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Jul 17th

Flashdance The Musical at Milton Keynes Theatre

By Alison Smith

 

Flashdance at Milton Keynes Theatre

Flashdance the Musical is the stage adaption of the film Flashdance by Tom Hedley and Robert Cary with music composed by Robbie Roth and  lyrics by Cary and Roth. Flashdance is the feel-good musical par excellence – the girl from hard circumstances achieves all she wishes – the career, the man, and one supposes happiness.  Alex Owens, a welder by day, dances in Harry’s Bar in the evenings. Her dream is to be a dancer; to do so she wants to enrol in the prestigious Shipley Dance Academy.  But Alex is filled with self- doubt, she is after all a manual worker. It is only after the death of her mentor, Hannah (Carol Ball) and an unwelcome intervention by boyfriend Nick (Ben Adams) that Alex goes to the final audition and wins a place.

Yet Alex’s success is highlighted by the failure of others – Gloria, who becomes a stripper addicted to booze and drugs, and Jimmy, who fails to make it as a comic in NY.  How does Alex do it? Through guts and determination, by being beautiful and compassionate. And who better to portray such a girl than Joanna Clifton, a living dynamo who can move at 200 km an hour and can sing? Joanna is accompanied by Ben Adams, a talented singer who showed some good, if restrained, dance moves, and a wonderful cast with great choreography (Matt Cole). The athleticism of the ensemble is remarkable; their energy and precision never wavers and in the audience participating finale to What a Feeling they demonstrated some extraordinary movements. The singing is also first-rate. There are twenty –six musical numbers including Maniac ,I love Rock and Roll and Gloria all performed with excellent vocals.

There were some negatives to the performance however. The set – although fitting for the industrial scenes - is large and cumbersome, and makes the stage area small. The cast spent much time in semi-darkness moving the set – especially the two unwieldy flights of stairs. It is also a shame that the very gifted band (George Carter musical director) is hidden away.

Flashdance  is performed by accomplished dancers and singers. The story is fairly stereotypical and trite, but the interpretation of the story by the cast cannot be falted.

 Flashdance the Musical is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 21st July

 www.atgtickets.com

0844 877 7652

Booking fee applies

 

Jul 17th

END OF THE PIER: Park Theatre, London

By Elaine Pinkus

When does comedy stop being comic? When does humour cross the line to cruelty and victimisation? Sharing a joke unifies us, ties us together and can be joyous. But spare a thought for those who are the butt of those jokes, the scapegoats who dread the next words to be uttered by the teller. In our age of political correctness our attitudes towards comedy have changed moving from the working class stand ups of the 70s and 80s to the acceptability of today’s comedians who are as much reliant on Twitter and social media as they are to live performance.  Perhaps this seems moralistic in concept and certainly our empathy moves with the swing of debate. But do not be put off. Danny Robin’s talents as a playwright, broadcaster and joke teller have given the Park Theatre, London, a delightful play in End Of The Pier with laughs a’plenty and thought provoking content.

Les Dennis, one of the UK’s best known entertainers, is  old-school comic Bobby Chalk, forced into retirement after he and his comic partner Eddie Cheese were exposed for racist indiscretion. ‘People forget all the good stuff ... they just focus in on one ... mistake.’  Widowed Bobby lives alone in a small, dingy house in Blackpool, surrounded by 1960s memorabilia.  His son, Michael, (Blake Harrison, The Inbetweeners), has followed in his footsteps and has become a much loved observational comedian  playing to audiences of 4 million and having a huge Twitter following. Yes, entertainment today relies on the voices of social media where exposure is instant and unforgiving.  And this is where the story lies. Michael has returned home to seek help from his father following a serious indiscretion which, if released onto Twitter, could destroy his career and his personal life. Clearly they have a fractured father/son relationship from which Michael has developed a Jekyll and Hyde persona, with his dark side becoming ever more forceful. His comedy is a mask for his own misdirected prejudices.

Les Dennis and Blake Harrison.jpeg

Les Dennis and Blake Harrison: photograph Simon Annand

Act 1 is a wonderful platform for the superb comic timing of Les Dennis who delivers a string of one liners which has the audience laughing out loud. Yes, the old ones are the best. Just like the seaside postcards, the corny old jokes still have that punch. Have you heard the one about .... There is honesty in Les/Bobby. His time as a comedian is over but he will always be a comic. Not so his son!

Moving to Michael’s plush dressing room in Act 2, we meet Mohammed, the victim of Michael’s serious indiscretion. Here Nitin Ganatra, (Eastenders fame) positively steals the show. Rather than expose Michael to the judgement of the Twitter feed, he demands a slot on his TV show. Here he reigns superb. The honesty of his act where he can laugh at himself, his race, his experiences come to the fore. We are laughing with him and enjoying his openness which is brilliantly funny. A comic and a comedian who allows us to enjoy perhaps the less politically correct humour that so inhibits free speech today. A fantastic 10 minute interlude (I wish there had been more).  Mohammed is the modern day comic with a naturalness that outranks the false and scripted humour of Michael.

 

 Nitin Ganatra 2.jpeg

Nitin Ganatra: photograph Simon Annand

With striking performances by Les Dennis, Blake Harrison, Tala Gouveia and Nitin Ganatra, and supported by Hannah Price’s production team, End Of The Pier is a play worth seeing and is another tick for the Park Theatre, London.

 

Photographs: Simon Annand

END OF THE PIER

Venue: Park200, Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, N4 3JP

Dates: 11 July – 11 August 2018

Times: Evenings Mon – Sat 7.30pm, Matinees Thu & Sat 3pm

Parents & Babies: Mon 23 Jul 1pm

Captioned: Fri 10 Aug 7.30pm

Prices: Previews £18.50, Standard £18.50 - £32.50, Concessions £16.50 - £23.50, Child (Under 16) £15 - £20
Booking: www.parktheatre.co.uk / 020 7870 6876

 

*10% telephone booking fee, capped at £2.50 per ticket.

 

Jul 10th

An Officer and a Gentleman at Milton Keynes Theatre

By Louise Winter

 

Reviewed by Louise Winter

9 July 2018

 

poster Off and G

 

This is a show that takes itself seriously and those superfans of the early eighties film had to exercise great restraint until the very end when they had a long awaited opportunity to whoop and cheer. Adapted by Douglas Day Stewart and Sharleen Cooper, this production is faithful to the original. Here the overall tone veers more towards the gritty and tormented rather than the soppy and feel good, which may account for the patchiness of the production overall. It feels sometimes as if the show doesn’t know which road to take.

Whilst based around a group of naval college recruits, it is only Zach and Sid’s characters which are fleshed out in any meaningful way. The other male characters are rather one dimensional and that includes Bryon Mayo and Sergeant Foley (the vastly experienced Darren Bennet and Ray Shell respectively). Overall, it is a story about the women and they are the slightly more interesting characters here. An excellent ensemble performance of It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World sets their frustration at their lot as exhausted factory workers with little chance of escape - not unless they can get an officer to literally sweep them off their feet. The older women, Paula’s mother Esther (Rachel Stanley) and Aunt Bunny (Corinna Powlesland) are jaded and world weary as they watch the younger girls become embroiled with the recruits time and time again; they of course know that disaster can be just round the corner. With little opportunity to move on in life, it is inevitable that the factory girls focus their attentions on the recruits as their ticket out. It is the desire for this that drives Lynette more so than Paula and the moral of this story is, of course, that only by being honest, good and true to yourself will you reap rewards.  

It’s a strong cast overall. Jonny Fines gives a good performance as Zach, Emma Williams is excellent as Paula and their pairing alongside Ian McIntosh as Sid and Jessica Daley as Lynette provide the centre of the piece. All have clean powerful voices and can belt out the power ballads that are woven through the show. Most convincing moments are the high energy scenes rather than the quieter more subtle ones, which are slightly uneven in part due to the acting and in part due to some song choices or arrangements seeming incongruous, neither fully fitting nor adding anything to the scene or narrative. However, those that do work well make up for it. Staging is fairly dynamic and inventive with good use of projections and a scaffolded staircase which is effective. Emma Williams at the top of this belting out Alone is the stand out moment of the show.

The corny and predictable ending is well anticipated and some of the audience attempted a little cheer when Zach arrives to ‘rescue’ Paula in his gleaming white officer’s uniform bathed in intense bright light. They soon stopped though as the cheer wasn’t taken up and I think this is a bit of a shame. This show might be better suited to embracing all that is kitsch with the eighties and with this film in particular, shifting the tone slightly towards humour and lightheartedness, which will give the darker aspects of some of the male characters and specifically Sid’s final act more power and pathos. Nevertheless, there were some of the audience standing at the end and strong appreciation for this cast and their  performances.

Plays Milton Keynes Theatre until 14 July 2018 and the continuing tour

Box Office 0844 871 7652

www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes

Booking transaction fee applies

Jul 6th

Knights of the Rose @ The Arts Theatre, London

By Trevor Gent

 

This is a classic rock musical of Shakespearean proportions. Featuring the ultimate playlist including legendary ballads and timeless anthems from Bon Jovi, Muse, Meat Loaf, Bonnie Tyler, No Doubt and many more.

In this epic tale of love, betrayal and sacrifice, the noble Knights of the Rose must defend their House and their honour. Even as the chivalrous Knights return from a glorious victory, a greater threat against the kingdom stirs. As they face the greatest battle of the Age, and betrayal threatens to tear them apart, can true love and honour triumph?

Woven from a rich tapestry of literature and high-voltage classic rock, this heroic new story charges its way into the heart of London for a limited run this summer.

The Arts Theatre was a new venue for me and I was pleasantly surprised how good it was. Very intimate being a small theatre and very friendly and helpful staff.

The production was very slick and entertaining. It’s like Shakespeare meets rock of ages with familiar tunes but in a different context. There were a few laughs when some of the songs started but my attention was held throughout. Clever but simple set and excellent acting.  There was photographer milling around during the show which was a bit of a pain but he did apologise for any inconvenience. Something a bit different so go along and enjoy.

More details on this link http://knightsoftherose.co.uk/

Knights of the Rose is playing at the Arts Theatre, 6-7 Great Newport St, London WC2H 7JB until 26th August 2018

Created by Jennifer Marsden and Directed by Racky Plews.

 

Jul 5th

Jersey Boys @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

Jersey Boys tickets

Jersey Boys is the remarkable true story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and their rise to stardom from the wrong side of the tracks.  These four boys from New Jersey became one of the most successful bands in pop history, were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and sold 175 million records worldwide, all before they turned 30.  The show is packed with their hits, including Beggin’, Sherry, Walk Like A Man, December, 1963 (Oh What a Night), Big Girls Don’t Cry, My Eyes Adored You, Let’s Hang On (To What We’ve Got), Bye Bye Baby, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, Working My Way Back to You, Fallen Angel, Rag Doll and Who Loves You.

Winner of Broadway’s Tony, London’s Olivier and Australia’s Helpmann Awards for Best New Musical, Jersey Boys is the winner of 57 major awards worldwide and has been seen by over 25 million people worldwide.  Jersey Boys can currently be seen across the United States on its US National Tour.  The BROADWAY production closed on 15 January 2017 as the 12th longest running show in Broadway history.  Jersey Boys will return to New York City in a new production in November 2017 at New World Stages.

Jersey Boys is written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, with music by Bob Gaudio and lyrics by Bob Crewe.  The UK & Ireland Tour production is staged by the entire original Broadway creative team, led by director Des McAnuff and choreographer Sergio Trujillo, with scenic design by Klara Zieglerova, costume design by Jess Goldstein, lighting by Howell Binkley, sound by Steve Canyon Kennedy and projection design by Michael Clark.  The orchestrations are by Steve Orich and the music supervision and vocal arrangements by Ron Melrose. 

Until I saw Jersey Nights a few years ago, I knew very little about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, but I was amazed by the sheer volume of hits that I knew.  For example, I didn’t know that Can’t Take My Eyes Off You was one of their songs, as I’d always associated it with Andy Williams.  Likewise I’d thought My Eyes Adored You was a Barry Manilow song.  If the songs are good, they’ll continue to be recorded by other artists through the decades and so the legacy continues.

The story of how these Jersey Boys formed and became so successful is astounding and this musical portrays the twists and turns of their incredible journey.  Tommy Devito (Simon Bailey) has been in and out of jail, along with Nick Massi (Lewis Griffiths), but hearing a young Frankie Castelluccio (later to become Valli) sing with his unusually high falsetto, Tommy realised that there may be a way out of his life of crime by forming a band. 

After a few unsuccessful attempts, it was a teenager called Joe Pesci (James Alexander Gibbs) who introduced singer/songwriter Bob Gaudio (Declan Egan) to the band.  Gaudio had one big hit under his belt, Who Wears Short Shorts, before writing the hit Sherry that was to set Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons on their path to international success. Joe Pesci went on to become an actor and won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in Goodfellas, for playing a character called Tommy Devito (a coincidence I wonder?) who was allegedly based on Thomas DeSimone.

Connections with the Mob, spells in jail, women, drugs, failed marriages, family tragedies, debts, this story has them all and it’s a fascinating insight into the real lives of this iconic group.  Frankie Valli is now 84 years old and continues to tour.

The show moves along at a pace with hit after hit to sing along to, lightening the darkness of their gruelling journey to stardom.

The show runs at The Waterside Theatre until Saturday 14th July, with tickets available from www.atgtickets.com.  Then the tour continues with tour dates until March 2019, which can be seen on www.jerseyboysuktour.com

Reviewed by:

Yvonne Delahaye

4/7/18

@yvonnedelahaye

Jul 5th

Love From A Stranger

By Quentin Fox

 

By Quentin Fox


Director Lucy Bailey has form in bringing thrillers such as Dial M For Murder
and Witness For The Prosecution to the stage. With Love From A Stranger she uses an expert eye for the Fifties aesthetic and mores to shift Agatha Christie’s 1936 joint work with Frank Vosper a couple of decades on from its origin to telling effect.

Rather than a tweedy whodunnit or Poundland Terence Rattigan, the spirit of this production is much closer to Peeping Tom, the Michael Powell Brit film classic about a murderous voyeur.

Cecily Harrington (Helen Bradbury) feels stifled. A pokey flat in Bayswater; a going-nowhere office job; the snobbism of the time, embodied by her Aunt Lulu (Nicola Sanderson); and, worst, the leaden prospect of marrying her dull fiancé Michael (Justin Avoth), due to return to this petty England after three years in the Sudan.

Lucky breaks come in the form of a sweepstake win of £25,000 to break the surly bonds of boredom, and meeting Bruce Lovell (Sam Frenchum), a romantic free-living American who turns up to rent her flat. It’s lust at first sight and repressed Cecily lets her inner wild horse out for canter, much to the consternation of BFF Mavis (Alice Haig); the sorrow of Michael, who gets the schnitz from Cec before he’s even had time to get the desert sand off his brogues; and the cut-glass disapproval of Aunt Lulu.

But before you can say ‘High nigh, brine cau,’ Cecily and Bruce are married and living in rural isolation, with only comedy yokels for company, and you begin to suspect that it’s not only the vowels that are going to be strangled. Bruce moves to isolate his wife from friends and family (Run, Cecily, run!), sets up his darkroom in the basement to which entry is definitely verboten (Are you listening Cec?) and reveals his love of forensic science magazines, the Razzle of psychopaths everywhere (Cecily, are you dim, or what?).

After the long set-up of the first act the rapt audience is well on the last train to Creepsville, wondering what lies beyond that final curve.

It’s all hokum, natch, and as the evening progresses it’s easy to see that the individual parts of the production are actually better than the whole.

Mike Britton’s sliding wall set smartly reinforces the overall sense of unease by distorting perspective. The opaque panels, revealed by Oliver Fenwick’s clever lighting allow us to see Lovell’s true intent behind his honeyed words.

The way Helen Bradbury plays Cecily you get a real sense of how intelligent women become fodder for simpering psychos; Sam Frenchum effects a brilliant transformation from sensitive wooer to petulant narcissist; and Justin Avoth gives a real depth to the jilted Michael, giving him a range of feeling far greater than his lines would suggest.

And, ultimately, though we know who the perp is, the production is still full of surprises.

Milton Keynes Theatre:  July 5, 7.30pm; July 6, 7.30pm; July 7. 2.30pm and 7.30pm.

Jul 4th

An Officer and a Gentleman the Musical at the Edinburgh Playhouse

By Clare Brotherwood

When Douglas Day Stewart came to Edinburgh earlier this year to talk about the musical version of his multi-award winning film An Officer and a Gentleman he said it would be a roller coaster ride.

He wasn’t joking. By the end of the show I was elated and in tears. As Stewart had said, it was uplifting and emotionally powerful.

But, for me, it wasn’t always like that on the first night.

A commentary (was it a montage of Eighties news?) while the lights were still up was completely drowned by an (excited) audience, and as soon as the singing started there was a harshness in the sound which meant that, for the most part, the words were indistinguishable. Maybe it takes time for a production to settle in at the cavernous Playhouse as it’s a problem I keep coming up against.

It also meant that the words weren’t always audible, so I didn’t catch who all the characters were, which is a shame. There are some I’d like to have singled out, as nothing masked the power of the leading voices, especially the women who were phenomenal.

The musical is based on the 1980s rites of passage film which starred Richard Gere as Zack Mayo, a recruit at a naval college, his fellow recruit Sid Worley, and their journey through training and the girls they encounter.

Jonny Fines, as Zack, makes an impressive entrance on a motorbike - it is a real James Dean moment – but, as it was with most of the cast, he didn’t really get into his stride until the dramatic second half, when the show went through the roof.

To an intoxicating backing heavy on rockin’ guitar riffs and drums, there were rousing cheers for Alone, one of the Eighties hits which feature in the show, this time from Sid, played with sensitivity by Ian McIntosh, and Emma Williams and Jessica Daley as Paula and Lynette, the local girls who become Zack and Sid’s girlfriends. It was preceded by Daley’s rendering of Material Girl, a good choice for the story line, and followed by a stirring performance of Don’t Cry Out Loud, by Williams and Rachel Stanley as Paula’s mother - one of the top singers in the show.

Credit goes to the entire cast for what must be a truly challenging show physically. There is footage of them going through real military training and, more than once, Kate Prince’s choreography is more of a work out than a dance routine.

A couple of the actors are memorable for their aggressive characters. Ray Shell is splendid as the bullying sergeant Emil Foley and Darren Bennett as Zack’s dad, described as a whore chasing alcoholic, made my skin crawl. At the other end of the scale, Keisha Atwell, as the only girl recruit, plays her part so enthusiastically and believably that you really feel for her character. And when Fines and Williams get together ‘romantically’ (in bed scenes which leave nothing to the imagination!), you can feel the chemistry,

Directed by Nikolai Foster, artistic director at the Curve in Leicester, An Officer and a Gentleman the Musical really is a feel good show which, on opening night, began, both story- and performance-wise, a little shakily, but ended up a triumph in every way.

See an interview with the writer Douglas Day Stewart at: http://www.uktheatre.net/magazine/read/writer-douglas-day-stewart-talks-about-an-officer-and-a-gentleman-the-musical-on-the-eve-of-its-national-uk-tour_3437.html

An Officer and a Gentleman the Musical is at the Edinburgh Playhouse until July 7. It then continues touring:

July 9-14: Milton Keynes Theatre

July 23-28: Theatre Royal Nottingham

July 30-Aug 4: Bristol Hippodrome Theatre

Aug 6-11: The Marlow Theatre Canterbury

Aug 13-18: Opera House Manchester

Aug 20-25: Theatre Royal Plymouth

Aug 27-Sept 1: Regent Theatre Ipswich

Sept 3-8: The Alhambra Theatre Bradford

Sept 10-15: King’s Theatre Glasgow

www.atgtickets.com

Jun 29th

MAMMA MIA! @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

MAMMA MIA!

With incredibly fortuitous timing, this delightful musical arrived in Aylesbury just as the sequel to the film MAMMA MIA! Here We Go Again is about to be released.  Judy Craymer had the ingenious vision of staging the story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs with an enchanting tale of family and friendship unfolding on a Greek island paradise.  To date, it has been seen by more than 60 million people in 50 productions translated into 16 different languages. 

From West End to global phenomenon, the London production of MAMMA MIA! has now been seen by more than 10% of the entire UK population.  It’s one of only five musicals to have run for more than 10 years both on Broadway and in the West End. In 2011 MAMMA MIA! became the first Western musical ever to be staged in Mandarin in the People’s Republic of China.  The hugely successful International Tour, premiered in Dublin in September 2004 and has now visited 85 cities across 38 countries, selling more than 5 million tickets.

Its success has been extraordinary, buoyed by the release in 2008 of MAMMA MIA! The Movie, which became the highest grossing live action musical film of all time.

So just what has made this show so popular?  Of course it’s ABBA’s music and lyrics written by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, which everyone knows and loves. When ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 with Waterloo, their catchy tunes, lyrics and outrageously flamboyant costumes assured them of worldwide success.  It’s warmth, familiarity and poptastic fun appeals to all ages and it was good to see some young children in the audience, loving the songs and the story.  I remember my young niece watching the DVD of the film when it came out over and over again and singing the songs in the car. 

Quite often if people try to write a storyline around the lyrics of songs it can be clunky and jarring, but this story works as the characters are real and relatable.  The book is written by Catherine Johnson, who gives it a light touch creating some very lovable and funny characters.  Central protagonist, Donna Sheridan, is played by Shona White, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Meryl Streep and wins the audience around with her warmth and understanding of Donna’s dilemmas. Her side-kicks, Rosie and Tanya, both played with great verve and humour by Nicky Swift and Helen Anker, make up the dynamic trio performing Dancing Queen in the iconic costumes.

Lucy May Barker playing Donna’s daughter, Sophie has an absolutely pitch perfect voice, with great stage presence and she’s definitely someone to watch.

The choreography by Anthony Van Lasst was wonderful and I especially enjoyed the guys dancing in flippers!  If you’ve ever tried to walk in them (and I have) you’ll know how difficult it is, so this routine is joyous to watch.

The costumes are divine, the whole production is slick, full of energy and fun and the cast seemed to be having as much fun as the audience.  The theatre was packed to the rafters and I’m sure it will continue to be around the Globe.  It’s a real ‘feel-good’ night out, which lifts everyone up and leaves you singing and dancing all the way home.

For future tour details visit www.mammamia.com

Reviewed by:

Yvonne Delahaye

26.6.18

@yvonnedelahaye

Jun 28th

The Band The Musical - King’s Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

 

The Band’s tour rocks and rolls into Glasgow for a two week stay at this most prestigious of venues.  Featuring the music of nineties and noughties sensations, Take That, The Band was bound to be a huge box-office hit … but would the musical rock 5 star reviews?

From time to time, when writing a review, I recognise that my view will not necessarily represent that of the majority of ticket buyers.  At times like this I feel that I should provide some perspective.  A couple of sentences on where I am coming from …  I’ve never been a huge Take That fan!  There.  I said it.  I love pop music but I’ll never get further than the chorus when singing along to Take That.

From the reaction of the packed house at Glasgow’s King’s Theatre, this audience were HUGE fans of Take That.  They couldn’t resist singing along and loved all the tell-tale references to the costumes, choreography and the rich history of Take That.

There are all sorts of things which are good about this production.  The story is strong.  Very Strong.  Back in 1993, young Rachel (Faye Christall) and her 4 best friends win tickets to see their favourites live on stage – The Band.  Shortly after the gig, tragedy strikes the teenagers and the 5 friends become 4.  Soon afterwards, the 4 lose touch.  25 years later, an older Rachel (Rachel Lumberg) wins 4 tickets for a reunion concert of The Band in Prague. She reaches out to 3 friends to reunite on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.  Well defined characters explore how the passage of time has affected them and their loves, losses and realisations along the way.  There are plenty of laughs (both among the teenagers and their adult alter-egos) and the whole thing is underscored by The Band and their music. 

 

The Band themselves are woven through the scenes; occasionally interacting with the action - almost like big stars playing cameo roles in a music video. But mostly, The Band are a ghostly presence on the fringes of the action whenever they are not centre stage at one of the gigs.

Production levels are fabulous.  The Band’s costumes are amazing and the set is remarkably versatile and very cleverly designed by Jon Bausor.  The Band are choreographed flawlessly as they execute almost magical costume and scene changes – even convincingly guiding a passenger jet to take-off from the Kings Theatre stage.

My problem with the show (unexpectedly) is the music.  The songs don’t advance the plot.  At times the underscored lyrics are in open conflict with Tim Firth’s excellent script, rendering it inaudible.  The only exception to this is “Back For Good”, which sees the adult cast and their younger selves sing an octet that works on many levels with the storyline.  More of that, please!  If you are expecting a perfect match of story and song like Mamma Mia or Sunshine on Leith, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed.

Cast performances are excellent.  The Band (AJ Bently, Nick Carsberg, Curtis T Johns, Yazdan Oafouri, & Sario Solomon) sing very well indeed and their interaction with the onstage action is confidently delivered.   Rachel Lumberg (Rachel) and Emily Joyce (Heather) are particularly strong; carrying recognisable traits from their younger selves and delivering grounded adult versions of those core characters.  Ms Lumberg tugs on all the right heartstrings as she comes to terms with the loss of a friend 25 years on.  Rachelle Diedericks as young Debbie delivers a particularly touching character.  Andy Williams gets a special mention as “Every Dave” for bringing a smile every time he is on stage.

Take That fans will love this show.  Everyone else will like it just as much as I did!

 

The Band – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

26/06/18 – 06/07/18

Matinees Sat 14:30

Evenings Mon-Thu & Sat 19:30

Fridays 17:00, 20:30

Box Office: 0844 871 7648 (bkg. fee) www.atgtickets.com

Tickets: £23.40 - £53.40

 Image: Matt Crockett 

Jun 22nd

20th Century Boy the Musical

By Trevor Gent

20th Century Boy, a musical inspired by the life of rock legend Marc Bolan, to mark the 40th anniversary of the iconic star’s untimely death. Featuring classic T.Rex 70s hits Ride a White Swan, Metal Guru, I Love to Boogie, 20th Century Boy and many more.

Starting at 8pm this is a long show for a work night, the first act is over an hour and the second act is 80 minutes long, making a late finish, maybe a more sensible start would have been 7.30pm?

Had Marc Bolan lived he would have been 71 this September. Sadly he died in a car crash when only twenty nine though which is where the show starts. It then goes back and charts his life from adolescence, thorough his early career, falling in love and marrying and the trials and tribulations of his life. It shows just how much he fitted into his short life. 

You have to be a fan of Marc Bolan to stick with it and sadly, although I was a fan, one of the first records I bought was Metal Guru, we had to slip out before the end. The theatre cooling system was on full blast and there was not enough bodies producing heat to counteract the cold. The show certainly packs a lot in, as you can see from the length of it, and there are laughs and tears along the way. The fairly simple staging with a back screen projecting images worked mostly quite well but I found the clips of video accompanied by loud music at various times annoying.

As for the performances both actors playing the younger and older Marc Bolan were very good indeed, and I was particularly impressed with the singing voice of Marc’s love interest when he had finally made it in the states. It is maybe forgotten today just how successful he was at that time selling over 60,000 records a day. If you fancy a trip down memory lane then this could be for you. However, you will have to be quick as not so many dates left.

Still playing at the Wycombe Swan tonight and tomorrow and then the York Barbican between 24th and 26th June and Chelmsford Civic between 28th and 30th June.