All Star Lanes, Holborn. (and their Courgette and Avocado burger)

I don’t know about you, but when I think of bowling, I think of cheap and cheerful lane upon lane upon lane of children shouting and beer pitchers being knocked over and so on. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a lot of fun at those type of places, there’s no knocking them – but All Star Lanes does not fit into that category. ASL is different even from the outside. Classy and elegant, ASL brings bowling into a whole other world. You can see this from the after-work-suits that fill the place, unwinding after a long hard day in the office by hitting the pins.

all star lanes holborn

We started off with the food aspect of the night, and it gave us time for a longgggg catch up. I haven’t seen Soraya in a couple years so it was lovely to chat!

Obviously, as girls night always entails, cocktails were in order. Soraya chose a less traditional hard shake (who wouldn’t want alcohol in milkshake form) and I went for this sweet little beauty. Refreshing and light, this cucumber and strawberry enthused special is the way forward in life.

The next step was gorgeous full-of-flavour starters. I won’t lie to you, this part was hands down my favourite of the night. Soraya wasn’t too sold on her cheesy dipping pot – however, my BBQ baby back ribs… well I’m still dreaming about them. All day errrrday. Succulent and juicy, they lathered it in BBQ sauce making it messy and beautiful.

Now this new burger – if you’re a veggie fan like me, you’re gonna have to give it a go.

“COURGETTE AND AVOCADO CHILLI BURGER (£10.50) – Delicious pan fried courgette & avocado slices cooked in a chilli spiced panko crumb, homemade tomato relish, jalapenos & chipotle mayo in a brioche bun.”

What do you think? You’ll have to try it and let me know!

Sides to match of course. Mac’n’Cheese (could’ve had an entire feast of this) and Sweet Potato Fries (feast also needed?) Look. At. Them. TELL ME YOU DON’T WANT THEM IN YOUR MOUTH RIGHT NOW. My word.

I was too stuffed for desert, but don’t you worry – since I can hear you all practically forcing me to go back to tell you what I think, it might have to be arranged 😉

Bowling was AMAZE. It’s such a cool edgy vibe, but still not too serious for a sassy little twirl round when you hit a strike! A game is £8.95 per person (peak), or £6.95 (off peak).

I got absolutely thrashed by the way. Beyond lost. Congrats Soraya!

And if that’s not enough confirmation for you – well it’s recently been featured on Made In Chelsea too. #winning

Thinking of heading down? They’ve got one in Holborn, Bayswater, Stratford, Brick Lane – and for those of you a little further out, don’t panic! They’ve got you covered in Manchester.

 

Stay Sassy,

Lauren xxx

KOJAWAN, Edgware Road.

I heard the buzz about the ‘genuinely inauthentic’ KOJAWAN before I even moved to London – Twitter seemed alight with the mention of the name. It’s safe to say I was dying to get in, and the lovely Lauren at Roche Communications made it happen, with her inspired bloggers dinner. What a beauty!

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Naturally I had stalked and stalked and stalked some more, before I’d attended the dinner. What I didn’t realize however, was that this innovative restaurant was at the very top of the Hilton Hotel – which did cause me a little confusion and as much as it pains me to admit it, to be late. A side note here – perhaps it would be easier for potential customers to discover them, if that was advertised more firmly – perhaps on the front of their website?  Or as you enter the hotel?

However, what I was previously aware of, and SO excited for, was the breath taking views. And boy, they did not disappoint. Based on the the 23rd floor, it felt like you could see right across this gorgeous city. We all know how much I love LDN at night time, and if you’re looking for a view, this is the place for it.

On arrival I was warmly greeted with a friendly smile and a handshake by several members of staff as I walked passed, which is always pleasantly noticed. My Cosmo was bought over quickly, and I settled in chatting to the girls.

cosmo at KOJAWAN

It felt like the rounds and rounds of food bought over were never ending, and each time a wave of pleasure rolled over me. As it’s a mixture of Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese cuisine, each dish was delightedly unanticipated in one way or another.

What they weren’t short on, was flavour. Each delectable flavour chosen wasn’t shied away from – it was embraced in full figure and proudly pronounced as dish after dish was bought to this table of heaven.

So. Many. Bursts. Of. Flavour. Head chef Russell Oxtoby, and his partners in crime Bjorn Van Der Horst and Omar Romero all come from very different yet still similar backgrounds. From Bjorn’s experience at the NYC Russian Tea Room and 2 Michelin star Picholine, to Russell’s two AA Rosette restaurant Berners Tavern, and Omar’s grounding at the Four Seasons Hotel and Rhodes Twenty Four. I can only assume they directly came together in logical formations of each person bringing extremely different things to the table – and they were right.

If you’re looking to go somewhere that tantalizes your taste buds, that pushes the 2016 food boundaries, that makes your stop in your tracks and truly decidedly taste the food you’re munching on – this is it. Look no further. Too often we get lulled into a false sense of security, tasting the same steaks and chicken breast from different menus all over our city, thinking that they’re brave for trying ‘a different angle’. Then you dine at KOJAWAN, and it sets a new level of excellence.

If that hasn’t convinced you, set your mind on these deserts. Their PanTako was the most mind blowing sweet I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. Who knew that simple pancakes could be made so exciting! I’ve been daydreaming ever since…

On average, for lunch expect to spend £30, and for dinner spend around £45. And you know what really solidifies their place in my heart forever more?

They’ve started serving bottomless brunch.

See you again very soon KOJAWAN! Thank you for having me.

Stay Sassy,

Lauren

Hungry Donkey, Aldgate.

We’re sold. So unbelievably sold.

The beaut Amanda Bootes and I had the absolute pleasure of dining at the Hungry Donkey last week. Quaint, bustling and hipster – this little part of greek heaven has stolen my heart after just one meal, and I’ll happily be back for many, many more.

hungry donkey aldgate website

Surprisingly busy for a weekday night, the service persisted at an impeccable standard from arrival. Greeting us with a smile, we were shown to our window-side table, and I noticed how each and every single member of staff we wandered past smiled and greeted us. As I often mention to you, we all know how crazily picky I am with service. (The food could be mind blowing, but if the service isn’t up to scratch, you’ve ruined my meal) I cannot fault the service we received from start to finish – absolutely flawless. 

They had an interesting cocktail menu – infact our BLUEZO’ was electric blue! Normally a cocktail with such a bright color screams fake additives at me, and tastes almost plastic, but this one was pure and gorgeous. With aniseed streaks and a bitter bite to it, it slid down a treat with all the meaty flavours.We asked for a bottle of tap water, and I loved the logo’d bottles… what a cute touch!

hungry donkey in aldgate

Now, prepare yourself to be starving, as we venture into the topic of food. Oh-so-fabulous food. Been-dreaming-about-it-ever-since food. Want-to-be-eating-it-right-now food.

The food was ordered with a warning – order with care, as the portions are humungous. Now, by this point we’d been to the launch of the Trading House‘s new cocktail menu (delish), and we were at that tipsy stage of extreme hunger, so we slightly underestimated this cautioning. Ordered a tonne. I would say I regret that – but luckily they boxed up the leftovers and I mixed the meat in with my lunchtime salad the next day. Win – win.

Saganaki at Hungry Donkey

I loved that each dish was flavoursome and rich – you won’t find a dry plain chicken breast in here. Even a simple greek salad was refreshing and tantalising on the taste buds. We kicked off with three of their gorgeous starters – sausages in paprika and chilli, ‘Sagnaki’ (a deep fried cheese), and incredible Zucchini fritters. I have to say I wasn’t a huge fan of the Sagnaki – however, I would like to highlight that the Zucchini fritters were my idea of heaven.

zucchini fritters in hungry donkey

They were these little crunchy balls – soft and moist on the inside, but just enough crunch on the outside to make you really feel like you’re biting into something. Served up with a delectable sour cream, the zucchini was heightened by a mixture of cheese and lime. A. Maze. 

Next round was the simply exquisite pound of meat – split between juicy lamb and succulent chicken breast. Paired with a gorgeous salad, pitta and little dips – this was the ultimate comfort food. We slowly worked our way through this entire mountain of meat, until I honestly questioned whether I would be able to even walk to the tube. I have never felt so absolutely stuffed in my life.

hungry donkey meat roasting

Verdict? You should be on your way as you’re reading this. Off you go! 

hungry donkey table setting

A huge thank you to both the teams at both Hungry Donkey and MeMo Interactive for arranging this fabulous meal for both Amanda and I. You can also check out her review post here! 

Stay Sassy,

Lauren xxx

Mister Lasagna, Soho, London

The talk of the town – the place that serves 21 different types of Lasagna.

Mister Lasagna opened two weeks ago and I have been highly anticipating my booked in dinner ever since – oh boy, they did not disappoint.

mister lasagna

The first of five locations opening across London, their Soho branch is perfectly located in the bustling evening district. Walking in, it first gives off a neapolitan homely cafe vibe and your eyes are directly drawn to the beauty of 21 different lasagna dishes laid out in front of you. The staff are welcoming and friendly from the get go, instantly recognizing newbies and taking the time to explain the picking process. Admittedly, I had stalked ML on social media, to the point where I knew exactly what I wanted in my face that very second.

I came prepared.

trio at mister lasagna

Let me tell you now – don’t waste your time with the smaller options, I’ll be disappointed in you. I mean, why have only one portion of only one lasagna, if you could have THREE? ML’s ‘Tris’ is £7.80, and afterwards you’ll be so satisfyingly full, that jean button will be coming undone ASAP. If you’re lustfully overwhelmed looking around in disbelief – don’t panic. The team is always on hand to help you with suggestions of their favorites.

staff at Mister Lasagna

They serve up with an everlasting smile, and point you in the direction of their modern inviting ‘basement’. Equipped with joint tables (think Wagamamas), and singular traditional ones, we scooted over to one in the corner. The decor is just fabulous – far from the homely cafe feel you get upon entrance. Long growing-on-the-vine tomatoes in flower pots, tea light candles, and mismatched chairs. I adore that they haven’t bought into the standard ‘instagram-ready’ interior. It feels traditionally Italian with a modern twist.

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Between us, we had 6 different types. Carbonara, Pesto, Bolognese, Truffle, Tuna, and Aubergine. I’d love to be able to pin point my favourite for you, but honestly we worshipped the whole meal. If it helps narrow it down, the Carbonara dish was my least favorite – I know it sounds negative but I really don’t mean it that way. I mean the others were just so fabulous, that Carbonara just sat ever-so-slightly below the very high standards. Of course that could be personal preference! Also, I won’t lie – we were too stuffed to even consider desert. But I’ve heard good things!

TOP TIP: If you’re feeling like there’s a lot of heavy pasta/carbs on your plate, then go for that Aubergine one. It’s a traditional Italian ‘lasagna’ that doesn’t contain pasta sheets, and it was to die for. 

green wall at Mister Lasagna

My only tiny questioning moment, was the dual TV screen set up, and particularly the appropriateness of what was playing. One was showing the frisky drug/hooker enthused Wolf Of Wall Street. Personally I’m a huge fan (I mean, it’s Margot Robbie, who wouldn’t be.) However, although it by no means disrupted my dining experience – apart from a drooling boyfriend – I do question how appropriate it was for the younger diners. Considering how insanely picky I am, this is a tiny minuscule issue in the grand scale of things. Maybe even lose the TV’s in the evening? The music playing was all the entertainment we needed!

Next time we return, I fully intend to grab a bottle of wine and use the basement to it’s full relaxing advantage. I’d happily pop in just for a drink too.

mister lasagna

VERDICT: I’ll see you all in there next week, okay?

Enjoy my little Italian lovers.

Stay Sassy,

Lauren.

xxx

 

 

Cassons, Tangmere, West Sussex

Heaven.

Cassons has been the word on my lips for the last month. It’s the place I’m telling everyone to go for birthdays and anniversaries and Valentine’s and every single celebratory meal you can think of. Why go for a meal elsewhere, when you could go to Cassons?

A hidden gem of West Sussex, Cassons is based on the side of the A27 – if you’re local and you haven’t had the extreme fortune of dining with them so far, believe me you’ve probably driven past it unsuspecting. At first glance, it looks and feels like an extremely upperclass pub. With an understated elegance and a homely welcoming feel, Cassons doesn’t need brash in-your-face decor or a strict dress code. It would be a distraction from what you’re really there to experience: The Food.

Greeting us instantly at the door, Front of House star Alice offered to take our coats and served us drinks with an everlasting smile. Sitting firstly at a table by the bar, we were treated to an excellent platter of mouth watering inventive little bites. Just a tiny tantalising taste of the treat we were in for.

 

Recommendations would be…..everything? Just kidding, I haven’t had the chance to go back and try some more yet!

From their A la carte menu, you can have two dishes for £31 or three for £39. I’m here to tell you exactly what you neeeeeed to order. Firstly, Russ won the starter round with the gorgeous Scallops. ‘Seared scallops, courgette blinis, sauce vierge, watercress
and red pepper coulis.’ If your mouth isn’t watering – it should be. I won the mains though  – he disagrees as the Halibut was gooood, but hey, there’s perks of being a writer! Trust me, have the Venison. ‘Venison fillet, red cabbage and white onion purees, croquette of potato and venison, tenderstem broccoli, wild mushrooms, game jus’. A. Ma. Zing. Also, for desert I highly recommend the Quartet of Desserts. Why have just one, when you could have four?!

 

The evening whisked away before us, as we were taught what food was supposed to taste like with Viv’s incredible cooking. Viv is from New Zealand, and I don’t know what they teach folks over there, but I want to take a class. She stole away from NZ 30 years ago to bring her gorgeous food over here, met Cass (who’s first name I still don’t know?!) and luckily for us this is the 11th year Cassons has blessed us with it’s presence. The fact that it’s run by husband and wife only makes it even more special.

If you have a chance, stop off on the way out for a night cap with Viv and Cass. They treated me to a glass of Baileys on the rocks, and countless life stories about their travels. They’re potentially the most cultured couple I’ve ever met – and in all seriousness, I happily would pop in just to have a chat with them!

 

So, what are you waiting for? Either pop in for lunch or dinner, or have a flick through their upcoming events. There’s a £59.50 9 course tasting menu on the 5th of February – if it wasn’t 6 days before I fly out to New York, I’d be booking my place right nowSo I’m counting on you guys to tell me how AMAZING it goes! Book book book!

Thank you so much to Viv, Cass and their team for having me in to review my evening. Believe me, you’ll be seeing me very soon!

Stay Sassy,

Lauren

xxx

 

 

 

King Charles III, Chichester Festival Theatre

Mike Barlett’s Olivier Award winning satirical play, starring Robert Powell, graced Chichester Festival Theatre with it’s presence for one week only – and my goodness am I glad CFT gave me the chance to see it.

King Charles III starts at our current reigning Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral, and what partakes after is a slightly humorous battle between the prestigious Prince of Wales and the public’s favourite royal couple, Kate and William. In this Shakespearean based drama, we see our Royal family fall to pieces over King Charles refusing to sign off on a parliament bill based on regulating the press, simply because he didn’t agree with it. Shocking, I know. We watched the upheaval of a now broken King, and finish with Kate and William’s long awaited coronation.

You’d think with it’s prestigious royal subject, it would be upperclass and deeply historical – but don’t fear, this is definitely not the case. In fact, this was highlighted with Lorde’s recent hit Royals playing as we left.

Robert Powell has a face every household would recognise, but in this unique role, he outshone in a way I haven’t seen him before. Opinionated, stubborn and powerful – Powell captured my imagination right from the start. I still haven’t quite worked out whether I was supposed to be laughing at him or feeling sympathetic for him, but either way his performance was outstanding.Whilst reading up previous to seeing the show, I discovered that Powell and Prince Charles actually know each other socially – Powell being an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, and both belonging to an exclusive lunch club Saints and Sinners. I can only imagine how daunting that must’ve been!

Another two characters that instantly caught my attention were Prince Harry (Richard Glaves) and Jess (Lucy Phelps). Their young, innocent, and misplaced love had me rooting for them from the moment they met. Phelps’ was excellent as the hipster edgy oh-so-wrong-for-royals young lady, and King Charles’ acceptance of their romance only made it all the more sweet (erm, and odd).

What struck me, and other littered spectators surrounding me, was how alike the actors looked to their real life personas – especially Kate. Type cast to perfection, congratulations Joyce Nettles and your casting team! Another thing that naturally sprung to my attention was the absolutely excellent staging used throughout. Each formation meant something different entirely – it was just inspiring. I left continuing to think ‘hmmmm, I wonder if they’re actually like that?!’

King Charles III

Chichester Festival Theatre was, as always, the perfect venue for this incredible drama. Reasonably priced drinks in the interval always helps too! And there’s no reason for us young’ens to miss out – with the remarkable 16-25 scheme they’re working hard to promote at the moment there really is no excuse. £8.50 per ticket!

I can’t praise this drama enough – it was so damn good that I was honestly struggling to find the words to write this.

Definitely do not miss the next play that comes around, and if you’re looking for a little Christmas spirit, there’s plenty of beautiful seasonal shows on over the next few weeks. However, if you’re desperate to see King Charles III, it’s still making it’s rounds… check out the rest of the tour dates! 

Stay sassy,

Lauren

xxx

Bills restaurant, Chichester

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I’ve never had the pleasure of dining at Bills before – although I have heard it’s a keen favourite for the locals, if they want something a little more upmarket and not too pricey. When I mentioned to a few friends where I was double dating for dinner, I was given extremely good comments, so I walked in with pretty high expectations.

It’s definitely safe to say it did not disappoint.

On arrival, we were instantly ushered over to our booth, and given a beautifully sweet champagne. I noticed instantly the inventive but effective interior design, such as huge vines of dried chilli’s and  copper deep bowl lighting. It was rustic but still modern, and we loved it!

With a quick glance at the menu, all four of us loved the variety of options available. Normally I look at a menu and there’ll be two or three choices that instantly stand out – at Bills, everything stood out. Honestly apart from the chocolate options (yes I don’t like chocolate), I could’ve chosen anything on the menu. So we put all these fabulous choices to the test, and each had a different three course meal – and passed each dish around.

Service there was absolutely impeccable: no waiting times, crazily good politeness, service with a smile – they really did tick all the boxes.

 

Courage Is Not An Option recommends: 

STARTER: Crispy Crumbed Halloumi, with lemon garlic mayonnaise and pickled red onions. 

Alex won this one, although Jess’s ‘Chicken in a jar’ was close second for me. Simple finger food, with an elegant twist. That sauce was absolutely spot on. Russ had Sweetcorn and Coriander pancake, whilst I had the Poached Salmon Fish Cake – which were both also highly recommended, but that Halloumi hit them all out of the ball park!

 

MAIN: Bill’s Hamburger in a sesame seed bun with red onion, tomato, lettuce, horseradish mayonnaise and skin on fries OR Duck Pie with carrots and pearl barley, in a rich gravy sauce – topped with a buttery savvy cabbage mash and pickled red cabbage on the side. 

Alex again, with the Hamburger, and Russ with his Duck Pie, were both on top this time. Again, we loved the simplicity of this. That theme seemed to run strong throughout the entire autumn menu – simple, with a twist. Jess said her Mac n Cheese with Mushrooms and Truffle could’ve ironically been a little more cheesy (the votes were 50/50 on that one). Mine, the Buttermilk Chicken burger was delicious but unfortunately it just felt like it was missing something. Personal preference though!

 

PUDDINGS: Blackberry and Caramel Apple Eton Mess with whipped cream, mascarpone and crushed meringue with blackberries and salted caramel sauce. 

Ohhhhhhh. Wow. Yes – I won this one!! Every flavour perfectly complimented the other, and as odd as this may sound, my favourite part of the dish was that it included huge delicious chunks of apple. The other deserts tried were Warm Pecan Pie, Warm Chocolate Brownie and Lemon Meringue Pie Cheesecake in a glass – all beyond impressive.

 

COCKTAILS: Bramble Mojito. 

So we may or may not have basically tried the entire cocktail menu between us – the lads were driving, so the ladies had the horrid taste of battling through these oh-so-nasty drinks… *Wink* I’d recommend going there on the cocktails alone!

Thank you very much to the entire Chichester team for having us, I can’t wait to return for your spring menu!

So what are you waiting for?! Get yourself down there ASAP!
Stay Sassy,

Lauren

xxx

Brasserie Blanc (Chichester): £20 Charity Dinner helping local Children in need.

Brasserie Blanc Chichester Christmas

Christmas is finally upon us!

As much as I love this time of year, it’s important to remember those of us that are less fortunate. Important all year round, but naturally heightened at this time of giving and receiving, our charitable spirits must take centre stage during these cold months. Which is exactly what I’d like to tell you about today!

Micheal Cullen, general manager, and his wonderful team are hosting their annual event at Chichester Brasserie Blanc from 6.30pm on Sunday the 6th of December. Every year they host a fabulous dinner service with the local children in need in mind – and what could be a better cause.

In collaboration with Wave 105, they’re opening their doors for you to have a three course meal at just £20 a head, including a glass of house wine and a coffee. You heard me – a three course meal, a glass of wine, and a coffee for just £20. The deal speaks for itself.

Along with your usual meal at a standard that can only be described as excellence (review coming up in January!), you get to sit in this gorgeous rustic Christmas enthused restaurant and join in with a festive quiz too. With prizes to be won such as champagnes and wines, it’s bound to be a jolly night pouring love into your community this Christmas.

Head along for a date night, or for a work festive do, or perhaps a family get together. Uni students – it’s your last weekend before most head home, what a perfect way to get ready for the holidays with your housemates!

All the team ask, is that you bring along any present at all suitable for any age between 0-16years. It can be a book, or a baby grow, or an action man, or monopoly or ANYTHING AT ALL. Walk into ANY shop and pick up the first thing on offer, or pick up a couple – or bring that kids toy you forgot to give your cousin last year! Anything!

Please help Michael and his team give the deserving children in our community something to brighten their lives on Christmas day. I ask you to take a moment and think about how you would feel if you didn’t receive anything at all on Christmas day. If, as a child, you went back to school in January and listened in silence to the excited chatter about presents, thinking you’d have been happy with just one tiny gift. Or, if you’re a parent, how awful you would feel if you couldn’t afford to give your children anything this year.

You have a chance to change someone’s Christmas Day. And the great news is, there really is no excuse! If you’re busy on Sunday, don’t fear – Michael has told me he will welcome any gifts at any other time previous to the evening. Even if you can’t attend, you can still contribute!

Luckily for you, there’s still a few spaces – but they’re filling up fast so get booking asap! You can email chichester@brasserieblanc.com, or call directly 01243534200. Last year they collected a fantastic 150 gifts, let’s help them make this year even bigger!

 

Stay Sassy,

Lauren

xxx

Ps. The team asks that you bring your gifts unwrapped, to make it easier to sort gifts into the suitable age groups. Thank you!

Burlesque & Cabaret at The Stage Door, Southampton

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If you’re hunting for a night of fun, this is the place for it. Filled with hoots, risqué comments and barrels of laughter – the very involved (and slightly drunk if we’re honest) audience seemed to enjoy every second!

Organised by the oh-so-fabulous drag queen Joe Black, the Burlesque & Cabaret show at The Stage Door, Southampton is not one to miss. Each time the night returns, he brings different co stars with him from all over the UK (maybe world? I’m not sure) so each time you get a different show.

Joe Black himself, was a hilarious and well rounded performer, with fantastic vocals. I could happily watch a show with just him alone and never get bored. Equipped with a strange and fascinating imagination, Joe carried his audience through the show not only as a performer, but a host too – and didn’t lose their attention for a second. His sidekick and ‘stage manager’, Aaran Shurvinton, was a tall quiet vampire impressionist, and don’t take that ‘tall’ part lightly. What a wonderful duo!

One of my favourite acts of the evening, was feisty (I’m talking Sasha Fierce Beyoncè level sass) Scarlett Daggers. With illuminating bright red hair to match her fiery attitude, she brought along a touch of danger – moving around the small space with scarily gigantic flames. Oooooh she had me on the edge of my seat! And it goes without saying, her confidence is oh-so-rightly owned, as she has a rockin’ figure.

Another one to watch, is Elliot Mason – who had me giggling hysterically both times he came on stage. Handy with a guitar, Mason sang the night away with some creative humorous tracks; including my favourites Jif to Cif, Someone Else, and If You Were My Girlfriend. Cannot explain my new fandom for this talented man!

Yet another fabulous act on the night, was Chi Chi Revolver – an equally sassy energetic professional hoola-hooper. I admire her alone on making a living out of hoola hooping, I mean how cool is that? Her talent is immeasurable. The entire time I was mentally willing her ‘please don’t drop it’ and it’s safe to say she didn’t!

Fabulous news for you all – they’re back again next year! February the 13th! Be sure not to miss out by booking your tickets now.

PS. It’s a great opportunity to get your drinkkkkkkkk on too.

 

Stay Sassy,

Lauren

xxx

Music Theatre South’s Rent at The Stage Door, Southampton

Rent at The Stage Door

If you’re looking for a way to ease gently into the Christmas bubble, and witness some serious talent – Music Theatre South’s Rent at The Stage Door in Southampton is definitely the place to do it.

With elements drawn directly from Giacomo Puccini’s opera La bohème, RENT is one show that needs no introduction – anyone who has ever had a whiff of musical-theatre-love knows the rock opera. Equipped with it’s dark undertones – surviving with Aids, escaping winter when you’re homeless and beating the sell-your-soul-to-the-rich mindset – it still manages to create witty fun loving atmosphere.

On arrival it was noticeably cold, poetically so – setting the scene in this New York based apartment. Eviction notices are strewn along the floor and screaming from the walls, and dark hooded figures pace back and fourth.

I saw a Burlesque Cabaret in the same venue two weeks ago, and I was impressed at the complete adaptation of the space. It was placed as an intimate reverse in the round theatre, which resulted in most of the audience playing ping pong with their heads. It was invigorating – it made it acceptable to whoop, laugh, cheer and cry. Oh, and Moo. It was impossible not to get soaked up in the drama. I had to keep convincing myself ‘no Lauren, you must not cry, you must critique!’ The venue was perfect for the show – a lack of props or major scenery changes, is exactly what it needed.

I’m not going to be careful not to take you through step by step – as I assume your curiosity will get the better of you and you will take a trip to see this wonderful show. 

We were introduced at first to Mark and Roger, our main duo. Mark, played by Matt McGrath, was a little stiff at first (which is not a criticism), a little awkward, and that was exactly how I imagine his character to be. He grows into it, just like his character develops throughout the plot. Roger, played by James Taylor, was equally spot on with his portrayal of the heartbroken HIV positive struggling musician.

Adam Myers and Daniel N’Guessan-Lopez, Tom and Angel respectively, were strong from the outset. Their chemistry was breathtaking, and I believed it straight from the start. These two were people I would’ve cast in the exact same roles – they’re the actors you dream of auditioning when you decide you’re putting on Rent. Adam ripped my heart to shreds during the second act.

Another two that shone brightly from the cast list, was Georgia Walton (Joanne) and Jade Nicholas (Maureen – with that cute wig, ha!). I can’t put into words how incredible their voices are – that’s hands down the best performance of Take Me or Leave Me I have ever heard. Even without the rest of the cast oozing talent, I would go and see it based on that song alone. Even though the role of Joanne was perfect for Miss Walton, my only criticism of the entire show was that I didn’t see or hear enough of her.

Now ensemble – well the ensemble shouldn’t even be called ensemble. Ensemble doesn’t signify the extreme amount of talent in each and every single role. What was great about the production, was that even though they were ‘ensemble’, they still got the chance to showcase their voices. Watch out for Imogen Johnson singing that bit in Seasons Of Love. She gave me shivers.

Raw sexual chemistry filled the entire room from start to finish – especially during the dimly lit, dirty, writhing choreography to Contact.

Congratulations to the creative team – Samuel Quested (Director), Louise Heyler (Musical Director) and James RH Sayers (Choreographer) – for such an excellent execution of a show that is hard to get right. I’m keen to return to review your next production!

Luckily for you, if you buy your tickets today there’s an extra £5 off! Got to love Black Friday deals! Rent runs until Saturday the 5th of December. 

Stay Sassy,

Lauren

xxx

PS. Psssssssst! Remember how I’ve been nominated as one of the final five Bloggers Of The Year in the Charity and Social category for the Bloggers Lounge Awards?! Well you can now VOTE! Click this link, head to the Charity section, and vote for Courage Is Not An Option. No sign up or details necessary – just hit submit! I’ll love you forever!