20th Century Boy Review

20th Century Boy – Empire Theatre, Sunderland

Posted by: The Reviews Hub – Yorkshire & North East 



Writer: Peter Rowe

Music &Lyrics: Marc Bolan

Director: Gary Lloyd


Sensitively written by Peter Rowe, 20th Century Boy chronicles the tragically short life of glam rock star Marc Bolan, the flamboyant front man of T-Rex, from his school days through to his untimely death just before his 30th birthday.

The audience are treated to an interesting story as well as great songs – and they’re all there: ‘Metal Guru’, ‘Get It On’, ‘Ride A White Swan’, ‘I Love To Boogie’, ‘Hot Love’, ‘20th Century Boy’ plus a few that may be new to you. From Bolan’s hippy days through to the success of T-Rex and the effect on is health, the story unfolds from the point of view of his son; Rolan Bolan (Luke Bailey) who is trying to get to know his father through the eyes of those knew him best as he died when he was just two years old.

Many chunks of dialogue are built around chats to his grandmother Phyllis passionately played by Sue Jenkins with other characters conveniently pop up to fill gaps in the narrative timeline, including a wonderful gruff Yorkshire roadie who is clearly impressed because he didn’t say “f***”

Rolan’s search to get to know his father is also a ‘rite of passage’ to find himself. Living in America with his mum Gloria, who suffers from the after effects of the accident that destroyed her singing career and from the guilt that she killed Marc. Rolan doesn’t know his family, his background or simple things like his dad was still married to someone else.

Throughout the play we see England’s cultural identity, like Bolan’s, change; from the stylish mods to the hippy movement of the 60s, through to the rise of Glam and its inspirational punk attitude

Anne Vosser has expertly cast this show. Warren Sollars has captured the on stage persona of Bolan perfectly, Sollars looks, moves and importantly sounds like the man himself.

Well supported by both leading ladies, Donna Hines as Gloria Jones and Lucy Sinclair as June Child show an outstanding performance in numbers like Teenage Dream and Dandy in the Underworld where they comment on events through song. With help from Rolan and Phyllis and Tony Visconti played by the very talented Andy Coxon.

There is no weak link in the strong cast; Katia Sartini in particular shines in her dual rôle of Helen Shapiro and Chelita Secunda. With the expert direction of Gary Lloyd they bring the tale to life with the necessary grit, passion, tenderness and drama which overall shows that Bolan’s life is worthy of being made in to a musical.

Under the musical direction of Ryan Alex Farmery, the band create that bass rich deep sound so synonymous with T-Rex and live musicians are essential for this piece.

This is not just a show for fans of T-Rex and Marc Bolan. It is a touching and entertaining show that will have you reaching for some vinyl and perhaps a feather boa and some leopard print.

There are some moments that are a bit contrite and some that are a bit cheesy, but it’s a true story told sensitively and full of timeless classic songs. The show ends with a mini concert of the most well-known stuff and it’s so infectious it’s hard not to be up on your feet singing and dancing by the end.

One Man, Two Guvnor’s Review

One Man, Two Guvnor’s – Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

Posted by: The Reviews Hub – Yorkshire & North East 



Writer: Richard Bean

Music &Lyrics: Grant Olding

Director: Nicholas Hytner


In a cross between Carry on and Pantomime we have the incredibly hilarious One Man, Two Guvnor’s. Full of physical comedy, slapstick, audience participation and breaking of the fourth wall.

Played originally in the West End by James Corden we now have Gavin Spokes filling the woollen suit of Francis Henshall, who acquires two different bosses, an upper-class twit and a young woman disguised as her recently murdered identical twin brother. His hilarious monologues to the audience about his gnawing hunger and mounting confusion somehow seem even funnier when a well-meaning member of the audience offers a sandwich. And he proves an absolute master at apparently spontaneous interaction with those members of the audience foolhardy enough to sit in the front row.

The rest of the cast are splendid, too, with especially winning work from Emma Barton, who is woefully underused in the first half but shines like a star in the second, as the busty book-keeper Dolly who tickles Henshall’s fancy; Patrick Warner as a silly-ass murderer Sydney, who comes over like a very bumbling and daft Bertie Wooster-esq character ; Edward Hancock as a hilariously pretentious young actor Alan; David Verrey as mastermind solicitor Harry and Jasmin Banks as Pauline one of the funniest and dumbest blondes it has been my privilege to encounter. Shaun Williamson is straight-faced funny as two-bit gangster Charlie ‘the Duck’ Clench and Alicia Davies is fantastically gruff as Rachel Crabbe who, for reasons too complicated to explain, spends most of the show in a Ringo wig impersonating her dead brother.

How much is scripted and how much made up on the spot isn’t clear. Some of it necessarily must change night by night given who gets grabbed, but the sense of mischief and mystery is a big part of the fun. This is especially true during a slapstick set piece that has you gasping with disbelief as the laughs still flow, through the fish, flames and foam.

One Man, Two Guvnor’s makes big physical demands of its cast. Michael Dylan, as an eighty something waiter Alfie, has an uncanny ability to bend himself backwards at a right angle, and to slide down walls. Spokes as Henshall somersaults over an armchair and catches a sweet in his mouth. His is an expansive, confident performance which holds all the pieces together; a scene in which he argues and then fights with himself, to the point of unconsciousness, is deftly done; half-ballet, half-slapstick

The music is quite wonderful, as we seated ourselves in the auditorium the band The Craze were already playing, and for every scene change they treated us to a song and an extended hand clapping set during the interval.

The show is quite frankly phenomenal. You need to see this show on its national UK tour because One Man, Two Guvnor’sis the funniest thing you will ever see, but be warned, the comedy is so physical and so fast you barely finish one laugh before you start another.

See How They Run Review

See How They Run – Civic Theatre, Darlington

Posted by: The Reviews Hub – Yorkshire & North East 



Writer: Philip King
Director: Eric Potts

See How They Run is a glorious farce presented by Warwick Davis and the members of the Reduced Height Theatre Company.

Written in 1945, it is a hilarious nonsense that is quite literally “Hello Vicar, whoops – there go my trousers”. With escaped Germans, Bishops, soldiers, visiting vicars and a village battle-axe, it has all the ingredients of confusion and misdirection needed for the show to be a classic.

Francesca Mills steals every scene in her rôle of Ida (the maid), her acting and physicality are perfect in every appearance and her facial expressions can say so much more than mere words could convey.

Warwick Davis plays Rev. Lionel Toop takingalmost a back seat in the show, allowing the rest of the cast to perform and shine without his obvious fame overshadowing them.

The first act is a bit slow during the amusing interaction between Rachel Denning as Penelope Toop and Francesca Papagno as Miss Skillon but speeds up in the second act, and after the interval the third act gallops to the speedy conclusion. The chase scene with Davis, Phil Holden, Raymond Griffiths and Jon Key was especially entertaining and Jamie John’s confused cleric was comical. Peter Bonner as Sergeant Towers is side-splitting in his interrogations.

Special mention must go out to the costumes and the set. They are perfect and totally in proportion for the cast who all average out around 4’2”. The set in particular is a joy. On first glance, it appears to be made for a cast of more average height, but only when the actors appear do you realise how perfect in proportion it is. Although, the acting and surroundings are so perfect, you forget the cast are short. What they lack in height they more than make up for in talent. A fantastic and hilarious night out, you won’t be disappointed.

Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story Review

Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story – Civic Theatre, Darlington

Posted by: The Reviews Hub – Yorkshire & North East 



Writer: Alan Janes

Music: Buddy Holly

Lyrics: Buddy Holly

Director: Matt Salisbury


Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story rocked into Darlington town this week. This two act show walked us through Buddy Holly’s meteoric three-year career and tragic death by way of radio D.J’s announcing pivotal plot points. Each transition is followed by music-induced scenes with all the instruments played by the very talented cast.

In 1989, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story became one of the first jukebox musicals. It opened in London, with financial support from Paul McCartney. The show ran for 12 years in London and for six months on Broadway. Numerous tours all over the world have been mounted ever since, and this marks the 25th Anniversary tour in the 55th year of the tragically early death of the talented Mr. Holly.

Alan Janes’ story recounts the story of Holly’s rise to fame. Starting out in Lubbock Texas singing Country, Buddy rebelled to sing Rock n’ Roll getting a recording contract in New Mexico. He recorded numerous hits before his tragic death at the age of 22, including the song that started off as ‘Cindy Lou’ but which became famous as ‘Peggy Sue’, because his drummer wanted to get lucky with a girl by that name. Interspaced between the DJ’s announcements and reports, there a few acted scenes which allow characters to tell Holly that some people in Texas don’t like his songs because they sound like “coloured music”, and that he’ll never make it because he has “as much sex appeal as a telegraph pole.” There’s mention of his family’s tiling business and his mother’s desire to make sure he eats enough, but nothing else about his life before he hit the singing circuit. With the emphasis firmly on the music, the end of act one has a 10 minute mini concert that acts as a taster of what’s to come, with the last 30 minutes of act 2 being a nonstop tour-de-force concert sequence.

Glen Joseph is excellent in the main rôle. His singing, guitar playing and charming smile are a winning combination and he clearly enjoys the rôle. Jason Blackwater as the Big Bopper is completely over the top in his performance, but it works and his ‘Chantilly Lace’ had everyone singing along and joining in with “Hello Baby”. Will Pearce is Ritchie Valance and he gives a highly memorable execution of La Bamba.

The ending is poignant in its brutal simplicity, fading from the loud rocking concert to a spotlight on the guitar and glasses and a sobbing DJ telling the world of the fateful plane crash and a moments silence before returning back to the concert in full swing. The show ended with audience, the majority of which were over a certain age and had extra santogen with their interval drinks and ice cream, on their feet clapping, dancing and singing along.

Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story is produced with kind permission of María Elena Holly, owner of the rights to his name, image, trademarks, and other intellectual property.

Singin’ in the Rain Review

Singin’ In The Rain – Empire Theatre, Sunderland

Posted by: The Reviews Hub – Yorkshire & North East 



Book: Betty Comden, Adolph Green

Music: Nacio Herb Brown, Arthur Freed

Director: Jonathan Church


Singin' in the rain - Manuel Harlan

After a successful run in the West End, this critically acclaimed Chichester Festival Theatre production, which received four Olivier Award nominations and played to packed houses, Singin’ In The Rain tap dances its way into Sunderland as part of the current national tour. A riot of glorious Technicolor based on the wonderful classic MGM musical, the show does not disappoint.

Transporting the audience back to 1927, Singin’ In The Rain tells the story of when Hollywood was moving away from the era of the silent movies and into the brave new world of talking pictures. The only problem, is that one of the studio’s biggest stars has a voice that does not match her beauty.

Unfortunately, stepping into the sizable toe-tapping shoes of Hollywood legend Gene Kelly as Don Lockwood, has caused injury for James Leece, so instead we are treated to Matthew Malthouse. Malthouse sings and dances with energy and talent; an actor who can easily carry the show until Leece is back to full health. Joining him on stage, Maxwell Caulfield is studio boss RF Simpson and Paul Grunert is Director Roscoe Dexter.

The two leading ladies are polar opposites in their rôles. Amy Ellen Richardson as Lockwood’s love interest Kathy Selden has charm, innocence and a glorious voice. But perhaps the surprise package of the show, is the incredible comedy performance of former Steps singer Faye Tozer, who brings barrels of laughs in the rôle of the uniquely-voiced beauty Lina Lamont.

Stephane Anelli steals the show as Lockwood’s best friend and side-kick Cosmo Brown. With his slapstick performance of Make ‘em Laugh, he is full of comedic vitality. However, the true star of the show is the stage itself which shows off Andrew Wright’s award winning choreography superbly. An outstanding ensemble cast also each play vignette rôles as the story unfolds, dancing and singing with perfection. Their joy and energy captivates the audience right from the start.

The simple set transforms well into a studio lot, a party and cinema, but it’s during the title song where it excels itself. With a little pit that soon fills up with water, the high kicking during Singin’ in the Rain soaks the audience as well as the cast.

Catch this feel good classic while it’s in Sunderland, but be warned, if you sit near the front, it is likely you will go home considerably wetter than when you arrived.

Aladdin Review

Aladdin – Civic Theatre, Darlington

Posted by: The Reviews Hub – Yorkshire & North East 



Writer: Jon Conway

Director: David Barrow


Aladdin - Darlington Civic Theatre

Darlington Civic has a renown reputation for festive family fun and this years offering of Aladdin shows that the their reputation remains intact.

Aladdin is classic pantomime, with merriment, mayhem and mirth. Laugh out loud funny with jokes for both young and old alike. Starring The Chuckle Brothers, alias real-life South Yorkshire brothers Barry and Paul Elliott, who are almost in their 50th year of cheery, cheeky, cheesy panto antics and their good-natured double act slots as easily as ever into the pantomime world. They take part in the comedy scenes and know how to make the entire audience laugh out loud. A ridiculous scene where the two are at cross purposes with Barry’s intention to audition for the X-Factor getting confused with Paul’s attempts to design a dress is such a moment that makes the daft duo’s physical comedy so enduringly popular.

Gary Amers Aladdin has an interesting take on the rôle and once he has grown into the part he is sure to be fabulous. Better use, however, should be made of Danny Potts and his rôle of Emperor as he has great scene presence and is very under used.

Phil Corbitt is a wonderfully evil Abanazer starting the show with an explosion and a boo and a hiss. Darlington’s own Beth Stobbart is excellent as Princess Jasmine. Beautiful to look at, she can dance, act and sings sublime. Although this is her first professional show, such a great talent will help her go very far.

Star of the show is Dame Widow Twankey herself (Philip Meeks.) He romps through the evening in a range of crazy costumes and fabulous shoes, making at least a dozen changes, some of them lightening quick. His boundless energy and perfect comedic timing had everyone joining in and shouting for more and he managed to steal every scene in which he appeared

The secret that makes this panto so very enjoyable is the cast members are not just focusing on entertaining the audience but genuinely seem to be enjoying themselves. There are many unscripted moments and the Chuckles can’t seem to get through a single scene without corpsing. But the best moment must have been during a reading of Goldilocks with some very brave grown up audience members. Baby Bear enjoyed himself a bit too much and ended up falling over on the stage to great hilarity on the stage and in the audience

All the panto staples are there, cries of “it’s behind you” and shouts of “Oh no it isn’t, oh yes it is”; custard pies a plenty give us the full spectrum of a night’s entertainment. There’s comedy, dancing, some belting musical numbers and oh the costumes… everything that is needed for a fabulous family night out.

Mansfield Park Review

Mansfield Park- Civic Theatre, Darlington

Posted by: The Reviews Hub 



Writer: Jane Austen

Adaptor: Tim Luscombe

Director: Colin Blumenau


Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park is one of Jane Austen’s lesser known books. Using her classic formula we are treated to yet another tale of morals and love from the spinster daughter of a Hampshire country Rector. Witty and well observed, we are treated to the rituals of courtship while looking for wealth and consequence and ultimately happiness.

Ffion Jolly’s Fanny Price is a wide-eyed, innocent heroine, growing up from the poor child given to the care of her rich relations into a young woman of sense and values. Pete Ashmore is Edmund Bertram, as the younger Bertram brother he is destined for the Church. He clearly adores Fanny but it takes time for familiar affection to grow into a loving relationship. Aunt Norris is a gloriously unpleasant busybody determined to keep Fanny in her place and Julie Teal plays her just the right side of nasty. Richard Heap gives shows his talent with taciturn Sir Thomas Bertram; uncle to Fanny; father to Tom, Edmund and Maria and brother in law to Mrs Norris.

The siblings of the neighbouring Crawford family are a mixture of vile, fascinating and repellent. With Eddie Eyre’s Henry just losing to Laura Doddington’s Mary in the snobbery stakes. Luscombe’s adaptation doesn’t stick closely to the original story but doesn’t stray so far as to be unrecognisable, a few characters are lost from the original and greater emphasis is put on minor characters, like William Price, than in the novel, which works well; Geoff Arnold triples the part of William with those of the Tom Bertram and Mr Rushworth, whom Maria Bertram (Leonie Spilsbury) marries and leaves with some speed.

Blumenau and designer Kit Surrey ensure that the action is fast-paced. The staging is minimalist but works well. Long grey curtains printed with Regency pictures – a town, country and naval scenes provide the back drop, and steps and a balustrade, a scattering of divan cushions comprise the set. The costumes were beautiful and special mention must go to the wardrobe department from the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds who provided them

The whole show is well acted, well-staged and charming. But it doesn’t catch the imagination in the same way that other productions can and some of the speech is hard to follow and hard to hear which can be distracting if you don’t know that plot. There is also an element of confusion with some of the scenes changing so fast you don’t realise what’s happening and with only 8 actors playing 16 rôles you have to work hard not to lose the plot.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Durham Review

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Durham

Rating: 4 out of 5



04 July 2013

Gala Theatre, Durham

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Durham is a two hour romp through 1400 years of history telling the story of The Lindisfarne Gospels.

With just three talented actors (Chris Connel, Robert Hudson and Viktoria Kay) telling us the history of Cuthbert’s book we given puns, witticisms and belly laughs on this historical and hysterical tale.

If you like your history to be of the Monty Python and Horrible Histories variety then this was a show for you. We learn how the Vikings wanted to build an Ikea on Lindisfarne and gave us their version of YMCA.

How the Strolling Bones (Rolling Stones) led by Mick and Keith found themselves eventually in Durham and how the Gospel was “Too Sexy” for its cover. And we all know the Gospel is the weight of an adult badger.

With starring roles for Henry VIII, Sherlock Holmes and Watson and the Gospel itself the play is daft, educational, irreverent and totally worth a visit to see. If you’re in the North East pop along to a show and you may learn something if you can stop laughing long enough.

The Mousetrap Review

The Mousetrap (Tour – Darlington)

Rating: 5 out of 5



13 June 2013

Celebrating 60 years, Agatha Christie’s most iconic whodunit, The Mousetrap reaches Darlington. And it was so worth the wait.

Originally titled Three Blind Mice, and written in 1952, The Mousetrap is as fresh today as when it was written. Full of Christie’s trademarks with red herrings aplenty and intelligent well rounded characters, you are drawn in from the beginning. And with your little grey cells all working overtime to wonder why someone said this, someone else said that and why that reaction?

In order not to give anything away, there is little I can tell you about the show. It begins with a murder in London and ends in Monkswell Manor Guest House.

The fine cast of actors have made the classic characters their own on this very long tour and the dedication to their craft shows in excellent acting. Elizabeth Power shines as miserable Mrs Boyle and Steven France is a very effervescent Christopher Wren.

Bruno Langley and Jemma Walker play Giles and Mollie Ralston novice owners of the guest house. Graham Seed as Major Metcalf and Claire Wilkie as Miss Casewell bring an air of suspicion and Karl Howman is the rather comical Mr Paravicini. Outstandingly, Bob Saul is Detective Sergeant Trotter.

I would advise you go once to see a fantastic show but if I’m honest I would advise you go twice – the first time to let your mind work over time as you constantly try to work out whodunit and why, and the 2nd time to just to enjoy the pure excellence of the show.

We Will Rock Yo Review

We Will Rock You – Motorpoint Arena, Sheffield

Posted by: The Reviews Hub 



Book: Ben Elton

Music/Lyrics: Queen

Director: Tony Edge


WWRY arena tour

In a distant future, the Earth is now known as the i-planet, under the control of Globalsoft. We now live in a virtual world where live music and instruments are banned. Thus is the chilling premise of Ben Elton’s scarily accurate script.

The Gaga kids are all virtual clones but Galileo and Scaramouche are the Dreamer and his “chick” helping to lead the rebellious Bohemians to the place of living rock.

MiG Ayesa and Lauren Samuels reprise their west end rôles of Galileo and Scarmouche interacting well with each other. The character of Scaramouche is easily the best written character with some of the best lines with her witty and sarcastic comments. While Kevin Kennedy and Brenda Edwards take a Busman’s Holiday from the west end production to play Pop and the Killer Queen on the Sheffield leg of the tour. Kennedy is wonderfully comedic and woefully under used as Pop. While his part is important to the plot it’s a shame it’s not larger as he really plays a wonderful part. Ms Edwards is hilarious in her rôle of half pixelated-half human Head of Globalsoft, The Killer Queen, business woman of the year and dynamite with a laser beam. A special mention should also go out to her cleavage defying costumes which she rocks with aplomb.

There are some sound issues with the show, in the first half there are issues with echo when the actors are speaking. There are also problems in some of the songs with the fantastically rocking band drowning out the lyrics of the singers. This is more noticeable with the weaker vocalists and Sean Kingsley’s Khashoggi loses the battle in his rendition of Seven Seas of Rhye. Outstanding vocals of the night must go to Lucie Jones for her character Meats hauntingly beautiful version of Only the Good Die Young, with not a dry eye in the house at the end of the song.

The 10th Anniversary Arena World Tour works well in Sheffield, only half of the arena is in use so the space isn’t much more than a large theatre. The production is wonderfully, interactively enjoyable. Whether a fan of Queen or not, this show has a lot to offer from its fantastic staging, wonderful costumes and energetic singing and dancing.