FORM The Sculpture Show: Art Meets Nature at Sculpture By The Lakes, Dorset [AD Press Trip]

FORM The Sculpture Show: Art Meets Nature at Sculpture By The Lakes, Dorset [AD Press Trip]

This review of Sculpture by the Lakes is so kindly courtesy of Darren North East PR

Dear enchanted ones,

Peaceful as it is popular, the breathtaking Sculpture By The Lakes near Dorchester in the county of Dorset is an unspoiled wilderness surrounded by the meandering River Frome, where you can truly envelop yourself in the serene and tranquil lakes that inspire this much-loved destination’s name.

Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that Sculpture By The Lakes has been described as one of the most beautiful and unique sculpture parks in the UK!

This Spring, this stunning location is the home to FORM; The Sculpture Show from the 30th of March to the 29th of May 2022 where art meets nature around the 26-acre park with monumental pieces in the main gardens, with smaller works that are shown in the Gallery and Sculpture Courtyard.

The FORM; The Sculpture Show exhibition seeks to place, view and enable you to purchase sculptures from award-winning sculptors across a breadth of styles and mediums in the most tranquil and beautiful of settings.

Regular readers will perhaps know that I have visited this gorgeous spot many times and for your reference, my previous visits can be found here in this handy archive for you to enjoy after reading about this latest visit.

Most recently, my Spring visit is with profound thanks to both Sculpture by the Lakes and Darren Northeast PR for allowing me to attend this latest exhibition.

Art Meets Nature at Sculpture By The Lakes

“The way sculpture interacts with its environment, changing with the light, the weather, the seasons, means that where you experience it is vitally important. Putting large-scale sculptures in a museum or gallery diminishes their power, but in a beautiful, natural environment, that power is restored; they come alive. That was one of the reasons I started Sculpture by the Lakes many years ago, and why this was such a successful event last year. It is a rare and special opportunity for sculpture-lovers to see and enjoy the works of some of the best sculptors from across the UK together in one place”.

Simon Gudgeon, Sculptor and owner of Sculpture by the Lakes

How does art meet and inspire nature? And vice-versa.

Well, this is exactly what sprung to mind as I immersed myself in the FORM; The Sculpture Show exhibition.

Moreover, I was truly enchanted by the above words from Simon Gudgeon, Sculptor and owner of Sculpture by the Lakes, and his beautiful description of the symbiotic relationship between the sculpture and the nature that surrounds his artistry.

Simon Gudgeon (born 1958) is a British sculptor specialising in large pieces for public display, usually in bronze, but also sometimes glass or stainless steel who alongside his world-famous sculptures, also created Sculpture by the Lakes as an expression of his love for the beauty and wonder of nature.

As I set off in two weeks to record the debut workshop for the Academy Of The Enchanted Arts called ‘Claude Monet’s Enchanted Paradise’, the symbiotic relationship between art and nature is something deeply present on my mind!

Just like Simon Gudgeon’s mastery at bringing art and nature together in his sculpture, Claude Monet’s work is also steeped in a reverence for nature.

Monet’s words echo this time and time again: “The richness I achieve comes from nature, the source of my inspiration”, and in addition, “I do what I can to express what I feel in the presence of nature.”

But it’s not just Simon Gudgeon and Monet.

From time immemorial, artists have sought to use art as a way to explore the world of nature.

In fact, some philosophers including Aristotle once proclaimed that art can in fact mimic nature.

For Aristotle, nature is the embodiment and a true reflection of the artist’s inner soul.

Aristotle even once wrote that, “art not only imitates nature but also completes its deficiencies”.

With this in mind, what makes Sculpture by the Lakes so special is that each sculpture has been meticulously positioned in just the right place on the grounds to enhance the aesthetic qualities of each piece.

As a result, the FORM; The Sculpture Show exhibition exemplified that art is not only recreating the natural world, but that the placement of the sculptures aids in seeing nature in another light. Or indeed, using the art as a language in which to bring a voice to the nature around it.

This is so abundantly clear in many of my favourite sculptures by Simon Gudgeon and a plethora of other incredibly talented artists.

As I meandered around the grounds, and the myriad of paths, I was utterly captivated by the magical light and shade that danced on the sculptures that were mirrored in the blissful surroundings.

It’s beyond special to be in the presence of artwork that so masterfully reflects your enchanting surroundings, and this is one of my favourite things about this exhibition.

My FORM The Sculpture Show Gallery Exhibition

After a delicious lunch in the Cafe By The Lakes (this truly deserves a post of its own!), I wandered inside the Gallery where the FORM; The Sculpture Show continued with smaller sculptures and weaved the intricacy and beauty of the large-scale pieces by Simon Gudgeon into other pieces like jewellery.

Ending my visit in the Gallery was a further serene moment where the world continued to slow down for a few peaceful moments, and where the artwork around me could refresh, revitalise and ready my own creativity for new hopes and new opportunities. In particular, I truly will carry this inspiration into my Monet workshop.

In essence, any visitor to Sculpture by the Lakes is left with the experience of walking around a work of art through the sculptures and the environment that truly do exist in a unique symbiotic relationship. The FORM; The Sculpture Show exhibition illuminates this more than ever.

Thank you so much again to Sculpture by the Lakes and Darren Northeast PR for allowing me to attend the FORM; The Sculpture Show exhibition.

I truly can’t wait to re-visit this idyllic treasured spot in Dorset soon to bathe in the creativity this tranquil spot is so stimulating and invigorating for.

How many of you have been to Sculpture by the Lakes? What are your thoughts about the relationship between art and nature? I’d love to know by chatting in the comments below!

With love and infinite blessings,

Georgie xoxo

Future and Upcoming Events at Sculpture By The Lakes

There is always something going on at Sculpture By The Lakes.

If you’re in Dorset, I do hope you’ll be able to visit this wonder-filled location on your doorstep!

For those venturing from further afield, here are some of my top picks to explore later this year.

To mark the dates in your diary, click here or see below for some of my highlighted picks for my enchanted audience:

  • Wellbeing By The Lakes: Wellbeing By The Lakes is a 3-day festival exploring what it means to be mindful and how to live well in this fast-paced modern world. These 3-days of mindfulness are a curated blend of experts talks, meditation, movement sessions, art, live performance and healing therapies that will open your eyes to fresh experiences for wellbeing. Truly, for two years now this has been one of my favourite 3 days of the year! Click here to read about my experience


Sculpture by the Lakes is open Wednesday to Sunday, 10.00 am to 5.00 pm.

Book tickets in advance here.

Sculpture by the Lakes, Pallington, Dorchester, Dorset, DT2 8QU


An artist must possess Nature. He must identify himself with her rhythm, by efforts that will prepare the mastery which will later enable him to express himself in his language.

-Henry Matisse

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Dorset Arts Festival at Sculpture By The Lakes [AD Press Trip]

Dorset Arts Festival at Sculpture By The Lakes [AD Press Trip]

This review of Sculpture by the Lakes is so kindly courtesy of Darren North East PR

A visit to Sculpture by the Lakes in Dorset is always a peaceful and inspirational experience so if you add to the landscape many local artists, you create a vibrant buzzing atmosphere of creativity and talent.

Last year, in September, I spent a wonderful day at Sculpture by the Lakes for Wellbeing By The Lakes, a 3-day wellness festival. This was truly one of my highlights of last year so it was so lovely to be able to return this year albeit with the world feeling very different from last year.

Most recently, my visit was thanks to both Sculpture by the Lakes and Darren Northeast PR to attend the Dorset Arts Festival.


Since their re-opening on June 3rd of this year since the Covid-19 lockdown, Sculpture by the Lakes offers local visitors a safe escape and a warm welcome with the much-needed experience of being surrounded by nature and beauty once again.

The Dorset Arts Festival is one of the very few events that was able to be hosted this 2020 year. The intention of the event was to celebrate a small showcase of the best artists and makers in Dorset.

Across the vast, tranquil landscape of Sculpture by the Lakes over 50 artists and crafters gathered together to demonstrate their skills.

The Dorset Arts Festival was a beautiful opportunity to witness paintings being created beside the lakes, to pots being thrown in other spots, to watch baskets being weaved, and a whole range of other arts and crafts disciplines being demonstrated at a social distance.

The aim of the festival was to see artists and crafters from a variety of creative backgrounds to demonstrate their skills and exhibit their work so you can see and understand the process. 

Sculpture by the Lakes is a 26-acre sculpture park, created by the renowned sculptor Simon Gudgeon.

The concept behind Sculpture by the Lakes was to showcase inspiring works of art in a naturally beautiful setting as opposed to the artificial constraints of a gallery with its enclosed spaces.

What makes Sculpture by the Lakes so special is that each sculpture has been meticulously positioned in just the right place in the grounds to enhance the aesthetic qualities of each piece.

Any visitor is left with the experience of walking around a work of art as the sculptures and the environment exist in a unique symbiotic relationship.

It is little wonder therefore that it has become a magnet for creative talents and artists to come to enjoy the peace and tranquillity and to be inspired.

Normally there are numerous classes to nurture the creativity of novices and experienced artists alike however these are currently postponed due to Covid-19.

In normal times, work is exhibited from various artists in the on-site gallery, and themed events such as Wellbeing By The Lakes that draw huge crowds. As a result of current events, sadly the 2020 festival has had to be cancelled this year.

Due to its more modest size, thankfully the Dorset Arts Festival was able to proceed with ample social distancing and hand sanitizers we all take for normal now.

One of the many quotes I spotted around the grounds (in the above photo) was incredibly pertinent to this event: “Use what talents you possess, the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best”.

Creativity in all its forms can be something sacred to lean into, no matter how crowded we believe the arena to be.

Learning a new craft and creative hobby isn’t just fun at the best of times, it can also be the solace we need in these uncertain times as a deep practice of mindfulness.

Here are some of just some of the artists I witnessed that struck a chord in particular.

Dorset Buttons and Textile Artist Anna McDowell

One of the first crafts to capture my attention was textile artist Anna McDowell whose work exhibits the Dorset Button Industry by Henry’s Buttons.

Dorset button is a style of craft-made button originating in Dorset.

The manufacture of Dorset Buttons was at a peak between 1622 and 1850, after which they were overtaken by machine-made buttons from factories in the developing industries of Birmingham and other growing cities.

Like so many heritage crafts and skills, information on how to make Dorset Buttons was passed down from generation to generation and this cottage industry would impact the lives of hundreds of families in Dorset for more than 200 years.

It was so wonderful to meet Anna and learn more about this fascinating heritage craft with such poignant links to the landscape it was being exhibited in.

The precision and detail in each and every single Dorset Button is so spectacular. I was in such awe of the myriad of effects that can be created.

In 2017, the Heritage Crafts Association included Dorset Button making as one of their list of endangered heritage crafts and I am so passionate to learn how to create some of my own after this event.

If you’d like to find more about Dorset Buttons and download some templates of your own, click here.

Times To Treasure Silverclay Jewellery

The next stall I visited was the Silverclay jewellery collection from Times To Treasure by Grainne.

Silverclay is a wonderfully versatile substance that is relatively new to the field of jewellery making. And one that has truly sparked curiosity for me!

It is a simple material to use and because of that, it enables people to make beautiful jewellery without many years of training as silversmiths!

Silverclay consists of minute particles of pure silver mixed with a non-toxic organic binder, which binds the silver particles together to form a clay-like substance. In this clay form, it can be manipulated just like normal clay.

As Grainne demonstrated, the clay can be rolled, flattened, cut with a blade, pressed into moulds or impressed with shapes and textures. There were many examples on the Times To Treasure stall and I loved the dainty star earrings in little jars.

After Silverclay has been left to dry it is fired (either in a kiln or with a simple gas torch) which turns it into pure silver. 

The whole process of witnessing the magic behind Silverclay has only made me want to dive into this craft even more!

Moreover, because the end product is pure silver, Silverclay can be used in the same way as any other precious metal. So it can be filed, sanded, textured, burnished and polished.

I can’t wait to explore Silverclay in more detail and it was so wonderful to see the demonstrations from Grainne. 

Click here to find more about Silver Clay Workshops in Dorset.

The Mouse Hole Woolery

The next stall that truly captured my heart and imagination was The Mouse Hole Woolery who is the maker of needle felted animal sculptures inspired by the animals, landscape and conservation of the British Countryside.

​The ethos of The Mouse Hole Woolery is: “Take time for yourself, connect with the raw materials and create your own individual piece of nature.”

As we all find ourselves spending more time in our homes, it’s healing for some of us to have ideas to keep us busy and our minds active but also be connected to nature. This is exactly why I was so enamoured by The Mouse Hole Woolery.

Carla Taylor’s majestic animal sculptures at The Mouse Hole Woolery are created using the time-consuming, but most rewarding, process of needle felting.

Needle felting is a craft created where the artist repeatedly stabs at loose wool fibres with a barbed needle where you can then shape, re-shape, and create life-like animals (or other objects) with incredible attention to detail.

Needle felting until not so long ago was a relatively unknown art form, however, it has now become one of the most in-demand crafts.

Carla’s own journey into needle felting was inspired by her Dorset countryside surroundings.

Carla’s partner is a farmer and whilst he was working on a rare breed farm, Carla was helping out get the sheep ready for shearing, and that’s when she fell in love with wool!

Carla recalls how the lanolin felt on her hands and that the textures were fascinating to her.

Now Carla is an official supporter of the Campaign for Wool, where she likes to work closely with local Dorset farmers promoting the use of local and British wool and will often refer to conservation awareness within her sculptures as well as incorporating vintage pieces into her work.

Outside of creating her own spectacular felted creations, Carla also runs a number of workshops throughout the year where you can create your own little piece of nature. I would love nothing more than to attend one as soon as restrictions allow me to do so.

Meanwhile, you can click here to visit The Mouse Hole Woolery workshops page for more information on the classes and products that she offers.

Raffia Craft by Clairedoescraft

Finally, we have the beautiful timeless work of Rafia Craft by Clairedoescraft.

Raffia is the most sustainable type of palm known to hat and accessories makers. The palms on this tree can grow from 60 to 80 feet and can be harvested without damage to the plant itself.

Claire first began working with raffia in 1993. Since then, Claire has expanded her craft by creating a range of bags and kits to make your own raffia products. 

Straw hats and bags are a common sight in the summer period, especially in our high street shops, but seeing first-hand the artistry of how they are made has made me want to explore this craft more deeply.

Moreover, it was so important for me to witness how important it is to find sustainable alternatives to the high-street models and raffia is a fascinating medium to work with.

As well as these beautiful products of raffia on display, from bags to hats, Claire is also the author of ‘Raffia: The Arts of Crafts’, the complete guide to working with raffia.

In this book, Claire offers different dyeing and colouring methods and plaiting and sewing techniques for a variety of items such as sun hats, dried flower baskets, candlestick holders and picture frames. What a dreamy project for the summer this would be!

Click here to find out more about Claire’s book and products.

Whilst this year’s Dorset Arts Festival event had to take place against the background of a global pandemic that has changed our lives for now and possibly in some ways forever, it still remained so special.

During this period, many of us have reignited, or perhaps found for the first time, the pleasures associated by awakening our hidden creativities and the advantages that this brings to our wellbeing.

The Dorset Arts Festival, that was located at Sculpture by the Lakes, provided the perfect oasis for artists and art lovers and as another of the quotations from the gardens says: “Time spent in nature heals your Body, Mind and Spirit”. How true this is.

Thank you so much again to Sculpture by the Lakes and Darren Northeast PR for allowing me to attend the Dorset Arts Festival.

I will certainly be revisiting this idyllic treasured spot in Dorset soon with my journal or sketchbook to bathe in the creativity this tranquil spot is so stimulating and invigorating for.

How many of you have been to Sculpture by the Lakes? How have you been nourishing your creativity whilst in lockdown? Have you ever tried any of the above crafts? I’d love to know by chatting in the comments below.


Sculpture by the Lakes is open Wednesday to Sunday, 10.00 am to 5.00 pm.

Book tickets in advance here.

Sculpture by the Lakes, Pallington, Dorchester, Dorset, DT2 8QU

Click here for more information about Sculpture By The Lakes

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Art and Fashion: The Bloomsbury Collection by Olivia Annabelle

Art and Fashion: The Bloomsbury Collection by Olivia Annabelle

I have long been inspired by the work and creativity of the Bloomsbury Group, a set of artists and intellectuals, including Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, who lived and worked in Bloomsbury in central London during the early 20th century.

The Bloomsbury Group believed in creativity, innovation and beauty. Through these qualities, we find the breathtaking work of Olivia Annabelle apparel, whose Spring and Summer collection for 2020 honours the timeless style of the influential group.

The Doorway, Duncan Grant (1929)
The Bloomsbury Group

Olivia Annabelle is founded by Olivia Welsh, a fashion designer from Manchester.

After finding frustration with the lack of diversity and innovation on the highstreet, Olivia was inspired to design clothes made from beautiful fabrics that are unique, well made and that don’t follow trends. 

At the heart of Olivia Annabelle apparel is the aim to make limited-edition high-quality pieces that have longevity and a timeless appeal that can be kept and worn forever.

There is an inherently British feel to Olivia Annabelle‘s designs that, like the Bloomsbury Group collection, takes inspiration from the nostalgia of the past, local traditions and superstitions.

I’m so honoured to have a virtual chat with the inspiring Olivia Annabelle herself. In this interview, Olivia discusses the process of designing this collection, that included hours spent researching the history, novels, art and culture of the Bloomsbury Group, to the overall whimsicality of Olivia’s storyteller ideas and processes around designing.

View Into A Garden, Vanessa Bell, 1926
Firle Place Mortlake Tapestry, Duncan Grant 1960

The Olivia Annabelle Bloomsbury collection features prints, textures and motifs that are inspired by the hugely creative output of the artists, poets and designers of the 1930s, especially those associated with the Bloomsbury Group.

The charm of the collection reflects the eclectic nature of influences ranging from the group’s Post Impressionist style paintings and textiles.

You can also evidently see the fusion of the interior decoration from Charleston Farmhouse, the beautifully preserved home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. Both of whom were key personalities within the Bloomsbury Group.

So, let us dive into a collection that truly wouldn’t look out of place at Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant’s beloved Charleston home by chatting to Olivia about how she went about curating this stunning collection.

Charleston House interior

Hi Olivia! Firstly, how did your label Olivia Annabelle come to be?

Hello! After graduating from uni and undertaking a few internships I realised I couldn’t find what I wanted to wear when I went shopping, I was so bored with what the high street shops were offering. So it was a frustration with the lack of diversity and innovation on the high street fostered a desire to design clothes made from beautiful fabrics that are unique, well made and don’t follow trends. At the heart of the brand is our aim to make limited-edition high-quality pieces that have longevity and timeless appeal that can be kept and worn forever.

Describe Olivia Annabelle apparel in 3 words: 

Whimsical, Feminine, Timeless

Can you please tell us the story behind your gorgeous new Bloomsbury collection?

The Bloomsbury Collection takes inspiration from the body of Modernist English writers, philosophers and artists who became notorious for their colourful gatherings at Charleston House. Nestled in the Sussex countryside, Charleston House allowed the visionaries to escape the increasingly fast-paced, modern environment of the city that was expanding around them.

This collection seeks to capture some of this rebelliously escapist sensibility, bustling with ultra-feminine efflorescent prints that echo the beautiful gardens at Charleston and Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell’s artwork around the house.

I’ve wanted to create a collection inspired by the Bloomsbury Group for a long time. I bought all of Virginia Woolf’s books whilst at uni and watched the period drama Life in Squares which really brought their story to life.

I am also a big fan of Duncan Grant’s paintings and textile designs – I had originally planned to create a collection inspired by their work last year but felt that the colours were more suited to Springtime! 

What was on your mood board while putting it all together?

The main theme throughout my mood boards are images of Charleston House. It provided so much inspiration!

If you’ve not seen Charleston House it is a farmhouse that used to belong to Vanessa Bell and the whole of the interior is adorned with paintings by the group, and also many of their own paintings feature the gardens and rooms at Charleston House.

The colour scheme mood board is also reminiscent of nature with an emphasis on green and pastel floral shades that reflect the group’s investment in the English Countryside.

I also used a mood board featuring clothing styles of the 20s and 30s era, floaty, whimsical shapes from the era are evident but are contrasted with a masculine velvet smoking jacket, the combination of which encapsulates the bohemian and forward-thinking lifestyle of the members. 

What kind of person are you designing for?

The kind of person I’m designing for is looking for something a bit different, and more personal than the big brands on the high street.

Someone who appreciates the historic clothing references, the well-researched stories behind the designs and themes and also the fact that Olivia Annabelle is a small business.

I receive messages from my customers and followers who are excited about the next theme and can’t wait to see what we come up with, which is a great boost when we are such a small company.

Can you please talk us through some of the techniques used for this collection? I.e fabrics, embellishments etc and how it all came to be

For the Bell Moss Green Velvet Embroidered Jacket, made from Silk Viscose Velvet, I designed a little floral emblem inspired by the artwork of Duncan Grant in shades of lilac, green and orange, which was then embroidered onto the velvet fabric.

All of the prints for each collection are designed in-house and completely bespoke to OA. 

Your pieces evoke a real mix of nostalgia, enchantment and fantasy. Would you say you’re more influenced by the past or the future?

Definitely more inspired by the past! There’s something really magical about studying historical clothing, I love learning about the person who owned the garment, what they did and why the piece was special to them.

One day I might make a futuristic collection, I do have a Pinterest board with a few ideas on it inspired by Blade Runner so who knows! 

What are your top priorities when designing a new collection?

I always need to make sure that my collections are actually wearable. As much as I love historical clothing I try to take elements of the era and make them modern. Sometimes that can completely depend on the fabric or print and sometimes taking a really simple shape and then making it in a dramatic fabric, like velvet, makes it look more vintage!

When do you feel at your most creative?

I feel most creative in the evenings when I can curl up with a cup of tea, put on some music, and read a book, watch a film etc, as it usually triggers an idea and then I can build a theme from that idea.

Which fictional character can you imagine wearing your clothes?

Bathsheba Everdene from Far From The Madding Crowd – one of my favourite books and I love the way her character develops into an independent, savvy, businesswoman. 

Where can we see more of Olivia Annabelle?

You can keep up to date with Olivia Annabelle by signing up for our newsletter where you can get discount codes, read our journal on our website, and you can also follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest

Finally, Olivia, what is your one wish for the world?

For everyone to find enjoyment in everything they do.

Thank you so much to Olivia for taking the time to describe her fascinating approach to this beautiful collection!

I adore how the Bloomsbury Collection by Olivia mirrors the fashion of the inspiring women in the group such as Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf. Their look was far more relaxed than the standard period dress. This included looks without any of the harsh lines and pulled in waists.

Indeed, as Vanessa Bell herself once said: “Everyone should be free to live as they please.”

Olivia Annabelle’s collection truly encompasses Vanessa Bell’s wishes. You can see this in the flowing, loose Vanessa Bloomsbury Maxi Dress to the playful Virginia Cornflower Bloomsbury Dress. Both would look gorgeous layered between the seasons with a large, chunky cardigan held together at the waist with a belt or a tie.

For accessories think long strands of beads, like the Bloma Vanessa Pearl Daisy earring.

To complete the look, take your hair in a loose bun with loose strands around your face, with a stunning vegan silk scarf.

The whole Olivia Annabelle Bloomsbury collection is one of the dreamiest I have ever seen and the most perfect tribute to these very inspiring visionaries.

The whole collection is a look that will easily fit in with the 70s style for the rest of the season, and be cherished items in your wardrobe that will be utterly timeless.

Click here to shop the Bloomsbury Collection by Olivia Annabelle

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Peter Pan at The Mayflower Theatre Southampton [AD Press Trip Review]

Peter Pan at The Mayflower Theatre Southampton [AD Press Trip Review]

This review of Peter Pan at the Mayflower Theatre Southampton is courtesy of complimentary tickets given to me by the Mayflower Theatre

This Christmas, take a fairytale flight to Neverland in the hilarious, swashbuckling pantomime adventure of Peter Pan that arrives at the Mayflower Theatre Southampton with a ship-full of magic and fairy dust.

From 14th December until 5th January 2020, the Mayflower Theatre invites you to meet Peter Pan, the Lost Boys, Wendy, Smee, Tiger Lily and Tinker Bell, and set sail for a family show full of fun, fairy dust and pirates galore.

Based upon Sir James M. Barrie’s 1904 play about the boy who refuses to grow up, this pantomime is faithful to this classic story whilst adding a sprinkling of modernity.

“To die would be an awfully big adventure,” muses Peter Pan, in one of the most famous lines from J.M. Barrie’s iconic fairytale story.

And what a treasure chest of adventure awaits at the Mayflower Theatre this Christmas as you set sail for Neverland and follow the boy who refuses to grow up, alongside his fairy sidekick Tinkerbell as they take on the evil Captain Hook.

The magic begins in the London nursery of Wendy, John, and Michael Darling, where three children are visited by Peter Pan (but for this wonderful production has been suitably renamed to the ‘roofs of Southampton’).

With the help of his sparkling friend, the fairy Tinkerbell, and the friendly Smee, Peter takes the three children on a magical flight to Never Land, a land of Lost Boys, Pirates and Mermaids.

This enchanted island is home to Peter, Tinkerbell, the Lost Boys, Tiger Lily and her Native American nation. But evil lurks in the midst of this magical land from the scheming Captain Hook who is as intent on defeating Peter Pan as he is from escaping the tick-tocking crocodile that once ate a hand of his that Peter Pan cut off and loved the taste of so much.

This magical production has a stellar-cast starring Marti Pellow, the multi-award-winning singer-songwriter and musical theatre star, as the villainous Captain Hook.

Joining him as Mr Smee is television and stage star Darren Day, Union J singer Jaymi Hensley as Peter Pan and the hilarious Grumbleweeds as the Pirates.

Jaymi Hensley as Peter Pan, Cassie Compton as Wendy, Kellie Knauck as Tinkerbell and Micha Richardson as Tiger Lily provided spine-tingling vocals that filled the whole arena.

Marti Pellow made a menacing and wonderfully gritty Captain Hook, with an incredibly powerful vocal who also took on a major role in writing the songs for the show.

Darren Day as Smee had such immense charm and charisma and held the whole show together as a wonderful storyteller. With a very likeable presence on stage, Day showed excellent comic timing with superb impersonations.

Bringing the fun, frolics and mayhem, are the long-running musical comedy act The Grumbleweeds as the Pirates. With Smee, they bring the classic comedy of a pantomime alive with timeless humour that both young and old will love.

Joining them as The Neverlanders are the jaw-dropping acrobatic troupe The Timbuktu Tumblers. Presenting an incredible display of human pyramids, hoop-jumping and flaming limbo work, the team bring a truly memorable performance that will leave you speechless with their talents.

In this Mayflower production of Peter Pan, you can expect to find a barrel loads of laughs that are both topical, (from Brexit to Love Island!), to local humour, that will grab you hook, line and sinker.

The stage effects are a combination of glorious sets, from flying, to the motion of ships and a hugely realistic crocodile, to costumes and lighting effects, that strike a tricky balancing act between the vintage elements of the classic tale and a modern-day appeal for a 21st-century audience.

The music builds on this theme, alongside the pop-culture-references, with a soundtrack of chart-friendly tracks children young and old will love, weaving classic Peter Pan songs with Ariana Grande and Ed Sheeran.

Nothing beats a traditional pantomime at Christmas for getting both young and old into the festive spirit. And as Tinkerbell so rightly says: “All you need is faith and trust and a little bit of pixie dust!”

With faith, trust and a huge dose of pixie dust indeed, you can be assured that this production by the Mayflower Theatre brings the timeless Peter Pan story of courage, friendship, loyalty, good and evil and fairies in a spectacularly uniquely modern way.

As someone who has studied music history since childhood, I love seeing how the traditional Italian art form of Commedia Dell’Arte has become a British theatre classic that is a sparkling way to introduce children to the delights of theatre.

With jaw-dropping flying and special effects, a barrel-load of laughter for both young and old, a ship-full of magic and fairy dust, the Mayflower Theatre’s interpretation of the classic tale of Peter Pan is a jaw-droppingly magical introduction to theatre for the whole family guaranteed to have everyone hooked!

If you’d like to see Peter Pan at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton the show is on until Sunday 5th January 2020.

Don’t leave it too late to hook your tickets to this spellbinding production and head to Mayflower Theatre website here to book your tickets. The croc is ticking!

There is also a fantastic range of accessible performances that include audio described, signed, and relaxed performances. Prices for Peter Pan range from £15 to £39.50.

Following a tradition from 1929, when J.M Barrie unexpectedly and generously gifted his copyright of Peter Pan to Great Ormond Street Hospital, to this day a portion of profits from every Peter Pan pantomime performed goes toward the care of sick or injured children at their hospital. In this case, the funds from this production in Southampton include the Saints Foundation.

How many of you will be seeing a pantomime this festive period? Does anyone love the classic tale of Peter Pan as much as me?

Event: Peter Pan

Venue: Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

Date(s): Saturday 14th December 2019 – Sunday 5th January 2020

Running Time: 2 hours 20 minutes including an interval

Time(s): From 1-3pm (check daily for alternate times) and 5-7pm (check daily for alternate times)

Click here for tickets to see Peter Pan

Peter Pan, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton (Photos credit to Mayflower Theatre)

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Mary Quant Exhibition at the V&A, London

Mary Quant Exhibition at the V&A, London

The Swinging Sixties: a period of time that truly revolutionised the visual world. And where the Beatles were shaking up the music industry and sweeping Beatlemania across the world, Mary Quant’s iconic and instantly recognisable fashion designs defined the ‘Swinging’ Sixties style. In fact, you could say she was the Beatles of fashion at the time.

And now the splendour of Sixties Style that was emblematic of the future of fashion is celebrated by the V&A in this incredible tribute to the legacy of Mary Quant.

The V&A Mary Quant exhibition is an incredible collection of her fashion history, bringing together over 120 garments, accessories, cosmetics, and so much more, which have never been on display before on this scale.

Mary Quant grew up in South East London and trained as an art teacher at Goldsmith’s College. She opened her first boutique Bazaar on King’s Road in 1955. Quant initially sold other labels at this store but soon became frustrated with the dated look of fashion of this age. As a result, she purchased sewing patterns and set to work to create the garments she dreamed of.

Soon after this discovery of designing and creating her own clothes, Mary Quant became a prolific designer, who built an innovative fashion empire with her husband and business partner Alexander Plunkett-Greene who she met at Goldsmith’s College.

This exciting exhibition from the V&A truly captures the excitement of this age, both culturally and in aesthetics, and illustrates how so much of Quant’s success was down to how she utilised the advertising phenomenon of the decade and became such a modern-day marketing queen. For Quant truly owned the power of her branding, who emblazoned everything she did with the iconic daisy logo that would indeed cement her genius in the fashion history books forevermore.

The fashionable woman wears clothes. The clothes don’t wear her.

– Mary Quant

The Ginger Group

In 1963 Mary Quant launched the ‘Ginger Group Line’ to distribute her designs. With this new line, Mary Quant was able to move into mass-production, and thus the world of fashion changed forever.

The 1960s was a decade that broke many fashion traditions, and birthed many others in its place, mirroring the social movements that were arising during this time.

Towards the mid-1960s, the most influential dressers were arising from teenagers and young people in a few urban centres who began to heavily influence both the haute couture of elite designers and the mass-market manufacturers.

But it was Quant who was ready to tap into this market. Making fashion accessible was incredibly important for Mary Quant, who loathed the stuffiness and inaccessible nature of Parisian fashion. She felt that fashion should be accessible for everyone, and dreamed of finding ways to dress the everyday girl.

And thus, Mary Quant’s inventive and commercially minded approach to fashion is truly why the designer has revolutionised fashion as we know it today and is just so very iconic.

Moreover, it is also why Mary Quant became a powerful role model for the working woman because they were then able to afford the ideas Quant was bringing into the world.

Mary Quant has truly made the British high street as we know it. And so much of Quant’s success is that she truly harnessed the youthful spirit of the sixties with these new mass-production techniques that created a new look for women as revolutionary as Dior’s ‘New Look’ of the 1950s.

The Ginger Group line of clothing was a true hallmark of the synonymous Sixties Style Quant made so popular. Her dresses were easy fitting and the styling was overly informal featuring pinafores for layering and easy styled swing dresses with zipping detailing at the back.

Moreover, Quant modernised the look further by pairing short tunic dresses with brightly coloured tights in shades of bright scarlet, ginger, prune and grape, and truly gave birth to the colour blocking trend.

Shortly after the launch of The Ginger Group, Mary Quant then launched her make up line, lingerie and accessories that were introduced and marketed using the famous Quant daisy design. By that time, Mary Quant was the leading fashion designer outside Paris.

Snobbery has gone out of fashion, and in our shops you will find duchesses jostling with typists to buy the same dress.

-Mary Quant

PVC and The Wet Collection

The next section of the collection highlighted Mary Quant’s ‘Wet Collection’ that featured the iconic PVC raincoats. Launched in 1963, these shiny and colourful designs were an enormous hit with fashion buyers and even earned the designer her first magazine cover for British ‘Vogue’.

During the 1960s there was an abundance of ‘new’ in the form of trends, styles, revolutions and other discoveries. Mary Quant was of course at the heart of this, capturing the decades’ love of discovering and working with new materials. As a result, Mary Quant was the first designer to use PVC, to create ‘wet look’ clothes, and different styles of weatherproof boots in her footwear range, Quant Afoot.

In fact, the demand was so high for the exciting ‘Wet Collection’ that she had to find machines geared up for this level of production! And for me, this shiny, colourful material truly encapsulated so much about the liberation, innovation and sexiness of this new era of fashion.

One day, a new fabric appeared on the scene. PVC was shiny, waterproof, and unlike anything I’d ever seen before.

-Mary Quant

Styling a New Generation

A huge inspiration behind Mary Quant developing the aesthetic for The Ginger Group was influenced by the Beatnik Chelsea London style of the famous Kings Road, and the Mods (short for ‘Modernists’).

This Sixties Style Mod look manifested itself in sharp tailoring and clean outlines. This made the designs so vastly different from the more structured clothes still popular with couturiers in Europe.

But as well as designing clothes for this new generation of women, this exhibition also highlights Mary Quant’s status as a pioneering businesswoman.

Whilst there was indeed so much revolution, innovation and modernism that swept across the 1960s, it was still a decade that lacked prominent female entrepreneurs.

So not only did Mary Quant truly make fashion accessible for women, but she also applied this same ethos to her business where she hired several women to help run her company and boutiques.

And of course we think of Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton, models themselves of Mary Quant, whose look encapsulated the decade, but it Quant too who took her Mod and Swinging London aesthetic around the world.

There are several photos and videos across the exhibition that highlight Quant living her best life racing across cities in a mini (later she even went onto design an exclusive design for them!), tearing up the dancefloor at nightclubs with her husband Alexander Plunkett Greene and owning all her business trips promoting her brand.

It cannot be stated enough how much Mary Quant herself gave birth to a huge part of the Girl Power movement, whose modern, youthful, playful approach to the fashion industry translated into something incredibly powerful and a constant reminder to women everywhere how possible it is to achieve all your dreams and release your inner purpose in this world.

The real creators of miniskirt are the girls, the same that you seen in the streets.

-Mary Quant

Mary Quant Make-Up

As Mary Quant had truly dominated the way women dressed, it was time to revolutionise the cosmetics industry. And after the success of The Ginger Group, Quant introduced skincare for women and men, makeup, and published books about makeup and the beauty industry as she saw it.

One of the most iconic stand-out pieces from her beauty range included the ‘Paintbox’, a box of brightly coloured crayons that could be used for eyeshadow or simply to draw flowers on your cheeks. Quant herself has said that it was one of her most proudest releases. Can you just imagine if Youtube had existed back then?! But proof that the beauty community existed long before we can imagine!

In fact, the 1960s are one of my favourite periods for beauty and make up. It marked a transition between the ladylike looks of the 1950s and the free-spirited glamour of the 1970s yet to come.

Beauties like Twiggy became a symbol of the beauty style of the decade where the Mod subculture was at its peak. This style, in terms of beauty, was all about a playful approach to makeup and the use of colour. Characterised by voluminous hair, lots of eyeliner, the pixie cut (that, of course, Mary Quant and Vidal Sassoon became icons in themselves!) and nude lips.

The 1960s was also a decade where advertisements were truly coming of age, and Mary Quant, with her now-iconic black and white daisy logo, emblazoned every single item she created making her products truly stand out.

Perhaps one of the most famous examples of this is the 1967 Mary launched Cry Baby mascara launch. Just how innovative and creative is this poster in relation to what we see spread across beauty ranges today?

And as with the Ginger Group Line of clothing, the low price point made her brand even more accessible to her followers. In fact, it made it even more accessible as younger girls and teenagers who may have struggled to buy Mary’s latest dresses could stretch to nail polish or lipstick and thus made them belong to Quant’s fashion movement.

I think to myself, ‘You lucky woman – how did you have all this fun?’

– Mary Quant

Mary Quant Accessories & Daisy Doll

Quant was the embodiment of her own label and it didn’t just stop at fashion garments and makeup. Her distinctive, playful and revolutionary style even went through to her own line of dolls, known as Daisy Dolls.

Daisy was a 1970s doll designed by Quant with the tag line “Mary Quant makes Daisy the best-dressed doll in the world”. Daisy’s clothes were designed by Mary Quant and there are hundreds of different models.

The clothes were cutting-edge 1970s design, as would be expected of Mary Quant, and the materials included satin, for long evening gowns and flared pants, stretch jersey nylon/polyester for T-shirts, fake “fun fur” for jackets and matching hats, and denim for jeans, waistcoats, hats, skirts and even a boiler suit (very fashionable at the time, as you can see below!). 

I, for one, would have absolutely have loved a Daisy Doll and I just find it nostalgic enough thinking about being a fashion designer for my own dolls! But the Daisy Doll truly was the ultimate fashionista with patterns cutting-edge fashion, with flowers, stripes and polka dots.

The Daisy Dolls were displayed amongst other stand-out playful accessories including glitzy tights (I am absolutely taking this look back up again this autumn/winter season!), sunglasses (showing Quant’s understanding of her audience now taking advantage of the age of travel) and the oh-so-chic turned mod beret in a rainbow of playful shades.

Mary Quant Sewing Patterns

As Mary Quant herself fell in love with sewing from using and finding patterns she loved, it is no surprise the huge success Quant had creating patterns with Butterick and others.

Butterick released its first Mary Quant patterns in fall, 1964. My Mum was a huge fan of these patterns, and I’m so thrilled we still have access to them as they are such a wonderful way to fall in love with dressmaking.

Butterick began its Young Designer series of patterns in 1964 in an effort to appeal to a more youthful seamstress, and Mary Quant was a natural choice to begin the series. And given the above and everything we have witnessed so far, I’d say that Butterick definitely had their finger on the pulse of youthful fashion when they chose Mary Quant as their first Young Designer!

And if you fancy getting your designer hat on, the V&A is running a fantastic workshop alongside this collection that you can find out more about here. You can also have a go at making your own Georgie dress (I’m all over this name!) with this free pattern download from the V&A which is absolutely not to be missed!

Fashion, as we knew it, is over; people wear now exactly what they feel like wearing.

-Mary Quant

A History Of Mary Quant Style

What I found immediately striking upon entering this exhibition is just how modern and fresh the designs were. Isn’t that a crazy thought, seeing as some of the outfits on display are over 60 years old?! But this is so much of the timeless and universal success of Mary Quant’s designs.

As you head upstairs to the second part of the collection you find yourself immersed by a huge capsule collection of Mary Quant’s styles from thigh-skimming pinafore dresses layered over block colour turtlenecks, to glossy patent trench coats in a rainbow of colours holding psychedelic bags that are oh-so ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ to kitsch lingerie, high-neck polka dot playsuits, glittering tartan party dresses, notice me stripes and bold bodysuits in pillar box red.

You then find Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton esque mannequins adorning the sweetest pinafore styles that are so synonymous with these beautiful ladies that only needs some doe-eyed lashes and nude lips to complete the visuals we are so used to seeing from this age.

Altogether it feels so thoroughly modern. And despite growing up many decades later, I felt myself thinking so often ‘oh I love that’, ‘I have something just like that!’ when in fact it’s because, since the 1960s, high streets chains like Topshop have lovingly adopted Quant’s style into the foundation of their British style that women like me would come to adore generations later and beyond.

Fashion is not frivolous. It is a part of being alive today.

-Mary Quant

Mary Quant will always be one of my favourite fashion designers in history and the Mary Quant V&A exhibition is a truly stylish, exciting memorable tribute to this fashion pioneer who revolutionised fashion as we know it.

However, as touched on so often above, beyond Quant’s true legacy as a fashion designer who liberated women, this spread far beyond fashion. With the invention of the miniskirt she, of course, became the face of liberation for the women of the sixties.

But beyond this, Mary Quant’s feminist significance is more than miniskirts and bob haircuts, as it shows how Quant empowered women of this decade, by making them feel confident and independent to truly manifest everything their heart desires. In fact, as Mary Quant so beautifully says herself:

Risk it, go for it. Life always gives you another chance, another go at it. It’s very important to take enormous risks.

– Mary Quant


V&A Museum, Cromwell Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW7 2RL

020 7942 2000

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 10am -5.45am (Friday until 10pm)

Click here to purchase Mary Quant tickets at the V&A

(The Mary Quant exhibition at the V&A is on until Sunday 16 February 2020)

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Calendar Girls The Musical, Bournemouth Pavilion with BH Live [AD Press Review]

Calendar Girls The Musical, Bournemouth Pavilion with BH Live [AD Press Review]

This review of Calendar Girls The Musical at the Bournemouth Pavilion is courtesy of complimentary tickets given to me by BH Live

Last night I had the great honour of seeing Calendar Girls the musical with my best friend at the Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre courtesy of tickets from BH Live, the South Coast’s leading operator of leisure and event venues.

Taken from the 2003 film ‘Calendar Girls’, Calendar Girls The Musical leads with the same plot that is inspired by the true story of a group of ladies, who decide to appear nude for a Women’s Institute calendar in order to raise funds to buy a settee for their local hospital, in memory of Annie’s husband John, and have to date raised almost £5million for Bloodwise. Especially poignant to this day is that Bloodwise, the UK’s specialist blood cancer charity, will continue to receive monies from this production.

This musical comedy shows life in their Yorkshire village, how it happened, the effect on husbands, sons and daughters, and how a group of ordinary ladies from the WI achieved something truly extraordinary together that will make you ever more cherish all the women in your life. 

The Cast

Calendar Girls The Musical is notorious for a stellar cast of inspiring, incredible women and our performance starred Sarah Jane Buckley (Blood Brothers and Kathy Barnes in Hollyoaks) as Annie, Sue Devaney (Jane in Dinnerladies, Liz Harker in Casualty, Debbie Webster in Coronation Street and Rosie in the musical Mamma Mia!) as Cora, Julia Hills (Doctor Kemp in Broadchurch, Annabelle Shrivener in The Archers) as Ruth, Judy Holt (Cold Feet, Scott & Bailey) as Marie and Lisa Maxwell (panellist on Loose Women, Tracey Donovan in Hollyoaks, Samantha Nixon in The Bill and various roles in The Les Dennis Laughter Show and The Russ Abbot Show) as Celia.

Also in the cast are Phil Corbitt as John, Ian Mercer as Rod, Sebastian Aberneri as Colin, Alan Stocks as Denis, Derek Elroy as Lawrence, Pauline Daniels as Lady Cravenshire, Ellie Leah as Miss Wilson, Danny Howker as Danny, Isabel Caswell as Jenny and Tyler Dobbs as Tommo. And Ruth Madoc and Rebecca Storm play Jessie and Chris respectively.

The musical Calendar Girls includes songs written by Take That star Gary Barlow and award-winning writer Tim Firth. Both Barlow and Firth grew up in the same village in the North of England and have been friends for 25 years. 

With Take That, Gary has written and co-written 14 number one singles, has sold over 50 million records worldwide and is a six times Ivor Novello Award winner. Tim has won the Olivier Award and UK Theatre Award for Best New Musical, and the British Comedy Awards Best Comedy Film for Calendar Girls.

The Story

The key to the success of Calendar Girls to me is that it is so thoroughly timeless and universal. In terms of the plot, there isn’t really a lot to understand, as it is about a story so famous that much of the story is about Annie and John’s life together interwoven with those around Annie and they challenge both of them to face head-on.

And thus, built on the above, Calendar Gils the Musical is a beautiful narrative of friendship, love, and grief that truly is timeless. But with that being said, though the theme of feminism and empowerment is aptly strong, this is truly a musical that everyone should watch, and far from being a ‘girls night only’ number.

During the performance last night I was thrilled to see the audience was packed with men and women of all ages last night. From young women and men, to older men and to older women. The latter of who most probably understand only too well about the highs and lows of the famous WI!

Whilst the storyline of Calendars Girl is sensitive and heartrending, touching on the situations that affect so many people, it has the incredible ability to offset those tough moments with heartwarming comedy. It truly takes an adroit script and tender score to have an audience belly-laughing one minute, and holding back tears the next. Such is the nature of Calendar Girls that has ascended into the musical hall of fame with an eminence that will only grow and works so wonderfully as a vehicle for so many new fabulous ladies who take on the famous roles.

And it is the cast of Calendar Girls that has made it so popular, that is renowned for their rotating season of illustrious women, and last night, it was truly such an honour to watch this prodigious cast in action.

These beautiful leading ladies had a chemistry together that was undeniable. Both in the tender scenes that tugged on your heartstrings to the hilarious ‘calendar shoot’ scene created so tastefully that was extremely empowering for women of all shapes and sizes. The cheers and applause from the audience clearly proudly, and in awe, acknowledged the bravery and beauty of those women up on stage, further inviting us into their community.

Bringing it all together is Gary Barlow’s musical triumphant score that is a constant reminder of just how much of a musical genius Barlow is. It is quite something to move from chart-friendly music to capturing all the million aspects of painting music and words needed for the theatre to leave an impression in the heart and minds of everyone who watches and listens.

So much of the success of both the marriage of music and words created by Firth and Barlow is how skillfully they create a great sense of place. This, of course, being beautiful Yorkshire, a place also well known for the community. This can particularly be heard in “Scarborough” performed by Annie that is a beautiful expression of grief and the normality of everyday life. But the whole score has many other standout numbers full of joy and tenderness such as “Dare”, “Yorkshire” and “Sunflower of Yorkshire” that were among some of my personal favourites.

At first I had imagined the set would be changed from the initial wooden gate and rolling hills backdrop, but actually it was the simplicity of the set that made it so beautiful and allowed the cast to truly shine. Created by Robert Jones, it truly captures the rolling Yorkshire hills, again a profound expression of place, as the centre point.

The set is built and dramatised with the lighting, designed and created by Oliver Fenwick who applied subtle and acute variations throughout the performance that truly painted the emotions and actions in each scene with such a striking effect that shows when you have an incredibly talented cast, emotive music and a delicious score, you don’t need any extra fuss or distractions.

Just like the beautiful Yorkshire Dales, Calendar Girls is a poignant reminder that life is a series of hills and valleys, a combination of happy moments, normal daily life, and challenging or sometimes tragic events that can arise.

In life, these men and women illustrate that we all experience periods of feeling a little broken and unable to get back up. And it’s in those moments when we think all hope is gone that suddenly the strength and kindness of your community or people are always there to sweep you off your feet, and tell you everything is going to be okay. When everyone else leaves the room, these people are the ones still cheering us on and giving us that little piece of hope to carry on to fight another day.

It is just this sense of community and kindness that makes Calendar Girls so unforgettable, and even more special knowing it is based on a true story. It truly makes its mark on musicals, but also your heart and mind, with the positive, optimistic and life-affirming message it illustrates that you’ll treasure beyond the evening performance.

And then throw in the beautiful poetic lessons from sunflowers, some cakes (M&S, no less!), plum jam and knitting, a stellar cast, and these are just some of the secret ingredients you’ve got that has created a musical that’s sure to brighten anyone’s day.

A huge thank you to BH Live for the tickets to this most heartwarming, empowering and most memorable performance of Calendar Girls. How many of you have also seen Calendar Girls? Either the film or the musical? If so, did you enjoy it as much as me?

If you’d like to see Calendar Girls the musical in Bournemouth, at the Bournemouth Pavilion, the show is on until Saturday 21st September 2019. To get your tickets with absolute ease you can head to BH Live online or order them by calling 0300 500 0595.

Event: Calendar Girls – The Musical

Venue: Pavilion Theatre, Bournemouth

Date(s): Tuesday 17th – Saturday 21st September 2019

Time(s): 7:30pm

Click here to buy tickets to see Calendar Girls

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