Southern Yacht

My little take on plus size fashion, life, travel and smurfs

Friday, 10 May 2019

Welsh National Opera - The Magic Flute at The Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

WNO The Magic Flute

I was invited by The Mayflower Theatre, Southampton to watch The Magic Flute* performed by The Welsh National Opera. The Magic Flute is an opera with music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart that was first performed in Vienna in 1791. The Welsh National Opera's current production gives us a quirky and modern twist on the timeless story of love and friendship.

WNO The Magic Flute. Tamino played by Ben Johnson

The story starts with Tamino fighting a monster and being rescued by Three Ladies who work for the Queen of the Night. Tamino meets Papageno the bird-catcher and together they go to rescue the Queen's beautiful daughter, Pamina who has been abducted and imprisoned by Sarastro. Guided by Three Boys and aided by a magic flute and a set of magic bells, the two friends start their perilous journey.

WNO The Magic Flute. Tamino played by Ben Johnson, Papageno played by Mark Stone

We soon learn though that all is not as it seems. Sarastro is not the evil character initially portrayed and instead invites Tamino to join his Brotherhood by undergoing a number of trials. Together with Pamina they succeed and they are united in love. Even Papageno, the comical bird-catcher finds his own true love Papagena at the end.

WNO The Magic Flute - Pamina played by Anita Watson, Tamino played by Ben Johnson

WNO The Magic Flute. Sarastro played by James Platt, Monostatos played by Howard Kirk

Sarastro's guard Monostatos played by Howard Kirk is gloriously evil and judging by the applause and boos he received at the end, he relished the role and the audience loved his portrayal.

The production is wonderful visual feast. The sense of depth on the stage and the use of deceptively simple props all helped with the surreal feeling of the show.

WNO The Magic Flute - Papagena played by Claire Hampton and The Three Boys

The Three Boys are played by young singers and their self assurance and confidence shone through in whichever scene they were in. I can't imagine that singing and performing while on an elevated cycling fish was the easiest of tasks!

WNO The Magic Flute - The Three Boys

This performance by The Welsh National Opera really does change your perception of what a traditional opera is. It's a performance for all ages and I noticed both young and old in the audience. I think as a child I would have been mesmerised by the effects and costumes on stage and I hope the children in the audience were too.

WNO The Magic Flute - The Animals

This was a magical and playful performance with plenty of humour. You could hear people chuckling throughout with some laugh out loud moments. The bird-catcher Papageno played by Mark Stone had some of the best lines and interaction with the audience and even when wasn't singing, still stole the scene. Samantha Hay's portrayal of The Night Queen, as my friend commented, gave you goosebumps. Her voice was beautiful in what seemed to my inexperienced ears seemed to be an extremely difficult role to sing.

I have to admit, this was only my second opera and although it was sung in English, I did worry a little about how I would keep up and understand all that was going on. I needn't have worried though. The singing was loud and clear and above the stage there was a discreet digital sign with surtitles (lyrics and dialogue projected above a stage). Certainly for me, this really helped and meant I could concentrate on the music and the story line without worrying about what I was missing. I'm excited to explore the world of opera at future shows.

A big thank you to The Mayflower Theatre and Southampton Bloggers for the invite.

Thanks for reading

Cathy
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*Tickets were gifted for the purpose of this review.
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Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Pink Clove colour changing star raincoat


Have you ever owned anything as an adult that you wish you could have had a child?

When I saw this raincoat on It's Em's insta stories, I knew I had to have one (and that younger Cathy would have loved it and worn it 24/7).

Pink Clove colour changing star raincoat

To start with, I was looking for a new, lightweight raincoat. Something that would pack up fairly small and not be too heavy to have in the bottom of a rucksack while on holiday. I so nearly went with a floral option on the Pink Clove website but I'm glad I held out and chose this star print.

It's from the Brave Soul range and I ordered the 22/24. Definitely long on the arms and big in the body, but it gave me the extra space to wear it over a jumper - which in the British summer is pretty standard.

Pink Clove colour changing star raincoat

The stars look white with a hint of colour, but the minute they get wet, they change colour. The other half suggested using a watering can to demonstrate this for the blog photos - I'm not entirely sure he was joking so opted to wait for a rainy day instead!

Pink Clove colour changing star raincoat
Pink Clove colour changing star raincoat
Pink Clove colour changing star raincoat

It's not going to keep me super dry in a very heavy downpour, but it's perfect for a light shower and enough to keep you dry until you get under cover. Unless, if you're like me, you stay out in the rain watching the stars....

Thanks for reading

Cathy
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Thursday, 4 April 2019

The Remains of the Day at Nuffield Southampton Theatre

The Remains of the Day

I was invited by Nuffield Southampton Theatres to watch The Remains of the Day. Now, like many people, I knew the Merchant Ivory film and the book, so I was intrigued to see how it would translate to stage. Originally written by Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro, the play has been adapted by Barney Norris and is currently touring the UK

Set in the 1930's and later the 1950's, the play centres around the memories and current experiences of Stevens, a butler at Darlington Hall (Stephen Boxer). He's reserved, strict and unendingly loyal to his employer. Working along Stevens is the housekeeper Kenton (Niamh Cusack). Together, they run Darlington Hall and despite a rocky start, they soon form an effective working partnership with respect (and more) for each other. You can feel the tension and disappointment Kenton has with Stevens when he acts on a decision from Lord Darlington.

Stephen Boxer and Niamh Cusack - credit Iona Firouzabadi

Rumbling in the background throughout is the pre-war tensions of the 1930's. With political references to government and Europe that wouldn't be out of place in today's Brexit confusion (and much appreciated by the audience) you watch as the characters move inevitably towards war and the sadness of wrong decisions made.

Stephen Boxer, Stephen Critchlow, Miles Richardson, Pip Donaghy  - credit Iona Firouzabadi

Add in the fact that parallel time lines are running throughout the play you really appreciate how the cast keep everything flowing. Some play several characters and although it seems on paper that it shouldn't work, it does. Sadie Shimmin plays an innkeeper one moment, Madame Dupont the next and makes the change seamless.

Sadie Shimmin and Stephen Critchlow - credit Iona Firouzabadi

Stephen Boxer, Patrick Toomey, Miles Richardson, Edward Franklin, Sadie Shimmin - credit Iona Firouzabadi

I realised partway though that the character Stevens is on stage constantly, I cannot think of a scene which he wasn't a part of which must be exhausting for Stephen Boxer. From beginning to end, you really believe he is Stevens. The end scenes with Niamh Cusack were poignant and beautifully acted. Without giving too much away - I did have a tear in my eye.

Stephen Boxer and Niamh Cusack - credit Iona Firouzabadi

An added bonus to the evening was a Q&A with the cast afterwards. To do the play and then spend time answering questions was much appreciated by everyone who stayed to listen. It's a story that has lots of different messages and each audience member will draw from that what they want. Some will say it's a story of lost opportunities, lost love, misplaced beliefs. Others will see a political insight into the mindset of pre-war Britain and how loyalty changes over the years.

As I drove home, I was trying to think of ways to describe the evening. One word that comes to mind is elegant. It really was elegant and stylish and captured the pre-war elegance of the 1930's perfectly. The stage set was minimal but effective and even the simple act of moving props was choreographed like a ballet. As you walked into the theatre before the play started, the scene was set. With atmospheric mist and the illusion of rain on the stage you couldn't help but notice how many people in the audience had a 'wow' moment as they walked in.

Afterwards, I compared the emotions as being the same as when you finish a good book. You become invested in the characters and you feel sad at knowing your time with them is over. I wonder how Steven's story will end during the remains of his days.

*Tickets were gifted for the purpose of this review

The Remains of the Day is showing at Nuffield Southampton Theatres until 6th April 2019.

Thanks for reading

Cathy
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Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Afternoon Tea at Grand Café, Southampton


Does anyone else think that going out for afternoon tea sounds so decadent and such a treat? It's always been something I've associated with days out and holidays but nowadays it's much more accessible with so many options available.

Last month we celebrated a special birthday so we went with family to Grand Café Bar, Bistro and Restaurant, Southampton for their afternoon tea. Now I have wanted to go here for the longest time - so much excitement!
Grand Café, Southampton

Firstly - location. This whole area of Southampton is steeped in history. From the Titanic to modern day, there's a story in every building. Grand Café is located in the lower part South Western House, a grade 2 listed building adjacent to the old Terminus Railway Station. Originally built in 1865 as a hotel, it's still an imposing Victorian landmark as you drive in and out of Southampton. I've driven past for years and always wandered what it was like inside.


Grand Café, Southampton

Grand Café, Southampton

Grand Café, Southampton

Grand Café, Southampton

Secondly - the afternoon tea. We started off with a choice of teas from the menu (I'll admit, I wasn't adventurous - I like my breakfast tea!). Then the main event - a selection of sandwiches, scones, cakes and petit fours. Dietry requirements were easily catered for such as gluten free and if you didn't like tea? No problem, plenty of filter coffee available.
Grand Café, Southampton
There was no risk of feeling hungry at the end, we were so full! And if you couldn't finish it all? You were given a little tin foil bag complete with it's own handle to take some goodies home.

And of course - did you really visit if you didn't get your photo taken on the silver thone outside the toilets?


Grand Café, Southampton

It really was the most lovely afternoon. There are so many hidden treasures in and around Southampton and I'm determined to discover more.

Thanks for reading

Cathy
xx



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Thursday, 21 March 2019

Jersey Boys at The Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

Jersey Boys - credit Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

I was kindly invited* with Southampton Bloggers to attend the opening night of Jersey Boys at The Mayflower Theatre, Southampton. Currently on it's second national tour, Jersey Boys is an award winning musical play based on the lives of the original members of The Four Seasons.

Unlike other recent musicals and stage adaptations, Jersey Boys is based on real events told from the perspective of each of the original members, Frankie Valli, Tommy DeVito, Bob Gaudio and Nick Massi with the play split into four separate seasons.

Jersey Boys - credit Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

The show is packed full of hits that are instantly recognisable, songs such as December 1963 (Oh What a Night)Big Girls Don't CrySherry and Can't Take My Eyes Off You. I'm sure most people know more Four Season songs than they realise!

The vocal talents of Michael Watson to be able to take on the role and distinctive falsetto singing voice of Frankie Valli was outstanding. Simon Bailey who played Tommy De Vito had the tough job of opening the show and setting the scene which he did right from his first line. You instantly knew you were watching a cocksure lovable rogue from New Jersey determined to make good. Declan Egan portrayed a character growing in confidence and Lewis Griffiths probably had the deepest voice and the best one liners in the show (if you've seen the show, you'll understand and appreciate his hotel towel rant!).

Jersey Boys - credit Matt Martin
From l-r: Declan Egan (Bob Gaudio), Michael Watson (Frankie Valli), Simon Baily (Tommy DeVito) and Lewis Griffiths (Nick Massi)

It's brutally honest at times, showing the ups and downs of success and the drifting apart of the band until at the end, they are shown together once more earning their place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Knowing that it's based on real accounts make the scene where Frankie's daughter dies so much more heartbreaking.

Jersey Boys - credit Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

As well as the four main actors, the supporting cast provided just the right level of support and added humour. Mark Heenehan in the scene with the song My Mother's Eyes made everyone chuckle. The level of enthusiasm and energy was 100% from start to finish and the whole cast thoroughly deserved all the applause.

Jersey Boys - credit Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

Jersey Boys is playing at The Mayflower Theatre, Southampton 19th to 30th March 2019 and all I can say is....oh what a night!

*Tickets were gifted for the purpose of this review

Thanks for reading

Cathy
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Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Princess and the Hustler at Nuffield Southampton Theatre

Last night I was invited by Nuffield Southampton Theatre to watch Princess and the Hustler at their City venue*. Set in in 1963 the play tells the story of Phyllis Princess James (known as Princess) and her family at the start of the black civil right movement in Bristol and explores themes of forgiveness, hope, dreams and optimism.

It starts with the opening scene of Princess in her bedroom acting out her dream of winning Miss Weston-super-Mare. Kudzai Sitima is utterly convincing as Princess and you're immediately drawn into all the hopes and dreams of an innocent 10 year old. All she wants is win the beauty contest and have enough money to buy a house for her mummy (and a bike for herself) and to eat choc ices at Weston-super-Mare where all the beautiful people are.

Princess and the Hustler

Princess's world is about to change though. With the return of her estranged father, a new half sister and evolving racial tensions, you watch her heart break as she learns that her dreams might just be out of reach. The play also deals with the mending of relationships between her father and her mother and brother and whether they can learn to forgive.

Princess and the Hustler

At each location, there's an opportunity for local volunteers to join the production as demonstrators or as part of the beauty pageant at the end. This was such a lovely touch - the level of excitement and pride from the volunteers could be felt throughout the theatre.

Princess and the Hustler

Princess and the Hustler

The play really takes you through the whole mix of emotions. It goes from laugh out loud moments to sadness, anger and uplifting joy at the end. It's easy to think that the Bristol Bus Boycott, where a company refuses to hire black workers would be incomprehensible nowadays. But then I remember, this is 1963 - the year my partner was born and only a few years before I was born. It's sobering to think this really is in our lifetime.

Written by Bristol based Chinonyerem Odimba, this is the second production from Revolution Mix, Eclipse Theatre's new writing programme. It just has a two night run in Southampton, but will be playing in Oxford, Liverpool and Newcastle in March and April. It really is a play that will take you on a journey through all your emotions. It tells a story we all need to hear and should never grow tired of hearing.

* Tickets were gifted for the purpose of this review

Thanks for reading

Cathy
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Monday, 4 March 2019

Rain Man at The Nuffield Theatre, Southampton

A really good way to spend a Monday evening is by going to the theatre. On this particular Monday I was invited by Nuffield Southampton Theatre to watch Rain Man*. This stage adaption of the famous 1988 Oscar winning film starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman is currently touring the UK and from the 4th-9th March is in Southampton.


Rain Man at Nuffield Southampton Theatre

The play follows the story of the two Babbitt brothers Raymond and Charlie. Charlie played by Chris Fountain is the younger brother, a brash and abrasive salesman who learns that his father has bequeathed his multi-million pound fortune in trust to Charlie's older brother Raymond.

Raymond (played here tonight by Adam Lilley) is the opposite of Charlie. A gifted autistic who lives in an institution, he is 'borrowed' by his younger brother Charlie. The play follows the two brothers trip across America as Charlie hatches a plan to get his share of the fortune but along the way discovers the true value of Raymond.

It's a been a while since I've seen the film so I was hopeful I wouldn't be making comparisons between the two. I needn't have worried etc. After a few minutes in I had forgotten all about the film versions of the characters.

Chris Fountain and Adam Lilley in Rain Man

The two lead roles played by Chris Fountain and Adam Lilley were outstanding. By the interval I was beginning to dislike the character of Charlie, by the end he had me nearly in tears with some laughs along the way.

Adam Lilley's portrayal of Raymond in particular was touching, heartbreaking and uplifting in equal measure. The scene where Charlie teaches him how to dance, I think I was holding my breath the whole time. If you see it, you'll understand.

Chris Fountain and Adam Lilley in Rain Man

At the end, the cast received a thoroughly deserved standing ovation, if you get a chance to see it, you definitely should. I thought that after seeing this, I'd probably watch the film again, but now I don't want to - I'd prefer to remember this version instead.

The original film was set in the 80's and scene changes were accompanied by classics from that era (seriously, my whole childhood was re-lived in the music alone).

Rain Man is the premiere production in a brand new series from Bill Kenwright under the banner Classic Screen to Stage. Having previously adapted The Exorcist, A Few Good men and The Shawshank Redemption, I can't wait to see what comes next.

*Tickets were gifted for the purpose of this review

Thanks for reading

Cathy
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February favourites

It's been long old time since I've done one of these, but after reading some favourites posts this weekend, I realised I had a few favourites of my own I wanted to share. So I thought I'd start with make up and beauty.

My February Favourites

Now I'm not a lover of foundation. More often than not I'll only wear CC cream, eyeshadow and mascara and that's it. The one CC cream I always go back to is the 123Perfect CC Cream by Bourjois. It's a light coverage cream that doesn't feel heavy and sticky but still helps balance out uneven skin tone without looking like a mask.

My February Favourites

I was recently given a tester of Benefit Porefessional. So far, so good. Enough for me to be tempted to look at buying the full size when I'm passing through Duty Free later this year. It's not something I'm using everyday, but on special days, it just helps minimise those pesky pores and make me feel a bit more put together.

I love to have hand creams scattered throughout the house, car, handbags etc. This hand cream from a Christmas gift set from Marks & Spencer is lavender scented and is as pretty to look at as it smells - perfect to keep on my bedside table to use last thing at night.

Revolution makeup and skincare always have a place on my favourites. Their eyeshadow primer just helps eyeshadows last that little bit longer (and helps stop you looking like the living dead in the morning...)

My February Favourites

The One Concealer, I'm honestly heartbroken that this seems to have been discontinued. So often concealers are too drying for me. This one comes with an almost waxy/silicone surround that helps it blend and smooth. I'm not sure how good this would be for very sensitive skin but for my older, dryer skin it works just fine. The hunt for an alternative is on!

The Essence Super Curl from Wilkos is such a bargain at only £3. I wanted a cheap dupe for my absolute favourite mascara - Benefit Roller Lash and this doesn't do a bad job. It has the small plastic wand that I like and even though it can sometimes transfer as the day goes on, at that price, I can live with it. I also like being able to take something cheap and cheerful on holiday without worrying about losing it somewhere.

My February Favourites

My next favourite is my absolute favourite, holy grail eyeshadow product - Two Faced Chocolate Bon Bon eyeshadow palette.

My February Favourites

My February Favourites

This was a birthday splurge in a French Sephora a couple of years ago and it's still going strong. I remember thinking that I'll never use all of the shades, esp Totally Fetch, the gorgeous deep pink/cerise but I have and I love them all. They have so little fall out and last all day. Plus they smell so good. Everytime I use it, I'm reminded of summer and holidays - and that's no bad thing.

And finally, Daisy by Marc Jacobs. I honestly haven't tried a Marc Jacobs perfume yet that I didn't like and this is my current favourite. I'm finding as I get older, my taste in perfume is moving away from citrus scents towards more floral scents.

My February Favourites

My February Favourites

So that's my February Favourites - I think I'll try to alternate with books and films for March (guess I better start reading!)

Thanks for reading

Cathy
xx





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Friday, 22 February 2019

Festival of Light 2019 at Westquay, Southampton

I think it's safe to say that most of us are ready now for the brighter, longer days. In the meantime though, while we wait for Spring to make an appearance, there's the annual Festival of Light to brighten up our evenings.

Held at Westquay Shopping Centre in Southampton and in the shadow of the Old Walls, the event is returning with new installations, one of which is a bespoke commission especially for the event.

Festival of Light 2019

Festival of Light 2019

Some of the pieces there included The Wave - a series of suspended orbs which changed colour.

The Wave at Festival of Light 2019

The Wave at Festival of Light 2019

Lightbattle - where two sets of bicyles face one another and used pedal power to send light across the archway. This seemed very popular with all ages - even if some of  the little ones had trouble reaching the pedals!

Lightbattle at Festival of Light 2019

Lightbattle at Festival of Light 2019

Sunrise was the bespoke piece commissioned for the festival - this dome of twinkling, colour changing lights was hypnotic when you stood underneath.

Sunrise at Festival of Light 2019

Sunrise at Festival of Light 2019

Sunrise at Festival of Light 2019

The perfect backdrop to all of this was The Old Walls - I wonder what stories they could tell from all that they've seen over the years.

The Old Walls at Festival of Light 2019

The Old Walls at Festival of Light 2019

The Old Walls at Festival of Light 2019

The Festival of Lights runs from the 15th to 24th February. It's a free event so if you still have time for a visit, I'd recommend it.

Thanks for reading

Cathy
xx

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