Casting announcement for Cilla The Musical

FULL CASTING ANNOUNCED FOR

WORLD PREMIERE OF

CILLA THE MUSICAL

Andrew Lancel and Carl Au join the cast of Cilla the Musical written by BAFTA® award winning Jeff Pope, with it’s world premiere at the Liverpool Empire on 7th September.

 

Bill Kenwright’s new musical features: Andrew Lancel (Brian Epstein); Carl Au (Bobby); Amy Bridges (Rose Willis); Gemma Brodrick-Bower (Pauline); Paul Broughton (John White); Bill Caple (Ringo Starr); Tom Christian (Kenny Willis); Tom Dunlea (Hutch); Pauline Fleming (Big Cilla); Joshua Gannon (Paul McCartney); Billie Hardy (Pat); and Michael Hawkins (John Lennon).

They join the previously announced Kara Lily Hayworth as Cilla, who beat thousands of hopefuls in nationwide open auditions for the coveted role.

The musical reunites Tom Dunlea, Michael Hawkins and Gemma Brodrick-Bower, all of whom starred in Jeff Pope’s original ITV mini-series Cilla, on which the musical is based. It also reunites Andrew Lancel with the role of Epstein, which he played on stage to great critical acclaim in Epstein – The Man Who Made The Beatles. Andrew is best known to TV audiences as super-villain Frank Foster in Coronation Street and as DI Neil Manson in the long-running ITV television series The Bill.

The legendary Merseybeat sound is authentically performed live on stage by the cast who are completed by: Alan HowellJay OsbourneAlex HarfordWill KinnonJenny MurphyTom Sowinski; and Christopher Weeks.

CILLA – THE MUSICAL is the spectacular and heart-warming musical adaptation of the critically acclaimed hit ITV television series by Bafta-Award winner Jeff Pope (The MoorsidePhilomena,From The Cradle To The GraveMrs Biggs and the acclaimed Little Boy Blue which had ITV audiences glued to their screens). It tells the extraordinary story of the ordinary girl from Liverpool whose teenage dreams of stardom lead her to becoming one of Britain’s best-loved entertainers of all time.

It’s an introduction by a young John Lennon to music mogul Brian Epstein that changes Priscilla White’s life forever. By the age of just 25 she would be known as singer and TV Star Cilla Black, Number One selling artist and at the fore-front of the Brit-Pop music scene. The musical score is the ultimate soundtrack to the 60’s including Cilla’s greatest hits Anyone Who Had a HeartAlfie andSomething Tells MeTwist and Shout by the Beatles, California Dreamin by The Mamas and The Papas’ and many more.

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The Addams Family – The Musical Comedy Review

Lyric Theatre, The Lowry, Manchester – until 9 September.  Reviewed by Julie Noller

5*****

There has been a lot of hype surrounding The Addams Family, after press releases and appearances by the cast on various tv shows, I was very excited (possibly an understatement) to be asked to watch it at The Lowry and give my very humble opinions. My fifteen year old asked me was this the show with Wednesday? Could she come as she had seen clips shared on youtube and Facebook, obviously our future generation taking an interest in their own way. My interest came in remembering old black and white tv repeats dating from the 60’s strangely I would’ve been my daughters age when first watching them. We arrived in brilliant sunshine at the theatre walking the purple carpet a great touch and certainly impressed my teen. The prescence of more than one photographer told me this would be an event where we would see many celebrities, I quietly scuttled in after all I’m hardly worthy of Hello magazine. The Lowry Theatre with its welcoming environment and relaxed atmosphere meant sitting next to stars of Corronation Street – Les Dennis has walked those cobbled streets, so they were obviously supporting a fellow cast member and there to enjoy a good show.

The programme was not just a booklet this was a big glossy souvenir brochure, full of facts and photographs, I was very impressed and not for the last time.

The theatre was fairly slow to fill up but it was packed come curtain up, I noted the number of people taking selfies and including the stage backdrop with its wonderful ironggates monogrammed with A for Addams. They are afterall a family who do not shy away. There was also plenty in character dress, lots of plaits, some in fancy dress this really added to the atmosphere and reminded me of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The performance starts with The Addams Family theme tune, cue the audience clicking fingers at the right point, I noted the bemused look on my teens face a cross betweeen oh god Mum to everyones mad. I had prepared her via youtube of course but still a teens life is hard.

I was interested to learn that Charles Addams created his cartoon characters in the 1930’s which may explain cerain aspects of the family’s dress codes,

Gomez with his pinstripe suit for example it was great to see those touches from the tv show days remained. It may also explain those traits that seem exaggerated to my untrained eye and make perfect sense.

Did I enjoy the show? Of course it was fantastic, I don’t want to retell you the story I want to tell you my thoughts and feelings. Its quintessentially a love story that crosses many divides. It’s a story told with great humour, a musical that packs talent, it has stars who’s names are houshold names we all know them. Cameron Blakely may have reminded me of the late Bruce Forsyth but his spanish lilt never faltered, Samantha Womack as Morticia wow those legs such an impressive tango and what a transformation with the addition of the traditional black glossy hair. The biggest transformation had to be for Les Dennis as Uncle Fester his costume was amazing and singing in character well who knew? I did wonder if he would adlib at all but I do believe apart from jibes at the audience about cheap seats and mentioning Donald Trump at NATO he was well behaved. Grandma was my favourite character, naughty by age and able to blame age but was she actually a member of the family? Carrie Hope Fletcher as Wednesday wow wow wow what a voice, we both (teen and Mum) loved her dress, they should add those to the souvenir stall along with tshirts and mugs. Grant McIntyre as Pugsley with his high pitched screams giving the youth of today ideas. Dickon Gough as Lurch my teens favourite character she found him hilarious and totally unexpected (who doesn’t love a surprise) was his voice, I’m no expert but it’s powerful baritone richness raised the rafters.

I wish I could name everyone for special praise from Director Mathew White to Rhona McGregor who came on for Charlotte Page as Alice Beineke.

The Addams are they really depraved? Are they not just a typical family shown to the extreme, couldn’t we all sometimes just live life that little bit on the edge? What if the monster in the wardrobe was accepted? There is no PC correctness here, its all just accepted as humour and laugh we did. My favourite line had all Mums in the audience laughing before the punchline. Gomez asks Wednesday to say the words every Mother longs to hear….. you know it’s I’m sorry that’s coming, it bemused my teen that other Mums could think like me. Special Thanks for that life lesson.

The big musical numbers are reminiscent of early traditional musicals where stars would belt out numbers, I see Judy Garland on stage in my head. There was a touch of High School Musical when Wednesday and Lucas were together for the number ‘I’m crazier than you’ (I’m even singing it now to myself).

It is well deserving of 5***** why? Because it’s slick, music and songs powerful, memorable lines, fabulous costumes, my teen now wants to buy Dad a smoking jacket. Set design is eerie yet welcoming, I picture a house tucked away in Central Park. I haven’t even mentioned the Ensemble of ancestors who fill the stage and manage to stop the it from looking empty, there may be a lack of furniture for The Addams but people fill the space where material possessions are lacking. So go and see this much hyped show it’s guaranteed not to disappoint you.

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Leeds Legend to be Celebrated

DAZZLING TRIBUTE TO A TRUE LEEDS DANCE LEGEND

West Yorkshire Playhouse will be the venue for a unique and inspiring evening of dance on Sunday 8 October when Phoenix Dance Theatre and Northern School of Contemporary Dance join forces to pay tribute to Nadine Senior MBE, the Yorkshire-born dance pioneer and founding principle of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance who died in January 2016.

 

The evening promises to be a dazzling celebration of one of the most influential dance champions of her time who, through her educational vision, teaching and leadership, went on to inspire generations of dancers, choreographers, teachers and dance leaders worldwide.

 

Set to be a highlight of the Leeds dance calendar, the gala includes performances from Phoenix Dance TheatreNorthern School of Contemporary Dance (NSCD), Darshan Singh-BhullerRJC Dance and many guest artists, national and international, who worked with Nadine over the past 40 years including Birmingham-based ACE Music and DanceBalbir Singh Dance Company and work for NSCD’s Centre for Advanced Training students by Company Wayne McGregor.  The evening will also feature live music, film, poetry, and guest speakers including Akram Khan; all contributing in their own way to honour the life and work of an extraordinary woman.

 

A special performance of Robert North’s Troy Game – one of Nadine’s favourites – will be restaged by Julian Moss and performed by Phoenix Dance Theatre, RJC, Northern School of Contemporary Dance with guestsMartin HiltonPaul Liburd and Hugh Davies. Described by the New York Times as ‘a funny and sexy romp’,Troy Game is a tongue-in-cheek tribute to male machismo which has been performed by companies throughout the world since its premiere in 1974.

 

Sharon Watson, Phoenix Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director acknowledges Nadine’s crucial role in her own career ‘Like so many others, I would not be doing what I do today if it wasn’t for the inspiring leadership Nadine gave. I’m delighted that we can pay tribute to such a motivating and influential woman with an evening of amazing dance talent, all of whom she inspired.’

 

Janet Smith MBE, Principal of Northern School of Contemporary Dance said ‘I am delighted that Northern School of Contemporary Dance is collaborating with dance partners across the city and artists from the UK, Europe and the US in celebrating the visionary leadership of our founding Principal, Nadine Senior, and the continually resounding impact of her work. This will be a very special event for us in paying tribute to an extraordinary woman who championed the value of arts education from a young age in achieving the highest aspirations for all.’

 

Even with her passing, Nadine’s legacy will continue with proceeds from the event going towards a bursary to support young dancers. The event, jointly organised by Northern School of Contemporary Dance and Phoenix Dance Theatre has gained the support of Leeds City Council and Leeds BID.

 

 

The Celebration Gala for Nadine Senior is at West Yorkshire Playhouse on Sunday 8 October at 7pm

Tickets are on sale now priced from £15

Book online at wyp.org.uk or call the Box Office on 0113 213 7700

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Crazy For You Review

Leeds Grand Theatre – until 2 September 2017

3***

Crazy for You appears to be a classic comedy Broadway musical written in the roaring 20s. But this is a musical from the 90s, using classical songs written by George and Ira Gershwin.  Ken Ludwig’s quirky 1992 plot gave the Gershwin brothers this new feelgood hit, based on their 1930s Girl Crazy, but unashamedly adding some of their best-loved plums from elsewhere.  You are bound to recognise many of them, especially ‘I Got Rhythm’, ‘Embraceable You’, ‘Nice Work If You Can Get it’ and ‘Someone To Watch Over Me’.

It’s back to the 1930s and the first stop is Bela Zangler’s theatre in New York. Bobby Child is the son of a wealthy banking family, but yearns for a career singing and dancing. But Mr Zangler is unimpressed with Bobby’s talents and the stage-struck wannabe is sent out west by his mother to repossess a local theatre there. When he arrives in Deadrock, Nevada, he immediately falls for Polly whose father owns the theatre. Desperate to help save the venue, Bobbly disguises himself as Zangler and rounds up some dancers to put on a show and raise much-needed funds. But Bobby’s plans go awry when Polly falls in love with his alter ego.  Things take a turn for the worse when the real Zangler turns up with hilarious results; the mirror scene is exceedingly clever and funny.

The story isn’t overly riveting, but it’s saving grace is that it does not really take itself too seriously and there is plenty of wit and wry humour to make the plot more palatable.

With TV’s Casualty and Strictly Come Dancing star Tom Chambers and Caroline Flack billed as the stars of the show it is really Charlotte Wakefield (Polly) who drives the production.  A powerhouse of a performer, she sings and dances and acts sublimely.  Chambers is the unwilling banker who would rather perform in a theatre than close it down. He might not have a show-stopping singing voice but his dancing is superb and the audience loved his charm.  Flack had a tiny part, with one song in the second act.  Hollie Cassar’s resourceful Tess proves a real leader, not just of the sparkling Follies’ girls, but knocking the cowboys into shape as a useful men’s chorus (Arthur Boan, Matthew Hinchcliffe, Ned Rudkins-Stow).

Those girls, Cassar, with Abi Casson Thompson, Serena Sandham-Davies Emma Jane Morton and Kate Robson-Stuart radiate glamour and good-heartedness, looking gorgeous in sweet-wrapper bright bodices and smiling through Nathan M Wright’s marvellous routines, often choreographed for dancers simultaneously playing instruments.  Sixteen terrific actor/musicians share the stage with the audience, spilling out of Diego Pitarch’s ingeniously busy many-levelled set, working as theatre, saloon, street and desert, thanks also to Howard Hudson’s cunning lighting.

Stacey Ghent and Kieran Kuypers shine as Patricia and Eugene Fodor, the writers of the travel guides, who turn up in Deadrock as the shows only audience. And Neil Ditt is amusing as the real Zangler.

Crazy For You has no underlying pretensions about being anything other than what it actually is – great entertainment that enables one to escape the frustrations of daily life, for just over two blissful hours in Leeds, gloom is banished and spirits soar during this show.  In Leeds until Saturday and on tour around the UK

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The 1st Fairy Powered Productions Edinburgh Fringe Awards

I am incredibly pleased and proud to announce the winners of the very first Edinburgh Fringe Awards.

Positions were decided via the sites analytics, these included the newly introduced star system, the comments on the site and the social media interaction – likes and retweets etc.

Overall Winner

Tom Binns – Ivan Brackenbury’s 10 Year Anniversary Party and Tom Binns is Ian D Montfort: Ian Talk Three

Best Comedy

The Saloon Boys – Curse of the Mummy

Best Solo Performance

Tape Face

Best Drama

Victim (Bruised Sky Productions)

Best Musical

SiX

Best Improvisation

Any Suggestions Doctor

Best Family Show

The First Hippo on the Moon

Best New Writing

tie Not Lady Chatterley’s Lover (Happy Idiot) and Fat Rascal Theatre for Buzz and Tom and Bunny Save the World

Girl Power Award

2 Become 1

 

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Young Frankenstein Preview

Newcastle Theatre Royal – until 9 September

5*****

I was lucky enough to have a ticket for the first night of Young Frankenstein in Newcastle.  As its not had it official press night I’ll try not to spoil anything but this preview should hopefully whet your appetite.

The legend that is Mel Brookes was in the Toon for the first night and made a speech at the end of the show.  And we were introduced to the production by Director, Susan Stroman.

If you’ve seen the film or if you’ve been lucky enough to see the musical previously then you know its hilarious, but if this is your first visit – then you are in for a treat.

Hadley Fraser (Frederick Frankenstein), Inga (Summer Strallen), Frau Blücher (Lesley Joseph) and Ross Noble (Igor) lead the wonderful cast supported by Dianne Pilkington (Elizabeth), Inspector Kemp (Patrick Clancy) and Shuler Hensley (The Monster) and the incredibly talented ensemble (Imogen Brooke, Nathan Elwick, Andrew Gordon-Watkins, Sammy Kelly, Perry O’Dea, Pichard Pitt, Harriet Samuel-Gray, Gemma Scholes, Josh Wilmott, Bethan Downing, Kelly Ewins-Prouse, Emily Squibb, Matthew Whennell- Clark, Aron Wild)

The show is side-splittingly funny with spoken, physical and visual jokes.  And it must be seen to be believed when the Monster sings and dances his way through “Puttin’ on the Ritz”.

Everything about this show is fabulous from Beowulf Boritt’s magnificent set, William Ivey Long’s costumes and Andrew Hilton’s musical direction.  Mel Brookes music and lyrics are clever, witty and, in some places, downright rude – which actually adds to the humour.

I can only say go and see this show, because you’ll regret if you don’t.  In Newcastle until 9 September and moving into the Garrick Theatre, London from 28 September

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Dreamboats and Petticoats Review

Mayflower Theatre, Southampton – until 26 August 2017.  Reviewed by Karen Millington Burnet

3***

What a lovely, balmy, late autumn evening to be out and about, but definitely an opening night of two halves. The Man of the Match was always going to be the charmingly demure Elizabeth Carter’s Laura who, amongst a cast still warming up for much of the early numbers, shone from the first with her nicely observed portrayal of the hesitant 15 year old finding her feet in the uncertain world of 1950s adolescent relationships.  I was very uncertain about Alistair Higgins’ Bobby; in part we were put off by a pre-show announcement that it wasn’t to be him at all, but I was told by the lighting technicians after the show that it was! Well, whoever it was, the character of Bobby grew and eventually I came to the conclusion the player must be quite a talented performer with a naturally cheeky character; I’d like to think that in real life he has a streak of impishness in him and he’s probably quite a “cool” guy.  By the end I warmed to him; he certainly warmed to the part – and I rather liked him, even though his portrayal was understated in a performance which asked for more.  

My 17 year old niece who accompanied me fell for David Luke’s Ray and I have to admit that by the end I must agree…a really talented performer. The cast were lifted by the seasoned, steady hand on the tiller of Jimmy Johnston playing Phil and by Mike Lloyd’s wonderful stable of comic fellows who underpinned the performance.  I was blown away by the range of musical talents amongst the whole company but just wished there was slightly more of the high octane energy the script demanded, especially between the musical numbers – body language counts for so much in a performance like this; characters can’t just walk around the stage.  Nevertheless, it was very evident the musical score touched the sweet spot with this Southampton audience who needed little encouragement to get their feet; well done to Elizabeth Carter for making the first contact.

Huge strawberries to all the musicians – I loved the guitars and the brass, wood wind, keyboards and drums made for a great sound.  Yet again – a perennial complaint of mine at the Mayflower – I think the sound technicians need to up their game. Some of the less strong voices get lost amongst the instruments and while the sound system was not pushed to the limits as it has been in other performances, it is still not as crystal clear as I would expect for this venue…come on Mayflower, you can do better!

For the remainder of the Tech crew, good effort all round: top marks. And the same goes for the choreography and costumes: slick changes and crisp moves around a good stage set gave me confidence the show can only get better as the run progresses. Not a great opening night, but not at all bad and with huge promise for the forthcoming week – a huge thank you

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The Wedding Singer Review

Leeds Grand Theatre – until 26 August 2017

4****

Adapted from the 1998 film The Wedding Singer written by Tim Herlihy and starring Herlihy’s college mate Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, Matthew Sklar (Music) and Chad Beguelin (Lyrics) with a book by Herlihy and Beguelin have concocted a musical that is high on comedy and outrageously catchy.

Set in 1985, The Wedding Singer tells the story of New Jersey wedding singer and rock star wannabe, Robbie Hart, who is the life of the party until his own fiancée Linda leaves him at the altar. Enter Julia, a winsome waitress who wins his affection; however Julia is about to be married to Wall Street shark Glen Gulia. Can Robbie stop the girl of his dreams being lost forever?

I must confess I have never seen the film so this was new territory for me and I loved it. Although this isn’t a juke-box musical, the songs are reminiscent of the period, I was expecting to hear the sounds of the 80’s but this is whole new score with specially written songs which were all lovely bouncy jolly tunes with lyrics that really get in your head and have you singing for days after.  It was lovely to hear new songs and not reliant on a back catalogue of old ones.  

The relatively young ensemble show off their talent when they all get their individual time to shine with solo’s and dancing and whilst I loath to pick on individuals when everyone is fabulous, bandmates Ashley Emerson’s blokey Sammy and Samuel Holmes’ George are wonderful and Mark Pearce is a definite star especially in the male misery song “Single”. This offers a standout moment as all the boys drown their sorrows in a bar, giving Director Nick Winston’s choreography a chance to shine through.

Charismatic West End star Jon Robyns steals the show as the wedding singer of the title. Onstage for seventeen of the show’s musical numbers, he sings and dances with an easy grace and is instantly likeable as wannabe rocker Robbie Hart, with a nice line in comedy.  Helping to mend his jilted heart is waitress Julia, played by Casey Compton, who has a personality as big as her voice. There’s an obvious rapport between them, essential for the success of the show, and they can certainly belt out a song.  Glen Gulia played by Ray Quinn more than holds his own, almost stealing the show with his big second-act hymn of praise to the American dollar, “All About the Green”.

Stephanie Clift is  Holly, Julia’s cousin who is just a girl wanting to have fun. Dressed in the tiny and bright fashions of the 80’s, she is full of fun and personality, with a massive voice which carries her solo’s well.  Described by Grandma Rosie as a ‘skanky whore’, Tara Verloop’s Linda, who dumps Robbie on their wedding day, is hilarious as she puts on a routine worthy of a high class lap-dancer in “Let Me Come Home”.  Veteran Ruth Madoc is Robbie’s Grandma Rosie, who, despite her comparatively small role, certainly makes the most of it and gains one of the loudest applause of the evening with her acrobatic skills, who knew she could dance so well!

There were a few technical difficulties on the night, which I am sure will be remedied by now, but it didn’t overly spoil the enjoyment of the show.  On a positive note the energy and enthusiasm of the performers can not be faulted.  All the elements are there: with a cast as strong as this one, it makes for a cracking show with exuberant energy in this feel-good, romantic movie, live on stage…It’s destined for the West End

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CRAZY FOR YOU AT LEEDS GRAND THEATRE

CRAZY FOR YOU AT LEEDS GRAND THEATRE

Crazy For You, the Gershwin brothers high-energy, high-kicking and gloriously glamorous feel-good musical, is set to run at Leeds Grand Theatre from Tuesday 29th August 2017 for one week only.
Starring Olivier Award-nominees Tom Chambers (Top Hat, Strictly Come Dancing, Casualty) and Charlotte Wakefield (Sophie in ‘Mamma Mia!’, Truly Scrumptious in ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’), and Love Island presenter Caroline Flack (Strictly Come Dancing, The X Factor), Crazy For You is a celebration of the great Broadway musicals and features many memorable tracks, including ‘I Got Rhythm’, ‘They Can’t Take That Away From Me’, ‘Nice Work If You Can Get It’ and ‘Embraceable You’.
A tale of mistaken identities, plot twists, heartbreak and happiness, the national tour has been produced by the Watermill Theatre and directed by Artistic Director, Paul Hart.

Crazy For You is at Leeds Grand Theatre from Tuesday 29th August to Saturday 2nd September 2017

 

Tickets are priced from £24.50 (restricted viewing) to £46.50

(prices include a £3 booking fee. Postage charge £1 where applicable)

 

Book online at leedsgrandtheatre.com or call Box Office on 0844 848 2700

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Not: Lady Chatterley’s Lover Review

Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Sweet Venues – until 28 August.  Reviewed by Jessica Brady

5*****

The Happy Idiot presents a new LOOSELY based version of the controversial novel by D.H Lawrence ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ with hilarious results. As a new company they couldn’t have picked a better story to reinvent and put such a unique spin on!

The show follows the newly married Lady Chatterley or Connie as she’s more affectionately known [played by Amy Millns] and war wounded Lord Chatterley [played by Lawrence Russell] as they struggle to adjust to their new lives together since his return from the war. Connie seeks solace and comfort from the lower class grounds man, Mellors [played by Wesley Griffith] while a maid, Mrs Bolton [played by Rebecca McClay] is employed to care for her husband. True to the original, Mellors and Connie strike up an intense relationship that awakens her they fall in love.

The show does follow the general premise of the novel but with all the boring bits missed out and revamped to give you the highlights of the highly sexualised nature of the original text which works so well. Russell has cleverly written a script that mocks all the controversy of the novel and pushes it to the extremes which makes for some wonderful moments of physical comedy and brilliantly sarcastic gags. It is literally a laugh a minute show with all 4 performers striking that perfect balance of taking their roles seriously and completely ridiculing them and the antics that they all get up to. It has so much charm that you can’t help but go along with the story despite it being such an over the top version.

Though limited with space in their venue, that doesn’t stop this crew bringing the complete package of what a fringe show needs, their set was basic but their attention to detail with period costume and props definitely sets the scene and helps you as an audience member to get on board with a nod to original novel (excluding a couple of shocking twists regarding fishnets and balloons which I won’t spoil for you!).

The cast are all excellent in their roles as they manage to get you on side with the outrageous nature of what they are presenting and have no qualms in stripping off, making what some performers find quite uncomfortable effortless and thrive off the sheer raucousness. They all have strong chemistry and do not shy away from the sex or innuendoes but rather embrace them and flaunt it!

Not: Lady Chatterley’s Lover is an hour of perfect fringe fun and will quite simply leave you wiping the tears of laughter from your face. For a small room Happy Idiot really pack a punch and I challenge any audience not to enjoy this! It’s filthy, crude and sexy in the best possible way and I can only hope that it gets to be developed further as it deserves to go far! Go catch this shockingly brilliant show at Sweet Venues and get ready to have your sides split!

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