Saturday, 20 March 2010

Review: The Belgrade Theatre

So last night was my birthday treat from Hubby to go and see 'Joseph and the amazing technicolor dreamcoat' at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. I felt a little sorry for the lad playing Joseph, as he was one of the rejects from the BBC's 'Any Dream Will Do' and it must be a little galling to know that the winner is dazzling London audiences and married to the glamorous Denis Van Outen whilst you're stuck touring regional theatres and hoping not to sink into utter obscurity.

Anyway, I was going to blog about my fun treat, but then I thought that it was the ideal opportunity to tell you about the theatre as well as part of my 'This is Coventry' campaign. Well, let me paint you a picture...

Despite the recent mild, warm weather, last night was wet and windy, the steady drizzle drenching the streets of Coventry and driving the chavs indoors. In some ways this was, obviously, an improvement, but as Coventry is mainly composed of concrete it doesn't really look its best in the rain and dark. Then we stepped out onto the plaza where the theatre was located. The new and fancy water feature out at the front shimmered a reflection of the brightly lit theatre front and I felt the unexpected shiver of anticipation that I used to get when my parents would take me to the London theatres as a child. In the gloom the Belgrade's lights and warmth seemed most welcoming and both Hubby and I were pleasantly surprised when we stepped inside.
When I'd seen it in the daylight I had thought it shabby and sad, but actually it was clean, modern, attractive and well organised. There were two decent bars, plently of seating in the foyer, wide staircases and adequate disabled access. Staff were friendly and polite - lots of smiles which is something I rarely see in London theatres - and the atmosphere in general was buzzy and excited with a heady hum of chatter.

The auditorium itself was dinky and cute, with very steeply tiered seats. We were seated one row from the back, but our view was unimpeded and clear and the sound system was excellent. Seats were comfortable, although might be a little narrow if one is struggling with one's weight (just a word to the wise) and there was good leg room for the average person.

Now to the production - well. 'Joseph' is one of those productions which resonate strongly with Hubby and I from our childhoods. Both of us had the soundtrack, both of us had seen it as kids (I saw Philip Schofield playing Joseph, no less!) and both of us were ridiculously excited to see it again considering we're in our late twenties! We sat and looked around, squirmed as we heard the subterranean orchestra start to warm up and clutched each others' hand as the lights dimmed.

The whole show was a delight, it really was. The music was as catchy as I remember it, the cast was (on the whole) lively and personable, working hard to make their own stamp on the well known score. Special credit should go to the narrator whose voice was absolutely incredible. Even hubby (Mr Pitch Perfect and picky music critic supreme) was impressed, crediting her with something of Julie Andrew's tonal quality and noting only one bum note apparently. I also really enjoyed watching Claire Edwards, the woman signing the whole musical for the benefit of the hearing impaired. If ever the action on stage got slow I would watch her instead and she was great fun, especially in the catchy numbers where the signing would seem like dancing as she bopped along! I even learnt how to sign 'Joseph' from watching her!

There were one or two awkward and amusing moments, mostly concerning the inflatable sheep which failed to inflate; requiring a swift punch from a couple of the 'brothers' to activate their auto-inflate properly. Well, I would just like to reassure any children that no sheep were harmed in the making of Joseph, the punches were for their own good!

The female dancers, also, were a bit of a let down. Their dancing was not in sync, their steps were sloppy and they just seemed lethargic and uninvolved for the most part. This was a real pity as the rest of the cast threw themselves into the production wholeheartedly and gave it a real flavour of their own, both in the singing and dancing. I especially liked the interplay between the brothers and the way they seemed to feed off each others' energy and performances to raise their own game - it brought a real energy and sparkle to the stage.

Craig Chalmers, as Joseph, was funny and enthusiastic, bringing some lovely lighthearted moments to the production. I also enjoyed the lovely view he made, shirtless and in a loin cloth (not many women wouldn't, to be honest). I do have to say, though, that his voice was not the most consistent; his performance on the 'big numbers' was spectacular, but on the slower, softer songs he seemed to struggle a bit, often falling flat even to my almost tone death ears. On the whole, however, he made a charming and sweet Joseph and I really enjoyed watching him. He can wiggle his bum in my direction any time - no - seriously.

Can I also just give a big thumbs up for the number of encores the cast performed? Hubby and I really felt we had got our money's worth by the time we staggered out, humming a few of our favourite tunes.

The Belgrade cleared quickly and efficiently, with adequate routes of egress to prevent any bottle neck stoppages. The only negative that I could find to make about the theatre itself would be that the heat was rather overwhelming in the auditorium and they should perhaps look at introducing some air conditioning - especially when everyone was dressed for the cooler March weather outside. A word to the wise: if you go there to watch a play, wear layers!

I had a brilliant evening, lots of fun. It reminded me why I enjoy going to the theatre and I'm already making plans to go back to the Belgrade in March, when the Scottish Dance Company are performing. I love contemporary dance and I'm sure it would be displayed to good advantage in the intimate space of the Belgrade.

Visit the Belgrade's Website

Friday, 19 March 2010


As regular viewers may realise, my blog has had a bit of a revamp - new layout, new colours, new header image and, most exciting of all, new pages! I admit, they don't say much at the moment, but now I know I have the capacity to create pages I'll be working on filling them up with all sorts of juicy excitements, believe me!

Please comment and let me know what you think of the new look and layout - I love it, but I'm curious to hear your thoughts also. Plus you can give me a little guidance on good things to include in my stand-alone pages - any ideas?

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Wrist Warmers - the photos!

So the job hunt, whilst not reaching fruition just yet, turned up some very promising leads, about which I hope to write very soon! As a sort of celebration, and because I hadn't got round to it sooner, I am posting the long-promised photographs of my super-speedy two-day wrist warmer project. I loved making them so much I am now doing a second pair for my friend's girlfriend, but so they don't have matching 'hers and hers' warmers, I am making these new ones in navy blue with a contrasting trim. I'll try and post pics of those, too, when they're finished. In the meantime... the strawberry ice cream striped ones!

New Start

So, today I take the plunge and re-start the great job search. My CV is polished and shiny (albeit somewhat sparse), my rather casual wardrobe has been raided for something a little bit smart and I have a list of places to see, people to talk to.

Now all I need to do is gather my courage in both hands and leave the house. I don't know why I'm so apprehensive. When it comes to my voluntary work or personal projects I am accomplished and confident - I can only assume that this is scary because it's new. Change is always a little frightening at first, but it's how you deal with it that shows your mettle and I am not short of determination. I coped with being disabled for so long, I can cope with being able. It'll just take me a little while to become accustomed to thinking of myself that way. It's a good thing though, a far more positive adjustment to make and I'm looking forward to bits of it - perhaps I should focus on those... sounds like incentive for another list!

- Meeting new people
- Seeing people on a regular basis
- New things to learn
- Confidence to be gained through new achievements
- Money!
- Opportunities
- Being able to enjoy my leisure hours more when they're rarer.

I think those seven things are worth being a little scared for, don't you?

Wish me luck!

Friday, 5 March 2010


Tonight I heard about the death of someone very dear to me, my Great Uncle Ian. He was my great uncle by marriage, but he had the role of a grandparent. He has been there for every birthday, every Christmas, my graduation, my marriage. He taught me how to make Creme Caramels and encouraged my interests in cooking, knitting and crochet. He always let me know how much he loved me and regarded me as his granddaughter, my sister and I were blessed to have had him in our lives for so long.

He has been sick for a long time, so long that it seemed like he would creak on forever, but today he died and all I can think about is how I should have visited him, or how I should have sent him a card, like I was thinking of doing but hadn't got round to. I hope he knew how much he meant to me and how much I loved him, how he will always be in my thoughts.
Goodbye Ian

Quickest Project Ever!

OK, I am seriously impressed with myself and with Attic24's tutorial. Easy peasy, lots of room for manoeuvre and making your own mark on it and speedy as anything! Started the wrist warmers yesterday and finished them today - no problems. Haven't done anything fancy, I like the simple strawberry ice-cream effect of the pink and cream stripes. I'll do some photos tomorrow - I think they'll look better in natural light.

I give them to my friend tomorrow - I hope she likes them...

See photos

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Being A Grown Up

In my previous post I may have mentioned how I was being put upon slightly this weekend, having been asked to host an extra guest by a old friend of mine. Well, I got upset, then I got angry, but now I've made a decision to have him here I am going to be gracious about it. It's not always easy being a grown up, sometimes it means doing things you'd really rather not and since one of these things is being gracious even though my friend has made me really quite angry, I had to find a way to forgive her.

Well, I don't know what part of my brain this came from, but it seemed that I would feel more kindly towards her if I did something kind for her. Well, she's a writer and I know she feels the cold, so I thought perhaps some kind of fingerless glove would be an appropriate present. A while back I came across this wonderful, colourful tutorial by Attic24 for stripey wristwarmers - perfect!

I picked out a lovely blush pink yarn and a cream yarn and am about an inch in and already it's weaving a magic spell on me. As I sit in the sunshine from the window, smarmy cat squirming on my lap and crochet growing in my hands I feel a sense of peace and happiness stealing through me. Someone once said "It's not how far you fall, but how high you bounce." Well, I fell pretty far the last few days, I'm still a bit astounded at how angry and hurt I was, but now, with the help of three wonderful people (darling Mummy, incredible husband, and a new friend who has become very dear to me in a very short amount of time) and a bit of straight talking from myself I have come to a place where I can feel proud of myself again... and lucky to have some good people around me.

Here is how the crochet looks so far... I'll post some new pics when they're done!

See completed project

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner...

I have some guests expected this weekend. They're staying from Saturday lunch through to just after Sunday lunch, and we've agreed to go out on Saturday evening (to the famed and illustrious Noodle Bar of old Cov town) so I have three meals and a half meals to plan: lunch, afternoon tea, breakfast, Sunday lunch.

Now normally this wouldn't be much of an issue, but there are some factors to take into consideration.
1- they've stayed several times before, so I don't want to make re-runs
2- I don't want to be running around like a headless chicken, so they have to be 'prepare in advance'.
3- I am on a diet and sticking to it so far, so they have to be healthy options (and it's always harder to make tasty pre-prepared guest food when you can't just throw cheese and cream at it!)
4- We're still on a budget, so have to keep it cheap

Below are my thoughts so far:-

- Fresh bread and spicy sweet potato soup on the Saturday.
- Banana bread for the afternoon tea, because at least it has some nutrients in rather than just straight sugar
- Toast, jams, cereals for breakfast. I can't be bothered to cook anything.
- Chicken, leek and mushroom pie for lunch, with mashed potatoes and carrots. Homemade shortcrust pastry. Chocolate mousse for pudding.

So the shopping list is as follows:
- seeds for bread
- sweet potatoes
- chicken for the pie, I have the vegetables
- check there's enough potatoes.

Good. That's not looking too expensive so far. Especially since an extra guest has been foisted upon me at the last minute, but the less said about that, the better.