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Sol Cinema – The world’s smallest solar-powered cinema – hired by top band Madness to premiere their new film

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The award winning Sol Cinema was hired by one of the biggest and most loved bands in British culture, Madness.

Since all the regular sized cinemas were closed, Suggs and his band decided to hire the 8 seater Sol Cinema to host their red carpet premiere of “Before We Was We: Madness by Madness”, a three-part AMC UK original docuseries.

The Sol Cinema was brought to London’s Leicester Square to be filmed. Using clever camera trickery, we get to see the lead singer Suggs in the box office, be the popcorn seller, a showman and also be the audience. The film will be broadcast on May 1st.

“Before We Was We: Madness by Madness” will air in the UK on AMC, exclusive to BT TV from 1st May on three consecutive Saturdays at 9pm BST, with all three episodes also available to stream on BT Player.

Projectionist and co-founder of Sol Cinema Paul O’Connor said: ‘In 2020 The Sol Cinema marked our 10th anniversary but no celebrations were to be had due to COVID. So helping Madness launch their new film in 2021 was a real celebration for us. Being sited in Leicester Square outside the 1600 seater Odeon was funny as it showed the largest cinema in the UK with the smallest.’

Since 2010, the diminutive cinema has entertained more than 80,000 people at music and film festivals in Britain and the E.U

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On the red carpet, Suggs said: “I can’t believe they’ve had me working at my own premiere. It’s a disgrace.”

He then went on to talk about why they decided to make the docuseries: “It was the 40th anniversary of when we made our first record, and we thought it might be nice to do a book, one that wasn’t just about when we became successful, but about before we became successful, although we were all successful as kids in our own right, which you will find out watching this fantastic series.

“The premise of the book was that we all got interviewed individually, and we thought maybe it would be nice to do the documentary like that because not all of the members of the band get to say their own bit, and I think that’s what made it interesting is that we all contradicted each other.”

Madness inside the Sol Cinema (Image: Sol Cinema / Madness)

Co-founder and builder of the Sol Cinema Jo Furlong added: “Sol Cinema has performed in festivals, factories, schools, city centres, on a farm and even in a Zoo. Being mobile, we can squeeze into the strangest of places and entertain with short films using our smartly dressed experienced street performers. Helping Madness launch their new film was a lot of fun”

The Sol Cinema was created from a 1972 caravan which was being used to house chickens on a small holding. Artist Jo Furlong added plush seating, LED lighting and a projector combined with surround sound to create the unique mobile venue.

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Based in Swansea, the mini movie-house that can accommodate eight adults is powered entirely by solar energy. It’s fully mobile and can be towed behind a car.

The Sol Cinema won a Digital Hero award for best use of sustainable technology. It also won a Network Wales award for best communication project.

(Lead image: Sol Cinema / Madness)


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Arts and Entertainment

Cult brand ‘Bingo Lingo’ announces Swansea Arena show

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Cult bingo brand Bingo Lingo has announced it will be bringing its popular mad-cap style of bingo to Swansea Arena this October.

The unconventional bingo night, which has previously sold over a million tickets to revellers across cities including Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool and Luton, has announced a huge one-off show at Swansea’s newest multipurpose entertainment venue – Swansea Arena.

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Past winners have walked away with prizes ranging from the incredible to the ridiculous; from a new car, electric scooters, to festival tickets, giant inflatables and holidays.

The team behind Bingo Lingo announced the event explaining that: “We operate in over 30 cities in the UK, but the shows in Cardiff and Swansea are some of our favourites. Every event we’ve held in Swansea has sold out and the summer series we did with The Swansea Bay Pop Up was so fun. We want to give the city a huge show and Swansea Arena was the obvious choice.”

Tickets go on sale Wednesday 10 August at 12pm.

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Film & TV

Paralympian Ellie Simmonds OBE confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing

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Paralympian and former Olchfa Comprehensive School pupil, Ellie Simmonds OBE has been named as a contestant on this year’s Strictly Come Dancing.

The five-time Paralympic champion and broadcaster joins previously announced contestants Will Mellor, Kym Marsh, Richie Anderson, Kaye Adams, Jayde Adams and Tyler West.

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Ellie Simmonds OBE said: “Oh my gosh!! I’m literally bursting with excitement!! It’s been soooo hard keeping this secret as I’ve wanted to tell everyone. I’m going on Strictly Come Dancing!! I’m a tad nervous too, well more than a tad… I’m absolutely petrified!

“To be asked to be part of the Strictly family is just so exciting and I cannot wait, it’s going to be so much fun. I’m counting down the minutes until it starts; learning to dance, meeting my partner and everyone else involved in the show. Plus wearing the sequins and all that, it’s going to be a blast.

“I’ve been watching Strictly from as far back as I can remember; it’s a traditional lead up to Christmas with my family and it’s a genuine privilege to be part of it.”

Ellie is best known as a gold medal-winning Paralympic swimmer. At the age of thirteen, while a pupil at Olchfa Comprehensive School in Swansea, she was the youngest British athlete at the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing, and won gold medals in the 100m and 400m freestyle events.

In 2012 she achieved gold in the 400m freestyle and the 200m Individual Medley at the Summer Paralympics in London and won a further gold in the 200m Individual Medley at Rio 2016. In addition she has won ten gold World Championship titles.

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At the age of 13 she won BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year and a year later, at just 14 years old, she became the youngest person ever receive an MBE. She was elevated to OBE in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to Paralympic sport.

After retiring from competitive swimming in 2020, Ellie has gone on to present for BBC Sport, most recently for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, as well as making documentaries such as Ellie Simmonds: A World Without Dwarfism? for BBC One and BBC iPlayer. She is set to explore disability and adoption in a recently announced ITV film.

(Lead image: BBC)

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Music

Theatre fans to get ‘Lost in Music’ at 70’s throwback tribute ‘One Night at the Disco’

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Hit 70’s concert show Lost in Music – One night at the disco is coming to Swansea’s Grand Theatre on Friday 9 September.

Disco’s roots are firmly founded in the early Seventies, says James Taylor, producer of the hit touring concert show Lost in Music, which hits Swansea’s Grand Theatre in the coming weeks.

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“It was a time when Motown Records’ biggest stars began to get funky,” he says. “Philadelphia Records became a hit song conveyor belt with its distinctive combination of soulful vocals and lush arrangements. And, soundtracks of movies – from Shaft to Car Wash – lifted the world to its dancing feet.”

By 1977, says James, disco was in full flow.

“Lost in Music fondly remembers the height of the disco era,” he says, “faithfully recreating the biggest hits of Donna Summer, Earth Wind and Fire, Gloria Gaynor, Chaka Khan, Chic, Diana Ross, Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes, Sister Sledge and more.

“Our company Entertainers produces scores of hit touring shows including the Magic of Motown, Fastlove, The Rocket Man and Thank You for the Music,” he says. “But, Lost in Music is by far our liveliest production. It’s non-stop dance anthems from curtain up.”

Disco tribute concert ‘Lost in Music – One night at the disco’ is coming to Swansea’s Grand Theatre

In fact, James admits a couple of mid-tempo tunes have had to be added to the 32-song set list to ‘give the audience a breather’.

“From worldwide ladies’ anthems like I’m Every Woman and I Will Survive,” says James, “to the Nile Rogers/Bernard Edwards-produced Everybody Dance, We Are Family, I’m Coming Out, I Want Your Love and – of course – Lost in Music; plus the greatest hits from New York’s legendary Studio 54 Discotheque: You Make Me Feel Mighty Real, More than a Woman and Disco Inferno; and soul anthems Ain’t No Stopping us Now and Boogie Wonderland – it’s disco wrapped up into two hours of non-stop hits.”

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Backed by a talented live band, Lost in Music stars a cast boasting stunning vocals which combines this with the extravagant dance moves and fabulous fashion of the era, to bring the best the late Seventies had to offer to life, live on stage.

“Audiences are taken on a musical journey straight to the heart of disco by a band that just wants to play in front of crazy fans,” promises James. “Concertgoers are encouraged to come dressed to impress and to get involved.

“It’s the feel-good show of the year – come and get lost in music. . . “

Touring the UK with more than 200 dates in the diary for 2022, Lost in Music is coming to Swansea’s Grand Theatre on Friday 9 September 2022. Tickets are on sale now.

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