Double Feature Review

Hampstead Theatre – until 16th March 2024

Reviewed by Celia Armand Smith

3***

It’s 1960s Los Angeles, and internationally renowned director Alfred Hitchcock (Ian McNeice) is hosting his exhausted and struggling muse Tippi Hedren (Joanna Vanderham) at his cottage on a studio backlot while they film ‘Marnie’. He boasts about discovering her, controls her wardrobe, and comments on her every move as though he can’t stop being a director, even at home. In a Suffolk cottage (which coincidentally looks the same as Hitchcock’s cottage) a few years later are Vincent Price (Jonathan Hyde) and his young director Michael Reeves (Rowan Polonski), arguing about the treatment of the star on the set of a new horror film called ‘Witchfinder General’. A same same but different power dynamic at play.

Hitchcock is known to have treated women terribly, objectifying and manipulating them, and McNeice adds a subtly to a role that could easily have been a caricature. Vanderham’s portrayal of trapped Hedren in a beautiful pale blue suit is tense and despairing, and we are left willing her to stand up to the horrible Hitchcock. Price and Reeves have a similar strange and difficult realtionship. Polonski is brilliant as the troubled 24 year old director, wrestling with mental health problems and authenticity in film. In contrast to the wired Reeves, Hyde’s Price is wonderfully disillusioned and tired, and just wants to do the job he’s always done while ageing out of an industry built for young people. The Price/Reeves relationship is the more engaging on stage, but I am gripped reading about Hedren and Hitchcock all the way home.

Written by celebrated screenwriter and playwright John Logan, and directed by Jonanthan Kent, the weaving in and out of these stories of power dynamics and manipulation is at times both anxiety inducing and awkward. There are beautiful moments of perfect synchronicity involving both pairs; at one point they are all eating around the table together but years apart, a seamless ballet of speech and movement.

Anthony Ward’s set is wonderfully familiar, with staffordshire dogs and moody decor, able to be located in Los Angeles and Suffolk simultaneously. Hugh Vantstone’s lighting dances around the cast, highlighting who is talking, quietly hiding the other pair when necessary.

There are elements of this production that are all at once laugh out loud entertaining and quietly tragic, but even in this economy, getting two plays for the price of one isn’t quite the bargain you think it is. The stories and the director/actor pairings are more deserving of space and separation, and more importantly the steadfast focus and attention of the audience.

Murder In The Dark Review

Festival Theatre, Malvern – until 24th February 2024

Reviewed by Courie Amado Juneau

4.5****

Murder In The Dark is a deliciously odd new play that tells the tale of a lady who comes to the aid of some travellers when their car loses out in an argument with a wall. Though the house she deposits them in is cold and dank it’s an improvement on the outside weather so, at first, there is some blessed relief. That relief turns out to be not so blessed nor long lasting as they would have hoped…

The programme asks us to “spread the word (but not the spoilers)”. This makes sense as there are many twists and turns which are all part of the fun. But it does make it difficult to review without giving the game away.

Mrs Bateman, heroic rescuer extraordinaire, is played by the incomparable Susie Blake in a totally bonkers portrayal (I mean that as a compliment) that has just about everything in it, displaying her mastery of comedy, drama and timing. It was a joy to watch her character unfold in a commanding performance.

Tom Chambers mines a rich seam of confusion at events and frustration at those around him in the multifaceted role of Danny; driver of the car and former teen star latterly down on his luck. Like Blake, he straddles the dark and the light with an easy assuredness.

Our two leads are ably supported by a stellar cast – Rebecca Charles (Rebecca, Danny’s ex), Owen Oakeshott (William, Danny’s brother), Laura White (Sarah, Danny’s current girlfriend) and Jonny Green (Jake, Danny and Rebecca’s son). The writer has given them all a lot to get their teeth into and they don’t disappoint – I was impressed with everyone’s range throughout. As you can guess by the dramatis personae, there’s a wealth of subplots going on with all those familial connections and each brings their own demons to battle.

The set uses space with an inventive economy, providing us with some genuinely jarring, unsettling moments out of the blue (or the black). With the electrics on the fritz, it’s nice to see darkness play such an integral part in proceedings. I found myself spending a lot of time wondering just what will appear from those murky recesses. Max Pappenheim (Sound Designer and Composer) and Paul Pyant (Lighting Designer) deserve special mention for the marvellous effects they produced.

Rather like several popular TV shows (which I cannot mention for obvious reasons), if you like the oddball, quirky, darker side of TV scheduling with a twist in the tale this play will keep your boat afloat nicely. I enjoyed it though I did find myself flummoxed for long periods, wondering exactly what was going on – so well done the playwright Torben Betts for keeping us guessing. Rest assured though, the ending does reach a satisfactory conclusion.

An entertaining play that I would like to see again, I thought the ending was very inventive (I thoroughly appreciate that type of ending). Couple that with some powerhouse performances and this is likely to be a crowd pleaser (though perplexer). I encourage you all to brave the cold, dark nights to get out to Malvern and catch this play while you can – though do be careful on your drive home…

I Should Be So Lucky The Musical Review

Hull New Theatre – until 24th February 2024

Reviewed by Dawn Bennett

5*****

I Should Be So Lucky The Musical bounced into Hull New Theatre last night and what a brilliant night it was! Created by Debbie Isitt (who also wrote the Nativity! series of films) and with the music from Stock Aitken Waterman’s it is probably one of the most fun, feelgood musicals I have seen in a long while.

I could just listen to Stock Aitken Watermans back catalogue of music on its own, and regularly do to be honest, but the visual feast that was last nights show had to be seen to be believed…I mean we even had appearances by Kylie!

I Should Be So Lucky tells the story of Ella (Lucie-Mae Sumner) who, on her wedding day, is jilted at the alter by her finance Nathan (Billy Roberts). As she is naturally devastated by this, her family, sister Britney (Emma Crossley) Mum Shelley (Melissa Jacques) and Shelly’s Mum Ivy (Jemma Churchill) and her friends Bonnie (Kayla Carter) and Michael (Scott Paige) decide to go with her on her honeymoon which is a romantic holiday resort in Turkey. Back at home Nathan along with his best man, Ash (Giovanni Spanò) go round to Ella’s house but after talking to her Dad, Big Mike (Gary Davis) find she’s gone to Turkey, so they decide to go there to find her as Nathan realises the mistake he has made. In the resort Ella meets Olivia (Anna Unwin) who she went to high school with and who she wasn’t exactly friends with, and her husband Revel Harrington III (Aidan Nightingale), trying to impress them Ella says that her husband is Nadeem (Mathew Croke) who works in the resort. Manager Spencer (Jamie Chapman) asks Nadeem to look after Ella and he takes her to all the places that finance Nathan had organised for them to go on their honeymoon. And then the mayhem begins!

All the cast are brilliant in this production, their singing, dancing and acting were outstanding. I particularly enjoyed watching Jamie Chapman (Spencer) who’s timing and comic skills had the audience howling with laughter and Giovanni Spanò (Ash) who’s all round performance was brilliant to watch.

The band played the iconic tunes faultlessly, and they included the very recognisable I Should Be So Lucky, Venus, Toy Boy, Respectable, Never Gonna Give You Up and many more.

This production is just brilliant, the music takes you right back to the sounds of the 80’s. The songs alone are worth the ticket price but with this brilliant cast it makes it a must-see show. Just Fabulous!!

Frankenstein Review

Leeds Playhouse – until 24 February 2024

Reviewed by Sal E Marino

5*****

Frankenstein, inspired by Mary Shelly’s novel (that she wrote at the age of 18!), was brought to life again by the ground-breaking and innovative Imitating the Dog with Leeds Playhouse in a new and totally unique production of this spellbinding classic. Every adaptation I’ve seen previously by Imitating the Dog has been mind-blowing and mind-bending and once again with Frankenstein, I was delighted to enter a world of contrasts that the directors and creatives weaved together perfectly.

Gothic themes entwined in 21st century technology might not seem apt at first but when we think of the age in which Shelley was living in, that of a scientific revolution, it made an ideal partnership. The modern-day story that was interweaved so brilliantly with the 1818 narrative had a natural common bond – that of life. The nameless couple we meet in their grey apartment, just as a storm has erupted, are in a quandary about a new life they have created and if they should proceed to bring ‘it’ who later becomes referred to as ‘her’ into the dystopian world they reside in. Is it responsible? Are they capable or good enough of being parents? Parallel to this, Dr Victor Frankenstein is also caught in a storm aboard a ship and about to face the life he created and then rejected as soon as ‘it’ was birthed.

Our couple convey their feelings with not just words but through intense sequences of movement that dramatically display their internal struggles with themselves and each other. Their bodies show us anger, despair, desperation, love and passion in a way that hits the mark more powerfully than words; it was exceptional. The same performers play the parts of Victor Frankenstein, the ship’s captain and the ‘monster’ with equally compelling vigour. I really felt Victor’s remorse and his creation’s heart-breaking pain as he had come to realise what he was soulless and so will never be able to experience love like a human – who is always surrounded by the love of source (although we forget) and will return to it after death. The monster has been created by ‘a man’ and is made up of fragments of ‘borrowed’ body parts so how can he truly find himself and the key to his eternal soul-self? He can’t and he knows it.

The couple become distracted by a homeless man who like the monster is presented to us as angry and the couple ponder as to why. What made him like that? Did his family not love him? Their kind and loving human instinct kicks in and they want to help him despite having no apparent connection to him but of course they do – he’s human and innately we know we are all connected through the sacred tree of life that we all come from. They feel ‘something’ for him and in doing so, start to connect with the unborn child they have created – a precious life.

The creative team really have surpassed themselves with this production. It was like the energy that fuelled Victor’s experiment, electrifying with so many different effects. You felt like you could be in modern-day Frankenstein’s lab in parts as many things were fusing, exploding and manifesting on screens with a pizzazz of light and red liquid. It was mesmerising.

This production of Frankenstein is daring, dazzling and deep. It’s wise to know a little about the original story first if you don’t already – just a quick google of the basic outline – and then be prepared to be enthralled.

Mischief’s Mind Mangler announces UK Tour following West End Premiere

MIND MANGLER: MEMBER OF THE TRAGIC CIRCLE 

RETURNS FOR ANOTHER UK TOUR 

DIRECT FROM ITS WEST END PREMIERE

STARRING MISCHIEF’S HENRY LEWIS & JONATHAN SAYER

Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields

UK TOUR: 15 May – 16 June 2024

Henry Lewis and Jonathan Sayer, creators of the global smash hit The Play That Goes Wrong and BBC TV’s The Goes Wrong Show, are heading back out on tour with their mind-bending comedy, Mind Mangler: Member of the Tragic Circle, following a six-week season in the West End. Mind Mangler: Member of the Tragic Circle will open on tour at the Palace Theatre, Manchester on 15 May, before visiting Cambridge, Birmingham, Hull, Milton Keynes, Liverpool and Bath, touring until 16 June 2024. Tickets are now on sale. 

Written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry ShieldsMind Mangler is based on a character originally created in Magic Goes Wrong by Penn Jillette, Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, Henry Shields & Teller. 

Join the ‘Mind Mangler’ as he makes his spectacular return to the stage with his new two-man solo show. Witness hilarious feats of mentalism spiral into chaos as he attempts to read your mind, mind, mind…

Mind Mangler: Member of the Tragic Circle began at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2022 and after a sold-out season was later developed into a two-act show that toured the UK and ran in New York in 2023.  A 45-minute adaptation is currently entertaining sailors on Virgin Voyages Resilient Lady. The ‘Mind Mangler’ persuaded the following producers to back this production – Kenny Wax, Stage Presence and Kevin McCollum. (They regret it). 

Mind Mangler is directed by Hannah Sharkey, with Magic Consultant Ben Hart, Set Design by Sara Perks, Video Design by Gillian Tan, Lighting Design by David Howe, Sound Design by Helen Skiera, Costume Design by Roberto Surace, and Music Composed by Steve Brown.

Mischief are celebrating 10 years in the West End with their stage successes The Play That Goes Wrong (West End, Broadway and international productions staged on every continent – with the exception of Antarctica), Peter Pan Goes Wrong (currently on a UK Tour), Magic Goes Wrong, Groan Ups, A Comedy About A Bank Robbery and Mischief Movie Night. Their ‘Royal Television Society’ award-winning BBC One series The Goes Wrong Show launched in December 2019 with a Christmas special, with further episodes in early 2020, plus a hit Nativity special. The second series aired in September 2021 on BBC One and iPlayer.

New UK & Ireland Tour of Murder on the Orient Express

THE UK & IRELAND TOUR OF

AGATHA CHRISTIE’S

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS ADAPTED BY KEN LUDWIG

WILL OPEN ON 6 SEPTEMBER AT THE LOWRY IN SALFORD

Following a sell-out tour of the best-selling crime novel of all time, And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie Ltd, Fiery Angel and Lucy Bailey (director of the West End hit Witness for the Prosecution) will bring Ken Ludwig’s adaptation of another Agatha Christie classic to the stage in 2024.  The UK & Ireland Tour of MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS will open on 6 September at the Lowry in Salford and will continue through to 2025, finishing on 26 April at Brighton Theatre Royal.

Winter 1934 and an avalanche stops the Orient Express dead in its tracks.  An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed eight times, his door locked from the inside. Trapped in the snow with a killer still on board, can the world’s most famous detective, Hercule Poirot, crack the case before the train reaches its final destination?

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS is one of Agatha Christie’s greatest literary achievements, with a final twist that is amongst her very best.  Gripping, tense and masterfully cryptic, this brand-new production is a deliciously thrilling ride and an ingenious murder mystery, guaranteed to keep you guessing until the end of the line.

James Prichard of Agatha Christie Limited said, “We’re thrilled to once again be working with Lucy Bailey and the team at Fiery Angel and excited to bring Ken Ludwig’s magnificent adaptation of one of my great grandmother’s most atmospheric and ingenious stories back to UK audiences.”

Having recently directed three of Christie’s classic thrillers for the stage, this will be Lucy Bailey’s fourth.  She said, “Murder on the Orient Express, fast, funny, almost farcical at times but with a dark undercurrent of loss and revenge…   A train stuck in a snow drift. The holed up passengers all suspected of murder – what fun to be had!”

Casting is to be announced.

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS will be directed by Lucy Bailey and designed by Mike Britton, with lighting design by Oliver Fenwick.

Website: www.murderontheorientexpressplay.com

Instagram: @orientexpressplay

Facebook: @orientexpressplay

X: @orientexpressuk

TOUR SCHEDULE

2024

6-14 September                        The Lowry, Salford                                                                                     0161 876 2000

                                                     www.thelowry.com                                                                                   on sale 21 February

17-21 September                      Norwich Theatre Royal                                                                             01603 630000

                                                     norwichtheatre.org                                                                                   on sale 23 February    

24-28 September                      Theatre Royal Plymouth                                                                           01752 267222

                                                     www.theatreroyal.com                                                                            on sale 1 March

1-5 October                                 CanterburyMarlowe Theatre                                                                01227 787787                                                           

                                                       www.marlowetheatre.com                                                                   on sale 25 March

8-12 October                              Glasgow King’s Theatre                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                      www.atgtickets.com/venues/kings-theatre-glasgow                        on sale 23 February

15-19 October                            Curve, Leicester                                                                                         

www.curveonline.co.uk                                                                          on sale 7 March

22-26 October                            Edinburgh Festival Theatre                                                                     0131 529 6000

                                                      www.capitaltheatres.com                                                                      on sale 28 February

29 October – 2 November       Cambridge Arts Theatre                                                                          01223 503333

                                                      www.cambridgeartstheatre.com                                                          on sale soon

5-9 November                            Richmond Theatre, London

                                                      www.atgtickets.com/Richmond                                                            on sale 23 February

12-16 November                        Malvern Festival Theatre                                                                        01684 892277

                                                      www.malvern-theatres.co.uk                                                                on sale 20 February

19-23 November                       TruroHall for Cornwall                                                                             01872 262 466                                                         

                                                     www.hallforcornwall.co.uk                                                                      on sale 1 April

2025                                  

14-18 January                             Newcastle Theatre Royal                                                                        0191 232 7010

                                                      www.theatreroyal.co.uk                                                                         on sale 25 April

21-25 January                             The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford                                               01483 44 00 00

                                                       www.yvonne-arnaud.co.uk                                                                   on sale 4 March

28 January – 1 February            Birmingham The Alexandra

                                                       www.atgtickets.com/birmingham                                                       on sale 23 February

4-8 February                               Sheffield Lyceum                                                                                       0114 249 6000

                                                      www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk                                                                 on sale 23 March

11-15 February                           Aberdeen His Majesty’s Theatre                                                        

                                                      aberdeenperformingarts.com                                                                on sale soon

18-22 February                           SouthamptonMayflower Theatre                                                        02380 711 811                                                         

                                                      www.mayflower.org.uk                                                                           on sale 10 April

25 February – 1 March             Milton KeynesTheatre                                                                                                                                     

                                                      www.atgtickets.com/venues/milton-keynes-theatre                        on sale 23 February

4-8 March                                     New Theatre, Cardiff                                                                             0343 310 0041

                                                       www.trafalgartickets.com/new-theatre-cardiff                                on sale soon

25-29 March                                York Grand Opera House

                                                       www.atgtickets.com/york                                                                     on sale 23 February

1- 5 April                                      NottinghamTheatre Royal                                                                    0115 989 5555

                                                       www.trch.co.uk                                                                                      on sale 26 February

8-12 April                                     Gaiety Theatre, Dublin                                                                          00 353 1 646 8600

                                                       www.gaietytheatre.ie                                                                           on sale soon

22-26 April                                   Theatre Royal Brighton

                                                       www.atgtickets.com/brighton                                                            on sale soon

Further dates to be added.

News! Pleasance Theatre Trust announce first shows to join their incredible Edinburgh Fringe programme

Pleasance Theatre Trust announce first shows to
join their incredible Edinburgh Fringe programme

Bring on August! Celebrating their 40th festival, The Pleasance Theatre Trust is back for another summer with a fantastic programme of theatre, comedy, cabaret and family productions. Grab a drink at the Courtyard, the Dome or the EICC and head into one of these unmissable shows. The first official on-sale presents past Comedy Award winners, viral sensations, national treasures and exciting debuts.

Unstoppable 82-year-old Miriam Margolyes returns to the Fringe with her new show, Margolyes & Dickens: The Best Bits. Combining her infectious passion for Charles Dickens with her phenomenal versatility, Miriam brings to life the most colourful and iconic characters from his timeless novels before opening the floor to your burning questions. Arturo Brachetti, the world’s greatest quickchange artist comes to the Pleasance’s largest stage with SOLO, his most spectacular show yet. SOLO is a veritable kaleidoscope of lights, illusions, lasers unbelievable costumes and astonishing quick change, with over 50 characters brought to life on a very grand scale.

Join Rosie Jones in the Grand as she ponders whether she is a national treasure, a little prick or somewhere in between in Triple Threat! Edinburgh Comedy Award winner Catherine Cohen is back. Following a world tour and her critically acclaimed Netflix special, Come For Me is an openly glamorous, decidedly horny comedy cabaret exploration of what it means to enter your thirties.Musical supernova Jazz Emu (Telegraph’s 26th Funniest Comedian of the 21st Century) is back with Knight Fever, a brand-new show, with a full live band. Is this the chance for Jazz Emu to secure his long-coveted Knighthood?! New Zealand’s hottest comedy pop-music duo Two Hearts – Laura Daniel (Taskmaster NZ) and Joseph Moore (SNORT) – are back. Join them in Til Death Do Us Hearts for hot new songs about love, life and maintaining a successful relationship with your co-worker.

Acclaimed comedian Kemah Bob comes to the Fringe with their unmissable debut stand-up show. Kemah has been seen on QI, Richard Osman’s House of Games, Jonathan Ross’ Comedy Club and heard on Off Menu podcast and The Guilty Feminist among others. After two smash-hit, sell-out runs, Chloe Petts returns with How You See Me, How You Don’t, a brand-new show which is going to get personal. The acclaimed comedian and 2022 Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee Colin Hoult returns with Colin, a stand-up show about family, fatherhood and a formative childhood experience with a ouija board and a gorilla.

Shuffle is the latest show from Tarot, the critically-acclaimed, nightie-clad sketch-zealots; come and watch them continue their slow descent into mediocrity! The Olivier Award-winning West End hit Showstopper! The Improvised Musical is back for a 15th year! A hilarious musical comedy made up on-the-spot using audience suggestions, this multi-award-winning must-see show is a Fringe favourite.

After sell-out London runs, join harbingers of queer chaos Awkward Productions (Diana: The Untold and Untrue Story) for the viral sensation Gwyneth Goes Skiing – a story of love, betrayal and skiing where you are the jury. Includes original songs by Leland (RuPaul, Troye Sivan, Cher), a special video appearance by Trixie Mattel (RuPaul’s Drag Race AS3 winner) and the singing voices of Darren Criss (Glee, The Assassination of Gianni Versace) and Catherine Cohen (Edinburgh Comedy Award Winner).

David William Bryan is returning with two shows, performed on alternate days throughout the festival. Fragility of Man follows one man’s epic, lifelong battle with the justice system while In Loyal Company tells the incredible true story of missing WWII soldier Arthur Robinson (David’s great uncle). This extraordinary story of survival is a tour-de-force war epic.

Returning to the Fringe due to phenomenal demand, The Importance of Being…Earnest? will have you in stitches. When a traditional production of Oscar Wilde’s classic play gets underway, everything seems to be going perfectly to plan… that is, until the lead actor fails to arrive on cue. Time to decide once and for all – cake or biscuit? Multi-award winning Gigglemug Theatre present A Jaffa Cake Musical, a family-friendly musical comedy, inspired by the 1991 tribunal which determined the true identity of a Jaffa Cake! Doktor Kaboom returns for an electrifying 3rd year with a brand-new show Man of Science combining stand-up comedy, fantastic science demonstrations and lessons in empowerment

Tartan Ribbon Comedy Benefit is a raucous night of laughter, raising much-needed funds for Waverley Care, Scotland’s HIV and Hepatitis C charity. With previous acts including Michael McIntyre, Russell Howard, Katherine Ryan, this year’s line-up will no doubt be amazing. The Best of Edinburgh Showcase Show 2024 is a great value lunchtime comedy showcase featuring the best and brightest of this year’s Fringe comics. Back for its 19th year and with a hand-picked line-up that changes daily, audiences are in for a treat.

With more shows to be announced over the coming months there will be comedy, theatre, circus, magic, dance, kids’ shows and much more, alongside support for some of the most innovative newcomers through artist development strand Pleasance Futures. There’s nowhere quite like the Pleasance at Fringe!

Madama Butterfly Review

Festival Theatre, Malvern – 18th February 2024

Reviewed by Courie Amado Juneau

5*****

Ellen Kent operas return to Malvern for the first of this year’s visits with another outstanding production of the mega popular Madama Butterfly.

Set in 1904 in Nagasaki, an American naval officer enters into a marriage of convenience with a young Japanese girl. He intends to divorce her when he finds an American wife and shortly after sails off on his naval ship…. She, meanwhile, devotes herself entirely to waiting for her new husband in the expectation of a new American life. Because of this she is disowned by her Japanese friends and family.

Elena Dee reprised the role of the titular character, bringing her to life in glorious technicolor, widescreen detail. The stratospheric high notes are always breathtaking but I was blown away by her command of the quiet held notes which, for me, produced a particularly thrilling effect. “One Fine Day” is undoubtedly the standout aria and Dee delivered a flawless performance. Her acting was extraordinarily strong, bringing drama and passion, but it was her comedic timing that surprised me tonight – notably in the scene where she explains what American Judges do when hearing a divorce petition. Simply wonderful!

Georgi Meladze was the perfect romantic lead as Pinkerton, his powerful tenor voice being truly compelling. All the cast were magnificent but special praise should go to Iurie Gisca as the Consul and Natalia Matveeva as Suzuki, both of whom gave stellar support and had voices to match our heroic leads.

The set was a magnificent representation of a Japanese garden complete with running water and a house that was cunningly employed to the point it was almost a character in its own right. The costumes were, as in previous years, absolutely gorgeous with spectacular, sumptuous kimonos. The entire production deserves much praise for giving us such treats for the eyes.

Opera isn’t, of course, just music; it’s musical drama. A lushly romantic piece of writing from Puccini, the entire score has a lovely languid sensuality that sits alongside the tragedy to give us a truly fulfilling spectacle. This is the Italian verismo style where the composer wished to convey the realism of the situation, with all its consequences, hurt and pain and that most certainly came across tonight.

The orchestra sounded rich and full, equally impressive in the subtle, romantic sections as the more strident harrowing ones, transporting us faithfully to the inner turmoil of the characters through their sonorous playing. There was an impressive balance between those onstage and off, allowing us to enjoy every nuance of the score, thanks to the world class conducting of Vasyl Vasylenko.

As in previous visits the Ukrainian flag and National anthem closed the evening’s performance on an even more heartbreaking high – it’s a tragedy they are still suffering under the horror of war and I hope the audience volume levels told them all they need to know about how much support the Ukrainian people still have from us.

Another triumphant performance of one of the world’s most acclaimed and much loved operas with a stunning production and performances; the 5 stars I have to give it were richly deserved. Bravissimo tutti! I cannot wait to see their next production when they return in April with Carmen.

THE HISTORY BOYS. 20th Anniversary production opens at Theatre Royal Bath

Theatre Royal Bath Productions presents 

THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY PRODUCTION OF ALAN BENNETT’S

THE HISTORY BOYS

Directed by Seán Linnen
Designed by Grace Smart

“History? It’s just one f***ing thing after another…”

Alan Bennett’s modern classic The History Boys will make a return to stage in the 20th anniversary production opening at Theatre Royal Bath with performances from Thursday 22 August – Saturday 31 Augustprior to a national tour.

Tickets go on sale to priority bookers from Monday 26 February 2024 theatreroyal.org.uk.

A-Level results day. Cutler’s Grammar School. 1980s Sheffield.

Eight unruly teenagers burst into adulthood with the best grades their school has ever seen, but their sights are set on something higher: to study at the most famous academic institutions in the world – Oxford and Cambridge. But their teachers can’t agree how best to tutor them. There’s Hector, the maverick English teacher who believes in culture for its own sake; Irwin – the shrewd supply teacher full of soundbites; Felix – the headmaster obsessed with league tables and Mrs Lintott – the History teacher who thinks her colleagues are all fools.

THE HISTORY BOYS followsthis bright bunch of boys in pursuit of sex, sport and a place at university, lifting the lid on staffroom rivalries and the anarchy of adolescence.

This timely revival, directed by Seán Linnen (Quiz, Chichester Festival Theatre, Queers, Old Vic), and designed by Grace Smart (The Winter’s Tale, The Globe, Top Girls, Liverpool Everyman) asks what is the value and purpose of education? And who is it for?

Alan Bennett says of this upcoming production:

‘How very pleased I am that The History Boys are still here twenty years on finding a new audience.  “Pass it on” is Hector’s message – I hope the playgoers feel the same!’

The History Boys is the winner of over 30 major international awards. The original production at the National Theatre which opened in 2004 before international tour and film adaptation, starred the late Richard Griffiths and launched the careers of James Corden, Dominic Cooper, Russell Tovey, and Jamie Parker among others.

Alan Bennett has been a household name in British theatre for more than fifty years. His numerous plays include Habeas Corpus, Single Spies, The Madness of George III, Talking Heads and The Lady in the Van.

Casting, further creative team, and tour venues for this 20th anniversary production are still to be announced. 

LISTINGS

Theatre Royal Bath Productions presents
THE HISTORY BOYS
By Alan Bennett
Directed by Seán Linnen
Designed by Grace Smart  

Theatre Royal Bath
theatreroyal.org.uk

Thursday 22 August – Saturday 31 August[Prior to a national tour to be announced]
Evenings 7.30pm
Matinees Thursday 29 & Saturday 31 August, 2.30pm

Further tour venues to be announced.

Full Casting Announced for SISTER ACT at the Dominion Theatre, 15 March – 8 June 2024

FULL CASTING ANNOUNCED

FOR THE

AWARD-WINNING

PRODUCTION OF 

AT THE DOMINION THEATRE

FROM 15 MARCH – 8 JUNE 2024


The producers of the award-winning production of SISTER ACT THE MUSICAL are pleased to announce full casting for the run at the Dominion Theatre from 15 March to 8 June 2024.

Joining Beverley Knight as Deloris Van Cartier, Ruth Jones as Mother Superior, Lesley Joseph as Sister Mary Lazarus, Lemar as Curtis Jackson, Clive Rowe as Eddie Souther, Lizzie Bea as Sister Mary Robert, Alison Jiear as Sister Mary Patrick, and Carl Mullaney as Monsignor O’Hara, will be Caroline Bateson, Natalia Brown, Damian Buhagiar, Tricia Deighton, Lori Haley Fox, Lauren Hall, Chloe Hopcroft, Tom Hopcroft, Bradley Judge, Claudia Kariuki, Graham MacDuff, Castell Parker, Emma Ralston, Anne Smith, Michael Ward and Jermaine Woods.

Lesley Joseph will play the role of Mother Superior at certain performances.

From 10 June 2024, the role of Deloris Van Cartier will be played by Number One best-selling artist and musical theatre star Alexandra Burke, with Lesley Joseph as Sister Mary Lazarus and Lizzie Bea as Sister Mary Robert. Further casting to be announced soon.

Based on the iconic movie, this sparkling tribute to the universal power of friendship, sisterhood and music tells the hilarious story of the disco diva whose life takes a surprising turn when she witnesses a murder. Under protective custody she is hidden in the one place she won’t be found – a convent! Disguised as a nun and under the suspicious watch of Mother Superior, Deloris helps her fellow sisters find their voices as she unexpectedly rediscovers her own. 

SISTER ACT has direction by Bill Buckhurst, choreography by Alistair David, Set and Costume Design by Morgan Large, Musical Direction by Neil MacDonald, Lighting Design by Tim Mitchell, Sound Design by Tom Marshall and Musical Supervision by Stephen Brooker. Casting is by Stuart Burt. 

SISTER ACT features original music by Tony® and 8-time Oscar® winner Alan Menken(Disney’s Aladdin, Enchanted), lyrics by Glenn Slater, book by Bill and Cheri Steinkellner with additional book material by Douglas Carter Beane. SISTER ACT is produced by Jamie Wilson, Kevin McCollum, Gavin Kalin, Front Row Productions, Evolution Productions, Tulchin Bartner Productions, Robbie Wilson and Curve.