Review – Treasure Island – University of Lincoln Drama Students

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What a delight seeing the University of Lincoln’s graduating drama students in Treasure Island on Tuesday night…  I wasn’t sure what to expect from the production, thinking that it might only be suitable for children (considering the number of Cub Scouts in the foyer before the show), but I was very pleasantly surprised and thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

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We’ve all heard of the story, but this show really has got lots of its own twists and turns;  the LPAC website explains the story:

One snowy winter’s night a young girl searches through her uncle’s attic and finds a treasure chest…

With a treasure map in her pocket and the ghost of Captain Flint (James Ashfield) never far behind, young Jem Hawkins (Laura Potente) is drawn into a world of swashbuckling excitement, brimming with buccaneers and buried gold as she sets sail to Treasure Island.

Join us on the good-ship Hispaniola this Christmas for an action-packed retelling of the classic pirate adventure told by University of Lincoln’s graduating drama students.

Yo-ho-ho…!

Walking into the theatre we were transported to the attic room where the big chest was revealed… throughout the performance the set transformed into a pirate ship, the details of which were exceptional, and then to an actual island, and then there was a bit of an ‘Indiana Jones’ theme.  All the sets and staging were so well done I was really impressed by the quality and details and the work that had obviously gone into the production.  I don’t want to give too much away about the finer details, as the element of surprise at each stage added to the overall experience, but all I will say is the show was fast moving, comedic, sometimes beautiful, and definitely great fun.

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The Director, Dominic Symonds, in the programme, writes:

… at times it’s exciting, as the courageous treasure-hunters carry out their quest; at times it’s exhilarating, as the menacing Long John Silver (Jordan Sheil) tries to scupper their plans; and at times it’s downright daft, as we follow the exploits of the bumptious buffoons who fund their voyage into the unknown.  In the end, it’s a story about a youngster’s hopes and dreams, about overcoming challenges and becoming stronger in the process.  That’s something we can all learn from…

There were lots of stand out moments for me; James Ashfield (Captain Flint and the Rock voice) really showed off his ghostly dark side in more ways than one; I definitely jumped a few times at his terrifyingly booming voice and could see the younger children looking a little wary as he made various surprise entrances throughout the show!

Jordan Sheil (Long John Silver) gave an exceptional performance, I’m not sure how his voice is going to last for the whole run, especially with multiple shows daily, but his characterisation of such a nasty character was brilliant.

Laura Potente (Jem Hawkins) and her 3 stage sisters Tabitha Foster (Charlie Hawkins), Holly Marshall (Lotte Hawkins) and Holly Lomas (Fran Hawkins) each had their own characteristics which came across clearly to the audience, I particularly loved the tutu and swan hat!

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Sophie Cole (Mrs Hawkins) showed off her great singing voice with a beautiful solo and Joe Turner (Ben Gunner and Uncle Jim) showed his versatility transforming from the old Uncle, to the Castaway Ben.

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Other cast members all played their parts well and contributed to the whole show, Heidi Green (Hands), Rob Clarke (Morgan), Adam Cockerill (Captain Smollett), Francesca Bolingbroke (Merry), Olivia Calvert (Gray) and Elliot Sargent (O’Brien), who had some of the funniest lines in the show.

But my favourite performances were given by Jason Lodge (Squire Tralawny), supported by his side kick Jordan Leith (Dr Livesey);  their hilarious antics and comedic timing had the audience in fits of laughter on several occasions, and definitely stole the show for me!

 

I can’t review the show without mentioning the brilliant musical score, provided to us by Mark Wilde who is currently the Musical Director for Lincoln Cathedrals 2017 production of Jekyll and Hyde as well as his other commitments which include singing in the Cathedral Choir and many other credits.  We had  a feast of songs and musical numbers which took us from scene to scene and included ‘What’s Within the Chest’, ‘We’ll Follow the Map’, my absolute favourite ‘How I lost me leg’, the most hilarious pirate gospel number you could imagine which had the children and the adults in the audience probably laughing at completely different things!

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‘Ahoy! Ahoy!’, ‘The Proposal’, ‘Lullaby’, ‘X Marks the Spot’, ‘Believe’, ‘Rock’s Riddles’ which the children (and adults) in the audience thoroughly enjoyed as they worked out the riddles as they show progressed. and finally ‘Treasure Island’ which ended the show on a great high (despite the abrupt ending – a little mistake by the sound team I think but all added to the fun!), plus lots of instrumental music for the sword fights which had the children sitting on the edge of their seats with avid interest.

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Those that know me well will understand that I don’t comfortably join in with the traditional ‘audience participation’, and yet the calls for ‘Captain Flint’ throughout the show saw me shouting at the top of my voice to my hearts content along with the rest of the LPAC auditorium, with our endeavours rewarded with the appearances by James Ashfield.  The way the cast embraced and encouraged the audience certainly enhanced the experience for me and I’d encourage anyone who fancies a good giggle and a feast of entertainment during the lead up to Christmas, to get their tickets and go and have a bit of fun!Lincoln University

I wouldn’t be doing the show justice if I didn’t mention those important people that work on shows like this behind the scenes, the Crew.  Firstly the costumes; there was obviously a great team in place to come up with such stunning and authentic (mostly!) designs;  so well done to Helen Symonds, Steve Nash, Regan Bailiss, Gemma Batey, Katie Daw, Oksana Dergachova, Claire Godfrey, Heather Gray, Alexandra Hall, Poppy Howell, Katie Jacques, Lucinda Spurling, Alex Stanley-Ahmed, Hollie Starr, Marine Sztana and Bethany White for all their creative inspiration!

The Producer was Craig Morrow, Director Dominic Symonds, Assistant Director Stacie Cavell and as previously mentioned, Musical Director Mark Wilde.

There was also the Stage Manager, Martin Rousseau, Technicians, Emily Cartwright and Simon Panayi and Lighting Design, Thomas Marcinek. The Fight Choreographer was Andrew Ashenden, Assistant Stage Manager, Dwain Brown and the Production Manager/Designer Michael Hoyle.

 

You’ve still got plenty of opportunity to book tickets and take your family to see this wonderful show; you can click here to book!

Emerald Performances

£15 Full // £10 Child // £6 Schools

Monday 19 December 10am

Tuesday 20 December 10am

Diamond Performances

£15 Full // £10 Child

Saturday 17 December 2pm & 6pm

Sunday 18 December 2pm & 6pm

Monday 19 December 10am

Thursday 22 December 2pm & 7pm

Friday 23 December 7pm

Saturday 24 December 10am & 2pm

(Thanks to Phil Crow and Ashley Walls Photography for the photos included above, and some of my own (taken during the show on Tuesday 13th December, with no flash!).

 

Review – G4 Christmas By Candlelight

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I went, with my husband Danny, to see G4 in their Christmas By Candlelight concert on Wednesday 23rd November at Lincoln Cathedral which was part of their UK Cathedral tour.

It was a magical venue for such an event, with the spectacular Cathedral Nave and it’s ornate ceilings and architecture, we couldn’t fail to be excited about the evening, and who doesn’t love a few Christmas Carols.

The first of a few disappointments I need to mention about the evening started with the programme, since starting to write reviews I usually don’t mind paying the price for the souvenir and the extra information it provides about the artists, venue and other events, and when the Cathedral staff offered what looked like a large booklet, I happily paid out the £4 requested.  On opening the programme imagine my disappointment when I received a 3-fold printed cardboard sheet, 6 sides.  2 pages were photographs, 2 pages which were the verses of the carols for us to sing along to, 1 page of the next years tour and 1 page about the history of G4 and how they’ve got to where they are currently.  A bit of a let down to say the least, with no programme, or individual photo’s of the group, or biogs etc. although the quality of the printing was lovely.

The experience started with a very large, gleamingly bright white lighted ‘G4’ lit up at the front of the stage which G4 stood in front of, unfortunately as the cathedral was so dark with the lights dimmed, you actually couldn’t see G4 hardly at all standing in front of the lights;  we were sitting in row BB, so quite a way back, and had to look around rather than directly at the stage. This was rectified after the interval where they had obviously received ‘complaints’ (although it felt a bit staged 😉) as they made a point of switching on flashing multi-coloured chaser lights for a few moments before turning them off… shame it wasn’t done earlier in the show!

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I hadn’t realised that part of the show would be the audience joining in with the carols, but it was a nice touch when we can all now say we’ve sung with G4 – I’m not sure if many other people experienced this or not, but a few people sitting near us obviously though it was a bit of a free for all, and were joining in singing, quite loudly, while G4 and their guests were performing.  It really spoiled it for me, so if you are one of those that like to join in, please consider those sitting nearby and don’t sing or chat!

One more negative before I go on to the positives (of which there were plenty), was the quality of the sound overall.  I’m not sure if G4 actually had mikes, (editor update – reviewing the video at the end more closely, there were obviously head mikes in use) but there were certainly no speakers near where we sat that we could hear, so I really struggled to hear the words and every little shuffle, and cough/murmur from the audience around us (not even mentioning the loud singing) detracted from the performance.

So now to the good bits – G4 are still as brilliant as I remember them being 12 years ago when they were runners up in the first series of X-Factor.  Despite going their separate ways in 2007 with Jonathan Ansell, Ben Thapa, Mike Christie and Matt Stiff going on to take the lead in many roles on the TV and in theatre and solo tours and albums.  Since reuniting in 2014 with a new Bass, Nick Ashby, as Matt decided not to rejoin the group, they have performed in many international venues and exceeded all their own personal expectations of what the reunion might bring.

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Their renditions of ‘Amazing Grace’, ‘O Holy Night’ and ‘Away in a Manger’ were all beautifully moving and started my Christmas Season off with a few tears in my eyes…  I have memories of quite a few Salvation Army soloists singing ‘O Holy Night’ including the wonderfully talented Brian Dixon from Bedlington, where I lived in the 1980s – I know that this particular carol, and the millions of performances of it, have touched many people over the years.

G4 had advertised a request a couple of months ago for a young person to send in a video of themselves singing, with each local winner to join them on stage in their Cathedral concerts, to sing the first verse of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’…  I passed the message on to one of the Jesus Christ Superstar singers, but the singer selected was a 9 year old, Alex Marriott, who delighted the audience with his first solo verse.  He then joined the group later on and performed ‘I’m walking in the Air’ from The Snowman, this was also received with tremendous acclaim from the audience.

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Also on stage a couple of times were local choir, All For One.  They advertise that to join them, you don’t need to be able to read music or be experienced. As a choir they perform many of their concerts in association with various local and national charities. They leave people feeling uplifted re charged and empowered for everyday life. They performed a few songs really well, and joined G4 for a couple of final numbers which certainly left us feeling quite uplifted.

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The charity that G4 were supporting in this tour was ‘Missing People’ who do a fabulous job, and at the end of the performance, volunteers were waiting near the doors to receive our donations.  The choir included a wonderful performance of ‘Fix You’ that really brought the message home of family not being nearby at Christmas which really is a powerful message for those of us with family nearby.

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My volunteer friends Tracey Joyce and Helen Skinner with G4

If you want to have a sneaky look at some of the concert, including the lovely ‘O Holy Night’, have a look at the following video link with G4 at Lincoln Cathedral

 

Preview – ‘Songs from Stage & Screen’

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I was delighted to read an advert that Peter Merrick, who played the fabulous part of Pilate in Lincoln Cathedral’s Production of Jesus Christ Superstar in 2015 and 2016, posted on Facebook a few days ago.  Peter is going to be performing with Kate Fenn, to raise awareness and much needed funds for the Ethan Maull ‘Up Yours to Cancer’ Foundation.  He’ll be singing with Kate Fenn, a selection of songs from musicals and Christmas at The Friendship Inn, Laughterton on 9th December at 7.30pm.

Peter commented:

“We can start Christmas off early, have some fun and a jar or two. Hope to see you there”.

 

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The Ethan Maull Foundation commented:

“I’m delighted to share this fabulous event with you – what better way to welcome the Christmas season? Come along and join in as Peter Merrick & Kate Fenn entertain you with songs from the musicals and Christmas songs in the warmth of the fabulous Friendship Inn at Laughterton.

It’s going to be a cracking Christmas night – it’s free entry and everyone is welcome so make a note in your diary and keep the date free 

About the Ethan Maull “Up Yours to Cancer” Foundation

Helping Young Children With Cancer

When a family friend was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, Ethan Maull, at just 6 years old, helped his father Darren raise over £4,000 for Cancer Research. Darren and his friends, first took on the Yorkshire Peaks and a short time later completed the National 3 Peaks. On the last climb, Ethan joined his father making the final ascent to the top of Snowden, an amazing fete for a small boy!

Just 2½ years later in 2012, Christmas brought a devastating blow to the Maull family when Ethan, at just 8 years old was diagnosed with a rare form of Osteosarcoma, a children’s bone cancer.

In reading about the really tough battle Ethan went through in his young life I would urge anyone who can make this event to make an effort and join Peter and Kate in Laughterton and raise funds for this great cause.

 

Preview – Lincoln Christmas Light Switch On – 17 November 2016

On Thursday 17th November 2016 the Christmas Lights will be switched on in Lincoln.  The event starts at 5.30 and goes on until 7pm.

For more detailed information about the Light Switch on visit Visit Lincoln but the St Marks Shopping Centre Lights Switch on at 6.30 include ‘Almost Olly’, an Olly Murs Tribute act, Lincs FM, and the cast of the Drill Hall’s Beauty and the Beast.

At the High Street at 7pm, the Mayor of Lincoln and the  New Theatre Royal’s Cinderella will switch on the lights – including leading lady Kerry Katona – just after 7pm. Also in attendance will be local girl, Rio 2016 Paralympic gold-medal winner Sophie Wells.

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Part of the light switch on includes once again the Princesses from ‘Once Upon a Party’ who will be performing on the stage at St Marks Shopping Centre around 6:05pm With lots of singing, dancing and sparkles!

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The Princesses during the Christmas Light Switch on in 2015

This is followed soon after by your chance to meet and greet the beautiful princesses face to face in The Waterside Shopping Centre once the lights have been switched on!

When you get to meet the princesses face to face in the Waterside Shopping Centre, don’t forget your camera so you can have your photo taken, free of charge (there may be a special offer or competition too so watch this space)

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The Princesses at the Waterside Shopping Centre in 2015

Your princesses will be singing and dancing to a selection of very well known children & christmas songs…  brush up on your words for favourites and you can join in!

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There’s always lots of sparkles where there are Princesses!

All being well you will be able to meet the Snow Queen, Ice Princess, Princess Jasmine, Belle and Rapunzel…  a little girls dream!

To find out more about ‘Once upon a Party’ follow this link to their Facebook page…Once Upon a Party and their website Once Upon A Party