See How They Run Review

See How They Run – Civic Theatre, Darlington

Posted by: The Reviews Hub – Yorkshire & North East


Writer: Philip King
Director: Eric Potts

See How They Run is a glorious farce presented by Warwick Davis and the members of the Reduced Height Theatre Company.

Written in 1945, it is a hilarious nonsense that is quite literally “Hello Vicar, whoops – there go my trousers”. With escaped Germans, Bishops, soldiers, visiting vicars and a village battle-axe, it has all the ingredients of confusion and misdirection needed for the show to be a classic.

Francesca Mills steals every scene in her rôle of Ida (the maid), her acting and physicality are perfect in every appearance and her facial expressions can say so much more than mere words could convey.

Warwick Davis plays Rev. Lionel Toop takingalmost a back seat in the show, allowing the rest of the cast to perform and shine without his obvious fame overshadowing them.

The first act is a bit slow during the amusing interaction between Rachel Denning as Penelope Toop and Francesca Papagno as Miss Skillon but speeds up in the second act, and after the interval the third act gallops to the speedy conclusion. The chase scene with Davis, Phil Holden, Raymond Griffiths and Jon Key was especially entertaining and Jamie John’s confused cleric was comical. Peter Bonner as Sergeant Towers is side-splitting in his interrogations.

Special mention must go out to the costumes and the set. They are perfect and totally in proportion for the cast who all average out around 4’2”. The set in particular is a joy. On first glance, it appears to be made for a cast of more average height, but only when the actors appear do you realise how perfect in proportion it is. Although, the acting and surroundings are so perfect, you forget the cast are short. What they lack in height they more than make up for in talent. A fantastic and hilarious night out, you won’t be disappointed.

Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story Review

Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story – Civic Theatre, Darlington

Posted by: The Reviews Hub – Yorkshire & North East


Writer: Alan Janes

Music: Buddy Holly

Lyrics: Buddy Holly

Director: Matt Salisbury


Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story rocked into Darlington town this week. This two act show walked us through Buddy Holly’s meteoric three-year career and tragic death by way of radio D.J’s announcing pivotal plot points. Each transition is followed by music-induced scenes with all the instruments played by the very talented cast.

In 1989, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story became one of the first jukebox musicals. It opened in London, with financial support from Paul McCartney. The show ran for 12 years in London and for six months on Broadway. Numerous tours all over the world have been mounted ever since, and this marks the 25th Anniversary tour in the 55th year of the tragically early death of the talented Mr. Holly.

Alan Janes’ story recounts the story of Holly’s rise to fame. Starting out in Lubbock Texas singing Country, Buddy rebelled to sing Rock n’ Roll getting a recording contract in New Mexico. He recorded numerous hits before his tragic death at the age of 22, including the song that started off as ‘Cindy Lou’ but which became famous as ‘Peggy Sue’, because his drummer wanted to get lucky with a girl by that name. Interspaced between the DJ’s announcements and reports, there a few acted scenes which allow characters to tell Holly that some people in Texas don’t like his songs because they sound like “coloured music”, and that he’ll never make it because he has “as much sex appeal as a telegraph pole.” There’s mention of his family’s tiling business and his mother’s desire to make sure he eats enough, but nothing else about his life before he hit the singing circuit. With the emphasis firmly on the music, the end of act one has a 10 minute mini concert that acts as a taster of what’s to come, with the last 30 minutes of act 2 being a nonstop tour-de-force concert sequence.

Glen Joseph is excellent in the main rôle. His singing, guitar playing and charming smile are a winning combination and he clearly enjoys the rôle. Jason Blackwater as the Big Bopper is completely over the top in his performance, but it works and his ‘Chantilly Lace’ had everyone singing along and joining in with “Hello Baby”. Will Pearce is Ritchie Valance and he gives a highly memorable execution of La Bamba.

The ending is poignant in its brutal simplicity, fading from the loud rocking concert to a spotlight on the guitar and glasses and a sobbing DJ telling the world of the fateful plane crash and a moments silence before returning back to the concert in full swing. The show ended with audience, the majority of which were over a certain age and had extra santogen with their interval drinks and ice cream, on their feet clapping, dancing and singing along.

Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story is produced with kind permission of María Elena Holly, owner of the rights to his name, image, trademarks, and other intellectual property.

Singin’ in the Rain Review

Singin’ In The Rain – Empire Theatre, Sunderland

Posted by: The Reviews Hub – Yorkshire & North East 


Book: Betty Comden, Adolph Green

Music: Nacio Herb Brown, Arthur Freed

Director: Jonathan Church


Singin' in the rain - Manuel Harlan

After a successful run in the West End, this critically acclaimed Chichester Festival Theatre production, which received four Olivier Award nominations and played to packed houses, Singin’ In The Rain tap dances its way into Sunderland as part of the current national tour. A riot of glorious Technicolor based on the wonderful classic MGM musical, the show does not disappoint.

Transporting the audience back to 1927, Singin’ In The Rain tells the story of when Hollywood was moving away from the era of the silent movies and into the brave new world of talking pictures. The only problem, is that one of the studio’s biggest stars has a voice that does not match her beauty.

Unfortunately, stepping into the sizable toe-tapping shoes of Hollywood legend Gene Kelly as Don Lockwood, has caused injury for James Leece, so instead we are treated to Matthew Malthouse. Malthouse sings and dances with energy and talent; an actor who can easily carry the show until Leece is back to full health. Joining him on stage, Maxwell Caulfield is studio boss RF Simpson and Paul Grunert is Director Roscoe Dexter.

The two leading ladies are polar opposites in their rôles. Amy Ellen Richardson as Lockwood’s love interest Kathy Selden has charm, innocence and a glorious voice. But perhaps the surprise package of the show, is the incredible comedy performance of former Steps singer Faye Tozer, who brings barrels of laughs in the rôle of the uniquely-voiced beauty Lina Lamont.

Stephane Anelli steals the show as Lockwood’s best friend and side-kick Cosmo Brown. With his slapstick performance of Make ‘em Laugh, he is full of comedic vitality. However, the true star of the show is the stage itself which shows off Andrew Wright’s award winning choreography superbly. An outstanding ensemble cast also each play vignette rôles as the story unfolds, dancing and singing with perfection. Their joy and energy captivates the audience right from the start.

The simple set transforms well into a studio lot, a party and cinema, but it’s during the title song where it excels itself. With a little pit that soon fills up with water, the high kicking during Singin’ in the Rain soaks the audience as well as the cast.

Catch this feel good classic while it’s in Sunderland, but be warned, if you sit near the front, it is likely you will go home considerably wetter than when you arrived.

Aladdin Review

Aladdin – Civic Theatre, Darlington

Posted by: The Reviews Hub – Yorkshire & North East


Writer: Jon Conway

Director: David Barrow


Aladdin - Darlington Civic Theatre

Darlington Civic has a renown reputation for festive family fun and this years offering of Aladdin shows that the their reputation remains intact.

Aladdin is classic pantomime, with merriment, mayhem and mirth. Laugh out loud funny with jokes for both young and old alike. Starring The Chuckle Brothers, alias real-life South Yorkshire brothers Barry and Paul Elliott, who are almost in their 50th year of cheery, cheeky, cheesy panto antics and their good-natured double act slots as easily as ever into the pantomime world. They take part in the comedy scenes and know how to make the entire audience laugh out loud. A ridiculous scene where the two are at cross purposes with Barry’s intention to audition for the X-Factor getting confused with Paul’s attempts to design a dress is such a moment that makes the daft duo’s physical comedy so enduringly popular.

Gary Amers Aladdin has an interesting take on the rôle and once he has grown into the part he is sure to be fabulous. Better use, however, should be made of Danny Potts and his rôle of Emperor as he has great scene presence and is very under used.

Phil Corbitt is a wonderfully evil Abanazer starting the show with an explosion and a boo and a hiss. Darlington’s own Beth Stobbart is excellent as Princess Jasmine. Beautiful to look at, she can dance, act and sings sublime. Although this is her first professional show, such a great talent will help her go very far.

Star of the show is Dame Widow Twankey herself (Philip Meeks.) He romps through the evening in a range of crazy costumes and fabulous shoes, making at least a dozen changes, some of them lightening quick. His boundless energy and perfect comedic timing had everyone joining in and shouting for more and he managed to steal every scene in which he appeared

The secret that makes this panto so very enjoyable is the cast members are not just focusing on entertaining the audience but genuinely seem to be enjoying themselves. There are many unscripted moments and the Chuckles can’t seem to get through a single scene without corpsing. But the best moment must have been during a reading of Goldilocks with some very brave grown up audience members. Baby Bear enjoyed himself a bit too much and ended up falling over on the stage to great hilarity on the stage and in the audience

All the panto staples are there, cries of “it’s behind you” and shouts of “Oh no it isn’t, oh yes it is”; custard pies a plenty give us the full spectrum of a night’s entertainment. There’s comedy, dancing, some belting musical numbers and oh the costumes… everything that is needed for a fabulous family night out.

Mansfield Park Review

Mansfield Park- Civic Theatre, Darlington

Posted by: The Reviews Hub


Writer: Jane Austen

Adaptor: Tim Luscombe

Director: Colin Blumenau


Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park is one of Jane Austen’s lesser known books. Using her classic formula we are treated to yet another tale of morals and love from the spinster daughter of a Hampshire country Rector. Witty and well observed, we are treated to the rituals of courtship while looking for wealth and consequence and ultimately happiness.

Ffion Jolly’s Fanny Price is a wide-eyed, innocent heroine, growing up from the poor child given to the care of her rich relations into a young woman of sense and values. Pete Ashmore is Edmund Bertram, as the younger Bertram brother he is destined for the Church. He clearly adores Fanny but it takes time for familiar affection to grow into a loving relationship. Aunt Norris is a gloriously unpleasant busybody determined to keep Fanny in her place and Julie Teal plays her just the right side of nasty. Richard Heap gives shows his talent with taciturn Sir Thomas Bertram; uncle to Fanny; father to Tom, Edmund and Maria and brother in law to Mrs Norris.

The siblings of the neighbouring Crawford family are a mixture of vile, fascinating and repellent. With Eddie Eyre’s Henry just losing to Laura Doddington’s Mary in the snobbery stakes. Luscombe’s adaptation doesn’t stick closely to the original story but doesn’t stray so far as to be unrecognisable, a few characters are lost from the original and greater emphasis is put on minor characters, like William Price, than in the novel, which works well; Geoff Arnold triples the part of William with those of the Tom Bertram and Mr Rushworth, whom Maria Bertram (Leonie Spilsbury) marries and leaves with some speed.

Blumenau and designer Kit Surrey ensure that the action is fast-paced. The staging is minimalist but works well. Long grey curtains printed with Regency pictures – a town, country and naval scenes provide the back drop, and steps and a balustrade, a scattering of divan cushions comprise the set. The costumes were beautiful and special mention must go to the wardrobe department from the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds who provided them

The whole show is well acted, well-staged and charming. But it doesn’t catch the imagination in the same way that other productions can and some of the speech is hard to follow and hard to hear which can be distracting if you don’t know that plot. There is also an element of confusion with some of the scenes changing so fast you don’t realise what’s happening and with only 8 actors playing 16 rôles you have to work hard not to lose the plot.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Durham Review

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Durham

Rating: 4 out of 5


04 July 2013

Gala Theatre, Durham

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Durham is a two hour romp through 1400 years of history telling the story of The Lindisfarne Gospels.

With just three talented actors (Chris Connel, Robert Hudson and Viktoria Kay) telling us the history of Cuthbert’s book we given puns, witticisms and belly laughs on this historical and hysterical tale.

If you like your history to be of the Monty Python and Horrible Histories variety then this was a show for you. We learn how the Vikings wanted to build an Ikea on Lindisfarne and gave us their version of YMCA.

How the Strolling Bones (Rolling Stones) led by Mick and Keith found themselves eventually in Durham and how the Gospel was “Too Sexy” for its cover. And we all know the Gospel is the weight of an adult badger.

With starring roles for Henry VIII, Sherlock Holmes and Watson and the Gospel itself the play is daft, educational, irreverent and totally worth a visit to see. If you’re in the North East pop along to a show and you may learn something if you can stop laughing long enough.

The Mousetrap Review

The Mousetrap (Tour – Darlington)

Rating: 5 out of 5


13 June 2013

Celebrating 60 years, Agatha Christie’s most iconic whodunit, The Mousetrap reaches Darlington. And it was so worth the wait.

Originally titled Three Blind Mice, and written in 1952, The Mousetrap is as fresh today as when it was written. Full of Christie’s trademarks with red herrings aplenty and intelligent well rounded characters, you are drawn in from the beginning. And with your little grey cells all working overtime to wonder why someone said this, someone else said that and why that reaction?

In order not to give anything away, there is little I can tell you about the show. It begins with a murder in London and ends in Monkswell Manor Guest House.

The fine cast of actors have made the classic characters their own on this very long tour and the dedication to their craft shows in excellent acting. Elizabeth Power shines as miserable Mrs Boyle and Steven France is a very effervescent Christopher Wren.

Bruno Langley and Jemma Walker play Giles and Mollie Ralston novice owners of the guest house. Graham Seed as Major Metcalf and Claire Wilkie as Miss Casewell bring an air of suspicion and Karl Howman is the rather comical Mr Paravicini. Outstandingly, Bob Saul is Detective Sergeant Trotter.

I would advise you go once to see a fantastic show but if I’m honest I would advise you go twice – the first time to let your mind work over time as you constantly try to work out whodunit and why, and the 2nd time to just to enjoy the pure excellence of the show.

We Will Rock Yo Review

We Will Rock You – Motorpoint Arena, Sheffield

Posted by: The Reviews Hub


Book: Ben Elton

Music/Lyrics: Queen

Director: Tony Edge


WWRY arena tour

In a distant future, the Earth is now known as the i-planet, under the control of Globalsoft. We now live in a virtual world where live music and instruments are banned. Thus is the chilling premise of Ben Elton’s scarily accurate script.

The Gaga kids are all virtual clones but Galileo and Scaramouche are the Dreamer and his “chick” helping to lead the rebellious Bohemians to the place of living rock.

MiG Ayesa and Lauren Samuels reprise their west end rôles of Galileo and Scarmouche interacting well with each other. The character of Scaramouche is easily the best written character with some of the best lines with her witty and sarcastic comments. While Kevin Kennedy and Brenda Edwards take a Busman’s Holiday from the west end production to play Pop and the Killer Queen on the Sheffield leg of the tour. Kennedy is wonderfully comedic and woefully under used as Pop. While his part is important to the plot it’s a shame it’s not larger as he really plays a wonderful part. Ms Edwards is hilarious in her rôle of half pixelated-half human Head of Globalsoft, The Killer Queen, business woman of the year and dynamite with a laser beam. A special mention should also go out to her cleavage defying costumes which she rocks with aplomb.

There are some sound issues with the show, in the first half there are issues with echo when the actors are speaking. There are also problems in some of the songs with the fantastically rocking band drowning out the lyrics of the singers. This is more noticeable with the weaker vocalists and Sean Kingsley’s Khashoggi loses the battle in his rendition of Seven Seas of Rhye. Outstanding vocals of the night must go to Lucie Jones for her character Meats hauntingly beautiful version of Only the Good Die Young, with not a dry eye in the house at the end of the song.

The 10th Anniversary Arena World Tour works well in Sheffield, only half of the arena is in use so the space isn’t much more than a large theatre. The production is wonderfully, interactively enjoyable. Whether a fan of Queen or not, this show has a lot to offer from its fantastic staging, wonderful costumes and energetic singing and dancing.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert Review

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – Grand Opera House, York

Posted by: The Reviews Hub


Writers: Stephan Elliot and Allan Scott

Director: Simon Phillips

Costume Designer: Tim Chappel, Lizzy Gardiner


Richard Grieve as Bernadette, Jason Donovan as Tick and Graham Weaver as Felicia - Priscilla Queen of the Desert - Photo credit Paul Coltas

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is a rip roaring, riotous feast for the eyes and ears. Full of cheesy disco classics, wonderful scenery, and dancing diva’s unfortunately not descending from the heavens and exquisitely beautiful costumes.

Telling the story of two drag queens and a post-op transsexual crossing the Australian outback from Sydney to Alice Springs to perform at the club belonging to Marion (Julie Stark) the wife of Tick/Mitzi (Noel Sullivan) and giving him the chance to meet and bond with his young son. It’s funny and sad in equal measure with a beautiful touching love story between post-op Bernadette (Richard Grieve) and mechanic Bob (Giles Watling) and showing discrimination and acceptance this is a glitzy and glamorous feel good show. Poignant and sensitive, it’s a “cock in frock on a rock” at the top of Ayres Rock singing We Belong is a truly magical moment.

The only thing that disappoints is the Priscilla bus. Closely resembling a milk float, its lack of glamour is in direct opposition to the rest of the show. Having to be moved and positioned by the cast it’s unwieldy and ungainly and anyone who saw Priscilla in the West End will be very disappointed by this shadow of its former glory.

Alan Hunter as Miss Understanding is a stunning highlight of the piece; his Tina Turner is stunning and more Tina than the real thing. The love/hate relationship between the glorious Felicia/Adam (Graham Weaver) and Bernadette is bitchily glorious. This was Noel Sullivan’s first show tonight and there were one or two teething problems that can be forgiven, especially when joining a really well established show like this. By the weekend I’m sure he’ll be batting his lashes teasing his wigs and storming the stage in his stilettos like a pro.

Catch the show in York by Saturday 18th May and you too will be “Colouring Your World”

War of the Worlds Review

War of the Worlds – Motorpoint Arena, Sheffield

Posted by: The Reviews Hub


Music/Lyrics: Jeff Wayne

Book: HG Wells

Director: Steve Nolan


First published in 1897, HG Wells’s visionary novel is still as ground-breaking today as it was when it first shocked Victorian England and now over 30 years since first composed from the moment the music starts you are transported into a terrifying story of Martians landing on the Earth and taking over. With an orchestra on one side, a rock band on the other in the middle you have Jeff Wayne, bouncing around like tigger, clearly enjoying himself conducting the two.

For the music alone, this would be a 5 star performance but it’s the singing that lets it down, especially from the 3 main stalwarts of musical theatre, Marti Pellow singing the thoughts of the Journalist and Jason Donovan and Kerry Ellis who play parson Nathanial and his wife Beth. All three of them fight to be heard over the amazing orchestration and all three lose. Their parts are brief and could easily be pre-recorded to ensure a higher quality performance. There is however, a shining beacon of hope with Brave New World outstandingly sung by Ricky Wilson in his performance as the Artilleryman and The Voice of Humanity. Will Stapleton also gives an amazing performance with his rendition of Thunderchild.

The staging is incredible; Liam Neeson takes over the iconic rôle of the Journalist, portrayed for many years by the late Richard Burton. Now more interactive with a 3d hologram that appears to pass over a drink to the Artilleryman and punch the Parson. A huge alien descends from the ceiling and menacingly shoots fire at the poor front rows, the lighting, pyrotechnics and incredible music drag you into the atmosphere and your attention never wavers from the show.

You are sure to have the music in your brain as you leave the Arena and find yourself humming the magnificent score. But it’s the synthesised note that portrays the Martian that terrifies and even knowing it’s a show and you are safe, it cannot fail to send shivers down your spine.