Theatre Reviews

Blood Brothers

Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers is hailed as one of the best musicals of all time. Each time I watch it I always think I will not enjoy it as much as I have done before, but something always draws me back – so this is my fourth time! Blood Brothers tells the captivating and moving […]

  

Cilla

Cilla the Musical at Milton Keynes Theatre. Based on the TV series by Jeff Pope, which starred Sheridan Smith.

A star is born! Kara Lily Hayworth stars in the role she was destined to play. She was chosen from thousands at an open audition. I was lucky to interview her for my show, and she was absolutely delightful. Kara was stunned that she’d been given this opportunity and knew that she had huge shoes to fill – not only those of Sheridan, but of course, those of Cilla’s. She told me, that Cilla’s son Robert Willis said: “We wanted somebody who wasn’t going to impersonate my mum but someone who could capture her spirit. Kara came in with her huge personality and amazing voice – when I saw the response of the audience at the Cavern, I knew she was the one my mum would have wanted!”

  

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

The National Theatre’s production, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, based on the best-selling novel by Mark Haddon and adapted as a new play by Simon Stephens, is at Milton Keynes Theatre.

Now this is what I call an astounding piece of theatre! Simply not enough superlatives. I had seen the show in February 2015 and was blown away by the superb staging and heart-rending subject matter. A boy with Asperger Syndrome is trying to make sense of the murder of a dead dog and accidentally uncovers the flaws in his fractured family. Once again, I was both moved and amazed at this incredible production. Masters of theatrical staging, the National has triumphed once more, and after the sublime Jane Eyre a few months ago, I knew I would love this show – again.

  

Grease

Grease is a real trip down memory lane. It’s the soundtrack of my youth and was one of the first films I ever saw. I recall being mesmerised by the on-screen chemistry of Sandy and Danny. Set in the carefree days of the fifties when bobby socks, sneakers, teddy boys, pony-tails, hooped skirts, blue suede shoes and milkshakes were on the menu. Where nice girls didn’t and bad boys tried. Usually at the drive-in. Initially a stage show in the early seventies, it was turned into the film we all know and love, and became the most popular musical of the decade and made stars of Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta. Grease at Milton Keynes Theatre is a high-octane fun show, and it makes one realise just how good the film was – it’s hard not to make comparisons.

  

La Cage aux Folles

La Cage Aux Folles! Utterly, utterly fabulous, camptastic, frivolous, funny, entertaining and touching. I loved every single minute of this fabulous show.

Georges, (Adrian Zmed), Broadway star, owner of Folles, introduces on stage his dazzling drag star and partner Albin, (John Partridge), otherwise known as Za Za. Behind the scenes the two live in domestic harmony in a decadently furnished apartment with their own personal butler, Jacob, a scene-stealing Samson Ajewole who is surely destined for a role in ‘Kinky Boots’. The men’s lives are about to be turned upside down when Jean-Michel (Dougie Carter) – Georges’s son from a one-night stand, announces his engagement to Anne, (Alexandra Robinson), the daughter of a notoriously homophobic right-wing politician, Dindon (Paul F Monaghan).

  

Bugsy Malone

Stage Experience presents Bugsy Malone. The Creative Learning Company in conjunction with Milton Keynes Theatre produces an annual musical which showcases the talents of local 10-21-year- olds. It is a wonderful opportunity to gain West End experience by working with some of the most talented people in the theatre industry. I had the privilege of sitting in on the audition panel last year and got to know Robert Marsden, Director and Matthew Reeve, MD who have collaborated previously on both Fame and The Wiz, and together they make a perfect creative partnership. Alan Parker films are obviously a favourite, as last year’s show was Fame. This year it is Bugsy. However, to be honest, I preferred Fame, which I felt better suited to the children as opposed to Bugsy which, ironically, was written specifically for children.

  

A Judgement in Stone

Ruth Rendell’s A Judgement in Stone is set in 1978 in Lowfield Hall, the Coverdale family seat. Eunice, the recently-hired and socially inept housekeeper, hides a secret that will inexorably lead to a terrible tale of murder in cold blood – on Valentine’s Day. Ruth Rendell’s brilliant plot unravels a lifetime of deceit, despair and cover-ups which, when revealed, brings a shocking revelation almost as grisly as murder itself.

The star cast includes the usually stunning Sophie Ward as Eunice, who, for the role, dons a grey wig and dowdy shapeless clothing. At times, her portrayal veers towards Mrs Overall in Acorn Antiques with a touch of Frank Spencer’s voice, and it made for slightly uncomfortable viewing, but this only added realism. I enjoyed Soldier Soldier’s Ben Nealon’s performance as DS Challoner, the wizened local police officer. Coronation Street and The Bill star Andrew Lancel is the hackneyed Detective Superintendent Vetch, summoned from London to assist DS Challoner on what is a very complex murder investigation.

  

Hairspray

Hairspray. A Rare Production at Stantonbury Theatre 13-15th July 2017.

Rare Productions is an amateur youth musical theatre company for children and young adults.

Under the expert directorship of James Keenan, whose impressive credits include Return to the Forbidden Planet, Oliver, Peter Pan the Musical, Bugsy Malone, High School Musical and now Hairspray, this production shines from the start. Directing youth theatre is no theatrical walk in the park but James has made this production seem effortless with a tightly knit cast, sound stage direction and he truly brought the joy of theatre to these youngsters.

  

Wonderland

Wonderland, a musical adaption of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass is at Milton Keynes Theatre.

This was my initial short Facebook review post-show:

‘WOW! What a wonder Frank Wildhorn’s Wonderland was, with Wicked’s West End star Kerry Ellis & Coronation Street’s Wendi Peters. Utterly bonkers as one would expect – rock opera-meets-panto; camp, crazy, noisy, chaotic. Cheesy, with larger-than-life characters (Mad Hatter – totally channelling Queenie from Blackadder), the hippest coolest caterpillar, and cats that outdid the cats from CATS. ’

  

Jane Eyre

The theatrical pedigree of The National and Bristol Old Vic has produced one of the most astonishing pieces of theatre I have seen in all my theatre-going years.

I cannot profess to be a fan of the classics, and when I saw the stage set in contemporary style, my heart sank. I am an unashamed fan of musical theatre, but know that I need to broaden my cultural horizons. However, any preconceived ideas dissipated within the first five minutes, and I was treated for the next three hours to a theatrical masterpiece.

  
Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On FacebookVisit Us On Linkedin