Showing posts with label Entertainment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Entertainment. Show all posts

Friday 8 December 2023

Aladdin at St Helen's Theatre Royal - A Review

On Wednesday evening we attended the press night of Aladdin at St Helen's Theatre Royal, where we enjoyed a fun filled night of entertainment, 3D special effects and a magic carpet ride of an adventure. This spectacular pantomime by Regal Entertainments, delivers an outstanding production yet again, that is suitable for the whole family to enjoy this Christmas.

This years festive panto tells the story of Aladdin who lives in his families laundry, along with his brother Wishee Washee and his mother Widow Twanky. Aladdin falls in love with the beautiful Princess Jasmine, but he must help to save her from the evil Abanazar, with the help of a very special lamp and its hilarious genie, along with his family and the beautful Genie of the Mirror, who all play their part in saving the day!   

Image Credit: David Munn Photography

Timothy Lucas stars as the Genie and he is absolutely outstanding, providing plenty of humour and fast paced dance routines which looked spectacular on the stage. We last saw Tim Lucas in Jack and the Beanstalk at the Epstein Theatre a couple of years ago, and my children were so excited to see him again. He really is an all-round highly skilled performer, who excels in entertaining and delighting the audience.

Wishee Washee is played by Lewis Devine, who is one of our all time favourite panto stars. His hilarious personality combined with his comedic skills make you laugh out loud in numerous parts of the show. We all enjoyed his witty interactions with audience members, as well as his amusing collaborations with the genie, where they were both amazing on stage together.  One particular highlight for me was a scene where Wishee Washee wished to be small, and what followed had us crying with laughter.

Richard Aucott also impressed the audience as Widow Twanky, along with his incredibly outrageous costumes that seemed to become more and more extravagant as the show went on. 

Image Credit: David Munn Photography

The role of Princess Jasmine is played by local actress Jess Smith and she looked stunningly beautiful alongside Alex Aram who stars as Aladdin. Their on stage chemistry was superb and there is a lovely scene once they meet, that features a mash-up of many different love songs.

Popular Radio presenter Leanne Campbell stars as the digital Genie In The Mirror, though it's important to note that this is via video projection only and she does not appear in person. However, whilst her appearance may only be via a screen, she still manages to provide a cheerful and charming performance and looks absolutely gorgeous too.

This years panto baddie is the villainous Abanazar played by Liam Fox, who is best known as Emmerdale's loveable Dan Spencer. Every time he entered the stage, there was a devilishly remastered version of the Emmerdale theme tune played and he would be welcomed with a chorus of boos from the audience. He came across well on stage and delivered his evil laugh with perfection, often whilst appearing alongside PC Shameless who is played by Warren Donnelly.

The sound and choreography were absolutely incredible as always and the closing scene of the first half was phenomenal, featuring a Take That medley of popular songs that got everyone singing and dancing along. 

A clever integration of modern technology featured regularly throughout the show, but in the second half this went to another level, when we were treated to a 3D Magic Carpet Ride, which helped you to feel as though you were part of the adventure. This was swiftly followed by the well known panto ghost scene which was also delivered in 3D form. My youngest son absolutely loved this and it was an element to the pantomime that I personally haven't seen done this way before.

Overall we had a fantastic time watching Aladdin at St Helen's Theatre Royal and it is hard to believe just how much entertainment they managed to pack into this production. From fast paced choreography to hilarious comedy sketches, you won't want to take your eyes away from the stage for so much as a second. I would absolutely recommend Aladdin as a must-see pantomime this festive season!

Image Credit: David Munn Photography

To find out more about Aladdin or other upcoming productions at St Helens Theatre Royal, you can visit their website here: www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com

You can also follow St Helens Theatre Royal on the following social media pages:

Facebook - facebook.com/St-Helens-Theatre-Royal

X (formerly known as Twitter) - @TheatreRoyalStH

Instagram - @StHelensTheatreRoyal

Listing Details

Show - Regal Entertainments Ltd presents Aladdin

Venue - St Helens Theatre Royal, Corporation Street, St Helens, Merseyside, WA10 1LQ

Dates - 2nd December 2023 to 14th January 2024

Performance Times - Times vary so please see the St Helens Theatre Royal website for the most up to date information.

Tickets - From £21* (*All prices are inclusive of a £1 per seat booking fee. Online bookings are subject to an additional 50p per seat online processing fee.)

Tickets can be booked in person at St Helens Theatre Royal Box Office, Corporation Street, St. Helens, Merseyside, WA10 1LQ (Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm). Alternatively, call 01744 756000 or visit www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com.

Image Credit: David Munn Photography

*Disclaimer - We were provided with complimentary tickets for the purpose of writing an honest review of the production. All thoughts and opinions are my own unless otherwise stated. Images featured within this post do not belong to me and were kindly provided. Details featured within this post are believed to be correct at the time of writing but can be subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the venue's own website in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Saturday 8 April 2023

Beauty and the Beast at St Helens Theatre Royal - A Review

Last night we attended the press night performance of Beauty and the Beast at St Helens Theatre Royal, where we were treated to Regal Entertainments fantastic Easter pantomime of Beauty and the Beast. The show was incredible and it was the ideal way to start our bank holiday weekend, providing us with plenty of fun, laughter and entertainment from start to finish.

This adaptation of the well known story, is based in the town of Petit Pois where we meet a beautiful young lady called Belle. The Prince is cursed to become a hideous beast by the wicked Madame Botox, whilst her son Gaston makes many attempts to win Belle's heart. However, with the help of Fairy Rose, Potty Polly and French Frank, the Beast and Belle fall in love and ensure that the spell is broken.

Photo Credit: David Munn Photography

Lauren McCrory dazzles as the stunning Belle and she takes to the stage with confidence and beauty as she showcases her stunning vocals and dance abilities. We enjoyed her scenes alongside Benjamin Keith who portrayed both the charming Prince and The Beast really well and was excellent in the role. 

Gaston is played by Auguste Voulton who often appears on stage flexing his muscles or breaking into lunges, whilst his 'mummy' Madame Botox played by Abigail Middleton, delivers the perfect pantomime villain. My youngest son really enjoyed her opening scene after the interval and thought this was superb.

Photo Credit: David Munn Photography

There is definitely no denying that Lewis Devine is the star of the show and he excels in the part of French Frank. He has been one of our favourite panto performers for many years now and his stage presence, comedy delivery and hilarious personality are the perfect combination to make you laugh out loud in numerous scenes of the show. His interactions with the adult audience members were witty, funny and highly entertaining, whilst his conversations with the younger guests towards the end of the show also displayed his kind and caring side as he welcomed them to the stage. 

The extravagant and outrageous Potty Polly is played by Richard Aucott and he works well alongside French Frank with his comedy contributions. We particularly enjoyed his parts in the tongue twister scene along with the classic panto ghost scene, which encouraged plenty of laughter and audience participation.

Photo Credit: David Munn Photography

The beautiful Fairy Rose is played by Maria Lovelady and she was brilliant in bringing the scenes together with a touch of magic, whilst the senior dancers displayed some wonderfully choreographed routines right from the beginning and I felt that their performances suited the acts and songs perfectly. 

Overall we absolutely loved this production and felt that it had just the right mix of entertainment and comedy to keep all ages thoroughly entertained. It featured a great selection of musical numbers to sing along to and we particularly enjoyed the nod to the Eurovision Song Contest, which I personally found hilarious. In addition to a fabulous cast, it was clear to see from the sets, choreography and costumes, that there is also a superb creative team that are clearly very skilled. 

Regal Entertainments have yet again delivered another magnificent pantomime at St Helens Theatre Royal and we cannot wait to visit again soon. 

Photo Credit: David Munn Photography

To find out more about Beauty and the Beast or other upcoming productions at St Helens Theatre Royal, you can visit their website here: www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com

You can also follow St Helens Theatre Royal on the following social media pages:

Facebook - facebook.com/St-Helens-Theatre-Royal

Twitter - @TheatreRoyalStH

Instagram - @StHelensTheatreRoyal

Listing Details

Show - Regal Entertainments Ltd presents Beauty and the Beast

Venue - St Helens Theatre Royal, Corporation Street, St Helens, Merseyside, WA10 1LQ

Dates - Wednesday 5th April to Sunday 16th April 2023

Performance Times - Times vary so please see the St Helens Theatre Royal website for the most up to date information.

Tickets - From £16* (*All prices are inclusive of a £1 per seat booking fee. Online bookings are subject to an additional 50p per seat online processing fee.)

Tickets can be booked in person at St Helens Theatre Royal Box Office, Corporation Street, St. Helens, Merseyside, WA10 1LQ (Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm). Alternatively, call 01744 756000 or visit www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com.

Photo Credit: David Munn Photography

*Disclaimer - We were provided with tickets for the press night in order to provide an honest review of the production. All thoughts and opinions are my own unless otherwise stated. 


Wednesday 14 December 2022

Regal Entertainments presents Cinderella at St Helens Theatre Royal - A Review

On Sunday evening, my family and I had the pleasure of visiting St Helens Theatre Royal to watch their dazzling Christmas pantomime of Cinderella. We've watched plenty of their productions over the years and just when you think they can't possibly get any better, this wonderful theatre pulls out all the stops and puts together an incredible show, that provides the audience with non stop entertainment from start to finish.

The title role of Cinderella is played by Kimberley Hart-Simpson who recently starred in Coronation Street as Nicky Wheatley. Prior to walking the cobbles, Kimberley actually worked backstage in the costume department of both St Helens Theatre Royal and The Epstein Theatre, so it must be a wonderful experience to now be playing a title role on the stage. Her portrayal of Cinderella is fantastic and she looked absolutely stunning throughout the show. Her vocals were great and we absolutely loved her scenes with Buttons and the Prince. 

Photo Credit: David Munn Photography

Our favourite panto performer Lewis Devine stars as Buttons and brings plenty of comedy value to the show. My youngest son has seen so many pantomimes over the years, but he never tires of watching Lewis on the stage and finds him absolutely hilarious. He is so entertaining and we love how well he always interacts with the audience. He never fails to put a smile on our face and you can guarantee plenty of laughter whenever he performs.

Photo Credit: David Munn Photography

The Ugly Sisters - Borisina Hardup and Trussiana Hardup are played by Richard Aucott and Kristopher Bosch, who both supplied lots of giggles for the audience with their funny comments and innuendos. They played the perfect baddies and encouraged plenty of audience participation each time they asked "Aren't we gorgeous?" which my son found really amusing.

Joe Sleight plays the dashing Prince Charming and is really well suited to the role. With his combination of handsome good looks and lovely vocals, he is the perfect Prince to be paired with Cinderella.

Dandini is played by Jon Courtenay who won Britain's Got Talent back in 2020. I was particularly looking forward to seeing Jon play the piano and I was definitely not disappointed, as part way through the show we were treated to a wonderful Panto song that was thoroughly enjoyable. My family and I also really liked his scenes with Buttons (Lewis Devine), with the highlight being the 12 Days of Christmas Song that also featured The Fairy Godmother and provided laughter in abundance.

The Fairy Godmother is played by Rachael Wood who was fantastic throughout the show and she delivered a breathtaking performance of 'One Moment in Time' during the Cinderella transformation scene which was my personal favourite.

Photo Credit: David Munn Photography

Jamie Leahey and Chuck also provide plenty of entertainment with their wonderful ventriloquism act. This young man is so talented and my son was in awe of him on the stage. His confidence and stage presence were superb and you can tell that he definitely has a marvellous career ahead of him. However, it's important to note that due to Jamie's age and licensing laws, he will only be appearing in a limited number of performances. If you would therefore like to make sure that you see a show he is performing in, then be sure to check the dates on the website for full details. 

Overall we had an absolutely wonderful time at St Helens Theatre Royal and were so impressed with their production of Cinderella. The show was filled with a wonderful selection of music choices, with some well known favourites that had the audience singing along. The stage setting, scenery and props were all superb and the closing scene of the first half was absolutely incredible with the stunning carriage and real Shetland Ponies. 

The costume department worked wonders with the outfits, some of which were absolutely incredible. Ranging from stunningly beautiful to the extremely outrageous, there was definitely no shortage of glitz and glamour, with all the garments being very impressive

We would happily recommend this pantomime to everyone, so don't miss out on your chance to purchase tickets, which are on sale now.

Photo Credit: David Munn Photography

To find out more about Cinderella or other upcoming productions at St Helens Theatre Royal, you can visit their website here: www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com

You can also follow St Helens Theatre Royal on the following social media pages:

Facebook - facebook.com/St-Helens-Theatre-Royal

Twitter - @TheatreRoyalStH

Instagram - @StHelensTheatreRoyal

Listing Details

Show - Regal Entertainments presents Cinderella

Venue - St Helens Theatre Royal, Corporation Street, St Helens, Merseyside, WA10 1LQ

Dates - Saturday 3rd December 2022 to Sunday 8th January 2023

Performance Times - Times vary so please see the St Helens Theatre Royal website for the most up to date information.

Tickets - From £18* (*All prices are inclusive of a £1 per seat booking fee. Online bookings are subject to an additional 50p per seat online processing fee.)

Tickets can be booked in person at St Helens Theatre Royal Box Office, Corporation Street, St. Helens, Merseyside, WA10 1LQ (Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm). Alternatively, call 01744 756000 or visit www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com.

Photo Credit: David Munn Photography

*Disclaimer - We were provided with complimentary tickets for the purpose of writing an honest review of the production. All thoughts and opinions are my own unless otherwise stated. Any show details provided such as ticket prices/dates/booking information are believed to be correct at the time of writing, but can be subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the venue's own website in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Friday 15 April 2022

Jack & The Beanstalk at The Epstein Theatre, Liverpool - A Review

My family and I were very excited to return to the Epstein Theatre in Liverpool, to enjoy Regal Entertainments fabulous Easter pantomime production of Jack and the Beanstalk, which is running until the 24th April. This giant panto spectacular tells the story of a young boy named Jack, who sells their family cow for a handful of beans. During his adventures, he falls in love with the beautiful Princess Jill, who is then kidnapped by the evil Mrs Fleshcreep on behalf of the wicked Giant. However, the beans transpire to not be as worthless as initially thought, as a magical beanstalk soon grows up into the sky, allowing Jack to not only rescue the Princess, but to help his family too in the process.

Jack and the Beanstalk features a wonderful cast, a great selection of music, dazzling scenery and exceptional choreography, which all make this pantomime a pleasure to watch. From the opening scene, my youngest son was captivated and we were all extremely impressed by everyone involved in creating this family show. Not only did this production tell the story of Jack, but it did so in true Liverpudlian fashion, whilst also paying tribute to local legends both past and present, which we thought was a lovely touch.

Timothy Lucas is absolutely fantastic as Jack Trott and having seen him on stage previously in other panto roles, we knew we were in for a treat. His stage presence is simply superb and his comedic timing, facial expressions and delivery are just hilarious. Jack's brother, Simple Simon is played by Lewis Devine and the pair of them together provide laughter in abundance. Lewis has been a panto favourite of ours for years and he supplies non-stop entertainment with his loveable charm and humour.

Photo Credit: David Munn Photography

Dame Trott is played by Mark Two and he provides plenty of amusement throughout the show with his quick wit and cheeky innuendoes. It was a pleasant surprise to read in the programme that Mark's costumes are exclusively made and designed by himself and his wife Dee. Their talent and creativity was definitely highlighted in the extravagant styling of Dame Trott's outfits.

Princess Jill is played by Maddie Hope Coelho who brought sweetness and charm to the role. She worked well alongside Jack and their performances together were fun and enjoyable. 

Abigail Middleton did a superb job as Mrs Fleshcreep and I was left particularly impressed by her wonderful performance in the opening scene of Act Two, which was outstanding. She played the villain well, but wasn't too scary for the younger guests in the audience which I felt was just the right balance for a family friendly show.

Photo Credit: David Munn Photography

Fairy Mary was due to be played by Jenna Sian O'Hara, but due to illness on the day, the show director Olivia Sloyan brushed off her fairy wings and stepped into the role as a last minute replacement and highlighted her outstanding talent once again. We have had the pleasure of watching Olivia perform many times before and have always been blown away by her beautiful vocals. This pantomime performance was no exception and we also loved the sassiness she brought to the stage. 

The chosen musical numbers were definite crowd pleasers and my family and I particularly enjoyed the school scene in the first half of the show, where the cast deliver an excellent rendition of the song Revolting Children, which is extremely well presented with wonderful choreography.

Jack and the Beanstalk offers families a fantastic source of entertainment this Easter, and features all the must-have characteristics of a fun and exciting pantomime performance. It is wonderfully presented by an incredibly talented cast and crew, who deliver a show that is fast paced and packed full of energy from start to finish. The comedy and jokes that were showcased throughout had guests of all ages laughing out loud. It was also great to see audience participation return after the restrictions of the past couple of years and it was lovely watching everyone shouting, cheering and getting out of their seats to dance, which together created a brilliant atmosphere. Tickets are on sale now for this incredible show, so don't miss your chance to enjoy this giant spectacular pantomime this Easter. 

Photo Credit: David Munn Photography

You can find out more by visiting The Epstein Theatre website at www.epsteintheatre.co.uk

You can also follow The Epstein Theatre on the following social media pages:

Facebook - facebook.com/EpsteinTheatre

Twitter - @EpsteinTheatre

Listing Details

Show - Jack and the Beanstalk presented by Regal Entertainments Ltd

Venue - The Epstein Theatre, 85 Hanover Street, Liverpool, L1 3DZ

Dates - Wednesday 13th April 2022 to Sunday 24th April 2022

Times - Show times vary, therefore please visit the venue website for the most up to date information.

Tickets - From £14

How to Book

Book online: www.epsteintheatre.co.uk

Telephone bookings: Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm call 0844 888 9991 (calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company's access charge).

Group and School Bookings: Available by calling 0844 888 9991 (calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company's access charge).

In person: The Epstein Theatre Box Office is open Monday to Saturday between 12pm and 6pm, or two hours prior to the performance time on Sundays or Bank Holidays. Please note there is a £1 per ticket transaction fee when booking in person at the box office.


*Disclaimer - We were provided with a complimentary family ticket to the press night performance, for the purpose of writing an honest review of the show and our experience. All thoughts and opinions are our own. Details provided are believed to be correct at the time of writing but can be subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the venues own site in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Tuesday 7 December 2021

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Blackpool Grand Theatre - A Review

As a family we were absolutely delighted to be returning to the Grand Theatre in Blackpool last weekend to enjoy one of our favourite festive traditions, a Christmas Pantomime! Like many families we had to keep ourselves entertained at home last year and whilst we still had a lovely time, it definitely didn't compare to being amongst a theatre audience where you can sing and dance along, whilst also crying with laughter at the same time. 

Martin Dodd for UK Productions and in association with Blackpool Grand Theatre are proudly presenting their production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which is running from the 3rd December 2021 through to the 2nd January 2022. 

It tells the tale of the beautiful Snow White (Ellie Green) who is treated terribly by her evil stepmother the Wicked Queen (Vicky Entwistle). In true fairytale style, Snow White falls in love with a handsome prince and manages to escape the clutches of the Wicked Queen, only to stumble into the dark forest where luckily she meets seven new adorable friends, who help to try and keep her safe from harm. Featuring a magic mirror, an eccentric Nurse Dolly (Jamie Steen) and an entertaining jester called Muddles (Steve Royle), Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs contains all you need for an enjoyable time at the theatre this festive season.

The pantomime is fun-packed from start to finish and includes comedy, dancing, singing and all round entertainment that is sure to bring a smile to your face. Variety performances feature throughout and include everything from juggling to a very special and unique kind of ventriloquism. Running at approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes including the interval, it is the perfect way to spend some quality time with the family whilst being thoroughly entertained.

© Blackpool Grand Theatre | Martin Bostock

Vicky Entwistle stars as the Wicked Queen and is extremely impressive in this role. She surpassed my initial expectations and had a commanding stage presence that grasped my attention each and every time she entered the stage. Despite being cast as a baddie, I felt that at times she also provided a touch of glamour, whilst also treating the audience to some incredibly enjoyable performances. I have watched many pantomimes over the years and have found that in some shows the baddie can have a somewhat limited role, but the Wicked Queen features regularly throughout this production and she had no problem showing off her vocal skills or keeping up with the choreography to some fast paced musical numbers.

Steve Royle (Currently Britain's Third Most Talented Person) stars as Muddles and my family and I were really looking forward to seeing him perform on stage. Whilst I have seen him starring in a panto role before, my children only became aware of him through his appearance on Britain's Got Talent and they were excited to see what variety acts he would bring to the show. It is fair to say that we were not disappointed and his fabulously funny ventriloquism scene starring a very Manky Monkey, will be one that my children will talk about for years to come. 

Nursie is played by Jamie Steen, who was just wonderful as Nurse Dolly. There were a few innuendos and little jokes for the adults thrown in on occasions and I found that Nursie and Muddles complemented each other well on stage. Both were capable of engaging well with the audience and made the ideal comedy duo during their scenes together. 

The role of Snow White was performed by Ellie Green who contributed some exceptional vocal talent. Her voice was a pleasure to listen to and her character was both charming and likeable. She performed well opposite her charismatic and handsome Prince, who was played by Chris Warner Drake. 

The seven dwarfs named Kip, Pop, Soppy, Sneezer, Twitcher, Smiler and Grouchy were incredible and you could feel the audiences love for them all as soon as they appeared. We couldn't help but sing and clap along as they performed songs such as "Heigh-Ho" and "Whistle While You Work".

© Blackpool Grand Theatre | Martin Bostock

The show features traditional panto favourites such as the spooky ghost scene and the marvellous 12 Days of Christmas which my family love. I always enjoy watching this particular act and how the cast deal with the many challenges. My youngest son had asked me on the way to the show whether the song would feature, so he was absolutely delighted to find himself singing "Five Toilet Rolllllsss" at the top of his voice.

The music throughout the production has been perfectly selected and features a variety of well known songs that all ages could sing along to. There was definitely some stand out performances though, with Snow White's incredible vocals showcasing "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and the dwarfs fantastic rendition of "Ice Ice Baby" which gave the audience an absolute treat. My personal favourite however, was Vicky Entwistle's performance of "I Put a Spell on You" which was just superb! A special mention also has to be made regarding the wonderfully talented orchestra who played with precision and made the songs an absolute joy to listen to.

© Blackpool Grand Theatre | Martin Bostock

The costumes within the production are without a doubt some of the best I have ever seen, particularly Nursie's. Her outfits dazzled and bewildered us with their creativity, extravagance and awesomeness. Just when you thought they couldn't get any bigger or bolder, you would be surprised with yet another costume change that were often greeted with sounds of laughter when she took to the stage. Whilst these costumes were the most notable, the wardrobe department excelled throughout the show with all cast members looking the part in outfits that reflected their characters perfectly.

Overall we had a wonderful time at the Blackpool Grand Theatre and both my husband and I enjoyed it just as much as the kids. Variety and comedy was strong throughout the whole production and it was great to hear the theatre filled with continuous laughter. Audience participation was definitely encouraged and everyone seemed to absolutely love this interaction that has always played such a big part in the panto experience. The cast all worked really well together and quite importantly they genuinely looked like they were having a great time on stage, providing guests with what I consider to be an outstanding show. I would absolutely recommend Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to people of all ages, so don't delay and be sure to book your tickets to this fabulous pantomime very soon!

Listing Details

Show - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 
Dates - 3rd December 2021 to 2nd January 2022
Times - Various show times
Venue - Blackpool Grand Theatre, 33 Church Street, Blackpool, FY1 1HT
Ticket prices - Prices vary, so please visit the Grand Theatre website to obtain the most up to date information.
Box Office - 01253 290190
Website - https://www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk/event/snow-white-new-2021-22

You can also visit The Grand Theatre's social media pages on the following channels:

Facebook - @blackpoolgrand

Twitter - @Grand_Theatre

Instagram - @grandtheatrebpl

© Blackpool Grand Theatre | Martin Bostock

*Disclaimer - We were provided with complimentary press tickets for the purpose of writing an honest review of the production. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Details provided are believed to be correct at the time of writing, but can be subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the venues own website, in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Sunday 22 December 2019

The Snowman Tour at Chester Cathedral - A Review

Throughout my school years I developed a love for music and learnt to play the harp, clarinet and the piano, with my childhood dream to be part of an orchestra or band. Unfortunately that dream wasn't meant to be, but my love of live music remains and in terms of entertainment, nothing quite beats a live orchestra. However, when you combine the outstanding skills of an orchestra, with the timeless classic animation of The Snowman, you get something even more exceptional and a show that provides the most magical of experiences for audiences of all ages.

Yesterday, my family and I were invited along to see The Snowman Tour, in the beautiful surroundings of Chester Cathedral. The Snowman Tour from Carrot Productions has been visiting venues all around the country this December and will continue to do so right up until the 30th of this month.  The show brings the magic of the animation alive, as the iconic short film is accompanied by a live orchestra and a young soloist who performs the song Walking in the Air.


Chester Cathedral itself is a stunning venue for such a beautiful show and as we took our seats we couldn't help but look around and gaze at the amazing architecture within. There was a small stage at the front, with seats placed for the members of the orchestra, along with a large screen situated directly above.  Everyone seemed so excited for the show to begin and as we patiently waited for 2pm to arrive, various musicians began to fill the stage, dressed in festive attire that was most impressive.

As the show began, we were treated to a festive overture and my youngest son loved singing along to the music and guessing the names of the songs. With there being so many children in the audience, it was quite a relaxed atmosphere which made Riley feel very comfortable. This also meant that I didn't need to worry about him whispering to me every now and again, like you do at some shows. He was able to recognise all of the songs played and it was the perfect way to start the performance.

Following this, we were introduced to the various members of the orchestra in a fun and amusing way. I really liked this as it helps children to identify the numerous instruments involved and Riley found it to be really interesting. He particularly liked hearing the strings and woodwind sections.

We were then treated to a lovely orchestral performance of The Nutcracker Suite with a specially commissioned film by Tom Scott. This delightful animation was enchanting as the musicians performed the well known Tchaikovsky festive favourites, such as The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, The March of the Toy Soldiers and Waltz of the Flowers. Riley has recently been learning dance as part of his P.E lessons in school and they have been creating movements using this music, so he was very familiar with them all and excited to see them performed live.  It is important to note that not all venues will be showing The Nutcracker Suite as the animations do vary dependent on location, but you can check prior to booking which one will be shown. Other animations include The Bear and the Piano and A Donkey's Tale that are both heartwarming and beautiful stories to be entertained by.

Shortly afterwards, there was a wonderful atmosphere as a snowman character ran around the Cathedral giving high fives to the children. Riley loved this and enjoyed watching him as he made his way amongst the audience. This led to the moment that we had all been waiting for on the big screen......The Snowman!

Image credit: ©Tom Bangbala

Riley was captivated as it began and despite the fact that I have seen this animation a countless number of times, I became fascinated and transfixed on the stage.  I tried to choose moments to glance between both the screen and the orchestra, as I was keen to observe the talented musicians. They all seemed to be in their element whilst performing, which was so enchanting to watch.

When the moment arrived for 'Walking in the Air', a young soloist took to the stage and provided the most beautiful rendition of the song with their exceptional voice. Watching this song being sang live with the orchestra was incredible and certainly a highlight for us.

My favourite scene in the animation is the Dance of the Snowmen, so I was really looking forward to this part of the show and it did not disappoint. The orchestra were amazing and it enabled me to fully appreciate their abilities as the combination of music and dance was brought to life on the screen.

Overall I absolutely loved The Snowman Tour from start to finish and honestly cannot recommend it enough. We had such a fabulous time and it truly is the perfect show for the whole family to enjoy this December. With a running time of just over one hour, it was the ideal length of time to keep younger children's attention and we loved the additional performances that took place prior to the start of The Snowman animation. There was an enjoyable atmosphere and it was lovely to be able to watch the show in such beautiful surroundings. The orchestra were all extremely talented and we found it quite mesmerising watching them perform. Ultimately this is a wonderful experience for audiences of all ages, so don't miss out on your chance to book tickets for the remaining shows.

For more information on The Snowman Tour or to check remaining availability, then you can visit the Carrot Productions website or their social media pages on the following channels:

Website - https://www.carrotproductions.com/snowman
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/carrotproductions
Twitter - @carrotprod
Instagram - @carrot_productions

*Disclaimer - We were provided with a complimentary family ticket, for the purpose of writing an honest review of the show and our experience. Thoughts and opinions are my own unless otherwise stated. Details provided are believed to be correct at the time of writing, but are subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the shows own website in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Tuesday 17 December 2019

Aladdin at St. Helens Theatre Royal - A Review

Regal Entertainments' pantomimes at St. Helens Theatre Royal are renowned for their fantastic productions and this years Christmas offering of Aladdin is certainly no exception. From start to finish the show is packed full of comedy, stunning vocals and plenty of dance moves that are strictly fabulous.

This pantomime tells the story of Aladdin, his quest for the magical lamp and his love for the beautiful Princess Jasmine. However, the evil Abanazar wants the lamp and its powers all to himself and sets up a cunning plan to become its owner. The Genie of the Lamp is on hand to grant three wishes to its bearer, whilst the Slave of the Ring is full of helpful wisdom and advice. Aladdins family Widow Twankey and Wishee Washee ensure that Aladdin gets all the help he needs and together this creates a fun re-telling of this age long story.

St. Helens is one of our favourite theatres and as we took our seats in the circle, we could feel the excitement throughout the building with a lovely atmosphere that continued throughout the show. There was plenty of audience participation and children (plus adults) loved joining in with the traditional 'It's Behind You' and 'Oh Yes He Did' scenes.

Image credit: David Munn Photography

Robin Windsor stars in the lead role of Aladdin and suits the role perfectly with his charm, wit and exceptional dancing ability. I thought his on stage partnership with Princess Jasmine (Olivia Sloyan) worked well and we really enjoyed her exceptional vocals, which really make her shine like the star she is, when performing on stage.

Resident Dame Si Foster plays the glamourous Widow Twankey and we loved his character and cheeky personality. His humour was complimented well by Scott Gallagher, who starred as Wishee Washee who delivered his scenes with perfect comical timing. We also thought that his interaction with the children in the second half of the show during the 'Floss Like a Boss' competition was brilliant. Friendly and hilarious, which was perfect!

One of our panto favourites Philip McGuinness gives an amusing portrayal of the wicked Abanazar. We have seen him in numerous pantomimes previously and he never disappoints. He is great at providing is own interpretation of a character which is very enjoyable to watch.

Image credit: David Munn Photography

Kai Jolley stars as the Genie of the Lamp and we thought that he was great, with a very clear and strong voice, along with the enthusiasm and warmth that you would expect from the genie. We really enjoyed his moments on stage, along with The Slave of the Ring played by Jenna O'Hara who suited the supporting role well. A special mention also has to go to both the senior and juvenile dancers who exhibited their wonderful skills superbly throughout the whole show.

The stand out character for us though, was the wonderful Timothy Lucas, starring as PC Noodle, who we found to be highly entertaining and we felt he was the perfect addition to a stellar cast. He delivers countless comical performances which provides families with plenty of laughter. His vocals are strong, which were evident during a particular scene with Abanazar, where a musical mash-up of well known songs is delivered flawlessly.

Image credit: David Munn Photography

The scenery was bright and eye-catching, whilst the costumes were glamorous and extravagant, ensuring that the cast most definitely looked the part. The clever and witty script was delivered with excellence and the comedy scenes were hilarious, especially a funny sketch that took place in the laundry, as well as the moment that the audience were soaked with water guns. We thought we may have been safe from this being seated upstairs, but the cast ensured that we didn't miss out on the fun, much to my children's delight.

The inclusion of a 3D scene was wonderful and the audience were taken on a magical carpet ride. I found the quality of this scene to be superb and despite knowing that it wasn't real, I will happily admit jumping a couple of times as creatures came flying towards me.

Overall we had an absolutely wonderful time watching Aladdin and feel that it truly offers something for the whole family to enjoy. With jokes for the kids, some cheeky innuendos for the adults, stunning vocals, creative choreography and plenty of fun for audiences of all ages. We would absolutely recommend this show to everyone, so don't miss your chance to see this fabulous pantomime and be sure to book your tickets very soon!

Listing Details

Show - Aladdin
Venue - St. Helens Theatre Royal, Corporation Street, St Helens, WA10 1LQ
Dates - Saturday 7th December 2019 to Sunday 12th January 2020
Times - Times vary so please visit the St. Helens Theatre Royal website here to obtain this information.
Tickets - Prices start from £13*

*All prices are inclusive of a £1 per seat transaction fee. On-line bookings are subject to an additional 50p per seat on-line processing fee.

Bookings - Book in person at the Theatre Royal Box Office, Corporation Street, St Helens, WA10 1LQ (Mon-Sat 10am to 5pm). Alternatively, call 01744 756000, or log on to www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com.

Image credit: David Munn Photography

*Disclaimer - We were provided with press tickets for the purpose of writing an honest review of the production. All opinions are my own unless stated otherwise. Details provided are believed to be correct at the time of writing, but are subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the venues own website, in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Saturday 7 December 2019

Winter Funland at EventCity, Manchester - A Review

On Thursday evening my family and I were invited along to experience Winter Funland 2019, which is being held at EventCity Manchester right through the festive period and up until the 5th January 2020. This Christmas extravaganza follows on from last years highly successful event, which saw a fantastic attendance of over 85,000 people, who all came along to enjoy the festivities. Prior to the attraction opening, Winter Funland event director, Andy Windmill, said: "Last years event was a phenomenal success and this year promises to be bigger, brighter and full of even more festive fun. We have pulled out all of the stops to ease queues for Santa, quicker service for food and of course - brought in even more exciting funfair rides."

Tickets for Winter Funland include access to a whole host of attractions such as the giant indoor funfair, a fantastic Christmas pantomime, a magical festival circus, Santa's grotto and a wonderful ice-skating rink for guests to enjoy. With the expectations set of a Winter Funland even better than before, my children and I couldn't wait to visit and find out exactly what was on offer for families to experience.


On arrival we made our way straight to the food court and with three hungry children to feed, I was hoping that there would be something that they liked. I needn't have been worried as there was a fantastic variety of food available for sale, ranging from children's meal favourites to curries, hot filled baps to yorkshire wraps and tasty burgers and hotdogs. The prices were slightly high, but in line with other attractions and the portion sizes were fair for the cost. We purchased two large Bratwurst sausage hot dogs, one kids meal of chicken nuggets and chips with a chocolate milk drink, a bacon cheeseburger, a beefburger and a portion of chips which all came to £32. As well as the main food court, there was also a pick and mix stall, a bar area serving alcohol and a slush factory.


Once we had enjoyed something to eat, my children excitedly ran to some of the fairground rides. They were pleased to see some of their favourites, with Riley being very happy to spot the flying elephants. There was plenty to choose from and we loved wandering around from ride to ride in such a family friendly atmosphere. Sociable elves could also be spotted regularly saying hello to the children and making them feel really welcome.


We really liked the variety of rides available and that there was something to suit all ages. I was also pleased to see that there was a good mix of both traditional and modern rides, with popular favourites such as the dodgems and a carousel also in attendance. All of the ride operators we met were really friendly, particularly the gentleman running the planes who was great with my children, along with a lady running the car ride near the entrance, who made sure that all the children got off the ride safely. A welcoming smile can make all the difference, so it was great to see staff being so helpful and polite.


In addition to the rides, there is a wonderful ice skating rink for visitors aged 4 and above, where you can glide gracefully across the ice. However if you are a bit unsteady on your skates, then there are staff on standby to give you advice, as well as useful skating aids to give you a helping hand.

For those who enjoy some added excitement, then there is a thrilling festive circus to enjoy, which is sure to mesmerise the whole family. Featuring hilarious clowns and a host of talented performers, a trip to the circus is sure to entertain.


Visits to Santa's Grotto are also included in the ticket price, however for an additional cost, you can also purchase a gift or photograph. With the grotto being very popular with families, the event organisers have listened to feedback from last year and implemented some changes to improve the experience. I think it is great when companies listen to their customers and I think the displaying of queue times, the option to purchase fast passes (at the time of booking tickets), as well as the grotto being opened 30 minutes prior to the session start times, will all be of benefit to guests.

The grotto has been well planned out for those important memory making moments with Father Christmas, making it a truly magical experience for children. Visits to Santa's Grotto will only be available up until Christmas Eve so please bear this in mind when booking tickets. The queue for the grotto will close one hour before the session ends.


If all this wasn't enough, then there is also a Christmas Panto, providing entertainment to audiences young and old. Telling the story of an Arctic Adventure, this fabulous festive treat offers something for everyone to enjoy and is a fantastic addition to Winter Funland 2019!

Overall we had a great time at Winter Funland and found there to be a huge range of rides, shows and activities to choose from. The staff on the rides were really friendly, as were the excitable elves who could be found wandering around the event. There was a good amount of security who had a very visible presence throughout the evening, which I think is very important at present, especially at large events such as this. Everything is well laid out and despite being busy, it didn't feel crowded at any point and my children rarely had to wait more than a couple of minutes to go on a ride. The atmosphere was fun and festive, making it a great place to enjoy some family fun together this Christmas.


If you would like to find out more about Winter Funland, then you can visit their website or social media pages on the following channels:

Website: www.winterfunland.com
Facebook: facebook.com/winterfunland
Twitter: @winterfunland
Instagram: @winterfunland

Event Details

Event - Winter Funland
Venue - EventCity (opposite Intu Trafford Centre), Phoenix Way, Off Barton Dock Road, Trafford City, Manchester
Dates - Various dates from 6th December 2019 to 5th January 2020
Times - Times vary, so please visit their website for the most up to date information.
Tickets - Tickets are priced at £23.50 per person with under 3's admitted free of charge. Fastpass tickets to visit Father Christmas at the Santa's Grotto are also available from the website.
Parking - There are over 3000 free parking spaces available


*Disclaimer - My family and I were provided with complimentary wristbands for the VIP night, for the purpose of writing an honest review of our experience at the event. All opinions and photographs are my own. Details provided are believed to be correct at the time of writing, however I would always recommend visiting the attractions own website, in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Monday 25 November 2019

A Family Visit to Christmas at Dunham Massey 2019 - A Review

On Thursday evening we were invited to the press night of Christmas at Dunham Massey. This was our third year attending and it just gets bigger and better every year. We love this event so much, that it has very quickly become a highlight for the whole family on our festive calendar and never fails to get us into the Christmas spirit.

The magical after-dark illuminated trail is truly spectacular and features the popular favourites that returning guests have come to know and love, such as the Giant Glittering Deer and the Cathedral of Light, in addition to some brand new installations that definitely have that added wow factor.

Our evening began with a welcome reception where we enjoyed some sweet treats and hot beverages in the cafe, before listening to a short welcoming speech about the trail and the huge amount of work involved, which takes place throughout the year. We could hear the Christmas music begin outside and my children couldn't wait to get to the trail and experience Christmas at Dunham Massey 2019.

We made our way to the courtyard and found that there was a new layout to previous years. As you enter through the archway there is a lovely selection of traditional fairground rides, which include a Helter Skelter, Boat Swings, a Carousel and a Merry Go Round. It costs £2.50 per ride if paying on the night, however when you book your tickets online, there is the option to add five rides for a discounted price of £10 when paying in advance.


The food stalls are now located to the right hand side of the courtyard and are placed either side of the walkway. There is a great selection of food and drinks available to buy from the various vendors, which included dirty fries and hot dogs from Diamond Dogs, cypriot cuisine from Cyprus Kouzina, mulled wine and luxury hot chocolate from the Winter Wunderbar and delicious smelling burgers from the Little Heath Farm Shop to name just a few. We also noticed that The Stables restaurant was open selling hot soup and scones, so there is definitely something to suit all tastes and ensure that no one goes home hungry. Prices vary per stall, but the costs seemed reasonable and the food smelt fantastic.

Once you have walked past the food stalls, this then leads the way to the brand new entrance to the start of the trail. This new walkway brings you in facing the magnificent house which is decorated with a festive projection display. I had read in the preview about this and was expecting a few lights going across the front of the building, however I was completely blown away by the highly entertaining display which was absolutely incredible. The quality was amazing and you could see everything really clearly and this immediately created a buzz of excitement amongst the guests.


At the start of the trail there are two giant sized glittering reindeer, along with some large picture frames to help you create the perfect family photo. The reindeer are stunning and have to be seen in person to be fully appreciated. They glisten and twinkle beautifully, whilst standing bright and tall and they are the perfect welcome to the one mile long magical walk.

The Heart Walk installation also grabbed our attention as we strolled past a collection of large floating hearts that created all kinds of colours to admire. The cleverly designed artistic hearts, helped us to think about the love that surrounds Christmas and we thought that they were a great addition to the trail.


My son Ben really enjoyed the Firework Trees, which created a beautiful multi-sensory display. The lights would raise up and down whilst sounds would crackle and zoom as they mimicked a firework effect. My children questioned just how long it would have taken to have decorated the trees with so many bulbs and it made us realise how much hard work goes in to creating this mesmerising christmas trail.


The Sea of Light created a breathtaking moment and uses the combination of sound and light to create the most delightful scene. It was so calming and enjoyable just watching the lights flow in waves of colour, that we all found incredible. This feature could be enjoyed from the walkway, or you could take in the full effect by sitting on one of the bright blue benches and enjoy the immersive experience of the Sea of Light travelling towards you.

In addition to the various installations, we loved how trees would just be simply lit with an attractive glow along the way, creating a warm and inviting environment to be in.

 
As you make your way around the trail, there is also the option to toast some marshmallows on the fire pits. My children absolutely love doing this each year and there are always a great range of flavours to choose from. We chose Vanilla, Chocolate Orange and Candy Floss which were all delicious and cost £1.50 each. There was a lovely red glowing trail around the fire pits and Riley and I took a walk around these and through the tunnels, whilst everyone else finished eating their sweet treats.


Of course no Christmas Trail would be complete without an appearance from Santa himself. This isn't a grotto opportunity, but more a brief show that entertains children (and adults), so there is no meet and greet. Personally I prefer this as it means no queues and instead everyone can enjoy the experience. Santa had guests doing a fun warm up, whilst the rabbit told a little tale which everyone seemed to enjoy.


As we continued on our walk we came to the Light Cathedral. This has been one of the stand-out features of previous years and so I was really pleased that it had made a very welcome return. It really looks fantastic in person and my photos don't really do it justice, but there are quite literally thousands of small lights which create a fabulous effect as well as a stunning feature to walk through.


We all absolutely loved the Rings of Fire, which were located in the lake. Light beams filled the air, accompanied by a great selection of music, which was really stunning to watch. I really could have stood there for several hours just watching the spinning snowflakes and fire glow. My youngest son Riley thought that this was amazing and I would absolutely agree.


Overall we had a wonderful time and would absolutely recommend this event to all. The style and creativeness of this magical Christmas trail, really makes it suitable for visitors of all ages. Whilst it is great for families, it is also equally as good for couples, groups of friends or even solo visitors due to its lovely festive atmosphere. The new installations were superb and we particularly enjoyed the projection show on the front of the main house. Christmas at Dunham Massey is a wonderful experience from start to finish and we will definitely be returning again in the future.

For further information on Christmas at Dunham Massey, please visit their website or social media channels which can be found here:

Website - National Trust - Dunham Massey
Facebook - DunhamMasseyNT - Facebook
Twitter - @DunhamMasseyNT

Event Details

Attraction - Christmas at Dunham Massey, the magical, after-dark, illuminated trail.
Location - Dunham Massey, Altrincham, Cheshire, WA14 4SJ
Dates - Selected dates from 22nd November to 30th December 2019.
Admission - From: Adult £17.50, Child (3-16) £11.00, Family £54.00
Website - For full details and pricing, please visit the Dunham Massey website Christmas at Dunham Massey

*Additional charges apply for vintage rides, food and drink.


*Disclaimer - We were given press tickets for the purpose of writing an honest review of the event. All opinions and photographs are my own, unless stated otherwise. Details provided are believed to be correct at the time of writing, but are subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the events own website in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Thursday 14 November 2019

Day of the Dead Festival at Southport Pleasureland - A Review

Earlier this month, Southport Pleasureland hosted a fantastic evening of entertainment and fireworks for their Day of the Dead Festival, which was attended by a huge crowd of visitors and brought an end to the 2019 season. My family and I were invited along to enjoy the celebrations and find out more about what was on offer for guests to experience at the event.

We arrived just before 5pm and made our way into the attraction. This was our first time at Southport Pleasureland, so my children were very excited to be attending and couldn't wait to see what rides and acts were available. As we entered, we were greeted by two stilt walkers in Day of the Dead themed costumes and face paints, as they spun circles of fire in front of the arriving visitors. Riley was mesmerised watching them and was looking forward to seeing the rest of the entertainment.


I had saved the list of timings on my phone, but realised once we were there, that we didn't know the locations of each act. Fortunately we seemed to be in the right place at the right time when it came to viewing the action and my children loved watching the performances. The Bring the Fire Project Skeletons got the evening off to a great start with their movements and flames, whilst the Creo Dance Company offered some creative dance displays.


We particularly enjoyed the LED jugglers and spinners who wowed the audience with their wonderful light displays. Our favourite however, was the Katumba Drummers which really helped to create a carnival style atmosphere. My eldest son is currently learning to play the drums in school, so he absolutely loved this part of the evening.


In between the acts we enjoyed ourselves on all of the rides. Each of them were being offered at a discounted price of £1.50 per ride which seemed very reasonable. To go on the rides you needed to purchase a Fun Card, which could then be pre-loaded with credit using one of the machines around the park. We had been provided with £10 credit on each on ours and this lasted us the whole night. I felt that the reduced ride prices offered families great value for money and that the Fun Card system would also allow families to budget accordingly.


There was a great choice of rides to choose from and we found that the queue times for each of them were reasonable and not too long. The Dodgems were very popular, but my eldest son managed to get a couple of goes and he had great fun driving the vehicle around and trying to avoid others. Riley loved the Balloon Ride, the Dumbo's and the Convoy and used the majority of his £10 on these rides. A particular mention must go to the member of staff running the Convoy ride, who was fantastic with the children and made it a great experience for them all.


All three of my children loved the Dock Funhouse which is one of the largest I have ever seen. They all said it was fantastic and lots of fun, with plenty to see and do inside. They all went on this at the start of the evening and then each chose to visit it again at the end of the night too.


For an additional charge, guests could also participate in one of the many fairground games to win prizes, which were located at various points around the attraction. I thought that the one indoors looked great and the prizes seemed to be of a good quality too.


There were plenty of food options available from various vendors and there was an ample selection of choices on offer. Items ranged from sweet treats such as waffles and pancakes to the more traditional favourites of fish and chips. A vintage bus which doubled up as a bar was also in attendance, so adults could enjoy their favourite tipple, whilst taking in the entertainment. Both hot and cold drinks were also available throughout the park at varying prices.


The evening ended with a fabulous fireworks finale which lit up the night sky beautifully. It was a wonderful display which was the perfect way to end the event.

Overall we had a wonderful night at Southport Pleasureland and it will definitely be on our list of places to return to next year. We felt that the Day of the Dead Festival offered something different to the usual Halloween and Bonfire Night events that were being held during the same weekend and it is great that there is an attraction offering some variety.

We loved the family friendly atmosphere and found all the staff we came across to be extremely welcoming. The rides were all enjoyable and there was a great selection that were suitable for various ages from toddlers to adults, so there was no worry about anyone missing out on all the fun. Ultimately we had a great evening and we look forward to visiting again in the future.


Attraction Details

Southport Pleasureland has now closed for the 2019 season, however they are due to reopen in March 2020 and you can find out more information on the attraction here:

Address - Southport Pleasureland, Marine Drive, Southport, PR8 1RX
Website: www.southportpleasureland.com/
Twitter: @SNPleasureland
Facebook: facebook.com/SouthportPL
Instagram: @snpleasureland
Parking - There are 3 car parks located on the Esplanade and on Marine Drive
Public Transport - Southport Pleasureland is easily accesible by public transport and is a short walk from the park and ride station, the town centre and Southport Railway station.


*Disclaimer - We were invited to this event as guests of Southport Pleasureland, for the purpose of writing an honest review of our experience. All opinions and photographs are my own.