X-Factor rock chick Ruth Lorenzo will be strutting her stuff at Revenge nightclub, Brighton, this Friday.


ruth-lorenzo51For the first three weeks in December, whoever is voted out of the hit ITV talent show each Saturday will perform the following Friday at the town centre hotspot.


With X-Factor viewing figures topping ten million every Saturday and plenty of controversy, Revenge Manager Andrew Roberts knows he is on to a winner.


He said: “With all the shenanigans that have gone on and all the fireworks, it’s even more high profile than it has been in previous years.  Since it’s been on I’ve noticed that people aren’t coming out until after the results show.  About 20 minutes after it finishes, the bar suddenly fills up.


 “It is the third year of doing this at the club, but we’ve never had such a full programme.  Last year we had Same Difference and the year before, Eaton Road, and we’ve developed a relationship with the X-Factor.”


Each act will follow cabaret drag performers The Lollipop Girls, and will sing at least four songs from the show, including the No 1 hit Hero.  Fans will then get a chance to meet them and have their photo taken with their idols in return for a donation to local AIDS charities.


Roberts has his fingers crossed that boy band JLS are booted from the show, so they perform at the club. “I want JLS,” he said.  “And the word on the street is that it looks like they might be out before the final.


“It’s funny, the feedback at the club is that girls seem to want to see Ruth and all the boys want JLS.”


According to the bookies, Roberts may be in luck, with JLS currently long shots to win, with some offering odds of 9:1.  Alexandra Burke has overtaken Diana Vickers as the favourite after receiving a standing ovation from both the audience and the judges for her rendition of Beyonce’s Listen in what Simon Cowell described as “the performance of the series”.


In this week’s semi-final, contestants will again sing two songs each, but this time one will be chosen by their mentors, one by themselves.  The decision as to who is out again rests solely with the public vote.


X-Factor Fridays will be happening at Revenge on the Old Steine on December 5th, 12th and 19th, with the runner up performing in the New Year.  Doors open at 10.30pm with the finalists taking to the stage at about 1am.


Roberts advises getting there early, though, as advance tickets are not available; entry is on a first come first served basis.  “If past experience is anything to go by, we should be seeing queues round the block,” he said. 




Former Gamesmaster to play the ‘Voice of God’.


skyatnight_moore2Britain’s favourite stargazer, Sir Patrick Moore, is to ‘star’ in the musical Little Shop of Horrors this week.


The veteran astronomer will play the ‘Voice of God’ in the Brighton-based City Theatre Company’s production at the Barn Theatre, Southwick.   


The show tells the story of down-and-out florist’s assistant Seymour who becomes an overnight sensation when he discovers an exotic plant with a craving for fresh blood.


In CTC’s version of the musical, the ‘Voice of God’ is a 1950s newsreader mysteriously appearing on a television dumped in a trash can.   


Sir Patrick, 85, will not appear on stage in person each night.  Instead his part has already been filmed in the study at his home in Selsey, from which he broadcasts the long-running BBC favourite The Sky at Night.


He said:  “I love the stage.  I’ve been on it more times than I care to count, but I’m not very mobile these days.  If I was, I’d probably be out there rehearsing for the local pantomime as we speak.  As it was, the company had to come to me.”


The director of the show, Andy Stoner, said it was brilliant to be able to secure the performance.  “Patrick Moore kept popping into my head for some reason as the person I’d like the character to look and sound like,” he said.


“I thought I’d chance my arm and write to him to see if he’d do it and lo and behold he rang me up at work.  I was really taken aback at first, because he has one of those voices that you know who he is instantaneously.


“I was a bit worried when we got there because he’d lost the script I sent him, so I thought we’d be hanging around for ages while he learned his part. But he got the script, read it for about a minute, chatted to me for a while and then we filmed it and it was perfect first time.  He’s absolutely amazing – so professional.”


Sir Patrick has not yet seen the results of his performance.  Stoner said:   “He’s coming to see the show.  I hope he’s happy with his performance.  I’m sure he will be – we certainly are.”


Sir Patrick will appear alongside the other star of the show, Audrey II, the plant the company are making from scratch.  There will, in fact, be four Audrey puppets of different sizes to represent the plant growing to outrageous proportions.  They range from the smallest, a hand puppet, to the fourth, which is huge and has six people operating it, with two people dressed as roots crawling out at the bottom. 


Stoner said:  “It’s a big risk designing them ourselves but we’re all really pleased with the way they’ve turned out.  We’ve really tried to inject some personality into them.  They look as though they could really eat somebody.”


Audrey II and Sir Patrick Moore can be seen at the Barn Theatre, Southwick from 25th to 29th November.  Tickets are available from the Barn box office, tel: 01273 592 819.

Brighton boys do The Full Monty

montyjamieBrighton bobby Jamie Collins will be baring all on-stage at the Theatre Royal this week in The Full Monty, with his boss looking on from the royal box.


Jamie, who is based at Brighton police station, plays the lead character, Jerry Lukowski, in the Brighton Theatre Group’s production of the all-singing, all-dancing Broadway version of the 1997 hit British film.  As a policeman, he initially had a few concerns about the effect his indecent exposure might have on his career.


Jamie said: “I was really worried about it to begin with. When I was first offered the part I had to square it with my supervisors, but it’s not as though I’m taking my policeman’s uniform off in a pub on a Friday night and degrading the police force.  It’s theatre.


“All the guys at work have done since they found out about it is rib me.  They keep asking whether I’m really taking my kit off.”


Jamie is expecting about 80 of his colleagues, including his Chief Constable, to come along on Saturday night, so they can find out for themselves.


The show tells the story of six unemployed steel workers from Buffalo with varying financial and personal reasons to turn to stripping.  They each have issues and hang-ups to overcome along the way but, as Director Michael Burnie points out, there was no room for any such bashfulness from the cast.


“We needed to know we had a group of boys together that would do it.  The last thing we wanted was someone backing out at the last minute,” he said.  “Upfront, at the auditions, we were really clear that they have to do the naked scene at the end and they have to do it for real, but they’re all very comfortable with it.”


For some of the actors, it is more nerve-wracking than for others.  Micklos Richardson-Hodge, who plays Noah ‘Horse’ Simmons, has never performed in a show before. 


The group were struggling to cast the character – an aging black man with a flair for dancing – when the director spotted Micklos, whose look was right for the part, working as a security guard in a department store and approached him.  As luck would have it, Micklos turned out to be a talented singer and dancer and sailed through his audition, despite almost turning away at the door.  He said he’s now very glad he went for it.


“I was spotted at work while patrolling the lingerie department of M&S,” Micklos said with a chuckle.  “I’ve done a bit of dancing before and I run a karaoke night, but that’s it.  I’ve never done a show before. Mind you, I love the limelight.  I’m just keeping my fingers crossed I won’t get stage fright.


“I’ve always wanted to do something like this, but at 44 I thought, ‘That’s it, I’m past it.’  But who knows?  Broadway here I come.”montystrippers1

The boys will be going all the way at the Theatre Royal Brighton from November 11th to 15th 2008.  Tickets are available from the box office, tel: 08700 606 650.

Facebook campaign to save independent festival.

A Facebook group set up to ‘Save GuilFest’ is celebrating victory after a rival promoter’s plans to take over the outdoor venue were shelved. 

The group sprang up on the internet at the end of September when news broke that Guildford Borough Council was speaking to a global consortium, including AEG Europe, about a new music festival on Stoke Park, the same site as GuilFest. 

Numbers on the Facebook site swelled from two hundred to almost two thousand in a week. The administrator of the group, Ade Goldsmith, said: “That is pretty significant when you consider it’s nearly ten per cent of the number of visitors to the festival each year.  It shows that people in the town really care about their local festival.”   

Any decision by the council to stage an alternative event in the same location would have pushed out the independent festival that was founded 17 years ago by organiser Tony Scott.

“I was shocked to hear that Guildford Borough Council was talking to another party.  GuilFest has been built up by local people and has a very local feel.  A lot of people were upset when they realised they might lose the home-grown aspect of the festival,” said Scott.

Jim Miles, Strategic Director at the council, said: “Only one festival of this type would be allowed on the park per year to minimise the impact on local residents.”  He pointed out the council had a legal obligation to try and receive best value.

People posted messages on Facebook encouraging members to contact the council and Scott’s worries were over when the AEG bid was withdrawn in the face of overwhelming public protest. 

David Campbell, Chief Executive of AEG Europe, said: “We are saddened to confirm that as a result of petitions being organised against our company, we have decided to withdraw from any further discussions with the council. We are not going to engage in a public slanging match.”  He said it was important that concert-goers, artists and the local taxpayer got the very best outcome.

Scott said: “I am really pleased and relieved that we can now get on with the job of organising next year’s festival.” 

GuilFest 2009 will go ahead on the 10th, 11th and 12th July.  Tickets go on sale early next year.

New Emmaus shop now open in Portslade.

Planters and bird boxes made from old furniture and jewellery crafted from pieces of card are among items for sale at a charity recycling shop now open in Portslade.

The Goodwill co-op, based at homelessness charity Emmaus, stocks an eclectic mix of products, from clothing to collectibles, paintings to pottery, all made by Brighton and Hove residents.  Everything in the shop is donated or recycled from unusable items donated to the Emmaus second-hand shop, which would otherwise have to go to landfill.  Each item is labelled so that shoppers know who has made it.  


Hand painted tea light holders made from old jam jars.

Hand painted tea light holders made from old jam jars.


Business Manager Joel Lewis said: “I thought to myself that there must be a lot of people around here that live on their own and feel isolated from the community, and that a lot of these people must have some artistic talent or craft skills.  Then it occurred to me that we receive a lot of donations of things that can’t be sold and that Emmaus can’t find a use for, and why not bring those two things together.”

Emmaus Brighton and Hove has been operating in Drove Road, Portslade, on the site of a former convent, for 11 years and houses 40 ex-homeless men and women in its residential community.  It is the largest Emmaus community in the country.  They currently run a café, a second-hand shop for necessary items such as furniture and bric-a-brac and a chapel shop selling clothing and higher end collectibles. 

Billing itself as ‘the homeless charity that works’, the idea is that people live there in exchange for working within the community to the best of their ability.  Lewis believes this project is in line with that philosophy:  “We are inviting people to share their time and creativity with the community to produce quality items to sell, rather than going out with a begging bowl.”

The Goodwill co-op was set up in May and now has 60 people signed up.  They hold coffee mornings every Tuesday to discuss their projects, collaborate and share and develop their skills.  Lewis is overwhelmed by the success of the project so far and said: “It is eco-friendly, people friendly and people are producing things crafted with skill and passion.  It really does tick every box.”

A selection of hand crafted cushions

A selection of hand crafted cushions

Photo: James Pike

Photo: James Pike

 Long distance runner reveals the unusual secret of his success.


The successful formula for the winner of Sunday’s London to Brighton ‘ultra’ race is Coca-cola and Jaffa Cakes.


Stuart Mills, 45, from East Hoathly, finished the 56 mile race in less than eight hours, one hour and 41 minutes ahead of the runner up and first woman to finish, Annabel Stearns.


Mills discovered his winning formula six weeks earlier in another ‘ultra’ race – an ‘ultra’ is any run longer than a marathon – and it certainly did the trick on Sunday.


At the last race he had been using what he describes as “scientifically proven bars and isotonic drinks that cost lots of money,” which a friend delivered to him at each drink station. At one of the stations about halfway round the course there was no sign of his friend, so Mills had to make do with what was there, namely Coca-cola and Jaffa Cakes.


“I just went ‘zing!’” said Mills, and decided, “Stuff the expensive ones.” Apparently he likes the texture and size of the popular ‘cakes’ and says that the carbohydrate and caffeine contained in cola drinks can help the body keep going in endurance events, although he would only recommend it as part of a healthy diet and exercise regime, of course.


Although 207 people registered to take part in the race, thanks to the miserable weather conditions only about 125 showed up, with 81 dogged runners completing the punishing course.


The weather on the day affected all the runners. “It slowed everyone down,” said organiser Denis Rice. “People were up to their knees in mud at places and paths have been turned to rivers.”


He admitted that the rain had affected numbers, but said: “Despite the weather it has been fantastic. These runners are absolutely incredible people.”


Rice pointed out that the course, run across the North and South Downs and the Wield, is significantly harder than the London to Brighton road race that has taken place in previous years.


It is the first time that the race has been run cross-country and the first year that Rice has been in charge of the event, although he has taken part in the old road race as a runner. When asked whether he prefers running or organising, Rice, who got up at 2am on the day of the race, said: “Definitely running. It’s easier and much less stressful.”


Mills certainly took it all in his stride. He described his time for the London to Brighton run as “slower than expected.” Mills is fighting fit and has been running 45 miles a week for the past 20 weeks. He had run this course before, albeit broken up into 3 smaller sections, and had been aiming for under seven and a half hours, but given the conditions said that he was happy with less than eight.


After a recovery massage from Box Genesis, he joked: “I feel like I could do it all again.” 

Many Hove residents feel that their ‘marriage’ with Brighton is a happy one.

The trouble with living in Hove is that one is asked on a regular basis a question to which one must reply in the negative: “So, do you come from Brighton?”

“No, I’m from ‘Hove Actually’,” you reply with an embarrassed giggle.  (Air apostrophes optional.)

At least I do.  If, however, you routinely say this sentence without a trace of irony, then it is unlikely that we will see eye to eye on this one.  The thing is, Hove wants a divorce apparently.  (Could Hove really divorce Brighton? The Argus, 27th September 2008.)  Which, despite the fact that I am a resident of Hove – and a homeowner at that – is news to me, I must say. 

It’s the usual story, in that a vocal minority have captured the headlines by huffing and puffing about anti-social behaviour and harping on about the ‘good old days’, in this case of Hove Borough Council.  And once again, I find myself having to apologise for the snobbishness by which, rightly or wrongly, Hove has become characterised.

Brighton and Hove Borough Councils jumped into bed together in 1997 and took over county responsibilities to become a unitary authority, much to the chagrin of some members of the community (or should that be communities?)  It seems that, over a decade later, some of them are angrier than ever.

The trouble with these ‘career complainers’ is that they will always try and blame a whole host of society’s ills on one aspect of government, in this case the fact that issues affecting Hove’s interests are decided ‘centrally’.  (It’s only down the road!) 

They will argue that the forming of a unitary authority is responsible for ‘the Brighton creep’ – the overspill of late-night bars and general grubbiness from Hove’s younger, livelier and slightly more unseemly neighbours – without taking into account national trends, new laws, geographical proximity, the housing market or any of the other numerous variables that can contribute to the application of licencing laws and social mobility.

Hove remains a lovely place to live, and most residents I know are not at all snobbish about Brighton.  In fact, most of us enjoy taking advantage of all the delights that a vibrant cosmopolitan city has to offer, while still being able to skulk away to the suburbs whenever we feel like it.  It really is the best of both worlds. 

I’m just fed up with having to apologise for the intolerant attitudes with which Hove is too often associated, and continually having to reassure my Brighton friends that I do love them really.