Six Reasons to See Matilda The Musical before it Leaves Plymouth

Matilda the musical has been at Plymouth’s Theatre Royal for the last few weeks, and I am so sad I didn’t get to watch this as a child.

I got invited to attend on a press ticket in January, and I’m so grateful. I was previously part of the Theatre Royal’s Blogger Programme, and have been visiting the Theatre since I was earning enough to buy my own tickets.

This was the first musical I’ve taken Matt to see, and I’m glad. The humour, sharp wit, and Matilda’s sense of wrong and right make for such a unique show.

I really enjoyed the shows. The songs are catchy and stuck in your head, they gave a much loved classic a really original spin. Here are a few of the reasons I would recommend the show;

1) The set is incredibly detailed. The show is framed by Scrabble tile like letter boxes, which spell out key words from the story. As the play goes on, it’s like a word search as they appear before your eyes.

2) The choreography is something else. Be it the alphabet the older students compose on the gates of Crunchem Hall, of the swings in When I Grow Up.

3)The Trunchball is equal parts hilarious and terrifying. I didn’t go into this thinking i would enjoy a song about The Chokey

4) The Children are so incredibly talented.

5) The songs are catchy. Just mentioning the show in work the next morning resulted in two of my colleagues, unprompted breaking into Revolting Children. I am still humming When I Grow Up and Miracle.

6) The story about The Escapologist & The Acrobat had me crying. It’s beautifully told, and terribly bitter sweet.

The only change I would want, would be for the show to last longer. I would have loved to see a bit more of the story, but not enough for any part of the play to be removed.

The show is in Plymouth until February 16th (Saturday), and with a handful of £10 tickets at each show for 16-25 year olds.

(For anyone suffering withdrawal like symptoms, the Matilda film with Mara Wilson is currently on Netflix)

[The tickets were gifted by the Theatre Royal, but the words and opinions are all my own. Photos are courtesy of]

Seven tips for your first time at Edinburgh Festival Fringe

We left Fringe over a week ago and I am missing it. So. Much.

This year was my first experience of the festival, and it won’t be the last. I wanted to pull together a few tips for any other first timers;
Install the Fringe app. I used this;
  • To find the ticket office, there was only one show i attended by myself which was an impulse buy. Finding the nearest ticket to the show I was attending prior was really useful in planning my day.
  • The planner section of the ap. You can add shows to a schedule, with locations and times to structure your day.
  • The Nearby function, where you can see shows in an area you define. Useful if you find yourself with a free hour or two and want to impulsively attend something.
Leaflets. There are so many leafleters at the Fringe, this was really helpful on the second day when we wanted to pass out our day, as the week went on it got annoying. After a show we went for drinks in the courtyard at the Pleasence, in half an hour we were approached by at least eight people for future shows, even as out body language communicated we wanted to be left alone. We avoided the space for the rest of our trip because of the leafleters.
Anything tagged with “Free Fringe” means there is no admission fee. At the end of each show the performer/s will be waiting with a bucket for donations as you exit the venue. Performer’s tended to request a £5/£10 donation, which is expected.

If the show says you dont need a ticket, but you can reserve a seat, reserve a seat. We made this mistake, arriving at a show half an hour before its start time and were asked to sit to one side and wait until those with tickets were seated. We waited until late comers had been seated, and were permitted to enter the venue a couple minutes after the shows scheduled start time.

Experience Edinburgh. Yes the festival is incredible, and it feels like there is always something happening but explore the city. We climbed Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano the base of which is a short walk from the city centre. It’ll take you 30-40 to climb, and is a little bit of work but completely worth it for the panoramic views of the city.

I also stumbled across Calton Hill whilst watching some shows by myself. Walking here just before sunset I was awed by how beautiful the area was. I Messenger called my partner from the top of Nelson Monument to share the incredible views with him.

Over excited from the top of Arthur’s Seat

The National Monument of Scotland
View from the top of Nelson Monument. Worth the £5 to get to the viewing deck.

Opt for a backpack with a hidden pocket, or a cross body bag. Areas like the Royal Mile are rammed with people at all times are there are signs everywhere advising attendees to pay attention for pick pocketers. Security aside, you’ll be able to carry a water bottle easily. Supermarkets and corner shops weren’t the most obvious things, so water bottles we could ask venues to refill were helpful.

Schedule in some downtime. Fringe is incredible, but it can be full on with shows running from the morning until midnight. Ours was a few days in Glasgow where we justtook things slowly

The Festival was a real high point of this year. My schedule has been ridiculously full (I’m quickly moving towards Hen Do number four of five this year) , and just spending a week with two incredible friend’s watching comedy, live music, hanging out and just enjoying ourselves was exactly what I needed from a week off.

Are you off to Fringe? If so, what tips do you have?

Emily

A Theatre Review: The Here and This and Now

Going into a show with the lightest understanding of what it may entail, definitely leaves for an interesting experience. What I took away from my brief reading of The Here and This and Now on the Theatres website, was a comment on society, and our reliance on things to experience life (never rely too heavily on a Kindle related comment for context). The play itself was a layered look at the business world, and the effect it can have on the physical world, interspaced with character discussions of thier experiences with happiness; past, present and potential happiness.
The plays core revolves around McCabe, a pharmaceutical company who specialise in “Me To” lines of drugs. Products which were revolutionary months ago, and now have a slight spin to separate from the original. Products that rely upon Salesmanship and “likeableilty” to succeed in a saturated market. It tracks those connected to the company Pre, during and post- event. The story begins at break neck speed with four characters yelling “CAPTIVATE” and “DESTROY” whilst moving around the stage before moving directly into a two person conversation, I found myself focusing on Nial in an attempt to add any context or back story to what I was hearing.

 

The story has three key segments; The Away Day, Helens Presentation and McCabe’s Promotional Video. It’s a plot I don’t wish to decode too explicitly, as I feel it’s intended to impact you on a unique and personal level. There are elements of Orwell and King in the second part, and parallels to stories like Never Let Me Go in the final section, or in the least the ethical questions contained within Never Let Me Go.

There are parallels to what Black Mirror has attempted to do with its comments on society. Sometimes dark and poignant, very human and current. It’s difficult to pin down and define, calling instead for dissections and debate over drinks directly after. I worry that it is dreamlike, in that the more you try desperately to grasp at what you experienced in the last two hours, the more it escapes.

Tickets for the show come in at £15 (£11 for concessions), with it running until March 25th.

– Emily

The Theatre Royal Plymouth gifted these tickets as part of thier Blogger Scheme, as always the words and opinions are completely my own.

Gloria In The Mist – A Backstage Peak 

So last Thursday I was on the bus into Plymouth to attend the second event of the Plymouth Bloggers Scheme. I’d had one of those days at work where I barely stopped, and ended up leaving nearly half an hour later than I planned because of things I needed to finish off. In short, I was in a proper mood.
However, cue 18:34 and I was sitting with the other bloggers on the scheme waiting to see backstage of the evenings performance of Gloria in the Mist. Becca gathered us up, and took us through the windy backstage area, where we could hear incredibly talented people rehearsing for the evenings opera. Its the level of talent that leaves you slightly awestruck, and was the perfect little moment to start the evening. After a few more windy corridors we found ourselves on the stage of The Drum where the incredible Spitz & Co were setting up the stage for that night.
What we ended up with, in the time before the show, was an insight into what makes a two woman show. This show consists of Susie and Pauline (a lighting expert, a director and a designer), who met in a comedy workshop where the piece of advice shared with attendees was to go and make comedy as a duo. Susie and Pauline took this literally, and Gloriator (the first in a trilogy) was created. 
Alongside hearing some of the pairs history we were able to pick their brains for favourite comedy acts, how a theatre company wins funding for a project, and how the pair cope with jokes that land flat. We were taken to a dressing room, where Pauline showed us the bed and chicken filets present. The overexcited child in me was particularly impressed by the lighting around the mirrors, with it meeting my mental picture of a dressing room. Sadly, the dressing room journey also resulted in the temporary loss of Brett and Hazel as they discovered firsthand how labyrinth like backstage really is. 
One of my favourite aspects of the evening both before and after the show, were the props. The pair took us through which of the props were their favourite (a light up skyline and a toy helicopter were Susie’s personal favourite), talked through some prop issues they are faced with (anyone know where you can find a child’s triangle tent with three entry/exit points?), how everything has its place and needs to be accessed incredibly quickly. Props are a lot more complicated than they initially appear.
A little while after this, we left the pair be and sat around chatting waiting for the show to start. I have not laughed as much as I did last Thursday in a very long time. Live comedy is incredible, and I need to add it to my To-Do list over an over for 2017. The comedy is accessible, physical, situational and just bloody brilliant. With everything from interpretive dance, to snowball fights the show was unpredictable and incredibly original.
Running until Friday 23 December and priced at less than £15 a ticket the show is worth putting in your diaries. As I write this, I’m sitting here trying to work out how I can fit the show in again before the tour ends…
– Emily

The tickets were gifted as part of the Blogger Scheme at the Theatre Royal, but the somewhat gushing words above are entirely my own.

13 Thoughts I had during BIG The Musical

A little while ago, I was in the Theatre Royal excited to watch Big The Musical. The show is starting it’s tour in Plymouth before moving to Ireland on its world tour.

A few weeks prior to this I popped into the Theatre to have a chat with Becca, the Theatre were setting up a Blogger Scheme and my application had been shortlisted. This is the entire reason I was at the Theatre on a Tuesday night to attend a show with a bunch of people I had yet to meet. The eleven of us were at different stages blogging wise, but we all shared the same love of theatre. We were lucky enough to be shown around backstage by the Gary Wilmot, who, aside from being one of the loveliest people I’ve ever met, really made time to share what it’s like to set up for a show ahead of press night.

Big is a real childhood favourite, so being given this chance to watch the stage adaption was something I was seriously overexcited about.reviewing shows isn’t one of my fortes. I get far too over excited and love everything, so I thought I’d pull together a post of thoughts during the show. You get an insight into my 100 mile an hour brain:

  1. The show is worth seeing, if only for Jay in his pants.
  2. Managing to hold back the tears during I want to Go Home was an achievement, I wanted to give Josh a hug so badly 😦
  3. I was not expecting that keyboard scene to look how it did. A true thing of beauty.
  4. Going to a show with like minded strangers proved really, really fun.
  5. The screens for the staging (which were 4.5 tonnes btw) were breath taking. Seeing it before the show when it looked pretty ordinary only added to this.
  6. I LOVE that Josh’s flat was so similar to the film, I was so envious of it as a kid.
  7. Can I persuade Matt that the first dance at our imaginary wedding should be Stars?…
  8. Why havent I downloaded Fun already?
  9. Can I please have Diana’s jumper from Act 2, Scene 2?
  10. I need to dance like noone’s watching more often…
  11. Diana Vickers is incredible. Her voice is breath taking, her character accessible and her stage presence… just wow!
  12. Gary Wilmot is not only hilarious, but lovely. He gave us a backstage tour and my final images of him punting as the stage rotated around will always bring a smile to my face
  13. I cant think of a single person who could have channeled Tom Hank’s adoreable niavity and integrity better than Jay. His character was a nod to the source material, whilst remaining original and organic.

 

Ps – if you are looking for more serious and knowledgeable reflections on shows I can’t recommend the lovely Ellie enough.

The Theatre Royal were lovely enough to gift the tickets to myself and the others on the scheme, but the above thoughts are entirely my own.

Billy Elliot Theatre Royal Plymouth

February was a whirlwind month for me, I changed jobs which resulted in an exponentially increased commute time  and generally felt like the busiest person in the world. I’m not, that would probably be one of the heads of state, or possibly Ellie.

One thing I did manage to do was see Billy Elliot. Around a month ago a message popped up in my email The Theatre Royal Plymouth were running two dress rehersals and there was the opportunity for local bloggers and those connected to the theatre to watch the show before its launch.

I think i replied to her around five seconds after recieving her message. I bloody love the theatre, instead of a physical gift this year my parents got me vouchers for the theatre.

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I phoned my mum to invite her along with me to see the show and she squeaked, she was so excited she stopped being able to converse. Being able to treat my mum who is one of the hardest working and most optimistic people in my life was amazing, and I will remain grateful to the theatre for this.

Neither of us knew what to expect from the show, we hadn’t seen the film version and knew it was about a boy and his discovery of ballet. I actively avoid seeing different interpretations of plays/musicals that are new to me ahead of time, I want the theatre and this performance to be my first experience.

This is the first dress rehearsal I’ve attended and it really added to the experience. The evening began with the director walking onto stage to invite us to the very, very, very first dress rehearsal. He further shared that the show really was a work in progress as he was still working on the script.

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I was blown away by Billy Elliot after about 15 minutes. The entite cast are incredibly skilled, and everything from the choreography to thier accents are testament to the skill of all involved. I laughed and I cried, I held my mums hand and talked excitedly in the interval to fellow theatre goers.

I could not recommend the show more highly, I can’t remember being this pleasantly suprised by a show since Legally Blonde The Musical. It’s a simple and beautiful story, told with such emotional depth it rings very true. The young actors are so talented, and they carry this show so much.

I find it very interesting that there are three four different Billy’s amongst the players, this means that you could see the same show multiple times and still experience it differently. I’m keeping my eye out for posts from other bloggers who may have been lucky enough to see this twice, to see how they found the different show nights.

Have you seen Billy Elliot, or are you looking forward to another show?

I would like to thank the Theatre for the opportunity to see this show before opening night, and for enabling me to share this evening with my mum.

-Emily 

Cinderella at Plymouth’s Theatre Royal, a show stolen by Buttons and The Fairy God Mother

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When this goes live the Pantomime will be in Plymouth for another two days, as it finishes on the 16th. If you’ve yet to see it I can’t recommend the show highly enough, get yourself some last minute tickets if you can!

The pantomime is one of my families traditions, or started when I was very young and made my parents take me to a drama group. My earliest memory of them is “helping” my mum to make my costume for a scene where I was a poor child singing Food Glorious Food as part of a chorus, I also got to be a ballerina but I only remember the dress! When we moved house acting fell by the by, as the local drama group was incredibly over subscribed.

We did however keep going to pantomimes, solely as attendees and a Christmas Eve pantomime is a yearly thing. Previously the pantomimes we attended were by a group of committed amateurs but when they were no longer able to hold the show, we moved the the Theatre Royal. Over the last few years I haven’t been overly impressed by the Pantomime, it’s been enjoyable but pretty underwhelming, however this year was something else.

Since the marketing started popping up I’ve been printing out how though the show Is Cinderella, she is surprisingly absent from any of the posters. There’s a very obvious reason for this post show, it is Gok Wan and Paul Zeridin pantomime. They are the funniest duo I’ve seen on stage in the longest while. They have perfect comic timing and really seem to enjoy working together which makes watching them on stage so much better.

I think my favourite part of the show came near the end where the comic character, traditionally buttons, got everyone to sing a song. As a tradition after the first rendition, Paul had a few children on stage to introduce themselves before they sang by themselves, this is testament to how much of a family show it is he made a group of four children under the age of ten the most hilarious comic bunch. Be it squeaky foreheads or putting words into one of their mouths, he managed to make a token part of the pantomine very unique.

Gok on the other-hand, channelled his television persona from How To Look Good Naked fame, making Cinderella’s transformation about inner beauty as much as physical beauty. Any scene that Gok and Paul shared was enriched by them, as their comedy seemed more natural banter than scripted. I look forward to seeing more of Gok’s comedy in future.

If you feeling the January blues and you need a pick me up or you’re missing Christmas definitely take the chance to see the show what is there for the longest time.

Testament to the Pantomimes hilarity

-Emily

Apologies for the late post, I’ve had this drafted for \a while and only just got the chance to Upload it.