Sunny Afternoon Review

Empire Theatre, Sunderland – 4th to 8th October 2016


Olivier Award winning Sunny Afternoon rocks into Sunderland this week.  A jukebox musical based on the life and music of the Kinks.  Like The Buddy Holly Story and Jersey Boys before, it’s a tale of dreams and aspirations, complex contracts, volatile relationships and, ultimately, success in the face of adversity.  Written by Ray Davie and Joe Penhall this show is far better than a mere tribute evening, though it includes lots of Kinks classic hits, songs like You Really Got Me, Lola, Waterloo Sunset and Dedicated Follower of Fashion,  It gives you a strong sense of period and also well-drawn characters that evolve with the band.

The Kinks were certainly no strangers to drama; not only did they have the ultimate sibling rivalry but they also had the ‘distinction’ of being the first British band to be kicked out of America.  We follow the boys from the brink of their discovery in 1964 through various trials and tribulations for the next 15 years or so. In the first half, the stage backdrop is covered in amplifiers — it is like being in a vast recording studio. Then comes their first visit to America and the back wall is covered in the Stars and Stripes.Ryan O’Donnell is exceptionally good in the central role of Ray Davies.  Mark Newnham is suitably manic as Ray’s brother and bandmate Dave. Garmon Rhys plays shy bass guitarist Pete Quaife and Andrew Gallo plays drummer Mick Avery .

The music is clearly the strongest part of the production, not a surprise when there is such a brilliant back catalogue to choose from. However, it wasn’t just guitar heavy rock, there was some sweeter and subtler songs; an a capella version of Days had some beautiful harmonies, as did Too Much On My Mind, a touching duet between Ray and his wife Rosa. It was all backed up by a brilliant live band and some superb on-stage musical performances from the cast.  

It’s easy to see why this swept the boards at the Oliviers, it’s not a typical fun and feel good show, there are dark parts and a sense of heavy realism but it’s that realism which makes the show what it is – a kind of triumph over adversity.    In Sunderland until Saturday 8th it’s not just worth a trip to see the show it’s worth a repeat trip to see the show again because it truly is so good.

STOMP London Run Extends into 2018




2016 marks the 25th anniversary for STOMP, which has now extended its booking period at London’s Ambassadors Theatre until 7 January 2018. During this new booking period, the show will celebrate its 15th birthday in London and its 10th birthday at the Ambassadors Theatre, where it has broken all previous box office records.


STOMP was created by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas and was first performed in 1991 in Edinburgh. The show played Sadler’s Wells Theatre in January 1994 and won the Olivier Award for Best Choreography, before opening in New York in February of the same year. The European company was created in 1997 and began the show’s London run at the Vaudeville Theatre on 25 September 2002, transferring to the Ambassadors Theatre on 27 September 2007.


One of Britain’s greatest exports, STOMP has toured the globe for 25 years, playing to more than 12 million people in 53 countries across 6 continents. There are currently four STOMP companies performing worldwide, including New York, where the show has been running for over 22 years, London, now in its 15th year, a world tour and a North American tour. STOMP has just completed a very successful 10-week season in Beijing and will play India for the first time this year.


STOMP is presented in London by Yes/No Productions and Glynis Henderson Productions Limited.



Ambassadors Theatre

West Street

London WC2H 9ND


Box Office: 020 7395 5405


Tickets from £26 + a £2.50 transaction fee

Performances: Monday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 6pm, with matinees Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 3pm

Extra Performances at 3pm & 8pm on Wednesday 15 February, Wednesday 12 April, Wednesday 5 & 12 July, Wednesday 2 & 9 August, Wednesday 18 & 25 October 2017

N.B. No 3pm matinee on Thursday 7 & 14 September 2017

See website for Christmas/New Year booking period


Running Time: 100 minutes with no interval


Current Booking Period: to 7 January 2018


Last chance to see Sunny Afternoon in London


  • Olivier Award-winning show runs for four more weeks
  • Final performance on 29 October 2016
  • First West End run will end after more than two years at the Harold Pinter Theatre
  • Sunny Afternoon is currently on an extensive U.K. tour 



After almost 900 performances in London, and having been seen by over half a million people, audiences have just one month left to catch the multi-Olivier award-winning hit British musical, SUNNY AFTERNOON. The production will conclude its West End run on 29 October this year, after more than two years at the Harold Pinter Theatre.

SUNNY AFTERNOON began a national tour on 19 August and is currently playing at the Sunderland Empire.

The critically-acclaimed musical Sunny Afternoon tells the story of the early life of Ray Davies and the rise to stardom of The Kinks. It has established itself as a firm favourite with audiences and critics alike since it opened at the Harold Pinter Theatre in October 2014.

Sunny Afternoon was the best performing show at the 2015 Olivier Awards, winning four awards including Best New Musical. Ray Davies won for Outstanding Achievement in Music.

Danny Horn (Doctor Who; The Dead Dogs) plays Ray Davies, with Oliver Hoare (Antony and Cleopatra, Chichester) as Dave Davies, Tom Whitelock (Times Square Angel, Union) as bassist Pete Quaife and Damien Walsh (Dreamboats and Petticoats) as drummer Mick Avory.

Full cast: Niamh Bracken, Christopher Brandon, Ben Caplan, Alice Cardy, Lia Given, Oliver Hoare, Danny Horn, Gillian Kirkpatrick, Megan Leigh Mason, Stephen Pallister, Marvin Springer, Charlie Tighe, Gabriel Vick, Damien Walsh and Tom Whitelock. Understudies: Lloyd Gorman, Vicki Manser, Kay Milbourne, Nick Sayce, Robbie White.

Fifty years ago this year, The Kinks were sitting at Number One in the UK charts with their single ‘Sunny Afternoon’. The band’s popularity has not faded since the 1960s, with crowds of all ages filling the Harold Pinter Theatre night after night.

Featuring some of The Kinks’ best-loved songs, including ‘You Really Got Me’, ‘Waterloo Sunset’ and ‘Lola’, Sunny Afternoon shows the music of The Kinks is still as popular as ever, more than 50 years since the band’s rise to fame.

Following a sold-out run at Hampstead Theatre, this world premiere production, with music and lyrics by Ray Davies, new book by Joe Penhall, original story by Ray Davies, direction by Edward Hall, design by Miriam Buether and choreography by Adam Cooper, opened at the Harold Pinter theatre on 28 October 2014. Lighting is by Rick Fisher, sound by Matt McKenzie and the Musical Supervisor and Musical Director is Elliott Ware.

The official cast recording album, produced by Ray Davies at his Konk studios, is released on BMG Chrysalis and is available to buy at

Sonia Friedman Productions commissioned Joe Penhall in 2011 to write the book based on Ray Davies’s original story. The company developed the production over the next four years, assembling the creative team and cast that presented Sunny Afternoon in 2014 at Hampstead Theatre under the direction of Edward Hall, and now at the Harold Pinter Theatre.

Ray Davies is an influential and prolific rock musician and was co-founder and lead singer and songwriter for rock band The Kinks, and later a solo artist. He has an outstanding catalogue of hits from the earliest 1960s to the present day with estimated record sales in excess of 50 million. He has also acted, directed and produced shows for theatre and television.

Joe Penhall is an award winning playwright and screenwriter. Plays include Some Voices(Royal Court), Blue/Orange (National Theatre and West End), winner of Best New Play at the Evening Standard Awards, Olivier Awards and at the Critics Circle, and Dumb Show,Haunted Child and Birthday (all Royal Court). Screenplays include Enduring Love and The Road.

As Artistic Director of Hampstead Theatre, Edward Hall’s productions includeWonderland, Sunny Afternoon, Raving, Chariots of Fire, No Naughty Bits, Loyalty andEnlightenment. As Artistic Director of Propeller, his work has toured worldwide, played the West End and Broadway and has won numerous awards both in the UK and overseas. Other theatre work includes A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (National Theatre), Edmond with Kenneth Branagh (National Theatre), Macbeth with Sean Bean (Albery), The Constant Wife (Apollo), Julius Caesar (RSC), Henry V (RSC) and The Deep Blue Sea (Vaudeville). Television work includes Downton Abbey, Spooks and Kingdom.  Edward is an Associate of the National Theatre and the Old Vic.





Next week, on Wednesday 5 October, the Dance Together project will mark the opening of a brand new Strathmore Special Needs School site and a new, exciting partnership for Strathmore with Grey Court School, a mainstream school that invited Strathmore to share their site.  A one-off event, Dance Together will see invited students from White Lodgecome together with students from the two other schools in a celebratory afternoon of integrated and inclusive performances situated in and around the new site. BalletBoyzCompany dancers and dancers from the Royal Ballet School will support the performance and Darcey Bussell will be in attendance to officially declare the building open.

The dance piece, choreographed by Karl Morgan (Movement Warriors), focuses on dancing from the heart. Morgan said:  “Dance breaks down barriers – we can all dance. Dance Together is about why we all love to dance.”

All audience members for the event have been sent a small filmed section of basic choreography to learn in advance of the opening so that they too can perform as a collective on the day. Dance Together will feature integrated performances from all the schools involved and audience members will be taken on a journey around the spaces watching ‘dance installation’ type pieces as they go in each of the classrooms.

Strathmore Special Needs School is Richmond’s day special school for learners with complex learning difficulties. Many pupils have an additional diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorders or have additional physical and sensory disabilities.

Ivan Pryce, head teacher at Strathmore School said: Strathmore is forever grateful to the Headteacher, Governors and staff at Grey Court for inviting us to locate our new school building within their grounds and the enthusiasm with which they and the Grey Court students have welcomed our students. Dance Together is a perfect example of the partnership between Grey Court and Strathmore: groups of students from different schools with different talents coming together to work together on a shared interest. From each other our students will learn and with each other they will demonstrate how everyone can achieve”.

Maggie Bailey, head teacher at Grey Court School said:Grey Court School is very excited to be involved in Dance Together. The partnership between Grey Court and Strathmore schools has become an integral feature of our learning community and we expect both our teachers and students to benefit from Strathmore’s knowledge, experience and perspective. This is a mutually beneficial partnership which will serve our community for generations to come. The students who are performing in this wonderful project with Balletboyz chose to participate themselves and their hard work in rehearsals has been a credit to our school.”

BalletBoyz Artistic Directors, Michael Nunn OBE and William Trevitt OBE said:“BalletBoyz has always been about introducing more people to dance and it’s brilliant to see our dancers inspiring other young people through this project. It’s great to be working with our local schools and the next step is to take this model out across London.”

Christopher Powney, Artistic Director of The Royal Ballet School, said: “Dance Togetherhas been an incredibly unique and enriching experience for our students. This opportunity has meant that we have had the privilege of working closely with Strathmore School, Grey Court School and our own alumni and BalletBoyz, on this very special collaborative project”.

Mary Poppins opens in 4 Weeks!



images-1Coming to the Alhambra Theatre, Bradford Opens in 4 Weeks!

Alhambra Theatre, Bradford

Wednesday 2 November – Saturday 10 December 2016

Captioned performance: Wed 16 Nov, 7.30pm, Audio Described performance: Wed 23 Nov, 2pm

& Signed performance: Thu 24 Nov, 7.30pm

*Tickets: £61.50 – £21.50

Call the Box Office on 01274 432000 or visit

*All prices shown include booking fees but are subject to postage charge if applicable. Bradford Theatres usual terms and conditions apply.

The Disney and Cameron Mackintosh UK and Ireland tour of their multi award-winning musical MARY POPPINS arrives at the Alhambra Theatre, Bradford this November; this is the only Yorkshire date on the tour.

The magical story of the world’s favourite Nanny arriving on Cherry Tree Lane has been triumphantly and spectacularly brought to the stage with dazzling choreography, incredible effects and unforgettable songs. The stage version of MARY POPPINS is brilliantly adapted from the wonderful stories by PL Travers and the beloved Walt Disney film.

Starring Zizi Strallen as ‘Mary Poppins’ and Matt Lee as ‘Bert’, Neil Roberts as ‘George Banks’; Rebecca Lock as ‘Winifred Banks’; Penelope Woodman as ‘Miss Andrew’; Wendy Ferguson as ‘Mrs Brill’; Grainne Renihan as ‘Bird Woman’ and Blair Anderson as ‘Robertson Ay’. They are joined by Yves Adang; Abby Bebbington; Greg Bernstein; Jabari Braham; Matthew Caputo; Sophie Caton; Jennifer Davison; Lisa Dent; Joe Dockree; Maria Garrett; Hannah Grace; Graham Hoadly; Thomas-Lee Kidd; Antony Lawrence; Adam Margilewski; Anu Ogunmefun; Ben Oliver; Claire Parrish; Edwin Ray; Jo Lucy Rackham; Adam Rhys-Charles; Sam Salter; John Stacey; Christine Tucker; Alexandra Waite-Roberts; Wreh-Asha Walton and Scott Waugh.

Zizi Strallen most recently starred as ‘Lana’ in Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man. Her previous West End credits include: Cats; the multi award-winning Merrily We Roll Along; Rock of Ages; Dirty Dancing; Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella at Sadler’s Wells. She has also appeared in The Music Man at Chichester Festival Theatre and as ‘Penny Pingleton’ in Hairspray at Leicester Curve.

Matt Lee, one of Australia’s premier “song and dance men”, played the role of ‘Bert’ in Mary Poppins in the hugely successful Australian production of the show, his portrayal winning him the prestigious Helpmann Award for Best Actor in a Musical. His other theatre credits in Australia include Miss Saigon, The Witches of Eastwick, Rent, Grease and The Boy from Oz. Matt was also a permanent member of the judging panel for Australia’s So You Think You Can Dance.

Neil Roberts most recently appeared as Harry in Mamma Mia! at both the Prince of Wales and Novello Theatres in the West End. His other theatre credits include Love for Love and The Prisoners of War at Hampstead Theatre and The Jungle Book at the Other Place, Stratford-Upon-Avon. His many TV credits include ‘Mike Leydon’ in Coronation Street, ‘DS Jason Wise’ in Emmerdale and ‘Richard’ in Disney’s Life Bites.

Rebecca Lock has most recently appeared as ‘Rosie’ in Mamma Mia! at the Novello Theatre. Her other theatre credits include Oliver! at Sheffield Crucible; The Tempest at Theatre Royal Bath; The Phantom of The Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre and Avenue Q at the Noel Coward Theatre.

Penelope Woodman’s recent theatre credits include: Sons of the Desert at the Royal Court Theatre Liverpool; the UK tour of Birds of a Feather; Mamma Mia! both at the Prince of Wales Theatre and on international tour, and the UK tour of Never Forget.

Wendy Ferguson most recently played the role of ‘Madame Thenardier’ in Les Misérables at the Queens Theatre. Her other theatre credits include: ‘Carlotta’ in The Phantom of The Opera both at Her Majesty’s Theatre and at the 25th Anniversary Concert at the Royal Albert Hall, and ‘Widow Corney’ in Oliver! at Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

Grainne Renihan’s theatre credits include: ‘Grizabella’ in Cats on UK Tour and in Hamburg; ‘Fantine’ in Les Misérables at the Palace Theatre; ‘Florence’ in Chess at the Prince Edward Theatre; ‘Guilietta’ in Aspects of Love at the Prince of Wales Theatre; ‘Ellen’ in Miss Saigon at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and ‘Mary Magdalene’ in the European tour of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Blair Anderson’s recent theatre credits include If the Lights Are Too Bright at the Ovalhouse Theatre; In Lambeth at the Southwark Playhouse, the Singapore tour of Seussical and the UK tour of Blockbuster The Musical.

The stage production of MARY POPPINS is co-created by Cameron Mackintosh and has a book by Oscar-winning screenwriter and Downton Abbey creator, Julian Fellowes. It has a timeless score by Richard M Sherman and Robert B Sherman including the songs Jolly Holiday, Step in Time,

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and Feed the Birds with new songs and additional music and lyrics by the Olivier award-winning British team of George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. The producer for Disney Theatrical Productions is Thomas Schumacher.

The internationally renowned and multi award-winning creative team assembled for MARY POPPINS is led by stage and film director Richard Eyre. Co-direction and Choreography is by Matthew Bourne, with Co-choreography by Stephen Mear. Set and Costume Design is by Bob Crowley with Lighting Design by Natasha Katz, Sound Design by Paul Groothuis and Orchestrations by William David Brohn. The International Tour of MARY POPPINS is Directed by James Powell with Original Choreography adapted by Geoffrey Garratt. Musical Supervision is by Stephen Brooker.

The stage production of MARY POPPINS originally opened in 2004 and ran in the West End for three years and over 1,250 performances. During this time it won the Olivier Award for Best Theatre Choreography and Best Set Design as well as the Evening Standard Award for Best Set Design and the Variety Club Award for Best Musical. The Broadway production ran for over six years where it won the Tony Award for Best Set Design. The show has subsequently played to great success in Holland and Mexico. It has toured Australia, New Zealand, the U.S, the UK, has been seen by over 11 million people and is currently breaking box office records in Vienna.