Friday, July 22, 2016

Theatre: Jesus Christ Superstar

One of the many, many things I love about living in London- yes, I know we all complain about the city from time to time/pretty much daily, but it's pretty awesome overall - is the sheer range of things available to do and see. Whatever your passion is, from food to wine to modern art to trapeze, there will be plenty of it here in the city. As I mentioned in my post last week, one of the things I love the most is musical theatre, and London never fails to delight with the range of shows and productions available to enjoy. If I had an unlimited budget and a free schedule each evening, I'd be in theatres pretty much non-stop, enjoying the many ups, downs, and beautiful moments which a musical production can bring.

In my post last week I was getting very excited about go to the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre to see Jesus Christ SuperstarThis has long been a favourite musical of mine, and when I saw that it was to be produced at this jewel of a theatre nestled in the heart of one of my favourite London parks...I snapped up tickets immediately. JCS is both a great show and a tricky one to stage well, so as the date approached I was filled with excitement and not a little nervousness. The songs in this show are like old friends, and I was hoping that the production would do them justice.

It turns out that my nerves were for naught. This production of Jesus Christ Superstar is imaginative, vibrant, and moving. In the outdoor setting the show feels intimate and involving - without the barriers another theatre would provide, the cast feel accessible and the connection you feel as an audience member is rawer, realer. As we entered the second act the summer night began to draw in, and the fading of the light as the story reached it's peak added an extra note of sombreness and pathos to proceedings.

The production team have created a beautiful version of the show. From the laidback costuming with a nod to the R n B style of the nighties and noughties (at points the ladies of the ensemble looked like All Saints or Destiny's Child, cool and edgy, a pleasant change from the usual costume decisions made in this production), to the industrial set softened by the greens and browns of the surrounding trees, it all felt organic, innovative. Timothy Sheader's direction and his use of space and minimal reliance on props or special effects leaves the stage clear for some real emotion and resonance. Tom Deering's musical direction is crisp and concise and the band were tremendous - on stage at all times and at times being a real focus. Amongst all this greatness, I also adored Drew McOnie's choreography - modern, interesting, with nothing I've seen before in JCS. The rounds, where moves spread through the pack, were excellently executed and really gave a sense of the fervour and contagion amongst the mob.

There were plenty of good performances from the capable cast, but four great ones which have really stuck with me. Declan Bennett as Jesus interprets to role in a fresh, introverted way - as the Last Supper unfolds there's a real sense of the sorrow and conflict within. His Gethsemane may lack the showstopper high notes of some former Jesuses (Jesi?), but it's moving in its desperation and its sheer humanity. 

As Pilate David Thaxton is an utter scene stealer - all Brandon Flowers styling and emo turmoil, it's a big, brave take on the role. Pilate feels like an intelligent, flawed, worried man, a chess player who can see the moves unfolding long before they are played. I loved Thaxton's interpretation and have been thinking about it frequently in the week since I saw the show. On the other side of proceedings is a character entirely convinced of his rightness and of what he needs to make happen, the Pharisee Caiaphas. Here I enjoyed Cavin Cornwall's combination of cunning, intelligence, and those rumbling basso profondo notes.  

The absolute showstopper though, was Tyrone Huntley's Judas. His performance was searing, dark and vocally amazing. Every time he sang the audience was rapt. Whether pacing the stage like a panther, calling out Jesus for perceived hypocrisies, or reflecting on his role within a bigger, more eternal plan, I could not take my eyes off him. In a great cast and company he commanded the stage whenever he was on it.

While not perfect (what show ever is?), this is gritty, wonderful, soaring theatre. If you can get a ticket I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, along with the rest of the audience. Rarely has a standing ovation felt as natural as it did after last Saturday's performance.

Jesus Christ Superstar will play at the Open Air Theatre until the 27 August.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

I Love Your Blog: The Mayfairy

This series continues to be a joy to co-ordinate. In a blogging world with so many funny, interesting, talented writers and photographers, I love the chance it gives me to talk with them about what makes them tick.

Today's featured blogger for I Love Your Blog is the brilliant Frankie, who writes at The Mayfairy. Bright, sharp, and properly funny (her posts regularly have me doing the eyes-crying-laughter emoji and trying not to snort-laugh on the overground), her blog is truly one of a kind, and the content she creates is unique, fresh, and a real pleasure to read. As I would have predicted, her interview is a delight - take it away, Frankie!

Photo courtesy of Frankie, who entitled it 'Frankie Meeting The Person Who Reads Her Blog'. She really makes me laugh!

How long have you been blogging?

Christ. Start with the hard questions, why don’t you. I suppose The Mayfairy has being going two and a half years, but before that I wrote blogs for various businesses. I came across a few the other day. My god. The less said about those the better. 

What do you blog about?  Do you have a specific goal with your blog (i.e. reviewing products, promoting a business, transitioning into a writing / media career), or is it more a record of your life?

I’ve dipped my toe into every genre of blogging; food blogging, fashion blogging, beauty blogging, travel blogging, rant blogging; I’ve done review posts, tutorial posts slice of life pieces, the works. 

After all that I’ve finally figured out that my love for writing is in the narrative. I like to tell a story, to weave a tale around whatever prompt I’ve been given. Send me to a restaurant and I will treat it like a writing prompt. I’ll tell a story about my night, my experience, or how your menu reminded me of punk weasels. I won’t do a proper “review” as that’s better left to the professionals. I don’t get my jollies in telling people how to create a “lifestyle”, I get them by entertaining folks with a good yarn. 

I’m not quite sure what I should do with that in a professional capacity, but I’m working on it. 

What is your favourite thing about blogging?

It’s a tie between meeting new friends and having a fun, creative outlet that actually makes me feel like I’m achieving something. Nothing big, I grant you, but it’s nice to look back and have a giant depository of stuff I’ve created, all with surprising validation from the strangest of places. 

What is your least favourite thing about blogging?

I feel that there is an expectation of success amongst bloggers, which can sometimes feed into a pressure structure that we all experience. Like, there’s an underlying feeling that we could all be Zoella if we just work hard enough. No mention of the fact that it’s not 2010 anymore and that the blogging climate has changed, but we all feel guilty regardless. Like, we can’t justify this hobby unless we are super successful and super success is measured in clicks.

Do you have any favourite posts on your blog – pieces you’re really proud of, which document something special, or which seemed to strike a chord with your readers?

The things I like are the weird little pieces that don’t necessarily get all the click love. I don’t do click bait titles. I don’t do last minute trend pieces to jump on bandwagons I do shit about ladies’ toilets and Spanx and childhood flashbacks. Way to grow an audience, Frankie.

Whose blogs do you love?  I’m always looking for recommendations :) 

Look, let’s be blunt here, Claire. You and I know a lot of the same people. We love a lot of the same blogs. Let me not waste your time by listing off a bunch of blogs you already read. Here a few that you should check out, and no I don’t know everyone on this list, I just love their blogs:

Need a restaurant recommendation? In Her 30s, Connie Consumes and Cheese n Biscuits are my go-tos. All incredibly well written, food-god level knowledgeable about their subject and passionately munching away.

Love history? Plodding Through The Presidents gives me giggle raptures.

Want a recipe? Sophie Loves Food has the best brownies, They Called It The Diamond Blog will give you cheese and Bowie puns in one tidy package and I’ve Got Cake is a hilariously wonderful woman who combines fashion with food and no nonsense social commentary. I love her. 

Writing about writing: Across The Hog’s Back is uber talented and I love to read her blog because writing is her thing. She’s also clever and I have this theory that every time I hang out with her or read her blog, my IQ jumps 5 points. I usually hammer it back down again later with wine and bad decisions.  

Want some lols? Try Ericka Clay, the Tipsy Lit girl. Inside The Life of Moi is also riding the lollercoaster. Obviously if I’m looking for super famous lols I find myself heading back to 27bslash6 and The Oatmeal time and time again. They are deities in my world.

Your humour is a huge part of why I love your blog, so I'm curious - what makes you laugh?

My husband. No matter how much I think I know him and can predict his every move he can always pull something out of nowhere. He makes me laugh out loud daily. When everything else is on fire, exploding and spitting poison in my face he is there to make me smile. Usually with cheese on toast.

What is your favourite area to blog about? There's such a range of content on your blog, is there one area you're especially fond of? 

Funnily enough, I think I’ve tried so many different genres at the expense of what makes me happiest and what would probably have been the most successful. 

I have near enough 140 posts in drafts and I’ve frequently put off finishing these to blog about events and stuff because if a PR invites me someplace the requisite blog post hangs over my head sword of Damocles styles, so they get published first. 

It’s such an amazing feeling as a newbie blogger to be invited to an event, or to review something. it makes you feel like you’ve “made it”, and you’re “successful” and on the right track as people are reading and reacting to your blog. You get the validation of this PR person who’s offering you this cool perk because of your influence. It seems silly to turn that down, especially if you don’t have a clear life plan for your blog.

So you take the pat on the back. All fine and good if this is what you want from life, but I don’t want to write what is essentially advertising copy in exchange for a couple of glasses of wine. So how did I get here?

To answer your question, I like the funny, ranty stuff that makes me feel like I’ve worked through some of life’s angst. I want to get back on the lollerskates.

What are your favourite social media apps, and why?

I went to the Instagram dark side for a while but Twitter is my jam. Especially with all the news and political shizz going on at the moment. I need to get back into chatting more instead of just reading though. Naughty Frankie.

What tips do you have for bloggers growing and nurturing their blogs?

Fuck bitches, get money. 

No, in all seriousness I think it depends on what you want from it.

If it’s just a hobby, follow the fun. You’ll make lots of good friends and most likely still get offered many cool perks and opportunities along the way.

If you want to make it your professional life, I think that takes more serious consideration, because the stuff that actually makes you money may not be the same stuff that makes it fun for you.

If you start out with a defined niche, then great, your path will be a lot clearer. Otherwise you need to make yourself your niche and stay true to that to avoid a lot of headaches while you figure your direction out.

You want crazy click fame and success? I think that only comes if you are either amazing or interesting (preferably both). We’re no longer part of the first wave of bloggers, so you’re no longer a pioneer if you’re creating average content. 

Your content might be perfectly fine, but if you turn up to events every week and 250 other bloggers are all writing about the same things to the same standard, why would yours stand out? You need to take it to the next level, which is much harder now than it was five years ago even.

Can you tell I’ve been having a serious word with myself?


I can, Frankie. Thank you so much for taking part in I Love Your Blog and for such a rich and interesting interview (and some great bloggers for me to check out, several of whom I haven't 'met' before!).

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

10 Great Organisation Blogs

I wrote this post last January, when I was having a good old clearout. Now, as the study project hits the home straight, I'm finding it both useful and pertinent, so I thought I'd re-share it, in case anyone else is seeking out some organisation inspiration right now!

Linking up with the Home Etc lovelies, too. Such a great link-up for home inspiration and ideas!

Home Etc

As I've mentioned earlier this month, one of my big focuses this month is getting more organised.  I am filing and shredding and decluttering like never before.  My todo list is beautiful.  My classroom is looking more shipshape by the day.

There are so many great blogs and websites with excellnet tips and tricks to help with organisation, so today I thought I'd share a few that I'm really enjoying!

All Things Simple.  I love this fresh, clean blog!  Her party planning posts are so sweet (that's how I found her blog in the first place, but in this season of tidiness I'm finding a lot of great homemaking tips too.

Clean Mama.  A blog full of great ideas and lots of printables to enjoy and deploy.

Fly Lady.  While I don't think I'm quite ready to go full Fly Lady, I am using some of the habits - I love going to bed with a neat and ordered kitchen.  Some of the cleaning tips are superb as well.  I love how realistic this site is - some organisation and cleaning sites seem to think everyone has five hours a day for home maintenance.

Just A Girl And Her Blog.  I love Abby's writing voice and her beautiful photos anyway, but her organisation and DIY tips are super.

Life In Yellow.  Great tips and beautiful printables.  Such a fun blog!

Money Saving Mom.  While this blog focuses primarily on finance and money, there are a lot of posts on organisation and home care too.

Sarah Titus.  I could spend hours on Sarah's beautiful blog - it's a feast of tips for organisation, home maintenance, money saving.  I always pick up something new when I pay her site a visit.

Simply Fabulous Living.  Leah is so organised.  I'll never reach her level, but there are always ideas to be gleaned on her beautiful blog.

This Old House.  I seem to be forever pinning things from the This Old House magazine's page!

Tico and Tina.  These guys are awesome.  They are much more pared-down and minimalist than I'm ever going to be, but some of their tips have really helped me to streamline things in our home and work out what we need and what is just 'stuff'.

I hope this post is helpful - where do you go online for organising tips?

Monday, July 18, 2016

Happy Monday/Ten Happy Things #3

It's Monday! It's sunny! It's already 20 degrees (never do I feel my Scottish heritage more than when the mercury is way on the up in the dog days of summer)! Let's get happy!

1. Planning & researching

Life is pretty busy at the moment, with so much to research, write about, and throw myself into. I love planning and organising too, and there's lots of scope for that too at the current time! My Erin Condren planner (referral link) is proving an utter godsend.

2. Honeymoon daydreaming

 This time a year ago we were just about to set off on the trip of a lifetime. I feel so lucky to have seen the places we went to and I know I'll never forget that magical trip.

3. Ice cream

On Saturday I popped over to N7 for Yelp's annual 'Slides and Scoops' event - so. many. awesome. ice creams. And no brain freeze - result!

4. Christmas In July (again) - Hobbycraft & Paperchase

This stationery nerd went to two fun events last Thursday and had so much fun. The Paperchase Christmas range is awesome (more to follow in my October spotlight post) and Hobbycraft have so many awesome ways to get crafty for the Christmas season.

5. Jesus Christ Superstar

As I mentioned in my post on Friday, I love me some musical theatre. So it was lovely to head over to the Regent's Park Open Air Theatre on Saturday to watch their new production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Full review to follow, naturally.

6. Bloggers Blog Awards

Voting time has rolled around for these awards, co-ordinated by the lovely Tea Party Beauty. I loved whittling down my picks for each category in order to vote (so hard to do, of course - there are some babes out there in the blog world). If you like what I do here I'd be thrilled if you'd nominate me for Lifestyle, Social or Pro - I'm not expecting to get through as the competition will be fierce, but I thought it would be remiss of me not to mention!

7. Tea parties

Tea, cake, cats and planning chat with the lovely Jaye on Friday. Afternoon Tea at Home House with the fabulous team from My Favourite Sale and the divine Erica, Emma and Charley on Saturday. And coffee and a catch up with Eileen on Saturday too? Fond.

8. Legally Blonde

The classic movie turned fifteen last week. So of course I watched it on Netflix to celebrate! And loved Reese's cute celebrations on social too, of course.

9. Hamilton

I love the show - now I'm reading the book. It's superb so far, but way too heavy to tote around town! This is a curl up at home with a cup of tea and a cat size of book.

10. Adventures with Milly

Last Wednesday I got to spend a morning and lunchtime with the delightful Milly (who starts her new job today. GO MILLY YOU QUEEN!). We checked out the Christmas designs at Tatty Devine (so cute, you guys, details to follow) and then headed over for a lunch catch up. Always love time one-on-one with friends.

So that was my busy, happy week. How are you all doing?
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About Me

I believe in 80s pop, 90s teen movies, and proper thank you notes. I just like smiling...smiling's my favourite.

I write here about London, food, books & travel, and a lot more besides. I'm never happier than when having adventures, cooking for friends, or lost in a good book.

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