Ruby Review

The Bread and Roses Theatre 30 August – 3 September.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick

Jonathan Stephenson’s play sets out to examine “the human condition, mourning, grief and what tragedy can do to someone’s soul.” Which sounds cheerful.

Happily, the play starts off on a light note, with cheeky chappy Ed (Jonathan Stephenson) popping round his ex Verity’s (Hannah-Jane Pawsey) flat after a nice curry hoping for a drink and afters. Ed and Verity haven’t seen each other for two years, after what appears to have been a particularly nasty breakup following the failure of his business and the terminal illness of her mother.

It doesn’t take Ed long to thaw Verity’s attitude towards him, and the constant shift between awkward pauses and comfortable mickey taking is mostly well written and has an authentic feel to it. The action moves back in time to just before the breakup, and the cracks in the relationship are made clear, although there is still lots of dark humour, and debate about the merits of a good curry.

After the interval, there is a complete shift in tone and Verity has a very long and dull monologue – a letter she’ll never send to Ed – before the action returns to the present time. Verity’s monologue signposts the “shock” reveal in the final scene more clearly than most notices on the M25, meaning that the actors have to work very hard to maintain momentum towards the low key ending.

Both actors give committed performances, not shying away from the less appealing sides of their characters, and have an interesting onstage chemistry. The problem is that Stephenson’s characters are, on the whole, recognisable and sympathetic at the beginning of the play, but return after the interval as miserable, self-pitying and slightly boring versions of themselves. At least Ed’s reaction doesn’t provide a neat and tidy ending, providing something to talk about as you leave.

Stephenson’s writing shows promise, but the structure of the play feels a bit muddled, with some confusion about what it’s trying to be. The same can be said for Ed – a Sun reader who is constantly patronised by Verity for his ignorance – who often uses language and references that, although funny and helpful for the plot, just don’t sit right. It’s as if Stephenson cut a third character and tagged their lines onto Ed’s role, creating a slightly schizophrenic feel at times.

Ruby is a brave attempt at tackling difficult issues, but it’s nowhere near as deep as it thinks it is. More of a korma than a vindaloo.

Thoroughly Modern Millie at Grand Opera House 27 Feb – 4 March 2017

David King for Spirit Productions Ltd presents







Award winning musical Thoroughly Modern Millie is set to tour the UK in 2017 opening at New Wimbledon Theatre on Tuesday 17 January.

World Ballroom Showdance Champion and Professional Dancer Joanne Clifton will take on the title role of Millie Dillmount, a Kansas girl determined to make it big in New York City! Joanne’s credits include Face the Music, Burn the Floor, Strictly Live Tour and Marilyn Monroe in Norma Jeane Musical.

Winner of six Tony Awards including Best Musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie is based on the 1967 Academy Award-winning film. Taking you back to the height of the Jazz Age in 1920s New York City, when ‘moderns’ including a flapper named Millie Dillmount were bobbing their hair, raising their hemlines, entering the workforce and rewriting the rules of love.

From explosive tap numbers to a ‘Fred and Ginger’ dance routine on a window ledge, and featuring hit songs including Gimme Gimme and Not for the Life of Me Thoroughly Modern Millie is a brilliantly funny and entertaining show for all the family.

Tickets for Thoroughly Modern Millie are on sale now. Further casting to be announced.



Book by Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan

New Music by Jeanine Tesori

New Lyrics by Dick Scanlan

Original Story and Screenplay by Richard Morris for the Universal Pictures Film

Presented by arrangement with

Music Theatre International (Europe) Limited

Director and Choreographer Gary Lloyd

Musical Director Tom Turner

Set Designer Paul Tate Depoo III

Casting Director Sue Talbert

Celebrity Casting Advisor Bambi Haines

Executive Producer David King

Lead Producer Graham King



Tuesday 17 – Saturday 21 January Box Office: 0844 871 7646 New Wimbledon Theatre Website:

Tuesday 24 – Saturday 28 January Box Office: 0844 871 7652 Milton Keynes Theatre Website:

Monday 30 January – Saturday 4 February Box Office: 0844 871 3014 Edinburgh Playhouse Website:

Monday 6 – Saturday 11 February Box Office: 0844 871 7648 Glasgow, King’s Theatre Website:

Monday 13 – Saturday 18 February Box Office: 0844 871 3011 Birmingham, Alexandra Theatre Website:

Monday 20 – Saturday 25 February Box Office: 0844 871 3017 Liverpool, Empire Theatre Website:

Monday 27 February – Saturday 4 March Box Office: 0844 871 3024 York, Grand Opera House Website:

Monday 6 – Saturday 11 March Box Office: 01494 512 000 High Wycombe, Swan Theatre Website:

Monday 20 – Saturday 25 March Box Office: 023 9282 8282 Southsea, King’s Theatre Website:

Monday 27 March – Saturday 1 April Box Office: 0844 871 7607 Aylesbury, Waterside Theatre Website:

Monday 3 – Saturday 8 April Box Office: 0844 871 7650 Brighton, Theatre Royal Website:

Monday 10 – Saturday 15 April Box Office: 020 3285 6000 Bromley, Churchill Theatre Website:

Monday 17 – Saturday 22 April Box Office: 0844 848 2700 Leeds Grand Theatre Website:

Monday 8 – Saturday 13 May Box Office: 0844 871 7645 Woking, New Victoria Theatre Website:

Monday 22 – Saturday 27 May Box Office: 0844 871 3019 Manchester, Palace Theatre Website:

Monday 29 May – Saturday 3 June Box Office: 01492 872000 Llandudno, Venue Cymru Website:

Monday 5 – Saturday 10 June Box Office: 01322 220000 Dartford, Orchard Theatre Website:

Monday 12 – Saturday 17 June Box Office: 01872 262466 Truro, Hall for Cornwall Website:

Monday 19 – Saturday 24 June Box Office: 0844 871 3012 Bristol Hippodrome Website:

Monday 10 – Saturday 15 July Box Office: 0844 811 2121 Newcastle, Theatre Royal Website:


We are delighted to announce


Music by Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by Betty Comden & Adolph Green
Book by Joseph Fields & Jerome Chodorov

Based upon the Play My Sister Eileen by Joseph Fields & Jerome Chodorov and the Short Stories by Ruth McKenney

To conclude our 2016 season, All Star Productions are delighted to present a new chamber production of Leonard Bernstein’s 1953 musical WONDERFUL TOWN.  

Based on the play, MY SISTER EILEEN by Joseph Fields and Jerome Chodorov, the Tony award winning WONDERFUL TOWN is a bright and cheery love letter to the colorful experience of living life in New York in the 1930’s.

The show tells the story of two sisters, Ruth and Eileen, who move from a rural town in Ohio to experience the bright lights, the big city, and the crazy characters of Greenwich Village, New York City. Ruth is an aspiring writer and Eileen is a dancer who wants to pursue a life on stage. One sister can’t find a man no matter what she does, the other can’t keep them away. Together, these two sisters take on the world, pursuing their dreams and finding love along the way.

WONDERFUL TOWN features a bright Leonard Bernstein score, including such classics asA Little Bit in Love, One Hundred Easy Ways to Loose a Man, A Quiet Girl and Ohio.


Venue: Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre, 53 Hoe Street, London, E17 4SA
Closest Tube/National Rail: Walthamstow Central, Victoria Line. (5 mins walk)
Dates: 12th – 30th October 2016
Press Night: Friday 14th October 2016
Times: Tuesday – Saturday at 7.30pm; Sundays at 3.00pm.
No performances on Mondays

Price: £18.00/ £16.00 Concessions
Box Office: 020 8520 8674/

Director: Tim McArthur

Musical Director: Aaron Clingham
Choreographer: Ian Pyle

Casting: Benjamin Newsome
Producer: Andrew Yon
Other: Performances by arrangement with Boosey & Hawkes Music Publishers Ltd.

‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore Review

Tristan Bates Theatre 23 August – 10 September.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick

Lazarus Theatre Company have a growing reputation for energising and exploring plays in exciting new ways, and their adaptation of John Ford’s classic is impressive in many ways.

Ricky Dukes’ adaptation of John Ford’s classic, squeezed into 90 action packed minutes, wisely cuts most of the sub plots involving minor characters, and instead concentrates on the original scenes that drive the action forward. Giovanni and Annabella are in love. They are also brother and sister. Giovanni keeps running off to discuss and justify the relationship with his tutor, while Annabella has earthier discussions about love with her guardian, Putana. Elder brother Florio is busy organising Annabella’s marriage and her suitors, Soranzo and Bergetto are planning their moves. When the truth about the siblings’ relationship is discovered, Soranzo seeks revenge. The themes of incest, revenge and violence are highly stylised in this production, but the cartoonish presentation doesn’t dilute most of the impact.

Prince Plockley and Lucy Walker-Evans make a heart-breaking couple. Their delivery of Ford’s language is crisp and they both capture the turmoil of their characters in moving performances that transcend some messy collaborative moments. Luke Deeley as Bergetto, the play’s Fool, is a scream, revelling in the buffoonery of his character. The interplay between him and the fantastic RJ Seeley as his longsuffering sister Donado, is a comic highlight. Sasha Wilson as Hippolita, Soranzo’s jilted lover, chews the scenery sashaying around the stage plotting her revenge, and I can understand why Dukes didn’t kill her off as Ford did.

The company’s love of physical and visual collaboration, usually their strength, is the major weakness in this production however. The traverse stage is dominated by a long dinner table, with most action taking place with characters interacting from either end, with only the most intimate moments happening in the centre. The ensemble sitting around looking cool in sunglasses works, but when intense exchanges are taking place on the table, it can be distracting and a slightly questionable choice to have other actors moving around the space to music. The most memorable parts of the play were the quiet ones when the characters were just speaking to each other. The opening and closing dance/fight numbers felt a little like a cop out. The subplots of Richardetto (who was kept in, but his reasons for murder never fully explained) and multiple deaths were all crammed in in the final, frankly messy, scene. Again, I can see what Dukes and the company were aiming for, as it led to an extremely moving and visually stunning final moment with Giovanni and Annabella surrounded by death, but it just felt a bit rushed to me. Although I did love the way the production kept the heart on the knife image – bloodless, but still deeply shocking.

Jai Morjaria’s lighting is, again, highly stylised and unsubtle, but works really well. The only thing that grated was the thunder roll that accompanied every change – a bit too much for me.

I knew that Lazarus would give ‘Tis Pity a kick up the bum and present a wildly different production from others I have seen, but I really didn’t think I’d enjoy it. Well, I was wrong. Although I think that the company should have pared back their physical approach in some scenes, the production as a whole is engaging and exciting. This is a challenging reinvention for Fordophiles, but a wonderful introduction to Ford for a brand new audience.

The Roundabout Review

Park Theatre 24 August – 24 September.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick

This is the first major revival of JB Priestley’s comedy in 80 years, and that is a crying shame. Yes, it’s not quite An Inspector Calls, but this production is a joy to watch.

Set in the 1930s in the garden room of Lord Kettlewell’s (Brian Protheroe) country house, on the day that he finds out his business’s and investments are all about to crash. Happily separated from his wife (Lisa Bowerman) for years, he is trying to extricate himself from a relationship with the persistent Hilda Lancicourt (Carol Starks). The unannounced arrivals of his long-lost daughter Pamela (Bessie Carter), newly returned from Russia, her comrade, Staggles (Steven Blakeley), and then Lady Kettlewell all add to his problems.

Priestley encapsulates the shifting social order and the discomfort felt by the erosion of the class system with a light touch. Priestley’s leftward leanings are clear, but he mocks both communism and the British class system equally. The shift in status when Parsons the butler (Derek Hutchinson) wins the Guernsey sweep is a lovely moment, highlighting the difference between perceived and actual wealth.

Comrade Staggles’ po-faced pronouncements about how life should be are delivered brilliantly by Blakeley, and his frustration at the maid’s horrified reaction to his advances, with him being “a gentleman staying in the house” is played well. Bessie Carter makes a huge impact as Pamela – completely changing her body language according to her costume, and managing to make this slightly abrasive character sympathetic.

The show is stolen by Hugh Sachs and Richenda Carey. They are both gifted comic actors, and have the best lines in the play. As Chuffy, the self-proclaimed Edwardian parasite, Sachs observes proceedings and comments gleefully on the foolishness he sees. Sachs’ delivery, pauses and glances are just perfect for this play. Carey’s character is hysterical. Lady Knightsbridge is a mercenary matriarch scooping up gossip in between trying to find meaningful occupations for her useless relations – “Didn’t I ask you to get Claude into rubber?” Carey’s imperious glances and politely catty putdowns are hysterical. If only Priestley had given them more lines!

The pace slows after the interval as loose ends and motivations are explored, but this feels right, as the act is set directly after dinner, when full stomachs and woozy heads abound. Hugh Ross obviously LOVES Priestley, and his production has a fresh, but nostalgic feel. Polly Sullivan’s design is simple but evocative, and allows the audience to focus on the performances – which are all first rate.

This may not be a hard hitting play, but its perceptive wit and sublime word play makes The Roundabout well worth seeing. Yes, it feels like a lovely ITV3 show that you watch cuddled up on the sofa on a rainy afternoon, but sometimes that’s just what you need. I loved it.

Relatively Speaking Review

Grand Theatre, Leeds – 30th August 2017

In 1967, when Relatively Speaking first played to audiences, it opened to a roar of approval from the critics, and the first offering of now acclaimed playwright Alan Ayckbourn set him on the path to success. Now, 49 years later, the comedy is on tour, offering a night of hilarity that is still relevant and completely charming today.

The script is ingeniously strung out from a rather threadbare premise. Two couples, both with infidelity problems, meet and talk at cross-purposes for an afternoon. The action opens in a dingy London bedsit where fun-loving Ginny (Lindsey Campbell) is entwined with a nice-but-dim Greg (Antony Eden) who wants to marry her. But Ginny plans to spend the day with her older lover in Buckinghamshire. Ginny misses the first train but Greg catches it and arrives at The Willows first. Greeted by a Philip (Robert Powell) whom he wrongly assumes is Ginny’s dad. Philip, meanwhile, assumes that Greg is his wife Sheila’s (Liza Goddard) bit on the side.

The first scene, in the London flat, is intermably long and apart from a single pink sheet, not overly funny.  My heart sank as I was expecting hilarity and was receiving something more painful than heart burn.  But, after watching, the map light up to follow the train for an epic scene change, we arrived in an English country garden and laughs a plenty followed.

Liza Goddard is a delight as the confused, good-natured Sheila, suddenly greeted by a boy who wants to marry a daughter she didn’t know she had, but also hints at the pain of a woman who knows that her husband is unfaithful. Robert Powell is all self-righteous, pink-faced indignation as her philandering husband. Antony Eden memorably captures the confusion of the gawky young innocent abroad, while Lindsey Campbell is both sexy and devious as the woman he loves.

The set itself, does need a special mention, the dingy London bedsit flat is just grungy and threadbare enough but the country house is magnificent and Peter McKintosh’s design is to be congratulated.

In Leeds until Saturday 3rd September and on tour around the country


Mark Thomas wins The Stage Special Award

Mark Thomas wins prestigious The Stage Special Award

Mark Thomas will be presented with the prestigious The Stage Special Award at Edinburgh Festival Fringe on Friday, August 26, 2016. The prize, part of The Stage Edinburgh Awards, celebrates sustained excellence at the Fringe. Previous winners of the Special Award include Chris Goode and Pip Utton.

Thomas is a comedian, theatremaker and activist. His Special Award win will be added to multiple prizes for his work at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, including three Fringe Firsts. He will be presented with the award by The Stage’s reviews editor, Natasha Tripney, and interviewed by Thom Dibdin, Scotland correspondent for The Stage, critic and member of The Stage’s Edinburgh review team.

Tripney said: “Mark Thomas is a deserving winner of The Stage Special Award. His work has always straddled comedy, theatre and activism. His presence at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has often made a significant impact and his current show, The Red Shed, is one of his strongest to date, revisiting his political awakening while also exploring the stories we tell ourselves and the ways in which we tell them.”

Thomas’ 2016 show, The Red Shed, is inspired by the Wakefield Labour Club of the same name. In his review for The Stage, Thom Dibdin called it “a wide-eyed tale that has truth at its heart and the need to find the stories which will help shape a better future in its head.” The Red Shed has also been awarded a Fringe First award, his third after Bravo Figaro! (2012), about his opera-loving father, and Cuckooed (2014), about corporate espionage.

The Stage Special Award will be presented at a Q&A with Thomas at the Traverse Theatre in a public event at 2pm on August 26, 2016.

The Stage Edinburgh Awards are in their 21st year and celebrate acting talent at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The Special Award, presented to a performer with a significant history of excellence at the Edinburgh Fringe, was introduced in 2014.


Shortlists announced for the 2016 Edinburgh Comedy Awards
The nominations for Best Comedy Show are:
Al Porter: At Large
James Acaster: Reset
Kieran Hodgson: Maestro
Nish Kumar: Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Unless You Shout the Words Real Loud
Randy Writes A Novel
Richard Gadd: Monkey See Monkey Do
Tom Ballard: The World Keeps Happening
Zoe Coombs Marr: Trigger Warning
The nominations for Best Newcomer are:
Bilal Zafar: Cakes
Brennan Reece: Everglow
Jayde Adams: 31
Michelle Wolf: So Brave
Nath Valvo: Happy Idiot
Scott Gibson: Life After Death
Nica Burns, director of the Edinburgh Comedy Awards said: “Two great nomination lists! 2016 reflects the breadth and quality of comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe with eight nominations for Best Comedy Show for the second year running. Four outstanding stand-ups, a female comic performing in character as Dave, a novel-writing puppet, a wonderful story teller and a comic who is as moving as he is funny.  An international list with four UK artists, three Australians and a Dubliner.
“The six nominees for the Newcomer award are equally international with an Australian and an American, and the vibrancy of the Scottish stand up scene is reflected in the nomination of Glaswegian Scott Gibson and the Best Show nominee, Richard Gadd.
“Our hard-working judging team made over 1400 visits to shows. Congratulations to all the comics at the festival for a brilliant year of comedy.”
There will be a press call with all the nominees on Thursday 25 August at Assembly Checkpoint, 3 Bristo Place, EH1 1EY at 9.45 am.
The winners will be announced on Saturday 27 August at Dovecot Studio, Infirmary Street.
The Awards and prizes are:-
•Best Comedy Show with a cash prize of £10,000
•Best Newcomer with a cash prize of £5,000
•Panel Prize with a cash prize of £5,000
The winners and nominees can be seen at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards Show on Sunday 28 August at 15.30 (17.00) at The Grand, Pleasance Courtyard.
The Fringe Comedy Awards Shows will be at the Lyric Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London on the 17, 24 & 31 October. Tickets exclusively available at

The original dreamboats are back!!





With very special guest MARK WYNTER       





Grand Opera House York

Friday 14 October 7:30pm


As if time stood still; four of the original dreamboats are back! Over 50 years since the original British rock n rollers hit the airwaves, Marty Wilde, Eden Kane, Mike Berry and Mark Wynter return for headline billing for The Solid Gold Rock N’Roll Show 2016.

A dreamboat was the heartthrob and pop idol of their day; times may have changed but that unwavering surge of admiration and obsession was born in this era, and remains as prevalent today in pop culture as it ever was.

From the producers of the favourite Solid Silver 60s Show, The Solid Gold Rock N Roll Show will propel you back to a golden era, featuring an iconic lineup with Marty Wilde, Eden Kane, Mike Berry and very special guest, Mark Wynter. Marty Wilde’s long-standing band The Wildcats will also perform on stage with the artists.

The reprisal of the Solid Gold Rock N Roll Show,  launched nearly two decades ago, and has seen a cannon of 50s veterans take to the stage Artists who have featured include John Leyton, The Vernon Girls, Bobby Vee, Chris Montez, Johnny Tillotson, Freddie Cannon, Johnny Preston, Little Eva, The Shirelles and many more.

Expect good old-fashioned rock n roll; this was the birth of pop music, a time where music liberated and changed popular culture forever! Even today, half a century on, the long reaching influence contains to play an ever-important role.

This music was a catalyst for social and cultural change; whether through the spirit of punk, the spirit of girl power, or through the mega phenomenon of today’s international pop juggernauts, the notion of what rock n roll presented and meant lives on to this very day.

In the late 50s, Marty Wilde was one of the leading British rock n roll singers, alongside Tommy Steele and Cliff Richard.  Hits included A Teenager In Love, Sea Of Love, Donna and Bad Boy. As a gifted songwriter he has also penned many hits for artists including Lulu, Status Quo, The Casuals, and his daughter, Kim Wilde.

Eden Kane, the older brother of musicians Peter Starstedt and Clive Sarstedt, had success in the early 1960s with I Don’t Know Why, Well I Ask You and Boys Cry, before moving to the United States, where he began an acting career. A breakout role in three Star Trek series (Voyager, Next Generation and New Enterprise) saw him cement his ongoing popularity.

Mike Berry is known just as well for his music as he is for his TV work. A long-time collaborator of producer Joe Meek, he enjoyed a string of hits in the 60s including Don’t You Think It’s Time, and The Sunshine Of Your Smile.  He also had hits with his group The Outlaws including A Tribute To Buddy Holly. His TV work included the iconic BBC series Are You Being Served. This year he was a contestant on BBC’s The Voice.

Mark Wynter enjoyed a lengthy career between 1960 and 1968 with hits including Venus In Blue Jeans, It’s Almost Tomorrow, Shy Girl, and Go Away Little Girl. He is also a celebrated actor.

Tickets available at  


Tickets: £27.75

Box Office: 0844 871 3024


Dates maybe subject to change.

Robert Powell and Liza Goddard at The Grand


 Relatively Speaking Robert Powell & Liza Goddard


The Grand Theatre is set to welcome a classic comedy next week when Robert Powell and Liza Goddardtake to the stage in Alan Ayckbourn’s Relatively Speaking.

Greg only met Ginny a month ago but has already made up his mind that she’s the girl for him. When she tells him that she’s going to visit her parents, he decides this is the moment to ask her father for his daughter’s hand. Discovering a scribbled address, he follows her to Buckinghamshire where he finds Philip and Sheila enjoying a peaceful Sunday morning breakfast in the garden, but the only thing is – they’re not Ginny’s parents.

Beautifully crafted, wonderfully funny and charmingly English, Relatively Speaking was Ayckbourn’s first great West End success and turned him into a household name. When the show opened at the Duke of York’s Theatre in 1967, the critics hailed the arrival of a great new comic talent.

We’re delighted to welcome two great stars in one great production,” says Ian Sime, General Manager at Leeds Grand Theatre. “Post-holidays, an evening of comedy is just what we all need.”

Relatively Speaking is at Leeds Grand Theatre from Tuesday 30th August to

Saturday 3rd September


Tickets are on sale now priced from £19.50 to £36


Book online at or call box office on 0844 848 2700