Matt Jnr's 2008 tour kicked off on 10th October. Read the roving reports that were written from theatres across the country
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Michele Monro
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Post by Michele Monro » Sat Nov 15, 2008 1:59 pm

The final stones on the front of the Blackwood Miner's Institute were laid on 4th December 1925. Originally opened as a single storey snooker hall it was owned by the Coal Industry and the Social Welfare Organisation and paid for out of the Oakdale Miners’ wages at 3d a week.

In 1936 two further floors are added to the building to include the stage, auditorium, dance floor, reading room, library, ladies room and rehearsal rooms for local societies. Original events staged in the building included tea dances, snooker/billiards, reading groups, rehearsals and union meetings for local miners.

The building fell in to disrepair in the 1970s/1980s with the pit closures and in 1989 the trustees sold it to Islwyn Borough Council who promised to make it available for community use. The building reopened in 1992
and is currently one of the Arts Council of Wales core regional performing arts venues presenting over 40 shows a season ranging from well-known household names to productions staged by groups based in the local community.

It was only a three hour drive but thanks to the advances of modern science the motorway was closed for an hour because of an 'incident'. When something like this happens your mind starts whirling through everything that will have a knock on effect and in this case we had a Backstage Tour arranged for 5.00pm. It wasn't just Matt caught in the traffic but all the musicians as well as the bandcall was put back until 6.00pm. Anne Richards was one of our VIP guests and Matt met her on time but had the drink and chat with her first and then did rehearsals - so arse about face but at least it solved the immediate problem.

This is Geraldine's neck of the world so I am sure you saw her there, flitting around telling everyone about the special offer on the fan club. She is a wonderful person and she works extremely hard to ensure there is a "Friends of Matt Monro". I can't do everything myself, as much as it pains me, and Geraldine took over the reins of the fan club when we launched it a couple of years ago. It is a thankless task and you have to be absolutely passionate about the cause - and she certainly is. If you see her around, say hello and tell her how special she is.

The theatre can be sub-divided and when Matt went on stage it looked to be a packed house. There were several regular faces in the front row and a newcomer of about 70+ who was determined to let Matt know she was there!!! She even got up to give him a kiss and she was so funny that Matt took full advantage of the situation and she was almost written into the show. She was certainly smitten although she did tell Matt to leave Colin alone when he started picking on him. I don't think she realised it was part of the act.

Apart from the Neil Diamond medley which has become a clear winner, the 'hat' routine also goes down a storm. Now that Matt has settled into it, I am hoping it will give him more confidence to add new things next time round. As the Neil Diamond is a firm favourite it would be interesting knowing what other artist medleys you might like added to the repertoire. As always I am sure you will come up with some good ideas.

I know a lot of the audience fly out of the theatre after the show to ensure they make the last bus home or find the 'Dial a Ride' coach but as you must know, our day isn't over when the curtain comes down. Often is the case that the signing takes more than an hour, then Matt has to change out of his stage suit, pack the dressing room up, talk the the sound crew and musicians with last minute details for the following day and the like. It is a good night if we get out of the theatre by 11.30/12.00. Now normally Matt stays somewhere local as he is wiped out after a performance but for yesterday's show it was decided that Matt would drive the hour to Brecon last night so eliminating any travel before the show tonight. Great plan and with confirmation in his hand he set off for The Castle of Brecon Hotel.

As they say the best laid plans ---- get screwed. It seems that unless you arrive before 11.00pm, you cannot get in, there is no night porter, no bar, no facilities at all. At 1.00am in the morning and after many frantic phone calls, me included, Matt found himself back in the car heading for BLACKWOOD - yes exactly where he started from. The whole entourage ended up at Monningham Lodge, who were most accommodating and even opened the bar at 2.00pm for the boys. The moral of this story is don't stay at The Castle of Brecon Hotel unless you want an early night!!!

The good thing is that it is only an hour's drive to Theatr Brycheiniog but the plan is for Matt to come home after the show because it is a busy day tomorrow so I don't think I'll see his hat poking round the door until at least 3.00am.

Until tomorrow - enjoy the music

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Post by Marian » Sun Nov 16, 2008 11:56 am

Matt does seem to get a tough time of it , especially travelling between shows.
However he never seems to let anything get him down, and always bounces right back to give great shows wherever he goes. :lol: :lol:
Marian :wink:

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A special show

Post by geri5 » Sun Nov 16, 2008 5:23 pm

Hi, yes, Blackwood is my neck of the woods. My husband Ian and I intially thought Blackwood Miners Institute? It conjured up allsorts, but we were pleasantly surprised. It was very warm and cosy. also there was no stage so it was just like watching Matt in your own lounge. The audience loved him, and I was lucky enough to be sitting next to the lady who Michele mentioned. She was lovely, she really made the show. At the point where Matt banters with Colin she called out in a very loud Welsh accent "Don't be soooooo cruel". Matt and the band were in fits of laughter. I didn't want the show to end. My husband has only seen Matt perform once before on his last tour, and judging by his reaction it won't be his last. In fact when we arrived home at midnight he entertained the 2 mums with songs from the show (he can't sing) right into the small hours.
In friendship, Geraldine

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