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About lindajan

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  1. Thanks, Chris, for the links to all the reviews - will catch up on them later. I don't know where the reviewer that commented on pop songs being used has been for the last few years, as every panto that Gareth has done has used pop songs (and I'm sure other pantos are the same) - it's what the kids know and gets them even more involved. Looking forward to seeing this tomorrow.
  2. Adam Booth played Buttons in Cinderella in Crewe with Gareth, of course.
  3. In an interview Gareth did for Footloose in Liverpool, he mentioned his Stammer School taking place in January, so I think its start has been postponed rather than shelved.
  4. I've looked online at Burnley Mechanics site, clicked on 'What's On' and on the final page it shows 'Footloose'. If you click on that, it says 'presented by Valley Academy', so I think it's a school production. I would have been very surprised if the tour was continuing next year too. Whilst I love Gareth as Willard, I hope that he's in a different show next year. Maria, there is a further venue between The Peacock and Liverpool. The show is returning to The Spa, Bridlington (where it premiered) from 10th to 14th October. I expect that finding other venues with availability at this late stage has been difficult.
  5. If I remember correctly, he included Robbie because he thinks he is such a good stage performer (he actually said that Robbie doesn't have the best voice in the world). Gareth has been impressed by performers who 'put on a good show' and made the decision that he wanted to try to be like them when he performs - I think we'd all agree that he achieves that ambition whenever he's on stage with his amazing charisma. From his early choices of songs, Gareth commented that his dad's musical preferences were for British artists. However his dad did have a tape (yes, we are back at a time before CDs) of American motown(?) music that he played in the car. 'Band Of Gold' by Freda Payne was the track that Gareth was particularly attracted to and kept asking to be replayed. Gareth's speech was excellent - as you say, Chris, he was in control and can always talk more fluently when he's deciding what to say, rather than responding to questions. Of course, we don't know how long the programme took to record and whether there were any bad spells that got edited out. I, too, loved what Chris said about Gareth not letting his stammer hold him back - a touching moment. A super show which allowed Gareth to talk about things in a way that he never has before. It also showed him to be very knowledgeable about music.
  6. This was an amazing show with Gareth's (and Chris's) speech sounding great. (It must have been pre-recorded as, of course, Gareth is on holiday with his family in Marbella now.) It was lovely to hear Gareth reminiscing about his musical influences and having met some of his idols. These are the songs that were played: Anyone Of Us - Gareth Gates Red Red Wine - UB40 Suspicious Minds - Elvis Presley Unchained Melody - Righteous Brothers Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough - Michael Jackson These Are The Days Of Our Lives - Queen Careless Whisper - George Michael Ashes To Ashes - David Bowie Band Of Gold - Freda Payne Let Me Entertain You - Robbie Williams Always - Bon Jovi The Promise - Girls Aloud (Kimberley Walsh from Bradford) Flying Without Wings - Westlife Don't Go Breaking My Heart - Elton John & Kiki Dee (Kiki from Bradford) Say You'll Be There - Spice Girls (19 Management as was Gareth Tainted Love - Soft Cell (from Leeds) Gareth talked very fluently about why these songs and artists mean something to him. His comments also showed that he understands what music is all about. The programme is now available on Catch-up on BBC Radio Leeds.
  7. Here is Gareth's vlog from warm-up in Swansea on Wednesday when he showed us how rich and strong his voice is sounding now with a few bars from 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow'. 170621FootlooseSwanseaWarmUp.mp4 This is a great advert for the show and for Gareth's delightful voice.
  8. Had seen that you've not been well, Elaine. Hope that there will be an improvement soon. This was an excellent review from a professional reviewer, who has recognised Gareth's many skills and not been reserved in talking about them. However it was my report about the shows at Buxton and Coventry that I tweeted about. You'll find it in this strand here: Hope you enjoy it.
  9. Just found this review of Footloose at Coventry: There are some annoying inaccuracies and a few strange comments (how old did the reviewer think that Ethel's brother, Wes, should be?), but his review of Gareth is very honest and incredibly flattering. But Footloose really belong s to just one actor: Gareth Gates, as the friendly, shy, loopy, confused, bumbling – but capable of moments of genius – Willard. This is a character straight out of Tennesee Williams, Miller or Albee. Librettist (and lyricist) Dean Pitchford has penned this part really well, it has depth and poignancy and an unexpected kind of wisdom. It’s as if Gates has turned his well-known stutter, evident at his Pop Idol near-win (season 2001-2), and built a complete character from those embarrassing limitations. He is acutely funny, yet deeply tragic. Utterly loyal, but striving manfully to make a personality for himself, eager for sex but no idea how to find it (unless by himself), getting taken short and rushing off clutching his crutch, and to be a fellow-battler for the freedom Ren and the others are fighting for. Willard is a scrumptiously entertaining, gorgeously well-performed, beautifully conceived character. His moves alone – wobbling, hesitant, tentative, or alternatively scuttling and hurtling in steps as shy as he is, often enough stiff and invariably awkward – merited an Oscar. On this basis alone, Gates could transfer to the Royal Shakespeare Company tomorrow. Given we know he’s got a gorgeous singing voice (though here that’s not up front), and can act spontaneously and electrifyingly (given his famous Joseph in the Lloyd Webber Dreamcoat), it’s difficult , as so often, to know what exactly we owe to Racky Plews’ direction, on his one-on-one sessions with his actors, and how much is generated, invented, by them themselves. This astonishing, mind-blowingly clever creation looks to have come largely from Gates himself. One thing that impresses, mightily, is how modest an on stage performer he proves. For not a second does he steal, or impinge on, anyone else’s scene, or lines, or vocals. Much of the time he hovers modestly in the background, then out of the blue emerges to do a shaky, then ecstatic solo dance, or a hilarious strip-down to blissfully shabby hot pants (think of Rhys Ifan’s Spike in Notting Hill). Gates is something very special indeed: he digs into his own interior, assimilates it, and comes up with pure gold. It’s worth making a beeline for Footloose for Gareth Gates’s performance alone, though also for Sillett’s, and perhaps Fraser’s too. Not sure he has interpreted some parts of Gareth's role in the way that I did (and it's a shame that he doesn't know that Racky Plews is female) but it's good to read a reviewer being completely blown away by Gareth's performance. Bring on the Oscar! Pleased to see that he recognises Gareth to be an extremely selfless actor - he has his moments to shine but otherwise helps others to show themselves to their full potential. I know that he only has the one solo number (Mama Says), but it would have been lovely to hear a description of Gareth's voice and his sheer stage presence when performing it (can't have it all, I suppose). Generally, though, an excellent review.
  10. Thanks to everyone for your positive comments - glad you enjoyed reading. I've just edited slightly as realised I'd spelt 'Ariel' incorrectly and I'd missed out a comment about Maureen that I'd intended to include. xx
  11. Having been to two shows at Buxton two weeks ago and both shows at Coventry yesterday, I thought it was about time that I shared by thoughts about this year's Footloose tour. Before seeing the shows I was wondering if they had managed to find an almost completely new cast that were anywhere near as talented as last year's cast, which I thought were superb – I needn't have worried. The performers are easily as good as last year and after yesterday's shows I think they help make it even better, along with a few tweaks to the format and staging. All the performances I've seen have been excellent. The matinee in Buxton was well attended, being half term, and unusually it was the evening show that had the smaller audience. Yesterday I think that the somewhat sparse audience at the matinee made a good job of getting involved but – wow! – the evening was absolutely rocking and the energy on stage was electric (and this was when the cast had performed twice in one day, what a difference a much fuller theatre makes!). So what has made the difference? First of all there are staging changes to many of the scenes, either by altering the position and interaction of the characters or by actual set changes – the most memorable of which is the scene where Ariel reveals her poetry wall to Ren when they sing 'Almost Paradise', this is now close to the front of the stage. Also the occasional scene has been deleted/changed for something different, which probably makes more sense in a theatre setting and makes everything more slick. The evening show at Coventry started slightly after the billed time of 7.45pm and ended at 10.22pm – perhaps slightly shorter than last year but by no more than ten minutes. However the most telling changes are the ways in which this new cast have interpreted their roles. They have all contributed so I'll try to mention everyone. Joshua Dowen as Ren McCormack brings everything required to this role. He is angry, driven, full of energy, compassionate and humble as the show unfolds. He truly 'can't stand still' and he acts, sings and dances his socks off! Ariel Moore is played by Hannah Price (one of the few members of last year's cast returning to her role). She has grown into the part: she interacts well with Chuck showing her rebellious side but in the end not standing for his treatment of her; with her parents trying to be the dutiful daughter but always pushing against her father's control; with her girlfriends as their leader and the most ambitious of them; and with Ren where her relationship develops from almost disinterest in the newcomer, to friend and confidante, and finally to love. She also has a beautiful singing voice which she manages to adapt to the various emotions in songs such as 'Learning To Be Silent', 'Holding Out For A Hero' and 'Almost Paradise'. The preacher, Rev Shaw Moore, is played brilliantly by Reuven Gershon (my favourite Rev so far). He really makes this character come to life. He is dominant in his control of the town but conflicted by his lack of control over Ariel. His powerful and rich singing voice easily conveys the feelings evoked by his songs. Another returner is Maureen Nolan as Vi Moore and Principal Clark. Her voice seems stronger this year and she has an excellent relationship with her husband and daughter, trying to keep the peace between them. Vi's "He was my son too!" in response to the Rev's claim that he lost his son sends chills down my spine every time (no matter how much I anticipate it). By the end she is totally strutting her stuff in the megamix, seeming to be having loads of fun. The three roles of Ethel McCormack, Betty and Coach Dunbar (and various instruments) are all played superbly by Lindsay Goodhand. She manages to portray each character so differently, by changes to voice, mannerisms and physical presence, that it's hard to believe they are all acted by the same person. Connor Going as Chuck has taken me a few shows to decide about but after yesterday I'm convinced by his portrayal of the character. He is menacing and arrogant – a nasty piece of work – who then plays the piano and keyboards with feeling and dexterity. Ariel's three friends are performed by Laura Sillett (Rusty), Emma Fraser (Wendy-Jo) and Gracie Lai (Urleen). As a group they complement and fire off each other extremely well. Laura (a blonde with dyed red hair to live up to her name) plays her part in the manic manner required, she has an excellent singing voice particularly evident in the haunting 'Somebody's Eyes' and the powerful 'Let's Hear It For The Boy'. Her interactions with Willard (more about him later) are sometimes blatant but often just a small gesture – perhaps a poke or flick, even sticking out her tongue, that you need to watch for to notice. Emma is a revelation in and perfect fit for her part, she really brings out the humour in the role, frequently producing giggles from the audience, often by doing little more than grunting – facial expressions can say everything. Gracie is full of energy, bringing great enthusiasm to her role whether acting, singing, dancing or playing her instruments. Dominic Gee Burch (Jeter) and Tomas Wolstenhome (Bickle/Cowboy Bob) may be supporting characters but they certainly make their presence felt when on stage. They both manage to emphasise their parts and bring out the fun in the roles. Alex Marshall and Lauren Storer were both members of the cast last year. Alex still plays Wes (Ethel's brother) but also a multitude of other characters, often playing some instrument, throughout the show. The contribution made by Lauren is huge and has developed since 2016. She plays a plethora of different instruments and numerous roles, all with great skill. Last but certainly not least, Gareth continues to play Willard and he steals the show (but then again perhaps I'm biased!). His was the name I heard mentioned around me the most and one lady leaving last night kept saying, “When did Gareth Gates get so fit? Who knew? I'm going home happy.” Gareth lights up the stage as soon as he steps on it. Whether he is shuffling around, playing the shy, awkward version of Willard (who seems a little less dumb this year) or learning to dance (he may protest that he is an awful dancer but he does have natural rhythm so moving against the timing must be so hard), he pulls it all off with aplomb. Of course, once he 'learns' to dance he becomes very accomplished and holds his own among a very talented cast. His entire performance of 'Mama Says' is a stand-out moment; his voice is back to the strong, rich sound we love and the entire choreography of the scene, including the other lads, is brilliant. Interactions with Ren and Rusty are superb – his eventual kiss with Rusty evoking an appreciative 'Aahh' from the audience as does a similar instance between Ren and Ariel. There are a few more suggestive, slightly risqué, moments during his performance than last year. Oh, and of course, he gets stripped down to his tiny sparkly shorts and cowboy boots, accompanied by hoots and cheers from the audience. His stage presence is phenomenal and he seems to delight in being up there doing what he does best. He definitely shows off another set of talents in playing a comedic role. Gareth continues to play guitar and keyboards but there is also a short piece on the piano during 'Somebody's Eyes'. There is no weak link in the entire cast. They all act, sing, dance and play instruments to an exceptional standard, and flawlessly manage to move from one to another or even do all at the same time. Everyone behind scenes must also be congratulated for their part in the success of the show, this includes the director, choreographer, designer, sound and lighting engineers, musical supervisor, musical director, casting director, production manger and numerous producers. I have thoroughly enjoyed my visits to see Footloose this year. The changes, both in cast and staging, improve the show and keep it fresh and vibrant for someone who has seen it rather a lot of times! Well done to everyone involved.
  12. The only names, apart from Gareth, Maureen and Hannah (of course), that I recognise from last year are Alex Marshall (who plays Ethel's brother), Luke Dowling and Lauren Storer (who were swings). Can't say that I recognise any of the other new cast at all. Hope they are all as good, or better, than last year. Yes, Chris, it is a new Rev. I had been thinking that it was about time they were announced, as rehearsals must start fairly soon.
  13. When I was looking at the Footloose website the other day, I noticed that Belgium is no longer on the list of venues (neither is Chester but Gareth wasn't doing that one anyway). I can only assume that the tour is no longer going to those venues. I doubt that this will affect many or any of us but I'm sure I saw some replies elsewhere from someone in Belgium, who was pleased to have the opportunity to see Gareth. I think Gareth's Facebook still has all the original venues but updates on there seem very sporadic.
  14. Lovely to see Gareth singing at the light switch-on in Ayr, especially 'You Raise Me Up' which I don't remember hearing him perform before. Thanks for finding this, Chris.
  15. The panto in Ayr is the one that Karen Courtney's company puts on. As Gareth is working with her on Cuppanut, she probably asked him to do the Xmas lights (he's also friends with Michelle Heaton). Possibly of more concern is the gig in Malaysia for A Journey Through Time. Last year he performed on 20th Nov (a Friday), if this year's event is the same weekend (I haven't managed to find a date), he could be performing on 18th Nov then having to be back in Scotland for 20th!