Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Review

Metro Radio Arena – until 31 December 2017


The posters proclaim that Joe is Joseph and what a magnificent Joseph he is.

After almost 400 performances this tour bows out at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena meaning that Joe McElderry can spend Christmas at home for the first time in 5 years and he has a 15 minute home to work commute.

McElderry leads the cast in the title role of Joseph and plays him perfectly. He has such likeability and outstanding vocals that come effortlessly in particular when singing Close Every Door, which shows a massive range of emotion and totally deserved the mid-show standing ovation, that it’s easy to get swept into the story and not want it to end. Trina Hill plays the Narrator and has that warm and familiar personal touch that lets you know it’s all going to turn out ok in the end as well as belting out some impressive vocals that elevate most of the songs that make this production very special. We get an equally as strong performance from previous Joseph alumni, Ben James-Ellis as the Elvis inspired Pharaoh and his breakout number where he explains his troubling dreams to Joseph was a total highlight.

But this is an ensemble piece and all the performers are excellent, Henry Metcalfe (Jacob) and the brothers – Joseph Peacock, Ben Beechey, Richard J Hunt, Craig Nash, Michael Colbourne, Michael Lapham, Matt Jolly, Will Breckin, Tatenda Madamombe and Adam Strong perform a variety of musical styles 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.  All aided by Sallie-Beth Lawless, Anna Campkin and Gemma Pipe with Kevin Grogan swinging in when needed.  With a choir of children harmonising beautifully.

The performers, the story, a beautiful set and dazzling costumes, it’s safe to say that this production packs a punch and has you dancing in the aisles.   And a special mention must go out to the production staff and riggers who managed to build a magnificent movable set complete with flies in less than 48 hours

Joseph is 50 next year and it’s easy to see why it’s endured the test of time.  Produced and Directed by the incredibly lovely Bill Kenwright, Tim Rice’s lyrics and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music are so familiar it’s impossible not to sing along.  From the overture to the Joseph Mega-mix ending, Joseph is the musical equivalent of putting on pyjamas and slippers, warm and comforting.  I urge anyone who is feeling a little drab with the dark night’s and cold weather coming to see this uplifting production as you can’t help leaving the theatre with a huge smile on your face and enjoying a great musical classic

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Review

Darlington Hippodrome – until 14 January 2018


The “Fairest Panto in all the Land” has arrived at the newly and beautifully refurbished Hippodrome in Darlington.  And there are many, many references to the name and decor change in this show.

Local lass, Zoe Birkett stole the show as Queen Sadista, the wicked Aunt of Snow White.  She belted out a fabulous panto-adapted version of Queen of the Night whilst flying into the audience astride a magnificent flying dragon that ended up the first act.

Australia’s Got Talent star, Natasha Hoeberigs plays Snow White .  I hope she’s prepared for winter in the North East of England after Christmas in Australia.  Her singing voice is beautiful and controlled, and it is a shame she doesn’t get more singing to do in this production.  Comic relief comes in the form of Teesside comedian Patrick Monahan, who along with Muddles, Liam Mellor, has some of the funniest lines in the show and between them manages to rip Prince Lee (Lee Ryan) to shreds.  Lots of jokes about renaming Blue to Beige now they’ve got older and how it was a pity Duncan James and Anthony Costa weren’t available.  Glamour comes in the form of Dame Nora Crumble (Eric Potts – who also Directed the show) with some stunning and surreal costumes.  The “Magnicent Seven” were normal sized actors shuffling on their knees which can’t be comfortable and may explain why their appearances were few and far between.

With a fine ensemble of dancers and the Joanne Banks Dancers for the cute kids this is full of all the the traditional panto staples but also with some fabulous effects.  I especially liked the Magic Mirror where previous panto stars appeared to point out how lovely the new Hippodrome was and how Queen Sadista wasn’t – great cameo’s from The Krankies, The Chuckle Brothers and Brendan Sheerin

As one would expect from Qdos, the production values are very high, so it is glamorous and glitzy, but this has not got in the way of the genuine panto feel, a little fairy dust is sprinkled and everything is transformed into a happy, sparkly world guaranteed to leave you with a huge grin on your face.

Aladdin Review

Richmond Theatre – until 14 January.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick


Qdos brings Aladdin to Richmond with some flashy pyrotechnics and lighting, but this production is no magic carpet ride. The production sticks to the traditional plot, and writers Jonathan Kiley and Alan McHugh have included all the elements carved in the 10 Commandments of Panto, but there’s a little magic missing from this Aladdin that needs a powerful genie to remedy.

Christopher Biggins as Widow Twankey is unbelievably restrained, showcasing increasingly ridiculous costumes, but with none of his usual energy. I’m not sure if he’s under the weather or not, but this felt like Lukewarm was performing in Slade prison panto, rather than the Biggins dame we are used to. Count Arthur Strong is used much better than in last year’s Cinderella – with running jokes about Ming’s entrance music changing the children’s initial bemusement at his schtick into shared laughter with the adults. Issy van Randwyck as Scheherazade and Bob Harms as Abanazar bring some musical clout to the proceedings, with their voices adding dramatic power to Better the Devil You Know, and Harms relishing every over the top evil deed. Rikki Jay’s Wishy Washy is a fantastic 1980’s throwback while Denquar Chupak and AJ Jenks are a sweet, but woefully underused Princess Jasmine and Aladdin.

The traditional cast panto song is a triumph, with Count Arthur Strong, for the second year in a row, being battered with various objects whilst struggling in and out of a tutu – worth the ticket price for that scene alone. Biggins’ dame song with children from the audience comes perilously close to boredom – he looks fed up himself at times – but is saved by the children themselves doing whatever unpredictable 6-year olds do. Rikki Jay’s version of the supermarket trolley monologue is a joy, and the appearance of the genie brought gasps from the youngest members of the audience.

Paul Robinson’s choreography to well-chosen pop songs raises the energy levels, and the talented ensemble of only six dancers and eight children fill the stage with the urgency and vigour that the rest of the production lacks.

This is an enjoyable show, with some fine performances and some very funny routines, but, as a complete production, this lamp needs a lot more polish before your panto wishes come true.

Desert Dust at The Star of Bethlehem Review

Blue Elephant Theatre – 13 December.  Reviewed by Claire Roderick


The Dot Collective takes theatre and workshops to groups that would otherwise not access the arts, travelling to care communities in the South East. Through workshops in dementia cafés, sharing and exploring the ideas and memories of participants, writer Alexander Moschos created Desert Dust at the Star of Bethlehem as part of the Once Upon A Christmas Song project. The workshops took place in October, when London experienced those spectacular and eerily coloured skies as Saharan dust clouds blew in, and this becomes a major plot point in the show.

Using puppets, actor-musicians and traditional Christmas songs, Desert Dust is a charming version of the Nativity set in a London pub. Andy and Tina – exquisitely crafted puppets brought to life expertly by Chris Levens and Ariel Harrison – live with their Auntie Anne, but Tina dreams of leaving home. Seeing the Saharan dust in the sky as a sign that it’s time for her to join her Tuareg brothers in the desert, she plans her departure, but can’t quite cajole her Auntie or her Nan into giving her enough money. Meanwhile, lonely Andy tries to befriend the mysterious Mr Shepherd who lodges in the pub. As the residents of the pub go about their business on the night before Christmas, two strangers sneak into the building looking for shelter. The other characters are all played by Sonya Cullingford and Toby Lee, with quiet but finely judged performances that allow the child characters to shine.

There are cheesy jokes, slightly risqué jokes, but mostly an air of joy and general loveliness about the whole production. The children’s roles are sensitively written, and it doesn’t take long to start relating to the puppets as real people, thanks to the natural performances of the actors. When Andy tentatively puts his hand on Mr Shepherd’s knee or shoulder, or clutches his Mr Rabbit for comfort, it gets even more emotional than if this were a real child.

The innocent way that the children accept the plight of Mariya and Yusef, and help them unquestioningly, eloquently highlights the immorality of some attitudes towards refugees and migrants, and raises questions about how Mary and Joseph would have been treated in the modern world. The story is carried along by gorgeous renditions of Christmas carols that Andy has learned from his old music teacher. These are performed beautifully by the cast, and arranged by Toby Lee. The harmonies will give you goose bumps, and there’s even a singalong at the end.

Watching the production in a small theatre was spellbinding, with people around me describing the show as heart-warming, delightful, and charming. The Dot Collective take this production into care homes and communities, and I can only imagine the magic and joy they create there.

Jack and the Beanstalk Review

York Theatre Royal – until 3 February 2018.  Reviewed by Marcus Richardson


Ever year the people of York prepare for Christmas in traditional York fashion, and like tradition the pantomime at York Theatre Royal always breaks pantomime traditions (Try that for a tongue twister). This year we were given ‘Jack And The Beanstalk’ which doesn’t follow that plot that most of us know. But then I find it hard to say there is a plot. Like last years pantomime I arrived in the nick of time with great expectations; last year they were met, this year not so much, it’s become a very in crowd and the inside jokes leave a lot of people clueless.

Berwick Kaler once again is the Dame of the panto for 39th time. The longest running dame, also takes on the task of writing and co-directing the show. Martin Barrass who is part of the iconic mother and son duo with Kaler returned after a motorbike accident. The Couple both coming back from broken limbs and heart surgery made a fair few jokes about it on stage. If you knew the whole story it’s hilarious but if your new to it you can feel left out. Suzy Cooper returning as the blond bombshell who’s only 18 for a lot more than 18 years. I love returning to see the same faces, giving the pantomime a family feel. The more shows you see the more you will enjoy. You can be part of the inside joke circle. Knowing all the jokes. Parts of it felt flat this year, and even though it was only the second show, under-rehearsed. David Leonard who infamously plays the Villain took on the role of Dr. Macabre gave the role his usual flair that people love to hate. It is a marmite show you either love it.

For me I love it, returning from Manchester for, however a am a tad let down, I still enjoyed it, but it didn’t measure up to the previous pantomimes I saw at York Theatre Royal. Both the show and cast still managed to make me laugh with its wacky jokes and bizarre plot.









Producer Karl Sydow is delighted to announce that an all new tour of Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage will be mamboing back into theatres in 2018.


The sensationally sexy show opens at Brighton Theatre Royal on Thursday 20 September 2018 before touring to Dartford, York, Stoke, Hastings, Southend, Birmingham, Preston, London (New Wimbledon Theatre) Plymouth and Oxford – with further dates to be announced.


Full of passion and romance, heart-pounding music and sensational dancing, the classic story of Baby and Johnny, featuring the hit songs ‘Hungry Eyes’‘Hey! Baby’‘Do You Love Me?’ and the heart-stopping ‘(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life’, is hitting the road again by popular demand. This new tour follows the 2016/17 tour that played to sold out audiences over a 12 month period and took over £13 million in ticket sales, 3 blockbuster West End runs, multiple sell out UK tours and numerous international productions.


Casting to be announced.


It’s the summer of 1963, and 17 year-old Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman is about to learn some major lessons in life as well as a thing or two about dancing.


On holiday in New York’s Catskill Mountains with her older sister and parents, she shows little interest in the resort activities, and instead discovers her own entertainment when she stumbles across an all-night dance party at the staff quarters. Mesmerised by the raunchy dance moves and the pounding rhythms, Baby can’t wait to be part of the scene, especially when she catches sight of Johnny Castle, the resort dance instructor.


Her life is about to change forever as she is thrown in at the deep end as Johnny’s leading lady both on-stage and off, and two fiercely independent young spirits from different worlds come together in what will be the most challenging and triumphant summer of their lives.


Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage originally opened at London’s Aldwych Theatre in 2006 with a record-breaking advance of £15 million, making it the fastest ever selling show in West End theatre history. The production became the longest running show in the history of the Aldwych Theatre and played to over 2 million people during its triumphant 5 year run.


Since its Australian debut in 2004, Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage has become a worldwide phenomenon, with productions staged in the USA, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, South Africa, Hong Kong, Singapore and throughout Europe, consistently breaking box office records. Recent sell out tours include France, Germany and Australia. The first ever UK tour of Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story On Stage launched in 2011 and then returned to the West End in 2013 playing at the Piccadilly Theatre in London, prior to launching a second UK and Ireland tour. A further tour and West End Christmas season followed in 2016/17.


Produced by Karl Sydow & Joye Entertainment in association with Lionsgate, Magic Hour Productions and Triple A Entertainment Group, and written by Eleanor Bergstein – script writer of the phenomenally successful 1987 film – the production features the much-loved characters and original dialogue from the iconic film, as well as exciting extra scenes.

#dirtydancing /@ddonstage


Thu 20 – Sat 29 September

Brighton Theatre Royal

0844 871 7650

On Sale Tuesday 19 December 2pm


Mon 1 – Sat 6 October

Dartford Orchard Theatre

01322 220 000

On Sale Friday 15 December 9am


Mon 8 – Sat 13 October

York Grand Opera House

0844 871 3024

On Sale Tuesday 19 December 2pm


Mon 15 – Sat 20 October

Stoke Regent Theatre

0844 871 7649

On Sale Tuesday 19 December 2pm


Mon 22 – Sat 27 October

Hastings White Rock Theatre

01424 462 288

On Sale Friday 15 December 9am


Mon 29 October – Sat 3 November

Southend Cliffs Pavillion

01702 351 135

On Sale Friday 15 December 9am


Mon 5 – Sat 10 November

Birmingham New Alexandra Theatre

0844 871 7647

On Sale Tuesday 19 December 2pm

Mon 12 – Sat 17 November

Preston Guild Hall

01772 804 444

On Sale Friday 15 December 9am


Mon 19 – Sat 24 November

London New Wimbledon Theatre

0844 871 7646

On Sale Tuesday 19 December 2pm


Mon 26 November – Sat 1 December

Plymouth Pavilions

0845 146 1460

On Sale Friday 15 December 9am


Mon 3 – Sat 8 December

Oxford New Theatre

0844 871 3020

On Sale Tuesday 19 December 2pm







  • Cast announced for THE TURN OF THE SCREW co-produced with English National Opera
  • William Morgan shares The Prologue and the role of Peter Quint with recently announced ENO Harewood Artist Elgan Llŷr Thomas
  • Nadine Livingston and Rachael Lloyd share the role of Miss Jessel
  • Janis Kelly and Sarah Pring share the role of Mrs Grose
  • ENO Harewood Artist Rhian Lois shares the role of the Governess with Anita Watson


Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre have today announced the casting The Turn of the Screw, a co-production with English National Opera, which plays 22 – 30 June as part of their 2018 season. Two casts will play on alternate performances.

The Prologue and role of Peter Quint will be shared by Elgan Llŷr Thomas and William MorganElgan Llŷr Thomas makes his English National Opera debut as a new ENO Harewood Artist having also covered the role of Count Almaviva in The Barber of Seville. A 2016/17 Scottish Opera Emerging Artist, credits include The Elixir of Love, and The Trial with other credits including Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Mananan International Festival), Paul Bunyan (Welsh National Youth Opera) and Eugene Onegin (Garsington Opera). He is currently singing in The Barber of Seville with the Theatre des Champs-Elysees.

Previously for English National Opera, William Morgan has appeared in The Day After and Between Worlds (ENO at the Barbican) and Le Comte Ory (ENO’s Opera Works programme at Sadler’s Wells. Other notable credits include L’Orfeo (Bayerische Staatsoper), Hippolyte et Aricie (Glyndebourne), The Rake’s Progress (European Tour) and as Anthony in Sweeney Todd (Longborough Festival).


Miss Jessel will be played by Nadine Livingston and Rachael Lloyd. Nadine Livingston, Scottish Opera Emerging Artist 2009-2011 has appeared as Mimi and Musetta in La bohème, Micaela in Carmen, Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, and appears as Nedda in their 2018 production of Pagliacci. Other notable credits include Eugene Onegin (Ryedale Festival) The MinotaurGloriana and The Ring Cycle (Royal Opera House), as well as extensive Oratorio and Concert appearances.

For English National Opera, Rachael Lloyd has appeared in The Day AfterThe Magic Flute, and as Pitti-Sing in The Mikado. Other notable credits include Carmen (Raymond Gubbay), Lucia di Lammermoor and Madama Butterfly (Royal Opera House), Giulio Cesare (Glyndebourne) and A Little Night Music (Théâtre du Châtelet).

Mrs Grose will be played by Janis Kelly and Sarah Pring.  Janis Kelly has performed with English National Opera for over 30 years, and takes the role of Marcellina in The Marriage of Figaro in Spring 2018. She received worldwide acclaim for her portrayal of the title role in Rufus Wainwright’s Prima Donna, which she performed at the Manchester International Festival (World Premiere), Sadler’s Wells, Toronto, Portland, in concert at the Royal Opera House and Teatro Real, Madrid, and is now available on CD. Other recent appearances include Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd (Welsh National Opera), Mrs Nixon in Nixon in China(Metropolitan Opera, New York/Omroep Muziek/English National Opera), Lady Billows in Albert Herring (Los Angeles Opera) and Hazel George in the World Premiere of Philip Glass’ The Perfect American (Teatro Real, Madrid/English National Opera).


Sarah Pring has previously appeared with English National Opera in Lucia di LammermoorJenufa, and reprises her performance as Mrs Alexander in Satyagraha in February 2018.  Other recent credits include Lady Bertram in Mansfield Park (The Grange Festival), Mother in Hansel and Gretel (Opera North), Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro (Welsh National Opera) and, at the Royal Opera House, as Berta in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Giovanna in Rigoletto, and Annina in La traviata.

The role of the Governess will be played by Anita Watson and Rhian LoisAnita Watson has previously appeared as the Governess in The Turn of the Screw (La Fenice, Venice), Die Zaubrflöte and as Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel (Royal Opera House), Don Giovanni (Australian Opera/Nederlandse Reisopera/ Landestheater Salzburg/Scottish Opera/Teatro La Fenice, Venice), as Mimi in La bohème  and as Anne Trulove in The Rake’s Progress (Teatro Municipal de Santiago).

Rhian Lois is an ENO Harewood Artist, taking the role of Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro in Spring 2018. Previous English National Opera credits include Atalanta in Xerxes, Musetta in La bohème, Frasquita in Carmen, Papagena in The Magic FlutePeter GrimesBetween Worlds and The Passenger. Other notable credits include Figaro Gets a Divorce (Grand Théâtre de Genève), Die Fladermaus (Welsh National Opera), Don Giovanni (Santa Fe) and The Magic Flute (Royal Opera House).

The roles of Flora and Miles will be announced in due course.


Artistic Director of Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Timothy Sheader, directs The Turn of the Screw, which plays 10 performances from 22 June – 30 June 2018. ENO Mackerras Fellow Toby Purser conducts members of the ENO orchestra, and the production is designed by Soutra Gilmour. Completing the creative team, lighting design is by Jon Clark, sound design by Nick Lidster for Autograph, and casting by ENO Head of Casting, Michelle WilliamsBarbara Houseman is the Season Associate Director (Voice and Text) for the 2018 season.

This story of unearthly encounters at a remote country house, and of a young governess desperate to protect her children, finds chilling new levels of suspense in this unique outdoor production of Benjamin Britten’s masterly reworking of Henry James’ classic novella.


Other productions in the 2018 season at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre are Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie (17 May – 15 June), Shakespeare’s As You Like It (06 July – 28 July) and Little Shop of Horrors (03 August – 15 September), book and lyrics by Howard Ashman, music by Alan Menken, based on the film by Roger Corman with screenplay by Charles Griffith.




Box Office 0844 826 4242* |

Inner Circle, Regent’s Park, London, NW1 4NU

Social Media

Twitter: @OpenAirTheatre / #OAT2018 / #TheTurnoftheScrew

Facebook, Google+: RegentsParkOpenAirTheatre

*Lines open from 9am – 9pm. £1.50 per ticket telephone booking fee applies. Calls cost 7p per minute plus your telephone company’s usual access charge.




Regent’s Park Theatre and English National Opera

The Turn of the Screw

Music by Benjamin Britten  Libretto by Myfanwy Piper

After a story by Henry James

Directed by Timothy Sheader

Friday 22 June – 30 June

First preview: 22 June

Press Night: Monday 25 June (7.45pm)


Monday – Saturday @ 7.45pm (gates 6.15pm)

Wednesday & Saturday @ 2.15pm (gates 12.45pm)

no matinee 23 June



The Turn of the Screw: £25 – £55


Season Ticket

Available when purchasing a ticket for all of the following productions in the 2018 season at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in the same transaction: The Turn of the ScrewPeter PanAs You Like It and Little Shop of Horrors.


Band A Season Ticket: £185 (saving of up to £39)

Band B Season Ticket: £145 (saving of up to £38)

  • No per-ticket online or telephone booking fee; a one-off £4.50 telephone transaction fee applies.
  • Cannot be combined with any other concession or discount.
  • All tickets must be booked in the same transaction and in the same price band.



£2 off all prices during previews

Early Bird: £5 off price bands A – C during previews when booked before 30 April 2018


Groups 10+

£5 off price bands A – C. Valid all performances, excluding all Saturday Evening performances. A £4.50 transaction fee appliesThis applies on top of the Preview and Early Bird Preview pricing. Call 0844 826 4242*, Monday – Friday, 9am – 9pm.

*Calls cost 7ppm plus your telephone company’s usual access charge.


Senior Citizens Matinees

£25 best available weekday matinees (cannot be combined with any other discount or concession).


Under 18

Half Price Tickets on all performances excluding Saturday evenings (£1.50 telephone booking fee applies. No online booking fee).


A full performance schedule is available at

CHICAGO Returns to London






The world’s longest running American musical, the multi award-winning CHICAGO, returns to London’s West End after a 5½-year absence.  Following a successful UK and international tour, CHICAGO will be transferring into London, with performances at the Phoenix Theatre from Monday 26 March 2018.  Tickets will go on sale at 10.00am on Wednesday 20 December 2017. 

Barry Weissler, who, along with his wife Fran, has produced the show in New York, London and around the world, said, “This year we celebrated the production’s 21st Anniversary and had our most successful year to date.  CHICAGO is as relevant and timely as the day we opened.  After spending the last several years touring throughout the UK it feels like we never really left, but we are thrilled to bring the Razzle Dazzle back to the West End.”

Casting for CHICAGO at the Phoenix Theatre is to be announced.

CHICAGO originally ran in London for 15 years, making it the West End’s longest running revival.  It first opened at the Adelphi Theatre on 18 November 1997 to rave reviews and immediately became a sell-out hit.  CHICAGO won the 1998 Laurence Olivier Award for ‘Outstanding Musical Production’ as well as the 1998 Critics Circle Drama Award for ‘Best Musical’.  CHICAGO transferred from the Adelphi Theatre to the Cambridge Theatre in April 2006, where it ran for five years until 27 August 2011.  The show then opened at the Garrick Theatre on 7 November 2011, where it ran until 1 September 2012.

Since it opened in New York in 1996, CHICAGO has played in 36 countries worldwide, and been performed in English, Dutch, German, Swedish, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Italian, French, Danish, Japanese and Korean.  It has grossed over $1.5 billion worldwide and has played over 30,000 performances worldwide, with an estimated 31 million people around the world having seen CHICAGO. 

CHICAGO continues to play on Broadway, where it recently celebrated its 21st birthday, and around the world in multiple languages.

CHICAGO, which is based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins, has a book by Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse, music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb.  The 1996 Broadway revival of CHICAGO was choreographed by Ann Reinking in the style of Bob Fosse, directed by Walter Bobbie, and produced by Barry and Fran Weissler.


Phoenix Theatre
110 Charing Cross Road
London WC2H 0JP

Box Office: 0844 871 7629

Ticket Prices: From £20.00

Performances: Monday-Saturday 8pm, Wednesday & Saturday 3pm

Booking Period:  Currently Booking Until 30 June 2018

Running Time:  2 hours, 25 minutes (with interval)

Twitter: @ChicagoOnStage

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical Review

Manchester Palace Theatre – until 30 January 2017.  Reviewed by Marcus Richardson


Beautiful is a musical about the legendary performer Carole King, who shaped and formed the music world with her music composing skills. Creating songs such as “Do The Locomotion” and “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”, and later on in her career she made herself known as a performing artist winning many awards for her album ‘Tapestry’. The musical also found great success in its platform winning several Tony awards.

The cast were given a big task, to do the songs justice with the bar so high, as these legendary songs were so well received the actors had to measure themselves up. At points throughout the production we would see groups like The Drifters and The Shirelles perform their song, performing it as if it was their own song – which was absolutely outstanding.

The main cast which took upon most of the acting and stage time gave the characters life and made sure that they mirrored the actual people they were playing. Bronté Barbé who played King gave us this quirky character that we fell in love with from the beginning, right off the bat you could tell she knew the essence of Carole King. Gerry Goffin, Carole’s partner was definitely a hard character to play, because he was complex and troubled but James Oliver Parry made sure he didn’t villainise the name

The stage was a character of its own. With amazing stage craft where actors rarely had to move set and scenes flowed seamlessly with the actors and costumes were simple but cleaver making for some amazing displays of creativity of stage.

The show is touring across the UK and I would say no matter what your music taste is, this woman shaped it in some way. The show is an amazing tribute to the history of Carole King and captures the art and heart of the musician very well.









The cast and creative team has been announced for the World Premiere of The ToyBoy Diaries, the new British musical that is to be the first production staged in 2018 at the critically-acclaimed Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester.

The production, adapted from the best-selling memoirs by Wendy Salisbury, runs from Thursday 18 January to Saturday 10 February 2018 and is the first of five in-house musicals next year from the successful collaboration between Joseph Houston and William Whelton, co-founders of Hope Mill Theatre and producer Katy Lipson, of Aria Entertainment.

This new musical comedy charts the hilarious and sometimes heart-breaking sagas of mid-life dating.

When twice-divorced Lily inadvertently finds herself under a much younger man, it opens the door to a wild new world of inappropriate relationships. From Tom the Tender to Sam the Submissive, via Paul the Policeman, Hat Trick Patrick and Matt the Monstrous (with Old Willy and Philandering Phil mixed in along the way) Lily finally finds Ben the Bountiful.

The ToyBoy Diaries has a book by Simon Warne, music and lyrics by Andy Collyer and is based on the best-selling memoirs of Wendy Salisbury. Directed by Tania Azevedo.

The cast has now been announced for The ToyBoy Diaries. The lead role of Lily will be played by Johanne Murdock.  Recent stage roles include Brutus in Julius Caesar and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth (Guildford Shakespeare Company), Anne Hathaway in The Other Shakespeare (Pitchfork Productions). Film and television credits include Chameleon and Holby City.

The production also features Olivier Award-nominee Nicola Blackman (Destiny Rides Again, Babe the Sheep Pig, Gilgamesh and Just to Get Married) as Lily’s best friend Penny. Matt Beveridge (The Frontier TrilogyTitanic – Toronto and House of Therapy – Off Broadway) plays ToyBoy 1. Sharif Afifi (Mamma Mia: Here We Go AgainWonderland – UK Tour) is ToyBoy 2. Alistair Higgins (Dreamboats and Petticoats – UK Tour, Sweeney Todd – Brighton, Charlotte’s Web) plays ToyBoy 3.

The ToyBoy Diaries has music and lyrics by Andy Collyer (Little Women and Pippin Orchestrations – Hope Mill Theatre, The Verb, ‘To Love’ – Old Red Lion Theatre, Claus – Landor Theatre) and a book by his regular collaborator Simon Warne (Claus – Landor Theatre, Truth Talks – Southwark Playhouse, Double Effect – Finborough, and Original Spin – New End Hampstead.)

Director Tania Azevdeo’s recent credits include Tenderly (New Wimbledon Theatre) XY (Page to Stage – The Other Palace) Paper Hears (Edinburgh Fringe and International Tour), Hello Again – Hope Theatre.)

The ToyBoy Diaries has musical direction by Andrew Griffiths, choreography by Sam Spencer-Lane, design by Jason Denvir, lighting design by Ben M Rogers, sound design by Calum Robinson,

Following The ToyBoy Diaries at Hope Mill Theatre is a new revival of the acclaimed modern Broadway hit Spring Awakening (Thursday 29 March to Thursday 3 May 2018) and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic Aspects of Love (Thursday 5 July to Thursday 9 August 2018). Two more yet-to-be announced productions will follow in Autumn/Winter.

The ToyBoy Diaries runs from Thursday 18 January to Saturday 10 February 2018 and is on sale now.



The ToyBoy Diaries

Hope Mill Theatre

Hope Mill, Ancoats, 113 Pollard Street

Manchester, M4 7JA

Tickets from £16. Visit

Press Night Wednesday 24 January 2018.


FACEBOOK: Hope Mill Theatre

TWITTER: @Hopemilltheatr1 @ToyBoyDiaries