X-treme Magic Review

York Opera House – 30th October 2022

Reviewed by Sal E Marino


X-treme Magic delivered a non-stop jukebox of heart-stopping moments that pulsed with wonder, amazement and “how did they do that?” questions . An awesome show packed with fire, illusion and interesting stunts. Starring multi-talented artists:  Richard Cadell (Master Illusionist), Richard Jones (Winner Of Britain’s Got Talent), John Archer (Penn & Teller Fool Us), Solange Kardinaly and Arkadio – there’s something for everyone! 

Richard, who has nerves of steel, drove the drama right the way through the show and by the end of this journey you felt like you knew the man – his reasons for why he does and dares – to have and follow these dreams.  An immaculate performer with a story to tell!   In complete contrast is John, John Archer, who probably isn’t sure why he does what he does but it seems to work.  One to speak his mind and sometimes his thoughts (that should maybe kept to himself) John is quick, full of one-liners and actually a very good magician!  You think he’s let you in on the tricks but when I look back – you actually can’t work out how he did it because he adds a little John Archer twist. 

Arkadio and Solange were equally as intriguing as they were smooth.  Both performed outstanding illusions and tricks mesmerised and left you thinking ‘how?’.  Richard Jones, had a slick and very professional delivery of his talent.  Complex could be said of Richard’s stunts and magic, complex with an edge.  It felt very unpredictable at times and that’s what makes talent within this strange and mysterious genre!

A truly amazing night out for all the family and your friends – fun, fabulous and fantastic!

Announcing UK workshops of a major new musical Benny & Joon based on the 1993 Johnny Depp movie

Announcing UK workshops of a major new musical
Benny & Joon

A story about love, family and the power of a great grilled cheese
based on the 1993 Johnny Depp movie

2 first-look 75-minute showcase performances open to the public
Monday 14 & Tuesday 15 November at The Other Palace

Benny & Joon is a delightful new musical comedy based on the beloved hit film. Sweetly romantic and genuinely touching, it tells the story of Joon, an eccentric young woman, her protective older brother, and the charming and whimsical Sam, whose exuberant love for Joon changes them forever.

With his perfect impressions of Buster Keaton and his playful spirit, Sam shows Benny and Joon a new way to see the world.  It is a moving love story full of magic and madness, unforgettable characters and a beguiling score.

Benny & Joon
, Book by Kirsten Guenther, Music by Nolan Gasser, Lyrics by Mindi Dickstein, explores what happens when we step out of our comfort zone and take a leap toward love.

As it prepares for an expected UK premiere, two 75-minute first-look workshop performances of Benny & Joon will take place at 5pm on Monday 14 November and 3pm on Tuesday 15 November. Tickets go on sale today at The Other Palace with £10 seats available to the public.

The cast features:

Christine Allado (Ruthie)
She was Tzipporah in ‘Prince Of Egypt’ (Dominion Theatre), Peggy/Maria Reynolds u/s Eliza Hamilton in the original West End cast of ‘Hamilton’ (Victoria Palace) and u/s Imelda Marcos in ‘Here Lies Love’ at the National Theatre.

George Blagden (Sam)
He was Presley Stray in Jamie Lloyd’s production of ‘The Pitchfork Disney’ (Shoreditch Town Hall) and on TV played Louis XIV, the lead, in three series of ‘Versailles’ and Athelstan in three series of ‘Vikings’.

Hannah Elless (Joon)
Hannah starred on Broadway as Margo Crawford in Steve Martin’s musical ‘Bright Star’ (Cort Theatre) and most recently originated the role of Jess in Jack Thorne’s Tony award-winning Broadway adaptation of ‘A Christmas Carol’ (Lyceum Theatre).

Jak Malone (Waldo)
Jak was Hester in ‘Operation Mincemeat’ (New Diorama, Southwark Playhouse/Riverside Studios), Dim in ‘A Clockwork Orange’ (Everyman Theatre, Liverpool) and Draper in ‘Terrible Tales of Horrible Horror’ (Hope Street Theatre).

Landi Oshinowo (Dr. Cruz)
She is currently playing Mrs Phelps in ‘Matilda the Musical’ at the Cambridge Theatre. She was Jarene in ‘The Color Purple’ (Leicester Curve) and Nell in ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Southwark Playhouse).

Simon-Anthony Rhoden (Mike)
Simon is currently playing Aaron Burr in ‘Hamilton’ (Victoria Palace) and was Lola in ‘Kinky Boots’ (Adelphi).He was Robert Catesby in‘ Treason – Concert’ (Theatre Royal Drury Lane ). On TV he was Diana in two series of ‘Temple’ on SKY.

Andrew Samonsky (Benny)
Andrew originated the role of Benny in the US (Old Globe). His Broadway/NY credits  include Lt Cable in ‘South Pacific Live’ (PBS), Neville in ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’, Ormisten in ‘Scandalous’ and Frank Russell in ‘Queen of the Mist’ (Drama Desk nomination).

Eric Stroud (Larry)
Eric was Dominic in ‘101 Dalmatians’ (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Watson in ‘Baskerville’ (Mercury, Colchester) and Narrator in ‘The Snow Queen’ (Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford).

Creative team:
Jack Cummings III – Director
Jack is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of New York’s award-winning Transport Group Theatre Company. He is a five-time Drama Desk Award nominee for Outstanding Director, Audelco Award nominee for Best Director of a Musical, and two-time Obie Award winner for Directing.

J. Oconer Navarro – Musical Director
He was Music Director for ‘Benny & Joon’ at The Old Globe and Paper Mill Playhouse. J. is Head of Music and Vocal Performance at The New Studio on Broadway at NYU-Tisch.

Scott Rink – Choreographer
Off-Broadway credits: ‘Once Upon A Mattress’, ‘Three Days to See’, ‘Queen Of The Mist’, ‘Hello Again’, ‘Being Audrey’, ‘Crossing Brooklyn’, ‘Songs For a New World’, ‘Nor’mal’, (Transport Group, Dir. Jack Cummings III).

Will Burton – Casting Director
Will is one half of Grindrod Burton Casting and was the casting director of Olivier Award-winning
‘Matilda’, ‘In the Heights’ and ‘Jesus Christ Superstar.’

Kirsten Guenther – Writer (Book)
Kirsten is the recipient of a Richard Rodgers Award,Rockefeller Grant, Dramatist Guild Fellowship, Johnny Mercer Writers Fellowship, and a Lincoln Center Honorarium. She has written several stage musicals including the book and lyrics for Little Miss Fix-it (as seen on NBC); and the book for Mrs. Sharp (Richard Rodgers Award) directed by Michael Greif, starring Jane Krakowski.

Nolan Gasser  – Composer
Nolan is a critically acclaimed composer, pianist, and musicologist – notably, the architect of Pandora Radio’s Music Genome Project. He holds a Ph.D. in Musicology from Stanford University. His original compositions have been performed at Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center, among other prestigious venues. Theatrical projects include the musical ‘Benny & Joon’ and the San Francisco Opera- commissioned ‘The Secret Garden’.

Mindi Dickstein – Lyricist
Mindi is an award-winning lyricist, librettist, and playwright. She is best known as the lyricist for the Broadway musical ‘Little Women’ (licensed by MTI), Original Broadway Cast Album released by Sh-k-boom/Ghostlight Records), with music by Jason Howland and book by Allan Knee.

Larry Hirschhorn – Producer
His Broadway credits include: ‘Hadestown’ (Tony Award), ‘Torch Song’, ‘Indecent’, ‘On Your Feet’, ‘The Elephant Man’ (with Bradley Cooper, Drama Desk Award); ‘Gentleman’s Guide’ (Tony Award); ‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’ (Tony Award); ‘Hair’ (Tony Award), ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’.

Aria Entertainment – General Manager
Aria Entertainment was founded in 2012 by Producer Katy Lipson. In 10 years, she has produced over 70 productions in the West End, Off-West End and across the UK.  She most recently produced the World Première of Jack Holden’s ‘Cruise’ (Duchess Theatre) which was nominated for a 2022 Oliver Award for the Best New Play and which returned to the West End in August 2022 for a limited season at the Apollo Theatre. Other recent productions include, The Rise and Fall of Little Voice (UK Tour), Zorro – The Musical and Broken Wings (Charing Cross Theatre), the West End transfer of The Last Five Years (Garrick Theatre) and A-Typical Rainbow (Turbine Theatre). Current projects include: The Osmonds and The Cher Show (UK Tours); From Here to Eternity (CharingCross Theatre) and Claus – The Musical (The Lowry, Salford).


Benny & Joon
Based on the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
motion picture
written by Barry Berman and Leslie McNeil

2 workshop performances

Monday 14 November at 5pm
Tuesday 15 November at 3pm

The Other Palace
12 Palace Street

Tickets: £10

Book: https://theotherpalace.co.uk/

Spine-tingling fun with Gilbert & Sullivan’s RUDDIGORE at Wilton’s Music Hall

Ghostly Victorian fun with Gilbert & Sullivan’s RUDDIGORE

at Wilton’s Music Hall

Presented by Oracle Productions

14th – 25th March 2023

Surreal comedy meets genuinely spooky Victorian chiller in this unmissable production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Ruddigore, or The Witch’s Curse, at Wilton’s Music Hall. 

Directed by Peter Benedict (Mapp & Lucia – The Musical and Terry Pratchett’s Guards! Guards!), expect all the familiar G&S elements: terrific music, cheeky social satire, comic pathos and a sensational cast singing faster than you’d think humanly possible – but with a seasoning of sinister spectres.

Wilton’s Music Hall with its faded Victorian grandeur, lends itself to a tale of ancestral ghosts who haunt the family picture gallery, and this innovative production will provide spine-tingling moments amidst the laughs.

Take a step back in time and experience Benedict’s hilariously haunting take on Gilbert and Sullivan’s tenth collaboration featuring some visual and musical surprises.

A family curse means a baronet must commit a crime every day or perish. In trying to escape his fate, he encounters dancing sailors, a bunch of frustrated bridesmaids and a chorus of ghosts. What could possibly go wrong?

Don’t miss this truly magical experience performed in London’s oldest Victorian music hall from 14th March 2023.

Cast and creative team to be announced.

Age recommendation: 12+

14th – 25th March 2023
Box Office: 
020 7702 2789  
Online: www.wiltons.org.uk/whatson/774-ruddigore
: Tuesday – Saturday at 7:30pm
matinées: Thursday and Saturday at 2:30pm
Age group: suitable for 12+
Getting there: Wilton’s Music Hall, Graces Alley (off Ensign Street pedestrian only), London E1 8JB. Closest tube stations are Tower Hill (Zone 1), Aldgate East (Zone 1) and Shadwell (Zone 2). Closest rail station is Fenchurch Street.





The original producers of Bat Out of Hell – The Musical, featuring Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf’s greatest hits, are delighted to announce both new and returning cast members for the International tour, including Glenn Adamson as Strat, Kellie Gnauck as Raven, Rob Fowler as Falco, Sharon Sexton as Sloane, Jayme-Lee Zanoncelli as Zahara, James Chisholm as Jagwire, Matteo Johnson as Tink, Katie Tonkinson as Valkyrie and Danny Whelan as Ledoux.

Also in the cast are Jay Anderson as O’Dessasuite, Alex Bowen as Goddesilla Georgia Bradshaw as Kwaidan, Amara Campbell as Vilmos, Eirik Dahlen as Esquivel, Alexandra Doar as Scherzzo, Luke Hall as Markevitch, James Lowrie as Denym, Rory Maguire as Hollander, Catherine Saunders as Mordema, Luke Street as Hoffmann/Alternate Strat, Craig Watson as Astroganger and Beth Woodcock as Spinotti.

Bat Out of Hell – The Musical will play limited seasons at Swansea Arena from 6 December to 15 December, the Capitol Theater Düsseldorf from 20 December 2022 to 04 January 2023. The musical will do an Arena tour of New Zealand and Australia from 22 January – 8 February 2023 visiting Spark Arena, Auckland, Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney, Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Adelaide Entertainment Centre, RAC Arena Perth and Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne.

The production will then return to the UK and play the Peacock Theatre in the West End from 17 February – 1 April 2023. Other European venues include Wiener Stadthalle F, Vienna and MAAG Halle, Zurich with further dates to be added.

Bat Out of Hell – The Musical wowed critics and public alike when it played limited seasons at Manchester Opera House, London Coliseum and London’s Dominion Theatre from 2017 to 2019. The musical also ran successfully in Canada, Germany and at New York’s City Centre in 2019. The current International tour began performances at Manchester Opera House on 11 September 2021 and has been playing to sold out houses and great critical acclaim. Bat Out of Hell – The Musical continues to have a residency at Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino where it opened to rave reviews on 27 September 2022.         

Bat Out of Hell – The Musical won the Radio 2 Audience Award for Best Musical at the Evening Standard Awards and was nominated for 8 WhatsOnStage Awards, including Best New Musical.

Bat Out of Hell became one of the best-selling albums in history, selling over 60 million copies worldwide.  16 years after the release of the original album, Steinman scored again with Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell, which contained the massive hit I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That).

For the stage musical, the legendary and award-winning Jim Steinman incorporated iconic songs from the Bat Out of Hell albums, including You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth, Bat Out of Hell, I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That) and Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad, as well as the previously unreleased song What Part of My Body Hurts the Most.

As the Lost boys and girls flee into the tunnels below the city from its ruler Falco, his teenage daughter Raven locks eyes with fearless leader of the Lost, the immortal Strat, and the immensity of their love-at-first-sight-obsessions threaten to destroy both of their families. Experience the thrill of the electrifying songs of Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf’s epic collaboration: “Bat Out of Hell.”

The International Tour of Bat Out of Hell – The Musical has book, music and lyrics by Jim Steinman, direction by Jay Scheib, with musical supervision and additional arrangements by Michael Reed, choreography adapted by Xena Gusthart,, set and costume design by Jon Bausor, original costume designs by Meentje Nielsen, original wig designs by Linda McKnight, video design by Finn Ross, lighting design by Patrick Woodroffe, sound design by Gareth Owen, orchestration by Steve Sidwell, original casting by David Grindrod CDG and International Tour casting by Anne Vosser.

The West End & UK Tour of Bat Out of Hell – The Musical is produced by Michael CohlTony Smith & David Sonenberg with executive producer Julian Stoneman.

Bat Out of Hell dedicates this tour to the memory of Jim Steinman, who sadly passed away on April 19, 2021 and Meat Loaf who passed away on 20 January 2022.

Website:  www.BatOutOfHellMusical.com

Twitter & Facebook: @BatTheMusical


6 – 15 December                                   Swansea Arena                                                     01792 804770


20 December – 4 January 2023             Capitol Theater Düsseldorf                                    +49 021173440


22 January                                             Spark Arena, Auckland                                          +64 9 358 1250


27 January                                             Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney                                  +61 2 8765 4321


30 January                                             Brisbane Entertainment Centre                               +61 7 3265 8111


2 February                                              Adelaide Entertainment Centre                               +61 8 8208 2222


8 February                                              Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne                                 +61 3 9286 1600


17 February – 1 April                               Peacock Theatre, London                                      020 7863 8000


13 – 16 April                                            Wiener Stadthalle F, Vienna                                   +4317999979                                                              


4 – 20 May                                              MAAG Halle, Zurich                                               +41 0900 444 262


Further dates to be announced.

PEAKY BLINDERS: THE RISE Announces New Casting





Producers Immersive Everywhere, in association with Caryn Mandabach Productions and Steven Knight, announce new casting for PEAKY BLINDERS: THE RISE, at the Camden Garrison, joining from Wednesday 9 Novemberwww.immersivepeakyblinders.com

Joining the show will be Tanya Bridgeman (Milky Peaks for Theatr Clwyd and Wales Tour, The Fear at The Bunker) as Maggie Hill, Thea Butler (Twelfth Night UK Tour, Chicago at the Minack Theatre and Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens at the Charing Cross Theatre) as Lizzie Stark, Ivy Corbin (Doctor Who: Time Fracture and The Great Gatsby for Immersive Everywhere) as Polly Gray, Ross Ford (Comet at the Pleasance, Under Milk Wood at the Watermill Theatre and the UK and International tour of Much Ado About Nothing) as Arthur Shelby, Mabli Gwynne (Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens at the King’s Head) as Ada Thorne,  James Lawrence (Doctor Who: Time Fracture and The Great Gatsby for Immersive Everywhere, One Man, Two Guvnors UK Tour) as Walter McDonald and Harriett O’Grady (Secret Cinema’s Casino Royale and Dirty Dancing) as Pearl St. Clair.

They join Roxana Bartle (The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sophia)as Grace Burgess/Zilpha Lee, Isaac Beechey (The Laramie Project) as John Shelby, Sam Blythe (Doctor Who: Time Fracture for Immersive Everywhere and Secret Cinema’s Stranger Things, Casino Royale, 28 Days Later and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back) as Alfie Solomons, Angus Brown (Doctor Who: Time Fracture for Immersive Everywhere and Secret Cinema’s Casino Royale) as Charles Sabini, James Bryant (Doctor Who: Time Fracture and The Wolf of Wall Street for Immersive Everywhere) as an American Businessman, Craig Hamilton (Doctor Who: Time Fracture and The Great Gatsby for Immersive Everywhere and Secret Cinema’s Casino Royale) as Tommy Shelby, Daniel Mackenzie-Carter making his professional debut as Michael Gray, Reece Richardson (Human, 1984) as Georgie Sewell, Elliot Rodriguez (Doctor Who: Time Fracture for Immersive Everywhere, The Gruffalo) as Isiah Jesus, Daisy Winter-Taylor (Doctor Who: Time Fracture for Immersive Everywhere, Runway) as Phyllis Robbins.

PEAKY BLINDERS: THE RISE is an immersive theatrical show that places audiences in the heart of one of the world’s most popular TV series. Presented in collaboration with Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight and Caryn Mandabach Productions, you are invited to get dressed up and fully immersed in Tommy Shelby’s world. As the story unfolds you will experience live sets, unmissable character interactions, competitive game play and ultimately determine whether Tommy Shelby and his family succeed in their ambition to take London.

1921, London. Tommy has taken the northern racecourses and eliminated his opponent, Billy Kimber. He now has his sights set on a London expansion… 

With the approval of north London kingpin, Alfie Solomons, Tommy personally invites you to a family meeting at the Shelbys’ Camden warehouse. Tommy has a plan that could prove lucrative for everyone, and it promises to be a night of celebration. 

Whether you kick back in the Camden Garrison Pub with Arthur, advise Tommy on his business affairs in his office, or conspire with the Italians in the Eden Club, how the family meeting goes is for you to decide. However, you must keep your eyes open and your ear to the ground, Tommy’s enemies are closer than you think, and they may want to make you an offer you’ll find hard to refuse. 

But before you choose where your loyalties lie, get suited and booted ready for a night with the Peaky Blinders at the Camden Garrison. With three possible narrative outcomes, your decisions have consequences and directly affect the rise or the fall of the Shelby family.   

PEAKY BLINDERS: THE RISE is directed by Tom Maller, who is also Creative Director, set and costume designs are by Rebecca Brower, with a script by Katie Lyons, music by Barnaby Race, lighting design by Terry Cook for Woodroffe Bassett, sound design by Luke Swaffield for Autograph, dramaturgy by Raphael Martin, the Associate Director is Elena Voce, the Vocal and Accent Coach is Sarah McGuinness, and the Movement Director is Charlie Burt.

Peaky Blinders, the TV series, was created and written by Steven Knight (Dirty Pretty Things, Eastern Promises and Locke) and recently returned for its final season, receiving five-star reviews and enjoying record viewing figures. The multi award-winning BBC One/iPlayer and Netflix series is owned and produced by Peaky Blinders’ official series and brand owner, Caryn Mandabach Productions and the television series is co-produced with Banijay Group’s Tiger Aspect Productions.

Peaky Blinders® © Caryn Mandabach Productions. All rights reserved. Licensed by Caryn Mandabach Productions.

Anything for Love Review

Grand Opera House York – Friday 28th October 2022

Reviewed by Michelle Richardson


Steve Steinman and Anything for Love returned to the Grand Opera House York on Friday night. After appearing on Stars in your Eyes as Meatloaf, Steinman has been touring the UK and beyond with his original Meatloaf Story and Vampires Rock for years, one of the hardest working bands out there. This tour again is supported by the wonderful vocals of Lorraine Crosby, the original artist who sang with Meatloaf on Anything for Love, off the Bat Out of Hell II album, she was also managed by Jim Steinman earlier in her career.

As usual with a lot of Steinman’s shows the theatre was packed out, proving what a huge loyal following they have. When the lights go out and the band enters the stage the audience couldn’t help but show their excitement for this celebration of Meatloaf and the music of Jim Steinman. Anything for Love is the first tune we hear with Crosby and Steinman belting out the classic hit. After working together for several years, they have some fabulous chemistry and camaraderie going on.

Steinman surrounds himself with a loyal group of performers, his ever-present side kick John Evans, providing backing vocals. If you’ve seen Vampires Rock, he is Bosley, a highlight of which are the animal print leggings with blue pvc pants over the top. Joining Evans were two backing singers and dancers, who never stopped. Their dancing was a complete workout, it was exhausting to watch. A huge accomplishment when they are also singing, stunning to watch, bravo ladies. The band were tremendous, each member having the opportunity to shine. I must send a shout out to the pianist, his solo piece was phenomenal.

As usual Steinman packed a punch with his vocals, emulating the powerhouse that was Meatloaf. Crosby’s vocals were stunning, she brings a fabulous energy to the show. I enjoyed hearing about her few encounters with Meat, especially the story about duetting with him at the ice rink in her neck of the woods, Whitley Bay. Who knew?

This is a show is a feast of Meatloaf’s greatest hits, with some Bonnie Tyler thrown in. Songs included Dead Ringer for Love, Took the Word Right Out of My Mouth, Paradise by the Dashboard Light, and many, many more. And of course, we can’t forget Bat Out of Hell. A must show for any fan.

Steinman just loves being on stage, he has a natural rapport with the audience. He has some excellent bite backs and is not afraid to laugh at himself. He has a winning formula and is not afraid to use it, long may it continue.

Quiet Rebels Review

Tanya Moiseiwitsch Studio, Sheffield – until 28th October 2022

Reviewed by Sophie Dodworth


Stopping at Sheffield Theatres Tanya Moiseiwitsch Studio is Quiet Rebels, a new play written and directed by Julie McNamara and Hassan Mahamdallie. A drama based on true-life stories of white women who crossed ‘the colour line’ to marry men from the Windrush generation. Women who lived with the ignorance of racism and social stigma directed against them and their families, but who are the foundations of today’s multi-cultural communities.

Real-life footage of women who experienced racial prejudice opens the show and this is most engaging, the audience respond well to this and alongside the awful racist times these women lived through, true love stories were created and to be told of these was heart-warming.

The setting is a dystopian one, in the UK in 2028 where Detective Shade (Deni Francis) investigates the murder of Aileen Burnett (Lottie Bell) – a white woman who married a black man and went on to having four children. Convicted as a ‘race-traitor’, she served time for ‘miscegenation’. Shade travels the multi-resistance underground network to the Northern Free Zone to solve the crime, where delving in to her past, everything she thought she knew about herself is challenged.

The set was simple but effective and provided a perfect back drop for the subtitles and signing that was used throughout. The subtitles did however highlight errors and missed dialogue during quite a lot of the performance, this did tend to draw your attention away from the main event.

Fiona Whitelaw shone in her roles of Mary Khan/Tracey/Betty Grogan, with a real ability to adapt to each character with fluidity.

Thought provoking theatre that touching on an important part of history that shouldn’t be forgotten.

The Osmonds- A New Musical Review

The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – until Saturday 29th October 2022

Reviewed by Emma Millward


Based on the autobiographical book by Jay Osmond, the show charts the musical family’s rapid rise to fame from young children performing as a barbershop quartet on the Andy Williams Show in the 1960s to their meteoric success as a teen idol band in the 1970s, to Donny and Marie’s popular variety show from 1976 to 1979. 

We see the brothers as young boys with an overbearing ex-Army father/Manager who speaks to them as if they are all soldiers. The story is very much told from Jay Osmond’s (Alex Lodge) point of view, who narrates throughout the show. The troupe of actors who played the younger versions of the brothers were all very talented and their barbershop harmonies were spot-on. 

The stage was bright and colourful with   a rainbow striped floor with a bold stripe for each of the five main brothers in the band. It made the perfect backdrop for the performances of such songs as ‘Love Me for a Reason’ and ‘Crazy Horses’. The set and flamboyant costume design by Lucy Osborne perfectly captures the mood and style of the era. 

Darker elements of the family’s history are explored, including their brush with bankruptcy after they plough all their money into their recording studio, only for it to end disastrously when Donny and Marie’s show is threatened with cancellation and some unscrupulous business advice is given to the brothers. 

Throughout the show,  ‘Wendy from Manchester’ played with gleeful teenage excitement by Sophie Hirst reads out her letters she sends to Jay to tell him how much his music means to her. This adds a touching element to the show that I am sure a few of the audience members could identify with. 

Tristan Whincup (providing perfect understudy duty as Donnie for this performance) and Georgia Lennon both shone as Donnie and Marie, particularly in their solo songs ‘Paper Roses’ and ‘Puppy Love’. The latter of which sent certain ladies in the audience into a frenzy. 

Judging by the screams of adoration from certain members of the audience clad in sequinned hats and scarves, the appeal of the Osmonds has in no way died down over the passing years and the increase in the popularity of jukebox musicals’ takes full advantage of this ready-made fan base to the fullest. 

The show ended with a lively medley of the brother’s biggest hits which got the audience to their feet dancing and singing straightaway. Compared to other jukebox musicals I have seen, this stands up really well against all of them and provides a fun- filled night out for everyone. Whether you are a huge Osmonds fan or not, you will be up screaming along to those ‘Crazy Horses’ by the end of the show!! 

Anna-Jane Casey joins Ian McKellen and John Bishop in the UK and Ireland Tour of MOTHER GOOSE









Ambassador Theatre Group Productions are delighted to announce final casting for the UK and Ireland Tour of the pantomime MOTHER GOOSEAnna-Jane Casey will join the show as Cilla The Goose with Mairi Barclay, Becca FrancisShailan Gohil and Laura Tyrer also confirmed to join the company. www.mothergooseshow.co.uk

They join the previously announced Ian McKellen as Mother Goose, John Bishop as Vic Goose, Oscar Conlon-Morrey as Jack, Simbi Akande as Jill, Sharon Ballard as Good Fairy Encanta and Karen Mavundukure as Evil Fairy Malignia. The cast is completed by Adam Brown, Gabriel Fleary, Richard Leeming and Genevieve Nicole.

A West End star for over three decades, Anna-Jane Casey was most recently seen as Fraulein Kost in the award-winning production of Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club. Her many other West End credits include Velma Kelly in Chicago, Mrs Wilkinson in Billy Elliot, Lady of the Lake in Spamalot, Anita in West Side Story, Rizzo in Grease, Buffy, Dinah and Pearl in Starlight Express and Rumpleteazer in Cats. She played Dot in Sunday in the Park with George at the Menier Chocolate Factory, Mabel in Mack and Mabel at the Watermill Theatre, for which she won the TMA Award for Best Performance in a Musical and the title roles in Piaf and Sweet Charity and Violet Butterfield in Flowers for Mrs Harris, all at the Sheffield Crucible.

MOTHER GOOSE will play at the Theatre Royal Brighton from 3 – 11 December 2022, before a season at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London’s West End (15 December 2022 – 29 January 2023). It will then play Chichester Festival Theatre (7 – 11 February 2023), Sheffield Lyceum (14 – 18 February 2023), Wolverhampton Grand (22 – 26 February 2023), Liverpool Empire (28 February – 4 March 2023), Oxford New Theatre (7 – 11 March 2023), Bord Gais Energy Theatre Dublin (22 – 26 March 2023), and Wales Millennium Centre Cardiff (28 March – 1 April 2023) with further venues to be announced soon. This very special pantomime is the first of its kind to tour the country and play all the way to Easter!

It is written by Jonathan Harvey (Coronation Street, Gimme Gimme Gimme) and directed by award-winning director Cal McCrystal. Set and Costume design is by Liz Ascroft, Choreography by Lizzi Gee, Lighting design by Prema Mehta, Sound design by Ben Harrison andPuppet Design and Creation by Chris Barlow. Casting is by Anne Vosser and the Production Manager is Ben Arkell.

Mother Goose (McKellen) and her husband Vic (Bishop) run an Animal Sanctuary for waifs and strays and live a wholesome life inside an abandoned Debenhams. But when a goose (Casey) flies in, will fame and fortune get the better of them?! Will Ma’s feathers be seriously ruffled? Will Pa tell everyone to get stuffed?! And is their fair life about to turn fowl? Get ready for fairies with hefty vocal chords, puppets with tap dance qualifications and impeccably constructed mayhem that will quack up the whole family. This hilarious family-friendly mother of all pantos is the ultimate theatrical feast full of fun, farce and more than a couple of surprises that will make you honk out loud.

Mother Goose is produced by Ambassador Theatre Group Productions, Gavin Kalin Productions, Hunter Arnold, Seaview, Wessex Grove, Richard Winkler & Dawn Smalberg, Caiola Productions and George Waud for Groove International.

The Londoner is the official hotel partner of Mother Goose.

A Dead Body In Taos Review

Wilton’s Music Hall, London – until 12th November, then Warwick Arts Centre

Reviewed by Alun Hood


Science fiction is a difficult genre to pull off in the theatre. There’s something about the warm immediacy of live performance that is anathema to the chilly mechanics of futuristic fantasy. The distance that the screen lends, along with (usually) drastically bigger production budgets, tends to mitigate against the more risible aspects of stories set in an almost unimaginable, frequently unrelatable alternative universe. When it works on stage, it tends to be either as musical comedy (Return To The Forbidden Planet, We Will Rock You) or, as in the recent Yard version of The Cherry Orchard set on a failing spaceship, underpinned by a rock solid, and already familiar, set of characters and circumstances. Even the usually brilliant Mike Bartlett came unstuck, in his 2010 National Theatre epic Earthquakes In London, where the portions set far in the future somewhat undermined what was elsewhere a searing, multi-layered family drama.

David Farr’s new play, briefly in London following performances in Bristol and Plymouth and before moving on to Warwick, is an earnest addition to an underpopulated genre. Undeniably ambitious, but more ponderous than engaging, it doesn’t make a great case for creating stage dramas in this mould. The premise is interesting enough: damaged, disenfranchised Sam (Gemma Lawrence, investing the character with more inner life than the writing might suggest) is summoned to New Mexico to identify the body of her estranged mother Kath, only to discover herself confronted with a robotic avatar of the deceased, the creation of ‘Future Life’, a glossy but shady biotech company “questing to take humanity into the third millennium”.

The play interrogates the nature of grief, what the ending of life really means, monetary greed and family dynamics, and does so in a series of flashbacks showing Kath’s earlier life as a rebellious artist and student protestor in 1960s America, then, somewhat improbably, as a 1970s London punk and, even less believably, a power-suited 1980s big business go-getter. Eve Ponsonby inhabits each iteration with considerable verve but is fighting a losing battle against a turgid, clichéd script. She also has to maintain extensive portions of the play as Katy’s dead-eye, monotoned avatar, who is hardly what one could call interesting theatrical company, but at least isn’t unintentionally funny, which she could be in less skilled hands.

Splicing together sci-fi with a potted history of 20th century social movements and fashions, is unusual and intriguing, but when each section is so eye-rollingly unoriginal, and all the characters so resolutely unsympathetic, it becomes difficult to engage. The dialogue is serviceable but seems calculated more to hammer home Farr’s ideas than to illuminate the people and situations in his story.

Rachel Bagshaw’s production doesn’t help much. It has tremendous energy for the most part, but misses a trick in it’s constant use of Sarah Readman’s excellent video designs that exhilaratingly conjure up the trashing of a work of art, or Kath’s fevered creation of a painting, but might equally have been useful in providing indications as to the ever-changing locales and time periods. Instead though, the visual aesthetic remains resolutely abstract, even though it looks rather elegant, and a bewildering text and uninvolving characters remain out of reach. A subplot involving a terminal illness for Leo, the only man Kath really ever loved (played with hangdog good humour by David Burnett), is introduced too late in the play to carry any real tragic weight.

The final image, involving a rapprochement of sorts between mother, daughter and Leo, feels as though it is straining for some sort of catharsis, or at least bleak acceptance, but crowns an overlong story too elliptical and lacking in emotional engagement to provoke much more than relief at getting out of the theatre. Hugely disappointing.