Saturday, 23 March 2019

Musical Review - Follies

About the show: 

Follies is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and a book by James Goldman. The story concerns a reunion in a crumbling Broadway theatre, scheduled for demolition, of the past performers of the "Weismann's Follies", a musical revue (based on the Ziegfeld Follies), that played in that theatre between the World Wars. It focuses on two couples, Buddy and Sally Durant Plummer and Benjamin and Phyllis Rogers Stone, who are attending the reunion. Sally and Phyllis were showgirls in the Follies. Both couples are deeply unhappy with their marriages. Buddy, a traveling salesman, is having an affair with a girl on the road; Sally is still as much in love with Ben as she was years ago; and Ben is so self-absorbed that Phyllis feels emotionally abandoned. Several of the former showgirls perform their old numbers, sometimes accompanied by the ghosts of their former selves. The musical numbers in the show have been interpreted as pastiches of the styles of the leading Broadway composers of the 1920s ands '30s, and sometimes as parodies of specific songs.
The Broadway production opened on April 4, 1971, directed by Harold Prince and Michael Bennett, and with choreography by Bennett. The musical was nominated for eleven Tony Awards and won seven. The original production, the most costly performed on Broadway to that date, ran for over 500 performances but ultimately lost its entire investment. The musical has had a number of major revivals, and several of its songs have become standards, including "Broadway Baby", "I'm Still Here", "Too Many Mornings", "Could I Leave You?", and "Losing My Mind".

More information about the show:

My opinion: 

Another Sondheim musical with wonderful songs. Sadly this production didn’t really
impress me. 

It hard to explain why, but here we go. 

We watched it at the National Theatre and I really liked the stage and the stage design. However, it didn’t really work in the performance. The orchestra played behind the stage and somehow the sound got blocked and didn’t really come through. It didn’t really match with the singing (sound wise, not timing wise). 

Most actors and actresses were always on stage, I didn’t really know where to look. I also felt like some characters weren’t very well cast. 

Some others were perfect for their roles and did a wonderful job. I also liked how they did some of the songs.

The spark just didn’t fly for this show. Maybe I expected too much, but something was definitely missing for me.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

The House at Greenacres - by Darcie Boleyn

The blurb: 

All roads lead home...

When Holly Morton fled Penhallow Sands nearly a year ago she was determined to put the past - and Rich Turner - behind her. But now an unexpected loss and financial trouble has led her back to the family vineyard and it's time to tell Rich the truth - he's a father.

Surrounded by the memories of what they once shared Holly's anger fades in the glow of Rich's undeniable love for their son and the way he selflessly steps in to help the vineyard out of trouble. As Holly watches Rich flourish in his new role as father to baby Luke, she realises that though they can't change the past, the future is still theirs to write...

My Opinion:

*Book provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

After the death of her grandfather, Holly Morton goes back home. It’s not an easy step, because a lot of memories connect her to the place; family moments, but also Rich, the man, who broke her heart. 

Something has changed though, she is a mum now and decides to tell Rich that he is a father. 

This story is a wonderful tale about love, family, relationships, and parenting, all included in a wonderful setting and atmosphere. 

The storyline is full of ups and downs, magical moments and charm. It’s a bit predictable, but Darcie Boleyn’s writing totally makes up for it. I couldn’t stop reading!!!


Darcie Boleyn on Twitter: @DarcieBoleyn

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Musical Review - Waitress

About the show:
Waitress is a musical with music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles and a book by Jessie Nelson. The musical is based on the 2007 film of the same name, written by Adrienne Shelly. It tells the story of Jenna Hunterson, a waitress in an abusive relationship with her husband Earl. When Jenna unexpectedly becomes pregnant, she begins an affair with her gynecologist, Dr. Jim Pomatter. Looking for ways out, she sees a pie contest and its grand prize as her chance.
Stage rights to the film were purchased in 2007, while the musical's creative team was assembled by 2013. The original production of Waitress premiered at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge in August 2015, with direction by Diane Paulus and choreography by Chase Brock, and starring Jessie Mueller, Drew Gehling, and Joe Tippett as Jenna, Jim, and Earl, respectively. It made its Broadway debut at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre in April 2016. A U.S. national tour began on October 20, 2017. In 2019, Waitress will be opening at the Adelphi Theatre in London's West End.

My own opinion: 

When we heard that Waitress is coming to the West End with Katherine McPhee, we booked tickets immediately. 

Katherine McPhee is one of my faves. I discovered her in the TV show Smash, where she played on of the main roles. 

In Waitress she playes the main characters Jenna and she was absolutely brilliant in the show!!! Her voice is just amazing and her acting was on point as well. 

The show has so much more to offer though. All the other characzers were very well cast as well, especially Dr. Promatter (David Hunter) and Jenna’s two best friends Dawn and Becky. The acting is great, the choreography is on point and they just created this fab atmosphere. You feel part of it in the audience.

The band is playing on stage and kind of part of the cast. It worked really well. 

The music of this show is fantastic, I loved all the songs and can’t stop listening to the songs.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

My Summer of Love and Limoncello - by Sue Roberts

The blurb: 

Three best friends, Italian sunshine and a handsome stranger can fix just about anything… Can’t it? 

Maisie Knight had it all. A gorgeous husband. A successful business. A beautiful home. Until one day, after walking into the storeroom of their shop, she loses it all at once – catching her husband cheating on her with the girl from Checkout 3. So when she wins a holiday to Italy, a week under the Tuscan sun couldn’t come sooner. 

Treating best friends Cheryl and Emma to a girl’s trip, the terracotta-roofed Villa Marisa on a rustic farm awaits them. The fields of golden sunflowers could be the perfect cure for Maisie’s broken heart – and local farmer, suspiciously perfect Gianni, with his thick black hair and twinkling brown eyes is a welcome distraction from her broken heart. 

Mornings waking up to freshly brewed coffee and views of the rolling hills, moped rides with cheeky Italians, and feasts of prosecco and pasta help Maisie forget her troubles. After all her heartache, she’s surprised when she starts opening up to Gianni – she’s even more surprised when the temperature rises and it’s not just the rays of the Italian sunshine… 

Maisie could get used to the good life. But just as she’s getting her spark back, disaster strikes. The next thing she knows, her past is catching up with her, reopening old wounds and Maisie has a life-changing decision to make. Should she say ciao to her summer of love and limoncello? 

My Opinion:

*Book provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Maisie had it all: a great job, a loving husband, a house etc. But then she walks in on her husband cheating. Her life changes from one second to the other. Luckily she wins a holiday to Tuscany and takes her two best friends there as well. 

The surroundings are great for her and she gets distracted. Also by a local farmer called Gianni. Can her broken heart be fixed?!

Even though Maisie went through a lot in this book and her story was full of ups and downs, it kind of seemed too good to be true at times. The book is very predictable, but still very enjoyable.

My favourite thing about this book was definitely the setting. I love Tuscany. I have been there so many times and I knew lots of the places. It was like going home. The atmosphere really came through and I really want to go back there now. 

A romantic, warm and funny story, with the perfect setting and a fantastic holiday read.


About the author

Sue was born in Liverpool and moved to Lancashire as a teenager where she has lived ever since. She has written three books, the third 'My Summer of love and limoncello.' will be published on March 6th and she is busy working on a fourth book. When not busy writing, Sue spends her time with her ever growing family. She enjoys walking, cinema and travelling. Her first book 'My Big Greek Summer.' was inspired by frequent visits to the Island of Rhodes in Greece. All Sue's books are available from Amazon in kindle and paperback format.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Musical Review - Company

About the show: 
Company is a 1970 musical comedy with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by George Furth. The original production was nominated for a record-setting fourteen Tony Awards and won six.
Originally titled Threes, its plot revolves around Robert (a single man unable to commit fully to a steady relationship, let alone marriage), the five married couples who are his best friends, and his three girlfriends. Unlike most book musicals, which follow a clearly delineated plot, Company is a concept musical composed of short vignettes, presented in no particular chronological order, linked by a celebration for Robert's 35th birthday.
Company was among the first musicals to deal with adult themes and relationships. As Sondheim puts it, "Broadway theater has been for many years supported by upper-middle-class people with upper-middle-class problems. These people really want to escape that world when they go to the theatre, and then here we are with Company talking about how we're going to bring it right back in their faces.

My own opinion: 

I saw Company once before, 20 years ago (I was about nine years old), when my theatre group performed it. My mum was in it and since I was still quite young, I only allowed to watch the dress rehearsal. It’s not really a show you would take your children to, because of what it is about. 

Anyway, here we are in 2019 and I finally got to see a West End production of this fab show. Stephen Sondheim is one of my fave musical composers and I just love the songs from Company. I also think the story is fun and entertaining. The lyrics are absolutely brilliant!

The special thing about this production was the transgender aspect of it. The main role Bobbie is originally played by a man, but they did it with a woman this time. They also turned some other things around. It worked really well and made it special and unique. 

The production and the staging were brilliant!!! It’s a very lively show, there are so many things going on, but they did an awesome job with all the scenes, as well as the choreography for the songs. The show is so much fun to watch, I would go again immediately!

Thursday, 28 February 2019

New Starts and Cherry Tarts at the Cosy Kettle - by Liz Eeles

The blurb: 

After yet another failed romance, twenty-six-year-old Callie Fulbright is giving up on love. She’s
determined to throw all her efforts into her very own, brand-new café: The Cosy Kettle. Serving hot tea, cherry tarts and a welcoming smile to the friendly locals proves to be the perfect distraction, and Callie feels a flush of pride at the fledging business she’s built. 

But her new-found confidence is soon put to the test when her gorgeous ex reappears in the quaint little village. She’ll never forget the heartache Noah caused her years ago, but when they bump into each other on the cobbled streets of Honeyford she can’t help but feel a flutter in her chest… 

As Callie and Noah share laughter and memories, she starts to wonder if this could be her second chance at happiness. But when Callie discovers that someone is mysteriously trying to ruin the café’s reputation… she has an awful suspicion that Noah knows who’s involved. 

Was she wrong to ever trust him again? And can she find out who’s behind the lies and rumours, before it’s too late for the Cosy Kettle? 

My Opinion:

*Book provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

In this story we follow Callie. She works in the local bookshop, she wants to please her new boss Flora, when she suggests changing an old stock room into a cafe. Flora puts Callie in charge of turning the old stock room into a café and running The Cosy Kettle as well. 

The café is Callie’s pride and I loved seeing her in this lovely environment. She has some wonderful costumers and they all become friends and are there for each other. That was a fab thing to see and read about. 

Her personal life is full of drama and ups and downs though. First of all, we have her grandfather, who plays a very important role in this story and adds another touch to it. And then we have Noah. He kind of broke her heart years ago and moved away. Well, he is back now and the butterflies are still there. 

The drama increases when the café’s reputation is in danger. Does Noah know something about that?! And what happens when he goes back to New York?!

This book is full of so many great factors. The main character is very relatable and real, there is a love/romance aspect, but also enough drama to create an entertaining storyline and the other characters also play a significant part in the story. 

It’s a warm, cosy and sweet story! 


Liz Eeles on Twitter: @lizeelesauthor