Claire goes classical

Always up for trying something new, when I was invited along to Middlesbrough Theatre to celebrate their 60th anniversary with a very special concert, I signed up immediately. It’s not every day that the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra will be playing, after all! As it was going to be my very first experience of a classical concert, I decided that the first thing to do was ask someone in the know to join me – step up Love Middlesbrough Dad. 

Over the years I’ve seen loads of live music. Loud, indie-rock, guitars and drums accompanied by lots of jumping about in the mosh pit and woohoo-ing and hollering my appreciation of each and every song. Bear this in mind and be grateful that I took my dad when I tell you the next bit. Turns out that sort of behaviour is not at all acceptable at a classical concert. There’s all kinds of rules about not applauding in between movements, patiently waiting for the conductor to completely bring the orchestra to rest before you start the clapping and definitely no woohoos or the more polite, oh-so-British ‘Bravo’ allowed. Who knew?!  

The first thing that blew me away was that the stage was absolutely filled to the brim with seats! I couldn’t count them all – there were definitely some brass instruments tucked away in the wings – but it looked to me like there were well over 100! I’ve never seen the stage so full! The photograph below, even though it’s from a different theatre, gives you an idea of the sheer size and scale of the orchestra *wow*

st petersburg symphony orchestra

Right from the very start I had a feeling it was going to be a pretty special evening. The polite applause as the orchestra sat down and the conductor appeared, followed by the immediate hush before the first notes danced up to my ears. From that point on, it’s fair to say I was completely and utterly swept up by it all, delightedly chuckling each time the conductor leaped off his feet, my eyes darting around the stage to see if I could figure out which instrument was the one making all the beautiful sounds…it truly was a joy for the senses! 

If I had to pick my absolute favourite part of the programme, it would be Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6 – forty six minutes of total magic! Four movements, each more animated and rousing than the last, cymbals crashing, drums rolling, the frenzied bows of the string instruments back and forth, back and forth, and the conductor jumping and leaping into the air like there was someone up above him pulling on puppet strings…I had to physically sit on my hands to stop them from rising high into the air to applaud, applaud, applaud. You could physically feel the energy from the stage and as they reached the end of the third movement, you can only imagine my total joy when some courageous rule breaker defied the stuffy rules and shouted BRAVO before breaking into loud applause. Which of course was immediately followed by everyone else in the audience joining in! The atmosphere was incredible.

As the rowdy applause died down and the orchestra began the final movement, I found myself leaning forward in my seat to soak it all up – I really didn’t want it to end! Luckily it wasn’t over too quickly as they did not one but two encores, each to more applause that got louder and louder – my hands are still sore from all the clapping! As they took their final bow, it was pretty obvious to me that the whole audience loved it as much as I did. And guess what? I let out a (slightly reserved) Wooooo! #rebel I just couldn’t help myself! If I’d have had my way I would have woohoo-ed every single time they stopped. I definitely think the polite applause only rule should be reconsidered…

St Petersburg Symphony at Middlesbrough Theatre

If you’ve never been to a classical concert before and are open to trying out new experiences I can highly recommend it. Even if your normal choice of music veers more towards loud and rock, you might just find yourself pleasantly surprised. The vibrant energy of the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra was up there with any band I’ve ever seen; more civilised for sure, but don’t let that put you off. The passion and joy for the music and their instruments was there for all to see. 

Love Middlesbrough Dad, man of few words, also loved it. Later that evening I got a text thanking me for a fantastic night and I would like to say the same to Middlesbrough Theatre. Thank you! You have a new fan of classical music concerts now and I’m already planning what I’ll try out next. And a very Happy Anniversary too – cheers to 60 more years! 

The Lasses get scared by The Book of Darkness and Light!

Three chilling tales. Two ghostly performers. One thrilling night.

Legend has it that many years ago a book of terrifying tales was found. Now, you are invited to discover the secrets of The Book of Darkness and Light … if you dare.

Join The Storyteller and The Musician for an evening of spine-tingling tales and haunting live music. Three ghostly stories to delight and horrify, accompanied by the beautiful sounds of the violin.

Book of Darkness and Light 1

Be thrilled, chilled and thoroughly entertained by this charming storytelling experience. But, be warned, once the pages of the book are opened … anything could happen!

Claire 

If you’re going to see something that promises chills and thrills you couldn’t get a better time than right now. You also couldn’t ask for a better venue than the beautiful Reference Library, especially when said show involves clever lighting from floor level that casts the most excellent shadows up to the highest corner in that stunning room! 

Right from the start, as the lights went down, I was completely immersed in the atmosphere. The Storyteller was all kinds of spooky, with his long black coat and fingerless gloves, the old book flopping open to exactly the right page to begin the evening’s tales…and The Musician, oh! Can we just talk about shadows again for a minute? I couldn’t take my eyes off the shadow in the high corner that danced as The Musician played – it was like something out of an old fashioned toy theatre, stuttering, stop start motion, like something from another world – utterly brilliant! 

Book of Darkness and Light 2

Each tale was more compelling than the last, and by the third and final one I had actual goosebumps and chills down my spine! So, so clever. What a truly amazing performance piece! If you’ve not already guessed, I can highly recommend finding your nearest show and booking up quick!

Rachel 

October is the month of all things spooooooky  , so of course I was very excited to see this show!

The Storyteller made me think of a slightly creepy Victorian undertaker, so straight away I was backstorying (yes, that’s a verb) how they could have acquired said Book of Darkness and Light from a dead person. It reminded me of one of the stories from Love Middlesbrough Lass Emma’s book Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror which I read as part of the Lasses’ summer reading challenge.

I enjoyed the first two stories, and although in both cases it quickly became obvious (to me anyway) how the story would end, I still enjoyed the storytelling, the music and the atmosphere. But the third one! Excuse me while I run away and hide somewhere!  

Book of Darkness and Light 4

The third was much longer and more detailed than the first two, with a fantastic build up where you were just waiting, knowing something bad was coming, but not knowing what. Obviously my inner history geek got excited when it mentioned the witch trials!  Even I didn’t manage to guess where the story was going and how it was going to end, so I was seriously impressed! (And frightened, so we went for late night ice cream to make it better! ) 

I’d definitely recommend going to see any drama or music performances you can at Central Library; it’s such an intimate but overlooked venue which has a great atmosphere. Not to mention it really lends itself to something gothic like this, especially since, intentionally or not, a weird chill crept across us part-way through the show! *shivers*

And I’d also definitely recommend seeing The Book of Darkness and Light if you fancy a bit of a roadtrip – Hexham and Harrogate are your nearest venues for the rest of their tour.

Book of Darkness and Light 3

Visit their website for more details.

We didn’t take any photos ourselves during the performance as we were so completely absorbed! We’ve borrowed the photos for this post from The Book of Darkness and Light Facebook  page – go and give them a follow, the photos are awesome! 

A Note To Myself Review

As the other Love Middlesbrough Lasses know, I am a massive theatre nerd so when I was asked if I wanted to go see A Note To Myself, of course I said yes.

I went to see the show with my Mum (Mam) because I am a wonderful daughter like that, also I don’t drive and would need her to take me anyway 😂 . When we arrived and got our tickets, we were then shown to our seats and had a little bit of time to chill. I also managed to get a cheeky photo, something I do not recommend you doing – live action photos have come from MTH Performing Arts.

For those of you who are unaware, A Note To Myself is a show being performed at Middlesbrough Theatre by a group of young actors from the Middlesbrough Town Hall Performing Arts group.

I have to say, this is one of the best shows I’ve seen and definitely the best show from a group of young performers. The energy on that stage from the actors both young and old was amazing, especially considering they’d spent the entire day at school. I don’t want to give away too many spoilers so I’m not going to talk all that much about content but my theatre heart was pounding when I saw numbers from Matilda, Hairspray and Dear Evan Hansen *cries*.

I am entirely sure that some of those performers are going to go onto be major stars, either in music, dance or in the musical theatre world. The talent on that stage was immense. I would like to point out here that I am a pretty mean critic when it comes to theatre or film so take my word for it that this is a good show.

This is the perfect show to take the kids to if you want to introduce them to musical theatre as it isn’t too long and there is a nice interval for drinks and refreshments.

I must warn you that if you are emotional or have seen Dear Evan Hansen (if you didn’t cry at least once then you are made of stone) then you will need tissues for the last number – I was bawling.

There is still time to see this show tonight (Tuesday 18th July 19:30) and tickets are available to book online or by phone 01642 81 51 81.

I was also gifted with a leaflet on my way out for the Middlesbrough Town Hall Summer School where your own child can do a similar show with a weeks preparation.  Find out all the information on our website.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar fangirling day!

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, we just wanted to mention: we love the Very Hungry Caterpillar! 🐛❤️ (We’ve been subtle about it, right?!)

Finally, after months of waiting, the joyous day came yesterday when we got to see the Very Hungry Caterpillar show at Middlesbrough Theatre. Two very excited Lasses we were! 😍 But before that, a little recap…

First there was the video…


Spot the Love Middlesbrough Lasses!

Then there was the behind the scenes blog post!

And now, the Love Middlesbrough Lasses finally got to see their hero in the flesh (well, fuzz)!

 
Can you believe our luck? We found a lolly which looked just like the Very Hungry Caterpillar!

The show itself was just magical – as engaging for adults as it was for children, and it brought the stories to life in a way which made it look like the characters really had just leapt off the page. It didn’t matter whether you knew the stories or not, they were still easy to follow and totally enchanting.

Of course, the highlight of the show was the story of the Very Hungry Caterpillar, and from the second he popped out of his egg to the moment when the last glimpse of the beautiful butterfly’s wings disappeared, the audience was completely enthralled.

  
(Excuse the slightly blurry photos, we were trying not to disturb anyone while taking them)

The puppeteers had absolutely limitless energy, and I can’t deny that I had all the feels when every child in the theatre joined in shouting ‘but he was still hungry!’

As someone who’s seen a lot of good theatre, I can definitely say this is one of the best shows I’ve seen, and not only that but it’s a genuine West-End quality show which you can see right here from the comfort of your own town. Thank you Middlesbrough Theatre!

So was the show worth waiting six months for? Absolutely! Now how soon can we see it again?? ❤️🐛❤️

Hopeless Romantics – a world premiere in Middlesbrough!

It’s not often that we get a world premiere of a play in Middlesbrough, but this week at Middlesbrough Theatre you can see just that – the world premiere of Hopeless Romantics! Written by Nick Lane and Fiona Wass and presented by Reform Theatre (in association with Harrogate Theatre and Middlesbrough Theatre) we were delighted to be invited along to see what it was all about.

I should probably start with a confession or two: the first, which will become obvious pretty quickly, is that I’m no theatre critic – I’ve never written a theatre review before in my life so look upon this more as a recommendation for a night out that just happens to take place in the theatre. The second is that I don’t really go to the theatre very much at all…but now that I have been, it’s definitely going to be something that happens more regularly!

Hopeless Romantics at Middlesbrough Theatre

Now you know all my secrets, let’s get going with the review. Hopeless Romantics – what’s it all about then? Well, there’s Alan, Zoe and a broken down car. There’s also the fact that Zoe is pretending to be Alan’s girlfriend at a big family dinner…it might not sound like much of a scenario but trust me, there’s real chemistry between the two actors, who are both totally brilliant by the way, and the first half flies by before you even know where you are! It’s funny and sweet and you can’t help but keep everything crossed that it will be a happy ending for them both.

Hopeless Romantics 3

It wouldn’t be a Love Middlesbrough Lass blog without some mention of a sweet treat, and lucky for me there’s a whole heap of them to choose from in the interval! Sweets, crisps and ice-cream are all available from the kiosk, and lots of flavour choices too. I opted for mint choc chip in a tub (so basically the BEST flavour) and Mr Love Middlesbrough Lass went for honey and ginger. Both were given a tip-top rating. There’s also a bar available upstairs if you would prefer to enjoy a fizzy tipple in the interval break.

Back to the show. More laughs, more great tunes, more touching moments. As it reached its end I was completely involved and without giving too much away, I might have done a little happy dance inside at the end result. Funny, touching and sweet, both actors truly did an excellent job and I would absolutely recommend it as a great night out!

Hopeless Romantics

There’s still plenty time for you to catch the show as it’s playing until Saturday 10th June, including an afternoon matinee. Tickets are £14.50, concessions £12.50, matinee £10.50 and can be booked by calling the theatre on 01642 81 51 81 or online www.middlesbroughtheatre.co.uk