Monday, 5 December 2011


First Christmas card actually arrived on Saturday. The second came today. Some people are just too organised. However, in a vain attempt not to be left behind, I've now written and sent 90 per cent of the ones I need to so feeling a bit more organised! Even my three year old helped stick the stamps on the envelopes, though a few of them obscured the addresses. Next job is to make some cards and then clear up the glitter

Aladdin at Greenwich Theatre

Aladdin, Greenwich Theatre, Crooms Hill
Until January 8
Box office 020 8858 7755
Five stars!

Christmas in Greenwich just wouldn’t be Christmas without Andrew Pollard’s annual panto offering.
This year it’s Aladdin (sponsored by Lamps r Us) and from the moment the lights go down in the lovely small auditorium that is Greenwich Theatre the atmosphere is charged with excitement.
The must see panto of the season does not disappoint and is jam packed with gags, live music, silliness and mayhem coming thick and fast at an astonishing rate for two hours.
Indeed, the action zips along at such a rate you hardly have time to stop laughing.
Aladdin (Adam Dougal) and his mum Widow O’Twankey are on their uppers. Their laundry business barely earns them enough to live on, much less feed their pet panda. But then Aladdin meets Princess So-Shy (Laura Wickham) and a strange long lost uncle offers him a job and the promise of jewels galore.
There are various hilarious thrills, spills and adventures to be negotiated and there are of course plenty of local cultural, geographical and political references including the Olympics.
The small cast excels but there are stand-out performances from Anthony Spargo as the evil Abanazar and Daniel Norford as the dancing Genie. Paul Critoph as the rapping Emperor Fu was inspired. But it’s Andrew Pollard’s witty, pacy and punchy script and outrageous Dame Widow O’Twankey which steals the show.
Complete with sumptuous and glitzy costumes, dazzling lighting and pyrotechnics, plenty of Oriental joshing and romance, and a flying carpet, this is the high-flying highlight of the festive season.
It was blingtastic and my ribs still ache from laughing so much. I’m already looking forward to next year’s show.

The Snow Queen

Think you know the story of The Snow Queen? Well a new take on this classic Hans Christian Anderson tale now on at the Unicorn Theatre will make you think again.
In an inspired move, author Anupama Chandrasekhar has set the story in India with Gerda becoming Gowri, beautifully played by Amaka Okafor.
When her best friend Kumar (Ashley Kumar) disappears after a freak snowstorm on the southern tip of India, Gowri sets off on a gruelling and challenging quest to find him and save him from the icy grip of the Snow Queen (Nimmi Harasgama).
Armed only with her self-belief and talisman shell, Gowri’s journey takes her through the burning heat of southern India, lush backwaters, the bustling vibrancy of Mumbai’s street markets, glitzy Bollywood and desolate bandit country before she reaches the stark and ice cold palace of the Snow Queen.
Along the way, she encounters plenty of strange, exotic and wonderful characters, from an old lady who wants to play games with her in her garden to the Sea Goddess with attitude, who eventually agrees to give her safe passage to Mumbai, the cast of a Bollywood movie, a three-headed man and a gang of bandits.
The cast of seven works brilliantly covering a multitude of characters, and with a stunning set, beautiful music and dancing, ensures this fantastic production will delight adults and children alike.

I took my 7yo daughter and she loved it!

Unicorn Theatre, Tooley Street, until January 8. Call the box office on 020 7645 0560 for details.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Interview with Cbeebies presenter Katy Ashworth

If you don't have young kids - or aren't a preschooler yourself - the name Katy Ashworth is unlikely to mean much. But to millions of youngsters, this bubbly 25-year-old is as A-list as they come.
Any regular viewers of CBeebies will know Katy as one of the channel's link presenters, and host of the hugely popular show I Can Cook. And in a couple of weeks she'll be bounding onto the stage at the Broadway Theatre in Catford in her one-woman show.
Speaking to me ahead of the gig on October 26, she proves every bit as chatty, full of beans, enthusiastic and bouncy as she is on the small screen.
"I'm so at home on stage entertaining kids," she says. "I think it's where I'm meant to be, so it's great to be back doing what I love best."
Talking 19-to-the-dozen and with an infectious laugh, it's no wonder Katy has endeared herself to an army of young fans. And the appreciation seems to be mutual as she admits she has the "best job in the world".
"I've always loved messing about with kids and making them laugh," she says, "and I've been an entertainer for kids' parties on and off for eight years.
"I really do have the best job. Sometimes it feels a bit unreal though - I've been very lucky."
Katy won her sought-after position almost straight out of university, and was as surprised as anyone to get it.
Laughing loudly, she says: "I did a drama degree at Exeter University and when I graduated I saw a job in the Stage newspaper for a CBeebies presenter. I sent in a show reel of me and my niece messing about and having a laugh in the kitchen. A couple of weeks later I got the job. How random is that!"
The job, presenting I Can Cook, involves Katy helping kids to knock up an easy and tasty recipe from scratch in the CBeebies kitchen. Its considerable success (a new series is currently being recorded) is largely down to her easy going and friendly manner - and the fact she's just a total natural with kids.
I tell her my three-year-old son now loves to cook, having been inspired by her.
She roars with laughter: "A lot of people tell me that. But do you know what? I'm actually not much of a chef. I do enjoy cooking though, and it's fantastic creating fun and imaginative dishes with the kids on the show.
"I think it's a great life skill, so it makes me feel touched and proud when people say their kids love to cook because of seeing the show. It's lovely!"
Perhaps surprisingly, the show she's currently touring with has nothing to do with cooking. According to Katy, she entertains the audience with songs, nursery rhymes, dancing and games, and basically tries to stage a big kids' party.
"Being on CBeebies is amazing, but it made me miss theatre and performing in front of a live audience, so it's been great to do this," she says. "We did a spring tour of the show and it was awesome - the kids really got into it. It was such good fun I wanted to do some more dates, so here I am!"
Aimed at ages six and under, the show is highly interactive and, according to Katy, "an absolute riot".
"It's so cool, I absolutely love it," she says with a giggle. "All the songs are familiar but they will be done with a twist. Most of the time it'll just be me on stage with my guitar and magic suitcase, but I do have my special guest, Monty the Monkey, who is great fun and the kids love him.
"It's just a simple, yet fun show which I'm hoping the parents will love as much as the kids."
Looking to the future, Katy says she definitely wants to carry on working with youngsters.
"I've got a lot of ideas up my sleeve for kids' shows, theatre shows and musical theatre, so we'll have to see what turns up," she says.
"For the time being, I'm loving doing CBeebies and I'm going to be doing a panto of Peter Pan in Chatham this Christmas - with Vanilla Ice, which is totally random!"

Katy Ashworth's Meet, Greet, Sing & Play Roadshow is at The Broadway Theatre, Catford on October 26. Visit or call 020 8690 0002.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

theatre reviews

I have the great fortune to write for South London Press. One of the perks of my job is getting tickets to the theatre. The pay off is that I write a review of each show I see. Last week I got to see two fabulous shows - Ragtime at the Landor Theatre in Clapham and The Belle's Stratagem at the Southwark Playhouse. Both were outstanding productions and proof if ever it were needed that you don't need a huge stage, massive cast and big orchestra to put on a good show.
Both reviews will be in this Friday's paper but I will post them here too later today

Wednesday, 9 March 2011


Two friends recently have given up their jobs - one slightly better paid than the other - to take time out from the rat race. Given the state of the jobs market at the moment I'm wondering if this is slightly reckless or brave or a bit of both. Both said they were stuck in a rut at work and needed a kick to get out and do something different. Both have mortgages and one has kids too. I'd love to be brave and do that - take charge of my life and be brave but am not that brave! Besides my job isn't well paid enough to quit and my wage helps pay the mortgage.... dilema

Monday, 7 March 2011

Not Quite Yummy Mummy

how to get spinach and other yumminess into kids - give them an omelet - oldest child didn't suspect a thing!
police van just rolled up outside ..... wondering if they've taken away those who blight the end of my road...
Wondering why it is that kids never know what they want for tea. Was going to wow them with my home-made pasta sauce but that has been kicked into the long grass by eldest child who claims she always has pasta - not true as the last two days it's been potatoes.....! So waiting for inspiration - could be a long wait though. Time to raid the larder
of course it would help if I could spell! That first sentence should have read: At long last.... rather than At long list....
Must be too excited about becoming part of the 21st century and blogging. It's all new to me...

Spring has sprung

At long list the green shoots are beginning to show and winter in Brockley looks to be in the dim but not too distant past. It's gorgeous outside and am now looking forward to taking the kids to the park after school. Here's to more days like today!