Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Nottingham Theatre Royal
A triple bill of dance which consists of “A Linha Curva”, “Symbiosis” and “Goat” which shows the variety in dance music and the excitement wrapped in a wonderfully exciting score of music.
“A Linha Curva” brings to life the Brazilian spirit with a group of 28 dancers, four samba percussionists and a wonderful light show.
You just know that with a name like Rambert that the dancing is going to be of the highest quality and that was the case tonight.
This piece was like an explosion of excitement from the start as the dancers burst onto the stage, highlighted by an incredible light show. the male dancers were like peacocks, showing off their plumage in a display of machoism. Bare chested and proud, they were warriors out to attract the female of the species in a sexy and evocative dance throw down.
The costumes were just as sexy as the dancing and the light show. No surprise though when you learn that the costumes and lighting design are all the responsibility of one person Itzik Galili.
The music was just as sexy. The Brazilian beats were urgent and sensual. The four percussionists, Percossa, made a sound so full and round that, if I hadn't seen the four musicians, I'd have thought there were more that the quartet there were.
“Symbiosis”. The music for this piece is composed by BAFTA and Ivor Novello Award-Nominated composer Ilan Eshkeri.
This piece was in complete contract to the previous piece. It was emotive and gentle and the choreography was less urgent, more of a constant flow as the dancers merge and then ebb away.
The piece represented a more urban theme, and while the feel was gentler, there was also the feel of city rush, of crowding, merging and then the release from the crowd.
Again the lighting ranged from an aquamarine blue to blood red to gold; the costumes matching the changes in the lighting.
“Goat” uses the music of Nina Simone. The music is performed live on stage by jazz singer Nia Lynn, and this is the one I least enjoyed, but the one that I was most looking forward to.
It does however show yet another side, a more comedic side of Rambert with one of the dancers, Miguel, acting as a TV style anchorman and describing what was happening and what the dancers were trying to depict by their dances.
When the dance started though, it was again a very different style which was jaw-droppingly good.; I know that they were trying to tell the story in between the dance sections but I'm not sure if that worked here because the dance was just so incredible.
The piece was political and reflected various issues which may have included Trump and the US and gun law, among other thisngs. The story is of ridding the world of the evils on earth and banishing them by writing them on a piece of paper and driving these evils out of town by attaching the written down evils to a goat, which I assumed was Liam, another dancer. When the dancer danced himself to death the evils that had been listed would also die.
Was this trying to be too clever? I don't know. Anyway, I loved the choreography and you just have to admire every dancer for their incredible ease in their art which I realise is something that takes an incredible amount of hard work and training to get in many of the positions these dancers so smoothly got into.
The physical strength these dancers have is phenomenal. They are athletes in the field of dance but they are all so graceful, at times seemingly floating across the stage. And let's face it, it's always nice to see so many toned and honed bodies in one place and being entertaining, and not over dressed!
Whether you're a fan of dance or not, this show will have you with your mouth open in full admiration for the work everyone involved in Rambert's shows have invested.
“Rambert” is at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Thursday 1 March 2018

Friday, 23 February 2018

"Wonderland" by Beth Steel
Nottingham Playhouse.
Adam Penford's directorial debut as Artistic Director of the Nottingham Playhouse has turned out to be a massive success.
This is one of several reasons why I wanted to see this play. I also wanted to see it because it was a localised play, written by a local writer, Beth Steel.
The story is inspired by Beth's father who worked down the pit for nigh on 40 years, so she had plenty of anecdotes and factual information to go on.
Another reason is because I am a son of a retired miner who went through the same things as this play is written about. I can remember as a child going round the streets picking up coal for our fire. I remember my dad's long friendship with a neighbour suffering because of the choices they both made. I was too young at the time to understand the pit politics.
This play has given me a massive insight as to what really happened and has given me pieces of a jigsaw puzzle of my childhood I previously didn't have.
Everything that you've heard about this play is absolutely true. The passion of the striking miners is admirable as is the decision of the miners who worked, and went back to work through the strike because of their personal situations.
It's the embarrassment and the sheer desperation of the miners who had to beg for food and money just to live and to feed their families that struck a chord with me. I also understand the reasons for the strikes and the need to stand up for their rights.
There's a particular scene in the play that drives home the desperation of the miner when he admits to killing his dog because he couldn't afford to feed it anymore, He'd had the dog since it was a pup. That scene and speech really made me well up.
These are all shown in this wonderful play.
What it also shows is the great camaraderie, the humour, the coarseness of the miner's language and how each man depends on the next for his life in the dangerous working area of the pit face. The claustrophobic atmosphere and the fear of the newbie on his first day.
Every actor is a joy to watch and the closeness of the mining team seems to reflect the close working friendship the actors have. You really believe the chemistry in the play.
When the front curtain is raised to reveal the set, you can'y help but be impressed by this set. Just wonderful.
Being set in the Welbeck area of Mansfield, the accent has to be right and the vocal coach Kay Welch has worked magic, as we all know that this area of the country isn't an easy accent to do and get right.
There are songs and choreography but this is no musical, The singing captain, Jack Quarton and the dance captain Jamie Beamish also play Fanny and David Hart respectively in the show.
Chris Ashby, Tony Bell, Robin Bowerman, Matthew Cottle, Joshua Glenister, Harry Hepple, Nicholas Khan and Deka Walmsley complete the cast..
You can see why this show has been getting rave reviews and standing ovations because of the passion and emotion that the play and the actors give out.
"Wonderland" comes to an end on Saturday 24 February 2018, but it would be great to see this back at the Playhouse later in the season.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

“Cinderella – The Panto” by Bingham Musical Theatre Company
Bingham Methodist Church.
A dashing prince is hosting a ball and Cinderella would give anything to go, but her wicked stepmother and ugly sisters have other plans. Can Cinderella escape their clutches and, with the help of her Fairy Godmother and best friend Buttons, find true love?
Will the sisters’ father, the Baron ever invent something useful or will the debt collectors Borne & Bread catch up with him?
A slight twist on the traditional panto, but at its' heart, this is one of those traditional pantos that everyone loves and can join in with the shouting. And I noticed that it was the adults who were leading the kids with the traditional panto shouting.
I've said this before about Bingham Musical theatre Company, that with the funds that they raise, the quality of their shows belies the funds that they have to work with.
The scenery for this show I really liked. It was like a large fairy tale book where the cast turned the pages to show the different scenes. At the end of the panto some of the cast came through the doors in the back page of the book. If you'll pardon the pun, this was a novel idea and really worked for me.
Emma Townsend (Cinderella) wasn't the usual blonde Cinderella, keeping her brunette locks, which was refreshing.
Zoe Stebbings (Prince Charming) kept with tradition with plenty of thigh slapping. Zoe also had a lovely voice which was well used on her rendition of "Against All Odds". This song, I'm surprised hasn't been used for this panto before, especially as the first few lines are "How can I just let you walk away, just let you leave without a trace", just after Cinders has fled the ball room at midnight.
John Stebbings (Buttons) won the audience over with his lovelorn adoration of Cinders, and set the tone for the audience participation bits.
Emily Hudson (Dandini) was great as the Prince's faithful man servant, and her wannabe "lad" behaviour.
Philippa Buchanan (Baroness/Wicked Stepmother) was brilliant as the nasty stepmother, loud and brash who also managed to get the kids "booing" her. Loved her rendition of "Single Ladies" to the beat of "We Will Rock You", another nice musical addition to the panto soundtrack.
Arun Hayes (Baron) was wonderfully over the top, almost mad hatterish.
Paul Green and Anthony Alldread (The Ugly Sisters, Tixylix and Bonjela), as expected got all the best costumes , apart from Phillipa, and the majority of the best gags as well, although there were some crackers spread throughout this panto. My favourite of this corn fest was centred around the sign for the "Haunted Forest", mis-spelt resulting in the pun line of it being a "bad sign". Loved it!
Charlotte Heafford (Fairy Godmother) was impressive in her lyrical and rhyming delivery.
Danica Halsey and Nik Hudson (Bourne & Bread, the debt collectors). A novel section with these two surrounding counting the money out. Clever and funny.
Jenny Pike, Ashton Coxon, Elizabeth Beech, Emma Swatton, Tabitha Hamilton, Charlie Buchanan and Eloise Warriner made up the ensemble.
Directed by Graham Buchanan, and making his first "grown up" go at directing, he kept the traditional and mixed in some fresh sections to keep this an entertaining directorial debut.
Philippa Buchanan & Nik Hudson were responsible for the Set Design & Construction which I loved so much. It really was just like one of the Disney films with the pages turning to move the story on.
Charlie Buchanan created the choreography which raised a big round of applause, especially with the ballet sequence.
Becky Morley provided the costumes which in true panto style were both over the top but also stylish panto fare.
I've mentioned the music in this panto and it was the responsibility of Musical Director Lindsay Thompson. Loved the live keyboard and guitar accompaniment as well as the mix with the recorded backing tracks, both worked really well.
May I mention again that you don't need big sets to make an entertaining show, especially when the passion and heart of this small company are all you need. I love a really good set but it;s not everything and this company prove this.
A really enjoyable show which highlights team effort from all involved. Well worthy of your support, plus you get a free programme and the refreshments in the interval are very reasonably priced, so but your raffle tickets, partake of the refreshments and have a good old chuckle.
“Cinderella” is at Bingham Methodist Church until Saturday 24 February 2018.
Picture courtesy of Mitch Gamble

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

“Fiddler On The Roof” by West Bridgford Operatic Society
The Space, Arboretum Street, Nottingham
The show is set in Tsarist Russia in 1905 and is based on the story of Tevye the Milkman by Sholem Aleichem.
The story follows father of five Tevye as he tries to uphold tradition in an ever changing political and social landscape. During a period of change for Russian Jews, the family learn to cope with the decline of Tsarist Russia and the tough laws enforced on the family and the village of Anatevka.
This much loved and often performed musical includes many musical theatre classics such as “Matchmaker Matchmaker”, “If I Were A Rich Man”, “Sunrise Sunset”, “Tradition” and the tentative “Do You Love Me” and the melancholy "Far From The Home I Love".
Whether it was first night nerves, I don't know, but tonight started a little shaky. That soon changed though and they settled into it and turned out a cracking production. For me there could have been a stronger accent presence with some of the actors and again in act two, that also seemed to have been resolved for the most part.
Tevye is played by Dermot Randall, and it was obvious that anyone playing this role will be compared with Topol's classic performance. Dermot made the role his and I loved the choreographed pieces which he really threw himself into, making the part fun. I also loved "Do You Love Me" which is one of my favourite songs from the musical. Tevye's duet with his wife, Golde, was heart felt and one of many highlights in this production.
Golde, played by Jackie Dunn, is a wonderful female musical theatre role. The role includes some beautiful musical pieces as well as some down to earth, no nonsense characterisation.. Jackie was quite unrecognisable to start with, but once that lovely voice was let loose, I knew it was Jackie.
The Matchmaker, Yente, is played by another recognisable face in Ali Biller. The character is fun and gossipy and Ali brings out both of these traits in her portrayal of the soon to be redundant cupid.
It's a great cast which comprises of many well known names and faces from the Nottinghamshire local theatre stages.
Louise Grantham (Tzeitel), James Ellison (Morel), Lucy Theobald (Hodel), Rob Harrison (Perchick), Katie Taylor (Chava), Sam Jones (Fyedke), Martin Thomas (Lazer Wolf), Tom Parry (Fiddler) and a large ensemble cast helped to tell this story which, unlike most musicals, ended on a sad note with Tevye denying one of his daughter's existence due to her choice of husband, and the families and friends being forced out of the town that they all called home.
It may have a sad ending but there are plenty of laughs along the journey though and the highlight scene for me was Tevye's Dream which featured the rather wonderful spectral summoning of Grandma Tzeitel, played by Jean Krzeminski and a full ensemble.
Directed by Linda Croston with Musical Director being Andrew Nicklin, it all galloped along at a fine pace. so much so that when the show ended at 10.30, it really didn't seem to have been three hours since curtain up. You can't say that you don't get your money's worth with this one.
The choreography for this musical is very stylised so Maxine Loydall had her work cut out, but the cast pulled it off wonderfully. Also included in the choreography were the Hoveria Ukranian Dance Ensemble who were a wonderful addition to the show with their traditional dance skills.

The choice to have a minimalist set was a good one as it made for ease of movement on and off stage, but also said all it needed to say, designed by Milly White.
If tonight is anything to go by, then the rest of the week should be a sell out, so get your tickets fast. It's a lovely musical staged in a lovely, comfortable modern theatre, so break the tradition of staying in, and go and get a ticket or two.
“Fiddler On The Roof” is at The Space at the Girl’s High School in Nottingham until Saturday 24 February 2018.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

“Allo Allo” by The Festival Players
Loughborough Town Hall.
I’ve always been a fan of the TV series, so my hopes were high for this stage version, but with such iconic characters, will it transcend to the stage?
Rene and Edith have stashed a priceless portrait, The Madonna With The Big Boobies, stolen by the Nazis, in a sausage in their cellar, where two British airmen are also hiding until the Resistance can repatriate them.
Communications with London using the wireless that is disguised as a cockatoo add to the many embarrassments Rene has to endure in the company of his patrons.
News that the Fuhrer is scheduled to visit the town inspires tricksters disguised as Hitler to frequent the café but Rene summons all the wit he can muster to save his cafe and his life.
Directed by Benjamin Hardy, he took on a task and a half because of the fact that everyone who has seen the TV series will know the characters and will look for the equivalent on stage.
I think that I can safely say that Ben has succeeded in doing this because every actor just seems to morph into the original characters. The voices, the characteristics, the physicality of the characters have all been observed and replicated. When watching this comedy, I forgot the actors and saw the TV characters.
Jon Orton (Rene Artois), Liz Berrisford (Edith Artois), Laura Brookes (Yvette), Julie Easter (Michelle),
Rozzie Barlow (Mimi), Gareth Busson (Colonel Kurt Von Strohm), Jez Malpas(Captain Alberto Bertorelli), Chris Marshall (Otto Flick), Victoria Price (Helga Geerhart), Kirt Hammonds (Lieutenant Hubert Gruber), Nick Grainger (General Von Schmelling), Simon Page (Officer Crabtree) and Chris Nixon (Roger LeClerc). As a cast, and an ensemble team, they worked so well together that I could not highlight one over the other.
They worked as a team and it was just like watching an extended version of the TV series. The accents were brilliantly funny and the often twisty tongue script didn't floor any of them. A lot of attention has been paid to the script and the delivery, and it shows, and it's that attention that makes this show the hit it is.
The set is brilliant, the costumes are excellent, the sound and lighting is spot on. There is nothing about this stage comedy that you will not enjoy. The jokes have been heard before but they are so well written by Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft that you can't help but laugh. Everything you enjoyed about the TV comedy is here on stage.

“Allo Allo” is, and I will say this only once, on at Loughborough Town Hall only until Saturday 24 February 2018.

Monday, 19 February 2018

“Flare Path” by Terence Rattigan
Nottingham Lace Market Theatre
Based on Rattigan’s own wartime experiences, the story involves a love triangle between a pilot, Teddy, his actress wife, Patricia, and a famous film star, Peter Kyle.
Patricia and Peter had a love affair before she met Teddy, but she left because Peter was not free to marry her.
Patricia married Teddy after a "whirlwind wartime romance" while he was on a week's leave. She does not know her husband very well, and she was still in love with Peter when they wed.
She reconnected with Peter in London and now plans to tell Teddy she is leaving him, but she is annoyed by Peter's unexpected arrival at the hotel. Peter tells her that his career is waning as he gets older and that he needs her. Will she leave Teddy and go with Peter.....?
The play is perfect and the staging of the play is perfect, although there may have been some poetic licence taken by Rattigan as I'm sure that the Squadron Leader wouldn't stay in the same lodgings as the rest of the crew, and they wouldn't be as vocally familiar with the Squadron Leader as they were. That aside the play wouldn't be the same if licence hadn't been taken.
Directed by Colin Treliving, who also designed the wonderful set, everything was spot on and time relevant prop wise, costume and hair wise and design wise for 1942, the year this play was written. I know that Colin is hot on these things and he never fails to deliver. possibly one of the best sets I've seen at the Lace Market theatre, and I've seen so many excellent sets there.
Doris (Kareena Sims) is a lovely character and Kareena really delivers in the emotion stakes, The section in Act Two, which I'm not going to give away but anyone who has seen this play will know which bit I mean, was really heartfelt and you could have heard a pin drop on a carpet. I loved the accent ducky as well.
Peter Kyle (Mark Gadsby) has come to the hotel for one reason only. Mark's initial posing as the big actor was great but it was lovely to see the waning of his aim as the play develops. His scene with Doris is so touching and is one of many of the highlights here.
Mrs Oakes (Cassandra Stone) is the comedy character who provides the laughs just by being Mrs Oakes, the owner of the hotel. Cassandra is perfect for this role as she is so good with natural dry sense of humour. Even in the lowest parts of the play, she lightened the mood.
"Dusty" Miller (Wayne Parkin) and Maudie Miller (Arwen Makin) were that kind of couple who balanced the other characters out and were needed to provide the "normal" in the couples.
Percy (James Whitby) the waiter who also added to the comic stakes. Under that wind up comic exterior though it was nice to show his offer of hope to Doris in the second act. This role played well to James' acting strengths.'
Count Scriczevinsky (David Hope), the Polish husband to Doris. For those who, like me before seeing this play, didn't know the story, will discover that he is absolutely vital to the secondary storyline of the play, and David smashed the accent.
Teddy Graham (Lloyd Popp) is the other end of the spectrum where characterisation is involved. If you can imagine Michael McIntyre in 1942, then you're pretty close to how Graham is. A typical "Hooray Henry" type but, again in Act Two there's a turn around and we see another side of Graham which effects the decision made by his wife Patricia. Loved Lloyd's character acting, which I imagine leaves him pretty tired at the end of each performance, such is the energy and enthusiasm he puts in.
Patricia Graham (Charlie Osborne) obviously punching below her weight with Teddy, which makes you wonder why the two got married. You can see why she was attracted to Kyle when you see Teddy, because Kyle and Patricia have a lot in common, but they do say opposites attract! A lovely soft side shown by Charlie which again we see change sides in the second act.
Squadron Leader Swanson (John Parker) borders on how we envisage the archetypal Squadron Leader. John looks every inch the role and the clipped accent is there. As i mentioned before though, would he allow Teddy to call him "Gloria" to his face, and would he fraternise with his men while off duty. That aside John tapped into the Captain Mainwaring side of the role and, as always, delivered a classy performance.
Brilliant lighting design (Simon Carter) which evoked, along with the wonderful sound design (Matt Allcock), a special feeling and atmosphere. The air raid warnings, the all clear, the planes, the attack and the flare path lighting up really put you in the middle of the atmosphere.
I must also mention Barbara Fisher for her role as vocal coach. I am fascinated by accents and when they are done well, they really add something to a play. All of these actors mastered the accents, whether it be Polish, upper class, Lancashire and this was due to the guidance of Barbara.
The play is an absolute joy to watch, thanks to the talents of everyone involved. No wonder the week is practically sold out, which is becoming the norm now at the Lace Market Theatre on every production they produce. Nottingham's hidden gem has been discovered and this benefits both the theatre and the theatre loving audiences.
“Flare Path” is on until Saturday 24 February 2018 so make sure you get your tickets before its’ departure.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

“Sister Act” by Musicality
Nottingham Arts Theatre
In 1978, Disco Diva Deloris Van Cartier is a cabaret/lounge singer, which is run by her mobster boyfriend, Vince LaRocca. Deloris witnesses her mobster boyfriend commit a murder, and reports it to the police.
Deloris just happens to recognise the policeman as an old college friend called Eddie, or “sweaty” Eddie as she remembers him. He has an idea to hider Deloris in a convent for her safety under the witness protection act.
At first, obviously she does not fit in with the nuns but when she discovers that music is something that she has in common with the nuns, she turns the convent around with the power of disco and soul music and discovers the importance of friendship along the way.
That's the story, just in case you've never seen the film, now I have a question for you.
This show has fun written all over it and when you think these actors are full time students, how did they perform this show so good when they have studies and a social life? Well I know they have forgone one of the above!
Produced by Nathan Penney and Sascha Cornelius and Directed by Rhodri Denton, assisted by Jake Gelernter, The show is full on entertainment with some wonderful choreographed pieces by Maria Bennett; some pieces, I couldn't remember from other productions I've seen, making this production seem very fresh.
A massive cast, so forgive me for not mentioning every one of this amazingly energetic cast.
Adaeze Olugbemi absolutely shone as Deloris. Her energy and fizz bubbled with every move. Her dancing was exciting and wild in places which was right for Deloris and her enthusiasm was catchy as hell in this heavenly performance.
Boyfriend and gangster bad boy, Curtis was played by James Thacker. I've seen James act before but never noticed what a really strong voice he has. His cheekiness though dilutes that bad boy image but takes nothing away from a splendid gangster role.
Curtis' henchmen Joey (jack Butler), T.J. (Matthew Charlton) and Pablo (Matt Talbot) injected the comedy. Their cheesy choreography was spot on and their main song "Lady In The Long Black Dress" was as spot on as their 70's dance routines.
Our hero cop, "Sweaty" Eddie Souther was played by Curtis Kane. Can I just say that this man has a singing voice to die for. He gave soul to the part of Eddie and could see him being a hit with the ladies and a possible recording artist. Old soul with a modern feel, making Eddie's character feel very fresh. this boy can dance as well!
Monsignor O'Hara was played by Jack Linley. Again I love his enthusiasm, but I just couldn't place the Irish accent.
Mother Superior was played by Charlotte Mann, and she was another one that made me mouth "WOW" when she started to sing. her voice is made for musical theatre.
Sister Mary Robert, played by Amy Foden is another actor blessed with one of those voices that you could listen to all night. When she sang "The Life I never Led", I believed every single word.
It would be difficult to pick out any nun over the next for gusto and entertainment value so I'm not going to. Emily DerveyHannah Kitching, Charlotte Howarth, Laura Gallagher and the rest of the ensemble were great fun to behold.
Providing backing vocals, and dancing their socks off for Deloris were Claire Wimbush (Michelle) and Toni Ruta (Tina).
The band, under the Musical Direction of Matthew Herbert were amazing. the sound was so clear and oozed a 70's feeling, and great to see them on stage.
No set as such, but that didn't matter, the props were all you needed to place the police station, the nightclub and the nunnery.
This show is such great fun, and the cast and production team made sure that this was the feel of the whole production. Loved the costumes and hair. in fact I couldn't find anything that didn't make me smile throughout.
This possibly could be the best production to date from Musicality, and that's a bold statement having experienced their previous productions.
Now, why haven't you got your tickets? Go now and buy them before the devil smites you down!
“Sister Act” is raising the roof while Musicality are raising their voices at the Nottingham Arts Theatre until Saturday 17 February 2018

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Nottingham Theatre Royal
The place is Baltimore, USA. The year is 1962. Tracy Turnblad is a big girl with big hair and has big dreams. She wants to dance her way onto national TV, and into the heart of teen idol Link Larkin. Tracy’s audition makes her a local star and soon she is using her new-found fame to fight for integration. But can she win equality – and Link’s heart – without denting her ‘do?
What is there not to like about this brilliant, bouncy and bubbly musical? Nothing that I could find anyway! It’s like opening a shook up can of pop. Release the ring pull and be prepared to be showered in fizz.
I've seen several productions of "Hairspray" in the past and have not seen a bad one. This production though pushes the Hairspray bar a notch higher. It has even more of a WOW factor with its' very clever video design (Dick Straker), fluorescent outfits, wonderful set design, lighting design (Philip Gladwell) and the amazingly sexy and energetic choreography (Drew McOnie).
Norman Pace stars as Wilbur Turnblad and his on stage chemistry with Edna, especially with his duet, "Timeless To Me", was very evident.
Matt Rixon reprises his role of Edna Turnblad and he was a joy to watch; like watching an artist at work.
Also returning to the production, Layton Williams plays Seaweed.His moves are sexy and that slight air of naughtiness and danger makes this performance fresh to watch. How he could sing and dance with that level of energy, I'll never know!
Brenda Edwards is Motormouth Maybelle. What can I say about Brenda that can describe the absolute joy of hearing her soulful, gospel tones. Her voice gave me shivers, and when she performed "I Know Where I've Been", I could have died at that moment and had been happy. I have not seen an audience give a standing ovation for a performance before the end of a show for a long time, but tonight that happened with Brenda.
Playing Little Inez was a dynamite little actor, Monifa James, and like all the actors, had an amazing energy about her performance.
Gina Murray played the obnoxiously fun Velma Von Tussle and another powerful voice in the cast that had no weak link.
In fact the only link in the cast was of the Larkin variety, Link Larkin, played with just the right amount of arrogance by Edward Chitticks.
I love a bit of corn and I love the character Corny Collins, who was based on a real life U.S. DJ called Buddy Deane. Jon Tsouras was excellent as the TV DJ Presenter who was all in favour of breaking down those race barriers.
Amber Von Tussle, spoilt daughter of Velma, was played by understudy Gemma Lawson.
Penny Pingleton, the best friend of Tracy, played by Annalise Liard-Bailey. One of my favourite roles in the play because she brings such a comedy element to the play. Just perfect casting.
Playing Tracy Turnblad tonight was understudy Rosie O Hare. this show is blessed with some excellent understudies as shown with Gemma and Rosie. If we hadn't been told that there had been replacements in the cast, no one would have been the wiser because every member of the cast we saw tonight were spot on. Everyone nailed their roles.
i must also mention Tracey Penn who played the female authority figures, who was so entertaining.
A brilliant ensemble made this production an exciting, fresh and breath taking show to watch.
Great live band under the musical direction of Richard Atkinson. the soundtrack is one of the catchiest with songs like "You Can't Stop the Beat", "Good Morning Baltimore", "Welcome To The 60's" and "Mama I'm A Big Girl Now" among several wonderful musical theatre gems that will have those toes tapping and hands clapping.
It's a forgone conclusion that you'll be on your feet at the end because this cast is one of the best I've seen, it;s got a fresh feel about the show and because you'll want to.
“Hairspray” is at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 17 February 2018. Follow the bells!!

Saturday, 10 February 2018

“Our House-The Madness Musical” by Act One
Iveshead Theatre, Shepshed.
“Our House” is possibly one of the best “jukebox musicals” ever, with the songs featured having been hits and album tracks by Madness. It’s also an excellent piece of theatre for the younger theatre performer, therefore a perfect vehicle for Act One.
The story follows Camden lad Joe Casey who, on the night of his 16th birthday, makes a decision that will change his life. Trying to impress Sarah, the girl of his dreams, Joe breaks into a building development overlooking his home on Casey Street. But things take a turn for the worse as the police turn up. Joe’s life splits into two; the Good Joe who stays and gives himself up and Bad Joe who flees and leaves Sarah to run from the police.
The play then follows the two paths that Joe’s life could take after that fateful night; one path means a criminal record and social exclusion, while the other will lose him the girl that he loves. Over a period of seven years and two alternative lives Joe deals with the consequences of that night.
Whilst one Joe fights to keep Sarah, the other is marrying her in a glitzy Vegas wedding and, ultimately, while Good Joe fights to save his house on Casey Street, Bad Joe is determined to demolish it with tragic consequences. All this is watched over by Joe’s deceased father, who pulls the two stories together.
While the story lines and the music is greatly entertaining, there’s a moralistic thread throughout, proving that preaching from the musical pulpit can work.
Such a large cast means that I’d be here until tomorrow giving mentions to all of the talented cast, so I’ll highlight some of the shining stars
Joe Harrison (Joe Casey ) is one of the best Joe Casey's I've seen. He is a confident performer who can sing, act and dance really well. This may seem a weird thing to say but Joe has very expressive hands, and I noticed this in his choreographed pieces. Anyone who is a "Strictly" fan will know just what I mean,and that's not something that comes naturally to a young actor.
Olivia Needham (Sarah) again is a very confident performer, and like Joe, is a triple threat with her singing, dancing and acting skills. The pairing of these two was a natural one as they have performed together in other shows. they compliment each other very well.
Tom Hetzel (Joe's Dad). You sometimes forget that these actors are only kids, because the maturity of these lot make you believe that they can play an older character, just like Joe's Dad. I for one didn't see a teenage actor, I saw Joe's Dad. And I loved the supernatural air this character created.
Lulu Wright (Kath Casey). I am a sucker for an Irish accent, and I don't know whether Lulu is Irish, but if not she fooled me. A very passionate performance from Lulu.
Ben Dawson (Emmo) has that knack for comedy if this performance is anything to go by. It wasn't forced and that's what made his Emmo comical, when it was called for.
Jed Leafe (Lewis). Another excellent pairing and foil for Emmo. Another very confident performer and performance.
Beth Edwards (Billie) and Paige Brierley (Angie). This play is packed with great pairings. the characters come across as great friends and I imagine that Beth and Paige are also great friends away from the stage because the chemistry, as with all of the pairings are natural on stage.
Oliver Halford (Reecey). Playing the not so nice characters are always much more fun and meaty and Reecey is the bad (ish) guy, well one of them here. And if, like Oliver did, you can stir up some kind of emotion from a character, you know you've done your job as an actor, and Oliver certainly did his job.
Alex Leeson (Mr Pressman ). Oh he is a nasty piece of work who will do anything to get what he wants, even trying to force Joe to arrange to have his Mum's house burnt down when she was still in it. A nice meaty performance who, like Oliver, did the job well.
The ensemble work was very good and really fleshed out the stage. Some lovely choreography pieces, especially in the large ensemble sections, thanks to the talents of Wendy Spencer, assisted by Helen Starkey & Michelle White.I absolutely loved the "Sun & The Rain" choreography as well as the "Wings Of A Dove" Vegas scene.
The arrangements of these Madness classics still sound fresh and take on a new life when stripped back so that you can hear the words. A brilliant job done by the Musical Director for this show, Hazel Needham. And the band sounded amazing!
Several highlights but the delicate and heart felt arrangement of "One Better Day" and the comedic interplay with the lyrics in "My Girl" were scene stealers.
Another massive plus were the costumes (Sue Penver & Lorna North). Very classy!
I must also mention the programme, which was designed by Joe Harrison. Well laid out and presented with a load of information.
Produced and Directed by Adrian Dobson, who is also responsible for the set design as well,
Act One grow on their successes and last year's "Annie", which was the first I'd seen from Act One, was wonderful, and I wondered if they were able to better that, well they certainly did.
Everyone involved in getting this production should be extremely pleased with themselves, as I couldn't think of anywhere that I would rather have been on a rainy afternoon than in the company of such talent.Here's to "Anything Goes" in 2019; can't wait!