Wednesday, July 27, 2011

" Illustrious Birthday Celebrations"

Two Anniversaries of the births of very different ( very!) English writers: Next Feb is 200 years since Charles Dickens arrived...and last month saw the centenary of Sir Terence Rattigan's birth. have born( hmm! ) this in mind: in May, Jane Barth directed a fine version of Rattigan's " Separate Tables".
AND in this masterly production, CTC showed us the quality of Rattigan's humour/ his superb understanding of character. And altho set in '53, much was relevant today.....

We saw characters stranded 3 X daily on their own separate the genteel diningroom of the shabby Beauregard Hotel. And these characters revealed intriguing stories through their daily chatter...which formed the basis of the play.
Everyone shone, including Hilary Egan as pompous Mrs Railton-Bell....Mary Premble as a wonderfully dizzy Lady Matheson.... and Liz Stafford, as Miss Meacham, stayed tantalisingly deep in her book on racing form!
Lots of other successes: Fiona Wheatcroft, Ian Dunne, John Mackay ( garrulus hilarious Pollock) Jane Ellis (beautiful Mrs Shankland). And talented others packed this talented cast.
A Birthday tribute without doubt!

Countless celebrations are surely hatching, but IF comparable with Manchester Library Theatre's*** " Hard Times" last month, there'll be DELIGHT through the land!!

This promenade production ( audience follows cast scene to scene) took place at Murrays Mill, Ancoats, M/Ch, and was Library Theatre's 1st site -specific work. The company hope to use other unusual/intruguing places for more works ......This philosophy is also part of Chester Festival's theme: ie. performing in special places, eg. Chester's Rows, its Walls etc)

At Murrays we felt unbelievably ( uncannily, almost) involved with story, characters, setting, throughout. As we walked around the mill, we peered into hovels at nineteenth century tragedies, gaped at the greedy Bank, watched errant pupils in the schoolroom. And we traipsed down streets with a stridently brilliant Bounderby.... and we watched pretty Louisa stepping into a magical wedding dress....THEN we finally ended up ( cast and audience together) at Mr Sleary's Horse Riding be entertained by circus folk.... and also to hear the closing of the storty

And every so often, I found myself next to a smiling young man with familiar face...John Stape ( Graeme Hawley from " Coronation Street", much more handsome in realty than as Fizz's evil husband. )
" You're in the wrong street!" I whispered ...but on the coach home, I wondered just HOW often folk in M'ch streets have uttered those words to Graeme as he passed...
I look forward to seeing him in other parts if not returning to the cobbles.
****Once again, 2 superlative theatrical evenings in the NW of England..

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

" Liking It Lots: In Perfect Summer Setting"


Last week, we picnicked at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, Chester, while watching a colourful performance of Shakespeare's " As You Like It".

The evening was fine and when twilight gave way to dark, fairy lights twinkled... in the tall green hedges while music played... and songs were sung...and the atmosphere ( as we sipped our wine and then our coffee) was as enthralling as the story.

This play, dating from 1600, was packed with highly talented actors...recognisable from worlds of stage/screen. It was classic comedy, presented in more or less traditional style....yet interlaced with spicy surprises......keenly executed by an attractive cast..

Set in the leafy Forest of Arden...( brilliant trees....See snap!), the cast paint us sizzling pictures of love, power, betrayal, with glimpses of much more... lingering betwixt the ongoing humour and the strong and vivid characters....

The theatre produces 2 plays this July/August, both in the park. The 2nd is " Merlin and the Woods of Time", is a new play by Glyn Maxwell. Hope to make this.

Details: OR contact

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Monday, July 25, 2011

" Remembering Amy Winehouse, As So Many Will Today"

Peeping through Autumn trees is a little Slovenian village. The picture was taken by our friend GAC when we visited one October. And I've blogged it because yesterday, I read that the superb Amy Winehouse once dedicated her cover of "Autumn Leaves", to her grandmother. And yesterday I listened to it and loved it.

I first heard about Amy several years ago, courtesy of my son who lived in London and knew lots about the music scene. And as everyone is saying, her fabulous voice was up with the greats: Billie Holliday, Sarah Vaughan et al. She really did sing soul from her soul.

A weird coincidence that in my last posting I mentioned how the Ukes had featured " Autumn Leaves" at Gawsworth Hall and how it's long been one of my favourites, particularly Edith Piaf's and more lately, a wonderful version by Eric Clapton. I'm very glad that yesterday I discovered Amy's version.
What amazing music she made and how incredibly sad we've lost her.


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Thursday, July 21, 2011

" Ukes Play On In The Rain!"

Had a superb BUT exceedingly wet time on Sunday evening!

The fabulous Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain appeared in driving rain ( but as you see, under cover!) at Gawsworth Hall, Cheshire ( NB. its wonderful black/white timbers) and the Ukes gave the audience over 2 hours of sheer delight.

They'd already gigged at Gawsorth 2 yrs ago BUT it was pretty clear that lots of the audience came for a repeat performance...and yes, we'll be around for their next!

The Ukes were formed in 1985 and it's true to say they're an all-singing plus all-strunmming orchestra ( 7 in all, featuring a variety of ukes) They've travelled worldwide ( USA, Japan, NZ, Europe) playing all genres : rock, jazz, "oldies" (to bring tears to your eyes...."Autimn Leaves" did this for me! ) plus film scores, classics , eg. Tchaikovsky...
And all the time, the Ukes sit in elegant chamber group format....talking with us, cracking jokes and having lots of fun.

A Superb Evening! ( It HAS to be said twice!!)