Theatre Reviews

Oliver

Rare Productions – Youth Theatre Group present Oliver! This is the 2nd RARE show I’ve seen, the first being Hairspray starring the super talented Gabriella Francesca Polcino. Tonight it was the turn of ten year old Billy Larcombe to make his stage debut as Oliver and what a little star this boy is. Billy encapsulates all that is pure and innocent about Oliver, his voice has a lovely clarity that will only improve with age. His rendition of “Where is love?” brought a tear to my eye.

  

Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella

Matthew Bourne’s ballets continue to surpass all expectation, and Cinderella was no exception. Highly innovative, creative, humorous, touching and totally avant garde, Cinderella is set in WWII London. Bourne’s thrilling and evocative interpretation of the classic fairy tale is a true wartime romance: a chance meeting, a magical night for Cinderella and her dashing young RAF pilot, who fall in love before being parted by the horrors of the Blitz. Heart-stopping and touching, with Prokofiev’s magnificent score against the most incredible set I have ever seen.

  

Jersey Boys

Oh, what a night it was when Jersey Boys came to Milton Keynes!

Jersey Boys is a jukebox musical of the four boys from the wrong side of the tracks, who wrote their own songs, invented their unique sound with Frank Valli’s distinctive three-range vocals and sold 175 million records worldwide. It is structured as Four Seasons narrated by each band member giving their own perspective of events. Featuring hit after hit including Beggin’, Can’t Take My Eyes Of you, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Sherry, Walk like a Man and Working my Way back to you.

  

The Snowman at Milton Keynes Theatre

I am literally Walking in the Air after seeing this utterly delightful show. Who needs panto when this festive treat signifies all that is joyful about Christmas? This would have been the perfect prelude to the festive frenzy, and a gentle introduction to the madness of December.  Howard Blake’s moving score accompanies Raymond Briggs’ wonderful […]

  

Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty is one of the lesser-known pantos, and not one I’d seen since my actor father appeared as the King, when I was a mere babe. It proved to be a delightful surprise, partly as I’d never been to The Grove in Dunstable, a ten-year-old 780-seat theatre. It afforded a lovely ambience and intimacy, and the cast mingled with the audience from the beginning, which got everyone warmed up straight away.

  

Cinderella

I had a ticket to the biggest ball in town – Cinderella, at MK Theatre.

This year’s show by Qdos promised to be the biggest and best we had ever seen, and it certainly did not disappoint. Again, as in previous years, I had been fortunate enough to interview all of the previous major stars, Priscilla Presley, Sam Womack, Kev Orkian and Stacey Solomon and this year I chatted to Cinderella’s stars, Brian Conley, Gok Wan and Lauren Hall – and they had all guaranteed a show-stopping, spectacular panto, which proved true to their word.

  

Aladdin

This family favourite is presented by the world’s largest pantomime provider, Qdos Entertainment. Nothing is done by halves – big, bold, glossy and sparkly – and that is what we have come to expect, and I was not disappointed. I was fortunate enough to interview one of Aladdin’s stars, Kev Orkian, for my radio show prior to his performance. A concert pianist, actor, singer and stand-up comedian, Kev is one of the nicest men in showbiz, and manages to incorporate all his skills into his role as Wishee Washee. He is the glue that holds the show together – every panto needs a Kev!

  

Robin Hood

What a splendidly unique panto at Stanto!

Robin Hood is written by the utterly brilliant Kerry Frampton and Ben Hales. Splendid Productions’ USP is their low-tech, no frills, bells and whistles, contemporary but high-impact theatre productions. Lucy Cuthbertson, their brilliant artistic director’s vision was to create a collaborative panto with professional actors working alongside the Stantonbury students.

  

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.

  
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