REVIEW: Calamity Jane (2014 – 2015 UK Tour)

I’ve debated whether or not to write this review, as I strongly believe in two principles – the industry needs to stop talking theatre ‘down’ and that you should always write an honest review,

With those at the forefront of my mind, this is my review of Calamity Jane (2015 tour) – as viewed at Manchester’s Palace Theatre on Tuesday 24th March from row F in the stalls.

My partner, Max, and I decided that we wanted to see this production, based on the wildly popular film version, staring Doris Day. I drag Max to a lot, but I attended this one purely for him.

Unfortunately, it was Calamity by name, Calamity by lead casting in my opinion.

Listed below are a few of the ‘more serious’ issues that I had with the production:

  • Jodie Prenger’s accent was diabolical. Her singing voice was much too strong and far too raspy for the production too.
  • The storyline was not effectively communicated – especially the first thirty minutes.

I review a lot of musical theatre and would like to think that I know my stuff when it comes to embracing a wide and varied array of songs from musical theatre, so please don’t shoot me down on the basis of ignorance – personally, the songs in this show are not really my style of musical (nobody’s fault).

On the balance of fairness, this show is getting very solid and great reviews from other reviewers and news publications.

Additionally, at 30 years old, I did seem to be one of the younger members of the audience that evening – older generations could be heard commenting on ‘how wonderful’ it was during the interval.

I did very much appreciate the musical talents of the cast – most people were able to play multiple instruments, act and sing – a rarity in this day and age on our regional stages. The production is definitely to be praised for this.

I know I’m probably going to get trolled to death, but I’m nothing if not honest – I value the integrity of my reviewing over being a crowd pleaser – sorry if that rubs you up the wrong way.

Perhaps I’ve just seen too much in my time, and consequently have set the bar a little high…


Life Update: Sunday 22 March 2015

Been a while since I was self-indulgent, so I figured that I’d put fingers to keys again, and break that up a bit! :)

I can’t remember when I last did an update, but I’d say reading my Bandanas For Brain Tumours Day and Engaged posts are probably a good places to start if you’re looking to catch up.

Health wise, I’m still plodding along as usual, my next scan isn’t until the end of April, and this early on, I’d expect it to be clear again – no drama there, though I do find that I still get times at night if I’m in bed alone and it’s quiet that the magnitude of what I’ve been through hits me unexpectedly.

10410336_10152683869052681_8458028797759194460_nI’m in a very good place at the moment – happy thanks to my engagement news and I’ve had a really decent month at work – planned and executed two successful events, bonus, pay rise, and, most importantly, feel that I’ve found a way to connect with my colleagues and feel a lot less alien/shy in my return to work. At home, everything is pretty loved up, finally our carpet from John Lewis has been laid (4 months late), we’ve had delivery of our new car, and had the installation of our solar panels. Max also spent yesterday planting a lovely back garden for us to enjoy. So yeah, life is good.

It was Max’s birthday on Friday, and whilst it was tough to compete with what his Mum sent him (a wooden spoon, two years ago he got a bucket), I think that I did good ;) He got a personalised wine glass, a personalised baking apron, tickets to see his favourite show (Mary Poppins) AND I’m taking him to Moomin Land, somewhere he’s always wanted to go to!

I DEFY you not to sing along!!!!

Looking ahead to April, and I have a pretty quiet month – wedding planing (we’re going for nothing OTT, aren’t guest lists hard?!), we’re off to a friend’s wedding for one weekend and I’m seeing a few regional theatre shows, though nothing exciting, such is the state of the UK touring calendar this year.

Interested in hearing what everyone else has been up to – drop me a comment!


If you follow me on social media, I apologise that you’ve probably not heard anything but this from me and Max this week.

In case you somehow missed our big news:

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 14.49.20

Almost sadly, I only lost one ‘friend’ with this announcement – know that I’m not top of the attractive market, but I had hoped to make more of an impact ;)

Seriously though, I’ve never felt as loved as I have this past week, what with my charity fundraising at work last Friday, and the engagement which actually happened last Sunday. Thank you guys and gals – forever with me!

Having had Brain Cancer, you get to know someone incredibly well, and you quickly find out what they really feel about you. Max was my total rock through this past year  – he did so much and asked for so little back. Of course it was a very difficult time for both of us, perhaps the worst we’ll face in life together, and the way that he came through it was admirable. Genuinely, I’ve never had anyone watching my back as much as Max has. The unwavering support has only strengthened our relationship. I gave him an out when he first came to visit me in hospital, and he wouldn’t hear a word of it, despite knowing we were in for a rough ride.

Our First Weekend Together
Our First Weekend Together
Eurovision 2011

In terms of how we met, it was the most amazing chance of timing – scarily so!

In 2011, I was living in London, and it was the day before the Royal Wedding. At the time, I was living in Vauxhall, literally just around the corner from Westminster Abbey. Having nobody to go with to watch it ‘live’, it felt so culturally wrong to have such an event on my doorstep and to stay and watch it on TV. So, I posted a tweet asking who would let me come to theirs to watch it, not expecting anything to come from it, then, Max replied! It’s been rather fun sharing an ‘anniversary’ with Prince William and Kate – 29 April 2011 :D

Whilst searching for the original tweet, I came across loads of other lovely ones from when we were dating in 2011. which really made me smile – a nice trip down memory lane, back to ‘simpler’ times.

I think that we’ve both known, for a long while, that we’d be getting married. It’s been one of those ‘perfect match’ sort of couplings. Really, the actual asking was just a polite formality really. I told Max that he had to ask, as I know I can be a massive pain in the arse at times, so wanted to be 100% that he wanted to rather than just wanting for me to be happy :) In fact, we honestly just ‘agreed’ in a conversation post-afteroon-nap.  I know that’ll seem weird to people, but to me, it was just perfect – no big deal and just part of the day – really shows how mature, ready and right this is for our relationship.

For close friends and family who we invite to the ceremony, it’s likely to be a local country registry office, followed by pub lunch, and though formal wear is requested, it’s nowhere to the level of suits, expensive dresses and hats. We’re just two people who want to get married and not have a massive song and dance about it / pretend we’re people we’re not.

Evening will be a more open-ended invitation and probably involve music and dancing at our local pub – again, no point spending thousands on a venue, when you can stay local, not get ripped off for drinks, and stumble home to your own bed after!

I’m sure that some people will be horrified at this, but in reality, we’re both doing what we want, which is getting married, all the fluff just is unnecessary and expensive to us. Strip away the unnecessary and you can easily afford a wedding that you want and have it sooner than people who save up for years to do it. It’s 24 hours. Your wedding day should be special, yes, but so should the other 364 days of the year!

As we’ve recently moved house and started ‘fresh’, there’s unlikely to be anything as garish as a Wedding List. We’d happily accept donations towards a honeymoon, and then, only if people feel genuinely financially able to (we’re thinking that we want to go back to Tromsø, Arctic Norway), but by no means do we want any expenditure on, or indeed, need, any physical gifts.

So, there you have it, a traditional wedding that sounds anything but what has come to be a traditional wedding these days.

Still loads to sort out, date, venue, guest lists etc. but hey, it’s only been a week!!!

Max and I do both want to say, however, a HUGE thank you to everyone who has given us their best wishes this week. Genuinely, we’re both really happy, though we haven’t told Fudge and Pearl they’re not ring bearers, yet!

Sister, Angela texting regarding my niece, Lanah (9) and nephew, Elliot (8): 

I told the kids this morning that Uncle Gari was getting married and they were both SO excited. Talking outfits for the big day and Lanah wants a new dress with heels (!!!!) and Elliot asked if Fudge and Pearl can wear the same shirt and tie as him?!?! Strange children, don’t know where they get it from :P xx


Bandanas for Brain Tumours Day 2015

Yesterday, I did something that I’ve never done before – I organised a charity ‘event’.

IMG_0055Friday 6th March was ‘Bandanas for Brain Tumours’ day – in aid of my favourite charity ‘The Brain Tumour Charity‘. It’s primarily an awareness day to try and get the charity’s name out, especially in a ‘crowded’ charity market, dominated by the large Cancer machines, who, for various reasons, I am not particularly supportive of. Simply, you buy a bandana from the Charity and #WearItOut to show your support.

Bit of background on me – Grade 4 Medullablastoma – robbed me of most of last year – more personal stories elsewhere on my site – current status is ‘No Residual Signs of Disease’ :)

Initially it started out with me asking my line manager if I could wear my bandana at work without breaking dress code policy, the next thing I knew, I was organising an ‘all office’ event – my target participation rose overnight from me to 300 people! Francesca Towson, a fundraising manager from The Brain Tumour Charity, was kind enough to lend her support and travelled from York to Manchester to be with us and speak at the event.

Personally, I learnt a lot – not just about how to put on an event, but also about myself and my relationship with my amazing colleagues – I have SO much support from my employer, and additionally from people who joined during my absence, who I’ve not met before (both across the office and within my own fantastic team!). Genuinely, forget the money, the support is everything to me.

My partner, Max, bless him, was up until 1am baking not one, but FOUR cakes. for example, and scores of others contributed their time and ingredients. A special shout out must go to those people, people who bought a bandana and those who helped me put on the day – all superstars!

We held a very well represented cake sale (everything was an easy sale, bar the healthy items – infer what you will, ha!), we also held a ‘Guess The Number of Jelly Beans In A Jar”, and a “Name The Bear” stall. Francesca and I manned a well stocked and attended information stand, selling many charity branded items, taking donations, and providing literature/experience.

IMG_0053At 1pm, the whole office came together to hear Francesca speak about the work the The Brain Tumour Charity does, and how it impacts the local healthcare system. Simply, the NHS just do what they need to, to get you on your feet, you really do need a charity like The Brain Tumour Charity to help provide support, information and pick up the pieces of what genuinely is the worst moment in anyone’s life. I introduced Francesca to the office – incredibly nerve-wracking and I fluffed it a bit, but it was amazing to actually put faces to the ‘support’.

In terms on money raised (and I ask you to remember that this was an awareness day and not a fundraising day), and we’re an office of less than 300, we raised a staggering £680 + Unknown money for bandana sales (put in to context, we raised just under £200 for MacMillan Coffee Morning – an ‘engineered’ fund raising day) – and that total is still rising through

My ‘story’ also came out on the Company Intranet in tandem with this fundraising day which helped colleagues in other offices get involved with what we were doing.

What is so humbling – this was a genuine act of charity from our office – nothing contrived to make the Company look good – just a genuine outburst of support from my colleagues, and I cannot recommend this bunch of people enough to be associated with.

I ended the day feeling exhausted, humbled, proud and, above all, supported!

It’s not too late to donate,, and a massive thank you to everyone who has, or will do – you’re honestly a friend for life! :)


The coolest thing I’ll ever own! #cancerperk

The other day, whilst in the MRI machine, I had the most fantastic idea for a piece of artwork that I wanted to create – something personal and that I could use on those ‘shitty days’ as a bit of a motivator.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present my MRI images!

As Kostas, a very good work friend, just said “thank God you didn’t have prostate cancer!”

I have to say, I knew it was an unusual request from the start, however a huge thanks to my medical team at The Christie Hospital for providing me with these images and continuing to be awesome.

I know this is like overshare to the extreme, but at least I didn’t use one of those flaming’ ‘selfie sticks’!!!

During my time in radiotherapy, I saw worse, including a teenage girl who was taking scrapbook pictures heavily posed for on the radiotherapy machines, and many people choose to keep what I’m now terming a ‘death mask’, again from radiotherapy, after the hospital no longer has a use for it.

I’m really enjoying the newfound sense of creativity that I seem to have discovered after my cancer diagnosis, and that, when coupled with my personality, will always relate in creations from outside of the box, hopefully for many many years to come!

UK based musical theatre geek with a brain tumour!


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