Bored? Don’t Be! Here are the Top 5 Things you should be doing right now.

As the summer break approaches the halfway mark, you can be one of two types of people; those who live to seek out more things while there is still time, and those who lie and wait for something to pull them out of their approaching autumn blues. Regardless of how proactive you are, it can be still very easy to miss the hidden treasures that surround you, and of course the great events that are ready to be experienced and the landmarks to be explored.

imageSpeaking solely for myself, I find pleasure in 5 simple things…Theatre, Literature, Fashion, Culture and Food. And when you thing about it…maybe these little moments of gratification could become yours too.

Everyone wants that feeling of happiness that comes from doing something you have always wished to do, finally getting that article of clothing you’ve had your eye on all this time, visiting a place of beauty, catching up with friends and family at your favorite cafe, or even reading a book that speaks to you personally.

For all the peeps back home, here are my TOP 5 THINGS happening right now:

1) THEATRE: It’s Wine O’ Clock at The Iontas Arts and Community Resource Centre, Castleblayney, County Monaghan

imageIt goes without saying that the Nuala and Noleen hype has got us all full of excitement and anticipation at what their next stunt, skit or on-stage show will be. One thing is for sure, they are sure to please us each time with their hilarious characters, and wild antics. Their latest show has went down a storm so far; with sell-out performances North and South of the Border, and now its coming to the Iontas in Castleblayney, to dish out tonnes of belly-aching laughs and moments of outright hilarity.

The show welcomes you to the craziest wedding of the year! Vera, the farmers wife who is so excited that her only son Seamus is getting married, has invited you all to the special day. Attending also are the farmers Pat and Eamon, the Bridesmaids, the Yummy Mummies, the Grannies, and of course Nuala and Noleen who are always looking for love. The shenanigans that go down and the situations each character find themselves in, will have you raising the roof with laughter and applause.

It all goes down FRIDAY 10th November @ 8PM. Get your tickets by clicking HERE.

 

 

2) FASHION: Couture Grandeur Newry Road, Crossmaglen (SUPER SUMMER SALE)

Ladies and Gents…correct me if I’m wrong, but we all aim for a little sprinkle of magic when it comes to our wardrobe selection, and love to know how smart, cute, sexy, handsome or sophisticated we look in a new number we have just added to the collection.

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In the words of fashion supermodel Miranda Kerr“…fashion doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated – just worn with grace and confidence.”

And what better place to embrace your inner style goddess than at Couture Grandeur. Even better, word has traveled my way that their SUMMER SALE has now started. Yes, you heard right people, prices have been slashed to Up To 70% OFF summer stock, as well as well as dresses and formal wear by up to 50% OFF.

 

We all love a great deal…even better when you’ve had your eye on something for so long, and now its right at your finger tips for a fabulous, affordable price. As you may all know, Couture Grandeur fashion has been racking up wonderful recognition for Best Dressed Ladies at the official races in Ireland, and now these award winning pieces could be yours, at a fraction of the original price.

 

And fret not people…there are shoes also. This is my ultimate weakness…my Kryptonite in many ways. Who can have ‘enough’ shoes? Not me, that’s for sure. And with this footwear being reduced to 10,15 and 20 pound, I am just jealous that you are able to avail of this opportunity, when I am thousands of miles across the ocean.

With Couture Grandeur going from strength to strength, I cannot wait to see what awaits the public for the Autumn/Fall Line. Until then… get down there and GET SHOPPING, whilst this incredible stock lasts.

 

3) CULTURE: Castlewellan Forest Park & Peace Maze in Castlewellan, County Down

Each time I see photographs of this historical and natural wonder, I am in awe of the beauty of how much it has to offer. For many people, we take these tourist attractions for granted, or even dismiss them, as we know little about their history or origins.

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However, as home to one of Northern Ireland’s most famous lakes, a stunning Victorian Castle, incredible panoramic views, scenic walking trails, 27km of Mountain Bike Trails, Nature Park perfect for the kids, an onsite multi-activity centre, a breath-taking hedge maze and equestrian centre, Castlewellan Forest Park boasts all of this and more; making it a must-see for all ages.

imageThe castle itself is an architectural treasure and to me, the perfect set for Hollywood movies. With the beauty of the surroundings, anyones creative ideas would spring to life on their first visit to the 19th Century stronghold. However, the main attraction that has everybody talking, has to be The Peace Maze. The Peace Maze is located on the grounds of the castle, and is in fact one of the largest permanent hedge mazes in the entire world. The maze represents the path to the peaceful future of Northern Ireland. Planted in 2000, it is now the intended height for public enjoyment. Visitors are encouraged to enter the maze and try to make their way to the centre, where a bell awaits to be rang. The hedge maze is a wonderful representation of how agreement and harmony can be achieved, if you put your mind to it, be open of the challenges that lie ahead, accept your mistakes and move on to achieve a common goal.

This is a definite must see for not only natives but visitors too. More information can be found by clicking HERE.

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4) LITERATURE: The Waiting Tree by Lindsay Moynihan

Huh? The Waiting Tree, I hear you ask? I know, I thought the same too. Not once did I ever see this book advertised on the shelves back home, or even in the book stores of Toronto. But thanks to the generosity of a close friend, she kindly gave me this novel to read…and since starting it, I cannot put it down.

This incredible book is the story of 18 year old Simon Peters, who falls in love with Stephen Levesque. When Stephen’s parents discover that they have been having a romantic relationship, they ship him of to Christian Center to “see the error of his ways” and be “normalized.”

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But Simon can’t let him disappear from his life.  He needs him and ‘the heart wants what the heart wants.” With his parents recently deceased and his brothers picking up the responsibility to raise the rest of the family, Simon’s mute twin, Jude, shows him that the secret to setting him free, lies within a tree at the bottom of their garden…The Waiting Tree.

imageThe Waiting Tree is a wonderful book for anyone to read, but especially for those struggling to come to terms with their feelings of who they are. Whether you are from a small community who doesn’t accept you, or from a family who fails to make peace with your happiness, there is always comfort in the written word. Stories have a way of helping us find hope, whether it is fictionalized or not. And this is no exception.

 

5) FOOD: Jackie’s Cafe at The Market Square, Dundalk, County Louth

Still to this day, I am so glad I came across this gorgeous, chic-style cafe on a day out with my mum. In an area we always frequented, we never seemed to venture beyond its doors, as it was always so busy during the mid-day coffee rush and lunch breaks.

But to my delight, we finally got to try it out and since then, I would not go to any other cafe in Dundalk for a bite to eat.

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Not only is the selection of food wonderful; appealing to everyone, but it tastes unbelievable as well. With warm daily specials, as well as a huge selection of salads, sandwiches, deserts, coffees and teas, baked goods and gluten free/vegetarian options, this culinary gem is a must stop on every visit to the town.

For the extremely reasonable prices, the portions are so generous, that you are genuinely satisfied for the whole day. But most of all, its the staff that brings the customers back again and again. They cheerful attitude and friendly manner is so obvious when you enter the establishment, that you are already subconsciously planning your next visit before you even order. My favorite part of all my visits is the one thing  that clientele love, and that is how staff remember you personally. With each visit, your time there is individually personalized and you are made feel welcome and appreciated.

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When I moved to Toronto, the one thing I wished to take with me was Jackie’s Cafe, as nothing has beaten it yet in the 16 months I have been away…so that just shows how good it is.

Next time you are in Dundalk, make sure to drop by and see for yourselves why this place is as good as it sounds.

SO THERE WE GO MY IRISH FAIRY FOLLOWERS, MY TOP 5 THINGS TO DO RIGHT NOW. GET GOING AND SEE WHICH ONE OF YOU GETS TO EXPERIENCE ALL 5 OF MY FAVORITES.

xoxoxoxo

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Deathtrap: A tale of genius, distrust and envy.

imageOn Thursday evening I set off once again in pursuit of 2017’s summer theatre lineup. After being wowed during my last visit to Scarborough Village Theatre, at their previous comedy “Tons of Money,” how could I turn away the opportunity to see this fabulous theatre group bring another classic to life?

This time around it was none other than the classic, dark comedy DEATHTRAP by Ira Levin. For those unfamiliar with this theatrical addition, you may be familiar with Ira’s other famous offspring, such as The Stepford Wives and Rosemary’s Baby. Simply by looking at his previous works, I was already excited as a lover of all things dark, with a touch of comedy.

As soon as the eager audience were introduced to the theatre by the delightful producer Katherine Turner, the lights dimmed and the show began.

The best way to describe this show to prospective attendees is that it is a “play within a play.” The story begins with our lead character Sidney Bruhl; a once “in-demand” playwright, now swimming in a mixture of writer’s block and discontentment; played by the talented Clive Lacey.

He hasn’t written a successful play in well over a decade, and to make matters worse, a former young pupil at one of his past seminars has sent him a copy of a play he has just created.

But why should that make things worse, I hear you ask? The reason…the play is fantastic. Sidney is kicking himself that he didn’t come up with the idea himself…the story is so fresh, so new and bursting with potential. Its got the perfect plot, as well as the many twists that lie throughout.

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Sidney’s wife Myra Bruhl; an intelligent, opportunistic business woman, sees a way to bring her husband out of his self-thrown ‘pity party.’ Played by Peta Bailey, Myra encourages her partner to get in touch with the aspiring young playwright, in a hope to offer her husband’s wealth of knowledge of the industry to this gentleman. Not only would this be seen as beneficial to the up-and-coming creative talent, but it inevitably would throw Sidney back into the spotlight, which he yearns to have back on him.

When Deathtrap’s creator Clifford Anderson (Nicholas Wicht) arrives to the Bruhl household in Westport, Connecticut, all seems to be going to plan. Sidney boasts to Clifford of past triumphs, even throwing in how he is ‘supposedly’ writing a new suspense play based loosely on the work of psychic-clairvoyant Helga Ten Dorp, which now will have to take a step back, if he is to inject his expertise into tweaking Deathtrap.

But much to Sidney’s surprise, Clifford is not as simple-minded and naive as he would have hoped for. Clifford soon informs Sidney and Myra that it would be silly of him to place all his eggs in one basket and solely consult Sidney on the promise of his play.

Darkness soon descends, and with it, Sidney’s distrust and feelings of a soon-to-be-lost opportunity. Myra can see what’s coming. With no-one knowing where Clifford has headed off to, and not a soul aware of Deathtrap’s existence, Sidney behavior begins to change.

Despite the creepiness of the scene, you cannot help but laugh at both Sidney’s efforts to appear calm and collected, and Clifford’s sudden realization of the approaching threat to his life and work. Sidney attacks and as the struggle dies down, so does the lifeless body of Clifford.

All over? Think again. Yes, Sidney now has Deathtrap for himself, and a future theatrical award on his mantelpiece, but more surprises lie on the horizon. Lo and behold, the renowned Helga Ten Dorp (played by the marvelous Erin Jones) has moved into the house next to the Bruhl’s. How much of a problem could she actually be? Yes she assisted authorities on missing person’s cases, especially murders…but she couldn’t be the real deal…or could she?

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With the arrival of this eccentric psychic, Helga, and lawyer Porter Milgrim (Frank de Francesco), the story unravels, and what we believe to be true gets turned upside down. With surprise visits, shocking revelations, hilarious outbursts and unforeseen twists that not even I seen coming, Deathtrap is one of those dark comedies you can laugh with from beginning to end.

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Some secrets are taken to the grave, whereas others cannot remain buried.

All in all, the show was extremely enjoyable, which I was not surprised by. The Scarborough Players never fail in delivering a show that touches the hearts of every theatre-goer and tickles their funny bone.

Once again, credit must be given to the wonderful set designers of Deathtrapas they surprise me each time, with the authenticity and life-like quality of each stage they create.

Although the 5 cast members were phenomenal in their own way, the two actors that stood out for me the entire show were Nicholas Wicht, who played Clifford and Erin Jones, who played Helga. The reason why these two actors stood out was not just simply down to the comedic element of their characters, but their natural ability to make the audience feel a mixture of emotions; whether it be fear or fun,  or an equal measurement of both.

Erin had the audience’s sides aching with laughter in every scene she appeared in. Her take on Helga had everyone wanting more and more. Whether it be the hilarious, psychic reactions to everything she touched or her unexpected visits when the Bruhl’s least expected it…Erin truly brought the fun factor to the show.

Throughout the performance and interval, I could hear people whisper, “I can’t wait to see the psychic come back,” “The psychic is hilarious,” and “Who is playing Helga? She is fantastic!”

imageNicholas, on the other hand was a breath of fresh air, in his portrayal of playwright hopeful, Clifford. He played the role wonderfully and I looked forward to each scene he was in. His take on the smooth, sweet-talking, cheeky student was second to none, and extra acknowledgment must be given to the physically demanding nature of his character’s role.

All in all, I would definitely urge the Toronto public to go and see this great show. You will hold your breath, gasp, jump and laugh your way from beginning to end. What more could you ask from a show?

 

DEATHTRAP runs for another 4 more days:

July 9th @ 2pm and July 13th-15th @ 8pm at Scarborough Village Theatre, 3600 Kingston Road. 

For TTC users, the (102) Warden Station bus provides a front door theatre drop off point.

Theatre has FREE PARKING and is Wheelchair Accessible.

Tickets for Deathtrap can be purchased online by clicking HERE or can be purchased at the Box Office (Tel: 416-267-9292).

Further information on upcoming shows at Scarborough Village Theatre can be found by clicking the link provided.

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Tons of Money: Opening Night Review at Scarborough Village Theatre

imageI have always loved the saying, “My husband says that I’m the crazy one…but he’s the one that married me,” and this couldn’t be any more relevant than to the theatrical delight I had the opportunity of attending last night.

Yesterday evening at 8pm, curtain went up on opening night of the famous play, Tons of Money; performed by the wonderful actors and actresses of the Scarborough Players and directed by Jeremy Henson.

As I traveled out to the show’s residence, Scarborough Village Theatre, to attend its first show of a run that extends from now until April 22nd, I was buzzing with excitement. This was not only because I never attended a performance at this theatre before, but I had recently been informed by Toronto theatre sources that any show put together by the Scarborough Players is always destined for success.

And as I took my seat in the auditorium surrounded by a huge turnout, I immediately got my first glimpse into what wonderful things were in store for the audience. Before I fill you in on the show itself, I must give a quick shout-out to people involved in the construction of such a memorable set. As Tons of Money is set in 1926, the crew put together a stage that brought the decadence of the 1920’s to life…the lavish parlor surrounded by tall radius windows, overlooking the green fields and river in the distance. With the East wing ready for the maids and butlers, the west wing ready for surprise guests and the parlor set for the hilarious mayhem that was about to ensue with our main characters…the fun began.

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The story opens with Aubrey Allington (Christopher Wakelin) and his wife Louise Allington (Konstance Koutoulakis), as they sit enjoying their morning tea at the breakfast table. Surrounded by bills and final orders, spread among the cutlery, Aubrey and Louise joke carelessly about the debt collectors and how their lifestyle will remain as it is, thanks to their little friend…CREDIT. 

But after butler Sprules (Drew Smylie), maid Simpson (Ana Gonzalez) and gardener Giles (Rob Neilly) deliver a letter from the bank announcing impending bankruptcy and the cease of any continued credit…their care free ways are turned upside down. What are they to do? Where are they to go? What will become of their staff…and are they, themselves, destined to the life of a pauper?

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Suddenly, the arrival of solicitor James Chesterman (Kory Preston) brings some shocking news. Aubrey’s estranged brother in the United States has sadly passed away…but does his near bankrupt brother care? Nope! He has other worries, and his relationship with him over the years was nothing other but a rocky one. But as soon as it is revealed that his brother has left him $740,000 in his will, all history of sibling rivalry is forgotten.

Sounds like the answer to their prayers…right? Think again. Louise starts to add up all the debts that they have, and if her calculations are correct, the new-found fortune will be only seconds in their hands, before it’s gone.

Nevertheless Louise has an unusual, but what she sees as a foolproof plan. It all begins with four simple words…”I Have An Idea.” She reads the will and begins to understand that if Aubrey was to die, the fortune would go to his cousin George Maitland in Mexixo. Regardless that George disappeared many years ago without a trace and assumed dead by his family…he was never announced as deceased to the public.

Louise and Aubrey carry out the plan and fake Aubrey’s death. But why? For him to reemerge as long-lost cousin George, of course,  and claim a debt free fortune. Nothing could go wrong…could it?

Just when everything is going to plan…surprise characters are thrown into the mix, threatening to mess up their fraudulent scheme. First it is in the form of Louise’s resident aunt Miss Benita Mullet (Paula Wilkie), whose questionable nature throws a spanner into the works every-time she challenges Aubrey (in George disguise).

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On the other hand, little does the stressed out couple know that their staff are planning their own surprise resurrection of George, through their scheming pal Henry (Len Henderson), so they can claim the fortune and escape their lowly lives.

Who else wants to ruin Louise’s plan? Step on up…Jean Everard (Charlie Parkes-Patel), the real George Maitland’s wife. Will she recognize Audrey in disguise as George, or maybe Henry as the additional impostor? Not to worry…maybe the unexpected and shocking arrival of the real George Maitland (Neil Nicholas Kulin) will clear all this confusion right up.

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From beginning to end, I never laughed as much in a play, as I did last night. It was the type of show that had jokes in every scene, and the situations each character got themselves into, would have you crying with laughter. The production not only flowed well, due to the perfect story-telling and direction of each act, but through the wonderful interaction between one actor and another.

Every actor and actress brought something wonderful to this fantastic, humor-filled theatrical wonder. Drew Smylie and Ana Gonzalez were perfect as the indoor-help duo “Spruce and Simpson“, as they believably portrayed their dual intentions so well; waiting on every beck and call from their employers, whilst secretly plotting against them.

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Rob Neilly was a nice addition as gardener Giles, as he brought a somewhat innocent nature to the play, as he was the only character without a secret agenda.

Paula Wilkie was a breath of fresh air and provided many laughs throughout, as Auntie Benita Mullet. For a character whom everyone believes to be of little impact to their shrewd plans because of her airy-fairy nature and lack of hearing, she surprisingly is a ninja at breaking down stories that “just don’t add up”…codswallop in her opinion.

Neil Nicholas Kulin and Len Henderson were wonderful as George Maitland and his impostor, Henry, respectively, as their addition into Louise’s now crumbling plan only brought more giggles.

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Also Charlie Parkes-Patel was a joy to watch as the dramatic, energetic and extravagant addition Jean Everard. She, in particular, was one of my favorite characters, as she played her carefree, shallow and unquestionable nature so well.

And who could forget Kory Preston, as solicitor James Chesterman; who had wonderful control and ownership over each scene, as he comically reigned in each of his fellow characters, who were making his job as executor of the will a difficult one.

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But the funniest times you will have watching this show, is the scenes involving Christopher Wakelin as male lead Aubrey and Konstance Koutoulakis as his outstanding wife Louise Allington. Never have I seen an acting duo that worked so well together, where you couldn’t help but smile at the on-stage chemistry they portrayed to the audience.

imageChristopher exuded confidence in every scene and never failed to delight the great turnout with his fun energy and humorous antics. But it was Konstance who was the person who shone the most for me. She was without a doubt the best choice of actress to play the female lead, Louise. For those who attended the show last night, and for those planning to…you will be blown away by her performance. From her character’s initial plan to save the fortune, to her constantly failing ideas…you see how she transforms from the cheerful, untroubled wife…to a woman who gets herself into hilarious tricky scenarios with every new lie she creates. TONS OF MONEY definitely proved to the public that Konstance is undoubtedly an actress who blossoms on the comedic scene.

imageIn many ways, I drew similarities between their stage relationship and that of on-screen duo John Cleese and Connie Booth in 1970’s BBC show Faulty Towers; to which I was delighted with, as those comical relationships are the most memorable.

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For those wishing to go see this amazing show for yourselves, tickets can be purchased at the theatre box office. Information on box office hours can be found by clicking HERE.

If you prefer to book your tickets online in advance, you can purchase them by clicking HERE

I encourage everyone reading this to get down and see the show. It is a play that will have you laughing from beginning to end and one that will have you talking for months to follow.

In the famous words of the delightful Louise Allington, “I HAVE AN IDEA…GET YOUR TICKETS NOW BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!”

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NOTE: Many thanks for the delicious Wine and Cheese reception organized by the cast, crew and volunteers on opening night. It truly showed a wonderful sense of community and highlighted how much Theatre Scarborough appreciates their patrons.

Little Shop of Horrors: The Show that Bites Back

imageGot green fingers? Have an interest in the relaxing world of horticulture? Well think again! Having green fingers may be seen as a remarkable skill, but in this case, you need to be careful where you put them. These plants BITE!

On Saturday evening, I came along to the Lower Ossington Theatre’s brand new production of cult classic musical, Little Shop of Horrors, which premiered on March 24th.

As mentioned in my previous post, Little Shop of Horrors follows the story of Seymour (Hugh Ritchie), who works day in-day out in Mushnik’s Flower Shop, owned by his somewhat childhood guardian Mr Mushnik (Andrew Soutter). The business is failing, no-one is ordering bouquets with them any more…not even a funeral wreath. In reality, the business itself is the one that needs the funeral wreath, as it is dying around them by the second.

Working alongside them is beautiful and kind-hearted shop assistant Audrey (Jessica Harb), whom Seymour has a huge crush on…despite their awkward encounters. However, Audrey already has a boyfriend, Orin Scrivello (Joey Graff)… a most violent individual with a sadistic personality and an addiction to nitrous oxide…so what better profession for him to be in, than that of a dentist.

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When Mr Mushnik announces his intent to close up shop and throw the towel in, Audrey encourages Seymour to show their boss the botanical project he has been working on after-hours. Here we are introduced to his colorful, rare and unusual plant that he bought from a man during the last solar eclipse, which he has named Audrey II, after his secret sweetheart.

Audrey II immediately becomes an overnight sensation when it is placed in the window, attracting new customers and bringing back previous ones who had long ago lost interest in the failing florist. But just as customer numbers are booming, the attractive plant starts to wither. Seymour is anxious and uses every horticultural remedy known to man, with little or no success. In the midst of all this worry, he cuts his finger on the plant, which brings it back to life. He soon realizes that Audrey II thrives on blood and the only way to keep it alive and customer flow steady, is to keep delivering a fresh supply of blood to it each day.

The only problem is, as Audrey II increases in size, from the once tiny pot-plant to an enormous wonder, a few drops of blood from a paper cut isn’t going to suffice its ever-growing appetite. Seymour is left with the morally challenging situation…does he let the business fail, or does he use any way possible to make its success continue?

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Throughout the show, I could not stop laughing at the humor mixed into each fantastic scene and memorable dialogue. For those reading the initial synopsis, one may assume that the show is quite dark, but this is not the case. I have never seen a musical that could have you bellowing with laughter at the most unusual situations.

The musical numbers were phenomenal, but what more could you expect from music and lyrics written by the famous Alan Menken (Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Sister Act, Enchanted). Songs like “Closed For Renovation” will have you moving your shoulders and hips to the catchy beat and fun lyrics, whereas others like “Somewhere That’s Green” will remind you of long forgotten dreams.

One thing I must not forget to mention was the absolutely mind-blowing set construction by Michael Galloro. Every time I attend any shows at the LOT, set design is second to none, as they surprise me every time. I do not want to spoil it for you, but you will be amazed with how the set transforms throughout the show, from the interior of Mushnik’s flower shop to the exterior streets scenes.

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But what about the stars of the show? The first actors you are introduced to at the beginning are school-girls/soul sisters Ronette*, Crystal and Chiffon, who were played by the fabulous Michele Shuster, Liana Lewis and Stephanie Megraw-Fabian on the night. These 3 characters are in almost every scene, and help to tie the whole story together with their musical interpretation, smooth moves and sassy personalities. Having already been introduced to both Michelle and Liana from previous show “The Life,” I was looking forward to seeing them in a whole new light, and once again, they did not disappoint.

Jessica Harb, as always, proved to be the perfect touch of sweetness to this incredible musical. She was made for the role of Audrey, as she portrayed her cute but shy personality down to a T. The scenes between her and Seymour were believable and professionally executed, and her voice was simply sublime when singing the romantic duet, “Suddenly Seymour.”

The laughs without a doubt came from the character of Dentist Orin Scrivello, played by comedically talented  Joey Graff. As soon as this bad-boy is introduced to the audience, as the violent, creepy lover of Audrey…you will surprisingly fall in love with him and his hilarious actions. He is the baddie that you cannot help but adore. And your admiration for this character is only heightened when you watch him perform the side-splitting songs, “Dentist!” and “Now (It’s Just The Gas).” 

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However, Hugh Ritchie, who played Seymour and Andrew Soutter, who played Mr Mushnik were the 2 performers who did it for me. The last time I saw Hugh perform, it was in the LOT’s production of West Side Story, where he was the male lead in this story also. Hugh is not just a pleasure to watch, but his strong talented voice has the ability to interpret the emotion of the lyrics perfectly. Andrew, however, brought that extra bit of fun to each scene, and this was truly evident in the musical number, “Mushnik & Son,” where both Hugh and Seymour treated audiences to a wonderful, flamboyant performance, where they salsa danced, pirouetted and even piggy-backed their way throughout the song; proving them to be a class act.

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Credit must also be given to a character duo, who are not seen throughout the show, but played a huge part…and this is Bryan Kling (voice of Audrey II) and Evan Sokolowski (Puppeteer of Audrey II). The combination of vocal and puppeteer talents was wonderful and I had huge respect for how they achieved the end result.

If you are looking for a great show to see, get down to the Lower Ossington Theatre from March 24th to May 14th 2017 to see Little Shop of Horrors. You will laugh from beginning to end, and is the perfect way to spend your weekend. With live performances from Fridays through to Sundays, what more could you ask for this Spring weekend?

Tickets can be purchased at the theatre box office at 100A Lower Ossington Avenue, Toronto, or can be purchased in advance online, by clicking HERE.

Hope you all enjoy this hilarious and fun-filled show. Let me know how you get on. And remember…DON’T FEED THE PLANTS.

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*Role of Ronette usually played by Jenna Daley

Ireland’s “Answer To Alcatraz” leading Irish Tourism to Success

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Yes, you heard right people. Ireland has opened the doors of one of the oldest and most infamous prisons on our Emerald Isle. Despite tourism delights such as Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin City and Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast, racking up hundreds of thousands of visitors per year, there has been one historical prison that remained in the shadows during these time. But not anymore? The gates to Spike Island Fortress and Prison are now open to the public, for all tourists and enthusiasts of the dark stories that surround such a place.

But many of you may be asking…what is Spike Island? Where is Spike Island? And…why have I never heard of Spike Island?

Spike Island is an island of the coast of Cork City, which dates right back to the 6th Century, where a monastery once stood upon its beautiful land; surrounded by the waters of Cork Harbour.

In the late 18th Century, the British built several military barracks on the island and also a series of forts, after seeing all the potential this isle had to offer. But by the turn of the 19th Century, times were changing, intolerance brewing and the crime rates at a serious high. It was not long before a Victorian prison was to be built on the island, becoming the largest ever jail in the history of Ireland and Britain.

The jail itself could hold over 2300 prisoners at one time, and by “hold,” this does not mean by comfortable standards, in the slightest. With city and town jails housing individuals of petty crime, these numbers quickly started to rise with the arrival of the potato famine. Spike Island Prison was designed to hold those prisoners of more serious crimes, with thousands of them being transported to British colonies across seas, such as Tasmania, Bermuda and Australia. Here, these men, women and children were sold to prospective buyers, becoming servants and slaves for the early settlers.

imageMany of the prisoners were subjected to hard, intensive labour, whilst awaiting the approaching transportation ships. Many people died even before the sails were cast; severely malnourished, and there were a number of those who took their own lives to escape the fate that was to follow.

However, the range of crimes that brought about imprisonment in this fortress were extensive. According to the book, Too Beautiful For Thieves and Pickpockets by Barra Ó Donnabháin and Cal McCarthy, an orphan named John Power, who was so badly brutalized by the authorities down through the years, he ended up killing a prison warder in Waterford, and was subsequently imprisoned for this. On the other hand, an upper class artist from Dublin called William Burke Kirwan, also passed through Spike Island’s gates…this time for the crime of murdering his wife. He spent a great portion of his sentence at the prison, and it wasn’t until 30 years later that he returned to Ireland, after the shame of being transported to Bermuda.

imageThe prison closed in 1883, but still remained under British rule, where troops still positioned themselves. But the history did not even stop there. A claim to fame that the Island is happy to boast about, is its connection to famous explorer Percy Fawcett; who was an employee at the War Office on the island from 1903-1906. He spent his whole life searching for the lost cities and kingdoms of South America. However, by 1914,  he had whittled down the search for an ancient kingdom hidden deep within the Amazon, which he called Z. It was not until 1925, when his expedition set off after becoming convinced of its location. But Percy never returned. What could have happened to Spike Island’s explorer? Did he find the City? Did he die looking for it? Did cannibals murder him, or did he join a tribe like many suggest? Others even believe that he may have been killed by nature itself, as he was always fascinated by the myths of giant anacondas. The story of such an expedition still makes people curious, and this month the movie adaption, Lost City of Z, starring Robert Pattinson and Charlie Hunnam was released, telling the story of the ill-fated explorer.

Despite this intriguing connection, Spike Island was finally given back to the Irish people in 1938, which may surprise some who would have thought the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1922 would have sealed this deal…but it did not. Since then, the island became home to several settlers and businesses, but still it lay in the shadow of the abandoned prison.

However, in 2015, Cork City Council, in conjunction with Failte Ireland, opened its doors to visitors and tourists, allowing people to see, for the first time, what “Ireland’s Answer To Alcatraz” was really like. In fact, many may not know this, but Alcatraz is small in comparison to Spike Island Prison; for the San Francisco attraction sits on a small 22 acre island, whereas Spike Island spans an enormous 104 acres. Pretty impressive, huh?

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In 2015, the prison welcomed 32,000 curious tourists and the numbered continued to rise. And thanks to a €6 Million investment in June 2016, the entire prison and surrounding buildings were able to be transformed into the fantastic tourist attraction, which we have all been waiting for. With tourist numbers expected to increase to well over 100,000, I know where I will be heading to once I come home from Toronto.

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The opening season for 2017 is from March to October. For only €18 or less, you can purchase a ticket to take you from Kennedy Pier in Cobh, County Cork across the harbour to Spike Fortress, which actually covers the entry and tour itself. Tickets can be purchased at the kiosk at the Pier, but to save time, can be pre-purchased online, by clicking HERE. Coffee shops are located on the island, to make you trip with family and friends even more enjoyable.  They offer School Tours which would prove to be an enjoyable and educational experience for end of Primary school tours, or history class outings at high school. HINT HINT TEACHERS!!!

And for the more curious and brave individual, who likes things that go bump in the night, they also offer the choice to attend the Spike Island After Dark Tour, where you will hear of the scary tales of gruesome crimes and punishment, as well as taking a step along the abandoned cell blocks, where the chill of its former inhabitants still linger.

For more information on Spike Fortress, its history, tour information and how to get there, you can do so by visiting the official website, http://www.spikeislandcork.ie/.

Ireland is such a fantastic little island to live and visit, and with tourist spots like this NOW OPEN FOR BUSINESS, it won’t be long until this popular prison attraction will be competition for all others worldwide.

Embrace the Irish Spirit, our history and spread the word. This is a MUST-DO on your next road-trip to County Cork.

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Pet: The Film Review

imageWe’ve all heard the saying…A Pet is for Life, Not Just for Christmas. Well this statement couldn’t be more true for the new horror/thriller PET.

Written by Jeremy Slater; most famous for his work on the 2015 movie The Lazarus Effect and his participation in the outstanding current FOX TV series adaption of The Exorcist, it already goes without saying that his newest movie would be just as exciting and groundbreaking.

PET is the story of Seth, played by Dominic Monaghan (Lord of the Rings)who is somewhat of a recluse, a nobody…a loner if that description fits.

He spends his days working at a state county animal shelter, adopting more of a relationship with his animal companions than that of his occupational peers. He comes to work, he smiles, he waves, he keeps the place tidy and despite the lack of respect he is shown by his work colleagues, he just carries on as normal.

Sounds like a sweet guy…yeah? Think again. We soon find out that Seth commutes to work on the bus, with a girl called Holly (Ksenia Solo) who he has developed a crush on. The only thing is, he does not know her, has never spoken to her and she has no knowledge of his feelings.

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He soon sets out by finding out her name, and when he does, he uses the fantastic world of social media to learn everything about her. He learns her age, her educational history, her likes and dislikes, her favorite foods and restaurants…and most of all…her relationship status.

Now tell me if I wrong, but does this not creep you out in the slightest? We are all guilty of putting too much information of ourselves on social media, making one understand how easily it can be for predators to gain key facts and claim to know you.

In several early scenes we see Seth practicing scenarios where they possibly meet and start chatting, as he silently hopes for this clueless girl to fall in love with him. As Seth begins to visit the diner where she works; pretending he is an old high school buddy from back in the day and starts getting roses delivered, Holly starts to get scared and tells him she has a boyfriend. Little does she know, Seth knows for certain that she doesn’t.

She is completely oblivious to how he would know such intimate details about her…completely unaware of how simple it is to follow someones life online.

imageAs the film gets over introductions, we see Seth’s abduction of Holly, as she sleeps in her apartment. However, when she wakes up, nothing can prepare her for what she sees. For now, she is no longer in the comfort of her own bed, but in an animal cage in the basement of the abandoned premises of the animal shelter. The question that we are left with now is whether or not Seth wants a girlfriend or a PET.

But just like any great horror/thriller, there are many twists and turns, and soon the tables are turned. What we learn about both characters, as the movie progresses, will change your perception on the assumed villain.

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Dominic Monaghan plays the role of our male lead brilliantly, as he portrays his psychotic tendencies and instability with such passion and belief; making us feel sorry for him and then despise him later on. Wheareas, Ksenia Solo as Holly is a breath of fresh air on the movie scene, as she show viewers how victims of kidnapping soon put things into perspective and enter survival mode.

It is great to see movies like this being made, as it not only highlights the importance of being curious questionable of some behaviors, but it also makes us take a look at our own. Why do we put on the internet that we like a certain food, why do we tag ourselves into our favorite coffee shop each week, why do we inform the world of our love life or lack of it, with just one click?

The answer is different for everyone? Maybe you want to be seen as outgoing and enjoying life, maybe you want some much needed attention or maybe you want to feel like the world is watching. However, maybe somebody is watching and the attention they seek is somewhat opposite.

imagePET was released during Christmas 2016, to mediocre turnouts at movie theatres, but this is understandable due to December being every cinema’s hardest month to draw in movie-goers. Nevertheless, it is a great film, full of terrific plot twists and wonderful character development.

I would encourage fans of this genre to purchase this on DVD, as it is definitely one for the weekend movie marathon with friends and family. Currently the movie is on sale on AMAZON UK for a very affordable price, making it an absolute steal.

Hope you enjoy the shock fest. Get your pillow ready.

Fashion Hits Home & It’s Everything We Hoped For

imageWe all yearn for it, search for it and aim to be the definition of it… and that my friends… is FASHION. Like myself, we all aim for that signature look; something so unique, memorable and most of all stunning, that will make you the talk of the town and make jaws drop from a block around. Fashion enthusiasts across the globe look in many directions…first to the runway, then to the style capitals like Paris, Milan, London & New York, and finally we take tips from the media, by recreating celebrity red carpet looks.

However, despite the coverage and hype, the question poses itself, “Can we afford to achieve that level of style?” Well, I am here to tell you simply, “YES YOU CAN!” Style is not meant to be difficult to achieve. It’s not there to be admired only on high profile clients. But it is meant to be accessible and affordable to all.

Ever since moving to Toronto, I have promised to continue to write about my passions; not just here but back home also. And it didn’t take me long to find my next article to place my fairy dust upon.

You may or may not already know, but in the past few months, a new fashion outlet has opened in my hometown of Crossmaglen; much to the delight of its residents, visitors and far-away closet fashionistas like myself. In the last few years, Crossmaglen has surprised us all by finally stepping outside the shadow of the 20th Century, and embracing retail change and advancement. And what better time to step forward into the limelight than now…and this is what new store Couture Grandeur has done.

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Since opening its doors for business recently, it has been going from strength to strength, and proving ever popular with all the ladies who visit the premises. From what I have been hearing, the clothing outlet is becoming somewhat of a treasure trove or what I would call an Aladdins’s Cave. Contacts cannot stop raving about the range that there is on offer, as well as the endless amount of accessories to compliment and complete a desired look.

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But the immediate and continued success of this already popular business is not simply down to its selection of fabulous finery. Every person I have spoken to and every online review I have read, highlight the warm, helpful, welcoming nature of its proprietor Yvonne McCoy. From the moment you walk in the door to the second you leave, customers have commented on how courteous and professional this lady is.

imageWith the styling talents of Yvonne and her incredible eye for detail, Couture Grandeur is quickly becoming the hot, in-vogue, trendsetter in Northern Ireland’s fashion retail. Whether you want to adopt the elegant, glamorous styling of Michelle Obama, the hipster chic look of Jennifer Aniston, or maybe even the romantic, classic look of Emma WatsonCouture Grandeur can offer it all, for an affordable price.

It makes me happy to see my hometown grow in popularity with these new, innovative businesses putting their own touch of magic into the retail sector. But what makes me even more proud is seeing the increasing number of women following their dreams and bringing them to life. Having been surrounded by many influential and inspiring females my whole life, it is wonderful to see businesswomen like Yvonne and many others in my hometown taking that step and giving the public what they’ve been looking for.

I would like to take this time to wish Couture Grandeur continued success and when I finally get home from my travels, I will definitely being paying this ‘style haven’ a visit myself.

Couture Grandeur is located at Unit 2, Casey’s Complex, Crossmaglen, Newry, Northern Ireland.

Opening Hours:

Monday-Thursday 10am-6pm

Friday 10am-8pm

Saturday 10am-7pm

Facebook media link can be found HERE

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