A few weeks ago my lovely and Northern-born Manfriend decided, spontaneously, to ‘educate me about The North’ by taking me to see Billy Elliot The Musical. Having casually remembered the story behind the film (boy does ballet) from nearly 13 years prior, I decided to go into the musical without doing any further research or forming any expectations.

Then I fell in love.

When Superbreak asked me to review the musical (and the new cast) on their behalf last week, I couldn’t say no. You see, what I didn’t realise when sliding into my seat in the weeks prior was that Billy Elliot’s West End musical has – over eight years – become one of the most celebrated, award-winning musicals on stage today.

The story, now seen by over 8 million people worldwide, is set against the backdrop of the 1984/85 miners’ strike and follows a young boy’s journey from boxing class failure to ‘ballet boy’. Though the story doesn’t feel particularly musical-friendly, the execution – from the lighting to the humour to the exceptionally talented dancers – is flawless.

From an ex-dancer’s viewpoint, Anna-Jane Casey completely stole the show for me as Mrs Wilkinson; Billy Elliot’s dance teacher. Playing a character that begs to be the soul of a show, Anna-Jane was able to do so with technical precision and a live warmth and believability that could not have been surpassed. This cast is the cream of the crop.

5 out of 5.

mannequins film
What do you get when you mix Brazilian top model Nadine Ponce, Natasha Loring (Kimberley in E4’s Beaver Falls), and….me? The upcoming film Mannequins!

It’s true! I am happy to announce that I have been asked to fill a role in Isabelle Sieb‘s latest film, Mannequins, which plans to bring fashion and dramatic film together while currently raising funds on Indiegogo.

With Australian costume designer Diane Logel on board and BAFTA winners Samuel Care and Laura Tarrant-Brown in charge of photography and production design, the beginning stages of Mannequins are already max-level exciting!

If you would like to keep track/contribute, check Mannequins’ many social faces out, below!

indiegogo: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/mannequins–4
facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mannequinsfilm
tumblr: http://mannequinsfilm.tumblr.com/
twitter: http://twitter.com/minorhourfilms

harry potter studio tour
I didn’t realise quite how much I loved Harry Potter until I completed the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter. Magic nerd alert.

I was seven years old when I was first sucked into the world of chocolate frogs, Death Eaters, and house elves. Now, almost two decades later (OH MY GOD I’M OLD), that innocent literary find has transformed into a brand worth over $15 billion; thanks, in large part, to the eight-part Harry Potter film empire.

Shortly after arriving at our allocated time for the un-guided walking tour we watched a quick introduction to the day in a small theatre and were then welcomed through the iconic Great Hall (quite literally a gasp-triggering moment).

Though I will attempt to keep my geek out to a minimum (imagine the pain I went through cutting down 100s of photos to 74), the attention to detail of the Harry Potter Studio Tour is awe-inspiring from the second it begins. From the rings scattered around bunsen burners in the potions classroom to the grafitti doodles on the axe-aged oak tables in the Great Hall, each set brings quintessential ‘movie magic’ to life.

Alongside costumes, animatronics, special effects and props, many of the sets have been left in tact to wander around and photograph at your own pace; 4 Privet Drive, the Weasley kitchen, the Gryffindor Common Room (which houses the infamous Invisibility Cloak), The Magic is Might statue (sculpted with foam and hand-painted), the Potter cottage in Godric’s Hollow, and more.

Two of my favourite spots were Dumbledore’s office and Diagon Alley. In Dumbledore’s astronomy-packed office we stumbled upon the Sorting Hat, Sword of Gryffindor, and discovered that his hundreds of books are actually phone books covered in leather. In Diagon Alley, hot spots like Ollivanders Wand Shop simply called for a thousand photos. As a large set, some parts of Diagon Alley were actually tweaked to create Hogsmeade village in The Prisoner of Azkaban (obviously not including the three-story orange explosion that is the Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes shop).

Unintentionally, our little group of Potterheads were pleased to find out that we had chosen to visit the Studio Tour on ‘Animal Actors‘ week (running through this Sunday, the 2nd of June). In addition to a brush with Hermione’s flat-faced kitty companion, Crookshanks, we were also able to hang out in the common room with Ron Weasley’s owl, Pigwidgeon, and walk down Privet Drive with everyone’s favourite snowy owl, Hedwig. Though all fifty of the kittens were adopted from the porcelain kitten plates in Dolores Umbridge’s office at The Ministry of Magic (the gaudy pink heaven, with much of the furniture coming from a Middle Eastern furniture shop only a stone’s throw from my own office), the Studio Tour also explained the secrets of how – using blue screens – the kittens were brought to life in the film.

From a make-up standpoint, it was a dream come true to see the special cosmetic effects of characters like Greyback, who wore a seven-piece silicone prosthetic mask made of hand-sewn goat hair, and Griphook the goblin.

Wrapping up with the long-awaited tour of Hogwarts castle and grounds (you will see tourists crying at this point), The Harry Potter Studio Tour definitely felt like the best three hours I have spent in a very long time.

Get your tickets here, muggles. You won’t regret it.

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gangster moll
Excuse me for arriving late to the party but…how awesome is Gangster Squad?

If Ryan Gosling alone wasn’t enough to get you to the theatres, let me spell Gangster Squad out for you; 1940s. Wit. Action. Style. Mobs. Off the book cops. Sean Penn. Josh Brolin. Nick Nolte. Emma Stone…

…in fact, I know Emma Stone’s wardrobe would be reason enough for many of you to get caught up in the film’s slick aesthetic. Playing Gangster Moll Grace Faraday, the redhead epitomised everything I adore about 1940s style.

To ‘Get The Look’…

How-To: Emma Stone’s Gangster Squad Style:
Hair: Barely changing throughout the entire movie, Grace always has uniformed and glossy curls pinned back to one side. To get the look, I suggest gently combing through No Heat Sock Curls and getting a pretty hairpin to secure one side away from your face.
Make-up: You want to keep the skin very soft and mattified (best example) and the rest of your make-up as simple as cat-eyed eyeliner and a show-stopping red lipstick (try NARS Jungle Red). Anything else would detract from her simple and classy beauty look.
Fashion: Royal-toned and floor length gowns rule here. (Options: steal, save for, or splurge).

And hey, while you’re at it, why not take a second to enter to WIN one of 5 blu-ray copies of the Gangster Squad DVD (out May 27th)?! Thanks to the lovely folks at Warner Bros, you are in with an exclusive chance to get your hands on the jam-packed DVD.

To enter you mustLike Lela London on Facebook and follow Lela London on Twitter (receive an extra entry for following Lela London on Bloglovin’!) through the Rafflecopter widget below.

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Competition ends May 28th, 2013.


gangster squad

city academy
After leaving theatre school in London I ‘graduated’ to Glee (the club, not the show) while I was in Grand Ole American high school. Post high school? My musical-loving, tap-dancing self has indulged only in a karaoke night or ten…

…until I discovered City Academy. What a jazz hand-worthy revelation. With over thirty locations across London, City Academy is London’s leading creative and performing arts academy and caters strictly to those over 18 years of age. Classes include every type of dance imaginable, acting, film making, singing, musical theatre, diva masterclasses (Beyonce, Pussycat Dolls, Rihanna etc), Comedy Classes, sitcom writing, screen writing, public speaking and more.

For me? Nothing made sense like their Improvers Musical Theatre Class. Designed to suit those with a bit of musical experience (ideally you will have completed a City Academy Beginners Musical Theatre Class), the 8-week class builds towards a showcase that features numbers will be chosen from all eras and styles of musical theatre. Though I have an unfortunate schedule that makes it impossible to commit to a full course, I was able to trial the class on Week One and completely fell in love. The goal being to nail one number per week, the class – led by the very talented Rebecca Wicking – is fast moving, inspiring, and a laugh a minute.

To spread the musical love, they have very kindly offered one of you the chance to win £250 worth of City Academy vouchers which you will be able to use on any class/classes of your choice! (Keep in mind: one Beyonce Diva Workshop is only £25. You can really have a blast with this prize!)

To enter you mustLike Lela London on Facebook and follow Lela London on Twitter (receive an extra entry for following Lela London on Bloglovin’!) through the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Follow on Bloglovin
Competition ends May 10th, 2013.