarious! So if you are finding it difficult to find things to do this Summer, go see this show! If you are interested in seeing the show for yourself, I will leave the website to the theatre below!

http://www.mercurytheatre.co.uk/event/wind-in-the-willows/

Trailer:

Photo (above): Theatre graphic of Wind In The Willows

Until next time!

The VI Critic  

Life Review – National Rail Train Assistance

Hi,

Thought I would do a review on a service this time. Sadly this one is not going to be a positive one.

As many blind and visually impaired who travel on trains will know, there is a service avalible that offers assistance to disabled passangers get from A to B. I have used this service for a little under a year and normally I can’t fault them in anyway. But sadly today has been different.

Today I travelled from one side of the country to the other. So I went to booked my usual route when ever I come this way (currently writing this as I am one of my trains) but from some reason, my normal route was not available. So I had to go via London Paddington.

Getting to London Paddington was no problem what so ever. But once I got to London Paddington is where it got interesting. The Underground were brilliant as always, so they said they would get hold of overground assistance to come collect me and take me to my next train. At the this point it was round 11.30am. I sat there they had told me to sit and the overground assistance would collect me from. I sat there until about 12.00 (my next train was at 12.15) so I said to myself if I don’t leave and get some help I’m gonna miss my next train. So I got up and went back to the underground assistance, who were again very helpful!

The underground were more than happy to help and take me to the overground assistance. Once I arrived at overground assistance I stood there carmly and explained the situation, how my train was at 12.15 and that I had be waiting almost half and hour. The woman behind the desk then began to basically tell me that the reason no one was there was because when they got there no one was there. I explained again that I been sitting were I was told to, but after waiting so long, I began to worry I would miss my train.

This woman continued to basically blame me and her whole attitude came across as jobs worthy and I’m higher than you sort of attitude and personally as the customer thats something I will not tolerate at all!

On top of all this, my 12.15 train was actually cancalled so I had to get the next train didn’t help my mood either. At the end of the day, would I recommand Paddington Travel Assistance to other Blind/Visually people? Absolutely not! I would strongly recommand, if you can go via London Euston. They are ten times better then what I experinced today and their customer service is great! Don’t go through what I went through!

___________________

Please don’t forget to follow all my social media! Links can be found on the page ‘social media’ link at the top of the page.

The VI Critic

A Girl Like Her

Warning: This post will contain discussions about suicide, depression and bullying. If you or someone you know is going through something similar to what I’m about to write about then please talk to someone about it. Your never alone! I will leave websites and telephone numbers at the end of this post if you need to get in contact with someone. I completely understand if some of you choose to not read this post.

Hi,

As I write this, I have just finished watching a film called ‘A Girl Like Her’. The story is about a sixteen year old high school student called Jessica Burns. For six months, Jessica is bullied by the popular girl at school. It starts off as very small things like bumping into her in the hallway, calling her names etc. It then progresses into mean texts, postings on social media, and harassing her during the school day.

As mentioned before, the girl in question bullies Jessica for six months and drives Jessica to the point where she feels she has no way out. Jessica therefore decides to do the only thing she feels she has left and attempts to commit suicide and take here own life by the form of an overdose. She is rushed into hospital and gets treated.

This film was shot in a documentary-like way which makes the film really enjoyable despite the deep subject matter. I felt like the film was an excellent accurate portrayal of what the victims, friends and families go through. Although, there are times where you could see that this was a drama not an actual documentary. But for the first half an hour I actually thought it was a real documentary and I actually Googled it!

For me the subject of depression and suicide is something I struggle to talk about. I have seen the effect depression in particular has on people and to see this still carrying on in schools if I’m honest angers me. Now this film is fictional, but it honestly shows the impact that bulling taken this far can have massive consequences. People seem to think that posting on someones wall to go kill themselves is a good and fun thing to do. But it isn’t. They have no idea the impact that can have on the person in question and what it can leed them to do.

According to The Independent forty five per cent of young people aged thirteen to eighteen year olds have experienced bullying in their lives, and as a result ten percent of teenagers have attempted to commit suicide because they have been bullied. It is my personal opinion, that more needs to be done in schools to both one, stop the bullying before it gets to the point where the victim feels they have no other option and two the signs of someone who needs help and support. Nine times out of ten, if you ask the young person if they are okay. Then your probably going to get the response of “I’m fine” or “I just have things on my mind.” If your gut tells you something deeper is going on then follow it up and take it to someone higher.

I know this post has been more about a statement and less of a review, but I felt after watching this film that I needed to write something about it and try and get people in authority to do something more about it. Please ‘share’ this post around and comment on what you think should be done to help. Then maybe just maybe we might get the word out.

On the subject of social media, I have my own Facebook and Twitter page so please go ahead and like and follow them both. As new posts will be posted there first before anywhere else. Links will be posted below.

Information on people you can talk to:

For Over 18′s: The Samaritans: Website: http://www.samaritans.org/  Telephone: 116 123

For Under 18′s: Childline: Website: https://www.childline.org.uk/Pages/Home.aspx                                     Telephone: 08000 1111

Facebook & Twitter Pages

The VI Critic

Wicked The Musical – The Untold Story of The Witches Of Oz!

Hi,

Warning before I start, this will be quite a long post, so grab a drink or something first! 🙂

This post is the one I’ve wanted to write about since I started this blog. But never thought I would be writing it so soon! Like I have said before I am a massive fan of musical theatre, and Wicked The Musical is my most favourite musical of all time! After seeing the performance today, I have seen the show I total of six times. The seventh coming in a couple of weeks!

After a what seemed to be a forever bus ride. I arrived to my local train station on time and got the train to London. Once arrived in London I took the Underground to London Victoria. Normally I would get assistance to use the Underground, but I knew the route so I done it on my own. Wicked is performed at the London Apollo Victoria, just a few yards (across the road) from Victoria station, so it’s really easy to get to. The tickets I had I bought were Row B (second row) in the Stalls. For anyone who doesn’t know, the Stalls are the first block of seats nearest to the stage. But the original seats were slightly off to the right and therefore were block by part of the stage set.

I knew this would be somewhat of a problem for me, so I tried to phone the theatre directly first thing this morning with no success. I message them on social media, but again with no success so my hopes were not too high. So when I arrived at the theatre, I went straight to the box office and explained my situation. I said that I did not booked the tickets myself and that I was visually impaired so I would struggle to see the show and that I need to be more central to stage to have the best view. The lady who was service me took the tickets I had bought with me and went to the back. A few seconds later, she came back and said that wouldn’t be a problem and let me choose where I wanted to sit.

Photo: View of the stage before the show from my seat.

I must point out, that on the day I got lucky and there were seats availble that best fit me. But any reading please bare in mind, that when you go and ask for your seat to be changed if needed. The theatre might not be able to do so. It honest just depends on the day and time of the performance. Anyway, the gave me seat C25 which was three rows back from the stage and dead centre. I honestly couldn’t ask for any better!

A bit of backstory about the show, everyone knows the story of The Wizard of Oz? Well, the show is all about The Wicked Witch of the West and what happened before the Wizard of Oz story. The show opened London’s West End in 2006, and has been going every since. It will celebrate its ten years anniversary this year. The show has had a new cast every year, but the cast you were on stage this afternoon and the current cast are as follows: Emma Hatton as Elphaba, Savannah Stevenson as Glinda and Oliver Savile as Fiyero.

I would go so far to say, that this is honestly the best cast I have ever seen by far! The vocal performances off all three actors/actresses, were outstanding! I also got luckily enough to meet Emma at the stage door after the show (photo below) I actually didn’t recognise her at first without all the green! But honestly I really talented and lovely lady!

I would highly recommend Wicked to anyone!! If you ever get a chance to go seriously go! The website and trailer of the show will be below. I can honestly say now, this will NOT be the last time I see this show! I will go and see this show a thousand times more I am sure!

If have got this far, when well done! I am sorry this was such a long post, but I don’t think I would be going this show justice if I didn’t Thank for reading this, and I hope you come back for more next time!

Website of the show: http://www.wickedthemusical.co.uk/wicked-london.php

Full trailer below:

The VI Critic

Friend Request

Hi!

I didn’t think I would be blogging and reviewing a film on a blog about theatre and musicals, but I felt like I didn’t want to leave everyone waiting until the next time I go and see a show. So I thought I would go ahead and review a film I recently saw instead.

I recently went and saw a film which I believe came out in cinemas last week and the film is called ‘Friend Request’. ‘Friend Request’ is about a young student who goes to college in the USA. I would describe her as one of these “popular” girls who ways has to stand out and go to all the college parties and social events. The film is centred around the social media site Facebook (I’m sure you all know what Facebook is, I mean who hasn’t got an account these days). Anyway, the main character called Laura has over eight hundred ‘friends’ on Facebook, meets this more shy, eerie character called Marina. Marina has a condition called Trichotillomania. If interested I will leave a link about the condition below at the end of this post.

This film is very dark and is every much revolved around black magic, and Marina casts a spell on Laura. For all you ‘Harry Potter’ fans out there please don’t think this is similar, because sadly it isn’t. This has a lot of jump scares and can be quite graphic.

I have been to this cinema more times than I can count, and they are always really helpful and friendly. They always try to accommodate me in anyway they can. They let me pick the exact seat I want, if the film is Audio Described then they will also offer it to me. Even in some cases bring my food and drink in a little later once I’ve sat down, so hey waiter service!! The chain of cinemas are called ‘Cineworld’ and I’ve never ever had a problem. They will always try and get me on the front row so I don’t need to climb any stairs in the dark which for me is always a nice touch! 🙂

Again, this isn’t something which I would normally talk about but I thought I would write about my experience going to the cinema and I would urge anyone who is blind or visually impaired to try this company if you haven’t already!

Information on Trichotillomania: http://bit.ly/1rUizDg or http://bit.ly/21eg4fK

Trailer to the film below:

The VI Critic