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John Owen-Jones announces a special Christmas Concert in Llanelli.

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John Owen-Jones

AWARD winning John Owen-Jones (Les Miz/Phantom) will be performing at a special Christmas concert at Theatre Ffwrnes in his hometown of Llanelli to support the release of his new Christmas album. 

The recording has some traditional Christmas tracks, some personal favourites and two brand new Christmas songs.  One co-written with Steve Balsamo (Jesus Christ Superstar/The Storys) and a previously unheard song from the vaults of the legendary Les Reed (It’s Not Unusual/Delilah) and Bill Martin (Puppet On A String/Congratulations). 

The album also includes a duet with West End and Broadway star Kerry Ellis (Wicked/Cats) and will surely be the must have Christmas cd for fans of John’s unique voice!

John says: “I have wanted to record an album of Christmas songs for a very long time and finally found the opportunity to do it this year. I have put together an album full of classic Christmas songs that I love to listen to (and sing!) during the festive season, alongside a couple of not-so-well-known festive tunes that I adore. I also had the opportunity to co-write some new songs for this album which is something I am really excited about. I can’t wait for people to hear this album and I hope that they love the songs, both old and new, as much as I do – and that after listening, they have a very merry Christmas!”

John Owen-Jones celebrated his 50th birthday this year and to mark the occasion he performed two sold out special concerts at Cadogan Hall that were also live-streamed internationally. 

Fans all over the world watched online the West End’s youngest ever ‘Jean Valjean’ and longest-running ‘Phantom’ perform some of his favourite tunes, with a live band. This summer John performed around the UK in a series of outdoor concerts with Only Men Aloud and Katherine Jenkins.

John is currently developing his own theatre-based podcast with fellow Broadway and West End star Alistair Brammer called ‘The Last Show on Earth’ that asks the important question: What show would you see if you had one night left on Earth?

At just 26, John became the youngest actor ever to play the role of ‘Jean Valjean’ in the West End and was the first British actor to play the role both in the West End and on Broadway. John Owen-Jones has also played the role of ‘The Phantom’ in ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ nearly 2000 times – more than any other actor in the history of the West End production. 

John has so far released five albums, ‘John Owen-Jones’ (2009), ‘Unmasked’ (2012), ‘Rise’ (2015), ‘Bring Him Home’ (2016) and ‘Spotlight’ (2019).

https://s.disco.ac/qhggeseuywhg – ‘Now More Than Ever’ – lead track

https://s.disco.ac/mzmmzuzrbtza – ‘That Holiday Feeling’ (duet with Kerry Ellis) – Xmas track

Tickets for this very special Christmas concert are available from Theatr Ffwrnes Box Office from Midday on Wednesday 3rd November via Calling the Box office on 0345 226 3510 or online at  https://www.theatrausirgar.co.uk/en and www.gigantic.com

The Christmas Album – Tracklisting:

The Most Wonderful Time of The Year

Happy Holiday/The Holiday Season

That Holiday Feeling (Featuring Kerry Ellis)

Holly Jolly Christmas

Santa Claus Is Coming to Town

Let It Snow/Winter Wonderland

Lullaby For Christmas Eve

A Child’s Christmas in Wales

On Christmas Eve

Please Come Home for Christmas Day

Now More Than Ever

Bonus Tracks:

River

May Each Day

O Holy Night

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Entertainment

Llanelli choir in fine voice with £6,677 fundraiser for lifesaving charity

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A SUCCESSFUL Llanelli choir has presented the Wales Air Ambulance with a cheque of £6,677 after nominating them for their charity of the year.

Côr Curiad Choir are no strangers to raising funds for charity – since their musical director Alex Esney took over in 1996/97 the ladies have raised over £105,000 for charity. Some of the good causes that have benefitted from the kind fundraising events include Teenage Cancer Trust, Marie Curie, Ty Bryngwyn Hospice, and the breast cancer unit at Prince Philip Hospital, Llanelli.

The choir, which consists of 46 females and a solitary male – accompanist Craig Oldham and musical director Alex, welcomes people of all ages. The youngest member is in her twenties and the eldest is 91. This includes mothers, daughters and sisters who all sing for Côr Curiad. They even have members who live outside of Wales.

Spokesperson for the choir Pat Hogson, said: “Now that Covid rules have started to relax a little we have been able to return to more outdoor events, but it will be so good to get back to the ‘new’ normal and do what we love most – to sing and entertain people and to start to raise money for charity again.

“We are able to do as much as we do for charity with the wonderful support of our families and friends and a solid group of supporters who come along to all our events.”

The choir’s music has been described by Pat ‘as varied as their age range’, they sing traditional Welsh and English pieces to Bohemian Rhapsody and songs from Disney, Lord of the Rings, Snow Patrol, Abba and Adele.

Wales Air Ambulance offers advanced critical care and is often described as a ‘Flying ED’.

Wales Air Ambulance’s Jane Griffiths with members of Côr Curiad choir

The on-board consultants and critical care practitioners are highly skilled and carry some of the most pioneering medical equipment in the world. They can deliver blood transfusions, administer anaesthesia and undertake emergency operations at the scene of the incident, before flying the patient directly to specialist care.

Now operational 24/7, the Charity needs to raise £8 million every year to keep the helicopters flying.

Last year saw the ladies held their first-ever virtual Christmas concert, which was a huge success in aid of the Wales Air Ambulance.

Katie Macro, Campaigns Manager for the Wales Air Ambulance, said: “Thank you to everyone at Côr Curiad Choir who despite the challenges that Covid presented to them, they found ways to raise funds for our lifesaving charity. Your support is much appreciated, and every donation is vital and goes towards keeping our helicopters in the air – for the people of Wales, when they need us most. Thank you to the choir’s supporter, friends and family who continue to support and enjoy their charity events.”

There are several ways that the public can continue to support the Wales Air Ambulance.

These include online donations, signing up to the Charity’s Lifesaving Lottery or by coming up with their own innovative ways to fundraise at home. Further information can be found via www.walesairambulance.com. 

Alternatively, a £5 text-message donation can be made by texting the word HELI to 70711.

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Entertainment

Llanelli’s big night is back with a bang

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LLANELLI’S annual Christmas carnival is back, with a weekend of festive celebrations.

This year the town’s Christmas carnival capers will be a two-day event which will launch on Friday, November 19.

The carnival procession will leave Festival Fields, Pwll, at 6.15pm, taking its usual route and will arrive in town shortly after the Christmas lights switch-on at 6.45pm.

There will be a fun fair in Spring Gardens with a fireworks display marking the finale at 7.40pm.

This year the council has purchased a mixture of fireworks – traditional and low noise as part of its commitment to firework safety and to reduce the noise they can bring.

The road closure of Station Road and Church Street, Llanelli, from its junction with Murray Street to its junction with Gelli Onn, will start at 5.45pm until 8pm.

Gelli Onn will be closed to westbound traffic only, from its junction with Thomas Street.

The festivities will continue into Saturday, with a Christmas themed food and drinks market.

There will be street entertainment (outside Boots) from 10am with guest artists including a Tom Jones tribute, Ysgol Y Strade choir and Burry Port’s Cor Meibion. Drag artist Ruby Slippers will be making an appearance along with local singer Hayley Paultyn and others.

The largest Christmas carnival in Wales, Llanelli’s festive celebrations are a joint effort by Carmarthenshire County Council, Llanelli Town Council, Llanelli Rural Council and Llanelli Round Table. 

The popular reindeer parade organised by Ymlaen Llanelli will be held on December 4 in the town centre.

Last year the carnival went virtual for the first time in its 43-year history due to the Covid pandemic and in line with national regulations.

Keep an eye on our social media channels for more info nearer the time.

Carmarthenshire County Council Leader, Cllr Emlyn Dole, said: “We are delighted that the carnival is able to return this year and locals and visitors who travel to see this event deserve to have an occasion they can enjoy, however, we must remember that Coronavirus hasn’t gone away. We need to continue to remain vigilant and enjoy responsibly and by taking some simple steps such as wearing a mask will help protect ourselves as well as others around. And if you do have any symptoms then please stay at home.”

Anyone interested in entering a float in the carnival should contact Roger Bowen at Llanelli Round Table on 01554 750008.

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Entertainment

Excitement builds as Bollywood comes to Carmarthenshire

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LLANELLI’S Ffwrnes theatre is to host the red carpet premiere of a new Bollywood film that was partly shot in the town’s rugby stadium.

Bollywood Hollywood Production has chosen Carmarthenshire for the first Welsh screening of its new film Jungle Cry, based on the inspiring true story of 12 underprivileged and orphan children from Kalinga Institute in India’s Odisha region, following their triumphant journey to the International Junior Rugby Tournament held in the UK in 2007.

The rugby scenes were filmed in Wales, including at Llanelli’s Parc y Scarlets where the film’s match final was shot.

It features cameos by some of the sport’s top names, including international referee Nigel Owens, and Scarlets, Wales and British Lions fly half Phil Bennett – both from Carmarthenshire.

Carmarthenshire County Council, University of Wales Trinity St David and the Scarlets have joined the project as brand partners, and the council is hosting the exclusive invitation-only premiere at Y Ffwrnes on March 10 ahead of the film’s release to cinemas worldwide in April.

Executive Board Member for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths, said: “It’s an honour to host the Welsh premiere of Jungle Cry at Y Ffwrnes. We have been delighted to support the making of this film, which is based on a remarkable true story.

“We have worked hard to grow Carmarthenshire as a location for film and television productions because of the huge economic benefits it brings to the area, as we have seen with the likes of BBC drama Keeping Faith which has brought so much interest to Laugharne and Carmarthen.

“It is fantastic to see Llanelli taking pride of place on the silver screen as part of Jungle Cry. The Bollywood industry is massive and there will be a huge amount of interest in this film, which we hope will put Carmarthenshire on an even bigger international map.”

Jungle Cry tells the incredible true story of the 12 underprivileged children who came from one of India’s most tribal areas, playing sports bare foot, who went on to win to the prestigious U14 Rugby World Cup in England, making Indian and British history.

It was produced by veteran Mumbai and Hollywood producer Prashant Shah, who has also produced the likes ofMy Name is Khan, and The Bruce Lee Project.

Bollywood comes to CarmarthenshireHe said: “Jungle Cry is truly an inspiring film that promotes education, sports and helps eradicate poverty and create patriotism for every nation and we are very excited to release it to a global audience of cinemagoers in April.”

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