Browsing articles in "Events"
Aug 2, 2012

The Phantom of the Opera – Angel of Music

Last Friday was sunshine and showers but I was in perky form despite a killer headache. The show must go on as they say! And what a show – The Phantom of the Opera at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre. I found my mate dangling his legs over the side of the Grand Canal basin. Just kidding… But there was a gang of boys diving into the water and it looked like such fun! Next, KC Peaches for bites.

The deal is that you can pick any size plate – small, medium, large – and fill up with whatever you fancy. The food here is scrummy, especially for salad fans, and we went for beef curry, stuffed chicken and mixed greens. Even better are the cakes – don’t worry we kept room! Passion fruit cheesecake and peanut butter jelly brownies were washed down with creamy coffee. I was feeling better already…

The Bord Gais Energy Theatre, though slick and modern, has an intimate feeling. There’s a lovely party atmosphere – everyone’s here for a good time. But it’s the great staff that make the place. We were well looked after from the moment we arrived. I’ve seen Phantom once before, at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London and I can still recall that spine tingling performance. The passion, the sorrow. The music.

The show opens on a magnificent set, the Paris Opera House, with the ensemble cast limbering up for a top performance. The scene is opulent and the costume fine, but lurking beneath in the shadows is the Phantom. Shamed by his physical appearance and feared by all he soon comes to the surface, his love for his singing protege Christine Daae too strong to control. She is at once repulsed and fascinated.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hallmark musical is in Dublin for the first time after twenty five phenomenal years. The original players, Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford, are of course legendary but the actors in this show are very impressive indeed. Katie Hall gives her all as Christine, her glorious voice filling every corner of the Bord Gais Energy Theatre, matched only by rival Carlotta for high notes.

However, it is the Angel of Music who really captures our imagination. The Phantom, played by John Owen Jones, is as mesmerising as he is menacing. Jones’ voice is tremendous and his portrayal of the tortured recluse is heart wrenching. I can’t help being swept away by the tragic romance of this show, as Christine is torn between her lover Raoul and her mentor Phantom, to whom she remains loyal.

With songs like “The Music of the Night”, “All I Ask of You” and “Phantom of the Opera” the production is as fine as you’d imagine, but live these numbers simply soar through the air. The infamous crashing of the grand chandelier is a great moment but the drama reaches a crescendo as Phantom loses the plot and kidnaps Christine. John Owen Jones’ captivating tones wring out as madness unleashes.

But Phantom’s heart is melted by Christine’s kindness to him and he eventually releases her to Raoul, surrendering to his own lonely fate. He gifted her a voice and realises that is all he can give. The lesson of The Phantom of the Opera is that one must not love for oneself but for the other person. Raoul’s genuine concern for Christine is selfless and holds the mirror up to Phantom’s emotional black hole.

It is human nature to covet what you cannot have and that is why we sympathise with Phantom. I know he moves me to tears! But it’s the highs and lows of Lloyd Webber’s powerful arrangements that pull on the heart strings. Beautiful music. We breathed a sigh of awe as the final curtain fell and the cast took a collective bow. Truly one of the greatest shows on earth. Love never dies. Now home to dream…

Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Grand Canal Square, Dublin 2 /

Jul 24, 2012

Back to the Future – Disco Retro

Ah, that Friday feeling. I met Dad in town and we enjoyed a half an hour each in our fave shops – the best way for boys and girls to shop! Followed by a lazy lunch in the M&S Rooftop restaurant. The menu here is stuffed full of all that lovely Marks nosh that you can’t help putting in your basket – only it’s cooked for you! We had yummy fish cakes, chicken in Parma, chocolate brownie and lemon tart.

When I got back to the bat cave, it was a quick fire round of housework, followed by some scribbling and a flop on the sofa with a nice cup of tea. The girls were coming ’round for a screening of Back to the Future chez moi. The official show at the Sugar Club was sold out, but we planned to meet our pals who’d got their mitts on tickets, for the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance. Chardonnay time…

The movie night, run by Film Fatale, was a twist on their monthly classic screenings with both 50s and 80s themes combined. How clever! So while some of my girlfriends were dressed up all Madonna stylee in lace fingerless gloves and neon leg warmers, I went all demure in a dusky pink prom dress I’d picked up in Oxfam last week. Isn’t she lovely? The blokes went for a double denim and “life preserver” combo.

The Sugar Club had been transformed into an underwater paradise, just like the movie, with soap bubbles and balloons. The dance floor was jumping with kids jiving to Jaime Nanci and the Blue Boys, who were belting out rock ‘n’ roll gems. These cool cats had us tapping our toes to “Johnny B Goode” and “Jailhouse Rock”. Entertaining us after dark with a slick set was the Andrews Sisters Brothers.

We were whipped up into a frenzy on rum cocktails and high jinks with some top 80s tunes. These guys had their finger on the retro pulse with well chosen records – not too obvious, nor too obscure. It felt like 1986 again when I was gliding around the Top Hat roller disco, with my Mickey Mouse jumper and a Michael J Fox poster ripped out of Smash Hits proudly blue tacked to my bedroom wall. Good times!

Salt ‘n’ Pepa, Chaka Khan and, of course, MJ had us dancing ’til 3am. Film Fatale really know how to throw a party and event organiser Anna Taylor told me they were thrilled with the sellout night. It seems they’ve found a new niche with the 80s! I was fit for the scrapheap after a final flurry to New Order’s “Blue Monday” and headed home to bedfordshire, brow damp and feet burning. Like Friday night should be… / The Sugar Club, 8 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2

Jul 24, 2012

World Street Performance Championship 2012

Saturday morning – my fave part of the week! There was already plenty of action on my doorstep by midday, with the World Street Performance Championship cranking up in Merrion Square. I’d been out dancing all night at the Back to the Future Enchantment Under the Sea Dance in the Sugar Club and was lolling in my PJs when my mate rang, on her way. I was dressed and out the door in zero to ninety.

First stop the Kilkenny Shop and their newly refurbished restaurant – it’s not just for tourists y’know! We scored delicious goats cheese tartlets with rainbow salads for a bargain tenner each. Why can’t all food people do top scran at this price? Dessert was Butlers coffee and a free sweetie which we ferried over to the park. The place was jammers and my girlfriend grimaced as I removed my take away lid as usual…

A sense of fun filled the air with a real Alice in Wonderland feel – umbrellas and lanterns hung from the trees, kids swung in hammocks and there were performers dotted around everywhere. The big acts were scheduled at three main areas in the park and there was plenty of ice cream, hot dogs and fizzy pop to munch while watching. I must say I was very impressed with whole set up. The sunshine helped too!

It was a real family day out with lots of children’s activities – we sat down on a handy sofa while a gang of sugar crazed little boys dived on top. Coffee meet dress – oops… That got me back with the programme, so we checked out our first act – Kamikaze Fireflies. A guy ‘n’ gal duo who impressed us with their circus skills. Cube twirling, stilt walking, fire dancing, juggling and lashings of Yankee banter.

The piece de resistance was when they coaxed a punter to step up onto the chick’s pelvis while she bent over backwards into a crab. Bravo! I’d heard this pair on the wireless during the week, and poor Ray D’Arcy wouldn’t step up. Next we found a couple more pals, who had a nice picnic rug laid out front near the mound. Time for a sit down and 2 On 1 – a couple of all dancing acrobatic cool dudes from NYC.

These lads were seriously funny, while doing a brilliant line in beatbox, bin drumming, break dancing and back flips and of course getting the audience involved. One game Dad was stripped of his shirt – fair play to him standing next to the super buff pair, whose topless efforts certainly put a smile on our faces. Once we’d cooled down, we moved on to Jonathan Burns – the human pretzel. One bendy fella…

A cross between Napoleon Dynamite and Pee Wee Herman this chap had us in stitches with his saucy talk while wincing at his double jointed antics. The kids loved him and he had a bunch of little helpers joining in, twisting himself through everything from a tennis racquet to a toilet seat. It was time for another munch and we tucked into dinner from Crepes in the City. Crunchy Nut Cornflakes for afters.

Australian acrobat Reuben Dot Dot Dot and his twenty foot pole – ooh er Missus! – were a sight to behold. Like a bird, he took to the sky atop the pole, spinning on one hand. It was a masterclass in strength and discipline. Our last show was husband and wife duo Cirque No Problem, who brought a vibe of old school vaudeville circus to their trapeze act. Silly but smart, they built up to a swinging finale.

They proved to be a talented family, when their baby wrapped the show with her very own balancing act. A star in the making! We were well and truly flaked out, so it was back to the ranch for tea and maybe a drop of something stronger… The World Street Performance Championship was a fantastic day out, bigger and bolder than ever before. They can all come back and play in my back yard anytime!

Jul 17, 2012

Dara O’Briain – Craic Dealer

I was up with the lark last Saturday and on my bike before breakfast, ready for a bit of Famous Five action. Me and my mates tucked into a hearty fry up at the start of a long day of driving, hiking, eating and laughing. So when one of my pals asked if I’d like to round off the good times at Dara O’Briain’s Vicar Street show I said sign me up. When life throws lemonade, might as well get sticky!

Of course I’m aware of Dara O’Briain, as his star continues to rise across the pond, but I must admit a lack of familiarity with his work. My thoughts on him are thus – vague memory of Echo Island, shades of a young George Hook and that wonderful London Paddy slant on life back home. Vicar Street was packed to the rafters for his last night in a string of gigs on the sell out Craic Dealer tour.

We lined up our pints on little roundy tables, designed to look like a pub back room, as O’Briain took to the stage. Larger than life, he belted out his opening gambit, telling us about the hazards of touring with a sore throat. Hide the Lockets… But, worry not, he was on fine form as he rallied us with a bit of audience participation, showcasing his natural talent for ad-libbing. His off the cuff gags were spot on!

O’Briain proved to be a slick showman as well as a funny bastard, as he worked sore subjects like religion into everyday hilarious incidents. Relaying stories from his own life, the English / Irish crossover was obvious and I could see his appeal to the neighbours. O’Briain can tap into both audiences with his bloke-ish observations but the key is in his fine tuning of a punchline to cultural nuance.

Setting the world to rights was something he excelled at too, and with that booming voice who better? Bawling out celebrity astrologers and Twitter trolls, O’Briain had a great knack of making us feel we were down the local with him shooting the shitake. Very chucklesome also were his random musings mid-gag. Quick wit and emotional intelligence make O’Briain that best mate you wish you had.

While I was new to this guy (I know, what planet?) my mate, who’s a rookie comedian, was seriously impressed, claiming O’Briain to be a stand up maestro. Indeed he knows his punter – lots of Dad jokes and boy talk – but lets everyone in the room in on the laugh, with killer timing and well placed callbacks. O’Briain has been on the scene a long time but he seems to be on top of game right now.

I must say our gills were hurting with laughter by the time he got to his encore. It was a sweet touch to hand out chocolate bars to his front row buddies – O’Briain does have that level of success where fans want to touch his hem, but he doesn’t act the rock star. In fact, when we moved next door to the local pizza shop afterwards, we were told he gets his munchies there too. A man of the people! / / Vicar Street, 58 – 59 Thomas Street, Dublin 8

Jul 12, 2012

Designist – Uproar V Paul Tierney

Last week I joined the Bruv and his mate for a pre-Stone Roses pint and feed. Against the Grain was the venue with the lads looking for some of the best craft beers in town, and pub grub to boot. We each downed a pint of tasty Howling Gale Ale before ordering falafel, beef and chicken burgers, all with lovely big fat chips. It’s proper man food at Against the Grain with a good veggie selection on offer too.

The boys jumped in a joe maxi and made for the Pheonix Park. I mooched back into the belly of town for some culture action. PhotoIreland 2012 is running throughout July so I decided to check out Uproar V Paul Tierney at Designist. Uproar is a summer-long event at Designist featuing a number of cutting edge Pop Up shops. Photographer Paul Tierney’s “Reflected City” project is their latest exhibition.

The series, shot in various shops throughout the city, documents the ordinary shop, its merchandise and its owners. Displayed in the retail setting at Designist, the collection is cleverly juxtaposed within its subject matter. The pictures themselves are charming, with Tierney using his architectural eye to capture the symmetry of the spaces as well as the personality and purpose of the shops.

Tierney talked me through some of the places he had visited. A cosmetic dentist practice featured an all white decor, while its owner was decked out in a white uniform – Tierney noted that the idea was to convey a clinical feel and the pristine colour of well kept teeth. He also pointed to detail, such as the celebrity magazines on display – an aspirational nudge to clients. The retail environment disected.

Another picture featured a shopkeeper behind the counter of his plumbing shop, proudly at the helm of a highly organised treasure trove of hardware. “Reflected City” highlights the place of individual stores in a neighbourhood, each serving its own purpose. The concept of the shops within a shop works well at Designist, given its own quirky stock of home decor and gadgets. Bite sized prints are for sale.

Designist, 68 South Great Georges Street, Dublin 2 / /

Jun 28, 2012

John Colleary – Savage Show!

Yesterday was just another normal day – I was at home polishing my halo when a mate called, to see how my bendy arm was getting on. Seconds later I was signed up for John Colleary’s show at The International with a bit of footie thrown in too. I guess I’m just a gal can’t say no… Being a totally tropical night, the dark sanctum of The International seemed an unlikely place to wear a nice guna.

Alas, this was top comedian John Colleary’s warm up for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – well worth the heat. Colleary, best known for his mimics on RTE’s The Savage Eye, was testing our chuckle buttons with his act “Warning: Show Contains Adult”. When he introduced himself to Moi, I asked what his name was! Y’see, having no telly I listen to Colleary’s Last Orders on Today FM – radio ha ha (boom!).

Colleary didn’t take long to get in the zone and has a very natural stage presence, endearing the audience to him without being obvious. He trades in cheeky chappy Irish-isms, avoiding cliches by acting out his own quirky observations. Clearly a keen people watcher, Colleary boils down familiar scenarios into painful truths, but has such a sense of fun about him, it doesn’t hurt too much.

Much of this guy’s material will ring true with anyone of a certain vintage (ahem) with some great stories about middle age and childhood nostalgia. Colleary’s assorted characters and voices punctuate the jokes brilliantly – his baby noises are uncanny… His inner kid is alive and kicking and trying to get out through his mouth! Lots of movement added a slapstick dimension that amplified the mirth.

A comedian who is relevant will always connect well with a crowd and Colleary hit the nail on the head with topics like smart phones and social media. His spin on life is sharp but it’s his warm delivery that lets us know he’s laughing with the world not at it. For a bloke who takes off everyone from politicians to the fella down the local, Colleary doesn’t do cynical cheap shots. He’s a toasty kinda funny…

Finishing up with a spot of potty audio, we got a final insight into Colleary’s mind. He’s tuned into brain soup and isn’t afraid to say the stupid stuff we all think! Apres show, he told me that he’s excited about his first official Edinburgh Fringe gig, playing at Finnegan’s Wake in the city centre. With over a thousand gigs playing at random each day, Colleary says the buzz of the Scots capital is unbeatable.

And like any good man, he was off to see the match – well earned after an hour of non stop madness. So we tipped our hats and slid out into the balmy night. Over to Bia Bar for a burger ‘n’ beer and a ray of Spanish sunshine. Arriba! Strolling home in the Summer rain cooled me down, giggling like an eejit, drunk on good times. I’ll stay home and do my homework tomorrow… Stop laughing at the back! / / The International Bar, 23 Wicklow Street, Dublin 2

Jun 22, 2012

The Grand Social – Vintage Tea Dance!

Last Tuesday night, I found myself footloose and fancy free. Sure aren’t I always, you ask? Anyway I was stuck betwixt footie and beer, England v Ukraine, and a lovely Vintage Tea Dance. A girl and her whims… As it happens I rocked up to The Grand Social just in time for Rooney’s wicked header, so Euro 2012 fix sorted, I wafted upstairs where the main action was. Oooh, what a treat I was in for!

The beer garden / terrace had been transformed into a mini market, with second hand clothes, accessories and a pop up beauty parlour. And a barbie on the go – burger and beer only five euro! I had a giggle with a pretty young thing having a bouffant make over from Hair Through the Ages – suits you Sir! Then to Kate Betts Hats, where the lovely Kate offered a box of her creations for me to try on.

Inside, the vaulted room had been transformed into an Alice in Wonderland delight with circus bunting and candy stripes enveloping a floor of round tables and a bright satin draped stage. Tea and homemade cakes were on hand, each confection numbered and ready to be judged as well as enjoyed, like little butter icing jewels. It really was charming as dressed up boys and girls waltzed away with abandon.

The Dolly Mixture Cabaret turned up the entertainment with a brilliantly silly stage show. Our foxy maestro Kat, fabulous in fishnets and tails, introduced us to The Protectors, a quirky drama act whose childlike simplicity was a tonic to the big bad world outside. Next up was marvelous storyteller, Paul Timoney, who had us enthralled with a highly energetic rendition his urban tale of “Mr Faraway Fox”.

I munched on a pink sprinkles cupcake as Paul read us some of his original poems, and showed us his drawings. Very talented guy! It was time for a bit more singing and dancing as a band of beautiful flappers took the stage for a rousing performance, followed by the honey voiced pirate Bepo. He serenaded us on guitar with his unique songs, while the best dressed lady and gentleman were chosen.

My cheeks were a-glow by the end of the night with fun of it all – an interactive finale story by Paul Timoney brought the house down. The Grand Social is an excellent venue for showcasing such events, with folk seeking out an alternative pub experience nowadays. Rumours reach me that the Ha’penny Flea Market is no more, but in a city crackling with creativity something will surely rise from it’s ashes.

The Grand Social, 35 Lower Liffey Street, Dublin 1 / www.the

Jun 19, 2012

Street Feast – Le Cool Picnic!

Rolling out of bed on Sunday morning after two all nighters in a row – I know, didn’t think I still had it in me! – I was all set for Street Feast, hosted by Le Cool at Meeting House Square. By that I mean I was up, washed and dressed. I didn’t quite manage to get my apron on and whip up a basket of homemade fare, so I stuffed some goodies into my bag – Butlers chocolates, crisps and a bottle of bubbly!

Rocking up to Temple Bar, there was music in the air and sunshine peeking through the clouds as I took a seat at one of three long tables. Giant umbrellas overhead are a great addition to Meeting House Square I must say! There was plenty of food going around with plates, cutlery and cups supplied by Le Cool. I poured some fizz for the lovely girls I’d just met at my table and we got ready to tuck in.

Beef Bourgignon, lemon cous cous, rye bread with vintage cheddar, jalepeno hummus, zucchini feta pie – and some rocky road, all in the mix! A couple of my mates joined in the party, one bringing me fresh coffee and another armed with a big bowl of Mamma’s recipe – yummy! The atmosphere was just great as we lounged around feeding each other, chatting to new faces and listening to children’s laughter.

We weren’t the only ones having fun in the sun, as Street Feast is a national event where neighbours all over the country got together to break bread. Organisers Samuel Bishop and Clare Mulvany have really harnessed a community feeling and I enjoyed working with them last Summer at a pop up lunch on Millennium Bridge. Brilliant idea! The sort of thing that brings warm and fuzzy to city life.

I got talking to Temple Bar Cultural Trust’s Lynsey Ni Rainaill, who was delighted with the turnout. She agreed that the buzz in the area is down to locals and retailers putting back into the neighbourhood what they get from it. Sharing flapjacks with Trevor White, former honcho at The Dubliner, it was clear to see that post-Tiger Dublin is coming out of the wilderness and the city is getting it’s mojo back. /

Jun 19, 2012

Oscar Verne’s Masque – Ferocious Mingle Market

Hopping from one party to another last Saturday night I must say I was mighty impressed with little ol’ me! Considering I’d been in bed all day battling Friday night’s gin ‘n’ juice, I had plenty of ammunition for Oscar Verne’s Masque at the Ferocious Mingle Market. I pulled a mask down over my cheeky chops and made my way to Thomas Street for a late night speakeasy – this girl was back in the game!

Shimmying under the shutter – this was an invite only do – me and my Cuz knew we were in for some serious fun. The Ferocious Mingle Market does what it says on the tin in daylight hours, selling fab vintage threads, exquisite hand crafts and home baked goodies. Being a stone’s throw from NCAD the place simply buzzes with creativity. We entered the twilight zone that it transformed into after dark.

I found one of my friends among a sea of masked creatures and he brought us into the belly of the beast where the gang were sipping BYOB. We picked up drinkies at the bar and joined in. My thirst wasn’t up to much but in a place like this, a lady doesn’t have to be a lush to have a good time! There were boys dressed as girls, dames spilling out of corsets and pretty faces half hiden with tinsel and glitter.

Part of the charm was wandering around the market chalets, which were like glamour camps containing their own mini gatherings. I swapped style tips with a lovely stall owner who produced a darling handbag that fell in love with me at first sight. Sigh… Meanwhile the stage came alive, with a hot mama singer belting out 80s pop and disco faves in her deliciously wild voice, howling, whistling and all.

Next we shook our tail feathers to alt rock gods Saint John the Gambler, who brought their own brand of class to the party. The dance floor was filled with exotic beautiful people sweating out an amazing Saturday night. We were busting some crazy moves and it was a well earned wind down when a gorgeous young thing floated on stage to serenade us to sweet oblivion. He was just divine…

A finale of Adele’s “Someone Like You” brought a tear to the eye and a promise from my pals to see this guy again. Oscar Verne’s Masque was still in full swing, with groups tucked into corners and cool kids lounging in the theatre seats. We took on the dance floor ’til the death with a killer Bollywood soundtrack and by the time I hit the streets I gotta say I’d got my groove back! Oh what a night! / Ferocious Mingle Market, 72 Thomas Street, Dublin 8

Jun 18, 2012

Taste of Dublin – Dinky Dining!

Last Saturday was a total washout, with your fave reporter hiding under the duvet ’til late afternoon. A pint at the Grand Social on Friday night had turned into a house party at a mate’s gaff on Bachelors Walk. Red Bull gin cocktails… But, I had three parties to go to. Help! And then, like an angel of divine hangover mercy, my mother showed up with toast and Solpadeine. Unconditional love, eh?

So, with my delicate health finally restored I strapped on my cowboy boots and with my Cousin in tow, our first port of call was Taste of Dublin at Iveagh Gardens. I’ve been to Taste before, back in Tiger times, and I was expecting it to somehow be better value for money nowadays. While the prices have come down, there was definitely less bling for my buck… Still, the set up was impressive!

We did a tour of the various tents, sniffing out what we fancied, while my appetite picked up momentum at last. After a few bites from Danucci Chocolate, Mash Direct and Keogh’s Crisps, my Cuz picked up a nice cool pear cider. Not being a balmy summer’s night like in the ads, we took refuge in the Electrolux theatre for a demo by Kevin Dundon, of Dunbrody House. Front row seats – nice one!

Kevin kept the crowd entertained with his banter, making it all look so easy as he tossed soup – yes, soup! – in a pan. His delicious seasonal menu was made up of potato and lime soup, stuffed salmon en croute, and fresh strawberry pavlova. Dundon’s fine fare was not easy on the waistline, sloshing in butter and cream as he was, but the slice of dessert I snaffled was totes mouth friendly indeed!

With food in my belly, I was ready to look booze in the eye once more. Back on the horse and all that! A pair of mojitos, expertly shaken by the lovely barmen at Havana Club, and we were off to find dinner. There was a host of top Dublin restaurants cooking – Chapter One, Diep Le Shaker, Jaipur, The Unicorn – but we were in a spicy mood and went for Baan Thai, their lovely curry heating us up in the rain.

The party was going strong at Taste of Dublin, in spite of the weather, with a good crowd bopping away to 90s tribute band Smash Hits at the Main Stage. We swayed to a bit of vintage Take That, before another mooch around the stalls to fill our bags with some goodies and then down the road to Toners on Baggot Street. A flying sup for a friend’s birthday and we were off again – the night was but young!