Weekly Photo Challenge: Simple

“Fresh, warm bread. What is there like fresh, warm bread?

So say the villagers in Stephen Schwartz’s musical The Baker’s Wife, a lovely show which I was involved with in 2006. With Charming On-Stage (Ex)-Lover, over at Better Offer? funnily enough.

The line, “Plain and simple. Simple and plain. Water, salt and flour”, sung by the Baker when describing the delights of a freshly baked loaf to his new wife, was the first thing that came to mind when I saw this week’s challenge.  Shame the song – featured on the Original London Cast recording –  was cut from subsequent productions of the show due to its similarity with another song sung by the Baker – Merci Madame.

This loaf (alas, not baked by me) could have been described using many of the superlatives uttered in the show to describe freshly baked bread – “And that crust is really / pure temptation / perfect shape / perfect size / thrills the nose / fills the eyes / stomach juicing / drool inducing / flawless / wondrous…”

Especially when served for lunch with a variety of cheeses and caramelised onion chutney – yummy…



What would Linus make of Slindon’s Great Pumpkin Patch?

The village of Slindon is just a short stroll away from where I live. OK, the most direct route dices with death across the busy A27 trunk road, but is the quickest route into the National Trust woodland. Safer, although longer, is the route through Fontwell village, taking the underpass to reach the woods.

At the top of the village is the now famous Slindon Pumpkins, where every autumn over 80 varieties of squash and pumpkin form an impressive display for locals and visitors alike, as seen on BBC’s Countryfile on 23 October.

Here’s a few pictures of this year’s display:

And a special mention must go to this interpretative piece of modern art on display from a Year 1 pupil at the local school. Amidst the brightly coloured pumpkin paintings, there was a single piece of yellow-painted A4 paper with the caption, “I couldn’t fit the edges of the pumpkin on the page. I was too close to the pumpkin.” Brilliant.

I will leave you with the lyrics of ‘The Vigil’ from Snoopy: The Musical. On Halloween, Linus, along with a reluctant Snoopy, awaits the arrival of the Great Pumpkin during “The Vigil” in the pumpkin patch.

“One pumpkin patch looks an awful lot like any other…”

Me as Sally Brown with Linus in Snoopy: the Musical in the Theatre Tent at Guilfest'08


I wonder what Linus would make of Slindon’s pumpkin patch?

On My Own, but not Misérables

Home alone tonight. Well, nearly…

Daughter of Mine is on a charity sleepover at school to raise money for the local hospice; such a worthy cause – but I pity the poor teachers – ‘Lovely Ladies’ – who are supervising 21 over-excited ‘Little People’ at what is very nearly the end of their time in primary school.

The ‘Master of the House’ – Husband of Mine – is out gigging with The Renegade Dogs – who incidentally now have a brand new kennel at http://www.therenegadedogs.com

So that left me tonight with a rare evening with Son of Mine who was delighted to have me all to himself, mainly so that I could put some more songs on his iPod. Now, his music tastes are quite eclectic, ranging from folk inspired by The Renegade Dogs, through classic rock (Queen), pop (The Saturdays), country (Taylor Swift), instrumental film themes (John Williams), and of course all manner of musical theatre forced upon introduced to him by Yours Truly.

Added to his playlist tonight were the complete recordings of Anything Goes, Grease, The Pirates of Penzance and Into the Woods, plus selected songs by Kander & Ebb (‘Coffee in a Cardboard Cup’ and ‘Kiss of the Spider Woman’). He also wanted the entire soundtrack of Les Misérables, presumably because he’s just seen a production Daughter of Mine and I were in that included some of the songs.

Before long, we were searching YouTube for clips to answer his questions about the show and came across lots of Lego animation versions – not quite what I had in mind, but of course these went down a treat with Son of Mine! The one we watched actually provided a great potted version of the story –

A friend of Mine, ‘Streets’, saw the first performance given by Alfie Boe and Matt Lucas last month – part of the most significant cast change in many years. She loved it so much this time round that she’s already booked to see their last night in November. I’m not in the least bit jealous, not at all, not one bit – even though it is 20 years since I last saw the show on stage – well, ok, I am, just a teeny tiny (huge) bit.

‘At The End of the Day’, if watching Lego animations and syncing the music to iPods manages to stir up a bit of pressure from Children of Mine to book tickets then maybe I’ll be there sooner, rather than later, to ‘…Hear the People Sing’.

Improvised musicals

I start this post with an apology.

To the group of 40 or so students from the University of Virginia who contacted me last year about a new project they were working on – an online musical on YouTube, that would be developed weekly with help from viewers’ comments and suggestions.

Sorry that I didn’t watch it when I was supposed to. In September.

My only defence is that I was still recovering from the after-effects of my involvement in last September’s 24-hour musical (which incidentally, turned out to be Stephen Schwartz’s Pippin), oh, and that they contacted me on what happened to be the eve of my birthday, so I’m sure there was something incredibly exciting going on. Not.

Anyway, only six months late, I tuned in. Of course, the whole audience participation thing is over, so I have no way of knowing whether any of my suggestions would have influenced the final piece.

Episode One of The Online Musical made me smile. In a good way, so I will be watching Episode 2, hopefully sooner than Christmas. I’m not going to get into a long review here, frankly I should have done this in September for it to count, but for the record, I enjoyed what I saw – a bunch of enthusiastic people (all noticeably younger than me) making a musical out of the idea that life really is a musical. Which is what I and many of my musical theatre friends actually believe should happen anyway.

Coming soon is the group’s next project, The Mini Musicals, a series of 10-15 minute musicals based on topics suggested by their audience – that could be you and me! Anyway, I will try to follow in a timely manner this Spring, and I wish them luck as the project unfolds…

… incidentally, I’m seeing Showstopper! The Improvised Musical at the lovely Theatre by the Lake in Keswick at the weekend, so maybe I’ll pick up some ideas?!

Free weekend?

“I have just realised that my next free weekend is also my birthday! 12th September. In the autumn. WTF? #fb 2 months ago

It’s Friday night and Husband of Mine is down the pub, trying out his new, hand-made mandolin.  Children of Mine are tucked up in bed, so I thought, I know – I’ll log on to WordPress… but what’s this?  Wait a minute – I haven’t posted anything since 30th June?

And then I saw the Twitter Update in the sidebar, selectively tweeted to Facebook.  And realised that, against all odds, this weekend is still free.  It is still my birthday (on Sunday).  And it is now autumn (although I’m not sure it was ever summer).

Since that tweet on 6th July, my weekends have been spent rehearsing / in a tent at Guilfest dressed as a nun / at an operatic concert at an art gallery / at a wedding / on holiday in Mallorca / rehearsing again / performing at the Arundel Festival in Little Shop of Horrors / rehearsing non-stop for 24 hours to perform in a production of Pippin.


June is bustin’ out all over..

To be fair, the title of this post is misleading.  I’m not doing, and never have done, a production of ‘Carousel’, despite it being my favourite Rogers & Hammerstein musical.   No, the pertinent words from the title of this post are ‘all over’. 

June has quite literally passed me by in a haze of barn dances, backstage duties for ‘Annie Get Your Gun’, two luxurious weekends at home on my own without The Family, a summer ball, two summer fairs and an intensive six-week rehearsal period for a production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ that opened last night.

The door of my fridge says it all…

I wish I could say that Children of Mine did this. I can’t.  I did it. A lot of it was up there already, but I got bored today, so just ‘tidied’ it up, okay? And I ran out of letters for Husband of Mine’s next gig with The Renegade Dogs – hence just “dad in doG Gig”.  Can’t be helped… I needed the letters for the musicals.

Anyway, in case you’re interested, dear Reader:

Jesus Christ Superstar plays until Saturday 2nd July at the Alexandra Theatre, Bognor Regis. Tickets are still available for this fantastic production, with all proceeds going directly to the theatre.

The Little Sisters of Poughkeepsie are returning to Guilfest 2010 to entertain you in The Man in the Moon Theatre Tent with their brand new show, ‘Nuns Get One Over the Rainbow’. 

Look out for them around the festival too – last year they were seen disco dancing in the ’70s tent, running a tombola, on the top deck of the Pimms bus, and getting tattooed…

Finally, you’d do well to forget to feed the plants this year when you go on holiday – check out what could happen if you indulge them by coming along to the Arundel Players Festival production of ‘Little Shop of Horrors’.

Little Shop of Horrors

At this rate my next post will be in September…

Oh and by the way, The Renegade Dogs will be at The Elmer pub on 23rd July!

It’s gone, all gone…

In the weeks since my last post, I’ve felt my creativity has all but disappeared.  Back in the real world of 10th birthday celebrations, Dogs’ Dinners, St George’s Day parades with the Beavers & Scouts, the permanently over-flowing laundry basket, work, endless trips in the car to clubs and activities, and those Children of Mine demanding what seemed like all my time, energy and emotions, I felt as I usually do post-show; thankful for a night in to allow myself to snooze in front of the TV in the comfort of my own living room, yet bereft of that adrenaline-fuelled rush that only show week, or in the case of the 24 Hour Musical,’ show day’, can provide.

It’s good, isn’t it,
Grand, isn’t it,
Great, isn’t it,
Swell, isn’t it,
Fun, isn’t it?

Clinging on to performance in any way I could, I took Children of Mine to see the touring production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicoloured Dreamcoat, a show that I, but not they, had seen live before.

Then the Family went en masse to a production of Titanic the Musical in Godalming. We all thoroughly enjoyed the show; as predicted I cried for probably the last 20 minutes, from ‘To the Lifeboats‘ to the very end. Particularly when the young lad who had boarded the lifeboat, cried out “Daddy!”, and threw his teddy to the father he knew he would never see again.

An impromptu trip to London with friends to see Hair and Jersey Boys completed my theatregoing for April.

So it wasn’t all bad.  I just was on a different side of the stage than I’d been used to for a while.

You can like the life you’re living…

A recent family walk in the woods reminded me of some of the other things in my life that I enjoy.

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In a week in which Son of Mine announced that if faced with the choice of cuddling me or the Devil, he would choose the Devil; he was actually extremely cute on our walk around Burton Mill Pond. As he was leaning nonchalantly on the sluice gate, I asked, “All right, matey?”, to which he replied, “Yup, I’m just enjoying the view.” Just as if the view was the best thing in his possession at that very moment. Priceless.

You can live the life you like…

Out on a walk is often the time Husband of Mine and I get to ponder on Life’s Big Plan.

In my fantasy in my head, I’m living in Keswick in the Lake District. Shopping at Booths for essentials and seeking out local produce to support the independent shops. I climb the fells by day, and hang out at the Theatre by the Lake at night. Sipping my pint of Jennings in The Oddfellows Arms, I listen to folk music from a local band, The Renegade Dogs, who despite being wussy southerners, have managed to gain acceptance of sorts.

Cut back to reality – explaining Life’s Big Plan is too tall an order for today’s post. 

Yet thinking about it, I have realised that I have been creative in the last four weeks – practising photography, successfully auditioning for productions of Jesus Christ Superstar and Little Shop of Horrors, spring clearing (I love tidying but hate cleaning, spring or otherwise) during which I discovered my O level art portfolio in the loft, and playing a bit of piano and guitar.  The creativity has just slowed down for a few weeks to a pace that doesn’t involve me being out every night.

And that’s good, isn’t it?