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.

Restaurant Review | eXchange Food and Drink Lounge | Manchester

Tucked away in the Hotel Novotel on Dickinson Street is the hidden gem that is eXchange Food and Drinks Lounge.

If you were to walk past it, you might not notice it, but it’s one to visit.

Offering a small bar menu that serves classic pub food, you have enough choice for to find something you like, but not too much that you cannot choose what you want to eat.

The atmosphere and interior is a mixture of pub and cocktail bar – high tables, large windows, and bright walls makes the venue look bright and welcoming.

For starters, I went for Franks hot sauce chicken wings, with a ranch dressing (£5). The spicy coating of the chicken wings was sticky and yummy, and the refreshing ranch dip was perfect to dunk the wing into.

My guest had the mini baked camembert, with celery and carrot sticks (£5). You can’t go wrong with camembert, and the dish certainly didn’t disappoint. A side of bread would have been nice though to dip into the gooey cheese.

For mains, I chose the harissa spiced salmon on top of a bed of tomato and tabbouleh salad (£15). The fish was a little bit overcooked, and a sauce alongside the dish would have been welcomed, as the tabbouleh was a bit dry. But the flavour was fantastic and rich.

My guest went for the big one and ordered the 10z rib eye steak, served with skinny fries and garlic butter (£19). The steak was cooked to perfection, and the juices oozed with every bite. A minimalistic and straightforward arrangement of the food has its pros and cons – the plate did look a bit empty apart from the steak and chips, but on a positive note, what you see is what you get, and there are no hidden surprises.

Even though we were pretty full from the starter and main, of course, there’s always space for a cheeky dessert.

I chose the trio of creme brulees – coffee, chocolate and vanilla flavour, served with shortbread biscuits (£6). The thought of the vanilla creme brulee leaves me weak at the knees and wanting more. Smooth, sweet and creamy – exactly what you expect and want from the much-loved dessert.

My guest chose the classic bread and butter pudding with custard and berries (£5). A portion slightly on the smaller side, but still creamy and sweet.

A simple but sophisticated menu with something for everyone. Fantastic service and a lovely experience. I shall be returning.

Exchange Lounge – 21 Dickinson St, Manchester M1 4LX

 

How to I motivate myself on my “off” and low days

As crazy as it sounds, I do have low and “off” days, where I just want to stay in my PJs, eat a whole tub of Aldi’s Salted Caramel and Pecan ice cream (if you haven’t tried it, you need to!) and binge on Made In Chelsea. Trust me; I’m human. I do it too.

But there are times when, even though I’m having those thoughts mentioned above, that I need to buck my ideas up, get dressed and get on with the day.

On these days, this is how I motivate myself to get up and get stuff done:

I have a cup of coffee

On days I’m getting up to go to work, I always have a cup of coffee to wake me up and get me going! So if it’s a day where I’m feeling a bit lacklustre, I make myself an even stronger cup of joe and wack a bit of sugar in there to give me an instant pick me up!

I have a shower.

As simple as this is, it takes a bit of effort to wash your hair (rather than just roll out of bed and spray a bit of dry shampoo in your barnet). I have a lovely citrusy and fresh shower gel that wakes me up every time I use it – it’s so energising and smells lush!

I put my face on

I don’t wear makeup every day, but when I’m feeling a little bit low or need some motivation, I try and attempt a smokey eye look and that all-important contour (I’m still learning). Walking out the house with an attempt at a winged eyeliner gives me a little bit more confidence (until I look in a mirror and realise I have a tango look going on)

I actually leave the house

If I’m feeling low and need motivation, I get out of my flat. I live in halls at the moment, and there’s only so much I can take of a cramped little flat. If I need a bit of motivation to do work, to do something on my day off or just to feel better, I go out and have a walk. Ok, I live in Manchester, so it’s usually raining, but so be it! Getting out the house, some fresh air into your lungs and your legs moving can really change your focus and headspace! Jump on the bus and go somewhere new – a new park, a new town and do a bit of shopping! Just get out of the house!

Call your family

I’m a big daddy’s girl and very close to my family, so when I moved here, I knew I was going to miss them a lot. If I’m ever feeling down, my family are only a phone call away. It’s a simple thing to so, but it could even make the person on the other end of the phone’s day too. Call a friend you’ve lost touch with. Call your nan! Anyone. It will make you feel a bit better.

That’s it. My tips to motivate your down or “low” days. Stop thinking negative thoughts, be grateful for what is in front of you and smile.

You got this queen.

Lots of love chickens

J x

Ocean Treasure VIP Launch

I was very lucky and honoured to have been invited a the launch night of the brand new and edgy restaurant, Ocean Treasure, on Thursday, April 26th, which is located on above 23 Peter Street. Being in the heart of Manchester’s buzzy nightlife, the evening was hosted by the wonderful Edge Events and the night was a celebration in true classy Manchester fashion!

VIP Experience

From the get-go, I felt like a real VIP as I walked down the red carpet and handed a glass of prosecco – it really got the celebrations off with a bang!

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As soon as you entered the venue, you felt the party atmosphere. On the decks was former Coronation Street soap star and DJ Dean Fagan, accompanied by the live saxophone player Calum Bayliss.

Having a live saxophone player reminded me of being in a bar in Ibiza and got the venue in the mood for dancing (which we all did of course!)

Food

Oh my goodness, the food still bubbles around in my mind as I write this! I have never had such fantastic sushi, prawn toast and chicken satay skewers! Mmmhhhhmmm This is a definite reason I will be returning!

The sushi was easily the winner of the night, and might even be the best I’ve ever eaten!

The platters of food were decorated with bold and colourful flowers, keeping within the theme of the restaurant.

Sponsors

My favourite part of events and launches like this is finding out about the gorgeous and generous sponsors. Sponsors allow the events to be even bigger and better and are vital to hosting a successful event!

One of the main sponsors was Juvenat Skincare, a natural skincare company founded by David Faini. Since launching earlier this year, the company has gone from strength to strength, and if you want to learn a bit more about the company and their products, check it out here.

The second sponsor of the evening was Bury-based health-food company taking the world by storm, ProPower Snacks. To check out their range and get involved in the health movement, check out their website here

The third main sponsor of the evening was World Privilege Plus, which is a loyalty club that provides some fantastic discounts and deals to its members.

CEO David Brockway attended the launch night and is a significant support to all events hosted by The Edge. Learn more about their company here.

Last, but not least, is the tremendous and flamboyant My Dry Ice, which was a crowd pleaser! To get My Dry Ice at your event, check out their website here.

You can’t deny that the best part of launches and openings is the highly anticipated goody bags waiting for you! I adored the products from Kiehl’s skincare range and even got myself a cheeky gift card, thanks to skincare company Flint & Flint.


You can find and visit Ocean Treasure at:

23 Peter Street, Manchester, M2 5QR

For all bookings and enquiries, please call 0161 839 7613 and ask for Petr Kaiser.

I really enjoyed myself at this fabulous launch, and I’d like to thanks Lyn from The Edge Events for hosting such a great evening and for the invite!

For all event enquiries, please contact The Edge Events by email – info@theedge-events.com

To find out more about the company, please visit their website here.

*Please note that although this post is sponsored, all views and opinions are my own.

Review | The Jungle Book | The Lowry, Salford Quays

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Who’d have thought that a ceiling of ladders and a set that looks like a school gym climbing frame would transform the Lowry stage into a jungle filled with adventure and excitement!

This brand new musical version of Kipling’s classic tale is a breath of fresh air, with an emphasis on acceptance, diversity and the constant reminder that “we all live in the same jungle” reminds the audience that everyone should be accepted, even if they look a bit different.

When people say The Jungle Book, most people think about the Disney cartoon. With brand new songs and script, the story is more focused on the original book, but so much better.

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This show isn’t just a children’s show; there are plenty of jokes for the adults too (including a lot of references to avocado on toast!). The direction by Max Webster and the choreography by Lizzi Gee is smart with the use of puppets and how the actors play the different animals.

The fact that Mowgli (played by Keziah Joseph) is never referred to as a girl or a boy, and just as a man-cub is lovely. A highlight of the show and a recurring motif in the show is Mowgli’s song “No one,” she sings, “will tell me who I am” strengthens Mowgli’s character and place in the jungle.

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Mowgli has “The perfect modern family!” with a panther and bear as parents. Deborah Oyelade’s fierce performance as strong feminist “black panther” Bagheera, who stalks around the stage with sass, and Dyfrig Morris’ bumpkin-like Balloo.

Lloyd Gorman’s Shere Khan is a mixture of Rum Tum Tugger and Scar but really rocks the Elvis-style jumpsuit. A comical performance that left the audience booing along as Gorman entered for his bow.

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With choreography and directions nodding towards Lion King, the show is a marvel and sublime piece of theatre. A West End transfer must be considered!

The Jungle Book is showing at Salford Quay’s the Lowry until Sunday, May 6th, and information and tickets can be booked here.