Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Scooby-Doo: The Mystery of the Pyramid

Last thing I thought I wanted to do was head straight out after work for a theatre date with Scooby Doo and the gang but hey it's amazing what a change of scene can do for your spirits; even if you don't have time to eat!

Louis with his Scooby sticker & spinner
My seven year old, Louis, was raring to go and after a hot bus ride into town we arrived just in time for curtain call but then got so busy gauging what the least expensive option was merchandise -wise we actually missed the bell! Luckily we were only kept away from our seats for a few minutes before a natural paws- see what I did there- sorry, no more... We got comfortable and were soon ensconced in mystery solving mode.

First off there was a spot of audience bonding and being down in the stalls meant we were in prime position for being coaxed into clapping and hand jiving; spurred on by the characters that came among us during the first lively song. Louis' face lit up when Fred came by for a high five and couldn't believe his luck when Otto the explorer followed suit soon after. He was less impressed by a visit from the scary mummy but took it all in his stride and assured me it 'really wasn't that scary'.

The show rolled on and before I could contemplate 40 winks it was interval time and we were off to join the ice cream queue; well I'd not eaten anything since lunch time! Louis fancied pick n mix and selected a rather large bowl of assorted treats including jelly babies, fried eggs, fudge and citrus sugar coated dummies: yuk.

Back in our seats and super charged with sugar we were all set for a second half of super slick singing dancing and sleuthery. The characters were bright, believable, and just like I remembered from childhood days of TV - when there were only 3 channels and sets were strictly banned from bedrooms - and the clever set and lighting added just the right sprinkling of magic to bring the story to life.

It all ended well, of course, and the treasure plundering baddies were caught and unveiled; with a little help from Daphne's Elnett. I won't give anymore away but suffice to say that Scooby's Egyptian-themed tale made for a great evening out with my favourite little theatre companion and I would definitely recommend it as a show to go and see.

Top tips: arrive on time; have a Scooby snack before you go- Shaggy's frequent mention of pizza was quite difficult to manage on an empty stomach; wear few clothes - it's summer; and if you want to try for a high five: book the stalls.

Scooby-Doo: The Mystery of the Pyramid is on at the Theatre Royal Brighton until Saturday 2nd August.


Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Celebrating a significant year in Brighton

We always used to say that July and August were quiet months as far as press visits were concerned but that theory seems to have been blown out of the water and we're not even halfway through the month!

Last weekend we hosted a group of German journalists and the loose theme of the trip was anniversaries as it seems 2014 is a significant year for our city. So in case anyone would like to replicate the trip, here's what we did:

The group stayed at the Mercure hotel as it celebrates its 150th anniversary, although of course the hotel hasn't always been a Mercure. The Grand is also celebrating its 150th anniversary this year as well, so 1864 was a good year for the hospitality industry!

I did mention that anniversaries was a loose theme didn't I...? The first two items on the itinerary didn't actually relate to the theme but as some of our journalists hadn't been to Brighton before we also wanted to give them an introduction to the city. So with this in mind we started with the classic Fish 'n' Chips on the Brighton Pier. We then moved from the traditional to the eccentric with the Funny Peculiar tour.

When describing Brighton to press we are keen to get across the fact that a lot of the city's charm is down to the atmosphere and the characters of the place. The Funny Peculiar tour got this message across perfectly! Part walking-tour, part theatre we were introduced to the main areas of the city whilst taking a look back at some of the eccentrics that helped make Brighton what it is today.

After the tour we were back on track with the anniversaries theme with a visit to the museum at the Cricket Ground. The Sussex County Cricket Club is the world's oldest cricket club and this year is their 175th anniversary. Even though we were all cricket novices it was a fascinating insight into the development of the game over the years. We then rounded off the day with a sumptuous meal at drakes, which celebrates its 10th birthday this year. I'm not sure why it has taken me so long to go there for dinner but I won't be waiting until their 20th birthday for my next visit!

Continuing with the anniversaries theme, the next day we started with a trip around the Old Police Cells Museum to see the graffiti left by the Mods & Rockers who were held there after the infamous clash 50 years ago. It was then on to the Royal Pavilion to learn about the fascinating history of how the Pavilion was used as an Indian Military Hospital during World War One (part of the centenary commemorations). After a delicious lunch at Curry Leaf Cafe we then whisked them away to Court Garden vineyard. While the vineyard isn't celebrating an anniversary this year, they do produce a lovely sparkling wine, which is ideal for anyone marking a special occassion - such as an anniversary ;) The vineyard is in Ditchling and it's surprising to think that this tranquil setting is just a short distance for the bustling city centre!

Court Garden Vineyard

In the evening, after a quick break to watch Germany win the quarter-finals on the Big Screen on the Beach, it was off to Komedia which is enjoying a double whammy of celebrations this year. The venue as a whole is 20 years old and the famous (or infamous!) Krater Comedy Club is 15 years old. While some of the jokes didn't translate, there were enough that did to make it a fun night out. Although sadly we were too tired to stay on for Ultimate Power - the club night full of power ballads. Oh well maybe next time.

On Saturday we stepped back from the anniversaries theme to give the group some time to explore the city by themselves, this mostly included shopping! But in the evening we had time for one last walk along the prom and a photo to mark the end of a busy few days in Brighton.

Group shot!
So there you have it, an inside guide to hosting a press trip in Brighton & Hove. It was a busy few days but we'll hopefully soon see some great coverage off the back of it :) Also on a personal note I would like to thank the lovely Anke from KPRN for her help with organising and hosting this trip.