27/05/13 - My Manifesto

This is something a little different for me, but I'm hoping that by sharing this with everyone it could inspire somebody else to try and made a change to their mindset as well.  Having watched Rosianna's 'Manifesto' video, I thought I would write my own.  I'm constantly trying to overhaul my life and the way I think about things, and this will be the start of yet another attempt to better myself.  Particularly with graduation fast approaching and a whole new chapter of my life about to begin, this seems the optimum time to try and alter the way I feel about myself and my achievements.

You can watch the original video here if the embedded video below doesn't work - I really recommend that you do!

  • I will stand up for myself.
  • I will allow myself to make mistakes.
  • I will focus on my own stress rather than taking on other people's.
  • I will give myself time.
  • I will not worry about things I cannot control.
  • I will say yes.
  • I will say no.
  • I will do what is best for me.
  • I will concentrate on everything I do.
  • I will stop letting life pass me by.
  • I will find joy and beauty in everything and everyone.
  • I will make sure I make time for the important people in my life.
  • I will be happy.
Bit cheesy and entirely self-indulgent but I don't care.

What's your manifesto?  
Leave it in the comments, or link me to your own videos/blog posts!

14/05/13 - And The Winner Is...

Every now and then, I feel the need to prove to myself and to others that I can be classy.  I am not a sophisticated person.  I love slobbing in my pyjamas, I'm easily over-excited at the sight of free wine, and I'm far too clumsy to go to fancy events very often.  But as I said, occasionally the opportunity arises for me to prove that I can be ladylike.  Normally, this ends with me eating onion rings at ridiculous o'clock in the morning on the floor outside a takeaway, heels long gone and a very sore head the next day - I wish I could say this was a rare occurrence.  But this time, I actually managed to maintain this refined manner all evening!

Friday night was my university's annual award ceremony to celebrate societies and individuals who have made the most positive impact on the student body during the year.  I was there with Performing Arts (which I never shut up about recently), as we were nominated for the Society of the Year award.  As we're only just finishing our second year, even being shortlisted was a huge achievement and we were all just grateful to be there for the event.  

It's not a night out with PA until there are jazz hands

It was a lovely evening held in our union's club, Asylum - it looks much nicer with big round tables everywhere and lots of balloons and things, rather than being full of plastered freshers grinding on each other to the sounds of One Direction which is how it normally is.  Everyone looked really smart, and it was a lovely chance to celebrate everybody who works so hard to give our students the best possible university experience.  Lots of very deserving people won awards, including...us!  Although we didn't think it possible as such a young society and against such strong competition, we actually won the Society of the Year award and stormed the stage en masse to accept the certificate.  I think I'm still a little bit in shock but I couldn't be prouder - we've all worked so hard and for that to be recognised by the powers that be within the Union is just incredible.

Proud VP and President - we couldn't have done it without them!

There was a professional photographer at the event, and I'm pretty sure I remember him snapping some shots of us leaving the stage which I imagine would be hilarious and hideous at the same time - we were all very excited and I don't think I was the only one doing a mixture of crying and excited jumping on the spot.  Unfortunately, those photos have not emerged just yet.

However, some may say the biggest achievement of the evening was the ability of myself and our lovely Vice-Pres Lauren to actually stay sober.  We have a bit of a reputation for our drunken escapades and we wanted to prove that we could be classy...just for one night.  Although some of the photos may suggest otherwise, we were genuinely on our best behaviour!

Great minds think alike!

A fantastic night was had by all and while a lot of people were feeling pretty rough the next morning, I was fresh as a daisy...well, a tired daisy but not a hungover one!  I quite enjoyed being a classy lady for an evening although I don't know if I have the self-control to do it frequently; I've never turned down so many free drinks and shots in my life! 

Do you consider yourself a classy person, or do you struggle with it like I do?

05/05/13 - 'RENT in Concert' at City Varieties Music Hall, Leeds

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After months of planning, a massive stress on my part to book a group of ten decent seats together and then pay for them, and the organisation of train times...the day finally arrived.  After years of waiting - listening to the soundtrack until my family despised all the songs, watching the film and sobbing every time - I finally had the pleasure of settling myself in the stalls (seat Q4 to be exact) of the City Varieties Music Hall in Leeds to witness the spectacle which was the twentieth anniversary concert tour of one of my favourite musicals of all time: 'RENT'.  And I was not disappointed in the least.

From the first announcement of this tour, the term 'concert' has been raising questions as to the nature of the production.  The rock opera style of Jonathan Larson's stage show means that it's entirely sung anyway, so what would be adapted or taken out to fit this format?  Fortunately, not much.  The production was fully costumed and the set tends to be minimal anyway.  There were only a few minor changes made to the actual content of the show and these weren't wildly noticeable anyway.  

The cast were absolutely incredible, carrying the show with such great energy and emotion that the audience couldn't help but be swept along by it.  West End powerhouse Kerry Ellis was the most notable piece of casting and initially I assumed she would be playing the role of Maureen.  I can't say I was entirely blown away by her performance as Mimi, but it was a new take on the character which I did enjoy and with Kerry's voice and acting chops, she was never going to deliver anything less than a solid performance.  Rory Taylor (a runner up in ITV's 'Superstar' talent search, and someone I have incidentally seen in a Costa at home as he is a local lad - my little claim to fame) gave an incredible performance, showcasing the rockstar vocals we all knew he had and the acting ability I had hoped was lurking underneath.  
The show was a little bit stolen by Tim Prottey Jones who also graced our screens on 'Superstar' and led the beautiful vocal piece 'Will I' before absolutely smashing the male solo in 'Seasons of Love'.  Ian Stroughair as Angel was nothing short of fabulous; I found my eyes drawn to him in pretty much every scene and his relationship with Leon Lopez's Collins was totally on the money.  That said, there is not a single member of that cast who was not utterly brilliant - they should all be overwhelmingly proud of themselves.

If you can't see the embedded video below, check it out here - it's definitely worth a watch!

While I will admit there were a few little technical problems with the lighting and sound, they were not enough to detract from my overall enjoyment of the show.  RENT is a musical which has spoken straight to the hearts of so many people in so many ways since it opened on Broadway in 1996 (the '20th anniversary' title could be considered something of a misnomer but that can be easily overlooked), and there was certainly a lot of emotion bouncing around inside the theatre.  Since I first watched the film, I have never been able to listen to the reprise of 'I'll Cover You' without shedding a little tear and this was no different.  However, the sheer amount that I cried was a testimony to the fantastically talented cast - the performance was utterly heart-breaking.

I proudly led the standing ovation at the end and we were rewarded by another beautiful rendition of 'Seasons of Love'...which emotionally broke me.  It's one of the first songs we ever did in my Performing Arts Society and as we all sang along, entirely nailing our harmonies, I realised that this would be the last time I would sing it with some of my favourite people.  "Let's celebrate, remember a year in the life of friends" could not be a more apt lyric.  I'll stop being maudlin now, I promise.

Overall, I was entirely blow away by the performances despite a couple of technical hitches.  If you're a RENThead, I really hope you caught this production!  The last stop on their whirlwind tour of one night engagements all over the UK is tonight in Southend and if you ask me, it's a shame that it was such a short run.

Were you lucky enough to see RENT in Concert?  Leave your thoughts in the comments!