What I’ve been watching in June/July

Orange Is The New Black – Season 4

oitnb-season4I wrote about this show when it first debuted in 2013. Since then, we have been on a rollercoaster of a journey with the inmates of Litchfield, resulting now in the prison being privatised and seeing an influx of new criminals.

This in turn means racial tensions soon increase, creating some quite unsettling moments. There are also the usual fascinating flashbacks, including an incredibly shocking one showing how Suzanne (aka Crazy Eyes) ended up in prison, and a battle to get one inmate out of unwarranted solitary confinement.

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Ramin Karimloo brings Broadway and bluegrass to the London Palladium for one night only

ramin-palladiumAhead of his upcoming stint in Murder Ballad at London’s Arts Theatre, musical theatre star Ramin Karimloo performed one night only at the London Palladium as part of his unique ‘broadgrass’ experiment.

Mixing some of the musical theatre songs he became well known for with other styles, most notably bluegrass, Ramin and his band created something truly special and live on stage is certainly the best way to experience it.

Although the Palladium wasn’t sold out, the audience that was there roared with appreciation. As Ramin sung the opening words to ‘Til I Hear You Sing, written especially for him in Love Never Dies by Andrew Lloyd Webber, there was a collective gasp followed by an expectant hush.

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Kew the Music: Will Young and Billy Ocean

Will Young and Billy Ocean were the entertainment for one beautiful July evening in the even more beautiful surroundings of Kew Gardens.

First up was a pop group from San Francisco, Con Brio. I sadly missed them as I came after work and then had to grab a burger (from an amazing veggie burger stand, very impressed!) However my dad announced they were ‘very good’.

Billy Ocean came next, and with him a great deal of flamboyant middle-aged dancing.

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My 5k challenge – part two

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After the Colour5k

Never one to renegade on a promise, I thought I’d better update you on my running progress.

I did the Colour5k. It was quite tough- it was on an uneven grass field which you went round five times and had a big hill in the middle. I only managed it in around 50 minutes; then again, I barely walked any of it which made me proud of myself.

More importantly, I’ve discovered the positive effects of running for myself as advocated in Alexandra Heminsley’s Running Like A Girl.

Most strangely, I find myself actually looking forward to running now. Some days I obviously put it off ad infinitum, I’m not that amazing (yet!), but other days it feels like something I must do, that getting out in the fresh air and putting one foot in front of the other will help my body feel satisfied and healthy.

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Guys and Dolls again – with Rebel Wilson star power

I wrote about Guys and Dolls at the Savoy Theatre back in April here.

The production has since moved to the Phoenix Theatre in Charing Cross Road and changed a fair bit of the cast. And for eight weeks, until August 21, that includes sexism-defying Hollywood actress/comedian Rebel Wilson as Miss Adelaide.

Putting her own touch on the Hot Box singer and 14-year fiancee of Nathan Detroit, Rebel made the most of every opportunity for a cheeky, slightly outrageous joke and often had the audience roaring with laughter. She definitely brought a comedic edge to the show that gave it an extra oomph, especially as the audience was clearly willing her to do well.

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Amazing a cappella: The Sons of Pitches at the Union Chapel, London

The Sons of Pitches are a six-strong male a cappella group who won TV choirmaster Gareth Malone’s The Naked Choir competition in 2015. Now they’ve just toured the UK and as good as they came across on the show, it was nothing to how fun, charming and just impeccable they are live on stage.

This was immediately obvious as the first song was an unusual but brilliant introduction to the group, going through each member and then asking if everyone from the audience to the lighting and sound guys were ready to go. They then launched into Move, a Little Mix cover which was my highlight from The Naked Choir and which retained its original hilarious (hip popping) choreography.

The gig continued in the same vein – some unique stuff to them plus some covers they’ve made their own. Standouts include Blondie’s Heart of Glass in a gypsy jazz style, the groovy Sorry by Justin Bieber and their haunting version of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights.

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What I read in June…

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

71rfICBB6WLWow. I don’t want to spoil anything about this book because there are two huge things the reader discovers that aren’t given away in the blurb and it’s all the better for it.

Luckiest Girl Alive follows TifAni FaNelli, a 28-year-old editor at The Women’s Magazine in New York who is engaged to a successful and handsome guy and is generally feeling like she’s got everything she’s ever wanted. But TifAni is about to take part in a documentary about an extremely harrowing event that happened at high school when she was 14 and delving back into her past changes everything.

As a reader you’ll rarely like TifAni but that’s okay. What’s important to me was just that I understood her and all her cruel, self-loathing ways by the end of the book. But more importantly (for me) the plot was totally gripping and kept me turning the pages late into the night.

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