Evita Review

Grand Opera House York – 28 March 2017.  Reviewed by Michelle Richardson

Bill Kenwright brings to stage the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s 1970s musical Evita, now playing at the Grand Opera House, York, running until Saturday 1st April.

The story follows the meteoric rise from rags to riches of Eva Peron. Born in poverty she moves to Buenos Aires and becoming a bit part actress. We see her basically sleeping her way to the top, discarding suitors along the way as she moves onto the next, someone who will benefit her more, becoming the first lady after marrying military leader Juan Peron and becoming the spiritual leader of Argentina, until ultimately dying at the age of 33, succumbing to cancer.

Emma Hatton plays a convincing Eva, showcasing her musical talents in the excellent rendition of Don’t Cry For Me Argentina, which she sings with great sentimentality and delivers a powerful statement. She may be small but she can sure pack a punch, portraying both the power and fragility of Eva.

Gian Marco Schiaretti as Che, is certainly pleasing on the eye (am I allowed to say that?), is the narrator prowling and dominating the stage, being the voice of the people. His confident story telling, through song, binds the show together, taking the audience on a journey. We see him lurking in the shadows, always representing the people. This is his first UK role, he is Italian, and his vocals are quite rich with that European lilt.

This pair were definitely the stand out members of the cast for me, but they were well backed by the other cast members, including Kevin Stephen-Jones as Juan Peron. All the ensemble and live musicians worked hard to deliver a great show.

This is the first time I’ve seen Evita, I’ve never even seen the film, and though I’ve heard of Eva Peron I did not know the story. All I can say now is that I don’t think I like Eva Peron. She slept her way to the top and manipulated the common people of Argentina whilst getting rich in the process. She may have been adored by the people, but not me.

This was a powerful show and one not to be missed!

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Silver Lining Review

York Theatre Royal – 28 March 2017.  Reviewed by Marcus Richardson

‘Silver Lining’ is a new comedy by Sandi Toksvig, if that name sounds familiar that’s because she took over Stephan Fry on ‘QI’ and will soon be presenting the ‘Great British Bake-Off”.

 

The play with its very feminist and socio-political roots explores issues such as how we treat the elderly and people of different genders, race and sexuality, touching upon these issues can be dodgy as there is a fine line between a joke and an insult, when watching this play I found myself laughing all the way through and not at one point did I find anything a step too far.

 

It follows a group of old women who are left abandoned in their care home whilst a flood is about to destroy the house, waiting for help that isn’t going to arrive they decide to work it out for themselves. The cast was made up of 5 old ladies each with a unique but wacky personality, the interaction between each other on stage is one of the most hilarious things that you can see on stage; you will be laughing from start to finish.

 

I loved the character May Trickett (Maggie McCarthy), she stole the show for her interaction with June Partridge (Joanna Monro) as sisters was just so funny to watch since they couldn’t be more apart, with one being the one we all love and the one we try to love. The actors were absolutly stunning with Keziah Joseph who played the young trendy girl Hope Daley, whose job is to escort them out of the building, the script was so funny and the way she worked with it added so much comic value to the play.

 

The Stage was transformed into the communal area of the care home and gave a naturalistic feel to the play, I love how the actors used the stage to the max, with a sewing machine at the back and several seats around the stage. Now if you go to the theatre often you know you will always be reminded to turn your phone off, we had a rather sweet message about turning your phone and support nonmusical theatre that doesn’t have a celebrity cast from Sandi Toskvig which made the whole audience laugh before the play even begun.

 

As part of English Touring Theatre, the show will be going around the UK and is in York until The 1st of April, if you can go and see the show you will love it as much is I do, This is defiantly topping all other comedies I have seen and has headed straight to the top as my favourite comedy. Sandi Toskvig and cast has done an amazing job in creating a hilarious but eye opening comedy that touches issues in a light manner

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Kiss Me by Richard Bean at Trafalgar Studios

Mark Cartwright presents A Hampstead Downstairs Orginal

Kiss Me

Trafalgar Studios, 14 Whitehall, London SW1A 2DY

Tuesday 6th June – Saturday 8 th July 2017

Press Night: Friday 9th June, 7pm

I’m thirty two and I want a baby. There are no men.

Multi-award winning writer Richard Bean’s Kiss Me opens at Trafalgar Studios after a sold out run at Hampstead Theatre Downstairs in 2016. Claire Lams (The King’s Speech, Chichester Festival Theatre; The Little Mermaid, Bristol Old Vic; Routes, The Royal Court) and Ben Lloyd-Hughes (Future Conditional, Old Vic; Henry V, Michael Grandage Company; Jumpy, Duke of York’s Theatre) reprise their roles.

This new play is a beautiful and unorthodox love story about two people struggling to escape the guilt and ghosts of the past, set against the shifting world of London post World War I. As the roles women play change, Stephanie, a war widow finds it increasingly difficult to play by the rules as she still longs to have a baby. A meeting with Dennis changes everything. A desperate woman. A chivalrous man. And a forbidden kiss

While Bean is more often know for comedy and farce, this intimate and tender portrayal reflects emotion in a time of great crisis and suffering. Bean’s other plays include One Man, Two Guvnors, Great Britain, Made in Dagenham and the recent sell out hit The Nap, which starred Jack O’Connell. He comments, I’m very excited that Kiss Me is transferring to Trafalgar Studios, and this intriguing story will hopefully find a wider audience. It will be great to be working with Claire Lams, Ben Lloyd-Hughes and Anna Ledwich again.

Director Anna Ledwich will be returning to the Trafalgar Studios following her Olivier-award nomination for Four Minutes Twelve Seconds.

Hampstead Theatre also announce two other Hampstead Downstairs Originals, which will open at Hampstead this Spring. Following an initial development run at Hampstead Downstairs, the updated plays, Deposit by Matt Hartley and Alligators by Andrew Keatley will run from May.

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New production of award-winning musical comedy The Drowsy Chaperone

Award-winning musical comedy plays for short run in London this May
 
The award-winning musical comedy The Drowsy Chaperone returns to London in May this year, in a new production by leading amateur theatre company Sedos.
 
The Drowsy Chaperone started in 1997, when Don McKellar, Lisa Lambert, Greg Morrison and several friends created a spoof of old musicals for the stag party of Bob Martin and Janet van de Graaf. Their namesakes are the main love interest characters in the finished piece.
 
The Drowsy Chaperone first opened in Toronto in 1998 and debuted on Broadway in 2006. The first West End production took place in 2007, with Elaine Page among the cast. The Drowsy Chaperone has won five Tony Awards and seven Drama Desk Awards.
 
Ten years since that original London production, Sedos will stage The Drowsy Chaperone from 3 to 13 May 2017 at the Bridewell Theatre, just off Fleet Street.
 
The Drowsy Chaperone tells the story of Man in Chair, who turns to his record collection as a cure for his “non-specific sadness”. As the musical plays, we are transported into the world of a 1920s musical where there are gangsters, mistaken identities and a wedding that may or may not happen.
 
Sedos director Emma J Leaver says: “I first saw The Drowsy Chaperone in the Australian premiere production in 2010, with Geoffrey Rush as Man in Chair. As a musical geek it connected with me at a very simple level — when I feel sad I put on a soundtrack and it makes me feel better. The joy I feel in escapism, not matter how nonsensical, is real.
 
“The show within show concept is challenging, yet makes it more engaging. When the Man in Chair, our narrator of sorts, puts on the record of ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’ and gives his running commentary, revealing small parts of his story, we recognise something endearing.
 
“We see something familiar, someone who turns to a hobby when they feel lonely or sad, and finds comfort in the safety of imagination and temporary escapism from the real world. I think this is something our audience can connect to, that when we hook into our own geekiness — for whatever we are passionate about — we have a means of retreat and simple joy.
 
“And what a place to retreat to — a 1920s world full of mayhem and silliness, with competitive divas, larger than life Broadway caricatures, physical comedy, clever word play, tap dancing and rollerskating. During this short show, the audience will be drawn into a world of fun, where they too can forget their troubles briefly and leave with a little tune to carry with them.”
 

Tickets: sedos.co.uk            

Twitter: @sedos                                          
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Swashbuckling new adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac tours to The Lowry

Northern Broadsides and
New Vic Theatre to tour swashbuckling new adaptation of
Cyrano de Bergerac to The Lowry

Cyrano
Tue 18 – Sat 22 April 2017
Press night: Tue 18 April, 8pm

Northern Broadsides are set to join forces with the award-winning New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme, to stage Cyrano at The Lowry. Cyrano is an exciting new adaptation by award-winning playwright Deborah McAndrew (An August Bank Holiday Lark) of Edmond William classic romantic comedy Cyrano de Bergerac.

Directed by Northern Broadsides Resident director Conrad Nelson, the adaptation will be at The Lowry from Tue 18 – Sat 22 April 2017.

Set in the golden age of musketeers, Deborah McAndrew’s lively new adaptation brings fresh vigour to this swashbuckling tale of unrequited love. Add to this Northern Broadsides’ musical panache, acclaimed charisma and exuberant performance style and you have a delightful evening of pure drama that will lift your spirits and make your heart ache.

Director Conrad Nelson said: “The adaptation embraces the poeticism of Rostand’s drama, but does not confine itself to regular rhyming couplets of the original.  Poetry and prose combine in this vibrant, funny, romantic and heartbreaking adaptation. Debbie McAndrew has created a carefully crafted version that marries the energy and vibrancy of youth with the romance and classicism of the original.

“Broadsides are committed to producing high quality new adaptations and new writing for the stage. This is an ideal combination for Northern Broadsides of a classic play and a contemporary adaptation. It is a process in which McAndrew and I work closely to create a new premiere for the stage and celebrates a fourth foreign language collaboration featuring a bespoke marriage of text, musicality, wit and invention.”

Playing the title role will be Christian Edwards whose recent theatre includes playing Grantaire in the West End production of Les Miserables and most recently in The Winter’s Tale at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton. Christian will be joined in the cast by Paul Barnhill (Brassed Off, Oldham Coliseum and the recent Steven Spielberg version of The BFG which he appeared alongside his daughter Ruby who played the lead role of Sophie. Paul will also be appearing in Spielberg’s next film  Ready Player One); Angela Bain (Made in Dagenham, Queens Theatre); Adam Barlow (The Merry Wives, Northern Broadsides);Andy Cryer (Consuming Passions, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough)Jessica Dyas (The Winter’s Tale, Northern Broadsides); Francesca Mills (A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer, National Theatre, See How They Run, The Reduced Height Theatre Company, and Star Wars: Force Awakens);Michael Hugo (Around the Day in Eighty days, New Vic Theatre/ Royal Exchange); Anthony Hunt (The Commitments, West End); , Perry Moore(Peter Pan in Scarlet, New Vic Theatre); Robert Wade, Andrew Whitehead(Unsung, Liverpool Everyman Theatre) and newcomer Sharon Singh as Roxane.

Cyrano will be the first production of Northern Broadsides 25th anniversary year. The acclaimed company will be joining forces with Hull Truck Theatre, as part of Hull 2017, for a revival of its original production in 1992 – Richard III.

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Edgar Allan Poe Double Feature

The Okai Collier Company presents

Edgar Allan Poe Double Feature

Tuesday 6 to Saturday 24 June 2017 Press Night | Thursday 8 June | 7.45pm

The Masque of the Red Death

adapted by Simon James Collier, directed by Omar F. Okai

In his remote and fortified abbey, the notorious Prince Prospero and a handful of selected cronies have taken refuge to wait out the end of the Red Death, a gruesome plague which has swept over the land. But as the revelry continues a mysterious figure appears, and the Prince is forced to confront his own mortality.

The Fall of the House of Usher

adapted by Adam Dechanel, directed by Maud Madlyn

Those that enter the House of Usher never leave.

One man, determined to rescue his captive bride-to-be, is pitted against the centuries old curse cast upon the house. Can he rescue his love before it’s too late?

From the twice nominated ‘Empty Space…Peter Brook Award’ Okai Collier Company comes this haunting double-bill from the master of gothic story-telling: Edgar Allan Poe.

Listings Information

Venue: Brockley Jack Studio Theatre

410 Brockley Road, London, SE4 2DH

Box office: www.brockleyjack.co.uk

or 0333 666 3366 (£1.50 fee for phone bookings only)

Dates: Tuesday 6 to Saturday 24 June 2017 at 7.45pm

Tickets: £15, £12 concessions (suitable for 12+)

Theatre website: www.brockleyjack.co.uk

 

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Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games Review

Mention Michael Flately and everyone immediately remembers Riverdance.  But over 20 years on from that breathtaking Eurovision Song Contest performance, his career has taken him on a new journey through his breakaway show Lord of the Dance, which he created, produced, directed and of course choreographed and debuted in 1996.

This in itself has evolved into Fleet of Flames and now the latest effort Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games, which is running at Leeds Grand Theatre this week

The show opens with the first ‘appearance’ from Flatley himself (via a large LED screen) alongside his son Michael St James Flatley telling the audience that 20 years ago ‘they said it couldn’t be done’ and of course he has proved ‘them’ wrong.  Flatley shares the choreography credit with Dance Director and Associate Choreographer, Marie Duffy Pask. For the most part, the company, small group and solo numbers, are wonderful, with all the trademark moves audiences have come to love, often with a modern twist.

The fast-paced tap routines and softer more lyrical numbers were highly impressive, enhanced by an array of spectacular and colourful costumes.

Flatley’s problem has always been how to fill out a show around the riverdancing. The story, which becomes clearer as the show progresses, is basically a tale of good versus evil.   The show includes few songs from Over the Rainbow runner up, Sophie Evans who has a beautiful voice which was sadly lost to huge noise of the band. With two beauty queens playing their violins – Giada Costenaro Cunningham and Nicole Lonergan and two more who fight for the love of the charismatic Lord of the Dance (James Keegan, Feral Keaney and Matt Smith sharing the role)

It acts out a dream by flute playing Little Spirit (Gymnast Jess Judge in an amazing lycra bodysuit which seemed to make her almost fluid like in her movements) in which The Lord of the Dance, representing all that is good battles against The Dark Lord (Tom Cunningham and Zoltan Papp sharing the role) and his army of Dark Disciples, representing all that is bad. He is pulled between his true love Saoirse ( played by Caroline Gray, Nikita Cassidy and Erin Kate Mcilravey) and the sensual seductress Morrighan (played by Andrea Kren and Mide Ni Bhaoill). The Dark Lord attempts to get Little Spirit’s beloved flute in a bid to snap it in two so he can have ultimate power and steal the title of Lord of the Dance.

There is no doubt that Keegan is an amazing dancer, his feet flying and snapping in the complex blur of steps that lie somewhere between flamenco and tap and he has a nice line in stiff legged leaps. But it is the second ‘appearance’ of Flatley towards the end that brings the house down, even if it is only via a trio of holograms of himself doing the dancing

While all the ‘E-words’ mentioned in the press release are true: Dangerous Games is “Extraordinary,” an “Extravaganza,” “Entertaining” and “Explosive”; the spectacle is also burdened with heavy cliché and generic imagery, as we dance to the predictable conclusion, where good prevails over evil and love conquers all.

The production values and execution, as mentioned, are excellent: The audio track of composer Gerard Fahey’s accessible and well-played score is full and crisp (Wigwam Acoustics Limited – Craig Burns). The lighting rig is modern and the design is sharp (Paul Normandale), as are the follow-spot operators. While the vibrant colour saturated AV sequences are impressive in size and scale (JA Digital), some of the content (JA Digital and Fractured Pictures) borders on corny, with butterflies, waterfalls and rainbows alongside flying fish and unicorns, to depict all things bright and beautiful.  Of course AV images of fire and brimstone; desolate lands and volcanic explosions take over, whenever the Dark Lord rises.

It is a beautiful show and highly energetic. If you like dancing then you are in for a real treat.  In Leeds until Saturday April 1st and on tour around the UK

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Jane Eyre An Autobiography Review

York Theatre Royal – 27 March 2017.  Reviewed by Marcus Richardson

Jane Eyre An Autobiography is the classic Emily Bronte Novel about a Governess; now adapted to stage as a one woman show performed by the very talented Rebecca Vaughan who performed onstage alone for an hour and a half. Now this could drain most actors by the end of the show, but her stamina and performance did not dwindle whatsoever.

 

She took the audience through her life as she recollected old memories. As we ventured into her past she took on the roles of other characters, there were quite a few, but her skill as an actress made sure we knew who she was portraying at that moment, even if you didn’t get the vocal and psychical change in character something in the dialogue will tell you who she is playing.

 

I absolutely love it when actors can multi-role with such skill, as some times characters get lost and it can be hard to find the difference between two characters, this was not the case. The script was also very good in setting the scene however at certain points it did feel rather long but what can you expect when working with a classic text.   The stage was in the black box studio, so the performance was up close and personal, the stage only had a small classic style sofa, this made sure all the focus is on the performer.  As it was so actor heavy, the lighting and sound played a huge part in the show. When scenes changed, or the mood, at certain points the lighting moved fluently along side it, the best aspect of lighting was the absence in some scenes as it made the audience really focus on Vaughan.

 

The play was very good and I enjoyed my night watching it as it takes you back to the time where we fall in love with female protagonists. DYAD productions focuses on classic texts whilst giving them an innovative and new style, if any show that come my way that’s under their name you’ll see me in the audience

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AMANDA ABBINGTON IN ABIGAIL’S PARTY

  • THEATRE ROYAL BATH PRODUCTIONS PRESENTS 40TH ANNIVERSARY PRODUCTION OF MIKE LEIGH’S ABIGAIL’S PARTY, DIRECTED BY SARAH ESDAILE AND STARRING AMANDA ABBINGTON
  • PRODUCTION IS CURRENTLY EMBARKING ON A UK TOUR WITH OFFICIAL OPENING NIGHT ON THURSDAY 6 APRIL AT OXFORD PLAYHOUSE

 

Theatre Royal Bath Productions has today released production photography of Mike Leigh’s Abigail’s Party starring Amanda Abbington and directed by Sarah Esdaile. Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the classic comedy, the production opened at Theatre Royal Bath and has its official opening night for press on Thursday 6 April at Oxford Playhouse before continuing on its UK Tour and to London’s West End.

Sherlock star Amanda Abbington will play Beverly. Ms Abbington will be joined by Ben Caplanas Laurence, Rose Keegan as Susan, Charlotte Mills as Angela and Ciarán Owens as Tony.

The drinks party from hell begins when Beverly and estate agent husband Laurence invite round new neighbours, Tony and Ange, along with nervous divorcee Sue, jittery about the bash her teenage daughter, Abigail, is throwing up the road. As that party gets out of hand, this one too descends into chaos.

Amanda Abbington is best known for her television work, with recent roles including ‘Mary Morstan’ in Sherlock, ‘Miss Mardle’ in Mr Selfridge and ‘DS Jo Moffat’ in Cuffs.

Ben Caplan most recently starred in Hedda Gabler (Salisbury Playhouse) and as Eddie Kassner inSunny Afternoon (Harold Pinter Theatre). He is also known for his role as PC Peter Noakes in the first five series of BBC’s Call The Midwife.

Rose Keegan’s stage credits include Alan Ayckbourn’s Bedroom Farce (Aldwych Theatre) andThe Revengers’ Comedies (Strand Theatre), Cunegonde in Candide and Peterchen inSugardollies (Gate Theatre).

Charlotte Mills played Tanya in the original production of Jerusalem at the Royal Court, then at the Apollo Theatre West End and The Music Box Theatre on Broadway. Other recent credits include The Two Gentlemen of Verona at Shakespeare’s Globe and The Winter’s Tale at the RSC.

Ciarán Owens’ theatre work includes Candide, Titus Andronicus and Mad World My Masters for the Royal Shakespeare Company and Oh! What A Lovely War (Theatre Royal Stratford East).

Sarah Esdaile directed Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads for Theatre Royal Bath’s 2015 Summer Season. She was Associate Director at West Yorkshire Playhouse where productions includedDeep Blue Sea starring Maxine Peake, Death of a Salesman with Philip Jackson and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

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World premiere of Wet Bread | Brighton Fringe | 9 – 14 May 2017

Wet Bread

Sweet Waterfront, Venue 18, King’s Road, Brighton, BN1 2QS

Tuesday 9th – Sunday 14th May 2017

Inspired by the aftermath of the 2015 General Election, the world premiere of Wet Bread comes to the Brighton Fringe. Written by BBC Trans Comedy Award winner Tom Glover, Wet Bread is a one-woman satire about left-wing activism in a right-wing world.

Adele can’t work out how the Tories are in power – everyone she knows voted Labour. The shocking aftermath of the election inspires her next mission: to change the world for the better in a year. Bring on 2016!

She’ll end fracking, help the homeless, save whole families from a life on welfare, teach her niece about charity, learn to do Twitter, keep Britain in Europe and dedicate her life to putting things right (not Right). Unfortunately, her mum’s cancer is getting worse, her best friend has all the wrong opinions and the love of her life won’t convert to veganism. It would all be so much better if everyone just agreed with her. But change doesn’t happen just because you want it to – can Adele learn to listen as well as shout?

Glover, an ex-BHASVIC student who was brought up nearby in Seaford, comments, It’s great to be back in Brighton, where I spent my sixth form years, returning with a play which feels very suited to the times and the city. As a teenager I was bemused and enthralled by the passionate campaigning of some of my fellow students and Wet Bread is an exploration of my middle-aged thoughts on some of my teenage friends and their views. I love the rebellious spirit of Brighton and my years growing up in the area have definitely influenced my work even years later.

From the producers of Valhalla (Theatre503 Playwriting Award Winner) and Dirty Promises (Off West End Award nominated, Best Director).

Wet Bread has been selected for Brighton Fringe’s Arts Industry Showcase WINDOW

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