Thursday, 30 October 2008
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
Thursday, 16 October 2008
“Can’t Smile Without You Review”.
I went to see “Can’t Smile Without You” on Wednesday 1st October at the Palace Theatre in Manchester. I was there visiting my friend Rachel who’s recently gone to study Drama at the nearby University, & it had always been our intention to go and see Francesca in the show; ever since we found out she was doing it.
We arrived at the theatre at about 7:15 on the evening, only to find, to our delight, that our seats had been upgraded – we were no longer in the upper circle but the grand circle, with a perfect view to the stage. I didn’t know many Barry Manilow songs prior to the show, so I wasn’t really sure of what to expect; other than an amazing performance from Fran... which obviously I got!
It took a while at the beginning to develop the storyline, but when it started to build up I really enjoyed it. It must’ve taken Fran at least 15 minutes to come on, & I remember nudging Rachel every time somebody came on – just hoping it would be her. The story was about a man called Tony, played by Chesney Hawkes, going to New York with his band in order to make it big in the music business.
The audience were given the impression during the climax to Fran’s entrance that Tony was falling in love on his travels with a girl called Mandy (ironically I thought!), played by Siobhan Dillon. So at this point I’d started to feel sorry for Tony’s girlfriend Lucy, played by Fran, as she had no idea what was going on. However, when she appeared on stage snogging the face off Tony’s best mate Scott; I laughed. It was exactly the kind of character I imagined her to play, & she suited the role brilliantly. Rachel and I must have been the only teenagers there, as when I looked around the theatre I could see mostly older couples; not forgetting of course the mad group of Chesney fans sitting about 4 rows in front of us. They were clapping and waving excitedly to every song he sang, however slow! It really added to the cheerful atmosphere generated from the audience in the theatre. During the interval we spotted two empty seats even nearer to the stage at the front of the grand circle, so, seizing the opportunity, moved straight away – at the time we were yet to realise how loud the Chesney fans actually were, LOL!
A performance I particularly enjoyed was “Copacabana”, where Fran appeared in dazzling gold; & obviously the bright yellow feather made her stand out even more. I also liked the songs “Looks Like We Made It” and “Who Needs To Dream”; they really made me think back to the time all those months ago when I first heard her sing. Those four weeks repeatedly dialling her number, hoping my votes would be enough – it made me truly believe how worthwhile that was.
After two standing ovations & most of the audience on their feet in appreciation of the amazing actors and actresses that had taken part, the show finished. As soon as the lights came back on, we hurried downstairs & straight to the stage door – I don’t think I could have bared the thought of not meeting Fran; I’d have been devastated! Rachel & I had only been waiting a matter of seconds before she appeared. I literally couldn’t speak for about a minute I was so star struck, but told myself I needed to get a grip else she’d soon go. She seemed in a bit of a rush, so I asked her if she had to leave. She said that she had to catch the 10:20 pm train & it was ten past as it was! She asked my friend where Oxford Street station was, & all three of us found it amusing when Rachel pointed across the road to a huge sign indicating the station was right there. Even so, she stayed to have a picture with each of us, & then I suggested one of us all together. After that had been taken, she made us check it to see if it was alright; saying she was happy to have another one. Just before she made a dash across the road I asked her to sign my programme, where she wrote “To Claire, With Love Francesca J xxx”. Then, telling us she had to love & leave us, she left. I was so happy I’d met her that I shed a few tears; I just couldn’t believe I’d met her. I’ve waited at stage doors at a few shows before to see the cast, but I was determined that night, & I have to say I’ve never met anybody as genuinely nice & appreciative of support from her fans as Francesca. She had to catch a train in 10 minutes, but took the time to chat to until then at least.
I’m hoping to go & see the show again in mid-November when it is on in Stoke, & hopefully I’ll see Francesca again too. She is such a talented woman, & I can guarantee that I’ll continue to follow & support her in whatever she chooses to do in the future. Francesca Jackson is a true inspiration.
Tuesday, 14 October 2008
|REVIEW: Say cheese for a snapshot of Barry Manilow magic|
by Sarah Swain
YOU would expect a musical based on the hits of Barry Manilow and starring 1990s popstar The One and Only' Chesney Hawkes in the lead role to be cheesy.
But Can't Smile Without You is mozzarella with extra parmesan.
It follows a band who go to New York to make it big. But the record producer only wants singer Tony.
He gives up his chance of fame to go back to gigs in Grimsby with the boys - but not before meeting a girl called Mandy of course.
Then an attack leaves Tony unable to remember anything about himself - all he can recall is music.
Manilow hits like Could it be Magic are woven into the plot as he tries to find himself - and his girl - again.
Hawkes has the voice and charisma to win over the Manilow fans. Plus, with Siobhan Dillon, and Francesca Jackson, a runner-up in BBC's Nancy contest, the show proves that though it is heavy on cheese, it's big on charm.
King's Theatre until Saturday. Call 0870 060 6648 or visit www.kings-glasgow.co.uk
Publication date 14/10/08
Sunday, 12 October 2008
Just received a message from Fran to pass on to everyone especially those of you who gave me messages to pass on to her.
I just want to say how AMAZING all of the presents were and especially the messages so many people left me!!!! made me cry when i opened it all in the car on way home!
please please say the biggest thankyou to everyone for me!!!! It really takes my breath away that people actually care that much!!
I think you can all see how overwhelmed Fran was but as we all know she deserves all the support she gets and much much more. I did say the intention wasn't to make her cry.
Keep the support coming and any more messages let me have them as I will hopefully be seeing Fran again at the end of the month.
Friday, 10 October 2008
Wednesday, 8 October 2008
Monday, 6 October 2008
‘Me, my mum and my nana arrived at the Palace Theatre at 1:30, an hour before the show, so after having a picture in front of one of the many posters outside and sitting in the bar we took to our seats and awaited the lifting of the curtains. I was sooooo nervous and I know this might sound silly but it was in case I didn’t get Fran’s autograph lol.
Anyway, the show started and I sat impatiently waiting for Fran to appear. Suddenly my mum started nudging me and pointing over at the left hand side of the stage and then I realised Fran was on stage but in disguise… I stifled a little scream. When Fran came on as Lucy, she blew me away with her singing, acting, everything! Her chemistry with ‘Scott’ was brilliant. She totally showed what she could do in this show, but I already knew that anyway! Her voice is so strong and captivating, I’m sure she looked at me during a song and smiled back at me, but I’ve a feeling she might not have been able to see anyway because of the lights, but I was only on the third row in the Stalls lol, who knows! Most of the time she was situated on the left on side of the stage (as you look at it), right in front of where I was! The show had its equal balance of seriousness and humour, an example of which would be ‘Copacabana’ which had the whole audience in stitches, including me; one of the only teenagers in the audience, if not the only one. I love Fran’s outfit/costume in Copacabana, it brings back memories of ‘I’d Do Anything’ and I’m so glad she took part!
This review would not be full without a mention of Howard Samuels; he is amazingly funny and makes the part of Jeff his own, just like the rest of the cast, though especially during Copacabana. Also, Siobhan Dillon is amazing, her singing and acting are brilliant and the rest of the cast and ensemble work really well together and are also brilliant, the show would not be complete without them! Humour was also added by reference to certain song titles and the ‘bus’ scene which was hilarious! Now, I have to admit to not being a huge fan of Barry Manilow, having only been to see the musical because of Fran, but those journeys home from school on the bus listening to his music persuaded my mind that he is actually quite good. ‘Can’t Smile Without You’ obviously played a bigger part in twisting me to like his music, sung by amazing singers and actors/actresses in the show!
The audience participated a lot throughout, many of them being avid Chesney fans and this added to the enjoyment of the evening. After two standing ovations, it finished L.
We made our way to the stage door and waited. Chesney came out first, I asked for a picture and an autograph- blue pen on the blue front cover of the programme… Then Edward came out (plays Scott) and I had a picture with him. After about 20 minutes Fran came out and I didn’t realise at first. I screamed and she said hello, quite shocked at my reaction I think. I asked if for a picture with her and she did, she is so nice! I actually had a full conversation with her, she signed my programme in my other black pen on the page with her ‘credits’ included it reads, “To Emily, Millions of love Francesca Jackson xxxxx”!!! It’s going to go in a frame alongside my Lee Mead autograph, who cropped into the conversation and Fran agreed he is good-looking! We talked about various things, singing lessons, auditions and Can’t Smile Without You, but we let her go so she could presumably have her tea before the next show at half 7, the last show in Manchester. She wished me good luck with my future (hopefully musical theatre) and we wished her good luck and said we would look out for her in the future!
She is so pretty and amazing and such a genuine person! I mean, she didn’t have to stay and talk or say good luck to me but she did. Because she’s phenomenal and I will always remember it!
Many thanks to Emily for the great review and lovely picture.
Friday, 3 October 2008
Thursday, 2 October 2008
It turns out that Brian the Duck Travels all over the world and had been photographed with numerous famous people and in some great locations, these pictures can be seen on Brian's very own facebook page.
Thanks to Michelle Plowman and Elizabeth Banks the 2 photographers, here are the pictures of Fran posing with Brian.
As you can see Fran looks like she's enjoying posing with Brian. So if anyone else has any other ideas get out there and try it - Siobhan and Chesney were also good sports and posed with Brian Check out his facebook page below for those pictures.
Brian The Duck's Facebook Page
I arrived in Bristol with my family at about six, so incredibly excited about seeing Fran live for the first time. When I saw the theatre with its huge ‘Can’t Smile Without You’ sign I was even more so, and that was pretty excessive excitement! It was then that I discovered my camera wouldn’t work. Determined not let it ruin my evening, I smiled and attempted to suppress my frustration. After a few minutes, however, I realised the joy of mobile phones, and then I could relax – if I did get the opportunity for photos I wouldn’t have to miss it. As it had taken us nearly two hours to get to Bristol we had packed sandwiches and ate them sat on benches just across the road from the theatre. I was so excited I gobbled mine down in about 10 seconds and then had to wait for everyone else to finish eating. Eventually, when they had finished, we walked around the block to find the stage door so we would know where to go later...
The show itself was absolutely amazing! Whenever Fran was on stage I couldn’t take my eyes off of her – she has such stage-presence and of course that amazing voice! Fran’s part as Lucy has quite a wide variety of roles to fulfil and she coped with these very well. There was quite a surprise when she appeared in a very ‘Viva Las Vegas’ (for all those avid IDA fans) style costume for the Copacabana, which was thoroughly enjoyed by the entire audience! The rest of the cast were also truly excellent, and I was very impressed by the ensemble performers. Chesney Hawkes rose well to the challenge of musical theatre and you could definitely see the chemistry between Scott (Edward Handoll) and Lucy (Fran!).
When the show finished we were out of our seats very speedily and rushed to the stage door to hopefully meet the lady herself. It was my first stage-door ever, and I was so nervous. Armed with my frequent-stage-doorer friend’s lucky Sharpie I managed to get the best spot – right opposite the door. Chesney came out first and was very friendly, signing programmes and having photos taken. I waited in anticipation from Fran to come out. However when she did I almost froze and just stood there. Luckily my mum nudged me hard in the back and got me going. I was the first to speak to her and she was so incredibly lovely to me... I was so happy! It wasn’t until a bit later that I managed to pluck up the courage to ask her for a photo and she realised I had been waiting all that time and was so apologetic, even though it was by no means her fault!
I was so impressed by Fran’s incredible talent and of course her wonderful kindness to her fans and, miraculously, she managed to surpass both my unbelievably high expectations of her, and my even higher hopes! Wow!
Many thanks for sharing your experience's and photos with everyone Natasha. And for anyone else who would like to contribute please feel free to email me.
Wednesday, 1 October 2008
Also to keep you all going I've managed to find a few other pictures of Fran.