Colors: Red Color

Birmingham Repertory Theatre (The REP) is celebrating a hat-trick of West End successes as three of its productions are playing in London this month.  And they all happen to be Christmas shows.

Nativity! The Musical originally premiered at The REP in October 2017 and opens at the Eventim Apollo on 19 December. Patrick Barlow’s The Messiah opened in Birmingham this October and is now running at The Other Palace; and the theatre’s long-running production of The Snowman is currently celebrating its 21st consecutive season at The Peacock.

All three shows were produced, built and premiered by The REP and success of them is part of the theatre’s focus to extend the life and profile of the work made in Birmingham.

Stuart Rogers, Executive Director at Birmingham Repertory Theatre explains:

“The REP now priorities securing a future life beyond Birmingham for as many of its productions as possible, often through coproducing with commercial producers, other regional theatres or touring companies.

“We have one of the best-equipped production facilities and a group of highly-skilled carpenters/metalworkers, scenic artists, costume makers, lighting and sound technicians all housed in the building and can therefore offer a high-quality one-stop shop in which to create the new shows of the highest quality.

“We’re delighted to have three productions running simultaneously in London throughout December. We hope that both The Messiah and Nativity! The Musical go on to have as long and successful Christmas lives as The Snowman has enjoyed”

This remarkable run of Christmas shows isn’t just limited to those that have made it into the West End.  In Birmingham, The REP’s 2018 Christmas show, The Wizard of Oz, directed by Liam Steel, has enjoyed critical success and is currently playing to packed houses until 13 January 2019.

In January, the theatre’s long-running production of The Snowman returns home to Birmingham marking the show’s 25th anniversary.  Since its opening in 1993, this much-loved show has played to 1.9million people around the world and made a significant contribution to the theatre’s income.

Other recent Birmingham Repertory Theatre co-productions that have gone on to have future lives beyond Birmingham include Chris Hannan’s play, What Shadows starring Ian McDiarmid as Enoch Powell, Emma Rice’s Brief Encounter which enjoyed a West End run earlier this year and a European tour of Calixto Bieito’s The String Quartet’s Guide To Sex and Anxiety. Plans are currently underway to tour the theatre’s productions of Penguins and The Lovely Bones to the States in 2019 / 20.

Having made it through to the final in 2017 with Sir Christèmas, Wolverhampton-based David Hughes is back in the running for 2018 with the recently written The Bee Carol.

The prestigious BBC Radio 3 competition challenged amateur composers to create new music for The Bee Carol, a poem by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy. Over 400 entries were received with the final six chosen by judges including Master of The Queen's Music, and former CBSO resident composer, Judith Weir, and esteemed choral composer and conductor Bob Chilcott. Finalists were announced on the Breakfast Show on Wednesday 12 December 2018, where The BBC Singers performed each competing composition in full.

David, 63, who lives in Compton, Wolverhampton, studied music at Wolverhampton Grammar School, before becoming a corporate lawyer in London, Birmingham and finally back in Wolverhampton as a consultant with FBC Manby Bowdler.

Now retired, he sings with Birmingham Bach Choir, who he first joined in 1986. He also plays jazz piano in a local swing band, and arranges their versions of jazz standards from the Great American Songbook.

Commenting on his setting of Carol Ann Duffy’s The Bee Carol, David said: "I wanted to create an intimate feel to the carol, reflecting the mood of the poem, and so chose to set it for unaccompanied choir in the manner of a lullaby. I tried to avoid imitating any bee sounds, but could not resist a play on the word 'cluster' - and its musical meaning - in the last line of the carol.

"It is a reflective and intimate poem, with some very evocative words."

Prior to the final announcement, Birmingham Bach Choir will be performing David's earlier 2017 shortlisted carol, Sir Christèmas, as part of their festive Nine Lessons And Carols service at St Alban’s Church, in Highgate, Birmingham, on Sunday 16 December 2018 (3.30pm, admission free).

A recording of David’s The Bee Carol can be found on the BBC Radio 3 website, sung by The BBC Singers, and will also be performed as part of BBC Radio 3's Afternoon Concert (17 December 2018, 2pm). Online voting is open now until Thursday 20 December 2018, 5pm, with the winning carol announced on the Radio 3 Breakfast programme the following day (21 December 2018).

Smokey Robinson has been announced as one of the performers at the 23rd annual St. Kitts Music Festival.

Kicking off what is sure to be a star-studded line-up, the St. Kitts Tourism Authority in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism, announced that Smokey Robinson will be performing alonside French Montana, Popcaan, and Davido.

The music festival will take place from 26 to 30 June 2019.

“It is gratifying to see these top musical artists join the roster for the 2019 St. Kitts Music Festival,” said Minister of Tourism, International Trade, Industry and Commerce the Hon. Mr. Lindsay F.P. Grant. “Each year, this event features top international acts along with a mix of local and regional talent showcasing a broad range of musical genres. It is one of the reasons that our Music Festival is a unique event and appeals to such a wide audience.”

Racquel Brown, CEO of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority, added, “System-wide air arrivals were up 28.1% in June 2018 as compared to June 2017, the biggest June increase we have seen in recent years, demonstrating the success of our marketing of the event in driving travel to St. Kitts for the festival in what is otherwise a slow period.”

Now entering its 23rd year, the St. Kitts Music Festival attracts both locals and visitors alike. It features a wide range of musical styles on the popular market, including R&B, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Reggae, Soca, Calypso, Gospel and Contemporary music.

Past artists have included such prominent acts as John Legend, The Goo Goo Dolls, Lionel Richie, Jason Derulo, Trey Songz, Patti LaBelle, Michael Bolton, R. City, K.C. and the Sunshine Band, Wyclef Jean, Ne-Yo, Air Supply, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Shaggy, Kelly Rowland, Tarrus Riley, Jah Cure, Tessanne Chin, Toni Braxton, Sean Paul, Boyz II Men, King Konris, Stephen Marley, Maxi Priest, Beres Hammond, and Biggie Irie.

Famous for co-founding Motown Records with Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson has been making and breaking records since 1960 when his group, The Miracles, sold one million units of their first hit, “Shop Around.” Over the next decade, Robinson and the Miracles produced 26 top 40 hits, including several top 10 hits like “You've Really Got a Hold on Me,” “I Second That Emotion,” “The Tears Of a Clown,” “My Girl” and others.

Celebrated for his contributions to the music industry and the Motown era, Robinson is an inductee of the Kennedy Center Honors and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He has received numerous accolades, including the GRAMMY Living Legend Award, BET Lifetime Achievement Award, the Heritage Award at the Soul Train Music Awards, and the National Medal of Arts. Howard University also conferred on Robinson the degree of Doctor of Music in 2006, as did the Berklee College of Music in 2009. During the course of his 50-year career in music, Robinson has accumulated more than 4,000 songs to his credit and continues to thrill sold-out audiences around the world with his high tenor voice, impeccable timing, and profound sense of lyric.

French Montana is a Moroccan-American rapper, singer and songwriter. Born and raised in Morocco, he immigrated to the United States with his family when he was 13He is the founder of Coke Boys Records and has a joint-venture recording deal with Bad Boy Records and Maybach Music Group. His mixtape debut was released in 2007. In 2010, his breakthrough hit "Choppa Choppa Down," rose through the charts. He released his debut studio album “Excuse My French” in 2013 and his second studio album, “Jungle Rules,” in July 2017, which peaked at number three on the Billboard 200. The album was supported by the single "Unforgettable," featuring Swae Lee, which became Montana's first song as lead artist to reach the top 10 in the U.S.

Andrae Hugh Sutherland, known by his stage name Popcaan, is a Jamaican dancehall artiste, dj, singer and songwriter from the parish of St. Thomas. In 2008, he joined Vybz Kartel's Gaza music empire and in 2010, he released his breakthrough international hit "Clarks" with Kartel, an ode to the popular shoe brand. In 2014, he signed with Mixpak Records and released his debut studio album, “Where We Come From.” Popcaan's top singles include "Only Man She Want" (2011), "Everything Nice" (2014), "El Chapo" (2017), and "Family" (2017). He has collaborated with a number of international artists, most notably Drake, Jay Z, Pusha T, Snoop Dog and Giggs. His second album for Mixpak, entitled “Forever,” was released in July 2018.

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Davido is an American-Nigerian singer, songwriter and record producer. His 2011 single "Dami Duro" was well-received in Nigeria and was featured on his 2012 debut album, “Omo Baba Olowo.” Between 2013 and 2015, he released singles, "Gobe", "One of a Kind", "Naughty" featuring DJ Arafat and "The Money" featuring Olamide. In November 2017, Davido won the best African act at the MOBO Awards and also became the first African act to perform live at the awards. His most recent hits include “If” and “Wonder Woman.”

Respiratory patients were full of Christmas joy when they took part in their first “Singing for Breathing” session.

The group of seven patients, who suffer from a range of lung conditions, gave tuneful renditions of Jingle Bells and While Shepherds Watched – led by Louise Blackburn, who has been trained as a Singing for Breathing practitioner by the British Lung Foundation.

The 45-minute session was organised by the Community Respiratory team from Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust, to help patients improve their lung health.

Louise said: “I find that people with lung conditions benefit greatly from these sessions. The magic of Singing for Breathing is that it is not only good physically and socially, but also a huge benefit for those patients with lung conditions.”

Teresa Brigden, is a patient with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who attended the session. She said: “This has been brilliant. It’s the first time that I have sang in public, I normally just sing at home behind closed doors.

“But I felt very comfortable in the session today and really enjoyed it. I will definitely be coming again as I feel it’s benefited my condition too.”

The sessions start with a warm-up to prepare the patient’s body for activity. This includes physical warm-ups, breathing and vocal exercises, such as rhythm and pitch games. They then go on to sing around two to three songs.

Alice Harvey, Respiratory Clinician, added: “It was a fantastic first session. The patients really enjoyed singing Christmas songs after some fun warm-up exercises.

“You can see straight away how it benefits their health, but also how it helps socially too. An added benefit is that our staff have really enjoyed taking part, learning new techniques to support patients in managing their breathlessness, and helping our own wellbeing. “We have part-funded the sessions by using our Your Trust Charity funding.  It means that patients are able to enjoy this great benefit to their health and wellbeing.”

Over the last 10 years, researchers have looked at how the body and mind respond to music, and have explored ways of using music to help care for health. There’s increasing evidence that singing regularly as part of a group is good for a person’s general health and wellbeing.

One of the great violinists of our age – Leonidas Kavakos – has announced that he will lead a unique two-hour masterclass at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, part of Birmingham City University.

The masterclass for Royal Birmingham Conservatoire strings students not only marks the violinist and conductor’s inaugural visit to the new £57 million institution, but it is also the first time Kavakos has hosted such an event at any of the UK’s Royal Schools of Music.

Leonidas Kavakos is recognised across the world as a violinist and artist of rare quality, acclaimed for his matchless technique, his captivating artistry and his superb musicianship, as well as for the integrity of his playing. Kavakos works with the world’s greatest orchestras and conductors and is a frequent recitalist in the world’s premier recital halls and festivals.

His Royal Birmingham Conservatoire masterclass will take place on Friday 14 December, which is also the last day of the University’s autumn term.

Professor Julian Lloyd Webber, Principal, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, said:

“We are delighted to welcome Leonidas Kavakos to Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. This will be a unique opportunity for our students to learn directly from one of the greatest musicians in the world today. It could literally be a life-changing experience for them”.

By the age of 21, Kavakos had already won three major competitions: the Sibelius Competition in 1985, and the Paganini and Naumburg in 1988. These successes led to his recording of the original Sibelius Violin Concerto (1903-4), the first recording of the work in history, which won the Gramophone Concerto Recording of the Year award in 1991.

After many years with Decca Records, Leonidas Kavakos signed an exclusive recording contract with Sony Classical in June 2018. This signified a welcome return to the label as Kavakos initially recorded the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto and Mozart Concertos, conducting and playing with Camerata Salzburg. More recently, Kavakos joined Yo-Yo Ma and Emmanuel Ax for a highly successful recording of the Brahms Trios for the label.

Kavakos’ first solo project with Sony will be the Beethoven Violin Concerto and Beethoven Septet, which will be recorded with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, followed by a project to record the complete Bach solo Sonatas and Partitas.

In addition to being one of the world’s most sought-after solo violinists, Kavakos is also a regular chamber music partner of such luminaries as Yuja Wang and Yo Yo Ma. He was also awarded Gramophone Artist of the Year 2014.

Kavakos plays the ‘Willemotte’ Stradavarius violin of 1734 and owns a modern violin made by Royal Birmingham Conservatoire’s International Consultant for Stringed Instruments, Florian Leonhard.

Dr Louise Lansdown, Head of Strings, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, added:

“It is an honour that Leonidas Kavakos will be visiting our fantastic Conservatoire and I know that the Strings Department in its entirety will be present and ready for inspiration and illumination from the great master.”

Born and brought up in a musical family in Athens, Kavakos curates an annual violin and chamber-music masterclass in the Greek capital, which attracts violinists and ensembles from all over the world and reflects his deep commitment to the handing-on of musical knowledge and traditions.

One of the most celebrated family films ever, The Goonies, will be screened for the very first time in Europe across a trio of UK dates, with its classic score being performed live to picture by a full orchestra.

Beginning in Manchester at Bridgewater Hall on 26th April, the show will also come to Edinburgh Usher Hall on 27th April, and Birmingham Symphony Hall on 28th April.

A fond part of childhood for several generations, The Goonies was released in 1985 to both critical and commercial success, ranking in the top 10 at the US Box Office that year and still remaining to this day a cult classic

Directed by Richard Donner, the film’s screenplay was written by Chris Columbus from a story by Executive Producer Stephen Spielberg, and focuses on a group of kids from ‘Goon Docks’, a neighbourhood in Oregon, who upon attempting to save their homes from demolition uncover a centuries old treasure map, leading them through a perilous chase with a criminal family who are also seeking the treasure.

The Goonies was selected in 2017 for preservation in the United States Film Registry by the Library of Congress, which deemed it as being ‘culturally, historically and aesthetically significant’, so much is its influence.

Composed by Dave Grusin, an Academy Award and ten-time GRAMMY Award winner, the score to The Goonies is as daring as its young protagonists, introducing electronic elements as well as orchestral, and heightens the drama right from the memorable opening scene’s wonderfully bouncy ‘Fratelli Chase’.

For the first time ever, this is a chance for audiences to relive one of the mot evocative pieces of cinema – and music created for cinema – in a unique way, as The Goonies is performed live to screen with a full orchestra across the UK. Tour Dates:

26th April      Manchester Bridgewater Hall 27th April       Edinburgh Usher Hall 28th April      Birmingham Symphony Hall

Now in its sixth year, “Illuminate SF Festival of Light” celebrates 37 dramatic, eco-friendly light art installations located throughout San Francisco.

The San Francisco Travel Association offers a guide to all of the installations and artists at www.illuminatesf.com/.

Located in 17 different neighborhoods, the works are accessible by public transport and many are free for all to view. From Thanksgiving 2018 through New Year's Day 2019, art lovers are invited to embrace the power of light and tour San Francisco's art installations by a diverse range of 30 local and world renowned light artists.

The works come to life at dusk throughout the city with a luminescence that will turn any evening into an illuminating adventure, especially when combined with exploring San Francisco's world-class museums performing arts and restaurants. The light art can be found in neighborhoods in the Embarcadero along the waterfront, in North Beach, Civic Center, Central Market, the Inner Sunset, South of Market (SoMa), Potrero, Mission Bay, Bayview, Golden Gate Park, Hayes Valley, South Beach, the Castro, the Mission District and even flying in or out of San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

The X Factor’s eight quarter-final acts will star in The X Factor Live Tour 2019.

The top eight artists confirmed to go on the tour are: Dalton Harris, Scarlett Lee, Anthony Russell, Danny Tetley, Acacia & Aaliyah, Brendan Murray, Shan Ako and Bella Penfold.

Dalton Harris has had three of his songs enter the iTunes Top 30 during the live shows so far, including I Have Nothing, Creep and California Dreamin’, while his Big Band Week performance of Beyoncé’s Listen entered the Top 20 on iTunes, peaking at No. 15, the highest peak of the series so far.

Anthony Russell’s rendition of Eye of the Tiger was the stand out performance of Movie Week with the audience reaction overpowering even the judges’ comments.

Scarlett Lee has been impressing the audience and judges every week with her beautiful vocals and incredible range.

Also joining the line-up are Brendan Murray, whose powerful Judges’ Houses performance brought tears to guest judge Nile Rodgers; the youngest act in the competition Acacia & Aaliyah; inspirational singer and rapper Bella Penfold; Shan Ako, whose emotional and raw performances have created some of the series’ most memorable moments; and Northern singing powerhouse Danny Tetley.

The X Factor Live Tour – with each concert to be hosted by presenter Becca Dudley – will hit Birmingham in February 2019.

The X Factor Tour has been seen by more than three million people since it began 14 years ago, making it one of the UK’s most successful annual arena tours.

Birmingham Repertory Theatre has today announced a further two productions as part of its Spring and Summer 2019 season.

Joe Penhall’s exquisitely sharp ‘state of the nation’ classic and Olivier Award-winning play, Blue / Orange will open on the main stage on 1 February (press night: Tuesday 5 February) and Evan Placey’s reimagining of the chilling, classic Gothic tale, Jekyll & Hyde will open on 18 April (press night Wednesday 24 April).

Joe Penhall’s darkly funny play is a searing dissection of institutional racism and mental health in modern Britain.

Christopher is sectioned and admitted to a psychiatric hospital. As his doctor and senior consultant debate the cause of his psychosis, he makes the startling revelation that he’s the son of Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin.

The two specialists are divided in their diagnosis and fiercely defend their opposing positions. Their power struggle escalates into an exchange over racism, ideology, prejudice and egotism. With each new revelation, all three find their layers are peeled back to reveal increasingly uncomfortable truths within themselves.

Daniel Bailey, The REP’s Associate Director, directs with design by Amelia Jane Hankin. Casting to be announced.

Daniel Bailey, Director said: Joe Penhall’s play is a crucial and urgent depiction of race, mental health and ethnocentricity. The play is a contemporary classic and I can’t wait to get started on this new production.” The first production of Blue/ Orange, which premiered at the National Theatre, won an Olivier Award, a Critics’ Circle Award and the Evening Standard Award for Best Play.

 

Evan Placey’s take on Robert Louis Stephenson’s Jekyll & Hyde will bring together a professional creative team and performances by The Young REP and is directed by the REP's Associate Director Tessa Walker.

Harriet Jekyll’s investigation into her husband’s mysterious death has taken her into a dark and dangerous world. A gothic world of science, taverns and misogyny that no decent Victorian woman has dared to enter before.

It’s a world that she’s desperate to change but to do so, she must embrace the creature she’s changing into. As she sets about her blood-thirsty mission, her actions start to bleed into the present day.

Award-winning writer Evan Placey (Girls Like That, Orange Polar Bear) combines contemporary chills and gothic horror in his re-imaging of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic story directed by Tessa Walker (Folk and The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe) and performed by The Young REP.

Tessa Walker, Director said: Evan Placey’s radical adaptation of Jekyll & Hyde transforms the story imagining the journey of Dr Jekyll’s widow, Harriet who has the desire to live a different life but is stopped by the restrictive world around her.  It explores themes in Stevenson’s original Gothic tale of transformation, freedom and revenge but from a young woman’s perspective. I’m excited to bring it to life with The REP’s brilliant and talented Young REP.”

Filming has recently taken place in the Cook Islands for the popular Channel 4 reality show Shipwrecked, which will return to E4 in early 2019.

The show was filmed on the motus (small islets) of Aitutaki, which is located 220km, or a 45minute flight from Rarotonga, the largest of the Cook Islands and in the heart of the Pacific, half way between Hawaii and New Zealand.

From the UK, the Cook Islands can be easily accessed via Air New Zealand's direct flight from Los Angeles. Alternatively, Rarotonga is under four hours flight time from Auckland, New Zealand, and six hours from Sydney, Australia.

First aired in 2000, Shipwrecked was the forerunner for reality shows. The Sunday morning ritual of watching the disagreements, challenges and burgeoning relationships between young, tanned castaways can be remembered by many. The new series will bring back the two rival islands, the Shark Island and Tiger Island, with teams battling it out to win over new arrivals.

Neale Simpson, Shipwrecked Executive Producer, comments: “The Cook Islands is the ideal setting for our paradise island adventure. The incredible islands became home to a richly diverse and remarkable group of characters which were the new generation of Sharks and Tigers. The stunning island backdrops are the perfect place to play out the hedonism, heroism and hilarity that the UK public will be able to enjoy once the show airs.”

The Cook Islands was chosen as the location for the series, not because its home to any real sharks or tigers, but due to its spectacular beauty. The palm fringed, white sand beaches, with turquoise blue waters are as near to paradise as you can get, and the most picturesque, Instagram ready, place you can hope to be Shipwrecked.

Halatoa Fua, Cook Islands Tourism Corporation's Chief Executive Officer said. “We were excited to welcome back Shipwrecked to Aitutaki, Cook Islands as the most beautiful lagoon in the world. Shipwrecked has a long history with the Cook Islands and the support from the people of Aitutaki has been tremendous.”

The motus used for filming Shipwrecked can be visited on day trips from Aitutaki, where you can snorkel the clear waters and experience the beauty below the water, relax on the fine sand beach or explore the interior, which is home to a variety of wild animals, birds and spectacular flora and fauna.

The Cook Islands receives around 1,800 visitors from the UK each year, who come to enjoy the authentic Polynesian culture, warm hospitality of the locals, year-round tropical climate, stunning beaches and breathtaking jungle-clad interiors. With no big chain restaurants or hotels and a local law stating that no building be taller than a coconut tree, it is often said to be how Hawaii was 50 years ago.

The locations are so picture perfect, they were also chosen for the thirteenth series of the American show Survivor, which was aired on CBS network in 2006.

The new series of Shipwrecked is sure to raise the profile of the Cook Islands in the UK and hopefully will inspire more Brits to make their own Shipwrecked experience in this slice of paradise in the South Pacific.

Canadian R&B songstress Kolette Easy has been riding high since the release of her debut album ‘Believe’. Her recent wave of success includes a well-received first single, rave reviews and thrilling live performances at shows locally, regionally and internationally.

 

The talented Toronto-based vocalist launched ‘Believe’ over the summer at her live concert release event where she performed various tracks off of the album to a packed house. Among these new songs was the album’s lead single ‘Hold On’.

 

Thus far ‘Hold On’ has garnered Kolette several compliments and praises from industry professionals, media and music fans due to its relatable theme.

Hold On explores the resilience of a relationship (whether platonic or romantic) as it navigates through rocky roads and the strength and love that help it stand the test of time and adversity.

 

Kolette’s passionate vocals, combined with the lingering lyrics of talented Canadian songwriter Rob Christian and the soulful arrangements by celebrated producer/writer Eddie Bullen make for powerful, relatable ballad. The refrain of ‘Hold on everything will be alright’ has certainly resonated with radio listeners and audiences as evidenced by the emotional reactions during Kolette’s live shows.

 

The dynamic vocal powerhouse has been touring extensively in support of her new album and single and has dazzled audiences in different markets with her unique onstage presence. Kolette recently graced the stages of Toronto venues as well as major festivals including Aurora Winter Blues Fest, Toronto’s Beaches Jazz Festival and The Rochester Jazz Festival in Rochester, New York where her band Community Soul Project headlined as well as opened up for the legendary funk band Tower of Power..

 

Most notably she made her return to South East Asia for a major performance in Macau, China.

 

Amidst all of this current success and preparations to release a forthcoming single, Kolette remains humble and grateful for the love and blessings that she receives on this musical journey.

dodie has released ‘If I’m Being Honest’, the latest track to be heard from the HumanEP, due for release on 18 January in digital, CD and vinyl formats. It follows the EP’s title track, ‘Human’ (feat. Tom Walker), released last month to a rapturous reception, with the song already exceeding 2.5m Spotify plays and 1.5m views for the video on YouTube. ‘Human’ was Phil Taggart’s Chillest Record on BBC R1, and received further support from Clara Amfo and Annie Mac.

Starting with the line “I was told this is where I would start loving myself”, ‘If I’m Being Honest’ details the feeling of being gripped by insecurity and self-doubt in the hope of romance:“Sadly I just think that I was disgusting today… I’m left a stuttering ten”. The live video, directed by Sammy Paul, sees dodie perform ‘If I’m Being Honest’ in the stunning Piehouse at the Matchstick Theatre,accompanied by a string section.

The 23 year old singer songwriter from Epping is arguably the most successful DIY artist of recent times, having built herself a considerable fanbase since she began uploading music from her bedroom aged just 16. dodie has now had almost 350 million streams across YouTube, Spotify and Apple Music.

The HumanEP follows two self-released EPs, 2016’s Intertwinedand last year’s You. Both EPs reached the top 40 of the UK official album charts, with Youpeaking at number six, despite receiving little promotion. dodie has just completed a sold-out tour of the US.

dodie will embark on an extensive tour of the UK and Europe to celebrate the release of the Human EP, beginning in Antwerp on 10 February and culminating in her biggest show to date at London’s legendary Roundhouse on 24 March, which has limited tickets remaining. Tickets and more info are available at dodie.co.

If it’s autumn, Shillong is the place to be as it gears up to host the India International Cherry Blossom Festival from November 14-17. Called the Scotland of the East, India’s Shillong, capital of India’s northeastern state of Meghalaya, is awash with cherry blossom trees with their branches filled with white and pink flowers.

Shillong’s 3rd India International Cherry Blossom Festival 2018 will celebrate the unique autumn flowering of Himalayan Cherry Blossoms with a gamut of cultural events. Among the events planned are fashion shows, rock concerts, a beauty pageant, and even a competition in an amateur golf tournament. Alongside these, there will be stalls showcasing the region’s food and crafts, and there are several Japanese cultural events, a Japanese Food Pavilion, and a Higher Education Stall in partnership with the Embassy of Japan in India.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma stated that this was another way to deepen and strengthen connections with the Japanese government. He called upon people to be part of this wonderful India International Cherry Blossom Festival 2018. Unlike the cherry fruit, the cherry blossom tree, when it flowers – just for a short period in a year – the pink and white glory it exudes is a sight to feast upon.

Meghalaya is a hub of native biodiversity as it is home to 5,538 species of fauna, which includes one of India’s only two species of true apes, supporting the life of about 3,128 species of flowering plants that account for 18% of the country’s total floral wealth.

Two years ago, the state’s government launched the Cherry Blossom Festival in recognition of this abundance. Avenues lined with cherry blossom trees will result in promoting sustainable tourism in the northeast.

The nearest airport to Shillong is at Umroi, located 30 km north of Shillong. But the most convenient is the Guwahati Airport in Borjhar, which is 118 km from Shillong. Guwahati is also the closest railhead, 128 km north of Shillong.

The Nocturne Live concert series, which returns to Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire next June, has confirmed pop superstar Kylie Minogue as headliner for the closing night on Sunday 23rd. The chart-topping Australian singer will perform hits from across her back catalogue, as well as music from latest album, 2018's country-tinged Golden. Support will come from multi-million-selling Sophie Ellis-Bextor, whose new album The Song Diaries will be released in January. With over 40 UK Top 10 singles between them, this exclusive concert will feature an array of some of the best-known pop hits of the last 20 years.

Nocturne Live transforms Blenheim Palace's 9500-capacity Great Court into a spectacular open-air concert venue and is fast becoming one of the UK's most prestigious and popular stately home concert experiences. Since its launch in 2015 the series has presented shows from the likes of Gary Barlow, Nile Rodgers, Noel Gallagher, Elvis Costello, Elton John, Jamie Cullum, Gregory Porter, Van Morrison, Ennio Morricone, The Corrs and The Jacksons.

Nocturne Live 2019 will run from Thursday June 20th – Sunday June 23rd and additional acts will be announced in due course.

Ciro Romano, Nocturne Live Founder:

“We jumped at the chance to book Kylie for Nocturne Live. She's an incredible performer with an unbelievable back catalogue to draw upon and her live shows are always spectacular. We're thrilled to have confirmed her for the closing night of next year's series and look forward to more exciting announcements over the coming months.”

An illustrious British boarding school becomes a bloody battleground when a mysterious sinkhole appears at a nearby fracking site, unleashing an ancient subterranean species upon the students and faculty.

On paper, Slaughterhouse Rulez sounds amazing – a comedic British creature-feature with some nifty practical effects and a great cast, including Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Michael Sheen, that is also the debut film from Stolen Picture; a new production company founded by frequent collaborators Pegg and Frost. Sounds like a recipe for a future cult classic, right? Unfortunately, the sheer awesomeness on paper struggles to translate to screen and what we’re left with is a mixed bag that ranges from awkwardly unfunny to brilliantly charming to gruesomely violent, and everything in between.

Slaughterhouse Rulez follows Don Wallace – a teenager from a working class family from up North who manages to secure a place at one of the most illustrious and imperialistic boarding schools in Britain. He is apprehensive, but doesn’t want to let his overbearing mother down, and decides to honour her wishes; a decision he will soon come to regret. Upon arrival, he immediately realises he doesn’t belong and is quickly introduced to a wide range of students, all of whom conform to a strict hierarchy that has existed for generations. There are four different houses and your success at the school is essentially dependent on which one you’re placed in. It paints a very bleak, albeit comedic picture of what it is like to attend an upper-class British boarding school. Of course, Don is placed in House Sparta; the house for “outcasts” who “do not belong”.

What follows is an overlong introduction to the school, the students and its faculty. While the filmmakers should be commended for trying to enrich their characters and give audiences enough time to connect with them, the truth is that only a handful of them are interesting enough to engage you, leaving much of the first hour feeling empty and frustrating as you’re left waiting for something fun to happen and this is the biggest issue with Slaughterhouse Rulez. The synopsis would lead you to believe you’re about to watch something wildly fun and entertaining, but it takes so long to get to the fun stuff that by the time it arrives, you have disconnected and tuned out a little. Thankfully, the final thirty minutes or so are fun enough to save Slaughterhouse Rulez from being a total bust, but one can’t help but think of how much fun it could have been if the filmmakers had trimmed the fat a little and streamlined the story into something smaller and more engaging.

The cast are all game and deliver some fun performances, with Hermione Corfield, Isabella Laughland, Kit Connor and Max Raphael rounding out the main cast of heroes who are pitted against the unspeakable evil that’s unleashed at the nearby fracking site. They’re a fun group of characters and for the most part, play their roles with tongues placed firmly in cheeks and have some fun with their work. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost provide some excellent support to the main story, resulting in some of the funnier moments in this inconsistent little movie. Pegg plays Meredith Houseman, the head of House Sparta, who is so broken hearted after the love of his life has immigrated to Africa that he can’t help but let it impact on every aspect of his life, including his teaching. Nick Frost plays Woody, an environmental activist-come-drug-dealer who resides in the woods surrounding the school and is at war with the fracking site for polluting the environment. Of the two, Frost and his impeccable comedic timing is wildly underutilized but still provides the occasional fun departure. Tom Rhys Harries is a stand out as the school’s resident psychotic douchebag, Clegg – a despicable character who is played with such dead-pan seriousness that he could quite easily appear in a much more serious movie and still be as sinister as he is here. But the true standout is Michael Sheen, who seems to be having the most fun out of everyone in the movie, chewing up the scenery as the hysterically dim-witted head master who has clearly only got to where he is because of his ancestry. He infuses his performance with a cheeky flamboyance and a knowing wink to the audience, emerging as one of the only reliable sources of genuine laughter in the entire movie.

The creature work is actually pretty solid and the CGI, while nothing ground-breaking, is good enough not to be distracting. The creatures, which resemble giant reptilian rats, really shine with the use of practical effects and animatronic puppets – all of which look great and help add a sense of realism to these other-worldly creatures.

Considering who’s involved, Slaughterhouse Rulez should be a lot funnier than it is. It isn’t unfunny per-se, but it does struggle to become anything more than just moderately humorous and that’s a real shame, because with a healthy dose of big laughs to accompany its violent monster mayhem, Slaughterhouse Rulez could have been something pretty damn special. As it stands, Slaughterhouse Rulez is a good enough way to pass 104 minutes, while simultaneously feeling like a bit of a wasted opportunity.

 

Super hero action, thrills and drama will soar, smash and burst into Birmingham next year as Marvel Universe LIVE! returns with a brand-new show. Visiting Arena Birmingham from 05–08 December 2019, in this all new production, produced by Feld Entertainment, Marvel fans see Spider-Man, The Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy join forces with Doctor Strange, master of the mystic arts, in a race against time to recover the Wand of Watoomb before it falls into Loki’s hands.

The audience will witness cutting-edge special effects, pyrotechnics, and impressive 3D video projection mapping in this completely new thrilling adventure. With aerial stunts, martial arts and daring motorcycle skills, fans of all ages will be immersed in the Marvel universe in a show unlike anything they’ve ever seen before!

 

Called on by Doctor Strange, the Guardians of the Galaxy join Marvel Universe LIVE! on a momentous crusade against the scheming Nebula who teams up with the conniving and loathsome villains Loki and Green Goblin. The incredible superhuman forces of Iron Man, Thor, Black Panther, Hulk and Black Widow will unite in clashes that pit student against mentor, sister against sister and brother against brother.

“Our tremendously talented creative team and a nearly super human cast, have created a show that brings Marvel to life,” said Juliette Feld, producer of Marvel Universe LIVE! “The show creates an experience that immerses families in non-

stop action, creating movie-style thrills and jaw-dropping stunts that showcase the powers of your favourite Super Heroes right before your eyes.”