Kitty Brucknell’s fan Phoebe been bullied

When I was on the Twitter of the amazing Kitty Brucknell she spoke out about her fan who is been bullied. I was bullied at school myself and nobody deserves to be treated like their nothing and it broke my heart reading the tweets because I have come through the other side but there is always people going through these struggles. My heart goes out to the girl who bravely allowed Kitty to tell her Twitter account. Her name is Phoebe and she is going through this nightmare and I must commend Kitty on been there for her.

In the tweets Brucknell said that Phoebe has had e-mails threatening her life and that of her family and has also had threatening phone calls and have even went as far as to come to where she lives and beat her up. One of the vile texts which she gets on a regular basis reads as: Today I got a letter in the post saying this –> “Your life is worthless, your an unwanted piece of shit that deserves to be dead! Prepare yourself because one day we will be after you and you won’t know what’s hit you.” : ‘ (

There is bricks been thrown through her window as well. She has tried to contact the police numerous time but they won’t do anything unless something “physical” happens. On top of all this she is ill at the moment and trying to get better as well.

Please everyone if you have a voice and you can help get Phoebe’s story out there that would be amazing. Bullying is disgusting. No one should have to go through it. If you ever went through it you know what I mean. Please help in whatever way you can.

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X Factor – My Fave 30 Acts from the 10 years!

Now last week we had the insatiable Matt Richardson. This week I’ve decided with The X Factor been ten and bootcamp going on to discuss my 30 favourite acts from the years. It was a tough decision. It really was! But I’ve come to a decision and in no particular order these acts have made the top thirty! Your Saturday night starts right here!

Union J

I am a sucker for a handsome boyband. (That doesn’t quite sound right but let’s continue!) I love the chemistry as friends these lads have together. Their just four very ordinary, witty guys. I absolutely love Jaymi’s voice. (I love a lot about Jaymi but that’s a whole other story which might be better suited to another kind of blog!) I was lucky enough to hear just how amazing his voice is live at The X Factor concert in Dublin and I can say that it is even better in reality than on TV or radio which considering how good it is on TV and radio that’s pretty amazing. They have the added bonus of having a musician in the band in the form of George. Not every boyband has a musican and George is a very good guitar player. Carry You and Beautiful Life are two very catchy tunes. Roll on the album!

Christopher Maloney

Chris has an amazing voice. Like Jaymi I heard his voice live at the tour and it’s even better in reality than on TV and radio and with how much of a powerhouse vocalist Chris is that is amazing. Outside of singing I admire Chris for the strength he showed throughout the contest. He had so much negativity thrown at him and he just bounced back all the time and showed everyone just how strong he was. His granny seemed such a great support to him and their relationship was simply beautiful. My Heart Belongs To You is a stunning song sung effortlessly well. Love it!

Diva Fever

To say I’m a fan would be an understatement! I’m a massive fan! (I’ve even watched Joe eat a worm on YouTube. You have to check it out, it’s funny.) Not long after X Factor that year, they were at Glitz @ Dandelion nightclub in Dublin but I was living a bit further from Dublin than I am now and couldn’t get up for the gig so I’ve never actually seen them live. There was samples up on YouTube of songs they recorded called Dancefloor Lover and Like Fire which sound really good and Scissor Sistersesque. Also totally hope Craig and Joe represent the UK in the Eurovision. I’ve wanted that for a few years now. It’d be so much fun.

Jedward

My other wish was that Jedward would represent Ireland at Eurovision. That’s happened twice now and well done to the boys on doing us proud both times. When I think of Irish X Factor acts the first act I always think of is Jedward. The lads had so much to put up with during X Factor. They were only 17 at the time and they were been booed off stage every week and they showed so much strength in the face of adversity. My favourite song of the lads is their first Eurovision entry Lipstick. I’m so glad they did as well as they did. Goes to show when Louis Walsh has a vision he can make it a reality.

Aiden Grimshaw

In love. Aiden is really hot. But he’s also talented as well. His audition of Gold Digger by Kayne West featuring Jamie Foxx did in his own version was really fresh and his version on the first live show of Mad World was really good. On YouTube he sounds amazing on Curtain Call, The Way We Are and Is This Love.

Eton Road

Eton Road were in season three and came fifth behind eventual winner Leona Lewis. They’ve since parted ways as a band. They memorably were brought back to replace fellow boyband Avenue which Max George, now of The Wanted was in. I loved them singing Mack The Knife and Does Your Mother Know? the best. I love Liverpool and I love boybands so it was obvious that I was going to like Eton Road.

John Wilding

Though John didn’t make the live finals I thought he should have both years. Oh my god, what an outstanding voice. On YouTube he does this amazing version of his fellow Essex person Jessie J’s Mama Knows Best. I remember listening to his version over and over again. I still do sometimes. It’s really good. And who can forget his two stunning X Factor auditions singing two really hard songs to perfection. Bleedin’ Love by Leona Lewis and Love You I Do by Jennifer Hudson from the musical-film Dreamgirls. Or his bootcamp performance the second year of When Love Takes Over by Kelly Rowland or his slowed-down beautiful version of Girls Aloud’s The Promise at Judges’ Houses that year.

Jade Richards

The eighth season of the X Factor threw up two major shocks at the Judges’ Houses stage of the competition with John Wilding and Jade Richards both going out of the competition just before the lives. Scottish singer Jade has come back for a third time to audition this year and I really hope it works out for her this time around. She is a major talent and definitely deserves to succeed. Best of luck to her. I hope she does well.

Rylan Clark

X Factor wasn’t the first time I seen Rylan and it wasn’t Signed By Katie Price. I seen that after. If I’m correct and I could be wrong Rylan was on a C4 documentary where they delved into the secrets of the beauty industry. (I was obsessed with C4 documentaries when I was younger. Eunuchs, Sex Swap Hospital, Sex Swap Soldier and The Perfect Vagina for example.) I found him interesting at the time. It was when I seen a picture in a magazine of him when he was younger that I said I know that fella’s face and then it came to me. Rylan was so entertaining on X Factor and when I seen him live on the tour he was just as entertaining. I’m glad he won Celebrity Big Brother. He deserved to. And I’m really delighted he’s doing so well as a presenter.

Leon Jackson

The only time I ever picked the winner of the show was the fourth series when Scotland’s Leon Jackson was crowned the winner. I’ve picked a few who made the top 5. Second a few times but this was the one year I picked the winner. I loved the tone to Leon’s voice from his first audition. In the first live show he wasn’t very good and I’d been telling my sister he was good so I was glad he was back to been good the week after because she would have thought I’d really lost it! Leon’s winning song was a beautiful cover of When You Believe. Sadly his career didn’t really take off after this but I personally thought he was amazing.

Ryan Davis

Welsh singer Ryan Davis was on this year’s show. He went out at bootcamp but I like him singing and he’s a really good musican. Easy on the eye to boot. I also really like his manner. He seems really nice and down-to-earth. I completely get the whole shyness and awkwardness. I’m like that myself. His version of Kings of Leon’s Use Somebody was amazing. I wish him the best and I hope he does well.

Lee Lambert

Along with Ryan and Next of Kin I was for Lee in this year’s contest. His version of Lady Gaga’s Edge of Glory was sung to perfection. He seems really nice too and cute. He has an amazing recording voice. I can see his voice on records in the vein of Lady Gaga, Adam Lambert, Scissor Sisters or Sam Sparro. I wish him the best and I hope he does well.

Next of Kin

Next of Kin are effortlessly good. You would know they were in the music business before. Their very professional and polished. The song they sang at their first audition was their own song and Louis was right it could be a hit. They also did a version of Michael Jackson’s Human Nature at their first audition and it was incredible. I wish them the best and I hope they do well.

Daniel Fox

Manchester’s Daniel Fox didn’t make it to the live shows in the sixth series. He went out at the Judges’ Houses stage. He has a really strong opera voice. On YouTube he did a fantastic medley in Coventry.

Marcus Collins

Marcus was second in the ninth season. I actually had a bet on him to win it so that kind of sucked. But my bet aside, Marcus proved on X Factor that he was not only a great singer. He was also a great dancer. Dancing and singing are really hard to do together so kudos to him for making it all look so easy and effortless. Reet Petite was amazing as was Lately but my own personal favourite performance of his from the show was Are You Gonna Go My Way. I loved his single Seven Nation Army. I loved the original and I loved what he did with the song. The video for the song was also amazing. It was really good and his performance of it on Dancing on Ice was really slick and brilliant. He was recently in Hairspray as Seaweed J. Stubbs where his dancing and singing skills came in handy. On YouTube you can see the cast on This Morning.

Rikki Loney

Scotland’s Rikki Lonley has a really unique voice. I loved his style with his hat too. He’s recently been part of Glee style band Gmania composed of former reality show singers. There’s a fantastic version of Kings of Leon’s Use Somebody by him on YouTube.

Nicolo Festa

Italian Nicolo Festa is really talented. I loved him on the show in 2010 and his YouTube cover of Desperado is simply stunning.

James Michael

By now you’ve probably guessed that I like Liverpool people! I thought James was really handsome and that’s why he modelled for Mr. Porter and what lovely shots they were! James had me before he even sang when he replied that he had got his tan from sitting in his back garden. He has a lovely voice and is a fantastic musican. Love him!

Lloyld Daniels

Mr. Daniels has got so sexy since he’s got older. Oh wow! Someone get me a fan to cool down! He also did a song The Best of My Love which you can hear on YouTube that was played in Hollister which is really catchy. He was recently in the play Up4aMeet at The Courtyard Theatre with his top off looking wow, wow, wow!

Craig Colton

Craig Colton is massively talented. He has a really big voice. His versions of Jar of Hearts and Wonderwall were particular favourites of mine of his performances on X Factor. On YouTube Colour The Sky is amazing.

Joe McElderry

Joe McElderry has a really strong voice. That’s why he won both X Factor and Popstar to Operastar. At the end of X Factor in the last few shows he really came into his own and was easily the best act in the last few weeks of the competition and completely deserved to win. I love his The Climb and his albums especially Wide Awake and Here’s What I Believe. Until the Stars Run out, If Love is War, Your Voice and Love of My Life are particular faves.

Ray Quinn

I loved Ray Quinn and how he did something different for a young guy in terms of doing big band music. He dared to be himself and I respect him for that. His performance of Frank Sinatra’s My Way was outstanding. Wow. It’s such a hard song and he just blew the roof off the place. He was also amazing on Dancing on Ice and I was so happy that he won. He totally deserved to. He’s now in theatre and is so good at it.

Rachel Adedeji

Rachel Adedeji is a fantastic singer. I especially loved her versions of Proud Mary and Last Request on the show and Her YouTube videoes of Beyonce’s Love on Top, Club Lights and Last Request are amazing.

Danyl Johnson

Danyl Johnson blew the roof off the audition venue with his own version of I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends and went on to be 4th in the sixth series. On YouTube Beautiful Life and Reason at The Playhouse in London are amazing. He’s very sexy as well as talented. What a beaut!

Ben Mills

Ben Mills was third in series 3. I really liked Ben. He brought a bit of rock to the show and I love rock music as well as pop music. His stand out performances were Tracks of my Tears and Live and Let Die. His rock edge was so fresh and different on the former and in the latter he was just spellbinding. Ben is also a very talented pianist.

4sure

Birmingham’s 4sure were so slick and talented. I loved them! Their audition of End of the Road for the show was incredible. There’s a video of them on YouTube singing accapella and it is just superb. They were so cool and nice. Absolutely loved them.

4th Ba5e

My oh my! How hot were these lads?! I loved them. I thought they were really talented and nice too. Member Blair Dreelan is now the manager of Union J. Until I did the research for this article I didn’t know that. I loved 4th Ba5e at the time of that year’s X Factor and I was so sad that they didn’t get in at Judges’ Houses but I forgot their names over the years so that was a bit of information. On YouTube their is numerous vids. One is them singing on The Sharon Osbourne Show. Another is them singing Sweet Dreamz and another is an interview with the official fanclub from Germany. They also did a cover you can check out of Relight My Fire and also singing at Butlins in 2007.

4Tune

I remember seeing these guys in Sneak (That shows my age doesn’t it?) when they were showing some flesh at a gig in G-A-Y. Happy days. They were so hot, talented and nice. On YouTube there is a brilliant version they did of Rod Stewart’s I Don’t Want To Talk About It, a vid of them looking sexy in the dance studio and the band doing versions of Chasing Cars and I Swear.

Johnny Robinson

Johnny made me laugh. He has such a witty personality and seemed such a lovely man. He also had a really good voice and his audition of At Last was stunning as well as his versions of I Believe in a Thing Called Love and Over The Rainbow. Johnny is also a fabulous entertainer.

Scott Bruton

I found Manchester’s Scott really talented and cute. He has starred in Dreamboats and Petticoats since X Factor. He also looks downright hot on last.fm in his profile pic where you can listen to song by him including You Won’t Catch Me Crying which he sounds amazing on.

So there you have it. The results are now in! I hope you enjoyed the article and I shall talk to you all again next week. 🙂

Matt Richardson

For the next three weeks I am going to write blogs about The X Factor in the three week countdown to the first live show from The X Factor class of 2013. The X Factor is at the bootcamp stage of the competition and one man is going to be on hand to bring us all the backstage gossip. I am of course talking about Matt Richardson!

 

Matt Richardson is the handsome, talented, nice and witty host who has filled the very big shoes of singer Olly Murs presenting The Xtra Factor with Caroline Flack shown after The X Factor on TV3 over here in Ireland and on ITV in the UK.

 

He was born on the 28th of May 1991 in Didcot and was raised in Oxford. He is a stand-up comidien as well as a presenter. He started doing stand up in November 2009 at the age of 18. He was the winner last year of Best New Show at the Leicester Comedy Festival with Head Judge Richard Erwin Jones saying of his show that it was “One of the most exciting hours of comedy I’ve seen in 15 years”. He also won the Oxfringe New Act Competition 2010 and the Newbury Comedy Festival New Act of the Year 2010. He was also a Finalist in So You Think You’re Funny 2010, the Chortle Student Comedy Award 2010 and the New Act Competition Latitude 2011.

 

Apart from The Xtra Factor other TV credits include Big Brother’s Big On The Side, Sweat The Small Stuff, Greatest and Funniest Moments of 2012 and The Geordie Shore Awards while radio credits are Russell Kane’s Summer Seaside Tour for BBC Radio 2. His live credits are Hometown Hero, National Tour 2013.

 

Richardson is doing amazingly on The Xtra Factor. He has been funny in his near fake audition when he nearly sang Michael Buble’s Cry Me a River and Caroline came in to stop him and also when he takes on the varying jobs of the X Factor crew. He is so natural, down-to-earth and funny on the show and I love him on it.

 

He is signed to Lisa Thomas Management. Two good names, mine and my uncle’s!

 

 

 

 

 

Majella O’ Donnell

My blog this week is about a very inspirational woman who done something incredibly brave on live TV on Friday night. On one of the most watched shows on Irish TV – The Late Late Show.

 

Majella O’ Donnell who is suffering from breast cancer took the brave step of shaving her head live on TV for the benefit of others. She did so to raise funds for the Irish Cancer Society. I do voluntary for one of their shops and I felt this was so compassionate of her to think of helping other people when she is going through her own struggles with cancer. She is a businesswoman and also wife of singer Daniel and she has two grown-up children Siobhan, 22 and Michael, 25 from a previous marriage. She quite rightly after the completion of her brave deed for charity and to raise awareness. O’ Donnell also received her new blonde wig on the night and after putting it on joked the audience, “Am I better bald?”

 

Before she shaved her head, she spoke with host Ryan Tubridy about how she was there to raise awareness about cancer. She also spoke about how Daniel was with her when she received the news she had cancer. Majella also told Tubridy that she has just began chemotherapy. She said how she couldn’t pray for herself because she thought too much but she was able to pray for other people who would be going through the same situation. She has a massive faith said she felt that the prayers people were saying for her were helping her to deal with her situation.

 

So far the Irish Cancer Society has raised 400000 Euros from Majella’s bravery. To help raise further funds please phone 1850 60 60 60, text “pink” to 50300 (Donates 4 Euros) or go to cancer.ie

 

Majella my prayers are with you. I salute you.

 

 

 

Union J

I am a huge Union J fan. A huge Jcat. Each of them are really talented, nice, down-to-earth and let’s be honest quite easy on the eye! I love watching their YouTube videoes and reading their interviews in magazines.

 

Union J are a British boyband, previously called Triple J who found fame on last year’s UK version of the X Factor in front of judges former Take That front man Gary Barlow, former Pussycat Dolls front woman Nicole Scherzinger, N-Dubs singer Tulisa and their mentor music svengali and my fellow Irish person Louis Walsh. It was the ninth X Factor in the UK.

 

Band members are Jaymi Hensley, JJ Hamblett, George Shelley and Josh Cuthbert. Hensley and Cuthbert met first when they were both in Sylvia Young Theatre School in London. Their manager Blair Dreelan later put Hamblett into the band. They called the group Triple J because all their names began with J and there was three of them. The group auditioned in London for X Factor with Rihanna’s “We Found Love” while George Shelley auditioned also in London with his guitar doing an acoustic version of Britney Spears’ “Toxic”.

 

James William Hensley was born on the 24th of February 1990 in Luton in Bedforshire. He is living with his boyfriend Olly Marmon who is a hairdresser in Chilli Reds in London. They met when Olly was working in a bar and began dating. After dating they moved in together. They got engaged in Rome in 2010. Their anniversary is 24 and because of this and because both their birthdays are the 24th (Olly’s is the 24th of April) and also because Jaymi’s birthday is in the second month and Olly’s is in the fourth month Jaymi got a tattoo which included the number 24 in it. He also has a tattoo with Oliver on his wrist. Jaymi’s mother’s name is Jackie Hensley and his father’s name is David Hensley. He has a brother called Aaron. He has a dog called Maxxy who is a dote, a cat and two goldfish. He came out that he was gay just before the quarter final of X Factor which was a very brave thing to do. He had come out to his family when he was 14. Jaymi previously went to Sylvia Young Theatre School. He likes tattoos, Beyonce and his favourite song is her song Run The World. He also likes the films Avatar and Twilight. He was bullied in school. Prior to been in Union J he was a teaching assistant and also taught dancing and singing. He also performed at Maspalomas Pride 2012 where he sang The Wanted’s Glad You Came, Rihanna’s We Found Love and Chris Brown’s Yeah 3x and at Maspalomas Pride a previous year he sang I Breathe Again by Adam Rickett with three hot backing dancers. He also sang Billie Jean by Michael Jackson at Open Mic UK. He was also in a band called Code5ive and they did a version of Lionel Richie’s Hello. The band at one stage supported Westlife. His celebrity crush is Tom Daley who he says it was really awkward when he met because he’d said he was his celebrity crush in an interview. He is very much an advocate of people been themselves. His Bio on his individual Twitter account is as follows: “Boyband Member,Geek,Boyfriend,Gay Boy. Labels are for losers! Be yourself not someone else! Stand for something! LoveisLove!” I really admire this about him because it’s something I feel very strongly about myself and he’s getting the message out there and for that I salute him.

 

George Paul Shelley was born on the 27th of July 1993 in Clevedon in North Somerset. (Do you think his parents just might have been Beatles fans? Or is that just wishful thinking on my part because I love The Beatles?) His mother’s name is Toni Harris and his father’s name is Dominic Shelley. He has two older brothers Will Shelley and Tom Harris, a younger sister Harriet Shelley and three younger brothers Leo, Archie and Spencer Shelley, and  two step-sisters; Annabelle and Louisa Allen. He has a dog Arthur who is dead cute. He also has three hamsters Gloria, Steven and Oliver. He is self taught on the guitar and thought himself how to play it at 13. Before been in Union J, George was a student. He also worked in his local coffee shop Costa as well as his local clothing shop and card shop. George is a self-confessed geek and I love him for it. He is a whizz on computers and his celebrity crushes are Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez. Gomez made a YouTube where she talked to George in which she said, “Hey, George, it’s Selena. I was in London for a bit and I’m bummed I missed you so next time give me call.” He likes the colour red, monkeys, spaghetti, “Live It Up” by Tulisa, American Horror Story and The Big Bang Theory. He likes the actor Evan Peters in American Horror Story. He was bullied in school.

 

Jaime Paul Hamblett a.k.a. JJ was born on the 25th of May 1988 in Newmarket in Suffolk. JJ stands for Jockey Jamie because prior to joining Union J he had been a jockey. He lives with his girlfriend Catharina Lopez who is a model. He has a brother Ashley and a sister Otea. He has a dog called Lola who is a pug and is just the most adorable little creature. It isn’t surprising that JJ was a jockey because he grew up in Newmarket and there’s a racetrack there. I do bets and you hear the Newmarket meeting is on. In his career as a jockey he rode as an apprentice jockey for trainer, Sir Michael Stoute. He was still riding for John Gosden before the show. He was in over 260 races and won 24. He rode in one race for the Queen and got to meet her. He likes the films Twilight and I Love You Man but doesn’t like elastic bands. He also likes BBQ, horses, giraffes and Kings of Leon’s Sex on Fire and he supports Wolves. As well as been a jockey JJ also did modelling and appeared in the show Campus 202 playing Fredrico’. He had a profile on starnow.co.uk. (Brings back memories, the first time I seen that site was when I was looking at Aaron Buckingham’s profile post V.) On the site JJ says, “I am a very hard worker and a professional at what i done, i have got the drive to make a name for myself as an actor and believe i have the ability to do so. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

 

 

Joshua Thomas John Cuthbert was born on the 28th of July in the year of 1992 in Ascot in Berkshire. His mother’s name is Kathryn Cuthbert and his father’s name is Graham Browne. He has a brother Callum and a sister Victoria. He has a cat called Oreo who is just adorable. When he was younger he was in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in the West End. He says of this that it was when he knew “that singing was what I wanted to do.” Jason Donovan was in the main role of in the play which was the role a younger Dick Van Dyke played in the movie version. Other stars who were in it were Christopher Biggins, Brian Conley and Stephen Gately. He said of Gately, “He was fantastic, and he was an idol of mine. We used to chat a lot, and I was in another boyband before Union J that actually toured with Boyzone, so it was good to catch up again. I really looked up to them when I was younger. His advice was to follow what you want to do, what makes you happy.” Before he was in Union J, Josh worked in I.T sales. He also played football and was originally chosen ahead of Tom Parker for a place in boyband The Wanted after open auditions were held to find the five members but couldn’t take the place because he was already under contract with the band Replay. Josh likes walruses, pigeons, the film The Notebook, Deal or No Deal and Shrek. His celebrity crushes are Kelly Brook and Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall. He also supports Chelsea. Josh lived in Dublin in Ireland for a few months.

 

At the bootcamp stage of the competition, Triple J sang American group Maroon 5’s hit which featured Christina Aguilera “Moves Like Jagger” while Shelley sang singer Labrinth’s song “Earthquake” while he competed against contestants Meg O’ Neill and Charlie Cammish. Shelley failed to make it to Judges’ Houses while Triple J were left to fight for the last place at Judges’ Houses against fellow boyband District3 who at this time were called GMD3. The two groups sung with District3 getting the final spot at Judges’ Houses. Triple J had sung Chris Brown’s Yeah 3x. Rough Copy were one of the bands to make it through to the Judges’ Houses stage but there was visa row so Rough Copy pulled out. Dreelan was contacted by producers of the show offering the group a return to the show if Shelley was put into the group. Everyone accepted and the group became Union J. Boyband Times Red who had also been let go at bootcamp were brought back for this stage of the competition too.  At Judges’ Houses Union J sang an acoustic version of the second biggest hit of last year behind Goyte’s “Somebody That I Used To Know “ Australian singer Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”. They made it to the live shows where they quickly became well liked by people on social media covering 46% of online chat to do with X Factor. The first theme was Olympic Games. (Probably because of London 2012). Their first performance on the show was Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”. Freddie Mercury is a legend with an out of this world voice. It wasn’t really the right song for them and Louis Walsh admitted he picked the wrong song for them. However the loyal Jcats managed to keep them in the competition and actually well kept them in while they were at it! The group finished fourth in the public vote behind Powerhouse vocalist Christopher Maloney in first place followed by soulful singer Jahmene Douglas in second and power ballad singer Ella Henderson in third. I admire their strength in coming back so strongly the next week after the first performance. There is so many boybands who would have completely fell apart after the first performance but they showed early on that they were four very determined, ambitious lads who were up to the challenge of getting better and better as a band and showing everyone what they could do.

 

And in their second performance they did just that. Their second performance was for the Love & Heartbreak theme and they sang a mash-up (How very Glee of them? I love it!) of Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love” and James Morrison’s (One of my favourite singers) and Nelly Futado’s “Broken Strings”. They sung it absolutely beautifully and progressed to the next stage in seventh place. The third week was Club Classics week and the group sang “When Love Takes Over” by Kelly Rowland. Again it was a brilliant performance and they made it through placing eighth in the public vote. The fourth week’s theme was “Halloween” and though they performed Beyonce’s “Sweet Dreams” very well they ended up in the bottom two with solo singer Jade Ellis. Walsh, Scherzinger and Barlow opted to save them. It was later revealed that they were ahead of Ellis in the public vote. In week 4 they sang Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” for the theme of “Number-Ones”. Another great performance and this week they made it through the public vote placing fourth. In week 5 for the “Best of British” theme they sang a song I love by a band I love Coldplay’s “Fix You” and they performed it incredibly but sadly found themselves in the bottom two again. This time it was probably like déjà vu for them as they were up against District3. It was very obvious in their performance how much they wanted it and the passion that was there. This time they were saved by Scherzinger and Barlow. Walsh who mentored both bands didn’t vote. Tulisa said she would have opted to save District3. It was later revealed that Union J had been ahead in the public vote.

 

In week 6 they reprised Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” for the theme of “Guilty Pleasures”. This time in a faster version for Saturday Night Television. I always love this theme on X Factor because I’m a complete nerd and I have numerous guilty pleasures. (Jedward, Adam Lambert, Diva Fever, Glee, Bros, Chesney Hawkes, Gimme, Gimme, Gimme, The MacDonald Brothers,Alphabeat, V, Westlife, Steps, S Club 7, Phil Collins, musical theatre, Dream Bears, Eurovision, 80s’ music, Wham and that’s just the tip of the iceberg, there is so many more!) The lads performed the song brilliantly and made it through the public vote in fourth place. The next week was ABBA week (Oh there’s another guilty pleasure! Everyone now, “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme a man after midnight …”) and the boys chose one of the hardest ABBA songs to sing in “The Winner Takes It All” but they sang it very well. I love Motown music and that was the second theme that night as the acts all sang two songs. For this theme the lads chose to sing “I’ll Be There” by The Jacksons and they sang it really well. Sadly this was their third time in the bottom two with the very entertaining Rylan Clark. They were saved by Walsh, Tulisa and Barlow. Again it was later revealed that they had been ahead of Clark in the public vote. The next week was the semi final and the group chose to sing Labrinth’s and Emile Sande’s “Beneath Your Beautiful” and it was my favourite performance of theirs along with Coldplay’s “Fix You” and their save song from the same week “Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele. (I don’t bring luck to people do I?!) The theme had been Free Choice/Someone Special. For the second theme Free Choice/Song to get to the final they sang “I’m Already There” by Lonestar. Again they sang the song very well. Sadly this was the end of their X Factor journey as they ended up fourth in the competition. They sang “Love Story” again after the result. It was later reported that they missed out on getting to the final by 0.6 % of the vote behind Christopher Maloney. I found this sad because they were the two acts I liked the best. It was also reported after that the band’s winning single would have been a cover of American singer and US X Factor judge Demi Lovato’s “Skyscraper”.

 

Post X Factor Union J have been signed to Sony Music Entertainment. On the subsidary label RCA Records. They also performed on The X Factor tour which I was at in Ireland and it was brilliant. They released their first single Carry You written by Steve Mac and Claude Kelly in June 2013. It entered the charts at number 12 in Ireland, no. 4 in Scotland and no. 6 in the UK. Their second single is Beautiful Life written by Nathan Sykes from The Wanted. They have helped The Poppy Appeal and were one of the acts to launch Children in Need this year. They won the We Love Pop Best newcomer for 2013 and placed third in the Popdust Next Pop Superstar of 2013. They were also in the top 20 of the MTV Hottest. Their first tour is called the “Magazines and TV Screens” tour. There is 18 dates on the tour which will happen from December 2013 – January 2014 and their album is due out on October 21st.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CATS The Musical

Last week I went to see the musical CATS in the Bord Gais Theatre in Dublin with my mum Bridget and my sister Sharon. We almost arrived late but just made it in time. My mum nearly freaked out when she realised where we were sitting. Up in the high seats. But thankfully she was alright after a while.

CATS is by David Ian Productions in association with Michael Watt with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and is based on the book by T.S. Eliot “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats”. In the later part of 1977, Lloyd Webber was looking for a new musical and inspiration came from the T.S. Eliot book he had read in childhood. It had been one of his favourite books. Eliot had written the book for his grandchildren in the ’30s. There is a photograph of a young Lloyd Webber with Eliot’s wife holding a copy of the book in circulation. Thomas Stearns Eliot was born in 1888 in St Louis, Missouri. He studied at Harvard, the Sorbonne in Paris and at Merton College, Oxford. The Waste Land was his most famous achievement. He also wrote plays such as Murder in the Cathedral. He died in 1965. May he rest in peace. Lloyd Webber has had a massively successful career. Amongst his credits include Evita, The Phantom of the Opera, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Wizard of Oz and Lend Me a Tenor. He was the first to bring casting to television with How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? Following this there was Any Dream Will Do, I’d Do Anything and Over the Rainbow. I loved these shows and watched them each week with my family. I especially loved the Joseph one. All those good-looking men! Not to mention the beautiful John Barrowman. I got really excited when I seen his gorgeous husband Scott Gill in the crowd. Then the gorgeous John Partridge joined the panel too in place of Barrowman.

The show had incredible visual presence and special mention must go to David Hersey who is the lighting designer on the show. Past shows he’s worked on include Evita, Les Miserables and Twelfth Night. In this show his lighting was outstanding. It hits you instantly from start to finish in bursts of colourful, sophisticated light. It brought you completely into the heart of the show and to the trials and tribulations of the Jellicle cats. Another very interesting aspect of the show is the clothing which is by the very talented John Napier who has previously worked on Miss Saigon, Starlight Express and Les Miserables. He is also an associate designer of the Royal Shakespeare Company. I love his work and to see his creations in a live show was amazing.

My favourite character in the show was The Rum Tum Tugger who gives a comical element to the proceedings. He makes me laugh. He was played incredibly well by actor Oliver Savile who has previously appeared in the UK tour of Monkee Business as Peter Tork. Savile is a very natural actor whose comic timing was right on point. He is a name I think we will see in the world of theatre for many years to come. Joseph Poulton played Quaxo/Mistoffelees. He is an amazing dancer and he thrilled the crowd with his flawless talent. His moves were difficult and yet he pulled them off with perfect ease making them look effortless in the process. Poulton has previously starred in The Wind in the Willows as Mouse Mark at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and in the UK tour of Ballet Central.

Munkustrap was played by Ben Palmer who has starred as Prince in Snow White at Doncaster Civic Centre and was on Celebrity Quitters on Five. He played the role to perfection and Savile, Nicholas Pound as Old Deuteronomy and he acted really well alongside each other in scene eight: Old Deuteronomy when it is just the three of them in the scene. Pound was amazing in the part of Old Deuteronomy. It was a part which needed a commanding yet guiding presence because he is the leader of the Jellicle cats tribe and Pound who has previously starred in other commanding roles such as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables and Peron in Evita did not disappoint.

Susan McFadden played the role of Grizabella and she played the part of the heartbroken cat who wants to get back into the tribe having went into the outside world years ago but who is been stunned by her fellow Jellicle cats and been refused admission back in with so much depth. You could feel Grizabella’s pain through her performance as she walked with her back hunched and her face looking downwards around the stage. McFadden who trained with the Billie Barry Stage School and has previously starred in Bachelors Walk on RTE and Annie in the Olympia Theatre gave an outstanding performance of Memory. Paul F Monaghan had not one but three roles in the show. Each of which he performed very well though special mention must go to his performance as Asparagus or Gus. Gus is a mature actor of the stage who reminisces about his time working with the greatest actors and actresses of his generation. The really fantastic thing about him in this part is how realistic he plays him. When he is recalling his past memories you can hear the way older people speak when they do this. The authencity is perfect. Monaghan also plays Bustopher Jones and Growl Tiger. He has previously appeared as Anatoly in Chess at the Opera House in Wexford and as Sweeney Todd in Sweeney Todd in the National Concert Hall in Dublin.

Cameron Ball played the baddie of the piece MacAvity. I’m sure villains must be such fun to play and he played him really well. When he rigs the electrical explosion it is a real moment in the show and not something which is done very often in theatre land. Ross Finnie plays Skimbleshanks. Finnie has previously starred as Bob Becket in the Raymond Gubbay/UK tour of HMS Pinafore and also in Doctor Dolittle as Ted at the Apollo Leisure. He plays the kind-hearted uncle to the cats with aplomb.

Will Lucas who studied at Laine Theatre Arts and Glendale Theatre Arts and previously starred in Aladdin at Theatre Severn and in Anthems – the concert with Kerry Ellis and Brian May at the Royal Albert Hall in London plays Bill Bailey and even in his small role his natural acting style and talent shows through. I loved the Old Gumbie Cat Jennyanydots. Alice Redmond who has previously starred in Cabaret in Broadway, Catford and in Carmen on the tour and in the New Vic Stroke played her brilliantly. She has also been a part of Gay Pride, Jermyn Street, Cafe Royal, Water Rats, the Pheasantry and Regent Street as part of her act the Redmond Sisters. She plays this role with perfect comic timing. The little walk she lends to Jennyanydots would to excuse the pun make a cat laugh. Then she breaks into a perfectly timed and executed tap dance.

The mischievous pair of Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer were played by Barnaby Thompson and Katie Warsop. He had his training in Laine Theatre Arts and has previously been in the Gotta Sing Gotta Dance UK tour, as a sailor in Anything Goes at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and as Pepper in Mamma Mia! on the International tour while she trained at Italia Conti and was head girl there. She starred previously in Cinerella at St Albans and on The Brit Awards on ITV. They act off each other very well and their dancing is amazing together. They also bring across the mischievousness of the characters very well.

Lily Frazer who trained in Arts Educational Schools London and who previously starred in the ensemble in the arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar and ensemble and the cover for Eponine in Les Miserables in Queen’s Theatre in London played Demeter. Her vocals are incredible and both Frazer and Melissa James who plays Bombalurina give a classy, outstanding performance of “MacAvity is Back”. James also has an amazing voice. Her training comes from Arts Educational Schools and she has previously starred in Doctors for BBC and in West Side Story at RSC Open Stages/Sage Gateshead.

Other actors who made an impression were James Darch as Alonzo, Richard Astbury as Coricopat and Joel Morris as Carbucketty. Darch trained in the Arts Educational Schools London and has been Lucien in Marguerite at Tabard Theatre in London and Prince Charming in Cinderella for Qdos while Astbury was trained in Arts Educational and was in the ensemble in White Christmas at the Lowry Theatre in Salford Quays and in the ensemble in Christmas in New York in the Prince of Wales Theatre. Lastly Morris trained at Gillian Cartwright and then London’s the Central School of Ballet. He has previously played principal roles in Coppelia, The Nutcracker and Carmen. The whole cast came together to make the show spectacular. Especially in a musical like CATS where the cats are a tribe the musical relies on a unified and talented cast and everyone in the cast was incredibly talented and the production and scenes were very tight and unified.

Stand out scenes were The Old Gumbie Cat, The Rum Tum Tugger, Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer, Old Deuteronomy, Gus: The Theatre Cat, Skimbleshanks, MacAvity, Mr Misoffelees, Memory and The Ad-dressing of Cats.

Trevor Nunn is the director and he is so well respected and known that even people with a passing interest in theatre would recognise his name. He was the longest-serving artistic director of the RSC from 1968 to 1986 where he directed most of Shakespeare along with Les Miserables and Nicholas Nickleby. Associate director and choreographer is Gillian Lynne who started her career at sixteen dancing the Swan Queen in the People’s Palace in the Mile End Road. She went on to become best known for her choreography and direction of CATS worldwide. She also staged Aspects of Love and The Phantom of the Opera. She worked on all of these with Cameron Mackintosh and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Re-creator of original direction and choreography was Chrissie Cartwright who previously worked on Sherlock – the Musical and Matilda. Greg Pink is the sound designer. Pink has worked previously on Sweeney Todd and A Christmas Carol. Associate lighting designer was Howard Eaton who has worked on CATS ever since the first original London production and has also worked on the West End musical of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and both the opening and closing ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympics. Musical director was Adrian Kirk. He studied at the University of Melbourne as well as learning conducting from Graham Abbott. He has previously worked as musical director on the UK tour of Chicago and Eurobeat: Almost Eurovision at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Producers are David Ian, The Really Useful Group Ltd and Cameron Mackintosh. Ian has previously worked on Grease, West Side Story and The Shawshank Redemption. Most recently he worked on The Bodyguard at the Adelphi Theatre in London. I admire his work a lot because he has worked on so many theatre versions of films I love as well as many musicals I love. Flashdance, Chess, Dr Dolittle, The Producers, Anything Goes, The Sound of Music, Singin’ in the Rain, Chicago, Saturday Night Fever, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, The Phantom of the Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, Gypsy, Ghost – the Musical, Steel Magnolias, Evita, The King & I and The Rocky Horror Show are also amongst his credits as well as CATS. I am in awe and I think he’s amazing.

The Really Useful Group Ltd also known as RUG was founded by Andrew Lloyd Webber in the year of 1977 and he completely owns it. RUG works on all Lloyd Webber’s musicals but also has worked on The Sound of Music and The Wizard of Oz in the London Palladium and Toronto.

I’m a huge fan of Cameron Mackintosh. I find him a very interesting man in interviews or speeches and he comes across as really nice but outside of all that he is a fantastic producer and when you look at his ouvere it is easy to see why he is one of the most respected names in the world of theatre. He has been in the business for more than 45 years and has produced the three longest-running musicals of all time in CATS, Les Miserables and The Phantom of the Opera. These musicals are still been performed worldwide. He has also worked on Little Shop of Horrors, Betty Blue Eyes, The Witches of Eastwick, Martin Guerre and Side by Side by Sondheim.

The music is major on this musical. Keyboard 1 was Paul Slater, Keyborad 2/assistant MD was Ben Kennedy, keyboard 3 was Tim Davis, guitars was Alastair Marshall, bass guitar was Nathan Finn, drums were Dave Pack, flute/clarinet/tenor sax is Gavin Tate-Lovery and clarinet/soprano and baritone sax is Andrew Dickinson. Orchestral management was Stephen Hill for Musicians UK Ltd.

Other notable aspects were sound operator 1 is Ollie Wade while sound operator 2 is Gareth Willox. Wardrobe mistress is Trish McAuley, deputy wardrobe mistress is Sally Fernandes and assistant wardrobe mistress is Laura Middleton. Wigs master is Steve Frizzell while deputy wigs mistress is Jess Bishop. Make-up was developed by Karen Dawson. The costume supervisor was Tracy Stiles, wigs supervisor was Jenny Dean and make-up supervisor was Maria Cave. Production assistant was Jeff Brady while dance captain was Lizzi Franklin and assistant dance captain was Ian Parsons. Costume makers were Phil Reynolds, Emily Moore, Kate Jeanne, Sasha Keir and Bob Saunders at Applied Arts, hats were by Sandra North, shoes by BLOCH and make-up by Charles Fox. Like the cast, all the crew together made the show amazing.

The staff at the Bord Gais Theatre were as always really lovely and very helpful and I had a great day out with my girls. Roll on Priscilla Queen of the Desert. All together now, “Go West …”