Sparkle and Shine Indeed! Nativity The Musical

Christmas came to Wolverhampton tonight, and whilst it may be slightly early, I couldn’t feel more festive if I tried. Because if you are looking for a show that is the epitome of feelgood, family entertainment, then you must see Nativity the Musical, which is delighting audiences at the Wolverhampton Grand. I went to see the show last night and was totally enchanted by a show that has so much heart and warmth. In the words of my fave Christmas song, it Sparkles and Shines from start to finish.

You may remember Nativity from the Martin Freeman movie that has become a bit of a Christmas classic, but for those who haven’t seen the movie, Nativity is the tale of three childhood friends who all go into acting but fail in this chosen career. The two male actors, Mr Maddens and Mr Shakespeare, become primary teachers in two very different schools, whilst Jennifer, who is also the girlfriend of Mr Maddens, pursues her dream of working in Hollywood, leaving Maddens one Christmas. Maddens and Shakespeare get into a deep rivalry when it comes to the annual Nativity performance, both seeking a five star review from local reviewer Patrick Burns, with only Shakespeare, working at the exclusive Oakmoor School, getting it. Despondent over the loss of Jennifer, and the humiliation of the  St Bernadette’s nativity, Mr Madden decides he hates Christmas. But when headteacher Mrs Bevan decides that the school is going to have another try at the nativity, and that Mr Maddens is going to be in charge, things start to catapult out of control. Add into the mix the arrival of the loveable, but slightly crazy Mr Poppy as his new classroom assistant, and you have all the ingredients for a Christmas disaster.

Nativity is a total joy, not least because of the joyous performances. The leads are just wonderful, with Scott Paige a standout as Mr Poppy, playing the role with the childlike exuberance it needs. His Mr Poppy isn’t just ‘down with the kids’, he is a real child-man, and is totally delightful, and so easy to fall in love with as a result. Scott Garnham, who I loved in Billy Elliot, plays Mr Maddens as a perfect foil for the energy of Mr Poppy he adds balance and pathos to the piece, particularly in the scene where he reads the letters the children have wrote for Santa. Ashleigh Gray as Jennifer is also very good, particularly in the scene where she sings the poignant ‘Jennifer’s request’, whilst Charles Brunton is hilariously funny as Mr Shakespeare, who is almost a perfect pantomime style baddy, I loved his over the top rendition of ‘Herod the Rock Opera’ which is frankly hilarious and terrifying in equal measure. Love Island’s Dani Dyer is a surprise addition to the casting, but works really well as Polly Parker, bringing her trademark warmth and personality to the role of the studio head with a heart.

But as good as all those central performances are, it is the children who are at the heart of Nativity, and totally steal the show. Forget all ideas of the stage school kids that can be frighteningly professional (and slightly scary if I’m honest), the children of Nativity are adorable, totally melting the hearts of even the hardest critic. The warmth and exuberance of their performances feel totally real and natural, and each and every one of them just shine. There could not have been an audience member who didn’t have a lump in their throat during the poignant, heartfelt ‘Dear Father Christmas’ whilst the songs of the ‘Nativity’ itself are alive with humour and sass. By the time the curtain falls, after the incredibly catchy ‘Sparkle and Shine’. they have the audience on their feet, totally believing they have witnessed the rebirth of St Bernadette’s.


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Nativity is a total delight, a must see for anyone with a love of musicals, the underdog, and, of course, Christmas. Just Fabulous for all ages, you leave the theatre ready to put your Christmas tree up and hang those decorations.

 

 

Nativity the Musical

Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

31 Oct – 02 Nov 2019

 

Click here for ticket information.

Create a Perfect space in your loft

Many people have loft conversions on their properties these days, whether it be to create extra bedrooms for an extended family, an home office, an extra upstairs bathroom, even a space for a truculent teenager to exist in without having to see and mix with any other human beings. But if I was to transfer my loft into a living space, then I would love to create a dream haven, just for me.

Creating a Living Space

We have a rather large loft space that would be perfect for transformation, and what I would most like to make in the eaves of my house would be a personal dressing room, complete with space for all my clothes and shoes. It would need a fair few wardrobes, a glamorous dressing table (I’m thinking of the one my Sindy doll had in the 1980s) and a chaise longue. This would be a girls only space (Pete and Joe totally banned) and it would be made light and airy with a skylight in the roof, with a roof blind for those days when the sun is a little too blinding. (Not that many in the UK I know, but you have to think of all eventualities.)

Stuart Jones Ltd Athens Chaise Longue £619.99 click to visit Wayfair

Storage

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I would choose my wardrobes carefully and they would each have different uses. I would have one for casual/daywear and one for evening/formal wear – I may even have one just for dresses. The room would have a vintage feel, using retro style hat boxes for storing scarves, belts, maybe even a hat or two. I would also invest in some stylish storage from Homes Direct 365. They have French style storage boxes that resemble old style luggage trunks and storage trunks that you could find in granny’s attic, which is exactly the style of aesthetic I would be looking for. I particularly love the four drawer luggage trunk, which you can almost see sitting on a station somewhere many years ago, and the Bergman Set Of 3 Storage Trunks which look like they have stored many treasures over the years.

I love that the cases from Homes Direct 365 are often hand crafted, which makes them both practical, as well as beautiful and luxurious. The vintage style is perfect for a bedroom space as both a piece of furniture and as storage, and I love that these will help keep your space looking tidy and elegant, but also look elegant in themselves.

For additional storage that could slide either inside a wardrobe space, or under a day bed, I would head to Bed Bath & Beyond which is another great destination when it comes to storage that goes beyond the mere useful and practical. My favourite colour at the moment is pink, so a hot pink Jumbo Rhino trunk would be a definite first choice, I love the colour and the leather handles and the fact that it is also durable. There is also a smaller cube version which would be a great match and would work for jewellery or cosmetics. The organizer trays would also be very useful to make your drawers really earn their keep and add some sort of system to them.

Dressing tables and a Wardrobe

The dressing table would have fabulous glass jars and Art Deco style jewellery boxes, along with vintage knick knacks I have picked up over the years, like vintage Chanel bottles and original Biba make-up.

Stackers Glass Jewellery Boxes from £22-£30 Click to visit John Lewis

 Linea DAMASK GLASS STORAGE JAR £10 click to visit House of Fraser

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Set of 4 Red Hat Boxes with Cream Lining, Gold Cord and Old French Adverts to the front. 23cm, 28cm, 30cm and 35cm £49.95 Click to visit Amazon

Rather than modern, fitted wardrobes I would scour charity and antique shops for solid wood wardrobes, especially those you find with internal drawers and mirrors. I love the 1950s mirrors that hang from a chain. I wouldn’t particularly worry about matching items to one era or time, the mismatch would be part of the charm of the room.

These are beautiful.

These are beautiful.

This would be my dream space, a haven and a retreat back to past era’s of glamour.

What would you stick in your loft if you were to opt for a conversion to your property?

 

 

Christmas Gift Guide For The Man In Your Life

With just 8 weeks until Christmas, it is definitely time to start to think about those gift lists, the people you need to buy for, and what they might like to find in their stockings on December 25th.

Today I am turning my attention to the men in your life, the dad’s, husbands, cousins, brothers, sons, grandsons and male friends who are special to you. This is a list that avoids the socks and the soap on a rope and Old Spice, and instead tries to look a little outside the box by taking inspiration from some of the men in my life.

A Gift For The Chef In Your Life From VonShef

In my family, the chefs are most definitely the men. Both my dad and my husband love cooking from scratch, and totally love all the gadgets associated with cooking, from gleaming pots and pans, to fabulous all purpose choppers, slicers and dicers. The 15pc Stainless Steel Knife Block Set from VonShef is a brilliant gift idea for your budding Gordon Ramsey or your amateur Gino D’Acompo. It has been crafted from durable and corrosion-resistant polished Japanese steel and promises world-renowned sharpness and precision for expertly deft handiwork in the kitchen. The set includes knives including a chef’s knife, along with knives for paring, carving, utility, vegetable, bread & steak knives to make sure you can take on any chopping, slicing and dicing challenge.

The set is housed in a beautifully stylish pine and beech wood block that will be a wonderful addition to any kitchen, with its streamlined, elegant design.

15pc Stainless Steel Knife Block Set £39.99 Click to visit VonShef

The set is currently on sale at a discounted price of £39.99 and is a perfect gift for anyone whose favourite room is the kitchen.

A Barbecue Smoker From Sous Chef

And, if we are being honest, it is usually men in charge of the barbecue. Certainly my dad loves to don the apron and be in charge of the steaks and sausages come the Summer, so the tabletop barbecue smoker from Sous Chef is something he would really love.

The fact that this is a tabletop design means that it can work with even the smallest garden space, or even on a balcony if you have a flat. The smoker is a mini version of the classic ‘oil drum’ shape and can be used as both a traditional barbecue or as a smoker. The tabletop BBQ smoker comes with grills for charcoal and food, adjustable air vents in the top and sides and a thermometer to monitor the internal temperature.

Tabletop BBQ Smoker £49.50 Click to visit Sous Chef

This is a gift that involves thinking outside the box, thinking forward to sunny days and warm Summer nights.

Whisky from the Tomatin Distillery

The Tomatin Distillery, near Inverness creates a beautiful range of award winning Whisky’s that are just perfect for Christmas. The range includes Legacy, which  has spent time maturing in Bourbon barrels and Virgin Oak casks, resulting in a sweet, light, refreshing and universally versatile whisky, and Tomatin 14 Years Old, which has the distinction of being matured in a combination of Bourbon barrels and then finished in Tawny Port casks, resulting in a rich sweetness.

The whisky is beautifully bottled and will certainly appeal to a whisky connoisseur, someone who really knows their blends and likes the finer things in life. This is certainly not to be tipped in your tea on cold mornings, but to be truly savoured and enjoyed.

Ring Rapid Digital Tyre Inflator

Gadgets for the car are another safe and practical gift idea, particularly for a petrolhead. The Ring Rapid Digital Tyre Inflator is something that every car owner should travel with, particularly if you plan on venturing out on a long car journey throughout the forthcoming year.

A practical purchase, the RTC1000 can be used as an everyday item and takes up very little space. It can inflate a 13” tyre from 0 to 35PSI in just 2 minutes, making it a really useful Christmas present, especially for someone who has experienced recent car trouble. The large on/off button makes it easy to use, even if your hands are greasy or it is dark.

You can find the RTC1000 for £44.99 at Screwfix Direct click here to view.

Personalised Port From The Gift Experience

A personal gift is just that, a personal choice of a gift that could only be for the person receiving it. The Gift Experience has a whole range of personalised gifts suitable for pretty much every member of your family, and, with my own dad in mind, the Personalised Port is a gift that would be appreciated and truly enjoyed.

The bottle of port comes in a pretty gold gift carton with a label that has room for both a name and a message. The port itself is a Late Bottled Vintage Port from Sandeman, the renowned port shippers and is lighter bodied than Vintage Port, with an exquisite taste.

The Port costs £29.99 and has a quick despatch time (1-2 days) for a personalised item.

Personalised Port
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£29.99 click to visit The Gift Experience