Saturday, 29 September 2018

"Strictly Musicals" by LEOS
May Hall, Long Eaton
What can I say? What can I say about this show. Absolutely every person that left May Hall last night had the biggest smile on their faces, me included.. From the very start with the opening number "Flash, Bang, Wallop", Long Eaton Operatic Society had us in their spell.
The joining of the Youth Group and LEOS was a cracking idea and I think both groups gained something from the experience, and we, the audience, certainly enjoyed both.
Members old and new sang their hearts out, and I especially loved hearing the elder statesmen and women in the group taking leads in the ensemble numbers.
I couldn't possibly say which of the sections or songs I enjoyed more than others because the production/Director team of Emma Collins, Katie McDonald, Siân ScattergoodKheenan Jones and Louise Watkins pulled together a superb collection of classic and modern musical numbers.
"Half A Sixpence", "My Fair Lady", "Rock Of Ages", "Calamity Jane", "We Will Rock You" and "Legally Blonde" were all featured in the first part.
The "Mamma Mia" medley really got the crowd going, ending the first act and leaving us wanting more, which we got in the second act.
"Wicked", "Blood Brothers" - my all time favourite musical, and - my second all time favourite musical "Les Miserables" filled the second act.
The "Les Mis" medley was out of this world with several solos and that wonderful ensemble choir which was so powerful, and really filled us all with emotion, which led to the well deserved standing ovation at the end.
There were a couple of solos that I really would like to highlight. Phil Deakin's "Somebody To Love" was spot on. His falsetto sent shivers up my spine and Queen songs are notoriously difficult to pull off because of Mercury's incredible voice but Phil smashed it.
Emily Corner's "Wizard and I" was a sublime way to open the second act and Phoebe Mellor's solo of "Castle On A Cloud" showed off what a pure and controlled voice she has for one so young.
Another tear-jerking moment was another from the "Les Mis" medley, Tony Newton and Robert McAuley was a magical merging in "Stars", and their voices complemented the other beautifully.
I'm not going to mention everyone on that stage as there were too many but, I've not seen an ensemble that size work so well and sound so good. I applaud every single one of you.
At times at May Hall the sound can be a bit muggy, but not tonight. The sound was the clearest I have ever heard at May Hall, and the band, for this clarity, sounded amazing, led by Musical Director Tom Watkins.
And finally I must mention our two MC's for the evening, Adam Guest and Kheenan Jones. I have done MC work in the past and know how hard it is, and these two were so laid back, and made it look so easy.Even the jokes were funny, even the 111 joke, which I knew made me laugh because of the timing of this one was perfect. I've made notes and will be using some of them in the future... it's a tribute and I'm not really stealing your gags... honestly!
Thank you all for a wonderful evening of musical entertainment, and I'm still smiling thinking about the show... and those jokes!

Friday, 28 September 2018

“I Dare You” written by Tom Powell
Neville Suite, Nottingham Playhouse
Written by Tom Powell who is only 26 years old, this play is the story about two siblings, Emily and Solomon who are coping with the end of their parents’ marriage and the challenges that they have to face and of being a child in an adult world. His use of words are simple but that simplicity, and honesty, bring a fresh and realistic, as well as at times, quite shocking piece of theatre very much alive.
The play takes in very adult subjects such as divorce, death and abuse but doesn’t preach and actually has many lighter, comic moments, despite its’ dark subject matter.It gives a lot of credit to young people and their resilience when put in situations that adults may crack in.
The two actors switch between the parents and the children, as well as the the other characters within the play. There's also a moment near the end which almost borders on a Norman Bates moment as Solomon starts to resemble what we imagine their mother may have looked like.
Sabrina Sandhu plays Emily and Thomas Mahy plays Solomon, and I really can't praise these two enough for taking on what I imagine must not be the easiest of roles, but also must have been roles that they have enjoyed taking on. The extent of the age ranges and the subject matter for both really gave both something to get their teeth into.
Directed by Beth Shouler, and assisted by Omar Khan, they brought out the range of emotions from both actors and succeeded in creating a child like, bickering atmosphere as well as a couple of rather uncomfortable moments.
Produced by Ria Ashcroft, Tilly Branson and Hannah Stone with a simple and clever set design by Lydia Denno.
It's a very physical play and in the small performing space at The Neville Suite, it kept you on your toes, visually, making it an exciting watch.
Drew Baumohl designed the soundscape which allowed us to imagine in our minds the different situations and settings, and that along with the superb story telling of these two actors and the evocative script and lighting, designed by Alexandra Stafford, make this play magnetic to watch.
New writing is always something that sets me tingling as you never know quite what to expect, like reading a new book for the first time. You drink it all in and afterwards you want to know what comes next. This play is left open ended and I for one would love to know what happened next to Emily and Solomon. What I also liked about it was that, where the play was left, was not the happiest and also, if you have an imagination like I have, quite gruesome.
“I Dare You” is at the Neville Suite at The Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 29 September 2018. The play then transfers to The Curve Theatre in Leicester on 25 and 26 October 2018.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

“Working Class Hero/ The Devil You Know” by Nottingham New Theatre
Djanogly theatre, Lakeside
Here we have two plays produced and presented by Nottingham New Theatre – in my humble opinion, one of the best student theatres in the area. This double bill is billed as an Edinburgh Fringe Double Bill. Both plays are ones that I've not seen performed at the New Theatre, so I am so pleased that these two were chosen on this occasion.
Unfortunately I've not been able to mention the actors or tech people involved as there wasn't any programmes produced.
“Working Class Hero”
This is a story about a father and his son. A son and his father with a middle ground of. football, politics, John Lennon, education, rapper Akala,and humility.
During his first semester at university, the son realises that his father is just a person like the rest of us, which, as a father of three sons I can really relate to. "Working Class Hero", which as many will know, is the title of one of Lennon's songs, is a story of understanding and discovery,
I loved the enforced "awkward" moments between the two men and you really wanted the two to hug each other, but that's not what father and son do, is it?.Even at the low moments in this lovely, warm play, you feel the love between the pair, and while there is a mutual admiration and love between the pair, there's also that invisible wall built up by the inability to converse with each other about the important things in their life.
“The Devil You Know”
Captivated by local folklore, four friends endeavour to uncover the horror that haunts their local woods. But their dreams of discovering the truth soon take a dark turn when one of them disappears.
"The Devil You Know" is a thriller which is almost on the lines as "The Blair Witch Project" and had just the right scare jump and hair raising moments to make you feel just a little uncomfortable. Something nor easy to do in a theatre.This play brings to light the demons lurking in the shadows of the internet, and exploring the effect of the supernatural on the human psyche and the power to control another's mind.
Both plays were well acted, and while both plays were very different, I can see these two being a success on the Edinburgh Fringe circuit because of the diversity between the two.
Having had the pleasure of a few years of New Theatre productions and can vouch for the incredible wealth of talent that has come from this University talent pool, on every level of the theatrical ladder, I can't wait to see what productions they have to offer this season, and the new wave of talent to come.
Here's looking forward to the new season for the Nottingham New Theatre when it opens in the near future.
All proceeds from this double bill goes to the Nottingham Breast Cancer Research Centre.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

“The Comedy About A Bank Robbery” by Mischief Theatre Company
Nottingham Theatre Royal
This play is the third from the brilliantly funny team who created “The Play That Goes Wrong” and “Peter Pan Goes Wrong”, so for anyone who has seen both or either of these plays, they will know what to expect, and this company did not fail to deliver an incredibly funny and anarchic piece of theatre. It has been described as “Oceans Eleven” meet The Marx Brothers and I can see where this analogy comes from.
It is set in the Summer of 1958 in Minneapolis and the City Bank has been entrusted with a priceless diamond but an escaped convict has his heart set on making the diamond his own, with help from his girlfriend and the maintenance man, but as the title of the play states, it all goes wrong with hilarious consequences.
Not only will you find its’ basis steeped in slapstick and farce there’s also a nod to the comic wordplay of comic legends like The Two Ronnies, so this comic theatre productions works on all levels of visual and cerebral comedy, and of course the comic timing is utter perfection.
The cast are excellent, which goes to show that a night out at the theatre does not have to feature celebrity names to make for a great night out. They are so hard working, you can tell that by the time taken to make the play as entertaining and precise as it is.
This really is an ensemble piece and I can honestly say that I've not laughed so much at a piece of theatre as I did in this play.
Liam Jeavons, David Coomber, George Hannigan, Ashley Tucker, Damian Lynch, Jon Trenchard ( who stole the show for me as Warren Stax), Sean Carey, Julia Frith and Killian McCardle were all amazingly good, and I must also mention local actor Tom Hopcroft who makes his professional debut alongside Julia (Caprice) and George, who performed a brilliant piece of comic knockabout slapstick with wonderful timing with himself
The sets were really very very clever. There was one scene in Act Two which I originally thought may have been done with mirrors where it's as if the audience are looking down into a room from the ceiling, but this was no trick of the light or mirrors, just an ingenious set design that I have never seen used before in theatre. Jon and Damian defy gravity to provide a multitude of laughs in this section.David Farley the set designer is a genius.
There is also danger involved in another scene later on. Picture the Tom Cruise scene from "Mission Impossible" and that is what you have here when the robbery is taking place, but as the title of the play denotes, all does not go quite to plan.
Another scene which I thought was done incredibly well onstage was an underwater scene, which has to be seen to be believed, again all down to physical talents of these actors.
What also makes this scene special is the superb lighting design by David Howe.
The writers, Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields have created yet another excellent and clever piece of comedy theatre. Along with their previous works, this one will go down as one of the best original comedy plays ever.
The physicality in the play merged with the script and the incredible cast make this show one of the best original comedies on tour
“The Comedy About A Bank Robbery” is at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 29 September 2018.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

“Blue Remembered Hills” by Dennis Potter
Lace Market Theatre Studio, Nottingham.
Originally set in the Forest of Dean back in 1943, Potter’s play shows the innocence of children, but also just how cruel children can be. The seven year olds fantasise about what their fathers are doing in the war and then ganging up on the weaker members of the group, bullying and being nasty. There are no adults present and all the children are played by adults, a theme that was done in “Lord Of The Flies” of course.
Easy going Willie tags along as Peter bullies Raymond about his stutter, and is challenged by John. Plain Audrey is overshadowed by Angela's prettiness and wreaks her anger on the boys. All of them gang up on the terrified "Donald Duck" who, abused by his mother and ridiculed by his peers, decides to play a different, very dangerous game…..
Although only about an hour long, and being about a group of seven year olds who are all friends, the simplicity belies quite a disturbing play about how nasty kids can be, and I suppose as adults, we filter our memories of being a child and how we acted. Potter obviously didn’t have that filter.
The opening is a piece of film, shot in black and white, which show the actors in character playing in a field and woods, just like any group of friends. This introduction really takes you back to the days of innocence, and sadly scenes we no longer see in today's world of technology.
From the start we see the bullying and how often we remember that when we want something that someone else has, once we have it, we find we don’t want it any more, for whatever reason. This is something that isn’t just credited to kids. From that starting point, the play shatters any sentimentality of childhood. What is also interesting is the image that children have of adults and the way they are seen through the eyes of a child.
This play will have you laughing one minute and then, like a slap in the face, will have you shocked.
As a cast they all gelled and it was completely believable that they were friends with no one actor outshining the other. You also stop seeing the characters as adults playing kids and see the characters as the children they are meant to be.
Edward Pickering-Symes (Willie) plays your typical seven year old. Slightly naughty and mischievous but when the chips are down just a frightened little boy. Willie's childish laugh is infectious.
Sue Lee (Peter) is deliciously evil and seems to get great joy out of hurting others in either a physical or mental way.
Richard Whitehorn (John) is one of the boys you want in your gang. Full of gung ho with no fear.
James Whitby (Raymond) plays the simple and slightly ignorant character. Raymond's stutter being the target of the bullying, and all the while Raymond lets it go over his head, mainly it seems because he wants to belong. Again though, not an easy watch seeing this boy being ridiculed for something he has no control over. A nice controlled performance.
Clare Moss (Angela) gets to play the "girly-girl" with her pram and wanting to be "mum". Clare's facial expressions and voice are joyful to behold.
Mo Pickering-Symes (Audrey) is the opposite of Clare's character, but she is a fighter who knows that she belongs in the "gang" but has to make her presence felt, The scene where she is asking about being Angela's best friend highlights that she would do anything to be a BFF!
David Watts (Donald Duck) plays the most pitiful character. There's one scene which really does get to you where he is alone and really missing his dad. The end scene is also a bit of a shocker. For anyone, like me who didn't know this play and have never seen the TV play or read the book, will find these scenes quite harrowing.
From watching this cast, I also think that they all enjoyed recessing back to being a seven year old kid.
Directed by David Dunford, he has embraced the whole child like thing and obviously made sure that all of his cast have also embraced all of those little things that kids do. the playing with the shorts, the nose-picking, the swaggering and the childish facial expressions that kids do. Everything has been so well observed and utilised.
Lighting Design by Max Bromley with Sound Design by Matthew Allcock. There is no set but you don't need one when you have a technical team like this pair and the Director to create the image and feel of what is happening. From the woodland sounds, to the planes and the ending which, through the lighting and sound design, really makes you feel what the others were experiencing.
I've always said that through light and sound, you can create any feeling for the audience. Max and Matthew proved this to be true.
People who know me will know that I love a good accent, I can do a few myself - or so I think, but this cast were consistent with their regional accent, which all added to the realism of the era as well as geographical area.The language is also a dream.
I've already mentioned that this is my first time seeing this play, but I know that it won't be my last - thank you Youtube. But it is this lovely, slightly dark production of Potter's play that has given me this newly discovered love for "Blue Remembered Hills".
This first play of the new season has set my theatrical juices flowing for what is going to be an excellent Lace Market Theatre season. What a wonderful start!
“Blue Remembered Hills” is at the Lace Market Theatre Studio until Saturday 22 September 2018.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

"Macbeth” by Bear Left Theatre Company
Bonington Theatre, Arnold.
One of the greatest tragic plays ever writ by one of the best playwrights ever. This play has everything you want from a great tragedy where the key is fear and power. There should be no need to tell the story of Macbeth and his murderous ways, the witches and ghosts, because I am sure that you all know the story.
Shakespeare’s plays lend themselves to adaptation really well, which is why you can see several versions of the same play and not see the same play… you know what I mean, and Bear Left Theatre have created something slightly different as well in this, their full blown Shakespeare production. It also just happens to be one of my favourite Shakespeare's plays.
Directed by Sally Nix, who really kept the flow of the play going, making sure that there was never an empty stage and keeping the tension, panic and fear to the fore.
Emma Burbage (Lady Macbeth) gave a powerful performance, showing what a strong character Lady Macbeth should be.
Arun Hayes (Fleance and Donalbain) is no stranger to the Nottingham stages, and no stranger to Shakespeare, and this shows in the confident performance he gave.
Lizzie Norris (Duncan) is a new member of Bear Left and a welcome addition to this wonderful cast.
Kynan Wells (Malcolm) gets some lengthy pieces of script and, like all the other cast members, showed that he had great understanding of Shakespeare's words and delivered them with feeling and passion.
Samantha Badman (Ross) is another new member of Bear Left, who I last saw in Long Eaton in "A Bunch Of Amateurs" shows a completely different side to her acting here, and I loved it.
Gerard Hesketh gets to show his murderous side, and looks like he is really enjoying this role.
Hatty Hollowell (Banquo), as Macbeth's ally is soon seen off and plays a good death scene
Steve Mitchell (Macduff) is a perfect casting in this role with a lovely array of emotions without taking them over the top. Steve really suits classic period drama like this and his previous role in "She Stoops To Conquer"
Fiona Shore gets to play the only witch in the play, but with three voices, often all at the same time, she looks and sounds quite unnerving, as well as very different.
Robert Goll plays the main man. Now as soon as I heard that Rob was to play this role, and he only discovered this himself only recently, I just knew that this play had just got its' cherry for its' cake. Rob is where he is literally king. His love and understanding of the Bard, and his plays is second to none, and not only does he deliver a wonderful performance as Macbeth, he is also a very sharing actor when it comes to stage craft.
The staging is quite stark which is great for the imagination while not distracting from the performance, but really evocative.
A wonderful cast, directed well with an imaginative and fresh approach, which should be appreciated by more lovers of classic theatre and theatre goers alike, especially over the next few days (hint hint).
“Macbeth” by Bear Left theatre Company is at the Bonington Theatre in Arnold until Saturday 22 September 2018.

Photography by Marina Kyriacou.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

“Guys n Dolls” by LAOS
Loughborough Town Hall
This production has class written all over it, which comes as no surprise as LAOS (Loughborough Amateur Operatic Society), are a classy lot, and I just bet you’re gonna love this show.
And that’s how it all starts. With a bet.
Nathan Detroit bets gambler Sky Masterson that Sky cannot persuade Save-A-Soul Missionary, Sister Sarah Brown, to go with him on a trip to Cuba. While Sky works his charms on a wary Sarah, Nathan is doing his best to avoid the clutches of his long-suffering fiancée, Miss Adelaide, while all the time trying to find a place to hold his floating crap game and stay under the radar of the local police department.
Set in New York City in the mid 20th century, “Guys n Dolls” is packed with gangsters and gamblers, missionary dolls and showgirls. It has one of the most well recognised musical scores for a musical including “Luck Be A Lady”, “I’ve Never Been In Love Before”, “Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat”, “ A Bushel & A Peck”, “If I Were A Bell” and of course the title song.
Chris Wilson (Sky Masterson) cuts an imposing figure on stage, and proves his worth as a romantic leading man. Anyone who has seen Chris in any other LAOS show will already know that he has a superb voice and he showcases this on many of the show's numbers.
Rosie Morris (Sarah Brown) has one of those almost operatic voices that you could listen to all night. I'm not sure how staged the slaps are that she gives Sky, but from where I sat, they didn't look pulled. A lovely passionate performance.
James Daw (Nathan Detroit), and the first thing that hits you is the accent. I love a good accent and this was brilliant. Speaking to James after the show he says that people have pitched it somewhere betwixt Nathan Lane and Peter Griffin - Family Guy. I can see both but love the work that has gone into the accent. James is a brilliant comedy character actor and this production shows his shills off perfectly.
Alix Ashurst (Miss Adelaide) is another wonderful character actor and again the accent is wonderful, as is the whole comic side of the role.
Mark Chinnery (Nicely-Nicely Johnson) gets to sing one of the biggest songs in this musical, and singing "Sit Down You're Rocking The Boat" is the song that you have to throw yourself fully into. That he, and the rest of the cast do with incredible gusto.
Liam Patrick (Benny Southstreet) is an actor I have a lot of time for because I know how much he loves what he does, and that shows when he is on stage. Yet again another excellent Noo Yoik accent and while most of us may think that singing with an accent is easy, it's not, but Liam makes it sound so easy.
Josh Hill (Rusty Charlie), like Liam is an actor who you can just tell loves what he does on stage and that passion ensures that we have a great time watching him perform.
Cameron Sim (Harry The Horse) is the gambler responsible for bringing Big Jule to game and Cameron and Ian Dean (Big Jule) bring the menace to the musical.
Kevin Clarke (LT Brannigan) is one of those old style B Movie type detectives, just trying to get that break on putting the finger on all of the crap-shooters. A lovely moody performance that makes you smile to know that he will never get one over on Detroit and the gang.
Jack Cooling (Joey Biltmore) also gets that accent right as the man who stands in the way of Detroit's latest game at his garage.On;y a minor role but one that demands comic timing.
Adrian Dobson (Arvide Abernathy) reminds us of what a superb singing voice he has as Sarah's Grandfather. His song "More I Cannot Wish You" really does get the hairs on your arm standing up.
Natalie Littlewood (Matilda B Cartwright) comes in as a bit of a strict character, wanting to close the mission down but then lets her hair down before relenting on the closure. Another class act.
The rest of the ensemble present a solid backing for the main characters and their choreography pieces really do highlight what a brilliant troupe of dancers and singers this theatre group have.
Directed by Lyndon Perry, there is nothing else he could have done because he has squeezed everything out of this cast, and that is why this show is of such a high quality. It was in fact like watching one of those classic Hollywood movies but in HD, in colour and in 4D.
Choreographed by Allison Cundell and boy has she done a great job on this show, especially in the Havana bar scene. like a scene from Strictly Come Dancing. Some incredible dancers like Joe Harrison got to show that they brought the excitement to the stage through Allison's choreography.
The Musical Director is the wonderful Hazel Needham and the perfect acoustics at Loughborough Town Hall let the rounded and crystal clear orchestra shine. A beautifully balanced sound design by Rob Temperton and Harry Bridges.
The lighting design for this production really enhanced the mood and the feel and another success for Kevin Cutts.
The sets by Proscenium were wonderful as were the incredible costumes. Full of colour and style for both male and female, they oozed class. I am sure a labour of love for wardrobe mistress Gemma Baxter.
It's always been one of my favourite shows for many reasons, and it's for many reasons that you should see this particular presentation, so go on, take back your mink, because I'll know that you'll be havana great time, and if you don't love this show by the end, then sue me!
“Guys n Dolls” is at Loughborough Town Hall until Saturday 15 September 2018.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

“Shrek – The Musical”
Nottingham Theatre Royal
"Shrek" is the story of the swamp-dwelling Scottish ogre who, in a faraway kingdom, embarks on a life-changing adventure in order to reclaim the deed to his land.
Joined by a wise-cracking donkey who won't shut up, this unlikely hero - not a handsome prince - fights a fearsome dragon, rescues the feisty Princess Fiona and learns that real friendship and true love aren't only found in fairy tales.
This show, which I saw when it came to Nottingham in 2014 and loved it then, is just perfect for any age audience member. It’s full on entertainment and energy. It's been updated in parts to keep it fresh, but you'd have had to have seen it before to notice the subtle changes.
The costumes are wonderful, full of colour, and there are so many of them. The intricate costumes and the whole feel of the show bring to mind pantomime.
Steffan Harri (Shrek) has boundless energy, even in that costume and heavy green make up, and his vocals are spot on and his version of “Who I’d Be” was superb. He has perfected the Scottish accent, no one would have guessed that he is a natural Welshman?
Amelia Lily (Princess Fiona) did not fail to put a smile on my face. I knew that her vocals would be great as I’d followed her from “The X Factor” and her recording career, but her stage work is also pretty impressive as well. There's even a nod to her "X Factor" past if you look in the right direction!! the humour in her role is a very natural one and, as all of them do, she looks to be having a ball on stage.
Marcus Ayton (Donkey), I can remember from four years ago and he made me smile then, and he’s still doing it as this lovable, goofy companion who is full of sass. You can't help but smile when he is on stage.
Samuel Holmes (Lord Farquaad) gives a very physically demanding character-driven performance, especially when you consider he is acting on his knees. He may be the smallest character, size wise, but he is big on entertainment with his quick wit and posh accent. What I also love about this character is the way his humour, in true panto style, is partly pitched just over the children's heads so that the adults get the funny side as well.
The puppetry sections are mesmerising, as are the sets and costumes, all the hard work of Tim Hatley. Naomi Donne is a wizard as the make up designer.
The large ensemble pieces are some of the best I’ve seen in musical theatre, and the choreography by Josh Prince is timed to perfection.
Directed by Nigel Harman, who actually originated the role of Lord Farquaard in the West End gives the show a very tight feel. there's no hanging around and the scenes are changed with fluidity and ease.
Colm O’Regan is the Musical Director and the sound was perfectly mixed making this show very pleasant on the ear, coupling the very visual presentation wonderfully. Hugh Vanstone's lighting design tops everything off beautifully.
A brilliant show for a family night out which cleverly hides a moral message withing the entertainment. With comedy for both kids and adults - which includes burp and fart jokes as well as a smattering of sauce - this is a show that will become a talking point for the family, even after you've left the theatre.
“Shrek – The Musical” is at the Nottingham Theatre Royal until Sunday 23 September 2018.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

“Let It Be”
Nottingham Royal Concert Hall
I have had the pleasure of seeing this musical in the past and, for any fan of The Beatles, or just great music, you are in for a magical tour through some of the Beatles greatest hits.
Michael Gagliano (John Lennon) Emanuele Angeletti (Paul McCartney); John Brosnan (George Harrison) and Ben Cullingworth (Ringo Starr) perform effortlessly as The Fab Four.
This show though is different and that becomes apparent very quickly. The first half feels rushed and there seems to be a big jump from "I Feel Fine" to "Sgt Pepper". In between the sections the band go off stage to change and there are TV screens taking us back to the era with TV commercials and music from other artists. I felt, while this kept the feel of the era, it also created a disjointed performance where maybe a few more Beatles songs could have been crammed in.
I left Act One feeling a bit confused as I looked at the programme to see that Act Two had smatterings of Beatles songs but the main part of the second act was made up of solo hits from John, George, Ringo and Paul's foray with Wings.
What this turned out to be was a vision of what a "dream concert" with all four Beatles would look and sound like in a Reunion Concert for John's 40th Birthday, and I will admit, I preferred Act Two to Act One.
"Got My Mind Set On You", "Just Like Starting Over", "It Don't Come Easy", "Imagine", "My Sweet Lord", "Jet" and "Live And Let Die" were among the solo successes featured.
I was expecting a more explosive light show for "Live And Let Die" but didn't get one and this song's lighting was quite dark for an exciting and explosive song.
I did love the cinematic backdrop though in the first half which took us back to the psychedelic part of their career.
The clothes, the hairstyles, the playing, the sound, the look, everything has been studied and used to transport you back through the decades.
The band are joined on stage throughout the tour by musical director Michael Bramwell on keyboards to create a more layered sound, created by George Martin's production skills.
The audience though were up and down all night and the finale, again just my opinion, of "Let It Be" and "Hey Jude" was slightly dragged out as the voice over invited us to "give it up" for the four, and then introduced the four real musicians and then played out with "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" as the four, from the stage shook the front row's hands and John gave out plectrums.
In short, and if I were the Director, I would have brought in quicker costume changes, less TV commercials and additional music, bridged the music span gap and added a couple more Beatles songs in Act One to give more structure, and then had the Fab Four take final bows and get off stage.
Don't get me wrong, I love the music of the Beatles and each of the solo work loads, and I loved the idea of what this Reunion Concert would look and sound like, but it just needed a tidying and tightening up.I also got the feeling that some of the lyrics were missed.
I had my doubts after the first half but I was pleasantly surprised by the second half, so go along with an open mind and you'll be in for a nice wander down memory lane, and for anyone like me who never had the opportunity to see The Fab Four, these guys are the next best thing.
“Let It Be” is at the Nottingham Royal Concert Hall until Saturday 15 September 2018.

Friday, 7 September 2018

“Legally Blonde” by Derby Youth Musical Theatre
Derby Theatre
What a totally great way to start the weekend, or end the week, however you want to look at it. “Legally Blonde” for me is like pulling a party popper that goes on for a few hours; immense fun and incredibly heart-warming. This must be the third time that I have seen this musical in the last 12 months and it’s just one of those musicals that you, well I at least, never tire of seeing.
The programme states that Derby Youth Musical Theatre proudly presents, and you know what word says it all? PROUDLY, because that's what every single performer on that stage should be. Proud of the amazing show that they have given us... their audience.
I love this musical and I have never seen a poor version of it, and Derby Youth Musical Theatre have produced another wonderful production.
For those who don’t know, the musical follows the transformation of Elle Woods as she tackles stereotypes, snobbery, and scandal in pursuit of her dreams and her man.
Elle appears to have it all. Her life is turned on its' head, however, when her boyfriend, Warner, dumps her so he can start getting serious about his life and attend Harvard Law.
Determined to get him back, Elle uses her charm to get into Harvard Law. At school, she struggles with peers, professors, and Warner Huntington. With the help of new found friends, Paulette and Emmett, Elle quickly realises her potential and sets out to prove herself to the world.
I could just put OMG and end the review there, but I need to let you know what talented young actors were gracing the stage. Young id the key word as the theatre group is for people between the ages of 13 and 25 and you very quickly forget that the people on the stage are of that age because of the standard of this show.
Megan Sadler (Elle Woods), what can I say? just perfect casting and what an amazing voice that belies her 17 years and a personality with more bubbles than a bar of Aero. This is her debut for DYMT and what a way to debut.
Lauren Owen (Margot),Mia Mitchell (Serena) and Hope Redfern (Pilar) simply sizzled as Elle's BFF's
Harry Thornton (Warner Huntingdon III) has a great voice for musical theatre and he definitely made an impression with the females in the audience as soon as he smouldered onto the stage.
Ryan Wiggins (Emmett Forrest). I have been aware of Ryan for a few years now, and he's still only 18 years old, Every time I see Ryan on stage he grows as a performer. I didn't think he could top "Phantom" for Creatio but tonight his singing has matured so much and those long notes held so steady. There is an instant likeability about this young man which comes through the character and you just feel nothing but elation when he gets the girl at the end.
Lindsey Greasley (Paulette Buonafonte). One of my favourite characters in this musical as she is so ballsy, but with that vulnerable side and Lindsey did a superb job of bringing the comic and vulnerable sides out. Once again, an amazing voice for the theatre as well. This too is her DYMT debut.
Bailey West (Kyle B. O’Boyle). is he really only 15 years old? This young man is another young actor I've been aware of previously, but this role really takes his acting to another level. Playing the "lovable sex object" of the piece who always seems to have a package for Paulette. You could tell that Bailey relished the sauciness of his part!
Rachel Bayliss (Brooke Wyndham) blew me away as the convicted fitness instructor accused of murder. Not only with the skipping/acting/singing skills but by her resemblance to Corrie actor Lucy Fallon. And Rachel looked amazing in the costumes she wears in the role.
William Evans (Professor Callahan) for me stuck out because his characterisation of the older sleazeball Professor was done wonderfully. He seemed to get into the character so well. The make up to age William was superb.
Lily Moss (Vivienne). This is another character I love in this musical because of the complete reversal of the character's character. This showed off Lily's acting prowess to the max.
Niamh Abbott (Enid). OMG there are so many characters in this musical i love. Another positive and ballsy female character with great humour, played so well.
Amelia Maskrey (Kate), Zia Blurton (Leilani), Jessica Henshaw (Galen), Amy Burchell (Mimi) and Kira Coombs (Whitney), all incredible fun to watch and amazing energy in the choreography sections.
Daniella Stringer (The judge) got the seriousness of the role blended well with the comedy and the flirtyiness with Nikos.
Katherine Welsh (Chutney Wyndham). Loved the accent and the mic between part grungy attitude and manicness.
Rhiannon Morey (Elle’s Mom/Store manager) and Johan Holloway (Elle’s Dad), both gave superb characterised performances as Elle's parents
Amy Brett (D.A. Joyce Riley) simply joyful to watch.
Liam Ellis (Aaron Schulz), only a minor role but loved the snobbishness of his rich lifestyle in the reasons why he should be let into Harvard. Great fun.
Luke Preston-Davies (Sandeep Padaman/Nikos). Both great characters but Luke really came alive playing Nikos and he didn't even have to say much to get the laughter going, just by his actions and physicality of the part did he get the audience behind him! Along with Thomas Davies (Carlos) they almost brought the roof down with the song "Gay Or European".
Callum Davis (Grandmaster Chad), Dominic Wood (TV Reporter/ Pilot), Jude Sinclair (Lowell/Prison Guard), Russell Hughes (Pforzheimer) and Haydn Robe (Winthrop/Dewey), all brought elements of comedy to this brilliant musical.
Added to these there’s also many others who make up the cheerleaders, Sorority Girls and Prison Dancers, What a large and amazingly talented cast.
And I can't forget Princess (Bruiser Woods) and Ralph (Rufus) for playing their parts so well and for winning every heart in the theatre.
This is a massive success for the production tea, because it was so tight, a duck's bottom would be jealous. Holly Twells (Director), Daisy Twells and Caroline Green (Choreographers), Charlotte Daniel (Musical Director) as well as the amazing orchestra which sounded so big and brassy and clear, made all the more lush by the wonderful acoustics this theatre has. Wonderful costumes by Judith Evans.
The soundtrack to this musical is just so much fun to see performed. I've mentioned my love for the presentation of "Gay Or European" but songs like "O Mi God You Guys", "Blood In The Water", "Positive", "Serious", "Ireland","Whipped Into Shape", "Bend And Snap" and the title song will be stuck in your head long after you leave the theatre.
The lighting was of a very professional standard (Jamie Vella) and made for a very visual treat.
The sound was, as it always is at The Derby Theatre,clarity personified. You heard every word of every song and the mix was wonderfully designed by Harry Greatorex.
This production was as good, and professional as you would see on any major stage and the talent was mind-blowing. These young actors have very big futures with performances like this and I couldn't find one little thing to critique about this production.
As I said at the start, the word that sticks in my head from the programme is "proud" because if I was involved in this production, that is what I would be.
A well deserved standing ovation echoed everything that I felt about this production.
“Legally Blonde” is at the Derby Theatre until Saturday 8 September 2018. Please don't miss out.