Oxjam: We’re off!

A packed ‘Unplugged’ event kicked off Oxjam Beeston 2017 on Saturday 1st July.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A supportive and enthusiastic audience appreciated the diversity of music on offer as well as the real ale, wine and curry provided by the good people of the Middle Street Resource Centre. All of the artists – folk-punk singer Paul Carbuncle, Hungarian folk-rock group ‘Foreign Accent’, Celtic tunesmiths Steve and Penny Benford and two generations of singer songwriters: Lucia Holmes and Colin Tucker – will be appearing at Takeover on 14 October. For pictures, video-clips and a more detailed review of the evening, visit the Oxjam Beeston website (www.oxjambeeston.org) or our Facebook page. ‘Unplugged’ was a joint event between Oxjam and Beeston Community Resource/MINDSET.

If you visited the brilliant Beeston Carnival you may well have seen Oxjam there too with a stall offering  free goodies, flyers for our various events, tickets and, of course, some live music.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We are currently seeking sponsors for the Festival. Businesses large and small can become sponsors – we’re glad to say ‘The Star’ and C P Walker have signed up to be major sponsors – others so far include PN Design, The Breeze, Cllr Kate Foale (grant from Divisional Fund) and Second Time Around Folk Club. If you are a large business, maybe you can sponsor a Takeover stage or one of our separate fund-raising events. Small businesses and individuals can become a ‘Friend of Oxjam’ by making a donation of as little as £50. Go to our website and look at the Sponsorship Prospectus. www.oxjambeeston.org The more we can raise from sponsorship, the more we can raise for Oxfam! 2017 COULD be our best ever!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We are also beginning to sign up volunteers to help out on Takeover day (14 October). Go to our website and complete the form.

Want to perform at Oxjam 2017? Venues are being finalised at the time of writing – go to the website for the latest information. Although technically, ‘registration’ for artists closed on 14 July, we will continue to accept registrations for several weeks. We are looking for performers of all sorts of music: rock, rap, ‘covers’, indie, punk, blues, folk, metal, jazz, funk and punk – anything, in fact, performed by any size combo from solo acoustic to loud rock and large community choirs. Again, visit the website!

Events – ADDITIONAL – Rock Night at The Greyhound with The Madeline Rust and friends, Sunday 6 August – £3 on the door – check website or Facebook event for details.

TAKEOVER – Saturday 14 October – to include acoustic/semi-acoustic acts and a special choir event at Beeston Methodist Church, Chilwell Road in the afternoon; heavier acts + some semi-acoustic ones + DJs in the evening. £8 ‘early-bird’ (£10 on the day) ADDITIONAL – we have a special ‘Operatic Arias’ concert on Takeover night (7.30 – 9.30) at the Parish Church (NB SEPARATE TICKET REQUIRED – £10 and concessions)

Classical Oxjam – Saturday 11 November – Parish Church – £8 and concessions

Oxjam Ceilidh – Friday 24 November – Royal British Legion Social Club – £10 (half-price for youngsters).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

All tickets are available from Oxfam Books and Music and online from www.wegottickets.com (+ 10% booking fee); Takeover and Classical tickets also available from Guitar Spot; Operatic Arias tickets also from John Kirk Hi-Fi.

www.oxjambeeston.org

 

Vice Squad Storm the Beeston Greyhound

You might wonder which is more surprising, that Vice Squad are playing in Beeston, or that it is free.

Vice Squad 2

But the fact that punk superheroine Beki Bondage gives the town its first notable punk gig since Flux of Pink Indians and The Fits played The Shed in October 1981, surely warrants compulsory attendance. Beki (Rebecca Bond) is notable for many things – touring the USA with Social Distortion and Discharge in 1982, releasing the sparkling single in ’82’s Out of Reach, Stand Strong, Stand Proud the same year, and writing Latex Love as a 14 year-old and still performing it in her 50’s. But of all these things, we should give her most credit for trekking the world, delivering rousing chorus-led shows to balding, middle-aged men, nodding their heads to the soundtrack of their youth. And as any of those elite fans would testify, Beki has channelled her desire to be Lita Ford into a productive, varied output that is received tonight by a vibrant crowd. The set spans 2014’s Punk Police from the Cardboard City LP, Upright Citizen from ‘82’s State of the Nation ep, 2006’s Defiant, Stuck in Reverse from the Punk Rock Radio album, and of course Stand Strong, which Beki assures us is ‘as relevant as ever.’

The post-apocalyptic ‘I’m too young to die/too late to live’ Last Rockers from the 1980 fledgling-Squad’s debut is the one everyone loves – the sooner she realises the musical world ended in 1984 and real fans don’t want new songs, the better! Her crowd-rousing ‘Oi, Oi, Oi’ chant (handing the mike to the crowd for them to reciprocate) is frankly cringe worthy, as is the bassist’s inflated Kiss-style stage routine, and the guitarist’s ‘I’m so crazy’ demeanour. As the sole surviving member of the original band, Beki is frozen in time, and a slew of albums under the reformed post-1997 ‘Vice Squad’ won’t release her from the UK82 tag she hauls from country to country. Yet it’s easy to see why Ms Bond and co. would play the Beeston Greyhound, with its obvious rock-vibe, but a shame that a band she formed as a Bristol punkette in 1978, rarely moves beyond a crowd of 50 diehards who’ve seen her play 30+ times alongside their reluctant girlfriends. The band makes scant new fans along the way, nor wins points for sophistication – after all it’s Vice Squad, not Tuxedomoon for goodness sake – but as music journo Gary Bushell always said of this genre of noise, ‘it’s the sound of the streets.’ Still, tonight’s gig was well appreciated by the jaded punk undead and bemused onlookers of Beeston and it’s fair to say, it was worth every penny…

DB

Beeston Beats: Of Greek Food and Gin

A few months ago a friend and I decided that some Mediterranean inspired food was in order to brush off those post-holiday blues, and with empty tummies we trundled off into Beeston looking for something tasty to fill our bellies.

Gin

I’ll never forget that Monday evening, we passed so many closed eateries. It was looking hopeless, and just before we resigned to settling for a takeaway, we made it to Wollaton Road. Thankfully ‘Yiannis’ Greek restaurant was open. Little did we know that we were stumbling upon a future development and another exciting new venue.

The food served within was fantastic. It was no surprise that the restaurant seemed full to capacity within an hour of us being seated. At the end of service Yiannis came across to speak to us. He told us about the conversion that was due to take place in the ‘then’ back room of his restaurant. In a few months’ time, this was to become the new gin bar. I was invited back with co-beats writer Lulu to review the venue once open. Naturally we also took the opportunity to speak to Yiannis about how the bar came to fruition.

The concept for the Gin bar was adopted after Yiannis visited London on a social venture. Gin bars, just like brioche buns and cereal cafes, were the order of the day. Wanting to bring a bit of that back to Beeston, initially the idea was to convert the restaurant in its entirety into the Gin bar, but after some customer feedback a 50:50 combo of restaurant and gin bar was settled.

The gin bar can only be described as a Narnia like gem. You traverse the bright and cheery Mediterranean restaurant front, to an opening leading into the venue located within the building’s posterior. Art deco and shabby chic surrounds are the order of the day.

There are approximately 30 different gins on offer, some from distilleries as local as Loughborough.

On one side, we have the wall of ‘eras’ which will have a corresponding cocktail menu (comprising 5 choices for each) to represent each period in time. Along this wall we can travel through time in aesthetic and alcohol from the 1920’s Prohibition era right up to the present day.

The music was pleasant and sat perfectly in the background allowing space for conversation. The staff members were excellent at engaging with people and encouraging interactions. We sat for a while taking in the atmosphere. This is the kind of place to go to when you want a nice drink, in nice surrounds to enjoy the artistry of the beverage in front of you. Definitely a quality and not quantity venue.

From speaking to Yiannis it was clear he had spent a lot of time not only doing his research, but also engaging with and supporting nearby businesses. Many of the products in stock were locally sourced and of good quality, strictly no draft on tap.

Glass

There are approximately 30 different gins on offer, some from distilleries as local as Loughborough. Feeling spoilt for choice I decided to take the plunge and ask for a surprise. I was presented with a gin Mare embellished with botanicals. All the accompaniments were fresh and complemented the drink perfectly.

Although the venue is in its infancy Yiannis isn’t short of plans to keep the venue interesting and dynamic, ranging from; mixing up new cocktails and gin combinations, to altering the bar aesthetics until the most socially favourable arrangement is found.

At present the bar is open from 5.30pm Monday through to Saturday with last orders served at 11pm. Lunchtime opening is in the pipeline with intent to use the space as a strawberries and prosecco bar. In the meantime though, the gin bar is off to a good start, and if anybody is as passionate about cocktails as Yiannis, a mixologist position is open for a reliable and passionate individual.

 DB

Oxjam 2017: We’re on our way!

This year’s ‘Oxjam Beeston Takeover’ will be on Saturday 14th October – please put that on your calendar!

A strong team of volunteers is in the early stages of planning that big money-raising event in aid of OXFAM – meanwhile, our first event is ‘Oxjam Unplugged’ at the Middle Street Resource Centre on Saturday 1 July. Last year was the first time we’d staged this and it was so successful we thought we’d do it again!

Back after making a big impact last year is the stupendous folk-punk phenomenon, Paul Carbuncle, playing trad folk like you’ve never heard it – original songs too.

We’ll also get to hear the band ‘Foreign Accent’, playing Hungarian semi-acoustic folk rock (they’re great!) with support from Steve and Penny Benford (beautiful Celtic tunes on flute, guitar and banjo), young local singer-songwriter, Lucia Holmes and singer and host, Colin Tucker.

Tickets are £6 and you can get them from the Resource Centre itself, Oxfam Books and Music, Beeston or online from wegottickets (+60p booking fee). There will be a Licensed Bar and food will available. The Centre is just a six-minute walk from Tesco’s/The White Lion – if you’re coming from further afield, trams and buses stop outside and there is some limited car parking on site.

BANDS/SINGERS/MUSICIANS – if you want to play this year’s ‘Takeover’, check our website www.oxjambeeston.org as registration will be opening soon.

CT

Clive James: secret lyricist!

Aussie broadcaster Clive James is highly respected for a body of work that spans quirky ‘chat shows’, travel documentaries, TV criticism, opinion pieces, volumes of autobiography, social and cultural commentary and critically-acclaimed poetry.

Oddly, he is least well-known for something he has been doing for fifty years: writing songs, or, more precisely, writing the lyrics for songs that, since they met at university in 1967, have been set to music by Pete Atkin. Between them they have produced a dozen albums of songs in two ‘waves’: firstly, in the late-sixties and seventies and then, following a revival of interest, in the late-nineties and noughties. Their last album – and, due to Clive’s failing health, it will literally be the ‘last’ – was ‘The Colours of the Night’ in 2015. The songs deal with a range of subjects and the music is equally diverse and hard to categorise: in turn, melodic, bluesy, jazzy, ‘tin-pan-alley’, delicate, brash.

A lyric is looking for its music, while a poem has already found it

Of the song-writing process, Pete says: “Clive and I have a shared fascination with the mysterious way in which words and music can work together: how music and words together can add up to something different from what each amounts to on its own.” It’s tempting to see these songs as poems set to music but Clive is adamant that there is a distinction between lyrics and poetry: “A lyric is looking for its music,” says Clive, “while a poem has already found it.”

Pete Atkin is appearing at Beeston’s own ‘Second Time Around Folk Club’ in the room above The White Lion on Friday 30th June for what will be an intimate and exclusive gig. This event is sold out – email colintucker18@gmail.com for cancellations.

CT

Beeston Ceilidh

Kay-leeee

Here at Beeston Beats we don’t do things by halves, (usually pints are the weapon of choice). Me and fellow Beatsonite,  Miss Donna Bentley, relentlessly trawled through  the Beeston entertainment listings before finally homing in on an upcoming event at Attenborough’s village hall.

For those not in the know, a ceilidh (celi or Highland fling), pronounced Kay-Lee is a sort of barn dance and not the 1984 song by Marillion, All together now…“Kayleigh is it too late to say I’m sorry? And Kayleigh could we get it together again?”  Nope? Ask ya mum.

The premise is simple: a social event with Scottish or Irish folk music with traditional dancing (grab ya partner, dosey doe and all that malarkey).  Sounds straight forward enough. Having never been to an event at the hall and still having my ceilidh virgin plates firmly attached, decisions were made and tickets were booked, Priced at a reasonable fiver – bring a bottle and including supper – while profits went towards St Mary’s Church fund, the evening was a bargain.

Wearing a silly hat I got free at a bar, I was feeling all ready to take on the shindig.

The night in question was St Patrick’s; after spending the day in Nottingham watching the parade and wearing a silly hat I got free at a bar, I was feeling all ready to take on the shindig. On arrival the hall was packed to the rafters  with only space in the room at the back to find a seat, adamant that a few  drops of alkimihol was needed before my pins hit the dance floor. Which leads me nicely to a quick confession: I struggle with choreographed dancing. You name it – the cha cha slide, time warp, Macarena, and even the ponytailed Whigfield’s simplistic dance for Saturday night – it leaves me quite honestly puddled, exhausted and confused.  Mixing up mi lefts with mi rights I usually tend to copy the person closest to me just to survive the incident without huge embarrassment. If that person is like me I dread to think about the outcome…

Luckily enough, the night catered for people with dancing dyslexia like me, with slow and clear instructions from the “caller” tactfully adapting to those more skilled in the dance and those with the grace and etiquette of a merry moose. Merry being the operative word as I had awkwardly supped away through a bottle of the nearest garage’s finest wine (on offer at a bargain of two for a fiver of course), a taste sensation, with nutty hints of paint stripper, methylated spirits and an oaky musk of dank cellar.

Providing the musical accompaniment for the night were south Nottingham band ‘Fiddle Factor’, a group of family and friends  dedicated to enhancing the experience through a back drop of fiddly  Irish folky tunes through the medium of violin, flutes and even on occasion bagpipes.

After checking out some dance routines on Scottish dance net previously, I was relieved more advance moves such as the Virginia reel, Swedish masquerade, or the sausage machine, were left out:  the mind boggles, as me mam would say.

The main objective of the ceilidh is to have fun and not fall on ya bum which I managed to achieve in both parts. Would I go again? Of course, good friends and helping a good cause while having a laugh is what it’s all about.  Also there was cake, chocolate cake and  a supper of a yummy filled roll and coleslaw side.(It really was all about the cake though.)

Next issue, Donna takes the helm of the good ship Beeston Beats as I am off to become a pirate keeping the look out at Beeston Marina Company as we sip rum and fight seagulls for our supper. Ooooo arrrrr!

LD

String Theory: Carmen Flores and the Villiers Quartet

We meet 25% of an exciting new musical venture…

CarmenViolaphoto (1)

Carmen Flores isn’t the most typical Beestonian. First there’s the Californian accent, which sounds like music compared to the snuffly vowels of my East Midlands voice. Then there’s her profession: a classical musician of rapidly growing renown, and 25% of the Villiers String Quartet, a group of recently relocated musicians who attracting plaudits on the classic music scene.

From a musical family – her mum taught piano and her dad ran the local church choir – she started on the violin at age six and never looked back. She was recruited to San Diego’s Youth Symphony Orchestra. “Being part of an orchestra is incredibly enlightening. It’s like being part of a strange UN, with different states with different interests having to work together to ensure common goals. It requires huge discipline, selflessness and more than hard work. It’s a slog.” Graduating with a degree in music, she set out to pursue a music career. “You do everything you can to cut your teeth. You have to absorb so much”.

She then met Dan, a Beestonian working in London, when the two were both visiting the Philippines. They fell in love, and looked to find somewhere to be together. California’s loss was the UK’s gain.

“I moved to London in 2005 after meeting my husband,” she explains. “It was tough at first: I had no connections in music but would audition relentlessly.” Eventually she was offered a role in the Birmingham Royal Ballet Orchestra, a role she still has, but it was meeting three like-minded souls in 2011, violinists James Dickenson and Tamaki Higashi and cellist Nick Stringfellow, that she found her true calling. They bonded over their love of chamber music and decided to form a string quartet. The Villiers Quartet was born. “A quartet is essentially a conversation between four people. It isn’t easy to find that right mix, that balance, but we have found it”.

Their talent was rapidly picked up on. Offers to play concerts, festivals and even BBC Radio 3 flooded in, as well as rave reviews for their debut CD The Complete Quartets of Robert Still. It might sound strange that during these days of rave reviews and burgeoning attention, they decided to leave London.

“The other members, for various reasons, wanted to move to Market Harborough. So I moved to Beeston 3 years ago. My husband Dan decided he wanted to set up his own business and move back to where he grew up. It’s a place to bring up children, a kinder, calmer lifestyle than London.”

Nottingham has proved fascinating. There is a real creative buzz right now, and we’re loving being part of it”

The move provoked a change of emphasis. “We thought about location; how does it influence your work? If you look at the Lindsay Quartet, you can clearly hear the way their Sheffield setting seeps into their work. Getting out of London meant a chance to explore a new vernacular. Nottingham has proved fascinating. There is a real creative buzz right now, and we’re loving being part of it”. Yet it’s not a one-way street. What they take in influence, they reflect in a desire to bring music to communities, areas that previously might be denied such art. “Community is important. We want to teach others, become a community quartet and inspire people to pick up an instrument.” A residency at Nottingham High School followed, and a new CD release of Peter Racine Fricker’s Quartets has received great reviews. They also provided the music for the recent TV adaptation of DH Lawrences Lady Chatterley’s Lover, which is possibly as Nottingham as it comes.

We’re dead lucky to have such a talented bunch of musicians in our midst, and their ambitions to be an integral, active part of Beeston’s cultural fabric isn’t just testament to our present state as an ideal home for creatives, but for a future of beautiful music, elegiacally sweeping just up the road from the Vic.

http://www.villiersquartet.com/

Oxjam…They Think It’s All Over

Why,  you may very well ask, is someone still going on about ‘Oxjam’ in January? Wasn’t that all done and dusted months ago?

Certainly the highest profile event – the ‘Takeover’ – was in mid-October but there was another event – quite a lucrative one – in November (‘Classical Oxjam’) and then it has taken ages to gather in all donations and sponsorships, the last one not appearing in our account until 23 December. It was therefore not ’til early January that we could say with certainty that we’d accounted for everything and paid over a nice big chunk of dosh to Oxfam.

You probably already know that our final total in 2016 was a not-to-be-sniffed-at £14 thousand (£14,020 to be precise) which we were able to announce in early December because we knew of money coming our way even though it hadn’t been paid in. To set it in a national context, that was the second highest amount raised in the whole of the country – in fact, in the last three years, Oxjam Beeston has been in the ‘top three’ every year (2014: 3rd, 2015: 1st, 2016: 2nd). Not that it’s about competing but it does indicate that Oxjam Beeston is just about the biggest Oxjam Festival, consistently, in the UK.

After six years – and more than £60,000 raised for Oxfam – Beeston has become used to the Festival – and ‘Takeover’ in particular – as a unique and much-anticipated community event. But like the Carnival. ‘Party in the Park’, Christmas lights switch-on and, most topically, The Chinese New Year Celebration, it can’t be taken for granted. As we all know, and as we have seen, the Borough Council has no funds to pay for these kinds of events – who knows how the arms-length company, Liberty Leisure, will handle anything like this going forward?

‘The Party in the Park’ 2016 was heavily sponsored to make it feasible and happily the weather was kind to the Council and all of us. As for the others, they are either run by volunteers or at the mercy of empty coffers at the Council and in neither case can they be taken for granted. This is very sad, of course, and extremely short-sighted of whoever is responsible, be they local or national politicians. It isn’t just about giving people a great time, the Oxjam Takeover, for one, clearly brings in people to the town who are in celebratory and generous mood. Local venues and traders are keen to be involved and happy to welcome paying customers, whether they are buying drinks or food, even if they are not directly involved.

So what of Oxjam Beeston 2017? I have made it clear that I will NOT be the so-called ‘Takeover Manager’ this year, although I do hope to run one or two of the ancillary fund-raising events. Perhaps others of you out there might also consider getting involved as ‘gig makers’ (as Oxjam calls them) that is organisers of one-off fund-raising events. However, if there is going to be the ‘jewel-in-the-crown’ Takeover event, someone with the time, skills  and energy to commit to the project needs to step forward.

Otherwise, folks, it ain’t gonna happen! And then, we will sadly be able to complete the phrase “They think it’s all over – it is now!” Let’s hope not.

Colin Tucker

Anybody wishing to know more is welcome to contact Colin by email – colintucker18@gmail.com

Berliner Bubbles

Ey yup Beestonites, don’t you just love the New Year?

The new found gym bunnies are slogging it away for a few weeks pounding away those turkey/biscuit/ and/or pudding pounds, leaving the pubs and bars virtually secluded: no waiting for Dave and the office lot to make up their mind on their tipple of choice during their annual excursion to the local boozeries.

There’s also a mad scramble of offers to lure us into eateries – ten pounds off here, get a free 10p sweetie mix there and luckily for us even brand spanking new establishments for our leisure pleasure.

First on the agenda, The Berliner, located on the high road. Local lads James and James of the Froth coffee shop venture have yet again joined forces to bring you a venue which combines two great foodstuffs, pizza and err cocktails with a dash of live music in the form of late night deejays and live bands in the pipeline. Achingly trendy the bar’s decor is inspired by trips to Berlin aiming to provide a hangout for students and shoppers alike.

Myself and newbie Beeston Beats fellow contributor Donna Bentley, headed off to perform an undercover report with two accounts of the same bar – that’s twice the feedback without leaving your armchair. While I supped away on a few cheeky cocktails, Donna actually did some reviewing…. The mid-January lull has hit hard. Payday seems an unreasonable number of miles away, and the dark evenings still creep up on us like the bogey man. In amongst the lingering sense of January malaise I had a bit of respite as I was quite excited to learn of a new venue arriving in Beeston.

I saw this as chance to break up the usual routine of real ale pubs. As much as I love nothing more than a craft beer and a scotch egg (or several, as determined by the magnitude of beer consumption), it’s not always what I am in the mood for. Beeston needed something new.

So, furnished with a fresh 20 in my pocket I wandered out into the evening chill and headed (with Lulu) towards Chilwell High Road, filled with curious anticipation. As we entered the bar I immediately felt the buzz. The place already looked well established and distinctly reminded me of the vibe you get when out in the city.This place was most certainly fresh and edgy, a welcome break from the plethora of traditional pubs that dominates the Beeston drinking scene.

I had the privilege of being away some time in Berlin, and could clearly see where the inspiration for the bar came from: creative, contemporary décor, with a bit of cool thrown in for good measure. The Berliner seemed like an oasis of fresh vibe and activity when compared with the calm quiet of the night outside. It almost didn’t seem to fit into Beeston, but I was very glad it was there. The crowd was full of new faces, with a diverse and refreshing age range of clientele. I clocked the D.j setting up in the corner and wondered what the order of the day was in terms of music. The smell of pizza was incredibly alluring, but I refrained.

This challenge, a raging battle between my stomach and my brain, (which was also in conflict with itself) was exacerbated when I noticed several tables furnished with punters all enjoying the pizza. I really did feel tempted. I stayed strong and made a mental note to come back for the 2 for 1 pizza deal before 5pm.

As we got to the bar we realised that we had arrived at 8.45pm, just in time to take advantage of the cocktail happy hour: 2 cocktails for £8 before 9pm – it seemed impolite not to. The bar was busy, but it was also very well staffed and we managed to get both our drinks orders in, just in time.The cocktail menu comprised of some well-known old favourites and a few newbies, with the addition of the Long Eaton Ice Tea, presumably a fresh spin on an old classic.

I wasn’t quite sure what a Bubble Bath was but Lulu and I decided to take the plunge, and so round 1 was bought. Getting distracted by the hub of the bar I didn’t notice what exactly went into a Bubble Bath. I snapped back to attention when a nice lady in the queue allowed me to jump in front.

An order for a Long Eaton Ice Tea was made and Lulu and I challenged the bar staff to a cocktail shake-off. Drinks were made in a timely manner and it wasn’t long before the Bubble Bath, complete with passion fruit float, was catching the eyes of nearby bystanders. By which time, the DJ was set up and ready to go. Mellow house music filled the bar. The volume was audible but not so loud to the point where you couldn’t talk.

Drinks were going down well and the evening was lost in conversation. Overall if you haven’t yet had a chance to get to the Berliner, the upcoming ‘unlimited pizza’ nights and cocktail masterclass alone are valid reasons; add on live bands and acts and we definitely recommend you pay the bar a visit. Lulus input- ‘ummm Bubble Bath cocktail nom nom (reads cocktail menu) wait a min RAW EGG??

Better line us up another Long Eaton Ice Tea…

Lulu

Beeston Musical Theatre

I got a text from my partner the night before. “Do you want to go and see The Wedding Singer tomorrow?” For a brief second I wondered was there some special showing of the film? Was it an anniversary edition, director’s cut? Then I remembered. No. It’s a musical version.

My better half was excited. She had a friend in the production and so, being the dutiful boyfriend, I obviously agreed. Okay, I said with a slightly sinking heart. Let’s go.

Forgive me people. I’m not usually so close-minded. It’s just musicals make me a bit, well, violent. Towards myself, not others, but violent none the less. Whether it’s Grease (which makes me want to hide), Mary Poppins (which makes me want to bash my brains in) or Mamma Mia (which makes me want to rip out my eyes and stuff them in any orifice capable of receiving sound) I just can’t get on with them. To this day the only musicals I’ve ever been able to stand have had Muppets in them. Sorry.

Okay so with all that bearing in mind I sat down to The Beeston Musical Theatre production of The Wedding Singer with just a little trepidation. I had actually commissioned another writer to go the day before but he had at the last minute been unable to do so. Curse him, I thought, smiling widely at my girlfriend. Next issue I’ll make him write about public toilets.

Then the curtains were drawn and it began.

Right so I’ll forgo any suspense. It was brilliant. I mean properly brilliant. I laughed like a loon, nodded along to the songs, my heart was warmed in the final act. This was a performance which, as soon as it ended, I would have happily stayed sat and waited for the curtains to come back up again. Though I think that would have been a terrible strain on the actors.

First of all let’s talk about the actors. The musical was led by Chris Bryan as Robbie Hart (Adam Sandler in the film) and Claire Rybicki as Julia Sullivan (Drew Barrymore). They looked young. Early twenties I thought. But God damn could they sing! Not just sing. Sing and act and dance. Chris was a perfect Adam Sandler replacement, not copying Sandler’s performance exactly, but adapting it. And the same could be said for Claire. I found them both captivating.

Furthermore the rest of the cast were equally talented. Zoe Brinklow, who played Julia’s best friend Holly, had an exceptional voice and David Hurt, who played Simply Wed keyboardist George, almost stole the show with his flamboyant performance. Finally, for those who remember the film, the various comic references to the 80’s in which the film is set were absolutely spot on.  The hair, the clothes, the music, the set design, it was all superb.

I had an absolute blast and I can’t wait to see another of their shows in the New Year. Shows confirmed so far are All Shook Up (tickets are already available!) about a guitar-playing roustabout in the 1950s who turns a little American town all upside down, and Spamalot, the Monty Python classic.

http://www.bmtg.org.uk/

Christian Fox

Contact Us
I agree to the Beestonian using my data to process this order as per their Privacy Policy. I also understand that the Beestonian will send one e-mail letting me know when new editions are published. I understand I can opt out at any time by using the 'unsubscribe' link.
reCAPTCHA

BEESTLY TWEETS: