Tuesday, 14 August 2018

“The Scarlet Pimpernel” by Tabs Productions
Nottingham Theatre Royal
Week Three of the Colin McIntyre Classic Thriller Season and the thrills continue with Louise Page’s adaptation of the Baroness Orczy’s classic “The Scarlet Pimpernel”
They seek him here, they seek him there, they seek the Pimpernel everywhere. Sacre bleu!
We are transported back to the French Revolution for a story of blackmail, heroism, faith and romance with buckles to be swashed. Will the elusive Scarlet Pimpernel be in time to save the life of the next innocent victim? Well you don’t expect me to give away the ending, do you? Come and see for yourself!
Andrew Ryan stars as the elusive one, as well as Sir Percy Blakeney. Wonderfully foppish as Blakeney and dashing and heroic as The Pimpernel. Putting the Ooh! into Ooh la la.
A relatively new cast and the six actors throughout made it seem deceptively bigger.
Corrinne Begluk (Marguerutte St, Juste), Anna Mitchum (Suzanne De Basseerive), George Gough (Armand St Juste), Stephen Cherrett (Sir Andrew Foulkes) and Mark Huckett (Citizen Chauvelin) balanced the comedy with the thrills perfectly.
Directed by Karen Henson who utilised the whole theatre for exits and entrances for the actors, making this production an even more exciting watch.
Another brilliant touch was to have the actors dressing the sets complete with balletic choreography, and male actors doubling as ladies in a section similar to "Little Britain", both adding to the pure enjoyment of this classic piece of theatre.
Swathes of sweeping red and white material indulged the set and made a visual impact as soon as the curtains opened. designed by John Goodrum.
As only to be expected in this period piece, the costumes and wigs were gorgeous, befitting the decadence of the era, thanks to Geoff Gilder.
All in all this is a brilliant romp where you know what the outcome is going to be, so no whodunnits to guess, just a wonderful camp watch which will
take you back to those heroic story books from your childhood.
“The Scarlet Pimpernel” is a la Theatre Royal until Samedi 18 Aout – or Saturday 18 August por favour.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

"Twelfth Night" by Much Ado About Theatre.
The White Lion, Beeston, Nottingham.
Shakespeare in the open air as part of their local tour, but what happens when it rains?
You put up a gazebo!
What happens if the gazebo is too small for all the people who want to see this production?
You move the production indoors!
Simples, well for us, the audience, but this can cause a multitude of problems performance wise for the actors and crew. Not that you'd have noticed because thinking on your feet and going with the flow is something that this theatre company seem to have a natural ability to do. they moved everything to the pub's upstairs room and performed their production in the round.
"Twelfth Night" or "What You Will" is a Shakespeare comedy, believed to have been written as a Twelfth Night's entertainment for the close of the Christmas season. The play centres on the twins Viola and Sebastian, who are separated in a shipwreck. Viola (who is disguised as Cesario) falls in love with Duke Orsino, who in turn is in love with the Countess Olivia. Upon meeting Viola, Countess Olivia falls in love with her thinking she is a man.
This cast really take the advantage of making all of the characters very animated, especially Sir Toby Belch, and really shows the cartoonish comedy in Shakespeare's writings, cementing his talent for the absurd.
I've never seen this theatre company before but a few of the cast I had seen before, so straight away knew that I was in for a good performance.
Shakespeare is one of those playwrights that a director and cast can have fun with. Adding bits in and omitting others, making sure that the performance is different to any other production you've seen before. Who would have imagined that "Is This The Way To Amarillo" would be part of one of the Bard's plays?
The cast is very strong, and obviously know each other's strengths, and trust the other actor when ad libbing some parts, which keep Shakespeare fresh and enjoyable over 400 years after they were written.
Peter Radford (Orsino), Chloe Crump (Viola/Cesario), Abi Moore (Olivia), Konrad Skubis (Sebastian/Valentine), Jennifer Reckless (Maria), James Parnham (Sir Toby Belch), Hannah Breedon (Sir Andrew Aguecheek), Tori Hope (Antonio), Matthew Hammonds (Feste/Officer) and Nick Parvin(Malvolio/Sea Captain), acted and reacted their socks - or is that stockings - off.
The enthusiasm for what they do is obvious and infectious and they have no qualms about involving members of the audience in their act, showing confidence in their audience's affection for the play and the production company.
The comedy came thick and fast, not just in Shakespeare's words, but also in the physicality of the production; sections of which bordered on slapstick.
Performing in non theatre based surroundings also make it fun and accessible for everyone, and I love the clever way they break down the barriers many people have with Shakespeare by adding the fun and twists to their show.
Looking at the eye catching poster and programme,designed by Chloe Crump, it gave an incite to the cartoony element of the production.
I must also commend the wonderful costumes, supplied by CNR Services Ltd.
A wonderful and fun production which only provides proof that Shakespeare's plays are still popular, as well as great entertainment, for all ages today. And a cast that performs with such ease the words of the Master, will ever keep his plays alive and most definitely kicking.
For more information about this theatre group, please visithttps://www.muchadoabouttheatre.com/

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

“A Touch Of Danger” by Tabs Productions
Nottingham Theatre Royal
The second instalment of Colin McIntyre’s Classic thriller Season 2018, now in its’ 30th year, is a classic Francis Durbridge’s “A Touch Of Danger” and in contrast, but on a par with last week's excellent Season opener.
Max Telligan, a popular novelist, returns to his London apartment from a business trip to Munich when he finds his evening newspaper contains a report of his violent death.
As the evening goes on, Max is greeted by a parade of mysterious visitors as it becomes increasingly clear that he has, it seems, unwittingly become embroiled in the activities of an international terrorist group!
We've come to expect a top notch cast and that does not fail us this week either. Susan Earnshaw (Liz Ferber - Max's secretary), Jacqueline Gilbride (Harriet Telligan - the estranged wife), David Martin (Jeff Seago - the golf ace), John Goodrum (Max Telligan), Andrew Fettes (Vincent Crane), David Callister (Lloyd Mitchell), Jeremy Lloyd-Thomas (Graham Digby), Emma Vickery(Connie Palmer - Seago's partner), Charlie Henderson- Howat (Rose).
Directed by Karen Henson, the play is nicely paced and keeps you guessing right up to the end, although there are clues to the guilty party/parties dropped as the play unravels.
The set, designed by Geoff Gilder, is typical of the 1980's, where the play is set as are the costumes, also by Geoff.
Everything is timed to perfection with the lighting design by Michael Donoghue and sound design by David Giltbrook. The scene changes are assisted by the closing of the curtains with musical accompaniment to allow the stage managers to rearrange the stage and to dispose of the bodies, and gives the audience to quickly compare notes as to who is behind this cleverly written plot. Well it is Francis Durbridge after all!
Wonderfully entertaining, and for once I got close to guessing who was behind it all, but not until close to the end.
“A Touch Of Danger” is at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 11 August 2018.

Monday, 6 August 2018

“This Is Elvis”
Nottingham Royal Concert Hall
I, like any Elvis fan, can remember precisely where I was and what I was doing when I heard of the death of The King of Rock n Roll. I never had the privilege to see the man live. This show is as close as you will get to that event.
Ok let’s get this out there to start with. This is not an Elvis tribute act.
Stephen Michaels has been performing Elvis’ songs for many years now. He started as a three piece rockabilly group performing the songs Elvis recorded for the Sun Record label. This trio grew to a 14 piece ensemble of musicians and singers and toured Canada, United States and Australia.
The tour has now hit the UK and Nottingham. Steve has performed with several of Elvis’ original band and singers, so this man has been accepted by the people who worked alongside and knew the king of Rock n Roll.
This production celebrates 50 years since the Elvis ’68 Comeback Special aired on TV and includes so many of The king’s biggest hits, “Trouble”, “Heartbreak Hotel”, “Blue Suede Shoes”, “Hound Dog”, “Love Me Tender”, “All Shook Up”, “Jailhouse Rock”, “One Night”, “It’s Now or Never”, “Are you Lonesome Tonight?”, “Can’t Help Falling in Love”, “In The Ghetto”, “Suspicious Minds”, “American Trilogy”, “Just Can’t Help Believing” and many more.
The first act we see Elvis's lead up to this massive event; an event that brought the fear and the nerves from The King, but an event that showed what an incredible performer the man was.
As an Elvis fan I was a little unsure just how much Stephen Micheals would look like Elvis and how close to the Elvis sound he would get.
I need not have been so sceptical because within just a few minutes of being on stage, Stephen Michaels was Elvis Presley. Closing my eyes I could imagine the man on stage was Elvis. He sounded like Elvis and he has an uncanny resemblance to him also.
I say that this show is not a tribute to Elvis and in my mind, that is true. Stephen Michaels is not just an actor placed in a musical to portray The King. He has a natural air about him which makes watching Stephen magnetic to watch. the more you watch and listen, the more you realise that Stephen Michaels is an Elvis fan and he loves the music, and that adoration to the man he becomes on stage is as hypnotic as I can only imagine being able to see Elvis on stage might have been.
Elvis could sing anything, gospel, blues, rock n roll, ballads, country, disco and he made every song his own, even his version of "Old MacDonald Had A Farm". Elvis' nuances and the way he played with the notes, just like an experienced jazz singer, were all noted and presented on stage.
For one who never had the chance to see the real thing, this is the closest I'm ever going to get, and I left the theatre happy that I got to see what a great performer of songs the man was, even if it was from someone who obviously loved the man and his music as much as myself.
Must not forget to mention though that this show also boasts an equally amazing band and backing singers, recreating that special sound.
“This Is Elvis” is at the Nottingham Royal Concert Hall” until Saturday 11 August 2018.A must for any fan of great music.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

“Sleighed To Death” by Tabs Productions
Nottingham Theatre Royal
Just as most local theatres are winding down their season, along comes the Colin McIntyre Classic Thriller Season to fill that gap. It’s definitely one season that I personally look forward to.
The first of the four week run of classic thrillers starts with “Sleighed To Death”. The prequel of the Inspector Pratt stories, written by Peter Gordon, where Pratt sets about solving an attempted murder. And provides comedy as well as thrills.
1920s England, it’s Christmas Eve in the manor house of the bumbling aristocrat, Sir Walton Gates (Andrew Fettes) and his wife Grace (Karen Henson). His daughter Emma (Emma Vickery) from a previous marriage arrives from town with her new companion in tow, the dashing James Washington (David Martin) and added to the mix is Sir Walton’s estranged brother Archie (Jeremy Lloyd-Thomas), recently returned from years spent in Australia, bringing with him an appetite for mischief.
Enter England’s most confused police officer, Sergeant Pratt (David Callister), who unwittingly kicks a hornet’s nest of English gentility and the evening soon descends into chaos. Pratt, together with his assistant, Constable Mary Potter (Susan Earnshaw), is on a fund-raising mission with his magic show.
Magic tricks will fail miserably, shots will inadvertently ring out and identities will be confused but can Pratt identify the individual with murderous intent before a body is found? Probably not . . .
“Sleighed To Death” takes us back to the start of Inspector Pratt’s career and we discover that his early life as a policeman is no less hilarious than his later exploits into sleuthing!
As Pratt stated in the play, this is a case of Who - didn't - do it -dunnit... and that's enough of a spoiler alert from me!
As to be expected from Tabs Productions, the cast is first rate, the comedy is delivered with split second timing, and while I wasn't intending to single any actor out, I must say that David Callister's part was superb!!! To deliver his script with the fluidity and naturalness and with his comedy timing was just a masterclass in comic theatre.
Being a fan of accents, there were several in this play but are they all as they seem?
A wonderful comedy thriller to kick off this 30th season off, with some marvellous 1920's costumes and wigs (Geoff Gilder), Expertly Directed by John Goodrum and a brilliant set design by Sarah Wynne-Kordas.
“Sleighed To Death” is at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 4 August 2018.

Photos by Simon Cooper.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

"Around The World in Twenty Musicals" by Your Chance Productions.
Bunkers Hill, Hockley, Nottingham.
Sitting back and being entertained by these seven talented people was like listening to one of those Greatest Hits Of the Musicals compilation CDs, but knowing every track and loving every one of them.
It never fails to impress me when, and especially in such a small venue as the upstairs room of Bunkers Hill, the clarity and quality of a singer shines through, and these seven have both of these qualities in abundance.
I would imagine performing, and that is exactly what they did, they performed the songs, they didn't just sing them, in such an intimate place, could be quite alarming, after all you can see the whites of the punter's eyes and feel and hear their breath. That mattered not to them as they took us on a trip around the world with this cleverly compiled mini concert.
John Gill started the evening with one of my favourite songs from "Jekyll & Hyde", "This Is the Moment", taking us through "Anthem" (Chess) and another powerful song "One Song Glory" (Rent). A wonderful performer of songs as you can see that he feels the words he sings. It's important to me for a singer to believe what they are trying to get us to believe, and John does just that.
Maddie Walker has such a powerful voice and she was not afraid to let us know it. From the wistful "Wouldn't It Be Loverly" (My Fair Lady) through "Cabaret", "I Know Him So Well" (Chess) with Eliza Hill, and "All That Jazz" (Chicago), Maddie also dressed for the parts. I love the ability to belt out a song and Maddie was not the only one to be able to do that.
Alison Sheppard made me sit up and really take notice as I've not heard a woman sing "Bring Him Home" (Les Miserables) before, but what a lovely surprise.Alison also gave a cracking, emotionally dripping version of "I Don't Know How To Love Him" (Jesus Christ Superstar), "Take Me Or Leave Me" (Rent) with Maddie Walker, "Hey Big Spender" (Sweet Charity), and an amazingly soulful version of "I Know Where I've Been" (Hairspray).
Eliza Hill also brought the emotion with "As Long As He Needs Me" (Oliver), "Change In Me" (Beauty & The Beast), plus a lovely whimsical "Pulled" (The Addams Family).
Tom Keetley brought the comedy into play with "Master Of The House" (Les Miserables) with Maddie, and "Hakuna Matata" (The Lion King) with Christian Oliver-Bates. It's about time Tom was given a main part in a comic musical role, possibly something like The Producers?
Emily Wilkins has one of those voices that I could listen to all night and her smile lights up the whole room. "Think Of Me" (Phantom Of The Opera), "Lay All Your Love On Me" (Mamma Mia) with Christian, "Jacob and Sons" and "Joseph's Coat" (Joseph),and "Good Morning Baltimore" (Hairspray), gave her and us plenty to smile about.
Christian Oliver-Bates, aside from his duets, gave us a couple of solo successes with "It Takes Two" (Hairspray) and "Oh What A Beautiful Morning" (Oklahoma), showing leading man tendencies.
Rounding off the evening was a collective cast performance of songs from "The Wiz", and I didn't see the audience in a rush to pop those ruby slippers on to transport them back home.
Our guide for this global trip around the musicals was Jessie Meg who was the perfect compere and host.
If I had been a talent scout tonight, I would have not known which of these to scout, I'd have had to have taken the lot on because any one of these could appear in the musical of their choice. Their voices are so varied and they are performers of songs, not just singers.
I've had the pleasure of seeing most of them perform before and I'm looking forward to seeing them all again, hopefully.
A wonderful evening of such talent should though be supported by a bigger turnout, which was a bit of a shame, but it was other's loss who missed their chance, and definitely this small audience's gain in experiencing Your Chance..

Monday, 23 July 2018

“She Stoops To Conquer” by Oliver Goldsmith
Lace Market Theatre.
The latest season at the Lace Market Theatre closes with a belter of a play and an absolute classic and one of the few plays from the 18th Century to still be performed.
I read this play just a few months ago and found it, in play form humorous. On stage, the wonderful script just explodes into life.
Our hero, Marlow, mistakes a private house for an inn, thanks to the mischievous Tony Lumpkins. He also mistakes the woman he is supposed to be wooing for a barmaid, and his future father-in-law for the landlord, and this raises all kinds of questions about class and snobbery. Confusion and comedy are the results which also results in a lovely journey of self realisation for more than one of these characters.
David Dunford (Mr Hardcastle) straight away makes a big impact with his wig. Hardcastle is just one of a group of characters who are comedic without being overtly funny, but his reactions and asides are what makes this character joyful to watch.
Cynthia Marsh (Mrs Hardcastle) really brings the comedy of this character alive and the physicality of Mrs Hardcastle is just one more reason to see this play, and I loved her script, delivered with, at times, an almost tongue in cheek delivery.
Ellie Searston (Miss Kate Hardcastle) was just an incredibly good watch. Everything from the looks breaking the fourth wall to her giggles and her dual role as the "barmaid" and the "woo-ee" for Marlow with the change in accents as part of the deceit. A brilliant role for any woman to play which showed off Ellie's lovely comic side.
Charlie Bailey (Miss Constance Neville) was a wonderful pairing with Ellie for this girlie pair. Another lovely and believable coupling of friends, who, if in another century, would be the sort to have sleep overs and watch "Grease" on repeat.
Bertie Black (Tony Lumpkin) is like the naughtiest school boy you can imagine and reminiscent of Dennis the Menace. Excitable with a wicked sense of humour who relishes the situations when his plans come together. I imagine Bertie is having great fun playing Tony, because we were having fun watching him.
Steve Mitchell (Charles Marlow) delivered a classy but haughty performance as the man who was comfortable chatting up ladies below his class stature but floundered when in the presence of his own class. A wonderful vision of embarrassment in Act Two as the whole deception became apparent. His soft spoken approach with this character really suited the part.
Paul Spruce (George Hastings) is an actor I don't think I have seen before gave a very confident performance and a very comfortable relationship with Marlow; the sort of lads around town, best buddy type of 18th Century mate.
Bob Wildgust (Sir Charles Marlow) makes an appearance in Act Two as young Marlow's father.
Linda Croston also made an appearance as Kate's servant, Pimple.
Glenn Murphy(Landlord Diggory) and the Servants, Maids and Drinking Companions are played Anne Mccarroll, Molly Wright, David Watts and Arnd Korn opened the scene with a raucous bar scene which set the tone for fun throughout
Directed by Marcus Wakeley he made sure that the pace was kept sharp at no time was there an empty stage, and this really made this play fly by. The comedy was wonderfully out there, Marcus making sure that the actors delivered in such a way that it would be impossible to miss any of Goldsmith's wonderfully comic script. This is a play that was written to break the fourth wall and with the actors making entrances from everywhere, he made sure that the whole of the theatre was used to expand the stage.
The set was designed by Milly White and it really gave you an insight into the lifestyle of Goldsmith's era. Lush furniture and furnishings and a reflection of the well to do lives these characters led.
Brilliant wardrobe and wigs by Max Bromley and the LMT Wardrobe department.
This season at the Lace Market has been varied and wonderful and this was a fine way to close the season. It was also lovely to see, as in most productions this season, a practically full first night, and I have every expectation that the rest of the week will be just as packed, because it really deserves to be.
A wonderfully talented cast and a wonderfully written piece of comedy theatre, and when you get those two spot on, then you have theatre magic, and that I can bear witness to!
“She Stoops To Conquer” is at the Lace Market Theatre until Saturday 28 July 2018.