Beauty and the Beast at the Webster Theatre, Arbroath

Every year my family and I make a point of going to see the pantomime at the Webster Memorial Theatre in Arbroath. Filled with fun and frolics, it’s the perfect way to get the festive season started! After all Christmas just wouldn’t feel like Christmas without shouting “he’s behind you” to the pantomime dame and “Oh no she didn’t” to the dastardly villain.

This year’s production is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast written by local playwright JJ Christine. The show stars a host of wonderful actors from Chris O’Mara as the Beast & Prince, Claudia Todd as Bell, Simon Donaldson as Gastoff, Susan Coyle as Evil Mother & Mrs P, Arron Usher as Aunt Jolly,  and Charles ‘Chuck’ Denton as La Poo, all of whom do a terrific job of entertaining and engaging the family audience.

As always this panto adds it’s own special twist to the well known tale, making it a riveting watch. In this version, Bell and the Beast both love to dance, Gastoff has an mother issues and La Poo is an expert body popper! Who knew!

We absolutely loved the show and my two girls aged 5 and 8, were absolutely glued throughout. As always the Webster Memorial Theatre’s panto production was pitched absolutely perfectly for the family audience. With loads of laugh out load moments, bucketsful of high jinx, plenty of baddies to boo and a brilliant soundtrack to sing along to – this panto really does have it all!

Beauty and the Beast is the perfect family pantomime for Christmas and is not to be missed!

Beauty and the Beast is on at the Webster Memorial Theatre until the 24th of December. For further information about the production and to buy tickets, please visit: http://www.webstertheatre.co.uk/whatson.htm


*Disclaimer: I was very kindly provided with tickets to this performance in exchange for this fair and honest review.

The Nutcracker by Russian State Ballet – Preview

After being absolutely mesmerised by Swan Lake a few years ago, I’ve been desperate to see The Nutcracker. So, when I heard that the Nutcracker was coming to Dundee’s Caird Hall on Thursday the 9th of November – I knew I had to see it.

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a trip to your local theatre for a dazzling production of the most famous Ballet in the world, The Nutcracker. Based on The Nutcracker and the Mouse King written by E.T.A. Hoffmann, it tells the story of Marie, a rather sad little girl, whose godfather Drosselmeyer gives her a nutcracker doll as a present on Christmas Eve, which turns into a prince. When midnight strikes, the world turns all magical in the wintry glitter of Christmas Eve.

Toys come alive, the Mouse-king and his mouse-army battle with the Nutcracker Prince and we travel through the Land of Snow to an enchanted place where the magic really begins. Snow flurries, sweets, princes, magic, love, victories and defeats, and Tchaikovsky’s rousing score, are just some of the ingredients that will be brought together by this renowned Russian State Ballet. The Russian State Ballet and Opera House is a gem for the Russian cultural traditions, bringing as they do the passion and vibrancy of Russian character to this well-known ballet. It has built an international reputation for delivering performances of outstanding quality, and never fails to delight audiences.

I’ll be reviewing the production on here at the end of next week!

For further information on the Russian State Ballet, please click here: www.russian-state-ballet.co.uk

To book tickets for Thursday’s performance of The Nutcracker at Dundee’s Caird Hall, call: 01382 434940 or visit: https://www.dundeebox.co.uk

Book review: Maggie’s Mittens

I’m always on the look out for books that are going to engage my five year old, so when I stumbled across the new title: Maggie’s Mittens, I was immediately curious. With beautiful words from Scottish author Coo Clayton and charming illustrations from Northern Irish artist, Alison Soye, I just knew that this title would be a big hit in my house.

The picture book, which was penned by author Coo after she walked her daughter Maggie home from nursery on a dreich day last autumn, features locations from around Scotland including Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Falkirk, St Andrews and Dundee.

The fact that my daughter could sit with me and recognise some of Scotland’s famous sights, made this a really exciting read for her. It also gave us the chance to plan lots of new adventures together – we’ve still not visited the Kelpies, which is just disgraceful! So, that has been added right to the top of our never ending to do list!

Another beautiful feature of the book was the fact that there is a red squirrel hidden on every page, which added a bit of extra joy to the book.

The story, is one that’s familiar to every parent! In fact, I used to stich my daughter’s mittens into her coat to stop her from discarding them every time we ventured out for a walk! But, while I empathised with Maggie’s mum, my daughter was rooting for Maggie all the way!

Maggie’s Mittens is a lovely read, full of fun and charm and I’d recommend it to any parent looking for a great book to share with their kids. It would also make a wonderful present for children abroad, who are looking for a wee tour around Scotland.

Maggie’s Mittens is published by Black & White and is available in all good bookshops now!

Dundee Literary Festival 2017

Hip hip hooray! Tomorrow marks the beginning of my favourite bookie event, Dundee Literary Festival, which takes places in my native city.

This year’s event which takes it’s inspiration from the great thinker, biologist, mathematician and classics scholar, D’Arcy Thompson whose book On Growth and Form, celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, peers inside the books and stories featured at the event, analysing their structure, form and secrets too.

Jam packed with literary stars from crime writer Denise Mina, Man Booker Prize shortlister, Graeme Macrae Burnet and Tracy Beaker author and Honorary Graduate of the University of Dundee, Jacqueline Wilson – there really is something for everything at this extraordinary book festival.

I’m looking forward to attending a number of events over the long weekend, including a writing tutorial with YA author Joan Lennon on Friday, Literature in Britain Today with Tim Robertson, Director of the Royal Society of Literature on Saturday and Beyond Our Times with Irish author Sara Baume and Journalist Mark O’Connell.

It’s going to be a fabulous few days and I’m looking forward to reviewing the events that I see, next week!

For more information and to book tickets, visit: https://literarydundee.co.uk/festival

Dundee Flower & Food Festival

Once a year, all the foodies and all the flower lovers gather together in Camperdown Park, Dundee for the Flower & Food Festival. With Michelin star chefs, award-winning food and fabulous musical entertainment and some of the most beautiful floral arrangements you could ever hope to see – it’s an annual event not to be missed.

One of the displays inside the children’s tent

This year’s festival was no different. With food demonstrations from the likes of Gary Maclean, Nick Nairn and Tony Singh and entertainment from Andy Day of CBeebies fame – it’s little wonder that the food and flower festival welcomed over 20,000 guests over the weekend.

For me, the highlight of the weekend is always the food tent. Packed full of mouth-watering food and seductive alcoholic beverages – the tent is a treat for the eyes as well as the belly. I could have spent hours happily wandering through the displays, sipping glorious gin samples, whilst sampling the latest chutneys and jams.

Other highlights included the spectacular flower displays and the fabulous children’s tent, which was packed full of family friendly activities, entertaining my own two kids for at least an hour.

September wouldn’t be the same with out this event, it really is the perfect way to say goodbye to Summer and welcome Autumn.

For further information about the Dundee Flower & Food Festival, visit: http://www.dundeeflowerandfoodfestival.com/

*Disclaimer – I was given a free pass to the festival in exchange for this fair and honest review.