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.

Tips to help Nocturnal Mums to better sleep

When you become a parent, it suddenly becomes hard to remember what a good night’s sleep, a full eight hours, actually felt like. Feeding throughout the night, night’s full of tears, of teething, of croup, all these things mean that real sleep can feel like a thing of the past. And this doesn’t really change as they begin to get a little older and pass the baby/toddler stage. Joe is now 6, visits the toilet at least twice each night, sometimes has night terrors or just sleep walks. I find that with the exception of an odd, much needed lie-in, I never get more than 5 hours sleep per night. Despite all this, some nights I still find it hard to get to sleep. So how can you avoid being a nocturnal mommy and ensure you get the most from the sleep you get?

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Here are a few tips…

1. Make that bedroom an oasis of calm – no television, no mobile phones, definitely no social media – you really do not need to be checking Facebook and Twitter before you go to sleep. It’s a bedroom, not another extension of your office – remember that.

Not in the bedroom

Not in the bedroom!

2. Comfortable pillows are a must for me. Not too many to give me a neck ache when I wake up, but soft and fluffy enough to lull me to sleep.

3. A good mattress for both you and baby. Naturalmat,  sum this up perfectly here “Every moment spent in bed is precious and a good mattress can make all the difference to having a good nights sleep.” A good duvet of the correct tog is also important, you need to choose one that suits the season, too thick and you will be uncomfortable and too hot to sleep, too thin and you will just feel cold all night. Try to choose an anti-allergy duvet which protect your bedding against dust mites and bacteria.

The Splendid Spring mattress from Naturalmat

4. Try to unwind before bed. Have a bath with Lavender bath oils, drink a glass of warm milk, turn off that social media and maybe unwind with a chapter from a soothing, romantic book. Whatever it is that relaxes you – do it.

Lavender is a great aid to sleep - in oils, in pillows, as a bath oil - give it a try.

Lavender is a great aid to sleep – in oils, in pillows, as a bath oil – give it a try.

5. Don’t go to bed hungry. If you tummy is rumbling, you won’t get to sleep, it’s as simple as that. Have a light snack, something like toast, let it settle, and then go to bed. Avoid cheese through – it’s supposed to give you nightmares (although I’m guessing that’s an old wives tale…)

If all else fails, get up, watch a bit of TV, relax and then try again. There is no point in lying there listening to the other half snoring his way across the night, you will just become more frustrated and more tired.

What are your tips for a good nights sleep? What do you do if you are awake when you should be asleep?

Travelling With Children: Tips and Tricks

Going abroad on holiday is often an event that is looked forward to for the entire year. Jetting off to far warmer, sunnier climes is a real treat, and pretty easy to do if you’re a young couple with a lot of free time and disposable income. Once you become a parent however, things get a little more difficult. Even if you can rustle up enough dough to go away, travelling with the kids can be a real headache, fraught with all manner of difficulties. For single parents, this can be even more difficult due to having to handle all the responsibilities by yourself. With this in mind, we thought we’d offer a few tips to help you have a wonderful holiday with your children – whether you travel as a single parent or a two parent family.

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Explore

Choose your destination carefully. Spain, Greece and the Greek Islands, Portugal and the Canaries offer shortish flights, lovely sunshine and are family friendly. Make sure there is plenty for the whole family to do and try not to limit this to just pools and beaches, look for culture and heritage to do.

The Canary Islands offer volcanoes a and mountains to explore, whilst Greece has ancient ruins that are steeped in history. Both Rhodes and Crete offer stunning archaeological sites that children will enjoy just as much as adults. In Rhodes the old town is best explored on foot, but the best way to explore Crete is by car, particularly with younger children. You can get great deals at auto-huren-kreta.nl and can then explore much further afield.

Nannies

Chances are you’ll be staying in a family friendly hotel if you’re going away with the children. Family friendly resorts have better facilities, better layouts and don’t mind as much about noise compared to hotels aimed at either couples or singles, so you should definitely think about booking a room in one of these hotels. One of the draws of family friendly resorts is the ability to hire a hotel nanny during your stay. Sometimes included in the room price, these nannies will come and look after your children whilst you go out, meaning you can enjoy some quality time to eat and explore whilst your child sleeps!

Go Out

Utilising the above tip, use the late evenings to explore your surroundings and take in a little local flavour whilst you visit; you don’t want all of your memories to revolve around being by the sea or pool, after all! Enjoy a romantic dinner together at a local restaurant and sample some cuisine, or perhaps dress up glamorously and visit a local casino.

Don’t Succumb

It can be quite easy to fall into the child-led trap whilst you’re on holiday. Instead of visiting the museums, galleries, local restaurants and places of beauty, you end up almost purely frequenting water parks, beaches, play areas and western-themed restaurants, catering almost entirely for the kids. The tip here is to do a healthy mix of both types of activities. If you enjoy exploring and experiencing your destinations, then teach your kids why travelling in such a manner is so wonderful; they’ll learn a lot and you’ll be surprised by the lack of tantrums!

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Take Time

Perhaps our most important point is to simply take it easy! If you have younger children you simply must factor in the endless stoppages, toilet breaks, crying and general tedium that makes up a regular day, then multiply it by two! Trust me; rushing around an airport is no fun at the best of times, but with a young child it’s nigh impossible!

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