Of Musings and Wonderings

{October 12, 2013}   Liebster Award

Taking a little break from all the books & TV stuff to accept this award, from the lovely J. Milburn. Firstly, I’d like to say a huge thank you to him for nominating me for this. And I would strongly recommend checking out his blogs. You will not be disappointed. Now, the rules of the award.

– Link back the blogger that nominated you

– Nominate 10 others who have less than 200 followers

– Answer the 10 questions provided by the blog that nominated you

– Provide 10 questions for the bloggers you nominate

– Let your nominee’s know of their award

So, my nominees for this award are –

1. oneblondeandonebrunette

2. parlor of horror

3. zombiephreak

4. beatthemtodeawiththeirownshoes

I know, I know, I’m cheating by only having four. But to be honest, the majority of blogs I follow – or looked at to try to find some more – have over 200 followers. So I’m going to ask you a favour. If you know of a blog that has under 200 followers, and you think deserves a little recognition, let me know! I’ll have a look, follow if it seems like my kind of thing and add it to my nominees. But yeah, check out the blogs above when you have a chance.

As per the rules, I need to answer ten questions given my the blog that nominated me.

1. Why did you start blogging?

I tried to blog before, but never had the time or ideas of what to blog about. Towards the end of University, I started considering self-publishing, and knew I would need some platform to market myself. So, the blog started, but from the start I told myself I would write about anything I wanted, rather than focusing on one single theme.

2. What is your favorite genre to read?

I will read anything, but my favourite genre is horror. And pretty much anything with a supernatural element to it.

3. What is one long-term goal you hope to accomplish?

Get published and have some sort of success with it. I don’t mean be massively famous, but maybe just do well enough that I can live off writing.

4. What do you do when not blogging or writing?

Watch TV shows. Read (a lot). Slave away at work.

5. What is your favorite movie genre?

Again, horror. Or musicals. Hence Repo: The Genetic Opera being one of my favourite films.

6. What is your favorite part of blogging?

Getting a response. Even if it’s just one like on my blog, it really makes my day.

7. What is your favorite music genre?

The genre questions are really hard! Music…again, for me, I will pretty much listen to anything. I can go from Classic Rock to Disney to Punk to musicals. But my top favourite…hmm. Punk. In all its glorious forms.

8. What is your favorite time of year?

Winter! Halloween, Bonfire Night, my birthday and Christmas. Plus sitting in a fluffy dressing gown is much more comfortable than being all hot and sweaty in summer.

9. Who is your favorite author?

Again, really hard! At the moment, probably Stephen King. I’m trying to work my way through his work, and I’m always amazed at how varied his writing is. I really admire him as a writer.

10. What do you consider the best way to relax?

Drinks with my friends, a good night out, basically. And writing. Writing really chills me out.

My ten to my nominees:

1. Favourite TV show?

2. Favourite book?

3. Best childhood memory?

4. If you could go back to any point in history, where would you go?

5. What would be your ultimate night in?

6. Favourite meal?

7. Ultimate superhero team up?

8. Would your dream home contain a library or a cinema?

9. Favourite band?

10. Favourite holiday (vacation for any Americans) spot?

So there we go, my ten questions. And if you accept this award and post the answers, let me know. I’d love to read them.


You-keep-using-that-word1For anyone who hasn’t seen the film, or has been ignoring the internet, the title of this post comes from The Princess Bride. The rest of the sentence is as above, over the face of Inigo Montoy. Okay, so now that’s out of the way…

Politics is something I try to keep out of my writing. Sometimes it might seep through, and I think maybe someone could get some idea of my views from my writing. But I try not to be too heavy handed with it, and I try to stay away from it here. Why, though? Even I don’t know. Part of me is worried about offending people. Part of me doesn’t want people put off buying my books – whenever I manage to get anything out there. Among other reasons. But, you know what, it’s stupid. I’m just being stupid.

Because, really, there are many things I actually do have strong views on, things that get my blood boiling when they’re mentioned on the news and it’s about damn time I talked about them in the one place I can. This blog is the place me to talk about what I want to talk about – books, films, TV shows and music and now, well, politics & other linked things.

For anyone not living in the UK, or who doesn’t keep up with the news, you may want to check out this link to a BBC news article, regarding Lord Cary, former archbishop of Canterbury, and his views on how Christianity is being persecuted. He basically accuses David Cameron, PM (Prime Minister) of, well, I’m not quite sure. Does he think the PM is persecuting Christians himself? Does he think Cameron is pushing for a secular Great Britain? It’s kind of hard to tell, though I’m sure it would be more clear if I actually read the Daily Mail article in which Cary outlines his views. But, well, no one in my family buys the Mail and I’m not going to give them another view on their web page. (From everything I’ve heard, I’m pretty sure just going to the site will send me into another rage, anyway. And I’d like to keep my blood pressure low.)

This has actually been going on for a while. Christians crying that they’re persecuted, anyway. In the UK. Because, you know, we totally have people outside Churches picketing them, there are clearly witch hunts tracking down Christians to strip them of any and all signs of their faith, and God forbid you show a cross in public!

Note: That is sarcasm. None of those things – from what I’ve seen – are happening.

The cases of people being fired because they refuse to take off their crosses…well, that’s not persecution. A cross is not a necessity in Christianity. (Unless the rules have changed since I went to school. If they have, then things are way more messed up than I thought.) Being told when you start a job that you cannot wear jewellery, well, then, don’t wear jewellery. Being told to take off a necklace because jewellery is against company policy is just being told to act like other employees. Let’s look at it this way; if someone was a Wiccan, or Pagan, or anything else along those lines, and wore a pentagram, and was told to take it off because, according to company policy, jewellery is not allowed, then would a Christian seriously jump to defend their right to wear something from their faith?

But, what really irked me about this whole thing is a debate that, quite frankly, is ridiculous. To me, anyway. The whole recent bout of OMG we’re being persecuted because of our faith cries has come about because apparently, these people don’t understand something very, very simple.

Marriage is NOT unique to Christianity.

3oOqQe3I don’t understand the logic used to argue against same sex marriage. I really don’t. To me, it seems blind sighted and ignorant. The article linked to above explains that

Lord Carey spoke of being “very suspicious” that behind plans for gay
marriage “there lurks an aggressive secularist and relativist approach towards
an institution that has glued society”.

Okay, seriously, WHAT? People don’t just get married in a Church anymore. Many don’t have religious marriages and I’m pretty sure there are plenty of people from other religions who get married. And how has marriage ‘glued society’? As far as I’ve seen, growing up, some people just feel trapped in marriage. My parents are still together, happily married after thirty years, but growing up I had a number of friends whose parents weren’t together. And one thing I learnt from speaking to them was that their parents splitting up was the best thing for, not just the adults, but the kids involved. Even if divorce can be a lengthy and costly process.

Ignoring the stupid ‘glued society’ aspect, how does opening marriage up destroy that? I just can’t get my head around it. And every argument I’ve heard is easily shot down. So, marriage is supposed to be to create a stable environment to produce children and help them grow up. Well, point above regarding my friends, that doesn’t always work. What about people who are infertile? People who never want children? Should they not be allowed to marry, either? What about IVF? Because, hell, with the way the marvels of technology are going, every one can have children, even if both parents aren’t biologically involved.

And there’s adoption, fostering, all those other options for kids who were produced from the coupling of a man and women and who ended up in a situation where they weren’t wanted.

Beyond that, a same sex couple is not going to have a kid by accident. Children in those situations are not going to be unwanted.

Christians are not a minority in this country. They are not being persecuted. They are not having their freedoms stripped, not being told they cannot practice their faith. And I’m sure there are many Christians who don’t feel they are being persecuted. We’ve long come past the point of divorcees not being able to remarry, we’ve moved on from the origins of marriage where a woman was simply a piece of property to be passed from one man to another. The truth is, marriage is not simply a Christian idea. It’s all encompassing, it’s simply the union of two people who love each other and want to stay together for the rest of their lives.

I went to a Church in Wales primary school. I learnt the Bible stories and I learnt that Christianity was not just about going to church and praying and telling people “Look what a good religious person I am.” My school taught me that being a Christian was about loving thy neighbour, about accepting everyone and about celebrating love. I no longer identify as Christian because I got fed up of all the bullshit people sprouted out about it. But to me, those points are what the Bible teaches. Not that one set of people are lower than others or shouldn’t be valued. I learnt that everyone is equal.

And marriage is a celebration of love and equality, is the ultimate declaration of love. Why the hell someone wouldn’t support that, AS A CHRISTIAN, is beyond me.

And if I – a straight woman – can marry someone, can celebrate love in front of family and friends, then why the hell can’t everyone else? Because, really, two people in love should be able to do that, if they want.

What I’m trying to say, I guess, is that if, as a Christian, you feel persecuted, take a step back. Look over history. Gain some perspective. Maybe look at what being persecuted actually means. Read a dictionary. Or, hell, pick up that Bible of yours and read about the people who were taken as slaves, read about Moses leading his people to safety because they were being persecuted. Think about WHY the disciples wanted Jesus to do more than just preach, because the Romans were ruling over them and they were getting fed up. And try to imagine Peter or Paul or John or whoever, standing there today, looking at you with a face palm face and going “You’re being persecuted? Really?” Because, you know, you’re not.

Jesus, if you believe in him, died for everyone, not just a bunch of stuck up arseholes who act like a kid with a toy, sitting in a corner hugging it to their chest going “No! MINE! No share!” while every sensible adult around them rolls their eyes and shakes their heads.

Essentially, what I’m saying is, this doesn’t affect you. Someone getting married does not affect you. Grow the hell up. And stop pulling out the persecution card without realising what it really means.

{October 22, 2012}   Exploring My Sweet Tooth

I have a very sweet tooth. I always have done – it didn’t help that we lived opposite a 24 hour garage growing up (which has now shut up shop), meaning that either I or my brothers would often be sent over to pick up a chocolate bar for Dad. He’d always chuck us an extra quid or two, telling us to get something for ourselves. At Christmas, my dad buys a huge amount of chocolate, and there’s usually (now, anyway) a fair amount left by Easter. As well as that, I can never resist a good cake – my aunt (Dad’s sister), grandparents (both sides) and uncle (Dad’s brother) all bake, and there was never an end to the Jam Tarts and Sponge cakes coming into this house when I was a kid.

Which makes me super excited by the fact that I have been nominated, by the lovely Zen Scribbes, for the Super Sweet Blog Award. It’s my first nomination for anything like this, and I feel like I can’t thank Zen enough. As I was reading her post, I was thinking of what my own answers would be, and to my surprise, there I was, tagged. A real honour – it kind of feels like acceptance, no? Anyway, here’s my answers!

1. Cookies or Cake?

Milly’s Cookie Cake? Or is that not allowed? In all seriousness, my instant reaction to this was just cake. There’s so many different kinds, and there’s nothing like a sponge cake on a birthday, or chocolate cake after Christmas lunch, or Welsh Cakes while watching Eastenders. Also, I had a lot of fun introducing my friends in England to Welsh Cakes, and I think there does tend to be this cultural difference in cakes too, whereas I haven’t seen that much difference in cookies from one place to another. Cakes are just more interesting.

2. Chocolate or Vanilla?

Chocolate! Nothing like Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food. Or a nice bar of Galaxy when I’m flagging in work. I’m 22, and my dad still buys me Kinder Eggs for the Christmas stash I mentioned earlier. I do like vanilla, but I will always choose chocolate over it.

3. What is your favourite sweet treat?

I really have no idea. It really depends what mood I’m in. I tend to stick with chocolate things – I find it difficult to pass by the yoghurt section of any shop, and not because of the yoghurt. They have all the healthy ones right next to the cold chocolate delights, and most of the time they’re on offer. But if I’m in work late, I’ll usually grab a bag of buttons or something on my lunch break, to munch on in the evening when there are no phone calls. I find it difficult picking a favourite anything, really, so I’m going to leave this hanging.

4. When do you crave sweet things most?

Usually, if I’m eating out. I can very rarely resist the deserts section of any menu. I blame it on the fact that as a kid, it was one of those times – outside of family gatherings and Christmas and the like – when we could have something really sweet after food. And it was always different to things you can just buy in the shops.

5. If you had a sweet nickname, what would it be?

Dad’s input was ‘All Sorts’ (have you guessed where I inherited my sweet tooth from yet?), but I think that was just the first thing he could think of. I really have no idea…maybe just ‘Sweet Tooth’? Actually…I think that could work. I’ve had the impression from some people that I look slightly innocent (or sweet), so maybe ‘Sweet Tooth’ would fit. As I’m Welsh, it’s not pronounced the same as the English say it. So you’d have to say ‘toof’. Or something similar. I’m not good at dialect. (But I could write a whole blog on the things said differently across the border.)


For this, I nominate the following, because they are blogs that I personally love to read –

The Daily Racewood

The Bookshelf of Emily J

Reflections of a Book Addict

M.D. Sanchiz

Odds and book bobs

{October 9, 2012}   The Greatest Story Ever Told?

Back in July, I wrote about Superstar, ITV’s search for the next Jesus Christ. (For the musical. But I wouldn’t be surprised if reality TV does start searching for the next Messiah. Coming soon: Save Our Souls, USA!)  You can read it here, and please pay attention to the end, where I state I didn’t think anyone would pay £70+ for a ticket.

Well, this is embarrassing.

I paid.

In my defence, I brought two tickets for my mum’s birthday present – one for me, and one brought with the help of my brothers for her. And you know what, I happily eat my words from the end of that previous post. I had a great time, the show was brilliant, and I walked away with a ten quid program and fifteen quid t-shirt. (I had a lot of money left over from London.) So, here it goes; my review of Jesus Christ Superstar, Cardiff Motorpoint Arena, 3rd October 2012.

When I heard the show had been modernised and set against the backdrop of the riots, I was really excited. I mentioned in my Footloose review that trying to update it didn’t work, but Jesus Christ Superstar is different. The story itself is timeless, and it’s one of those musicals that should be updated and revised. It worked. The show opened with a news broadcast about the frustration of the common people against those in power in the financial world. After this, the cast came on – some were dressed as riot police, and others looked like they had been picked up from the Occupy camps.

Obviously, any form of violence in musicals is stylised, and I love it. I love seeing dance used to convey fighting, and the way the clash was shown between police and rioters was done well. Above it all, the screen showed Twitter and Facebook updates, with mentions of Jesus and the twelve. Actually, one of the things I really liked was in the use of the backdrop; at the camp where Jesus and his followers gathered, it shows a building, a banner hanging from it with #TheTwelve. Nicely done.

Judas, Jesus, Mary and Herod

My favourites from the show all went out before the finals, but two of the wannabe Jesus’ that stood out to me were in the show – in the ensemble. However, Ben Forster, as it turned out, was a brilliant choice for the main role. He, essentially, nailed it, playing the part of Jesus with all the doubt and fear that the role needs. Since the TV show, he seems to have really come into his own, stepping into the role and hitting the all important high notes in Gethsemane. During that particular song, my eyes were ringing.

Considering the backdrop of the show, Tim Minchin was a perfect choice for Judas. He fits in with the feel of it, and, again, managed to convey the emotions needed for the part. You can really feel the love triangle vibe between him, Jesus and Mary, and can really see him desperately trying to find a way to make things right in his eyes. One of my favourite songs belongs to Judas – it makes up part of the opening, and has Judas proclaiming “No talk of God, then we called you a man”. He is, really, the stand in for the audience; questioning and wondering about Jesus, and nowadays, especially, his role seems more important as Atenism seems to grow larger while the Church grows smaller. At times, you really feel yourself siding with him – not just because he doubts Jesus, but because he loves him.

Love at first riot

Mel C as Mary was…well, she wasn’t awful, or bad. I just wasn’t a huge fan. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up on Spice Girls like every other 90’s kid, and I can remember the excitement girls my age felt when they appeared on the scene. To us, they were amazing, and new, and no matter how you think of them now, I do think they inspired a lot of girls (when I was a kid, anyway) to be themselves. Some of my friends still have a soft spot for The Spice Girls. But I don’t think a role like this suited Mel C. Her voice doesn’t suit it, and even with the modern feel to the whole thing, it didn’t feel like she quite fit in. Mind you, Mary’s role isn’t that huge in the musical. The story really does focus on Judas and Jesus. But, of course, one of the most famous songs from the show belongs to this character, and I couldn’t help but cringe slightly when Mel C performed ‘I Don’t Know How To Love Him’. (For the record, my mum liked it.) I said in my Footloose review that Ren didn’t have enough anger. Here, Mary didn’t have enough sadness. It’s a touching song, because it’s about falling in love when you don’t want, and it has some key lines, especially when relating to Jesus. (He’s just a man.) I love songs about resisting love; I Won’t Say (I’m In Love), I’ll Never Fall In Love Again, I could go on. But the same feeling in those, the same essence of Disney’s Meg in Hercules should come through with Mary. That sadness about realising he’s not just a man should be there, and she just didn’t have it.

Plus, some of the symbolism in the song was a bit too overdone. They – perhaps the person who directed, rather than just Mel C – seemed to be trying to reflect Mary’s transition from whore to non-whore (?) in a way that was a bit too heavy-handed for me. Oh, look, she’s wiping off her make-up, and taking off her leather jacket, and now she’s in a white dress! She’s pure now! As much as I like Mel C, it just didn’t work. And, again, her voice did not suit the role.

Leather jackets, now in new ‘impure prostitute’ style!

And, finally, King Herod. A lot of people who I mentioned the show to seemed to cringe at the idea of Chris Moyles in a musical and, more importantly, Chris Moyles singing. He doesn’t seem to have the voice that would suit a musical – but, of course, most people would have only heard him on morning radio. To me, it seemed to be an interesting choice, and of course, Herod has one song in the show. The song itself needs a lot of punch, sarcasm and wit, and I didn’t feel too hesitant about seeing Moyles in the role. In truth, there wasn’t a hell of a lot of singing in this version of the song, but the parts that did involve singing…Moyles pulled it off, and brilliantly. He had the whole attitude down, and the addition of making him a talk show host fit perfectly. The setting leant itself to the way they decided to do this one; Herod as a talk show host, inviting the ‘audience’ to vote on whether Jesus is a ‘Lord or Fraud’. (I’m not sure if they forgot how Ben Forester got the role…) He has the charm you’d expect, and the wit is all there, as well as some wonderful additions in the screen at the back of the stage.

The Saviour of Radio One vs The Saviour of Mankind

Overall, it was a great show. The ensemble gelled together, as they should in musicals like this, and the fresh setting really added to the story. Whether Christian, Atheist or anything else, it’s a story you can appreciate. It has, after all, endured for two thousand years (give or take), and back when they wrote it, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice took this tale and created something amazing from it. To me, the musical is a great way of retelling the last few days of Jesus, in a way that you can enjoy it without having to believe in it. And it lends itself to being modernised and retold time and time again. If I could, I would have loved to shake the hands of everyone involved and just say “Well done”. But, I can’t, so I’ll just praise them here, instead.

Which brings me onto what happened after the show.

I kind of wanted to meet the main cast. And why not? Mum and I wandered around to the back of the CIA (sorry, Motorpoint Arena. Which will always really just be CIA to me) and saw a few others waiting there. Always a good sign. We stood around, where one of the women asked who we were hoping to see. I kind of shrugged. “Anyone.” A few years ago, I met The Used waiting outside the back entrance, and it was also how I managed to meet my favourite Joseph from Any Dream Will Do. (Are you noticing a trend?) Sometimes, it pays off. Sometimes, like that night, it doesn’t.

Well, two of the guys who were in Superstar did come out and happily signed things for the small group of us either side of the gates who were waiting. They signed programmes, had photos taken, and looked happy doing so. With that in mind, in case Jeff or Tim ever do read this, thank you. It may not seem like a lot, but just taking the time to put up with people yelling your name left right and centre is kind of a nice thing to do, especially when you could have just carried on walking. Clearly, a lot of people there had been fans of Superstar, and damn did they look happy holding their signed items.

There can be only one…(but those who don’t come first usually do better in the long run, so there is that…)

It didn’t take long for them to get around everyone. There really weren’t many of us waiting there. A guy next to me clutched his Chris Moyles book, while a teenage boy on the other side told of how he’d waited two hours, in the rain, the night before, hoping to meet Tim Minchin. He mentioned how, after two hours, the main cast just got in a van and drove past. And yet this kid was back, ready to try his luck again. For his sake, (and, selfishly, a bit mine) I hoped that night’s Judas would come out. I wouldn’t have been surprised if Mel C and Chris Moyles hadn’t, but for some reason, I did think Tim Minchin and Ben Forster would perhaps meet the fans.

If you haven’t guessed by now, I was disappointed.

After an hour of waiting, the security guards told us that ‘they’ were going to get in the black van we could see waiting and go. They moved the barriers, and we could do nothing but watch as Mel C, Chris Moyles, Tim Minchin and Ben Forster drove past us. Part of me felt angry; okay, maybe they weren’t supposed to meet us, but if that was the case, why make us wait at all? Mel C and Chris Moyles – nothing against either, as I don’t know – I could understand, on some level. After all, they’ve both been around a fair while and you do kind of expect people like that to just not care.

Maybe I’m naive, to think a comedian and musician who at the start of their careers would have really, really needed their fans (for Tim Minchin, maybe a while ago, but Ben Forster, not so much) would have actually come out to meet them. Having gone to a few amateur comedy nights, I realised how much a good fan base can do for someone on the comedy circuit. So, yeah, I thought he’d make an effort. But, again, maybe he’s just been around for long enough now to not bother.

But, seriously, Ben, if you’re ever reading this, remember who put you there. It wasn’t just Andrew Lloyd Webber. You weren’t cast by struggling through West End auditions and trying to get every part you could and praying for a big break. Maybe you have done that, in the past, maybe you have paid your dues, but that’s not how you got the role of Jesus. You got to play Jesus because of the British public. Because people voted for you.

I would love to be in a position one day where people want my autograph, even if it’s only a small group of people who just happen to love my books. I would love to be able to say “I have fans”, and if I ever reach a stage where, for some reason and in some situation, I just go “Nah”, I’ve already asked my mum to slap me around the head and tell me to stop being stupid. Because I’ll remember that teenage boy’s face as, for the second night in a row, his idol just drove right past him, because, for whatever reason, they just didn’t want to meet their fans.

This past weekend, I headed to London. Originally it was to go to Thorpe Park yesterday, as I managed to snag myself some free tickets from The Sun newspaper. Lucky for me, my brother lives there so I had somewhere to stay. And, as he was busy on the Saturday, I ended up going to see my first show in London (his girlfriend was part of the cast), an amateur dramatic production of the musical Footloose in the Putney Arts Theatre.

I haven’t seen much AmDram in the past, mainly just a play or two put on by the local group here. To be honest, they were dry and badly acted, and I suspect most towns across the UK may have the same level of productions put on by similar groups. AmDram tends to have a bad name, which is a shame, because given the right cast and the right show they can be done brilliantly. As you can suspect, I was pleasantly surprised by the production. One of the main things to judge any musical by is how it leaves you feeling. You can go back and watch a film, but with live theatre you only have the one experience, so the after effect is important. I personally left Putney with an urge to dance, and have had some of the songs from the show stuck in my head for two days. It did its job, basically.

The dancing itself was done, I thought, really well, though it would have been nice to see a little more from Ren himself. I kind of missed the whole ‘angry dance scene’ that really made the movie for me.  As well as that, the love triangle between Ren, Ariel and her ex was left in the air; in the 80s film, it comes to a head when the ex and Ren fight, in a brilliant scene where he uses his nimble dancing skills to outmatch the big, beefy guy. Considering it is a story about dancing and the need to dance, there just wasn’t enough of it. Still, what little there was, like I said, was done well, especially in the bigger numbers like Holding Out For A Hero.

Dancing as anger management

One thing I really enjoy about watching musicals live is the extended cast; in a film, usually the dancers and/or extras will drift in and out. On stage, you can really pick out certain people and see how they change for every scene. The main cast play the same characters throughout, and it’s interesting to see if the ensemble do the same. Of course, in some musicals they go from school-kids to dancers in a club etc. but in something set in a small town, with the exception of maybe one or two scenes, it’s good for the ensemble cast to maybe create their own characters, give them personalities so the audience will recognise them throughout. And for the most part, the ensemble in Footloose did a pretty good job. And, again, the dancing! God knows how they must have been feeling after, but most of the time people ignore how much the extended cast would put into a show like this, where they’re needed in almost every scene and even have to do push-ups to please the coach.

As for the show as a whole…there seemed to have been an attempt to modernise it. The problem with that is that there was really no need; Footloose has iconic 80s music, and although I’m all up for modernising settings and characters, it only works if it adds something. Watching the production, the only modern aspect I spotted was one of the ensemble using a mobile phone to film Ren dancing around. It kind of distracted from the musical itself; they would have been better off getting the cast to wear 80s style clothing and keep it set in that decade. For me, it would have hugely added to the production itself.

So now for the main cast. Ren’s dancing (what little there was, at times) was done really well, especially when taking a small group to a bar to allow them to dance outside the town. Considering it was the last performance, the energy levels were high, always important in musicals like this. His occasional quips had the whole audience laughing. But there wasn’t enough of the angry kid dragged into the town for me. Ren is supposed to be angry and bitter at the way the town is treating him, and the fact that his favourite pastime has been banned by the council. Instead, he just seems slightly bothered by it. There’s no feeling here of what he’s really fighting for, no feeling of the bigger picture and the fact that his father has just walked out on him and his mother. It’s conveyed in the film (yeah, I’m mentioning it again) brilliantly by Kevin Bacon’s angry dance. A little more anger from Ren in this one would have gone a long way.

Willard learns to dance again for the remake

Willard, on the other hand, was played brilliantly. Dumb and loveable, he was the source of some of the best comedic moments. The relationship between him and Rusty had me rooting for them more than Ren and Ariel, and he had some of the best moments. Let’s Hear It For The Boy showed him trying to dance, and it worked so well. Mama Says was, perhaps, one of my favourite songs in the show, as Willard tries to impart some of his mother’s wisdom on Ren. It was played with a fitting innocence to the character, and the accent was pulled off perfectly.

As for the girls, in the film I found Ariel just a bit too obnoxious and annoying, but she was stripped of that in the production. Her motives were clear, and she became a much better character. Her teenage anger was exactly what I would have liked to see more of in Ren, but there was still that ‘daddy’s girl’ feel to her that makes you realise how far her father has pushed her away. Rusty, as well, did an excellent job at all her parts, and with the other two girls, the four of them created some brilliant, witty scenes, with the kind of voices and, again, accents, perfect for their songs.

The girls – not just the main four – outshone the guys. Maybe, partly, because they had more chance to do so, but they just seemed to jump into the whole thing with a bit more than the guys.

For me, it was a great way to spend the evening, and like I said, I came out with my feet tapping and the songs stuck in my head. The whole cast pulled together well, especially for the last performance of the run and the second of the day. A great musical, well cast and done very well.

et cetera