Review – G4 Christmas By Candlelight


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!


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.


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.



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.


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.

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 – Lincoln West End Lights – 2nd December 2016



Thank you to Mark Thompson for this Preview of a very special annual event happening in Lincoln’s West End on the evening of the 2nd December 2016.


Something magical happens, when people come together for a joint cause, I’m talking about an art project, a community gathering, and strangers meeting on a dark night in December.

Now in its 7th year, ‘Lincoln West End Lights’ is a shining example of what can happen when people are encouraged, nurtured and given the freedom to create something magical in a window!

This year on Friday, December 2nd between 7.30-9pm, the West End of Lincoln and beyond will be transformed into a magical trail of illuminated windows; some with static images, some with moving images, some interactive and some serious.

There is no agenda, just a wonderful idea to bring the community together and have some fun and get the imagination going in what to create and display.

For more information visit the website Lincoln West End Lights where the full map will be released 1 week before the event.

I’ve now 3 displays this year, and I’m being hosted by wonderful ladies who have offered their windows for the evening, I’ve already done the testing and it works a treat, although I can’t say what they are, you’ll just have to come on the night.

“You’ve whetted our appetite now Mark, I can’t wait to see what your displays are… hopefully you’ll give us a clue how to find your windows nearer the time!

(I’ll upload the map once it’s released!”)  Map now here!

Interactive map now available by clicking here








Review – ‘A Party to Murder’ – talking Scarlet


I’m glad I spotted the advertised show at the New Theatre Royal Lincoln recently, ‘A Party to Murder’…


Despite a mix up with my booking which was completely my fault (the Box Office were extremely helpful in sorting it out!), my husband, Danny and I had a very enjoyable evening last night, Monday 14th November.

‘A Party to Murder’ – Synopsis 

Six people have come in secret on Halloween to play a murder mystery game at a rustic island cottage. Secret passageways, incriminating letters, hidden compartments, bodies in the window seat and a twenty five year old unsolved mystery twist and turn toward the unexpected and terrifying conclusion.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what the experience was going to be like, having not seen many plays before, and certainly none in Lincoln, I’ve only ever really seen musicals or opera; but after the first few minutes, when I must admit I really wasn’t sure (I can’t say any more than that without giving away too much), it was a delight!

The cast were all brilliant, Ben Roddy as Konrad/Charles and Natasha Gray (Emmerdale) as Mrs McKnight/Valerie, set the scene, which took place in a cottage on an island, in the middle of a lake, somewhere in North America on 31st October 1988.  With a halloween theme, and regular references to Agatha Christie, we knew, as an audience, we’d be in for a few twists and turns, but I never expected to be carried along from scene to scene, in such a compelling way!


The Eastbourne Herald quoted:

…takes you on a lurching ride of suspense and surprises.  It is a Russian doll of a plot: lift one painted layer, and there is another beneath.  And in a second half of utterly unexpected developments, you never know whether you have reached the final enigmatic face.  There is intrigue, darkish humour and genuine tension… it’s really good entertainment… the plot twists had Tuesday’s opening night audience gasping until the very final line

I cannot disagree with a single word in the review above…  I have a tendency to physically jump when startled, and Danny enjoyed my looks of constant surprise as I was regularly shocked  throughout the performance!

We were kept guessing right to the very end, and without a doubt, never, for one moment, could anticipate the outcome of the plot!

Exceptional performances by all the cast including Oliver Mellor (Coronation Street) who played Ernie/Willy, Michelle Morris (The Knock) who played Evelyn/McKenzie, Claire Fisher who played O’Karma/Henri and last but by no means least John Hester playing Merryweather/Elwood.  I was very pleasantly surprised by their professionalism and portrayal of their various characters throughout.  Every word was very clear and easily understood, and despite there only being one stage/set, it was so well put together that as an audience, we were in the room with them.  I was amazed at their ability to swap their characters and voices as quickly as they did;  it was all very believable.

If anyone from the Lincoln or surrounding area is considering a night out either today, Tuesday 15th or tomorrow Wednesday 16th November (including matinee performances Wednesday) please don’t hesitate, it’s well worth a visit!


Thank you very much Talking Scarlet for this production… I’ll certainly be looking out for more shows in the future!

talking Scarlet was founded in 2001 as a trading name for Big Dog Productions. Since then the company has produced and collaborated in productions at theatres all over the country and toured internationally.  It is now a fully independent Limited Company run by Patric Kearns and Jane Shakespeare.






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.


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!

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)

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!

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


Preview – Nobody’s Perfect – New Theatre Royal Lincoln


New Theatre Royal Lincoln just posted the following:

To introduce the return of matinee plays the theatre would like to offer half price tickets for the 2.30pm performances on Thursday and Saturday this week for ‘Nobody’s Perfect’! So why not come to the theatre and enjoy an afternoon of comedy, you will not be disappointed. Call the box office for matinee ticket offer. #wesupportntr 

Box Office – 01522 519999

What’s it about?

“Love Is All Around” is the name of a feminist publishing house where Harriet Copeland is running a competition to find new romantic fiction written by women only. Leonard Loftus is trying to get his books published, but Harriet keeps sending his manuscripts back because they are the work of a man. When Leonard finally sends a manuscript based on his experience as a single parent, and uses the female pseudonym “Myrtle Banbury”, Harriet is impressed. She finds the writing superb and insists on meeting Myrtle so she can hand over the prize money and get Myrtle’s signature on a contract. In order to collect the money, Leonard is forced to carry on the pretence that “Myrtle” exists, by dressing up as a woman and pretending that he is his own fictitious aunt. Leonard’s teenaged daughter, Dee Dee, and his father, Gus, play along with the deception with the inevitable hilarious consequences.


Visit Theatre Royal website for more information about this show!


Jekyll and Hyde – Starring Lincoln Theatre Company


Having performed the Rock Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar in both 2015 and 2016 in Lincoln Cathedral, 2017 brings something completely different with a production of Jekyll and Hyde.

Jekyll & Hyde is a musical horror-drama based on the novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Originally conceived for the stage by Frank Wildhorn and Steve Cuden, it features music by Wildhorn, a book by Leslie Bricusse and lyrics by Wildhorn, Bricusse and Cuden. Following a world premiere run in Houston, Texas, the musical embarked on a national tour of the United States prior to its Broadway debut in 1997. Many international productions have since been staged including two subsequent North American tours, two tours of the United Kingdom, a concert version and a re-vamped US tour in 2012 ahead of a 2013 revival on Broadway.

It’s an interesting choice by the Cathedral to select Jekyll and Hyde, but the battle between the good and evil inside very human is evident in both the characters and the songs.   Directed once again by Ben Poole, Mark Wilde and Aric Prentice are joint Musical Directors, Julia Howarth leading choreography and Erin Flemming will again be looking after the costumes; a formidable team!


As a piece of community theatre, it has been a fabulous opportunity for Lincoln/Lincolnshire based performers to join the Starring Lincoln Theatre Company once again.  The last 2 years have seen over 200 people involved in the production and this year looks set to be similar.  Although the show itself has about 30 lead characters, there are certainly a few ‘big numbers’ using the whole ensemble, presumably around the whole of the Nave of the Cathedral, that will immerse the audience in the experience of being part of the cast.

Rehearsals started in earnest a few weeks ago, most of the lead characters have been cast, and the whole Starring Lincoln team can’t wait to get moving and see more about how the show will develop over the coming months until the production in August 2017.

Over the coming weeks and months, you’ll find photos, snippets from rehearsals, interviews with the lead cast and ensemble and more details about how to book tickets and what to expect from the show!


Review – ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ CAODS


From 26th October to 5th November 2016, Lincolnshire’s County Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society (CAODS) presented the fabulous ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’ in the New Theatre Royal Lincoln.


Having seen and been thoroughly impressed with last years award winning production of ‘Sister Act’, I was really looking forward to CAODS being back at the New Theatre Royal Lincoln with their production of ‘Dirty Rotten Scoundrels’.  The stage musical was made popular by the 1988 MGM film starring Steve Martin and Michael Caine, and although I remembered the story up to a point (it’s been years since I’ve watched the film), the musical version takes us on a delightful journey through some great twists and turns, learning about the brilliant characters and their ever-changing personalities.

The costumes, make up and props were very authentic and with it being staged in the beautiful French Riviera, there was scope for luxury and affluence which were both found in abundance.  Neil Martin, Company Manager,  (The Complete Design Company) created a fabulously designed set, with beautifully moving scenery and set pieces taking us from the hotel lobby, terrace, balcony, villa lounge and bedroom, station and airport.  The lighting really brought the stage to life; the sunshine and beauty of the daylight, and then the moon casting it’s glorious romantic light on the evening scenes.

Musical Director, David Williams, played keyboards and led the full orchestra in the pit and he also worked with the cast to produce an overall glorious sound combining both the harmonies and solo voices beautifully.

It was fabulous to see some of Adam Korwin-Slepowronski’s signature dance moves from ‘Classes with Adam‘;  and my favourite moment, although there were many, was the ‘crutches’ scene at the end of ‘love is my legs’,  The whole audience erupted with laughter.

It was obvious that Director Janie Smith had worked with the cast to bring an authentic French vibe to the whole performance.  The audience were made to feel they were in the French Riviera and were immersed in every scene… the comic timing, the romantic looks and the fabulous twist at the end all combined to make a gripping and thoroughly enjoyable performance.

My stand out moment in the whole show, was my buddy Dawn Wilson, playing Hotel Receptionist, Mathilde…  her comic timing was impeccable with ‘that lift’, and I loved her cameo as a nun!


Apart from one or 2 sound glitches and having to work on a very small stage, the whole show was superb, and worthy of any national theatre.  The lead roles were played exceptionally well by Ian George Norton, Christian Thomas Norton, Imogen Phillis, Andrew Wydrzynski , Helen Elizabeth Rae and Emily Mason-Hill.

The musical features a delightfully jazzy score by David Yazbek (The Full Monty), the Broadway production was nominated for a staggering 11 Tony Awards

Some comments made by my friends about the production:


“This show needs to tour on the west end with this cast”

“Fantastic show. Well done cast thank you for giving us all a wonderful experience. Thanks that is to everyone involved in the production. x”

“Brilliantly funny show “

“Great laugh and a well polished show “

“Went along last night, you were all Fab!”

“Well done scoundrels an amazing show !! Again ❤”

“Just been to see dirty rotten scoundrels. What a show! Laughed ’til I cried. Well done Dawn Wilson, Imogen Phillis, Alex Gillard, Emma Kirkup, Adam Matthew Korwin-Slepowronski, Helen Elizabeth Rae and everyone else involved. Brilliant!”

“Well done CAODS friends on a top performance last night of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at Lincoln Theatre Royal. I hope you have a wonderful last day today and all those bugs do one so that you can all enjoy it! X
If you’re at a loss for something to do this afternoon, get down to the theatre to see it. You’ll love the show and the newly spruced up theatre.”

“Well done last night CAODS and break a leg for your final two shows today xx

Lovely to see you all Dawn Wilson, Emma Bowler, Ian George Norton, Christian Thomas Norton,  Ben Atkinson”

“‘Twas the dirtiest, rottenest, Scoundrelist ?? Show EVER ! ~ snooze ya’ lose …if ya’ haven’t been to see it … GO TODAY! ~ best wishes from me on your last leg! ~ ‘break one’ for all of us that have ❤loved ❤this hilarious show ! ~ xx”

“Have a fabulous last show day. Loved it just as much last night as I did last week. Both my girls really enjoyed it too 😘”

It was really outstanding, well done to you all.

“Great job last night. Well done CAODS. A really entertaining show; I have not laughed so much in ages!”

“Hey you Scoundrels! Thanks for a fantastic show, especially loved the Ruprect and Oklahoma numbers. Well done CAODS.”

“It was excellent, very well done, well performed, I particularly liked the Oklahoma number, and thought the best scene in the whole thing was Andrew’s balcony scene!! Please pass on my congratulations to everyone x”

“Oh my goodness ….. home after watching Dirty Rotten Scoundrels for the second time!! 💕💕💕💕Love this so very much …. laughed out loud (ooops VERY loud) …. whooped … clapped … and thoroughly enjoyed this amazingly hysterically funny show … if I could find the time I would be back tomorrow 💕💕💕💕 ….. thank you so much to all my CAODS family, production team, orchestra … you are all fantastic 😘😘😘 …… Dave Taylor … saw you having a cheeky cough but well done for carrying on !! 💕💕💕

Knowing most of you lovely people have ‘the bug’ also knowing how tired you are all getting … cast,crew,production team and orchestra… I take my hat off to each and every one of you … The show is just so slick, polished, the props are gorgeous, the scenery and costumes are breathtaking 💕💕💕 loved loved loved it 💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕”

“Fantastic evening watching CAODS Dirty Rotten Scoundrels! It was so good & so funny! Definitely recommend it. Big well done to Helen Elizabeth Rae, Imogen Phillis, Emma Kirkup, Dawn Wilson and anyone else I’ve missed off!”

“What a fabulous show CAODS! Brilliant … Loved it! Get tickets….must see it!! Fabulous performances and stunning singing!”


(Thank you to Lester McKone, Steve Nash and Niel Martin for use of their photographs)