lindajan

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Just found this review of Footloose at Coventry: http://www.behindthearras.com/Reviewspr/2017/reviewsPROAprJun2017/footloose-review-coventry-CB06-17.html 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.
  4. 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
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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!
  10. This is Gareth's interview from Rutland Radio this morning. It's mainly about the gig at Melton Theatre on 30th October. I don't want to post on an open forum so hope it's OK in here. 161026RutlandRadioMeltonGigGarethwRobPersani.mp3
  11. Val, I think you've misunderstood. Luke Baker played Ren all week at Milton Keynes. It was Chuck who is now played by Tom Hier rather than Matthew Tomlinson, who left after Leicester - Tom is good in the role although doesn't quite look the part as he is blonde (only really because I've seen Matthew in the role). Nigel Lister left a few weeks ago and was replaced by David J Higgins (I think) - again he didn't look quite right in the part but I preferred his singing voice. Thanks for your report, Elaine, and it was lovely to see you again too. Gareth was flawless as Willard and, although I loved his performance from the very first time, I do think that he grew into the role and added a few subtle touches, especially in his interactions with other cast members. His rendition of Mama Says is brilliant - it really is one of the stand-out performances in the show, Gareth always manages to bring that extra something special to whatever he sings. (I never saw a shortened version of it at any of the shows I saw.) There were many more people at the stage door than at other shows, probably because it was a Saturday and, of course, the final show. Gareth said that he was exhausted and was obviously longing to get home to Faye but he stayed to have photos, sign autographs and chat until everyone had had their chance. The stalls were almost completely full, hardly any seats when I booked at 2pm - think there were some seats in the upper tiers though. Before the show I was sitting in the foyer and happened to notice Gareth creeping through - hoodie up, head down, on his phone - as he went across to the ticket desk. It was obvious that he didn't want to be recognised so I just watched and really don't think anyone else noticed him! (BTW Elaine, if you go past the multi-storey car park next to the stage door and cross over the road (Aylesbury Boulevard, I think), you can park in the purple zone for 50p per hour up to 6pm, then free. I only paid £2.50 on Wednesday (parked just after 1pm until nearly 11pm) and 50p on Saturday as I arrived just after 5pm.)
  12. The 'Healthy Living' magazine is actually free from independent health stores - if you can find one that is!
  13. There's a link in the first post to the website, then click 'Read Online'. If you want to save the page, make it full-screen then press 'Print Screen' on your keyboard and save as a file on your computer.
  14. Sorry, I knew about this a few days ago on Twitter - should have thought to post in here. Only available in independent health stores (not one near me) but can be read online. A very good article which is a bit different from others we have seen before. Lovely pics of Gareth too!
  15. Lovely videos - Gareth was obviously having a great time catching up with Matt and meeting Ronnie for the first time. There's another one now following on from the one outside the cathedral: https://www.facebook.com/matt.wilton.50/videos/10157453810765720/ Thanks for asking Matt to make them public, Val. Gareth has posted a vlog on Twitter from inside the cathedral but I don't know how to post the link. A real treat today to get a vlog and three videos though. Gareth sounding and looking fantastic.