Cast of Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World announced for The Other Palace! 20 July – 8 September

Kenny Wax Productions
Cast announced for hit musical
Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World
at The Other Palace
Saturday 20th July – Sunday 8th September 2024
Gala Night: Thursday 25th July 2024

The amazing cast has been announced for the empowering hit musical Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World, coming to The Other Palace this summer. This award-winning girl power musical packs a popstar punch with a catchy soundtrack, awe-inspiring characters and TikTok-favourite choreography.

Returning to the show following its successful winter 2024 tour are Georgia Grant-Anderson (David Walliams’ Demon Dentist, UK tour; Beauty and the Beast, Lighthouse Poole; So Awkward, CBBC) as heroine Jade and Elena Breschi (Kindertransport, Nottingham Playhouse; Little Fir Tree, Kings Palace Theatre; SIX, Norwegian Cruise Line). New fantastically great cast members are Meg Hateley (Mamma Mia!, Novello Theatre; Oliver!, Theatre Royal Drury Lane; Cinderella, Hall for Cornwall), Charlotte Jaconelli (Sunset Boulevard, Savoy Theatre; Heathers The Musical, Theatre Royal Haymarket; Call the Midwife, BBC), Anelisa Lamola (Once on This Island, Regent’s Park Theatre; The Color Purple, Leicester Curve; Sunset Boulevard, Alexandra Palace), and Aaliyah Monk (School of Rock, Gillian Lynne Theatre; Kids of the West End, Leicester Square; West End Musical Christmas, Lyric Theatre).

Also returning to the show from the winter tour are the incredible swings Summer Priest (Get Up Stand Up!, West End; Heathers The Musical, UK tour) and Rachel Seirian (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Apollo Theatre; The Land of Might Have Been, Buxton Opera; A Christmas Carol, RSC), who is also Assistant Choreographer.

Remarkable – and often forgotten – women are lifted from the pages of Kate Pankhurst’s beloved book, published by Bloomsbury, and brought vividly to life on stage in this hugely successful hit musical. Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World celebrates historic women and their achievements to a soundtrack of uplifting pop songs – with real-life heroines and pioneers spotlighted including Civil Rights activist Rosa Parks, Nobel Prize-winning scientist Marie Curie, Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, author Jane Austen, trailblazing pilot Amelia Earhart, innovative artist Frida Kahlo, and many more!

The toe-tapping, sing-along worthy soundtrack by #1 hit single writer Miranda Cooper (Kylie Minogue, Girls Aloud) and Jennifer Decilveo (Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato) is available to stream online

The creative team behind this exhilarating stage show consists of Olivier Award-winning dramatist Chris Bush (Standing at the Sky’s Edge, National Theatre); with music by UK No.1 hit songwriter Miranda Cooper, whose songs for Girls Aloud include Sound of the Underground and The Promise, and Round Round for Sugababes, and Jennifer Decilveo, and live arrangements by Jen Green (Beverley Knight; Pixie Lott). The director is Amy Hodge (Mr Gum and The Dancing Bear – The Musical!, National Theatre), designer Joanna Scotcher (Emilia, Shakespeare’s Globe/Vaudeville Theatre), choreographer Dannielle ‘Rhimes’ Lecointe (Dick Whittington, National Theatre), musical supervisor and musical director Audra Cramer (Cinderella, Hope Mill Theatre; SIX, West End), lighting designer Zoe Spurr (Emilia, Shakespeare’s Globe/Vaudeville Theatre), sound designer Carolyn Downing (Summer & Smoke, Almeida/Duke of York’s Theatre) and co-sound designer Rob Bettle (Frozen: The Musical, Theatre Royal Drury Lane; Billy Elliot, UK tour; One Man, Two Guvnors, Theatre Royal Haymarket).

Past praise for Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World:

A pop-fuelled, upbeat feminist hit – ★ ★ ★ ★ The Times

A high voltage show with great charisma… a zippy guide to the great women of history that sets toes tapping and young minds alight – The Guardian

Incredibly inspirational, a battle call to women everywhere – ★ ★ ★ ★ Liverpool Echo

A celebration of girl power over the centuries… I’m still singing – ★ ★ ★ ★ Daily Mail

Craig Revel Horwood Announces Debut Solo Album and UK Tour

Craig Revel Horwood Announces Debut Solo Album and UK Tour

Craig Revel Horwood has announced he is to release his debut solo album in the autumn, ahead of an extensive UK tour in 2025.

Titled ‘Revelations: Songs Boys Don’t Sing’, the album will be released on 18th October via the Westway Music label, and is preceded by the release of Craig’s debut solo single, a dance floor update of Dame Shirley Bassey’s classic ‘This Is My Life’, which is out today (Monday, 17th June).  

In support of his album, Craig will embark on a 53-date UK tour that begins in Eastleigh on 4th April 2025 and ends in Dunfermline on 28th June, including a date at London’s Union Chapel on 26th April.

Tickets are on sale now, available from craigrevelhorwood.com.

Craig is promising fans a “Fab-U-Lous” night of glamour, tall tales and big songs from his album, which features ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’ from Funny Girl, ‘On My Own’ from Les Miserables and, amongst many others, ‘Little Girls’ from Annie, a song that Craig has sung in many productions playing Miss Hannigan.

As the longest-serving judge on BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing, Craig has become the undisputed king of the glitter ball and is now regarded as a national treasure. After starting his career as a dancer, Craig worked on the nation’s biggest musicals before becoming a successful choreographer, director and best-selling author. Also a remarkable singer, Craig has performed in many musicals and shows across the UK.

Craig said, “I am thrilled to announce the release of my debut album! It’s a momentous occasion for me, and I can’t wait to share the songs I’ve carefully chosen. Throughout my musical journey, I’ve had the privilege of performing as both a dancer and a singer in numerous musicals. However, this album holds a special place in my heart as I’ve had the opportunity to select songs that truly resonate with me.

“Each track on the album is traditionally associated with female singers, which presented a delightful challenge. I embraced this opportunity to record these songs, knowing that it might be my only chance to give them my own interpretation. The album is a perfect blend of drama, pathos, romance, and a touch of high camp. I’ve poured my heart and soul into every note, hoping that you will love each and every song.

“Thank you for joining me on this incredible musical journey. I can’t wait for you to experience the magic of my album!”

‘Revelations: Songs Boys Don’t Sing’ and ‘This Is My Life’ are available to pre-order/stream now from https://slinky.to/ThisIsMyLife, with the full list of tour dates as follows:

04 Apr – EASTLEIGH                            Thornden Hall

05 Apr – MILTON KEYNES                  The Stables  

06 Apr – RICHMOND                            Richmond Theatre

09 Apr – BRISTOL                                 St George’s

10 Apr – BRADFORD                            St George’s Hall

12 Apr – BOLTON                                 Alberts Hall

13 Apr – NEWCASTLE                          Theatre Royal

16 Apr – CHELMSFORD                       Civic Theatre  

17 Apr – EASTBOURNE                       Congress Theatre

18 Apr – LICHFIELD                             Garrick Theatre

19 Apr – WREXHAM                            William Aston Hall

20 Apr – BIRMINGHAM                       Town Hall

23 Apr – WELLINGBOROUGH            Castle Theatre

24 Apr – ST HELENS                             Theatre Royal

25 Apr – CHESTER                             Storyhouse

26 Apr – LONDON                                Union Chapel

27 Apr – READING                               The Hexagon

30 Apr – LOWESTOFT                        Marina Theatre

01 May – BURY ST EDMUNDS             The Apex

02 May – LINCOLN                                New Theatre Royal

03 May – HULL                                      City Hall

04 May – BLACKPOOL                      The Grand Theatre

07 May – PETERBOROUGH                  Cresset  

09 May – DUDLEY                                 Town Hall

10 May – CHESTERFIELD                     Winding Wheel

11 May – BEDFORD                               Corn Exchange

16 May – DUNSTABLE                          Grove Theatre

17 May – LEICESTER                             De Montfort Hall

21 May – KING’S LYNN                        Corn Exchange

22 May – IPSWICH                                 Corn Exchange

23 May – CLACTON-ON-SEA               West Cliff Theatre

24 May – WORTHING                            Pavilion

25 May – CRAWLEY                          The Hawth

28 May – CROYDON                             Concert Hall

29 May – PORTSMOUTH                       New Theatre Royal

30 May – NORTHAMPTON                   Royal Theatre

31 May – BASINGSTOKE                      Anvil

01 June – ISLE OF WIGHT                     Shanklin Theatre

04 June – BARRY                                   Memo Arts Theatre

05 June – BATH                                      Forum

06 June – CARMARTHEN                      Lyric

07 June – SWANSEA                              Brangwyn Hall

12 June – BOURNEMOUTH                   Pavilion Theatre

13 June – GRAVESHAM                        The Woodville

14 June – BASILDON                             Towngate

18 June – WHITLEY BAY                      Playhouse

20 June – SCARBOROUGH                    Spa

21 June – LIVERPOOL                           Philharmonic

22 June – NEWARK                            Palace Theatre

25 June – STIRLING                               Albert Halls

26 June – ABERDEEN                            Tivoli Theatre

27 June – DUNDEE                                 Whitehall

28 June – DUNFERMLINE                     Alhambra                    

www.craigrevelhorwood.com

www.x.com/CraigRevHorwood

www.instagram.com/craigrevel

https://www.facebook.com/CraigRevelHorwood

www.westwaymusic.com

An Officer and a Gentleman Review

Lyceum Theatre Sheffield – until 22nd June 2024

Reviewed by Carol Crann

4****

An Officer and a Gentleman is a romance set in the 1980’s and is based around the latest cohort at a Navy Officer Candidate School, and some of the women at the local factory. Given the time period, there are certainly some outdated values portrated, however it is true to the era and only goes to illustrate just how much the world has changed.

The show looks at the relationship between the candidates in the Aviation Academy and how they interact in an environment where both their mental and physical health is consistently challenged by the Gunnery Sergeant, Emil Foley – a character powerfully played by Jamal Crawford. Foley seems to see it as a personal challenge to try and get them to drop on request (DOR), from the course.

Most candidates are carrying some sort of emotional baggage, but none more so than the two main characters – Zack Mayo (Luke Baker), the son of an alcoholic, petty officer and Sid Worley (Paul French), who was desperately trying to replace his older brother after he sadly died in action. In addition there is Casey Seager (Olivia Foster – Browne) a strong woman striving to become the first female jet pilot.

Zac and Sid meet early on, and start dating two local girls – Paula (Georgia Lennon) and Lynette (Sinead Long). The two women have different motivations for their relationships, different tactics and – more importantly – very different attitudes.

The curtains open to a quite industrial set, one which works brilliantly throughout the show as they utilise a metal, stepped tower and neon lights to reproduce the various locations depicted in the story… The academy, the bar, the factory and the hotel all use the tower in various ways to portray key elements within the story.

I had some concerns regarding how easily and successfully this would convert to a musical, and although sometimes the music chosen didn’t quite fit or enhance the story – the amazing 80’s power ballads clearly delighted the audience. All the cast had incredibly powerful voices, and were able to perform all of the numbers with great success and energy. The choreography, it has to be said, was also excellent – both in the dance numbers as well as the fight scenes.

Despite my initial concerns, I did actually enjoy the show. I would have liked a little more depth to the story and to see more development of the individual characters, but it was definitely worth seeing for the brilliantly performed numbers – which are what earned them a standing ovation at the end.

Jamie Allan’s Amaze at Marylebone Theatre this summer

Magician Jamie Allan prepares to Amaze at Marylebone Theatre

Magician Jamie Allan triumphantly returns to London after a sold-out residency in Chicago, bringing his critically-acclaimed show Amaze to Marylebone Theatre from Thursday 25 July to Saturday 24 August, marking his first UK performances in over seven years. Tickets go on sale today, Wednesday 19 June.

Combining state-of-the-art technology with timeless conjuring techniques, Amaze is a story-driven magic show that puts the wonder directly into the hands of the audience and makes them feel part of the magic. 

Known the world over as an innovative and groundbreaking high-tech magician, Jamie Allan has sold millions of dollars in tickets worldwide and smashed box office records. He premiered his groundbreaking iMagic creation on ITV’s This Morning in 1995 as a teenager, captivating audiences with his innovative approach. Since then, Jamie has continued to push the boundaries of modern illusions, incorporating holograms, laser beams, 3D video mapping, and interactive social media to engage and amaze spectators.

Jamie starred in the West End show Impossible and toured the UK for three consecutive years with his award-winning production iMagician, which opened at the Garrick Theatre in London’s West End in 2015. iMagicianmade its US debut in 2018, becoming the highest-selling magic show ever in Chicago during his residency at the 1,525-seat Harris Theatre.

In 2021, Jamie co-created Illusionarium and Magic Immersive to critical acclaim. His book Everything, published in 2023, received widespread acclaim within the magic industry.

Jamie Allan said: “London boasts a rich tradition of magic, and I am beyond excited to bring Amaze back to my home city after so many years in the USA. My life’s mission has always been to create wonder and escapism, but this show is special; it also deeply touches the emotions. Unusually for a magic show, so much of Amaze is rooted in truth. This is the show and the story I have always dreamed of sharing, and now I am thrilled to finally present it here in London.”

Amaze is co-created by Jamie Allan and Tommy Bond. It is directed by Jonathan Goodwin and produced by Corey Ross with executive producer Steve Sterling. The show’s creative consultant is Harry De CruzClare Nordbruch is senior creative designer, Natalia Love is company stage manager, and Joe Wenborne is The Believer.

“A masterclass in magic performance as emotional engagement” – Chicago Tribune

Age recommendation: Appropriate for ages 5 and up 

Winners Release & Red Carpet/Ceremony pics: The UK Pantomime Association announces the winners of The Pantomime Awards 2024 in association with Stagecoach

The UK Pantomime Association announces the winners of 
The Pantomime Awards 2024 in association with Stagecoach

The UK Pantomime Association (UKPA) has announced the winners of The Pantomime Awards 2024 in association with Stagecoach at a ceremony that took place on 18 June at G Live in Guildford, which was presented by Angellica BellMyra DuBois and Ore Oduba, with Rob Madge presenting the coveted Best Pantomime Awards. 

Twins FX received the Outstanding Achievement Award for their exceptional contribution to the pantomime industry. Their special effects have revolutionised pantomime through breathtaking transformation sequences and adding awe-inspiring spectacle from flying double-decker buses to enormous animatronic crocodiles and jaw-dropping illusions. Their creativity knows no bounds and helps create the true magic of pantomime.

The Special Recognition Awards, which celebrate productions and individuals representing the values that the Association seeks to promote, were given to: 

Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling who received the Award for Achievement in Inclusive Practice for their production of Aladdin set in Discotopia which celebrated female empowerment, LGBTQ+ narratives and inclusive casting; 

Cinderella at The Theatre Chipping Norton who won the Award for Achievement in Innovation with their production which relocated the traditional narrative to Latin America, celebrating the culture of carnival and addressing the challenge of deforestation. The production worked with cast and creatives from the Latinx community and engaged a dramaturg; 

Michael J Batchelor who received an award for his contribution to Pantomime History, Tradition and Heritage. A talented designer, as well as Dame himself, his pantomime Dame costumes are regarded as the best in the industry, worn by Dames throughout Pantoland each season. He has perfected the art of costuming the Dame, ensuring impact, comedy and functionality through his inventive and playful designs

Further winners on the night were: 

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY 
Myles Brown: Beauty and the Beast, Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells (Little Wolf Entertainment)

BEST COMIC (Sponsored by Trafalgar Entertainment)

Matt Slack: Jack and the Beanstalk, Birmingham Hippodrome (Crossroads Pantomimes)

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Dawn Allsopp: Snow White, Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds (In-House)

CHRISTOPHER BIGGINS AWARDS FOR BEST DAME (Sponsored by John Good) 

Ben Roddy: Aladdin, Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury (Marlowe Theatre and Evolution Productions) 

BEST DIRECTION

Simon Fielding: Cinderella, Towngate Theatre, Basildon (Towngate Theatre and Simon Fielding Ltd)

BEST ENSEMBLE (Sponsored by Drama Kids)

Danielle Cato, Oliver Imeson, Sophie Karaolis, Sarah Jane Lowe, Louis Parkins and Luke Stone: Mother Goose, Cambridge Arts Theatre (In-House)

BEST LIGHTING DESIGN (Sponsored by Production Light and Sound)

Jamie Corbidge: Cinderella, Swansea Grand Theatre (Imagine Theatre)

CARMEN SILVERA AWARD FOR BEST MAGICAL BEING

Amanda Henderson: Jack and the Beanstalk, Rhyl Pavilion (Anton Benson Productions)

BEST CONTRIBUTION TO MUSIC (Sponsored by Howden Insurance)

Chris Wong: Aladdin, Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury (Marlowe Theatre and Evolution Productions)

BEST EARLY CAREER NEWCOMER (Sponsored by Staffordshire University)

Jewelle Hutchinson: Cinderella, Nottingham Playhouse (In-House)

BEST NEWCOMER TO PANTOMIME

Benjamin Armstrong: Aladdin, Lighthouse Theatre, Poole (In-House)

BARBARA WINDSOR AWARD FOR BEST PRINCIPAL LEAD

Alexandra Mardell: Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Theatre Royal Plymouth (Crossroads Pantomimes)

BEST SCRIPT

Paul Hendy: Aladdin, Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury (Marlowe Theatre and Evolution Productions)

BEST SECONDARY LEAD

Lotti Brogan: Dick Whittington, King’s Lynn Corn Exchange (Jordan Productions)

BEST SET DESIGN (Sponsored by Blue i Group)

David Shields: Snow White, Grand Theatre Wolverhampton (In-House)

BEST SISTERS

Iain Lauchlan and Andy Hockley: Cinderella, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry (Belgrade Theatre and Imagine Theatre)

BEST SOUND DESIGN

Nigel Bayliss: Sleeping Beauty, Theatre Royal Bath (UK Productions)

BEST SUPPORTING ARTIST

Ben Tanner: Mother Goose, Derby Arena (Little Wolf Entertainment)

BEST VILLAIN (Sponsored by Breckman & Company)

Wendi Harriott: Sleeping Beauty, Watersmeet Theatre, Rickmansworth (Paul Holman Associates) 

BEST PANTOMIME (UNDER 500 SEATS)

Aganeza Scrooge, Tron Theatre, Glasgow (In-House)

BEST PANTOMIME (500 – 900 SEATS)

Sleeping Beauty, Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage (Jordan Productions)

BEST PANTOMIME (OVER 900 SEATS)

Jack and the Beanstalk, Birmingham Hippodrome (Crossroads Pantomimes)

·     

The Awards ceremony included special guest performances from Rob Madge who sang a number from their Olivier Award nominated show My Son’s A Queer (But What Can You Do?) as well as presenting the coveted Best Pantomime Awards, panto Dame Matthew Siviter who caused a buzz with his special rendition of a Beatles classic,entertainment from one of the industry’s top clowns Tweedy and a high-energy routine from Stagecoach Performing Arts students. 

Simon Sladen, Chair of the UK Pantomime Association, said: “Congratulations to all the nominees and winners at The Pantomime Awards 2024! There is such a wealth of talent across the pantomime industry, which these awards truly acknowledge and celebrate. Pantomime is an important and integral aspect of British culture, and one the UK Pantomime Association is proud to champion.”

Andy Knights, CEO of Stagecoach Performing Arts, said: “We are so proud to be the headline sponsor at the Pantomime Awards and wish a huge congratulations to all the winners!”

Founded in 2021, the UK Pantomime Association (https://pantomimeassociation.co.uk) is a charity that explores, shares and celebrates pantomime by investigating the genre’s rich past, engaging with contemporary practice and inspiring the future. During the 2023-24 pantomime season, the third year in which the Awards have taken place, UKPA’s 70 judges had their biggest year ever, collectively visiting 259 venues to see over 728 performances, far and wide across the United Kingdom 

The 39 Steps Review

Norwich Theatre Royal – until Saturday 22nd June 2024

Reviewed by Boo Wakefield

5*****

If you were expecting a paean to John Buchan’s novel and Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film, then you came to the wrong show! This is instead a show that will have you laughing uproariously and leaving on a happy, on an emotional high. The plot of the novel provides no more than the period setting and the thread from which this wonderful comedy is. Adapted by Patrick Barlow and directed by Maria Aitken, it is British tongue-in-cheek theatrical comedy at its splendid best, poised somewhere between pantomime, Noel Coward, slapstick and light-hearted satire.

Four actors play an impossible number of roles, each hugely different in stature and style and, often, gender. Tom Bryne playing Richard Hannay fluctuates wonderfully between the urbane and dashing gentleman-about-town in three piece tweed and pencil moustache, admiring every woman he meets, and the stuttering, bashful Hugh Grant-esque Englishman he is reduced to by every woman he meets, each of them played brilliantly by Safeena Ladha. It doesn’t seem fair in the programme to describe Eugene McCoy and Maddie Rice as “Clown 1” and “Clown 2” as they frequently each play two different characters on stage at the same time and are the beating heart of the fun, zipping in and out of character and costume constantly, always with a flourish and a knowing twinkle in their eye.

Peter McKintosh (Set and Costume Design), Ian Scott ( Lighting) and Mic Pool’s (Sound) combined work carried the momentum of this play relentlessly; it never faltered. Clever use of doors on wheels and hand-held window frames allowed the actors’ energy to roll from one set to the next. The theatricality of the steam train journey to Scotland was genius, reducing the audience to laughter and applause, and the use of shadow puppets as Hannay flees over Scottish moors was genius and even afforded a subtle tip-of-the-hat to Alfred Hitchcock. The unexpected entrance stage-left of a lamppost with two stooges lurking beneath it as Hannay peeped from behind a curtain was timing and theatre at it’s funniest and had the audience in stitches.

Filled with “dad jokes” you can see coming but with immaculate timing worthy of Tommy Cooper or Eric Morecambe making them irresistibly funny, there hardly seemed to be a moment without laughter.

So energising to enjoy on an evening free of political or “values-based” messaging or snide mockery masquerading as comedy, and, instead, a play of uplifting, uncomplicated and unbridled fun, fun, fun!

Dad’s Army Radio Show Review

Wilton’s Music Hall – until Saturday 22nd June 2024 

Reviewed by Phil Brown

5*****

There’s no doubt that the events of 1939 – 1945 are deeply ingrained in British consciousness, character and culture.  With the poignant celebrations of the 80th anniversary of D-Day still lingering in recent memory, it seems only apt that the sombre business of commemoration should now be leavened with humour.  And what brilliantly observed humour it is – the enduring comedy that is Dad’s Army with a well deserved fresh airing at the suitably historic Wilton’s Music Hall.

Dad’s Army, a delightful sitcom about the Home Guard, was written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft, and originally broadcast on television (BBC1) from 1968 to 1977, running for nine series and 80 episodes.  It is astonishing to think that it regularly played to audiences of 18 million!  The scripts were also adapted for radio, broadcast from 1973 until 1975 over 3 series and 67 episodes and is still popular on BBC4Extra.  It’s certainly a classic of the dwindling sitcom genre and virtually a British institution.

The idea of adapting the radio shows into a stage show was initially conceived by David Benson in 2017.  He enlisted Jack Lane into the venture and went on to debut The Dad’s Army Radio Hour at the 2017 Edinburgh fringe. 150 theatres later, this superbly directed and executed 2 man stage show is a comedy experience that is not only equal to the original but introduces humorous elements of its own by virtue of the 2 men, 2 mics format.  

For me, Wilton’s distinctive “proudly worn patina” seems perfect for this show.  Popular music of the war time era plays softly until Bud Flanagan’s “Who do you think you are kidding Mr Hitler” signals the arrival of David Benson and Jack Lane dressed in 1940s army battle dress, encouraging the audience to sing along with Bud.  They take up position at microphones placed either side of an old fashioned radio.  It’s a simple stage set (Jack Lane) that brings to mind the “scout hut” nature of Warmington on Sea’s assembly hall as seen in the television shows.

This show consists of three episodes that have never been performed on radio, and so they are the cast’s own adaptations from episodes in later Dad’s Army series, which focused more on character than escapades.   Benson and Lane’s adaptations are simply sublime.

Each episode is around 30 minutes in duration, kicking off with “The Love of Three Oranges” (a 1976 Christmas special), followed by “The Miser’s Hoard” (October 1977),  and after the interval, “The Making of Private Pike” (October 1977).  

Aside from the brilliant adaptations, the performance is superlative throughout – evidence of weeks of solid rehearsal.  With 10 plus different, rapidly interacting roles to play across only 2 actors, the challenges of dialogue, timing and character switching seem immense.  A lickety spit spoken show of this nature is full-on, and David Benson and Jack Lane are outstandingly good – their diction, stamina and timing are spot on throughout. 

David Benson performs miracles with his major roles of Sgt Wilson (originally John Le Mesurier), Private Godfrey (Arnold Ridley), Private Frazer (John Laurie), Rev Timothy Farthing (Frank Williams), and Chief ARP Warden Hodges (Bill Pertwee).  

And Jack Lane is equally supreme as Captain Mainwaring (Arthur Lowe), Corporal Jones (Clive Dunn), Private Pike (Ian Lavender), and Mavis Pike (Janet Davies).  

There are occasional characters too, as well as some perfectly timed sound effects (Daniel Pook-Barnes).  But both actors are absolute masters of their “starring roles” with perfect original cast accents that never waver despite the rapid switches of character, and some wonderfully economical acting that captures the essence of each original actor.   

Dad’s Army really strikes a chord even in this day and age which still seems to involve a lot of the fumbling, bumbling and misunderstanding that are key to the show.   Lots of laugh out loud moments and smiling faces leaving the  auditorium – the perfect antidote to an increasingly strident, confusing modern world.  My one reservation about the show is the degree to which its success depends on an older British audience who loved it first time around.  The fact that three young American women seated behind me found it hilarious is reassuring.

This show is a thoroughly entertaining masterclass in the performing arts by 2 versatile and extremely talented actors.

Sister Act – A Divine Musical Comedy Review

Dominion Theatre – until 31st August 2024

Reviewed by Fiona Leyman

5*****

, Credit: Johan Persson/

Everyone has seen or heard of the cult 90s classic film Sister Act, which stars Whoopi Goldberg as lounge singer Deloris van Cartier. It’s the 1970s in Philadelphia and after witnessing her lover murder someone, Deloris is placed in witness protection at a convent, much to the dismay of its Mother Superior. Deloris, along with her fellow nuns, brings this nunnery back from the brink of closure with light, song, and joy, as well as a much-needed new congregation.

Sister Act – The Musical premiered in London’s West End in 2009 and has since toured the UK extensively. Director Bill Buckhurst returns to the Dominion Theatre with more glitz and glamour, while Tony® and 8-time Oscar® winner Alan Menken’s music provides an inspired Motown score to this impressive production.

The cast of this production is what makes it special. There are plenty of familiar names in this line-up. X-Factor Winner, Alexandra Burke (The Bodyguard, Chess, Chicago) returns as Deloris van Cartier. Burke is an exquisite vocal powerhouse who effortlessly blows the roof off the Dominion Theatre, while bringing pure sass, glamour, and joy to the stage. This is a role that was made for her to lead. Winner of Any Dream Will Do, Lee Mead (Joseph & The Technicoloured Dreamcoat, Wicked, We Will Rock You), plays police officer ‘Steady’ Eddie in this incredible cast. Mead plays this role with ease and that cheeky glint in his eyes, as he has in all his previous roles.

The well-known names don’t end there. Ruth Jones, the co-writer and star of Gavin & Stacey, makes her West End debut as Mother Superior. Jones brings a comedic element to the role. Jones clearly made this role her own, and she did not hesitate to highlight her Welsh heritage. The audience went wild when Jones, in response to a wolf-whistling audience member, broke character and transformed into her iconic Gavin & Stacey character Nessa, before swiftly returning to her role as Mother Superior.

Birds of a Feather star Lesley Joseph, a familiar face on television and the stage, returns to the Sister Act cast as Sister May Lazarus. Double Brit-Award and triple MOBO winner Lemar, takes on the role of Curtis Jackson. Alan Menken’s Motown score is ideal for a smooth voice like his. Carl Mullaney (Chicago, Les Misérables, La Cage aux Folles) plays Monsignor O’Hara with a fantastically campy vibe.

Topping off this cast are two absolute powerhouses who aren’t as well-known as their fellow cast members. Alison Jiear (Grease, Jerry Springer: The Opera, Les Misérables) is fantastic as Sister Mary Patrick. Her comedic timing, combined with her incredible voice, adds an endearing quality to this role. Finally, the sensational Lizzie Bea (Hairspray, The Heathers) returns as Sister Mary Robert. I’ve never seen an audience go so crazy with cheers and applause for almost her entire solo of “The Life I Never Led”. Bea had such a powerful voice that she would bring the house down whenever she opened her mouth. Her ability to play the timid Sister Mary Robert while also belting out some of the best vocals I’ve heard in a long time was inspiring! She is a hidden gem of the West End whom I hope to see perform again. This show’s cast is unparalleled but let us not forget about the rest of the cast and ensemble members. Each was equally amazing, guaranteeing this production will be a career highlight for any artist.

Sister Act: A Divine Musical Comedy is a true gift from God. It is not often that a beloved cult film can be transformed into a well-staged production. Sister Act’s heart-warming story of redemption and sisterhood, along with catchy music and an incredible production team makes this an exception. The energy and talent displayed on stage was infectious, leaving the audience in awe from start to finish. Sister Act truly captures the essence of joy and celebration, making it a MUST SEE for all musical theatre fans. In the words of Deloris van Cartier, It’s “FABULOUS, BABY!”.

Gina Beck and Michael Simkins join the cast of Guys & Dolls at The Bridge Theatre

GINA BECK AND MICHAEL SIMKINS JOIN THE CAST OF GUYS & DOLLS

The Bridge Theatre | SE1 2SG

Booking until 04 January 2025


Nicholas Hytner’s multi-award winning immersive production, Guys & Dolls is delighted to announce that Gina Beck (MatildaThe Sound of MusicShow BoatWickedPhantom of the OperaLes Misérables)and Michael Simkins (John Gabriel BorkmanBackstairs Billy; The Unfriend; Fracked!; Yes, Prime Minister; MAMMA MIA!) will be joining the cast from 02 September.

Gina will play Sarah Brown, taking over the role from Celinde Schoenmaker (Howard Goodall’s Love Story; Les Misérables; The Phantom of the Opera) and Michael will be taking over the role of Arvide Abernathy from Niall Buggy (To Kill A Mockingbird; Juno and The Paycock; Rough Crossing).

Gina Beck said: “I’ve dreamt of playing this role and singing this beautiful score for so long I can’t actually believe I’m going to get to do it, and in such an incredible production. I hope I can at least half fill the shoes of the sensational Celinde Schoenmaker who created the role in this beautiful revival. “If I were a gate I’d be swiiiingiiing!!!””

Michael Simkins said: “I am thrilled to bits to be working at the Bridge Theatre again, and even more thrilled to be joining this sensational show, having seen it in January and been utterly blown away by it. The words I used afterwards to describe it to my friends and family (all of whom I insisted must see the production without delay)  was ‘transformative’ –  fresh as paint, wonderfully uplifting, and utterly irresistible.”

They are joining Owain Arthur (The History BoysOne Man, Two Guvnors; The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power) playing Nathan Detroit, George Ioannides (An Officer and a Gentleman; Annie; MAMMA MIA!) playing Sky MastersonTimmika Ramsay (Moulin Rouge!Cinderella) playing Miss Adelaide, and Jonathan Andrew Hume (Come From Away; nominated for Best British Actor in a Musical at the Black British Theatre Awards) playing Nicely-Nicely Johnson.

The Bridge’s production of Guys & Dolls, which runs until 04 January 2025, immerses audiences in one of the greatest musicals of all time. In this production the seating is wrapped around the action, while the immersive tickets transport audiences to the streets of Manhattan and the bars of Havana. This unlikeliest of love stories is packed with hit songs, including the showstopping Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the BoatLuck Be a Lady and Take Back Your Mink.

Since opening, Guys & Dolls has won  multiple prestigious awards including the Olivier Award for Best Theatre Choreographer for Arlene Phillips with James CousinsBest Musical at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards, three WhatsOnStage Awards including Best Musical Revival, and the Critics’ Circle Theatre Award for Best Musical (the Peter Hepple Award).

Guys & Dolls features an incredible supporting cast including Cornelius Clarke as Lieutenant Brannigan, Cameron Johnson as Big Jule, TJ Lloyd as Rusty Charlie, Ryan Pidgen as Benny Southstreet, Tori Scott asGeneral Cartwright, and Dashaun Vegas as Harry the Horse.

They are joined by Iroy AbesamisKatie BradleyTanisha-Mae BrownFilippo CoffanoEamonn CoxKamilla FernandesAlex GivenLucie HorsfallDominic LambSiân Nathaniel-JamesSaffi Needham, Sophie PourretJames RevellNathan RiggPierce RoganSamuel Routley, Charlotte Scott (Co-Dance Captain), Hollie Jane Stephens and Dale White (Dance Captain, Fight Captain).

Guys & Dolls – a musical fable of Broadway, based on the story and characters of Damon Runyon – has music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, with – choreography by Arlene Phillips with James Cousins, musical supervision and arrangements by Tom Brady, set by Bunny Christie, costumes by Bunny Christie and Deborah Andrews, lighting by Paule Constable, sound by Paul Arditti, orchestrations by Charlie Rosen, associate direction by James Cousins and Lily Dyble, casting by Charlotte Sutton, fight direction by Kate Waters and wigs, hair and make-up by Campbell Young Associates.

Celinde Schoenmaker and Niall Buggy’s final performance will be 31 August.

LISTINGS INFORMATION FOR THE BRIDGE THEATRE

Address: Bridge Theatre, 3 Potters Fields Park, London, SE1 2SG

Box Office: 0333 320 0051 or [email protected]

Access: 0333 320 0051 or [email protected]

Website: www.bridgetheatre.co.uk

Twitter: @_bridgetheatre

Instagram: @_bridgetheatre

Facebook: facebook.com/bridgetheatrelondon

About The Bridge:

The Bridge is the first theatre run by London Theatre Company which was founded by Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr in 2017.  The Bridge focuses on the commissioning and production of new shows, as well as staging the occasional classic. The 900-seat auditorium is designed to be flexible and can be adapted for a variety of performance styles, resulting in hugely successful immersive theatre as well as more traditional end on and thrust – stage shows. It was the first new theatre of scale to be added to London’s commercial theatre sector in 80 years.

Young Bridge is a free membership scheme to encourage those between 16 and 25 years to visit the theatre. Members can access discounted tickets and exclusive offers for every show at the Bridge Theatre.

The Bridge Theatre offers performances with Audio Descriptions and performances with Captions, on specific days. Please check on www.bridgetheatre.co.uk regarding times and dates.

A school only performance will be held on Thursday 17 October 2.30pm. For more information and to check if your school qualifies, please register your interest at https://inclusiveaudiences.com/

West End star Rob Madge joins The Pantomime Awards 2024 tonight as Anita Harris withdraws from performing at the event due to injury

Palladium panto favourite and West End star
Rob Madge 
joins a star-studded line-up of performers and presenters for
The Pantomime Awards 2024 in association with Stagecoach tonight

as Anita Harris withdraws from performing at the event due to injury

The UK Pantomime Association has announced that Anita Harris, who is celebrating 65 years in entertainment, can sadly no longer perform at The Pantomime Awards 2024 in association with Stagecoach tonight (18 June 2024), due to an accident at the weekend in which she fractured her pelvis. Anita is bitterly disappointed not to be performing at the Awards and to be celebrating pantomime, an art form she truly loves and in which she has performed for so many decades. Stepping in as a special guest performer, Rob Madge will now perform a number from their Olivier Award nominated show My Son’s A Queer (But What Can You Do?), as well as presenting the coveted Best Pantomime Awards as planned.

Stars of stage and screen, Angellica BellMyra DuBois and Ore Oduba, will present the Awards tonight from 7.00pm-9.30pm at G Live in Guildford (tickets: https://trafalgartickets.com/g-live-guildford/).

As previously announced, there will also be special guest performances, including panto Dame Matthew Siviter who is sure to cause a buzz with his special rendition of a Beatles classic, entertainment from one of the industry’s top clowns Tweedy and a high-energy routine from Stagecoach Performing Arts students.

The UK Pantomime Association announced the shortlist of nominees recently with many familiar faces including acclaimed actor David Suchet who is up against Strictly star and musical performer Kevin Clifton within the Best Newcomer to Pantomime category and much-loved CBeebies actresses Jennie Dale and Katy Ashworth in the Carmen Silvera Award for Best Magical Being category. The Special Awards, which celebrate productions representing the values that the Association seeks to promote, as well as an award for Outstanding Achievement, are also to be announced at the ceremony. For more details of nominees, visit: https://pantomimeassociation.co.uk.

In honour of the UK Pantomime Association’s President, 2024 will see the inaugural Christopher Biggins Award for Best Dame, with Elaine C Smith (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, King’s Theatre, Glasgow, Crossroads Pantomimes),  Ben Roddy (Aladdin, Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, Evolution Productions), Ray Spencer (Aladdin, The Customs House, South Shields), Johnny McKnight (Aladdin, Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling) and Phylip Harries (Sleeping Beauty, Theatr Clwyd Big Top, Mold) all in the running for top Dame.

Simon Sladen, Chair of the UK Pantomime Association, said: “We’re looking forward to welcoming the whole of Pantoland to The Pantomime Awards 2024 this evening. With great performances, a fantastic line up of presenters and a whole host of the industry’s finest in attendance, it’s going to be an amazing celebration of pantomime excellence!”

Andy Knights, CEO and Lisa Stead, COO of Stagecoach Performing Arts, said: “We are very excited to be the headline sponsor at this year’s Pantomime Awards. At Stagecoach Performing Arts, we take pride in seeing the positive impact that the arts can have on the lives of children and young people. For many, pantos are the first introduction they will have to theatre, and this can spark a lifetime love of, and engagement with, the arts. We know many of our students, and many of the adults that are a part of the Stagecoach community, will have been in the audiences of the nominees and we are looking forward to celebrating all the winners at the ceremony!”

Founded in 2021, the UK Pantomime Association (UKPA) is a charity that explores, shares and celebrates pantomime by investigating the genre’s rich past, engaging with contemporary practice and inspiring the future. During the 2023-24 pantomime season, the third year in which the Awards have taken place, UKPA’s 70 judges had their biggest year ever, collectively visiting 259 venues to see over 728 performances, far and wide across the United Kingdom. 

To join the nominees at The Pantomime Awards 2024 in association with Stagecoach, book tickets through G Live: https://trafalgartickets.com/g-live-guildford/.