Funny Girl – A review

Regular readers will know that I’m a huge fan of the theatre and shows of the musical variety. It stems from a  musical childhood, years of singing lessons and performing on the stage at school. A time where I didn’t believe – I knew – I was going to play Eponine in Les Miserables when I grew up.

So when I heard the award-winning West End production of Funny Girl was coming to Cardiff’s Wales Millennium Centre with its star Sheridan Smith I had to get tickets.

The musical tells the tale of singer and comedian Fanny Brice and her rise to fame from Brooklyn to Broadway with Sheridan in the starring role.

Apart from being introduced to Funny Girl through Rachel’s love of it in the TV show Glee, I knew very little of the show, its plot or score.

But Funny Girl had me hooked from the opening number. Sheridan fizzed with wit, energy and sparkle as she stepped on stage, setting the comic tone with her offbeat dancing.    

She soon showed she was much more than a slapstick comedian though with her confident and skilled vocals. And she brought a real depth to the role, meaning you were laughing along one minute then feeling her vulnerability the next.

Although Smith was the standout star, this wasn’t a one-woman show. She was supported by a talented cast of singers, dancers and comics who held their own. The score was melodic, filled with catchy and memorable numbers.

The set was simple, but effective. The vanity table with its trail of lights where Fanny finds herself reflecting and preparing to step into her stage self; the theatre backdrop to which the actors at times perform; the poker table at which her mother and friends gossip and tussle over games of cards.

And the costumes added to the storytelling. We see Fanny transformed from a comic figure in oversized bloomers in scene one to a woman with tailored, shimmering dresses as her star ascends. 

But as her career flies, her husband’s wheeler-dealing leaves him out of pocket. We see their marriage crumble slowly as he relies on Fanny’s money and can’t bear to do so.

As he walks away, and a heartbroken Fanny summoned the energy to perform for her crowd, I was done. I started to tear up. 

And as Sheridan owned the closing bars of Rain on my Parade, I got to my feet like the rest of the audience. A well-deserved standing ovation for a show – and star – that shone.


Funny Girl finished its run at the Wales Millennium Centre on Saturday 8 July. 

Details of forthcoming tour dates and venues are here.

Jane Eyre on tour – a review

As an English Literature graduate, I have long been a fan of Charlotte Bronte’s classic Jane Eyre so it was on my must-see list at the Wales Millennium Centre.

It always struck me to be a tale of great passion and this National Theatre production brought fierce energy to the stage. 

Aside from Jane, the small cast played multiple roles to bring the novel to life. From Pilot the dog to  children, the cast were excellent at performing more challenging roles.

The simple set uses a network of ladders, levels and steps to transform into Lowood School, Thornfield and Jane’s childhood home. The set gave the cast the space to perform energetically, hurrying up ladders, swinging from underneath the platform, rushing down stairs. All this added to the vibrant production.


Use of props such as mirrors and frames helped to tell the story while the set was decorated by simple but effective props such as strings of lights, clothes on hangers and Jane’s floating veil and wedding dress.

A small band of musicians provided music and percussion to animate the production from the caning of Jane’s beloved friend Helen to the sounds of the carriage travelling along as the cast pitter pattered on their feet. And the cast’s singing had a haunting quality with stunning covers of Mad About the Boy and Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy.

At three hours (including an interval) it is a long play, but I was engrossed. It was fantastic to see the play performed so creatively by a talented cast who proved that Jane Eyre is as fierce a story as ever.


The production ends at the Wales Millennium Centre on Saturday 1 July, but the UK tour continues. Find out more here.

Out of order – a review

What happens when a MP and his intended lover find a dead body in his hotel room? 

That’s the premise of Ray Cooney’s Out of Order, an Olivier award-winning comedy currently on stage at Cardiff’s New Theatre

It features well-known actors including EastEnders and Extras actor Shaun Williamson and Footballers’ Wives actress Susie Amy.

A brilliantly funny farce, Out of Order sees MP Richard Willey and his faithful parliamentary private secretary George Pigden’s evenings go from bad to worse as they try to conceal a dead body in Willey’s bedroom at the Westminster Hotel. 

Each lie leads to an increasingly entertaining web of deceit that comes perilously close to unravelling. The cast worked well together, using impeccable comic timing and delivery to keep the audience laughing.

I particularly enjoyed the political jokes, which were so current referring to Brexit, Corbyn, May and the forthcoming General Election.

The use of props was superb. Without giving too much away, the sliding window and bedroom cupboard are like cast members creating some of the funniest moments of the show. It was great to see the technical team in charge of the window on stage at the end as it became a key part of the show.

Excellently performed with a perfectly witty script, Out of Order is a brilliant night out. I left with aching cheeks from laughing so much, testament indeed to how funny I found the show to be.

Out of Order is at the New Theatre until Saturday 20 May. Tickets start at £11.

We paid for our tickets to see Out of Order and the venue was unaware we would be writing a review.

Justin’s Party – a review 


If you have young children who like CBeebies, you’re likely to be familiar with Justin Fletcher. From Mr Tumble to starring in Justin’s House, he is a familiar and popular face in many households.

When I heard that he was bringing his show Justin’s Party to the Wales Millennium Centre, I decided it would be a good theatre show to try as a family. Both of our children enjoy Justin’s shows so although our five-year-old isn’t massively keen on the theatre, I took the plunge.

The atmosphere when we arrived was buzzing. The theatre was filled with excited children who couldn’t wait for the show to begin. Justin definitely has rock star status among the under 5s!

The show was a bundle of fun and didn’t disappoint. Bright costumes, great music and Justin’s trademark slapstick humour kept our children – and hoardes of others – enchanted. The show mixed familiar songs and a good level of audience participation to keep children entertained. 

I liked little touches such as encouraging the audience to take pictures, usually a definite no no in theatreland. 

There were lovely moments including a song performed using  sign language. I don’t want to spoil any surprises, but fans of the different characters he performs won’t be disappointed.

Including the interval, the show ran to roughly two hours. Tickets for the raised stalls where we sat were £19.50 for adults and £16.50 for children and our daughter had a £2 lap seat as she is two.

Overall, it was an excellent family show that kept both our five-year-old and toddler entertained. It made you feel part of Justin’s Party and was a night out the children won’t forget for a long time.


Blogger note. We paid for our tickets to Justin’s Party and the venue was unaware I was writing a review.

Pride and Prejudice at the Wales Millennium Centre

As an English Literature graduate, and a huge theatre fan, I was more than a little excited when I found out Pride and Prejudice was coming to the Wales Millennium Centre.

I was also a little nervous. I love the Austen novel and have enjoyed many TV and film adaptations of it over the years (Colin Firth in a wet shirt anyone?) so I wondered how the story would translate on stage.

Those fears disappeared as this lively production swept us away to the world of the Bennet family and Mrs Bennet’s scarcely hidden ambitions to marry off her five daughters.

Seasoned actors Felicity Montagu and Olivier award winner Matthew Kelly were marvellous as the Bennet parents and set the comic tone of the production, which brought the wit of Austen’s writing and characterisation to life. Montagu is a brilliant choice for schemer and walking hyperbole Mrs Bennet, whose wild emotions and reactions led to many a laugh.

Tafline Steen made a lovely Lizzie fizzing with life, forthright opinions and a quick wit. Her knowing looks to the audience made us feel included. It was great to see Lizzie played with such enthusiastic charm.

Benjamin Dilloway was a good Mr Darcey playing the perfect snob at the outset but growing in compassion and self awareness as the play and its plot unfurled.

Another stand out was Steven Meo as Mr Collins, the simpering and snobbish clergyman so desperate to be accepted in higher social circles. His slapstick and comical take on Mr Collins added to the show’s light-hearted feel.

The clever revolving set was simple yet visually effective transporting us between the Bennet household, balls and Pemberley.

I enjoyed little touches such as the letters being delivered by the sender and the dance scenes in which so much of the flirting and verbal sparring happened.

Overall, this was a delightful production that proved Austen is as brilliant today as ever.

I’m looking forward to the same company bringing Jane Eyre to the Centre in the summer.

Did you see Pride and Prejudice during its time at the Wales Millennium Centre? If so, what did you think? 

Blogger note: I bought my ticket for the show and the centre was not aware I was reviewing the show.

La Boheme – A review 

Last night was a Saturday night with a difference as I went to see the opening night of Welsh National Opera’s La Boheme at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff.

Although I enjoy an eclectic mix of music and theatre, I rarely go to see an opera. But as La Boheme is so loved across the world, I took the plunge and bought tickets. 

And it was wonderful. The production transported us to Bohemian Paris and the lives of Mimi and Rodolfo, neighbours who fall in love after meeting one cold winter’s night.

The cast and chorus did a sterling job of bringing Puccini’s masterpiece to life. Littered with humour and heartbreak, the English and Welsh subtitles meant novices like me could follow the plot and dialogue, which was performed in Italian.

One of my highlights was the technology used to bring Bohemian Paris to life. Thin screens were layered to animate flurries of snow alongside the snowflakes falling on the stage. The changing seasons were shown by dancing snowflakes turning into the flowers of spring.

All in all, La Boheme was a gorgeous production. Beautifully sung and acted, it was an accessible way to try out an evening at the opera. 


Have you seen #WNOBoheme? I’d love to hear yours thoughts.