Tag Archives: wales millennium centre

Tiger Bay Tales: interactive walking trail around Tiger Bay

An interactive walking trail around Tiger Bay launches TODAY! Put together by the Wales Millennium Centre, the Tiger Bay Tales trail is inspired by true stories and accounts from members of the Tiger Bay community.

At its peak, Cardiff Docks was one of the largest dock systems in the world; in 1907, 9 million tonnes of coal were exported. This project will permanently capture the rich, diverse and spirited history of Tiger Bay which lies within a shared ‘square mile’ of Wales Millennium Centre, before living memory is inevitably lost and further capital development changes the dynamic of the area.

The Tiger Bay Tales trail will guide walkers – via an app – around the Bay, with beacons dotted along the route beaming unique audio and visual content about the area to their phone.

The trail forms part of a story gathering initiative to capture and preserve the legends of Butetown and Tiger Bay.

Earlier this year, local residents were invited along to the Tiger Bay Tales pop-up Hub in Mermaid Quay to share their memories of the former Tiger Bay.  These stories have been developed into digital content, accessible via the Tiger Bay Tales app, providing a unique glimpse of Tiger Bay as it once was.

Guided by a map on the app, walkers on the trail will be directed to key landmarks in the area, signposted by blue plaques. On reaching each plaque, a beacon will send digital content to the app, including audio narrated by community figures from Tiger Bay, historic photos and video footage, piecing together a moving narrative about the transformation of Tiger Bay over the years.

Wales Millennium Centre’s Arts and Creative Officer, Jason Camilleri, said: “The beauty of the area known as Tiger Bay is a direct result of the geographical partitions that kept it separate from the rest of the city. It was in this square mile that a truly unique community was able to thrive, enriched by its many visitors from overseas. Often misrepresented to communities outside of its boundaries, one of the oldest multi-cultural communities in the UK, Tiger Bay can arguably lay claim to possessing Cardiff’s most interesting history.  Tiger Bay Tales is a project that aims to shine a light on the real Tiger Bay, concentrating on the true colour and character of the area, through the voices of the fantastic people that made it what it is today.”

The free-to-download app and website www.tigerbaytales.com goes live TODAY, 19 July.



Celebrating the Casablanca Club – CasaB, WMC 2015

Photographer Lorna Cabble headed to the Wales Millennium Centre to catch Casa B-Side – an event celebrating the history of Cardiff’s Casablanca club. Local artists came together for a night of performance covering the rich musical heritage of Tiger Bay, in jazz, funk, hip hop and reggae.


Performing were Li Harding with the Gary Phillips Trio, Afro Cluster, Entaya, Messiah Dub Club, and Roots and Branches.


Club regular Keith Murrell reminisced about the club:

“The Casa’s ‘golden years’ began during the 1970s, when High Society Sound System took up residency at the club. Society had come to Cardiff from Ladbroke Grove and the custom-made equipment was a cut above any other local music set-ups at the time. They played mostly new reggae music, including pre-release and dub plate mixes that nobody else was playing.

“Club regulars were mostly our own friends and contemporaries with similar musical tastes. We created our own ‘scene’ from this, which further established the Casa B as an alternative venue for many others from around the city and beyond.”


















Read some memories of the Casablanca (Wales Online)

Keith Murrell on the history of the Casablanca (Culture24)

All photographs by Lorna Cabble


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Noel Sullivan’s (brief) return to Cardiff

You’ve probably heard of Noel Sullivan: previous member of Hear’Say, star of stage and screen, and most notably Nessa’s mate on Gavin and Stacey. He’s also a born and bred Cardiffian, and returned recently to perform in the stage adaptation of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the Wales Millennium Centre. Writer Rhonda Lee Reali caught up with him for a chat about what he’s been up to since those heady days on Popstars.

DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS. Michael Praed (Lawrence), Carley Stenson (Christine) and Noel Sullivan (Freddy). Photo by Phil Tragen

Noel Sullivan returned to the Wales Millennium Centre in the musical, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels in August this year, to play the role of Freddy Benson, the charming American that Steve Martin made famous in the 1988 film.

Noel’s first professional role was as an understudy with Welsh National Opera starting at 13. Before there was Pop Idol, X-Factor or The Voice, there was Popstars, and he burst onto screens in 2001 as part of Hear’Say, who won and went on to sell nearly three million records worldwide (two number one singles and a number one album), but then split after less than two years together.

Sullivan, 35, was honoured to take part in the Royal Gala Opening at the Millennium Centre in  2004. He went into musical theatre and hasn’t looked back. He’s acted, danced and sung his way through an impressive list of shows including Fame, Love Shack, Flashdance, Priscilla Queen Of The Desert and Rock Of Ages. Besides being in the UK touring shows, he made his West End debut as Danny Zuko in Grease and also performed as Galileo in the Queen/Ben Elton megahit We Will Rock You. He’s lived in the US for almost two years, treading the boards in Las Vegas doing Simply Ballroom and in the Midwest with the deceptively named The Twelve Irish Tenors. He’s even guest starred on Gavin & Stacey(yes!) and has a new album out, Here I Go Again. He very kindly took time out between Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and being en route to BBC Radio to speak to me about Cardiff, choirs, conmen and cuisine.


We Are Cardiff: What area of Cardiff are you from originally?

Sullivan: I grew up – my early years – in Grangetown. Then, later on, secondary school time, I was up in Caerau. I went to Mary Immaculate HS.

WAC: Were you a choirboy?

Sullivan: I was, yeah. A bit of a selection of choirs. For a little while, I went to St. John’s College. I was part of their choir school, at the Cathedral Choir there for a few years. Then after that, kind of South Glamorgan high schools, and then on to Black Mountain Male Chorus Of Wales. A lot of choir experience as you would expect from a good Welsh boy. [Chuckles]

WAC: How has being in choirs prepared you for your singing career?

Sullivan: There was never any doubt that I would do anything else, really. My grandmother was a music teacher, and I had a lot of support from about six-years-old, so it’s all I ever knew. It prepared me well for musical theatre especially because my St. John’s choir had a lot of voices and personalities. You have that with a touring company, so it definitely stood me in good stead!

WAC: Music played a big part in you life, obviously.

Sullivan: My grandmother was classically trained and influenced, but then my mum kind of gave me soul. She gave me Stevie [Wonder], Michael Jackson and Earth, Wind & Fire and all that stuff. So I had quite a nice balance.

WAC: What’s more daunting – being in a musical that’s been adapted from a film/being in a revival or originating a role?

Sullivan: I’ve originated a couple of roles, but the majority of stage work has been following onto from other people. It depends on the director that you get to work with. Some people make you follow stuff like before, and other people will allow you to find the piece yourself. With Scoundrels, I was very lucky that they allowed me to find it for myself.

WAC: How do you like the role of Freddy?

Sullivan: It’s a great role. It’s a great thing to be part of. You saw the audience reaction last night. People don’t know what to expect when they come along. It was great to see the Millennium Centre on their feet. I know standing ovations are not something that they get there all of the time. It was a great night for me. Obviously, to come home with such a great part as well. It’s such a joy to perform.

WAC: Was there any different preparation for this role as opposed to others?

Sullivan: Probably more than any other musical that I’ve worked on, this is definitely more of a play with music, so we have to approach it from the book first, and the songs are almost secondary, I think. It was a massive undertaking. You have to trust the comedy and the fact your director’s telling you that it’s working right because once the cast have seen it, it’s not funny again. So you don’t know. You’ve got then a five or six-week process where no one’s laughing, and you have to trust that when you get it on the stage that people are going to understand it.

WAC: I have to tell you that your Brooklyn accent was spot on.

Sullivan: Thank you very much. I detected a hint of it there!

WAC: I’m not from Brooklyn but not far from there.

Sullivan: It was great because when I was setting it up, they said I could – it would have been impossible to try and emulate Steve Martin. He’s such a one-of-a kind-performer. By letting me pick where I wanted him to be from, it made a massive difference in my characterisation.

WAC: You got to pick that?

Sullivan: Yeah, I got to pick where he was from. Because I’m younger than a couple of the guys that played him in the West End, I came up with a back story that he could be this wheeler-dealer kid from the streets of Brooklyn who got brought up by his gran, so I had quite a good time creating that. Obviously, they get a dialect coach in to teach everyone French and to give me the things for my character. The difficulty for me was alternating the Brooklyn and the southern accents. It couldn’t be deeper south, and they’re quite opposing sounds as well. It’s been great to get that, so you could flick from one to another in a heartbeat.

WAC: You and Jameson (Michael Praed’s character) are such opposites. I think making Freddy from Brooklyn really highlights the difference between the suave Englishman and him.

Sullivan: It adds a little brashness to him, which I’m familiar with -being from Cardiff. We were talking about it with the dialect coach. I was saying, “Why is it that some accents like New York and Cardiff and Liverpool have such a hard edge?” He was explaining to me that it’s because the people who work in those cities are usually working class, and they work in nearby docks and industries. They have to shout over everybody, all the noise, all of the time, to communicate with each other. It’s a fascinating thing that it all comes down to class. People who had more money wouldn’t have to shout out to communicate. It was really interesting to learn all of that stuff.

WAC: Do you have a favourite scene or song in the show?

Sullivan: It’s Love Is My Legs for me, that smouldering 80s power ballad where I get out of the wheelchair. It’s so much fun to play. It’s not very often you get backed by a choir! [Laughs] It’s very good!

WAC: If you had friends who’ve never been to Cardiff before, where would you take them? Besides the usual attractions?

Sullivan: It’s funny because all of my friends on the cast have been texting me – where should they go, what should they see, what should they do? The fact that a lot of us are based in the bay now, is brilliant, because especially in the last 10 years, it’s transformed into such a beautiful place. Yesterday was testament to that when the sun was shining. It’s pretty incredible down there. I recommend people go and have a look around the castle. Also, the arcades opposite the castle. I love those. And obviously now, we’ve got St. David’s, too, which brings us up to par with some of the other bigger cities in the UK. Which is great to have as well. It’s a sign of advancement, I think, when a city gets a John Lewis! [Laughs] Cardiff’s changed so much, and every time I come back, there’s new accommodations and new exciting restaurants to go and try. It’s a great city!

WAC: Any favourite pubs?

Sullivan: For 10 years, I lived just off Cathedral Road. My favourite local was the Cayo Arms on Cathedral Road. I love it there. It’s got a good, friendly atmosphere and cheap beer! [Laughs]

WAC: Do you have a favourite beach in Wales?

Sullivan: In south Wales? I love Southerndown in Ogmore Vale. It’s only like a 20 minute drive from Cardiff, and it’s really beautiful down there. This weekend, I went with my mum. She’s got a caravan in New Quay, west Wales. We went to this really rugged, beautiful beach called Caibach, which was stunning, and there was hardly anyone down there – even in August. You didn’t have to go very far to get a bit of Welsh coastline for yourself.

WAC: Do you have any particular Welsh food that you can’t live without?

Sullivan: I do. Something that you don’t get anywhere else is a Clark’s Pie. It’s a Cardiff staple. They’re delicious, but you can’t eat lots of them if you’re trying to stay as a healthy performer! They’ve got a shop in Canton, but I don’t know if it’s still there, even.

Note: The Canton shop is closed. The only remaining Clark’s Pie shop is in Grangetown.

Now all you fans know what to bring him at the stage door after a show. 😉


Rhonda Lee Reali is a writer based in Cardiff.

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A Night at the Casablanca! 1 November 2014

A couple of weeks back I was told about this AMAZING event that the Wales Millennium Centre are holding – reviving an infamous Cardiff night spot for one night only: bringing back THE CASABLANCA!

For one extraordinary night this November, we’re transforming the Donald Gordon stage into Butetown’s legendary Casablanca Club for a celebration of the rich musical heritage that made it famous around the world.

From its beginnings as Butetown’s Bethel Chapel (where Ivor Novello was baptised) to its final closure and demolition, the Casablanca holds a special place in the hearts of Tiger Bay residents. Spanning 50 years of music, Night at the Casablanca will feature live performances from local artists in one unforgettable evening of soul, gospel, reggae, swing, jazz and everything in between.

Night at the Casablanca is the Centre’s first official 10th Anniversary performance and one that celebrates the cultures, stories and sounds of our neighbourhood.
• Live music from 7pm
• Performance in Donald Gordon Theatre at 8pm
• After show party from 10pm

The Casablanca Club. The club was previously the Bethel Chapel where Ivor Novello was baptised.



A photo of the Casablanca ‘in action’ (by Mike Johnson)



Night at the Casablanca is the Centre’s first official 10th Anniversary performance and one that celebrates the cultures, stories and sounds of our neighbourhood. If you have a memory of the Casablanca, please share it with the team on Facebook orTwitter by using the hashtag #CasaB or by emailing us education@wmc.org.uk.

Tickets are a steal – just £15 in advance from WMC for …

• Live music from 7pm
• Performance in Donald Gordon Theatre at 8pm
• After show party from 10pm

Price includes entry to party after the show featuring…
• Live band on the Glanfa stage
• DJ room with sound systems
• Free Caribbean Food
• Bar open ’til late
We’ll see you down the front!

“Unity Festival’s visiting acts always comment on how much they love coming to Cardiff” – Ben

Ben Pettitt-Wade photographed by Adam Chard

For the last nine months I have been planning and organising Hijinx Theatre’s annual Unity Festival – a two week event that sees a variety of award winning inclusive arts companies descend upon Cardiff. I have to say I’m exhausted! We’re a Cardiff-based inclusive arts company with a very small team. In reality we don’t have enough staff or resources to be doing this, thank goodness for volunteers! But every hour spent is worth it for Cardiff, the arts and the performers.

Having worked in Liverpool, London and Seville (albeit briefly) and Cardiff, I can honestly say that Cardiff is on a par with these cities in terms of the inclusive art scene and the work being produced, but it’s the audiences that differ. I’ve sat in packed 1,000 seat theatres in Seville watching a piece of inclusive dance, we wouldn’t get that in Cardiff, and that’s something we are trying to change through Unity Festival. We believe in the work we present and believe it should be enjoyed by everyone.

We started in 2008 with an audience of 1,500 people and year on year the festival has grown in both size and ambition to become one of the largest inclusive arts festivals in Europe, with more than 7,000 people enjoying performances in 2012. Last year will always be unforgettable. For the first time we received £100,000 of funding from the Arts Council of Wales which meant we could start thinking big and turn what were pipe dreams into a reality. We brought Back to Back Theatre from Australia over for the Festival; they performed for three days in the middle of Queen Street. It was incredible.

This year we’re lucky to have secured the same funding and as a direct result of the Paralympics we are welcoming more home grown acts than ever before. Our mission is to build on the Festival each year while staying true to its core – to provide a platform for the inclusive arts, offer more opportunities within the spotlight for disabled artists and expose their amazing talents.

For the first time, Cardiff audiences will be able to enjoy spectacles including modern fable The Iron Man (a colossal iron puppet the size of a double decker bus) from London-based Graeae Theatre Company, who can be credited with kicking off the whole movement in disability arts in the 1970s. As well as Three Acts of Play from Candoco Dance Company, UK pioneers of inclusive contemporary dance; it will twist your perceptions of who can dance and who enjoys it!

We are also showcasing international acts, Sevilliano flamenco Cia Jose Galan, back by popular demand following a near sell out last year and jaw-dropping acrobatics from French company Cirque Inextremiste. I saw this show in Marseille and I guarantee it will blow you away.

More than anything I love the feel good vibe that the Festival creates and can’t wait to experience it again. Our visiting acts always comment on how much they love coming to Cardiff, how friendly people are and the great reception they get. So, people of Cardiff, I’m asking you to come and see for yourself the brilliant theatre dance, music and comedy on offer and help make this year the best yet with the biggest audience!

Ben Pettitt-Wade was born in London, grew up in Carmarthenshire and has lived in Riverside for the last six years. Following completion of a drama degree, Ben’s acting career was cut short when he broke his ankle in rehearsals; he then joined Spare Tyre Theatre Company in London where he co-ordinated inc.Theatre, a training course for learning disabled actors. It was here that Ben discovered a passion for working inclusively and specifically in drama with learning disabled performers. Since then he has amassed over 10 years experience in this field, in Cardiff, London and Seville. Ben is responsible for the Hijinx Academy, the Hijinx Pods, the community projects,  forum theatre pieces, and the Unity Festival. He currently lives in Riverside.

Unity Festival runs from 12-22 June 2013, and offers both free and ticketed performances across the city at Wales Millennium Centre and Sherman Cymru. Visit www.hijinx.org.uk/unity for a full programme or see @HijinxTheatre on Twitter. 

Ben was photographed in Cardiff Bay by Adam Chard


You are invited to: ‘We Are Cardiff: a Roath state of mind’ exhibition, 29 May – 2 July, Waterloo Teahouse

Friends, Cardiffians – it is our pleasure to invite you to our first localised exhibition, which is taking place in the heartland of Roath.

The boundaries of Roath spread further and run deeper than the thin lines on the map that separate it from surrounding Penylan, Cathays, Adamsdown, or even Splott. Roath is more than a place – it’s a state of mind, and we invite you to celebrate that with our first localised exhibition, featuring stories and photography of local residents who have been featured in the We Are Cardiff project.

You are invited to the launch party, on 1 June 2012. Come have a peek at the exhibition, and learn more about the film that we’re currently making about our fair city of Cardiff.

‘We Are Cardiff: a Roath state of mind’ exhibition
Waterloo Gardens Teahouse
Launch party: Friday 1 June 2012, from 6.15pm-8pm
Exhibition 29 May – 2 July 2012



A four-ball round of golf at St Pierre Golf Club in Chepstow (donated by Acorn Recruitment and Training

A speedboat trip for two around Cardiff Bay (donated by CAVRA)

A meal for two from the set menu at Ffresh (donated by Ffresh)

A luxury haircut (donated by the Constantinou salon)

A pair of trapeze taster session tickets (donated by NoFitState circus)

A meal for two in the Gallery Restaurant at the Grosvenor G Cardiff (donated by the Grosvenor G Casino)

A Fairtrade chocolate hamper (donated by Fairtrade Wales)

A print of Roath Park artwork (donated by Gayle Rogers)

A hand crocheted blanket (donated by Andrew Williams)

A framed print (donated by Jo Whitby)

A screenprinted t shirt (donated by Droneboy Laundry)

A bottle of champagne (donated by EstatesDirect Cardiff)

A screenprinted Shewolf t-shirt (donated by Spike Dennis)

A limited edition We Are Cardiff t-shirt

We’d like to say a very large thank you to ALL the sponsors who have donated prizes for this draw – you’re helping us out with a worthwhile project and we really appreciate your support.

So … more info on our lovely sponsors…

FFRESH. With stunning views of Cardiff Bay, a stylish and contemporary feel, and a wonderful seasonal menu showcasing the best of Welsh produce, ffresh Bar and Restaurant is catered to enhance your culinary dining experience.Excellent quality food and service is led by Executive Chef Kurt Fleming, along with consultancy expertise from Shaun Hill, Executive Chef at The Walnut Tree Inn at Abergavenny. The ffresh team have a great deal of experience to help you choose a menu that suits tastes and budget. All our menus have wonderful vegetarian options, and our Chefs are more than happy to cater for any special dietary requirements…
ffresh Restaurant is open Tuesday-Saturday 12 noon- 2.30pm; 5-9.30pm and Sundays 12 noon – 4pm. Please note that on Mondays, ffresh Restaurant is only open for pre-show dining. Whether you are visiting Cardiff bay for an afternoon, seeing a production at the Centre, or looking for a special evening dining experience book your table at the restaurant on 029 2063 6465 or ffresh@wmc.org.uk.

FAIRTRADE WALES. Did you know Wales is a fair trade country and Cardiff was the world’s first Fairtrade capital city? Fair trade is about creating opportunities for producers in the developing world to receive a fair price for their goods and to work their way out of poverty. Put simply, it is an opportunity for them to improve their lives and the lives of their families, and is as simple as the choices you make on your weekly shop.

ESTATES DIRECT – the 0% Commission Agent. At EstatesDirect we charge a fair fixed fee to sell or let your property.  To see how much you could save and find out more please visit our website. EstatesDirect Cardiff is owned and run by Paul and Helen Walters. We pride ourselves on offering excellent customer service throughout your property sale or let, from the initial FREE valuation, through to viewings and finally the sale or let of your property. We are local to Cardiff, and will offer expert advice on marketing your property to its greatest potential and to as many targeted buyers and tenants as possible.

JO WHITBY. Jo Whitby is an all-round creative type who likes to cram her days with as much arty/music/culture stuff as possible. I Know Jojo is where she freelances as an illustrator and artist doing all sorts of works from depicting classic Welsh myths to crowd surfing a Smart Car. You can also find Jo making music as Laurence Made Me Cry and sporadically updating a music and culture blog called Cat On The Wall.

SPIKE DENNIS. Spike is  a maker, an imaginator, a unicorn farmer & a Romanticist with a burning desire to understand that which lies beyond the stars but you can call him an artist for want of a better word. He has lived in Cardiff for five years and recently launched ProjectCardiff with co-conspirator Lann Niziblian. Spike will be exhibiting some collaborative work inspired by the Brothers Grimm fairy tales at St Donats Art Centre in the Vale of Glamorgan throughout June this year (full details available shortly)
More info at: www.spikeworld.co.uk / www.unicorn-porn.com

ANDREW WILLIAMS. Andy is a knitwear designer that has been knitting since 2004 and crocheting since 2009. He has free patterns available on his blog and Ravelry page, and some of his patterns are available to buy from Calon Yarns on Cowbridge Road East. Making blankets is an obsession he has. Blankets of all shapes, sizes and colours. “I’ve loved blankets since I was little. They make me feel safe and warm. A handmade blanket is even better, because not only are you getting a lovely handmade thing, you’re getting someone’s time – that’s a really precious thing to give. The blanket I’m making for We Are Cardiff is a giant granny square, which I will embellish with some appliquéd bits and bobs. It’s super colourful, hope someone colourful wins it!” See also: Ravelry

NOFITSTATE CIRCUS. No Fit State was founded in 1986 by five friends. During a politically charged time, in a recession, and as a creative reaction to the world around them, the circus was born. Twenty-five years later NoFit State still believes that the total outweighs the sum of the parts. The company lives together, works together, eats together, laughs and cries together – travelling in trucks, trailers and caravans and loving and breathing as one community. This is what creates the spirit that is NoFit State and gives the work its heart and soul. Contemporary circus combines live music, dance, stage design, text, and film with traditional circus skills. It is rooted in the travelling community who turn up, pitch a tent, drum up an audience, and then leave with only flattened grass and a memory to show they were ever there. The circus are the strangers who live amongst us – and if we run away to join them we are throwing off our inhibitions, our conventions, the rules of settled society. We are taking to the road knowing that there is no destination – only a journey.
Today, NoFit State is the UK’s leading large-scale contemporary circus company, producing professional touring productions and a wide variety of community, training, and education projects for people of all ages.