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Miller & Carter Aylesbury – Steakhouse – by Lara Wadey

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When you hear that a Miller and Carter Steakhouse is opening up in Aylesbury over a Toby Carvery, you’re clearly going to get a little bit excited. I’ve never eaten in a M&C restaurant before so obviously I went on social media to have a quick look at the pictures of what people were eating and to gain an insight into what we would be expecting; everything I saw looked divine with people raving over the food offered.

As the restaurant was having a few dry runs for staff training leading up to the opening night I went along with a friend and our two daughters to try it out.

On arriving at this brand-new building, first impressions were great. The building was a lot bigger than expected, open and spacious, good lighting, great interior, plus a separate bar area where you could enjoy a drink before and after your meal. Note that the bar is for restaurant guests only, it’s not open to the public if you’re not eating.

As we sat down we were given a feedback form, so we were able to review the night ahead.

I’m the first to admit I have a little OCD and like things done properly.  So I was rather concerned to find the cutlery placed on the left-hand side and not the right – not a good start. Then we weren’t given menus and after 15 minutes I had to ask for them – it really didn’t matter but would’ve created a better first impression. Also when we ordered water for the table and advised the waiter we wouldn’t be drinking wine; it would have been nice for the wine glasses to have be taken away, thus gaining table space.

Conner F was our waiter this evening, he was efficient in advising us on what he thought we would like. There is something for everyone, including vegetarians, a three course children’s menu for £10 and also a cocktail menu.

Once we had placed our order we sat back to soak up the atmosphere, checking out everyone’s food as it came out guessing what was on the plate. The girls came back saying how amazing the bathrooms were; with different mirrors leading upstairs to them and a large painting of a bull, it gave a classy feel to the restaurant. However my friend did point out that the lighting wasn’t right for selfies, obviously a very important detail in this day and age.

An hour and 40 minutes into the night we were still waiting for our main course; naturally I was expecting to wait longer than normal being a trial run, but as it was 9:10pm on a school night I had to ask where our meals were. The manager Nathan came over assuring us that he would go and find out what was happening; but unfortunately he didn’t get back to us… another 20 minutes later and nothing. We had clocked in 2 hours now.

Finally, my daughter’s meal came out. Don’t get too excited – that was it. A meal was brought to us but it was a mix up with another table, at that point I would have eaten anyone’s meal. My daughter didn’t want to start eating as she wanted to wait for us. Another 15 minutes later I approached the manger Nathan again, he seemed shocked that only one of our meals had come out. I cheeky advised him that it was nothing two free cocktails couldn’t sort out.

After over two hours of waiting, and two wrong meals brought out to us; my friend wanted to cancel hers. We were offered the two free cocktails to make up for it, to which I immediately accepted but my friend initially refused.

As we were in the process of cancelling our meals, they were actually brought out to us, my friends daughter ordered the children’s meatballs and pasta which was quite a small portion even for a children’s meal.

My friends medium-rare lamb was well done with far too much extra fat on it – she actually had a lamb shank at IKEA only a few weeks ago and came back raving that I had to go and eat there as it was amazing and so tasty! Therefore tonight it was IKEA 1 – Miller and Carter 0.

What can I say about my Moroccan style superfood salad with rump steak?  Let me just ask “How can you go wrong with salad?” I don’t think anyone has gone as far wrong with salad as Miller and Carter did tonight.

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Let’s start with the presentation. As you can see from the photograph there is no presentation, this was exactly how it was put in front of me; my 12-year-old could have presented it better.

Let’s play a game of spot the difference…. How many differences from the two photographs have you spotted? Let me tell you… 1. No roast rooted vegetables 2. No brown rice, 3. No quinoa, 4. No broccoli, 5. No pineapple & ginger dressing – there were baby leaves grapes, and tomatoes and cucumber – that shouldn’t have been there. How can you go so wrong?

Our lovely waiter Conner F, couldn’t have been more apologetic and talked my friend into finally accepting the complimentary cocktail. Only to be told moments later that they had ran out of puree, so were unable to make the cocktail! – I forgot to mention earlier that there was a number of meals on the menu that they had ran out of – for example the lobster. The manager Nathan never came back to me when he went to find out what had happened to my salad and to at least get some dressing. I couldn’t believe how rude he was. We were only told by Connor F, that unfortunately they got our order wrong and had to cook it all over again; if this was the case, surely it’s best to tell the customer and more importantly to feed the children.

Obviously we appreciated that we would experience some teething problems and maybe wait even an hour and a half for a meal, but to experience one thing after another as we did was just too disappointing, especially when everyone else’s meals looked so delicious.

I sincerely hope that what we experienced was just an unfortunate blip and that they will indeed get their act together before the opening on the 19th May as the restaurant certainly has the potential to be a really remarkable establishment – let’s hope it’s remembered for the right reasons in future.

www.millerandcarter.co.uk/restaurants/south-east/millerandcarteraylesbury

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Review: GHOST The Musical at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

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I am sure there are very few people of a certain age that haven’t seen the classic 1990 movie Ghost, a film that very nearly didn’t happen. I couldn’t remember the last time I saw the film, so I was going to refresh myself by watching it leading up to the show. But with Easter and the school holidays, time ran away and the closest I got to watching it was the movie trailer en route to the theatre; at least I was able to refresh myself with the story line. Needless to say by the time I got to Aylesbury Waterside Theatre I was excited for the night ahead, and it was clear from what felt like a sold out opening night that I wasn’t the only one.

So, for those of you that don’t know. Ghost is about a banker Sam Wheat, played by Andy Moss that you would recognise from Hollyoaks, and an artist Molly Jensen played by Carolyn Maitland. One night as they were walking home they were mugged and during the struggle with a gunman, Sam was shot leaving Molly alone to cope with his loss… or so we think; until he meets Oda Mae (Jacui Dubois) a psychic that helps Sam set things right.

We couldn’t see the stage when we went in. All we could see was a simple blue curtain, reflecting the colour of the advertising material with the quotes ‘Oh my love, my darling…’ and ‘I’ve hungered for your touch’, which of course had you humming the famous Unchained Melody song before the show even started.

You could argue that the show didn’t really get going until Sam died. But I would say that was the same with the film, as anything before Sam dying just set the scene, which of course showed us how in love the couple really were. It’s really hard to pull off such love and emotion on stage, plus with Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze setting the bar so high, yet they nailed it. Initially I thought the smiles and mushy stuff, boarded on cheesy, but as the show went on and as you got to know the characters, it worked; they worked.

I did wonder how they would adapt the film to stage and how the songs would bring the story to life. Unchained Melody was of course the famous song we were all longing to hear. I’m actually playing it now as I write this. If I was being really picky of all the 15 songs they performed there is probably only one I questioned was necessary. Actually, come to think of it,  that’s probably the only thing I would change during the whole evening, so that can’t be bad.

During Act One I caught a few people wiping their eyes; I smiled but didn’t think there was anything to get that emotional about. Then as the story unfolded and as we learned about the betrayal of Carl (Sam Ferriday), Sam’s colleague and we saw how Oda Mae got emotionally attached to Sam wanting to help him in protecting Molly, I found my emotions also running away with me.

There is no doubt that this is a very talented cast. Yes, maybe the set could have been a little more flashy at times; although the simplicity of the scene involving the Subway Ghost (Garry Lee Netley) was excellent. Maybe a few more characters were needed to get a bigger impact in the dance scenes, but these are minor details that really didn’t matter. The love and emotion between the two main characters stole the show, together with the strength, passion and emotion in their voices – they completely won me over.

For the first time ever in my life and in the three years I’ve been writing reviews I cried in the theatre; therefore the show must have nailed it to make me believe!

Ghost runs until Saturday 22nd April 2017 at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. Tickets are available from http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/aylesbury-waterside-theatre or call the Box Office on 0844 871 7607.

Review: Dreamboats and Petticoats at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

 

I’m not sure why, but I chose not to review Dreamboats and Petticoats last year. It may have been the poster that put me off, or the fact it was 1960’s music. At the time it just didn’t appeal to me but for their 10th year anniversary tour I thought I would give it a try. There I was on a cold Monday night, tired and hungry from a long day at work, wondering why on earth I had agreed to this!

Dreamboats and Petticoats The Musical is inspired by the multi-million selling albums, with hit songs of the rock ‘n’ roll era. That’s all I knew about it as I walked into the auditorium. The red curtain was down, leaving no teasers as to what the show might be like. As I’m not a fan of jukebox musicals, specifically ones without a little story line to go along side it, I was full of dread and trepidation.

Let me take you back to 1961, (before I was born) where music and emotions ran high. Norman (Alastair Hill) and Bobby (Alistair Higgins) compete to win not only a song writing competition, but also the attention of the busty Sue, played by the gorgeous Laura Darton. It’s a typical teenage love story where geeky boy likes hot girl, but hot girl likes cool boy who will eventually break her heart, and geeky girl just goes unnoticed – you know how it goes.

There is a reason why one should never judge a book by its cover, and this show is one of the reasons why. From beginning to end the stage was bursting with colour, with an up to date set showing pictures and images of the 60’s era as well as bright lights, wonderful 1960’s costumes and an electric atmosphere! Praise the Lord, there was even a story line, which, although predictable, was still heart warming and sweet, as one might expect from a love story. I even found myself becoming quite emotional following the story, both with sadness and smiles.

Of course it had all the classic tracks from Roy Orbison, The Shadows, Eddie Cochran, Billy Fury and more… including Let’s Dance, To Know Him Is To Love Him, Shaking All Over, Bobby’s Girl, Little Town Flirt, Only Sixteen, Runaround Sue, Happy Birthday Sweet 16, Let It Be Me, Great Pretender, C’mon Everybody, Let’s Twist Again.

You really don’t have to be a 1960’s fan to fall in love with this musical. Both my 12-year-old daughter and mother would love this show as it really does cater for everyone. It’s not old and dated as the poster might make you believe. It’s a young, funky and fresh show that will keep rock ‘n’ roll up to date for generations to come.

I never dreamed for a moment that I would have loved Dreamboats and Petticoats so much. I was clearly born in the wrong decade, as I would have made a great 60’s chick!

Dreamboats and Petticoats runs until Saturday 25th February 2017 at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. Tickets are available from http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/aylesbury-waterside-theatre or call the Box Office on 0844 871 7607.

You may have probably have already seen the Coca-Cola truck and the John Lewis advert this year, but you truly know Christmas is here when it’s press night in Panto land at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre.

I love this night each year because I’m lucky enough to be able to take my family and even though my daughter is getting older she’s still only too happy to come along with her friends to get into the spirit of Christmas. As I expected the auditorium was full of people of all ages, little ones waving their flashing stars and swords around, and full of excitement as they waited for the show to start.

We all know the story of Aladdin, a street urchin who vies for the love of a beautiful princess by using a genie’s magic power to make himself off as a prince in order to marry her. I was interested,  if not a little worried, to see how they would pull this off as a pantomime, I mean although I love Aladdin, I needed to be really impressed for this show to win me over.

The all-star cast included Michelle Collins (EastEnders, Coronation Street) as the Genie of the Ring and I won’t tell you why as I don’t wait to spoil it for you, but if anyone says ring to me over the next month I will indeed burst into a little chuckle complete with a grin on my face!

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Of course panto season wouldn’t be the same without our very own Andy Collins, as Aladdin’s brother, Wishee-Washee. We are blessed to have Andy each year in the show as it wouldn’t be what it is without his humour, whit, charm and of course The Twelve Days of Christmas – I often wonder if he’s the same comedy genius at home with his children.

The beautiful Jasmin Walia (TOWIE) plays princess Jasmine in her panto debut. Who knew she had such a beautiful voice? Speaking of beautiful, the winner of glamour for the night goes to *drum roll* the gorgeous ‘Dame Extraordinaire’ La Voix (Britain’s Got Talent) who plays Aladdin’s mum, Widow Twankey. She was simply fabulous with her larger than life costumes and stage presence, and you really can’t take your eyes off her.

Of course the real star of the show was Danny Colligan as Aladdin, the northerner who was full of energy and completely owned the stage, as well as the flying carpet. It’s a shame Danny isn’t on the promotional material, but he advised me that this was because he got the job after the photoshoot. Because he isn’t on all the posters it’s like he’s the show’s secret weapon that gives you that little extra you weren’t expecting.

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I can’t finish this review without giving a huge shout out to Chris Nelson, who not only played a perfectly cheeky PC Pong, but who directed the show with such precision. There were two scenes that stood out for me, the first being the Who, What and I Don’t Know scene which was hilarious, it must have taken hours to perfect. Also the ballet scene with La Voix and Andy Collins, to which I was crying with laughter. Simply Brilliant!

Aladdin is everything a panto should be! It has something for everyone from the tiny tots to the teenagers; it was lovely watching my daughter smile from ear to ear, when they did the Mannequin Challenge, as well as the Pen Pineapple Apple Pen song. They certainly didn’t forget the grown-ups, the innuendos were on point, there was an occasion or two when my partner looked at me as if to say ‘did they really just say that?’, and I’d look over at my daughter laughing, knowing she had no real understanding of the joke! There was even a hot scene for mummy too… hello boys!

The show got a well-deserved standing ovation from all. If you are looking for some magic this festive season, then get yourself some tickets, rub the magic lamp and enter the cave of wonders this Christmas – you won’t be disappointed!

Aladdin runs until Saturday 31st December 2016 at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. Tickets are available from http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/aylesbury-waterside-theatre or call the Box Office on 0844 871 7607.

Review: The Woman in Black at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre by Lara Wadey

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“It was nine-thirty on Christmas Eve….” Actually it had just gone seven-fifteen on this cold winter’s night as I arrived in great anticipation at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre to review The Woman in Black. After all, who doesn’t like a ghost story to warm you up and get your heart racing to clear the cobwebs?

Now celebrating 27 years this horror story adapted by Stephen Mallatratt from the novel by Susan Hill, tells a tale of Arthur Kipps (David Acton) who is so disturbed by his painful memories that he writes them down before seeking a young actor (Matthew Spender) to help him tell his tale.

For me the play had a slow start even though I chuckled on occasions, I found myself distracted by my thoughts. Maybe it was because although I’ve seen the play before, as well as the 2012 film starring Daniel Radcliffe, I couldn’t fully remember the story. This is probably a good place to point out that the audience this evening was far younger than when I saw it last time, which goes to show in my opinion that Harry Potter has helped keep the magic of the play attracting new younger fans through the film.

Anyway back to the plot. It tells a tale of young Kipps, a solicitor who has been sent to settle the affairs of Alice Drablow. At Drablow’s funeral he sees a woman dressed in black, in spite of the fact that no one else does. At Eel Marsh House the noises and sighting of the woman in black haunts him… then a local man reveals the full story of the house, a story of heartbreak and revenge. I don’t want to give too much more away, so you’ll have to grab yourself a ticket if you want to know more.

For me the play came to life in Act 2. The cast of two are excellent and feel every moment on their role. The set was simple yet effective and yes, we were on the edge of our seats, with screams and streaks from the audience that made us all laugh. I have heard that the show in London has a much more intimate feel, which I think would really work. I also think you could really have more fun scaring people like having a woman in black suddenly sitting next to you, or having something softly brushing past you; sometimes I do wonder how my mind works!

It was heart-warming to see the audience give a standing ovation on a Tuesday night. So, if you like a good thriller and enjoy being scared then grab yourself a ticket. Just a word of warning, don’t go alone!

The Woman in Black runs until Saturday 3rd December at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. Tickets are available from http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/aylesbury-waterside-theatre or call the Box Office on 0844 871 7607.

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

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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 www.dreamboystour.co.uk and for their Resident Saturday night shows in 12 major Cities across the UK

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

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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 http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/aylesbury-waterside-theatre or call the Box Office on 0844 871 7607.

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