Theatre Reviews

Matilda

I was not a Dahl fan as a child. I’d found his stories too dark, and I must admit to not understanding what all the fuss was about, but I am total convert and am now “Mad about Matilda”. It’s heart-warming, funny, touching, brilliantly scripted, and acted with humour that both adults and children alike will love, with songs such as Miracle, Naughty, The Chokey Chant, Revolting Children and of course the big money number When I Grow Up. There are not enough superlatives to describe this show, but when doing a vox pop after the show all I could say was “I have just had my tiny little mind utterly blown!”

  

Legally Blonde

Following the huge success of the Reece Witherspoon movie in 2001, Legally Blonde was begging to be made into a musical. The only surprise is that it took six years, because it really is the most joyful show – and a proliferation of pink! The story follows beautiful and popular sorority sister Elle Woods, played by Eurovision and X-Factor finalist Lucie Jones. Superficially she appears shallow and not terribly intelligent, but when her social-climbing boyfriend Warner Huntington III, Liam Doyle, dumps her for a Jackie Kennedy type, with breeding and brains, she follows him to Harvard Law School to prove him wrong.

  

An Officer and a Gentleman

I had the privilege of attending the Press Day at the Wycombe Swan Theatre, of an OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN – THE MUSICAL. Emma Williams plays Paula Pokrifki, with Jonny Fines as Zack Mayo, Ray Shell as Foley, Ian McIntosh as Sid Worley and Jessica Daley as Lynette Pomeroy. The production will open at MKT on 9 –14 July.

  

Summer Holiday

Summer Holiday tells the story of Don and three of his fellow London Transport mechanics as they journey together in a double-decker bus through Paris, the Alps, Italy and Greece. Along the way they pick up a girl singing group: Gabby Antrobus (Mimsie), Alice Baker (Alma) and Laura Marie Benson (as dopey Angie), and of course they all pair off. There is also a young American performer (Sophie Matthew) as Barbara Winters, who is on the run from her pushy mother, an excellent Taryn Sudding, accompanied by Jerry (Bobby Crush) whose role seemed a tad superfluous at times, but he came into his own when playing the keyboard in the finale. Crush is, of course, an accomplished pianist who came to fame after winning “Opportunity Knocks” in 1972.

  

Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em

As a fan of this hugely popular and iconic 70’s TV sitcom, I knew this wasn’t going to be a carbon-copy as I’d heard Joe Pasquale who plays Frank Spencer, state quite clearly in an interview, that it was not his intention to emulate Michael Crawford’s brilliant portrayal, but to put his own unique spin on it.

There were a plethora of sitcoms in the 70’s, Dad’s Army, Are you Being Served?, Porridge, The Good Life and Fawlty Towers amongst others and of course, the incomparable Some Mothers and it’s safe to say that sitcoms have fallen out of fashion but I’ve recently seen versions of Porridge and Fawlty Towers, both quite brilliant and have stayed true to the original and I and the entire audience would appear to agree that Some Mothers has done the same – it felt as if we’d stepped back in time into Frank and Betty’s home

  

The Play That Goes Wrong

I had more than my funny bone tickled at Mischief Theatre’s The Play That Goes Wrong which chaotically arrives at Milton Keynes Theatre, and from the moment the curtain does not go up, the stage is already set – and things go horribly wrong.

  

The Little Mermaid

Northern Ballet’s production of The Little Mermaid danced into our hearts this week at Milton Keynes Theatre. This wonderful new ballet’s key themes is a tale of absolute love, naivety, dreams and aspirations. A major part of the piece is set in the water world – in the water, underwater and also the human world where the Mermaid meets the Prince. But even on land she is called by the water and never truly belongs. Sally Beamish has composed such a beautiful piece and contains so many different elements, the sea, song, magic and unrequited love with a Celtic theme.

  

Hairspray

You can’t stop the beat, and nor will you want to when you see this utterly joyful production of Hairspray! This is my fifth time of seeing it! I saw the Michael Ball production in London; twice at MK; an excellent youth production at Stantonbury last year, and here we are again – this really is what musical theatre is all about!

  

Fat Friends

The weight was finally over when Kay Mellor’s Fat Friends the Musical rolled into Milton Keynes Theatre. Fun, fabulous, cheesy, heart-warming and touching, especially for those of us who’ve done the slimming club slog – this really resonated. Jodie Prenger, as Kelly, is the larger-than-life star of the show and she still has that same star quality that won her the role of Nancy in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s I’d Do Anything. (Incidentally ALW’s son Nick Lloyd Webber wrote the excellent music for Fat Friends).

  

Hedda Gabbler

I didn’t expect Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabbler to be light relief and there wasn’t a jazz hand or kickball change in sight, but I wanted and needed to be challenged – and challenged I was.

Ibsen was responsible for works such as Peer Gynt, A Doll’s House, Ghosts, The Lady of The Sea, and another eight of which I must confess I had not heard, and he is responsible for some particularly memorable quotes from the play:

It is a great delusion that one only loves one person.

The demon in Hedda is that she wants to influence another human being, but once that has happened, she despises him.”

“Life for Hedda is a farce which isn’t worth seeing through to the end.

  
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