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Critchyboy

Critchyboy

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Reviews written

since 10/02/2003

36

Mary Poppins - The Musical, London 24/02/2005

Practically Perfect...

Mary Poppins - The Musical, London HEEEEEEEEEEERE’S CRITCHY! Good grief! What a long separation I’ve had from Ciao. I am so sorry to have been away for so long, life has taken on so much since Jacob Paul popped into the world! It’s hard being a full-time Dad with a full-time job! I’ve not had a full nights sleep for 18 weeks or so, but Jacob is too gorgeous to be cross at – even at 4am when he’s decided its morning and wishes to play! But I digress… I have finally, after 8 months, had a trip to the theatre and it was much cause for celebration, so I thought I’d write you a review of the show I saw. ‘Mary Poppins’ is one of my most favourite musical films. Julie Andrews plays the role to perfection, even winning an Academy Award for her performance. It’s a film jam packed with cracking songs, just dying to be sung live in a theatrical arena. And finally it has made it..! ***THE THEATRE*** We in the West Country were very lucky to have the premiere of ‘Mary Poppins’ at the Bristol Hippodrome. It played here for 8 weeks to full capacity throughout its run. Now, sadly, the production has closed down as it is transferring to The Prince Edward Theatre in London’s West End opening just in time for Christmas. The Prince Edward Theatre is one of the newer theatres in the West End having opened in 1930. In fact there were four theatres – The Pheonix (Blood Brothers playing there at the moment), The Cambridge (Home to Jerry Springer – The Opera at the moment), The Whitehall (Currently under ...

greatgifts.org 22/11/2004

What do you get someone who has everything?

greatgifts.org It’s that time of the year when we all go a little bit mad about buying gifts for each other, wrapping them in brightly coloured paper, presenting them to each other on Christmas Day or thereabouts and then get completely fed up that we’ve been presented with yet ANOTHER pair of socks or undies and have received enough chocolate to start out as a competitor to the local shop. Some people are notoriously difficult to buy for. And as a man I am sad to say it is normally men that are the most difficult to cater for at Christmas time. We don’t know what we want – except that we DO know we DON’T require any more socks, pants or aftershave. So what do you get for the person who has absolutely everything and no idea of what they want for Christmas or in fact any other time… Follow me, O ye wonderous people of Ciao, to a website I’ve discovered that gives more than you could ever imagine for folk at Christmas, or indeed, any other time… ***AN ALTERNATIVE CHRISTMAS GIFT CATALOGUE*** The site is run by an international charity called World Vision, I already sponsor two children in Sri Lanka through them – the sponsor money goes not directly to the child, that wouldn’t be fair on those that are NOT sponsored, but rather goes to benefit the community as a whole. At the moment the money is being used to provide and stock a health clinic. When you arrive at the home page you are greeted by the World Vision logo next to a lamb surrounded by wrapping paper and gift tags. ...

Everything that starts with B ... 04/08/2004

Becoming a Dad..!

Everything that starts with B ... For those of you who don’t know it yet or haven’t (shame on you!) visited my Ciao pages recently you will have missed out on the BIG news. Jacob Paul – my son – arrived into the world at 00.11 on Monday 19th July 2004. I am now a truly, official, 100% proof, honest-to-God, Daddy. And I am delighted. But you can probably tell that already..! It’s been a hair-raising journey so far and I guess it will be well into the future too(!) but I thought, mad as I may well be, that you’d like to read some of my thoughts and ramblings on my journey into parenthood… I’ll not go into too many details about how to become a Daddy as I shall assume you know all the mechanics of that already and I am sure you don’t really want to read THAT much about my private life as I certainly don’t want to share that much with you, especially as you might have just eaten and I’d hate to be responsible for your food making a second appearance – suffice it to say that when you announce it to your parents it is very hard to look your Father-in-law in the eye and tell him his ‘little girl’ is pregnant as he will know full well what happened to get his ‘angel’ into that state…Ahem. I first found out that my wife, Jo, as pregnant after a fireworks display put on by the Scouts. She had texted me whilst I was there as she had stayed at home, feeling a little unwell. I’d like to say that I read the text whilst at the fireworks display and walked into the house to pick Jo up in a romantic ...

laithwaites.co.uk 14/06/2004

Pink Elephants Through The Post!

laithwaites.co.uk Jo and I have got two mega-huge celebrations this year. To be honest we’re having both reasons to celebrate in one weekend so the family don’t have to travel down to see us twice as it’s a long way from Chester and Lincoln to visit Wiltshire. You see Jo, my wife (Critchygirl!), is turning the BIG 3-0 this year and we need to have a fitting celebration for her three decades of life on this planet. A Combined with the weekend is the dedication of our little baby – depending on whether he or she has bothered to put in an appearance by then. By way of note he or she should have done so as the celebration date is set at four weeks after the agreed due date. So with family and friends coming down in droves we needed to make sure we had enough posh plonk to go round, hence we’ve joined one of the largest and best wine delivery companies in the United Kingdom. Jo and I are wine drinkers, although with Jo not having touched a drop of alcohol since last October I dread to think what she’ll be like after even a sniff of wine – we have our favourite brand and tend to stick to it. Jacob’s Creek seemed to be fitting the bill rather nicely until the pregnancy came along. We decided, therefore, that we needed to be a little more adventurous in our wine consumption and an offer that was too good to resist arrived with my O2 telephone bill inviting us to join laithwaites.co.uk ***LAITHWAITES*** Laithwaites is a dedicated internet wine merchant – for want of a better ...

Isle Of Wight Zoo, United Kingdom 14/06/2004

The Animal Fair Beside The Seaside.

Isle Of Wight Zoo, United Kingdom I’ve been on safari and it was a brilliantly, wonderful experience. To see a lion in its natural habitat (well as natural as you can get surrounded by 20 Nissan Minibuses) is amazing. To follow a mother Cheetah as she hunts down an Impala (antelope) for her cubs to eat was an awesome experience. To panic over how I will ever be able to afford the chance to see it all over again has me breaking out in a cold sweat. I know that the best place to see animals is in their natural habitat – been there and seen it – but it is also a worthwhile activity to see animals in a zoo as long as they are as well cared for as is humanly possible. Granted not as amazing as visiting Africa, but worthwhile for those who could never afford a safari experience. Visiting a zoo is a superb way of raising the awareness of our children – and of ourselves too – of the difficulties that animals face out is their habitat. Difficulties that we humans all too often cause. Zoos work hard for conservation matters too. Chester Zoo, for instance, recently had a Barn Owl conservation project, rearing baby owls and setting them free in area they could survive in. Zoos help us understand what we need to do to protect and save our planet and it’s most vulnerable animals. They might not be perfect – but they’re better than nothing. Thanks to my participation on a recent school trip – and after a visit to Brickfields Horse Country – we spent a morning at the Isle of Wight Zoo. And there wasn’t a ...

Blackadder - Complete (DVD) 12/06/2004

The Whole Damn Dynasty.

Blackadder - Complete (DVD) There are many things in life that are humorous – the tryouts for Pop Idol, for instance never fail to raise a smirk across the face of the nation, particularly when those who think they can sing and dance (yet can’t) are told to ‘get stuffed’. Humorous. The Situation Comedy or ‘sitcom’ is another of those things that when it works correctly is humorous. The great thing about ‘sitcoms’ though are that some people find others more funny than the rest. For example, the hysteria that surrounded ‘The Office’ totally passed me by, ‘Only Fools and Horses’ only rarely makes me smile. Whilst gems such as ‘Allo Allo’, ‘Open All Hours’, ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ and ‘Are You Being Served?’ regularly make me laugh out loud. Come with me now into the world of one of the best sitcoms ever created for the TV-viewing public. It’s a world of cunning plans, lies, deceit and cock-ups. It is the world of ‘The Black Adder’. ***THE COMPLETE BLACKADDER*** The Complete Blackadder is a four disc DVD box set of the four Blackadder series. The main box has carries four pictures of the different incarnations of Edmund Blackadder, the eponymous anti-hero of this King amongst sitcoms. Sliding out the inner case reveals the same pictures as the front of the box and it unfolds to form a cross in which the four DVD’s are held tightly in place in their own individual plastic casing. Underneath each DVD are the Episode guides and Chapter Headings for each episode. ***THE BLACK ...

10 Best Musicals 09/06/2004

From The Fingertips of a Compulsive Obsessive...

10 Best Musicals It had to happen didn’t it!!! You’ve read the endless reviews of the shows I’ve seen on stage and managed to crawl through them to live another day! My wife and I were even in London last weekend to meet friends and I was forbidden from taking Jo to see a show – but then seeing as she is incredibly pregnant at the moment all was forgiven – it pained me to walk past all the advertising posters glaring at me from every angle. I’ve not been to the theatre since February and though I have two shows booked (October 2004 and February 2005) I am suffering severely from withdrawal symptoms. Please help me. Now. As part of trying to combat the withdrawal pains and cold turkeyness of a none theatrical lifestyle for the best part of 4 months I thought I’d treat you to this trip through my 10 most favourite musicals. I feel like a Channel Four programme doing this – not the rude, voyeuristic type of show that lurks in the programming schedules of Four, but rather the endless run down of the ‘Top 100 Anything That Might Cause A Bit Of Interest’ sort of show. But I digress… ****THOSE THAT DIDN’T MAKE THE FINAL CUT**** It’s scary when I look at all the programmes from the shows I’ve seen and I’ve struggled immensely trying to cut the list down to my ‘Top Ten’ that I just had to include these shows that have just been nuzzled out of the way: JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOUR DREAMCOAT. Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Lyrics by Tim Rice. The first collaboration ...

Alien Quadrilogy (Box Set) (DVD) 29/04/2004

Xenomorphs Unite!

Alien Quadrilogy (Box Set) (DVD) A change for the 30th review from the fingertips of Critchyboy. 30 reviews in a just over a year, good grief how time flies! I’ve reviewed musicals with relentless zeal and with the next theatre outing booked for an evening in October and the next one for February 2005 I am having to broaden my horizons with my writing. You’ve lived through my fixation with ‘Futurama’ over four seasons worth of reviews, visited Kenya, Alton Towers and a Horse Farm on the Isle of Wight. We’ve travelled together on First Great Western and rented with Sixt and along the way you’ve had a few insights into what makes me tick. How different, therefore, could you get than the following review of the Science Fiction collection that is the ‘Alien Quadrilogy’ (is that even a word oh wise people of 20th Century Fox? Surely ‘tetra’ is next up from ‘tri’?). It’s time for a bug hunt! ***THE BOX SET*** The ‘Alien Quadrilogy’ (Certificate 18) is a beautifully packed collection of the four Alien films. Each film has its own disc with two versions of the film PLUS a disc of extras relating to that film along with a ninth disc of features thrown in for good measure. The outer casing of the set is made up of sturdy cardboard with a design of the all familiar alien egg under the title of the set. The egg is ominously opening from a crack at it’s base with a luminous lime green colour ‘oozing’ out before dissipating into the bluey-black background. (I never thought I’d use the word ...

Brickfields Horse Country, United Kingdom 27/04/2004

4 legs?! HORSE!

Brickfields Horse Country, United Kingdom “Oooh! Look it’s a horsie!” “Oooh! Ahhh! Isn’t he sweet?” “It’s a SHE actually!” I’ve just been helping out on a school trip to the Isle called Wight and listened to many of the above conversations from the girls aboard the coach who were very knowledgeable about equine matters. Year 5 & 6 children generally are knowledgeable about a particular subject and there were a number who were suitable gifted in horsey matters and were delighted to go to Brickfield’s Horse Country to see what they could see. Being a somewhat equine knowledgeably-challenged individual I can honestly say, after seeing that this was one place we would be stopping on our tour of the Island, I wasn’t terribly looking forward to it… ***GETTING THERE*** Hop on a ferry / fast ferry / hovercraft from Portsmouth or Southampton and within half an hour you’re there. Wightlink (www.wightlink.co.uk) are the biggest ferry operators with approximately 200 crossings a day and offer three routes onto the Island. For example: A sailing from Portsmouth to Fishbourne or Lymington to Yarmouth in the summer months will cost: Cars etc up to 6 meters in length £37.00 (Day Return), £57.10 (1 day – 1 month stay) and £80.80 (flexible return). Cars etc up to 6 meters in length plus a trailer £79.20 (Day Return), £98.00 (1 day – 1 month stay) and £123.20 (flexible return). Obviously prices are higher in peak times and it’s far cheaper without a caravan or trailer. It’s far cheaper too to take a ...

Everything that starts with T ... 25/02/2004

Tony's Trying Test!

Everything that starts with T ... An incredibly interesting challenge from the mind of milleniumzeus. Read on and I hope you find it interesting delving into the psyche of Critchyboy’s mind! Glory be… you are brave people! Part 1. Q1. What is your major pastime? Anyone who has read any of my reviews on this site will probably know that a major pastime of mine is going to the theatre! I love it. People at the top of their profession performing night after night and getting it so right every night I love the live spectacle of it and the story that comes across through music, lyric and movement. The story is the most important part, which is why I don’t rate Ben Elton’s musicals very highly on the plot side of things, because there isn’t one and for me a coherent storyline is incredibly important to my overall enjoyment of the evening. I also enjoy going out to the cinema with my wife or cuddling up on the sofa to a DVD from my stock of nearly 150! Though it is important that all these options are taken alongside either a wonderful meal out if we go to the theatre or cinema or a take-away – usually an Indian(!) – when we stay in. Both Jo and I are so busy with our jobs it is extra important for us to have these times together to keep our marriage secure. I’m pleased that our major pastimes are ones we can enjoy totally. Q2. What is your general self-concept/opinion of yourself? If you to have asked me this question a long time ago it would have been incredibly negative – ...

The Phantom Of The Opera / Her Majesty's Theatre, London 23/02/2004

Musical Ghoulies!

The Phantom Of The Opera / Her Majesty's Theatre, London This is it. This is most probably, but not definitely, just an incredibly slightly small, teensie-weensie chance, not a great huge chance mind you, but quite possibly the last visit to the theatre for quite some time. Actually I have no evidence to back that up and that’s probably the most ridiculous claim I’ve ever heard since Comfort launched their ‘fast-dry’ liquid, claiming it to be a revolution for the washing machine. Personally, I find clothes dry quicker either on an outside line, a radiator or even a tumble drier, and therefore I fail to accept the premise of a fast dry laundry softener… Anyhow I digress… Perhaps a better way of describing this is to say that there are no more theatre trips planned for the foreseeable future. The ever present prospect of becoming parents has given us far more to look forward too. Needless to say, however, that with ‘Mary Poppins’ and ‘The Producers’ on the way to the West End, my obsession with theatre will rear it’s head in the not too distant future. ***THE THEATRE*** The first theatre to be built on the site of ‘Her Majesty’s’ opened in 1705 and was named ‘The Queen’s’ with permission from Queen Anne. In 1711 Handel was employed as the resident composer and conducted his first opera ‘Rinaldo’ for the first time in this country. The theatre was renamed ‘The King’s Theatre’ in 1714 following the accession of King George I before it was destroyed by fire in 1789. Three years later a new ‘King’s Theatre’ ...

Thoroughly Modern Millie, London 17/02/2004

Totally Up-To-Date Tilly

Thoroughly Modern Millie, London “OK – baby is arriving in July, let’s make a list of the things we’d like to do together before I get too huge and round to do them and just go out and do it!” said my wife to me at the beginning of the year. “Sure, what’s first on the list?” I replied. “Go to New York and do that…actually no. If we go there we need to save up and do it properly and there’s no time for that.” “Fine – no New York then. Anything else?” I enquired. “I would love to go to see Amanda Holden in Thoroughly Modern Millie in the West End.” “OK. That’s settled then – anything else?” “Nope. I think that’ll do for now, that’s probably quite enough for you to be getting on with!” She’s getting more fanatical than me – I’m actually really rather worried… ***THE THEATRE*** The Princes Theatre was the last theatre to be built on Shaftesbury Avenue and it opened on Boxing Day in 1911 with a production of ‘The Three Muskateers’. It seems to be a relatively small theatre (though it seats 1404 people), nestled in a corner of the Avenue, but not small enough for Adele and Fred Astaire who performed 263 times in George Gershwins ‘Funny Face’ in 1928. It was renamed as The Shaftesbury Theatre in 1963 and has attracted names such as Eric Sykes, Ertha Kitt, French and Saunders and Eddie Izzard. Recently musicals have not done too well at the theatre, mostly because of critical maulings from the press with ‘Lautrec’ and ‘Napoleon’ two of the most notable flops. Fresh from its ...

Everything that starts with W ... 17/02/2004

My Wufferly Pufferly!

Everything that starts with W ... Loverly, loverly, musherly, wuvverly, cudderly, wudderly Love. Urgh! It strikes me that lurve more commonly called ‘LOVE’ is one of the most favourite subjects of the superstars of pop – they’re crazy about that ‘Little Thing Called Love’. ‘Do you Believe in Life After Love?’ After all, ‘Love is Only A Heartbeat Away.’ ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’ and find ‘Where is The Love’, I’ll have a ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’. ‘One Day I’ll Fly Away’, so ‘Tonight’s the Night’, but ‘How Do I Live without You?’ Instead of flying, ‘I’ll Stand By You’, so you know ‘Youy’ve Got a Friend’, and after all, ‘You Might Need Somebody.’ ‘There’s Something About the way You Look Tonight’, ‘Like a Candle in the Wind’ ‘You do Something to Me.’ ‘Everything I do, I do it For You’ because ‘You Are Always on my Mind.’ ‘Can you Feel the Love Tonight?’ As ‘I am Hopelessly Devoted to You.’ And ‘I’ve had the Time of my Life’ with you. ‘Are you Lonesome Tonight?’ If you are, ‘I will Always Love You’ but if you’re not you must have ‘Lost that Loving Feeling’. ‘Love, love changes Everything’, ‘Love Don’t cost a Thing.’ ‘Love is All Around Me.’ ‘My Heart will Go On’ ‘Sealed with a Kiss’ because ‘That’s the Power of Love’. Anyhows – on with the challenge set by Buenosdias in celebration of Valentine’s Day… Whadda ya mean that was last week? Darn it… 1. Describe your current relationship status: Totally and utterly happily married! Jo and I met at college and really rather fancied ...

Tonight's the Night, London 21/01/2004

Not Tonight! I've Got A Headache!!

Tonight's the Night, London How can I refuse when the wife says, “I’m working in London soon – shall I go to the half-price ticket booth in Leicester Square to get some theatre tickets for the evening?” She’s quick to learn my lass – or just incredibly good at pandering to my wants… I’d never thought that from our very first date as a bona fide couple to see ‘The Complete Works of Shakespeare’ by the Reduced Shakespeare Company up in Sheffield, she’d be so eager to keep going to the theatre! My ploy seems to be working and soon there’ll be another member of the family to educate!! Actually, it will probably be a member of the family through whom Daddy can live all his childhood dreams of being an actor on the West End stage..! Anyway – when theatre is suggested, you lot know I’m not one to refuse... That would be just plain rude! And so it came to pass that we went to see ‘Tonight’s the Night’ at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London’s West End. ***THE THEATRE*** The Victoria Palace Theatre is located on Victoria Street, London where there has been a theatre since 1832 long before London Victoria Station came into being. The first theatre, of sorts, to be built there was the Royal Standard Music Hall. When electricity arrived in the early 20th Century, drastic changes were made to the Music Hall – it was totally demolished and the Victoria Palace was built at a cost of £12,000. Many shows have been staged at this theatre over the years from the first revival of ‘Me and My ...

Cats / New London Theatre, London 06/01/2004

Jellicle Cats Come One, Come All!

Cats / New London Theatre, London I have finally succeeded in my attempts to pass on my love of theatre to my incredibly good and tolerant wife. In October 2003 she took me by surprise with following statement: “CATS is at the theatre in Oxford over Christmas. Shall we go and see it on Christmas Eve?” And with that – a rather loud and emphatic ‘YES’ from yours truly – I set about purchasing tickets for our Christmas treat… ***THE STORY*** Not much of a story to tell of, really. CATS is based on a collection of poems written and bound together in ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’ by T.S. Eliot. The show begins with an empty junkyard with oversized newspapers, beer cans, bottles and all sorts of other rubbish. As the overture begins, cats eyes appear around the stage and the tribe of the Jellicle Cats reunite on a very special night to celebrate their own abilities and quirks. The Jellicles seem nervous of the human audience at first and yet explain how they are named, each cat with three different names. Ever wondered why cats seem lost in thought? It is because they are contemplating their secret names… A young white cat by the name of ‘Victoria’ dances to show the beginning of the Jellicle Ball, whilst ‘Munkustrap’ explains that the Jellicles meet up once, every year, for this very Ball. They are waiting for their leader, ‘Old Dueteronomy’, to arrive and chose which cat will journey to the Heaviside Layer and be ‘reborn’ into a new Jellicle life. Several different cats make a ...
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