Friday, 31 August 2007


I'm not really a fan of reality TV, but last year I watched and very much enjoyed the search for a girl to play Maria and star in a new production of the Sound of Music in London's West End. Therefore when a new programme Any Dream Will Do, started up in the spring of 2007, once again with Andrew Loyd Webber's involvement, I decided to watch it. Am I glad I did! This time it was to find a new Joseph to follow Donny Osmond and Jason Donovan.

I admit I don't remember much about the first episode when the initial applicants were whittled down from thousands by Andrew, along with John Barrowman and Denise Van Outen, both of whom have often starred in musicals on the West End Stage. However from the second episode one particular young man, Lee Mead, caught my eye. After performing with 19 others at Andrew's theatre, attached to his castle in Ireland, Lee made it into the final twelve. From then on the production was moved to a studio and the twelve contestants had to perform weekly before a judging panel and an audience, with the viewers voting every week for who should go through. Although when it came to the 2 with the least votes, Andrew had the opportunity to save one to go through to the next round.

The first time Lee walked down the steps onto the stage and started to sing I knew he was the quintessential Joseph. He had it all: a wonderful voice, great looks, a fine physique and the most amazing stage presence. Lee has the unique ability to interpret a song and make it his own. As the other judge, Zoe, a singing coach, said Lee looks like an angel and sings like an angel. Not surprisingly Lee was never in the last two and was always voted through straight away.

In my opinion, and the opinion of everyone I knew, Lee was the young man who should win the part and to our delight he did. In no time at all the new production was booked up for six months ( the length of Lee's initial contract) and he was immediately signed on for another six months. Tickets became like gold dust. But thanks to e-bay, last week I was lucky enough to sit in a prime seat in the stalls and see him perform as Joseph in Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at the Adelphi Theatre in London.

From the moment he appeared, to be greeted by loud cheers, Lee captivated the audience. The production and the cast is superb. It is a bright, colourful production with great costumes and a joyous energy that is totally seductive. It is immensely entertaining and also amusing. Everyone taking part seems perfect for their role and are obviously enjoying themselves immensely. However, most of my superlatives must be for Lee himself, the best Joseph ever, he was born to play this role. His megawatt smile when he first appears shines out from the stage. It is so obvious that he is living his dream and that he is treasuring every moment.

Ladies, he is even more gorgeous in the flesh, with stunning good looks, surrounded by that tempting cluster of curly dark hair. His voice sounds even better in the theatre than it does on TV, with a strength and resonance that is captivating. He's a great actor and a consummate performer who imbibes every song he sings with so much powerful feeling and the boy moves so sexily as well! He perfectly portrays a rather arrogant young man, his father's favorite, who inspires nothing but jealousy from his many brothers. Their jealousy increases when his father presents Joseph with a wonderful coat of many colours. Eventually they set upon Joseph planning to kill him, but instead decide to sell him as a slave.

Joseph is sent off to Egypt where he becomes the slave of a rich man and works his way up in the household until the man's wife decides she wants Joseph for herself. It is at this point that Lee is stripped down to just a skimpy loincloth and ladies you'll lust after him even more. He looks great with just the right amount of well defined muscles.

He's is dragged off reluctantly(his horror here is a delight to behold) to his mistress's bed, but her husband discovers them and Joseph is cast into prison, maybe forever.

It is at this point that Lee sings Close Every Door, in the most exquisite, husky and heartrending way, with a voice resonating with intense feeling. I would wager no one has ever sung this song better. At the end, when his voice soars to a crescendo, shivers ran up my spine. Fortunately it is discovered that Joseph can interpret dreams and he is taken before the Pharaoh (A great Elvis impression here by Dean Collinson) The Pharaoh makes Joseph his second in command, in essence a Prince of Egypt. Once again Lee looks stunning in his costume and portrays a powerful prince to perfection.

A terrible famine begins but thanks to Joseph's prophetic dreams Egypt is prepared. With their family starving, Joseph's brothers come to beg the Prince of Egypt for food, not realising it is their brother Joseph. He gives them food, but plants a stolen cup in his younger brother Benjamin's bag to prevent them leaving. Eventually he reveals his true identity and is reunited with his father and his brothers admit the error of their ways.

I cannot find enough superlatives to explain how great the show is. Lee is all that those who voted for him hoped for and far far more. He most definitely has that elusive thing called star quality and I think this star is destined to soar very high. As John Barrowman said, he is destined to light up the West End stage for many years to come.

This is a show you will go to see and immediately want to return to see time and time again. I've already got two more sets of tickets booked. I can recommend it most highly, it is the best musical West End production I have ever seen.


Thanks to RUG and Tristram Kenton for the photos.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Coming Soon

A review of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at the Adelphi Theatre starring the gorgeous Lee Mead - winner of the TV reality show Any Dream Will Do.

Templar Prize

Just a short note to remind everyone that my new book Templar Prize is published on the 5th September.

It is an erotic romance and tells the tale of of Stephen and Edwina. Two lovers who accompany Richard the Lionheart on the Third Crusade. Unfortunately circumstances force them apart as Stephen is held prisoner by evil Templar knights and Edwina becomes the helpless prisoner of a Saracen Lord.

Monday, 20 August 2007


I'm announcing a new addition to my family. No, it is not a baby thank goodness. I've had enough sleepless nights to last me forever and both my kids are pretty grown up now so new babies are not on the agenda.

This new addition isn't much to my liking. A cute puppy or a fluffy kitten are my idea of pets but I don't think my very elderly King Charles Spaniel would welcome some bubbly young thing to ruffle the calm of her old age. However, this new addition stays permanently in my son's room and nowhere else. Why you ask?

Because his name is Desmond and he is a snake. A brightly coloured three year's old Californian King snake, I think. To be honest I'm not into the antecedence of snakes there are just different coloured ones that hopefully don't bite and don't have venom.

Desmond will be a new addition to the menagerie which thankfully currently only consists of Dakota a a Leopard Gecko. However I fear he won't be the only addition as I've heard the word Monitor Lizard mentioned of late. Just keep your fingers crossed that one doesn't appear as well - at least not until my son has moved out into his own place!

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

ORLANDO BLOOM- In Celebration

Last Saturday I was lucky enough to see Orlando Bloom in the play In Celebration at the Duke of York's Theatre in London. First let me say this is not the sort of play you would expect a major movie star to pick for his West End stage debut and I respect Orlando for the choice he has made. He's not the star of the play but merely a member of the ensemble cast.

In Celebration is a gritty play by David Storey set in Yorkshire in the late 1960's. It is a family drama portraying what happens when three sons come home to see their parents and celebrate their mother's birthday in a reunion which is fraught with tension. Orlando appears on the stage first, in a cleverly crafted set which portrays the small miner's cottage to perfection. He plays Steven a quiet teacher with four young children. As the play progresses we gradually learn that he is a rather depressed man, who has come to believe that his life has no real significance. His unhappiness is brought into focus by his ebullient, rather vengeful brother Andrew and his brother Colin, who is a successful but unmarried businessman.

May I say that Orlando nails the Yorkshire accent completely. I lived in Yorkshire for a few years so I should know it quite well. Frankly I would have preferred him to speak without the accent, as I think he has an attractive well modulated voice. However, I only once heard a hint of his real voice coming through for just a second in a particularly heated exchange between the brothers. Halfway through the play Steven is heard sobbing in his bed. His concerned brothers make him come downstairs and there, in front of his father, he breaks down completely. Orlando was excellent in the part, displaying the awkwardness and internal malaise and withdrawn unhappiness of Steven to perfection. It isn't an easy part to play because often Orlando has to portray Steven's unhappiness by expressions and actions rather than dialogue and the scene where he falls apart completely and sobs helplessly in front of his father and brothers is very moving. It made me wonder how he can cope with the trauma of breaking down on stage and crying (and cry he did we were close enough to see his tears) like that every night - it certainly cannot be easy.

At the end of the play nothing is resolved and they each go their separate ways to face lives that have little meaning any more. May I say that the rest of the cast are also excellent and all in all it was a fascinating, although ultimately rather sad reflection on life. There were a large number of young women in the audience, no doubt all there to see Orlando in person but thankfully there were no cheers or even murmurs of appreciation when he came on stage, which might have broken the mood of the piece. The audience were well behaved considering there was a movie heart-throb on stage in front of them.

Of course there was clapping and shouts and cheers of appreciation at the end yet during the curtain call. Orlando stayed with the other cast members, never acknowledging that most of the cheers were for him. He Just smiled at the other cast members and seemed very happy that the audience had enjoyed it.

Orlando has received some glowing review and a few critical ones, but I believe that he has shown to all his critics that he is not just a pretty face, he really can act. May I say here, even with his black hair smarmed back with brilliantine, a pencil moustache and an unflattering brown suede cardigan he is still a great looking guy. If only he'd been dressed as a pirate or an elf instead!!!

When we left the theatre, we came back to the true realty of his fame. There were so many people crowded around the stage door waiting to see him that they were blocking the road in front of the theatre. My daughter and I retired to a pavement cafe across the road and watched the furore. The waiter told us that after every performance, even matinees, Orlando comes out and speaks to his fans and signs autographs for about fifteen minutes.

We could see reasonably well from our vantage point and after a few minutes Orlando came out to graciously and cheerfully greet the crowd. He seemed relaxed and happy and he signed autographs and had pictures taken with a multitude of fans. Of course most of them were female but they were of of all different ages. We were told that the same chaos ensues after every performance. To be honest I was impressed by the fact that he took the trouble to do this after every performance. Compared to most major movie stars Orlando seems very grounded and surprisingly untouched by his fame.

To end, if you live close enough to London and are considering seeing him in In Celebration I'd definitely book tickets. It isn't the sort of play I usually enjoy but all in all I found it very entertaining. What better way to while away two and a half hours than watching In Celebration and sitting only a few feet away from gorgeous Orlando Bloom at the same time? I'd, most definitely recommend the experience.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

New Book- Templar Prize

Just to let you know that my new Black Lace novel Templar Prize is out in the UK in September, while in the US it isn't released until November. The story is set around the time of the Second Crusade which was led by the famous Richard the Lionheart. Jerusalem was in the hands of the Saracens, led by Saladin and Richard had vowed to reclaim it for the Christians again. The story concerns two former lovers Stephen and Edwina who are reunited after being parted when Edwina was forced into an unwanted marriage by her family. You can read the outline of the book and a few tasty excerpts on my website.

The story came about for a number of reasons. I love medieval history and had been reading a book by James Reston Jr called Warriors of God, which was the story or Richard the Lionheart. Also some time previously I had been to see the movie Kingdom of Heaven directed by Ridley Scott. I loved the visuals of the movie and the story, but the plot didn't seem to hang together somehow and I came away from the theatre thinking that something, that I couldn't put my finger on, was missing. For a start there was little explanation at the beginning of the movie as to why the main character Balian (played by the gorgeous Orlando Bloom) was so morose. Also, although he was only a blacksmith, he suddenly magically acquired sword fighting skills. And his romance with Sibylla was glossed over somewhat even though it seemed pertinent to the plot.

It was only later, while I was writing Templar Prize, that I got to see the director's cut of the movie. I knew, as many reviewers then pointed out, that this was the cut that SHOULD have been released in the cinema, it had a depth and breadth that had been missing from the short cut. The added 45 minutes turned it from an okay movie into a great movie. I viewed Orlando's performance again and realised how unfair the critics had been to him when they had criticised his portrayal of Balian. In this cut he'd got it just right. He was a regular guy, living through the tragedy of losing his wife when fate caught him up in its cruel grip and forced him to follow the father he'd never known to the Holy Land. There he became not only a great warrior but a hero of the Christians as well, If you've not seen the director's cut it is definitely worth watching it.

All of this contributed in some way to the creation of Templar Prize and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007


It is just over two weeks now since I returned from The Romance Writers of America's conference in Dallas Texas. My jet lag has disappeared and I'm writing again. Yet I can't help thinking of all the great people I met there. My fellow Black Lace writers and 'Lustbiters' Kate, Dayle, Theresa and Anne and last, but not least, my editor Adam. Also I was privileged to get to know Mandy M Roth and Michelle M Pillow, both great erotic romance writers.

Going to the RWA is an amazing experience for a writer. There were at least 2,000 people at the conference and about 500 of those, so I understand, were published writers. There are workshops to attend on all conceivable aspects of writing. Panels with editors and agents to give you advice on placing your work and what the continuing and upcoming trends are. Also there is advice on self-promotion and marketing. It is a great place to network, sell yourself and get to know people. In contrast to most of the US authors, I felt I was as tad lacking in all the self-promotion stuff. It is something all authors must do these days if they want to sell books.

Of course I couldn't go that far without at least doing some sightseeing. Dallas was where Kennedy assassinated so a visit to the book depositary and grassy knoll were mandatory. Just as mandatory was a visit to the huge North Park Mall. What girl wouldn't want to shop!! Especially at an exchange rate of two dollars to the pound. Consequently my suitcase on the return trip was considerably heavier than on the way out!

Needless to say I'm already making plans to go to the RWA conference next year. It is to be held in San Francisco, one of my favourite cities in the USA.