Christmas in London

Just spent the most wonderful weekend in London and am so proud of my little darlings – well, not so little these days!  Harry’s just finished his first term at Central, where he’s one of only 4 students doing theatre sound.  He’s absolutely loving being in London (and what 18 year old boy wouldn’t!), but I was caught unawares by one of his comments about what was so great about life in the capital city: he said, no-one had once made a remark about his appearance.  OK, I know Norn Irn is a bit conservative when it comes to its inhabitants, and sure, people with blue dreadlocks don’t merit a second glance in London.  I just never realised my tough gothy heavy metal loving son was so sensitive about  jibes at his long hair and baggy shorts.

I’m so proud of this young man, who’d previously dropped out of school.  But, inspired partly by our lunch with an astronaut at KSC last year (thank you Storey Musgrave), he decided to follow his dream, and secured himself this rare opportunity by portfolio and references.  He was working with Pink last week.

Jemima had a ball.  Which was just as well, as it was her treat for getting such great feedback from her teachers this year!  I’d asked her “Would you like a puppy? A pony? No? OK how about a weekend in London…” and was bowled over by her exuberant acceptance – literally!

We gave a standing ovation to Legally Blonde, we shopped at Harrods and bought her Christmas pressie of a lovely new red coat, we ate Chinese food in Chinatown, joined in the carol singing at the tree in Trafalgar Square,  ice-skated at the Tower of london, and drank mulled wine watching the street theatre at Covent Garden.

It’s looking likely that the pair of them will be here next year (Jem’s sent off her audition applications to Laine and Bird today), and I just wonder – should I join them?

Guys and Dolls

We’re in the eerie calm after the storm now that the week-long run of Guys and Dolls is over.  Jemima was playing Miss Adelaide, her first time in a principal role, and boy what a great role it was for her!  It completely suited her effervescent personality, and the songs were in a good range for her to sing.  The few weeks leading up to the show were hectic, mind, with me taxi-ing her back and forth.  But I remember the mantra I taught myself when the babes were young – make the most of every phase, and don’t dwell on the less pleasant aspects.  Because they grow up all too soon, and those happy moments will soon only be memories.

Matty and Jemima as Nathan and Adelaide

A letter from Adelaide's mother

So we’re making the most of our car time together.  We listen to a bit of Classic FM, to improve her listening skills which she needs to do for her Music GCSE, and we talk about the future.

Adelaide's Lament

She did her Grade 6 ballet in the same week as the show, and I was talking to her ballet teacher while she was in the exam room.  Previously she had encouraged me to persuade Jem not to go to London next year to dance college, but to stay and go to Belfast Met instead.  But when we were discussing her knock-em dead performance, we both agreed that we might reconsider.  I know like any mother, I will support her to the hilt in whatever is the best option for her future, but boy I’ll miss her when she’s gone.


take back your mink

Sadly, we’ve just discovered that she’s too young to go for Lloyd Webber’s next search, which is for Dorothy.  Basically they can’t interrupt compulsory education.  Shame, cos she’d be the right type for that role, but there’ll be other chances.  She was quite sanguine about this, and is being very industrious about preparing for her GCSEs next year.  She’s also busy filling in application forms for the main dance schools that she’s keen on – Laine, Arts Ed, and Bird.  So no doubt we’ll be over to London a few times in the New Year!

Just Dance

Jemima was lucky enough recently to get through the first stage of auditions for Just Dance, a reality show to be shown on Sky 1 next year.  We flew to Edinburgh for the next round, unsure of what the format was going to be.  Turned out she had to perform in front of a live audience, complete with bright lights and scurrying camera crew, and be interviewed back stage.  The panel certainly had gravitas in the dancing world – Adam Garcia, Kimberly Pussycat Doll, and Ashley “Diversity” Banjo.  And they were being extremely strict – in the 5 or 6 hours we were there I saw them approve one dancer.  And no, it wasn’t our J.  She’d danced her little heart out – all winsome smiles and graceful limbs.  Her face lit up when Ashley asked her about the music, written for her by her boyfriend.  And all the judges’ comments were constructive and believable.  I was bursting with pride (yes again!) at her ability to cope unprepared with this tough ordeal, and to keep her chin up and keep smiling during the feedback.

Apologies for teh watermark on the video – having just upgraded my ‘puter to one using Windows 7, I’m rather disappointed that Movie Maker still doesn’t import mp4 or wav files, and so in order to capture Matty’s stunning music I had to use a free trial download.

Blood Brothers

I was privileged today to see a semi-costumed run through of Blood Brothers, my daughter’s school play, in which she plays the narrator. I’ll miss the actual show dates next week as I’m in Frankfurt and Luxembourg, but more of that anon.

Jem singing the Madman song from Blood Brothers

Jem singing the Madman song from Blood Brothers

Boy does she make a great narrator! We’d had some discussion about the difficulty of bringing to life this role, who’s almost a Machiavellian devil character, so no background history or life story to use in playing the part. But I felt she got the right controlling stance and supercilious look.

It’s very heartening to see this great group of young women giving up their Saturdays for something like this – I do honestly feel our teenagers are much maligned in the Press. Well done to everyone who’d been involved in this production, and break a leg – I know there won’t be a dry eye in the house!


J has been working her little socks off for, well, most of the year really, towards MT4UTH’s production of Godspell. This was a bit different to the usual “Musical in a Weekend” projects that they do – firstly they had a whole 6 days to rehearse this one, and secondly, it was being staged in Belfast’s iconic Grand Opera House. J was particularly chuffed that she got her picture in some of the local papers, on the eve of her 16th birthday.

Jem leaping over cars in a single bound

Jem leaping over cars in a single bound

My sister and her family accompanied me, and we had seats in my favourite row at the front of the Upper Circle. We were in pretty good form as we’d been quaffing champagne all afternoon to celebrate her getting her PhD. <hic>

J really does shine when she dances! She was in the front row for most of the numbers, her big smile reaching right up to the Gods. Aly described her as looking as if what she was doing was just THE most wonderful thing she’d ever been asked to do.

She also made a very good plague 🙂

Never Forget

Took daughter and her best friend to Never Forget last night. I think they were more excited by meeting yer man out of Stavros Flatley, and some of Flawless, who happened to be shopping in Victoria Square.

When did this style of musical begin – was it Mama Mia, that first took an artist’s songs and then built a musical story around them? That one of course has had great success as both a stage show and a film, and I’ve also enjoyed We Will Rock You, not least because the Ben Elton penned script is very funny. But neither of those is ABOUT the band – it’s not the story of ABBA or Queen. Never Forget is about a Take That tribute band, and so, when the songs are sung, they are trying to re-create how Take That would’ve done it. Now, there’s a time when it’s OK for the audience to join in the singing, as they might at a concert, and a time when they shouldn’t. Specifically for the latter when the main boy and girl are trying to reconcile after a fight using A Million Love Songs…

The singing overall was pretty good, the dancing was excellent, and I was particularly impressed by Kay Murphy as the evil record mogul – it’s rare to find a lead role who is such an amazing dancer, and she was incredibly flexible for one so tall. The sound was unreliable – the system broke down during the first half, and I’m informed that it had broken the previous night as well. But the stand out star of the show was the set, with 4 big revolving panels which changed to create the various settings, including a realistic Manchester pub. And the special effects – the rain curtain used during Pray was superb in recalling the video styling of that single. Good pacing, and an almost pantomime comedic factor all added up to a great night of fun for the audience, who were all dancing and screaming by the final mega-mix reprise. Yes, even me.

premieres and popcorn

I was at a film premiere today! (I know, I know, what a glamorous and classy life I do lead…). I was scratching my head wondering what to wear – was it time to dig out the taffeta ballgown and diamante tiara? But since the event was taking place in the Black Box, a trendy venue in Belfast’s hip and happening Cathedral quarter, I decided that crops and a denim jacket were more appropriate. Now, I was only there cos I’d met Em at Little Shop of Horrors, which I’d only been at because another hootoo friend had mentioned it on Facebook, so it was a real culmination of social networking improving my actual social life (glamorous and classy as it is…). Em had put in a lot of effort, and I was most impressed that she’d not only made popcorn, but also the cone holders for it. So impressed, in fact, that I made my own little movie when I got home.

And the film? Well, it was a spoof rockumentary in the Spinal Tap vein, with some great lines, and some rather good cinematography, showing just what can be done with today’s easily accesible technology. I particularly liked the final scene, where the 3 band members walked away from camera in slo-mo, before fading individually, back into the ether from whence they came (that’s enough pretentious film reviewer bollocks – Ed)