Birmingham Hippodrome Launch Cinderella at Villa Park

Cinderella – Birmingham Hippodrome Panto Launch 2017. 20th September 2017.
Pictured are Beverley Knight, Matt Slack, Suzanne Shaw, Ceri Dupree and Phil Randall.
Picture by Simon Hadley.

Wednesday saw Villa Park turned into a pantomime wonderland (not for the first time this season it has to be said – Baggies fan Joke!).  The Birmingham Hippodrome were launching this year’s panto, Cinderella, with an all star cast. Beverly Knight, Suzanne Shaw, Matt Slack, Ceri Dupree and Phil Randall were all there, in their best panto finery, talking to this year’s panto producer and director Michael Harrison. It was a funny, happy occasion and certainly wet the appetite for what looks set to be another astounding success for the Hippodrome.

Suzanne Shaw,Ceri Dupree and Phil Randall

For Suzanne, this is the third time playing Cinderella, although the first time playing at the Hippodrome. She was asked about songs and revealed that she will be singing some songs in the panto, including a duet with her handsome prince, Danny Mac. She also has a new song called ‘At the Hippodrome’ which tells of the history of the Hippodrome. Suzanne says she is a little scared to be singing alongside Beverley Knight – saying ‘who wouldn’t be’, and also joked how lucky she is to have some ‘eye candy’ over Christmas in the form of the delectable Danny Mac.

Veteran pantomime dames Ceri Dupree and Phil Randall are coming together this year as the Ugly Sisters, enjoying the chance to play the wickedly evilas Voluptua and Verruca  rather than cuddly dames. As ever, the costumes were the subject of much excitement, described as showstoppers, ‘so big they could be scenery, and the audience was told that the costumes to look out for are when the sisters arrive at the ball.

I loved all the little backstage details like make up taking around an hour due to needing to shave, cover eyebrows etc. Someone asked if the costumes need to be specifically cleaned and Ceri Dupree had the audience in hysterics as he said ‘no, just spray a little Febreeze around the crotch and you’re done’.

Matt Slack

Matt Slack could be considered a Birmingham Hippodrome legend, after starring in the last five pantomimes, holding the record for the most consecutive pantomime performances at the Hippodrome. Earlier this year Matt won a British Pantomime award  for best comic for his role in Dick Whittington. This year Matt is playing Buttons for the first time and joked that it is the role that gets lots of the laughs and the pathos, but that it is going to be rewritten so he also gets the girl.

Matt is well known for being the king of Birmingham Panto, but he is also a talented serious actor. This year has seen him playing in Eastenders and in a touring production of Mrs Henderson Presents, playing a 1930s Cockney Comic in the story of the Windmill Theatre.

Matt says he is lucky to be able to do diverse things, but that his heart always lies in panto.

Cinderella – Birmingham Hippodrome Panto Launch 2017. 20th September 2017.
Pictured is Matt Slack (Buttons).
Picture by Simon Hadley.

Beverley Knight

Making her pantomime debut this year, Midland born Beverley Knight was clearly happy to be back home in ‘God’s own country’ as she described it. Beverley is playing the part of the Fairy Godmother and is really looking forward to performing ‘Knowing that friends and family are just up the road.’

Beverley was resplendent in her gorgeous glittering costume and said ‘I’ve never been so sparkly and sequinny, I love the fact that I can float in and out of scenes.’

Beverley was asked about her other West End theatre roles, including playing Grizabella in Cats. She explained how much she had loved singing Memory, saying ‘If you have a voice, who wouldn’t want to sing Memory.’ She also said how happy she was to be singing in this year’s panto and admitted ‘ I will sing whatever is put in front of me.’

CINDERELLA runs at Birmingham Hippodrome from Mon 19 Dec 2017 until Sun 28 Jan 2018.  Tickets from £15.50* can be booked on 0844 338 5000† or from birminghamhippodrome.com.

 

Getting out and about this Autumn

For many people, Autumn is the best season. It it a time of great natural beauty, the leaves change and fall from the trees as temperatures start to fall, but we still have gloriously sunny days and blue skies that hold off the bay of Winter just that little bit longer. These lovely days (and if we’re really lucky, a touch of an Indian Summer) make Autumn a season where we really should be getting out and about and enjoying some fresh air and outdoor pursuits.

There really is no reason to be staying inside. Children need to be turfed out, away from their computer screens, and instead given a football, a frisbie or a kite. Moms and dads need to put those car keys away and make the most of the season by opting to walk to the shops or the school. Even if your mobility is a problem for you, there is still no reason why you can’t enjoy some time away from the TV, computer or PS4. A range of different mobility aids from a company like Pro Rider Mobility can give you the support you need to be able to enjoy time outdoors, whether it be a trip in the park or taking in a nature walk. And don’t forget that the best events of Autumn, Halloween and Bonfire Night, take place outside.

Here are a few more ideas for enjoying a wonderful Autumn.

Enjoy your local Park

As I’ve already mentioned, parks are beautiful places of change at this time of the year. Whether you are walking your dog, or taking your children to search for conkers and pine cones, this really is a great way to spend a couple of hours, particularly whilst we still have some daylight hours in the evenings after school and work.

Get yourself to a football match

We are now well into the football season, and while I have to admit that it gets pretty cold on the stands once we hit Winter, for me, the best way to spend an Autumn afternoon is cheering on your team at the top of your voice, and getting a hotdog covered in mustard on the way back. Most grounds these days have access for those with mobility problems, with my team, West Brom, also adding an area for those with sensory issues and new commentary for death supporters, making football far more inclusive than it was in the past.

At WBA v West Ham last Saturday

Say Goodbye to the bears of The Big Sleuth

The Big Sleuth has been a massive success if Birmingham and the surrounding areas this Summer, with 100 bears delighting thousands of people. But all good things must come to an end, and the weekend beginning October 6th sees the finale for the bears, as they are all gathered together in East Park for one last goodbye. If you didn’t get chance to see the bears in their locations, this is a great way to see the bears all together.

Birmingham Weekender

This weekend sees the Birmingham Weekender, a weekend dedicated to getting the arts out and about in the city of Birmingham. From Rangeeli, a colourful community parade taking place through the city-centre complete with Harminder the Elephant, to Slack Rope Connections and the Bullzini Family Funambulists in Cathedral Square, who will help you test your balancing skills, this is a great way of getting out and about with your family, and finding that the city is about far more than shopping.

How will you enjoy the great outdoors this Autumn?

Reviewed – Izza Pizza In Selfridges Birmingham

 

The best pizza I ever had was in Sardinia. A small, unassuming looking pizzeria created pizzas to order, which were then eaten in the square in the Old Town in Alghero, overlooking the harbour with the sun shining. The locals all flocked there (always a good sign) and the square was filled with extended families all enjoying the early evening sunshine and the delicious sourdough pizzas, stone baked in traditional ovens. I remembered those delicious pizzas well on Sunday, when I went along to Izza Pizza, the newest food outlet in Selfridges in Birmingham, and part of the Lasan Group who are dedicated to creating good food in many different types of cuisine. Izza Pizza creates delicious Italian style street food with fast and efficient service.

We were greeted in a friendly manner and allowed to chose our table. We started by ordering soft drinks and I was recommended a new addition to the menu, a fresh and traditional style lemonade which is not yet on the menu. It was delicious – traditional lemonades can be too sharp and zesty but this had mint and was just sweet enough to avoid those ‘faces’ (you know exactly what I mean.). Hubby enjoyed a selection of olives whilst we perused the menu, I’m not a fan but he assured me they were delicious.

Izza Pizza has a great children’s offering of a six inch Margherita Pizza and Ice Cream for just £5.50. If your little one is brave you can add additional toppings, but the Margherita itself is lovely, with lots of stringy cheese and tomato. From the adults menu I opted for one of the Izza 12 inch remixes, the Tease and Onion(£8.95), whilst Pete, ever a classicist, went for Quattro Stagioni (£10.50). We also ordered sides, two portions of seasoned wedges (£3.50) and a garlic flatbread (also £3.50). We opted for all the food to come out together rather than as a starter and mains.

You can see the pizzas being prepared, and the eye catching golden oven ensures lovely scents are adding to the general temptation of Pizza. The food was very quick to arrive, which was impressive, but if I’m to be honest, it could’ve done with being a tad warmer. That said, the portions were good and hearty, and the flavours rich and tasty. My pizza was very flavoursome, due in no small part to the addition of goats cheese, whilst the Quattro Stagioni was just filled with topping. The sourdough base was excellent, and made it perfect for eating the Italian way – that is ripped and then rolled so you lose non of the toppiings.

The sides, in particular the wedges were excellent. I’m not generally a fan of wedges, often finding them greasy, but these were crisp and tasty, with fluffy potato in the middle, and the creamy chive mayo dip was the perfect accompaniment. The flatbread was frankly amazing, dripping with garlic butter and of a generous portion size too.

I really enjoyed the pizza and frankly couldn’t finish it, it was so generous with the topping that I was full well before finishing. In hindsight, you could share a pizza and sides and that would make a great lunch option. With the friendly and efficient service that is offered, and the added delight of being able to people watch in Selfridges, I would definitely recommend giving Izza Pizza a try very soon.

Izza Pizza

Selfridges Food Hall, Birmingham

Click here for menu and more information.