The Christmas Elf – Northern Opera Group Review

The Audrey and Stanley Burton theatre at The Northern Ballet, LeedsSaturday 21 December 2019

Reviewed by Sally Richmond

5 *****

The Christmas Elf was a mesmerising production that really did take one on a magical and festive journey of discovery.  What is Christmas all about a naive forest elf endeavours to ask? As her quest begins and she starts to find out: we  meet different woodland creatures, the Christ Child and various humans. 

Set to music by Hans Pfitzner and flawlessly played by the Skipton Camerata Orchestra, The Christmas Elf made you feel like you were experiencing something extraordinary; witnessing an actual miracle in front of your very eyes as the enchanting characters unfolded their stories. 

Charlotte Hoather (Christmas Elf) characterised the childlike, excited imp to perfection and sang note perfect throughout.  Every cast member gave captivating and professional performances but the Christ Child (Peyee Chen), really did appear to have angelic and holy powers – bringing the messages of love, family and togetherness to a transfixed audience. 

Directed by David Ward, produced by Louise Garner and musically conducted by Ben Crick, The Christmas Elf warmed hearts on a cold and wet night in Leeds. It was a  truly uplifting performance and brought home those traditional gestures such as: gift giving and greeting others into your homes, a  true and non commercial meaning. 

The Christmas Elf was a delight to see on so many levels – for both the musical scores exhibiting the spectacular voices of the Northern Opera Group and the playing of the Skipton Orchestra – alongside an emotionally rewarding story.  A new Christmas tradition I will now be making is to see a festive performance, by the Northern Opera group, every year!












The Turbine Theatre in Circus West Village, the first chapter in the regeneration of the iconic Battersea Power Station,announces an exciting and diverse Spring 2020 season, which includes the programming of a variety of new work and emerging talent from visiting companies, as well as the transfer of one of the Edinburgh Festival’s 2019 hit shows, #HonestAmy.

The full Spring 2020 season comprises of: The stage spectacular, Burlesque’d Live!, directed by Ashley Luke Lloyd and starring Kelsey Beth Crossley and Charlotte Gooch; hot off the back of a successful summer in the West End; Riot Act, a play exploring six decades of queer history; The Barn Theatre’s production of The Importance of Being EarnestWarped Sacrifice,an original play with fast-paced movement sequences and a poignant soundtrack; Guy, an uplifting new musical by the creators of 2017’s much-hyped, multi-award-winning The Marriage of Kim K; CTC Company’s new hit show,  IdentityWestminster Cathedral Choir School’s brand new musical version of Midsummer Night’s Dream; and  Amy Booth-Steel’s heartfelt, one-woman show #HonestAmy, directed by Kathy Burke.

The Spring 2020 season also includes the previously announced return of Paul Taylor-Mills’ MTFestUK, which runs at the theatre from 3 – 15 February. A celebration of new musical theatre from around the world, the festival’s 2020 musical line-up and casting will be announced in January 2020.

In conjunction with the 2020 Spring season, The Turbine is proud to announce a partnership with Industry Minds, who will be running a variety of seminars and events at the theatre throughout the year. The seminars will run monthly at the theatre in order to provide more help and support for those in the arts, including creatives, students and families.

The Turbine will host the Industry Minds Awards in September 2020, along with Artist Showcases and Live Podcast events throughout the year. These live podcast events have been hugely popular in the past and consist of chats to industry folk about mental health in the arts with a live audience, and a Q&A in order to keep the conversation open. 

Seminars will be overseen by Industry Mind’s brilliant counsellor Mary Burch BEM. Further details and dates of the seminars will be announced in due course.

Paul Taylor-Mills, Artistic Director of the Turbine Theatre, said: “I’m delighted that our Spring 2020 season is a celebration of new and emerging talent. This is one of the most important strands of our vision and integral part of the future of The Turbine and indeed the theatre landscape in London and beyond.

We’ve got an eclectic line up which includes the award winning #HonestAmy which celebrated a sell out run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year, directed by Kathy Burke. Alongside this, we’ve carefully curated a programme which features a number of visiting companies including contemporary dance, burlesque and a new production of The Importance of Being Earnest from the powerhouse that is The Barn Theatre.

A special Merry Christmas and thanks must be extended to everyone that has supported us over the past few months. It’s been an incredible first couple of months and we couldn’t have done it without your support”


Burlesque’d Live! – Running for three evenings from Thursday 30 January –  Saturday 1 February. Step into the glamour and magic of Burlesque’d, starring Emmerdale star Kelsey Beth Crossley and West End Showgirls including Charlotte Gooch (Top HatFlashdanceDirty Dancing).

Come, breathe in the diamonds, lace and glitter and step into a “La Vie En Rose” world! Created and choreographed by Ashley Luke Lloyd, Burlesque’d is an immersive dream world of beauty, mystery and glamour whatever your shape or size! Empowering body confidence from around the globe, Burlesque’d tells the story of passionate showgirls with the zest to shine! 

Riot Act – Direct from a successful summer in the West End, the critically acclaimed Riot Act will be performed for one night only on Sunday 16 February.

The play is a hard-hitting and hilarious exploration of the LGBT rights movement. This journey through six decades of queer history…is a riot!

The Importance Of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde’s cherished playcomes direct to The Turbine from The Barn Theatre, Cirencester, as atwo-man re-imagining of the classic that will delight and entertain in equal measure. This transfer marks The Barn Theatre’s London debut and will run from Tuesday 18 February – Saturday 29 February.

Already recognised as one of the UK’s funniest plays, this ingenious, riotous, re-telling of the story has two incredibly talented actors playing every single character. Rapid quick-changes, tap dancing, fabulous frocks and enough tea to sink a ship, audiences are in for a wildly waggish time. ​It’s Oscar Wilde’s classic as you’ve never seen it before! 

Warped Sacrifice –An original play with fast-paced movement sequences and a poignant soundtrack, Warped Sacrifice will be performed at The Turbine on Tuesday 3 March.

Andre is dying and Daren is expecting. Whether you’re the deranged doctor, the fretting friend, the sharp-witted sister or the worrisome wife, you’re just a small cog that’s part of one larger machine.

In a disturbing dystopian city that is obsessed with perfection, money is the key to everything. But what if money’s not an option. Only then can you decide what sacrifices are worth making.

A looking glass into the future they don’t want you to see – Are you willing to open your eyes?

Guy – The creators of 2017’s much-hyped, multi-award-winning The Marriage of Kim K return with Guy, an uplifting new musical which takes aim at prejudices within the gay community with a heart-pounding electronic-pop rom com.

The production, which was the recipient of the Best New Writing award at Buxton Fringe and Best Show at Birmingham Fest, will be at The Turbine for five performances from Wednesday 4 March – Saturday 7 March.

Identity – CTC Company’s new hit show Identity is a 50 minute controversial and captivating masterpiece showcasing society’s negative perceptions of the individual, and endeavours to explore the inner strength of humanity by celebrating and embracing our unique identities.

The production runs from Tuesday 10 March – Saturday 14 March.

Westminster Cathedral Choir School’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream – A cast of pupils from Westminster Cathedral Choir School invite you into the forest of dreams for this hilarious tale of love and magic, at the Turbine for two performances from Wednesday 18 March – Thursday 19 March.

The Head Teacher is getting married, and the students at Midsummer College are coming together to celebrate. As night falls, students venture unseen into the forest behind their school, into the traps of some mischievous fairies.

In this brand new musical version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, William Shakespeare’s classic play is transported to a modern-day boarding school with all of the trials and tribulations of teenage life.

#HonestAmy – Written and performed by Amy Booth-Steel and directed by Kathy Burke, #HonestAmy closes the season, running from Tuesday 24 March – Saturday 11 April.

Remember when I got cancer and had a breakdown in Tesco’s? Then literally went mental and posted some songs on Twitter?

When anxiety was at full capacity level, my mum bought me a ukulele and it has saved my life. I wrote some songs and randomly posted them online. Shit. Got. Real! Before I knew it there were millions of hits. I have no idea how it has all happened but people just seemed to relate to my random bedroom tales!

This is a common story about common people.


Industry Minds was born in 2018, founded by actors Scarlett Maltman and Cathy Read. The concept was formed with a goal to better mental health support in the creative arts. 

What initially started as a podcast then developed into a critically acclaimed mental health support service to those in the arts. To date, Industry Minds operate as a charity whose goal is to provide free and low cost mental health support to anyone in the creative arts through therapy, seminars and other useful tools.

The award winning podcast is available to stream on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Soundcloud and any other platforms you may source your podcasts from. Scarlett and Cathy interview various people in a relaxed setting with a goal to have open and healthy conversations surrounding mental health.

Counsellor Mary Burch BEM joined Industry Minds in February 2018, offering low cost and free counselling sessions to those in the arts. The sessions run fortnightly in London and Scotland with a telephone/skype counselling operating around the clock. The service is the first of its kind in the arts with a goal to make therapy accessible. Mary was awarded a BEM in 2016 and was nominated at The Evening Standard’s Public Servant of the Year Awards for her services. 

Industry Minds operates a confidential and vital service for those in the arts and continues to develop accessible ways to help others. 

Looking back over a very successful and busy year for Industry Minds and having engaged with over 100 clients through their counselling service, their counsellor Mary Burch and other professionals they have worked with have come together to provide a number of seminars for 2020. There counsellor has worked with agents, producers, directors, actors, stage managers, students and everyone in between and has used this experience and identification of common, shared issues to contribute to our schedule of seminars.

Seminars Dates 

Friday 24th January – Creative seminar

Time: 10.30am – 1.30pm 

Creatives Seminar. Target audience: all creatives within the arts – producers, directors, creatives, writers etc. Led by counsellor Mary Burch, the seminar provides a safe, confidential space to explore and provide support and information regarding common issues and concerns experienced by creatives in the industry

Friday 21st Feb – Vocal and Physical Health Seminar 

Time: 10.30am – 1.30pm

An open seminar led by Stephen King from King Manuel Therapy. Focusing on how to look after our vocal and physical health to better mental health. 

Friday 6th March – Performer seminar

Time: 10.30am – 1.30pm
An open seminar led by counsellor Mary Burch. 

Focusing purely on performers and the common areas of concern identified during counselling by many performers. The seminar provides a safe, confidential space to learn, share and support. This seminar will touch on various issues such as self-doubt, confidence, performance anxiety and maintaining good mental health. 

Friday 24th April – Creative Support Seminar 

Time: 10.30am – 1.30pm

Open to agents, choreographers, producers, directors etc. An opportunity to explore self awareness, management styles, self-care and an opportunity to discuss any concerns or issues. Providing support in the form of a seminar and 1:1 time with counsellor Mary Burch. 

Friday 22nd May – Graduate/Student Support Seminar

Time: 10.30 – 1.30pm

An open seminar for graduates and students, providing valuable tools to help survive the journey through drama school and exploring common problems experienced by some when emerging into the industry. Includes 1:1 time with Mary Burch. 

Friday 19th June – Mental Health Support and Training Day 

Time: 10.30am – 1.30pm

Providing support and training for those who want to check or enhance their understanding of mental health. This seminar would be of benefit to agents, company managers, teachers and anyone who would welcome being able to recognise the signs of poor mental health and have the necessary tools to provide support those they work with. 

Friday 21st August – Men’s Mental Health Seminar

Time: 10.30am – 1.30pm

An open seminar focusing on men’s mental health. Although we recognise that poor mental health impacts on folks, regardless of gender, this is an opportunity to explore those common areas of concern identified by male clients during counselling. Anyone wishing to explore/discuss a particular topic can request this by emailing Industry Minds before the end of July 2020. Any email received will be treated confidentially. 

Friday 11th September – Arts Family Support Seminar 

Time: 10.30am – 1.30pm
A seminar for those balancing families and work in the arts, with an aim to offering support. Special guest talks included and 1:1 time with Mary.

Friday 23rd October – Creative Support Seminar 

Tim: 10.30am – 1.30pm

Open to agents, choreographers, producers, directors etc. An opportunity to explore self awareness, management styles, self-care and an opportunity to discuss any concerns or issues. Providing support in the form of a seminar and 1:1 time with counsellor Mary Burch. 

Friday 20th November – Performer Support Seminar 

Time: 10.30am – 1.30pm

An open seminar led by counsellor Mary Burch. 

Focusing purely on performers and the common areas of concern identified during counselling by many performers. The seminar provides a safe, confidential space to learn, share and support. This seminar will touch on various issues such as self-doubt, confidence, performance anxiety and maintaining good mental health. 

Billionaire Boy Review

Bloomsbury Theatre, London- until 5 January 2020

Reviewed by Sabrina Fancy


Billionaire Boy is the theatre adaptation of the popular David Walliams children’s boy of the same name. Billionaire Boy follows 12-year-old Joe Spud who is one of the richest boys in the UK due to his father’s profitable invention of “Bum Fresh” Toilet Rolls.

Joe (Matthew Gordon) has everything money can buy but is still very unhappy. His father (Jason Furnival) prefers spending money and showering Joe with gifts as opposed to spending time with him and with no siblings and an impending stepmother only a few years older than him, Joe is very lonely.

In his pursuit to assuage his loneliness and find some friends, he leaves his posh public school and joins the local comprehensive school where his identity (and financial background) is concealed in the pursuit of making some friends who won’t judge him on superficial things, but on his character.

What ensues is 2+ hours of sheer entertainment for adults and children alike. The performers were absolutely brilliant, many cast members played numerous roles and delivered high octane performances throughout. Raj (played by Aosaf Afzal) who was the shopkeeper who was very amusing was a standout for me along with the dinner lady Mrs Trafe played by Emma Matthews. Rosie Coles plays gold digger Sapphire (along with other parts) intent of marrying Joe’s father for his money and Joe’s father was ever entertaining. Exceptional performances by Joe and his best friend as well.

All of the actors brought the quirky characters to life and kept with the spirit of the book, down to the costumes of the characters.

There was never a dull moment and my otherwise distracted children were very entertained. The set was made out of loo rolls and the show was peppered with a number of enjoyable musical numbers which added to the humour and upbeat nature of the show. There were a lot of ‘ bum’ jokes throughout which caused ripples of laughter among the audience.

This was a very amusing and touching production. My children both who have read the book- had high expectations for the show that were met, and it was great seeing the characters come to life on stage.

If you are looking for a great family show over the Christmas break- you have found it. Billionaire Boy teaches a valuable lesson of what is really important and shows the importance of relationships over money.

Casting Announced for new UK Tour of HOLES









The Children’s Theatre Partnership (CTP)and Royal & Derngate, Northampton are delighted to announce the full cast of the Nottingham Playhouse production of “HOLES”, written by Louis Sachar and directed by Adam Penford.

The production will open at Royal & Derngate, Northampton on 24 January 2020 before embarking on a UK tour. The tour will visit, Nottingham PlayhouseNuffield Southampton TheatresCoventry Belgrade TheatreNewcastle Theatre RoyalTheatre Royal Plymouth, Liverpool PlayhouseHigh Wycombe SwanNorwich Theatre RoyalWolverhampton Grand Theatre and Canterbury Marlowe Theatre.

The cast includes Harold AddoLeona AllenJames BackwayJoëlle Brabban, Jeremy CobbRhona Croker, Grace Davey, John ElkingtonAshley GayleHenry MettleMatthew Romain and Elizabeth Twells.

“HOLES” will be directed by Nottingham Playhouse’s Artistic Director Adam Penford (“The Madness of George III”, “Enemy of the People” and “Family Business”). The rest of the creative team includes set and costume design by Simon Kenny, lighting design by Prema Mehta and sound design by Adam P McCready. The composer is Tom Attwood, puppetry director and co-designer is Matthew Forbes and choreography is by Emma AnnettsGuy Jones is the Associate Lighting Designer and Meghan Treadway is the Associate Puppet Director. The production is cast by Vicky Richardson.

“HOLES” is an inventive new stage show based on the multi-award-winning novel and blockbuster film of the same name. It is a thrilling off-beat comedy adventure which tells the story of Stanley Yelnats, who is born into a family cursed with bad luck and finds himself accused of a crime he didn’t commit.

Sent to a labour camp as punishment, he is tasked with digging one hole, five-foot wide by five-foot deep, every day. He is told it is to build ‘character’. But the tyrannical Warden is definitely hiding something. How will Stanley and his fellow inmates deal with her demands, her two cronies, plus the fearsome rattlesnakes and yellow-spotted lizards? And will Stanley and his new friends unearth what’s really going on?

“HOLES”, written by Louis Sacharwon the1998 U.S. National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and the 1999 Newbery Medal for the year’s most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. Louis also wrote the screenplay for the 2003 film adaptation.

 “HOLES” is the first production from CTP since the partnership announced three years of support from Arts Council England. CTP aims to produce new and exciting productions, created for a young and diverse audience. Previous CTP productions include the Olivier award winning “Goodnight Mr Tom”, “Swallows and Amazons”, “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas”, Michael Morpurgo’s “Running Wild” and a new adaptation of “The Jungle Book” 





The Jamie Lloyd Company, the successful partnership between Ambassador Theatre Group and Artistic Director Jamie Lloyd, today announces Emilia Clarke is to make her West End debut in Anya Reiss’ adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, completing the new season at the Playhouse Theatre in association with British Airways. The production opens on 19 March, with previews from 11 March and runs until 30 May. Tickets are on sale now to ATG Theatre Card Members and British Airways Executive Club Members; general booking opens today, Friday 20 December, at 12pm.

The season, directed by Jamie Lloyd, opened this month with the critically acclaimed production of Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac, freely adapted by Martin Crimp and starring James McAvoy – running until 29 February 2020; and closes with Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, in a version by Frank McGuinnesswith Jessica Chastain which opens on 18 June, with previews from 10 June and runs until 5 September 2020.

As part of its continued commitment to audience development, The Jamie Lloyd Company, supported by British Airways, are offering 15,000 free tickets to first time theatre-goers and 15,000 £15 tickets for under 30s, key workers and those receiving job seeker’s allowance and other government benefits across the season.

Emilia Clarke said today, I am over the moon to be playing Nina in Jamie Lloyd’s interpretation of The Seagull. I’ve long been a fan of the singular vision he brings to each of his masterful productions and the way he approaches classical texts. We are so lucky to be working with Anya’s brilliant adaptation, as she brings a light touch of modernity to this beautifully crafted play. I cannot wait to get stuck in with these two visionaries.”

Anya Reiss added, “It’s a cliché, but the classics really do age and change with you, so I’m thrilled to get another chance to work on The Seagull. I’m even more excited to work with Jamie and Emilia.”

‘We need the theatre, couldn’t, couldn’t do without it. Could we?’  

A young woman is desperate for fame and a way out. A young man is pining after the woman of his dreams. A successful writer longs for a sense of achievement. An actress wants to fight the changing of the times. In an isolated home in the countryside where dreams are in tatters, hopes dashed, hearts broken and there is nowhere left to turn, the only option is to turn on each other.

Following on from their critically-acclaimed, five-star production of Cyrano de Bergerac, The Jamie Lloyd Company’s second show in the Playhouse Season sees Anya Reiss propel Chekhov’s tale of ambition, love, loneliness and fame into the 21st century.

Anya Reiss’ playwriting credits include Oliver Twist (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Uncle Vanya (St James’ Theatre), Spring Awakening (UK tour), Three Sisters (Southwark Playhouse), and The Acid Test and Spur of the Moment (Royal Court Theatre); and as screenwriter her credits include Ackley Bridge and EastEnders.

Emilia Clarke plays Nina. Her theatre credits include Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Cort Theatre, New York). Her television credits include as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones; and for film, Spike IslandDom HemingwayTerminator: GenisysMe Before YouSolo: A Star Wars Story and Last Christmas.

Jamie Lloyd directs. His credits as Artistic Director of the company include Cyrano de Bergerac (Playhouse Theatre), Betrayal (Harold Pinter Theatre/Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, Broadway), One For The RoadThe New World OrderMountain LanguageThe LoverThe CollectionLandscapeA Kind of AlaskaMonologueParty TimeCelebrationA Slight AcheThe Dumb Waiter (Pinter at the Pinter, Harold Pinter Theatre), Doctor Faustus (Duke of York’s Theatre), The MaidsThe HomecomingThe Ruling ClassRichard IIIThe PrideThe HothouseMacbeth (Trafalgar Studios). Other theatre credits include Evita (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre – Evening Standard Award for Best Musical).

With design by Soutra Gilmour. Further cast and creative team to be announced.

£15 tickets

Across the season, specific Monday evening and Thursday matinee performances are occurring where every seat in the house is £15. These tickets are exclusively for under 30s, key workers and those receiving government benefits. The first four £15 performances of The Seagull will take place on Monday 16March (7.30pm), Thursday 9 April (2.30pm), Monday 13April (7.30pm) and Thursday 23April (2.30pm) – and will go on sale on Monday 24 February at 12pm via only.

Free tickets

A dedicated outreach manager will be distributing these tickets amongst both secondary state schools and community organisations who otherwise would not have access to the theatre. If you work with a group who does not have the means or opportunity to visit the theatre, please register your interest here.

Season Listings                                                                                                                                                                

Playhouse Theatre

Northumberland Avenue, Charing Cross, London WC2N 5DE


Until 29 February 2020


11 March – 30 May 2020

The Seagull is on sale now to ATG Theatre Card Members and British Airways Executive Club Members; general booking opens today, Friday 20 December, at 12pm.


10 June – 5 September 2020

Box Office: 0844 871 7631

Please note £15 tickets must be booked via a special link on the ATG Tickets website and can only be picked up from the theatre box office 45 minutes prior to the show, and valid ID must be presented upon collection, or entry will be denied

Twitter: @JamieLloydCo

Instagram: @jamielloydco

Christmas Spectacular Review

Yeadon Town Hall – until Monday 23 December 2019

Reviewed by Aimee Liddington 


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and Futurist Theatre Productions are certainly getting us in the festive spirit with their ‘Christmas Spectacular’ at Yeadon Town Hall. With a mix of traditional Christmas songs and others such as ‘Once Upon a December’ from the hit Broadway musical ‘Anastasia’ and ‘My Favourite Things’ from ‘The Sound of Music’, the cast display an outstanding array of talents. Not only do they put on a fabulous show, but they seem to create an electric atmosphere where everyone seems to be genuinely enjoying themselves. 

The production follows the story of two children who are losing their faith in the magic of Christmas. They are taken to the North Pole by an Elf where they meet Father Christmas and find out that all their childhood fantasies are real. By the end of the first few songs, I defy even the most cynical Scrooge not to smile and revel in the joy of Christmas. 

With her direction and choreography, Catherine Moglia cleverly mimics the style of the Radio City Rockettes from New York City. To see something so slick and professional in a small town is impressive, to say the least. This sense of professionalism is only enhanced by Justine Moglia’s costumes. The glitter and glam really encapsulate what Christmas is about. Despite the quick changes, the cast members always look smart and never look thrown together. 

The talent of the whole cast is something to be highly commended but there are a few individuals who are worth a special mention. Olivia Shillito’s voice is incredibly powerful and diverse as we see in her various solos throughout the show. Most memorable though, is her rendition of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’. Adelaide Waugh also shines out with her take on ‘Oh Happy Day’ and ‘Pie Jesu’ which she sings beautifully with Charlie Clarke. All members of the Junior Cast have incredible stage presence but Rachel Foster’s energy in particular is so charming and infectious. 

If you’re looking for something that is quintessentially Christmassy then look no further. Celebrate the talent and dedication of the young team of performers from Futurist Theatre Productions and make this show part of your Christmas line up. 

Matt Lucas Steps In To Play ‘Thénardier’ as LES MISÉRABLES reopens in the West End


L E S   M I S É R A B L E S


Matt Lucas will step in to play the role of Thénardier in the new production of LES MISÉRABLES at the newly refurbished Sondheim Theatre in the West End where performances began on Wednesday.

Lucas returns to the part on Monday 23 December 2019 for six weeks stepping in for Gerard Carey who, after strict medical advice, was told on the morning of the first performance on Wednesday that he would be unable to perform during this period in order to completely rest his vocal chords and avoid long-term damage to his voice. Carey is expected to return to the role on Monday 3 February 2020.

Cameron Mackintosh said: “Just as I was thanking the gods of the theatre for getting the spectacularly rebuilt Sondheim Theatre open on schedule with our brilliant new cast and production, we heard that our irrepressible Thénardier, Gerard Carey, would not be allowed to perform for several weeks due to a serious problem with his vocal chords. Though obviously a disappointment for him and all of us, I’m thrilled to announce that Matt Lucas has volunteered to abandon his Christmas plans and rejoin Les Mis as Master of the House after his recent triumph in the Staged Concert at the Gielgud Theatre. He will play alongside Josefina Gabrielle as Madame Thénardier while Gerard recovers and returns to the company in February.”

Multi-Award winning comedian, screenwriter, actor and singer, Matt Lucas, recently reprised the role of Thénardier at the sold-out Les Misérables Staged Concert at the Gielgud Theatre, a role he previously played in the critically-acclaimed West End production Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre as well as in the show’s 25th Anniversary Concert at the O2 Arena.His other theatre credits include Taboo at the Leicester Square Theatre and the touring production of Little Britain Live.  His film credits include Les Misérables Staged Concert, Sherlock Gnomes, Shaun of the Dead, Alice in Wonderland, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Gnomeo and Juliet, Bridesmaids and Paddington. On television his credits include Shooting Stars, Doctor Who, Pompidou, Come Fly with Me and The Wind in the Willows, as well as the BAFTA and Emmy Award-winning television show Little Britain with David Walliams.

The cast of Les Misérables at the Sondheim Theatre features Jon Robyns  as ‘Jean Valjean’, Bradley Jaden as ‘Javert’, Carrie Hope Fletcher as ‘Fantine’, Shan Ako as ‘Eponine’, Josefina Gabrielle as ‘Madame Thénardier’, Harry Apps as ‘Marius’, Ashley Gilmour as ‘Enjolras’ and Lily Kerhoas as ‘Cosette’. Rachelle Ann Go will return to the role of ‘Fantine’ for 7 weeks in the Spring and will take over the role next Summer.

They are joined by Kelly Agbowu, Ciarán Bowling, Richard Carson, Rodney Earl Clarke, Matthew Dale, Matt Dempsey, Harry Dunnett, Jessie Hart, Jessica Joslin, Sarah Lark, Georgie Lovatt, Ellie Ann Lowe, Luke McCall, Leo Miles, Claire O’Leary, Shane O’Riordan, Kathy Peacock, Sam Peggs, Mark Pearce, Emma Warren, Sake Wijers, Mared Williams and Samuel Wyn-Morris

Aladdin – Everything you could wish for in a Panto

Woking New Victoria Theatre – until 5 January 2020

Reviewed by Becky Doyle


What an absolute thrill, with a packed theatre and everyone in the mood for festive cheer and a good giggle that was the recipe for a good, fun filled evening!

From the start I was taken aback by the props that were used, in particular the large snake that accompanied Abanazar; played by Jonny Fines. It set the mood for the rest of the evening of the evening; ooooh no it didn’t, oooooh yes it did! Kids and adults alike were screaming at the top of their lungs that Abanazar was not going to win this battle.

Then was the introduction to the rest of the characters and again none of them were less than brilliant; Wishy Washy (Bobby Davro) got the crown pumped and ready to roll with continual jokes and laughter as well as pointing out “what can possibly go wrong on the night” before falling backwards dressed as a Kangaroo competing with the audience to sing a fitting jumping Roo song and needing backstage assistance to get back onto his feet. Brendan Cole, the one everyone came to see provided that showbiz charm, that we were all expecting with all the glitter and glam that comes with the Spirit of the Ring.

David Phipps-Davis who played Widow Twankey, was the surprise of the night, when he began to sing and this magnificent voice projected throughout the whole theatre. I think everyone was taken aback until they realised that it really was him singing. This introduced the much loved 12 days of Christmas song that saw A LOT of running around, dancing, throwing of items and 5 toilet rolls ending up in the audience on multiple occasions and Brendan Cole having to run into a very welcoming audience to retrieve them.

The story itself was great to follow and certainly had the much-loved similarities of the original Aladdin, including that of the love story between Aladdin himself and Princess Jasmine, and the pushy mother who didn’t want it to happen, until of course the Genie in the Lamp grants the wish of being rich and her opinion soon changes, but is all too late as Abanazar acts?!

Will they live happily ever after? I would recommend going to see to get the answers for yourself. If you are looking for a feel good show that is suitable for the whole family with laughs, innuendos and a little bit of dance a sparkle… this is the Panto for you

Peter Pan Goes Wrong Review

Alexandra Palace – until 5 January 2020

Reviewed by Alexandra Sykes


Cornley Polytechnic Theatre are back with their Christmas production of Peter Pan and everything that can go wrong, does.

Before the show even starts there are problems for the stage crew as the hammer has gone missing. Although the hammer is found, the electrics on the stage are a bit hit and miss which causes problems. Once the show starts there are even more problems for the cast, with the pyrotechnics going off before they should, Nana the dog getting stuck in the door and having to be freed, and the Darling children’s bed collapsing with them in it. Throughout the show more accidents happen, with Peter Pan falling from a flying harness, a cast member ending up with a broken leg and the stage manager ending up with concussion.

With impressive set depicting the different settings for the story, and some impressive costumes including Tinkerbell’s light-up outfit, it is accidentally revealed that it is all possible due to a donation from a relative.

The true star of the show is Tom Babbage who plays Max, who in turn plays Michael Darling and the feared Crocodile. When it is accidentally revealed that Max likes a fellow cast member this causes more problems in the show, however all ends well for Max when he gets the girl he loves.

With lots of laughs throughout and plenty going on to keep audiences entertained this is a fabulous alternative to a traditional pantomime with laughs for all the family.

Aladdin Review

St Helen’s Theatre Royal – until 13 January 2020

Reviewed by Carla Whittaker


A great British pantomime remains a tradition treasured and loved by all ages and judging by the reception of Aladdin at St Helen’s Theatre Royal this was no exception. I was delighted to be offered tickets to watch Aladdin in St Helen’s which is running until the 13th January 2020. Aladdin came to St Helen’s Theatre Royal with music, dancing, sparkle and humour really keeping it within the pantomime territory! Some of the humour was directed towards the adults going over the head of children, but the mix was an even equilibrium meaning this production of Aladdin left all ages aching from laughter.

If you are a fan of Strictly Come Dancing then you are in for a real treat with Robin Windsor playing Aladdin. I have never seen a pantomime with so much mesmerising dance moves whilst whisking Jasmine off her feet. The St Helen’s audience seemed to love Windsor, and I did too. He had such a likable and loveable energy about him and played the part perfectly. Although he did not do much singing in the show, when he did, his vocals did not disappoint.

Playing Aladdin’s brother was Scott Gallagher as Wishee Washee who played the part brilliantly; connecting with both the children and adults meaning the audience were in stitches from his connection with them. I think a favorite for me was Tim Lucas who placed PC Noodle; a Scouse policeman who did a terrible job as a policeman, but had the audience in stitches of laughter in particular from his Scouse innuendos. His vocals were truly outstanding, and I think he will be one to one in the future on stage! Olivia Sloyan played Princess Jasmine beautifully; showing her flawless vocals and elegant dancing.

As a regular at the St Helen’s Panto I was over the moon to see that Si Foster did not just write the script which told the traditional story of Aladdin but was once again playing the resident dame who played Widow Twankey.  Si really does play the best dame and he is hilarious with missed lines, fits of hysteria and his wig falling off! Both myself and my non pantomime loving partner smiled every time Widow Twankey appeared on stage due to the hilarious antics! The unlikely chemistry on stage between Widow Twankey and Philip McGuinness as the villainous Abanazer was hilarious and created an ambience that only a Christmas panto can conjure!

Regal Entertainments Ltd did a fantastic job of the fantastic set designs, polytechnics  and no expense spared colourful, vibrant costumes which certainly stood out. Widow Twankey’s costumes were superb!

As with previous St Helen’s pantos the scenery and special effects were spectacular. The 3D glasses which were provided made you feel like you were part of Aladdin’s adventure on the magic carpet, although I was absolutely terrified of the 3D spiders! Children were mesmerised by what they were seeing, with loud ‘WOWS’ being heard throughout the theatre. 

At the age of 33, Christmas is not Christmas without an annual visit to watch a pantomime. Aladdin did not disappoint. It was one of the best scripted, hilarious and choreographed shows I have seen with outstanding sound effects, costumes, strobe lighting, fireworks and fire which had the wow factor, as well as the fantastic 3D effects which brought the panto to life!

Aladdin is playing at the St Helen’s Theatre Royal until the 13th January 2020.