Books by Glenda Young

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Review: Half a Sixpence in London

Let me make it plain that I am not a theatre reviewer. I am however, a huge fan of musical theatre and my absolute favourite, all-time musical has always been Half a Sixpence. I fell in love with the Tommy Steele film as a little girl and have loved it ever since.  And so when it was announced that the musical was being staged in London, I had to go and see it, of course.

Now then. When I go to the theatre I never buy a programme. Never. Programmes are expensive and tell you little about what you really want to know. But I made an exception for Half a Sixpence, because I love the show so much. And while I sat waiting for the show to begin, in those excited few moments before the lights dim and the overture begins, I read the programme (£4 if you're interested) and my heart sank.

Here's why.

This new version of Half a Sixpence isn't based on the Tommy Steele film. It's not even based on the stage play, and yes, I've got that soundtrack on CD.

This new version of Half a Sixpence, is, the programme told me, based on Julian Fellowes' own adaptation of Kipps. Worse was to come.  Julian Fellowes admits that "he had never seen the stage version of Sixpence and hadn't liked the film."

So, we have a different story to the one we know and love.  Could it get any worse?  Yes, I'm afraid that it could, and it did.

The programme went on, in one horrific word after another, to say that the songs had been remastered. "There's hardly a bar we haven't interfered with in some way."

And so, with my heart in my shoes, I sank back into my seat as the show began. It was similar, but different, to the version of Sixpence I knew and I loved. But I wanted my Sixpence. I wanted my show. However, Cameron Mackintosh and Julian Fellowes had robbed me of it.  I almost left at half time, but I'd been so looking forward to seeing the show for so long, that I knew I had to sit it out, however painful it was.

There was also another reason (well, two reasons) that I didn't walk out.

The first reason is Charlie Stemp as Arthur Kipps  and the second is Devon Elise-Johnson as Anne. Both of them are perfect in their roles, and bring a vigour and life which was reminiscent enough of the film that it brought a smile to my face. Charlie Stemp was magnificent and I gave him a standing ovation at the end.

But never mind the end, back to the songs.

Many songs are not included from the film or original stage play, which is just about excusable.

There are new songs too, including the fantastic Pick Out A Simple Tune which is the one I was humming as I floated out of the exit at the end of the show.  And new songs are understandable.

But what is unforgivable is that the original songs they did use had their lyrics changed. Yes, all of them. I almost cried. In We'll Build a Place / I Only Want a Little House it's as if they tore the song in half, threw it up in the air to see which characters it landed on before handing round the song sheets. Awful stuff. I truly wish they'd kept the original lyrics. Can't imagine that happening in The Sound of Music, can you?

So, if you're a fan of Half a Sixpence and you're going to see the show in London - think on. It's not what you'll expect, or want.

But there is a great deal of charm to it, and with Stemp and Johnson in the lead roles, there's a great deal of magic too.

Find out more about me and my books. Click on the image below:

Glenda Young books

I'm on twitter @flaming_nora

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Corrie weekly update: Moroccan Kidney and a Cow Pat

I've been writing Coronation Street weekly updates since 1995 and this week's Coronation Street update has just gone live here.

This week in Corrie, mess with the Battersby girls at your peril.

Find out more about me and my books. Click on the image below:

Glenda Young books

I'm on twitter @flaming_nora

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Short Story: Afternoon Tea

I've a short story in this week's People's Friend magazine. It's called Afternoon Tea, and it's illustrated with cupcakes and teapots. It's a story of two women of very different ages, working for themselves and helping each other out. And it's set in Scarborough! 

Plus my weekly soap Riverside is also in the mag. This week there's some nasty, threatening behaviour going on.

Find out more about me and my books. Click on the image below:

Glenda Young books

I'm on twitter @flaming_nora

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Poem: Gash

A gash of cherry lipstick
The tightest, shortest skirt
Heels, blouse
Hair teased and tangled into unnatural curls
Blood oozes out
Scarlet drops fall
Pink flesh rips
The blade travels down his arm
Unaware, unknowing of who he really wants to be

Find out more about me and my books. Click on the image below:

Glenda Young books

I'm on twitter @flaming_nora

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

My Local History Month in Sunderland

May is Local History Month and I've been out and about this afternoon on a vintage bus. And I know I'm getting old when a 'vintage' bus is one that I remember from my youth.

Off we went - and yes, I sat on the top deck at the front.  The bus tour was to Sunderland's Places of Worship.  As someone who only ever goes to church for hatches, matches and dispatches, having a neb inside some of Sunderland's churches and finding out more about them was intriguing indeed.

Our first stop was St. George's United Reform Church on Stockton Road.  It was big, as churches usually are. It had an organ, as many do. There were pews, stained glass. So far, so usual, so churchy.  But then we were told about its Sunderland roots. The shipyard owners who bought the land and built the church. The stained glass windows dedicated to those owners with names like Steels and Bartrams.

And the contempory glass art work dedicated to the life of Sunderland woman Margaret Drybrugh, who died as a POW in Singapore after her missionary work in China.

Back on the bus and off to stop number two in the leafy, affluent Ashbrooke part of town.  St. John's church was built as "The cathedral to Methodism".  At the end of each pew there was a numbered brass plaque.

These were to hold the prices which the gentry had to pay to sit in that pew. The closer to the front, to God, you wanted to be, the more it was going to cost you. The further back you sat, the less you paid. And if you were servants to the gentry, you could sit down for free. Heavens above.  But you had to leave early, in order to saddle up the horses and get the carriages ready for your masters at the end of the service.

The stained glass windows were dedicated to the men (they're always men, aren't they?) who founded the church.

Back on the bus and off to venue number three - the Sunderland Sikh temple.  This was a real eye-opener for me as I'd never been inside anywhere like this before.  We were asked to remove our shoes when we went in, and to wash our hands and cover our heads.  Then we entered the prayer room. No barriers, no pew prices, no stained glass windows, no pomp or circumstance, no powerful men. Just three very friendly and welcoming women - one of whom I knew and hadn't seen for years, so it was a lovely reunion .

After an introduction to the Sikh religion, we were led to their kitchen where we were treated to the most amazing vegetarian samasos, washed down with spiced tea. It was fantastic, the best samosas I've ever eaten! 

And then, it was back to the bus for the end of our trip.

Two years ago during Local History Month I took a guided walk around Sunderland's East End.

You can download the brochure for Local History Month here.

Find out more about me and my books. Click on the image below:

Glenda Young books

I'm on twitter @flaming_nora
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