Moonfleet Review

Salisbury Playhouse – until 5 May
Reviewed by Jo Gordon

Based on a novel by J Meade Faulkner written way back in 1898, Moonfleet is the newest musical to come out of the Salisbury Playhouse from a collaboration by Russell Hepplewhite and Gareth Machin. Set in a coastal village named Moonfleet we meet John Trenchard (Ryan Heenan), a 16 year old orphan who resides with his strict Aunt Jane (Rhona McGregor).  Locals tell a tale  that the village is cursed, bestowed upon them after Col. John “Blackbeard” Mohune (Ashley Mercer) stole a diamond from King Charles I and young John believes to find the diamond would break that curse.  Whilst beginning his adventure to find the jewel he discovers a local smuggling ring that runs in and out of the local ale house run by Isabelle Block (Rebecca Lock) who ends up taking John in as her own but after an unfortunate incident involving the death of Magistrate Maskew (Earl Carpenter) they have to leave the village quickly and life becomes very different.

The sight of Dorset based accented, ale swigging, tail coated Pirates always excites me, I hold my hands up to admitting I’ve always thought that I would make an excellent shipmate due to my penchant for rum and loud singing .With mood lighting and smoke the set works well to establish the dark and murky environments of moonlit beaches, damp caves and wooden ships.  A sometimes clunky feeling production that I struggled to follow at times despite knowing the plot.  However if you put that to one side the vocals are fantastic with Earl, Ashley and Rebecca’s background it was a real treat. A great cast with the lead character of John showing that we all have an adventurer in us waiting to be set free!

Sunset Boulevard Review

Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield – until 28th April 2018.

Reviewed by Sophie Dodworth


Movie star glitz, glamour and romance oozes at the Lyceum Theatre with this famous, popular musical. This tour follows a successful run at Londons’ Coliseum Theatre and much of the cast have stayed the same. This production lands in the Sheffield theatre, bringing the essence of the West End with it; professional and polished.

Based on Billy Wilders’ 1950s’ award winning film, the story follows Norma Desmond, a faded star living in her mansion on Sunset Boulevard. She meets aspiring writer Joe Gillis who sees a money making opportunity in Norma, by offering to help her with a script she wrote years ago. A relationship between the pair develops although it is clear both have different motives. When Betty Schaefer is introduced in to the mix, things become dark leading to jealousy, insanity and finally murder.

The score for this production is insanely dramatic, filling the auditorium with energy and anticipation. There are some super big moments in the music, including the show stopper ‘As If We Never Said Goodbye’ sung by Ria Jones (Norma). This number gets you on the edge of your seat, watching the actress give it her all, air grabbing at every opportunity and it is absolutely outstanding. ‘The Greatest Star Of All’ sung by Adam Pearce (Max Von Meyerling) leaves mouths open, smiles on faces and hearts full of melody. Pearce has a range like no other, able to get right down to bottom bass notes and straight back up to falsetto with perfect execution. His voice is like warm, smooth velvet and takes you on a journey on which you will pay full attention to. Credit to the 16 piece orchestra who send vibrations through the auditorium with their perfect dedication to the extravagant Andrew Lloyd Webber score.

Ria Jones steals the show with her portrayal of Norma, making the character believable and inviting the audience in to sympathise with her. She is evidently a very experienced actress with a great stage presence, charisma and charm. Danny Mac, playing Joe Gillis, suits the attitude of the role well, cheeky, smooth and ambitious. Macs’ voice is sometimes challenged when reaching the falsetto ranges and could do with a touch more diction.

Colin Richmond (Set and Costume Designer) and Ben Crackell (Lighting designer) do a phenomenal job with the ambiance and structure of the set. This is really evident the entire way though the show, many a scene has its mood determined just by the lighting and set.

This is the kind of theatre that leaves you thinking about it the next day. It has a story that will resonate with you and a musical score that only the strongest of folk would be able to resist singing for the foreseeable future.

When We Were Brothers Review

The Underground, Bradford – until Saturday 5th May 2018

Reviewed By Dawn Smallwood


Freedom Studios presents and brings When We Were Brothers for its world premiere at The Underground Bar in Bradford. Written by Ben Tagoe this play explores the journey of two men growing up in the world and it raises relevant issues and the expectations it brings, which are crucial in today’s society.

Intimately set in a bar where the small audience can have a drink while they watch the play. The three person cast narrate chronologically key events in the lives of Danny (Levi Payne) and Tommo (Philip D McQuillan) and they share with the audience their childhoods, growing up and their highs and lows. There is point when both boys reach 18 years old and when they go their separate ways – Danny goes down to London to study at university and Tommo stays in Bradford and work.

Stigma around mental health in men is raised and well documented with Tommo recollecting that “Lads don’t cry” when he shares his experiences of his grandfather’s funeral and is conditioned to put a “front” and close conversations with “Mate, I’m fine” and “I don’t want to talk about it”. There is vulnerability with Tommo following his relationship with his Uncle Trevor and the bullying he experienced and also the loss of his baby girl. These events take its toll and he ends up being desperate and unable to cope anymore. It leaves him sending a message to Danny who detects there is something wrong and is the only person who probably can help him.

One must admire the excellent performance from beginning to end from McQuillan (Tommo), Payne (Danny) and Vanessa Pound (Julie). They portray the characters really well and successfully identify the crucial issues. The production is entertaining but poignantly raises awareness around men and mental health. Awareness of such issues is present with the beer mats on the tables advertising services from CALM (Campaign Against Living Misery) and their aim is to keep men alive by talking. Their aim is to prevent male suicide which is reported as a single killer of men under 45 years in this country.

Freedom Studios are reputed to present productions that touch and raise issues that really matter and When We Were Brothers is no exception. An excellent production, under the direction of Aisha Khan, is set in such a relaxed setting, in a bar, which creates the right mood and ambience for people, particularly men, to talk. The bar was a focal point for both Tommo and Danny where they parted and reunited during the play.

When We Were Brothers meet the criteria for a night out and is highly recommendable. The production is playing in Bradford and also at Bolton’s Reveal Festival.

The Golden F**king Years Review

Jack Studio Theatre – until 28 April

Reviewed by Claire Roderick


After being married for 20 years, Gordon and Helen’s retirement in Spain was meant to be idyllic, seeing out their golden years in the sun. The reality is very different. Gordon is bored but unwilling to try anything new that might add colour to his days of sitting, drinking and talking, and talking, and talking… Helen survives by throwing barbed comments at him, and escaping every day to the café for some precious moments of peace and quiet. The arrival of Cath, younger and adventurous, throws their dull lives into turmoil in this tightly plotted comedy.

Vital Signs Productions mission is to challenge the way older people and older actors are perceived, and founder Adrian McLoughlin’s debut play does just that. Although Gordon (played with an admirable lack of vanity by McLoughlin – this vain, droning character makes Richard Briers’ character in Ever Decreasing Circles look like a trophy husband) is determined to behave like an old man, laughing at the idea of trying something new at 70, Helen is quietly seething with frustration and pent-up energy. Deborah Maclaren keeps Helen just the right side of bitchiness in her interactions with Gordon, always allowing a glimmer of guilt to slip through after each snarky comment. Cath is a slightly trickier character, but Anneli Page slowly and expertly builds up the layers to reveal the insecurities behind the bravado.

The play builds slowly, beginning like a typical Brits Abroad comedy, but McLoughlin takes the plot in directions you just don’t expect – outrageous, but never unbelievable. The post-coital scenes are beautifully written, demonstrating sweetly that first-time sex is stressful whatever your age and experience. You may have to stifle your urge to cheer when Helen finally bites the bullet and decides to make changes in her life, but you’ll probably be too busy laughing.

This is a fine debut from McLoughlin, a wickedly funny comedy that is well worth a look.

Strictly Stars remember Fred Astaire at Hull New Theatre

Strictly Stars Remember Hollywood Legend

Strictly Come Dancing shows celebrate the life of Fred Astaire.

Join Strictly Come Dancing favourites Aljaz Skorianec and Janette Manrara for a celebration of the legendary Fred Astaire in Remembering Fred at Hull New Theatre on Saturday 12 May.

A celebration of the incredible talent of the Hollywood icon, the 2018 Remembering Fred tour features new songs, new dances and a fresh new look, backed by a full supporting cast of dancers, live band and singers.

Tickets for Remembering Fred at Hull New Theatre on 12 May are on sale now. Book via the Hull City Hall Box Office, call 01482 300 306 or visit

FULL CASTING ANNOUNCEMENT THE RHYTHM METHOD – headlining Fertility Fest at The Bush and run at The Landor


A musical love story (with contraception)



The Stable developing & producing new musicals


Rhythm MethodToday, The Stable announces the full cast of THE RHYTHM METHOD, an extraordinary new contemporary British musical in the making. A show about the stuff that’s difficult to talk about – sex, relationships and contraception.


The cast of top West End actors are: the award winning Fra Fee (The Ferryman – Royal Court, West End and now Broadway bound, Candide – Menier Chocolate Factory, Les Miserables – West End and film);Melanie Marshall (Guys and Dolls – Royal Exchange Manchester, Jane Eyre – National Theatre, FELA! – National Theatre & Broadway); Emile Ruddock (5 Guys Named Mo – Marble Arch, The Scottsboro Boys – Garrick Theatre); Jennifer Caldwell (Mamma Mia, Shrek The Musical) and Annie Wensak (Half A Sixpence – Noel Coward & Chichester Festival Theatre,Seven Brides for Seven Brothers – Regents Park Open Air Theatre).


THE RHYTHM METHOD headlines Fertility Fest (12-13 May) at The Bush Theatre – and the show then transfers to The Landor for a run of just six performance showcases with audience discussions from Monday 14 – Friday 18 May 2018.

THE RHYTHM METHOD is set in the near future where family planning no longer receives state support, telling the emotional and physical journey of the friends that meet at Lady Pearl Grey’s (Melanie Marshall) cosy little Tea House, where the brew is hot and the eggs are freshly laid – and all served with love and understanding. After all, the Tea House sports a weathered green plaque outside, for it was once the first Marie Stopes’ Mothers’ Clinic founded in 1921.

As the welfare state fades and austerity kicks in, the Tea House is a life line for the ever-changing facts (and fictions) of life. Pearl and her dearest friend Mimi (Annie Wensak) have shared a life-time of experience in family-planning, and now they are needed more than ever. When grand-daughter Flick (Jennifer Caldwell) arrives and meets Fra Fee‘s young scientist Sol who is on the brink of medical greatness, can each find their true rhythm and the best method by which to live it?

With only 6 performances at The Landor, the audience will be given an unique musical theatre experience to see THE RHYTHM METHOD showcase, directed by Titania Krimpas. The audience will then play an important role themselves in helping to inform and evolve the musical to the next stage of the show’s life, by joining the creative team and the fertility experts contributing to the development of the project, for a lively discussion!

THE RHYTHM METHOD is the small and perfectly formed chamber musical, by the writing partnership of singer, composer and multi-instrumentalist Gwyneth Herbert and playwright Diane Samuels. Their first musical collaboration was The A-Z Of Mrs. P, about the pioneering Phyllis Pearsall mapping an entire city into her 1936 pocket-sized A-Z Street Guide of 23,000 streets + house numbers(!) – Southwark Playhouse (2014). Gwyneth is currently touring Letters I Haven’t Writtenwith her band, and Diane Samuels‘s hauntingly moving play Kindertransport is currently on national tour.


THE RHYTHM METHOD – Bringing arts and science together.

Fertility experts joining THE RHYTHM METHOD discussions include: Lesley Hall (retired curator at the Wellcome Trust, specialist in Family Planning history); Alana Harris (Catholic academic specialising in religion and contraception); Ann Eady (pioneering family planning nurse, coil specialist) and John Guillebaud (academic in reproductive medicine / population activist).

THE RHYTHM METHOD is produced by The Stable with development support from The Wellcome Trust.


THE RHYTHM METHOD – A musical love story (with contraception)

MONDAY 14 – FRIDAY 18 MAY 2018

THE LANDOR (70 Landor Rd, London SW9 9PH)


Monday                               14/05/18 7.30pm (19:30hrs)

Tuesday                               15/05/18 7.30pm (19:30hrs)

Wednesday        16/05/18 2.30pm (14:30hrs) matinee performance

16/05/18 7.30pm (19:30hrs)

Thursday                             17/05/18 7.30pm (19:30hrs)

Friday                    18/05/18 7.30pm (19:30hrs)

Box Office:


All Tickets:                   £11.00p



Direct from an acclaimed West End season, the Olivier Award-nominated The Rat Pack – Live from Las Vegas is on its way to Darlington Hippodrome with a very special guest star.

With Garrett Phillips as Frank Sinatra, Nigel Casey as Dean Martin and David Hayes as Sammy Davis Jr, Nicola Emmanuelle joins the show as Ella Fitzgerald to celebrate the First Lady of Song and Queen of Jazz.

Extra songs featured in this special new edition of the hit production will include Night and Day, The Lady is a Tramp, Mack the Knife and S’Wonderful, with Ella duetting with both Frank and Sammy. Joanna Walters, Amelia Adams, Rebecca Parker and Laura Darton complete the cast as The Burrelli Sisters.

At the start of the 1960s, The Rat Pack led by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. were the toast of Las Vegas. With the world’s rich and famous jetting in to see them joke around and sing some of the finest songs ever written, the guys also starred together in a series of glamorous Hollywood films, set fashion trends, rubbed shoulders with the US President, politicians and mobsters… and partied hard as the coolest cats on the planet.

The Rat Pack – Live from Las Vegas recreates that special time. Prepare to drift back in time to an era of glitzy nights spent on the Vegas strip in the company of three of the world’s most popular entertainers. This spectacular production celebrates the incredible singing talent of three world-famous entertainers and performers and some of the finest music and song that has ever been recorded. Frank, Sammy and Dean are once again performing in the world-renowned Copa Room at the famous Sands Hotel, supported by the fabulous Burrelli Sisters and The Rat Pack Big Band in a critically acclaimed show that clocked up over 1,000 performances on its West End premiere.

Frequently imitated but never bettered, The Rat Pack – Live from Las Vegas features hit after hit, including The Lady is a Tramp, Mr Bojangles, That’s Amore, I’ve Got You Under My Skin, What Kind of Fool Am I?, Volare, My Way, Candyman, Everybody Loves Somebody and many, many more. If you wish you’d swung with the hardest partying pack in town, now’s your chance!

The Rat Pack – Live from Las Vegas runs at Darlington Hippodrome from Tuesday 8 to Saturday 12 May.

For more information or to book call 01325 405405 or visit



Hamlet tops the survey announced on Shakespeare’s birthday


On William Shakespeare’s birthday, 23 April 2018, leading theatrical website WhatsOnStage announce the results of the company’s survey to find the nation’s favourite Shakespeare play – Hamlet leads the poll with 13% of the vote, narrowly beating Much Ado About Nothing with 12%, and Macbeth with 11%.

A mustplay role for any leading actor, recent productions of Hamlet have seen Benedict Cumberbatch take to the Barbican stage in Lindsay Turner’s production and Andrew Scott in the Almeida Theatre’s recent Olivier Award-nominated West End transfer, and will soon see the new artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe Michelle Terry open her inaugural season in the title role. Mel Giedroyc and John Hopkins are currently playing Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing at the Rose Theatre in Kingston; and third-placed Macbeth has had two major revivals this year already – Rory Kinnear and Anne Marie Duff in the National Theatre’s production, and opening hot on its heels was Christopher Eccleston and Niamh Cusack in the RSC’s staging.

Chief Operating Officer of WhatsOnStage Sita McIntosh said today, “454 years after the world’s greatest playwright was born, William Shakespeare’s plays are as loved as ever. Theatres around the UK are largely to thank for this, continuing to celebrate the Bard’s work with world-class performances, not least the Almeida’s outstanding, WhatsOnStage Award-winning staging of Hamlet starring Andrew Scott, which surely helped it to claim top spot. Happy birthday William Shakespeare.”

The top 10 in the poll as voted for by the public are:

1.     Hamlet

2.     Much Ado About Nothing

3.     Macbeth

4.     A Midsummer Night’s Dream

5.     Twelfth Night

6.     Othello

7.     Romeo and Juliet

8.     The Tempest

9.     King Lear

10.  Richard II

The plays voted on in the survey were the 36 plays included in Shakespeare’s First Folio.


WHATSONSTAGE.COM is the UK’s leading dedicated theatre website. is the trusted source for theatre information and editorial content. The website comprises comprehensive listings of performances nationwide, unrivalled theatre news, reviews, photos, interviews, gossip, blogs and features, as well as video and user-generated content.  WhatsOnStage presents the annual WhatsOnStage Awards, the only major annual UK theatre awards decided by the voting public. The company also runs the WhatsOnStage Theatre Club and hosts year-round events to major new West End productions, including post-show Q&As with the stars and creatives, which enhance the theatregoing experience for all involved.

WhatsOnStage Ltd was acquired in January 2013 by, Inc., a leading US-based theatre content, ticketing and services company. The merger of these two renowned theatre brands forms the first dedicated transatlantic digital theatre media group, serving the world’s two great theatre capitals, London and New York, and markets throughout the United States and United Kingdom.  In 2012 TheaterMania became presenter of the annual Drama Desk Awards, honouring excellence in New York theatre across Broadway, Off Broadway and Off-Off Broadway. In 2017, WhatsOnStage became a part of the AudienceView portfolio of brands, which fuel attendee engagement, ticket sales and advertising solutions for sports, music and theatre in 15 countries around the world.

Twitter: @WhatsOnStage

Casting announced for the Octagon Theatre Bolton’s site-specific production of Summer Holiday

Casting announced for the Octagon Theatre Bolton’s site-specific production of Summer Holiday


Octagon Theatre Bolton are delighted to announce full casting for their forthcoming site-specific production of the musical Summer Holiday.

The production’s cast will feature Michael Peavoy (The Fall of The Master BuilderWest Yorkshire Playhouse and Jane Eyre, Octagon Theatre Bolton) as Don; Eleanor Brown (Singin’ in the rain, Bolton Octagon/Salisbury Playhouse/New Vic and The Wipers Times, Watermill Theatre) as Barbara;  Greg Last (Sweet Charity, New Wolsey Theatre) as Jerry; David Heywood (Sleeping Beauty The Rock and Roll Panto, Theatr Clwyd and Mike Leigh’s forthcoming film Peterloo) as Steve; Isobel Bates (Oh What A Lovely War, Oldham Coliseum) as Mimsie; Luke Thornton (Dusty, Charing Cross Theatre and Footloose UK Tour, Sell A Door ) as Edwin; Sarah Workman (Three Minute Heroes, Belgrade Theatre ) as Angie; Alexander Bean (Teddy, Southwark Playhouse ) as Cyril; and Barbara Hockaday (Singin’ in the rain, Bolton Octagon/Salisbury Playhouse/New Vic and Rebecca, Kneehigh) as Stella. All the cast will play additional roles.

For Summer Holiday, the site-specific production will see audiences meeting at Bolton Interchange where a short scene will take place. They will then embark onto 6 double decker buses along with actors on each bus where there will be a song along the way as audiences are driven onto Victoria Square next to Bolton Town Hall. Audiences will then disembark from the buses to witness the “mini crash” scene outside of the hall – before being transferred to the Octagon Theatre Bolton to watch the remainder of the performance.

The production will be co-directed by Octagon Theatre’s Artistic Director Elizabeth Newman and Ben Occhipinti.

Elizabeth Newman, Artistic Director at the Octagon Theatre, said:

As the Octagon building closes for our important redevelopment, we are heading on our adventures as we produce shows out of the building. We wanted to offer our audiences some exciting and fun experiences and since producing Singin’ in the Rain we’ve been keen to create another joyous musical – so Summer Holiday is the perfect show to begin our adventures! It will be an ambitious staging of the musical, with talented actor-musicians singing, dancing and playing musical instruments in locations across Bolton. This will be a version of Summer Holiday never seen before and I can’t wait to share it with audiences in Bolton and beyond.”

 Summer Holiday will be playing at Bolton Travel Interchange and Octagon Theatre Bolton between Thursday 31 May – Saturday 23 June. Ticket prices from £27.50 – £18.50.



DATES: Thu 31 May – Sat 23 June 2018

TIMES: Evenings 7.30pm. 2pm [email protected] Sat 2, Wed 6, Sat 9, Wed 13, Sat 16 & Sat 23 June

TICKETS: £27.50 – £18.50 (concessions available)

Groups 10+ 
Save £3 off full price tickets plus 1 free organiser ticket*
Groups 30+ Save £3.50 off full price tickets plus 1 free organiser ticket*
Schools Tickets £11 – £18 plus 1 free teacher per 15 pupils*
*Excludes Friday and Saturday evening performances, rear gallery on all performances & Bargain Night performances.

BOX OFFICE: 01204 520661 Online Booking:

SOCIAL MEDIATwitter: @octagontheatre | Facebook / OctagonBolton | Instagram @octagontheatre



VENUE: Bolton Travel Interchange and Octagon Theatre Bolton
PARTNERS: TFGM, Vision Buses and Bolton Council
FOOD PARTNER: Olympus Fish and Chip Restaurant – offering set pre-show menu and space for hospitality for press night.

The Canterville Ghost Review

The Peacock Theatre – Friday 20th April 2018

Reviewed by Sharon and Georgia Kennedy


THE CANTERVILLE GHOST- A ballet based on a novella by Oscar Wilde

STARRING: Zack Tidwell as the ghost, Amelia Davison as Virginia, Otto May as Cecil Duke of Cheshire and the Company of the London Children’s Ballet.

This is the first production of the season for the London Children’s Ballet. The quality of the sets & costumes were fantastic in colour & style. The opening scene is set in 1584 when the main protagonist Sir Simon Canterville dies chained to a cellar floor for allegedly murdering his wife. The Grim Reaper tells him he can only be redeemed by the prayers of an innocent girl who will befriend him. Having been haunting successive families who have lived in his former home, we are transported to 1920 and the arrival of the wealthy American Otis family and their 4 children.

One forgets very quickly that these all child performers. It is amazing to realise these are very young dancers, telling a story of some depth & meaning through the medium of dance. The principal dancers, Zack Tidwell & Otto May are both 16 years old. Amelia Davison is only 12 years old. The world of professional ballet should be eagerly awaiting the development of these young people. The whole Company were truly phenomenal. Each one giving an outstanding performance. Well done LCB

My 9 year old daughter came with me to review this production, here is her review in her own words:

“It was a very good ballet I thought it was very well done . One of my favourite parts was when the ghost painted the blood back on the wall after the dad had rubbed it off. And I also liked when the naughty twins trapped the ghost in a net. But I loved the end because it was really happy and sweet. It was one of the best ballets I have seen. It was so good.”

We give this show ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and hope people enjoy it as much as we did.