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Archive for the ‘theatre’ Category

Autumn 2003, it was a cold Swiss autumn, my landlord who was from England invited me to watch a Riverdance on TV. It was Michael Flatley’s show and I was impressed. I had a dream since then to watch the Irish dance on stage. Roll on 14 years and the dream came true. We were once again in Orchard theatre for the dance show – “Spirit of the dance”. David King the producer of the show, created “Spirit of the dance” being inspired by Michael Flatley in 1996. But the “Spirit of the Dance” is not just Irish dance. This show includes Irish, salsa, flamenco, ballet, ballroom, tap, street dance, and more.

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Two tired adults on a weekday night, we did not know what to expect. From the first chords of the music and the scintillating moves, we knew we were in for a treat! Watching the clever incorporation of Irish dance with some modern hits and ballet, I couldn’t help to think why it won nine global awards. The Irish dance, the team spirit, the quick costume changes, the unanimous moves and the dancers energy was charging the whole audience. We could not believe their stamina. I loved when they came out without any music and tap danced. This showed how good they were and the rapport with audience was great. We were helping them to recreate the clap music and everybody quite enjoyed being part of the show. The likes of flamenco and street dance were unexpected but really well received.  This has inspired us a lot. We won’t just look at after school tap dance, ballet and the likes of it – as just a recreational pass time. “Spirit of the dance” shows how energizing is a great dance show!

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The show is on till 16th of September 2017 at Orchard theatre. It is a great opportunity to catch the breath-taking show, especially if you or your family are interested in some of those dances.

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Being a Londoner we are always on a lookout for a special place. We have recently been to a culinary express to India through Hankies café. What is this place do you say? Being in heart of Soho and a short walking distance from Leicester square and Piccadilly square – Hankies is very well located. It is quite easy to spot when you reach “The Queens” theatre where they show “Les Miserables” you have almost reached Hankies. You now know the landmark next to it and won’t miss it. This is a good fact to hold on to if your group consists of tired children and parents with buggies and you don’t want to wander around looking for a place to eat. Its location means you can go and grab something quick or explore their a la cart menu for a full meal, before any West End show. The cosy environment with bar stools in front and a seating area at the back of the place – take into account the needs of different diners. Besides Hankies is one of the few places in China town, which is not Chinese or pizza for a change. “Hankies” is a casual Indian street food restaurant serving Indian Tapas since last eight months and specialises in serving Roomali Roti. A classic Indian roti which is hand spun till it’s thin enough to read through, cooked on a burning hot Roomali Tawa and folded into ‘Hankies’.

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Upon arrival, we have been greeted by a very friendly Asish, who helped me fold my buggy and to store it away. Having two children – the first thing they needed is the use of facilities. Hankies cafe is linked with the Piccadilly hotel, which means one can use their spotless clean toilets. My only concern was going down the stairs with the children, but later I found out there was a lift to reach WC too. Afterwards, we sat looking at the menus. They had a-la cart menu, kid’s menu and drinks menu. Both of the children ordered different things from the kid’s menu. The elder one went for grilled chicken tikka, aam gur ke kheer – Indian rice pudding and a juice. The younger one was not keen to excite her taste buds much, so she ordered fish and chips, kulfi ice cream and juice.  Once kids were sorted, it was our turn to order and boy was it difficult! The menu was bursting with flavours and just the names of the dishes were so inviting. After long deliberations  – the three adults -we ordered Bhindi bhel, dahl phuri, Hankies dal, pumpkin paneer, chilli lamb chops, fish tikka, keema kaleji, egg and crab gotala, chicken dhaba . For dessert, we ordered aam gur ke kheer, gajarela, homemade kulfi pistachio ice cream.

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While we were waiting for our food, we asked Asish and chef Manoj to explain us the food we were going to have. The passion they have for food they are cooking and the willingness of inviting the crowds of London to a gastronomic journey to India are unbelievable. Listening to them you realise, here at Hankies cafe the food is cooked with passion, all the spices are mixed here to please a rather neutral palette and not to be too fiery hot. The freshness of the food is guaranteed as everything is cooked from scratch here. No prepared, pre cooked ingredients – everything is cooked fresh from the minute you order your food. The children menu was thought through too. Kids do not like too spicy a food mostly, so the “grilled chicken tikka” was soaked in spices overnight and then thoroughly washed. So the little people wouldn’t be met with burning sensation but taste the flavour of the spices. My usually very fussy and reluctant to eat anything with a hint of spice elder child loved her chicken tikka, which was served with apple chutney with a side of beetroot/radish veggie swirls. This is a good way of starting introducing the children to the world of spices and other flavoursome cuisines. We have also ordered a blueberry lassi, which we all liked.

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Those meat lovers and culinary delight seekers like myself are in for a treat here. I was not a fan of Indian food, so it is difficult to sway me to go back to an Indian place for another meal. But the dedication of the staff, their love and devotion to the food they make elevates your dining experience to another level.  Their willingness to explain you every new fusion -explosion your taste buds are going through leads you appreciating the food more. You almost hear the hassle and bustle of busy Delhi streets with every mouthful of delightful Indian tapas at Hankies. We loved all of the food we were served. Do not be fooled with the tapas size small bites. They come with the relishes, raitas, kachori poppers and roomali roties and while you are taken on a gastronomic journey your stomach gets pleasantly full. I personally loved: bhindi bhel, chilli lamb chops and aam gur ke kheer.  Bhindi bhel is an unexpected dish with rice puffs, veggies and such a subtle delightful spice mix. I can not believe one can transform simple rice puffs to such a great culinary height.  Mexican food meet Indian fusion gave incomparably tender chilli lamp chops, the avocado relish on a side was la cerise sur le gateau! The caramelised mango rice pudding “aam gur ke kheer” was a really good dessert to finish off the culinary journey to Indian street food. I never liked rice puddings, but now I can say that I am a convert. The children liked their home made kulfi ice creams, particularly pistachio one was a hit.

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By this point, I was thinking of grabbing a coffee. The masala coffee on the drinks menu was promising, so I  ordered it. Can you imagine having a coffee with cinnamon, pepper, cardamom and coffee? Masala coffee is all about rich flavour and a pleasant scent. Move over other coffee chains, I know where I will be taking my fix next time I am around the corner. In conclusion, Hankies cafe is a great place to come and taste Indian street food tapas. A place to take your family and your friends on a culinary express to India in heart of London.

hankiNo need to queue in famous chains when you can get such a good quality, fresh food in a cosy cafe. The food, the dessert, the drinks are all a la hauteur- bravo! The price may be a little on a pricier side, but one gets filled quickly. To me, the quality was comparable if not better to some high chain restaurants. I will be going back there with my friends and family! The food was just right, not excessively spicy, yet flavoursome. What not to like, even writing this review my mouth is watering at the thought of this little place I have discovered and happy to share about. Go on try yourselves- you can thank me later.

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It is hard to believe but it is true, the furry, stripy Tiger came to tea at Orchard Theatre Dartford today. We were kindly offered the review tickets to go and see the show with my three-year old and eight-year old children. Upon arrival, we have seen that the theatre was full and buzzing. Lots of excited children, going round the gift shop with the tiger soft toy and other memorabilia. Soon the bells were rung and we made our way to our seats.

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The well-known children’s writer Judith Kerr’s book’s musical adaptation was a hit with the audience from start to finish. All the children and adults have read the book time and time again. Thus there was an air of excitement in the theatre, in the anticipation of seeing the Tiger. The play is for ages three and above. But I would say any children older than 1 would enjoy it, including adults. Everybody was getting engaged in singing and dancing in this musical. The squealing children were amazed by their first introduction to the world of a musical. The parents were happily singing along and dancing in this interactive show. Unlike the book, the Tiger does not speak but rather shows with actions and movements, which made the show even funnier.

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The Oliver Award winner- David Wood is the Adapter and Director of the show. The Producer is acknowledged for his numerous works Nick Brooke made sure that “The Tiger who came to tea” is unforgettable, full of fun, excitement and awe moments. This musical play contains magical illusions designed by the President the Magic Circle, Scott Penrose. These illusions left all the elder children who came with their younger siblings and adults startled, let alone the little ones. The latter did not believe their eyes and the sarcastic, to begin with, elder children could not figure out how the illusions were engineered! A little brain teaser indeed!
Have you ever read the book and read it to your children or have little fans who like this classic picture book? Then book your tickets and enjoy 55 minutes of fun, excitement and awe with no intervals!
This musical show is at Orchard Theatre Dartford until the 23rd of August 2017, then it moves on to the UK wide tour. So do not miss it while it is in the area.smile

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The number one author in the world – Roald Dahl’s books keep children and their adults mesmerised. All four of us are Roald Dahl fans in our household. Since September 2016 marked 100 years since his birth, we enjoyed dream jars hunting across London. The news that more productions are coming to life made us leap with excitement. This is how we felt when we were invited to the opening night of Roald Dahl’s “Fantastic Mr Fox” at Orchard Theatre. My children were counting days, my husband made sure he comes home early on the day to enjoy these timeless classic!
We arrived at Orchard Theatre, 20 minutes prior to show. The place was buzzing with children wearing Mr Fox outfits, purchasable at the theatre shop. We enjoyed our complimentary drinks and our kids went through the Orchard Theatre’s program. The latter was crammed with activities for kids and pages and pages of information on “Fantastic Mr Fox” production. Going through the booklet my seven year old was amazed at the achievements of production team. National Theatre playwright, Best Costume award holder designer, Nathional Theatre composer and the cast from well acknowledged theatres were promising the jackpot of the shows!

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This new musical adaptation of FANTASTIC MR FOX is a flagship production for the Roald Dahl 100 celebrations marking the centenary year of the world’s number one storyteller and hotly follows the release of Steven Spielberg’s movie version of THE BFG. This new commission by Nuffield and Curve in association with Lyric Hammersmith brings together a stellar creative team: playwright Sam Holcroft, director Maria Aberg, designer Tom Scutt, composer Arthur Darvill, lyricists Darren Clark, Arthur Darvill, Sam Holcroft and Al Muriel, sound designer Claire Windsor, lighting designer Lee Curran, casting director Annelie Powell and movement director Ayse Tashkiran. FANTASTIC MR FOX is produced by Nuffield and Curve in association with Lyric Hammersmith.
The lights went down, the spectators stopped breathing in suspense and waiting for the show to begin. It began with beautiful birds singing live in beautiful voices, thus enthralling us slowly to the bright world of Roald Dahl in his true spirit. From those four beginning notes and beautiful accords we knew this show was more to what we’d expected! This idyllic scene was disrupted by three farmers coming from amongst of the audience, as a wakeup call life gives one sometimes. They were the true personages Roald Dahl described! Then we were introduced to the Badger, the Rabbit, the Mole and the Mouse who were waiting for Fantastic Mr Fox to bring them food. On the upper level Mrs Fox and her kit were working on hunting techniques. Kit being a typical child was very impatient, but Mrs Fox didn’t let failure to break her kit and teaching the perseverance. Finally Fantastic Mr Fox emerges from the auditorium too with cheers from excited children. He was bearing lots of food for his friends that he willingly shared and went back to his family for their dinner. The cast was meticulously selected and they were giving it all their selves. The singing, the dances, the transformations ,the energy that was there throughout the show was charging the each and every one of spectators. If you have ever visited the West End Musical, this is what it feels like! The show is recommended for the ages of five and above. We had our seven year old and a two year old with us! The seven year old was enchanted and the surprisingly the two year old was taken too. It may be a little long for younger viewers being two hours (our two year old was getting tired after a long day), so if you have young children with you we would recommend to visit the show during the daytime. But our toddler loved it nonetheless and thinks that the story is to be continued and looks forward to go back and see Mr and Mrs Fox. If you have not introduced the musical to your children yet, this is the best show to start! As the cast were really good with live singing, live music band and beautiful choreography. We liked the humour only the modern adults would get too, like self employed rats, no charging docks the iPads’ and more.

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The theme of perseverance came a lot through the show and was a very good teaching point for children to retain – to never give up and to achieve their highest dreams! Especially nowadays our children are under a lot of pressure be it SATs, 11plus exam, A levels and more. This show is not only a brilliant entertainment but an indispensable teaching tool towards building a stronger “Can do” attitude. The sharing is another important issue that was brought up that we tend to forget these days and it is becoming more and more acceptable to be selfish. Fantastic Mr Fox was not perfect, he had his shortcomings too. They made sure to let the children know that even if Mr Fox was a superhero in animal world, he still needed his friends and family when times were tough. The value of true friendship, family ties and team work was brought to the attention of auditors in such a great way; the children were discussing their day to day doings after the show. This alone demonstrates “Fantastic Mr Fox” show is a must see production for shaping young minds, building a strong, confident and open individuals. As Fantastic Mr Fox tries to keep being fantastic himself after na injury and can’t succeed on his own. His friends and family come to support him, each and every one of them being very good at something the teamwork makes impossible possible. This makes Mr Fox humble and he admits that they are better off as a team. This production is a pinnacle of musical shows for children! If you have not taken your children to any musicals yet, this is a great opportunity to impress young minds. They will remember this for years and years to come, keeping it as a happy childhood memory – a very bright star in the sky of young minds. My seven and two year old children loved the show, the music, the singing, the acting and all the effects made it to an extraordinary experience one lives through the whole show, laughing, gasping and looking for solutions together with the cast. The clapping sounds of ovation filled the auditorium and the happy spectators were thankful to have come and seen such a great show for children and their adults! This perfection of a show gets 10 out of 10 from us!

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On Thursday we had a pleasure of going to see the play by Story Pocket Theatre. They have put on scene Michael Morpurgo’s “Arthur, High King of Britain”.

We could not wait to arrive and watch it, as Morpurgo is one of favourite writers of my elder child. Arriving at Greenwich Theatre was a bliss, as it is so close and there are plenty of parking spaces around it. We were brave enough to take our two year old as well, even if the play was more for ages seven and above. The two year old was mesmerised and followed the whole play with few questions in between the scenes.

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This epic tale of chivalry, magic and heroism was brought to life by a professional troupe of Story Pocket Theatre. I have watched thousands of plays and I admit that we have been so used to special effects, sounds and extras, at times we forget what is the true theatrical experience should deliver.

The actors made sure we succumbed to a true theatrical adventure this time! The whole play was set by a team in such a fluid manner, you would not notice it going from one act to another. As there is such a continuality, you keep peeled to the scene worrying you would miss a delicious bit of it! The whole play is set the old fashioned theatre troupe way, which made the experience even more pleasing for me, taking me back to my childhood where we used to go to theatres to watch our favourite stories coming alive! From modern days, the story flows to the times of making of King Arthur, showing us the hardships he had to overcome, how he fell in love and how he was lured by his half sister. Personally  I was worried about the last bit, but the half sister’s act was shown in a beautiful dance, understandable enough not to disturb young minds. It showed how one has to stay true to himself to make wise decisions, in example of Merlin leaving King Arthur. Hence not only relying on a wit of smart people surrounding you but taking your own steps. The knights of the round table of Camelot, the sword fights shown in an expert manner would appeal to any young heart who find the medieval fights fascinating. There are incredible  bits of medieval dance during the wedding and happy times of King Arthur too. The whole production is about 1h30 minutes without intervals and is such a true theatrical experience to live through for young book lovers! The play is still on the stages of other theatres. And we recommend you to go and see it!

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Here is the list of places it will be on:

  1. February 22nd 2017, 2pm Theatre Brycheiniog Brecon, Powys, 01874611622 brycgeiniog.co.uk
  2. February 23rd 2017, 1pm & 4pm Blackwood Miners Institute, Caerphilly 01495227206 Caerphilly.co.uk
  3. February 25th 2017, 2.30pm Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury, 01684295074 rosetheatre.org
  4. February 26th 2017, 1.30pm & 5pm The Neeld Chippenham, 01249446699 neeld.co.uk
  5. March 2nd 2017, 11am The Broadway Theatre, Barking, 02085075607 thebroadwaybarking.com
  6. March 13th 2017, Richard Whiteley Theatre, Settle, North Yorkshire, 01729893180 giggleswick.org.uk

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