Tag Archive: Empty Souls


Okay, I can officially announce the release of my second book.

Ghost Stories: Tales From The Dead Of Night © Antony N Britt 2017

Ghost Stories: Tales From The Dead Of Night is a collection of 20 short stories which might have you afraid to turn out the light. But don’t take my word for it. Read the blurb.

Meet …

Mark, who loves Alison, but must first get past her dead father.

Jessie and Tommy. In fear of what’s in the attic.

Colin. As a medium, he’s used to ghosts. It’s the living he needs to be scared of.

Alec, haunted by a tragedy which took place forty years ago. Now the past has caught up.

Karen and Matthew, locked in a manor house with the spirit of its sadistic former owner.

Irene. All she wanted was attention; now she wishes it would go away.

And meet Cara. Disturbed by the presence in her bedsit, and a bloodstain which keeps returning.

You don’t need to sleep to have nightmares.

You can buy Ghost Stories in either digital or print from Amazon by following the link below.

Ghost Stories: Tales From The Dead Of Night by Antony N Britt.

Cheers

Antony N Britt

 

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The pantomime is a great tradition and I’m always looking for companies I’ve not seen before. Therefore, when the two factors combine, I end up in places like the Dormiston Mill Theatre, Sedgley, watching Rainbow Pantomimes’ production of Cinderella.

Cinderella – Dormiston Mill Theatre – 20 January 2017

First off, a niggle at the audience. I watch loads of shows and people always forget to applaud the overture (and even more so, exit music). The band have worked damned hard, so give them appreciation, folks.

But the rest of the show. We all know the story of Cinderella, and Rainbow did the classic tale justice. Exuberant enjoyment from the cast projected to those watching, straight from the start with opening number, Reach for the Stars. Yes, good acting combined with decent dance numbers had the crowd whooping it up. There were comic moments, in particular, the Ugly Sisters’ Face Cream scene, although what had me laughing most was an innocent and incredulous comment from a child sitting in front when we had a delay in changing scenery. “Mom, they’ve left the door …” Oh, the little things that amuse me.

Fabulous musical numbers, notably: She, So Close, I See the Light, Open Doors, Raining Men and Celebrate. By far the best for me, though, was the full company version of Timewarp. Not a song I particularly like, so credit for making it stand out.

Of the cast, Katie Randle (Cinderella), Katie Teitge (Prince Charming) and Amy Cooper (Buttons) were superb. Also, well supporting were Jake Millington (Dandini), Helen Hollis (Beryl), Jonathan Pountney (Cheryl), Gemma Wilson-Brown (Baroness), Sally Parker (Fairy Godmother), Ian Totney (Mouse) and Dan Cubberley (Major Domo/Bear).

Cinderella was directed by Gemma Simner with Choreography by Emma Bate. On the music front, there was excellent use of a four-piece band directed by and including, Danny Teitge. Great sound throughout.

The only criticism I have is at times, the flow of certain scenes slowed. Too many pauses on stage with nothing happening. Although this may have been down to the original script, there was a danger of lost interest.

Still, as I say, I enjoyed, as did the rest of the audience. And my God, there were some hyper kids in the front of the auditorium. Was there a shortage of Ritalin or something?

All in all, well done to Rainbow Pantomimes. Looking forward to the next one.

Cinderella – Dormiston Mill Theatre – 20 January 2017

Cheers.

 

Nick

Everybody loves Abba … don’t they?

When it was first suggested I go and see Mamma Mia, I thought, great, another evening where I’m among a 10% male minority of an audience. But hey, off I went and even bought a flower garland to wear in order to feel more at home.

So where do I start? I mean, I admit I’d been listening to the soundtrack CD for over a week so I was really looking forward to the show. I only hoped it would live up to the hype and my own expectations. As it turned out, I was not to be disappointed.

Okay, there was the downside that being in a predominantly female audience on Row C, I still managing to sit behind the biggest guy in the theatre. Even so, it didn’t spoil things – much.

From the onset there was a dynamic energy from the cast and orchestra with music played at a volume making you feel as if you were part of proceedings. A basic set was acceptable as what was in front of it meant you were hardly ever looking at the background.

And you had the music of Abba. Yes, hit after hit after hit, the songs fitting well with the storyline. I also cannot compliment the well written script of Catherine Johnson enough. Fast paced and genuinely funny.

Musical highlights for me were Take a Chance on Me, Thank You for the Music, Mamma Mia and Under Attack. The latter of these was sung with an excellent choreographed dream sequence which began Act Two in perfect fashion.

So the cast. Playing the role of Donna was Sara Poyzer with Jacqueline Braun and Emma Clifford as Rosie and Tanya (respectively) – Donna’s old performing colleagues. It was these two, in my opinion, who had the most impact on the show, delivering the best songs and bringing the comedy to the front. Sophie was portrayed by Lucy May Barker with Phillip Ryan as Sky. Sophie’s three potential father’s were Sam Carmichael (Richard Standing), Harry Bright (Tim Walton) and Bill Austin (Christopher Hollis). Completing the main cast were Micha Richardson (Ali), Blaise Colangelo (Lisa), Louis Stockil (Pepper) and Sam Robinson (Eddie).

Mamma Mia was directed by Phyllida Lloyd with choreography by Anthony Van Last and musical direction, Richard Weeden.

On completion of the bows, the audience rose to their feet and joined in with the encore which included the classic Waterloo.

So did I enjoy myself? Well, the proof is the fact that I’m still playing the CD in the car.

Mamma Mia – Birmingham Hippodrome

Cheers.

Nick

I have to admit to being highly pleased when opening my July copy of Writing Magazine to find Dead Girl Stalking had been shortlisted for Self-Published Book of the Year. Okay, so I didn’t win or come runner up, but to get in the top eight, having had my work judged and praised by the writing industry is reward itself.

Dead Girl Stalking © Antony N Britt

Many thanks to the panel, and to magazine editor, Jonathan Telfer for the fantastic write up.

Front Cover - Writing Magazine July 2016Writing Magazine July 2016

Writing Magazine July 2016Writing Magazine July 2016

Dead Girl Stalking – Available to Buy on Amazon

Buy Writing Magazine – July 2016

Cheers.

Nick

I have to admit to some trepidation when venturing to watch American Idiot. You see, I’m a huge Green Day fan and not only that, the original CD on which this show is based is among my top five favourite albums of all time. And I also enjoy the Broadway Cast version, too, so the event had a lot to live up to

Green Day’s American Idiot – New Alexander Theatre, Birmingham – 13 May 2016

The first disappointment, however, was the audience. I was in the middle circle which was only a third full. Then came the opening. On an impressive set which reflects the theme of the show, American Idiot should have burst into action, blasting me from my seat. It didn’t. The title track was … well, too quiet. I expected the sound to near burst my ears from such a fantastic number, but I was left a little deflated. Now this had nothing to do with the performance, more that I felt the sound people had got it totally wrong. The sound did improve, thankfully, as the show went on, in spite of a further complication when Tunny’s microphone failed to work for the entire of Are We The Waiting.

Now this might sound like a disaster of a show but two things swung it round. The magnificence of the Green Day numbers and the dynamic performance of the cast. After the initial problems, I was soon on the edge of my seat in excited anticipation for each song. Highlights for me were, Letterbomb, Extraordinary Girl, 21 Guns and Homecoming.

Okay, the story on stage is pretty thin and often confusing unless you already know what is going on, but American Idiot is more about bringing the music to life. And the show did just that.

Playing the lead of Johnny was English singer/songwriter, Newton Faulkner who delivered an excellent performance. Former X-Factor finalist, Amelia Lily also shone as Whatsername as did Alexis Gerred and Steve Rushton as Tunny and Will, respectively. The role of Johnny’s alter-ego, St Jimmy was undertaken with power by Lucas Rush. For my visit, two of the cast stepped up in their understudy roles with neither giving anything short of marvellous. Alice Stokoe was perfect in the part of Heather as was Karina Hinds as Extraordinary Girl.

I also have to mention the band of Robert Wicks, Alex Machisone, Tommaso Varvello and Nick Kent who along with Steve Rushton, faithfully reproduced the Green Day magic. American Idiot was directed and choreographed by Racky Plews with musical supervision from Richard Morris.

It’s a testament to a show with regard to how much of an impact it makes on you. I have attended performances where I have left the theatre and not thought a lot about it for a while afterwards. This was not the case regarding American Idiot. For nearly a week, I had the Broadway CD playing in my car, then the original Green Day album, followed by Broadway again.

Yes, American Idiot left it’s mark.

It’s not over till you’re underground.

Green Day’s American Idiot – New Alexander Theatre, Birmingham – 13 May 2016

Nick

I didn’t know what to expect about Mary Poppins. With the reputation built of being spectacular and so many friends lauding praise, I wondered if the show would live up to the hype.

One of my reservations came from listening to the 2005 Original London Cast Recording CD release which although full of many of the well known Sherman tunes from the 1964 film, still fell flat in my opinion. However, a live performance is a different matter so I was interested to see if a little theatre magic would explode from the stage. It stood a chance having being devised by Cameron Mackintosh, a producer whose shows have never let me down.

Mary Poppins – Birmingham Hippodrome – 11 April 2016

I needn’t have worried. From the opening number I witness to over two hours of dynamic energy from a wonderful cast. Also, possibly the best set I have ever seen including a house on Cherry Tree Lane which unfolded before your eyes.

There seemed to be so much going on, you dared not switch attention for a second. During Jolly Holiday, the lighting altered on the backdrops so many times in a myriad of colours, you’d be forgiven for thinking they’d changed the entire set mid song.

Yes, the old favourites were there: A Spoonful of Sugar, Feed the Birds, Let’s Go Fly a Kite and Chim Chim Cher-re. In addition to these, you also had the bigger song and dance numbers, particularly Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and the immense Step in Time. Rather Bert than me climbing the side of the stage before walking upside down from a great height as he went over the rooftops. Also, the newer live numbers came across better than the recording I’d heard, In particular, Practically Perfect and Anything Can Happen.

I was informed on arrival that the part of Mary Poppins would that night be played by an understudy. However, there was no disappointment. Jennifer Davison delivered with such power you’d be hard pressed to think she hadn’t been doing it for the entire run. Also supporting was Matt Lee as Bert, Milo Twomey as George Banks and Rebecca Lock as his wife, Winifred. Jane and Michael were played with enthusiasm in this performance by Madeline Banbury and Regan Garcia.

My only two criticisms would be that one, I thought some of Julian Fellows’ scripted dialogue was a little laborious at times. However, that wasn’t a fault of the production and with everything happening in front of you, it was forgotten most of the time. The other was that the vocal amplification appeared weak to start with. Whether this was rectified or I just got used to it is unknown. It wasn’t an issue later on.

All in all, a wonderful experience right until the end where the magical nanny flies above the audience, disappearing into the sky (or rather an exit in the theatre ceiling).

So did I enjoy after my original uncertainty? Absolutely. In fact, I would go as far as to say it was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Mary Poppins – Birmingham Hippodrome – 11 April 2016

Cheers.

Nick

The Witches of Eastwick – The Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham – 18 March 2016 Birmingham Ormiston Academy (BOA)

I have to admit, when buying tickets for this, I’d never heard of Birmingham Ormiston Academy (BOA) before and at £10 a seat, I wondered what level of performance I should expect. Despite the excellent value in price, though, I still guessed it would be good, but never expected how good.

Over the past few months I have seen The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe at the newer Birmingham Repertory Theatre, and Jesus Christ Superstar (starring Glenn Carter) at the Hippodrome. I can honestly say, this production of The Witches of Eastwick knocked both those offerings out the building in terms of enjoyment.

The Witches of Eastwick – My new favourite show, and all thanks to the wonderful production team, orchestra and more important, the talented Year 13 musical theatre students of BOA.

An academy in performing arts for ages 14 to 19, BOA have the cream of the region and it was obvious from the outset, you’ve got to be damn good to get into this school.

My interest in The Witches of Eastwick had been piqued while taking part myself in a concert featuring two of the numbers, and I wanted to see what the entire show had to offer.

The Witches of Eastwick – The Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham – 18 March 2016 Birmingham Ormiston Academy (BOA)

Loosely based on the novel of the same name by John Updike, but having more in common with the 1987 film, The Witches of Eastwick tells of three women searching for the man of their dreams. Pooling energy together, their dreams do come true, but they also get more than they bargained for.

The enigmatic Daryll Van Horne arrives and soon seduces all three, causing destruction, and eventual death along the way. The women realise what it is they have created and decide they have to put things right and send Daryll back from where he came.

Looking at the programme, the pen pictures tell me there were two casts. I learned that these were basically the A and B teams. I don’t know if there was any significance in these categories, or that it was simply a way of dividing to give the students an equal opportunity over the course of the run. As it was, I saw the B cast and if the A lot were meant to be the primary, then they must have been something extra special because the B team I witnessed were out of this world.

Once you got over the fact that, yes, the majority of parts are meant to be played by older people, you soon became lost in the show. In fact, I’d forgotten how old they really were halfway through the opening. Sitting in Row B, I think I spent the entire show leaning forward with chin in hand, mesmerised by what I saw on stage. Not an easy task to keep me from fidgeting throughout a performance.

I imagine it must be hard to pull off characterising much older parts, especially the males, but Jack Sanders did a fantastic job with his portrayal of Daryll. And then you had the witches, themselves. Wow! To get one good voice is great, but all three? Talulla Wheatley (Alex), Heather Foster (Jane) and Lydia Gardiner (Sukie) were all amazing. Incredible voices and fantastic harmonies with great acting to top it off. Then you also had the supporting principles and an ensemble which brought their numbers onto another scale, Dirty Laundry, in particular. And what an opening we had!

I have to say I already had a liking for I Wish I May but at the climax to Act One when Alex, Jane and Sukie send their spirits soaring skyward and fly, I wanted to get to my feet and give a standing ovation there and then. But I thought, behave, there’s still the second act to come yet.

As well as those already mentioned, I loved every number in the show, in particular, the three seduction numbers, each different in their own way. Now I’m not into narcotics, and the strongest thing I’ve ever smoked is a piece of salmon, but even I craved a cigarette after Waiting for the Music.

Since watching, I’ve had the Original London Cast CD on repeat in the car. This is all testament to the BOA cast and production team. A mention, of course, has to go to Director – Rian Holloway, Musical Director – Michelle King, Choreographer – Lee Crowley and Company Manager – Amy Rutter. I hope those credits are right, I got them from the back of the programme. Also, hats off to the rest of the band and crew who made this occasion for me – magic.

Cheers.

Nick

2016 has not been good for rock fans. In the first few months we’ve seen the passing of David Bowie, Lemmy and Keith Emerson. When the news of Bowie broke, I recall commenting that people my age are going to be seeing a lot of this in the near future. Add to that, I’m unlikely to witness AC/DC in any familiar incarnation soon. Things are certainly changing. More personal to me, though, I’ve also had to concede I may never again see a Stranglers gig featuring Jet Black on drums.

I guess it’s inevitable when you’ve followed music through five decades, that your heroes will one day be no more, but you still hope the magic will last a little longer.

March 12, Birmingham O2 Academy, I gazed upon the stage with eyes confirming what I already knew, even though the reality hurt.

One drum kit.

For the past four years, despite health issues, the drummer in black has beaten the odds and appeared in a cameo role during tours. Sadly, not this year. If it’s the end, we wish Jet well and thanks for everything.

But it begs the question. How much longer will it be before I have seen my last Stranglers gig? Something I ask every year but until the inevitable happens, I’ll keep turning up to lose myself in the ecstasy of the moment.

Now a regular for a few years, Birmingham lad, Jim MacAulay plays in the band alongside Jean-Jacques Burnel, Dave Greenfield and Baz Warne. Slight change in lineup, though nothing different about the performance.

IMAG0146_1

My 16th Stranglers show dating back to 1983 and as all previous, it didn’t disappoint.

Billed, The Black and White Tour, the band played the album of the same name in full for the first part of a near two hour set. Exploding straight into Tank, followed by Nice and Sleazy until the final conclusion with Enough Time, a song I finally heard live for the first time. As always, the band were in fine form although it was noticeable the atmosphere lifted another notch higher once Black and White had concluded and a wider variety set commenced with (Get a) Grip (On Yourself). Now I don’t mean that as any criticism of Black and White, I simply think playing the album from start to finish maybe lessened the anticipation with the audience already knowing what was coming next.

Not so the the second half which was as excellent as the first but with a few surprises thrown in. By far the biggest was the first time absence in my memory of Golden Brown. Call me controversial, but it’s about time. Must be frustrating for a band to be expected to play certain tracks every concert so I applaud the decision to exclude this sacred cow. That doesn’t apply to No More Heroes, though. Never remove that one from the set, guys, just so you know.

Other favourites were there in a set which spanned the decades: Five Minutes, Something Better Change, Always the Sun, plus more recent classics including Relentless and Norfolk Coast. A nice surprise was A Soldiers Story. Not sure about being the first time live, but it certainly was for me.

The guys come round my way every March/April and 2016 was as good as ever. Loads of energy with no sign of the band ending soon. Ironically, one of the biggest cheers of the night was the usual Baz ad-libbing during Peaches.

 “I could think of a lot worse places to be.
Like down in the street,
or down in the sewer,
or Villa Park at the end of the season.”

Hey, the show was in Birmingham and if you’re not into football, all I can say is, it’s a local joke.

2016 – a year not yet three months old where so many rock legends have left us. Not so the Stranglers. Yes, it’ll happen sometime, but until I see it in Black and White, I’ll savour every minute, every year.

2016tour-280px

Cheers.

Nick

I am now officially announcing the release of my debut novel, Dead Girl Stalking which is available to buy in both print and electronic form from Amazon.

Filled with horror, suspense, sex and conflict, Dead Girl Stalking is a paranormal thriller which tells a story of desire, consequence and retribution for those both alive and dead.

The first date ended with her death; the second was more terrifying. He wants to end their relationship; the dead have other ideas.

When teenager Melvin Stone is not being bullied at school, he suffers from voices inside his head which have tormented him much of his life. Melvin’s life is thrown further into turmoil when the girl of his dreams is killed in a tragic accident. For any young adult, witnessing this would be traumatic enough but over the next four years he is plagued by the recurring presence of the dead girl. Whether spirit or in his own troubled mind, this malevolent tormentor now haunts Melvin’s every move.

You can buy Dead Girl Stalking in either digital or print from Amazon by following the link below.

Buy Dead Girl Stalking

It is also currently being stocked by Southcart Books – Walsall. A great indie bookshop who continue to support local writers.

Alternatively still, as the Ice Cream Man says, ‘Stop me and buy one.’ If you’re in town, that is.

Cheers.

Nick

 

This Halloween – Saturday 31 October, I shall be appearing at Southcart Books, Lower Hall Lane, Walsall for the 2nd annual Southcart Scarefest.

Free admission, free food and a multitude of horror writers to entertain you. And hundreds of books to browse and buy. What more could you want from Walsall’s only independent bookshop who continue to support local talent.

Hopefully, last minute proofing and delivery permitting, I shall have copies of my debut novel, Dead Girl Stalking on sale.

So if you’ve nothing else on, pop on down and see me and the rest. In fact, if you have got something on, cancel it. We’re a better bet. I’m on at 1230, just before the food, so perfect timing.

Southcart Scarefest 2015

Cheers.

Nick

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