Review | Kerry Ellis: 20th Anniversary Tour | Waterside Arts, Sale

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West End leading lady embarks on a UK tour to celebrate her impressive and jam-pack 20 years of starring in the West End and performing.

After making her West End debut in 1998 in the musical My Fair Lady at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Kerry has made her mark in the West End and on Broadway. Kerry originated the role of ‘Meat’ in We Will Rock You and was the first British ‘Elphaba’ in both the West End and Broadway productions of the smash hit Wicked. Her many other leading role credits include ‘Nancy’ in Oliver! And ‘Grizabella’ in Cats at the London Palladium, ‘Eliza Doolittle’ in My Fair Lady, ‘Ellen’ in Miss Saigon and ‘Fantine’ in Les Miserables.

Onstage with Kerry was her talented and easy on the eye band, made up of Steve Geere on keys, Dave Storer on bass, Stuart Roberts on drums and Andy Waterson on lead guitar. Andy also arranged the show, and I must applaud him for some incredible covers of some favorite musical theatre songs as well as some newer ones.

Bouncing onto the stage in a sequin jumpsuit, Kerry gets the evening going and the audience singing from the get-go with Roll With You.

Singing a range of styles including some country-esk songs, Kerry’s vocal ability bends and adjusts to each song, proving that as well as a successful musical theatre performer, Kerry is also a vocal artist. Kerry has released four albums, all of which have charted in the UK, including a collaboration with the talented Br Brian May.

One of my favourites and a song that keeps popping into my head is the stunning Butterfly, a song which celebrates growth and development.

Being the anniversary of the Manchester Arena attacks and being performed in Manchester, Kerry dedicated a beautiful acoustic cover of Amazing Grace to the audience and the people of Manchester, which left tears in the eyes of the audience.

The second half of the concert showed Kerry in her element – musical theatre. Getting the audience singing the part of ‘Glinda’ in Wicked’s For Good was a highlight for the audience, and even trying to belt out Somebody to Love from We Will Rock YouKerry originated the role of ‘Meat’ in We Will Rock You, and we were reminded of her excellent version of No One But You, which Kerry sang with ease and passion.

It wouldn’t be a proper Kerry Ellis concert if she didn’t end the show with her most famous song, Defying Gravity from Wicked. As soon as the opening piano twinkle sounded, the audience knew exactly what we were getting, and she certainly didn’t disappoint.

Tackling a dramatic quick change and just making on stage for the famous first lines “Something has changed within me,” Kerry blows the audience away with her rock-inspired version of the iconic song. Accompanied by the talented students from the Midlands Academy of Musical Theatre Choir, the last song of the evening left the audience blown away.

Charming and charismatic on stage and when talking to the audience, Kerry Ellis is a natural entertainer, and a masterpiece to watch!

You can catch Kerry Ellis’ tour around the UK and information and tickets can be booked here.

Interview | Hannah Ellis Ryan on the UK Premiere of “Things We Want”

With the opening night just around the corner, I caught up with Play With Fire’s founder Hannah Ellis Ryan to see how the rehearsals have been going and what the show is going to entail.

After launching in 2014 with their acclaimed production of Orphans at the award-winning Hope Mill Theatre, the resident theatre company Play With Fire is bringing the UK Premiere of Jonathan Marc Sherman’s Things We Want to Manchester.

The themes of grief and how different people react to it is met with comedy as three brothers living together for the first time since childhood. Drugs, love and new age spirituality consume their search for purpose until a surprise visit from an upstairs neighbour turns everything upside down and challenges all the brothers thought they believed.

After receiving its Wolrd Premiere Off-Broadway in 2007, directed by and starring Ethan Hawke, Hannah is nervous but very excited to put Manchester’s stamp on the piece. “I am a bit nervous about being the first people to show this wonderful play to the UK, but I’m so excited too.”

“Two things shows should do is to entertain and educate the audience – we hope that our production of Things We Want does both,” says Hannah. “The themes in the show hopefully will be relevant to all audiences members in some way or another, so we need to do to script justice.”

Things We Want, directed by Daniel Bradford, features Alex Phelps, William J Holstead, Paddy Young and Hannah Ellis Ryan. This production marks Play with Fires’ first time collaboration with Swaggering Crow, a new theatre collective set up by Paddy Young and William J Holstead – two graduates from Manchester School of Theatre.

Since setting up Play with Fire in 2014, Australian Drama School graduates, Hannah Ellis Ryan and Daniel Bradford have moved to Manchester and created some incredible productions! “Having the ability to play with scripts and develop our versions of the shows is cool and keeps us interested.”

Things We Want is playing at Hope Mill Theatre Wednesday 30th of May – Saturday 9th of June, and you can book tickets for Things We Want here.

Since launching PWF, Hannah and Daniel have opened Hope Studios – offering affordable and accessible rehearsal space for Manchester’s creative community.

Their next production for PWF will be their first main stage production for Oldham Coliseum – coming in September 2018.

21 Things To Do Before You Turn 21

As some of you know, I turn 21 at the end of this week (Friday, for those wondering!) I can’t believe how quickly my year as a 20-year-old has gone – it’s flown by!

Looking back though, I think I’ve definitely made the most of my year!

Supposedly, these are the 21 things you should do before turning 21:

1. Climb a mountain at sunrise

I haven’t done this yet, but plan to do some early hiking when I’m in America. So who knows, a photo of the sun rising over the grand canyon?

2. Dress up in costume and go to a theme park

I’ve been to a theme park this year, just not in costume. I went with my old colleagues from the nightclub I was a manager at. It was my leaving do and hilarious!

3. Attend the concert or music festival you’ve always dreamed of

I went to Bournemouth Sevens for the third year running with all of my best friends, and it was incredible! Lots of glitter and sparkles were involved!

4. Take a solo trip somewhere

This was me the day I drove up and moved into my flat in Manchester (obviously a McDonald’s stop was needed!)

 

I moved to Manchester by myself – does that count? Moving to Manchester has to be one of my favourite things about this year, as it’s brought me so many opportunities and friendships – for which I will be eternally grateful!

5. Play in the snow

I didn’t play in the snow. Instead, I full on decked myself and slipped on black ice – resulting in a bruised and slightly fractured coxis.

6. Bungy Jump or Skydive

I did a skydive for Bournemouth Hospital Charity and raised £580 for them! That was scary seeing as I was afraid of heights and flying (why I chose to do a skydive still confuses me!) I overcame that fear and jumped out of that plane (well, I was pushed, but I’m not pedantic!). It was terrifying but terrific fun at the same time, and I would do it all over again, 100%!

7. Go on a volunteer/mission trip

I haven’t volunteered abroad, but I’ve done my fair share of charity work. Doing pageants has brought to light my love of charity work, and I am still thinking about my next challenge, even if I am not doing pageants anymore!

8. Go skinny dipping

I haven’t done this yet, but might be able to squeeze it in into the last couple of days as a 20-year-old!

9. Take a spontaneous road trip without a final destination

I’ve taken various trips this year, but sadly all have had a final destination. The only time when we didn’t know where we were going was when I met a guy and just started walking and chatting together. We were walking just in one direction, then ended up sitting down, sharing a cookie dough and ice cream and talking about life and dreams! It was awesome. I’ve never spoken to that guy again sadly, as he was quite cool and very hippy (complete opposite of me).

10. Stay the night somewhere incredibly unique

 

I’ve gone to a couple of cool places this year, including the beautiful French town La Rochelle on holiday last summer! Gorgeous!

11. Go snorkelling or scuba diving

I haven’t done this seeing as I’m quite scared of the sea! But if I ever would do it, America would probably be the place! Stay tuned!

12. See the stars in all their glory

The amount of times I have just sat outside and looked at the stars is endless. I have always said, if I weren’t in the performing or creative industry, I would study the stars. I think they all beautiful balls of burning dust!

13. Swim underneath a waterfall

Once again, England is quite short in the waterfall sector, and even if I could swim under a waterfall, I probably wouldn’t.

14. Eat something super weird and exotic

I have eaten some different dishes this year that I wouldn’t usually go for, but sadly nothing strange and exotic!

15. Write a list of all the things in your life you are grateful for

  • Life
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Uni

16. Crowd Surf

Still yet to do this – can we get this arranged?

17. Have a picnic with an extraordinary view

Mmmmhhh, not too sure.

18. Stay up and party… All. Night. Long.

 

Definitely done this. Many times.

19. Live like a local in another community

I feel like a northerner now – does that count?

20. Watch the sunset over the ocean

So many times in some of my favourite spots in Bournemouth (favourite naturally being Urban Reef!)

21. Face your fears

I got myself a place at uni and actually went – I think that’s facing a fear!

Not too bad for a year that seems to have gone too quickly! Thinking ahead to what I can do

Review | Blood Brothers | Manchester’s Palace Theatre

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A musical and story that has been done time and time again and seen many tours all over the world, Blood Brothers never loses its charm and style.

Having seen the 2010 tour production with Lyn Paul in the lead role of Mrs Johnstone in my hometown of Bournemouth, seeing Paul reprise the role in her final production was terrific.

When a struggling single mother is faced with the decision of keeping both twins babies or give one away to a woman desperate for a child, the children are separated at birth, never to see each other again. Fast forward seven years and the boys connect and become blood brothers; the women have decisions to make as to whether they let the boys bond.

After debuting the role of Mrs J in 1997, Lyn Paul is a seasoned professional and natural on stage, noted as the ‘definite Mrs Johnstone’. She definitely lives up to this name, as her vocal performance and character brings tears to the audience’s eyes and them leaping to their feet for a standing ovation. A mastermind and a perfect actress for the role – Lyn Paul is a marvel.

Playing the two loveable, charming and comical Mickey and Eddy is Sean Jones and Mark Hutchinson. Seeing both characters from young boys grow up into men is a beautiful transition and both Jones and Hutchinson excel as young boys and their naughty minds.

Acting as the ghost of the past and every character’s conscience, the Narrator is played by the dominating Mathew Craig. Craig’s vocals are splendid, and he captures the audience’s attention from the getgo and guides us through the story.

This production, directed by Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright, is entirely faultless and has to be one of the best productions I’ve seen this year.

Blood Brothers ends its UK tour at Manchester’s Palace Theatre and runs until Saturday, May 26th. More information and tickets can be booked here.

Why I started My blog (and how it’s changed my life!)

Many people ask me why I started my blog. “Don’t you have dyslexia?” “I thought you did acting, not writing.” “Why don’t you vlog?”

So many questions, and every time I say the same thing… Why not?

Why did I start my blog?

When I moved to Manchester, I wanted to do as much as I could and experience as much as I could. In the end, I was at uni or work during the day and then out at the theatre or a restaurant during the evenings. Some nights I was commentating of a basketball match while others involved a launch party of a bar. So many different things.

My friends back at home kept on saying to me, “Jess, you’re doing so many random things now, we can’t keep up!”

That’s when Jess’ Random World was born.

I wanted my friends and family at home to see what I was doing, and a blog seemed a perfect way! It would link with my uni work (for those of you who don’t know, I’m studying Multimedia Journalism at Manchester Metropolitan University at the moment) and give me a platform to tell the world about my life.

Ok, my writing style is not everyone’s cup of pumpkin spiced latte, but it’s still a way I can express myself. I love writing, regardless of the fact that I can tell the difference between bra and bar. I love the fact that only, you can pretty much say whatever you feel unless you’re in the royal family or high authority (but even then they seem to speak what they think).

I use my blog obviously for reviewing, but my lifestyle section allows me to journal my life and experiences. Just think, when I’m old and grey and still can’t tell my bras from my bars, I’m never going to remember everything that I have done. This blog allows me to have a memory jogger for the years to come.

I also love having a blog because it gives me something to do when I’m not at uni or work (but luckily my blog is becoming my work more and more 🙂 ) It keeps my brain going and thinking about different things, so that’s always a plus.

How has my blog changed my life?

Well, how long is a piece of string? Endless.

Since the start, my blog has been my baby, and to see it grow has been incredible! Going from strength to strength and developing the genres and categories have been very exciting.

I have become a more developed and rounded person since starting this blog – it’s honestly changed my life (including my dress sense!).

I am forever grateful for all the opportunities I am offered, and I know that I’m being offered them because of my hard work and determination to make my site and business a success!

I look back at everything I’ve done in the last couple of months, and it blows my mind! But, even though a blog is useful to look back on everything I’ve done, I’m always looking forward to the next opportunity and adventure, because who knows where that could lead!

Only time will tell.

PS How sassy is the photo of me singing with my name behind me? Love it!

Lots of love chickens,

J x