Sunday, 26 June 2016

Breakfast at Tiffany's UK Tour Review | LittleEllieMae

 I've been long awaiting the production of Breakfast at Tiffany's to arrive at the Theatre Royal Plymouth. Admittedly I wasn't too sure what to expect from this show to begin with but I was pleasantly surprised. I was drawn in by the fact that it was an adaption of the original Truman Capote novel rather than the iconic 1961 film starring Audrey Hepburn and of course the star casting of Pixie Lott, who I have been a fan of since the start of her pop career.

This production of Breakfast at Tiffany's tells the story of vivacious, good-time girl Holly Golightly and her fantastical existence in 1940s New York City. I loved following the thrilling love affairs, bright lights and pure fabulous-ness of Holly's life, but it was the more sinister, heart- felt aspects of the show that captured the audience most. Despite the facade of Holly's magnificent existence, her life is also riddled with hardship as she experiences heartbreak, drinking problems and family loss.

 Leading lady Pixie Lott makes her acting debut as Holly Golightly, a character that journeys through every emotion possible throughout the show. As much as I adore Pixie as a recording artist, I initially had few reservations... could this just be plain celebrity casting to get bums on seats? But I needn't have worried. Pixie couldn't be anymore perfect for this role. She lights up the whole house with her presence, I couldn't help but beam when she was on stage. Her presentation of the complex character who is full of class and wit as well as fragility is completely refreshing. She goes back to her singing roots as she performs a few songs on acoustic guitar throughout the show, during her character's most vulnerable moments, including an iconic rendition of 'Moonriver' which bought me to tears. Pixie charmed the whole audience and bought this iconic character back to life perfectly.

Another star of the show worth mentioning is Matt Barber who played Fred, the narrator of the show and Holly Golightly's only true friend. Matt opens the show, talking directly to the audience to clearly present the back story of Holly's majestic tale and then is onstage for the majority of the show which is truly impressive. His character is a young, bumbling writer, completely fascinated by the whirlwind that is Miss Holiday Golightly. In one word, Matt's portrayal of Fred is completely charming. From the start, the audience feel sympathy for Fred as he battles against unemployment and unrequited love but also revel in his moments of joy with him. His character is really interesting as he develops throughout the show and I think Matt portrays him so well.

The cast of this show is relatively small, meaning that the ensemble take on a variety of roles throughout. They are a fantastic ensemble who bring the story of bustling Manhattan to life. A mention must go to Charlie De Melo who plays Jose, a character that I grew to love as he bought a great aspect of humour to parts of the show as Holly's Brazilian love affair. Though my favourite has to be Bob The Cat who played Holly's stray friend, representing a glimmer of hope within her destructive life. I'm not really a 'cat person' but this cat was completely fantastic and stole the show (sorry guys!)

I was particularly pleasantly surprised at the fantastic set design that included a variety of Manhattan apartments filled with bric- a- brac, bars, restaurants, and of course the iconic fire escape which formed an impressive backdrop. I was sat on the front row, meaning I could take in all of the amazing details of the sets and props. As well as genius set design, Matthew Wright provided gorgeous costumes. As a massive vintage fan, I adored Holly's stunning 40s inspired outfits - of which there were many as Pixie performed numerous number of quick- changes!

I felt that some scenes were a little too wordy at times and came across a bit irrelevant to the main plot. However it was during these times that I noticed small details like the soft sound of wind and rain through the speakers and the atmospheric lighting which I really appreciated. Its small aspects like this that really add value to a production.

To conclude, I really enjoyed this production. I love the story, the complex characters and their portrayals were pretty much faultless. Its thrilling, charming and heartbreaking all at once. I would most definitely recommend - even if plays aren't usually your kind of thing - this production will engage all audiences. I give it ★★★★.

Breakfast at Tiffany's is heading to the West End on its next stop! Catch it at the Theatre Royal Haymarket from 30th June. I'd definitely recommend checking it out.

I went to say hello to Pixie and Matt after the show too. What wonderful people!

Have you seen this production yet? Let me know what you think by commenting below or tweeting me @LittleEllieMae :)

Ellie Mae x

Disclaimer: All opinions and thoughts are my own, as always. Video credited to

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang UK Tour Review | LittleEllieMae

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a show that many have grown up with. It is particularly special to me as it was the first musical I saw back in 2003 at The London Palladium. At only six years old, I remember being totally blown away by the magic of the show and it was obviously what kick-started my complete love for musical theatre. It was also my very first experience of going backstage at the theatre; I clearly remember the chaperone showing us the car and convincing my sister and I that it was pure magic. So fast- forward twelve years later, and I was just as excited to re-live my childhood for an evening. 

Six year old me, backstage at The London Palladium
The plot line is by no means a favourite of mine [gets car, car flies, car is stolen, gets car back]. The subplot set in 'Vulgaria'. following the characters of wanna-be villains Baron and Baroness Bomburst has always come across a little tiresome for me, even in the classic 1968 film featuring Dick Van Dyke. However this touring production has definitely attempted to liven this up a bit by including new sections such as a colourful salsa routine in Act 2. Although totally superfluous to the plot, the routine was magnificently done and ended up being one of my favourite scenes of the whole show! The ensemble are truly amazing in this show- it wouldn't be what it is without them. They provide the perfect backdrop of harmonious sound to the classic Sherman Brothers' score as well as some of the most slick, professional dancing of an ensemble I've seen in a while. Taking on multiple personas throughout, the ensemble provide the show with ongoing energy and enthusiasm it needs to keep it afloat. 

Lee Mead takes on the role of Caracatus Potts, providing a heart-felt and touching performance as single-father of Jeremy and Jemima. He doesn't convey the fun-filled, silly character like Dick Van Dyke that I'm such a fan of from the film, but there is no doubt that he shows a different, softer side of the character. As he describes himself as "not a dancer", his performance in 'Me Ol Bamboo' is very impressive. His interaction with the children in the show seems very genuine, making him a very good leading man in his father role. 

Carrie Hope Fletcher portrays the out-spoken yet frightfully pleasant character of Truly Scrumptious, Potts' love interest and acting mother figure to the children in the show. I've been a fan of Carrie's after watching her in Les Miserables, and my admiration for her has grown even more so after seeing her as Truly. Its as if she were made for this role. Even though its been only a few weeks into her first tour, she takes on the character with confidence and passion. Her vocals are undoubtedly the strongest in the show and her performances of Doll On A Music Box/ Truly Scrumptious gave me goosebumps. She is full of grace, charm and completely lights up the stage.

Other notable performances include Scott Paige and Sam Harrison who play the hilarious spies, Goran and Boris. They provide genius humour throughout the show; It is their perfect comedic timing as well as impressive movement and vocals that make their performances really stand- out (not to mention their array of absolutely fantastic 'under-cover' costumes). Full of camp, tounge- in- cheek gags, they had me beaming all through the show. 

Matt Gillett creates the character of everybody's nightmare: The Childcatcher. Despite majorly creeping me out with his evil laugh, greasy locks and grimacing smile, Matt bought a sense of wicked humour to the stage. I also particularly appreciated Matt's movement as he floated around the space with such flair. 

The set was seemingly simple with lots of wooden backdrops to portray the Potts' home as well as the Baron's castle but light projections added such an exciting aspect to this. From videos of the historical Grand Prix race, moving landscapes and even creepy Childcatcher silhouettes, I thought that the projections were used so well. It was very clever as they were used as a simulation of movement for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang itself. The car is a big part of the show and it is a massively magical spectacle, though it doesn't fly into the audience as the 2003 production did, the available resources were utilised to create an extravaganza all the same. 

The costumes are bright and fun, border-line pantomime-ish, but perfectly suitable for a show like this. 

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is the perfect show for families of all ages. It will provide magic to last a child's life time and will make all elders feel all warm and fuzzy with nostalgia. Its such a classic show and this tour production did not disappoint with a fantastic company, presenting a massive array of talent both on the stage and in the band pit.

Not to mention, this company have performed FIVE two-day shows in a row whilst in Plymouth, totaling at ten shows in five days. I'm not sure how they've done it, but they've pulled it off so professionally and I applaud them for that.

I most definitely recommend- I give it ★★★★.

Keep an eye out on my blog for an interview to follow with the fabulous Scott Paige (Goran) to give further insight into this great production!

Have you seen Chitty Chitty Bang Bang yet? Let me know what you think by commenting below or tweeting me @LittleEllieMae :)

Ellie Mae x

Disclaimer: All opinions and views are my own. Production shots credit to Alastair Muir.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Wildwood Kitchen & Deli Event | LittleEllieMae

On Wednesday evening I was invited along to Wildwood at the Royal William Yard in Plymouth for an evening of prosecco and yummy nibbles!

I had never been to this Wildwood restaurant before but its absolutely gorgeous. The Royal William Yard is my favourite place in Plymouth- its a beautiful harbour with amazing historical military buildings that have been converted into an array of luxury apartments, restaurants, art galleries and shops. This Wildwood restaurant takes on the building's (originally a slaughterhouse!) stunning original features like the stone walls and high wooden beams and has incorporated some funky modern decor.

It was lovely for Becca and I to bring our families along to this event too, as they don't often get to witness us in 'blogger- form'. Also, its nice to see that bloggers are finally being recognised in this city and we are being integrated into awesome events like this with other professionals in Plymouth. The cultural scene here is really thriving which I'm so excited about; it was great to network with everyone there. 

Inside the restaurant there were some fantastic quirky products to try out such as peanut butter chocolate, marshmallow nougat and yummy chutneys! 

Throughout the night we were kindly served with nibbles including risotto, spring rolls, burgers, pizza and salad. Everything I tried was completely delicious, with the bacon and chicken risotto being my favourite (I ate my sister's aswell...)

I wore my new co-ord which I found on Depop (my new love!)- the tag says that its originally from a brand called 'Urmoda'. Its such a fun outfit and one I will definitely be wearing again and again this summer. 

Thanks to Wildwood for a really enjoyable evening!

Ellie Mae x

Disclaimer: I was kindly invited to this event by Wildwood/ Onshore PR but all thoughts and opinions are my own. Photos by Guy Harris. 

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Saturday Brunch OOTD | LittleEllieMae

I had an extremely lovely morning on Saturday as I met up with a group of gorgeous bloggers, Nicole, Alice, Emily and Lorna for a spot of brunch at Boston Tea Party!

After brunch we had a stroll around Plymouth's historic backstreets of The Barbican and took some outfit shots for each other. Its so nice to work with other bloggers as they totally understand your need to photograph flat-lays and don't judge, but actually encourage your posing for outfit photos! Amazing ladies and I can't wait to do it again soon!

I went for a very casual look as early mornings mean I'm too dopey to be inventive with my outfits!

I'm loving this body-suit from New Look at the moment- its so easy to wear with a variety of looks. My jeans are my absolute favourite Joni jeans from Topshop.

This bag is without a doubt my favourite part of this outfit... it just makes it 100% jazzier! I'm obsessed with it. And it was only £9 from Primark- amazing!

My go-to comfy shoes are my white Converse. I love wearing them with rolled- up cuffed jeans to give a relaxed, casual look.

My sunglasses are from Primark. 

Thanks to Nicole for the fab photography! 

I had a lovely time!

What do you think of my outfit? Let me know by commenting below or tweeting me @LittleEllieMae :)

Have a great day!

Ellie Mae x

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

The James Plays: James II Review and Interview with Andrew Rothney | LittleEllieMae

The James Plays by Rona Munro have caused quite a buzz within the theatre scene, so I was very excited to see that Plymouth had been added to their tour.

** This post may contain spoilers!**

An ensemble of twenty actors portray Scotland's Stewart Kings of the fifteenth century within a trilogy of plays in one day- 11am, 3pm and 7pm showings. Described as a 'box set' of theatre, audiences can spend the day following the history and culture of Scotland through different narratives. 

I had hoped to spend the day watching all three shows but unfortunately I was not able, but I did manage to catch one show, 'James II- Day of the Innocents'.

As the name suggests, 'James II' tells the story of the Scottish king (1430- 1460) who succeeded the throne after the death of his father, just aged six years old.

Andrew Rothney plays the lead as James II. The play opens with Rothney playing James as a six year old,"just a wee bairn", who then ages into his twenties as the narrative develops. I usually find adults acting as children somewhat unnerving (it can remind me of the cringe Haribo advert where adults speak in strange kids' voices...) but Rothney and Andrew Still (who plays William Douglas) portrayed the youths fantastically. They presented the young characters with vulnerability alongside the fun, playful aspects which made it seem much more believable.

The story follows James' development as his new role of King, where he is exploited by greedy nobility which even leads to the death of his two cousins under 'his' command, causing continuous nightmares and constant fear for the young King.

However, it was the relationships portrayed that drew my attention most; Young William Douglas, son of Balvenie of the Douglas family, befriends James II in a moment of pure burden which is physically shown as he repeatedly confines himself in a wooden box. The friendship between James and William develops throughout the show, where the audience become engrossed in their intimate relationship (which actually hints at sexual tension between the two) so it is completely traumatic to witness the heartless, destructive end in the final scene where James violently stabs William who acted as a threat in his spiraling mental state- from this moment the King gains his real status as leader.

It is also interesting to witness the character growth of James after meeting his wife, Mary (Rosemary Boyle), and reuniting with his sister, Anabella (Dani Heron) who represent the fun, playful aspects within James' life of bloodshed and destruction.

Jon Bausor's impressive set included unique on-stage seating which provided a simple yet hugely effective backdrop for the narrative. His costumes were also a compelling aspect of the show; with beautiful traditional fifteenth- century robes and gowns paired with hints of modern pieces such as combat boots and jean-like trousers. This added a sense of familiarity to what could potentially be seen as an unrelatable, outdated story set a million miles away from modern audiences.

Philip Gladwell provided immaculate lighting design. This isn't something I usually take much notice of, but the dark and moody lighting added to the spine-chilling atmosphere in the auditorium.

The script, set, costumes and lighting are all massive contributing factors to the success of this show but I believe that it is the committed performances from the cast that make it what it is. It has been a while since I have witnessed such poignant, heartfelt performances. Each character is hugely complex but every actor brings energy and passion to the stage. Though for me it was Rothney and Still who delivered stand-out performances. In the longest scene of the show, the two lead characters argue and William descends into a state of madness- this does not comes across as tedious, but sparks with crippling tension and chemistry between the them which grasps the audience right until the very end.

Filled with drama, captivation and plain interesting history, James II delivers perfect performances which will engage all audiences.

Andrew Rothney, who played the lead role of James II, kindly answered a few questions in an interview with me. I wanted to find out more about the production and how he has succeeded in creating this notorious character:

This show was an emotional roller-coaster for the audience, so I can imagine it can be hugely demanding on you, the actor. How do you prepare yourself for the show each day?

Because we are quite far into the run of the shows we all have gotten into the groove of the day ahead of us. At the start of the run it was quite daunting to do double triples over a weekend, its by no means easy but it is more than doable. It's a case of managing your energy. Everyone has different ways of preparing for James 1. Stretching, vocal warm ups and some Swedish metal is how I prep for it. 

Your character, James II, is massively complex. How did you prepare for the role? Did you carry out any specific research on the historical character?

There isn't much in the way of concrete facts about James II. Rona has collected all the facts of what happened during his reign and has pieced together the narrative from there. Because I'm playing a young child in the first act I watched "The secret life of six year olds" to allow me to observe how children create a world for themselves to live in. How they cope in hard situations etc.  I also researched emotional PTSD in an effort to understand James's struggle which helped me inform a lot of what happens in the action. As far as prep goes it varies. However right after the mayhem of James 1 I like to hole myself away, listen to some delicate music and just keep myself attentive to what I've got to bring with me as soon as that kist opens. 

What is your favourite thing about playing James II? And what do you find most difficult?

It's very satisfying when James begins to take control over his life with the help of Mary (the amazing Rosemary Boyle), they are committed to start their lives without fear, to go out there and own their destiny. I'm happy for him when he starts to gain peace. 
The most challenging is the first half. Playing James from 6 to 9 is tricky, there is very little leeway when adults play children. It requires the audience to completely suspend their disbelief and it can be marmite to some audiences. To accept that I am an adult who playing a child. However I say let the story speak for itself.

The on-stage seating is something very unique for a touring production like this; what's it like to be so close to audience members? Have there been any mishaps with audience members on-stage so far?

It's a great experience to look the audience right in the eye and talk to them like they are the parliament. I love it. I've knocked a few knees but apart from that actors and audiences have left unscathed! The excitement on the audiences faces is such a joy!

You've been touring with this production for a while now, what has the reception from audience members been like? Why do you think audiences seem to resonate with this show so much?

The reception has been amazing considering that these Kings and stories are quite obscure to English and Scottish audiences.
Rona wrote these plays and they characters to mirror ourselves. These people were just like you and I. People who love, who envy, who make mistakes. James the 2nd for instance is about a young man who has been damaged by the older generation in various ways. That play in particular is about the young pushing out the old and I think that is very powerful

In just one sentence, tell my readers why they should go and see The James Plays..!

Come and see all three plays in a day, you will experience something unique and something you aren't likely to forget anytime soon.

I give this show a fantastic ★★★★★.
I can't remember the last time I've been so engaged with a play. I NEED to catch the other two plays some time soon.

The James Plays are currently touring the UK so make sure you catch it at a venue near you!

A big thank you to Andrew for kindly taking part in my interview.

Have you seen The James Plays yet?! Let me know by commenting below or tweeting me @LittleEllieMae.

Ellie Mae x

Disclaimer: My ticket to the show was complimentary from the Theatre Royal Plymouth but as always. all opinions and thoughts are 100% my own. Thanks to Andrew for the interview.