Thursday, 18 April 2013

Hairspray


At the moment I have to say I am a bit of a busy bee. I have four 3rd year university essays to complete by Monday which I only started (stupidly) on Sunday so am a bit pushed for time. But when I saw that Hairspray was in Southampton, I could not resist. It was one of my favourite movies when it came out, back in 2007 and I just had to see how well it transferred to stage (having missed the boat while it was in the West End). Luckily for me though, the tour meant that I had a west end cast right on my doorstep and to say I am glad that I went is a huge understatement.

Hairspray is the perfect feel good musical. Vibrant, colourful, unfailingly cheerful it is perfect for anyone (like me) who is a little stressed and in need of a brain break. I was expecting it to be good but I wasn't expecting to feel so chilled and happy after it. Saying that, I was also slightly exhausted. The dances were energetic and never ending, switching from one crazily full on routine to the next, coupled with wordy songs. I am surprised that the cast weren't on the floor by the end.

I honestly can't fault the cast. Normally there are one or two who stand out but this time, I literally couldn't say just one. I have never seen such a coordinated cast who were so in sync with each other and all to a similarly high standard. The lead, Freya Sutton was fresh and perfect, all the more impressive as it was her musical debut. Luke Strifer and Josh Piterman (playing Link Larkin and Corny Collins respectively) were wonderfully handsome living up to Zac Efron and James Marsden's standards. Mark Benton and Paul Rider (who played Edna and Wilbur Turnblad) were a perfect pairing, hilarious and well matched. I loved that Benton didn't try to make his voice female as John Travolta did instead embracing it's masculinity to add to comic effect. Lauren Hood (Penny Pingleton) was also very funny and her and Sutton bounced off each other perfectly. The inclusion of Marcus Collins playing Seaweed (who of course, was runner up on the Xfactor a couple of years ago) was one of the big selling points of the tour, attracting teenage girls far and wide. And he definitely didn't disappoint. His dancing was not quite as clean as some of the other west end stars but he was still great. And finally, Sandra Marvin (playing Motourmouth Maybelle) was fabulous. One of my favourite moments in the film is when Queen Latifah sings I Know Where You've Been. It is the one poignant ballad in the whole musical and brings home the seriousness of the topic of race, amongst all the dancing and cheerfulness and I didn't think that anyone could sing with quite the same emotion. But I was wrong. Marvin played this perfectly and her assured quotes encouraging perseverance for equality are still relevant today.

There were some great new additions, in terms of songs, to the musical but the only thing which disappointed me a little bit was the lack of the dance routine in miss Baltimore crabs, and also the way it was sung by Lucy Benjamin. She didn't have the same authority and airy snobbery that Michelle Pfeiffer had in the film. On top of this I wasn't impressed by the deletion of New Girl in Town which was one of my favourite songs in the film. But this was more than made up for by Don't Stop the Beat which was absolutely fantastic. Despite these very small criticisms, I couldn't have asked for a better time really. It is the ultimate feel good musical and you will leave just wanting to sing and dance. There's still months of the tour left going all around the country so make sure you go see it.

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Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Boarding schools


Boarding schools seem to be a hotly debated issue in the UK with everyone having an opinion of them...some people love them, saying it is the best place for children to learn independence. Others detest them, saying it is just plain wrong to send children away that young. Most people seem to be fascinated by them because, unless you have been to one, you don't really know what it is like. It is this little bubble of mystery where no one really knows what is going on inside.

Unless of course you are on the inside. Which I happen to be. Or I was just under 3 years ago. In 2010 I graduated from Christ's Hospital, a boarding school in Horsham where I boarded from the ages of 11-18. Whenever I mention it at university (which I do quite often as it is the most interesting thing about me, I am sure) I am always met with a zillion interested questions. The first one always always being 'Did you like it?' And this is closely followed by 'Were you homesick?' And the answers are YES and yes. Boarding school was the craziest, funniest, best, most stressful time of my childhood. Yes, I was homesick particularly in the first two years but I have some really great memories there. Because you are around your friends 24/7 you become so close, that they are almost like family and my housemisstress definitely felt like a second mum to me. My best friend, who I met on my first day of school and who I shared with a number of times over the years, is now like a sister to me. She literally knows everything about me, unluckily for her, and probably knows me better than my own parents.

Which leads me on to the next question that I am often asked...'did it affect your relationships with your own family?' And yes, I would say that it does to some extent, especially your parents. For some, it actually allows them to be closer as they miss them and appreciate them more. This was certainly the case for me but it also does put a certain distance between you. They are not there all the time while you are growing up and it does lead you to become independent very quickly, so you don't rely on them as much. I don't think this is a bad thing, you just grow up more quickly.

I went back there the other day for the first time in a while, to drop my little sister off at the beginning of her new term. And it made me realise that CH still means a lot more to me than I thought. It was my home for seven years and I had experiences there that I will never forget. It wasn't all plain sailing but it was awesome and I would never want to change any of it because it made me the person I am today. And a piece of me will remain there forever.

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Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Why does everyone hate The D Word?

By this, I don't mean dick or any other naughty word beginning with 'd' (literally could not think of another one...maybe I am too innocent) but something even scarier - The Dentist. And yes, I did mean to capitalise both words.

It is a hugely scary event when that time of the year rolls around and you are off to see The Dentist...I can't honestly think of one person who enjoys it. Which is unfortunate, because, generally, they are quite nice people. I suppose you would have to be, to choose to be hunched in a small room all day staring into people's cake holes. It is a very odd fetish to have and not something I could ever imagine myself enjoying. Think of the amount of germs they are faced with every day as they get breathed over by everyone from little snot-ridden kids to sick elderly men.

But why is it that people hate The Dentist so much...it's not like you have to do the breathing in and probing round. All you have to do is lie there. It's actually quite comfy and there's normally nice music playing. Despite this, I can not say I enjoy it either. I dread it. A lot. Mostly because I have crap teeth - who else's teeth came through with holes already in? That's just not fair. The aspect I hate most is the powerlessness of your position. You can barely breathe, you definitely can't swallow and I can't get up and run away without getting impaled by that stabby thing they always use. How rude of them.

Then again I am luckier than some so I shouldn't complain and I have been blessed with some really lovely dentists who took real good care of me. So I am trying to see it in a new light. Hopefully one day I will accept that they are doing me a favour and will stop wondering whether that odd tasting polishing thing they do, is in fact, going to poison me.

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Sunday, 7 April 2013

Live, laugh, love

This is a quote that seems to be terribly in fashion at the moment...like carpe diem or YOLO used to be (don't even get me started on them, that's a whole other blog post and we could be here for a while). I have seen it literally everywhere from notebooks to little wooden plaques to hangy-on-the-door things to full blown canvases. So why is everyone obsessing over it so much? And more importantly what does it mean?

One way it can be written is (to) Live (you have to) Laugh (and) Love. And this is what makes up life. I don't think you can have a truly compelling life unless you do all three of these things. With love, it doesn't have to even be a person, although I should say a person is preferable really. But it could be an animal, a job, a hobby...anything that makes you happy =] which I know is not always the case in relationships. But if you care deeply enough about anything, it will make life worth living.

Laughing is one of the most important things you can do in life as well. And I don't mean little giggles, I mean proper, going-to-die-because-I-can't-breathe laughing. It makes life so much better and also allows you to forget all your little problems. Mostly because you are worried where your next breath is coming from and whether you are going to suffocate as a result. All my favourite moments in my day are when I am surrounded by people I love and they say something which is just so totally mind blowingly hilarious that is so unexpected that you can't stop for about half an hour. I don't know if it's just me but somehow I tend to do this alot when I meet up with old friends.

Finally: live. This is so simple yet so easily forgotten. With all the stresses of jobs, uni, school, relationships and everything else going on, it is so so easy for life to pass us by. Every now and then, forget the everyday little things that go wrong and just simply live. Stay in bed the whole day reading your favourite book, visit a town you have never seen, book a last minute holiday, act spontaneously, call someone you haven't talked to in a year, go out for dinner...anything that you want. Remember that life is yours to be lived in any way you choose. And, to coin that terribly clich├ęd phrase, you only live once. So use it wisely and do everything that you want to. No one is stopping you other than yourself.
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