Funny Girl – A Star Is Born in Natasha J Barnes

It’s an old cliché, maybe from 42nd Street, that you go on a stage unknown and walk off a star. That is what happened at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre last night, when Natasha J Barnes, taking on the role of Fanny Brice made famous by Barbara Streisand, gave the performance of her life in ‘Funny Girl’, It echoed another role that Streisand starred in, because truly, a Star was Born.

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Funny Girl has been theatres most recent phenomenon, with Sheridan Smith winning huge plaudits for her performance as Ziegfeld star Fanny Brice. When Sheridan faced a period of illness and personal trouble, Natasha J Barnes took over the role, and she is frankly astounding in it. Her voice is powerful and emotive, her acting is flawless, and her chemistry with co-star Darius Campbell is a joy to watch, especially on their poignant duet ‘Who are you now?’

The story of Fanny Brice, and her love for Nick Arnstein is a tale that is both hilarious and heartbreaking. Fanny had an almost meteoric rise to fame as a genuine ‘Funny Girl,’ becoming a major star in the Ziegfeld Follies (her performance in Glorification of the American Bride is so, so funny.) Along the way she meets and falls in love with the handsome gambler Nick Arnstein and they marry and have a child. Life seems perfect for the star and her man, but Nick’s financial fortunes take a downward step, and Fanny’s need to help and protect him lead to Nick feeling stifled and taking actions that threaten to destroy them both.

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The performance of Natasha J Barnes is superb. Her note perfect performances of the key songs, ‘People’ and ‘Don’t rain on my parade’ are just wonderful, and she is one of those rare performers who can make you laugh out loud, and then try to hide those tears in the same performance. She is matched by her perfect co-star, Darius Campbell, now a world away from ‘Popstars’, he gives a charismatic, sensual performance as Nick. You love how he genuinely loves Brice, and really want his character to turn his fortunes around, a testament to his portrayal. It is hard to think of anyone else who could play Nick with the style and panache of Campbell.

Funny Girl is a stunning piece of musical theatre that charms, entertains and resonates in equal measures. It is one of the must see shows in theatre today. Don’t miss it.

Funny Girl

Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

TUE 25 JUL – SAT 29 JUL

Click here for ticket information

The Best Things To Do In Oahu, Hawaii

I love visiting Oahu as often as I get the chance, it is one of those places that combines special people, weather and supreme nature to create a holiday destination like no other. Everyone should visit Oahu (and Hawaii for that matter) at least once in their life, so I thought a little guide to this Pacific paradise was in order. Have fun reading!

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Stay by the beach
There is nothing quite like staying right next to the beach and the amazing feeling of walking out of one of the amazing vacation rentals in Oahu and eating breakfast next to the beach is an experience like no other. Everyone always wants to live next to the beach and in Oahu it is very possible to do this, so find your island paradise and make it your own for your next trip.

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Chinamans Hat
This small island is located near Kualoa Ranch and you can swim here or kayak across the water. This seems totally bizarre when you consider that most islands you need a boat to get to. As a result you get a more authentic experience that you definitely have to earn and you will be well rewarded in the end by amazing views of the Kualoa mountains and the surrounding area.

Experience a double rainbow
It may sound impossible, but believe it or not it is definitely possible. A double rainbow is a rare sight to see and you can see it from a few spots like Tantalus Lookout or on the North Shore. It is never guaranteed, but you will definitely feel lucky when you see one and it is an incredibly beautiful site that you aren’t soon to forget

Take the Stairway to Heaven
This is one of the goals of Oahu and is without a doubt the best views on the island. Although it is technically not allowed, climbing this huge stairway to the summit of a mountain is one of the most amazing sites that you are likely to see and the sights of the lush greenery, the beach and the stunning valleys is truly a once in a lifetime sight. Go at sunrise and you are in for an even better deal, which just adds to the scenery even more.

Relax at Cockroach cove
This beautiful cove has become a very popular tourist attraction and is one of the best spots on the island to chill out. The rock formations, ultra blue water and small caves make this a great place to hang out and explore. Swimming here is particularly nice with calm water that you could endlessly float around in and I love scrambling the beautiful black volcanic rocks.

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Hike Koko Crater Railway Trail
The Koko Head Stairs are one of the most popular hikes in the area, but don’t let its short distance fool you. `this is one of the most grueling hikes that you are ever likely to experience. For most people it can take up to one hour, but you even see people along the way running all the way up the steep incline (not me though!). The views at the top are well worth the little bit of pain you get from getting to the top.

Try some seafood on the North Shore
Oahu has it all in terms of relaxed atmosphere, beaches and surf, but another thing it does have is some great seafood that you absolutely must try. Everything from fresh fish to shrimps are absolutely delicious and it is probably the freshest and tastiest seafood that you are likely to eat.

Hike the Ka’au Crater
This is my favourite hike on Oahu to see some extremely stunning waterfalls. On this hike you can see three waterfalls before you walk up the ridge onto the edge of the crater. The views from here look directly over the green landscape and Honolulu, which is just so beautiful. The best thing about these hikes are that there are so many that offer great views of the island and the Ka’au Crater hike is definitely one of my favourites with its panoramic views of the entire island.

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Go whale watching
Winter is the time to go whale watching and the best place to do this is definitely on the east coast of Oahu. You can see whales from many beaches here, but I personally prefer to get out on a boat in order to get closer to the action. Oahu is really one of the best and most beautiful places to see these stunning creatures frolicking and playing in the crystal blue waters.

Try paddle board yoga
Personally, I love yoga and it is always great fun to relax and try some different positions. It isn’t always easy and in Oahu you can even try it out on a paddle board, which is exactly as difficult as it sounds.

Explore the Mermaid caves
This was once a secret spot for the locals to enjoy, but the word has definitely gotten out about the caves. The amazing thing is that the water flows directly from the ocean into the caves and provides a mysterious and magical place to enjoy. I can only guess that the caves are a place where you could picture mermaids living and got their names from this.

Enjoy some delicious poke
Poke are some of the best food in Oahu and all of Hawaii for that matter. They have extremely fresh and tasty raw tuna (known as Ahi to the locals) and rice. The fish and rice are covered in a delicious spicy sauce and it is akin to a sashimi bowl. This is one of my favourite examples of Hawaiian cuisine and the freshness and tastiness of the ingredients really make the dish

Receiving The Care You Need Both Before And After The Birth Of Your Baby

According to research undertaken by Your Legal Friend, having a baby is the most common reason for a hospital admission in the UK, with 1.3 births every minute. Yet for some, the time that should be the most happiest and exciting as they finally meet their new son or daughter, can actually be a time of pain, stress and fear. It is no surprise that when it comes to the NHS compensation budget, 41% of it is being used in claims relating to obstetrics. I have experience of poor care both before and after the birth of my son Joe that illustrates that there are real issues in this area.

My maternity and delivery were not easy, they were fraught with problems from the beginning, I have type two diabetes and suffer with high blood pressure, both of which made me a higher risk pregnancy. I also lived on a border between two authorities. This meant I had to have two midwives. This sounds like double the care, but in actual fact was just double the stress. My main midwife was the one I saw at my surgery. She did not fill in my book properly, leaving major gaps in the records, she did not inform me about the risks of my pregnancy, the real chance it wouldn’t go to term, or the fact it would probably be a caesarean section. In short, she was severely lacking in all areas and left me very uninformed about my pregnancy and my risks. My second midwife was so much better, and was left to fill in these gaps during home visits, but because I saw her so much less, this really added to my worries. What was I not being told when I visited my surgery midwife?

 

As I got nearer to my time more things happened to fill me with dread of the birth. What should have been a routine blood test saw me pass out after six nurses had tried, unsuccessfully, for more than 20 minutes to get a blood sample in a tiny, hot room. I had informed them I was hard to bleed (I know this well from frequent diabetes fasting tests) and that they would be better to transfer me to the Path lab for the test, but they persisted in trying to get the sample, making me ill.

Two weeks before Joe was delivered (at 7 and a half months) I was admitted with suspected preeclampsia. I was also feeling unwell due to a sore and watery eye. I mentioned this in my examination, but it was dismissed as unimportant – it wasn’t even looked at. Within an hour, the whole of the left side of my face had sunk and stopped moving. I was told I’d had a stroke by the doctor examining me. It turned out to be Bells Palsy, but the fear I’d had a stroke and that the paralysis was permanent was devastating for both me and my family.

Even finally being admitted proved to be a nightmare. I had not eaten since lunchtime, and with diabetes, need to eat at regular intervals. I kept mentioning this, but was still not fed. When I was finally taken to my room I was told the kitchen was closed, but that they might be able to find a sandwich from somewhere. I was advised by my nurse to take a whirlpool bath to ‘relax’. I decided against it as I was so tired, which was lucky, as a nurse nearly battered the bathroom door down telling me not to take a bath as it was used to induce labour, not something you want to do at 7 months pregnant.

After the birth of Joe two weeks later, I struggled to get pain relief when needed, particularly when I was not sleeping at night due to stress headaches that were actually reducing me to tears. I eventually signed myself out of hospital in the early hours of Christmas Eve – I just wanted to get home and away from that place.

I suffered terrible post natal depression in the months after Joe’s birth, I think that my treatment and experiences during my maternity and in my care after it certainly contributed to my mental condition. I did not pursue a claim, but I truly wish that I had, sometimes the only thing that brings real change is the threat of litigation, and if it stops other people from receiving poor care and treatment, then that can only be a good thing. Companies like Your Legal Friend can offer free advice if you think you may have a case for a claim, you were entitled to good levels of care, if you didn’t receive it, you should act.