Charlie and the chocolate factory

What’s the best way to keep twin 7 year old girls amused? Take them to watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in Covent Garden’s Theatre Royal.

We went as guests of Today Tix, a revolutionary theatre ticket app created by Broadway and West End producers to give you inside access to the best prices available on this week’s theatre tickets. But more of the app in a moment.

As our visit to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory coincides very neatly with Roald Dahl’s Day – 13th September, I want to tell you about the show.

It was fantastic.

Charlie and the chocolate factory

Directed by Sam Mendes, the show has recently celebrated its third year in the West End. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory won two Olivier awards in April 2014 and has been seen by over 1,400,000 since June 2013.

The sets are awesome and I was continually amazed by the amount of detail gone into each piece that was on stage, the colours have been carefully selected, at first to represent the poverty and dire circumstances of Charlie Bucket and his family and then a rainbow kaleidoscope that represents the wacky world of Willy Wonka and his Oompa Loompas.

charlie and the chocolate factory

The acting was spot on and kept us gripped all the way through and the children have been casted perfectly. Each child was true to the 50+ year old story, easily recognisable, their parents too.

A lot of detail has gone into the costumes, the music and the lyrics and all together the viewer is awarded with a magnificent and unforgettable performance.

The show was so good I would gladly go and see it again.

Today Tix

iphone vertical with TodayTix London 1

Today Tix is the clever new app that allows theatre goers to save money, check availability for the current week, get great seats and set alerts.

Today Tix asked me to book my tickets using the app so I could see for myself just how easy it was.

Available for a free download for iOS and Android the home page takes you to a list of current West End shows, currently you can find Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Kinky Boots, Memphis (my mums said it was brilliant), Wicked and many, many more.

Clicking through to your chosen show, in my case Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I can see images of the show scrolling at the top and underneath a short description and list of dates and times covering the coming week. There is also an indication of the cheapest tickets available.

Today Tix app

Clicking on your chosen performance you are taken to a map of the theatre, underneath an area to indicate how many tickets you are looking for and under that the sections of the theatre with prices.

By clicking Select you are then taken to your chosen area and shown the best seats available for the number of chosen tickets you selected. If you are happy with the suggestion click Checkout and go through with the payment. Your tickets will be available at the theatre for collection.

It is amazingly simple and you are sent an email with confirmation.

Today Tix Facts and Figures

1 ticket sold every 53 seconds

2,300+ 5 star reviews

$5,800,000 amount of customer’s money saved on tickets

Roald Dahl and his legacy

Roald Dahl lived from 1916 – 1990 and next year celebrations will be in place to celebrate his centenary. Roald Dahl Day has been going since 2006 and celebrates his birth month and his work, he was one of the world’s most inventive, mischievious, successful and loved storytellers with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory celebrating 50 years last year.

Two charities have been founded in his memory: Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity, to make life better for seriously ill children and the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre which is a cultural, literary and education hub in Great Missenden.

10% of the author’s roaylties from all of his books and adaptations are donated to the two Roald Dahl charities.

Disclosure: We were given three tickets to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Today Tix, all opinions are my own.

Cinderella exhibition

As school broke up for the Easter holidays I changed the girls out of their uniforms and whisked them off to the cinema for a full immersion in the film Cinderella by Disney only this time played with real actors.

cinderella maid dress

Cinderella, the animated Disney film, has long been a favourite of ours, we adore Gus the mouse, we get angry with the ugly sisters and very much dislike the evil stepmother. We know the words and songs by heart and the story is engraved on our hearts forever, just as a true fairytale should be.

cinderella - lady tremaine

The latest Cinderella film directed by Kenneth Brannagh is utterly spellbinding from the very start. Set in a kingdom not too far away the beautiful child Ella is adored by her parents. Her mother sadly dies when she Ella is still a child but not before leaving her with the most important message,

Where there is kindness, there is goodness… and where there is goodness there is magic.

cinderella pumpkin

Her dad decides to remarry and Lady Tremaine, the evil stepmother and her two daughters, Anastasia and Drisella become Ella’s new family.

cinderella step sisters

When her father passes away Lady Tremaine and her daughters show their true colours and rename Ella ‘Cinderella’ giving her a very tough time but true to the fairy tale, Cinderella remains a sweet hardworking girl looking after the house and home, cooking, cleaning and mending. Fuelled by her mother’s words, Have Courage and Be Kind.

Cinderella fairy godmother

Helena Bonham Carter plays the best Fairy Godmother, the carriage is stunning and the film is peppered with humour all the way through alongside the innocence and humble lifestyle of Cinderella.

Cinderella Carriage

The film really stands out for the excellent costumes and over the Easter break the girls and I met up with one of their school friends and mum and we all went up to the Swarovski exhibition in London’s Leicester Square for a closer look at the costumes and props used in the film.

Cinderella costumes exhibition

The film’s costume designer is the Academy Award Winner Sandy Powell who allows you to walk through and follow her creative process from the initial designs to the final creations. The spectacular ball gown took my breath away and the glass slipper was enchanting.

cinderella ball gown

The solid crystal slipper features 221 facets in a crystal blue aurora borealis coating, impossible to not fall in love with it. Six versions were required to create the perfect shoe and 150 hours of design time went into the making.

cinderella glass slipper

Swarovski provided over 1.7 million cut stones to embellish the costumes of the ball gown, the Fairy Godmother’s dress and her magic wand, and the Wicked Stepmother’s glamorous arrival outfit.

cinderella Sandy Powell

Swarovski opened it’s archives and lent over 150 tiaras and jewellery pieces for the famous ball scene.

Creating a live action version of the classic fairytale gave me the freedom to channel fantasy and that ‘Once upon a time’ feel through all of the costumes. It really was a costume designer’s dream job. — Sandy Powell

Antonio Banderas and Marianne Weekes

The day one of my dreams came true was the day I met Antonio Banderas, whom I’ve had a lifetime crush on. Can you imagine the thrill of meeting him for REAL?

I’m still in awe that it ever happened. I could retire on that and be happy telling my grandkids who wouldn’t have a clue what I was on about.

Antonio Banderas plays Burger-Beard the Pirate in the new SpongeBob movie by Paramount, Sponge out of Water. He is a formidable pirate with an incredibly loud voice, the perfect pirate accent and he’s a wonderful baddie; very naughty, just the right amount of selfish, a bit crazy and his crew are a team of seagulls.

With such an important task at hand, I studied the film, researched his character and realised I too wanted the recipe to make the Krabby Patties that the whole film were going crazy about.

Plankton manages to get his hands on the secret formula by hiding in a penny and being tossed in the safe….

So gather round as I have a plan…..

If I use a bit of Paramount magic and hide myself in a penny, pass the penny to Antonio Banderas who in turn gives it to Burger-Beard because he knows how much his ship sailing friend likes shiny coins. Burger-Beard tosses it in his treasure chest which contains the magical book. I can rewrite the story.

I would star in it (alongside Antonio of course) and return the secret formula to the world so the children of the world can enjoy Krabby Patties whenever they wish.

All I have to do is give the penny to Antonio…

Fairytale: Story of the seven dwarves

Fairytale: Story of the Seven Dwarves

We’ve been sent two films to review for Mari’s World and judging by the amount of times Story of the Seven Dwarves has been played I’d say it is a massive hit with the twins.

It’s an animated film that is basically a mash up of all your favourite fairytales. There’s a romance between Sleeping Beauty and Jack, from Jack and the Beanstalk.

There’s a baddie, the Snow Queen who puts a wicked spell on Sleeping Beauty and there are the heros, in this case the seven dwarves who actually cause the mishap in the first place by accidentally pricking Sleeping Beauty with a needle and sending the entire kingdom to sleep. The dwarves now have to find Sleeping Beauty’s One True Love in order to undo the wicked spell and that my friends is where the adventure starts.

One of my favourite scenes has to be the tap dancing dragon which is just hilarious.

Watch out for Fairytale: Story of the Seven Dwarves in cinemas now and on DVD too.

 Verdict: Buy it, the twins LOVE this and are currently watching it on repeat.

Fairytale: A True Story

This film is loosely based on the real events of the Cottingley fairies. It tells the story of the sensation caused across England in 1917 when young cousins Elsie and Frances take photographs of fairies they have ‘discovered’ in a nearby meadow.

The public love the story and the girls are thrown into celebrity status with support from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini. With the supporters who refuse to concede and the cynics determined to flush out their lies the girls are under enormous scrutiny.

We have already watched this film on TV a while back and are pleased it is coming out on DVD 23rd March as it’s always a good story to go back to. It will also be played at selected cinemas from March 13th.

Verdict: Liked the film and enjoyed it but not on the scale of the one above. Will most likely watch it again sometime

disney on ice magical ice festival

We have become Disney fanatics in this house – especially Frozen ones but our recent trip to Disney on Ice was the perfect occasion to reintroduce some of our favourite and forgotten characters to playtime, like Pinocchio, Lion King and Aladdin where the genie remains my firm favourite. Even if Sebastian does come a very close second, here he is in the new line up of Magical Ice Festival this spring.

sebastin disney on ice

I was really excited to hear that Disney on Ice returns to the UK with the Magical Ice Festival with another fabulous line up, Ariel, Rapunzel, Belle, Aurora and  for the first time EVER Anna and Elsa from the blockbuster Frozen.

anna and elsa magical ice festival

The Frozen sisters will be accompanied on a journey up North Mountain by Olaf, Kristoff and Sven and their journey will be one with action, adventure, magic and unforgettable characters.

Feld Entertainment have been producing Disney on Ice shows for over 30 years and they know how to get an audience on its feet with singing, dancing and cheering on their favourite Disney Characters

Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse guide fans through an enchanting wonderland where they encounter Sebastian and the Daughters of Triton from Disney’s The Little Mermaid, the rowdy pub thugs from Disney’s Tangled and the loyal enchanted servants from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

Disney On Ice presents Magical Ice Festival eye-opening facts and figures:

Hours it takes to set up the production – 12-15
Number of male performers in the production – 21
Number of female performers in the production – 22
Number of costumes in the show – 180
Number of yards of fabric used to make the costumes – Over 350 thousand Total number of props in the show – 183
Number of different paint colours used on the props – 85

Disney on Ice

New dates available

If you haven’t been lucky enough to secure tickets yet the performances below go on sale TODAY


BIRMINGHAM: Wednesday, April 1st, 7pm, performance

LONDON: Wednesday, April 22, 7pm performance

CARDIFF: Friday, May 1, 11am performance