The Magical Wizard Of Oz At Rep Birmingham: Sheer Brilliance

It is one of the most iconic movies of all time, and one that is perennially shown on television at Christmas. And now, a new stage version of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ is absolutely wowing audiences in Birmingham with its brilliant cast, amazing sets and a totally adorable Toto. It is the must see show in Birmingham this Christmas, and I totally adored it.

The story of Dorothy Gale, and her journey ‘over the rainbow’ is one that does not need me to retell it, but the new stage version manages to both stay faithful to the story as told in the 1939 film, but also to put a new spin on it. This means we have brilliant black perfomers playing Dorothy, Auntie Em and Uncle Henry, and a man playing the Wicked Witch of the West, whilst a West Midlands heroine, Lorna Laidlaw of BBCs ‘Doctors’ plays a female wizard. All these twists work brilliantly to make The Wizard of Oz contemparary, and yet still retain all the charm and wonder that makes the film so evergreen.

As Dorothy, Chisara Agor is a delight. She is frankly perfect as the spunky yet loveable Dorothy, and she can sure belt out that signature song ‘Over the Rainbow’. She is ably supported by Ed Wade as a brilliantly phsical Scarecrow, Dillon Scott-Lewis as the Tin  Man, and Kelly Agbowu as Lion (yes a woman, another spin that works brilliantly, and another stand out voice.) Also great are Thomas Vernal as Uncle Henry, and Shanay Holmes as Auntie Em and Glinda, a role in which, without being a cliche, she totally shines in.

Jos Vantyler as Miss Gulch/The Wicked Witch of the West is suitably evil and devilish, and at times is actually scary, he commands the stage but veers the role away from the pantomime baddie the role could become. And then we have Lorna Laidlaw, who almost steals the show with her campy, knowing portrayal of the sham Wizard. All in all, this is a top notch cast.

Brilliant, modern sets are another almost part of the cast as they move the story forward, and the use of puppetry, from the adorable munchkins, to Toto as controlled by Ben Thompson, to the Wizard and the spooky spectres in the forest, are all impressive, and the forest scene is kept admirably dark.

The Wizard of Oz is a delight from start to finish and is a must see this Christmas.

The Wizard Of Oz

24 Nov 2018 – 13 Jan 19

Click here for ticket information

 

Cheshire: A Desirable Place To Live

When it comes to living in the UK, Cheshire is one of the most desirable counties to reside in. Even when you take out the celebrity football haven that is Alderley Edge, Cheshire has lots to attract. In a Telegraph poll from last year it was described as the second most desirable county in which to raise a family, whilst a recent infographic produced by www.laurushomes.co.uk looked at all the reasons to chose to live there, including property market and upcoming developments, and judged it to be a great place to live.

I have to admit I love Cheshire. it has a perfect mixture of history, particularly in the Roman town of Chester, and shopping with the fabulous Cheshire Oaks a must visit destination for any budding shopaholics.

Here are some of the reasons why I love to visit Chester, and why it is a great destination, not only to live in, but also for a day out or weekend away.

Chester

Chester is fabulous! Whether you are going to admire the Roman Walls and gates that show it clear importance in the history of England, or want to admire the magnificent Cathedral, or even if you just want to linger around on the off chance you may be able to see a scene from Hollyoaks being filmed (I did just that!) Chester is one of those places that has something for everyone.

As well as all that history which you seem to find around every corner, there is a great selection of shops and restaurants that keep the ancient seat vibrant and current. Chester also has one of the countries best zoos, loved by both children and adults alike.

Simply one of my favourite places.

Jodrell Bank

Another must visit place in Cheshire is Jodrell Bank in Macclesfield, the home of the world famous Lovell telescope. The Discovery Centre is full of Space exhibitions, interactive displays and galleries, ,making it a real favourite with the young, and getting up close and personal with that huge telescope is not to be missed.

Cheshire Oaks

Cheshire Oaks retail outlet is one for those who love designer clothing, but who also love to get a bargain. One my last trip there I literally couldn’t walk for all the carrier bags, a mixture of High street outlet finds and complete designer bargains.

With lots of places to eat, you can enjoy a complete day out here, enough to sate even the most avid shopper.

Stately Homes Galore

As you could expect from a county so steeped in history, Cheshire has more than its fair share of Stately Homes. The Bolesworth Estate and Arley Hall and Gardens are both set in wonderful grounds and are a lovely way to while away a few hours. If you are more interested in Industrial history, take a visit to the Industrial Village, Port Sunlight.

 

Home Makeover Ideas That Are Environmentally Friendly

We are becoming ever more conscious about looking after our planet. Single use plastic is a definite no-no, we recycle our carrier bags rather than paying 5p for them, and paper straws have no overtaken plastic in our drinks. This year, the biggest talking point in our Christmas television adverts has been Iceland’s banned ad that shows the issues with Palm Oil rather than the John Lewis ad. Now many of us are looking towards our homes to see how we can make sure our makeovers are environmentally friendly.

The Kitchen

A kitchen makeover is a massive job that requires a lot of work, and can then leave lots of mess and an old kitchen to be disposed of. One way to avoid this is to purchase your kitchen through something like the Used Kitchen Exchange, who reycle and resell a range of second hand and preloved kitchens. They also recycle old kitchens that they can’t sell on in order to help the environment. The Used Kitchen Exchange also gives you the option to sell your old kitchen if it is still in usable condition, meaning it will not be going to landfill sites and tips, but will still be useful and viable options for someone in need of a newish kitchen.

Living Room/Bedroom

Second hand options also work really well for these rooms. Many large charities with shops now have dedicated furniture stores that sell a large range of good quality, preloved items, including beds and sofas. The British Heart Foundation and St Giles Hospice are two charities with furniture stores.

The cost of these items are far cheaper than buying brand new, and yet the quality is often like new, so you can get a real bargain, and recycle as well. As with the kitchens, you could donate your old sofa or bed to the charity shop, which will take away the stress of having to dispose of such a large item.

Check Your Energy Rating on Electrical Items

When you are purchasing electrical goods like fridges, ovens, dishwashers and dryers, make sure you look out for the energy rating sticker. These labels show how energy efficient the item is.  Look for new items that have an A rating, with G being the lowest rating, and certainly to be avoided,