Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens

The Pod, The Actors Church – until 4th December 2021

Reviewed By Emily Cliff


If you are looking for a truly magical evening of theatre then look no further. Hidden in the hustle and of a Christmassy Covent Garden is The Pod nestled snugly in the courtyard of St Pauls (The Actors Church), and a portal to another planet filled with talking birds, flying children and fairies disguised as flowers.

Going into this play written by Charlotte Ellen you really have to open your mind to a world of imagination. In a snug tent with not much going on in the terms of set design, you have to open your imagination and immerse yourself into the play, and when you do it is like the world has opened up its doors to you, and you’re in on this mighty fine secret.

Not many people know the untold story of Peter Pan, the boy that never grows up. Betwixt and Between present it in a way that’s utterly charming and imaginative. With only an hour run time, there is a lot to cram in in a short space of time, however, the show never feels rushed or too drawn out at any point. The segways between stories scenes are seamless and truly immerse you into the story.

With musical aspects, and comedic moments this classic storytelling is suitable for people of all ages. From an outsider looking in it just looks like a father playing with his daughter however when you sit in the audience and follow how these stories and different bit like sections come together it really does feel like you are a part of this story, whether it be a leaf on a tree branch or a fairy in Kensington Gardens it feels like you a part of this story as much as the actors and the characters.

Clever lighting helps the audience transition from the story of peter pan to the story of Mary, a child running away from home because she doesn’t want to grow up. Riddled with references from the original story of Peter and Wendy the story is brilliant to be seen by those young and old. If you want to take a trip on a boat, soar the skies like a bird and forget the outside world for just a little bit then Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens is the perfect start to the Christmas season for you

Full Cast Announced for World Premiere of THE DA VINCI CODE starring Nigel Harman, Danny John-Jules and Hanna Rose Caton






On Tour from 10 January – 12 November 2022

The full cast joining award winning Nigel Harman as Robert LangdonRed Dwarf and Death in Paradise star Danny John-Jules as Sir Leigh Teabing and newcomer Hannah Rose Caton as Sophie Neveu in the World Premiere of the first-ever stage adaptation of Dan Brown’s international phenomenon, The Da Vinci Code was announced today.  

The cast joining Nigel, Danny and Hannah are:  Basienka Blake (Vernet), Alasdair Buchan (Remy) Alpha Kargbo (Fache), Joshua Lacy (Silas), Leigh Lothian (Colette/Sophie understudy) Andrew Lewis (Sauniere) and  Debra Michaels (Sandrine/Grandmother). 

Producer Simon Friend said:  “We have a truly stellar cast and creative team bringing The Da Vinci Code to life on stage for the first time, and with Dan Brown’s full endorsement of the show and the talented director Luke Sheppard at the helm, we’re confident that we’ll please devoted fans as well as newcomers to this magnificent story.”

‘Dan Brown’s epic thriller has been read by millions worldwide, and seen by millions worldwide on the big screen, and we are all looking forward to taking our brand new stage version to audiences all over the UK.’

Dan Brown said: “I am thrilled that The Da Vinci Code is being adapted for the stage, and excited to see the unique potential of live theatre enhance this story. The team making the production has been faithful to the book, but will also bring something new for the audience, in what is certain to be a gripping, fast-paced stage thriller and a thoroughly entertaining show.”

The tour begins at the Churchill Theatre,  Bromley on 10 January and goes on to NottinghamSheffieldBathPlymouthClywd, CoventryHullWolverhamptonBrightonCheltenhamGlasgowEdinburgh, and Newcastle.

It then travels to Southampton, RichmondWoking, LeicesterNorwichYorkShrewsburyDartfordBirminghamCardiffMilton Keynes, Aberdeen, SalfordLeeds, Malvern, Belfast, Guildford, Northampton, Swindon, Liverpool and Bradford where it runs until 12 November 2022.  

(Nigel Harman and Danny John-Jules will be performing the roles of Langdon and Teabing up to and including Newcastle.  Danny will be performing in Southampton and Nigel will commence the tour again from Leeds to Swindon.  Other dates and cast are to be announced.)

Nigel Harman played Dennis Rickman in EastEnders from 2003-5.  His other TV work includes Downton AbbeyMiss Marple – The Mirror Crack’dHotel BabylonLark Rise to Candleford and City of Vice.  His theatre credits include Glengarry Glen RossI Can’t Sing at the Palladium, Shrek – The Musical at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane (for which he won an Olivier Award), Three Days of Rain co-starring with James McAvoy, True West at Sheffield Crucible, Guys and Dolls at the Donmar and Piccadilly Theatres,  Mamma Mia in the West End, Damn Yankees at the Adelphi and The Who’s Tommy at the Shaftesbury.  Nigel’s film work includes PatienceTelstar and Blood Diamond.  Nigel also directed Big Fish at the Other Palace, starring Kelsey Grammar and a UK tour of Shrek the Musical

Danny John-Jules is probably best known for his role as Cat in Red Dwarf and has appeared in every episode of the 13 series. He also made the character of Dwayne Myers in BBC’s hit series, Death in Paradise, his own. Danny has also appeared in many other film and TV roles across his 40 year career as an actor.Danny has appeared in Barnum at the London Palladium, Cats at the New London Theatre and Time at the Dominion Theatre. He created the role of ‘Rocky 1’ in Starlight Express at the Apollo, Victoria, and was Dink in the first West End production of Carmen Jones at the Old Vic Theatre for director Simon Callow and musical director Henry Lewis.

Hannah Rose Caton makes her UK theatre debut in The Da Vinci Code.  Hannah is based both in London and New York and is a recent graduate of The Juilliard School’s Drama Division. Her theatre credits (off Broadway and in theatres across the US) include: Mrs. Christie at Vermont Theatre Festival, An Octoroon for Chautauqua Theatre Company and Hay Fever for West Fulton Theatre. 

Her TV and films include: The Falling, Last Knights and Wizards vs Aliens. 

The Da Vinci Code is described as follows: The curator of the Louvre has been brutally murdered, and alongside his body are a series of baffling codes. Follow the pulse-racing journey as Professor Robert Langdon and fellow cryptologist Sophie Neveu, attempt to solve the riddles, leading to the works of Leonardo Da Vinci and beyond, deep into the vault of history. In a breathless race through the streets of Europe, Langdon and Neveu must decipher the labyrinthine code before a shocking historical secret is lost forever.

The Da Vinci Code is adapted for the stage by Rachel Wagstaff (Flowers For Mrs HarrisBirdsong) and Duncan Abel (The Girl on the Train), and will be directed by Luke Sheppard, who most recently directed the acclaimed new West End musical, & Juliet and What’s New Pussycat at Birmingham Rep.  Luke is joined on the creative team by Set and Costume Designer David Woodhead, Video Designer Andrzej Goulding, Ben and Max Ringham who are responsible for Composition and Sound Design, Lighting Designer Lizzie Powell and Casting Director Stuart Burt CDG.

Luke Sheppard said: “Cracking The Da Vinci Code open for the stage reveals an epic thriller steeped in theatrical potential, rich in suspense and surprising at every turn. Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel’s brilliant adaptation leaps off the page and demands us to push the limits of our imagination, creating a production that champions dynamic theatrical storytelling and places the audience up close in the heat of this gripping mystery.”

The Da Vinci Code is produced by Simon Friend.

‘An exhilarating, breathless thriller-chase. Blockbuster perfection’

The New York Times

For further information, see


The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Review

Sunderland Empire – until Saturday 4 December 2021

Reviewed by Jess Bramfitt


The latest production from Leeds Playhouse is this Sally Cookson / Michael Fentiman presentation of the timeless classic C.S. Lewis story, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Wonderfully set by Rae Smith and Tom Paris, and with original score by Benji Bower and Barnaby Race, this version of the tale of 4 evacuees who discover a portal to another world is fantasy storytelling of the highest order.

There have been many other productions of the classic tale; BBC TV, radio and a number of feature length films, but I doubt any of them could generate the same feelings of total immersion into the land of Narnia. Avoiding the use of heavy set and scenery, the on-stage transitions, brilliant use of the ensemble as props and clever puppetry allows the story to ebb and flow like a snow storm, never breaking the illusion and allowing the audiences’ imagination to remain intact.

The Pevensie kids, Peter (Ammar Duffus), Susan (Robyn Sinclair), Edmund (Shaka Kalokoh) and Lucy (Karise Yansen) find themselves hundreds of miles away from their London homes, sent to live with Professor Kirk (Johnson Willis). Whilst he appears to be quite amiable, they are still expected to be seen and not heard and so look for entertainment throughout his house. Coming across a wardrobe in a spare room, they find that it is actually a passage into a parrel world, Narnia.

Exploring this new land, they encounter no end of mystical creatures who are currently under a 100 year spell of perpetual winter, cast by the evil White Witch (Samantha Womack). Samantha plays the Witch with unnerving, understated menace – there is no over the top pantomime style evil, more a simple, quiet certainty that she will win. As the children befriend the Narnians they realise that their coming has been foretold in many stories, ‘Sons of Adam’ and ‘Daughters of Eve’ being revered as saviours to help rid the land of the self-appointed queen. Assisting Aslan The Lion (Chris Jared and an amazing walking puppet) the 4 humans adopt their new personas and thus the final battle scene is set.

The ensemble play many different roles with great costumes and very clever use of props. They are also responsible for playing all the instruments, giving a very organic feel to the performance that feels very intimate, despite the large stage.

This production remains totally authentic and true to the original story, there have been no changes to accommodate ‘stars’ nor has there been any shying away from the fantasy, in fact the design is so good that you find yourself reaching into your imagination and revisiting your ability to enjoy pretending again. A truly unique 5 star show worthy of all the plaudits and awards.




Wilshire Creative today announces that Snow White and the Happy Ever After Beauty Salon will be available to stream digitally on demand from 17 December until 23 December. Filmed at Salisbury Playhouse in front of a live audience, this contemporary festive family show is directed by Gareth Machin, with music by Tayo Akinbode, lyrics by Mike Akers, and additional songs by Christopher Peake. Machin directs Greg Barnett (King), Rebecca Cooper (Queen), Martha Pothen (Trish), Consuela Rolle (Snow) and Jake Mitchell (Federico), with all actors also multi-rolling alongside their main roles.

Tickets for the digital stream of Snow White and the Happy Ever After Beauty Salon are now on-sale at

In a magical 1950s fairy-tale wonderland, young apprentice Snow is working hard in her Aunt Trish’s Beauty Salon. She curls the tails of the three little pigs, sharpens the teeth of the Big Bad Wolf, and perfectly sets Prince Charming’s quiff. But, suddenly stumbling upon Aunt Trish’s magic mirror puts Snow’s life in peril.

Will she be able to survive as she heads underground and attempts to carve her own path to a happily ever after?

With toe-tapping live music, dazzling design, puppetry and laugh out loud entertainment, this Christmas musical will delight the whole family.



Salisbury Playhouse, Wiltshire Creative

Malthouse Lane, Salisbury, SP2 7RA

Ticket Sales: 01722 320333


17 December – 23 December 2021

Tickets: £20 for a family ticket, £25 with donation

A Christmas Carol Review

Sherman Theatre, Cardiff – until 31 December 2021

Reviewed by Rhys Payne


Obviously, due to the current global situation, we have not been able to attend a show for the last two years which makes me even more excited as theatre is officially back! As a family, we normally attend a pantomime to help get us into the Christmas spirit, but after watching the Sherman Theatre’s production of ‘A Christmas Carol’ I will try and encourage my family to go see this one instead!

We all know the fundamental story of Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol” but in case you need a little reminder Ebenezer Scrooge is a money-obsessed business person who absolutely hates anything to do with the Christmas festivities. They are visited by three ghosts (of Christmas past, present and future) all trying and conscience Scrooge to change his selfish attitudes. What is unique about this production however is the fact that it is set in Victorian Wales and the cast not only included elements of the Welsh language but had altered the script slightly to include in comic welsh places/areas. When we read stories such as this one where people go through a traumatic experience to develop a change of heart, as an audience we naturally distance ourselves from the lesson or experience but as this production is set in wales it helps to lessen that distance and makes the message of the story even more poignant!

The first thing that needs to be acknowledged about this production of “Christmas Carol” is the talent and skills that were showcased throughout by the entire cast. Not only did every performer play a plethora of characters but they even switched to play instruments in the band to accompany their peers. This shows everyone in the audience how truly talented every member of the cast is as they are able to flawlessly switch on and off stage. The highlight of this production is, as expected, Hannah McPake who plays the lead role of Ebenezer Scrooge. Traditionally Scrooge is cast as a male (as written in the original Novello) but interestingly the creative team working on this project had decided to cast this character as female. After a wonderfully festive medley on the piano (played by Gareth Wyn Griffiths), we are treated to an incredible theatrical playing of the cello by Hannah which had the audience transfixed throughout. At the beginning of this musical, the character of Ebenezer is portrayed as your almost pantomime villain crossed by Miss Hannigan from Annie which worked perfectly with the range of ages that were in the audience. The song that appears fairly early in the song titled “What I can do” was a very vampy song that serves as the character show off song where we truly learn about their intentions and what makes them happy …. MONEY! However, despite this, Hannah did such a great job in this role that she actually made the audience feel sorry for her by the end of the production which is an incredibly difficult thing to do due to how cold-hearted her character is. Hannah is so wonderfully expressive and manages to stay in character throughout so even when the focus of the scene is not on her she is still engaged and reacting which was very entertaining to watch! She managed to show off her vocal abilities especially during the rock-infused song “Spirit slayer Scrooge” which was a powerful number all about how she managed to overcome the first two spirits that have appeared to her. Keiron Self starts the production as the compare of the show that introduces many of the classic pantomime elements to the show. His character at the beginning and end of the show was an unusual hybrid of the classic panto stock character “Buttons” and “Beetlejuice” which again made for a very entertaining watch. Keiron also plays the vital role of Jacob Marley in this production who is the person who mentors Scrooge to become the business focused person they are today. After dying, Jacob reflects on his life and how he also was selfish so decided to try and warn Scrooge about the danger of her actions. I thought that the scene in which Scrooge first meets the ghost of Jacob was incredibly spooky and wonderfully performed which left me a little uneasy in my seat!

My other favourite performance in this production would have to be Seiriol Davies and whenever he was on stage he managed to always steal my attention. At the beginning of the production, he plays the role of Fred who is Ebenezer Scrooge nephew who wants nothing more than having his Aunty over for Christmas (which is even more relevant in today’s climate more than ever) but is met with constant rejection! I thought that the trio performance of Scrooge, Fred and Bob Cratchit (played by Feliks Mathur) with the former sticking to the anti-Christmas stance of the character despite the attempts of the two later characters. This number was choreographed perfectly with the two Christmas supporters being wonderfully comically throughout especially during a complex exchange where they were dancing as Scrooge was distracted! However, the highlight of Seiriol’s performance has to be as the ghost of Christmas past who played the almost panto dame of the show. Seiriol graced the stage wearing a fabulous Christmas tree inspired, sparkly outfit with a golden crown where he sang a parody of one of my personal favourite songs “Let’s Get the Party Started” by Shirley Bassey which was adapted to be about started the Christmas celebrations. This was a wonderfully camp role that had everyone laughing throughout who also managed to bring an end to act one. I thought that the pop choice to split the show up right after this Christmas tree character has sung a popular song was great as it left the audience completely baffled as to what would happen after the break which create a very powerful sense of excitement during the interval! The fun was only dialled up after the break as Seiriol was joined by two over-the-top baubles who again had the audience run hysterics. The final ghost of Christmas future appeared as the most dramatic puppet that took up the who back of the stage. It was a wonderfully spooky spectacle that again had me feeling a little scared due to the sheer size of this creature!

Overall, Sherman theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol is a family-friendly show that is the perfect way to bring in the festive period. It had all the elements of a Christmas Panto and in all honesty, was one of the best Pantomimes that I have ever seen And hopefully will become one of our new Christmas traditions! It was brilliantly entertaining while still maintaining the important message of Christmas spirit and kindness that is so important to the original story. I recommend that everyone (especially those with young children) go and check out this product as you will not be disappointed and it truly has something for everyone! I would rate this production 5 out of 5 stars!

Dial M For Murder Review

Festival Theatre, Malvern – until Saturday 4th December 2021

Reviewed by Courie Amado Juneau


Originally set in the 1950s, Dial M For Murder quickly became a stage favourite before finding an appreciative cinema audience when Hitchcock directed the famous film version in 1954. This latest stage adaptation has been brought slightly up to date, being set in 1963, giving it a fresh new perspective. It felt less dated, with a bright spacious set and some classic 60’s tunes greeting us upon our arrival and leading us directly into the action…

The cast were excellent, each giving a believable, enjoyable performance. Tom Chambers was engagingly sinister and humorous as lead Tony Wendice – especially humorous when removing fingerprints from a tennis trophy. He also showed his winning Strictly skills as he positively danced around the stage, spinning his evil web.

Diana Vickers was more grounded but no less effective in the other lead role of the wife, Margot Wendice. Her performance came to life during those scenes where her character was most confused, with events spinning out of control, showing acting subtlety that did the production justice (pardon the pun, given the subject matter). Michael Salami played the love interest, Max Halliday, with an appealing intensity.

But it was Christopher Harper playing the dual roles of Captain Lesgate and Inspector Hubbard who really stole the show. Captain Lesgate was nicely underplayed, giving a haughty air or authenticity, but it was with Inspector Hubbard that his performance really took off! There was more than a touch of Lt. Columbo in the air – although he didn’t quite say the words “just one more thing” I felt that the spirit of that greatest of TV detectives was not very far away, especially when turning on a sixpence from conversational to accusatory and back again. A joy to watch.

The set (designed by David Woodhead, as were the costumes – both very stylish) was employed to great effect, achieving much from a clever design, especially in the kitchen area which doubled as other locations helping the narrative move along nicely.

The lighting (designed by Lizzie Powell) was exceptional. When coupled with The Beatles “Tomorrow Never Knows” to convey a descent into despair (as events took a darker turn for one of the lead actors) the effect was breathtaking!

And lastly, though certainly not least, composers and sound designers Ben and Max Ringham’s use of music to add suspense was astonishing. To deploy the orchestral crescendo from A Day In The Life from Sgt Pepper where they did was a masterstroke – thrusting us into the action in a way that I had not encountered before in a stage production. The whole soundscape was filmic in its execution with some juicy orchestral stabs and scrapes very much evoking the musical signatures Hitchcock employed.

This play would be worth seeing just for the lighting and soundscape alone (which I would give 6 stars if available) but coupled with stellar performances from the cast and an engaging tale with a nice twist to undo the villain – a thrilling evening which I thoroughly enjoyed.