Gangsta Granny Review

Darlington Hippodrome – until Sunday 3 July 2022


Ben hates Friday nights, because on a Friday he has to stay with his very boring, cabbage eating Granny, while his mum and dad go ballroom dancing,  But it all changes when Ben discovers that Granny is really the Black Cat, a famous jewel burglar.  So Ben and Granny decide to do one last heist and steal the Crown Jewels.

Birmingham Stage Company’s adaptation of David Walliams Gangsta Granny is the perfect introduction to get young people into the theatre.  

Told through the eyes of 11 year old Ben (Justin Davies). Each Friday night whilst his self-obsessed parents (Jason Furnival and Jess Nesling) go off to ballroom dance, Ben is unceremoniously dumped at his grandma’s with hardly a word of hello.

There will be cabbage soup, cabbage pie and cabbage cake and Ben knows one thing for sure – it’s going to be sooooooooo boring! But when Ben discovers some gems in a biscuit tin and realises his Granny (Isabel Ford)  has a secret, life becomes much more exciting for both of them.  Carefully treading a moral line, the story tells us that Granny never profited from her crimes, committed them only for the “buzz” and has come to the view that stealing is wrong. Nevertheless, she has never succeeded in her dream of stealing (and returning) the Crown Jewels. Can Ben use his encyclopaedic knowledge of plumbing to help Granny pull off the crime of the century, even under the nose of Mr Parker, local neighbourhood watch supremo and busybody?

Jacqueline Trousdale’s set makes clever use of the space, with the set moving one way to be a shop and another to be Granny’s kitchen.  Paul Chantry and Rae Piper’s choreography is so succinct you don’t notice the set changes with the cast dancing through them.  Neal Foster has successfully adapted Walliams book and directs a fun and colourful show – full of comic opportunities and fart jokes 

All the characters are very much larger than life and almost pantomime-like, but this adds to the energy of the piece which moves along at a cracking pace and holds the younger audience members’ attention.

Gangsta Granny appeals to all ages and people. It is relevant to today’s society where old people can be viewed as insignificant. This play has a comical way of dealing with this stereotype, turning it completely on its head.  Filled with laughter and farts, its funny and poignant and a fabulous night out

I just hope when my time comes, I won’t be boring but very much a Gangsta Granny

£77,500 in 2022 Laurence Olivier Bursaries awarded to talented drama school students facing financial difficulties

£77,500 in 2022 Laurence Olivier Bursaries awarded to talented drama school students facing financial difficulties 

19 drama school students from across the UK have been awarded a total of £77,500 worth of bursaries by the Society of London Theatre (SOLT), to help them complete their training.                                              

Established by SOLT in 1987 to mark Laurence Olivier’s 80th birthday, the Laurence Olivier Bursaries provide financial support to exceptional students entering their final year of drama school, and facing financial difficulties which might jeopardize their studies.                      

Previous bursary winners have included Denise Gough, Bryony Hannah, Paterson Joseph, Ewan McGregor, Daniel Rigby, Vinette Robinson, Juma Sharkah, Michaela Coel and Michael Sheen.

Nominees, put forward by drama school principals across the UK, are auditioned on a West End stage and interviewed by a panel of theatre industry professionals, led by West End producer and Chair of the Laurence Olivier Bursaries Committee, Lee Menzies. This year’s auditions took place at St Martin’s Theatre earlier this month.

The 2022 bursary recipients will be formally presented with their awards at a later date, with plans to celebrate their achievements to be revealed soon.

Bursary recipients:

The Sir Peter and Lady Saunders Laurence Olivier Bursary                       

Donated by the Estate of Sir Peter and Lady Saunders

Daniel  Apea (Arts Educational Schools)

The Clothworkers’ Laurence Olivier Bursary

Given in conjunction with the Laurence Olivier Bursary, donated by The Clothworkers’ Foundation

Rebecca Bell (Rose Bruford College)

Laurence Olivier Bursary     

Donated by Society of London Theatre 

Christian Cooper (Mountview)

Conor Doran (Bristol Old Vic Theatre School)

Emily Jones (The Oxford School of Drama)

Jasmine Elcock (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama)

Abdul Sessay (Guildhall School of Music & Drama)

Melodie Karczewski (Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama)

Yasemin Mutlu (The Oxford School of Drama)

Eliza Parry Williams (Arts Educational Schools)

Shannon Watson (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland)

Neeve Dilworth (The Hammond School)

Eve Werdmuller von Elgg (East 15 Acting School)

Allie Aylott (Liverpool Institute For Performing Arts)

James Taheny (Royal Birmingham Conservatoire)

Behrens Foundation Bursary                            

Given in conjunction with the Laurence Olivier Bursary, donated by The Behrens Foundation

Liam Prince-Donnelly (Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama)

Lindo Shinda (Performance Preparation Academy) 

Carmen Silvera Bursary       

Given in conjunction with the Laurence Olivier Bursary, donated by the agent Barry Burnett

Aimee  Ebsworth (St Mary’s University/Drama St Mary’s)

Casting Directors’ Guild Bursary   

Given in conjunction with the Laurence Olivier Bursary, donated by the Casting Directors’ Guild                  

Charles Kofi Afedzi Entsie (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art)

Laurence Olivier Bursaries panel:

Lee Menzies – Producer and SOLT member (chair)

Gareth Johnson – Producer and SOLT member

Jatinder Verma – JV Productions/Director

Jane Anderson – Casting Director (Casting Directors’ Guild Vice Chair)

Orla Maxwell – Casting Director





Guys and Dolls is a musical romantic comedy involving the unlikeliest of Manhattan pairings: a high-rolling gambler and a puritanical missionary, a showgirl dreaming of the straight-and-narrow and a crap game manager who is anything but.

Birmingham and Midland Operatic Society Musical Theatre Company bring this iconic 1950’s film to life on the stage. Main characters Sky Masterton played by James Gordanfair and Sarah Brown played by Annabel Pilcher really stole the show with their duets, they have such strong powerful voices. ‘Miss Adelaide’ played by Jo Smith is dreaming of finally marrying her man, ‘Nathan Detroit’, played by Pat Pryce. She’s hoping to marry him before her mother finds out that she has been lying to her for the past 14 years, as they have only ever been engaged !

Guys and Dolls takes us from the bustle of Times Square to the dance clubs of Havana to the sewers of New York City as it demonstrates the great lengths to which a guy will go when he truly falls in love with a “doll.”

The show brings hit songs from Frank Loesser such as ‘Bushel and a Peck’, ‘Sit Down, You’re Rockin the Boat’, and my personal favourite sung by Sky and the Crapshooters, ‘Luck be A Lady Tonight’.

The cast of the BMOS have this performance polished, wonderful to see a wide age range of performers too all doing something that they clearly love. BMOS has entertained people over the past 136 years, it’s the 10th oldest musical theatre company in the country and they are still continuing to thrive.

Bright, colourful costumes paired with some snazzy dances acts, this show will appeal to a wide audience of most ages.

Try your luck, you won’t be disappointed.

Switch_MCR Double Bill Review

Senses of Responsibility / Blue Moss

53Two, Manchester – until July 9th 2022

Review by Rebecca Hampson


Switch_MCR are a Manchester based theatre company creating new and exciting accessible work. The company was founded by Royal Exchange Young Company members and is now one of the biggest independent theatre companies in Manchester. This Double Bill performance was a collection of two new and exciting plays, Lekhani Chirwa’s ‘Senses of Responsibility’ and Joseph Conway’s ‘Blue Moss’.

Senses of Responsibility was a Poignant, Emotional, and Informative piece which saw Hope Yolanda as Symonie, a young carer dealing with her mum being diagnosed with a life limiting and debilitating illness. The performance explores Symonie dealing with being a young carer and how she comes to accept help to have her ‘own’ life. Within this performance Sara Abanur played multiple roles that Symonie interacts with in her life, and in particular, Symonie’s social worker. The audience are able to identify these different roles with quick costume changes as well as Sara’s incredible use of accent and pitch. This intimate show was staged in the round, with Hope using direct address to engage the audience in a way where they feel they could answer Symonie’s questions. The minimalistic set of childlike items, such as plastic tea sets and plastic play food, shows the mental state of the character who is struggling with having to act like an adult when she really shouldn’t have to an should be able to enjoy her teenage years. In this performance Hope Yolanda stunned as Symonie and portrayed this role with impeccable emotion. The performance was beautiful and inspired.

Blue Moss was a stark contrast to Senses of Responsibility. This futuristic and contemporary piece of theatre explored the themes of claustrophobia, memories, dreams, and loneliness. The piece was abstract and used physical theatre as the ensemble of three, Spike De La Cruz, Justin Sadiq and Laura Masters, used hypnotic movements and dance to a methodical almost alien pieces of music. The performance felt inspired by Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty as the actors slammed their bodies into one another and the floor in carefully choreographed movement. There were moments of disbelief between the audience and myself as we experienced the raw and intimate engagement between actors and spectators. The commitment to role must be commended in moments of extreme tension where the trio of actors used extreme vocals, screaming into the audiences faces. The minimalistic set in this performance added to its futuristic abstract feel as plants littered in plastic and paper adorned the in the round stage. Whilst all three actors gave outstanding performances I was captivated by Laura Masters.

The performances will be interpreted in BSL by Judith Jeddal but please check when booking as there was no interpreter at this performance.

These two spectacular performances by Switch_MCR will run at 53Two until July 9th so if you are in Manchester and fancy pre-drinks with a twist this fully accessible theatre is located under the arches next to Beetham Tower and only a short walk from the Deansgate-Castlefield Metrolink Stop!

The Rise and Fall of Little Voice Review

Richmond Theatre – until 2nd July 2022

Reviewed by Carly Burlinge 

3.5 *** 

The Rise and Fall of Little Voice by Jim Cartwright brings you the story of a mother and daughter who couldn’t be more different! Little Voice (Christina Bianco) loves nothing more than to stay in her bedroom listening to her records that have been left by her late father. Left alone she falls into a world of music where she becomes alive, swapping her quiet timid life and voice which suddenly transforms into her strength. Making her able to lose herself and be happy. 

Her Mother Mari (Shobna Gulati) on the other hand is the complete opposite enjoys a party, is always on the booze and going out meeting men! She hasn’t much time for little voice and can’t understand why her daughter is always confined to her bedroom and doesn’t want to leave the house! They both seem to class each other as an embarrassment and have no relationship. 

Then Mari meets Ray (Ian Kelsey) a small-time club owner he portrays himself as experienced in his trade and picks up on Little Voices Talents, as he hears her from downstairs singing in her bedroom. Mari on the other hand thinks all the attention and enthusiasm coming forward is towards her and not her daughter! This eventually causing a bigger rift between the two. With Ray thinking that he has found his discovery in Little Voice and that this could be his chance to hit the big time. He puts her on stage where at first, she gets booed but eventually her talent is shown and she rocks out some powerful ballads performed live.  

Christina Bianco had a charming strong and exquisite voice that was enjoyable and extraordinary to listen too, she plays her part extremely well transforming from a suppressed withdrawn character to a confident singer. 

Shobna Gulati plays a very convincing part as a loud drunken and overbearing mother who wants everything to be about herself. 

Ian Kelsey comes across as caring in his role at first but as things unravel and doesn’t go his way, he plays the shady, slippery and later on abusive character! 

Together they had a good connection on stage. 

The stage was done extremely well of a slightly run-down house which had two levels with the stairs leading up to a bedroom and a hallway with the living room and kitchen downstairs it was very interesting to look at with lots of attention to detail very cleverly done. 

Although this production offered some great acting as well as some great music and some light comedy throughout. I also found it to be disheartening and upsetting with a sad storyline that wasn’t very uplifting at times. 







Channing Tatum and his co-producers are delighted toannounce a new year-long partnership between Magic Mike Live in London and innovative not-for-profit organisation Men’s Minds Matter; a public health initiative focused on developing psychological interventions for people in suicidal crisis. Magic Mike Live is currently running at The Theatre at the Hippodrome Casino in London, booking until Sunday 1 January 2023.

Men’s Minds Matter is a not-for-profit organisation that specialises in developing psychological interventions for people at risk of suicide. Their model of Psychological Entrapment and Suicidal Crises is the first of its kind and brings together psychological science, clinical and lived experience of suicide. The model underpins and guides everything they do and truly sets them apart from other mental health charities and not-for-profit organisations.

Men’s Minds Matter is run by Nigel Sanderson (suicide intervention specialist, lived experience expert and MMM director) and Dr Luke Sullivan (suicide intervention specialist, clinical psychologist and MMM director). Their main aim is to develop an interactive, live, web-based application that will bring their intervention to as many people as possible through their digital platforms. This is the first intervention of its kind and they believe it has the potential to save many lives.

Nigel Sanderson and Dr Luke Sullivan said of the partnership, “We’re super psyched to be partnering with Magic Mike Live over the coming year. Not only will the partnership help to raise awareness of suicide and suicide in men, it will also help to support our ambitions to save lives and bring a focus to our work. Our model of Psychological Entrapment and Suicidal Crises is already helping to save lives in the therapy room. Our model explains suicidality at the individual level and allows interventions to be designed which target the mechanisms that lead to and maintain suicidality. We want as many people as possible to support us and help make our ambitions a reality.”

Global Executive Producer of Magic Mike Live Vincent Marini added, “The impact of the pandemic on Magic Mike Live team members around the world has really brought into focus for us the importance of mental health initiatives like Men’s Minds Matter. We believe in supporting programmes that take innovative approaches to solving age old problems and Men’s Minds Matter is doing just that through their digital platforms. We are proud of our association with them and we look forward to working with them to help as many people as possible.”

The London cast of Magic Mike Live consists of Sarah Annakin, Daniel Blessing, Natacza Boon, Jake Brewer, Harry Carter, Hannah Cleeve, Peter Cleverley, Petr Fedorovskii, Luca Figarazzi, Myles Harper, Charlie Knight, Mark Lace, Theo O. Bailey, James Percy, Ross Sands, Josie Scamell and Manny Tsakanika.

Conceived and co-directed by Channing Tatum, Magic Mike Live, which has already wowed over 300,000 people in London alone and over 1,000,000 worldwide, is a large-scale, live production show based on the hit films Magic Mike and Magic Mike XXL, which opened at The Theatre at the Hippodrome Casino in London’s Leicester Square in November 2018.  Magic Mike Live has inspired a new television series on HBO Max, Finding Magic Mike, which aired in the United States earlier this year. Magic Mike’s Last Dance, the third installment of the Magic Mike franchise, will be released this autumn.

From the bespoke entrance off Cranbourn Street, to the specially curated lounge and bar experience, to the cast of world-class performers, Magic Mike Live is a complete evening of unparalleled entertainment for guests aged 18 and up.  Audience members enter Magic Mike’s mythical club and marvel as a group of extraordinary perform a 360-degree dance and acrobatic spectacular in front of, behind, and above them.  Sexy dance routines intertwined with one-of-a-kind acts, are presented by a diverse cast of performers from around the world.

Magic Mike Live in London is co-directed by Channing Tatum and Alison Faulk, with Luke Broadlick as associate director, and choreography by Alison Faulk, Teresa Espinosa and Luke Broadlick.The Executive Producer is Vincent Marini with General Management by Crossroads Live. The production designer is Rachel O’Toole, with scenic design by Rob Bissinger and Anita LaScala (Arda Studio), costume design by Marina Toybina, lighting design by Philip Gladwell and video design by Luke Halls.  Musical supervisor is Jack Rayner, with sound design by Nick Kourtides.  Dreya Weber is aerial choreographer & aerial apparatus designer. 

Magic Mike Live has become an international sensation since opening in Las Vegas in April 2017.  In addition to breaking box office records and performing to sold-out audiences in Las Vegas and London, the show premiered in Berlin in 2020 and the Australia national tour opened in Sydney in December 2020.

Magic Mike Live is produced in London by Channing Tatum, Reid Carolin, Greg Jacobs, Peter Kiernan, Steven Soderbergh, Nick Wechsler and United Talent Agency in association with Warner Bros., Vincent Marini, The Hippodrome Casino, Bruce Robert Harris and Jack W. Batman, TSG Entertainment & Ashley DeSimone, Richard Winkler and The Creative House.


Magic Mike Live

The Theatre at the Hippodrome Casino

Cranbourn Street

Leicester Square

London WC2H 7JH


Twitter:  @MagicMikeLDN

Facebook:  @MagicMikeLDN

Instagram:  @MagicMikeLiveLDN

TikTok:  @Magicmikelivelondon

Box Office:  [email protected]

Ticket Prices from: £39

Current Booking Period: until Sunday 1 January 2023

Running Time:  approximately 90 minutes (no interval)

Performances: Wednesday 7pm, Thursday 7pm & 10pm, Friday 7pm & 10pm, Saturday 4pm, 7pm & 10pm, Sunday 4pm & 7pm.

No performances: w/c 5 September or w/c 12 September

Christmas 2022/23 Performance Schedule

Monday 19 December                  No Performance

Tuesday 20 December                  7 pm & 10pm

Wednesday 21 December           7 pm & 10pm

Thursday 22 December                7 pm & 10pm

Friday 23 December                       7pm & 10pm

Saturday 24 December                 4pm

Sunday 25 December                    No Performance

Monday 26 December                  No Performance

Tuesday 27 December                  7 pm & 10pm

Wednesday 28 December           7 pm & 10pm

Thursday 29 December                7 pm & 10pm

Friday 30 December                       7 pm & 10pm

Saturday 31 December                 7pm

Sunday 1 January                            4pm & 7pm

Magic Mike Live guests must be at least 18 years to attend – appropriate photo ID will be requested on arrival at the venue –

Further tickets released for Musical Con, the UK’s first ever musical theatre fan convention

Further tickets released for Musical Con, the UK’s
first ever musical theatre fan convention
Saturday 22nd – Sunday 23rd October 2022
ExCel London, Royal Victoria Dock, London E16 1XL

Due to phenomenal demand, Musical Con, the UK’s first ever musical theatre fan convention, will release a limited number of additional tickets. The convention, which is taking place at ExCeL London in October, will bring thousands of musical theatre fans and enthusiasts together under one roof for the first time. This weekend-long celebration of musicals sold out quickly after launching in April. The organisers have already increased the size of the event, and with this final release will now boast over 10,000 day tickets over the weekend.

Co-founder of West End Musical Productions, Chris Steward, says, It’s clear that after the past two years we’ve all had, the musical theatre community just want real connection. Yes, with the stars and shows they love, but also and most importantly with each other. This is the event we have all been waiting for!

Ambassadors for the convention include West End superstars Aimie Atkinson, Kerry Ellis, Alice Fearn, Ben Forster, Jodie Steele, Trevor Dion Nicholas, Omari Douglas, Shanay Holmes, Jenna Russell and Layton Williams. There are also more than 30 special guests, with many more to be announced.

The convention will be every musical theatre fan’s dream, with the opportunity to meet the stars, celebrate the shows, and learn from the pros. Attendees can experience unique performances, surprise cast reunions, interviews, discussion panels and show spotlights. They can get up close and personal with their stage faves with photo and autograph opportunities. There will be an epic cosplay competition, fan meetups, musical lip-sync battles and show singalongs. A marketplace of stalls will sell unique fandom merchandise and collectibles.

Enthusiasts will also enjoy an extensive selection of musical theatre workshops, masterclasses, and talks run by the cast and creatives of the shows. They can learn about getting into musical theatre, about roles both on and off stage that make the magic happen, and there will be the opportunity to network with top schools and colleges.

Co-founder of West End Musical Productions Shanay Holmes, who is currently originating the role of Cindy Breakspeare in Get Up Stand Up and is an ambassador for the event, says, The way the fans have responded has been incredible. We’ve been asking the fans what they want to see and we have been inundated with incredible ideas for the convention. This is their event. This is for the fans.

European Premiere DOLLY PARTON’S SMOKY MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS CAROL at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall from 8 December 2022







Producers Fiery Angel Entertainment and Red Tail Entertainment are delighted to announce that the European Premiere of Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol – A New Musical will play a Christmas season at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall from 8 December 2022 to 8 January 2023, with a press night on 13 December 2022. Tickets go on sale on 4 July

Dolly Parton said today “Bringing our reimagined Charles Dickens classic to London feels like a homecoming. My songs weave the music of my beautiful Smoky Mountains into this timeless Christmas story, and I can’t wait for London audiences to hear them as we tell that story, set in a place that is truly special to me.”  

Set during the 1930s in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, this heart-warming and truly unforgettable production imagines Ebenezer Scrooge as the owner of a mining company town, where his callous greed blinds him to the joys and gifts of the season. As a Christmas Eve snowstorm approaches, Scrooge is visited by the spirit of his deceased business partner and three ghosts who compel him to see life anew and discover that love and family are the greatest and most precious gifts we have. Dickens’s classic characters and Parton’s heart-felt songs beautifully reimagine this timeless story in a whole new light.  

Dolly Parton’s Smoky Mountain Christmas Carol is an adaptation by David H. Bell, Paul T. Couch and Curt Wollan. The book is by David H. Bell with music and Lyrics by Dolly Parton.  It is produced by Fiery Angel Entertainment and Red Tail Entertainment.

Evelyn Review

Southwark Playhouse – until 16 July 2022

Reviewed by Claire Roderick


Tom Ratcliffe’s play about social media hysteria and mob justice is intriguing and disconcerting. Set in the sleepy seaside town of Walton-on-the-Naze, where rumours start that a woman involved in the murder of a child has set up home under a new identity.

The details of Evelyn’s crime are described by Punch, Judy and Crocodile, making the cruelty and violence cartoonish and surreal, and encouraging loud reactions from the audience. The characters appear throughout the play to muddy further the assumptions made from the story so far and representing the online pile on of hate and disgust frenetically and animalistically.

Sandra (Nicola Harrison) arrives in Walton thinking she will be renting a flat but finds out that she is renting a room in a flat in a retirement village. Jeanne (Rula Lenska) is desperate for company as she and her daughter are estranged, and convinces Sandra to stay with her, telling everybody that Sandra is her goddaughter. Sandra goes along with this and seems to be gaslighting Jeanne at first, but soon the two become close. What happens each day is unclear as Jeanne is suffering with Dementia and Sandra lies effortlessly to entertain Jeanne.

Jeanne’s nurse, Laura (Yvette Boakye), is immediately suspicious of Sandra and is unhappy when Jeanne sets her brother Kevin (Offue Okegbe) with Sandra. As the couple’s relationship develops, the Spotted in Walton Facebook page slowly transforms from petty complaints about dog mess to panic about Evelyn settling there. Soon addresses of women that they think could be Evelyn are posted online and paranoia overruns the town.

As Sandra and Jeanne’s lies unravel, suspicion soon falls on Sandra and her mysterious past, and Kevin must choose a side.

Lenska is worth the ticket price alone as Jeanne, soulful, wise, and determined to enjoy her life even as her dementia takes hold. Her final scene with Sandra is heart wrenching as you realise that a lot of the affection she showed Sandra might have been mistaken as she calls her by her daughter’s name. Harrison’s reactions in this pivotal scene are exquisite, and she does a wonderful job keeping Sandra slightly “wrong” as she goes about her new life in Walton – defensive and wary with the body language of someone always ready to run.

Ratcliffe’s writing twists and turns, leaving you guessing and questioning what is real – both facts and feelings. The characters are all frustrating and antagonistic, but the reasons behind this are all teased out. Director Madelaine Moore alters the rhythm of the play without warning, keeping the audience on edge and unsure what will happen next, with the atmosphere becoming increasingly unsettling as Rachel Sampley’s lighting and video design gets darker and Michael Crean’s wholesome seaside music becomes more jarring and off kilter.

Evelyn is not an easy watch but is a story that needs to be told, and this memorable production is well worth a look.