“Stop My Stutter”


Stop My Stutter

Gareth Gates featured on ITV 1 on This Morning heightening awareness of stammering and the McGuire programme.   He spoke about “Stop My Stutter” a documentary which he filmed in Birmingham on a McGuire course in November. Stop my Stutter looks at how five young adults try to reverse this, as they make the first few steps to trying to control it.

Gareth Gates also grew up with a stammer and knows that The McGuire Programme course has changed his life forever. He felt that it was time to give something back !!

The programme was amazing and resulted in “Stop my Stutter ” trending and “Gareth Gates” trending on Twitter for the second time today. I love Gareth Gates’s honesty and sincerity. He genuinely cared about the students progress. The students were Sarah, Mohammed, Matthew, Simon and Rory the documentary followed their journey over a time space of 4 days where Gareth Gates (who is a speech coach for the McGuire programme) aimed to give them a voice.

At the end of the course they had to face an audience and give a presentation. It was Gareth’s challenging task to enable them to do this and transform their lives forever.

Simon

Simon is a dad and has had a severe stammer his whole life he was due to get married and wanted to be able to say his wedding vows! He struggled with simple tasks as a parent such as reading his children bedtime stories as it would take him so much longer.

Sarah

25-year-old Sarah wanted to become a nanny but felt like her stammer was holding her back massively, often choosing new words to avoid ones which she would stumble over. As a nanny she worked with children every day but wanted to become a teacher.

Mohammed

Mohammed is a university student studying physiotherapy his main problem was not being able to speak to clients as efficiently as he’d like to which was an essential part of the job. Not being able to do this may force him to have to change his career or his clients thinking that he was unsure on what he was talking about.

Rory

Like Gareth Gates Rory is a talented musician and doesn’t stammer when he sings as he develops a different persona. He wanted to make singing a career.

Matthew

Matthew was a professional model and had to pose for artists. He had been modelling for 8 years. For him finding a job where his body could do the talking was a revelation !! Matthews lack of confidence would hold him back with his modelling.

Day 1

The first step was to teach the students a new and more powerful way of breathing. They wore belts around their chests so that they were aware of the ‘costal breathing’ technique. Gareth believed that if they could master the technique then they could all tackle their stammers. It was all about gaining control. They weren’t allowed to speak AT ALL so that they could get used to the new breathing technique first. Gareth stated that stammerer’s often avoid certain words. For example as a child he struggled to say the name of his school and he’d reply “Oh I can’t remember” rather failing to say the name and avoiding the humiliation.

Next it was all about sounds and learning to say every sound and getting rid of any negative associations. The students were videoed and had to say their name in front of a new camera. For the rest of the course Gareth made them put the new breathing technique into place constantly.

Day 2

Day 2 showed them trying to speak in a controlled way. It was mechanical at first, slow and almost snail like. Simon seemed to struggle in particular on that day. Sarah is a covert stammerer (she hides her stammer) Gareth took her to one side and gave her some extra speech coaching as she couldn’t get her head around speaking mechanically.

The final session of that day focused on facing the fear of phone calls head on. Matthew avoided making phone calls at all costs. Gareth forced him to make one. He coped quite well.

Day 3

Gareth stated that speaking in a room was a comfort zone for them. He and it was time to push themselves that extra mile forcing them to go out on the streets and speak to 100 members of the general public !! He stated that it was their “moment to shine” this was a nerve-wracking day. I was quite shocked some people are SO rude. I felt heart-broken when Mohammed was trying to speak and they shouted “You can’t even talk man!!” how disrespectful ! People kept ignoring Matthew and he found it hard to deal with. Rory did really well and really pushed himself. Simon was flying there was no stopping him he had really found his confidence. Mohammed was crafty he literally had a line of people and said “Hello Mohammed Shafi nice to meet you” to all of them ! He really beamed and his confidence was improved every time.

Sarah was still battling her nerves and became quite emotional at one point. It made me laugh when Gareth said “Don’t give a SHIT what anybody says it’s about you now okay ! and its about you overcoming this so don’t care what people think the task is for you okay! ” he told her to believe in herself! I think the pep talk did her some good.  She finally plucked up courage and introduced herself to new people and made Gareth proud! once she leapt over the first hurdle there was no stopping her. She went on to announce herself to a whole shop WOW !!

Day 4 the FINAL Day !!

On this last day they had to make a speech to their family. The pressure became too much for Sarah, she broke down and cried. Another pep talk from Gareth really helped her and reminded her that it was the start of a long process. The audience were waiting for the speeches to start. They were all amazing and delivered their speeches confidently and fluently using the techniques that Gareth had taught them ! It was incredible to see the difference-wow ! Sarah was the most nervous and I’d say her speech still has the longest way to go out of the group.

Four Weeks later

It had been a month since the course. Simon was able to successfully read his children a bed time story ! Mohammed had a renewed self-esteem on duty with his University football team. Rory was more confident at school his friends saying that he sounded much more confident and seemed happier in himself. Matthew was pursuing his dream as an actor and attended acting classes and Gareth Gates went along to one to offer some moral support. As Sarah had found the course the most challenging I was intrigued to see how she had got on. On the day that Gareth met up with her he observed her teaching a class of children and reading them a story, she seemed relaxed and was a natural. As a confidence boost he showed her footage of her speech before she began the programme and made her realise that she can achieve fluency with some hard work.

Now its all about perseverance and putting in the needed work. I wish them all the best for the future and hope they succeed!!

A few further links :

http://www.mcguireprogramme.com/index.php

http://www.garethgates.com

Twitter :  @Gareth_Gates

I can only worry about the new Les Miserables film …..


I have to say that I am feeling a bit pessimistic about the new Les Mis film which is being scheduled to be released some time probably next year although they are hoping for December 2012 to be a release date. Tom Hooper is set to direct the film.

Before the cast were announced there were all sorts of rumours about the casting…Taylor Swift was to be a possible Eponine and Emma Watson was rumoured to be joining the cast as Cosette….I mean is Emma Watson even a soprano?  I’m very glad to say that these rumours weren’t true although it doesn’t stop me from worrying about the current casting….

Here is the cast list for the new film as it stands at the moment on IMDb…..

Credited cast:
Amanda Seyfried Amanda Seyfried
Anne Hathaway Anne Hathaway
Hugh Jackman Hugh Jackman
Helena Bonham Carter Helena Bonham Carter
Russell Crowe Russell Crowe
Sacha Baron Cohen Sacha Baron Cohen
Eddie Redmayne Eddie Redmayne
Samantha Barks Samantha Barks
Aaron Tveit Aaron Tveit
George Blagden George Blagden
Colm Wilkinson Colm Wilkinson
Frances Ruffelle Frances Ruffelle
Prostitute
Fra Fee Fra Fee

Ok and breathe….. It could be worse. Amanda Seyfried should be good if she can pull off the soprano roll of Cosette. Aaron Tevit (Enjolras) and Samantha Barks (Eponine) have been cast straight from the west end. Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bohnam Carter proved that they could sing pretty well in Sweeney Todd (well they’re good enough for the Thenardiers at least) My main worries are Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Eddie Redmayne. Are they even vocally trained. I love Russel Crowe as an actor even though in real life he isn’t the most likeable of people, he comes across as arrogant and rude….I avoid people like that in life (or at least try to) Again I’m questioning…can Hugh Jackman sing ?? the same with Eddie Redmayne and he doesn’t exactly look how I’d picture Marius. To me Michael Ball and Gareth Gates will always be Marius Pontmercy. (I’m still sulking at the fact that Gareth Gates didn’t get cast as Marius in the 25th Anniversary concert at the 02 but hopefully Cameron Mackintosh learnt his lesson after Nick Jonas pretty much got slated by critics and the public)  :

“There is honestly no point discussing the merits of this alcohol-influenced casting decision; we are stuck with it, and we must be content with watching Nick Jonas get his pants kicked on stage. You almost feel bad for this poor kid, a multimillionaire rock star and pop icon extraordinaire in his own right, looking genuinely unnerved to be in the company of actual singers. “

http://www.dvdverdict.com/reviews/lesmisbluray.php

Ok now if you compare those with the reviews Gareth Gates recieved you will see my point : “Gareth Gates is a pleasant surprise as Marius and his performance is almost faultless, he manages to capture the audience’s attention with sophistication and enchanted charm.”

http://www.thepublicreviews.com/les-miserables-25th-anniversary-production-palace-theatre-manchester/

Ok I went off an a bit of a tangent there I just wanted to prove my point !

Filming of the script by William Nicholson, Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg will be done at Pinewood, with some scenes shot on location in the UK. There’s also talk of some filming being done in France.

Colm Wilkinson, who was the first Jean Valjean, and Frances Ruffelle, who created the part of Eponine, have been given feature roles in the film. Wilkinson will play the Bishop of Digne. ‘He shows Valjean the road ahead, after Valjean has robbed him of silver candlesticks,’ says Cameron Mackintosh, who produced the musical on stage and who is also involved with Working Title and Universal in making the picture, which Oscar-winner Tom Hooper will direct.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2092428/Les-Miserables-movie-Stars-original-stage-version-encore-join-film-cast.html#ixzz1nJTe8Ept

I guess I’ll just have to wait and see…..It might be great but being a bit of a ‘die hard’ Les Mis fan I’m still not sure how its going to “pan out” !!

Shrove Tuesday


Today is….Shrove Tuesday !! AKA Pancake day! I have to say I LOVE Pancakes. Shrove Tuesday is the last day before Lent begins (in Christianity)

So why are pancakes eaten on that particular day?

Lent is a time of abstinence, of giving things up. So Shrove Tuesday is the last chance to indulge yourself, and to use up the foods that aren’t allowed in Lent. Pancakes are eaten on this day because they contain fat, butter and eggs which were forbidden during Lent.

How do you make a perfect pancake? :

Basic pancake batter ……..

(Enough for 8 pancakes)

1 large egg or 1 egg and one yolk

½ pint/280ml milk

4oz/110g plain flour (4 heaped dessert spoons)

1 tbsp melted butter

 By hand:

Sift the flour into a bowl and make a well in the middle. Break in the egg (and yolk, if using) and add a pinch of salt and a splash of the milk. Whisk the egg, gradually incorporating the flour, to make a smooth cream. Whisk in the rest of the milk and the melted butter.

With a blender:

Put all the ingredients in a blender jug with a pinch of salt. Whizz until smooth

How to cook them……

Take a large frying pan and place in a small knob of butter let it melt all around the bottom of the pan (this will prevent the mixture from sticking)

Depending on the thickness of the pancakes should depend on how long you cook them for but I’d say cook them on each side for 1-2 minutes. Once done add a filling of your choice. You can repeat these steps as many times as you like (obviously depending on how much pancake mixture you have) a tip is to put them on a plate on top of each other wrapped in a clean tea towel (it keeps them nice and warm)

Serve and ENJOY !

30 Question musical theatre challenge :


  •  01: a number from one of your favorite musicals of all time Bring Him Home from Les Mis ( It has to be sung by the AMAZING John-Owen Jones though)
  •  02: a number from one of your favorite musicals of the past three years  Heaven on their Minds from Jesus Christ Superstar
  • 03: a number from one of your least favorite musicals Breaking Free from High School Musical… YUCK !
  •  04: a number from the first musical you remember seeing hmmmm maybe a local amateur production, something like “It’s a hard Knock Life” from Annie !
  •  05: a number from the musical you saw most recently  “Down Once More” From The Phantom Of the Opera (I saw it in London in December 2010)
  •  06: a favorite opening number Has to be “Prologue/Look Down” from Les Mis ! Its unbeatable, You would have had to hear the cheering from the audience during the Tour when the insanely powerful music began! just epic ahhh !
  •  07: a favorite duet “Sun and Moon from Miss Saigon” OR “A Little Fall of Rain from Les Mis” beautiful…but they make me Cry :’-(
  •  08: a favorite dance break OMG ! Masquerade from The Phantom of The Opera WHAT A SCENE , especially the choreography on the staircase !!!
  •  09: a favorite ballad Is that something that tells a story ? like a folk type musical….I do love “Easy Terms” from Blood Brothers sung by Barbera Dixon !
  • 10: a favorite “11 o’clock” number  “Epilogue” Les Mis …has me in tears EVERY TIME !! but it is SO MOVING ! BEAUTIFUL !
  •  11: a favorite comic number  Your Timeless to me from Hairspray was brilliant ! Purely because Michael Ball (Edna) and Ian Tablot (Wilbur) were hilarious !! They literally completely lost focus during the song and burst out laughing and Michael Ball shouted to the other guy ” I CAN’T CONCENTRATE WHEN YOU’RE LAUGHING BEHIND ME LIKE THAT !!!!! ” They had to apologise to the audience and start that verse again !!
  •  12: a favorite ensemble number oooh hard maybe “One Day More” from Les Mis.
  •  13: a number from a guilty-pleasure musical You can’t Stop the Beat from Hairspray
  • 14: a number from a Best Musical Tony nominee the year you were born Aladdin !! (Okay that doesn’t count) but it was released in 1992 the year I was born !
  •  15: a favorite female solo number  I LOVE “I Still Believe” from Miss Saigon or “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Mis ….BUT NOT THE SUSAN BOYLE VERSION she ruined it ! :’-(
  • 16: a favorite male solo number Gethsemane from Jesus Christ Superstar sung by the one and only Steve Balsamo, Bring Him Home from Les Mis by John Owen Jones they both make me cry !!!
  • 17: a number from a musical that is underrated Manchester England, England from “Hair” I can’t WAIT to hear Gareth Gates sing this as Claude !!
  •  18: a number from a musical that is overrated You are the Music in me from High School Musical EURGH !!! CHEESE !
  •  19: a favorite love song from a musical A Heart Full of Love from Les Mis !!!
  •  20: a favorite number from a musical that did not originate in the U.k Aquarius/ Let the Sun Shine in , from “Hair” ……..it’s an American musical !
  •  21: a favorite number from the “golden age” of Broadway Getting to Know You from “The King and I” 
  • 22: a favorite number performed by an antagonist Stars by Police Inspector Javert from Les Mis….it HAS to be sung by Earl Carpenter though !
  •  23: a number from a show you have never seen live but wish you could Could we start again please? (Jesus Christ Superstar) its really sad!
  •  24: a number performed by a favorite female West End star On My Own from Les Mis performed by Rosalind James from the 25th anniversary tour production it had a really blue-sy feel. She really made it her own, I still think a lot of the other covers of it are a much of a muchness….yeah she put a stamp on that song!
  •  25: a number performed by a favorite male West End star Music of the Night by John Owen-Jones or Empty Chairs at Empty Tables by Gareth Gates -stunning !
  • 26: a number by a favorite composer Close Every Door To Me from Joseph by Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber!
  •  27: a number by a favorite choreographer Riverdance is pretty epic…(it was sort of musical in parts)
  • 28: a number you would love to perform if you were of the opposite sex Why God Why? Miss Saigon ❤
  • 29: a number you have performed I haven’t ….one day I’d LOVE TO, I can sing I just don’t have enough confidence to sing in front of others !!
  • 30: a number you would love to perform in the future Everything’s All right (Jesus Christ Superstar), Out here on My Own (Fame), or I Still Believe from Miss Saigon! CHOON !!!!
                                     THE END (Roll Credits)

I can’t believe it R.I.P Whitney Houston


This morning I woke up and read my Twitter news feed on my phone only to find that the Legend Whitney Houston had died and the age of only 48, the page was full of tribute messages from various celebrities and performers :

Mark Wright    ” MarkWright_  : Feel soooo sad about whitney !! Have all of her albums, bodyguard is 1 of my fave films. This is a sad day !! RIP Whitney !! X ”

Steve Balsamo “Stevebalsamo Just read about whitney’s death. very sad”

Gok Wan  therealgokwan : Morning tweeties…. Just woken up to the sad news of Whitney passing away… Love to her family. X”

Claire Richards_”ClaireRichards : Can’t believe Whitney is gone!I don’t think I would have been a singer if it weren’t for her and Karen Carpenter. So sad xRIP Miss Houston X ”

Phillip Schofield “Schofe : Major news channels reporting the death of Whitney Houston at only 48. That’s very sad news indeed. ”

Gareth Gates “Gareth_Gates : Can’t believe that Whitney Houston has died. Such a sad day for music; losing its greatest ever vocalist. ”

More than two decades ago, Clive Davis introduced a young woman with a senastional voice to the music industry at his annual pre-Grammy soiree: Whitney Houston.She was found dead at the Beverly Hills Hilton on Saturday afternoon but no cause of death has been revealed as yet .

On Saturday night, hours after Houston’s death at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Davis – Houston’s mentor, producer, champion and longtime friend – memorialized her at this year’s gala, held downstairs from the same hotel where she died.

Whitney’s early life / career

Whitney Houston was a model, actress but of course best known for being a singer. Her list of awards include 6 Grammys, 2 Emmys, 30 Billboard music awards, 22 American music awards among 415 awards as of 2010. Inspired by family members and her god mother Aretha Franklin she began singing with New Jersey’s church junior gospel choir at the age of 11. After that she performed alongside her mother in the New York City area. She was quickly discovered by Arista Records. In her time she released 3 film soundtrack albums and 7 studio albums all of them have a diamond, platinum, gold or multi-platinum certification.

She had 7 consecutive number one billboard Hot 100 hits :  “Saving All My Love for You”, “How Will I Know”, “Greatest Love of All”, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)”, “Didn’t We Almost Have It All”, “So Emotional” and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go”.

Houston’s 1985 debut album Whitney Houston, became the best-selling debut album by a female act at the time of its release. The album was named Rolling Stone‘s best album of 1986, and was ranked at number 254 on Rolling Stone‘s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Her second studio album Whitney (1987), became the first album by a female artist to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart. Houston’s crossover appeal on the popular music charts as well as her prominence on MTV, starting with her video for “How Will I Know“,influenced several African-American female artists to follow in her footsteps.

She featured in the 1992 film The Bodyguard the original soundtrack won the 1994 Grammy Award for album of the year. The most famous featuring song was its lead single “I Will Always Love You” which later became the best-selling single by a female artist in music history. It sold more than 1 million copies within the first week.The album makes her the only female act in the top 10 list of the best-selling albums of all time, at number four. Houston continued to star in movies and contribute to their soundtracks. Three years after the release of her fourth studio album My Love Is Your Love(1998), she renewed her recording contract with Arista Records. She released her fifth studio album Just Whitney in 2002, and the Christmas-themed One Wish: The Holiday Album in 2003. In 2009, Houston released her seventh studio album I Look to You

Her death has come as a shock, but then 10 + years of drug abuse will take its toll on a person physically and psychologically. Despite her personal troubles, Houston commanded great affection among her colleagues. Like many others across the globe today I will reflect on her amazing career and mourn the loss of a true legend !!

The Pop Idol 2002 final..10 years on !!


Today marks the 10th anniversary since the final of Pop Idol 2002 between Will Young and Gareth Gates so I felt it was only right to write a blog post !

Remember these 3….of course you do! Darius Campbell (formally Danesh), Gareth Gates and Will Young…the final 3 from the first series of Pop Idol in 2002.  The votes were pretty close between Will and Gareth however Will Young was crowned the winner.

Pop Idol 2002 was one of the first singing talent show series in the UK. The final of the first series of Pop Idol in February 2002 received the highest-ever one-night vote for a UK TV show, making the show one of ITV‘s most profitable.

I was quite surprised by Simon Cowell

Even though Gareth Gates was sacked by Simon Cowell’s record label (then Called Sony BMG) at the beginning of 2006, Cowell has stated that he struggles to watch the 2002 final of Pop Idol as it makes him feel physically sick. He wanted Gareth Gates to win, NOT Will Young. He spoke out on the first episode of ITV1’s The Talent Show Story stating “I thought he (Will Young) was obnoxious, full of himself. I thought this will be interesting. You don’t like me, I don’t like you… and nothing’s changed particularly. I still can’t watch the final because I was really disappointed.”

Simon also states how much he liked Gareth, “When I first saw him I hoped he could sing. He looked great and then he couldn’t talk. I really liked Gareth and wanted him to win. I remember feeling it in my stomach, I felt sick. That’s how much it affected me. It shouldn’t but it did.”

Legacy

Will Young continues to be a very successful recording artist and has now released 5 albums to date and is still under Simon Cowell’s record label. Not to mention he has starred in films playing the role of “Bertie” in the 2005 film “Mrs Henderson Presents” starring the legends Dame Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins. His latest album “Echoes” was released in the summer of 2011 featuring the single “Jealousy” it has received good reviews. This year he is doing a “Forest Gig tour” in the summer of 2012.

Gareth Gates had 3 albums and has since moved on to pursue a successful career in musical theatre starring as Joseph (2009), Marius in Les Miserables on tour (2009-2010)  and then in the West End (2010-2011). This year will see him play the lead role of Claude the long-haired leader of a hippy tribe in the musical “Hair” in the 2012 UK Tour  en.hairliveinahoy.com . He also joint owns a chain of drama schools which he joint manages with another West end Star Jonathon Wilkes. www.gateswilkesacademy.com . Not to mention all his continuous hard work for the McGuire programme a course for stammerers. He has made a documentary for BBC3 called “Stop My Stutter” which is due to be aired on BBC3 on the 27th of February at 9pm.

Darius has also starred in musicals and Played Rhett Butler in “Gone with the wind” and more recently Billy Flynn in Chicago in London’s West End. He won the tv series “Popstar to OperaStar” back in early 2010 his voice was GORGEOUS, deep, rich and full of emotion-he was a very worthy winner!

I wish them all the best for the future, and look forward to seeing Gareth Gates in Hair in April 2012 . You can read more about them on their websites :

Will Young : http://www.willyoung.co.uk/global/home

Gareth Gates : http://www.garethgates.com/

Darius Campbell :  http://dariusmusic.com/

 

I’m so impressed by the 25th anniversary concert of The Phantom of the Opera


WOW! I have to say I’m really impressed and now I can see why it received such fantastic  reviews. I’m currently watching the 25th anniversary concert of Phantom of the Opera which was filmed live at The Royal Albert Hall in early October 2011. After the Les Mis concert I had my doubts but this is FAR superior.

Whilst the Les Mis concert was filmed at the massive O2 arena in London this was done on a slightly smaller scale at the Royal Albert Hall but it works far better. In the Les Mis concert they just stood at microphones, this is like the proper production of the show that has been filmed live with a WONDERFUL cast all of which are from the West End.

The Plot

The plot is exactly the same as any other version. A tale of a mad and twisted musical genius who ‘haunts’ the Opera house after he was brought there rescued by Madame Giry the ballet mistress when they were both just children. After Diva Carlotta storms out Christine Daae is cast as the new leading lady of the Opera Populaire and is delighted to find that her childhood friend Raoul now the Vicomte de Chagny is the new patron of the Opera House.Christine reminds Raoul about the “Angel of Music” stories that her late father used to tell them, and confides that the Angel has visited her, and taught her to sing. Raoul laughs at her “fantasies”, and invites her to dinner. He exits, and a jealous Phantom appears in Christine’s mirror in the clever guise of The Angel of Music.

Later on Raoul hatches a plan to use Don Juan Triumphant the Phantom’s own Opera as a trap to capture the Phantom. Christine, torn between her love for Raoul and her gratitude towards the Phantom , visits her father’s grave. The Phantom appears,  but Raoul arrives to protect her. The Phantom declares war upon them both.

Don Juan Triumphant débuts, with Christine and Ubaldo Piangi, the Opéra’s leading tenor, singing the lead roles. During their duet, Christine suddenly realises that she is singing not with Piangi, but with the Phantom himself. Christine tears off his mask to expose his hideous face to the audience, as Piangi is found strangled backstage. Seizing Christine, the Phantom flees the theatre, pursued by an angry mob led by Meg. Madame Giry tells Raoul about the Phantom’s subterranean lair—and reminds him to beware the Punjab lasso.

All three main characters unite in the “Phantoms lair” but ‘who will survive?’ and ‘what becomes of the Phantom of the Opera?’ will have to be questions which remain unanswered until you watch it !

The Cast

The company listing on the official website lists an incredible 99 ensemble members, plus 20 dancers and 19 principles (yes, I really counted). That’s 138 cast members, and goodness only knows how many techs !

Ramin Karimloo was cast as The Phantom. He has a great voice but compared to John-Owen Jones who I saw in the West end in 2010 he doesn’t really come close. Don’t get me wrong he’s a wonderful actor and singer, I’m just not sure about him as the phantom and I definitely wouldn’t describe him as spectacular. I have to say his performance improves throughout the show. During the first part of “Music of the Night” I felt that he was just very nervous or trying too hard.

Sierra Boggess does a faultless performance of Christine far superior to Tabitha Webb (the cover Christine I saw in London) her voice is sublime hitting all the high notes effortlessly and she covers her American accent extremely well. She captures the naivety and innocence of Christine Daae perfectly! I have to say that in my opinion she’s much more talented than the original Christine (Sarah Brightman) whose shrill voice makes me wince a little bit at times.

Hadley Fraser (probably best known for performances as Grantaire in the 25th anniversary concert of Les Mis and is now playing inspector Javert in the West End) makes a wonderful Raoul , again his voice is stunning and he sang extremely well for those who have seen the DVD. I couldn’t help but notice that he was wearing A LOT of eyeliner which I’m positive was applied at every chance- at the final bows he seemed to resemble a panda !!

Wendy Somerville as Carlotta is brilliant and was covering for Keira Duffy who was originally cast but had to pull out of the role due to a throat infection. I saw her in London, she’s perfect as the selfish, well-built and flamboyant ‘opera diva’ again with a great vocal range.

I love Madame Giry she’s very different in the stage version than she is in the film. In the film she’s kind but more mysterious in this she’ s a bit more of a ‘battle axe’ type of character.

At the end of the show a choral arrangement was sung including Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman the original Phantom and Christine. I got a shock when I saw Sarah Brightman she’s clearly overdone the plastic surgery or Botox as her face looked really bizarre !A choral arrangement of ‘The Music of the Night’ was then performed by Colm Wilkinson (original Canadian cast), the sensational John Owen Jones,  Anthony Warlow and finally Swedish pop singer and musical theatre star Peter Jöback, who I have since learned is to join the London production from March 2012 as The Phantom. Finally, Sarah Brightman and the men sang the title track live  and the show came to a close, Michael Crawford took a bow but didn’t sing.

Overall I loved the concert and I feel very fortunate that I have seen John-Owen Jones as the Phantom who I feel is superior to Ramin Karimloo in the role of the Phantom as his voice is more powerful and he puts more emotion into his acting. ( Don’t hate me – that’s just a personal opinion)

Was Derek Acorah/ The Most Haunted series fake?


Derek Acorah is most well-known for his appearances on the television show “Most Haunted” back in the 00’s. He claimed to have a guide who was a spirit named Sam who would tell him facts about the spirits and the places they visited (a bit weird if you ask me) The programme was designed to capture footage of poltergeists from supposedly haunted venues across the UK. The show ran for a few years the latest team including ex- Blue Peter presenter Yvette Feilding and resident parapsychologist Dr Ciaran O’Keeffe.

Yvette Feilding was EXTREMELY annoying normally she’d over react to the littlest noise or react to something that the camera hadn’t even picked up screaming “Oh my god what was that?” most of the time ! I still believe that most of that was acting.

O’Keeffe outed Acorah as a fake he stated : “In my professional opinion we’re not dealing with a genuine medium. When Derek is possessed he is doing it consciously – all we are seeing is showmanship and dramatics.” He went a step further at Craigievar Castle, near Aberdeen.”I made up stories about Richard the Lionheart, a witch, and Richard’s apparition appearing to walk through a wardrobe – the lion, the witch and the wardrobe!” True to form, Derek mentioned all Ciaran’s stories – even though Richard I reigned 500 years BEFORE Craigievar Castle was built.The final straw came last month when Most Haunted presented a three-night special from Manchester. On the second evening, the show claimed to be broadcasting live from the site of Cheadle’s Victorian asylum, a place where – according to presenter David Bull – thousands died in torment. In fact they were in the derelict remains of Barnes Convalescence Home – where nobody died in torment.

O’Keeffe remembers: “Derek was communicating with spirits that sounded as if they’d been in an asylum, but it was never an asylum.” Yesterday the Mirror confronted Derek Acorah with Ciaran’s allegations. He told us: “I’ve worked with Ciaran for many shows and he’s got every right to say what he says. He continued : “However, it does shock and surprise me. Not only do I believe that I am a genuine medium – I live my work 24 hours a day. If I thought that I wasn’t a true medium, I wouldn’t work as one.”

What do I believe ?

I’m not sure what to think. I believe that the TV series “Most Haunted” was extremely staged. No-one would ever experience that much paranormal phenomena at any one time it was a bit extreme. Every episode seemed to have a similar format. We were told where the venue was, a bit of background history and of supposed ghosts that were haunting the location. The Medium Derek Acorah (and then David Wells who I have to say was far more convincing- at least he didn’t do the ridiculous ‘possession’ thing !!) were supposed to be completely oblivious of the location and came out with information as they went along. The viewer at home never actually saw anything except orbs which could have easily been camera trickery or specs of dust and how easy is it to make loud unexpected banging noises to get a reaction from the rest of the cast and crew? Its TOO simple ! (That’s just my personal opinion)

Footage showing that the show was more than likely a fraud

I have just come across this piece of footage which might be the ultimate piece of proof that the show is completely set up (you might have to copy and paste it into Youtube) but you’ll have to see for yourselves!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3x_JUHDYZ0

So …….What do you think is Most Haunted fake ?

Two of the most under rated Musical Theatre performers EVER !! …..


We have all heard of Michael Ball haven’t we? Yes? Good! Well in my opinion I think he’s over-rated. I agree he has a fantastic voice but his vocal range is a bit limited.

There are many west end performers who have been around for a while yet get zero credit. Two of my favourites are as follows……

 

This guy here…..you don’t recognise him? I didn’t think so! this is John Owen Jones.

I adore musical theatre and I have to admit that like many until the end of 2009 I had not heard of John Owen Jones either!

John Owen Jones in my opinion is a musical theatre god and has the best voice in the west end beating the likes of the well known Michael Ball by miles, yet he never gets the recognition he disserves.

John’s early theatre days

In 1994 he graduated from The Central School of Speech and drama with a BA (Hons) in acting. He starred in “A little night music” in 1995 alongside the legend Dame Judy Dench. He became the youngest actor ever to take the lead role of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables at the age of 26 in 1997, also appearing in the 1995 10th anniversary concert of the show. The Manchester Evening News even went so far as to describe his performance as “a truly astonishing achievement that must be one of the greatest stage performances of all time.” He has also been voted the Best Ever Les Miserables Performer and Best Ever Jean Valjean in a worldwide online poll by fans of the show.

In 2001 he changed theatre roles and played The Phantom in “The Phantom of the Opera” becoming the west ends longest running phantom ever after a whopping 1,400 performances!

In June 2005 he decided to return to Les Miserables where he joined the 2005 cast once again reprising the challenging role of Jean Valjean in the west end and at a later date joining the cast in America on Broadway.

I was fortunate enough to see him twice in the 2009-2010 25th anniversary touring production of Les Mis also starring Earl Carpenter as Javert and Gareth Gates as Marius. The tour sold out in all 10 venues…getting tickets as like finding gold dust..almost impossible.

He appeared on Radio 2’s Friday Night is Music Night with Shona Lindsay, Jacinta Whyte and Les Mis co star Gareth Gates celebrating the 25th anniversary of Les Miserables. It was really incredible, I loved John&Gareth’s duet “River in the Rain” from “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” Their voices blended so well with John’s powerful voice and Gareth’s slightly more feminine yet filled with emotion and stunning!

After the tour finished he featured in the 25th anniversary concert DVD of Les Mis as part of “The Valjean quartet” in my opinion he is far superior to Alfie Boe who played the role in the concert, although he has a great voice he isn’t right for Jean Valjean…his voice is too operatic! (okay he is a tenor opera singer) but the role should be played by someone with a more “theatre style” voice but not enough in my opinion.

He announced that he would be returning to Phantom of The Opera in November 2010! I was so excited and I received tickets for last Christmas as both my mum and I are fans.

Other theatre credits include Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music at the National Theatre along with Judi Dench, Patricia Hodge and Siân Phillips: The Ladies Paradise at the RNT Studio: The Pirates of Penzance and Much Ado About Nothing at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre: The Boys from Syracuse: Herr Zeller in The Sound of Music and Gaylord Ravenal in Show Boat.

In my opinion he is far better than Michael Ball with a far greater vocal range yet he never gets the recognition he disserves. This year sees him continuing with Phantom of the Opera but this time in the UK 2012 tour with a different cast. Even though he gets fantastic reviews I still thinks he should get more credit !

Ok here is the second guy…..

Steve Balsamo he’s also Welsh

  

Steve Balsamo is a singer/ songwriter from Swansea in Wales. He became successful as a thetre performer as playing the title role of Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar in the West End revival in 1997. He has a whopping 3.5 octave vocal range wow !

It was his version of the song “Gethsemane” which impressed me massivley. This song showcased his phoenominal vocal range as the song goes from Tenor to Falsetto (VERY high! for a man) I love the emotion he portrays. The song made me cry the first time that I watched it on Youtube, its the fact that he puts so much anger and passion into the song! it gives you goosebumps and then makes the hairs s I only wish that I could have seen him live !!

After winning a Variety Club Award for the role, Steve decided to return to his first love – writing and performing his own music – and signed to Columbia Records soon after. In 2002 Steve released his debut album – All I Am – which reached the top 40 in the UK. He then went on to win Best Male Solo Artist at The Welsh Music Awards the same year.

I am actually so shocked that he hasn’t had many theatre roles since then. There was a rumour that he is going to be part of the judging panel for ITV 1′ s new talent contest “Superstar”- the new television search for a new Jesus to star in an arena tour revamp of the show. I hope it’s true but I’ll have to wait and see before getting my hopes up too high !

This has turned into another extremely random blog post but it cannot be helped ! I LOVE musical theatre !