Lambert Jackson present

There’s Nothin’ Like a Dame

100 Years of Women in Musical Theatre


Cadogan Hall

Thursday 30 August, 7.30pm


Lambert Jackson presents its debut show There’s Nothin’ Like a Dame – 100 Years of Women in Musical Theatre a one-night celebration of women in musical theatre. Louise DearmanRia JonesAlexia Khadime and Rachel Tucker come together to perform songs from some of the most famous female roles over the past century.


This super group of amazing leading ladies will perform for one night at the stunning Cadogan Hall in London to celebrate 100 years of female characters in musical theatre. From classics like Rogers and Hammerstein to modern smash hits, from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Stephen Schwartz, this show has something for everyone, and is a unique opportunity to see these four incredible performers in concert together in a beautiful, historic London venue.

Jamie Lambert, CEO of Lambert Jackson, “We feel like this is the year of the woman and so it seems the perfect moment for There’s Nothin’ Like a Dame, which will be a glorious celebration of women in musicals over the past 100 years. This is our debut production and we can’t wait to show fans of musical theatre what more we have planned. Coming from a performance background, we are determined to be a company who are fair, who look after their performers and who put on fantastic, creative and beautiful shows.”

Louise Dearman’s theatre credits include Grease (Victoria Palace Theatre/UK tour), Guys and Dolls (Piccadilly Theatre/UK tour), Debbie Does Dallas (Edinburgh Festival Fringe), Tell Me On A Sunday (international tour), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor DreamcoatEvitaJudy (UK tour), The Waterbabies (Curve), Wicked (Apollo Victoria) and Sideshow (Southwark Playhouse). She has also performed as a soloist in concerts across the UK in venues including Royal Albert Hall and Royal Festival Hall. Dearman has released four solo albums, You and IHere Comes the Sun, It’s Time and Bond and Beyond.


Ria Jones’ theatre credits include (UK tour), Evita (Opera House, Manchester), Chess (Prince Edward Theatre), Cats (New London Theatre), Les Miserables (UK tour/Queen’s Theatre),  Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Apollo Hammersmith/UK tour), Nine (Donmar Warehouse), Personals  (New End Theatre, Hampstead), A Little Night Music  (Leicester Haymarket), Romance RomanceVictor Victoria (Bridewell Theatre), High Society (UK tour/Shaftesbury Theatre), 42nd Street (Curve), Acorn Antiques, Sunset Boulevard,The Witches of Eastwick and Anything Goes (UK tour) for which she was nominated for a UK Theatre Award for best performance in a musical.


Alexia Khadime‘s theatre credits include The Lion King (Lyceum Theatre), Wicked (Apollo Victoria), Les Miserables (Queen’s Theatre) and The Book of Mormon (Prince of Wales Theatre – for which she won the WhatsOnStage Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical as well as a BroadwayWorld  Award and the West End Wilma Award for Best Supporting Role in a Musical). Her credits for film include, Les Miserables.

Rachel Tucker’s theatre credits include Two (Bridge House Theatre), The Last Ship (Neil Simon Theatre, New York/Bank of America Theatre, Chicago), Communicating Doors (Menier Chocolate Factory), Farragut North (Southwark Playhouse), We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre) and Wicked (Gershwin Theatre/Apollo Victoria – for which she was awarded the WhatsOnStage Award for Best Takeover in a Role). Tucker has also released three solo albums, The ReasonKingdoms and On the Road.



There’s Nothin’ Like a Dame – 100 Years of Women in Musical Theatre 

Cadogan Hall

5 Sloane Terrace, London SW1X 9DQ


Box Office: 020 7730 4500


Cadogan Hall

Thursday 30 August, 7.30pm


Tickets: from £28

COME FROM AWAY – UK and Irish premieres announced for International new musical





The Tony Award-winning new musical COME FROM AWAY tells the remarkable true story of 7,000 stranded air passengers during the wake of 9/11, and the small town in Newfoundland that welcomed them. It will land in London for its long-awaited UK premiere at the Phoenix Theatre next year with performances from 30 January 2019 and opening night on 18 February 2019.

Prior to the West End, this heart-warming musical will have a limited engagement at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin from 6 December 2018 to 19 January 2019.

This joyous new musical recounts the incredible true story of how the residents of Gander, Newfoundland welcomed the passengers of planes from around the world. Cultures clashed, and nerves ran high, but as uneasiness turned into trust, music soared into the night and gratitude grew into enduring friendships.

On 11 September 2001 the world stopped. On 12 September, their stories moved us all.

Canada’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Mrs Janice Charette, said: “I could not be more delighted that Come From Away is coming to the UK next year. A story that captures the kindness and humanity of the people of Canada – and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador in particular – at a crucial moment  in U.S. and global history. This show reminds us what good neighbours and true friendship is all about. Audiences in London are in for a treat.”

Earning widespread critical and audience acclaim, the multi award-winning musical continues sold-out, record-breaking engagements on Broadway, and in Canada, with a 60-city North American Tour launching in October in Seattle, an Australian production confirmed for summer 2019, and a feature film adaptation in the works.

Come From Away features a book, music and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein and is directed by Christopher Ashley, with musical staging by Kelly Devine, music supervision and arrangements by Ian Eisendrath, scenic design by Beowulf Boritt, costume design by Toni-Leslie James, lighting design by Howell Binkley, sound design by Gareth Owen, orchestrations by August Eriksmoen, and casting by Pippa Ailion CDG and Natalie Gallacher CDG.

The UK and Ireland cast for Come From Away will be announced in due course.

Book, music and lyric writers, Irene Sankoff and David Hein, said: “The humour, the music, and the infectious generosity of spirit of the people of Newfoundland inspired us to write this musical, however along the journey we discovered that this isn’t just a Canadian story – it’s a universal story of how, when faced with global atrocities, the world comes together to respond with kindness and cooperation. We are particularly thrilled to be sharing this story with audiences in the UK and Ireland.”

A “Best Musical” winner all across North America, Come From Away has won the Tony Award for “Best Direction of a Musical” (Christopher Ashley), 5 Outer Critics Circle Awards (NYC) including “Outstanding New Broadway Musical,” 3 Drama Desk Awards (NYC) including “Outstanding Musical,” 4 Helen Hayes Awards    (Washington DC)  including  “Outstanding   Production   of   a   Musical,”  4   Gypsy   Rose   Lee   Awards   (Seattle) including “Excellence in Production of a Musical,” 6 San Diego Critics Circle Awards including “Outstanding  New Musical,” 3 Toronto Theatre Critics Awards including “Best New Musical,” 3 Dora Awards (Toronto) including  “Outstanding  New  Musical/Opera”  and  “Outstanding  Production,”  and   the  2017   Jon   Kaplan Audience Choice Award (Toronto).

Come From Away was originally co-produced in 2015 by La Jolla Playhouse and Seattle Repertory Theatre, and presented in 2016 by Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC and Mirvish Productions at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto, Canada, all in partnership with Junkyard Dog Productions. Come From Away (NAMT Festival 2013) was originally developed at the Canadian Music Theatre Project, Michael Rubinoff Producer, Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, Canada and was further developed at Goodspeed Musicals’ Festival of New Artists, in East Haddam CT. The Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the 5th Avenue Theatre in Seattle WA also provided development support.

Come From Away is produced in the UK and Ireland by Junkyard Dog Productions and Smith & Brant Theatricals. The European premiere of Come From Away will be presented in partnership with The Abbey Theatre, Dublin.



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Phoenix Theatre
Charing Cross Rd, London WC2H 0JP

First performance: 30 January 2019
Opening Night: 18 February 2019

Performance schedule

Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm
Wednesday and Saturday matinee performances at 2.30pm

Box office details

Telephone 0844 871 7615
Prices  from £19.50 (from £10 during preview performances: 30 January to 16 February 2019)

Abbey Theatre
26-27 Abbey Street Lower, North City, Dublin, D01 K0F1, Ireland

First performance: 6 December 2018
Final performance: 19 January 2019
Opening Night: 11 December 2018

Performance schedule

Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm
Saturday matinee performances at 2.30pm

Box office details

telephone 00353 1 87 87 222
Prices  from €13

Oliver Review

The Montgomery, Sheffield – until 30 June

Reviewed by Lottie Davis-Browne


Every time I see an advertisement for Sheffield based theatre company Easy Street, I start singing the song of the same name from the 1982 musical Annie! Not only that I turn all “jazz hands” and start wishing I could physically kick my legs to one side and start copying the movie’s dance routine! You know you have an addiction to theatre when this happens……

However the latest instalment from Easy Street is the musical about the other rags-to-riches orphan – Lionel Barts’ adaptation of the classic Charles Dicken’s novel “Oliver!”, running from Wednesday 27th June to Saturday 30th June at The Montgomery Theatre.

Now in their ninth year, Easy Street Theatre Company has both a junior (up to Year 6) and a senior group, giving young performers in Sheffield a chance to be part of large productions. As they approach their tenth year, the company celebrates going from strength-to-strength as their team of young performers have increased over the years, putting their senior section at full capacity with a waiting list, and the junior section being close to full.

Oliver tells the story of a young orphaned boy in London, in the Victorian era. Oliver Twist is only hours old when he is orphaned following his mother’s death and taken to the local workhouse where this story starts, as we meet Oliver and his fellow workhouse orphans.

As the opening song “Food, Glorious Food” intro starts, the orphans enter the stage through the back of the aisles; these malnourished, dirty and disheveled young boys, forced to work long hours in Mr. Bumbles’ workhouse and live on a diet of gruel (that’s watered down porridge to you and I!). It’s meal time and the boys sit round long wooden tables with benches; above a wooden sign reads “God Is Love”, a measly portion of gruel is served and young Oliver approaches Mr. Bumble asking for more. Angered by this, cold hearted Mr. Bumble (Harry Foster-Major) decides enough is enough and takes to the streets to sell Oliver as a servant boy. Taken in by funeral director Mr. Sowerby (Jacob Broughton-Glerup) and Mrs. Sowerby (Hannah Prichard) young Oliver (is set to become an assistant, walking alongside the coffin bearers. That is until he gets into a fight and runs away. Soon he is picked up by a pickpocket who goes by the name of The Artful Dodger (Ben Storey) and taken to live with gang leader Fagin (Ethan Carley) and a load of other young pickpocket orphans.

Both the roles of Oliver and The Artful Dodger are shared between two boys (four boys in total), and this evenings two young leads certainly did not disappoint. Firstly, Benjamin Rossiter gave a splendid performance as the title character, his voice at times was angelic and he managed to hit most of those high notes, particularly in the more challenging songs such as “Where Is Love?” Ben Storey was equally charming and vocally mature, proving he could not only sing but dance and act – simultaneously too! Katherine Rice (“Nancy”) and Ethan Carley (“Fagin”) however were the real show stealers this evening.

Rice’s powerful vocals, especially in the solo “As Long As He Needs Me” were in another league; I’m sure it won’t be long until we are seeing Katherine Rice perform in bigger venues in even more challenging roles.

Carley’s Fagin was on dead ringer for Ron Moody’s portrayal in the 1968 movie adaptation. It was almost like they’d got Moody’s character on in hologram form because the similarities were uncanny. Carley was most definitely the highlight of the performance for me, and I am saddened to hear that this is his last role with Easy Street, but this can only lead to bigger and better things for Carley and I wish him every success for the future.

My only bug bear of this production was the major lack of scenery; the stage set was minimalist however this worked well but it was the over use of a cream back sheet for most of it. Surely with the amount of kids involved there’s enough budding artists to paint scenic backdrops to fit the scenes? Or how about having a separate section for kids set up for none performers who can learn everything from costume making to lighting and sound, front of house, advertising and media to stage sets and designs? This aside the level of performers has come on leaps and bounds since my last visit to an Easy Street production.

Tickets are still available, and at affordable prices meaning you won’t have to pick a pocket (or two!) to see this worthwhile performance.

For tickets please call the Montgomery Box Office on 0114 3273456.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream Review

Wilton’s Music Hall – until Saturday 30th June 2018

Reviewed by Antonia Hebbert


Brush up your Shakespeare before seeing this production by the Faction Ensemble. If you don’t know that the actors are changing seamlessly between three distinct sets of characters, you will soon be as lost as the young lovers whose mix-ups are part of the plot. As long as you know roughly who’s who and when, this is a fine and funny Midsummer Night’s Dream, and a celebration of the power of theatre to weave a spell.

The Faction gives us a very stripped down production: an empty stage, a big moon-like light suspended above it, and eight actors doubling or tripling up roles as young lovers, fairies, and ‘rude mechanicals’ (workers), who are putting on a play within the play. Instead of props and scenery, there are changes in sound (Yaiza Varona), light (Ben Jacobs) and the actors’ highly expressive physicality, to signal the change from human affairs to fairies to comedy and back. The movement director is Richard James Neale, and there are some wonderful moments, such as the physical tangle of characters who have got themselves tied up in emotional knots. Fairies must always be a bit of a challenge but here they are very subtle – just hands and arms transform Bottom into a donkey, and the effect is quite uncanny.

Willton’s Music Hall is the beautiful bare-bones setting for all this, the world’s oldest grand music hall, itself stripped back to bricks, metal and plaster, with its own history of raucous entertainment. Sometimes the actors’ words got lost in the space, but mostly the ensemble achieved their aim of conveying the richness and vividness of the text. Every ounce of earthy comedy is extracted. Lowri Izzard was a beautifully clear Hermia, moving from noble calm to thwarted rage; Laura Evelyn was appealingly down to earth as Helena. Herb Guanalo morphed without missing a beat between authoritative Oberon and comical Quince. Linda Marlowe made a cheery busybody Puck, though not always easy to hear. Christopher Hughes burst onto the stage as a larger-than-life, larger-than-everything Bottom, and was plain brilliant at being part man, part donkey.

The play ends on a high note of comedy, with the workers’ own shambolic little play, a send-up of clunky drama. In the end, we’re reminded that like the characters, we too have been held in a dream: the real magic is in the power of words and actors to suspend our everyday world.

Woven Bones Review

Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle Upon Tyne – 27 June 2018

Reviewed by Andy Bramfitt

Take a step through time and walk in the shoes of the Scottish soldiers who became Durham’s darkest secret.

Laura Lindow has written a powerful and poignant piece which transports the audience back into 17th century Scotland and brings alive the heart-breaking tale of local lads who were conscripted to fight against Cromwell’s English army and their families they were forced to leave behind. Based on the archaeological findings at Durham Palace Library, and using the forensic evidence which helped to establish the soldiers’ lifestyle, Woven Bones is clever, witty and captivating. Taking the audience back from the initial discovery of the remains to the childhood of one of the soldiers, we follow his story as he leaves the Western highlands and walks down the length of the country, finally ending up at the battle of Dunbar. From here, our soldier is captured and becomes a prisoner of war, marched further south and held captive with thousands others in Durham Cathedral. Luckily, he was one of very few who survived and ended up leaving these shores for a new life in a New World.

The cast, Greig Adam, Paula Penman and Gemma Stroyan are brilliantly inventive, providing everything from the soundscape of building work right through to becoming archaeologists providing the science behind the soldier’s story. They very quickly draw you into the world of Scottish families in the mid 1600’s with a blend of humour and pathos. Director Brad McCormick keeps the intensity high, made all the more claustrophobic by Katie Doherty’s ambient soundtrack, while Anna Reid’s design is impressive in its simplicity.

If you have been to see the Bodies of Evidence exhibition at Durham Palace Library then Woven Bones is a brilliant companion to the whole story. Laura Lindow has once again written a piece of theatre which transcends time and cultures and, by ensuring that it’s not just the story of the soldiers bit also their families we cannot ignore that each set of bones found represents a life amongst lives.

Woven Bones is on tour in June & July – check out the Cap-a-Pie website for more details and tickets: 29th June, The Maltings, Berwick 3rd July. The Customs House, South Shields 5th July, Arts Centre Washington 6th & 7th July, Gala Theatre, Durham

Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em Review

Hull New Theatre – until 30th June 2018

Reviewed by Catherine McWilliams


As the theme music started I was transported back to my childhood sitting room in the 1970’s, waiting with glee for the next episode of Some Mothers Do ‘Ave Em to start, except last night I was in Hull New Theatre and everything was live and in technicolor and not on a small black and white TV in the corner of the room! I settled down to laugh and to be entertained and I wasn’t disappointed

Guy Unsworth has very cleverly adapted and directed Raymond Allen’s TV series for the stage, and from the start Joe Pasquale makes the character of Frank Spencer his very own. The play is still set in the 1970’s and the scenery and costumes are spot on – sadly life did really look like that and we really did wear those clothes.

The chaos, that inevitably revolves around Frank Spencer, take place in Frank and Betty’s house as Betty struggles to find the way to tell Frank that she is pregnant. Cue the rest of the cast knowing the secret and being at complete cross purposes, add in a visit from a BBC producer to see Frank’s magic act and Frank trying to cook supper and generally look after everyone and you have a night of laughter.

As the play all takes place in Frank and Betty’s home there are none of the huge stunts that you see in the TV series. However the play does not suffer from this as the timing and delivery of the many mishaps are superb and the dialogue is slick and very clever and full of throw away lines like Frank’s “I’m the heir sole of the family”. Be careful to listen very carefully (as you are laughing) or you will miss some absolute gems.

Joe Pasquale is outstanding as Frank Spencer, his timing is excellent, his delivery of some very long and convoluted Frank Spencer sentences incredible and his stunts are fab! He carries the play superbly and to my mind is a gentler, more caring Frank. Joe’s Frank Spencer is clearly a man who is just trying to please everyone and do the best he can, admittedly with rather worrying consequences!

Susie Blake as Barbara Fisher, Betty’s Mother is excellent, and her descent into drunkeness is a joy to watch! She adds beautifully to the misunderstandings, whilst despairing of her daughter’s choice of husband.

Sarah Earnshaw (Betty), David Shaw-Parker (Father O’Hara) Moray Treadwell (Terry Lumscombe/David Worthington) and Chris Kiely (Desmond James/Constable) all play their parts to perfection, their timing and delivery superb adding wonderfully to the chaos. Interestingly the weakest character is that of Betty, but this is looking at it with the eyes of 2018 – I’m not sure there is a woman out there who would put up with Frank these days!

This is a gentle comedy of mishaps, misunderstandings and mayhem, a perfect role for Joe Pasquale , take yourself off to Hull New Theatre for a night of fun and laughter – you won’t be disappointed.

Whisky Galore Review

Salisbury Playhouse – until 30 June.

Reviewed by Nicky Wyatt


It’s all about the Whisky!!

Allow yourself to be transported back to the 1940’s for this comic tale, which combines the Osiris Players with a real life shipwreck.

Just imagine living on one of two small islands Little and Great Todday. The islands are divided one a protestant and one a catholic separated by The Coolish, the one thing both have in common is their love of Whisky. But there is a war on and supplies have run out no boats are coming with new stocks and the beer has almost run dry too!

The islanders are trying to go about their lives and even plan a couple of weddings but they really do miss the Whisky.

Lady luck was on their side though when there is a shipwreck off the coast with no less that 50,000 bottles on board, all their Christmases have come at once it seems, they just have to get it and avoid the excise men.

Throughout this show I had to keep reminding myself it was set in the 1940’s, when you remember that it’s easy to see the talent that the seven actresses on stage have. Each of them has multiple roles and are rarely off stage. They are all portraying different characters the majority of which are male. I did struggle with some of the accents if I’m honest which at times made it hard to follow.

The scene changes are fun because it’s the cast that are acting them out , I think the best one for me was Paul Waggett( Isabel Ford) driving Fred Odd(Shuna Snow).

Stand out for me was (Sally Armstrong) as Father Macalister she was fab in all her characters. A perfect narrator as very easy to understand unlike some of the others with their accents.

It wasn’t the laugh out loud comedy I was expecting , it felt as dated as it is, more Dad’s Army meets the Village Players. However the real pleasure in this show is the skill of the actresses to pull off so many characters.



Manchester Opera House have today revealed that Gareth Gates will join the cast of Cinderella as Prince Charming, alongside Coronation Street bad boys Connor McIntyre and Les Dennis who were previously announced as the Ugly Sisters.

Gareth Gates rose to stardom in 2002 as runner-up in the UK’s first Pop Idol. In a phenomenal career which followed, he has sold more than 3.5 million records in the UK, released three albums and had four UK number one singles.

Alongside his pop career Gareth has been seen on ITV1’s Dancing on Ice and The Big Reunion 2014 for ITV. Gareth’s theatre career has seen him play Marius in the 25th anniversary tour of Les Misérables for Sir Cameron Mackintosh, as well as roles in Loserville at West Yorkshire Playhouse and the UK tours of Legally Blonde andBoogie Nights the Musical. He has regularly toured in the concert Mad About the Musicals and also starred in the UK tour of Footloose. Gareth opened his new performing arts school, Fates Academy, in Salford Quays last year.

Cinderella will be once again be produced by Qdos Entertainment, the world’s biggest pantomime producer, continuing their partnership with Manchester Opera House following last year’s production of Dick Whittington, which recently won the Manchester Theatre Award for Special Entertainment.

Michael Harrison, Managing Director of Qdos Entertainment’s pantomime division said: “I’m absolutely delighted that Gareth Gates has agreed to bring his singing talent to our Manchester pantomime this Christmas. I’m sure Gareth will be the perfect ally for Cinderella as she battles the formidable Connor McIntyre and Les Dennis in the guise of her ugly step sisters.”

Sheena Wrigley, Theatre Director for the Palace Theatre and Opera House, added “As well as being a terrific singer, Gareth has built an impressive theatre career and also has a great affinity to Manchester, having opened his performing arts academy in Salford Quays last year. He is a fantastic addition to our cast, alongside the previously announced Connor McIntyre and Les Dennis, and we’re excited to present another high-quality production to our audiences this Christmas.”

Don’t miss your chance to see Cinderella, the Fairy Godmother of all pantomimes. The clock is ticking… book your tickets to the Ball today!

Phoenix Dance Theatre Sail Home



Phoenix at Home 18th – 20th October

now on sale


It’s been quite a year for internationally-renowned, Leeds-based contemporary dance company, Phoenix Dance Theatre.

Twelve months ago its Artistic Director, Sharon Watson, announced she was creating a first-ever dance piece around the subject of Windrush, the ship that brought the first large group of immigrants from Jamaica to the UK.  It was to mark 70 years since the ship’s arrival in 1948 and went on to be a huge success, lauded by audiences and reviewers alike.  After touring to nine UK venues, a festival in Germany, and a special performance at Tilbury Docks on Windrush Day, Windrush: Movement of the People continues to tour returning to Yorkshire in November this year.

This last year has been amazing for the company,” says Sharon. “We have toured around the country with Windrush and its supporting Mixed Programme; we met and developed a relationship with Alford Gardner, the only Leeds resident to come to the UK on the SS Empire Windrush 70 years ago, we met the Prime Minister, performed at Tilbury Docks, visited China to promote Leeds and Yorkshire as a cultural powerhouse, and now we’re preparing to head home to Leeds for our annual production Phoenix at Homeat our very own Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre.”

This is the eighth production of Phoenix at Home; last year saw the company celebrate female choreographers utilising the company’s own talent including a piece by multi-award-winning company dancer Sandrine Monin.

Female choreographers are few and far between,” Sharon continues. “There are many women at entry level but as you go higher up they disappear –  I wanted to show off our own company’s female talent.”

This year Phoenix will present Robert North’s world-renowned Troy Game.  Described by the New York Times as a ‘funny and sexy romp’, Troy Game is a tongue in cheek parody of male machismo specially re staged for Phoenix to include female dancers.

Sandrine Monin makes a welcome return with an excerpt from her new pieceKirke for which she has again teamed up with composer Roberto Rusconi, and Phoenix Youth Academy take to the stage with colourful and comedic new work Spam choreographed by company dancer Michael Marquez.

We always look forward to performing in our home city of Leeds,” Sharon concludes. “It’s where we were born and we’re very proud of that.”

Phoenix at Home is at Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre from

Friday 18th to Saturday 20th October 2018 at 7.30pm

with a 2pm matinee on Saturday.


Tickets are on sale now priced at £16, £13 concession


Book online at

or call box office 0113 220 8008

The Last Ship Review

York Theatre Royal until Saturday 30th June 2018.

Reviewed by Michelle Richardson


Sting’s debut musical The Last Ship has hit York Theatre Royal this week as part of a successful UK tour. Word had certainly gotten around and Sting’s involvement was obviously a big draw, as the theatre was packed out, a great sight to see. Unfortunately, we were hit with a delay of 30 minutes due to technical difficulties, but eventually the show did go on, and what a show it was.

Inspired by Sting’s 1991 album, The Soul Cages, The Last Ship is an account of family, community and defiance, inspired by Sting’s own childhood experiences and the shipbuilding industry in Wallsend. It tells the story of a shipyard facing closure, with one last ship not quite finished, that the authorities just want to break up for scrap. It is at times quite a political piece with a battle of the unions and authorities, harking back to Maggie Thatcher and the miners’ strike. Ultimately though, the workers unite and the last ship will be built.

From the get go the stage is buzzing with the voices of all the cast members singing, along with the powerful stomping that really hits home with a punch, which sets the scene for what is to come, a passionate play about community.

Interlaced with the ongoing political story we see Gideon Fletcher (Richard Fleeshman), a sailor returning after 17 years to his former life and sweetheart, Meg Dawson (Frances McNamee) that he abandoned, and unbeknownst to him, pregnant. Fleeshman has such an amazing rich voice, that I loved hearing him sing. Most of his interactions with McNamee were through song, and she also delivered with her powerful vocals, and she can certainly hold a note.

Another branch of the story is the tale of well respected foreman Jack (Joe McGann) and his wife Peggy (Penelope Woodman). Woodman has stepped into the role as understudy this week due to illness and gives a superb performance as Peggy which I cannot see being surpassed. McGann has that raspiness feel of the working man who is just trying to do the best for all his men, the true leader who inspires.

All the cast are really quite excellent, delivering powerful performances. Katie Moore, who plays Ellen Dawson, the daughter, and delivers the final inspirational speech.

The set, created by 59 productions, appears simple, but really wasn’t, and was very effective. As well as the use of scaffolding, the art of projection is also used to create quick and incredible scene changes, at times quite breath taking.

This is a powerful show that really packed a punch and at times gave me goosebumps. Thoroughly deserving the standing ovation that it received. Grab a ticket if you can before it moves to its last destination at the Lowry in Salford.