Thursday, 30 April 2015

Spooky Goings On With Centrestage Cymru As The Addams Family Come To Newport

Making its South Wales Premiere this week is Centrestage Cymru’s presentation of the musical comedy The Addams Family. A great show for the family the weird and wonderful Addams Family loved come to devilish, delightful life.

Based upon the original cartoon characters created by Charles Addams, The Addams Family have spawned numerous films and television adaptations and now the well loved characters are brought to life in a magical, fun stage musical.

In the words of the composer Andrew Lippa '' Each of the characters have a different style of music. The pastiche ranges from Spanish Flamenco to Blues/Jazz to Vaudeville and even a bit of Sondeim thrown into the pot''.

Andy Howells recently got the opportunity to put questions to a few of the spooky but cookie cast members.

Who are you playing in The Addams Family?
Jordan Archer: Uncle Fester
Hannah Roper: Wednesday Addams
Zoe Southcott: Grandma Addams
Michelle Meano: Morticia Addams
Charlie Turner: Pugsley Addams
Matt Bryant: Gomez Addams

What are you looking forward to most about the role?
Jordan Archer: Being bald and working with the whole cast.
Hannah Roper: Playing the snap changes in Wednesday’s personality. Going from Normal-ish one minute to utterly psychotic the next.
Zoe Southcott: Grandma Addams is absolutely off her head … I adore her. It’s like jumping in a time machine and visiting myself in 80 years time.
Michelle Meano: Being the Boss of the house (even though Gomez thinks he is!) Oh and of course Morticia’s costume.
Charlie Turner: I’m looking forward to being grumpy and sullen without being told off! I also can’t wait for my solo song, and to see how my torture scene is going to work!
Matt Bryant: Only having one costume!

The Addams Family was a popular TV series, which TV series would you like to be in and why?
Jordan Archer: Will & Grace because its one of the only shows that make me belly laugh.
Hannah Roper: Either Doctor Who or Sherlock because they are amazing! And bow ties are cool!
Zoe Southcott: Friends – Coffee every single day! I love coffee and WINE!
Michelle Meano: Why The Addams Family of course, who wouldn’t want to be Morticia!
Charlie Turner: I’d like to be one of the Dragons Den – I’d love to be rich enough to be able to say “I’m Out”!
Matt Bryant: I’d like to be in Top Gear as ‘The star in the reasonably priced car’ because The Stig is my Dad.

  • Catch The Addams Family at The Dolman Theatre, Newport until May 2nd, 2015 For more information about this performance, for more information about this performance or to book your tickets, you can visit the website at
  • A version of this feature by Andy Howells appeared in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide on April 25, 2015
  • For further information on Centrestage Cymru visit their official website.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Frozen's Elsa Comes To Life For Disney Ice Show - Sophia Adams Interview

“Its actually like a whole different chapter in my life, I never saw myself doing this, its been a very interesting year,” says former competitive skater Sophia Adams as she tells me about her magical role as Frozen’s Elsa which comes to Cardiff Motorpoint Arena this week as part of the UK leg of Disney On Ice’s Magical Ice Festival.

“When you're competing its just you out there,” says the 21-year-old skater who hails from Anaheim, California, “ whereas now I'm somebody else and giving these kids something that they love, its really rewarding, there’s always lots of Elsa's in the audience and its nice to do it for them.”

The show is a new twist on fairy-tale fun featuring four magical tales including Beauty and the Beast, Tangled, The Little Mermaid and Frozen. Each segment took two weeks to rehearse before going on tour and Sophia has been enjoying the challenge of her new role in the show. “Frozen is by far my favourite,” she says, “it features a really good ensemble number with all the princesses and the princes. It has a lot of interesting effects, not just the skating there’s all the technical effects that go into it which are very creative.”

Sophia tells me that the ice spectacular will have appeal to older Disney fans too, “Beauty and the Beast is something I grew up with, so for someone as old as me who went through that phase in our childhood, we get to revisit it again.”

I wonder if the show will have appeal to both girls and boys, Sophia thinks so, as she reveals that the princess skaters aren't necessarily the most popular characters from Frozen. “Sven the reindeer and Olaf (Frozen’s Snowman star) get more applause,” she laughs,” he’s definitely the favourite of the whole ice show!”

Sophia will continue in her role as Elsa until the end of May. Then she will be exchanging Elsa’s Frozen world for her own Californian home, “I’m going to go home and lie on a beach for a couple of weeks,” she laughs ,”We've had amazing weather (on the UK Tour) which was very unexpected but I'm now ready for hot weather!”

  • Disney on Ice presents Magical Ice Festival is appearing at the Motorpoint Arena Cardiff 29 April – 3rd May 2015. Tickets available from the Box Office 029 20 22 44 88 or visit Ticketmaster.
  • A version of this interview by Andy Howells appeared in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide on April 24, 2015

Peter Pan Goes Wrong At Cardiff's New Theatre - Jonathan Sayer Interview

“There’s lots of slapstick comedy, with a nice narrative underneath it about the politics of the actors playing the parts” writer Jonathan Sayer tells Andy Howells about Mischief Theatre’s fun family show Peter Pan Goes Wrong which visits Cardiff’s New Theatre next week.

Mischief Theatre’s first show, The Play That Goes Wrong, played at the New Theatre in February 2014, and is now performing to packed houses in the West End. Having capped off their success with a Best New Comedy nomination at the 2015 Oliver Awards, they make their return to Wales after only a year to delight audiences young and old once more.

This time, the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society are putting on their version of Peter Pan but things don’t go very well. In fact, everything that could go wrong does! The journey to Neverland is a thrilling one but, for these accident-prone thespians, the thrills are unintentional and hilariously disastrous. “Its exactly the same as The Play That Went Wrong except bolder and braver with Peter Pan flying into the walls,” says Jonathan who co-wrote the show with Henry Lewis and Henry Shields.

Jonathan explains “One of our writers worked with Michael Green who wrote The Art of Coarse Acting which is a book on how to be a bad actor, he also wrote a few coarse plays which are plays in which things go wrong. All three of us fell in love with them and we thought it would be great to write something along the lines of that. but with our humour and voice coming through. I’m a huge fan of silent comedies, of Chaplin and Keaton, Laurel & Hardy so there’s a lot of those jokes re-imagined and put on stage along with new jokes of that ilk, big bold physical gags that make people laugh”

“The thing I love about the show is you can take kids to see it and its suitable, there’s a great universal appeal to it,” says Jonathan, “it will make you gasp as well as laugh, there’s a great story in there as well and you’ll go home laughing a lot with maybe a little tear in your eye at the end.”

  • Peter Pan Goes Wrong is at the New Theatre from Tuesday 28 April – Saturday 2 May 2015. Tickets are on sale now with prices from £10.00 to £28.50. For further details about the show or to book tickets* visit or call the Box Office on (029) 2087 8889.
  • A version of this interview by Andy Howells was published in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide on April 24, 2015

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Meet The Band: The Last Of Us

The Last of Us formed in early 2013 mixing hard rock and melodic tones which gave a nod to the forefathers of 70's and 80's rock and roll quickly gaining them a large following in their native county of Northamptonshire.

This along with their wild and energetic stage presence quickly catapulted them to the top end of the up and comers and they soon found themselves headlining many of London's best venues for unsigned and up and coming acts including The Scala, The Amersham Arms, The 02 Academy, Surya and the 229 to name but a few

The Last of Us play alongside Dutch rockers Synergy Protocol in Pontypool on Friday 1st May at The Patriot and they conclude their tour in Crumlin on Saturday 2nd May. Andy Howells recently put questions to the band.

Who are you and how did you come together?
We are "The Last Of Us" and we consist of James Shaw on vocals, James Cutler on Bass, Adam Brown on Guitar and Dave Quigley on drums. We were formed in April 2013 and began life as a 3 piece acoustic act before finding an add on the local musician internet scene for a drummer looking for a band which is where we discovered Dave, one audition later and TLOU were formed. (We chose the name as we all come from backgrounds in previous bands and this was basically our last chance at making it happen)

How would you describe your music style?
Our music teeters on heavy/ aggressive rock but has obvious melodic influences which derive from classic 80's and 70's rock outfits such as Zeppelin and AC/DC etc... although we just call it SEXROCK.

What’s been your best live experience?
We have had some amazing live experiences since we started out but two that really stand out are our first ever London show at the Amersham Arms in which we supported The Vaccines at their end of tour DJ set. We were on as main support but it was such a massively indie styled gig we assumed we would be going down like a lead balloon but the crowd loved it. It really set our minds in the right place for where we wanted to go with this band. Also our headliner at The Surya in London in 2014. The crowd invaded the stage for our final song which was awesome.

What are you working on at the moment?
We have just finished our first music video which you can find on our social network pages as well as YouTube and we are preparing for the release of our first official single The Rhythm of My Drum in May.

Where can we see you live?
We are always adding new dates to our calendar for everyone to check out but we are currently on our first UK tour with Dutch metal outfit Synergy Protocol.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Meet Jennie Vee

NYC based Songwriter/musician Jennie Vee has already gained a strong internet following on both sides of the Atlantic with her releases Die Alone and Wicked and will shortly be supporting South Wales own Manic Street Preachers on their North American tour. Andy Howells recently caught up with Jennie.

Where are you from and how did you get into music?
I'm from a desolate mining town in Northern Ontario, and due to that isolation has been a running theme in my life and songwriting. I got into music at a very young age as a true escape from the mundane, grey landscape and confines of life in a small town. I was 4 years old and rollerskating around to E.L.O, The Police and The Clash. This led to the discovery of New Wave music- Echo and The Bunnymen, The Cure, The Smiths. I saw U2 live when I was just 11 years old and that's when it hit me - I wanted to be IN A BAND!

How would you describe your musical style?
I would describe it as Melancholic Pop or Deeply Empathic Fuzz Pop. Either will do.

There are lots of lush guitar sounds on your recordings do you enjoy been creative in the studio and developing new ideas?
I love writing and recording. As much as one could love recurring exorcisms. Extracting melodies and lyrics has always been a catharsis for me and the best material always comes from very low points in my life. Fortunately I LIVE in my studio so the means are always on hand to get an idea down in scratch form or I can go from a fleeting melody or line to a full blown song tracked and mixed in a matter of a day. This is truly a blessing because my thoughts tend to come and go and become quite scattered if I don't get ideas recorded right away. Most of these songs were tracked with my Telecaster and a chain of pedals and plugins that have given my recent body of work a seamless sonic quality.

Do you have any guitar heroes and what music do you enjoy listening too?
Yes! My guitar heroes are Will Sargent from Echo + The Bunnymen, James Dean Bradfield from the Manics and Robert Smith. Will obviously has a signature style and pedal work that has inspired generations of players- I pull from his layering of guitar parts a lot. Mr. Bradfield is so inspiring because he has totally given out and out rock n roll guitar a classiness and punch in the face that I have yet to see matched and Robert Smith is the master of simple, evocative melodies and solos that will always influence me.

Tell us about your latest release and what was the inpiration behind it?
Die Alone is my 5 song EP that I self released back in the fall. It came on the heels of a very dark, cold winter here in NYC. I had been through what could best be called a "drought" when it came to songwriting and I'm not certain it was to do with lack of passion, but that I was quite focused on other creative endeavors when I first moved to New York. I was immersed in the fashion world funnily enough doing some high profile commission work, but as with anything I do creatively I become single minded and obsessed with the task at hand. I love design work and I'm quite skilled and crafty with my hands, but music is my passion, heart and soul so I literally quit everything all at once to get back to it when I found myself crying over my sewing machine. I was also going through some very tough recurring patterns in my life to do with relationships on every level- friends, family, partnership... I reached a crux in time when I had nowhere else to turn but back to music and it was my saving grace. The isolation I felt as a young girl in Northern Ontario was matched as a woman surrounded by the boundless energy and opportunity that NYC had on offer and I really had to asses the concept of internal happiness vs. external sources of distraction or lack there of.

Whats been your best live experience?
Live shows are somewhat difficult for me. I'm not a "natural born performer", I was never in dance or theater classes or good at public speaking. Me on a stage with my bass or guitar and songs is always a vulnerable but simultaneously powerful place to be. I feel "armed" with songs, so there is a layer of protection there, however inbetween banter is rare, awkward and pained! I have been known to throw myself around the stage in my version of dance. A great live experience was when Knox from the Vibrators joined me and my old band on stage in London to perform "Baby, Baby" with us.

Where can we see and hear you online?
You can check out my EP at bandcamp: and watch my videos all shot by my creative partner Katrin Albert on my youtube channel at

Will you be visiting the UK in the future?
YES! I will be coming back over to the UK in late spring. My record will be properly released on 25 Hour Convenience Store over there. It's Gary Powell from the Libertines' label and I'm so happy to be working with him, he's an old mate and wonderful person.

You visited Wales last year did you enjoy your visit?
Last time I was over I enjoyed a fantastic trip to Wales. I played in Talgarth at the Tabernacle which is Alan McGee from Creation Records beautiful and intimate venue. He invited me personally to come play his first acoustic music night and who could say no to Alan McGee and a chance to visit beautiful Wales? I stayed at a fantastic B&B just down the road from the Tabernacle and they did a great vegan breakfast for me! A nice traditional Welsh Vegan Breakfast! Haha! It was my 4th visit to Wales and I always love my time there. It may sound touristy- but I really want to see Port Meirion the next time I come over! I'm also a massive fan of the Manic Street Preachers, Catatonia and The Joy Formidable. If it's Welsh, odds are, I love it!

What was the last album you listened to?
The last album I listened to was The War on Drugs Lost in the Dream. I live in NYC but keep my car in Brooklyn and I took it out for a drive just to listen to this record behind the wheel!

Connect with Jennie Vee online:
  • A short version of Andy Howells Q&A with Jennie Vee appeared in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide on April 24, 2015. Check out the e-edition.

Sir Bruce Forsyth To Perform One-Man Show At The New Theatre, Cardiff - Interview

Sir Bruce Forsyth, one of the nation’s most famous and adored entertainers, will step on to the New Theatre stage on April 27 for a rare must-see performance.

Performing prior to an appearance at the London Palladium, Bruce will be entertaining the audience in the way that only he can! Alongside Dave Arch (musical director of Strictly Come Dancing) and the country’s finest musicians, the star will present an evening of singing, dancing, comedy and audience interaction.

Bruce Forsyth’s successful career has spanned over seventy years, with hit shows like Sunday Night at The London Palladium, The Generation Game and, more recently, as a host on Strictly Come Dancing.

Now he swaps the television cameras for the New Theatre stage in a special one-night-only performance. Andy Howells recently chatted with the legendary performer.

The Generation Game was a mainstay of Saturday evening TV back in the 1970s along with Morecambe and Wise, The Two Ronnies and Doctor Who. What was it like to have a successful show in that era?
To me it was a lovely show business, a period of top ratings and shows like Eric & Ernie and The Duchess of Duke Street all on before The Generation Game and finishing up with Parkinson and Match of The Day, it was a whole evening of varied entertainment. Not shows that take two hours, It's just too much and they're doing it in The States now, we've just got back from Puerto Rico and they're stringing things out. Of course, they're making them long because they've got nothing else to put on. We had all these shows that all followed one another; it was a variety of programmes. You could sit there all evening and watch different shows for different moods and different feelings and it all worked. I'm pleased I've got the memories of them.

You've  given millions of television viewers so many great memories over the years too.
All my career I've been lucky, if there’s a secret to my longevity is that children have grown up with me, even if they grew to hate me later on in life (laughs). They knew me from the start, even people who watched me on The Palladium when they were 10 years old, you go on 50 years and they've grown up with me. Even with Strictly now, kids come up to me with their mothers and fathers and want autographs. I've put that down to luck of been in programmes suitable for children. I'm like Uncle Bruce!

Can you tell us more about your forthcoming show at Cardiff’s New Theatre?
It’s more or less the show I've done everywhere. I've even done it at Glastonbury. People were phoning me up and saying "Bruce is that right you're going to Glastonbury? What are you going to do there?” I said "I'm going to do what I've always done. Sing, dance, play the piano and involve the audience with a few things. I do impressions, all the things I've done all my life, I'm a family entertainer.” I must say I was very scared, how would a young crowd who go there to see all these pop stars react? I think it was the most wonderful feeling I've ever had to be able to perform for these younger people. Forgetting that they'd all grown up with me, I went on there wondering what it would be like; it was very emotional for me afterwards.

One of the favourite things I saw you do on television was a TV special with Sammy Davis Jr.
The best thing I ever did on television was the hour with Sammy Davis Jr. We did all the things that we do, we sang together and danced together. I played piano for him when he sang and he did a whole comedy routine with instruments when I tried to sing.  We did impressions together. I wish we'd been able to do more; he was starting to feel a bit ill when we did it. I'm sorry we didn't manage to do a couple of more specials in that time. I don't think there was anyone else I could have done it with apart from Roy Castle. We were genuinely all-round performers. That term is used very loosely now.

What has been your career highlight?
Apart from the Sammy Davis Jr special, it would be doing my one-man show for the first time at The Palladium because a lot of people said I was wrong doing it at a London Theatre. They had Cats on and I was doing odd nights there. I went touring and then brought it to the New London Theatre and then the Palladium. That means more to me than any other place and to do it as an all-round performer completely on my own with just an orchestra backing me was a very big thrill.

How are you feeling now?
I've just got back from Puerto Rico which I go to every year for three months so I've had a lovely rest from all the cold miserable damp weather you have here in January, February and March. I'm back now and feel my batteries have recharged and I'm ready to have a go again.

  • Bruce Forsyth Entertains is at the New Theatre on Monday 27 April.  Tickets are on sale now with prices from £28.00 to £40.00. For further details about the show or to book tickets* visit  or call the Box Office on (029) 2087 8889.
  • A version of this interview by Andy Howells was published in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide on April 24, 2015.

Recalling Paul Robeson - Tayo Aluko Discusses One-Man Show

Tayo Aluko's one-man play Call Mr Robeson is currently making a welcome return to South Wales. The production recalls the true story of one of the 20th Century’s most impressive but overlooked figures, the actor, singer and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson.

When over the years Robeson gets progressively too radical and outspoken for the establishment's liking, he is branded a traitor to his country, harassed, and denied opportunities to perform or travel. Just as physical, emotional and mental stress threaten to push him over the fine line between genius and madness, he is summoned to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee, to give the most difficult and important performance of his career.

This roller coaster journey through Robeson’s remarkable and eventful life highlights how his radical activism caused him to be disowned and disremembered, even by the leaders and descendants of the civil rights movement. It features much fiery oratory and some of his famous songs, including a dramatic rendition of Ol’ Man River.

Tayo Aluko's compelling tour-de-force performance, was seen at New York’s Carnegie Hall in February 2012, and in London’s West End in October 2013. Andy Howells recently put questions to Tayo Aluko about the show.

You will be bringing Call Mr Robeson back to Newport Riverfront soon, what originally inspired you to put the show together?
A lady heard me sing, told me I reminded her of him, but I hadn't heard of him. By chance, I stumbled on his biography two months later and discovered this amazing story which I felt strongly needed to be told.

How does one approach playing such an inspirational and talented individual as Paul Robeson? 
Others may do it differently,but I did it by picking a few incidents and episodes of his life that I considered key, and those songs he sang and speeches he made that I considered most important, and constructing the narrative around those in a manner that flows well and allows us to hear his true story, from his own mouth. I was also interested in going into private, personal areas of his life, because that reminds us that he was a human being, with fears, weaknesses and doubts like the rest of us. He was just a lot braver, more remarkable and more accomplished than practically everybody else.

Living in the time he did, Paul Robeson faced hardship, prejudice and hurtful accusations from critics and senior governments. What do you think made him such a strong individual?
He often retold the story of wanting to quit playing American football at his otherwise all-white college because he had been attacked by the entire squad, to prevent him from joining the team. His father had persuaded him to persevere, because succeeding would mean opening doors for other Black boys, so he "had to be ready to take whatever was handed out." I believe he carried that thought with him throughout his life, especially as he believed that he was called to show how the world could be a better place.

His relationship with South Wales goes back to the 1920s when he became aware of the hardships of the Welsh Miners while performing in ShowBoat in London’s West End. He ultimately joined the miners on their hunger marches in 1927 and 1928 and established a relationship with Wales that would last many decades. Have you found that his legacy here in Wales is still strong?
One only needs to go to the Grand Pavilion in Porthcawl to see proudly displayed on their walls images of the occasion when Paul sang down a telephone line from New York to the Eisteddfod there in 1957, or to Big Pit in Blaenavon to see images of him there too. More so, I believe his recordings are routinely played on Welsh radio, and he is talked about generally, so yes, his legacy is still strong.

There are many powerful moments within the show, one I recall is when Robeson halts a performance when he realises his audience has been segregated and another is when he sings Ol’ Man River in Kansas City midst rioting and the whir of a low flying helicopter. Evidently these are very powerful moments how do research them?
The segregated audience was in Kansas City, and the riot in Peekskill, NY. These stories are in the excellent biography by Martin Duberman, though not necessarily with the detail that I give them in the play. For instance, the helicopter was mentioned in a radio interview I heard when Paul Jnr, his son, was asked what his favourite rendition of his father singing Ol' Man River was, and he mentioned the Peekskill event, but specifically the police helicopter. I had my sound designer include a helicopter sound for that part of the play, and it really makes it very dramatic, especially with what I say in the monologue preceding the song.

Were there any moments or songs that have proven a particular challenge to recreate or perform?
First of all, Ol' Man River itself is a huge challenge because it was written for a bass (and actually with Robeson in mind at the time), and I am "only a baritone". Although I sing it in a much higher key than he did, the range is so wide that the bottom note was always difficult to place if I wasn't going to strain on the top note. I am however growing into the song, so to speak. Another challenging part was reenacting a scene where he has a mental breakdown and attempts suicide. Both the writing and the performing of that (from a point of no personal experience, thankfully) required quite a lot of imagination.

As you have taken the show around the world, have you uncovered any new or inspirational stories about Paul Robeson?
Here I am responding to these questions from Adelaide, Australia. After last night's performance, an audience member recalled his father saying how he interviewed Robeson one-on-one in his hotel in Adelaide in 1960. He had been granted ten minutes by Robeson's publicist, it stretched to forty, and he left (after talking about everything from politics to music to Aussie rules football) thinking that Robeson remained the most impressive of all the people he had met in his long life . That's the kind of thing we have heard said most recently about Nelson Mandela, so it is good to know that these feelings, these memories of Robeson remain in all corners of the world, being passed on from generation to generation.

Clearly the show has proved very popular, have you any further plans as to how it will develop in the future?
It has now been published, so I hope that other Black actor/singers will perform it around the world. In the meantime, I am enjoying travelling with it myself, and hope to do so for many more years to come.

How would you describe the show to anyone who still hasn't seen it?
A one-man play about Paul Robeson, complete with his songs, his politics, his trials, tribulations and triumphs. A play that seeks to put him up there where he truly belongs - with the very best of humanity.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

On Stage: Return To The Forbidden Planet, New Theatre, Cardiff

It’s easy to see why the Olivier Award winning Return to the Forbidden Planet has remained so popular this last quarter of a century.

A fusion of Sci-Fi comic strip, classic rock n roll and a dose of William Shakespeare for good measure, Return to the Forbidden Planet is simply a must-see for any purveyor of baby boomer pop culture. All the ingredients of a classic adventure are here, a journey into space, a crash-landing on an alien planet and a mad scientist as well as robots and aliens. Throw in a live soundtrack of songs popularised by The Animals, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and The Moody Blues and you have a night of great fun.

Queen’s Brian May appears on a big screen to narrate the proceedings but undoubtedly the stars of the show are the talented team of musician actors who make up the ships crew. Among the highlights are Sean Needham’s pipe smoking hero Captain Tempest, Sarah Scowen’s 50s style heroine Miranda, Jonathan Markwood’s Edwardian stylised eccentric Dr Prospero, Joseph Mann’s robotic Ariel and Christine Holman’s femme fatale Science Officer.

The real stand out however is Mark Newnham’s Cookie who gets to shine with a comic style akin to Jerry Lewis as well as deliver a fabulous guitar solo during his rendition of The Zombies She’s Not There.

Return To The Forbidden Planet also has several surreal moments usually professionally handled by the comic timing and musical professionalism of the ensemble cast. Closing the first half of the show to Them’s Gloria while the cast's space-ship is under attack from an alien's giant tentacles is undoubtedly a theatrical moment to savor. I’ll never listen to Gloria in quite the same way again!

Return to the Forbidden Planet continues at Cardiff's New Theatre until Saturday April 25, 2015.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Out Of This World Fun As Forbidden Planet Musical Comes To Cardiff - Mark Newnham Interview

The adored and critically acclaimed Olivier Award winning Sci-Fi rock spectacular Return to the Forbidden Planet comes to Cardiff New Theatre on its 25th Anniversary Tour this week.

Inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest and packed with rock 'n' roll classics such as I Heard It Through the Grapevine, Young Girl and Good Vibrations the show features stunning special effects and a brilliant cast of actor musicians.

"Its fun, lively and it'll make you laugh" says Mark Newnham who plays Cookie in the show, "If you're a fan of rock'n'roll you’ll just go absolutely nuts for the music and great Sci-Fi effects as well, it’s a great night out."

Mark describes his character as a "love-lorn low status character" that has parallels with Cinderella's Buttons. "He falls in love with Miranda who is the love interest when we crash-land on Prospero's planet," he says, "She doesn’t love him back and falls in love with the Captain of the ship, the character gets a lot of empathy from the audience."

Mark who is an accomplished musician will be performing a rendition of a 60s classic in the show. "My big number is She Not There by The Zombies. We put a little twist on it because this is the point in the story when Cookie realises Miranda has fallen for the captain and not him. He does this anxious version which has a big four minute long guitar solo in it."

Mark who also played a Young John Lennon in the musical Lennon at Liverpool's Royal Court is a big 1960s fan and is currently relishing his role in the musical, "To play guitar, sing, make people laugh and speak some wonderful Shakespeare verse - it’s a dream job!"

  • Return to the Forbidden Planet runs at Cardiff's New Theatre between Monday April 20 - 25. Visit for details.
  • A version of this article by Andy Howells was published in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide on April 17, 2015. Read the e-edition here.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Meet Nina Jones

At just 17 years old, Nina Jones is an extremely talented teenage vocalist with a big future ahead of her. Based in Newport, South Wales, her new single is the kind of accessible hit that can go a long way to establishing a new name in the music industry.

Never Let You Go has potential pop hit written all over it, and also follows the recent trend of chart hits peppered with retro 90s touches. It’s a song about asking somebody to trust you in love, to let go emotionally and to fall completely for you. Andy Howells recently put questions to Nina

How did you get into singing?
I started singing seriously around 12/13 years old. I had singing lessons from Charlotte Church's singing teacher Louise Ryan. She was very strict but taught me a lot. When I was about 10 yrs old however I did perform in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at The Wales Millennium Centre with Aled Jones and H from Steps! As well as Pop music I love Musical Theatre and sang a lot of Musical Theatre stuff as a younger girl. I was in the final of 'The UK Open Mic' contest a few years back and was Runner Up in The Star Of Stage contest 2 yrs ago. I got to meet Connie Fisher through that who was great.

Your based in Newport, tell us more about that!
I live in Bassaleg, it's a nice place to live. I go to the 6th form in Rougemont School where I'm doing my 'A' levels. I love Newport, it's a great city, it's my home.

How would you describe your music style?
I originally started singing more Musical Theatre stuff when I was a bit younger but I love all kinds of music. My current style for the single and my album All Of Me is a mixture of a little Musical Theatre but mostly Pop, Soul, a tad of R&B and maybe a tiny dash of funk!

Never Let You Go is your new single can you tell us more about that?
Never Let You Go I think is catchy, infectious and toe tappingly paced – soulful pop-funk. It follows the recent trend of chart hits peppered with retro 80's/90s touches. It’s a song about asking somebody to trust you in love, to let go emotionally and to fall completely for you.

You’ve collaborated with songwriters Darren Parry, Dan Curtis and Laura Curtis, how did that come about?
Yes, Never Let You Go is written by award winning songwriters Darren Parry, Dan Curtis and Laura Curtis. Darren has achieved UK Songwriting Contest Award wins (2004 winner ‘Pop’), USA Song Of The Year, USA ‘Billboard’ and USA Unisong awards. Meanwhile, Dan and Laura Curtis have had songs recorded by Paul Potts, Broadway stars Ramin Karimloo & Lea Salonga and also wrote the successful, star studded charity track A Miner’s Song.

What happened was I was singing a few songs at an album launch party in Cafe Jazz, Cardiff last year. Darren Parry was singing there too that night with the talented Rob Devereux on guitar. Darren approached me after the gig and said that his covers band (Sounds Familiar) were looking for a new female singer. He said that he and Rob were very impressed with my voice so asked me if I'd be interested to join their band. A few months later, after my exams, I auditioned...and got in!

Darren later told me he had 'the perfect' original song for me; he played it for me on the keyboard at my house and I loved it; so I decided to record it! Darren produced the track for me and did a great job. We recorded the song at Shabbey Road Studios (with the great Al Steele as engineer) and Rob Devereux on guitar. I hope the public like it as much as I do!

Have you got any live appearances lined up?
Yeah, lots coming up all solo dates/appearances etc. will be posted on:

Who are your musical influences?
I'm very much inspired by the music of Adele and Sam Smith. On my debut album I've done a cover of One and Only by Adele. I also love John Legend; there is a cover of All Of Me on there too (you can check out my Soundcloud for these tracks but Carrie Underwood is a favourite of mine also.

What are you listening to at the moment?
Oooh Sam Smith and Adele mostly but always learning new songs for the band, e.g. we just learnt Happy by Pharrell, he's cool too!

Where can people hear your music?
The video for the song Never Let You Go has just been finished too and can be seen on my Facebook page and on Youtube. A talented guy called Rob Reed filmed the video and the great Al Steele and Ceri Darknell of Shabbey Road Studio directed/edited it. I love it! I think the video is funky and fresh...see what you think!

  • A version of this Q&A with Nina Jones was published in The South Wales Argus entertainment section The Guide on April 17, 2015. Check out the e-edition here.

Friday, 17 April 2015

On Stage: Godspell UK Tour 2015, New Theatre, Cardiff

As I traveled to Cardiff’s New Theatre on Friday evening, I pondered how a full blown concert revival version of Godspell could work. Yes, we have all those wonderful songs composed by Stephen Schwartz including Prepare Ye, Day By Day and Light of the World, but could they still stand up with a new presentation and arrangement some 45 years after their Broadway debut?

With musical direction from Russell Scott, company cast members followed a dynamic prologue from actress Dominique Planter with a performance of  Tower Of Babble accompanied by rhythmical bleeps of mobile phones. From that moment on the talented cast gelled to perfection.

The energy, enthusiasm and delivery were spot on as Andy Abraham as John the Baptist performed Prepare Ye, before Tom Senior captivated the audience as Jesus with his rendition of Save the People.

Newport’s own Centrestage Cymru made their New Theatre debut as a walking choir and provided stellar support to Leanne Jarvis pitch-perfect performance of Day By Day, while the show's static choir Rechoir provided further emphasis on the shows big numbers with professionalism.

South Wales own Laura Mansell gave a wonderful soulful rendition of Bless the Lord and there was a further treat at the beginning of the second act when Laura collaborated with Andy, Leanne and Jennifer Potts for a music Jam.

Special mention must also go to Maeve Byrne, Mitch Miller, Jason Broderick and Robert Hannouch, all musical bright lights who added further magic to the show and are sure-fire ones to watch in the future!

My one hope is that this exciting interpretation of the music of Godspell is recorded for posterity before the tour ends; I would certainly love to enjoy every moment all over again.

Blow Monkeys Back On Tour In The UK - Robert Howard Interview

To support the release of their new album If Not Now, When?, The Blow Monkeys will play Cardiff Globe this Sunday (April 19) as part of their current UK tour.

Synonymous with the international hit songs from the 1980’s Digging Your Scene and It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way, the Blow Monkeys split in 1990 before reforming in 2007.

They released their tenth album If Not Now, When? on April 6, which is their fourth long-player since the reunion and have released a new single from the album entitled OK, Have It Your Way.

Andy Howells recently chatted to Blow Monkeys vocalist Robert Howard AKA Dr Robert.

Were you from a music background?
Not really, there was not a lot of professional musicianship in my family but there was a lot of music in my house. I had two older sisters and they went through the whole 60s thing. I was exposed to a lot of music.

How did you get into the music industry?
I caught the bug when I was very young. I guess the first thing I did was busking. I lived in Australia as a teenager and I grew up in the generation that was turned on by punk, although not a fact or in our music that was the beginnings of making me want to be a musician.

You formed The Blow Monkeys in 1982.
I met Neville, the Saxophone player and we just gradually built up the group over the next couple of years. We struggled really hard to get gigs because I didn't know anyone in the industry but we had fans straight away and with a combination of playing and song writing we just ploughed our own furrow. We weren't part of a movement or anything when it all started off but in the end that’s what put us in good stead.

What was it like when you got your first taste of success with Digging Your Scene?
It was lovely. I’m not complaining at all. It put more pressure on us, but it was pressure that we wanted. That was a game changer for us and another big thing was it opened doors for us internationally. We hadn’t really played abroad very much and as we had a hit in America that really changed things for us.

You went on to collaborate with Kym Mazelle (Wait!) and Curtis Mayfield (Celebrate, The Day after You), what was that like?
I was a massive fan of Curtis Mayfield and it was areal honour to work and play with him and did some gigs with him as well. With Kym that was a House thing but found that kind of took off.

The Blow Monkeys went their separate way in the early 90s, did you all remain friends?
There was no nastiness, court cases or anything. We were friends and just decided to stop. Seventeen years later, all our kids had grown up and we just wanted to be a group again. There was no question about it really but we wanted to make new music. Obviously when we play live we play the old songs as well and mix it right up but I don’t want to go on a 80s nostalgia trip, it isn’t about that. It’s all about making new records, obviously a different level to what we’ve done before but at the same time being really enjoyable. I still think we’re moving forward and the new re record, If Not Now, When? is new territory for us.

Can you tell us about your forthcoming Cardiff Globe show?
We’ll be mixing it up playing songs all the way back to 1982 up till now.

Are there any songs you enjoy performing live?
We have a song called Choice which I enjoy doing and the new single Okay, Have It Your Way, I’m looking forward to doing that live.

Finally, how did you become known as Dr Robert?
Its one of those things when you are young and you've got to have a name. I just used Dr. Robert. I've got no reason for it. I could have been called Sting or something!

I always made the connection with The Beatles song from Revolver.
That’s not such a bad connection!
  • For tickets to see The Blow Monkeys live visit
  • Find out the latest news on The Blow Monkeys via their official website
  • A version of this interview by Andy Howells was published in the South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide on April 17, 2014

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Centrestage Cymru Thrilled To Join Godspell Show At Cardiff New Theatre

Godspell, the legendary rock musical from Stephen Schwartz, the Grammy and Academy Award-winning composer of Wicked, returns to Cardiff’s New Theatre this week.

Following the critically acclaimed sell-out success in London's West End, the show is returning to the UK in a one-of-a-kind production, with a brand new, modern day rock score that features Light of the World, All Good Gifts and Day by Day.

The production features Andy Abraham, Tom Senior and Leanne Jarvis while supporting the stars as a walking choir will be Newport based company CentreStage Cymru, The last three years have seen this fresh, vibrant society go from strength to strength, receiving plaudits from all those who have seen them perform.

Since their first successful concert in 2012, the company has gone from strength to strength bringing premier performances to the Dolman such as Whistle Down the Wind and White Christmas among others, and are at present in rehearsals for their next fabulous production The Addams Family.

Following national auditions earlier this year, the company were chosen to perform in the Cardiff dates of the national tour of Godspell the Broadway Revival. The company were absolutely delighted and thrilled to have been chosen from hundreds of groups across the UK. “I saw a post on Facebook asking for choirs to apply for the Cardiff auditions and applied,” says Centrestage Cymru's Sharon Higgins, “We got through to the auditions and had to audition in front of two of the producers Russell Scott and Mark Pettitt. We had to wait until the next day to find out if we got through. We had an anxious wait to see if our picture was put on the Godspell UK tour website. We were so proud and excited when we did!”

Although only given 6 weeks to learn the completely new score, movement from video clips, and rehearsing for The Addams Family at the same time the company pulled out all the stops to deliver a professional performance that they have become renown for and are proud to have put the much talented Newport amateur scene on the map in a professional production.

Sharon says the orchestration of Godspell which will be presented at Cardiff’s New Theatre from Friday “differs from the original giving it a new gutsy rock feel.”

“We can't wait to work with the main cast and orchestra,” continues Sharon, “A few of us went to the press night when the show opened at the Hackney Empire, London. The atmosphere was electric. The lights and sound of the band is amazing and the principal line up is awesome! For the people from CSC that are involved it has been hard work as we are also rehearsing The Addams Family, but it will be such a memorable experience."
  • Godspell in Concert plays at Cardiff’s New Theatre from Friday 17 - Saturday 18 April. Visit for ticket information.
  • For more information on Centrestage Cymru visit their official website
  • A version of this article by Andy Howells appeared in The South Wales Argus entertainment section The Guide on April 10, 2015

On Stage: The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, Wales Millennium Centre

I wanted to see the Olivier Award winning production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time following a strong recommendation from my 12-year-old daughter who recently saw the London West End presentation.

The story follows fifteen year old Christopher Boone who although has an extraordinary brain and is exceptional at maths, is ill-equipped to interpret everyday life and from time to time is subject to behavioral problems. When his neighbours dog is killed, Christopher falls under suspicion but when he decides to make his own inquiries he begins a personal journey which will not only turn his world upside down but unravel even more mysteries.

Presented in a giant cube shaped stage which projects lights, video projections and a variety of hidden doors and cupboards for cast and props to enter and leave as the drama unfolds. The set also reflects Christopher’s reactions generated by Asperger Syndrome through a series of lightning flashes and occasional confused numbers and letters

The performances are flawless, each cast move choreographed to perfection from Christopher looking for a missing book under his fathers bed to travelling through the busy London Underground.

Wales own Joshua Jenkins gives a breathtaking performance as Christopher, sometimes funny, sometimes sad but always smart; this is a role which is handled with precision and clarity. There is strong support from the ensemble cast who provide a variety of different roles including as Geraldine Alexander, Stuart Ling and Gina Isaac who portray Christopher’s teacher and parents.

Suitable for ages 11 plus, there is something that will appeal to everyone on many levels in this production. It runs until April 18, visit for booking details.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Curious Incident Presents Dual Role For Jessica Williams

The Winner of seven 2013 Olivier Awards, this highly acclaimed National Theatre production The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time arrives at Wales Millennium Centre this week as part of its first ever UK tour.

Based on the award-winning novel by Mark Haddon, adapted by Simon Stephens and directed by Marianne Elliott, the story follows Christopher, fifteen years old, has an extraordinary brain – exceptional at maths while ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. When he falls under suspicion of killing Mrs Shears’ dog, it takes him on a journey that upturns his world.

The story features two cast members that hail from Wales. Swansea’s Joshua Jenkins will play the role of Christopher while Bargoed’s Jessica Williams gets to work on both sides of the stage as Movement Captain, understudy and an ensemble cast member taking on the roles of Punk Girl and Mrs Shears.

In 2012 Jessica began working for Frantic Assembly as a practitioner. She works for them nationally and internationally, most recently co-directing the National Youth Theatre of Wales’ show Dead, Born, Grow and working with Newcastle-based company Open Clasp. Andy Howells recently chatted to Jessica about The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

How did you find yourself becoming a Movement Captain?
I started in dance as a teenager and went to Ebbw Vale school to do A level dance there, then I trained in London as a dancer at the London contemporary dance school then the last couple of years I’ve been working for a dance company called Frantic Assembly a musical theatre company who make the movement for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Did you always have an interest in dance and performance?
I was in the Blaenau Gwent Youth Dance Company The Move and I used to go to Rubicon in Cardiff and Diversions now known as the National Dance Company of Wales. I've not done any acting until this job, so it’s a bit of a shift in direction for me.

Can you tell us about your role in The Curious Incident?
My role in the show is that I look after the movement. It’s not a musical, it’s a play. There’s a lot of music and a lot of movement and I keep an eye on all of it and keep them all on their toes, make sure they are doing everything properly look after their fitness all the warm ups and things  and I’m in the ensemble of the show and say a couple of lines as well.

Did you devise the movements?
Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett who are the directors of Frantic Assembly made the movement and my job is to make everything stay just as it should so that it doesn’t change. It’s a really big opportunity for me actually its nice to be on two sides of it with the cast and working on the other side making sure things are going well.

The show is rated 11 plus and there is some swearing, is it suitable for families?
Its really at the parents discretion. There is swearing and it’s used in adult scenes but there’s younger members of the audience who still enjoy the production. It’s a really great story and you see the journey of a young person. It hits a lot of marks with different people its kind of a family show in that you could take the whole family and everyone would get something different from all of it.

Do you get home to Wales very often?
It’s been more difficult since I started this tour as we started rehearsing in November but I’ll be staying with my parents while we’re in Cardiff.

How long are you continuing with the show?
Till November, a year long contract is a great opportunity for an actor.  I’ll definitely be going back to work with Frantic Assembly after I've finished this. It’s not certain what I’ll be doing.  I could be teaching, performing or doing something creative for them.

What are you most looking forward to about your return to Cardiff?
The theatre community of Cardiff is a great bunch of people so I’m looking forward to catching up with people and seeing what’s going on.  I’m also looking forward to the audiences I think they’ll love it (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.)  It will be warmly received. The Millennium Centre is such an amazing venue; I remember standing on the main stage as part of a workshop performance and thinking “Wow! I’ll never get to stand here again, this is amazing!”

How would you sum up The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time?
I think a beautiful story. It’s really well told in so many different ways to tell the story with the set, movement, text and actors. Josh who is playing the lead is from Swansea, so it will be his home venue as well.

  • The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night Time runs at Wales Millennium Centre from April 14 – 18. Check for ticket details.
  • A version of this interview by Andy Howells was published in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide on April 10, 2015

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Hitmaker Albert Hammond Discusses His Songbook

Albert Hammond has been writing and co-writing hit songs for over forty years; among them The Hollies'  The Air That I Breathe; Leo Sayer's When I Need You;  Whitney Houston's One Moment In Time and Aswad's  Don’t Turn Around.

Albert recently went back in to the studio to record a new 4 track EP which contains a new song I Guess I Really Had It Coming and also his most successful song It Never Rains In Southern California featuring his friend Al Stewart as a duet partner, and  Changing Me  a duet song with his son Albert Hammond Jnr.

The EP coincides with a date at Newport Riverfront on April 28 as part of the UK leg of his world tour. Andy Howells recently put questions to the music legend.

What’s the earliest song you can remember writing and what inspired it?
The earliest song I can remember writing is a song called Blue Boy and I wrote it for a girl 14 years old from Scotland whom I fell in love with, I was 15.

One of your earliest song writing successes of which you collaborated with Mike Hazelwood was Little Arrows which was a hit for Leapy Lee in 1968. What did it feel like when you had your first taste of success?
Little Arrows written with Mike Hazlewood was my first big hit, I met Leapy Lee one night down in Shepherd's Bush, I went with my Aunt to play bingo and Leapy was there we got to chat and he said he was a singer and knew Gordon Mills, (Tom Jones manager) so I played him Little Arrows and the next day we went to see Gordon who loved the song and made a great record with Leapy. It became a hit all over the world and sold over five million copies, it was a dream come true.

Mike and you were also in the band The Family Dogg; did you find it difficult to get established as a musician when you were already having major success as songwriters?
The Family Dogg was a group I formed with Steve Rowland who I knew from years before in Spain, the idea was to form a group like The Fifth Dimension, it was great for the time it lasted and it was a vehicle for Mike and I to write songs for.

Out of all the songs you have written do you have a favourite?
Well it's hard to choose a favourite, I've had so many hits and they're all favourites’ but to answer your question here are two favourites’, One Moment in Time (recorded by Whitney Houston) and The Air that I Breathe (recorded by The Hollies).

Tell us about your latest EP I Guess I Really Had It Coming, what was the inspiration behind that?
The EP is something my record company Hypertension put out to promote the tour, the song I guess I really had it coming is a song I wrote in Russia in 1987 but I forget what inspired it.

You are playing some UK shows soon what can fans expect to hear at them and what do you enjoy most about playing live?
Anyone that comes to my concerts in the UK will enjoy listening to the many hits that I've written in the last 5 decades, the stories Behind the songs and the artists that I've worked with such as Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Julio Iglesias, Tina Turner etc...
Songbook is a unique show that takes Audiences through the soundtrack of their lives and what I enjoy the most about Songbook is how much audiences enjoy it and how happy it makes them.

Do you have a favourite songwriter?
I admire many songwriters but the one singer songwriter that I can say inspired me to do what I do is Buddy Holly and one of the reasons he inspired me was his simple melodies, words and chords.

  • Tickets to see Albert Hammond: Songbook Tour at Newport Riverfront are available by calling (01633) 656757 or visit The Riverfront website
  • A version of this Q&A by Andy Howells appeared in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide on April 10, 2015

Friday, 10 April 2015

Meet The Mono LPs

Championed by BBC Introducing's Dave Monks, having recorded a sell-out live gig at the Cavern Club for the BBC's Live Lounge sessions, The Mono LPs are considered one of Liverpool's bright young prospects.

The band will be releasing their next single Emilia on the May 4 with a new video in tow and burlesque style launch night at Liverpool's renowned venue Magnet!

The Mono LPs have headlined shows for Alan McGee (Oasis, Creation Records), performed at the legendary Notting Hill Arts Club, The Orange Unlit Tour and a wealth of festivals including Kendal Calling, Liverpool Music Week and Sound City.

They’ve supported the likes of Space, Toploader, Sandi Thom, have busked with The View and even had punk legend, The Clash's Mick Jones, support them at one of their London shows!

An eclectic mix, we’re sure you’ll agree, but then we’re talking about a very special band. Offering a distinctive baroque-fuelled, bluesy rock ‘n’ roll sound in the midst of an increasingly saturated and overly populated indie rock backdrop, the quartet are selling out venues across the UK.

Amongst the group of highly talented, stunningly unique musicians is cellist, Vicky, who has performed with both The View and Blood Red Shoes on their last albums. You’ll feel the cello riffing its way through a barrage of sound. This is a rock 'n' roll band at full pelt.

The Mono LPs showcase juicy guitar riffs, intricate T-Rex like swooping strings, sexually charged lyrics and an uncompromising energy. The offbeat five-piece have established themselves as a group of major significance on the scene through their impressive work ethic and a dedication to an ever-expanding fan base of ‘Monettes’.

The band go from strength to strength having released their first single Die A Little Death on Cavern Records in October 2012 which was recorded at the Grammy award-winning Parr Street Recording Studios, (frequented the likes of Coldplay, Pulp and Black Sabbath). They’ve worked with influential producers Mike Crossey (Arctic Monkeys) and Jon Withnall (Coldplay).

Grounded in making music they love and loving the music they make, ‘The Mono LPs’ are riding high and showing no signs of letting up!  Andy Howells puts questions to Vicky from the band.

How did you come together?
We are the Mono LPs. It all started when I met our lead singer/songwriter Ste in college, he wanted some cello on his acoustic songs and it all carried on from there. We kicked off by busking in the streets of the North West during which time we met our guitarist Chris. After testing the water and playing a few gigs as a three piece we felt the need to turn it up to '11' and create more of a rock sound. Ste had been consistently writing over this time and with so many songs at hand we set out to audition various drummers...after a few try-outs we found the amazing Dan and have never looked back since!

Where are you from?
We are all from Liverpool but I am half Welsh, my parents are both Welsh and were born in Cardiff.

How would you describe your music style?
The best description we have been given was 'Baroque Rock'! We seem to be gradually getting heavier over time...

What’s been your best live experience?
This would be a close match between playing in front of 3000 people at Liverpool's Matthew Street Festival, or playing at Norway's Fosnavag Rock festival! Such a great festival they really love new British bands, and we cannot wait to go back soon! We also had the pleasure of supporting Space in Buckley, Wales last year...the Welsh crowds are always up for having at good time!

You have a new release coming soon can you tell us more about that?
Yes that's right- a double A-side, but we are leading the release with the track Emilia, which according to Ste is an anti love song. We have just finished filming the video which will be released next month, it will be our first multi shot video of which from what we have seen thus far looks amazing!

Will you be coming to Wales sometime in the future?
Yes we would love to play Cardiff! It has been a while since I have been back to the capital and visited various relatives!

Where can people hear your music?

Thursday, 2 April 2015

On Stage: The Sooty Show (2015 Tour)

What better way to get the family Easter break underway than a trip to St David’s Hall to see The Sooty Show?

I wasn't unfamiliar with this family friendly experience having already taken two of my children to see the little yellow bear, his friends Soo, Sweep, Butch, Ramsbottom and straight-man and presenter Richard Cadell at Newport Riverfront last year.

The show follows a format in which Sooty and his friends are preparing for a birthday party but chaos rules supreme as party preparations including song, dance and magic tricks spiral out of control.

The Sooty Show encourages interaction from the offset, with Richard, Sooty, Sweep and Soo getting adults and children regularly joining in with renditions of Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes as well as various volunteers plucked from the audience enlisted to help with birthday cake making and party games.

All the activity isn’t confined to the stage. “You thought you’d got the best seats in the house didn't you?” teased Richard as he gave the front row a super soaking with a giant water pistol from the stage before descending on the rest of the audience.

The plot and on-stage actions generated real belly laughs and chuckles from grown-ups and children alike and that’s what makes this show a sure-fire hit. As Richard stated towards the end of the show, “the real magic is that Sooty has continued to entertain generations of children for 67 years!”

Long may it continue!

In Concert: Solid Silver 60s Show - 30th Anniversary, St David's Hall

“I was there!” stated soul legend PP Arnold to the audience as she recalled the 1960s on the stage of St David’s Hall on Wednesday evening. Looking at Miss Arnold, her youthful looks betrayed the longevity of her half-century music career but as she belted out classics such as The First Cut Is the Deepest and Angel of the Morning with backing from New Amen Corner, it became apparent this really was PP Arnold!

PP Arnold was one of several original 60s acts taking part in the incredible 30th anniversary show for the Solid Silver 60s. Chris Farlowe joined PP on stage for an upbeat version of Private Number before launching into his own set which included renditions of Handbags & Gladrags and his chart-topper Out Of Time.

Meeting PP Arnold
The first half closed with The Merseybeats lead by founder members Tony Crane and Billy Kinsley performing rousing renditions of Cavern Club favourite Hey Baby as well as their own hits I Think of You and Sorrow.

There were more Mersey Sound legends in the second half. The original voice of The Searchers’ Mike Pender delighted fans with favourites Sweets for My Sweet and Needles & Pins as well as the rarity Four Strong Winds.

Finally Billy J Kramer made a welcome reappearance for the first time in two decades performing many songs written for him by John Lennon and Paul McCartney including From a Window and Bad to Me.

Everyone was on stage for the finale, a rendition of the Dave Clark Five’s Glad All Over, summing up the feelings of both the performers and audience perfectly.