Theatre Reviews

Flashdance

Flashdance – what a feeling!  This was one of my favourite ‘80s films, apart from Footloose, but that was probably more down to my obsession with Kevin Bacon.  An unknown Jennifer Beals’ iconic pose, with her off-the-shoulder sweatshirt, legs akimbo, made her the poster girl of the ‘80s.

One of the three most successful films of 1983, no one had expected a story about a welder by day, exotic dancer by night, whose ambition was to get into ballet school despite no qualifications – a story that would reach the dizzying heights of movie magic – but Flashdance did.  Giorgio Moroder’s incredible soundtrack included What a Feeling, Michael Sembello’s Maniac, Gloria by Laura Branigan, whose poignant lyrics I had not really listened to until the show and, of course, Joan Jett’s I love Rock and Roll. 

  

Tango Moderno

Tango Moderno dances in Milton Keynes Theatre 14 -18 November.

Dance partners for over two decades Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace have become synonymous with the tango revival in the UK. Multiple UK, European and World Champion dancers, they have used their Strictly stardom to move into choreographing and performing in innovative new shows. I fell in love with them during Strictly – their unique partnership, sizzling chemistry, and with Vincent’s chutzpah and Flavia’s exquisite resemblance to a young Sophia Loren. Their extraordinary talent collectively took the nation’s breath away with its grace and dexterity. We had never seen anything like it on national television and, to be honest, it is unlikely to be replicated.

  

Cabaret

A warm wilkommen is offered to the guests of the seedy Berlin Kit Kat Club by Emcee, a leather-clad, face-painted Will Young. Debauchery and decadence I expected, but it was much darker than I had anticipated. It was very moving, full of pathos, with moments of humour provided by the utterly brilliant Young who was born to play the role. Every little nuance, facial expression and movement had such significance, it is hard to believe this is the same boy who burst onto our screens on Pop Idol in 2002. Young simply steals the show in every scene.

  

The Addams Family

A musical comedy – at Milton Keynes Theatre until 28th October

The ultimate princess of darkness, Wednesday Addams (Carrie Hope Fletcher), has grown up, and has a shocking secret that only Gomez (Cameron Blakeley) knows: she has fallen in love with Lucas, (Oliver Ormson) a sweet, smart young man, from a respectable family! Now, Gomez Addams must do something he has never done before — keep a secret from his beloved wife, Morticia (Samantha Womack). Everything will change for the whole family on the fateful night they host a dinner for Wednesday’s “normal” boyfriend and his parents. All the usual clan are present – Uncle Fester, Lurch, Pugsley, et al.

  

Song of the Earth and La Sylphide

If I am entirely honest, I am no balletomane. However, my seventeen-year-old son accompanied me as he is studying dance, and ballet is an essential element of dance. His reaction was gratifying. English National Ballet presented a double bill: the first, Kenneth MacMillan’s masterpiece Song of the Earth followed by La Sylphide.

  

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).

  
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