Friday, 24 October 2014

Faye's On The Bus!

Breaking news in Ireland today is that Buses in Dublin have more than doubled in price as they now feature a picture of the beautiful Faye Brookes :-)

Woo Hoo she's on the bus

How ridiculously cute does Faye look in that picture, SO adorable.

The picture above was taken on a night out with her sister Nicky Barber. They've been having a great time catching up in Ireland.

Night with my sis. Irish catch up!

I might have to appeal to the high courts about Nicky's No.1 Fan status though. If you look at the 2014 Edition of 'Andy's Official Guide to Fan Rankings' book - Volume 3, Chapter 7, Section 4.2 - it clearly states family members should not be included in the calculation ; )

Kidding of course but hopefully Faye has room for two No.1 Fan's.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Bye Bye Belfast, Hello Dublin!

Faye and her wonderful co stars on the Shrek tour yesterday finished their two week run at the Grand Opera House in Belfast and will now be busy packing up their belongings as they prepare to head 100 miles south to Dublin.

Our touring team are on the tour bus & en route from Belfast to Dublin! "Oh what the heck, I must confess, I love a road trip!"

The 'Luck of the Irish' definitely applies for at least the next three weeks because everyones favourite Ogre and Princess will be dazzling audiences at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre until 9th November.

I believe green is very much the prominent colour in Ireland so hopefully Shrek and Fiona should fit right in.

Have a fantastic time in the Emerald City Faye and 'Send my love to the leprechauns. . . .'

Friday, 17 October 2014

Faye Talks Shrek With Manchesters Finest

Check out this wonderful interview Faye did with 'Manchesters Finest' ahead of Shrek Tours visit to the Palace Theatre in December.

She talks about what it will be like going back to the theatre she worked at as a kid, the bonus of being home at Christmas, the differences between Shrek the Muscial and the film and how working in shows on tour differs to the West End.

We get to hear her tell us all about the character of Fiona, how great it is to play a fairytale Princess and how she wanted to put her own stamp on the role.

Oh, and she's a girls girl, prefers Princesses to Ogre's and is the first Fiona to wear hot pants :)

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Our Zoo, Series 1 - Faye's Highlights

Wednesday nights are not going to be the same without the fantastic Our Zoo but here on the blog we're not quite ready to say goodbye to Upton.

I couldn't upload a video of every second Faye spent on screen in the first series of Our Zoo due to You Tube restrictions but I have managed to put together a 20 minute compilation of Frankie's highlights.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Our Zoo, Episode 3 - Frankie Snapshots!

Here are a few more Our Zoo snapshots of the beautiful Frankie. These were taken from episode three.

Check back tomorrow for a special compilation video showing all 'Faye's Highluights' from every episode of this wonderful show.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Terrific! Terrific! Terrific!

The Shrek tour reviews from Belfast have started to appear online and it's no surprise that this fantastic show is proving a massive hit in Northern Ireland.

This review below was written by Anne Hailes for the Belfast Times and as you'll see she was full of praise for the show and it's amazing cast:

Anne Hailes reviews: Shrek the Musical

At last, a brilliant show suitable for children and adults alike with fun, music and magic all the way. When a 10 year old says the stage show is better than the film you know the company has succeeded. 
The show is based on the book by William Steig and is a well known Dreamworks Animation film but to see it on stage is mega. A touring show that’s as fresh as paint is a rare thing and this is it, just a joyous entertainment for all the family. A few funny adult comments, lots of good jokes and a fulsome band backing great singers. 

The programmes says .. Starring …. but they are all stars and there must be almost 30 of them. First you identify with Shrek (Dean Chisnall) poor gentle ogre, then his Donkey with attitude (Idriss Kargbo) steals your heart; Lord Farquadd of the expressive eyebrows (Gerard Carey) turns out to be the love child of Grumpy of Seven Dwarfs fame and a word here, how Gerard acted on his knees for the whole show was a minor miracle and has to be seen to be believed. Speaking of theatrical tricks, the dragon fills the stage and it’s awesome to see how it swoops and dives only adds to the thrill. 

The story is brilliant as it incorporates so many fairy tales and all the characters come together to challenge the horror that is Lord Farquadd, (I love their song Let Your Freak Flag Fly), and they get the better of him. The finale is only to be seen to be believed, Pinocchio, Snow White, Three Blind Mice, Peter Pan, Three Bears, Red Riding Hood, the Ugly Duckling and at one stage The Pied Piper leads one of the best numbers in the show with his rats in white ties and tails. And just to make the party complete on comes Lord Farquadd’s dad, Grumpy. 

There’s a lot of dry ice which gives the fairy tail a touch of unreality just as it should, the make up is incredible and the costumes pristine. There’s even a Carrickareed Rope Bridge over molten lava which leads to the castle prison holding the beautiful Princess Fiona (stunning and funny Faye Brookes). 

We all go home on the wings of the big number, I’m A Believer knowing that Shrek has found the love of his life – and so has Princess Fiona. Terrific, terrific, terrific. Go see.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Our Zoo, Episode 6 - Faye's Highlights

Firstly, I just want to point out that this is the blogs 250th post. Not bad in less than two and a half years if I do say so myself. Faye has been so busy and successful during this time that running her blog has been a full time job.

Now as I'm sure you know the first series of Our Zoo came to an end last night. Although Faye's character Frankie is last seen in tears after being fired from her position on the council, it was another wonderful episode.

I'm praying they'll be a second series where hopefully the Mottersheads will find Frankie a job at the zoo for helping them win their appeal and I'd love to see an Oakwood wedding for her and Billy Atkinson.

Hopefully we'll all be returning to Upton next year but even if that doesn't materialise Faye shouldn't be short of offers from other TV shows after her superb acting in Our Zoo. She's such a talented and versatile actress, any show would be lucky to have her.

If you haven't already done so, watch the video above showing her highlights from last nights episode.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Our Zoo Series 1 Finale Tonight!

Make sure you're tuned in to BBC1 at 9pm tonight for the series finale of Our Zoo.

I can't believe it's almost over. Hopefully this is just the start for this fabulous show:

Don't miss the final instalment of Our Zoo tonight at 9pm BBC1. Let this be the beginning, not the end!

To get you in the mood I've taken a few snapshots from episode one and will be featuring more of these over the next few weeks.

Don't forget to check back tomorrow when all being well I should have uploaded Faye's highlights from tonights final episode.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Going Green In Fairytale Land!

Belfast is preparing to be invaded by a giant green ogre, a beautiful princess and a host of fairytale creatures as the Shrek tour lands at the Grand Opera House tomorrow.

Unfortunately I wont be able to travel to Northern Ireland to see the show but if you're lucky enough to go, please give Faye a super load cheer.

The article below was written by Jenny Lee for 'The Irish News'.

The big bad wolf, Puss in Boots, Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs, The Gingerbread man, the Sugarplum Fairy - I didn't know who I was going to meet next during a whirlwind tour backstage of Shrek The Musical. 

More than 100 cast and crew are involved the show, which opens in Belfast tomorrow night, with seven lorry loads of equipment transporting sets and equipment to each venue during this debut tour of Ireland and Britain. They even bring their own washing machines and driers to each venue. 

Behind-the-scenes staff include four wardrobe staff, four wig staff, four make-up artists, two electricians, a carpenter and a physio and 11 local dressers at each venue. The backstage area is a myriad of costumes, masks, ears, ogre parts, pigs noses, Pinocchio noses and the stunning dragon which is operated by four puppeteers. The hand-sewn detail on the costumes, the shelves filled with green faced prosthetics and Princess Fiona wigs quickly make you realise just how professional this show is. "This show relies on everyone's skillset, from film quality make-up artist to the actors on stage. It's a spectacle and this is why it's been such a success. If you imagine what panto should be like this is it," said an enthusiastic company manager Neil White. 

Each performance involves 110 characters and 'swing' cast members can undergo 10 changes during a single performance. There are hot flannels aplenty to remove make-up during quick changes and even vodka in a spray that can to help disguise the smell of sweat. 

The musical boasts its own dedicated make-up department, with Shrek's make-up alone costing £2,000 a week - and putting it on takes more than two hours. On days he also has matinee performances Dean Chisnall (32), who has played Shrek in both the West End and touring productions, arrives at the theatre as early as 8am and might not leave until after 10pm. He's "more used to seeing myself in a mirror with a green face on than I am seeing myself". "This show is really demanding and has taken over my life. But I wouldn't change it for the world. It's a dream to get paid to be every child's hero," he says. 

Shrek the Musical is based on the story and characters from the 2001 Oscar winning DreamWorks Animation film which featured the voices of Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz and Eddie Murphy. 

Featuring all new songs as well as cult Shrek anthem I'm A Believer, Shrek The Musical brings the well-loved characters to life as Shrek and his loyal steed Donkey set off on a quest to rescue the beautiful Princess Fiona from her tower guarded by a fire-breathing love-sick dragon. 

Although the story is loved by children, there are references and jokes aimed squarely at adults too, mainly from the character Lord Farquhar. "It's a real family treat. The kids are overwhelmed with the costumes, the colours, the dragon and the set. But the surprising thing is how much the adults enjoy it. It's the dads that are made come along to the Saturday matinee that get out of their seats in the end and go nuts for it," says Neil. As well as heart and soul, Shrek is also full of morals. "It's great it gives everyone the message not to judge a book by its cover and all that. It is such an image-obsessed world in which we live - it's the part of this business I hate," adds Neil who doesn't hesitate when asked his favourite scene. "There is a scene at the end of act one which is the first and only time that Shrek opens up to Donkey and tells him where he's come from and what he'd like to be in life. For me it's a priceless piece of theatre and as the bloke playing the characters is such an important moment in the show." 

It's an extremely physically demanding role - Dean dons a heavy Shrek suit and padding for each performance and admits he's lost weight playing the jolly big green fellow. "It's excruciatingly hot and at the end of the night the suit is quite disgusting," laughs Neil who while off stage is constantly followed by make-up artists prepared to glue back bits of his face if they slip due heat or sweat. "Per show I drink about seven litres of water. I'm not going to lie - it's bloody hard work - but I've never worked on a job where everything is as good as this and the attention to detail is phenomenal."

Shrek's Princess is played by Faye Brookes (27) who previously appeared in Belfast playing the leading role in the Legally Blonde tour. She is also currently starring on the small screen in the popular BBC drama Our Zoo, playing the role of feisty council worker Frankie. "We had to challenge ourselves vocally with this show and I'm really privileged to have worked with our director Nigel Harmann who stepped us out of our comfort zone. I think that's why it's done so well on tour," she said. 

Although a fan of the less conventional Disney princesses, such as Pokahantus and Elmerando when she was younger, like most girls Faye dreamed of being a princess one day. "Nowadays with Frozen I'm totally Arendelle (the fictional setting of Disney's hit film). Anna is the nowadays princess I aspire to - the one who can pull funny faces and be a bit geeky." 

Shrek The Musical runs at Belfast's Grand Opera House from October 8 to 19.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Beautiful Princess Spotted in New York!

The beautiful picture above was taken this week in New York where Faye and Gareth are enjoying a lovely break as part of a Birthday surprise for his sister Jessica.

These guys always look stunning, particularly together.

Judging by some of Gareth's tweets it certainly sounds like everyone is having a wonderful time & Jess will have a 21st to remember.


Before the Shrek tour moves on to Belfast on Wednesday lets look back to Nottingham and see why the critics thought Faye was the perfect Princess Fiona.

Faye Brooks performance of the Princess Fiona different ages encapsulated not only Princess’ but women of today waiting for Prince Charming, I was very amused.

Meanwhile, everyone’s favourite princess, played by Faye Brookes, clearly enjoys her role, gradually falling for our straightforward ogre hero, who’s tasked with rescuing her from the tower.

Faye Brooks is Princess Fiona and what a great stage persona she has, instantly likeable, the kind of Princess who doesn't mind having a laugh and a joke with the lads. Proving that she can be a token lad as well in the scene where she and Shrek vie to who has had the hardest childhood.

The actors must also have credit where credit is due. Shrek and Fiona (Dean Chisnall and Faye Brookes respectively) were both impressive; humorous with the drop of lonesomeness which comes from their saddened existences. Both also pack a fierce punch vocally, although Brookes clearly has the outline of a trained Broadway singer (easily projecting her voice into the power ballads of the higher register numbers).

Chisnalls Shrek and Faye Brookes Princess Fiona are magical. Gorgeous chemistry, with just the right amount of prickliness and compassion on both sides. Like Chisnall Brookes was born to be on the stage, masterfully combining the complicated singing, dancing, acting and script of this whopping production.

Faye Brookes is perfectly cast as the bipolar Princess. Wonderful expressive acting backed up by superb vocals and some rather impressive dancing.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Our Zoo, Episode 5 - Faye's Highlights

Sorry for the delay - 'technical hitch' as Shrek might say - but here are Faye's highlights from episode 5 of Our Zoo.

Needless to say I've been telling all my friends & family to watch Our Zoo & to look out for the talented young actress playing Agnes Franklin. I'm pleased but not surprised to report they all think she is superb & hope to see a lot more of her on TV in the future.

Surely that should be inevitable given her outstanding acting in this fabulous show.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Princess Fiona & Lucky the Leprechaun!

Yesterday I made my way to Duloc for another Shrek adventure. It will be my last for a couple of month's because I wont be able to make it over to Belfast or Dublin which are the next two destinations on the tour.

I was meant to be meeting Faye before the show as she had a train to catch afterwards and wouldn't have any time to stop and chat. However 3 month's on tour had caught up with princess Fiona and after an early start for an 11am matinee she soon became Sleeping Beauty.

Soon after I got to the stage door she messaged me to let me know she'd fallen asleep after her earlier performance and was currently on her way back to the theatre after dashing out to get some food.

As she approached the stage door she was attacked from behind by an onrushing donkey. He was lacking his usual fur and makeup but seemed as friendly and jovial as he does on stage.

We did have time for a brief chat and I was able to tell her how amazing I thought she was in last weeks Our Zoo. I also let her know that I've told everyone I know to make sure they're watching and to look out for Faye's character Frankie. Needless to say they were all genuinely impressed.

Starting today the cast actually get their first week off since the tour started back in July and Faye said they're all ready for a break. Travelling all over the country, living out of a suitcase and putting on eight incredible high energy shows every week is bound to take it's toll. That said, if they are tired, they certainly don't show it in their performance. They have been nothing short of outstanding everytime I've seen the show.

Faye has exciting plans for this coming week. I hope she has a great time and enjoys here well earned break. It's a bit hush hush so I can't say any more but if you follow Faye and Gareth on Twitter I'm sure all will be revealed shortly.

We also discussed the amazing view from Faye and Gareth's new apartment in London. As you can see from the picture above which Gareth tweeted last week, it really is spectacular.

Before she dashed off to get ready for the second show I was able to give her Lucky the Leprechaun. Thanks to Legally Blonde whenever I think of Ireland I think of Leprechauns so I purchased Lucky to take care of Faye when the Shrek tour visits Ireland.

After a quick hug I made my way round to the main entrance, collected my ticket and took my seat in Row F of the stalls.

Faye takes my breath away everytime I seen her perform and yesterday was no different. The best all round performer in musical theatre, period. Sensational acting, step perfect dancing and the most beautiful voice I've ever heard. It will be a travesty if she gives up singing completely to concentrate on TV, maybe they could sign her up for Nashville.

Below is another glowing review of this wonderful show. This one was written by James Hamilton for 'Impact Magazine'


Shrek the Musical is fun. Feeling rather optimistic about seeing the production it was refreshing to see such an innovative take on a film which was grounding breaking in both animation and child/adult comedy genres. The play does have flaws, but then when you are laughing uncontrollably it is unlikely those shadows will haunt your mind for long in this excellent performance.  

The story is essentially the film. The edits which are made do fit well, adding a focus to the ‘freaks’ and their freedom, both literally and metaphorically, and whilst the feeling of being yourself no matter what is nice, it does feel more catered towards the younger audience.

The music, however, does move heavily away from the film, a factor which has both pros and cons. For a film soundtrack which, perhaps surprisingly, was so popular when released certain people may feel an absence and disappointment that Shrek is singing a new power ballad rather than looking glum to the melancholic ‘Hallelujah’. But this flaw represents a poor attitude to take, as the music composed both fits more appropriately to the action and complements the comedy and superb singing skills. Moreover for those real diehard fans ‘I’m a Believer’ has a killer curtain call which will likely have the upper raptures toe-tapping and humming along.

But where the musical shines is design. Immediately you can tell that this performance has been moved from the West End because the overall technical aspect is fantastic. The set is polished and flows with a seamless ease, impressive from curtains open to curtains close. From swamp to castle, the ability to swap locations is practiced and brings refreshing colour to a period where plays rely so heavily on darker repertoires.

Furthermore costume is sublime. The characters are based on fairytale creatures after all, and thus offer a beautiful creative range which is explored to the maximum. Pinocchio, 3 Little Pigs and ogres all come to life on the stage and feel believable. But what is the most impressive element for me is the sheer ingenuity behind the designs, not merely relying on make-up or masks. The audience witnesses puppetry, ventriloquism and full body transformations to name but a few. Particular mention has to go to Lord Farquaad and the Gingerbread Man, whose whole characters are so well conceived and hilarious that they light up the stage with just their presence. Also the dragon is a sight to be seen. Fact.

The actors must also have credit where credit is due. Shrek and Fiona (Dean Chisnalland Faye Brookes respectively) were both impressive; humorous with the drop of lonesomeness which comes from their saddened existences. Both also pack a fierce punch vocally, Brookes clearly has the outline of a trained Broadway singer (easily projecting her voice into the power ballads of the higher register numbers).

Idriss Kargbo as Donkey definitely has the eccentricity of the role, although his annoyance did sometimes come across as being annoying annoying rather than funny annoying. This might be a result personally of searching for Eddie Murphy within the role (a flaw of a good film and not the actor himself). However the standout again comes in the role of Lord Farquaad played by Gerard Carey. For a man with a huge power complex, witty one-liners and huge potential for physical and gestural humour, Carey exhibits and uses the chances perfectly.

Shrek the Musical in a nutshell is the film. It uses lines, songs and jokes which for fans of the film is great, seeing as the film caters humour for such a wide range of audience. Whilst at times the play did feel it was dumbing down to child humour, it then sparked a glimpse of adult humour which lightens it up. Ultimately it is a play which does not take itself seriously – for the better. When a play can parody Les Miserables, Wicked and The Lion King along with itself, then it is a chance to experience a highly enjoyable and professional production.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Our Zoo, Episode 4 - Faye's Highlights

If you enjoyed Faye’s ‘Our Zoo’ highlights I posted yesterday from episode 3,  you’re going to love this video from episode 4.

Faye’s character Frankie is now heavily involved.

We get to see her rescue a snake from the exterminator at the council offices, become close friends with the Mottersheads, look absolutely stunning in a 1930's floral dress at a benefit to raise funds for the zoo and start a potential relationship with Billy Atkinson - the mischievous brother of Lizzie Mottershead - played by Ralf Little.

Her acting throughout was nothing short of sensational and it’s surely only a matter of time before she’s a household name. As Nigel Harman said in a recent interview, soon everyone will be talking about Faye Brookes.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Our Zoo, Episode 3 - Faye's Highlights

I've returned from my break in sunny Cornwall and as promised I've begun uploading Faye's Our Zoo highlights to You Tube.

First up is last weeks episode where it becomes clear that Faye's character Frankie is very much in favour of the Mottersheads plans for a zoological garden in Chester.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Shrek Review & Our Zoo Reminder!

As you can see Faye looks absolutely incredible in the wedding dress she wears in the penultimate scene of the show!! She is going to make the most stunningly beautiful bride someday!!

I just wanted to let everyone know that I'll be going away later today for an eight day break in Cornwall, so I wont be able to upload YouTube videos of episodes three and four Our Zoo or update the blog until I get back.

However, I have set the Sky+ to record so hopefully you can look forward to more of Faye's highlights when I return.

Don't forget Our Zoo is on Wednesday nights at 9pm on BBC1 and Faye's character 'Frankie' is now in every episode. Make sure you tune for your chance to see this remarkable actress from the comfort of your own home.

Before I depart I thought I'd leave you with another glowing review of the fantastic Shrek tour I found online from someone who went to see the show in Nottingham.

Nottingham Theatre Royal

Shrek is a musical with music by Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire. It is based on the 2001 film Shrek and William Steig's 1990 book Shrek!.

Imagine the best bits of all of the best pantos you've been to and that will come close to seeing Shrek. It is bright, colourful, fun and very camp...and I loved it.

The story begins with Shrek telling the audience of his childhood, and how, on his seventh birthday, his parents send him out of their house and into the world to make his living. They warn him that because of his looks, everyone will hate him, and he will not have a happy ending.After saving Princess Fiona from the dragon who had kept her locked in her tower, he delivers her to Lord Farquaad so that he can marry the Princess and become King of Duloc, just so that Shrek can get his marshy home back.On his way he meets many fairytale creatures and of course Donkey who becomes his best mate.

Shrek is an amazingly entertaining musical for just about everyone from 5 to 105, and as in all of the best family shows there is comedy that works on all levels, Most of the "over the heads of kids" lines were delivered by Lord Farquaad, played by Gerard Carey who surely must have one of the hardest jobs combining singing, dancing and acting but on his knees for the majority of the time. but boy is the effect well executed.

Our green hero, Shrek, is played by Dean Chisnall and I shudder to think how long Dean is in make up before the show, and under those lights I imagine there is a lot of sweat shed and pounds lost.

Faye Brooks is Princess Fiona and what a great stage persona she has, instantly likeable, the kind of Princess who doesn't mind having a laugh and a joke with the boys. Proving that she can be a token lad as well in the scene where she and Shrek vie to who has had the hardest childhood.

And then there is Donkey. In the film voiced by Eddie Murphy, and here is camped and ramped up to 10 by Idriss Kargbo.

One of my favourite highlights of the show, and there are many, is the scene with the dragon. Brought to life at the hands of four puppeteers and done so well that you forget that they were there controlling it's every move, and you really believed that this dragon on stage, and it did fill the Theatre Royal stage, was alive.

Technically this could be the best thing I have seen with characters appearing and disappearing seemingly into thin air. Some amazing lighting effects and a very tight twelve piece orchestra, so good that I actually thought the music from the speakers was pre recorded but no way. All credit to the musical direction of Mr Dave Rose.

Music wise this show is almost back to back songs with twenty songs in two and a half hours.150 minutes that seemed more like 15.

The choreography was absolutely spot on. You can tell that this has come from the West End stage, I can't pinpoint it but there is just something about the whole Shrek package that oozes uber professionalism. Take your kids along, take your grandparents along or just go along yourself for an evening (or afternoon) of great fun.