Why are we so afraid to die?

blog, celebrity, event, inspired, life, lifestyle, mindfulness, music, reflection, self improvement, Uncategorized

I won’t lie, I’ve kind of gone down the clickbait route with this blog post. After admitting to writer’s block yesterday, I felt I’d better come back with something a little more interesting.

This may sound strange to some of you but I have a funeral playlist saved to my Spotify account. Obviously I’d like to hope that this won’t be played for many years to come but it’s always good to be prepared! I’m not someone who considers death a lot, I don’t really pay much thought to what will become of me once I’m gone but it’s nice to appreciate the many different beliefs offered to us by religion, spirtualism and science. I also love seeing how much comfort the likes of heaven or reincarnation can bring to people in their moments of need.

To many this may be a morbid or upsetting topic and yet ultimately death is the one thing that we all have in common. It’s the only guarantee in life. As I don’t own a house or expensive jewellery, there’s really no need for a written will so I guess this is my one specification. Personally, I’d like to think I’ve found the perfect balance of humour, sorrow and sentiment to leave my loved ones with.

I know the suspense is killing you *if you’ll pardon the pun*. So without further a do, here is my funeral playlist as of July 2019…

What are your thoughts on creating your own funeral playlist? Have you got any of the same songs as me or am I just a morbid music maker? Tweet me @sophieaiken and let mw know!

Sophie

Boots First Feel Good Session

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Last week I was lucky enough to win a ticket to the first ever Boots Feel Good Session thanks to an Instagram competition ran by the wonderful Megan Jayne Crabbe *bodyposipanda*.

Upon arrival I was greeted by some lovely ladies who pointed me in the direction of a wall of positive quotes. I grabbed one of these in exchange for a free drink at the bar and readied myself to take part in a Body & Image Workshop.

This particular workshop was hosted by Natasha Devon MBE. Natasha is a body image activist, writer, speaker, campaigner and all round genius to be honest with you. In just fifteen minutes, she gave us a run down of how our brains work and the ways in which we view ourselves. In my last post, I told you all about how I filter my social media, below is a list of body positive influencers composed by all those who attended the workshop. So if you feel like you want a bit less filtering and facetune and a lot more real life, check them out.file-2

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend thePhotography Workshop hosted by Alex Cameron. Alex is a renowned confidence photographer who focuses on the use of natural light in her work. She has a beautiful portofolio and is well worth a follow!

We then moved on to the main event in which Megan, Natasha and Alex were joined by Youtube sensations Hannah Witton and Gary Thompson as well as Scottish footballer Claire Emslie. The panel spoke all things confidence with a particular focus on social media. The discussion was open and varied and really reflected the common concerns of six prominent figures. A big take away from the day was about learning to live in the present and making the most of where you are right now. As I mentioned earlier, there was also a focus on the use of social media and the ways in which we can make our own platforms as positive a space as possible.file-4.jpeg

And now for the best bit. The goody bag. As I looked through the contents, I couldn’t help but feel like some kind of trendy influencer. Full size products from the likes of Urban Decay and The Ordinary. Absolutely over the moon with that and I cannot wait to give them all a go.

I’d really recommend taking the time to watch the full panel discussion here.

If you do watch, let me know your thoughts!

Sophie

The Wish List Revisited

blog, event, inspired, life, lifestyle, lipliner, london, Musical Theatre, review, Theatre, Uncategorized, West End

In this previous post, I listed out fifteen theatre shows I wanted to see in 2019. Now that we are half way through the year, it seems a fitting time to revisit the list!

I should begin by saying, since writing that post, I have actually taken on a job working at a theatre and in doing so, have limited my availability to Wednesday matinees and Sunday shows. Not particularly helpful when trying to tick off a whole host of shows but needs must…

So, where am I at? Well as of July, I have managed to see two out of the fifteen. These being Waitress and Come From Away. I could’ve given you a review of each but I didn’t and since there has now been a cast change for the former, it would feel a little outdated to do so. But seeing as this is an update, I will give you a quick run down of both.

WAITRESS

After the controversy of the cast change announcement, I booked a rush ticket via TodayTix to see the original West End cast. I had high expectations for the show and for sure the cast delivered on this. The stars of the show were of course Katharine McPhee, Marisha Wallace and Laura Baldwin. Three powerhouse voices playing well developed characters. Being honest, I felt a little underwhelmed by the time the interval arrived. With all the buzz about the show prior to its arrival on British soil, I’d been expecting great things and I wasn’t entirely sure that the show was resonating with us in the way that it had appeared to do so across the pond. However, the second act came around and the audience really seemed to lift. A flawless rendition of She Used to Be Mine by Kat McPhee completely stole the show. it honestly hit me that I’d have been happy to pay for a ticket just to hear her rendition of that song. Incredible. It is no surprise to hear that she received a 4-minute standing ovation for this at her final performance. Would I recommend this show? Yes, if you are a theatre fan and have a spare £20-£30 to spend.

COME FROM AWAY

There really are no words for just how amazing this show is. It seems impossible to fathom that such comfort and happiness could be produced from such a devastating  event. I think this show works because it shares the very real stories of passengers, pilots and Newfoundlanders alike. The skill in which this show has to take you on a constant journey of such contrasting emotions is like nothing I have ever witnessed before. It is simply stunning. Personally, I find that there are usually one to two songs within every musical that I would skip on Spotify. Come From Away defies this. You know you have a new favourite show when you immediately open the soundtrack upon exiting the theatre. If you see one show on the West End this year, make it this one!

Having unfortunately missed a couple of shows from my Wish List, I seriously need to get my act together!! I’m thinking next week will be the turn of Joseph for nostalgia purposes only. I’m going to need some convincing on this reimagining starring Sheridan Smith but having grown up listening to casette recordings *yes I’m old* of this show, I can never turn down the chance to watch it. I’m also hearing amazing things about Jesus Christ Superstar at the Barbican so let’s officially add that to the list in place of Noughts & Crosses, Small Island and A German Life which have all now sadly closed.

Have you seen any shows lately? Anything you would recommend? Let me know!

Sophie

 

Caroline, or Change

blog, event, life, lifestyle, london, Musical Theatre, review, Theatre, West End

Having seen Company the previous night, I had everything crossed that Caroline,or Change would come through for me and it certainly did.

I knew two things going into the Playhouse Theatre.

1.) Graham Norton had tweeted:

screen shot 2019-01-11 at 20.26.21

2.) There was going to be a singing washing machine…

Now, in my mind a singing washing machine evoked an image of a person with a painted up cardboard box flung over their head. This was not to be the case (thankfully). The way in which inanimate objects are given life in this show is brilliant yet somewhat bonkers.

It would in fact be fair to say that the show itself is rather unusual in its choices. Think Mighty Boosh vibes. For me, the moon was the weirdest element of the show, I can’t pretend to understand the involvement of the character but I enjoyed her quirkiness and vocal abilities nonetheless.

It is these vocal abilities that make Caroline, or Change so utterly fantastic. The entire cast deliver flawless performances with voices so beautiful I only wish there was a cast recording. Caroline, played by Sharon D Clarke is mesmerising. Whilst she plays a character who at times should be considered unlikeable to the audience, Sharon overpowers this with her stunning, soulful voice.

Now could I tell you the exact details of the show? No. At times, I felt I had to really choose which character to listen to as I experienced somewhat of a sensory overload. I’m not ashamed to admit it took me a while to connect the dots and realise this is in fact a story about change *I know, the idiocy isn’t lost on me either*. Set in Louisiana in the year 1963 we see Caroline struggle with the repetitive work of a maid in a time of great change in the country around her. I found the moments shared on stage with her daughter Emmie to be particularly moving and impactful.

You may have noticed, I’m not keen to go into too much detail about the show itself because a.) if you’re reading this you probably already have Caroline, or Change on your radar and b.) I personally feel this is a show in which you should go in with little expectation or idea of what it will be.

Once you settle in and get over the initial hit of eccentricity, you find a heartfelt story of family and opportunity performed by some of the best talent I have ever witnessed. So we can skim over the random clarinet playing and singing moon for the sake of a vocal performance of a lifetime from Sharon D. Clarke and her cast.

Parting Company

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I must admit, I’m slightly afraid to post this one.

As a Disclaimer, if you’re thinking I’m going to be bashing any specific names in the next few hundred words, I’m not. The individuals involved in this show were all extremely talented and more than worthy of their place on a West End stage.

I am however going to have to say it…I’m Sophie and I hated Company!

I hated Company so much that I left at the interval. I know this will anger some so let me explain my personal standpoint on leaving shows. I rarely do this, in fact this was only the second time I have ever done so in my entire life. Now, with theatre comes a certain set of unwritten rules. For instance, you would be well within your right to loudly tut a person bringing a burger in as a show snack. You would also be within your rights to boot the bright phone screen of the idiot in front out of their hands should they decide to whip it out at a pivotal moment! But leaving a show has always caused me a bit of conflict. So I kind of judge it by my seating i.e. if I’m front and centre, I ain’t leaving. In my opinion this would be impolite. That being said, I would agree with the viewpoint that it is my money and time and therefore I can make the decision to leave should I want to. And on this occasion, I really wanted to…

Naively, I didn’t do my research on this one. If I’m honest, I was led by the 5 star reviews and glamorous posters lining the escalators of London Vauxhall Station. Company is the show of the moment, the must have ticket and I wanted in.

It was a quick realisation of regret, a bit like when you take a risk on an online order only to discover that the trousers are see-through and it’s less of a camel toe and more like a hoof! *I’ve taken a risk there in assuming that Camels do in fact have hooves and not feet* From the opening number in which various cast members sang Bobbie over and over, I was underwhelmed.

Call me cliche, but I enjoy a musical in which I leave with at least one song stuck in my head and a feeling that I’ve learnt something or taken a message from somewhere. Company is abstract, there is no beginning middle and end (well maybe there is in the second half, you’ll have to let me know). Abstract art and I are like oil and water, we don’t mix *another fact based risk for you there*. I’m very aware that this is a trait shared by some and that others will absolutely love the lack of structure, the audience around me are proof enough that the show is a success to so many!

I suppose I wanted to share my thoughts as the overwhelming feeling I had when leaving was that I lacked culture or intellect in some way. Like I was at a dinner party with a table full of people talking politics in Russian. Like I was left waiting for the punchline when the rest were already in stitches. Company is a beautiful show visually, the staging is phenomenal and I have no doubt that the audience as a whole was feeling that special buzz, I just didn’t.

There is something to be said about the, for want of a better word, ‘snobbery’ that comes with theatre. The idea that more commercial shows are in some way lesser to the ‘classics’. I don’t like that. In my previous post, I mentioned that I believe there is a show for everyone. Theatre is there to entertain and excite. For two hours, you are transported away from your daily life with no distractions and given a story to take with you. It left me wondering, did anyone else in that audience feel the same way as I did and were they perhaps going along with the majority in order to feel accepted in some way? Perhaps not. But personally, I’ll be keeping away from Sondheim in the future and looking for something a little more uplifting.

…Oh and if you’re wondering, the other show I walked out of many years ago was the diabolical, Never Forget. *I like to think that Gary Barlow would have my back on that decision*

Cheap Tickets For the West End!

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January in the West End means cheap tickets. There are very few opportunities to bag yourself a ten pound ticket to Phantom or Les Mis but when the country is low on money, the seats still want selling!

Mum and I always like to take advantage of the amazing discounts on offer via Official London Theatre. (I thoroughly recommend taking a look if you are at all interested as there are still plenty of tickets available running through February.)

This year we left it a little last minute and so, on a whim, we decided upon 3 shows. Having already seen several of the ‘big hitters’ including Kinky Boots and Lion King, we settled on Company, Caroline, or Change and Matilda.

Three very different shows with three very different, perhaps controversial, reviews to follow!!

The New Year sale isn’t just for Musical Theatre fans, there are several plays to choose from on the list including the utterly phenomenal Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time.  I was completely blown away by this show when I saw it a few weeks ago, from the staging to the acting, it was incredible. In fact so good that I feel it deserves a blog post all of its own!

There is a very outdated idea amongst many that theatre is overpriced and unreachable to the masses. This simply isn’t true. I found perspective in a recent trip to the cinema to the value of £18.25!! Obscene! Only justified by the fact that I was watching Mary Poppins Returns. In comparison, two decent seats in the Dress Circle for Caroline, or Change came to a total of £20.

I get it when people say that the theatre just isn’t for them, but I do believe that there is a show for everyone. A two hour experience in which that person finds some kind of connection. There is nothing like the post-show buzz that you just cannot get from a trip to your local Odeon.

If this post has inspired you to book a trip, a great site for good seats at affordable prices is todaytix.com. TodayTix offer daily lotteries to some of the biggest shows in the West End. I myself have been lucky enough to see Heathers, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and Dreamgirls this way!

If you do decide to see a show, let me know, I always love hearing how different our experiences can be!