Category Archives: Review

Review: Personal Training with James O’Driscoll the UK’s first blind Personal Trainer

I’m one of those people that have a love and passion for fitness. I’ve worked with a number of personal trainers over the years, some being more effective and knowledgable than others. When I heard the name James O’Driscoll I was fascinated, ‘Why?’ you may ask… well, because he is blind! – Just take a moment to imagine if you could do your job blind? I know I couldn’t.

James was diagnosed with Leber’s optic hereditary neuropathy, a rare condition which affects just one in 20 million, causing him to lose his sight at 26 years old. He turned his life around through exercise, which inspired him to become the UK’s first blind Personal Trainer.

I was fortunate enough to have a PT session with James, who recently moved from Kent to Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire. After leaving his clients at Virgin Active, he decided to go out on his own (well with his dog, Disney) starting up Simply FITT, converting his garage into a gym/studio.

The morning of our session I typically overslept, had only 20 minutes to get up and out the door, literally sprayed myself with body spray, quickly brushed my teeth and left the house, which got me thinking as I made my way over… James couldn’t see me, he didn’t care what I was wearing, whether my hair was brushed or not, whether I had make-up on, as long as I smelt ok he wouldn’t know. It made me question how much time do we waste getting ready for things that really isn’t necessary?

I was really impressed with his gym and the facilities he had, I felt like a kid in a sweet shop wanting to try everything. We started the session with a warm up on the holistic water filled rowing machine. Instantly I was taken aback when James corrected me on my technique, I questioned as to how he would know my shoulders weren’t back, which of course they weren’t! We moved on to a kettle bells circuit, consisting of swings, head cutters, goblin squats and press ups with James continuously instructing techniques and pushing that extra rep out of me.

Then came the fun stuff – anchor training! I put on this body suit which James handed me. By this point I felt so comfortable with him that I kept forgetting he was blind, he doesn’t look blind and with how confident he is as a trainer it completely left my mind. Anyway, back to the anchor training. Basically I was in this body suit. The best way to describe it is to imagine something from 50 Shades of Grey that’s attached to the wall by big elastic bands! Following his instruction I did bear crawls, frog squats, iguana walkouts planks, reverse bear crawls, polar bear presses, side crawls, all whilst in this suit with resistance working against me. I actually found myself paying attention to my technique more that I normally would and when I got to the end of something found myself confirming with James that I had, but in turn I was also confirming with myself with what I was doing. So by talking about what I was doing it actually made me more aware.

We ended the session with some boxing pad work using a strike man which tested my reflexes and finally finishing with abdominal work using a surge, which is basically a water filled viper before stretching.

I throughly enjoyed my PT session even though my legs felt like jelly by the end. James is obviously a very knowledgable, passionate and dedicated PT, just from talking to him you can tell that sessions with him don’t stop at the end of your session. He looks at nutrition and lifestyle. Health and fitness to him is a way of life, not just for the month after Christmas.

I know so many people who are to self-conscious to walk into a gym, or to put on running shoes and pounding streets is just so scary that it doesn’t feel like an option. But to have a trainer that can’t see you I feel would help really boost people’s confidence, after all training isn’t always about how you look, it’s about how it makes you feel.

I can’t wait for my next session, those plyometric boxes have my name all over them!

For a FREE 30 minute complementary session or to find out more contact James on 07881 100746 or email him at

Check out the Simply FITT website by clicking on the blue link. You can also follow Simply FITT on Facebook and Instagram by clicking on the blue words too.



Review of The World Famous Dreamboys 2016 UK Tour by Lara Wadey


Where do you even start when you’re writing about the most successful male strippers in UK history, The Dreamboys?

A lot of people probably wouldn’t have even clicked onto this link to read this review; they would have an initial impression that The Dreamboys show is sleazy, full of cheese and covered in baby oil. But they’d be wrong; this isn’t your usual striptease. I mean yes these guys are strippers, which basically means removing items of clothing to music… but being strippers and putting on a show are two very different things.

I couldn’t have been more excited when The Dreamboys owner David contacted me asking if I could review the show as his personal guest. Well who was I to say no? I felt like a child at Christmas, as I rushed through the back stage door to meet the boys before the show along with Georgia Farquharson from New! magazine. Let me tell you that watching a group of hot hunks getting ready, running around half naked with fake tan is not as it is not an easy task ladies… but I think we coped rather well – jealous much?

Even before the boys walked onto the stage, the audience were beyond excited. There we clearly those who had come to see the boys’ tour year after year and then then there were the virgins of the audience just like me.

The opening music and lighting was enough to confirm that Magic Mike has competition! Of course there were certain things about the show that I possibly would change, I questioned some music choices, I questioned if it needed so much audience participation. As you would expect there is an element of cheese such as the sailor and fireman routine, but the show wouldn’t be what it is without it. Sometimes as a critic you just need to sit back and ask simply yourself – did you enjoy the show? To which my reply would most certainly be a big fat YES!

The Dreamboys is about putting on a show; it’s where the world of fantasy merges into reality. The impressive choreographed dance routines, fire trick and the strengths of each individual artist are warmly received by women and men of all ages; I found myself on certain moments tightly holding my friends arm, slightly cringing, yet totally excited because I didn’t know what was coming next or whether or not they were going to cross the line, whatever your line might be. These guys were more than just bodies, they clearly had talent behind those abs. I train myself so I can appreciate the discipline that these guys go through to keep their chisels flawless bodies in perfect shape.

Geordie Shore’s Scotty T made a brief appearance. The reality TV star was instantly welcomed by his fans screaming louder as he danced around the theatre; it was hilarious watching everyone’s heads turn like owls to watch him.

We live in the world driven by fame, so as much as I believe The Dreamboys don’t need a celebrity in the show as they are talented enough, I do understand Scotty T has his place, helping the show reach out and attract new generations to theatre and the arts.

Not to disappoint any of you, I know you’re all thinking it, desperate to ask if the boys are ever fully nude. Yes, they are ladies and gents… enjoy!

No matter the occasion, a hen night, birthday or just a girlie night out, this action packed 2 hour show will literally have you begging for more, it really is 69 shades of Dreamboys!

I cannot thank The Dreamboys owner David, their manager Simon and the boys themselves enough for their hospitality before, during and after the show. You really have made their new No.1 fans dream come true, have a great tour and I’ll see you in 2017 for more naughtiness.

For more information and to book your tickets for their Theatre and Arena UK tour go to and for their Resident Saturday night shows in 12 major Cities across the UK



Review: Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage 2016/2017 tour by Lara Wadey


Does Dirty Dancing really need an introduction? I guess not, but for the very few who don’t know what it is, you should hang your heads in shame right now.

Dirty Dancing captured the hearts of the nation in the 80’s and to this day it still remains one of my favourite movie classics. I remember sneaking off to my girlfriend’s house to watch it as mother said I was too young, shhh don’t tell her.

It’s set in America and tells the story of the Houseman’s family holiday in 1963, where 17 year old daddy’s girl Francis ‘Baby’ Houseman (Katie Hartland) is disappointed when she finds out her summer is going to be spent at The Hotel Resort of the Catskill Mountains, with her parents, yawn! However, her luck turns around as she meets and falls in love with dance instructor Johnny Castle (Lewis Griffiths), much against her father will, as he clearly wasn’t the kind of of man he wanted for his daughter, or so he thought.

It follows the movie very closely; at times you could argue that it was too close, as I felt I wanted to remain in some of the scenes a little longer in order to be able to absorb it. There were a few add ons, some of which I would question as to whether they were necessary, and others like Johnny’s bare bottoms was definitely welcomed by the audience.

Of course this show wouldn’t work without the chemistry between Baby (Katie Hartland) and Johnny (Lewis Griffiths). It was funny watching Baby’s attempts at dancing at the beginning, as I’m sure on a personal level that is how most of us would see ourselves; but on a professional level it can’t be easy to pretend to dance badly.

The show captured me from beginning to end and now and again I caught myself uttering the next line, or swinging my hip from my chair only to smile to myself when I realised what I was doing. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.

The set moved from scene to scene effortlessly, which made the stage appear larger than it actually is; special effects were used with lighting and holograms, which meant they even tried to pull off the lake scene, which although was funny, boardered tacky.

I found it a little raunchy at times. Towards the end of the first act one could have heard a pin drop as everyone held onto the sexiness of the bedroom scene (you’ll know which scene I’m talking about if you’ve seen it). One of the ladies even commented to me that I was lucky to have my man to go home to which made me laugh.

The whole cast were on point. I don’t want to name drop as I wouldn’t want to leave anyone out. The only criticism I have is that sometimes I wish lines were spoken and felt in the same way the music was felt through dance.

If you get the chance, take a trip back to the summer of ’63 – you’ll have the time of your life! – Oh, and yes, they do the lift!

Dirty Dancing runs until Saturday 24th September at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. Tickets are available from or call the Box Office on 0844 871 7607.


Review: Little Shop of Horrors

Little Shop of Horrors is based on an old black and white low-budget B-movie that was released in 1960. I personally grew up with the 1986 version of the film starring Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene and Steve Martin. Having never seen the stage show when I found out the tour was coming to Aylesbury Waterside Theatre I was thrilled at the thought of reviewing it.

Walking into the auditorium not only did the bright set instantly draw my eyes to the stage, but the hustle and bustle of a very excited audience on opening night added to the excitement. I was also fascinated by the few ‘Feed Me’ t-shirts I saw dotted about.

You may wonder how a play about a talking plant could be of any interest to anyone, or evenly remotely pass as a love story. But I assure you that it does. It’s a sweet love story brought to you from the partnership of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken; whom you would also know from their work on Disney’s animated classics “The Little Mermaid” (1989) and “Beauty and the Beast” (1991).

The story follows a geeky flower shop assistant Seymour (Sam Lupton) who was stuck living within the poverty of Skid Row, New York. Sweet Seymour is secretly in love with co-worker Audrey (Stephanie Clift). After discovering an unusual plant during a total eclipse (which he names Audrey II), he finds a way of saving his boss Mr Mushnik’s flower shop; whilst also winning Audrey’s heart away from her not very nice boyfriend Orin (Josh Wilmott). The chemistry between Seymour and Audrey couldn’t have been better and whoever casted those two needs a massive bravo! Seymour owned the stage throughout, never lacking energy. I wouldn’t be a true critic if I didn’t pick at something and if the only thing I can suggest is that Audrey needed a little more cleavage! Then they are clearly doing something right.

Unfortunately Rhydian Roberts was unable to play the role of the dentist Orin this evening, so his understudy Josh Wilmott filled his shoes, and that he did. Initially I didn’t think he looked mean or tough enough, but his vocals and energy soon put any of my doubts to rest.

Sasha Latoya (Crystal), Vanessa Fisher (Chiffon) and Cassie Clare (Ronnette) were on point! Their vocals, harmonies and presence kept the show alive and gave the show a little Motown vibe.

The show was full of energy throughout, with some well know songs including Downtown, Suddenly, Seymour and Be a Dentist, you could have actually heard a pin drop during the rendition of Somewhere That’s Green, an emotionally touching performance from Audrey (Stephanie Clift). Let’s not forget the song Get It, where a large singing plant is so realistic and believable it’s practically alive.

All in all it’s a fantastic show, where the hard work from everyone on and off set pays off.

Grab your tickets to this monster show and head down to Skid Row whilst its in town, but one word of advice, don’t feed the plant!

Little Shop of Horrors runs until Saturday 18th September at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. Tickets are available from or call the Box Office on 0844 871 7607.

Review: Chicago the Musical


In the three years I have been writing reviews, I have never been more excited than to review Chicago. I fell in love with the film starring Rene Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones in 2002 and then again as the West End production I saw in 2008.

For most of you I am sure that Chicago needs little or no introduction, but for those of you that don’t know, I will take you back to 1924 when Chicago was run by gangsters, was it fully of criminality as well as jazz and glamour. Cook County jail had women on ‘murderers row’, all with their own story to tell. Just like the kiss-and-tell tactics used today to become celebs, these women used their tales to become stars.

Just as I expected the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre was packed on press night. The opening number All That Jazz sets a strong alluring tone, leaving you wanting more. There aren’t many musicals where the orchestra are on stage, leaving the set very simple, but certainly doesn’t take away from the energy on stage. However I had to repress the urge to push them back a metre or so to enable extra space for the dancers.

Murderesses Sophie Carmen-Jones (Velma Kelly) owned her roll from the start rocking her little black dress and Roxie Hart (Hayley Tamaddon) from Emmerdale, also instantly won us over, well after I got over the fact that she wasn’t blonde! Soon they found themselves on death row together, fighting for the fame that will keep them from the gallows in 1920s Chicago.

Chicago wouldn’t be Chicago without the puppet master John Partridge as Billy Flynn, you would recognise him from Eastenders and Big Brother. He plays a smooth talking lawyer, who knew how to play the media to get the verdict he was after. After his performance of All I Care About I wasn’t sure what I thought, then after his exuberance performance of We Both Reached for the Gun with Roxie, I was sold! Not to mention the classic number Razzle Dazzle. Only knowing him from TV it’s clear to see the stage is where he belongs.

Chicago is a fast paced musical, with a strong flawless cast. The singing, acting and choreography were on point. My favourite number is still the Cell Block Tango with Velma and the girls.

Another favourite was Gina Murray as Matron ‘Mama’ Morton, even though I felt she should have been a bigger build, I’m probably comparing her to the film here, she most certainly didn’t need a bigger voice as she wowed us performing When You’re Good to Mama. This was her first night after two weeks of rehearsals and if this was her performance on opening night then all I can say is Mama is certainly going to be good for the show!

It’s probably best I don’t forget to mention Amos Hart played by Neil Ditt, aka Mr Cellophane. He nailed his role and is far from invisable. Actually I don’t want to leave anyone out, as there is usually a few weak links in a show; but with such a strong talented cast together they put on an unforgettable dazzling show, it really would be a crime to miss it and all that jazz!

The show will be touring until Saturday 16th July. Tickets are available from


Review: Chaplin – The Charlie Chaplin Story


I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived at Aylesbury’s Waterside Theatre to review Chaplin – The Charlie Chaplin Story. Of course I have heard the name Charlie Chaplin and I knew he was famous for his bowler hat and cane. But of the actual man, I knew nothing, so being the film geek that I am I was interested to see what I would learn about the first British icon of cinema.

The play opened with a musical number setting the scene for this heart-warming and powerful tale. This fascinating story weaves through Chaplin’s early journey as a young boy through the dark streets of Victorian Vaudeville London to the glitz of early Hollywood. The play kept flashing back to his childhood, which was a little confusing at first but once I got my head around the characters; everything started to fall into place.

Rachael Wood (Emmerdale) was exceptional as Hannah Chaplin, Charlie’s mother, with strong vocals and presence. Even though she was desperate to save her family; she was able to teach her sons the importance of following their dreams, teaching them that if you have nothing, you have nothing to lose!

Steven Arnold (Coronation Street) plays Keystone Studios boss Mack Sennett, as well as Sydney Chaplin, Charlie’s brother. He seemed to be a little dry to start but warmed into the roles; maybe it was the fact this simple white shirt didn’t blend well with the rest of the costumes and set.

The younger Charlie was played by Helena Gullan who was mainly muted, but had a strong energy and presence throughout. The older Charlie was brilliantly played by Bryan Hodgson. I didn’t want him to stop, his facial expressions, the exquisite charm in his voice, his mannerisms, he was simply divine; he is a star in the making!

Tristan Teller also has more than one role; he added the comedy value to the show and was just as much a lead as Chaplin was with his brilliance.

I loved the old London grit that was injected into the show, how easily it went from Chaplin’s early years in London and workhouse conditions to the glitz of showbiz in Hollywood as he follows his dreams and stood by what he believe in, himself.

As well as incredibly talented actors, they were musicians too, as they played the piano, cello, and violin on stage effortlessly creating each scene themselves which added character to the show. The simple touch of having the instruments on stage, as well as some actors playing more than one role, made you forget that this was only a cast of six.

As Hannah Chaplin said, “If you have nothing, you have nothing to lose” and that is how I felt about this show, I had nothing to lose by going but I gained a thoroughly entertaining evening with an incredibly talented cast that will remain with me. Bravo.

The show will be touring until Sunday 24th July. Tickets are available from



Review: Menopause The Musical

MTMUK16 Menopause the Musical Tour 2016 Linda Nolan Cheryl Fergison Ruth Berkeley Rebecca Wheatley 4 Shot Pants Cropped m

As a thirty something year old woman I have yet to experience the menopause. I’ve also never heard of ‘Menopause the Musical’ so when I turned up to a sell-out audience at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

This all singing and dancing comedy show is set in a department store where four women meet at a lingerie sale. The show didn’t start off too well with two large monitor screens on stage which I assumed were adverts sponsoring the show, but I could be wrong. Once the lights eventually went down the show felt it had begun.

You may wonder how menopause could be something to laugh about but this all-star cast including Cheryl Fergison (EastEnders), Linda Nolan (The Nolans) and Rebecca Wheatley (Casualty) will certainly convince you that it is. I think it is an important message for women to feel that what they are going through is absolutely normal and that they’re not the only one. We laughed along with the many one liners about hot flushes, night sweats and other subjects that not just women, but men can also relate to. It certainly helped me gain a little understanding as to what women go through in ‘The Change’.

The first Act drifted from song to song with very little story line and although a little random was indeed very funny. The soundtracks were instantly recognisable, yet unfortunately at times the music was so loud I couldn’t actually hear all the words. After the first half my opinion was that the show was so bad that it was actually rather good as I couldn’t stop laughing even though it felt it was all utter nonsense. Cheryl Fergison was clearly the comedy value of the show, but I needed more.

The second Act was a different show altogether. It went from a cringing cheap production to a hilarious show that had the audience sitting on the edge of their seats in fits of laughter, or maybe they were just dodging the wet patch!

The second act did indeed develop a connection with the charterers, but for me it needed a little less song and a little more story line and comedy. Rebecca Wheatley had us in stitches with two hilarious scenes, one with a pink microphone meant to be a dildo, and another with her trying on a skimpy lingerie piece. We all laughed non-stop, as it was so easy to relate to the embarrassing moments being shared onstage.

With a standing ovation that I certainly wasn’t expecting, I can only describe it as a night out like no other.