The Urban Guide to the Countryside
Bucks & Oxon Edition

Category: Theatre/opera

My Favourite Places: Mike Woodward, Opera Anywhere

11 Dec 2016

Opera isn’t just for the elite and nor does it have to be performed in staid, fancy venues, according to Mike Woodward, founder of Opera Anywhere. Since 2000, Mike and his wife Vanessa have sought to ditch the art form’s lofty connotations, producing performances everywhere from an ice cream van to the roof of a Land Rover. The musical couple live in Sunningwell, a village south of Oxford, and, having spent years scouting out quirky venues for performances, Mike has an encyclopaedic knowledge of cool local spots so he’s the perfect person to grill for his top picks…

The pond, Sunningwell

No, it’s not a pub, it’s literally the village pond.

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Free tickets for Rambert’s The Three Dancers at The Waterside!

29 Jan 2016

Well this is a nice surprise! I wrote about Rambert’s The Three Dancers in the Muddy Guide yesterday, then Ali in the Aylesbury Waterside press office was so chuffed she’s given me two tickets to give away worth £35 each.

Love, desire and betrayal, the ingredients of the shocking true story which inspired Picasso’s masterpiece, The Three Dancers, and Rambert springs Picasso’s painting from the canvas to the stage, to create a portrait of doomed passion.

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Pressies from Secret Messages and Waterside Theatre!!

8 Dec 2015

I love a bit of Christmas cheer and I bring great tidings of not one but two freebies knocking around the region.

Firstly to Buckingham, where those lovely funky Secret Messages Emporium boys have put up a Christmas tree on the ground floor, with a free gift for anyone who spends over £10 in the store. I know, STAMPEDE!!!

You just buy your goods, then pluck a dangling envelope from the tree to claim your gift.

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Gifford’s Circus: The best family show of summer

2 Jul 2015

Another year, another Gifford’s Circus triumph. This quirky, original, clever, funny village green circus, based in Gloucestershire, is becoming famous now, and justly so. I’ve been for the last three or four years (though they’ve been going for 10, so there are probably quite a few of you who have seen many more), and every year I’m struck by what good value entertainment it is.

It’s not cheap in fact – it’ll set you back around £100 for a family of five – but it’s so unique that it’s one of the few shows that I think is worth every penny.

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What’s On: The Muddy Guide 7-13 May

7 May 2015

Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man, Wycombe Swan, Tues 12 – Sat 16 May

Really looking forward to this. Described as ‘Bizet’s Carmen re-imagined’, Matthew Bourne plays with the original plot, bringing 19th century Spain into a greasy American 60s diner and as you’d expect (remember the male swans in Bourne’s take on Swan Lake?), the results will no doubt be sensational and um, easy on the eye too.

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‘One Man, Two Guvnors’, at New Theatre Oxford

25 Feb 2015

‘One Man Two Guvnors’ was seemingly made for James Corden – until Gavin Spokes came along and made it his own. Also starring Barry from EastEnders (lesser known as Shaun Williamson), it’s an absolute corker – I cried with laughter at the Oxford New Theatre press night. The Muddy verdict is in!

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Cinderella and The Snow Queen reviewed

24 Dec 2014

Well you think you’ve signed off for the year, and then whaddya know –  you sit bolt upright at 2am remembering there are two Christmas shows you need to tell your readers about!

If you haven’t booked a panto yet, Cinderella at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre is a real crowd pleaser. It was shockful of, um, celebs, the headliners being Suzanne Shaw and Russell Grant, but as usual the main star of the show, when unleashed during the second half was local stalwart Andy Collins, (below centre) who has Panto Pro written through him like a stick of rock.

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REVIEW: Secret Theatre, Oxford Playhouse

4 Sep 2014

I had such good fun on Wednesday trying out Secret Theatre at the Oxford Playhouse, which I mentioned in last week’s Muddy Guide. It’s a series of 5 shows over a fortnight (though now we’re nearly through the first week), where you don’t know what you’re seeing until the curtain goes up.

Most are held at the Playhouse itself but my play was ‘Show 6′ (I know, I said there were 5 shows, don’t ask me why!) at the teeny tiny Burton Taylor Theatre around the corner, and all I knew was that it started at 9pm, lasted between 45 minutes to an hour and was for 14+.

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North Wall Theatre strikes again

23 Jan 2014


This is just a quickie post with some pics from North Wall theatre in Summertown Oxford. I went there last night with Mr Muddy to catch the 2011 MOBO winners Kairos 4tet.

The band was great, though it’s a slightly passive experience to watch in seats. I can’t wait until North Walls start creating a more jazz-club or gig style environment, because the auditorium has the right feeling for it – height, balconies and plenty of floor room too.

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My first V-log, featuring *titter* The Dreamboys

23 May 2013


So here it is, my first little step into video blogging interviewing Rowan and Zane from The Dreamboys.

This video will explain in a few simple minutes why I ended up in print media rather than on TV – Holly Willoughby can rest easy – but it was totally daft and a real giggle. And don’t worry, Mr Muddy isn’t heading for the divorce courts just yet!

Thank you to the fantastic Olly Ross who was both cameraman and editor (and incidentally is available for work!) and Nicola Gibson MUA who sorted my make-up for the day and is F.A.B.

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside -
Bucks & Oxon Edition