Full Cast Announced for Blood Brothers 2019 Autumn Tour


Bill Kenwright’s ‘Dazzling’ (Sunday Telegraph) production of the international smash hit musical Blood Brothers returns this summer with a three-week season at Cork Opera House from 5 August before embarking on a UK tour. Starring Lyn Paul in the iconic role of Mrs Johnstone for the final time, she will be joined by Joel Benedict as Eddie, Danielle Corlass as Linda, Danny Taylor as Sammy and Chloe Taylor as Mrs Lyons. Alexander Patmore returns as Mickey alongside Robbie Scotcher as the narrator.

The rest of the cast for Blood Brothers includes Tim Churchill, Graham Martin, Gemma Brodrick, Hannah Barr Graeme Kinniburgh, Shaun McCourt and Connor Bannister.

Considered ‘One of the best musicals ever written’ (Sunday Times), Blood Brothers, written by award-winning playwright Willy Russell has triumphed across the Globe. Scooping up no fewer than four awards for Best Musical in London and seven Tony Award nominations on Broadway, Blood Brothers is simply ‘Unmissable and unbeatable’ (The Spectator).

This epic tale of Liverpool life started as a play, performed at a Liverpool comprehensive school in 1981 before opening at the Liverpool Playhouse in 1983. It has since completed sell out seasons in the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Japan and ran in London’s West End for 24 years, exceeding 10,000 performances. One of only three musicals ever to achieve that milestone.

Blood Brothers tells the moving story of twin boys separated at birth, only to be reunited by a twist of fate and a mother’s haunting secret. The memorable score includes A Bright New DayMarilyn Monroe and the emotionally charged hit Tell Me It’s Not True.

When Mrs Johnstone, a young mother, is deserted by her husband and left to her own devices to provide for seven hungry children she takes a job as a housekeeper in order to make ends meet.

It is not long before her brittle world crashes around her when she discovers herself to be pregnant yet again – this time with twins! In a moment of weakness and desperation, she enters a secret pact with her employer which leads inexorably to the show’s shattering climax. A sensational cast, brilliant book, show stopping music, remarkable staging and five-star performances make Blood Brothers an enthralling night of entertainment.

Willy Russellis one of this country’s leading contemporary dramatists. His theatre credits include Educating RitaShirley Valentine, Breezeblock Park and Our Day OutEducating Rita, originally commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company, enjoyed a two-year run in the West End and was made into a film starring Michael Caine and Julie Walters. Shirley Valentine also made the move from stage to screen in an enormously popular film starring Pauline Collins and Tom Conti.


Bill Kenwright presents


By Willy Russell

Directed by Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright

Designed by Andy Walmsley                                    Sound Designed By Dan Samson

Musical Direction by Kelvin Towse                        Lighting Designed by Nick Richings


Tuesday 6 August – Saturday 17 August                                              Box Office: +353 (21) – 427 0022

Cork Opera House                                                                        Website: www.corkoperahouse.ie

Tuesday 27 August – Saturday 31 August                           Box Office: 01227 787787

Canterbury, The Marlowe                                                         Website: www.marlowetheatre.com

Tuesday 3 September – Saturday 14 September                             Box Office: 0844 871 7615

Liverpool Empire                                                                           Website:www.atgtickets.com/venues/liverpool-empire 

Tuesday 17 September – Saturday 28 September           Box Office: 029 2087 8889

Cardiff, New Theatre                                                                   Website: www.newtheatrecardiff.co.uk

Monday 30 September – Saturday 12 October                 Box Office: 0844 338 5000

Birmingham Hippodrome                                                          Website:www.birminghamhippodrome.com

Monday 14 October – Saturday 19 October                       Box Office: 01332 59 39 39

Derby Theatre                                                                                                Website:www.derbytheatre.co.uk

Tuesday 22 October – Saturday 26 October                       Box Office: 01482 300306

Hull New Theatre                                                                         Website: www.hulltheatres.co.uk

Monday 28 October – Saturday 2 November                    Box Office: 0844 871 7615

Grand Opera House York                                                                           Website:www.atgtickets.com/venues/grand-opera-house-york

Tuesday 5 November – Saturday 9 November                 Box Office: 01270 368 242

Crewe Lyceum                                                                                               Website:www.crewelyceum.co.uk

Tuesday 12 November – Saturday 16 November             Box Office: 01424 462 288

Hastings, White Rock Theatre                                                  Website: www.whiterocktheatre.org.uk

Tuesday 19 November – Saturday 23 November                             Box Office: 01322 220000

Dartford, Orchard Theatre                                                        Website: www.orchardtheatre.co.uk

Tuesday 3 – Saturday 7 December                                         Box Office: 0844 871 3022

Sunderland Empire                                                                      Website:www.atgtickets.com/sunderland

Tuesday 10 – Saturday 14 December                                   Box Office: 01323 412000

Eastbourne Congress Theatre                                                                  Website:www.eastbournetheatres.co.uk/venue/congress-theatre

Dirty Dancing Review

Leeds Grand Theatre – until Saturday 17 August 2019

Reviewed by Michelle Richardson


I must start by saying this was my first visit to Leeds Grand Theatre, and what a lovely old Victorian theatre it is, with all it’s nooks and crannies. The detail inside is absolutely stunning, that’s worth a visit just on its own.

Dirty Dancing is the well-loved 1987 film, which has been adapted to stage. This record-breaking tour has hit Leeds with a whoop, whistle and a cheer. Before the show there was such a buzz in theatre, the audience of predominately women, chatting away with eager excitement, I have never heard such a noisy theatre, but as soon as the curtain rose it quietened down, well for the most part anyway, I will come to that later.

Set during the summer of 1963 it tells the story of Frances “Baby” Houseman (Katie Eccles) visiting Kellermans, with her parents and sister. This is the summer that sees her maturing into a young woman with the help of Johnny Castle (Michael O’Reilly). Baby and her family arrive at Kellermans, has her first glimpse of Johnny and then manages to gate-crash a staff party, and yes the “I carried a watermelon” scene is included. This is where she starts falling for Johnny, but then again who wouldn’t?

The story follows the film quite closely as we see the naïve Baby maturing into a young woman, as she steps in to cover Penny (Millie Hood) and must learn to dance, with the help of Johnny. Eccles, who is in fact the understudy, but has previously toured in the role of Baby, plays Baby with a goofy turn, growing from awkward teenager into a confident young woman. I did find at times that she was just a bit too goofy and forced, she needed to be more natural, but that was a minor niggle. I have seen this show in York, quite early on in its tour, and I can remember thinking that O’Reilly needed to take ownership of his role. I am glad to say he has, he looks a lot more confident and comfortable as Johnny and his acting and accent have improved, this role is also his professional debut. He really is an amazing dancer, very charismatic.

The choreography throughout is fast paced and exciting, performed by such a talented cast. Hood, also an understudy, stepping up from the ensemble is supple as Penny, I would so love to dance like that, I would love to be able to dance full stop. I did think that maybe the show was missing a few dancers with having two of the main characters using understudies, not that you could tell.

Greg Fossard as Neil Kellerman, provided us with a few laughs, but the real laughter was courtesy of Lizzie Ottley as Lisa Houseman. Her rendition of the Hula Hana song had us all in stitches and received a huge cheer and applause. What was the really icing on the cake was the fact that she was loving it, really exaggerated her performance, it was fabulous. All the cast of actors, dancers and singers were engaging and worked well together, you could tell they had been touring together for a while.

The staging was quite intricate with it constantly moving as the scenes changed. This didn’t always run smoothly, as sometimes you could see the stage hands moving, what looked to be, quite a heavy set. The lake scene is also a sight to behold, and maybe not for the right reasons. It is not good, but I’m not sure how it could have been done differently. It did provide the whole audience with a huge giggle, which can’t be bad, all those endorphins. Dirty Dancing is not really a musical, more a play with a bit of live singing, the only ones to really sing are Alex Wheeler as Billy, Sian Gentle-Green and Colin Charles. It does have a live band, who are very good, and some recorded music with tunes so well remembered from the film.

The audience undeniably approved of the very muscular O’Reilly and his naked chest and bare bottom, on show for us all to see. The Leeds crowd is a lot less restrained than the reserved York crowd, I can tell you, and they showed their appreciation in all its glory. The finale of I’ve had the Time of my Life had us all up on our feet, singing and dancing along. What a great ending to a wonderful evening.

Dirty Dancing is a show not to miss. Who can resist “I’ve carried a watermelon”, “nobody puts baby in a corner” and that iconic lift?

Full Cast Announced for Nigel Slater’s Toast UK Tour

PW Productions and Karl Sydow present The Lowry production of Nigel Slater’s Toast



Following its successful London transfer to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Other Palace, Nigel Slater’s Toast announces its full cast for its UK tour, which launches at Huddersfield’s Lawrence Batley Theatre on 19 August,where the play’s writer Henry Filloux-Bennett has recently been appointed Chief Executive, and will conclude at the Crewe Lyceum on 7 December.

In addition to the previously announced Giles Cooper as Nigel Slater, he is joined by Katy Federman (Abigail’s Party, The Fulstow Boys) as Mum and Blair Plant (The Railway Children, The Ladykillers) as Dad. Samantha Hopkins (One Man Two Guvnors, Duet for One) plays Joan and Stefan Edwards (The Mousetrap, All or Nothing) completes the company as Josh.

From making the perfect sherry trifle, waging war over cakes through to the playground politics of sweets and the rigid rules of restaurant dining, this is a moving and evocative tale of love, loss and… toast.

Nigel Slater said: “With the London run approaching its conclusion, it’s an extremely exciting time as the words on the page will soon come to life once again for audiences around the country. I’m thrilled that the play will continue its journey after The Other Palace.”

Henry Filloux-Bennett continued: “Having written ‘Toast’ whilst working at The Lowry, that the production is coming back to the North of England after its run at The Other Palace is exciting enough. Now that I have moved to the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield, I’m completely delighted that we get to open the tour of ‘Toast’ here in Yorkshire, starting as it will our 25th Anniversary season.”

Based on the British Book Awards Biography of the Year, Toast tells the story of Nigel Slater’s childhood through the tastes and smells he grew up with, vividly recreating suburban England in the 1960s and enveloping audiences with the evocative sights and sounds of cookery that defined the significant moments of his youth.

Originally produced by The Lowry for Week 53 festival in 2018, Toast is written by Henry Filloux-Bennett and directed by Jonnie Riordan. It is co-produced by PW Productions and Karl Sydow, who between them are behind some of the most successful regional touring productions,  An Inspector Calls, The Woman in Black, & Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story On Stage.

The author of a collection of bestselling books and presenter of nine BBC television series, Nigel Slater has been the food columnist for The Observer for 25 years. His memoir Toast – the Story of a Boy’s Hunger won six major awards, has been translated into five languages and became a BBC film starring Helena Bonham Carter and Freddie Highmore. Nigel’s latest book Greenfeasthas recently been published by HarperCollins. 

Nigel Slater’s Toast – Autumn Tour 2019

Mon 19 – Sat 24 August                                         Box Office: 01484 430 528

Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield               www.thelbt.org

Mon 26 – Sat 31 August                                         Box Office: 01865 305 305

Oxford Playhouse                                                     www.oxfordplayhouse.com

Tues 3 – Sat 7 September                                      Box Office: 01702 351 135

Southend Palace Theatre                                       www.palacetheatresouthend.co.uk

Tues 10 – Sat 14 September                                 Box Office: 0151 709 4776

Liverpool Playhouse                                                www.everymanplayhouse.com/

Tues 17 – Sat 21 September                                 Box Office: 0191 230 5151

Northern Stage, Newcastle                                    www.northernstage.co.uk

Mon 30 September – Sat 5 October                   Box Office: 01684 892 277

Malvern Theatres                                                    www.malvern-theatres.co.uk

Mon 7 – Sat 12 October                                        Box Office: 01604 624 811

Royal & Derngate, Northampton                         www.royalandderngate.co.uk

Mon 21 – Sat 26 October                                     Box Office: 0844 871 7651

Richmond Theatre                                                 www.atgtickets.com/richmond/

Mon 28 October – Sat 2 November                   Box Office: 0844 871 7650

Theatre Royal Brighton                                         www.atgtickets.com/brighton/

Mon 4 – Sat 9 November                                     Box Office: 01722 320 333

Salisbury Playhouse                                               www.wiltshirecreative.co.uk

Mon 11 – Sat 16 November                                Box Office: 0343 208 6000

The Lowry, Salford                                                 www.thelowry.com

Tues 19 – Sat 23 November                                Box Office: 01904 623 568

York Theatre Royal                                                www.yorktheatreroyal.co.uk

Mon 25 – Sat 30 November                                Box Office: 01246 345 222

Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield                   www.chesterfieldtheatres.co.uk/

Tues 3 – Sat 7 December                                     Box Office: 01270 368 242

Crewe Lyceum Theatre                                         www.crewelyceum.co.uk


Facebook @ToastPlay

Twitter @ToastPlay


Grandmother’s Grimm Review

Edinburgh Fringe

Paradise in the Vault – Reviewed 5 August, Playing August 6-10, 12-17

Reviewed by Emma Sibbald


Edinburgh’s literary theatre company, Some Kind of Theatre, provides an evening of thought-provoking excitement in their 2019 Fringe offering, Grandmothers Grimm. Marie Hassenpflug has crept away to meet with the curious but innovative Grimm brothers, and a night of argument, recreation and exquisite invention commences, performed by a stellar and highly energetic cast. Grandmother’s Grimm contrasts the warmth of an oft-told tale with an exploration of its genesis, providing a dynamic performance of familiar tales with a profound and questioning edge.

The piece returns us to the original setting down of the ancient tales, before they morphed into bedtime stories for children. The original Grimm tales were certainly moral, but they were also coloured with gruesome details. Who can forget the glint of the scissors used to cut Little Red and her grandmother from the rapacious wolf, or the image of Cinderella’s ugly sisters, desperately removing toes and heels to fit their stepsister’s tiny glass slippers? Modern retellings of these fairytales excise the ghoulish details, and so it is a delight to observe their reintroduction, told skilfully by a cast that recognises the audience’s connection with numerous strands of story; the more sanitised versions, the darkness of the Grimm originals, and a third notion of fairytales, in which women, both as fully realised characters and as thriving creators, take centre stage.

In fairytales, women are everywhere. The charming heroine wears a hood/pricks a finger/marries above her station, and interacts with her grandmother/strange fairies/lonesome crones, fights her sister/more fairies/other queens. Even though men can appear to be the protagonist, it is women who motivate and mould the narrative. Who are these women? What are their beginnings? Grandmother’s Grimm reminds us that the skeletons of these stories did not begin with two gore-mad brothers, but rather as folk tales, told and retold by predominately uneducated women with few resources and soaring imaginations.

The teller of a tale is almost as important as the tale itself – the very nature of oral tradition embraces the personal flourishes and inconsistencies that comes from recreating stories from collective memory, and all four performances captured the fairyteller’s tension between familiarity and originality. Justin Skelton’s gleefully weird rendition of a rooster-riding, bagpipe-playing hedgehog was highly enjoyable, and his performance of Jacob Grimm added a reliably quirky edge to the marriage-shy writer. Gerry Kielty as Wilhelm Grimm persuasively played both charming materialist and violent extortionist, embodying the double act of a storyteller, and Jenny Quinn brought convincing idealism and starry-eyed creativity to the far-seeing Marie Hassenplfug, a fairytale heroine in her own tale of erasure. The play opens to Emily Ingram’s highly physical performance of Old Marie, playing both the wolf and a grandmother, and this double act was involving, even mesmerising. As the petty squabbles of the Grimm brother’s faded, we were reminded that fairytales are still stories that can still leave you breathless, no matter our knowledge of the outcome.

Chicago Blue Brothers Review

Savoy Theatre – 4 August 2019

Reviewed by Elizabeth J Smith


The Blues Brothers are an iconic duo, with many audience members dressing up to pay homage to their heroes. When released back in 1980 it took America and the rest of the world by storm and their album sold millions of copies and became the biggest selling blues album ever. So with that as a back ground story how could two lads from up North compete?

The show opens with a fun video of the brothers in their personalised American police car chasing through the street’s of London. Setting the scene for a high speed, racy evening.

The band enter the stage and when they start to play you know you’re in for a good night, their enthusiasm, both musically and physically is infectious. They have your toes tapping before the main men arrive.

Jake and Elwood burst onto the stage and have the audience clapping and singing along instantly.

Chris Hindle, Jake Blues, is a large lad as the character dictates but his stamina and athleticism leaves you breathless. His voice is soulful, however, I’m not sure he could hear the band all that well as some tunes were a little off key!

Gareth Davey, Elwood Blues, also jumps about the stage with electricity running through his bones. His deep baritone voice suits many a tune and the combination of the two works well.

The soul sisters all sang extremely expertly but I wasn’t feeling the Motown vibe. Perhaps a more traditional Motown costume would help add to the experience. Their moves were predictable and not very timely.

Overall, the Chicago Blues Brothers left me feeling a little less West End debut, more cruise ship entertainment. It didn’t have the polish of a Westend show. But it didn’t stop the audience from stomping their feet and clapping their hands and dancing in the aisles.

If this show was to make it too a West End theatre for a run it would need more direction and better choreography.

I felt it was a diamond in the rough that could do with a good polish.

A Vision of Elvis Review

Grand Opera House York Friday 2nd August 2019

Reviewed by Michelle Richardson


A Vision of Elvis starring former soldier Rob Kinsley, celebrates the legend that was Elvis Presley, the undisputed King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. This year sees Rob celebrating 10 years touring as an Elvis tribute act. On Friday he returned once again to the Grand Opera House in York as part of this current tour.

Rob certainly has a following, you could tell by some of the eager audience, there was a wide variety of ages, both male and female. Once the curtain went up we got to see the band, on this occasion a drummer, keyboard player, lead and bass guitarists and two female singers. The anticipation was palatable, and then Elvis appeared on stage, in all his black leather look finery. I did comment that he must have been extremely hot in that outfit, but you couldn’t tell, at that stage anyway.

Along with four outfit changes we got to listen to such great Elvis songs as Heartbreak Hotel, Love Me Tender, Suspicious Minds and many more. I must admit the first half I was not convinced with the whole act, but the second half pulled it back, much to my relief, I so wanted to be blown away by this show. Rob interacted with the audience by chatting, but I could barely understand anything he was saying in the first half. His southern American accent certainly needs a lot of work. Once he returned after the interval it was like listening to a completely different person, I could understand him, he did not appear to be trying so hard, and it was a 1000% improvement. I just so wish it had been that way throughout the show as it would have totally changed my experience.

During the costume changes the two female vocalists, the Sweet Sensations performed solo numbers, and then later on in the show treated us to Proud Mary, where Rob joined in. That was a brilliant rendition and showed how good they really were. Their costumes were very sparkly, blue in the first half before changing to red, nothing wrong with a bit of bling. The band, which I believe was streamlined for this show, did a fabulous job recreating the sound of Elvis, in their black gear for the first half and the obligatory white for the second.

The staging was very simple with just a simple back drop. After the interval it depicted Las Vegas, with its bright lit up signage. This did not really matter, after all who goes to a concert to look at that? Rob and his choreography, not that there was a lot, was a big hit and miss, sometimes he smashed it, but other times it fell a bit wide of the mark and not that polished.

The costumes were all pretty fantastic, and Rob certainly wore the white jumpsuit, well, both the tiger and jewel encrusted one. You could tell he was extremely hot and at one stage commented that this was the hottest stage he had ever performed on, but carry on he did.

What really made the show was his interaction with the audience, and the second half was so much better. He was witty with a great sense of humour, down to earth and seemed to really care about the audience who had paid to see him, that was lovely and refreshing to see. He even grabbed a fan, Sue, up on stage to sing with him, she absolutely loved it and it got a huge cheer from the audience. He even has a supply of silk scarves that he drapes around his neck before tossing into the baying crowd, very Elvis. Some lucky audience members even got some cute teddy bears, which were thrown out whilst playing Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear. Needless to say, our seats were too far away.

One thing I did notice was the too white teeth and far too much make up, he looked far to plasticly. I have since looked online at other photos and he did look so much better before. I have also found out that the performance before this was postponed due to ill health, perhaps that were the reason for any negatives I have mentioned.

I can understand why he has amassed such a loyal following, especially after the performance in the second half. Overall it was an enjoyable night, full of that Elvis bling, that had the audience up dancing on their feet.

The Addams Family Review

Edinburgh Fringe

Paradise at Augustine’s – Reviewed 2 August, Playing until 10 August

Reviewed by Manetta McIntosh


Scarily Good

If you are a fan of musicals and can’t choose between the 20 or so on offer at the Fringe, look no further. The Addams Family is, by far, one of the best musicals I have seen, and this production was star quality. When you see it you will wonder why you are not watching this at one of the main theatre’s, however, part of the charm of the Festival is the quirky venues that host the shows and Paradise at Augustine’s is perfect for this creepy family as it is a church.

This musical is based on Charles Addams’ characters about a ‘fairly’ dysfunctional family who are trying to come to terms with their daughter wanting something different to the family norm. The story challenges relationships and family values and you don’t have to talk to your dead relatives to relate to it. Despite this family being together for a veryyyyyy long time, this show takes on inter-dimensional relationships and how one person’s journey impacts on everyone else.

The acting and singing was superb and the delivery was spot on. I was laughing from start to finish with a little bit of ‘the feels’ in the middle. Michael Davies who played Gomez and Rebecca Drever who played Wednesday had the lion’s share of the songs and they had me captivated. I could see Rebecca playing the part of Elphaba in Wicked and not because it’s another ‘dark’ character but her voice would be perfect to sing Gravity.

The chemistry between Gomez and Morticia (Jo Heinemeier) translated on stage, you believed they were a couple who were conflicted with this discovery about their relationship that they thought was so solid. Morticia appeared as if she was floating around the stage, there was no theatrical trickery, smoke covering her feet etc, but she just seemed…to float. And, although it may only have got a ‘seveeeeen’ in a popular dance show, their Tango was delightfully amusing.

We were not privy to the build up of the relationship between Wednesday and Lucas (Andrew Hornyak) we meet them as they decide they want to get engaged. Their story highlighted that whilst there may be obvious differences on the outside, we all want the same things for our kids at the core, to be safe and happy. Julia Weingaertner and Benji Sumrie who played Lucas’ parents portrayed the perfect couple who really were not that perfect at all, but Granma’s hooch sorted their relationship out.

Other cast members who particularly stood out were Fester (Andrew Gardiner) and Grandma (Caitlin Davis), their characters really ‘came to life’, pun intended. Grandma wetting herself after a bit of mid-dinner exertion and Fester singing to the moon were most memorable. Lurch’s (Cameron Kirby) comedy untiming was perfect and the Ancestors where key in many aspects of the scenes without having a main speaking part, seeing a dead person do a one-handed cartwheel was quite impressive.

The musical numbers perfectly punctuated the story and the choreography was spot on, but what amazed me the most was how perfect the voices complimented each other when all singing together. Considering the venue the sound and lighting were all exceptional, I cannot rate this production enough.

Footloose Review

Southwark Playhouse – until 3 August 2019

Reviewed by Alexandra Sykes


80s nostalgia is a big thing at the moment so what better way to spend a Friday evening than watching one of the best things from the 80s.

Set in the fictional town of Bomont, Footloose tells the story of a group dog teenagers who want the right to dance and have a school prom. Led by new boy Ren (Tom Handley) the teens explain why they should be allowed to have the dance and why the actions of teens in the past shouldn’t affect them today.

Although the cast are all young they were amazing. Handley gives a superb performance as Ren and Charlotte Windell is a fantastic Ariel but true stars of the show are Bradley Riches as Willard and Gemma McKay as Rusty. The pair steal the show every time they are one stage and although McKay seemed to have problems with her shoes during the last dance number she didn’t let it stop her. The best scene in the show is McKay and Windell singing I Need a Hero, along with Jasmine Woodward and Kiki Brookes-Truman who play Wendy-Jo and Urleen respectively. The four song their hearts out and the reveal of sparkly dresses under their characters costumes gives the show the wow factor.

Although the scenery is basic the cast are able to utilise every last bit of it and the audience are left wanting more. The costumes are similar to those worn in with the original movie and the remake but are given their own twist to make them stand out.

All in all a good night out which will leave you singing and dancing for days afterwards, grab yourself a ticket whilst you can and go and see the show.

Bring It On – The Musical Review

Greenwood Theatre- London – until 3 August 2019

Reviewed by: Sabrina Fancy


Inspired by the 2000 hit film Bring It On starring Kirsten Dunst, this production follows the competitive world of high school cheer-leading. The show is presented by The Quay Players. Directed by Kate Hannam, this company was established as an amateur musical theatre group in 1997.

I was curious to see how such a successful film comprising of complex cheerleading routines would translate on the live stage and had some reservations but as I turned up to a sold our show on opening night, I realised my fears were unfounded.

The story revolves around pretty blond and privileged Campbell, who is the current head cheerleader from predominantly white and wealthy Truman High School. She is determined to lead her team to victory at the cheerleading national championships. However her dreams are crushed after she is deviously transplanted into an inner city neighboring school Jackson high which gasp- does not have a cheerleading squad!

Campbell makes it her mission to befriend the Jackson high hip hop crew with the intent of secretly transforming them into a cheerleading squad to compete against her previous nemesis Eva who has now taken over her old cheerleading squad.

The very beginning of the show focused on life at Truman high, I feared that this was going to be an overdone teen age drama love story but this was actually about the development female friendships and loyalty which was very refreshing.

The shift to Jackson high raised the level of excitement and energy with the characters, music and dance moves generating a lot of interest and enthusiasm from the crowd.

The time barely registered as the stage was engulfed with great dance moves, cheerleading flips and colorful costumes. There was an energy which was consistent throughout the evening! The hard-working ensemble show high energy and precision, especially with slick choreography. The Cheerleading routines are particularly impressive considering the small space.

The hardworking cast was a key contributor of the enjoyment of Bring it on. I also loved the cast who were of differing ethnic backgrounds but also of various shapes and sizes, echoing a message of inclusion which I sadly find to be a rarity in musical theatre.

The characters were very well developed and you really felt yourself rooting for the underdogs! In particular the standouts were Jackson high’s Danielle played by Gabriella Mccoy who brought a great mix of toughness and vulnerability along with powerful vocals. The scenes with Danielle and her squad were some of the most enjoyable! We also see the transformation of Bridgette, (played by Emily Law) who transforms from a dork to a fierce friend, singer and friend while finding a romantic partner.

There was constant humor and the vocals were strong with very catchy tunes. Unsurprising given the fact that the Music was created by Tom Kitt and Lin Manuel Miranda, the later who is behind the musical fame of Hamilton and has been nominated for an Oscar. The superior music in this is reflective of this work.

If you want a fluffy, upbeat musical then this will delight as the cut throat satirical world of cheerleading resulted in many laugh out loud moments.

Bring It On is currently playing at the Greenwood theatre until Saturday August 3rd.

Friendsical Review

Edinburgh Fringe

Assembly Rooms – Reviewed 1 August, Playing until 25 August

Reviewed by Manetta McIntosh


The One That Has Potential.

This parody musical of the hugely successful Friends series may seem a bit confusing to anyone who has not watched Friends, in fact, it may confuse some who have seen it. The show covers 10 years of the series in 1 and a half hours with a timeline that is slightly distorted, but this is part of the show.

Jamie Lee-Morgan’s depiction of Ross is like watching the episode with Russ, it is…but it isn’t. In fact most of the cast where spot on with their version of the Friends characters, Thomas Mitchells may not have looked exactly like Chandler but he had his mannerisms and catch phrases off pat. However, Sarah Goggins WAS Monica Geller, I could not take my eyes off her when she was acting because it was like Courtney was in the room. The only one who I could not really place was Joey, Jordan Fox did not look or really sound like the loveable rogue, but you knew who he was supposed to be…even though he never once appeared on stage with blue lipstick.

The show definitely has potential, there were so many comedy references to iconic scenes that will have true fans howling at parts of the script, but for me some of the lines were delivered so quickly I almost missed the punchline. Some of the gags were visual, *Spoiler Alert* I don’t think you need to sit too close to the front to be able to see Rachel’s (Charlotte Elizabeth Yorke) nipples, it was almost as if they were becoming more obvious as the show went on, and Monica with the turkey on her head was as funny in this version as it was in the original.

There are a couple of very important faces that made an appearance, some of them were the main cast doubling up, but my favourite had to be Gunther who, I believe, was played by Duncan Burt, he had the dead-pan coffee shop owner to a tee. He also came on as Magnum PI during the very catchy song ‘Richard’s Moustache’. Jordan Fox doubling up as Chloe the hot Xerox girl was pure genius and oddly attractive, and Ohhhh Myyyyyy Gawddddddd no series or version of Friends would be complete without Janice.

There were parts of the behind the scenes production that needed tweaking, the sound was sketchy at times and the scene changes were awkward, I also felt that the venue was too small for the production, but that is likely down to the resources available during the Fringe. The cast worked incredibly hard to make the scene/costume changes as smooth as possible as they were also doubling up as the stage crew, during the dream scene the costume change for Chandler was so quick his zip was still down.

I think if you don’t expect this to be a replica of Friends or a follow on from where they ended, then fans will love it.