All About Theatre in the Fields

When I first heard about the new venture Theatre in the Fields back in February, I knew I had to feature it on the blog (yes, this post has been a long time coming). Artistic Director Lee Dillon-Stuart and Creative Director Tabitha Tingey have created a brand new theatre festival for the UK this summer.

Also helping to organise 'The Furneux Fringe' are Herts writer Hester Tingey and Louise Seddon of Brook Cottage Farm.

Both Lee and Tabitha are actors in their own right; I actually saw Lee in Les Mis a few years back and he is also a budding writer and director as well. When they saw the success of a festival at Brook Cottage Farm last year which Hester helped organise, they realized it would be the perfect space for a new theatre festival.

The festival will launch this year on Saturday 28th July at Brook Cottage Farm in Furneux Pelham. Lee says to think of it as "a mini Edinburgh Fringe" all centralized into one compact space. They're reaching out to local acting charities and planning on splitting box office monies between actors at each mini-venue.

The festival is focused on inclusion and "giving people from all areas of the arts space, a chance to try it out", according to Lee.

Actors can choose to camp overnight at the venue so it should be a great time and a lovely atmosphere in the middle of the Hertfordshire countryside.

Last week, they announced their first few shows: Buckle Up Theatre Company's Bump and Blind Elephant's Games and After Liverpool. As someone who believes strongly in supporting new and upcoming work, I think this festival is a great idea - especially for those who can't make the journey up to Scotland for the Edinburgh Fringe.

The farm has various small venues: the Black Box Barn, the Cabaret/Comedy Stables, the New York and Rehearsed Reading Tent, the Haybale Amphitheatre, the Yoga and Mindfulness in Theatre Bell-Tent, the Kids' Theatre Tent, and the Main Stage.

The festival will last from 10 am to 10 pm and there will also be food and drink stalls throughout the day. Theatre in the Fields is only a little over a half hour journey from London and tickets are very reasonably priced with just £10 for the normal rate.

Any performers or theatre companies wishing to take part should send them an email. You can also sign up to be a volunteer at the festival. Otherwise, make sure to follow them on Twitter to keep up to date and to buy tickets on their website ahead of their July premiere which is sure to be a blast.

Review: When the Curtain Falls (Album & Concert) by Carrie Hope Fletcher

It won't come to a shock to any of my readers that when Carrie Hope Fletcher announced that she was releasing an album, I was absolutely thrilled. Carrie has long been one of my favorite performers and I've always hoped that an album would make an appearance one day. "When The Curtain Falls" is certainly worth the wait as it's a lovely mix of musical theatre songs and Disney ballads. 

The album is certain to please Carrie's fans, but isn't exactly what you'd expect from her. While a Les Mis song does feature, it's "I Dreamed a Dream" and there's no Addams Family or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in sight. I've heard her sing "Burn" and "Let It Go" before and am excited to have professional recordings of them but her "Just Keep Moving the Line" blew me away. 

I was also delighted to hear "No One Else" from one of my favorite musicals Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 as it shows off Carrie's higher range which we don't often get to hear. And she recorded a gorgeous version of one of my favorite Disney solos "I Won't Say (I'm in Love)" which is too often overlooked. 

I even learned some new songs thanks to Carrie's album as I'd never heard "Times Are Hard for Dreams" from Amélie or "What It Means to Be A Friend" from 13 The Musical before. I loved the jazzy rendition of "Journey to the Past" and "Summertime" is both lovely and very touching thanks to the backstory of it being the first song she learned -- and the fact that her dad plays guitar on the track. 

Overall, it's a beautiful debut album which showcases Carrie's vocal talents and I think her storytelling as well through her song choices. If the songs on this album are anything to go by, Carrie has seen some hard times but is determined and ready to make a great future for herself. At only forty-five minutes long, I find myself wanting more! (But that's the curse of someone who's used to listening to cast albums.) 

I did the pre-order of the album and while it only got to me on Monday of this week thanks to delays probably due to the Bank Holiday weekend, it was definitely worth it. There's some lovely photos and writing from Carrie and it's signed -- not just on the front cover, but on the CD inside as well which is a lovely touch. Plus there's a little bonus extra on the end of the album. I don't want to spoil it, but let me say that I was so shocked and happy I yelled, "NO WAY" when I first heard it.  

I was so excited to happen to be living in London when Carrie did her first series of debut concerts. I attended the Saturday night show at Cadogan Hall (one of my favorite venues in the whole city) for what was truly a magical night. Although, I will admit that I cried a bit while Carrie sang "Let's Go Fly a Kite" because I so wished I could have my little sister and parents with me to experience it.

The concert was wonderfully produced by Club 11 and I was also impressed with the array of merchandise they had onsale in the lobby. I of course picked up a (signed!) programme and a (signed!) poster. Truly, I feel for Carrie for how many things she had to sign for the event.

It also must be said that Alex Parker is an absolute joy to watch play piano. I was seated in the third row on the side of the stalls closest to him and I kept getting a little distracted by how into the music he was. There's nothing like seeing someone who clearly loves what they're doing.

At the concert, Carrie performed a mix of some of the tracks from the album and some that didn't make it on. Since the first time I saw her as Eponine, I said that Carrie would make a great Elphaba so it was amazing to have my belief confirmed by hearing her sing "The Wizard and I." I also loved her Disney medley and especially when she sang "A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" which is actually my favorite Disney Parks song that not enough people appreciate.

I cried again hearing Carrie sing "On My Own." I saw her in the role of Eponine three times and I think I got emotional because I didn't think I'd ever get to hear her sing that song again; in actual honesty, I've never heard another Eponine come closer to her performance. Perhaps it was also just knowing what that song and Carrie's performance of the character meant to me in my late teen years that made me so weepy.

Carrie was joined by two of her former leading men, Rob Houchen and Oliver Ormson, as special guests for the concerts. (Her brother Tom Fletcher was also at Sunday's concert as a guest, but I sadly missed that.) I was lucky enough to see both Oliver and Rob in their roles opposite Carrie so I couldn't have been more thrilled. She and Rob did a stunning performance of "Seventeen" from Heathers and she and Oliver sang "Only Us" from Dear Evan Hansen. If we could get a production of Heathers with Carrie as Veronica ASAP, that would be great.

I highly recommend the album if you're a fan of Carrie's, or just a fan of lovely musical theatre and Disney covers, as it's really quite special. And definitely keep an eye out in case Carrie decides to do more concerts; she may have been nervous (as she said on her YouTube channel) but she certainly knows how to put on a great show. x

I Went to the Olivier Awards!

Yesterday was the 2018 Olivier Awards at the Royal Albert Hall in London. For anyone who doesn't know, the Oliviers are basically the Tony Awards of the UK: the biggest night in theatre of the whole year. I was incredibly lucky to be asked to do social media for BroadwayWorld UK live from the red carpet and the press room.

I was so lucky to have fellow BWW UK videography Jamie with me as he was doing video interviews (going up on the website soon) and had attended the Oliviers before so had a better idea of how they worked. Plus, we took photos of each other on the red carpet before the event began!

In all honesty, it was a bit chaotic and hectic partially because it rained almost the entire time the red carpet was going on. By the end of the night, I was starving and still a bit soggy, plus my feet were on fire. But it was all absolutely worth it to get to be a part of such a magical night.

We got to speak to so many theatre legends that it felt a bit surreal. I also spotted many of my favorite actors on the red carpet who weren't doing the press line from Hadley Fraser to Rachelle Ann Go to Carolyn Maitland. 

Chita Rivera

Imelda Staunton

(Queen) Patti LuPone and director Marianne Elliot

Personally, I was so excited to see Carrie Hope Fletcher (who you are all probably very familiar with my love for) and Alfie Enoch. Of course, I know Alfie from the Harry Potter films (he played Dean Thomas) but I also met him at a Donmar Warehouse event recently and he's such a lovely guy. 

With Alfie Enoch

The beautiful Carrie Hope Fletcher
We also got to work the Winners Room where the Olivier winners come to do more interviews when they come off-stage. It was so endearing to see how shocked so many of the people were to have won. Plus, I can say I was in the same room as one of my favorite Broadway talents, Alex Lacamoire! #theroomwhereithappens

A cute moment between Jez Butterworth and Alfred Molina

Alex Lacamoire accepting the award for Hamilton

Director Marianne Elliot accepting the award for Angels in America
I'm still kind of reeling from the shock of actually being there. It's going to be hard to top that! Although I think someday I've like to be a guest at the Oliviers or the Tony Awards...and actually get to see the show! x

You can watch my Instagram story for BroadwayWorld UK here. 

Review: The Phantom of the Opera with Luke McCall (Phantom u/s)

Ben Lewis as the Phantom and Kelly Mathieson as Christine
RATING: ★★★★★

As a treat for Easter weekend, my friend Rhiannon and I went to see The Phantom of the Opera here in London. I'd seen the show twice before on Broadway, but never in the West End and the production at Her Majesty's Theatre is absolutely beautiful. It's one of the shows that first made me fall in love with theatre and seeing it again reminded me of why it's such a classic.

For anyone who doesn't know, The Phantom of the Opera tells the story of a young orphaned girl named Christine who is in the ballet corps of the Paris opera house.  She is receiving voice lessons from who she believes to be her "Angel of Music" sent to her by her father. This mysterious man is actually the supposed ghost who haunts the opera house, demanding his salary and adherence to his artistic input on all their productions. When Christine's childhood sweetheart Raoul becomes the opera house's new patron, things become rather complicated for her as she is thrust into the spotlight and into a love triangle between these two men.

I can only imagine what the reaction to Phantom's sets must have been when it first premiered in the 1980s because they are still stunning today. I have to admit that the chandelier rising in the opening scene made me gasp out loud and the "Masquerade" staircase is beautiful and perfectly evokes the real Paris opera house, which I visited last month. The costumes are equally beautiful; my personal favorite is Christine's "Wishing" dress.

The ensemble during "Masquerade"
While it's easy to view the show as a love story or even as centering around the dangerous but charismatic Phantom, seeing it this time made me realize that it's in many ways a coming of age story. I was struck by this tale of a young woman who has to fight to find her own voice and have a say in what's happening to her as multiple men attempt to manipulate her to their own purposes. (I cried during "Wandering Child" because I was so angry on her behalf!)

Georgia Ware is lovely as Christine's best friend, the promising dancer Meg Giry. Her dancing was beautiful (those lines!) and her voice was great as well. We saw the understudy for Carlotta, the opera's prima donna, Una Reynolds, who absolutely smashed what is a very difficult role. Her voice is perfect for this operatic part.

I thought Jeremy Taylor is a somewhat bland Raoul, though whether that's due to him or the direction is hard to say. Of course, Raoul is my favorite character, so I'm a bit picky but while Taylor's voice is lovely and well suited to the role, I feel that his Raoul is a bit lackluster and bland in terms of any character development.

Ben Lewis as the Phantom and Kelly Mathieson as Christine
We saw the second cover Phantom, Luke McCall, who is brilliant in the role. He's quite young to be playing the Phantom, I believe, but he is absolutely up to the task. In fact, he almost won me over to the Phantom's side! (And I am always one to point out that the Phantom's love for Christine isn't exactly healthy.)

Vocally, he reminded me of a mix between Ramin Karimloo and John Owen Jones (yes, an ideal Phantom) and his acting was amazing as well. While he was very dignified and sophisticated even in the first act, he really shone in the second act when his Phantom fell completely apart in the "Final Lair". I was legitimately a bit afraid of him, which is something I always consider a mark of an actor who understands the character!

Of course, the star of the show for me was Kelly Mathieson as Christine Daaé. I can't believe that it's her West End debut because she is absolutely perfect for the role. Her voice is effortlessly beautiful and she easily sings Christine's more tricky parts. (The role is undeniably very demanding.) However, what I appreciate most is that she brings across a real character arc. I love how playful her Christine is; it seems she takes the mask off the Phantom in "I Remember..." in a ploy to gain his attention, an angle I'd never seen played before.

If you've not seen the show before (or even if you have), the current cast of The Phantom of the Opera is well worth taking a visit to see. I may have to plan a return trip later this year to see Mathieson's Christine again and try to catch the principle Ben Lewis (who I've watched many times in the filmed Australian production of Love Never Dies) as the Phantom.

You can also watch my video review on my YouTube channel:

Photo Credit: Johan Persson

April Goals

Can you believe that 2018 is already a quarter over? I certainly can't! Here's my goal update for April; here's to having a productive start to spring!

Goals Update March Goals

1) Properly document my trip to Paris. I definitely achieved this goal. Not only did I take lots of pictures for Instagram, I also vlogged bits of the trip. My friend Patrizia took all of our favorite photos and made a photo book for each of us; I know I'll cherish mine forever!

2) Decide on all my essay topics. I have now officially chosen my essay topics and am just waiting to hear back from my professors for their approval on them before really getting into my research. Luckily, because of the strike that's been going on this term, all our deadlines were pushed back a week -- something I truly needed.

3) Work out at least once a week. I utterly failed this one. I don't think I made it to the gym once in March, although I did a couple of Pilates videos at home. But honestly the amount of walking I did in Paris and the running about and lifting I did at the many Donmar events we had this month ought to count for it.

4) Make eight YouTube videos. I can't believe I hit this goal! I managed to upload eight videos during March and I'm actually so proud of all of them, especially my review of The Grinning Man and my Dream Roles video.

April Goals 

1) Finish almost all my essays. My essays are now due in late April and early May, but I want to try to finish them all during this month.

2) Film a video with my sister. I'm home for the last two weeks of April and since I didn't get to over Christmas break, I would love to film a video with my sister Hannah because I know she loves being on my channel (she's my biggest supporter for sure!).

3) Practice driving. I'm a bit worried that I've gone for so long without driving a car while living in London that I won't remember how to. So while I'm home, I definitely need to practice so I don't lose a skill I worked so hard to gain.

4) Workout four times. As I failed super epically at working out last month, I'm setting a very simple and achievable goal of working out four times this month. It's a really busy month but I'm hoping I can manage to fit four workouts in.

What are you hoping to accomplish this month? Let me know in the comments below. x

All About 567Broadway! | #FitLife

When I stumbled across 567Sweat online, I knew I had to feature them in a blog post. And of course there was no better time than to include them in my #FitLife series. 567Broadway! is a dance fitness class based in LA that features music from your favorite musicals.

Founder Joseph Corella wanted to create a workout that was more fun than the normal intimidating fitness programs and decided to use his Broadway experience to create something special. Classes are currently taught at The Bod by Kym Herjavec in Beverly Hills, California. He is aided by Resident Producer Beth Meberg.

567Broadway! has something exciting for those of us outside of LA now: an at-home workout DVD. This 30-minute fitness routine features choreography for all levels to music from shows like A Chorus Line, Grease, Legally Blonde, Hairspray, and more.

Joseph Corella teaching class
They did a Kickstarter in January and February and managed to raise $21,017 from 353 backers, exceeding their goal. But it's not too late to pre-order the DVD; you can buy it here. DVDs are expected to reach customers in August 2018.

You can bet that the next time I'm in LA, I'll be heading to one of their classes and I'll of course do a review of the DVD when it's released. You can check them out on their website or Instagram and you can pre-order the DVD here.

The class takes a bow!
A big thank you to Beth at 567Sweat for being so willing to answer questions and provide photos for this post! x
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