Full Cast Announced for Brand New British Musical EUGENIUS! at The Other Palace





Warwick Davis and Kevin Wood are delighted to announce the full cast for the hotly anticipated new musical for years, “EUGENIUS!” which is coming to London for a strictly limited run at The Other Palace from 22 January until the 3 March 2018.

Making his London theatre debut is American born Liam Forde who will play the lead role of ‘Eugene’. Liam has performed in many shows across America and is looking forward to making his debut across the pond. Joining Liam is Laura Baldwin who will play Eugene’s love interest- ‘Janey’. Laura’s previous credits include UK Tours of “Shrek” and “Betty Blue Eyes” and currently she can be seen in ‘Big Fish The Musical’ at The Other Palace.

Joining them is, Daniel Buckley (“Book Of Mormon”, “Loserville”) as Feris, Ian Hughes (“Guys and Dolls”, “The Lion King”) as Evil Lord Hector, Scott Paige (“The Addams Family”, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”) as Theo, Cameron Blakely (“Les Misérables”, “The Addams Family”) as Lex, Shaun Dalton (“Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”, “Beauty and The Beast” and “Les Misérables”) as Gerhard, Melissa James (“Bodyguard” UK Tour) as Carrie, Alexander Evans (UK Tour of “Sound of Music”, “Carousel”) as Eugene’s Dad and Alison Arnopp (“Dusty”, “The Tempest”) as Space Diva/Mrs T.

They will be joined by Brian Gilligan, Jacob Fisher, Alex Tranter, Luke DowlingRosie Heath, Chloe Chambers and Frances Dee.

Written by Ben Adams and Chris Wilkins, “EUGENIUS!”  tells  the story of Eugene, a teenage boy whose nightly dreams of a distant world of heroes and villains may just be the ticket to him creating his very own comic book movie in Hollywood.  Joined by his best friends ‘Janey’ and ‘Feris’, our comic writing genius must discover the true meaning of growing up, finding the superhero within, saving the world from both earthbound villains and possibly those from distant galaxies, and along the way, falling in love.


The production is produced by legendary “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter” actor Warwick Davis, he said, “I’m a huge fan of musical theatre and Eugenius! will be unlike any musical I have seen before. I was so hooked by Ben Adams’ brilliant, original songs and Chris Wilkins wonderfully witty story that I simply had to be involved as a producer. We are thrilled to announce the talented cast and can’t wait to get started in rehearsals to bring the show to life as a fully staged production. We have all the ingredients for Eugenius! to be something truly spectacular and I look forward to sharing it with audiences when it opens at The Other Palace in January.”


The book, music and lyrics for ‘EUGENIUS!’ are written by Ben Adams and Chris Wilkins. Award winning Ian Talbot will direct. Ian was previously the Artistic Director at the Regents Park Open Air Theatre for 20 years, for which he received an OBE. He has directed ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ and ‘Lend Me A Tenor’. The creative team is completed by Aaron Renfree who will choreograph, sound design by Gareth Owen, lighting by Andrew Ellis, musical supervision by Stuart Morley and musical direction by Darren Lord. Set and costume design will be byHannah Wolfe and the show’s design features specially commissioned comic book artwork by Marvel artist, Simon Williams (Transformers, Spider Man, Marvel Heroes, The lncredible Hulk).


The Other Palace opened in February 2017 as a home for musical theatre. Discovering, developing and reimagining musicals is at the heart of what The Other Palace is about. The spaces are used to nurture the next generation of musicals, and the creatives behind them; celebrating the very best of the art form, from the established to the brand new.


EUGENIUS! THE MUSICAL – Monday 22 January – Saturday 3 March 2018



Box Office 020 7087 7900

Twitter @eugeniusuk

Facebook and Instagram @eugeniusthemusical

Website http://www.eugeniusthemusical.com/

Music www.smarturl.it/eugenius01



12 Palace Street, Westminster, London, SW1E 5JA


Monday 22 January                7.30pm

Tuesday 23 January                 7.30pm

Wednesday 24 January           7.30pm

Thursday 25 January                7.30pm

Friday 26 January                    7.30pm

Saturday 27 January               2.30pm & 7.30pm

Monday 29 January                7.30pm

Gala night

Wednesday 31 January          7pm


From 1 February – 3 March

Performance times      Monday – Saturday 7.30pm

                                    Saturday 2.30pm & 7.30pm

Strictly Come Dancing Live Tour – Final line up announced




Gemma Atkinson & Aljaž Skorjanec

Alexandra Burke & Gorka Marquez

Susan Calman & Kevin Clifton

Davood Ghadami & Nadiya Bychkova

Joe McFadden & Katya Jones

Debbie McGee & Giovanni Pernice

Jonnie Peacock & Oti Mabuse



Strictly Come Dancing fans will be thrilled to learn that the celebrity dancers and their professional partners for the 2018 Strictly Come Dancing Live UK Tour are announced today. The couples donning their dancing shoes and sequins are: Gemma Atkinson and Aljaž Skorjanec; Alexandra Burke and Gorka Marquez; Susan Calman and Kevin Clifton; Davood Ghadami and Nadiya Bychkova; Joe McFadden and Katya Jones; Debbie McGee and Giovanni Pernice; and Jonnie Peacock and Oti Mabuse.

The fabulous celebrities and professional dancers will be joining the tour judging panel of Craig Revel Horwood, Bruno Tonioli and Darcey Bussell. To round off the sparkling line-up, the tour will be hosted by reigning Strictly Champion Ore Oduba. They will all be joined by more Strictly professional dancers, the Strictly singers and the Strictly live band.

The Strictly tour will open at the Arena Birmingham on 19 January 2018 and will then visit some of the biggest entertainment venues across the UK, including a return to Belfast at the SSE Arena, following huge public demand. It will also stop off at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena, First Direct Arena Leeds, Manchester Arena, The SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena and The SSE Arena Wembley, before culminating at The O2 Arena in London on 11 February.

EastEnders heartthrob Davood Ghadami said: “Being on Strictly has been such a blast. The training has been stricter than my gym regime, so am excited to keep it up on the road and can’t wait to perform in the huge arenas all over the country.”


TV personality Debbie McGee said: “I don’t think I’ve ever been so fit in my life! This whole experience has been incredible and I can’t wait to get my dancing shoes back on for the 2018 tour.”

Actress and radio presenter Gemma Atkinson said: “Aljaž has really put me through my paces over the last few months, physically, mentally and creatively, so am thrilled we are being paired again for the Strictly tour! Come on the North!”


Singer Alexandra Burke said: “I cannot wait to get out on tour and connect with all the Strictly fans in their home towns. This is an amazing opportunity to perform some of my favourite routines in all these huge arenas – what better way to start the new year!.”

Holby City star Joe McFadden said: “I honestly didn’t think I’d make it past the first few weeks on Strictly, let alone get to go on the tour. It’s going to be a wonderful experience, which I’m really looking forward to – particularly dancing in my hometown of Glasgow!”

Tickets for STRICTLY COME DANCING THE LIVE TOUR 2018 are on sale now


19–21 January   Arena Birmingham                                          www.arenabham.co.uk

(Friday 19th at 7.30pm, Saturday 20th at 2.30pm & 7.30pm, Sunday 21st at 1.30pm & 6.30pm)

23-24 January    Newcastle: Metro Radio Arena                                 www.metroradioarena.co.uk

(Tuesday 23rd at 7.30pm, Wednesday 24th at 2.30pm & 7.30pm)

25-26 January    Leeds: First Direct Arena                              www.firstdirectarena.com

(Thursday 25th at 7.30pm, Friday 26th at 7.30pm

27-28 January    Manchester Arena                                          www.manchester-arena.com

(Saturday 27th at 2.30pm & 7.30pm, Sunday 28th at 1.30pm & 6.30pm)

30-31 January    Belfast: SSE Arena                                           www.ssearenabelfast.com

(Tuesday 30th at 7.30pm, Wednesday 31st at 2.30pm & 7.30pm)

2-4 February      Glasgow: SSE Hydro                                       www.thessehydro.com

(Friday 2nd at 7.30pm, Saturday 3rd at 2.30pm & 7.30pm, Sunday 4th at 1.30pm)

6-7 February      Nottingham: Motorpoint Arena                motorpointarenanottingham.com

(Tuesday 6th at 7.30pm, Wednesday 7th at 2.30pm & 7.30pm)


8-9 February      London: The SSE Arena Wembley            www.ssearena.co.uk

(Thursday 8th at 7.30pm, Friday 9th at 7.30pm)

10-11 February  London: The O2 Arena                                   www.theo2.co.uk

(Saturday 10th at 2.30pm & 7.30pm, Sunday 11th at 1.30pm & 6.30pm)     



Tickets: £35 – £65 (bands venue dependent) 

The O2 prices are £36 – £66 (Inclusive of a £1 per ticket venue facility fee)

All ticket prices are subject to a booking fee


To book tickets please contact the venue or call 0844 875 8758

For online bookings visit www.ticketzone.co.uk or www.ticketmaster.co.uk

For more information visit: www.strictlycomedancinglive.com

Twitter: SCD_Live_Tour

Facebook: @strictlylive

Peter Pan Review

Hull New Theatre – until 31 December 2107.  Reviewed by Catherine McWIlliams


Qdos Entertainment’s production of Peter Pan is guaranteed to warm the soul on a cold winter’s day, full of fun, spectacle and gasp out loud moments, it has something for everyone. I have to be honest I was a sceptic about pantos when I arrived at the theatre, having seen only one before I really didn’t think they were for me as an adult. How wrong I was, I was very quickly joining in the shouting with the children, groaning at the gags and laughing till I ached. I left the New Theatre with a huge smile on my face.

This show is a visual feast with spectacular scenery and costumes. It really benefits from the redevelopment of the New Theatre which has increased the size and the height of the stage, allowing Peter Pan to soar high into the sky. From the start we were treated to stunning dancing and musical numbers. The 3D section was amazing and I have to confess to screaming as loudly as the children were at times.

The story of course is that of Peter Pan taking Wendy and the Darling boys to Neverland and the ultimate defeat of Captain Hook. Along the way we meet Tinker Belle, Tiger Lily, Big Chief Sitting Sid, Mimi the Mermaid, Smee and Starkey.

Darren Day makes Captain Hook a suitably nasty piece of work, Hook is an east Ender sneering at the audience and their City of Culture and clearly reveling in the booing! His timing was excellent and he was more than happy to throw in the odd ad lib (much to the delight of the adults in the audience). His musical numbers were excellent but particular mention must go to his rendition of “I Did it My Way” – one to remember!

Jonny Labey, as Peter Pan, was totally believable as he soared effortlessly into the sky, wielded a sword, asked Wendy to be his Mummy and sang and danced his way around Neverland. Alice Strachan made a delightfully petulant Tinkerbelle, eventually seeing the error of her ways.

Laughter was never far away when Mimi the Mermaid (Charlie Hardwick), Smee (Ricky K) and Starkey (Brendan Sheerin) were around. Ricky K for me was the stand out in this production adding anarchy at the drop of a hat. His two handers with Brendan were spot on.

All in all this is a production to add sparkle, magic and rollicking fun to your Christmas – if you have the chance go and enjoy it. Oh yes one last thing – I believe in fairies

Giving Something back to the Community

The Majestic Theatre in Darlington is pleased to announce it has teamed up with national charity Cash for Kids.

On Friday 29 December, the Majestic is throwing open its doors for a charity performance of the pantomime Cinderella.  Working in conjunction with Cash for Kids it has given away all the tickets for the performance to children and families in the local area who come from disadvantaged backgrounds to make sure they have a Christmas they can truly remember.

Matthew Campbell, Artistic Director of the Majestic commented I was helped by Cash for Kids a few years ago when I did a Community Dance project and I felt that by donating a performance of Cinderella, I would giving something back to the community and to the charity that helped me when I needed it

Cash for Kids is currently running its annual Mission Christmas Appeal – The largest annual Christmas toy appeal in the UK.

In 2016 the appeal generated upwards of £2 million in gifts and donations which were distributed to more than 47,000 disadvantaged kids across the North East.

With 1 in 4 children across the North East living in poverty this December, for many families Christmas is simply a luxury they can’t afford. This year’s Mission Christmas aims to beat last year’s fundraising total and help make sure it can help as many children as possible.

Amiee Littlefair, Cash for Kids Charity Manager commented Every year we receive an astonishing amount of applications for Mission Christmas, this year we are hoping to help 47,500 local children. The support we receive every year is overwhelming and we couldn’t complete our mission without companies like The Majestic Theatre helping. The tickets are an amazing treat for so many children and for the majority the first time they will have experienced a pantomime.

If you’d like to donate to support Mission Christmas you can contact the charity on www.tfmradio.co.uk/cashforkids or by texting HAPPY to 70808 to donate £5

And if you’d like to see Cinderella at the Majestic you can book tickets here http://themajestictheatre.nutickets.com/event-brand/8173


Spring 2018 at Northern Stage

Spring 2018 at Northern Stage
Tickets from £10

The spring 2018 season at Northern Stage features ambitious new productions made in Newcastle, including the UK premiere of Sting’s The Last Ship, alongside new shows from some of the UK’s most exciting and innovative theatre companies. Plus comedy, dance, shows for children and young people and an eclectic programme in the intimate Stage 3 performance space.

A brand new production of Sting’s The Last Ship will open at Northern Stage (12 March – 7 April) before a national tour. Directed by Northern Stage Artistic Director Lorne Campbell and starring Jimmy Nail, Sting’s personal, political and passionate musical comes home to Newcastle in an epic tale of community, hope and a great act of collective defiance

A Northern Stage production in association with Karl Sydow and Kathryn Schenker, The Last Ship tells the story of a community amid the demise of the shipbuilding industry in Wallsend, Tyne and Wear, with the closure of the town’s shipyard. Director Lorne Campbell says, “It is a great pleasure and a privilege to be bringing this new version of The Last Ship to Newcastle. Sting’s score is steeped deep in the traditions of Northumbrian music and this epic story is fundamental to the identity of the people of the North East. This is a story of community, of resilience and how in even the very darkest of moments, hope and possibility remain.”

Northern Stage has expanded its pioneering NORTH programme beyond actor training to include staging and touring a new production, offering four emerging actors from the North East the opportunity to perform professionally with the theatre in Spring 2018. The maiden production will be a new adaptation of H.G.
Wells’ classic sci-fi story of survival, The War of the Worlds (31 Jan – 10 Feb), written by Laura Lindow (Key Change, Open Clasp) with sound design by Mariam Rezaei (A Song for Ella Grey, Northern Stage), and directed by Elayce Ismail, recipient of the Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme’s pilot Associate Directorship to prepare directors for artistic leadership.

This vivid and dynamic new production relocates the story to the North East of England, where a band of survivors confront a Martian invasion against the backdrop of 1898 Newcastle. Director Elayce Ismail explains, “Setting the story in the North East has given us a brilliant opportunity to reveal the secrets of this area and delve into its rich and evocative past. We’re really excited to be bringing this part of the world to life on stage for our audiences.”

Following on from the success of David Almond’s A Song for Ella Grey in which more than 50 young people worked with the creative team to create a virtual Greek chorus, Northern Stage Young Company presents Where Do We Stand (25-28 April). Collectively written by a team of professional writers, and co-produced and co-authored by young people from across North East England, Where Do We Stand will combine spoken word, live music, physical and virtual landscapes to tell stories of what it is to live, work and dream in Newcastle in 2018. Led by Associate Director Louie Ingham, and thanks to funding awarded by the Clothworkers Foundation in 2016, Northern Stage has expanded Young Company to give more 16-21 year olds from disadvantaged communities open access to a diverse and innovative programme offering new opportunities to explore key roles and areas of theatre making through practical workshops in Theatre Design, Composition, Directing, Production and Stage Management.

Offbeat romantic comedy Frankie & Johnny in the Clair de Lune (21 May – 2 June) will be directed by Northern Stage Associate Director Mark Calvert (James & the Giant Peach, Northern Stage). Written by American playwright Terrence McNally who also wrote the screenplay for the hit 1991 film starring Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer, the play started life off-Broadway in 1987 and is an intimate look at the first fragile moments of risking your heart and taking a chance. Casting to be announced early 2018.

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) will bring its acclaimed production of Hamlet to Northern Stage (20-24 February). Originally seen in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2016, Hamlet will tour the UK before transferring to London’s Hackney Empire in March. Directed by Simon Godwin, the production will see RSC Associate Artist Paapa Essiedu reprise his award-winning performance in the title role as one of Shakespeare’s most famous tragic heroes. Paapa Essiedu won Best Performance in a Play at the UK Theatre Awards in 2016 for his role as
Hamlet. Other RSC credits include Edmund in King Lear, Fenton in The Merry Wives of Windsor and The Mouse and his Child. Additional theatre credits include King Lear (National Theatre) and Romeo and Juliet (Tobacco Factory) and he played Demetrius in Russell T Davies’ adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for BBC1 (2016).

Complicité present a reimagined version of A Pacifist’s Guide to the War on Cancer (7-10 February), a collaboration with performance artist Bryony Kimmings. Known for her unique take on taboo topics – from her sexual health (Sex Idiot), to her boyfriend’s depression (Fake It ’Til You Make It), Kimmings’ acclaimed collaboration with Complicité blows everything you think you know about cancer out of the water. Originally a co-production with the National Theatre in association with HOME Manchester, Kirsty Housley, Co-Director
of The Encounter and long-term Complicité collaborator will direct, with writer Bryony Kimmings leading the company in this reworked production touring the UK before heading to Australia.

Black Men Walking (15-17 February) by writer and award-winning beat boxer Testament is the first national tour born from Revolution Mix – a three year movement to create and produce an ambitious body of work telling Black British stories. An Eclipse Theatre Company and Royal Exchange Theatre co-production, Dawn Walton will direct this story of a black men’s walking group in Sheffield.

Third Angel and Northern Stage present The Department of Distractions (2-10 February), a consipiracy theory documentary for the 21st century. Pilot Theatre and York Theatre Royal are co-producing a new adaption of Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock (1-5 May) by acclaimed writer Bryony Lavery. LIFT present Lola
Arias’ Minefield (22-24 March) – a collaboratively created work with Falklands/Malvinas war veterans merging theatre and film. And Javaad Alipoor brings The Believers Are But Brothers (14-16 June); this Fringe First award winning multi-media show exploring an online world of fantasy, gaming and extremism was a huge hit in the Northern Stage at Summerhall programme at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe.

Dance includes Phoenix Dance Company celebrating the 70th anniversary of SS Empire Windrush’s arrival bringing the first Caribbean migrants to the UK with Windrush: Movement of the People (9-10 May); and Kelly-Abbott Dance Theatre presents Launch Day (29 May) – a celebration of the working class and shipbuilding in all its industrial glory. Inspired by the paintings of artist Alexander Millar with an enchanting soundtrack featuring music by Mark Knopfler.

For families and young people, Theatre Alibi’s The Boy Who Climbed into the Moon (6-7 April) features live music and puppetry to tell a fantastical story for 6-11 year olds from the novel by award-winning writer David Almond; Highly Sprung present Fall Out (13-14 March) – a high-energy physical theatre performance set in a nightclub for young people age 14+; Showstopper! (17 February) offer an afternoon family show of their must-see improvised musical; The Owl & the Pussycat (13-17 February) from Kitchen Zoo uses puppets and live music to bring to life an unexpected ted telling of Edward Lear’s classic tale for 3-7 year olds; Bamboozle present Gentle Giant (21-22 February) – an immersive, multi-sensory experience for children aged 6-14 with profound and multiple learning disabilities and their families; and on the first Saturday of every
month The Storyteller Chris Bostock shares stories from all over the world with children aged 5-8 and their grown-ups.

Comedy, live music and spoken word includes Sophie Willan: Branded (15 March) – fresh from a sell to run at the Edinburgh Fringe Branded; Ruby Wax: Frazzled (20-21 April); Newcastle Poetry Festival (3-5 May); and Sunderland’s Mercury Prize Award-nominated Field Music launch their sixth album Open Here (2-3 February) with three specially staged shows at Northern Stage.

The Stage 3 programme will feature an eclectic mix of theatre, music, comedy, spoken word, poetry and scratch nights which will be announced later in the year.

Tickets for most shows start at £10. For full details or to book tickets see northernstage.co.uk or call the box office on 0191 230 5151.

Special Events this January at Richmond Theatre


Richmond Theatre has a whole host of musical entertainment to delight audiences this January. From hilarious, rock-tastic concerts, to toe-tapping classics, kick-start the new year with an exciting mix of special events.

Direct from its success in London’s West End, a sold out UK tour and standing ovations at every performance, The Simon & Garfunkel Story is back at Richmond Theatre! Using projection photos and original film footage, this 50 Anniversary Celebration also features a full live band performing all the hits including Mrs Robinson, Cecilia, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Homeward Bound and many more.

Returning for its second year at Richmond, Someone Like You: The Adele Songbook is an immaculate celebration of one of our generation’s finest singer-songwriters. Hand-picked by Adele herself on Graham Norton’s BBC ADELE Special, the outstanding Katie Markham has the show-stopping voice and captivating charisma to deliver all your favourite Adele hits in an enthralling concert performance.

Vampires Rock: Ghost Train is the spectacular sequel to the phenomenally successful Vampires Rock from Steven Steinman. For more than two decades, Steinman and his crew have delivered exhilarating performances packed with energy, thrilling dance routines, spectacular special effects and rocking music that gets everyone up on their feet. This rock-tastic, hilarious, musical concert includes tracks from Queen, AC/DC, Meat Loaf, Journey, Bon Jovi, Guns n Roses and many more.


Back to Bacharach returns to Richmond to take you on a journey through music, narration, and projected imagery of legendary songwriter Burt Bacharach and lyricist Hal David. Together, they helped shape the path of modern music as we know it today. This fantastic show features all of the hits, including Walk on By, The Look of Love, What’s New Pussycat, and many more. With a full West End cast and 10-piece band, this show is destined to take Richmond Theatre by storm.

January’s full list of special event listings follows below.

Richmond Box Office: 0844 871 7651* Website: atgtickets.com/Richmond*
*Fees apply.  Calls cost up to 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.




January Special Events Listings Information:


The Simon & Garfunkel Story                                                                                                    Tues 14 Jan at 7:30pm

Someone Like You: The Adele Songbook                                                                             Wed 24 Jan at 7:30pm

Vampires Rock: Ghost Train                                                                                                        Thurs 25 Jan at 7:30pm

Back to Bacharach                                                                                                                            Frid 26 Jan at 7:30pm



January Week-Long Listings Information:


Aladdin                                                                                                                                                Sat 9 Dec – Sun 14 Jan

Moscow City Ballet                                                                                                                         Wed 17  – Sun 21Jan


Little Robin Redbreast Review

Salisbury Playhouse – until 31 December 2017.  Reviewed by Jo Gordon

Little Robin Redbreast
By Glyn Kerslake & Gareth Machin

Robin (Joe Etherington) lives with his Mummy (Elaine Glover), Daddy (Dan Smith) and sister Molly (Philippa Hogg).  Christmas is fast approaching and it is Robins favourite time of year as it is the one day he gets to spend doing fun stuff with his usually very busy parents. Mummy and Daddy give Robin and Molly an advent calendar each to help count down to the big day, Molly like ones with chocolates in and Robin prefers pictures. As Robin begins to open his doors we go on a magical adventure meeting new characters and hearing stories related to whats behind those exciting little doors , from the bright star to rapping squirrels and tap dancing mice! Will little Robin get back to his family nest in time for Christmas?

The set is incredibly creative with just a handful of props and a beautiful backdrop of a giant advent calendar with simple yet charming, lit pictures to guide us through the story. The musical numbers are imaginative and fun that draw the young audience in and capture their imaginations.  Lots of audience participation that being aimed at such a young audience can have amusing outcomes!

The perfect festive production for little ones who may struggle with a longer, larger panto production being around 55 minutes long.

Dick Whittington Review

Opera House Manchester – until 7th January 2018.  Reviewed by Julie Noller 


Dick Whittington, the panto paved with gold, begins it’s festive run on the stage of Manchester’s Opera House until 7th January 2018. Panto the very best of family fun, yes and quite often naughty in a number of ways… this is no exception. Well done to the staff at the Opera House for getting in full panto Christmas spirit, flashing tiaras and glitter spray greeted us and, feeling the need, I might have just come home with a pink furry flashing tiara, be warned at a cost of £8 they aren’t cheap but they never are and I was prepared with my Christmas pennies.

I was surprised to be given a pair of 3D glasses, I did wonder what for, traditionally not something I would expect during panto. Dick Whittington is produced by leading panto producers Qdos Entertainment. Staring John Barrowman in the title role and 1980’s stars of entertainment The Krankies who really stole the show with their naughty shenanigans leading for a series of hilarious moments both on and off the stage for stars and audience alike.

Anyone who knows John Barrowman from shows like Doctor Who, Torchwood and his own entertainment show Tonight’s the Night will be aware that he is a true showman and loves every moment of the limelight. His fun loving personality and ability to laugh at the slightest gaff shines through and still has me smiling. I do think maybe it should be renamed as “Dick Whittington the Musical” for there was plenty of singing and dancing. Lauren Hampton as Alice and Jacqueline Hughes as The Spirit of Bow Bells, were magnificent, wow what voices and I’m sure there are a few little girls waking up today (or little boys) feeling the love for these two fabulous characters. Dick first graces us with his presence by showing off his Manchester accent, there’s more than a hint of his famous Glaswegian lilt but as he laughs and relaxes the audience he greets us with the three words he can say well ‘ey up chuck’ to which we all shout back ‘ey up Dick’.

The boo, hiss moments come thick and fast when King Rat (Phil Corbitt) appears, nasty and smelly he sets up Dick so his love Alice turns her back on him. When Dick asks the audience what should he do with King Rat once defeated and captured, ‘kill him’ shouts the audiences younger members, cue John Barrowman breaking into giggles and asking the same question three times before stating ‘we need him tomorrow’. You’ll be pleased to know he was banished to life in the sewers. Local boy Ryan Kayode got massive shouts and cheers as Tommy the cat, showing John Barrowman how you get the accent right, with local dialect that has Dick stating ‘I don’t speak that language’ and ‘yeah what he says’ . Kage Douglas makes up the small cast as Sultan Vinegar brother of Sultan Pepper with his many wives ‘but that’s Bigamy’ declares Dick ‘oh it’s very big of me’ replies Sultan just one of the many smutty one liners you would expect from Panto.

The Krankies, I remember the days when as a child I discovered Jimmy wasn’t really a young boy but really a small woman, now aged seventy, I am in awe of a double act who have lasted the test of time and appear to be having the best party up on stage, I want to belong to their gang. Janette has been known so long as Wee Jimmy that her character slipped in and out with ease and they played the clowns so well that you can see the years of experience of life on stage shine through. There’s more one liners than a stand up comedy show, it’s panto that Great British tradition that we all love at Christmas time.

I can’t think of many seventy year old’s who would be happy to be thrown around the way Janette is, I know I would be broken. I think come morning I may just wake up feeling the love for Wee Jimmy. Janette quite possibly is just the sixth Spice Girl and when she breaks into song for Picking on Me, well the faces she pulls just melts the audience.

As is always the case with panto then you have to listen out for the ad-libs and they came thick and fast although I believe it’s quite a skill to have the audience wondering if they are scripted bluffs and gaffs or true slip ups. One of my favourte we shall call the great trumpet fiasco, firstly the trumpet magically plays before it touches Jimmys lips and then they lose the trumpet in a bed, cue frantic searching, giggles from stage, sticking doors, John Barrowman needing to get his nose fixed, Ian Kankie quickly throwing in a rescue line. Sounds caotic? Yup isn’t that the joy of panto. We found out what the 3D glasses were for after the interval, wow what a great addition I heard screams,I watched people duck but it was thoroughly enjoyed by young and old alike. I won’t spoil it for you let’s keep the suspense and say it’s a wonderful underwater adventure. I loved the giant Rudolph who rescued Dick and brought him to London with his red flashing nose and blinking eyes, I wanted to reach out and pat him. I don’t feel the same love for the giant shark though, he nearly ate poor wee Jimmy and reminded me of watching Jaws.

Dick Whittington the boy who searched for streets paved with gold and grew up to be Lord Mayor of London. It’s a tale we all know and love. This one includes plenty of sing a longs including a Village People medley. It is the perfect antidote to dark, cold winter nights that are filled with snow and ice. A great light entertainment break from Christmas shopping, the drag of Christmas holidays, finishing the roller coaster New Year with a show that doesn’t ask you to think too much, has you laughing as much at the mistakes as at the genuine lines. Just don’t forget to don your flashing tiara.

Beauty and the Beast Review

King’s Head Theatre, London – until 6th January.  Reviewed by Sabrina Fancy


Beauty and the Beast- An Absolute Delight!

Having previously attended the award-winning theatre company ‘Fat Rascal’s’ productions, I knew that I was in for a treat – and something out of the ordinary. Their latest production of Beauty and the Beast was just that.

This musical parody follows the story of Beauty and the Beast-but tells the tale from a feminist perspective. Gender roles are swapped, with the Beast being played by a female (Robyn Grant) and the ‘Beauty’ played by the handsome yet delicate bookworm Beau (Jamie Mawson). Will Beau able to see the Beast’s lovely personality beyond all that fur?

‘Gaston’ in the film was replaced by the strapping female ‘Chevonne’ (played by Katie Wells who is brilliant!) vying for the affections of Beau. It was nice to see an alpha female lead, as opposed to the submissive females that seem to dominate most fairy tales.

The cast of 5 and a live musician are young, fresh and very cheeky! They have an excellent synergy together and their comedic timing is perfect! All of the performers brought something unique to the production, playing several roles seamlessly and changing characters in an instant! They were all extremely talented individuals and I would love to see them working together again!

It is a big undertaking to create a panto in a fresh and sassy way, but award -winning producer Laura Elmes has managed this! There is really never a dull moment here! My companion who is not easily amused-was roaring with laughter throughout.

It is obvious that a lot of preparation went into putting this show together. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of songs that peppered the show. Many made a mockery of original Beauty and the Beast that some notable numbers were Chevonne (Instead of Gaston) ‘What would Jane Austen Do?’., Have a brunch (Parody of Be our Guest) and Eggs. You could not help laughing at the lyrics and the delivery of the musical numbers. It was also brilliant how social and political references were weaved in-in a subtle-yet deeply amusing way.

At the end of the show, the cast was treated to a well-deserved standing ovation! This is definitely a must see for a brilliant night out that leaves you happy-and energised!

This is a mad, hilarious and extremely clever production. It is far superior to many musicals I have seen on the West End! For this reason, I am giving Beauty and the Beast: A Musical Parody 5 stars and looking forward to seeing what shows Fat Rascals creates next!

Beauty and the Beast: A Musical Parody is on at the King’s Head Theatre, London, 11th December – 6th January.

The Gruffalo Review

The Lowry Theatre, Manchester – until 7 January 2018.  Reviewed by Alison Fearon


The production is an adaption of the best-selling book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler by theatre company Tall Stories.

As soon as we entered the theatre the friendly staff were offering booster seats for the children to sit on and showing us to our seats and my daughter was already mesmerised – asking ‘where is the Mouse’, by having the curtains up and the staging on view the excitement was already building.

From the moment the characters appear on stage there is not only the telling of the story but also a mixture of singing, dancing and comedy (some of which was aimed at the children and some for the adults to have a good giggle too).

As the mouse starts his journey walks through the deep dark wood, he meets all the characters within the book, the Owl, Snake and the Fox. All the animals have amazing characteristics which make it believable and come to life for the children. The adaptation of the snake, through movement, singing and humour is one not to be missed; it had both adults and children laughing in their seats

As soon as the Guffalo bursts onto the stage there is an added enthusiasm brought to the production – I didn’t even think after the Snake my daughter could get any more excited. With the twists and turns of the tale unfolding and costume changes the story was well and truly brought to life.

This is a show not to be missed and one I think I could watch again and again, its amazing how a production can keep so many young children engaged and mesmerised for nearly an hour.