Beautiful: The Carole King Musical – Theatre Review

So, my Year of the Theatre is officially under way, and we’re kicking things off with Beautiful – The Carole King Musical. We saw the matinee of this show on Saturday 21st January at the Aldwych Theatre, and it was the perfect way to kick off my friend Olivia’s birthday celebrations!

To be completely honest, I’d never given much thought to seeing this show before. I knew it had fab reviews, had won the same awards as some of my favourite musicals, and I never doubted that it would be amazing. However, there’s always been something else at the top of the list for me, usually shows either from my own generation or that I could relate to, that I think I would appreciate and understand more.

In spite of that, I really enjoyed it! The story follows the life of Carole King and incorporates the songs that she and her friends created, both with former husband Gerry Goffin, and on her own. To say that neither myself nor either of the two friends I went with knew anything about Carole King or her story beforehand, the plot was easy yet engaging to follow. I was slightly unwell on the day and was concerned that the plot would go straight over my head due to brain-fog, but I had no problems at all and the performance held my attention all the way through. The cast were beyond talented: Cassidy Janson has the most gorgeous voice, and I loved Lorna Want’s performance and witty one-liners as Cynthia too.

However, the real winner for me in this musical was the soundtrack. When I first began listening to it, a few weeks prior to seeing the show, I couldn’t believe how many of the songs I knew or recognised, and I had no idea that Carole King was associated with them. It’s beyond difficult to pick a favourite on such a feel-good soundtrack but I loved ‘Chains’ in particular. I’m conscious of sounding like a cynical granny here, but whilst I was watching the show, I couldn’t help wishing that the charts were still full of songs like these. To think how much popular music has changed in what’s really quite a short amount of time is bizarre… kids these days, eh?

Overall, I really enjoyed this musical and was glad that I experienced and enjoyed something that I wouldn’t have necessarily picked out for myself. I do think I would have appreciated it a lot more if I grew up in the generation where this music was produced; some of the jokes and references that had the audience in stitches were lost on me. In spite of that, I’d really recommend seeing this show for a sunny yet moving insight into the life of Carole King: a woman whose undeniable talent shaped a generation of music, but most importantly has given me another killer soundtrack to jam along to when I’m supposed to be doing something more productive.

Pippa x

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Book(ish) Box Review: Musical Theatre Edition!

For a while now, I’ve been searching for the ultimate subscription box. I’m not so much into beauty or fashion, and I knew exactly what I wanted: books. ALL the books. There are various bookish subscription boxes available at the moment, and all of them are gorgeous, but what’s actually in them never seems to quite justify the price of the subscription for me.

I’d briefly given up on my quest when, in November, I accidentally discovered The Book(ish) Box through Facebook.  I’m not gonna lie, as soon as I saw ‘Book to Musical theme’, I was sold. Somebody had combined the two loves of my life and I was more than ready to give up an essential organ or two to get my hands on one, let alone just $18.99 (roughly £15). Since I was a first-timer, I opted for a one-off gift of the most basic box: just the bookish goodies. For an upgrade in price, you can also get boxes including novels, and boxes including a shirt in a variety of styles. I don’t think I’d wear a shirt enough to justify getting that one, but I’m tempted by the novel one for next time…

ANYWAY, all through January I’ve been waiting in anticipation for my box to arrive, and it couldn’t have come on a better day. I’m currently running on zero hours sleep, which instead of making me tired leaves me completely buzzed and hyperactive due to over-exhaustion, and I was happily mouthing along and doing all kinds of sassy finger snapping to the Legally Blonde soundtrack when the doorbell rang.

Let me tell you right now, this box is gorgeous. My terrible photography skills don’t do it justice; I could write an essay about the cute packaging alone, but I’ll spare you. I was expecting the content of the box to be themed around just one musical (and praying it wouldn’t be Wicked, because I am ultimate Wicked trash already), so it was a nice surprise to see items influenced by a few different shows, not just one.

My box contained:

  • Bookish Notes 2017 collection: my favourite item. A colourful little book to keep record of your favourite books and excerpts per month, combined with beautifully printed quotes from some of my favourite novels.
  • Les Mis Bookmark: perfect colours, perfect quote, I’ve popped it in my current read already.
  • Hamilton Earrings: I won’t wear these due to lack of pierced ears, but my best friend will love them.
  • ‘Currently Reading’ stickers: shamefully, my first thought was ‘these will look great on Instagram’. But they seriously will, they’re adorable.
  • Wicked Bath Bomb: which I’m praying I’m not allergic to, because I can already envision a perfect Wicked bath, Wicked soundtrack, Wicked book, all-time Wicked trash bath time situation going on.

Overall, I’m impressed. The box was pretty good value for money and was fabulous quality. Most importantly, it gave me something to look forward to and be excited about: when you’re limited due to health problems, having something special come in the post can make SUCH a difference. I won’t be subscribing monthly because I’m a chronically-ill student and money doesn’t grow on trees (she says, compulsively buying theatre tickets like there’s no tomorrow), but I’m hoping to treat myself to more one-off boxes like this in the future, whenever the monthly theme next takes my fancy. Which, lets not lie, will probably be next month.

If you sign up via this link, I may or may not get a free box… alternatively, find out more about The Book(ish) Box via their website.

See you when I’ve hopefully retrained myself in the art of sleeping,

Pippa x

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Kinky Boots: My first Theatre Review

 

Edit (December 2017): If this is the first post of mine you’ve read, I advise you to back away slowly. This was not only my first blog post but my first theatre review, before I even really knew what a theatre review was. I strongly advise you to check out my more recent stagey posts instead, but… if you must read it, do take it with a pinch of salt, and try not to cringe as much as I just did reading it back. Although I regret nothing in terms of the fangirling: I do love me some Kinky Boots.

~

Before I start writing about the upcoming shows I’ll be seeing in 2017, I HAVE to talk about Kinky Boots. I got to see this show in December 2016, so consider this a Throwback Thursday. That’s a thing that people do, right…?

Kinky Boots had been at the top of my mental must-see list for a couple of years, so getting tickets for my birthday in November was a Huge Deal and I honestly couldn’t believe it. I don’t get to go to London too often due to my health and travel and ticket expenses and so on, so to have a trip to Covent Garden at Christmas (eek) and lunch with friends, topped off with seeing an amazing show on the West End, was incredible.

I wasn’t disappointed. The thing that made Kinky Boots stand out to me was the undisputed message that it’s completely okay to be who you are, regardless of what other people think. It highlighted the extreme nature of prejudice against LGBTQ+ people, or in fact any people who are different, and just how damaging thoughtless words and actions can be. It showed how much courage it can take to simply exist as yourself in today’s society. Taking such important messages like that and combining them with sassy one liners, gorgeous drag queens and an abundance of glitter is a game-changer. I don’t believe that any person in the audience, no matter how aware they already were, didn’t have their eyes opened just a little more by this show. The choreography, costuming, and the production in it’s entirety just worked, and the whole performance seemed to fly by.

I am officially obsessed with the character of Lauren, flawlessly played by Elena Skye. I’m sure any woman who hears ‘The History of Wrong Guys’ would struggle NOT to find it relatable on some level, but it made my life complete. In fact, the entire soundtrack made my life complete. If I was able-bodied, ‘Raise You Up’ would have me booty shaking and catwalk strutting around my bedroom for approximately 90% of my free time but since I’m not, dramatic hair flicking and jazz hands are almost just as satisfying. Even if you’re not a show person or haven’t seen Kinky Boots, I can guarantee the original West End recording of that song (the album is on Spotify) will give you that lovely glowing feeling in your belly for the rest of your day.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that since seeing Kinky Boots in December, I’ve thought about it at least once a day ever since. It’s the kind of thing that stays with you, and I believe that would be the true even for somebody who wasn’t a huge musical super fan. So, in case I haven’t stressed this enough, I love this show. It’s the only one of my all-time favourites (so far) that hasn’t made me cry, and that’s simply because the whole thing was so uplifting that I’m pretty sure my face looked like the heart-eyes emoji. Possibly combined with the one that’s drooling a little bit.

10/10… everybody needs to see this show at some point in their lives.

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Oh, hey…?

Oh hey! I’m Pippa, I’m 22 years old and I live in York. My life currently revolves around attempting to study for my Masters degree in Health Psychology, running my non-profit Spoonie Survival Kits, and working with disability charities, all with very limited energy due to my chronic illness. So naturally, I decided 2017 was the right time to start a blog. Time for a little story about how my writing journey began…

Halfway through my undergraduate degree, I acquired a debilitating chronic illness. This completely changed my sporty, active way of life, and it took me a quite a large chunk of time to really find my feet and begin to feel like ‘myself’ again.

When things started to feel a little less like the end of the world, I began to engage with advocacy opportunities, speaking up about life as a student with a long-term condition. In 2015, I founded my very own social enterprise, Spoonie Survival Kits, and it was from here that the writing opportunities really began to arise. My work has been published on various digital platforms including Standard Issue UK, Positivity In Pain, and on plenty of chronic illness charity websites and individual blogs. My own book, written collaboratively with other chronically ill friends, is currently in the process of being published, and possibly my biggest achievement to date is being a finalist for the Jane Tomlinson Woman of Courage Award at the Yorkshire Women Of Achievement Awards, for my fundraising and advocacy; any excuse to wear a posh frock and pretend I’m classy…

In the midst of all this, I realised that I rather enjoyed writing and wanted to branch out from only focussing on health and disability.  Living with a long-term chronic illness has taught me to find humour in even the most unfortunate circumstances, giving rise to plenty of what are now well-known among friends as ‘Life Of Pippa’ moments. Therefore, I decided to launch my own blog called Life Of Pippa, focussing on some of my favourite things: theatre and books, as well as lifestyle and fundraising. From publishing my first post in January 2017, I have had more opportunities than I ever thought could possibly come from a personal blog.

I now professionally review theatre productions for Broadway World UK, whilst keeping up my own colloquial, chatty reviews on here. My bookish posts have sparked interest from publishers including Walker, Pan Macmillan, HarperCollins and more, all of whom have arranged to send me books to review. Just recently, I have begun to be invited to local events as press, reviewing shops and restaurants in the York area. I’m reaching a combined audience of around 9,000 people all over the world, and I couldn’t love it more.

Something I feel very strongly about is the unjust lack of accessible employment opportunities for those with long-term conditions: throughout the country there are people like me, graduates with a wealth of knowledge and experience, who are unable to work in typical occupations because of chronic illness. I’m very, very lucky in that occasional opportunities to help me earn a living come my way. If you’re interested in hiring me as a freelance writer, proofreader, social media assistant or essentially anything else under the sun, do drop me a message and I’ll send across my media kit.

To those of you who’ve read this far, it’s time to give yourself a hearty pat on the back. If you do think I sound like an alright human being, and you’d enjoy some occasional light reading on why musicals and theatre are the entire meaning of life and hold the key to the secrets of the universe and all that is contained within it, you can find me on Twitter and Instagram. Or if wittering on about books is more of your thing, I’d love some more pals on Goodreads.

See you around! *curtsies*

Much love,

Pippa x

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