Monday, 11 December 2017

Theatre Review: Crazy For You - Empire Theatre, Liverpool

Image Source: ATG
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Format: Musical
Genre: Comedy
Date: December 8 2017
Location: Empire Theatre, Liverpool

A love triangle within a musical is as old as the theatre industry itself, but when the two men involved are the same person??? That's something different, and this forms a major arc for Crazy For You.

The greater emphasis of the show is about the run-down Gaiety Theatre in Deadrock, Nevada which is threatened with closure by the banking authorities of New York. Chief to this is Bobby Child (Tom Chambers), who after a failed dance routine to impress Bela Zangler (Neil Ditt), the head of the Zangler Theatre in his hometown, is sent by his mother to Deadrock to carry out the impending takeover of the venue. This angers the feisty Polly Baker (Charlotte Wakefield), a talented theatre performer in her own right, who vows to never speak to Bobby Child again. As the Deadrock community band together to try and save Gaiety Theatre, though, Bobby develops a crush for Polly, but his advances are spurned.

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Pantomime Review: Beauty & The Beast, The Black-E, Liverpool

Image Source: Made Up
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Format: Pantomime
Genre: Comedy
Date: December 7 2017
Location: The Black-E, Liverpool

A modern, localised and charming retelling of the classic story Beauty & The Beast is currently being performed at the Black-E in Liverpool. Produced by Siobhan Noble and James Lacey, it brings the true spirit of Christmas along with some funky dance moves, some humorous situations and plenty of outrageous moments and one-liners to deliver a fantastic pantomime experience.

This version of Beauty & The Beast tells the story of Belle Vale (Tori Hargreaves), and her father Egbert (Alan Stocks) attempting to benefit from his next major invention, "Top Trumps" whoopie cushions. He also wants to find a rose for Belle, in the face of insults and adversity from her two sisters Toxteth (Maia Johnson) and Croxteth (Billiejo Fairclough). In the meantime, however, a spell by Fairy Rose Lane (Helen Carter) goes disastrously wrong, causing The Prince (Nick Langmead) to transform into a horrid Beast, who rules the kingdom with an iron fist and has his minions, particularly Dame Dolly (Jamie Greer) and Basic Bertie (Adam McCoy), perform his every wish.

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Friday, 8 December 2017

DVD Review: TLC 2017

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 187 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 1
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: December 11 2017

(Thanks to Fetch Publicity for arranging this review.)

What happens when a one-match card suffers from outside factors forcing that bout to be cancelled? We found out at this year's TLC event, when the official reunion match of The Shield against a five-man army under Tables, Ladder and Chairs rules saw Roman Reigns removed for medical reasons with 48 hours' notice. This unexpectedly led to Kurt Angle - the Raw General Manager, whose in-ring WWE comeback was presumably being saved for WrestleMania 34 - being inserted into Roman's place (Daniel Bryan was also apparently considered, which opens up a whole bunch of questions to be dealt with another time).

As a result, the excitement surrounding The Shield reuniting was replaced by the shockingly sudden nature of Kurt Angle making a landmark in-ring return for the company. In addition, the same medical issues ruled out Bray Wyatt from facing Finn Balor. Instead of Sister Abigail facing The Demon, AJ Styles was brought in from a SmackDown tour in South America, meaning that Balor and Styles would be meeting for the very first time in a WWE ring. Needless to say, an entirely missable WWE PPV suddenly became can't-miss, and WWE has to be admired for going above and beyond to compensate fans who wanted to see The Hounds Of Justice battling as a united force.

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Thursday, 7 December 2017

Music Review: Steps - Liverpool Echo Arena

Written By: Mark Armstrong

Format: Music Show
Genre: Pop
Date: December 6 2017
Location: Echo Arena, Liverpool

It's hard to believe that it has been 20 years since Steps first formed and marched their way to the top of the UK charts, with some of the most memorable and catchy pop tunes of the era. In recent years, we've seen Lee Latchford-Evans, Claire Richards, Lisa Scott-Lee, Faye Tozer and Ian Watkins (H) reform, bringing the band together much to the delight of fans new and old.

And the culmination of this has been their most notable year yet since reuniting, as their fifth studio album Tears On The Dancefloor was followed by the announcement of a UK tour, including a visit to Echo Arena. The demand for their previous show on November 18 led to a return date last night at Liverpool's premier music venue, and all in attendance were rewarded with a great night of entertainment.

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Monday, 4 December 2017

Theatre Interview: Charlotte Wakefield - Crazy For You, Liverpool Empire Theatre

Image Source: West End Frame
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Crazy For You dates back to 1992, when it first came to life on Broadway. Since then, the show has received several incarnations around the world, including two runs on the West End. Now, the production is touring the UK, and the Liverpool Empire Theatre is about to experience the show for the first time. We spoke to Charlotte Wakefield, one of the key performers in Crazy For You, to discuss the show, her character Polly Baker, and her successful theatre career thus far!

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Friday, 24 November 2017

DVD Review: WWE Double Feature: No Mercy 2017 & Hell In A Cell 2017

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 381 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 2
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: November 27 2017

(Thanks to Fetch Publicity for arranging this review.)

The streak of inconsistent Double Feature DVD sets - with the Raw event generally offering value for money while the SmackDown show being sub-par - finally ends here with the latest release. That's because No Mercy delivers two major main event matches alongside some great action further down the card, whilst Hell In A Cell delivers what it promises with two exciting and memorable Cell encounters book-ending a decent under-card.

Starting with No Mercy, The Miz vs. Jason Jordan is a watchable opener, though Jason's attempts to gain acceptance from the fans as Kurt Angle's "son" take another hit here, both with the result and with the hostile reaction from the Los Angeles crowd. Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt is okay but nothing special, but the opposite is true for Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose vs. Sheamus & Cesaro. Traditionally, the PPV rematch is inferior to the original, especially when the first encounter is a damn good one, but this is another absolute thriller between these four men, and it features Cesaro losing his teeth via a slingshot into the post in a pretty gruesome visual.

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Thursday, 16 November 2017

Theatre Review: War Horse - Liverpool Empire Theatre, Liverpool

Image Source: ATG
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Format: Play
Genre: Drama
Date: November 15 2017
Location: Liverpool Empire Theatre, Liverpool, England

With the Remembrance Day services having taken place last weekend, and with next year marking 100 years since the end of World War One, it seems like a fitting time for War Horse to come to the Liverpool Empire. Since the show's inception, War Horse (a stage adaptation of the 1982 book, with the West End incarnation inspiring the movie, released in 2011) has gained a reputation for being one of the most compelling and emotional stage shows ever performed, and so there was a great deal of anticipation for its current run in Liverpool.

Fortunately, I can confirm that the show, which is based on a true story, is superb. Of course, it helps to have either seen the film or read the book, or at least to have some knowledge about the atrocities of the First World War to provide context. But even those approaching this show cold will appreciate the touching story, the incredible performances and the first-class production values which all come together to deliver a fantastic theatre experience.

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Monday, 13 November 2017

Theatre Review: Eugene Onegin (WNO) - Liverpool Empire Theatre, Liverpool

Image Source: ATG
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Format: Opera
Genre: Drama
Date: November 9 2017
Location: Liverpool Empire Theatre, Liverpool, England

The Welsh National Opera (WNO) recently brought their newest opera performance, Eugene Onegin, to the Liverpool Empire Theatre.

Originally written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and first performed in Moscow way back in 1879, the focus of Eugene Onegin is the character after which the show is named. Tatyana, the daughter of Madame Larina, happens to meet Eugene by chance, as he visits her house alongside his friend Lensky, who happens to be the fiancé of Tatyana's youngest sister Olga. Having been in the process of reading a romantic novel, Tatyana soon realises that she has fallen in love with Eugene, and after telling their home nurse Filippyevna that she cannot sleep about her feelings, she sits up all night writing a letter to Eugene to express her love for him.

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Friday, 10 November 2017

DVD Review: NXT - From Secret To Sensation

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 408 Minutes
Certificate: 12
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: November 13 2017

(Thanks to Fetch Publicity for arranging this review.)

The second DVD release dedicated to NXT, From Secret To Sensation takes a different approach to the original Greatest Matches DVD. In this new compilation, we get a countdown of the top 25 NXT performers in history, along with more than a dozen matches from 2011 to 2017. I'm not sure whether the title is relevant, considering that we only get a basic run-down of the history of NXT (it would have been more appropriate if we were treated to a full-length documentary here), but otherwise fans should be excited at getting another home release on what is arguably WWE's most popular brand, at least amongst the die-hards.

Part of the reason for this is that the countdown feature is really enjoyable. It's a tried-and-tested formula, and we have actually just had a countdown on the 30 Years Of Survivor Series DVD. However, what differentiates this particular main feature is that we're shown the evolution of each performer during their time on NXT, which in many cases was pretty dramatic. For example, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks both showed up as plain performers with no distinguish features. They left NXT as The Lass Kicker and The Boss, two clearly-defined and unique characters with an appetite for stealing the show in the ring and with huge fan followings which have followed them to the main roster.

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Business News: Alex Stewart Agriculture Accredited By UKAS To ISO 17025 Standards

Written By: Mark Armstrong

Provided By: Alex Stewart International

The following story is courtesy of Alex Stewart International ...

Alex Stewart Agriculture is delighted to announce to the industry that its head office and principal laboratories in Liverpool, England, United Kingdom – Alex Stewart Agriculture - has been accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service - UKAS - to ISO 17025 Standards for an extension to scope to cover new pet food matrices for ash, fats/oil, crude fibre and moisture content and also an extended matrix scope to food, fats, oils and pet food for fatty acid methyl esters.

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