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Crazy For You debuted in 1992, but features the songs of George and Ira Gershwin, written in the 1930s. The show is something of an homage to the 1930s style musicals and if you liked the Astaire and Rogers musicals and others of the ilk, then this is sure to appeal to you.

Bobby Child – here played to perfection by multi-talented Tom Chambers – is the son of a New York banking family and expected to take over the family business. What he really wants to do however, is dance on stage, but both his mother and his fiancee Irene Roth (Claire Sweeney) disapprove. Bobby is sent to the town of Deadrock, Nevada, to close down the failing theatre, but as soon as he meets the theatre owner’s daughter Polly (Charlotte Wakefield), he falls for her. In order to stop the theatre closing (and to win Polly’s love), Bobby decides to stage a show at the premises, but he takes an unorthodox approach to achieving this! A comedy of mistaken identities and misunderstandings ensue, and the whole story is told against a backdrop of slapstick comedy, fantastic dance routines and beautiful classic show songs.

I really enjoyed this show, but as a lover of the old 30s style musicals, I am probably  it’s target audience. Tom Chambers is the proverbial triple threat, being able to dance, sing and act – indeed some of his acting was hilarious, particularly the scene where Bobby and famous theatre producer Bela Zangler both get drunk. His dancing was gorgeous to watch, particularly the drum dance as I call it – you’ll know it when you see it.

Charlotte Wakefield was also excellent as the feisty and outspoken Polly. She has a simps beautiful singing voice, which was put to excellent use. She was also a perfect foil for Tom Chambers.

Claire Sweeney’s part was smaller than I expected, but she still got her chance to shine with her own singing number Naughty Baby.

The backing cast were all excellent and very funny, and it should be noted that there is no orchestra in this production – the cast play live instruments on stage for the musical numbers.

In essence, if you are looking for a feel-good romantic musical, you can’t go far wrong with this one!

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Abby Rogers is on a health kick. She’s been on them before but never really taken them seriously and they’ve never lasted very long. But when she meets Oliver (Doctor Dishy) who is a member of the local running club along with her best friend, she is suddenly motivated to take up running.

I listened to this book while out running, so the subject was highly appropriate! A large part of the storyline is Abby’s decision to run a half marathon – motivated by a far more serious reason than just her obsession with Doctor Dishy – and her efforts to get in shape for it. However, there is a lot more going on too – her web design business with her kooky employees, her friendship with best pal Jess and her initial grudging friendship with fellow runner Tom, who she meets after accidentally driving her car into him and his motorbike at the start of the story!

It’s chick-lit, which is a very hit-and-miss genre for me. And true, it’s completely and utterly predictable – I knew exactly who would end up with who, and the ‘twists’ in the story were signposted ages beforehand, but nonetheless the story is told with so much wit and good humour that I could forgive all of that and just enjoy the ride.

A few words of praise for the narrator Emma Gregory too – I truly believe that some books are better to read, and some are better to listen to. Gregory’s narration made this fall into the latter category for me – she was superb, capturing the funny moments and the more poignant moments perfectly.

Overall, a great listen, and I would definitely consider listening to more audiobooks by Jane Costello – particularly if narrated by Emma Gregory.

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Basically – Richard Gere plays Will Keane, a 48 year old successful restauranteur and well known playboy. Winona Ryder plays Charlotte Fielding, a 22 year hat designer, who has a terminal heart condition. And they fall in love. After navigating various minefields, such as the age difference, and his inability to keep it in his pants, things go well until tragedy ensues.

In all honesty I should have hated this film. I’m not even sure why I watched it – I wanted to watch something uncomplicated and romantic one afternoon and I picked this. I didn’t hate it, as it turns out, but there were things that would have narked me were I not in such a chilled out mood when I watched it. For one – there’s a lot of corny dialogue. Also – Will’s character is a bit of a heel, who at at least one point in the film, she should have kicked into touch. The ending was not only predictable, but actually inevitable, but it made me cry (I cry a LOT at films).

If corny films aren’t your thing, then I definitely do not recommend this. If you can get past that and do fancy something undemanding, then maybe….

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Year of release: 2000

Director: Joan Chen

Writer: Allison Burnett

Main cast: Richard Gere, Winona Ryder, Anthony LaPaglia, Elaine Stritch, Vera Farmiga

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This is the first book in the Cape Bay Cafe series, and it definitely falls into the cozy murder mystery category. It introduces us to Francesca Amaro, who, following a broken engagement and the death of her mother, has moved back to the sleepy seaside town of Cape Bay, Massachusetts, from her high powered life in New York. Francesca runs the Antonia’s Coffee Shop – previously run by her grandparents and then her mother – which serves the best coffee in town.

When Mr Cardosi, the father of her childhood friend Matt, is murdered, Francesca and Matt set out to solve the crime and bring the perpetrator to justice. Along the way there are hints of romance, a colourful cast of local characters, and lots of talk of sweet treats!

I listened to this as an audiobook, narrated by Marguerite Gavin, who did a great job. The story is told in the first person and while the romance part is fairly predictable, the mystery part did keep me guessing and there were plenty of red herrings. I really enjoyed listening to this story. I had to suspend my disbelief quite a lot, as Francesca had a habit of jumping to conclusions based on very little, but both she and Matt were very likeable characters, and sometimes you need something that just makes you smile and is easy to listen to. Coming in at under 5 hours, it’s probably half the length of an average novel, and for this reason, once we have been introduced to Francesca and her background, the story rattles along at a nice pace.

If you are a fan of the genre, I highly recommend giving this book a try, and I look forward to reading the next one in the series.

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The fifth book in the Phryne Fisher Mystery series starts with Phryne at a jazz club, witnessing a man murdered right in front of her. He appears to have been stabbed in the chest, but there was nobody near enough to him to have done it. Phryne is right on the case, but as well as trying to solve this murder, she also has an adventure in the Australian Alps while searching for a missing young man – and of course she always manages to find time for a romantic dalliance or two!

I remember the TV episode based on this book, and while the episode left a lot of the story out, I actually prefer it. I do enjoy the Phryne Fisher books when I’m after something undemanding, but they do have something of a disjointed feel about them at times, and I think this was my least favourite so far. Without giving too much away, I think my favourite part of the story was when she went into the Alps – perhaps the change of scene worked to the book’s advantage. I would also like to see a bit of of Inspector Jack Robinson – he is a major character in the TV show, and while I realise that the books came first and it’s actually the onscreen version which changed the character, I think he warrants more attention than he receives in the books.

With all that said however, I am still quite early on the series, and I will continue to read more to see if and how the characters develop.

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This show opens with a voiceover warning people of a nervous disposition that platforms and white lycra are worn during this production. This somewhat sets the tone for the whole show – humour, colour, energy and of course some terrifically ABBA-esque costumes.

The storyline is simple enough – Sophie Sheridan and her mother Donna live in Greece. Sophie is getting married and wants to meet her father…the only problem is that she doesn’t know who her father is out of three potential candidates, so she invites all three without her mother’s knowledge. Naturally, chaos ensues as past memories are raked up. And when you throw together Donna’s best and oldest friends Rosie and Tanya, three men who have no idea why they have been invited to the wedding, and a host of young men and women, there is bound to be action, raunch and a little romance…

Accompanied by some of ABBA’s best known and loved songs – including Super Trouper, Take a Chance on Me, Lay All Your Love On Me, Money Money Money, Does Your Mother Know? and of course the title track – this is such a fantastically feel-good show that it did not surprise me one bit when there was a standing ovation at the end, with audience members dancing in the aisles.

Helen Hobson was great as Donna, and Gillian Hardie and Emma Clifford were wonderful as Rosie and Tanya respectively. In the performance I saw, Sophie was played by first understudy Blaise Colangelo, who was ideal for the part – so loveable and sweet. The three possible fathers were Sam played by Jon Boyden, Bill played by Christopher Hollis, and Harry played by Jamie Hogarth. Their three distinct characters were portrayed excellently.

I don’t see how anyone could fail to enjoy this show, and the beaming faces on the audience as they left the theatre were testament to what a wonderful time everyone had. If you get chance to see this production, do yourselves a favour and buy some tickets!

 

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Beth is a high flying New Yorker, whose job leaves no time for love. When she goes to Rome for her sister’s wedding, she impulsively takes some coins out of a fountain of love (people throw coins in and make a wish to find love). This causes the men who threw those coins into the fountain to fall in love with her and pursue her with abandon! Meanwhile, there is Nick, the best man and best friend of her sister’s husband, who definitely has chemistry with Beth…

The reviews for this film have been pretty unforgiving, and I almost decided not to watch  it. But actually I found it very entertaining – yes it’s daft and entirely unbelievable, but Kristen Bell and Josh Duhamel are charming leads and difficult not to like. It’s undemanding rom-com and if that is what you are in the mood for, this fits the bill perfectly.

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Year of release: 2010

Director: Mark Steven Johnson

Writer: David Diamond, David Weissman

Main cast: Kristen Bell, Josh Duhamel, Danny DeVito, Will Arnett, Jon Heder, Dax Shepherd, Alexis Dziena

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