Cahoots Bar London

posted in: Events, Foodies | 0

“What ho old bean, are you here to see the Captain?”

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And with that classy greeting the tone is set for an evening at Cahoots bar in London; where the tubes might have stopped but the drinks are flowing. Having visited for the second time recently, I thought a celebratory blog post was overdue.

Upon arrival, once having been vetted, you are allowed to descend the tube staircase. Once inside the bar itself you will be rewarded with a seat either in the old tube carriage itself or in the vintage luggage room style main section. Now that I am fairly familiar with the venue I hope that on my next trip I will be seated at the bar as I would love to watch how the cocktails are made!

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Bookings are made for two hours, which enables you to easily consume at least two tipples if not more. I like my cocktails sweet and fruity and I can highly recommend the Vera Lynn and Keepin Marm. Both come in unusual ‘glasses’ and add to the quirky feel of this themed bar. Water is available and dispensed from tea caddies, whilst popcorn is also supplied. One day I hope to try a spam sarnie, clearly the ultimate bar snack! They have also added squiffy picnic’s to their rosta, although I haven’t tried one myself it sounds like a fun idea.

Vintage music plays alongside the occasional electro swing, with live music taking Cahoots late into the evening on weekends. However it is the toilet soundtrack that I like best hahh! When I visited most recently they had a radio station discussing cockney rhyming slang, which is a great way to pass the time in the ladies in my opinion.

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This wasn’t just a normal visit to Cahoots however, I was celebrating my birthday! I was spoilt rotten with a day of tapas at Pix Pintxos and a viewing of Aladdin the Musical, which I really enjoyed. Cahoots in the middle however, was made all the more special as I was presented with a card from the team as well as the cutest little cup cake from Crumbs and Doilies, that cake was good! I hope to visit the shop, which is a stone’s throw away from Cahoots next time I am in London.

One word of advice? Make sure you book in advance; I went past one Saturday night on a whim just to see if they could fit a table of 3 in. No chance, there was a huge queue. My best tip would be to make this one of the first stops for your event. Both occasions I have visited, were before 7pm. This made finding the bar all the more magical as no one else is queuing and you really do get the chance to look around inside as it isn’t full of people yet! I think discovering the bar and having the greeting really sets one up for the trip into Cahoots, it means you instantly get involved with the theme and it really makes it all the more exciting.

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With that piece of advice I conclude my Cahoots post. If you are looking for something a bit different to do in London, whether you have a love for vintage or not this is a really interesting setting for some really tasty and in some cases quirky cocktails. But remember to keep it under your hat eh? There’s a pal. Over and out.

Goodwood Revival 2016

posted in: Events | 0

goodwood revival, goodwood, vintage festival, amy bliss, old is now, old is now vintage

goodwood revival, goodwood, vintage festival, amy bliss, old is now, old is now vintage

To my astonishment, I was offered a ticket to Goodwood Revival at short notice! Obviously I said yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and mentally had my outfit options sorted within seconds. However having blagged the Friday off work with ease and having pleasantly overcast weather, I can really say that my sympathies go to my friends sister who’s place I took!

I went with Hayley, the vintage hair extraordinaire, from Pearls Pinup Parlour and her lovely little ladies Eaddie and Elsie. Together we joined her Dad and the 1940’s reenactors group that he is part of, which had the most amazingly authentic stand, situated right next to the paddock that meant we had the perfect view point for eyeing up the racing cars.

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goodwood revival, goodwood, vintage festival, amy bliss, old is now, old is now vintage, vintage car, classic car, racing car

Having visited Goodwood Revival back in 2013, I couldn’t wait to return. I’d dragged my brothers round with me that year and they’d got bored quickly so I didn’t really get to make the most of it. This time however, I was with enthusiasts and free to roam with no long faces in sight 😉

Goodwood Revival has such a great feel to it and what a welcome back! There were 60’s styled football fans at the entrance chanting people into the racecourse. The atmosphere is so powerful, everyone is excitable whether that’s down to dressing up, watching race cars or the champagne bar! Nearly everyone was decked out in their finest from a range of 1900’s decades and I loved seeing such a huge mix. Next time I want to go in the 60’s style to mix it up!

I was really happy to see the Lancaster Bomber do a fly over of the site. Apparently it’s been out of action for a couple of years due to repairs and the money it needs for upkeep so I really did feel honoured to see it air bound; you never know when it’s last flight might be.

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goodwood revival, goodwood, vintage festival, amy bliss, old is now, old is now vintage

I caught some of the races, sampled some free chocolate and explored the exhibitions. I loved the mini beach created by Walls but my favourite part of Goodwood was the live music provided throughout the day. I caught some rockabilly tunes over by an American themed area, with cute pinups in swimwear and lots of lindy hop dancers. It was scary watching the dancers as I’ve just started lindy hop and seems a long way off what they were doing but interesting all the same. The band was great but sadly I can’t remember their name!

The Glamcab Girls looked as gorgeous as ever, boy they must been knackered after the weekend! I also got inside an old passenger aeroplane – inside I felt like I was climbing up a hill and despite the extra legroom, I can appreciate the fact that planes today aren’t at such a slope.

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goodwood revival, goodwood, vintage festival, amy bliss, old is now, old is now vintage, vintage car, classic car, racing car

My only qualm would be that, and I must stress I had a wonderful time and would love to return, this is quite the rich persons event. After a very short browse I quickly left the shopping market, despite enjoying the vintage styled shop fronts I was dismayed at having seen a stand selling safe’s the size of my fridge! Not quite what I am in the market for… Plus there were lots of other out of my price range, not even on my radar items! I did find some amazing sunglasses but at an eye water £150 (a lot for someone who buys all her glasses at vintage markets) I just couldn’t justify the spend.

This is a nostalgic event, with an inclusive feel (despite its pricey market stalls) where everyone is excitable and friendly. I also enjoyed the way in which no one decade was emphasised more than another, loving the mash up; that I doubt even the most authentic vintage snob could not enjoy. If you are looking for a thoroughly entertaining and almost magical vintage day out then Goodwood Revival can be your happy place! It had a quality I would compare with Twinwood, which is something special and rewarding to attend.

goodwood revival, goodwood, vintage festival, amy bliss, old is now, old is now vintage

goodwood revival, goodwood, vintage festival, amy bliss, old is now, old is now vintage

Atomic Festival 2016

posted in: Events | 1

Another great Atomic Festival this year, despite the bloody British weather!

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Having attended Atomic Festival last year, a highlight in my vintage calendar despite the cold weather, I have to say that this year’s sporadic morning downpours still didn’t curb my enthusiasm for this event. I truly love Atomic Festival, which sets itself apart from other events with its distinctly rockabilly appeal.

This year I enjoyed far more bands and entertainment options than ever. Although I must admit I felt pretty unfortunate when I realised I’d missed the swimwear catwalk but I guess I had to leave something new for next year. 😉

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atomic festival, atomic rockabilly, rockabilly festival, old is now vintage

Highlights for me included being a passenger in a gorgeous, classic American car. Not only are they surprisingly speedy, but we had a very excitable couple who took us out. It was the first time they’d brought the car to Atomic and they gave us a second loop of the runway, as well as treating us to a race with another car. I know it sounds silly, but it really was awesome! Last year I hadn’t managed to fit a car ride into my visit so I was pleased to have managed it this year. It really is worth the queue, which actually disappears incredibly quickly.

Another great aspect to Atomic Festival is the UK Rock’n’Roll Jive Championships that they host. Last year my boyfriend and I had watched the heats from the back of the hangar in total awe. This year, we knew how popular they would be so arrived early to bag good seats. Having taken jive lessons this year I could really appreciate the skill and stylised jives on the dance floor. It was excellent being able to point out some moves that we had learnt and woop at the occasional aerial that was featured. Something to aim for next year? Pahh!

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atomic festival,  atomic rockabilly, rockabilly festival, old is now vintage

I also enjoyed the music even more than last year. Although I would say that perhaps the big top’s sound was a little bit echoey, I loved jiving away and singing along to all the bands I saw. The Revolutionaries had one of the biggest crowd draws early on in the day; however it was Coral Lee who came all the way from Australia, The Sureshots and The Jive Romeros who I really loved!

There was plenty of shopping to be done, with a good mix of reproduction and genuine vintage. I was well behaved and only came away with a couple of Luxulite and Splendette goodies. My boyfriend on the other hand bought a Clumsy Kate mexican cactus shirt, which I’ve had my eye on for a while, cheeky bugger!

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atomic festival,  atomic rockabilly, rockabilly festival, old is now vintage

With the bumper cars, roller skates, drag races and dance lessons there is plenty to keep anyone entertained at Atomic Festival. I only visited on the Saturday but the campervan field was full. One day I might risk camping in a tent for the weekend but hopefully I can squeeze into the hotel next year!

Before I go, I have one last recommendation, which you may be able to guess from my previous photo. When you are getting cold and tired in the evening, go and hit up the donuts stand! Not only are the workers in the air stream lovely, but the donuts are fresh and therefore warm. Literally the best sugar pick me up to keep you dancing into the morning.

See you next year Atomic Festival.

atomic festival,  atomic rockabilly, rockabilly festival, old is now vintage

Morgan Factory Tour

posted in: Events | 0

Warning: This may will not be the most factually informative blog post written about the Morgan Factory tour but for non-car-ish people this is probably quite a helpful read.

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As a gift I thought I’d get my Boyfriend a Morgan Factory tour. It’s something he’s mentioned before (a lot) and I thought it was high time I got the trip organised since we now live only an hour from Malvern where the factory is based. I won’t lie, I was a little apprehensive. I would class myself as a car enthusiast but the kind that can appreciate the aesthetics of a car and really does not know anything about them! However it was an interesting tour, followed up by afternoon tea and that can only mean good things.

First up is an introduction to the company, with a presentation showing all the different cars they produce. I liked hearing about the heritage of this prestigious company and was thoroughly impressed that everything truly is hand crafted.

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The presentation also introduced me to the three wheelers that Morgan produce and I instantly fell in love with them! They appear to attract a more quirky audience and lots feature impressive custom paint work. There was a Churchill design hung up on one of the walls that really caught my eye.

The day takes you around their factory, show room and museum. Having no idea what a car factory might be like it made for an interesting day out for someone who wouldn’t usually consider attending a factory tour! What made this car factory tour most interesting, for my Boyfriend who is in to cars more than me, as well as myself, was that everything is made by hand. The attention to detail, hard work and precision must make this job really quite incredible. There was also a fun family feel to the workforce, and it was nice to see so many people united by craftsmanship.

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morgan factory tour, morgan, morgan factoy, morgan motor car, morgan vintage, old is now vintage

morgan factory tour, morgan, morgan factoy, morgan motor car, morgan vintage, old is now vintage

This was a thoroughly enjoyable tour but if I had to criticise for me was that it’s noisy and I’m a little deaf. At times it was difficult to hear our guide, however when we could he was passionate and highly informative. Realistically a noisy workshop only goes with the experience of touring a live factory! Also, on a more personal issue… I got hungry! My advice would be more forward planning if you fancy visiting. I found myself drifting a little bit towards the end and it was all due to craving cake.

One thing our guide kindly told us was the story behind the wings on the logo. It felt really special to be told this in the museum, however I won’t share it here. You can ask on the Morgan Factory tour yourself. 😉

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If you are looking for something a bit different, this is a great interactive experience where you can see a rare and impressive method for car manufacturing. The amount of detail and effort that goes into each part is truly impressive and the enthusiasm of the people who work there is really infectious. Morgan is a great brand and one that I enjoyed learning a little bit more about. For a true car enthusiast and particularly lovers of Morgan’s this would be a great experience, although I do think one of the driving experiences would have had the edge.

Leaving in my battered Peugeot 206 was pretty sad. Give me a Morgan… any day.

Here’s to hoping I win the lottery… or that Morgan decides it wants to sponsor my blog 😉

Vintage Victory Rollers Vintage Hair Workshop

posted in: Events, Fashion and Beauty | 1

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Whether a seasoned vintage hair ‘doer’ or a total newbie, Vintage Victory Rollers vintage hair workshop is here to help you!

I have to be honest; I’ve always been slightly hesitant to attend a hair workshop. I can whip up some victory rolls and on a good day I can usually pull off a Gibson roll without any frustrated screams; although this may be down to luck more than skill! I’ve watched YouTube tutorials and adapted styling tricks from books and magazines, plus let’s face it persistence and practise is a big factor in creating any hair masterpiece! So what made me want to attend Vintage Victory Rollers vintage hair workshop? VVR owner Raye Leonard of course!

I’ve been fortunate enough to watch Raye’s business grow as I befriended her through a vintage meet up group on Facebook, at around the same time that I started blogging. She is such an inspiring boss lady to follow, as she just keeps going! I wanted to get behind VVR, so attending Raye’s vintage hair workshop made the most sense. Not to mention the gorgeous hair inspiration photos she regularly uploads onto social media.

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vintage victory rollers, vvr, vintage hair workshop, vintage hair salon, vintage salon, vvr hair

She hasn’t been in her current salon space for long but it’s already had a major overhaul and been totally made over in the Vintage Victory Rollers style. The first thing you will probably notice is that it has flamingo everything! It’s really been VVR’d and looks very cute with bunting outside (much to the amusement of locals), flamingo wallpaper inside and wonderful vintage dressers for workstations. Raye also knows how to make a good cup of tea, a very important factor when choosing a vintage hair workshop. 😉

Raye’s enthusiasm and easy going nature made for a comfortable environment to work in. I didn’t mind asking questions and wasn’t embarrassed (too much) when I went to pick up the hot tongs by the wrong end. Throughout the day, that ran from 10am-3pm, the VVR tutorials demonstrated pin curling, a vintage brush out, victory rolls, poodle hair and a quick vintage festival up do.

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vintage victory rollers, vvr, vintage hair workshop, vintage hair salon, vintage salon, vvr hair

I really enjoyed the pampering feel to the day. It was really fun to meet other vintage lovers who were at the tutorial, visiting the saloon for a trim as well as the hair models themselves. I received an impromptu lindy hop lesson right in the middle of the salon! It was equally lovely to finish the day, having had my hair styled by Raye into a messy poodle doo that lasted 3 days.

All in all if you are totally new to hair Raye can help you and I think it would be a great and totally not scary place to start. She has such a friendly charisma that you will instantly feel included and comfortable to make mistakes. Personally I have been creating basic vintage inspired hairstyles for a couple of years now. What I liked about the workshop was the reassurance that I have been doing things the right way. I also enjoyed the creative aspect and have come away with a fearlessness to try out new things and in some cases to adopt better practises to create more professional looks. Oh and I came away armed with a much better brush!

At the end of the Vintage Victory Rollers vintage hair workshop, not only will you have a fabulous vintage hairstyle in place but you will also be armed with lots of styling and product tips, as well as a cheat sheet for each style covered. Despite this, I think the most important thing that I learnt was to be more patient with my styling. My own personal VVR goal is to try and spend a little bit more time on my hair as it can go a long way in making a better vintage do.

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Thanks for all the support Vintage Victory Rollers, I look forward to my next styling session!

Black Country Living Museum’s 1940s Weekend

posted in: Events | 8

black country living museum, amy bliss, old is now vintage, 1940s weekend

With sunshine planned for the weekend I decided to buy an impromptu ticket for the Black Country Living Museum 1940s Weekend. What a great plan, not only was the weather absolutely beautiful on the Sunday but the museum put on a really lovely day.

Last year I heard about the Black Country Living Museum’s 1940s Weekend and really enjoyed the great photos that were circulated from the event. I had completely over looked the event this year and it was only by chance that I was free on that particular weekend. Hooray! I got to finally visit BCLM and enjoy the special 1940s extras that they introduce for the event.

There are a handful of stalls at BCLM’s 1940s Weekend and I admit this was the first thing that I stopped for, despite not actually making any purchases! We then walked down towards the main site, only to be stopped by a very friendly American army officer who advised us that there was a camp site hidden in the woodland area. This wasn’t marked on the map, whether this was by mistake or not I couldn’t say, but it was great to discover. In the undergrowth was a camp, complete with look outs and a jeep. I think we interrupted brunch! There was moral despite the tiny tents they were staying in and it was astounding to be told that not only were they original but in the war they would have slept two people in each. Even these knowledgeable re-enactors afforded themselves the luxury of one tent each!

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bclm, 40s weekend, black country living museum, amy bliss, old is now vintage, 1940s weekend

Next up was a debate as to where we should visit on the map first and after a quick browse of the traditional fairground we came to a garage with vintage motorbikes and cars outside. I was approached by a jolly chap who asked with mystery “would you like me to make your day?” Bemused I told the uniformed gentleman that I would love that. To which he responded by starting up the motorbike, “I’ll get you my jacket to sit on for comfort.” Eeeee and with that I was off! I crossed my ankles over and tucked my skirt in between my legs, like a proper lady and held onto his belt for dear life. I’m just kidding; he drove in a very idyllic manner around the whole site, probably worrying Joshua that he’d lost me. 😉 It was great being driven around, smiling and waving to everyone. I really felt like I had been taken back to the 1940s as the whole site is of course a village museum. Touring on the motorbike and seeing everyone dressed in vintage clothing and hearing a big band playing really transported me back and was a real treat and highlight of the weekend.

The rest of our day was filled with visiting the BCLM’s different village shops and houses, enjoying music in particular the Ashby Big Band and catching rays. We had a picnic rug and made good use of it at The Bank’s Stage and I must admit that although so many people I know via social media attended the Saturday, we definitely got the best weather on the Sunday. We checked in on the dance lessons being held at the Workers’ Institute stage and although we were too late to join in, I have to say that the small group looked like they’d polished off quite a routine! Singer Pete Wayre also put on a very slick performance and captured the dreamy 40s singer image very well.

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We also gorged ourselves on possibly the best fish n chips of my life!? Two words… beef dripping. There should literally be no other way to make fish n chips. Also having never tried spam before I can swear by spam fritters, again cooked in beef dripping. It honestly isn’t as gross as it kind of sounds!

My only grievance would be that I didn’t manage to visit the pub! If you know me, then you will know how bizarre this is! I guess there is always next year 😉

black country living museum, amy bliss, old is now vintage, bclm, 1940s weekend

black country living museum, old is now vintage, bclm, 1940s weekend

Black Country Living Museum’s 1940s Weekend Tips:

Book your tickets online – the biggest and best tip of them all! I went on the Sunday, which was the least busy day and the queue to get in for those without tickets was still an hour long. I arrived at 10:30 and thankfully had my e-ticket on hand. It took me all of 2 minutes to make my way from reception into the museum!

Despite having the most amazing fish n chips ever… other food seemed a bit lacking (although Joshua loved the pork bap). Next year I will be bringing a picnic for lunch. A final note on food… don’t enter the fish n chips queue hungry, we had a 30 minute wait which is totally reasonable since the food is delicious but only if you aren’t ravenous. The whole area surrounding the fish n chips shops smells AMAZING and if you are anything more than a little bit hungry the queue will test all hangry distraction devices the person queuing with you has. The best hangry distraction technique Joshua came up with was sending me off to buy a Gin and Elderflower cocktail; I came back very happy and I think he enjoyed a moment of peace and quiet!

Parking at BCLM quickly fills up. I don’t know about previous years but they had an overfill car park at the Dudley College Broadway, with a shuttle bus to the site. There are people handing out flyers with the post code for the parking but in case you are far too organised for that, here it is: DY1 4AS. (Apologies if this changes after 2016)

I hope those tips help and hopefully see you there next year!

black country living museum, bclm, old is now vintage, 1940s weekend

Pinup Picnic in the Bar

posted in: Events | 1
portraits and pinups, amy bliss, old is now, old is now vintage, frizzy lois, pinup picnic, pinup picnic in the park, kanaloas
Portraits and Pinups: Frizzy Lois and Amy Bliss

Whether you want to call it Pinup Picnic in the Park, Pinup in the Bar or the Pinup Pissup, this year’s British Belles pinup event was excellent. I went to the first event last year and had an amazing time in the sunshine, which you can read up on here. However with the completely unpredictable nature of the British Summer plan B was initiated by Atomic Amber who saved the day last minute by securing a tiki bar to host us.

But before we even think about the tiki bar I have to mention how much of a stir us pinups were making outside the Chancery Lane tube stop! I was asked to pose with strangers and told I looked wonderful so many times whilst trying to decipher google maps and work out a route to the bar.

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Portraits and Pinups: Vintage Doll Laura

Everyone was on the receiving end of such positive attention. I think with the immediacy of pinup lifestyle on my phone, through Instagram etc, I actually forget that I don’t dress normal. It is always reassuring to meet up with a group of lovely, like minded ladies (and the occasional gentlemen twit twoo) to celebrate a collective difference in style from the norm. The group of builders, who we trotted past on the way to Kanaloa’s tiki bar, were particularly hilarious if not totally bowing to all stereotypes as their jaws dropped as they gawped at us. Not your usual sight for London’s business district, on the weekend.

But anyway… to Kanaloa’s! First off can I just say that this is a very bamboofied tiki bar. Thanks again to Atomic Amber who arranged for them to take us in just a week before the event, great find.

pinup picnic, portraits and pinups, john bellingham, kanaloas, collectif, coco von vintage
Portraits and Pinups: Nicole aka Coco Von Vintage, Sarah from Lipstick and Dress

The half price cocktails were tasty and helped me not to break the bank when the picnic (and bring your own booze aspect of the event) had been abandoned! My only criticism would be that I don’t think Kanaloa’s had appreciated just how many pinups were intending to descend on London for Pinup in the Bar. The 5 back bar queues were testament to that; however it was a great setting for the event and I previously mentioned, the cocktails were good. I also feel like the bar venue meant everyone was more chatty than ever! Last year, yes everyone mingled apart from me who was busy being shy (thanks Coco Von Vintage for putting up with me hahh), but a lot of the picnic seemed to be limited by the picnic rugs. At this year’s event I went around the whole venue chatting to so many wonderful people and meeting half of my Instagram; @gussetsandgodets, @vintagedolllaura and @dontletyourteagocold, to name a few!

There was a great celebratory feel to the day and I was reminded just what a lovely lot the vintage community is. I got onto the dance floor for a stroll, managed to squeeze in some sunshine by dashing out to the smokers area and met some absolutely awesome people who I hope to meet up with again soon.

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I couldn’t say which was better, Pinup Picnic in the Park or Pinup Picnic in the Bar but I think everyone who attended would agree that more events should happen each year 😉 Thank you once again to the British Belles for an excellent meet up and for of course raising so much money for Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity.

42nd Street: The Coventry Musical Theatre Society Review

posted in: Events | 0
42nd street, the coventry musical theatre society, the belgrade theatre, belgrade theatre, coventry theatre
42nd Street Production Shot

42nd Street promises an evening of the glamour and glitz of the 1930’s, so it will come as no surprise that I was pretty excited to see it! This theatre show follows Peggy Sawyer’s journey as she stumbles at her first step into the chorus line and then sets about tapping to the top.

Director Steve Boden explains the choice of 42nd Street and really captures the whole feel of the performance:

“42nd Street is the epitome of great musical theatre. It provides a fabulous opportunity for grand staging, elaborate and spectacular scenery, beautiful period costumes and some of the greatest tunes written for any musical.”

I think Steve Boden expresses what makes 42nd Street a magical production really well. However what really impressed me about this theatre show was who it was performed by…

The Coventry Musical Theatre Society is a group of amateurs. I am embarrassed to say that for me a group of amateurs conjured up images of my local village panto… Oh how The Coventry Musical Theatre Society have corrected me!

There was a serious lack of an amateur feel to 42nd Street, which I am sure comes from the whole passionate team. The orchestra music was perfect, the group tap dancing pieces were thrilling (how did that many people tap in time!?) and the acting truly was amazing. I think I often overlook the acting in my theatre reviews because I assume that someone on stage should be able to do this but with the very wrong idea of what amateur means on stage, I was not prepared for the abilities of the characters. Personally I thought Julian Marsh and Dorothy Brock stole the show.

42nd street, the coventry musical theatre society, the belgrade theatre, belgrade theatre, coventry theatre
42nd Street Production Shot

Julian Marsh, played by Jamie Sheerman, was the perfect depiction of an old Hollywood entertainment boss, making me think of Louis B Mayer co-founder of MGM. He delivered his lines with the correct power, easily demanding the stage presence necessary for his character whilst showing off a respectfully softer side too. I think that a fair few members of the audience were swooning alongside Peggy Sawyer 😉

Dorothy Brock, performed by Hannah Farquharson, on the other hand plays ‘the baddie.’ Oh does she do a good job! I think I actually boo’ed her at one point, much to the amusement to the people around me (sorry). She really was a total diva on stage and had an amazing voice. She was really fun to watch.

Back to dancing, as I don’t think I’ve mentioned this enough for such a dance centric performance! I particularly enjoyed the use of the slow rising stage curtain to tantalise the audience as the dancers performed a fast pace tap number with only their legs and feet on show. Another highlight for me was the ‘Shadow Waltz,’ which was highly comical with the use of lights, shadow participation and well-orchestrated choreography.

The Belgrade Theatre always has a great and varying range of shows on offer. I must add too that this might have been one of the busiest nights I have experienced there (having watched Miss Nightingale and Flare Path previously). Even the Mayor put in a visit, again demonstrating the reputation The Coventry Musical Theatre Society has for itself. I look forward to next year’s performance but I also want to say a quick thanks to The Belgrade Theatre for putting on big tours and local shows alike. Visiting The Belgrade Theatre is always a joy!

The Puppini Sisters Tour Review

posted in: Events | 0
the puppini sisters, puppini sisters, high life, high life album

As The Puppini Sisters strut onto stage covered in pompoms and brimming with a sassy enthusiasm; the audience are hit with a burst of excitement. The candy pop coloured outfits seemed like the best simile for their catchy medleys and they burst straight into ‘Highlife’.

The Puppini Sisters sound beautiful. I’ve listened to them a fair bit over the past couple of years, not a touch on the 10 years they have been together, and had a pretty high expectation that they easily met. Singing in tandem and in their solo appearances at all times they were impressive. Emma Stone’s smoky jazz bar rendition of ‘Cheek to Cheek’ was a wonderful tribute to Sinatra and I loved that she performed with only the double bass to back her.

They performed a lot of songs from their new album ‘The High Life’ including a couple of my favourites; the catchy ‘We Love to Bebop’ and the ‘Rapper’s Delight Mash Up’ rendition that demonstrates their ease with taking something modern and changing it to have an older pop sound. The Andrew Sisters ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’ cover was also great and really highlighted the comfortable way that their voices complement each other. Again they added their unique style to the song, creating a version I have never heard before. But possibly my favourite, I am sure you can already tell it is difficult to choose, would have to be the ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ encore. It was hilarious!

Music aside I loved the on stage banter that went on between The Puppini Sisters and their 3 piece band, each of whom really seemed to take it in their stride; even when in one case they were introduced as a Granma. Mr Kate Mullins (just kidding) had the best wit and really gave the fun on stage an inclusive feel. It was really fun to see such a great friendship group performing together and having such an excellent time. They clearly love what they do and I always find anyone who benefits from that, a joy to watch and speak with!

One thing I thought that was really missing was a ukulele solo, how awesome would that have been?! Otherwise, zero complaints. Audience participation was rife, as people were encouraged to guess the songs, how many were featured in a medley as well as vie for a double whisky. Local ladies, The Glamophones also took to the stage to join them in a rendition of Withering Heights and I hope to be able to catch them again at some festivals this summer. The Glamophones were sat near me in the audience and it was so cute to see them return, they were buzzing!

It would also be good to mention the wonderful support act, Hollie Stephenson. She has a real Amy Winehouse vibe, with a splash of reggae. One thing I would say is that she didn’t make much eye contact whilst singing, which I didn’t find very engaging however she was very sweet when she spoke between songs and you couldn’t fault her voice. I also loved that she writes her own songs and her ability as a songwriter, from what I was lucky enough to sample, is very strong indeed.

To say that The Puppini Sisters are an impressive harmony group, seems to really trivialise what they do and who they are as performers. Amazingly on top of some insane vocals they are as quick witted as they are entertaining. Go forth and see a touch of the High Life for a very joyous evening!

Want to hear more from The Puppini Sisters? Why not get your hands on In Retrospect for my interview with the wonderful Marcella Puppini.

Miss Nightingale

posted in: Burlesque and Cabaret, Events | 0

miss nightingale, belgrade theatre, miss nightingale theatre show, matthew bug

I was looking forward to Miss Nightingale, and oh boy she did not disappoint! Welcome ‘to the gay glamour of 1940s London’ it boasted and exceeded that remit with ease. Hoping for a saucy show girl that would light up the stage, the mouthy northern lass Maggie Brown (played by Clara Darcy) transforms into Miss Nightingale and was the singing songstress as promised. However this isn’t a tale just about a war time singer and her shady boyfriend Tom Fuller (Christopher Hogben).

Let’s just come back to ‘the gay glamour.’ Yep, you guessed it but I hadn’t before the show! To my surprise and if the lady in front of us was anything to go by most of the audience’s surprise; this was a tale about a love triangle that included two gay men. ‘Oh my god’ was uttered in the loudest stage whisper from the shocked lady as the loveable Polish-Jewish refugee George (Conor O’Kane) and the tight lipped but enthusiastic Sir Frank Worthington-Blythe (Nicolas Coutu-Longmead) pecked each other. I’m pretty sure the two actors must have heard her gasp and I can’t help but think it must be quite a satisfying reaction.

There was a build-up of tension beforehand but to actually see the kiss on stage in the context of the war when it was an incredibly risky time to be gay was quite the scandal! It was a welcomed shock and it gave the production an unexpected depth to it that I hadn’t been expecting (I guess I should read the press release more carefully).

But romance aside, my favourite aspect of this show were the songs that are simply excellent! Songs executed with perfect tongue in cheek, like ‘the sausage song,’ added great hilarity to Miss Nightingale and had the audience in stitches. I don’t know whether the unexpectedness of the whole production made everyone more involved but the audience really were a noisy lot, laughing out loud at every comedic moment and applauding whenever appropriate to do so.

For your amusement, here is a link to the sausage song, although if you plan to go see miss nightingale at the theatre you might wish to keep it as a surprise!

However the ballads were also beautiful and heart felt, which just goes to emphasise the calibre of the multi-musically talented cast who captured the versatility of the play with a wonderful confidence. Keeping the cabaret club at the centre of Miss Nightingale added a really glamourous side to this entertaining show that was as uplifting as it was engaging.

A special mention needs to go out to Matthew Bugg, who after browsing his website had me in further awe. Miss Nightingale is his first musical and although it sounds like he really has been successful throughout the whole of his theatrical career, from what I saw he has found his true calling as a writer and award winning composer. He is one to follow.

Back to the production, if quintessential British humour is what you are after with a darker war time underlining plot then Miss Nightingale is for you. Here’s to hoping it gets another tour or that Matthew Bugg gets writing something new soon!

Thank you to the Belgrade Theatre for the tickets. Whether you are going in to watch a show or strolling past, make sure you visit their cafe for the most amazing red velvet cake. It makes for a great pretor dinner 😉

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