Sunday, 31 August 2014

BBC1 Drama 'Our Zoo'

I'm sure by now you've seen the TV adverts for the exciting new BBC1 drama 'Our Zoo' which hits our screens this coming Wednesday, 3rd September at 9pm.

What you may not realise is that this fantastic new show will feature our very own Faye Brookes.

She does actually appear in the trailer but only the very observant will have spotted her in one of the final scenes, dressed in a camel coat and a beret.

Faye will join an all star cast and have a recurring role in the show playing Frances Arber, better known as Frankie.

Just in case you've been living under a rock and have no idea what I'm talking about, here is a brief synopsis:

OUR ZOO is based on the inspiring real story of the Mottershead family who established Chester Zoo in the 1930s. With incredible single mindedness, George Mottershead drove himself and his family to realise his ambition to transform a ramshackle house, on the outskirts of Chester, into a unique zoo that would change the way animals are kept for forever.

The drama follows George’s inspiring and challenging journey as he moves his wife, two young daughters and parents - along with a monkey and a parrot - into a draughty old stately home. With a derelict plot of land, mounting debts, no resources or manpower and a concerted campaign from the local villagers to halt George's plans entirely. It’s a race against time for the Mottersheads to build and open their zoo before the harsh winter sets in or the bailiffs arrive.

The link below will take you to a 31 PAGE PDF report detailing every part of the show, from the story and cast, to the history of Chester zoo.

'OUR ZOO' PDF REPORT

Towards the bottom of that report it gives the cast for each individual episode and it appears Faye's character 'Frankie' first appears in episode 2. The good news is, her part in the show grows with the story and as you'll see she's in every subsequent episode.

I'm hoping to ask Faye some questions about what it was like filming her first major TV role very soon so watch this space.

For now, check out the trailer below and don't forget to tune in to BBC1 on Wednesday 3rd September (FAYE'S BIRTHDAY) at 9pm. You'd be mad to miss it, looks to me like it's going to be one of the best shows of 2014.


Friday, 29 August 2014

New Shrek TV Advert

Want to see a video featuring the beautiful Faye Brookes?

Well, you're in luck. The Shrek team have released their TV advert for their run at Nottingham's Theatre Royal and it now features Faye and the amazing tour cast.


Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Faye's Radio Bristol Interview

As mentioned this morning, Faye today visited the radio Bristol studios for an interview with Laura Rawlings.

Fans were able to tweet their questions for Faye and I was lucky enough to have mine asked on the show.

She talks about her career so far, the amazing Shrek tour, her blossoming relationship with Gareth Gates and her role in the brand new BBC1 drama 'Our Zoo'.

Here is the interview in full:



Faye on Radio Bristol

Make sure you tune in to BBC Radio Bristol this afternoon at 3:40pm. As you can see from the tweet below, Faye will be joining Laura Rawlings to chat about the Shrek tour.

You can even tweet the radio station with any questions you'd like them to ask.

7m
Actress joins at 3.40pm to talk at . Tune in. Any questions for her?

I'm not sure how at this stage but I'm hoping to find a way to record the interview and post it on the blog. I'll let you know how I get on.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Practically Perfect Mums Shrek Review

I thought it was about time I featured another 5* Shrek review on the blog but rather than a critic, this one has been written by the people that really matter. The fans.

I found this review on a website called 'Practically Perfect Mums'. It has been written by Jane Batt, who went to see the show with her 5 year old son.

They absolutely loved the show and were particularly impressed by a certain princess Fiona:

'Faye Brookes is my hero in this show though. I find her absolutely hilarious as the endearingly bonkers ‘bi-polar’, warts and all damsel in distress ‘Princess Fiona’.

I couldn't have put it better myself.

Here is the review in full and the verdict from a couple of young Shrekies:

SHREK THE MUSICAL

We’d never taken our five year to an evening theatre performance before and I wasn’t convinced he’d cope with the late night, but when the much acclaimed ‘Shrek the Musical’ arrived at The Bristol Hippodrome during the summer holiday (and at the slightly earlier than usual showtime of 7pm), it seemed the perfect opportunity. SHREK THE MUSICAL is based on the story and characters from William Steig’s book Shrek! and the Academy Award winning DreamWorks Animations feature film. It’s a charming and funny love story featuring social outcasts, living in a fabled world, peopled by fairytale misfits. The show begins with the backstory of how Shrek is forced to leave his ‘loving’ parents at the tender age of seven, to go and live in a swamp – cleverly illustrated by means of characters emerging from the pages of a humungous fairytale story book. From start to finish there’s a vibrancy about the show. Clever lighting, numerous costume changes and bold scenery all help make you feel as if you’ve stepped into a brightly coloured cartoon world! The casting is top notch too. Dean Chisnall sings and plays the beloved swamp-dwelling ogre ‘Shrek’ superbly (the role he previously played in the West End)Gerard Carey is the laugh-a-minute pint-sized villain ‘Lord Farquaad’, sporting malleable little fake legs and displaying superb comic timing. In one scene his diamante bandana offers the perfect accompaniment to his camp persona. And would it sound very odd if I were to suggest that Shrek’s wisecracking sidekick ‘Donkey’ Idriss Kargbo is strangely alluring?! Faye Brookes is my hero in this show though. I find her absolutely hilarious as the endearingly bonkers ‘bi-polar’, warts and all damsel in distress ‘Princess Fiona’.  The lavatorial humour has no doubt been written specifically for the target audience of my 10, 8 and 5 year old boys, although there are a few adult-only one liners too, so everyone’s catered for.

I’ve mentioned before how certain aspects of shows can go over the kids’ heads but I realise that this can work both ways. My eight year old was intrigued by how the ginger bread man could move his mouth, while firmly attached to a baking tin. It’s easy to forget how this kind of puppetry, so obvious to us, is still magical for kids.  Having said that, he also asked me what our biscuity friend was made of, so maybe some of my adult cynicism has already rubbed off on him as he clearly realises he’s unlikely to be made of confectionary!

And then there’s the dragon. What can I say? She’s spectacular and quite mesmerising, elegantly filling virtually the whole stage with her flapping wings, snaking tail and sultry eyes! It’s easy to ignore the clever, black-clad puppeteers operating her and enjoy her majestic movements.


THE VERDICTS


This is a thoroughly professional show with loads of action, a raft of well known fairytale characters and plenty of wind breaking and belching to keep the children amused.

The eight year old said he liked all of the show.
“My favourite character was Shrek and the best part was the funny song with Princess Fiona and Shrek. I also thought the tiny man, Lord Farquaad was really funny!”

And we needn’t have been worried about the five year old as he was almost constantly glued to the action,  except when whispering absolutely crucial questions like:-
“Where are his ears?’
“Did you bring anything to eat?”
“Is the interval when we go home?”
“Mummy, did Shrek just say ‘ass’?!!”

The following day, my youngest offered up this review”-
“I was tired staying up so late but it was a good show. Shrek was my favourite character”

I asked him why Shrek was his favourite and he looks at me as if I’m a bit simple
“Because he was the main person!”

Sunday, 24 August 2014

'Please Make My Day'

I’m hoping Faye might have time in her very busy schedule to meet for a cup of tea while she’s in my home city of Bristol.

I would love the opportunity to chat to her in more detail about her career so far, Shrek, the Ice Bucket Challenge, her latest TV role and her hopes for the future.

I’m currently going a bit bipolar, anxiously waiting for her response to an email I sent her on Friday.

So much so that I've rewritten one of my favourite songs from Shrek the Muscial. This is my version of ‘I know It’s Today’

There’s a fan
In his bedroom
Oh my gosh, that's just like me
Poor old Andy
Needs a haircut
But he can’t leave his PC

Skip ahead, skip ahead.
He’s waiting for an email, from a superstar
She’s a very gifted bowler, but doesn’t drive a car?

But I hope, she’ll agree
Because she’d make this fan so happy
I believe it would be the best day of his whole year
I’ll take her out, for a tea
And some cake cause it’s her Birthday
It won't be long now, hopefully

Day number 3

Please make my day, oooo
Please make my day, oooo
Please make my day, oooo
Please make my day, oooo

Saturday, 23 August 2014

ICE BUCKET CHALLENEGE!!

Today Faye took part in the now infamous ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE.

It's a fantastic initiative to raise awareness for Motor Neuron Disease in conjunction with the MND Association.

As you can see Faye - who was nominated by Michael Vinsen - went above and beyond the call of duty being soaked by not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4 but 5 BUCKETS of icy water.

I hate to see Faye suffering but it's all for a very good cause and having endured the freezing waterfall she at least got to make a few nominations of her own. Inger Barber, Rebecca Treanor, Gareth Gates & Nigel Harmen.

Please ensure her pain was not in vain and DONATE to this very worthy cause.

6h
Donations to the can be made at or Text ICED55 £5 to 70070  


Friday, 22 August 2014

My Bristol Shrek Adventure - Part 1

Yesterday I made my way to the Bristol Hippodrome for the first of three Shrek shows I'm booked to see over the next 3 weeks.

Obviously I was hoping to catch up with Faye afterwards and having seen the forecast I went prepared with my brolly. Which fitted nicely into the gift bag carrying Faye's birthday chocolates.

I sailed into Bristol - not literally - and was in my seat with 20 minutes to spare.

You already know pretty everything there is to know about this Shrek-tacular show from the reviews I've featured on the blog but what they don't say is that it's getting even better.

It was fantastic when I saw it in Leeds but now - 4 weeks on - they've taken it to a whole new level.

The cast have really settled into their roles and the subtle changes they've made to their performance work perfectly. The numerous funny scenes are now even more hilarious.

Faye - who was sensational in Leeds - was simply breathtaking last night. An absolutely mind blowing performance. Her portrayal of Princess Fiona is simply out of this world.

Not only is she an exceptional actress but she is also blessed with truly incredible vocals. I could happily listen to her sing all day. The most beautiful voice I've ever heard, period.

After the show I headed to the stage door to meet the lady herself and surprisingly there was no sign of the heavy rain they'd forecast.

I didn't have to wait too long before she came out, still trying to clean her skin of the green ogre paint she has on in the final scene of the show.

The chocolates I gave her were originally meant for my trip to Leeds but it was SO hot back then I was worried they'd melt. I therefore arranged for good luck flowers instead, meaning the chocolates turned into an early Birthday present.

Faye's Birthday is actually September 3rd but princesses start their celebrations well in advance.

 ·  Aug 17
: is it your birthday Hun?? Xx” 

EVERY DAY UNTIL THE 3rd x

We talked a bit about the show and how they've somehow managed to improve on perfection since Leeds. She's loving being part of such a spectacular musical.

They are doing 8 shows a week though which is understandibly tiring and they sometimes need a bit of physio to help with aches and pains. A lot of work and effort goes into the incredible show we see on stage.

She also said how much she enjoys being in Bristol, which was nice to hear given it's my home City.

Faye had booked a taxi to take her to her temporary home in Clifton so I couldn't keep her chatting for too long but I'm hoping to have the opportunity to see her a at least couple more times before the show heads to Nottingham.

No sooner had we said our goodbyes and her taxi was about to pull off I realised my brolly was still in the gift bag with her chocolates. Luckily I just managed to catch them. Had I not I expect Faye would have thought a well used umbrella was a rather stange Birthday present.

I'm already looking forward to my next Hippodrome trip on Sunday 31st. CAN'T WAIT

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Princess Fiona at Bristol's Toys R Us!!

The youngsters of Bristol are in for a treat because the Shrek Tour have arranged another Story Time with Princess Fiona.

The Princess will be at Bristol's Cribbs Causeway 'Toys R Us' store at 4 pm on Wednesday 20th August for this very special event.

Not only will your little ones be entertained with an enchanting story about a big green ogre but they'll also have the opportunity to have their picture taken with the beautiful princess and win a family ticket to see Shrek the Muscial live.

Unfortunately Faye will not be there on this occasion but I'd still highly recommend it. Your kids will love it.

Welcome to Bristol Faye!!

'I know It's Today. . . .' that Faye and the fabulous Shrek Tour kick off their 3 week stay in my home City of Bristol.

Just look at the celebrations in the picture above.

That photo was actually taken at last years harbour festival but I know everyone is equally excited about the arrival of the big green ogre and his beautiful princess.

For the next 20 days Bristol is going to be the 'Big Bright Beautiful. . . .' place to be.

Friday, 15 August 2014

A Beautifully Talented Princess

Northern Soul recently caught up with Shrek director Nigel Harman to discuss the multi million pound tour production of this fantastic musical.

NIGEL HARMAN INTERVIEW

His quote about Faye is SO true. The show are lucky to have her.

"Faye is a star now, but in few years everybody will be talking about her.”

With just three days left at Leeds Grand Theatre I thought I'd post a few snippets from reviews all saying that Faye is the perfect Princess Fiona.


LEEDS-LIST.COM  
Fiona, played by Faye Brookes, is also spectacular, not just vocally, but in her whole performance – she’s so expressive, so full of personality that you can’t help but warm to her. 

She also proved, half way through the performance, that the show must go on, when a wardrobe malfunction left her without her skirt (don’t worry, she had sparkly hot pants from the previous number) – if we hadn’t seen the skirt hastily thrown off stage, we wouldn’t have known she was underdressed – she gave no sign.

THE STAGE.CO.UK
It may be the tour’s early stages, but there is already a convincing chemistry between Chisnall’s Shrek and Faye Brookes’ Princess Fiona. Brookes adds a quirky feistiness to the part and proves her worth in the song and dance departments too. She also impresses when coolly dealing with a costume malfunction at the top of Act II.

HUDDERSFIELD EXAMINER
Faye Brookes' performance as Princess Fiona had added sass in comparison to the Fiona of the film, but it worked perfectly - as her did her naturally comedic style.

NORTHERN SOUL
Faye Brookes is suitably vulnerable and bratty as the demanding Princess rescued from a tower only to fall in love with an ogre, and she led the line wonderfully in an utterly bonkers Busby Berkeley-inspired tap routine during the mighty Morning Person which closes acts two. She also proved she is equal vocally to an on-fire Chisnall in a powerful Who I’d Be at the end of act one.

POCKET SIZE
He bounces wonderfully with fine-voiced Faye Brookes’ multi-tiered and effortless Princess Fiona. 

ENTERTAINMENT FOCUS
Faye Brookes delivers a beautifully lilting performance as Princess Fiona, showcasing impressive vocals throughout.

YORKSHIRE MAGAZINE
Faye Brookes as Princess Fiona expertly walks the finest line of all, somewhere between dreamy princess in the tower and bridezilla (she also seamlessly deals with a costume malfunction during a song and dance routine in Act II).

MUSICAL THEATRE REVIEW
Faye Brookes is a delightfully feisty Princess Fiona, with the soul of a sassy showgirl underneath her constricting princess costume.

THE PRESS
Faye Brookes, cast as an American as she was in Legally Blonde, again excels as a character discovering the real her as the story progresses. 

PUBLIC REVIEWS
Faye Brookes is a spirited, but kind Fiona.

THEATRE BLOGGER
Faye Brookes who plays Princess Fiona is one of the most accomplished young leading ladies I've seen and is superb throughout.

CONFESSIONS OF A THEATRE GIRL
Faye Brookes plays Princess Fiona with a feisty charm that suits the character well.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

The Princess Diary - Leeds

In each new venue of the Shrek tour Faye will be introducing the talented girls playing the younger version of Princess Fiona in the show.

In Leeds we have Daisy (11), Mabel (10), Isabella (11) and Bridget (7)


Monday, 11 August 2014

Internet Browser Font Issues

It has come to my attention that the text font on the blog looks very different depending on what internet browser you are using.

As I personally use 'Mozilla Firefox' that was the browser on which the blog was created and therefore looks best.

I'm not really sure why it appears so differently depending on your browser. I will contunue to look into this but I can't currently see a way around this minor issue.

You can of course view the blog on 'Internet Explorer' and 'Google Chrome' but for the best results I suggest you use 'Mozilla Firefox'. The text font when using 'Internet Explorer' appears particularly small and therefore more difficult to read.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

The Stage.co.uk Shrek Review

It's been Princess Fiona week on the Shrek tour which means for one week only Faye's wages are increased 10-fold and the other cast mambers have to bow or curtsey when she enters the room.

Anyone fall for that? No, I didn't think so but it has actually been Princess Fiona week as you can see from the tweet below. That much at least is true.

 ·  Aug 7
This week's FAIRYTALE CHARACTER OF THE WEEK is PRINCESS FIONA Played by

Moving on, I thought it was about time I featured another of the countless positve reviews of Shrek the Muscials first UK tour.

I must have read over twenty now and they ALL love the show and Faye's sensational performance as Princess Fiona.

This next review is from The Stage.co.uk and was written by Lisa Martland.

THE STAGE SHREK TOUR REVIEW
BY LISA MARTLAND (31ST JULY 2014)

Shrek the Musical is the latest in a line of large-scale West End productions (The Lion King and Wicked are others) to tour the UK and Ireland, and on the evidence of this opening in Leeds, it has a pretty good chance of equalling the success of those shows that have preceded it.

The staging owes much to the 2011 Theatre Royal Drury Lane production, but London’s original Lord Farquaad, Nigel Harman - who won an Olivier award for his performance - has stepped in to take a fresh look for this touring version.

The result is a fast-paced, tightly directed romp that exaggerates the farcical elements of the alternative fairy tale, but doesn’t undermine the sweetness of its message (that what makes us special makes us strong).

David Lindsay-Abaire and Jeanine Tesori’s score isn’t the strongest in the world, and yet it constantly delivers, boosted by Harman’s attention to detail and Josh Prince’s clever choreography. The updates (mention of William and Kate’s castle, for example) and musical theatre in-jokes are fun to spot too, with Lord Farquaad’s nod to Wicked’s Defying Gravity a favourite.

Brilliantly embodying both the fun and charm of the piece is Dean Chisnall in the title role, appearing just as at home burping and farting as he does delivering a tender reprise of Big Bright Beautiful World.

It may be the tour’s early stages, but there is already a convincing chemistry between Chisnall’s Shrek and Faye Brookes’ Princess Fiona. Brookes adds a quirky feistiness to the part and proves her worth in the song and dance departments too. She also impresses when coolly dealing with a costume malfunction at the top of Act II.

Gerard Carey is nothing less than excellent as the vertically challenged Farquaad, who delivers his big numbers with aplomb and relishes every second of silly campery.

It was only five years ago that Idriss Kargbo, who plays Donkey, won a Stage/Sylvia Young scholarship when he was 13 years old. The maturity of his performance is therefore particularly impressive, and though he seemed a tad tentative at the beginning of press night, his growing confidence was evident as he strut his stuff in numbers such as Make a Move.

Within a fine ensemble of actors playing a multitude of roles, Nikki Bentley, Candace Furbert and Will Haswell also stand out.

Thanks to Tim Hatley’s vibrant set, dragon and costume design, accompanied by Hugh Vanstone and Matt Daw’s lighting, fans of the Shrek movies will not be disappointed. In fact, there is plenty to satisfy both young and old, not least some of the bawdy humour that, one hopes, will go over the little ones’ heads.

VERDICT: Big, bold and brassy touring version of the DreamWorks favourite is likely to please all ages.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Don't Mess With The Princess!!

I have already featured this picture as part of the 'Story Time With Princess Fiona' report but I thought it deserved it's own post.

It's one of my favourite ever pictures. I love Faye's 'Don't mess with the Princess' look. It just makes me smile every time I see it.

33m
: I love this picture of Princess Fiona  

 "Don't mess with me look!"

You may have noticed I've added it as a permanent feature in the Shrek section on the right sidebar of the blog.

I'm not sure who is on the phone. Maybe it's Lord Farquaad asking for a second chance?

Judging by the Princesses reaction, I don't fancy his chances.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Press Night Pictures!!

Check out these absolutely stunning pictures of Faye at the Shrek press night last Wednesday.

As you can see, the first picture below is a lovely shot of Faye with her proud boyfriend Gareth Gates.

 ·  Jul 24
Last night I watched my as Princess Fiona in WOW... She was incredible. Well done baby x

Never has a princess looked so beautiful. That dress is simply gorgeous.