Three Men in a Boat Review

Three Men in a Boat – Civic Theatre, Darlington

Posted by: The Reviews Hub


Writer: Jerome K Jerome

Director: Craig Gilbert


It was with a sense of irony, after the recent flooding in the north east, that the Tuesday press night for Three Men in a Boat became a Thursday matinée. But it was well worth the wait.

A very liberal interpretation of the classic book, the performance takes place in the back room of the Elusive Pelican public house. Where Mr Jerome is giving a lecture to members of the Royal Geographical Society, which is actually the theatre audience.

Mr Jerome K Jerome, J to his friends, is brought to life by Alastair Whatley. Trying to bring a sense of decorum to the proceedings he is helped into disorder by friends George (Christopher Brandon) and Harris (Tom Hackney). With all three suffering from various cases of hypochondria the chums decide a holiday rowing down the river will help them all to be well again. The fellows of the Royal Geographical Society are treated to the tale of the river from different points of view of the spiffing boys and Montmorency the dog.

Nelly, the highly talented Sue Appleby, gives a musical accompaniment to the tales of adventure. From the initial version of Row, Row, Row the Boat through to a tango version while J packs is brilliant. The frantic countdown tune for Harris’ attempt to remember what is packed while J and George pose as showgirls is inspired. But the magical ending to the first half of the lecture, with the tin of pineapple, a chorus of Daylight comes and I want to go home and the theme to Chariots of Fire will have you wiping the tears of laughter from your eyes. It is truly hilarious.

Part two has some sadness, with a beautifully haunting lament as the men recount the sad tale of finding a woman’s body in the river. But more comedy comes involving a swan attack, a parody of the immortal scene from Titanic and a tense card game that turns into a spaghetti western with poor Nelly getting shot by Harris’ pipe.

The set is beautiful, looking almost exactly like a country pub. Full use of the props and scenery are used to show off the boat and the scenes from the Thames. And full use of the audience from becoming members of the society to towing the boat upsteam

This production from The Original Theatre Company is performance at its best.

Chicago Review

Chicago – Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

Posted by: The Reviews Hub


Music/Lyrics: John Kander & Fred Ebb

Book: Fred Ebb &Bob Fosse

Director: Scott Farris


Even though Chicago has now closed in the West End this tour keeps the performance going. Telling the story of how Roxie Hart gets away with murder with the help of slick lawyer Billy Flynn. Her time in prison with the notorious Velma Kelly, duping her ever loving husband Amos and being good to Mama Morton while in Prison. It is based on a true story from the 1920’s.

But this classic Kander and Ebb musical lacks the razzle dazzle. With all the principal characters played by people previously in soap operas this seems like stunt casting. Using the past characterisations of the actors to fill the seats rather than relying on the musical itself to fill theatres. We were also relying on understudies due to illness from two of the principals.

Tupele Dorgu shows her abilities well with a wonderful version of Velma Kelly, singing All That Jazz with vocals that are thrilling and unexpected, stealing every scene she is in. Stefan Booth was indisposed so Ian Oswald stepped up but he lacks the spark needed to play the devious Billy Flynn. Rather surprisingly, Bernie Nolan fails to hold the stage with her rather seedy Mama Morton and her accent moves between Irish and American with ease. Ali Bastion was also ill and we had understudy Chloe Ames proving she can sing and dance her way through Roxie Hart but while Roxie is devious using people as she needs them, Ames comes across as too nice and it’s hard to take her rôle seriously. Her voice also comes over as weak especially during My Own Best Friend, but that could be because Dorgu has a particularly strong voice, drowning out Ames’ efforts. Jamie Baughan is fabulous as Mr Cellophane, Amos Hart, and is definitely the most sympathetic character on stage.

The set is interesting with the band in a nightclub setting in the middle of the stage all the way through the show. The ensemble are sat on chairs at the side of the stage, as if in a rehearsal room.

Despite the weather, it was a full house and the Sheffield audience seemed to enjoy themselves. Let’s hope that the illness soon passes and the show can be up at full strength soon

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Review

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat – Civic Theatre, Darlington

Posted by: The Reviews Hub


Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber

Lyrics: Tim Rice

Director: Bill Kenwright


Joseph is a classic among musicals. Staying true to the biblical tale in Genesis, this offering by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber has not been modernised or messed around with in any way since it was originally written in the 70’s.

The musical is sung all the way through with no dialogue apart from the occasional one word here and there. The story of the favourite son of Jacob, sold by his brothers and his trials and tribulations from being bought by Potiphar, seduced by Mrs Potiphar and his life in jail thereafter. Luckily his gift for interpreting dreams makes him a favourite of the Pharaoh and happy endings all around when he his eventually reunited with his father and brothers and wears his famous coat of many colours.

Keith Jack is billed as the star performer but in reality he sings very few of the songs in the show. He has made up for coming second in the reality TV search for Joseph though, by turning in a very mature vocal performance. And by looking good in a loin cloth.

The real star is Lauren Ingram in her rôle of Narrator. Seamlessly singing the parts of the show together. The brothers do a fine job too, with lots of fast costume changes and high energy dance routines. Star of the comic turns is Luke Jasztal with his Elvis Presley inspired Pharaoh, dressed in one of The Kings famous white jumpsuits and surrounded by adoring girls. And we must give a special mention to the children from the local stage school who sing as the chorus.

The small stage didn’t seem to deter an exceptional set design, and every spare space was utilised well. Made up of a pair of staircases where the children sit it is very simple, with extra items ‘flown in’ as needed and cardboard camels to ride across the stage on.

The different musical styles are played wonderfully by the live orchestra. From calypso, to a tango, a hoe-down and in the case of Those Canaan Days a song that wouldn’t sound out of place being sung in a French wine bar by the Little Sparrow herself.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a heavenly show to see. With a standing ovation and an encore that goes on forever, expressive singing of well written songs, comic interaction and spellbinding performances make this a show not to be missed.