Sunday, 12 October 2014

Rodger and Hammerstein's Cinderella

On my recent trip to New York City I decided to go and watch Broadway shows. The one I was most eager about seeing was Rodger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Cinderella has been remade on countless occasions and I can almost guarantee that you’ll have seen the Rodger and Hammerstein Cinderella before. My personal favourite is the 1997 movie staring Brandy. Cinderella is suitable for all ages, this performance was certainly family friendly but not childish enough to only be appreciated by the younger visitors.

Keke Palmer is currently playing the lead role of Cinderella and is the first African American to play the role. Looking at the Playbill, Palmer has appeared in everything so is well known in America. I however had never heard of her. Despite this, I didn’t go and see it just because of who was playing Cinderella. Personally, I thought she did a great job at playing the lead. Although vocally she may not have been as strong as the likes of original Broadway Cinderella Laura Osnes, I still found her performance enjoyable. I’ve read quite a few negative reviews of her performance but when you take into consideration it is Palmer’s Broadway debut and she is only 21 years of age I think they’re undeserved. Staring alongside Palmer as her stepmother is The View host, Sherri Shepherd and Joe Carroll as Prince Topher. 
The production itself was everything that I had expected Cinderella on stage to be like. Its magical stage effects were just superb at times. For example, one minute Cinderella is in her rag clothes and the next her clothes literally fly off her and she appears in a ball gown. The show was certainly visually fantastic at times! Quite amusingly in this performance Cinderella doesn’t lose her glass slipper but in fact hands it to the Prince, which received roaring laughter from the crowd. The songs are songs that you will have guaranteed to have heard in previous versions of Rodger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella are so wonderful and will be stuck in your head for days. I know I’ve had the soundtrack I bought at the production of repeat since I left the theatre. 
Rodger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella is only going to be showing at the Broadway Theatre in New York City until January 3rd 2015 so if you want to see the show you’d better grab your ball gown and glass slippers before it’s too late.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Solo Travelling

Travelling alone has a certain stigma around it. When you tell people that you are going on holiday alone you get the same reaction. Shock that you're going on holiday alone and many a mention of how brave you are. The lady I was sat next to on the airplane even asked if I didn't have any friends! It really shouldn't be the case. I'm far from brave just because I'm ok with spending time with myself!

I'm writing this in the departure lounge of Newark Liberty International Airport waiting to go home after a very successful solo holiday to New York City. During this trip I did things many people say they would never do alone, I attended Broadway shows, I went to a concert, I even ate in restaurants alone. People don't even do these things alone at home let alone on holiday and honestly I don't get the problem. 

You call all the shots. If you decide to go visit an attraction such as an art gallery you have no one moaning that they don't want to go, you can spend as long or as little time as you wish looking at the exhibitions with no one rushing you on. Isn't that the dream holiday? I know on this holiday in particular I attended Broadway shows that I wanted to see, no compromises happened. I decided what I wanted to go and see and when I wanted to see it and I bought a ticket without any worries that my companion wouldn't want to attend. Not every holiday will require you to get tickets to an event but I found that an advantage of going alone is you will tend to find good individual seats are available at the front even if you book very last minute. 

I ended up attending a concert alone this trip too. For one I don't think anyone I travelled with would be keen to go to a concert whilst in New York and I don't know if I would've got a ticket in the first place if I was with someone else. I didn't feel alone at the concert, I was talking to people about our favourite bands and songs and once the band were on stage it was very easy to forget I was alone. Who talks to someone when the artist is on stage performing anyway? This isn't the first time that I have actually attended a concert by myself and I wouldn't hesitate in doing it again. The big advantage of a concert is that you have something very big in common with the other people at the venue, you're all there to see the same performer. If you want to stand at the back by yourself you can but I find if you want to talk to people you have the concert artist in common to talk about.

For me the big issue with solo travelling was food. I have actually only ever gone to New York alone so this may not apply to other places. As well as tourists, New York is full of single business travellers. Due to this many restaurants cater for people alone with many restaurants suggesting that you sit at the bar and have your food there. Eating alone isn't as bad as you picture it being, particularly when you're surrounded by other people eating alone. I know the first time I went to New York alone I ate pretty much all my food from fast food takeout restaurants. This time I decided I wasn't doing this. You quickly realise the only person missing out on eating nice food at good restaurants is yourself. Do you really want to come back and tell people you only ate at McDonalds because you didn't dare go into a restaurant to eat by yourself? Plus you end up missing out on all the delicious food that is on offer.

Personally when it came to New York sightseeing I really enjoyed going solo. I put my headphones in and just walked. No one bothers stopping you to ask if you want a bus tour or other tourist attractions. You can just walk to wherever you want to, you can stop and look in whatever shops you want to look at, you can stop for a drink at a coffee shop that you like the look of, who doesn't want to do that on holiday? 

People don't think that you're at all odd in going alone. No one would even know that you're alone. I believe that the only thing that holds you back from solo travelling is yourself. Once you get through that barrier you'll have up full of all the worries about travelling alone you'll realise it isn't half as bad as you imagined it to be. 

I'd be lying if I said it's better than travelling with a companion. I wouldn't chose to go on holiday alone unless I had to. New York is a city I feel very comfortable in having visited many times, however if I want to visit a place I'd never been and none of my friends wanted to go or could afford to go then I wouldn't hesitate considering going alone. If you aren't sure about going on holiday alone or even just attending a concert alone, just do it. I can one hundred percent guarantee that it won't be as you expect it to be. If you go in with the attitude that it's odd to be alone then you won't have a good time, but if you go in with an open mind I can assure you'll have just as good of a time as if you had a travel companion with you.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Hollywood Ending - Turn Up Tour

Due to a bizarre series events which would be an entire blog post in itself, I ended up with a ticket to go and see Hollywood Ending on my recent trip to New York City. I have tickets to go and see the band perform during their Punk Ass Kids tour when they return to the UK at the end of the month so it was a pleasant surprise to be able to catch the Turn Up Tour in New York.

Support came from three bands. The Millennium, This Is All Now and Astro Safari USA. The Millennium started off the evening, getting the crowd nicely warmed up and even did a cover of Toxic by Britney Spears. This Is All Now was my favourite out of the supports and I have since downloaded their album. Despite the guitarist rushing off stage to be sick they did a great set and the crowd was loving them in particular after a cover of 5 Seconds Of Summer's popular song, Good Girls. Last on was Astro Safari USA who were my least favourite support band of the night. The bands music wasn't my taste of music and the rap style was the complete opposite to the others. From where I was positioned you could see band members from Hollywood Ending singing and dancing along in the wings throughout the support acts suggesting that they picked some of their personal favourite bands to support them. 

From then it was time for Hollywood Ending the band everyone had come to see. Having seen them for the first time only a few months ago as a support act I was very interested to see how they would pull off a headlining show. Truthfully, I thought they were fantastic. The high energy they brought to the stage didn't falter once throughout the set. It is clear that the New York City show was an important one to them with it being lead singer Tyler's home state and the crowd didn't disappoint in making it a memorable.

Hollywood Ending came onto stage performing upbeat song One Wish from their debut EP before heading straight into a cover of the Friends theme song, I'll Be There For You. Although I'm sure they've played this as a cover every night it felt an extra fitting song to cover whilst being in the home of Friends. The band proceeded onto Don't Let Me Down, which was obviously a fan favourite with the crowd even singing along to the rap in the middle of the song. Two new songs were performed on the night, Zero Gravity and Punk Ass Kids which were just as catchy as the bands other songs and seemed to go down with fans with some already knowing the words. Strangely enough one of the songs that got the biggest reaction was Grocery Store Rap, a song they posted on YouTube two years ago. Although it was very different it proved that they are capable of performing in a style different from their normal sound and fans clearly appreciated them performing it. Before you know it it was time for the encore of the latest single Freak Like Me and a cover of The Monkees hit I'm A Believer.

My only negative about the show is that they didn't perform for long enough! Hollywood Ending were only on stage for around an hour. I don't know if it was due to a venue curfew but I personally would've enjoyed a longer set. I certainly wasn't ready for them to go off stage when they did.

I was able to meet the band before the show and I have to say that they really are genuinely nice people which only adds to the bands likability. In my opinion with their catchy songs and infectious personalities it won't be long before Hollywood Ending are the next big thing. The band are currently tying up a tour of the US but they are on the way to the UK at the end of the month with concerts nationwide. If you see that they're performing at a venue near you I would highly recommend going. I know I for one cannot wait to see them again on there return to England.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Life In Outer Space - Melissa Keil

Life In Outer Space is set in Melbourne, Australia and the story revolves round geek and movie fan, Sam Kinnison and his friends Allison, Mike and Adrian. The group of friends keep themselves to themselves at school until new girl Camilla Carter starts their school. 

For me it is very important for me to like the main character and Sam truly is such a likeable character. From just a few pages in you are constantly routing for him. I know I became quite attached to him by the end and in many moments I so desperately wanted to leap into the novel and tell him the obvious to help him. Sam's friends are just as likeable and although they were not main characters I felt like I knew enough about each character for me to form my own opinions on them. They were featured enough to form opinions but not enough to detract from the main plot of Sam and Camilla's storylines. I tend to find one of the main characters unlikable in a novel. Despite this I very quickly warmed to a Camilla. She was such a well written character and her friendly, kind, shy at times personality won me over straight away.

Unusually this book was written from the males perspective. I tend to read books from the females. However, this did not put me off one bit and to be honest I don't think I would've enjoyed the book anymore if it was from Camilla's perspective instead of Sam's.   The book essential is just following Sam's day to day life but please don't let this put you off as it makes it so relatable. 

I just absolutely loved this book. What astonishes me most of all is that Life In Outer Space is in factor author Melissa Keil's debut. A fan of young adult books or not I couldn't give this book more of a recommendation. If you're looking for a lighter read but still want a heartwarming novel then this is for you. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and will definitely be reading another novel by Keil. I have given this book 4 1/2 stars out of 5 solely for the fact that it did take me a couple of chapters to get hooked to the novel. 

4 1/2 stars out of 5

Life In Outer Space - Melissa Keil. Click here to buy from Waterstones