Sunday, 24 January 2016

Theatre Review: The Showstoppers, Oxford Playhouse 23 January 2016

Image copyright The Showstoppers

On Friday 23 January 2016 I saw The Showstoppers at the Playhouse in Oxford with a good friend of mine.

The Showstopper musical works by having a group of improvisation experts on stage. The first character we meet is a "writer" who introduces the show and how it works, and gets involved throughout the show by stopping everything that is happening on stage and injecting new ideas and challenges for the actors. The whole show is based on audience ideas which are then voted on by the audience. In the first half this was done by the well-tested hands in the air method, and in the second half, ideas were gathered by Tweeting suggestions during the interval.

Image copyright The Showstoppers
I am a massive fan of musicals and although I have been to the theatre hundreds of times I have never seen anything like this before. I have also never grinned my way through an entire show before, at the sheer brilliance of the whole thing. Styles were taken from several different musicals and a couple of my all time favourites were chosen... during the songs done in the style of Blood Brothers and Les Mis, I was literally crying with laughter at some of the details the improvisers added... the performers and musicians were so talented and quick to develop the show as it went along. It was unbelievable to watch to be honest.

How they harmonise, how they bounce ideas off each other instantly and know when to take over singing, how the musicians can tell where the song is going to go, is a mystery. I can only imagine it takes a lot of skill and hours of practice to work like this so effectively, but this is a show I would recommend to anyone who loves musicals or improv, not that you will see the same show I saw, Stiff!!!, as the show is different every time, and the Showstopper Squad is huge so no doubt there would be different performers involved as well.

In case you're wondering, Stiff!!! was a musical comedy set in an undertakers! I wonder what they will do next time!

If you want to enjoy this incredible experience yourself, head over to the Showstoppers website and you can find out where they are appearing in the upcoming shows tab. I am 100% definitely going to try and get to another show by this amazingly talented team.

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Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Author Interview: Cary Grant

Cary Grant
It gives me great pleasure today to welcome author Cary Grant to my blog for an interview. His debut novel, Burnt: Christmas on Fire,  has just been released.

Hello and welcome to my blog, Cary.

Congratulations on the publication of your debut novel!

First of all, please use five words to describe your book for us.
Christmas, exciting, heart warming, sadness.

Why should we read your book?
Because it’s an exciting story throughout the whole book and will make you feel lucky for what you have and maybe it will make you  appreciate those around you now.

Also  I think people should read this and just to see what it was like growing up in London in the 70s & 80s  being  a mixed race child.

Do you draw on personal experiences when you are creating your characters and plot lines?
Yes definitely.

What was your favourite book when you were a child/teen? 
I used to read the famous five by ENID BLYTON when I was a child of 11. I loved escaping when reading them.

Me too!
What's the best advice anyone has ever given you?
Try your hardest that’s all you can do,  once you know you’ve tried your hardest it doesn’t matter what anyone else says. (My father.)

What movie and/or book are you looking forward to this year?
I’m looking forward to seeing the new James Bond film which I haven’t got round to yet, and reading a book called a girl with no past by Kathryn Craft.

In your wildest dreams, which author would you love to co-author a book with?
Stephen King.

What next?
I need to carry on working on my second book as Christmas on Fire is part one of two.

Could you give us a little summary of your next book?
The next book is part two of Christmas on fire.
I will take you through the next journey of Charmaine’s life.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions about your book here today.

Christmas in 1980s London is the most exciting time for 12 year old Charmaine. The mixed race daughter of an Irish mom and Black dad, Charmaine knows it was rough for her parents when they arrived in London.
Now, they live a charmed life in a flat over her uncle’s blues club. Charmaine knows her parents love her madly, even though they’re always busy making money at the club.

This year, however, Christmas will be better than ever! Charmaine has a very special gift for her parents – a real present paid for with her own money! But how can she ever imagine her greatest joy will turn into her worst tragedy?

You can buy your copy of Cary's book here:
Or your local Amazon site.  

You can connect with Cary online by clicking the following links:

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Book Review: People and Places by Cathy Penman

People and Places by Cathy Penman is a series of short pieces about twenty people the author has met and twenty places the author has visited.

The book is written in a conversational style so it comes across as autobiographical, and makes for an interesting read.

I really enjoyed the descriptions of people the author has met, they all became vivid characters after reading each description. It also inspires the desire to pay more attention to others as you go about your day. I think we all have those people we won’t ever forget, but it is interesting how much detail the author remembers about each of those she has written about. 

The second section about places reads more like a travelogue and if you like reading about different places this will appeal just as much. I enjoyed reading about the places I have also visited, and also some that I would find interesting to see myself.

I started reading People and Places one evening and have read it right through in three days. I found the author’s style of writing and the nature of the book made it a relaxing thing to read and become absorbed in; I had a sense of almost the kind of escapism you feel when watching a film. 

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys non-fiction, particularly autobiographical and travel writing. Also to anyone who enjoys dipping in to short pieces of writing as this book is a great one to pick up when you have a few minutes reading time.

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