Peter Pan Goes Wrong Review

Peter Pan Goes Wrong – Civic Theatre, Darlington

Posted by: The Reviews Hub – Yorkshire & North East


Writers: Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, Henry Shields

Music &Lyrics: Richard Baker, Rob Falcolner

Director: Adam Meggido


Cornley Polytechnic returns with their classic Christmas vignette of Peter Pan, Peter Pan Goes Wrong.

The joy of Mischief Theatre is the pure genius in their writing. You can see the jokes coming a mile away – and that just makes them all the funnier. The technical aspects are outstanding; the incidents and accidents precise, concise and well executed. From tiny mishaps such as a falling light missing an actress by millimetres, to the huge disasters that befall the rest of the show, show the high calibre of the writing and acting as well as the production and technical crew ensuring that everything goes badly really well. And with a misbehaving rotund it can be no coincidence that by the end it looks like the death scene on the barricade from Les Miserables!

Peter Pan Goes Wrong is a very visual show within a show which needs to be seen to be believed, so it’s unfair to give away too much of the plot. However there are simple added extras that make the show shine from the start. Being stuck in the theatre foyer due to “technical issues” until almost before the show starts, the stage crew still being in the auditorium as we get seated doing last minute bits, arguing between themselves and asking for help from the audience, and an impromptu rendition of “Happy Birthday” for ‘Mary’.

Due to the indisposition of a member of the youth theatre, toddler Michael Darling is now played by “the most mature of the mature students” Robert Grove (Cornelius Both), made funnier that he is over 6 foot tall and had mighty fine beard. John Darling (James Marlow), also over 6 foot has memory problems so is fitted with an ear pierce that predictably picks up different radio stations, police reports and taxis.

Wendy Darling (Leonie Hill) is overly flirty and over-acted in every respect. As the girlfriend of Peter Pan (Alex Bartram), she is very much the lead, while huge respect goes to Naomi Sheldon who plays Annie playing Mrs Darling, Liza the Maid, Tigerlilly and who gets electrocuted in her rôle of Tinkerbell. Special mention also to Rosie Abraham who plays Lucy playing Tootles, who over-comes her stutter to get the whole audience yelling “I do believe in Fairies”, managing to keep her head and admirably finish the show.

The whole cast and crew are outstanding, and Peter Pan Goes Wrong really has to be seen. You will laugh to the extent you may feel you are going to suffocate from lack of air. In Darlington until Sunday – make the trip, this show is worth every penny.

20 Questions with ….. ANNA JANE CASEY


West End leading lady, star of stage and screen, Anna Jane Casey kindly agreed to be the first to do 20 questions with.  Here is how our interview went

Let’s start with some favourites

1 Favourite show (whether you have been in it or not)?

Favourite show will always be West Side Story

  1. Favourite book?

I love “Perfume” by Patrick Suskind

  1. Favourite theatre?

Sheffield Crucible is the best theatre in the universe!

  1. Favourite song?

My funeral song is Can You Feel It by the Jacksons so I suppose that’s a fave.

  1. Favourite music?

I’m a huge R&B and soul girl.

  1. Favourite food?

I could eat black pudding and piccalilli for ever…

  1. Favourite line from any show?

“here Billy, d’ya not fancy us like? If you want I’ll show you m’fanny…” Said by Debbie, Mrs Wilkinson 10 year old daughter in Billy Elliot. Genius

  1. What was your favourite role?

My favourite role changes but I suppose Anita in West Side Story means a lot as it’s where I met my husband.

  1. What role would you really love to play?

I’d love to play Fanny Brice in FUNNY GIRL so if anyone has a couple of million to produce it, I’m there!

  1. What was your first role?

My very first professional role was Tessie in the touring production of ANNIE in 1982… I was 10 and got £50 a week and it was the greatest 12 weeks of my young life!

  1. Your sister is actress Natalie Casey,do you have any sibling rivalry?

There’s no sibling rivalry between Nat and I, in fact we both sit watching the other beaming and crying with pride.

  1. Has Natalie ever had a role you would have liked?  

I think with Nat being nearly 10 years younger than me, I’d look silly trying to take on any of her roles!

  1. Have you ever auditioned/played the same part?

We’ve auditioned for the same show but never the same role.

  1. If you weren’t the greatest singer in the world what would you be?

Bless you for thinking I’m a great singer, I’m just shouting in tune most of the time! But if I couldn’t sing, I’d like to be a PA to someone like Hilary Clinton or Angela Merkel. I’m RIDICULOUSLY good at nagging and organising, that’s what 16 years of marriage and two kids will do for you!

  1. What advice would you give 16 year old Anna Jane?

I’d say take every opportunity that’s offered to you and don’t back down because someone says it’s not for you. If I’d have been braver, I’d probably be a major rockstar by now!

  1. What was the last stage show you saw and really enjoyed?

I saw Warhorse for the first time a few months ago and it blew my mind. I was moved for days after.

  1. Would you like to act in a play and not sing?

I’ve done a few plays that haven’t required me to sing or dance and they’ve been great but straight actors are usually so intense about it all and moaning about how hard their work is and I just keep thinking, “wait til you have to do that big dance break in act 2″…!

  1. How did you get into marathon running?

We live near Blackheath where the London marathon starts and my hubby and I used to watch it on telly in bed and then when I had my first girl, I couldn’t get any work and so to keep me from going insane I entered the marathon  to give myself a focus in life. And now I run to get out of the house and away from the kids for an hour!!!!

  1. If you could be anyone else for the day, who would it be?

If I could be anyone else for a day I’d be Barack Obama…now THAT’S a position of responsibility I’d like to get a handle on!

  1. Can you tell us what you will be up to next?​

This year (2015) I’m doing lots of lovely concerts and there’s a big summer musical I’ll be involved with but I can’t tell you what yet as it’s not been announced!

I would like to say a huge THANK YOU to Anna Jane for helping me with this

Woman In Black Ghost Hunt

Darlington Civic Theatre – 23 January 2015


Making full use of the atmospherics from The Woman In Black and some very muted lighting, our group of around 30 or so met in the stalls for a Ghost Hunt around the magnificent Civic building. Led by Front of House manager Andrew Hutchinson and helped along by Signor Pepe himself we were introduced to various friendly spirits said to still reside in the theatre.
While we sat in the stalls Andrew told us some history of the building and of Signor Reno Pepe, quick change artist and favourite of Queen Victoria, who owned the Civic when it was the Hippodrome and Palace of Varieties. We learnt of his wife and of their dog, a pekingese whose body was found buried in the building during a 1990’s refurbishment and whose ghost is frequently seen by children.

On the stage we got to hear about a phantom ballet dancer and Gordon the stage door manager who still rattles his keys around the building. In the dress circle we heard about seat 666 which has been found in the seated position despite the countered springs that close it. And the brave ones went to look in the side box favoured by Pepe and a popular place for sightings of him.

Up in the upper circle we split into groups, the first group went to dressing room 12 which is reportedly haunted by a child. And some of the group could hear quite clearly a child playing and a strong alcoholic smell. The other group visited the Flyfloor and said “Hello” to Jimmy the Flyman who is said to still like to keep an eye on his ropes. The groups then swapped so they could experience all there was to see and hear and do.

All too soon the tour was over. And we had to say goodbye to the ghost and the Civic. A huge big THANK YOU to Andrew and the staff who helped to make this ghost tour so thoroughly enjoyable

Woman In Black Review

Civic Theatre, Darlington – 23 January 2015


Since its first performance in 1987 The Woman In Black has been terrifying the audiences of UK. Written by Susan Hill and adapted by the late Stephen Mallatratt this play within a play entertains and frightens in equal measure, drawing on the imagination of the audience to produce shocks and scares.


Telling the story of Arthur Kipps, old Arthur (Malcolm James) takes the unnamed actor (Matt Connor) through his spine chilling tale. Young Arthur is given the job, by the firm of Solicitors he works for, to travel north to sort out the affairs of the late Alice Dablow. Visiting her house, cut off by tides and sea fret, Arthur experiences far more than he bargains for.


With James taking on the various bit parts of characters along the way and Connor, at times, acting a monologue, we are treated to a genuine spooky experience.


Special mention must go out the sound and lighting directors because its partly their fabulous setting that helps to build the atmosphere, the elderly theatre also lends itself to the effect. But it really is the power of the imagination that is the main clincher in this tale. Sitting in the auditorium, petrified, surrounded by people audibly screaming is an experience in itself.


Its a show worth seeing twice, the first time to be scared witless and the second to take in this magnificent story and to watch the reactions of the people around you

Treasure Island Review

National Theatre Live – 1st broadcast Thursday 22nd January 2015


Bryony Lavery’s inspired re-imagining of Treasure Island is a true wonder to behold. Big and brash, wonderfully acted but the star of this production is undoubtedly the magnificent set. Making full use of the Olivier rotunda we saw the Hispaniola in full glory in the first half and the tunnels of the island in the second. The stars by which the route was plotted filled the ceiling and Lizzie Clachan and Bruno Poet must be congratulated on their vision and their staffs abilities to bring it to fruition.


Jim (Jemima) Hawkins is brought to life by Patsy Ferran and Arthur Darvill brings charm to the villainous Long John SiIver but Joshua James as half mad cheese loving Ben Gunn is outstanding too.


James, who argues with himself as if he were in his own chat show, is one of the original features of the production. Tim Samuels’s doleful Grey – a pirate so colourless that no one ever recognises him – is another. But a difference worth noting is Ferran as Jim: “Be you boy or be you girl?” “That be my business.” And Captain the Flint the parrot remotely controlled is a triumph


Although in the National for the Christmas period this is not a pantomime. Its rough and rugged with body parts, blood splatters and pirates – all of them bad, mad and dangerous to know. Treasure Island is daring, scary, fast paced and has moments of (black) comedy.


Its an exciting romp promoting a children’s story to classic theatre but this not children’s theatre and is well worth a visit to the National Theatre or your local cinema to see an encore performance

Queen and Adam Lambert Review

Queen and Adam Lambert. Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle. Tuesday 13th January


From around 30 minutes before the show began the spot lights started to slowly move around the stage and a low reverb from a guitar started. The closer to the start of the show the faster the lights moved and the guitar got louder until there in silhouette stood Brian May. Then all lights off, pitch black and full light and into One Vision.


Brian May is, of course, a musical genius. His 6 minute guitar solo to lead into Tie Your Mother Down was outstanding as was the drum off, deliverance style, between father and son Roger and Rufus Taylor.


Adam Lambert is the first to admit he is not Freddie Mercury, there could only ever be one. But he has an amazing voice, and his campness and flamboyance have an echo of the immortal Mr Mercury. His showmanship complimented rather than imitated. Who else would have a chaise longue and drink champagne?


And Freddie himself did show up to sing. In the first song One Vision he did his “I had a dream. When I was young. A dream of sweet illusion. A glimpse of hope and unity. And visions of one sweet union” etc. During a Brian May solo version of Love of My Life up popped Freddie to help lead the singing and of course no one else could sing Bohemian Rhapsody and it was amazing.


There were songs I hoped to hear but didn’t and there were songs in there I wasn’t expecting, The Fog On The Tyne being the main one – but as a homage for the first night of a tour in Newcastle what else would you sing?


The show ended with Adam Lambert in the trade mark crown singing We Will Rock You followed by We Are The Champions and an instrumental version of God Save The Queen and it was done.


The stage and the lights were awesome. The stage was the shape of a Q with a large O with lights on it and the stick of the q was a path on to the main stage. They are very fond of red as a background colour but with a vast array of lights producing amazing patterns it was difficult to concentrate on the music with the lights hypnotising you. They were inspiring, I only wish I could produce such a show. With the sound and lights matching perfectly it was almost a son et lumiere with the narrative of the Queen back catalogue.


In a dream come true I finally got to see Queen and in a night of high voltage entertainment I was totally blown away. If you missed it you missed out but if you get the chance go and see this spectacular show

Jersey Boys Review

Jersey Boys – Empire Theatre, Sunderland

Posted by: The Reviews Hub – Yorkshire & North East


Book: Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice

Music: Bob Gaudio

Lyrics: Bob Crewe

Choreographer: Sergio Trujillo

Director: Des McAnuff


It’s easy to see why Jersey Boys is such an award winning and popular musical. It’s a feel good night out and jam-packed with hit after hit. Seeing this musical for the first time you may be fooled into thinking you’re unfamiliar with the songs, but once you hear them, they are all recognisable.

Long before Bon Jovi put New Jersey on the map, the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons tells how the boys from the wrong side of the tracks rose to stardom. One of the most successful bands in pop history, they were inducted into the Rock &Roll Hall of Fame and sold 175 million records – while still in their twenties. Jersey Boys is a rags-to-riches Cinderella story, the tale of four young boys who try to break out of their poor, crime-ridden neighbourhood by starting a band. Fast forward a few years, and they are playing to thousands, selling a hundred million records. The money and the girls are rolling in. But Jersey Boys looks beyond the number one records, to the realities of fame and a life permanently on the road. Neglected families, angry mob bosses and the internal politics of four egos sharing the same space eventually catch up with the boys; tough for them, but fascinating for us.

The cleverest part of Jersey Boys is the structure. As founder member Tony DeVito says at the start:

The show is split into Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter, giving each band member a chance to tell the audience their side of the story; all of them working their way into the audiences affections. Regardless of their various differences, we know and care about Bob Gaudio, Tony DeVito, Nick Massi and Frankie Valli, and it’s that which gives their song lyrics extra resonance.

On press night, the phenomenal Matt Corner took the rôle of Frankie Valli, showing a perfect falsetto, dance moves and an ability to engage the audience. All four of the ‘Seasons’ get a chance to tell their part of the story. Stephen Webb has the rôle of Tommy DeVito, the small time crook and successful talent spotter whose risk-taking both propels the band to success and puts them in danger. Sam Ferriday is genius song-writer Bob Gaudio, capturing the essence of the two-minute pop song. Lewis Griffiths takes the rôle of Nick Massi. They’re believable as a group where loyalties, tensions, support and occasional betrayals take them through failure and success.

Before the pantomimes take over, get yourself down to the Empire for a guaranteed night of pure enjoyment. A true story with the familiar falsetto tunes and a night of singing and dancing, you will leave the theatre with a smile on your face.

Recommended to all.

Horrible Histories – Barmy Britain Review

Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain – Civic Theatre, Darlington

Posted by: The Reviews Hub – Yorkshire & North East


Writer: Terry Deary, Neal Foster
Music: Matthew Scott
Director: Neal Foster

The Birmingham Stage Company presents Barmy Britain in Darlington. Rog (Gary WIlson) and Rex (Benedict Martin) have to convince parking wardens Esmeralda (Laura Dalgleish) and Queenie (the divinely vocal Alison Fitzjohn) that Britain is Barmy or they will get a parking ticket.

The audience are taken on a trip through time with themes all will recognise, including Boudicca singing ‘I Will Smash You’ to the tune of ‘We Will Rock You’ to the Romans. Phil Spencer does an episode of Location, Location, Location in Lindisfarne with the Vikings and a date between Edward Longshanks and William Wallace is arranged during an episode of Take Me Out. At this performance, a child from the audience was cured of the plague in Wales, while everyone sang a happy song about the symptoms. Blue Peter interviewed a very petulant Henry VIII and Elizabeth I posed as “Betty from London” for Undercover Boss. In a shock revelation, she discovers the executioner doesn’t get paid but does get to keep the clothes of his victims, and that the whipping boy was punished for a Prince’s mistakes as it was an offence to touch royalty (and the Groom of the Stool held the highly prestigious job as Royal Bottom Wiper).

The second half is brought to us by 3d Bogglevision, for which the audience are invited to wear special glasses. Again, we are treated to a very busy Guy Fawkes who (very thoughtfully) spared time tonight to take part in Who Wants to Blow up Parliament, where he has the options to phone a friend, go 50/50 or ask the audience if we think his plan to blow up parliament will succeed.

Barmy Britain takes us from Guy Fawkes to Charles I and II via Oliver Cromwell and an episode of TOWIE starring Dick Turpin and the Essex Gang. There’s even a jaunty tune about being hung at Marble Arch called ‘The Tyburn Jig’.

The show doesn’t miss a beat, as it quickly moves on to a hip hop break dancing Queen Victoria (known as Vicky with a V and Albert with an A). Forward in time to the 1st World War, and the victor decided by way of a WWE wrestling match, but rather beautifully poignant as it includes the dropping of CGI 3D poppies as a sign of respect among the comedy.

We finish on a high as Queenie and Esmerelda agree that Rog and Rex are right and Britain is indeed off-its-rocker barmy, ending with a chorus of Barmy Britain to the tune of ‘If You’re Happy and You Know it’.

Barmy Britain is fast, fun and educational. We learn the Celts put severed heads in rivers as a gift to the Gods, and Longshanks was so called because he was over 6 foot tall and Henry VIII ordered the execution of 72,000 people.

Billed as suitable for ages 6 to 106, the show is fantastic. Borrow some children and get to the Civic before Sunday to see it. It’s a win-win situation, you will love the show and the kids will love you for taking them. Monty Python meets Pantomime via the GCSE History syllabus – this is a show not to be missed!

April in Paris Review

April in Paris – Civic Theatre, Darlington

Posted by: The Reviews Hub – Yorkshire & North East


Writer &Director: John Godber

We swap October in Darlington for April in Paris – a bitter sweet, painfully realistic view of married life from the pen of the multitalented John Godber.

Al and Bet, played by Joe McGann and Shobna Gulati, are a northern couple stuck in a rut. Married for 28 years, together by habit but falling apart. Struggling to adapt to an empty nest, Bet spends her little wages on scarves and magazines to make herself feel good, while Al paints since he lost his job after 30 years as a builder. A shortage of money brought on by redundancy, means their lives have become mundane and claustrophobic. A magnificent set by Pip Leckenby, with excellent lighting from Graham Kirk and sound by Colin Pink, reflects the futility and spiral into depression of their dreary, grey, drab and uninspired lives. And, as they separately strive to find some inspiration and meaning, their ongoing banter though highly amusing for the audience and delivered with perfectly-timed gestures and loaded-one liners, teeters dangerously close to dislike.

Is an unexpected win of a romantic trip to Paris enough to inject the spark and vitality back into this souring relationship?

Godber’s unique observational comedy transforms us from a sad life at home, via a vomit ridden ferry crossing to a vibrant, colourful exciting Paris and as they relax, they talk and the romance of the city enters their souls. But all too soon it’s over and they are back in their sad lives of existing rather than living, but things have changed. After a trip abroad Bet is happy to see the UK in a different light but Al, who hadn’t been abroad before, now wants to explore. His mundane pictures are now vibrant and his outlook is positive.

In this updated play from 1992, the two actors share a stage for two hours as the warring couple transform into butterflies from their safe, but mundane cocoon. While little has changed in society this show is poignant, dysfunctional, awkward and thought provoking. April in Paris is well worth a visit.

Shrek the Musical Review

Shrek The Musical – The Grand, Leeds

Posted by: The Reviews Hub – Yorkshire & North East


Writer: David Lindsay-Abaire

Music: Jeanine Tesori

Lyrics: David Lindsay-Abaire

Director: Nigel Harman


After a Wickedly triumphant run of a previous west end musical, Leeds Grand leaves down the green carpet to welcome in Shrek The Musical on the first leg of its first UK tour.

If you don’t know the story of Shrek the green ogre, then maybe you too live in a swamp. But if you did miss the Drury Lane show or any of the films then here’s a quick recap. After the fairy tale folk of Dulac get evicted to his swamp; Shrek, aided and hindered by Donkey, head off to rescue a princess from her dragon-guarded tower in order to hand her over to the short-statured Lord Farquaad, so he will hand over the deed to Shrek’s beloved swamp. Lord Farquaad wants to marry the princess so he can become a King.

There is something for everyone in this show. The young ones can be captivated by the fairy tale and with its pantomime-esque innuendo’s for the adults, its proper family entertainment. There are a lot of fart jokes and a burping contest that would put many a teenage boy to shame.

The joy of the show is that with the longer time allowed you can actually see into the backgrounds of the characters. Both Shrek and Fiona were banished from home at the age of 7. They might sing it’s a ‘Big Bright Beautiful World’ but the lyrics of ‘Who I’d Be’ are heart breaking and tender and portray the true feelings of what an Ogre would like to be.

Dean Chisnall recreates his lovable West End tartan trousered Ogre who your heart goes out to at the idea of him losing his love. Idriss Kargbo captures the Eddie Murphy magic with his Donkey and Faye Brookes is a spirited, but kind Fiona.

And in what other show would you find tap dancing rats? Vegas showgirl blind mice? And a whole host of others letting their ‘Freak Flag’ fly. There are many coded references to other shows, and other fairy tales are the butt of many of the jokes.

There are two stand out performances in this brilliant show. Gerard Carey as Lord Farquaad is hilarious. How his knees will survive this tour is not clear, but he can share tips with the original actor, Nigel Harman, who is directing this version on the road. Playing him as a camp Richard III type in yellow tights, he steals the show. Managing to high kick his tiny legs, over compensating for the fact his dad was a grumpy diamond miner who abandoned him in the forest to fend for himself.

The other star of the show is Dragon, which has a War Horse feel of puppetry about it, as you don’t notice the puppeteers. Candace Furbert who voices Dragon provides the most amazing vocals, and is a mega star in the making with a voice of pure diamonds.

This show has it all a once upon a time and a happy ever after. Full of singing, dancing, nonsense and strangely believable characters it’s a show the entire family can enjoy from baby through to granny. Give the kids and yourself a summer holiday treat and bring them to the Grand for two and a half hours of good solid family fun.