This Is Elvis at the New Alexandra Theatre

    5.This is Elvis_Pamela Raith Photography

    Celebrating 50 years since Elvis Presley’s ’68 Comeback Special,’  This is Elvis showing at The New Alexandra Theatre is a captivating part tribute act, part play which really brings the best of The King to modern audiences.

    This is Elvis tells the story behind Presley’s monumental return to performing live for the first time in seven years, pivoting away from his film career back to his musical roots.  More than a tribute show, the play charts the self-doubt and tensions behind the NBC show that became known as Elvis’ 68 Comeback Special and ultimately relaunched his music career.  But it doesn’t shy away from the darker sides of The King’s return, depicting the fractious relationship with manager Colonel Tom Parker and avoidance of wife Priscilla, as well as self-doubt about his relevance to audiences of the time and hints at his alcohol and drug dependency.

    9.This is Elvis_Pamela Raith Photography

    Act two transports the audience to Las Vegas, playing their own part as the audience of The King’s debut show, as Elvis takes up residency.  It’s a clever way of lifting a tribute act and placing it firmly in some of Elvis’ iconic historic moments, but it never feels anything less than a powerful performance.

    Unsurprisingly, a play about King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s triumphant return to performing live includes several well-known hits performed by Michaels, including Heartbreak Hotel, Blue Suede Shoes, Hound Dog, Love Me Tender, All Shook Up, Jailhouse Rock, Are you Lonesome Tonight, Can’t Help Falling in Love, and Suspicious Minds.  The audience is swept away, encouraged to dance and even those who may not remember Elvis the first time round, a one of the 20th century’s most iconic performers, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment.

    6.This is Elvis_Pamela Raith Photography

    Award-winning tribute artist and actor Steve Michaels plays the titular role of Elvis, having grown up with a passion for The King himself, and been fortune to play alongside some of Elvis Presley’s iconic band mates.  Not only does he look the part, but Michaels’ plays the role with an unbelievable amount of passion and infectious energy.  The second act particularly is a powerful and electric performance, played with an incredible amount of heart, and it’s clear that Michaels is enjoying it as much as the audience – and at times it might be possible to wonder if King himself could put this much passion into a performance.

    This is Elvis is a tribute act show lightly grounded in historic events, but with all the enthusiasm and soul of a a concert.  It’s a captivating evening, and a thoroughly enjoyable night out.

    The show is at the New Alexandra Theatre Birmingham until 24 March before it continues its national tour.  For tickets, visit

    This was a press event. Photographs were taken by Pamela Raith.

    Birmingham, Music and Movies

    Flatpack Festival is back!


    There’s not a lot I can do at the moment, as I’ve been struck down with the lurgy, but the good folk at Flatpack Festival have released their line-up and I’ve been having a look through it.

    Returning for a ten-day festival of cinematic invention and audio-visual delights, #flatpack12 has yet another a great line-up this spring.  Running from 13-22 April 2018, Swedish witchcraft, animated sushi, teenage mermaids, silent trapeze and Shakespearean puppets are just a few of the delights.  And if that’s just a few of the selected highlights, then you know there’s going to be so much more creativity in store.

    The twelfth annual edition of the festival, Flatpack has a over 100 events taking place in 20 venues in Birmingham, including screenings, performances, exhibitions and parties. This year includes a focus on 1968, the year Enoch Powell gave the infamous Rivers of Blood speech in Birmingham, but also a year which included a changing social tapestry, Black Sabbath, slum clearance and student protests.  With support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Flatpack are launching My 68, which will follow on from the festival, gathering up some of the memories and images that emerge to create podcasts, art and publications.

    There’s a whole host of great films and if my bank balance would allow I’d go to a lot more stuff, but I’ve picked a few of the events that immediately jumped out at me – there’s a bit of a strong female element running through some of the picks…

    Marlina The Murderer in Four Acts  – Wednesday 18th April 2018, 8pm, The Electric Cinema

    A feminist western directed by Mouly Surya, tells a female-driven journey of vengeance, empowerment and redemption, taking place amongst the barren beauty of Indonesia, and the country’s complex regional culture.

    Jeune Femme  – Friday 20th April 2018, 8.40pm, The Electric Cinema

    Described as France’s answer to Greta Gerwig, writer and director Léonor Serraille’s debut feature is brought to life by a predominantly female crew.  A furiously intense French comedy, Jeune Femme or “young woman”, tells the tragicomedy tale of Paula, who first erupts onto the screen head-butting the door of her ex-boyfriend’s house.

    Rivers of Love – Saturday 21st April 2018, 1pm, MAC Birmingham

    Hip-hop artist Juice Aleem and Sid Peacock’s Surge Orchestra collaborate on a new musical commission using Flatpack’s 1968 theme, creating Rivers of Love, a response to Enoch Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech.

    Mary and the Witch’s Flower – Sunday 22nd April 2018, 11am, MAC Birmingham

    First offering from Studio Ghibli veterans Studio Ponoc, this animated tale continues the charm and Ghibli tropes.  Based on The Little Broomstick, Mary finds a mysterious flower that gives her the power to become a witch, but for only one night.

    The Breadwinner – Sunday 22nd April 2018, 5pm, The Electric

    A powerfully animated and sobering story of a young Afghan girl who dresses like a boy in order to support her family after her father is wrongfully arrested by the Taliban.


    We Are The Lions Mr Manager at mac Birmingham

    We Are The Lions Mr Manager

    We Are The Lions Mr Manager is the poignant, funny and heartfelt the true story of Jayaben Desai, hero of the Grunwick strike in the 70s.

    Freshly arrived in England after leaving the newly-independent Tanzania and a childhood growing up in Gujarat in India, England is not what Mrs Desai expected; from the houses to the weather to the discrimination felt by South Asians trying to find employment.  She begins working in the Grunwick Film Processing Factory, where the manager is a bully and overtime is mandatory – after all, you signed the contact, the workers are told.

    One day, Mrs Desai has enough of the treatment and confronts the manager with a firework of a line; “What you are running here is not a factory, it is a zoo. But in a zoo there are many types of animals. Some are monkeys who dance on your fingertips, others are lions who can bite your head off. We are the lions, Mr. Manager.” And with that she promptly resigns, and starts what was to become one of the longest and most important industrial disputes in British history.

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    Month in Review – February 2018


    February has been a much busier month than I expected.  Firstly it was my birthday, which was relatively low key this year, because I finally got to see Hamilton the day after (having booked the tickets well over a year ago).  Two people close to me both gave birth to their first children, so I’ve been getting baby updates, and my friend is dog-sitting so not only are there regular pics from her, but I got to have a birthday lunch with Misha the dog.

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    Music and Movies

    Pad Man and period poverty


    Last Sunday I dashed out of my flat to catch Pad Man, a Bollywood film based around the real-life story of social activist Arunachalam Muruganantham and his low cost menstrual hygiene machines.  Sadly it didn’t seem to be showing in many cinemas, so you may well have missed it – if it is showing near you, I highly recommend seeing it.

    Played by Bollywood star Akshay Kumar, Lakshmi is a newly-married welder who works in a rural village in India.  Lakshmi discovers his wife uses an unhygienic rag during her period and is banished from the house, forced to sleep outside.  Upon discovering the prohibitive costs of commercial sanitary pads, Lakshmi is determined to find a way to make them cheaper.  After several attempts earn him the ire of the community for discussing a taboo topic, Lakshmi is banished from the village but is determined not to give up.

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    Brief Encounter at the Birmingham Rep


    There are worse ways to spend a grey, and drizzly Saturday, but wrapped up in Kneehigh Theatre and director Emma Rice’s retell of the 1945 Noel Coward film Brief Encounter is not one of them. The play is warm, at times funny, and sensitively portrays the ordinariness at which two married strangers can meet and fall in love.

    The story is based around two people, Laura and Alec, who both lead fairly ordinary lives in pre-war England. They meet at a train station cafe, where Laura has something in her eye and doctor Alec helps her remove it. They sense an instant connection and arrange to meet again, where their friendship becomes something more, despite being married to other people.

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    Sunday Brew #1

    Sunday Brew (1)

    I’ve been pretty terrible at blogging recently, and of all the blogs this is the one left to the bottom of the pile.  But I wanted to start trying to blog more here, do more of a diary style update, pulling together some thoughts on films, books, theatre and such.  I saw a weekly round up work well on another blog, so thought I’d give it a go.

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