A journey through musicals: Jai McDowall
Since winning Britain’s Got Talent in 2011, Jai McDowall has more than kept himself busy.
Performing for royalty at the Queen’s Jubilee, releasing an album, headlining his own tour and travelling the world singing on cruise ships are just some of the things this Scottish lad has been up to.
Now he’s staring in Mad About Musicals with musical theatre’s Michael Courtney. The show, which comes to the Towngate Theatre tonight takes audiences on a whistlestop tour from the heart of London’s theatreland to the glitz of Broadway.
But what can we expect from Jai?
“There’s honestly something for everyone,” the 31-year-old singer says. Continue reading
Footloose: Maureen Nolan as Vi Moore (c) Matt Martin
THIS tour of Footloose the Musical has been more than a little bit emotional for Maureen Nolan.
The 63-year-old, who found fame as part of Irish sister band the Nolans, has had rather a lot on her plate while playing Vi Moore, in the musical coming to Basildon next month.
Indeed, it was actually mid-show that she realised her marriage to Ritchie Hoyle was over. Yet she’s not missed a single performance.
“Oh yeh, that was difficult,” she sighed, in her soft Irish burr.
“I didn’t miss a day because of it [the tour] though. I was very tempted…you know when you’re just so low, and our family, we’ve been through a lot recently with cancer and illness.
“But you’re either going to pull the covers over your head and never get out of bed or just get up and get on with it. Continue reading
Footloose – Gareth Gates as Willard (c) Matt Martin
WHEN I chat to Gareth Gates – star of Footloose – the Musical coming to Basildon’s Towngate Theatre on August 21 – he is fulsome in his praise of our county.
“I love Essex,” he confesses. “It’s a great place, fun. My best friend in the world, Matt, he lives in Essex. He lives in Southend, so I’ll be staying with him probably while I’m performing.”
In fact, it transpires he even owns a house here.
Six students at Rayleigh’s Masters Performing Arts College actually have the Pop Idol’s runner-up as their landlord.
“I own a house in Leigh-on-Sea – a student house,” he explains.
“Matt [Plummer] is the principle of Masters – the performing arts college – and I bought a house literally down the road from there in Leigh for the students.
“I’ve got six students living there.”
So, he’s no stranger to Southend or even Basildon – where he has performed before. Continue reading
From pop star to kid’s TV star: Milkshake’s Derek Moran
A DECADE ago, Derek Moran – one fifth of a popular boyband D-Side- blagged his way into a screen test for a children’s TV presenting job.
“A friend of mine said there’s this TV audition tomorrow for Milkshake,” he recalls, his enthusiastic Irish accent unmistakable to anyone with a child under six.
“And I was like what’s Milkshake, you know? So, I just phoned up. They asked me if I had a show reel and I said it was on VHS – which was a little white lie. And they said, ‘oh alright just come in tomorrow and screen test.’
“So, I went in the next day, which was Friday and they put me on the TV on the Monday. It was scary. But it was great.” Continue reading
As a seven-week fetus – our first look at Sonny Jim
TWO years ago today I was sat clutching my husband’s hand at Bart’s Hospital in London.
After nine years of trying for a baby, five years of fertility treatments and a round of IVF, it seemed I’d finally fallen pregnant.
And two days before my 31st birthday we were waiting for a scan to confirm that it was definitely true, for a first look at our baby, to see its teeny little heart beating.
When Sonny Jim’s flickering heart flashed up on the grainy screen, I cried. He looked a bit like a prawn. Or maybe a crocodile. And it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. Continue reading
Find the fun: The Princess Emporium will be at Priory Park tomorrow
Play in the Park. Friday, August 11. 10am-12.30pm. Free. Suitable for all ages.
There will be water play, playdough, songs time with instruments, some books and arts and crafts. Oh and bubbles. Find the fun at Priory Park (the green space behind the museum.) Bring sun hats, sun cream, snacks, water, blanket, activities/toys to share.
Caterpillar Club. Tuesday, August 15. 10am-12pm. £6 per child. Suitable for one to four-year-olds.
A fun morning of indoor and outdoor activities for pre schoolers at Langdon Visitor Centre and Nature Reserve, Lower Dunton Road, Basildon. Booking essential, call 01268 419103. Continue reading
Fabulous: Farrow & Ball
When it comes to interior design, sometimes it can feel a bit like a closed shop. Finding where those elusive but oh-so lovely paints or pottery are stocked can be a bit of a mission.
Here’s where you can find some of those high-end delights – right on your doorstep.
Farrow & Ball
Iconic British brand Farrow & Ball began in the Forties as a small firm specializing in paints made in the traditional way with traditional ingredients.
Used by royalty (Prince Harry decorated his living quarters last year with a gray-and-pink color scheme, according to a consultant for the company) it offers a distinctive palette of 132 paint colours and handcrafted wallpapers. Continue reading