Thursday, 3 September 2015

Happy Birthday Faye!

The stunning picture above is one of Faye's new headshots. It seems she not only gets more talented every year but more beautiful too! Amazing!

The 3rd September is a very special day because 28 years ago today a star was born.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY FAYE!

This time last year Faye was in my home City of Bristol wowing audiences as Princess Fiona in Shrek the Musical's UK tour, 12 month's on and she's about to appear in one of the most popular TV shows of all time, Coronation Street.

With an average audience of nearly 7 million, I'm delighted that everyone will now be able to see what a truly remarkable actress this young lady is and just why I've been raving about her for the past 4 years.

Due to work commitments and the complexities of getting everyone together, Faye had her Birthday celebrations with Gareth, family and friends last week.

This gorgeous picture of my favourite couple was taken at her party.

I'm sure you're all anxiously awaiting Kate Connor's first appearance on the cobbles and thankfully we don't have too long to wait. She'll be arriving in Weatherfield later this month and as soon as I find out the exact date I'll let you know.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Omigod You Guys, It's Corrie!

Yes, it's official.

Faye is joining the cast of one of the most popular TV shows of all time and Britain's longest running soap opera 'Coronation Street'.

That's right, in just a few weeks time Faye will be getting her hair done at Audrey's Salon, dining out at Nick's Bistro, collecting her paper from The Cabin, buying her groceries from Dev's Corner Shop and having a drink in The Rovers Return.

It seems a little surreal to think someone I've met more than 30 times is going to be in Corrie but I'm not surprised. I knew from the moment I first saw her in Legally Blonde that Faye was destined for big things.

Faye will be playing the role of Kate Connor but it's her brother Aidan, played by Shayne Ward, who is the first Connor to ride into Weatherfield next month - coming to the aid of old friend Carla Connor, played by Alison King, after he is contacted by his cousin Michelle, actress Kym Marsh.

In September he is joined by Johnny and Kate who arrive on the Street after discovering Aidan has invested in Underworld. (That's the knicker factory next to Kevin's garage not the movie franchise about vampires.)

Johnny Connor is a self made man forced to come out of semi-retirement. The ongoing joke is that 'everybody knows Johnny Connor' and it's not far from the truth.

He's got a big personality and revels in his well earned reputation as a man who means business. He adores his kids and though he and Aidan constantly row, their love is obvious.

Funny, charming, ruthless in business, Johnny is the sort of guy you'd be proud to call a friend.

Kate Connor is a tough cookie and more than a match for her father and brother. 

Engaged to be married to Tess, a soldier, Kate is a funny and vibrant young woman full of fun and mischief. But behind the teasing and laughter, Kate is passionate about her family, there is nothing she wouldn't do for them.

Assuming Tess is a female it sounds like Kate is either bisexual or a lesbian.

We haven't heard much about her fiancee Tess, I therefore wonder whether it's a long term part and already have my doubts that their relationship will last. Maybe Kate will end up with Sophie Webster played by Brooke Vincent?

Before you ask, I have no inside knowledge, that's purely guesswork.

Of course almost anything can happen in soap land but one thing we can be sure of is that there are certain to be some excitng storylines for the new arrivals.

I can't wait for Kate Connor to hit our screens at the end of September. She sounds like a fabulous character to play and they couldn't have chosen a better actress for the job.

I'd wish Faye good luck but she won't need it, I know she'll be sensational, she always is!

Sunday, 28 June 2015

She Did It Her Way!

I've had the most amazing year watching sparkle as Princess Fiona in all over the UK. So many treasured memories.

Her sensational acting, beautiful voice and incredible stage presence are second to none. I'll miss 's special Princess.

I'm hoping to hear some news about her next venture soon but for now I'm going to leave you with Sinatra.

And now, the end is here
And she's faced the final curtain
My friend, I'll say it clear
I'll state her case, of which I'm certain
She's lived a life that's full
She's traveled each and every highway
And more, much more than this, she did it her way!

She did it her way and her portrayal of Fiona was SO stunning, SO perfect, that it's now impossible to imagine anyone else in the role.

There will never be a better Princess Fiona than Faye Brookes!

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Can You Find The Gingerbread Man?

The search for Gingy continues in Norwich.

Can you help Princess Fiona, Donkey and Lord Farquaard find the Gingerbread Man?


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

The Final Countdown

Well, this is it. Today Faye starts her final week on tour with Shrek the Musical.

That means there are just eight performances to go before the best Princess Fiona you will ever see leaves the show for good.

By now you'll know how special I think she is but don't just take my word for it.

Below is a snippet from a recent review on the 'What's on Stage' website. It was written by Roger who saw the show at the Theatre Royal in Norwich.

What's On Stage
I'm still chuckling at the hilarious Lord Farquaard - played brilliantly by Gerard Carey - but it was Faye Brookes as Princess Fiona who stole the show. Her powerhouse vocals, superb comedic acting and immense stage presence make her one of the finest young actresses in the industry today.

It's hard to believe that this time next week it will all be over.

However, that is one week closer to the next exciting chapter in this remarkable actress's career and I can't wait to see what comes next.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Faye's Shrek Questions - Part 5

Before Faye bids a fond farewell to the Shrek Tour fairytale gang at the end of the month I thought I should feature the fifth and final part of the Shrek questions she recently answered for the blog..

Here Faye tells us about a technical hitch that left her stranded in mid-air, how she transforms into Princess Fiona and why people of all ages love the show.


Shrek Question #13
Can you describe the transformation from Faye Brookes to Princess Fiona? How long does it take? Do you have any help?

Faye's Answer
It only really takes about 20 minutes to become Princess Fiona.

Obviously I get a little help from our amazing wig department. They prep my hair and dress me in the infamous red wig, and no Princess would be complete without her crown. 

I do my own make up for the show which is very dramatic, dark eyes, heavy eyeliner, lots of gold glitter and of course her signature classic red lipstick.

Faye is not just a supremely talented actress but a very beautiful one too. I guess that's fairly important when you're playing a fairytale Princess and probably helps keeps the transformation time down to a minimum.


Shrek Question #14
I think I read that the curtain came down early once while you were in Oxford. Do you remember what happened and have there been any other technical issues?

Faye's Answer
We have a whole new team of people learning the show wherever we go with Shrek, new crew, new dressers, new children, so there's bound to be a few technical hitches every now and again. 

The worst one for me had to be right at the end of the show, after I had gone through the transformation and I was mid-air, mid-spell and the seat stopped moving; I was stuck! 

Dean: "Fiona are you alright?" 
I reply... "... NO!" 

We then had an abrupt 'Show Stop' Dean had to lift me down off the chair, the crew quickly reset the stage and we then went onto finish the show!

I've been to see the show 14 times and the only real technical hitch I can remember was when Princess Fiona's flowers failed to come up during Morning Person.

I'd have quite liked to be at the show when Faye got stuck in mid-air. I had to laugh at her response when Dean asked her if she was alright, NO :)


Shrek Question #15
You and the show have received dazzling reviews at every venue. What do you think makes Shrek the Musical so special and has it surprised you that it’s loved by people of all ages?

Faye's Answer
It's the perfect fairy tale, where everyone gets their happy ending. 

Not only do you get to be entertained by creatures larger than life but it has the most wonderful message full of heart. A true love story with a twist. 

We're so lucky to have the music by Jeanine Tesori and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire and I am so grateful to be surrounded by such a talented group of people. They make me so proud to be apart of this company.


Shrek was one of those shows that I came close to seeing in London on a number of occasions but for one reason or another it never actually happened.

I'm therefore very grateful they cast Faye as the slightly bi-polar Princess because I loved every minute of my time in the swamp.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Stage Door Pic With Carla-Louise

You're running out of time if you want to see the best Princess Fiona ever in Norwich.

Faye now only has 14 performances left before she waves goodbye to the swamp for good on 28th June.

Carla-Louise had a wonderful time watching the show last night and even managed to get a stage door picture with Faye.

Don't miss your chance to see this very special leading lady! 'BOOK TICKETS FOR SHREK IN NORWICH'

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Shrek Review - Norwich Theatre Royal

Yesterday I endured one of the most boneshaking car journeys I've had in a long time.

On the plus side, it did make me think of Faye, Princess Fiona and Shrek the Musical.

Down a rope a steed awaits,
That's what every story states.
Riding over rough terrain,
Past the dragon you have slain...

I attempted to sing 'This is How a Dream Comes True' as I drove over the numerous pot holes on this country lane but I don't think I was quite up to Faye's standard ;)

Moving on, the reviews have started to appear online from Wednesdays press night performance at the Theatre Royal in Norwich.

The first I'll feature was written by Glen Pearce for the 'Public Reviews' website.

He talks about Faye's brilliant portrayal of Fiona's character which helps audiences truly understand the Princess's complex - slightly bi-polar personality.

I can't imagine anyone else in the role. Try to copy Faye and you'll never be as good, try to portray the character differently and you're not the Princess Fiona we've grown to know and love.

Shrek The Musical – Theatre Royal, Norwich

Touring stage musicals are a strange beast. Sometimes some of the magic and spectacle is lost in the scaling down to allow for tour logistics. Shrek The Musical, however, is fittingly a genre-defying beast. The West End production seemed somewhat lost on the vastness of the large Theatre Royal, Drury Lane stage but this touring production seems to pack more magic in per stage inch.

Devotees of the Shrek films will find all the expected elements here but with a few twists thrown in along the path. With the opportunity to hear more about the characters we delve into the back story of both Ogre and Princess and learn about the road that lead to this unlikely couple being thrown together.

Shrek has always been more than a children’s movie and one that works for multiple age ranges and the same goes on stage. These backstories, including a hilarious explanation of diminutive Lord Farquaad’s lineage, will have young members of the audience thoroughly entertained but also cause more than a few wry laughs from older viewers who get the references to their own childhood stories.

It is all very slick and tour director Nigel Harman has clearly drawn on his own time in the show to bring out the little nuances that make the piece zing across two hours. Tim Hatley’s designs are a feast for the eyes, providing just enough nod to the cinematic original but also honouring the stage musical heritage. That stage musical heritage does indeed provide a sideline for musical theatre devotees, who can play a game of spot the musical references scattered throughout the staging. Gypsy, Wicked and Les Miserables just three of the shows coming in for some tongue in cheek mocking.

There’s a more sensitive side here to Shrek than we’ve become accustomed to seeing on screen and a side that Dean Chisnall as the green ogre draws out beautifully. Yes, the grumpy, flatulent ogre is still there but we also get to see more clearly the developing love between Shrek and Fiona. Faye Brooks as Fiona also delves deeper into the character on stage, giving us a real insight into those regal mood swings.

Of course no fairy-tale love story would be complete without a dastardly villain and  Gerard Carey’s Lord Farquad frequently threatens to steal the show. He may me short of stature but there is no shortage of stage presence in this Farquaad. Carey gives an exquisite physical performance that captures the pint-sized despot perfectly.

Theatrical in jokes and magic abound in this fun production. Dragons, singing gingerbread men, tap dancing rats – for many in the audience bedtime stories will never be the same again!

Although well-constructed and well performed, David Lindsay-Abaire and Jeannie Tesori’s songs are unlikely to stick in the memory long after leaving, although producers do wisely include the singalong finale of I’m A Believer to send the audience out humming.

With high production values and wide age appeal, Shrek The Musical is a monster of a hit that is likely to be keeping families entertained long past bedtime.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

You're More Than Welcome Faye!

I've got Faye a few Shrek / Princess Fiona related gifts for her final destination on tour and the first of those was delivered to the Norwich Theatre Royal yesterday.

The others I hope to give her in person at the end of the month.

They're to thank her for a year of breathtaking performances as Princess Fiona and for always being so lovely at stage door.

Aquiring Shrek related presents that Faye might actually like wasn't an easy task. Princess Fiona is a very gifted bowler who likes countdown and long walks in the country; that didn't give me much to work with.

I was going to get her a man with massive arms to spin her around the floor but I think she might already have one of those!

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

And now the end is near...

With only a day to catch breath after a four show weekend in Sheffield, Faye is back on stage tonight at the Norwich Theatre Royal.

I've known this would be Faye's final destination on the tour since before Christmas but back then it seemed a long way off and I had trips to Manchester, Canterbury, Birmingham and Sheffield to look forward to before I had to think about what is sure to be a very emotional day in Norwich.

However, as sad as it will be to say goodbye to the swamp, I'm super excited to see what comes next for this very special actress and I'm therefore hopeful I'll be able to hold back the tears when I see her at the end of the month.

This really is your last chance to see Faye as Princess Fiona and maybe your last chance to see her on stage for some time if her next few roles are on TV, so regardless where you live, make the effort to see Shrek one more time before she leaves.

BOOK TICKETS TO SEE SHREK AT THE NORWICH THEATRE ROYAL

I'd be there at every show in Norwich if I could.

I'd like to wish Faye all the very best for her final three weeks on tour. I have a feeling she'll go out in style!

Monday, 8 June 2015

Don't Mess With These Guys!

I love this picture of Faye with her brother Jack.

Jack was very kindly giving Faye a lift from their family home in Manchester to the theatre in Sheffield yesterday and they took this selfie on route.

They certainly look like they mean business.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Just 4 Shows Left in Sheffield!

It's the concluding weekend for Shrek Tour in Sheffield & the last opportunity for northerners to see a very special Princess Fiona, Miss Faye Brookes.

There are four shows left at The Lyceum before the swamp heads south to Faye's final destination on tour in Norwich.

Seats are limited but there are still a few available so if you live in South Yorkshire you've still got a chance to see this years #1 touring show & it's remarkable leading lady.

BOOK TICKETS FOR SHREK AT THE LYCEUM IN SHEFFIELD

Here's a lovely shot from the Sheffield photoshoot taken outside the Lyceum last week.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

My Shrek Tour Day in Sheffield

You'll have to excuse me if I start repeating some of the things I've said in my other Shrek Tour write up's. I have after all now seen the show 14 times :)

My latest trip on Saturday 30th May took me to The Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield.

I'd contacted Faye last week to see whether it would be more convenient for us to catch up before or after the show. On this occasion she said she'd prefer to meet between the matinee and evening performance at about 6:15pm.

I'm incredibly grateful that despite being extremely busy Faye always finds the time to meet for a chat so I'm very happy to fit in with whenever suits her best.

It's just under two hundred miles from my house near Bristol to Sheffield which should take about three and half hours if you don't encounter any hold ups.

However, knowing I was meeting Faye before the show I didn't want to risk being late so I set off just before midday.

Traffic was heavy but there were no major problems so even after a couple of tea stops on route I arrived in Sheffield in plenty of time.

I decided it would be a good idea to get to the stage door for about 6pm and message Faye to let her know I'd arrived; telling her I didn't mind waiting and to just pop out whenever she had a few minutes to spare.

However, no sooner had I got my phone out my pocket than I heard a voice from behind saying "Hold on Andy, no need to tweet. I'm right here."

I'd recognise that voice anywhere, it was Faye.

She certainly caught me on the hop. I'm not sure whether I looked shocked, excited or as if I was about to faint; I definitely felt all three.

Faye had just made it back to the theatre after nipping out to grab a bite to eat and a cup of tea at Starbucks.

I don't have the best memory so I often take a few notes to help remind me of things I'd like to ask and I normally go over them as I wait for Faye outside the stage door. With her arriving early I didn't have chance to look at them this time but luckily I somehow managed to remember most of what I wanted to say.

I now have another treasured photo to add to my collection. As you can see from the picture at the top of the post Faye looked absolutely stunning. She really is as beautiful as she is talented, and in my opinion her talent is unequalled.

We didn't take a selfie this time, Faye asked a friend / colleague who was standing nearby to take the shot. I think her name was Amy and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank her because I was in a bit of a Faye daze on the day and may have forgotten.

It was great to see Faye looking so well as she was suffering with tonsillitis and a subsequent illness a few weeks ago. Hopefully that's all behind her now.

She said that apart from being a little tired she's back to full health, which I was relieved and delighted to hear.

She's a very busy bee at the moment, working on Shrek and also auditioning for parts in all sorts of exciting shows. I can't give out any details about potential roles but I know someone as talented as Faye is unlikely to be out of work for long. I'm sure her next dream role is just around the corner.

Any show - TV or Stage - would be very lucky to have her.

The picture below was taken in Iceland where Faye and Gareth spent a wonderful few days a couple of weeks ago.

She said it was the perfect holiday and just what they both needed, a relaxing break where they could just switch off and enjoy each others company. She said it's a spectacular country that she'd love to visit again someday.

As there are evening trains to Manchester Faye has decided to commute. Apparently the journey takes about an hour so she doesn't get in much before midnight, but there's no place like home and it's a rare opportunity for her to sleep in her own bed.

She has two now of course, one in Manchester and one in London. :)

She told me there were train strikes scheduled for this week and that she hoped her very kind brother Jack might be her chauffeur if the need arises. Thankfully those strikes have now been cancelled. The powers that be obviously decided they couldn't leave a Princess stranded in Sheffield.

Before we said goodbye there was just time for me to give her a little gift I brought back from my recent holiday in Cornwall.

Then, after a quick hug, I wished her well for the show and went to take my seat in the stalls.

I know I've said this before but she really is one of the nicest people you could ever wish to meet and I feel very lucky to know her.

Shrek the Musical is two and half hours of non stop fun. It's the perfect night out for all the family, a fantastic modern fairytale story brought to life by a sensational cast.

This was the fourteenth time I'd seen it and I loved it every bit as much as the first.

Last time I was at the Lyceum Faye stole the show as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde and she did it again as Princess Fiona in Shrek.

I enjoyed watching Britains Got Talent last week but nobody on that show compares to Faye Brookes who was simply out of this world on Saturday.

Having the opportunity to see someone as talented as Faye perform is a real privilege.

I'm already looking forward to my next trip to the swamp in Norwich at the end of June but it will be a little bittersweet because it's Faye's final stop on the tour and therefore my last visit to Duloc. However, I know there are more exciting times ahead for this very special actress and I can't wait to see what comes next.

I simply can't thank Faye enough for being so lovely at stage door. Chatting with my favourite leading lady is always the highlight of my day.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Theatreworld Shrek Review

I've arrived home after a wonderful weekend in South Yorkshire.

I have a pretty busy week but I hope to have a full write up about my trip to The Lyceum to see Faye on the blog by Wednesday or Thursday.

In the meantime here is another great review of the show written by Paul and Sam Whitfield for Theatreworld Magazine:

THEATREWORLD SHREK REVIEW

SHREK THE MUSICAL is the theatrical spin-off from the highly successful SHREK film franchise featuring the big green ogre. Grumpy, rude but warm-hearted Shrek has become an iconic character in popular culture. Can the musical continue the witty, clever, inventive spirit of the films, or is it merely a cynical commercial cash-in? 

Worry not! SHREK THE MUSICAL is a hugely enjoyable, theatrically imaginative, skilfully performed piece of family entertainment. Plenty of farting, plenty of rudeness, a great sense of humour and a big heart. We thoroughly enjoyed it. 

 SHREK THE MUSICAL broadly follows the story of the first film as Shrek battles to save his swamp, meets Princess Fiona for the first time and helps a host of fairy-tale characters escape the wrath of the evil Lord Farquaad. There are plenty of songs and some excellent dance sequences. The large cast work brilliantly together, alongside the excellent orchestra (led by DAVE ROSE). The production values are high and there are some spectacular moments (not least the stage-filling puppet dragon – her song gorgeously voiced by CANDACE FURBERT). 

The cast are very strong. DEAN CHISNALL is a loveable Shrek with a great singing voice. He works well with IDRISS KARGBO’s energetic and athletic Donkey. 

FAYE BROOKES is a feisty, no-nonsense Fiona. Her singing is great and her comic timing excellent. 

GERARD CAREY is a show-stealing Lord Farquaad. His movement skills are stunning and his facial expressions delightfully comic. 

SHREK THE MUSICAL really is an excellent evening of totally enjoyable entertainment. Thoroughly recommended.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Shrek Review by Fiona Hannon

I have to be quick because I'm about to set off on a 200 mile journey to Sheffield to see Faye in this evenings performance of Shrek at the Lyceum Theatre.

However, before I hit the road I wanted to leave you with one of the first reviews to appear online since yesterdays press night show.

This one was written by Fiona Hannon for the Public Reviews website.

THE PUBLIC REVIEWS
FIONA HANNON REVIEWS SHREK THE MUSICAL

People of Sheffield booked their tickets to see Shrek – The Musical almost two years ago, and it was certainly worth the wait. This production is a complete joy from start to finish.

Anyone who is familiar with the Shrek films might reasonably expect the non-stop laughs, but what you might not be ready for is a perfectly formed piece of musical theatre. There is always the suspicion that musicals written on the back of an existing successful film franchise might somehow be a little lightweight, a little lacking in substance. Shrek – The Musical completely delivers on all fronts with wonderfully inventive staging, excellent performances from all and real heart at its centre.

The storyline essentially follows that of the original Shrek movie. Shrek’s swamp home is invaded by fairyland folk who have been evicted from Far Far Away by Lord Farquuad. In order to get his home back, Shrek agrees to rescue Princess Fiona so that she can marry Lord Farquuad, meeting a talking donkey and a dragon along the way.

This is a musical for the whole family. There are jokes for the children and for the adults – the funny stuff never ends, who knew laughing could be so exhausting? On the way out of the theatre, one little boy said that his favourite bit was when the bird blew up! For real musical theatre aficionados there are also lots of not-so-subtle nods to other great show-stopping moments. How many can you spot?

Jeanine Tesori’s score is modern, bright and upbeat with some genuinely tender moments. David Lindsay-Abaire’s lyrics are sharp and witty, especially in numbers like ‘I think I got you beat’.

This is a very strong cast. Dean Chisnall is perfectly at ease as Shrek with a glorious voice, and Faye Brookes as Princess Fiona is sharp and sassy giving as good as she gets all the way along. Equally at home with a Fosse-esque Broadway tap number (with the Pied Piper’s rats) as with the broad physical humour of the swamp.

Lord Farquaad played by Gerard Carey is wonderfully over the top with a never ending range of facial expressions and extracting every last drop of comedy from each scene. Idriss Kargbo as Donkey has a great voice and dance moves to match, providing a brilliantly hyper foil to grumpy downbeat Shrek.

The fairytale characters are always individuals, never blurring into a chorus line. Candace Furbert stands out with tremendous vocals as the voice of the dragon while Youngster Bethany Stenton shines as young Fiona and it is great to watch her seize this fabulous opportunity.

This is a huge production that completely fills the Lyceum stage, with great sets and special effects. Tim Hatley’s set, costumes and puppets are stunning with fantastic attention to detail; the dragon guarding Princess Fiona is truly spectacular.

The UK tour of Shrek – The Musical is West End class entertainment and fully deserves its five star rating.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

The Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

After a relaxing break in Iceland with Gareth and a lovely weekend with her Mum in London, Faye returns to the stage later today as Shrek the Musical kicks off it's 2 week stay at the Lyceum Theatre.

The grade 2 listed building in the centre of Sheffield underwent a £12 million makeover in 1991 and now hosts huge West End shows all year round.

It was nearly the venue I first had the pleasure of meeting Faye in person because I did actually go to the stage door after seeing her there in Legally Blonde. Unfortunately after waiting a few minutes I lost my nerve and slipped away before she came out.

I'm hoping to travel up South Yorkshire again to see her in Shrek and hopefully this time I'll get to say hello and have a quick chat.

It's Faye's penultimate stop on the tour so I want everyone who sees the show in Sheffield to give Princess Fiona a particularly big cheer.

There are still a few tickets available so if you live in the area make sure you visit the swamp before it leaves town. It's a big, bright, beautiful show you'd be mad to miss.

I hope Faye and her fairytale friends have a fantastic opening night and a wonderful two weeks in Sheffield!