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Jul 5th

The Mousetrap @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

When The Mousetrap opened in the West End after a short tour on 25th November 1952, Agatha Christie reckoned that her play would run for eight months.  Producer, Peter Saunders, was slightly more optimistic predicting a run of 14 months.  How astounded would they be now to see that 64 years later the play is still running in the West End, with a tour around the UK?

On 13th September 1957, the play achieved ‘longest running straight play in the West End’, which prompted Noel Coward to send a spiky message to Agatha ‘Much as it pains me, I really must congratulate you!’ But that was just the beginning of its most extraordinary record breaking achievements. The 50th anniversary was on 25th November 2002 and the performance was attended by HM The Queen and Prince Philip.  In its 60th year on 18th November 2012, the play reached an astounding 25,000 performances!  It was in this year that the first UK tour set out, but the play continued to run at St Martin’s Theatre, which has been its home since transferring from The Ambassadors Theatre in 1974, without a break in the run.  It also toured the Far East in 2013.

The big star names in the original cast were Richard Attenborough playing Det Sgt Trotter and his wife, Sheila Sim, who played Mollie.  Over 400 actors have played in The Mousetrap in the last 64 years, so it has certainly given a lot of jobbing actors regular work opportunities.

This touring production has only one ‘name’ at the moment and that’s Louise Jameson, who plays Mrs Boyle.  Louise is best known for her roles in Doctor Who, Bergerac, EastEnders and Doc Martin.  The Mousetrap though is bigger than any ‘names’, so long as the actors are good, then people will still flock to see the play, rather than its stars.

The characters are two-dimensional and the lines a bit clunky and full of clichés, so it’s not that easy to make the part your own.  Gregory Cox, playing the flamboyant Mr Paravicini, though did manage to lift the energy from a quite lack-lustre Monday evening show.

Agatha Christie was perhaps as baffled as everyone else by the show’s enduring appeal, but offered the following analysis ‘it is the sort of play you can take anyone to.  It’s not really frightening.  It’s not really horrible.  It’s not really a farce, but it has a little bit of all these things and perhaps that satisfies a lot of different people.’

Check out tour dates on www.mousetrapontour.com and tick this one off your bucket list!

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
4.7.16

May 20th

The Sound of Music @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

 Poster

There are some things that have become an essential part of Christmas time, panto, crackers, dramatic soap storylines and, of course, The Sound of Music.  Released in 1965, following its adaptation of the 1959 Broadway musical, it starred Julie Andrews and Christopher Plumber and  has become the most successful movie musical in history. It all began with the story of the Trapp Family Singers and Baroness Maria von Trapp’s 1949 autobiography, which inspired Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse to create a Broadway musical in 1959. The Sound of Music tells the true story of the world-famous singing family, from their romantic beginnings and search for happiness, to their thrilling escape to freedom as their beloved Austria became part of the Third Reich at the start of WWII.

The unforgettable score features some of the most memorable songs ever performed on stage, including Edelweiss, My Favorite Thing, Do-Re-Mi, Climb Ev’ry Mountain, So Long, Farewell and of course, the title song, The Sound of Music. This touring stage production is produced by Bill Kenwright, directed by Martin Connor, choreographed by Olivier Award winner Bill Deamer, with musical direction by David Steadman.  Gary McCann has created a wonderfully lavish, clever set recreating the abbey and house against a stunning backdrop depicting the mountains beyond.

BBC1’s The Voice runner-up and award-nominated Lucy O’Byrne stars in the role of Maria in this spectacular five-star production.  Lucy O’Byrne became a household name when she shot to success as the runner-up in the live shows of the TV talent show. With chart-topper Will.i.am as her mentor, and biggest fan, Lucy made history as the first classical singer to reach the final, impressing the nation with her stunning vocal range. Now, having recently performed at the BBC Proms, she makes her musical debut as the young postulant, Maria. Her first album, Debut, was released earlier this month.  Lucy has a warmth, charm and energy perfectly suited to Maria and once settled into the role, proved she deserved to be playing the lead.

Captain Von Trapp is played by Andrew Lancel, best known for his roles in Coronation Street as Frank Foster (for which he won Villan of The Year at the British Soap Awards) and as DI Neil Manson in The Bill.  This is Andrew’s first musical and was only his second performance since taking over the role, so he did look a bit uncomfortable at times.  He does have a nice baritone voice though and I’m sure once he settles into the role he’ll start to relax and enjoy it. 

 

Photo: Pamela Raith, courtesy of The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

Someone who looked completely relaxed and at ease with himself and the role was Duncan Smith as Max and I loved his camp performance.  The show was completely stolen for me by Jan Hartley as Mother Abbess whose sublime rendition of Climb Every Mountain, shook the theatre as she hit that top D, now that really is a voice that deserves to be heard!  The rest of the cast includes Isla Carter (Baroness Elsa), Kane Verrall (Rolf), Annie Horn (Liesl), Zoe Ann Brown (Sister Margaretta), Kate Scott (Sister Berthe), Tammy Davies (Sister Sophia), Jude Neill (Ursula), Anouska Eaton (Baroness Elberfeld), Jon de Ville (Franz), Pippa Winslow (Frau Schmidt), Scott Ainslie (Admiral von Schreiber), Piers Bate (Baron Elberfeld) and Lewis Barnshaw.

If you love the film (and who doesn’t?), this production is a ‘must see’.  The heart-warming love story translates perfectly to the stage, the singing is divine and the operatic tones at times, particularly in the choral harmonies in the abbey, seem heavenly. 

 

For tour details and to book tickets, visit www.atgtickets.com

 

 

Reviewed by:

Yvonne Delahaye

@yvonnedelahaye

20.5.16

May 3rd

Let It Be @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

Flyer

Photo; Provided by Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

Say the words ‘Let it Be’ to most adults and immediately they’ll think of the Beatles, 46 years after the song was released.  It’s extraordinary how much the music of The Beatles still permeates our lives and new fans are discovering their music every day.  They were a phenomenal global success with their music rooted in skiffle, beat and rock and roll, They formed in 1960, playing in Hamburg and then the Cavern Club in Liverpool. Manager Brian Epstein moulded them into a professional act, and producer George Martin guided and developed their recordings, greatly expanding their popularity in the United Kingdom after their first hit, "Love Me Do", in late 1962. They acquired the nickname "the Fab Four" as Beatlemania grew in Britain the next year, and by early 1964 became international stars, leading the "British Invasion" of the United States pop market. 

The Beatles were George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. They are the best-selling band in history, with estimated sales of over one billion units. The group received 7 Grammy awards, 15 Ivor Novello Awards and an Oscar. They have more multi-platinum albums, more number one singles and more number one albums than any other group. They are the only act to have simultaneously held the top five positions on the US Billboard chart. They are the only group to appear five times in the top 100 best-selling singles in the UK – no other group appears more than twice. Their song Yesterday is the most covered song in history. Their song I Want To Hold Your Hand is the fastest selling single of all time. The Beatles 1 is the fastest selling CD of all time. The group officially split in December 1970.

The national UK tour is visiting 26 theatres across England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales entertaining theatregoers with a show spanning the iconic eras of the band’s illustrious career.

Let It Be audiences can look forward to a show lasting more than two hours bursting with timeless hits, show-stopping sets, dazzling costumes and a brilliant performance which fans will never forget. The show also continues to attract theatregoers and fans of live music, alongside the most dedicated Beatles’ enthusiasts. The Beatles have never been so popular with a real resurgence in the band’s popularity and new fans discovering their music. 

The cast of talented musicians have already toured the show to some of the biggest stages in the world including Broadway.  With the help of some excellent wigs, the lads really look like the Fab Four and do a fantastic job at recreating their sound and humour.

Photo; Provided by Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

 

Performances:   Mon 5 – Sat 7 May

Mon– Sat eves 7.30pm

Thu & Sat mat 2.30pm

Tickets: From £17.50 (£20.40 when booked online or over the phone)

Box Office: 0844 871 7607 (bkg fee)

Groups Hotline: 0844 871 7614

Access Booking: 0844 871 7677 (bkg fee)

Online Booking: www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury (bkg fee)

Facebook: Let It Be UK Tour

Twitter: @thewaterside1

 

Reviewed on: 

Yvonne Delahaye

@yvonnedelahaye

2nd May 2016

 

Apr 6th

Tom, a Story of Tom Jones, the Musical @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

The word ‘legend’ is often bandied around about people whose achievements have been somewhat minor.  Tom Jones, however, really has earned the title of ‘legend in his own lifetime’ with over 50 years since reaching number 1 with ‘It’s Not Unusual’ in 1965. Since then, he has sung many forms of popular music – pop, rock, R&B, show tunes, country, dance, soul, and gospel – and sold over 100 million records. Jones has had thirty-six Top 40 hits in the United Kingdom and nineteen in the United States; some of his notable songs "What's New Pussycat", "Delilah", "Green, Green Grass of Home", "She's a Lady", "Kiss", and "Sex Bomb".

Photo by Simon Gough courtesy of The Waterside Theatre

Jones was awarded an OBE in 1999 and received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for "services to music" in 2006. He has received many other awards throughout his career, including the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1966, an MTV Video Music Award in 1989, and two Brit Awards, winning Best British Male in 2000 and Outstanding Contribution to Music in 2003. From 2012 to 2015 Jones was one of the four coaches on the BBC television talent show The Voice UK.

TOM. A Story Of Tom Jones. The Musical is written by Mike James and directed by Geinor Styles, with musical direction by Ben Goddard, set design by Sean Crowley and sound design by Mike Beer.  The story charts Tom’s early life in Ponypridd with his teenage sweetheart, Linda Trenchard, whom he married a month before their baby son, Mark, was born, when they were both 16. Linda is clearly a very strong woman, who completely supported Tom’s ambitions at the expense of her own life.  It takes a woman of enormous strength to allow their partner to follow their dreams, even with the knowledge that he was cheating on her during that time.  Much has been written about their relationship over the years, but their marriage has endured all these years and that is testament to a deep, unconditional love.

Kit Orton plays the hip swivelling Tom, whose voice and moves has everyone enthralled and he clearly had something very special that was recognised early on.  Elin Phillips plays his long-suffering wife Linda, showing a depth to her character that gives us an insight into how this couple survived all this time.

The show takes us on a journey of 8 years, with Tom playing the pubs and clubs, striving for success.  I’m sure this grounding has enabled Tom to keep reinventing himself and stay at the top of his game all these years.  With reality TV offering a quick route to success nowadays, I doubt many of today’s new stars will be known in 50 years time.

If you’re a fan of Tom (and let’s face it, who isn’t?), it’s a great night to give you an insight into his early performing years.  There are some great songs along the way and a few to sing along with at the end. 

Director Geinor Styles said: “Just very occasionally an opportunity comes along that has the words ’perfect fit’ written all the way through it like a stick of rock.  In this case it’s rock and roll and the compelling story of the early days of this county’s most famous son – the living legend that is Sir Tom Jones.”

The development of this production has been supported by the Arts Council of Wales, Welsh Government, RCT, NPT Theatres and Wales Millennium Centre.

www.tomthemusical.co.uk


Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
@yvonnedelahaye
5.4.16

Mar 8th

Private Lives @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

Sir Noël Peirce Coward (16 December 1899 – 26 March 1973) was an English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer, known for his wit, flamboyance, and what Time magazine called "a sense of personal style, a combination of cheek and chic, pose and poise".

Born in Teddington, south-west London, Coward attended a dance academy in London as a child, making his professional stage début at the age of eleven. As a teenager he was introduced into the high society in which most of his plays would be set. Coward achieved enduring success as a playwright, publishing more than 50 plays from his teens onwards. Many of his works, such as Hay Fever, Private Lives, Design for Living, Present Laughter and Blithe Spirit, have remained in the regular theatre repertoire. He composed hundreds of songs, in addition to well over a dozen musical theatre works (including the operetta Bitter Sweet and comic revues), screenplays, poetry, several volumes of short stories, the novel Pomp and Circumstance, and a three-volume autobiography. Coward's stage and film acting and directing career spanned six decades, during which he starred in many of his own works.

Private Lives, written in just three days, remains Coward’s greatest success and the play that marked the peak of his career. Coward himself played Elyot with his ex-wife Amanda being played by Gertrude Lawrence an association unrivalled for clamour during their lifetimes and a legend to this day. Elyot and Amanda are a gloriously selfish divorced couple who, by a quirk of fate, meet again on their honeymoons with their new spouses and reignite their old spark. The revival of their fiery romance, alternating between heated rows and passionate reconciliations, reminds them that although they cannot live with each other, nor can they live without.

A masterpiece of 1930’s high comedy full of razor sharp wit and sparkling dialogue, Private Lives remains one of the most sophisticated, entertaining plays ever written, offering an evening of acutely sharp, divinely decedent, and unashamed humour. The leading roles have attracted a wide range of actors; among those who have succeeded Coward as Elyot are Robert Stephens, Richard Burton, Alan Rickman and Matthew Macfadyen, and successors to Lawrence as Amanda have included Tallulah Bankhead, Elizabeth Taylor, Maggie Smith, Kim Cattrall and Lindsay Duncan. Directors of new productions have included John Gielgud, Howard Davies and Richard Eyre. The play was made into a 1931 film and has been adapted several times for television and radio.

Private Lives - Production Images - Laura Rogers (Amanda Prynne) & Tom Chambers (Elyot Chase) photo by Alastair Muir PL326.jpg

Photo: Alastair Muir (provided by Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury)

This latest production is touring the country, prior to a West End run and features Tom Chambers (Top Hat, Strictly Come Dancing) as Elyot, Laura Rogers (Tipping The Velvet) as Amanda, Charlotte Ritchie (Call the Midwife) as Sybil and Richard Teverson (Downton Abbey) as Victor and is directed by Tom Attenborough. The set designer Lucy Osborne has done a fine job, creating wonderful art deco sets and costumer supervisor, Ed Parry, has created some chic period styles in particular the silk pyjamas worn by Amanda in the second act.

With all the recent talk about Eton and Oxbridge educated actors taking all the roles, I actually think that for Coward’s plays, this is what is required.  His characters really are light, whimsical and two dimensional and require a very light touch to play the humour, sophistication and glamour, particularly in Private Lives.  I felt that although the set and costumes were in the right period, the contemporary approach of the actors didn’t quite fit with the class system and style of the time.  There are particular ways of walking and moving with good deportment that was prevalent in the 1930s and was missing in this production.  It’s a very wordy play and some of the dialogue in the first act got lost through speed.  It’s also quite difficult to get the fights right between the warring couple, as it needs to be somehow played for comedy and not drama. 

How wonderful must it have been to have seen Burton and Taylor playing these roles, but it’s good to see that Coward’s work continues to be as popular as ever.


To book visit the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre Box Office, call 0844 871 7607 (bkg fee) or visit www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury (bkg fee).


Performances:

Mon 7 – Sat 12 March
Mon – Thu eves 7.30pm
Thu & Sat mat 2.30pm

Tickets:  From £15 (£16.90 when booked online or over the phone)
Box Office:  0844 871 7607 (bkg fee) Calls 7p per min plus your phone company’s access charge
Groups Hotline:  0844 871 7614
Access Booking: 0844 871 7677 (bkg fee)
Online Booking: www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury (bkg fee)

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
7.3.16
@yvonnedelahaye

Mar 4th

End of the Rainbow @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

Lisa Maxwell in End of The Rainbow

Image provided by The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

When you’re a theatre reviewer you watch a variety of shows, but very occasionally you see a show that totally blows you away and this is a show and a half!  Lisa Maxwell is magnificent as the deeply flawed Judy Garland and she gives a performance that is fearless, animalistic and completely authentic.  She totally inhabits Judy, with all her mannerisms and nuances perfectly portrayed and her powerful voice emulates all the intonations and phrasing flawlessly.  Close your eyes and you could not tell the difference, but even with your eyes open you cannot see Lisa Maxwell, all you see is Judy and that is one of the greatest achievements any actor could hope for.

Don’t expect this to be a happy ‘Over the Rainbow’ show, as this is a gritty and realistic portrayal of Judy in 1968, set to make an explosive comeback in London, but fuelled by her destructive addictions.  As a young star in the 1930s, MGM plied her with drugs to keep the frenetic filming schedule on track.  Thus began a lifelong addiction, that created psychological breakdowns and led to her eventual death a few months after this show is set.  Here we see a Judy about to marry her younger fiancé (who would be her 5th husband), who tries desperately to get her off the drink and drugs, but he’s fighting a losing battle as her dependency is so ingrained. 

A hit in the West End and on Broadway, End of the Rainbow features some of Garland’s most memorable songs The Man That Got Away, Come Rain Or Come Shine, The Trolley Song and of course Somewhere Over The Rainbow. There is a lot of humour with Garland’s legendary tenacity and razor-sharp wit, but if you’re offended by bad language, then beware as she had a very potty mouth!

Lisa Maxwell IS Judy Garland. Lisa is an actress and television presenter, best known for her role as Samantha Nixon in ITV’s The Bill from 2002 and 2009, and as a panelist on ITV’s Loose Women from 2009 – 2014. Other television credits include EastEnders, The Russ Abbot Show and The Lisa Maxwell Show.

Sam Attwater is also totally believable as Mickey Deans and gives a strong performance, as he tries to take control of the relationship and steer Judy in the right direction. Sam made his TV acting debut in 2009, playing Ricky in Hollyoaks. The following year he joined EastEnders and its online spinoff EastEnders: E20, as Leon Small. Stage credits include Brad in the 40th Anniversary tour of The Rocky Horror Show, Dreamboats and Petticoats in the West End, and the 2014 UK Tour of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Sam won the sixth series of ITV’s Dancing on Ice in 2011, and returned for the 'All Stars' series in 2014.

Adding even more drama to the mix, is Judy’s relationship with gay pianist Anthony Chapman, who is totally in love with her. This creates huge friction between him and Mickey, forming a dynamic triangle that intensifies the tragedy. Beautifully played by Gary Wilmot as Anthony, it was good to see him in a straight acting role. Gary’s musical theatre stardom began when he played Bill Snibson in the hit production of Me and My Girl at the Adelphi Theatre. His many theatre credits include Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (West End and Tour), Oklahoma! (UK Tour), The Pajama Game (Shaftesbury Theatre), The Invisible Man (Menier Chocolate Factory), Chicago (UK Tour), Half a Sixpence (UK Tour), HMS Pinafore and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre) Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (London Palladium), Carmen Jones (Old Vic) and Copacabana (World Premiere, Prince of Wales Theatre).

End of the Rainbow first premiered at the Sydney Opera House in 2005, before playing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2006. It returned to the UK in 2010 in a new production at Northampton Royal & Derngate, transferring to the West End the same year where it ran for 6 months and received four Olivier Award nominations. A Broadway run followed in 2012, where it received three Tony Award nominations. It is written by Peter Quilter, whose plays have been presented in over 40 countries around the world and translated into 30 languages. For End of the Rainbow, Peter received an Olivier Award nomination for Best New Play.

 

Credit must also be given to Director Daniel Buckroyd, for bringing out the very best in all the actors, keeping us hooked throughout. Daniel has been Artistic Director of the Mercury Theatre, Colchester since July 2012, where credits include Aladdin, Noises Off, Cinderella, Macbeth, Betty Blue Eyes, The Opinion Makers, The Butterfly Lion, The History Boys, The Hired Man and Michael Morpurgo’s Friend Or Foe. It is designed by David Shields.

 

It’s so sad to see how such talented people can be destroyed by drugs and drink and the parallels between Judy and Amy Winehouse are stark.  This show is one of the best pieces of theatre I’ve seen in a long time, with incredible performances all round and I’d recommend anyone to get off the sofa and fight to see it!

 

Performances:                 Thu 3 – Sat 5 Mar

                                       Thu – Sat eves 7.30pm, Thu & Sat mats 2.30pm

Tickets:                            From £15 (£16.90 when booked online or over the phone)

Box Office:                        0844 871 7607 (Bkg fee. Calls 7p per min plus phone company’s access charge)

Groups Hotline:               0844 871 7614

Access Booking:               0844 871 7677 (Bkg fee)

Online Booking:               www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury (Bkg fee)

Facebook:                        Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

Twitter:                            @thewaterside1

 

For tour dates, visit www.endoftherainbowtour.co.uk

Reviewed by:

Yvonne Delahaye

@yvonnedelahaye

3.3.16

Feb 24th

Rehearsal for Murder @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

Following his phenomenal decade-long success with The Agatha Christie Theatre Company, which sold over two million tickets and played to packed houses around the UK, theatrical impressario Bill Kenwright created The Classic Thriller Theatre Company and is now touring its first production Rehearsal For Murder.

This murder mystery comes from the pen of the legendary award-winning writing team Richard Levinson and William Link, the creators of the unsurpassable mystery series Murder She Wrote and the award-winning TV detective series Columbo.

 

Photograph provided by The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury.

Playwright Alex Dennison is left heartbroken when his fiancée and leading lady Monica Welles is found dead from an apparent suicide after the opening night of her stage debut. On the anniversary of that ill-fated night, Alex assembles the same cast and crew in the same theatre, for a reading of his new play. But as the reading progresses, the play’s similarity to actual events becomes increasingly uncomfortable for the participants, and it soon becomes clear that Alex believes Monica was murdered and his new play is a devious cat-and-mouse chase to uncover her killer...

The production stars ROBERT DAWS (Poldark, The Royal, Outside Edge, Roger Roger), his wife and co-star from The Royal AMY ROBBINS (Casualty, Blood Brothers) and three of the most popular members of the Agatha Christie Theatre Company SUSAN PENHALIGON (Bouquet of Barbed Wire, A Fine Romance), ROBERT DUNCAN (Drop The Dead Donkey, Go Back For Murder) and BEN NEALON (Soldier Soldier, Black Coffee). Joining them are STEVEN PINDER (Brookside) and LUCY DIXON (Waterloo Road, Hollyoaks).

The production is directed by ROY MARSDEN who is best known as an actor, particularly in his role as Adam Dalgliesh in Anglia TV's P.D. James series, which he played for 15 years. But he has also been directing plays since he was 15 years old and had two successful West End runs with Noel Coward’s Volcano and Agatha Christie’s (under the pen name Mary Westmacott) A Daughter’s A Daughter. His most recent work for Bill Kenwright was directing a UK tour of Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black theatrical follow up The Small Hand.

It seems that our fascination with ‘whodunnits’ will never wane and the theatre was very well attended.  It’s always good to see familiar faces from the TV and also to see plays touring as well as musicals. Robert Daws, as playwright Alex Dennison, drives the play forward in a huge role where he’s never off the stage.  The cast all do a great job in their roles, but the play is a bit slow, confusing and clunky at times.  As a jobbing actor myself, I enjoyed the ‘backstage’ setting and some of the in-jokes, particularly about actors and food, which are very accurate! 

The play runs to Saturday 27th at The Waterside and there’s still time to book tickets. Visit Aylesbury Waterside Theatre Box Office, call 0844 871 7607 (bkg fee) or visit www.atgtickets.com/Aylesbury (bkg fee).

Performances:                       Mon 22 – Sat 27 Feb

                                                Mon – Sat eves 7.30pm, Thu & Sat mats 2.30pm

Tickets:                                 From £10 (£11.90 when booked online or over the phone)

Box Office:                          0844 871 7607 (Bkg fee. Calls 7p per min plus phone company’s access charge)

Groups Hotline:                0844 871 7614

Access Booking:                0844 871 7677 (Bkg fee)

Online Booking:                www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury (Bkg fee)

 

Reviewed by:

Yvonne Delahaye

22.2.16

 

Jan 21st

The Glenn Miller Story with Tommy Steele @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

What do you think you’ll be doing when you reach the grand age of 79?  Putting your feet up, perhaps playing a bit of golf or bowls to keep active, or touring around the country doing 8 shows a week of acting, singing and dancing?  If you’re Tommy Steele and showbiz adrenaline runs through your veins, then the fact that you’re now 79 years young holds no barriers!  OK, maybe your voice isn’t quite what it used to be and the dancing is little more than a shuffle and maybe this is a role that you should have played 40 years ago, but a packed theatre shows people still know and love you and want to see you perform, so why not?

Tommy Steele

Tommy Steele became Britain’s first teen idol and rock and roll star, when he reached No 1 in the charts with ‘Singing the Blues’ in 1957.  His film credits include Half a Sixpence, The Happiest Millionnaire and Finian’s Rainbow.  With a successful recording career of hit records, Tommy also has numerous West End credits to his name, including Scrooge, Singing in the Rain and Some Like It Hot.

Over dinner one evening in the summer of 2014, Tommy chatted with theatrical impresario, Bill Kenwright, about his admiration for Glenn Miller and said he has toured the world, following the orchestra.  ‘What a musical it could make, what dances, what tunes’  said Bill and so from those initial discussions, the idea of turning The Glenn Miller Story into a show began. 

It’s an intriguing story that was made into a film in 1954, which starred James Stewart.  Miller was born in 1904 and in 1919, created the innovative new sound with a high-leading clarinet leading over the saxophone section.  That was the year they released ‘Moonlight Seranade’ and ‘In the Mood’ which topped the Billboard chart for 13 consecutive weeks.  On 15th December 1944, Glenn boarded a flight from London to Paris and is reported missing and was never seen again.

The music of The Glenn Miller Orchestra is timeless and no matter what your age you’ll recognise most of the songs.  This show perfectly recreates that iconic sound with a 16 piece orchestra on stage.

  

Supporting Tommy in this show is a fantastic troupe of singer/dancers, Zoe Nicole Adkin, Siobhan Diffin, Jessica Ellen, Nathan Elwick, Jordan Oliver and Alex Tranter with some brilliant swing and tap routines, choreographed by Bill Deamer.   Sarah Soetaert plays Helen Burger, the girl Miller courts and marries.

 

Cast

 

The theatre has been fully booked for the whole week, which shows the love of Miller’s music and the enduring popularity of Tommy Steele.  His joy and enthusiasm is infectious and, despite having to suspend a huge amount of disbelief, was a delight to watch.  When he came out of character at the start and end of the show, we saw the true showman working the audience and loving every minute of it!  Good for you mate, I hope I’ve got as much va, va voom when I’m 79!!!

The show runs till Saturday 23rd at The Waterside, Aylesbury and continues to:

Edinburgh Playhouse from 26th-30th

Bristol Hippodrome from 23rd-27th Feb

Liverpool Empire from 29th Feb-5th March.

Tickets available from www.atgtickets.com

 

Reviewed by:

Yvonne Delahaye

 

19th January 2016

Dec 17th

Dick Whittington @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

 

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a pantomime to get you into the festive spirit and this year at The Waterside it’s Dick Whittington.  It’s the tale of Dick and his feline friend Tommy, whose quest for fame and fortune is thwarted by the dastardly Queen Rat, but  he finds love along the way and strives to win the hand of the lovely Alice.

 

X-Factor winner from 2013, Sam Bailey stars as Fairy Bowbells.  We all remember the story of Sam, the former cruise ship singer who then worked as a prison officer, before shooting to stardom on X-Factor.  This is Sam’s first theatrical show and she makes a warm and sweet fairy and clearly the kids love her.  She’s got a lot to learn about acting and timing, but by the end of this run I’m sure she’ll have gained a huge amount of experience, which will prepare her for next year’s tour of Chicago, where she’ll be playing Mama Morton.

 

Another X-Factor finalist, Melanie Masson who appeared in 2013 belting out Janis Joplin’s Cry Baby, plays the role of Queen Rat.  Melanie trained at Queen Margaret University and gained a Diploma in Dramatic Art and her training and theatrical experience shows, as she relishes the role and gives a strong performance as the villainous Queen Rat.

 

Aylesbury’s favourite resident, Andy Collins, returns to play Idle Jack and keeps the energy up throughout.  There were jokes along the way setting up The Twelve Days of Christmas, which has become a tradition now for Andy to perform.

 

The diminutive Rachael Louise Miller plays Alice Fitzwarren,(who we all thought was one of the school-children initially)  the love interest of Dick Whittington played by Kristopher Milnes.  Jason Sutton is Sarah the Cook, with Indi-Jay Cammish playing Tommy The Cat.  Chris Nelson is Fitwarren/Sultan and also directed the show.

 

Some of the cast were having vocal problems, which can happen with the demands of  intensive panto rehearsals and performances, but hopefully they’ll all make it through the run!

 

There are some beautiful costumes and sparkly sets, which all help to create some magic for the children and the show runs until 3rd January 2016.

 

Dick Whittington Performances:  Fri 11 Dec 2015 – Sun 3 Jan 2016 (Times vary.)

 

Tickets:                              £10 - £27.75 (£11.90 - £30.65 when booked online or over the phone)

 

Box Office:                         0844 871 7607 (bkg fee) Calls 7p per min, plus your phone company’s access charge

 

Groups Hotline:               0844 871 7614 Access Booking:   0844 871 7677 (bkg fee)

 

Online Booking:               www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury (bkg fee)

 

Reviewed by:

 

Yvonne Delahaye

 

14.12.15

 Images courtesy of Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

Feb 17th

Return to the Forbidden Planet @ The Swan Theatre, High Wycombe

By Yvonne Delahaye

Poster

When I read that it was 25 years since Captain Tempest and his crew first journeyed into hyperspace, I couldn’t believe all those years had passed.  I vividly remember seeing a friend in the show in a run at the Soho Theatre, which was such good fun I knew they had a big hit on their hands.  As a recently graduated young actress, I was astounded by the talents of the cast not only acting, singing and dancing, but playing a variety of instruments as well!  Creator and Director Bob Carlton set the trend and spawned a number of shows that require actors to be ultra talented and multi-faceted.

Inspired by Shakespeare’s The Tempest and packed with rock n’ roll classics including Great Balls of Fire, This is a Man’s World, Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, Who’s Sorry Now, Teenager in Love, Young Girl, Heard It Through the Grapevine, Johnny B. Goode and Born To Be Wild, With stunning special effects, a brilliant cast of actor-musicians, a mad scientist, a huge green-tentacled monster and a rock ’n’ roller-skating robot, your in-flight entertainment is guaranteed! So fasten your seatbelts, set your ray guns to stun and prepare for blast off!

In this new production, founding member of Queen and a world-renowned guitarist Brian May appears via video projection as the Newscaster, a role I saw esteemed astronomer Sir Patrick Moore portray. The exceptionally talented cast features Steve Simmonds as Bosun, Sean Needham as Captain Tempest, Christine Holman as Science Officer, Greg Last,  as Navigation Officer, Mark Newnham as Cookie, Jonathan Markwood as Prospero, Frido Ruth as Ariel, Sarah Scowen as Miranda, Georgina Field as Anne Droid, Callum Hughes as Phil McCavity, Joseph Mann as Ewan Watami and Hannah Howcroft as Young Miranda.

Poster 2

Return to the Forbidden Planet opened at the West End’s Cambridge Theatre in September 1989, where it ran for over 1500 performances and won the 1990 Olivier Award for Best Musical.

Directed by its creator Bob Carton Return to the Forbidden Planet is choreographed by Frederick ‘Frido’ Ruth, with musical direction by Greg Last. It is designed by Rodney Ford with lighting design by Mark Dymock and sound design by Ben Harrison.

With a high-kicking, all-singing, all-dancing robot, superb vocals from everyone, excellent music and lots of Shakespeare’s quotes intertwined, what more could you want for a great night’s entertainment?  The show appeals to all ages, from primary school children with their parents up to their grandparents who can relive some fond memories through the music of the 50s and 60s.  Judging by the whoops and cheers at the end, everyone had had a thoroughly good evening and left feeling happy and relaxed.

This is a show that really puts a smile on your face and is the third time I’ve seen it. I pondered whether in another 25 years I’ll be returning once again to the Forbidden Planet, hopefully still fit enough to dance along to the encore?  I hope so!


Listings Information
Return to the Forbidden Planet
Mon 16 – Sat 21 February
Wycombe Swan, High Wycombe, HP11 2XE
Press Night: Mon 16 February | 7.30pm
Booking 01494 512 000
On-line  www.wycombeswan.co.uk
Tickets   £39.50* - £15.00* with concessions available
*A £1.50 per ticket booking fee will be added to all transactions.

 

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
16.2.15

Twitter: @yvonnedelahaye