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Sep 21st

Rhapsody Queen @ The Swan, High Wycombe on 19th September 2014

By Yvonne Delahaye

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High Wycombe rocked to the sounds of Queen, when tribute band Rhapsody Queen performed at The Swan on 19th September.  The hits came thick and fast and the band gave a high octane show that had the audience on its feet within minutes.  The audience's ages ranged from 7-70, proving that the popularity of this band will carry on for generations to come.

We all sang along to the songs we knew so well; One Vision, Under Pressure, Another One Bites the Dust, Fat Bottomed Girls, You’re My Best Friend, Killer Queen, Bicycle Race, Lullabye, The Show Must Go On, Don’t Stop Me Now, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Flash, A Kind Of Magic, Seven Seas Of Rye, I Want It All, Somebody to Love, Bohemian Rhapsody, Tie Your Mother Down, Radio Gaga, We Will Rock You, I Want to Break Free and We Are The Champions.  It’s an extraordinary list of hits that began in 1973 and kept on coming until 1991, when tragically Freddie Mercury died.  We can only wonder how many more hits they’d have had in the ensuing years, but in the words of one of his songs his legacy will ‘live forever’.

Tribute bands often get a lot of flack, but I think they have to work extremely hard to produce the sounds and emulate their heroes. What is extraordinary about this band is that they’re all in their 20s, so wouldn’t have been born at the height of Queen’s success.  They met at music college BIMM in Brighton and this line-up has been performing together for the past year and they’re going from strength to strength.

Yvan Silva as Freddie Mercury, is an accomplished musician and has a good vocal range up to high falsetto.  He’s a great showman to front the show and has the strutting confidence to engage the audience and get everyone to accept his tribute performance in his own right.  No-one can match the vocal dexterity that Freddie had and Yvan struggled a few times with some of the complex key changes and could have brought more light and shade into some of the songs, but I’m sure that’ll come with time and more experience. Jonny Sennet produces Brain May’s distinctive sound and style and has the height and the hair, as well as the musical abilities to give the band the right image.  The band is completed by Paul Lennox as Roger Taylor, Matt Sparkes as John Deacon and Jason Mercer as Spike Edney, who are all accomplished musicians and singers.

The show is everything you’d want a Queen concert to be, theatrical, entertaining and good fun, with the chance to have a sing-a-long and bop to our favourite songs.


Catch the show on tour:
4th October at Floral Pavilion Theatre, Brighton
17th October at Palace Theatre, Redditch
29th October at The Courtyard Theatre, Hereford
It’s a show you can take your kids or your granny along to and have a great night out!
For more info visit: www.queentribute.co.uk

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
19.9.14
Twitter: @yvonnedelahaye

Sep 8th

Ha Ha Hood @ The Swan Theatre, High Wycombe

By Yvonne Delahaye

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After seeing the madcap comedy Ha Ha Holmes! last year with Joe Pasquale, I was looking forward to some more crazy antics from the Ha Ha! team with a brand new and all-out outrageous comic romp! Ha Ha Hood! And the Prince of Leaves, is the latest irreverent interpretation of a classic story from the team who also brought us Ha Ha Hitler! And Ha Ha Hamlet!  With all the terrible events happening around the world, we all need to escape and have some fun and laughter in our lives and this show is guaranteed to get your sides aching.

Ten years after a messy divorce Robin and Marian are forced back together to fight the Sheriff once more. Little John and Friar Tuck, now considerably older and rougher around the edges, join the merry pair to try and save the citizens of Nottingham…

Maid Marian, Nottinghamshire’s feistiest female, who has in the past been brought to life by the likes of screen goddesses Audrey Hepburn, Cate Blanchett and Uma Thurman  is now portrayed by Su Pollard, who serves up a world-weary Marian who is definitely more matron than maid!   Tommy Cannon takes on the evil Sheriff of Nottingham and Little John while Bobby Ball, currently starring in TV’s Not Going Out with Lee Mack, doubles up as Friar Tuck and Guy of Gisborne.

Su Pollard is a comedy icon who needs no introduction. The Nottingham-born lass makes for a perfect menopausal Marian, cutting her comedy chops on hit BBC sitcom Hi-de-Hi as scatty chalet maid Peggy. Su cemented her camp credentials with comedies You Rang, M’lord and Oh, Doctor Beeching, and is a musical theatre and pantomime heroine! 

Cannon and Ball’s starring role in Ha Ha Hood!  Prince of Leaves marks forty years since their first television appearance and a whopping fifty years together as a duo.   The Cannon and Ball Show ran for 9 hugely successful years and the pair have 2 sitcoms and numerous theatre/pantomime appearances under their belts; not forgetting their hilarious stint on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here. 

Ben Langley (Robin Hood) has worked in London’s Covent Garden as a street performer for the last 18 years, winning The Bristol Harbour Festival Street Performer of the Year award.  He is co-founder of the Ha Ha Boys comedy team, writing and touring the Ha Ha series of theatre shows since 2007. 

“For me, what I saw in Ha Ha! was a British version of The Reduced Shakespeare Company which, rather than taking the micky out of us, was embracing us and was very pro-British and was a tribute to all of the great comedy artists and routines that have made Britain funny over the last 50 to 100 years.” – Ben Langley, creator

Andy Pickering completes the cast, accompanying on piano and adding a variety of wigs and voices to the chaotic events.

Su Pollard has the most wonderful belting singing voice (and a lovely pair of pins!) and her energy is just as infectious as ever.  Bobby and Tommy are warm and funny and it’s a joy to watch the three of them working the audience, knowing exactly how to deliver a line and entertain us all.   We all enjoyed the show immensely and although we’ve seen the sight gags hundreds of times they all still work and have us giggling all the way through.  Some of the lines were a bit coarse, especially as there were a lot of young children in the audience, but overall the show is jolly good clean fun.

Switch off the news, go out and have a laugh – it’s the best therapy in the world!

Tour Dates:

Tuesday 9th September Venue Cymru Llandudno
Wednesday 10th September Crewe Lyceum Theatre
Thursday 11th September New Brighton Floral Pavilion Theatre
Friday 12th September Carlisle The Sands Centre
Saturday 13th September Durham Gala
Sunday 14th September The Hawth Crawley
Tuesday 16th September Milton Keynes Theatre
Wednesday 17th September Hastings White Rock
Thursday 18th September Leamington Spa Royal Spa Centre
Friday 19th September Redditch Palace Theatre
Saturday 20th September Tunbridge Wells Assembly Hall Theatre
Monday 22nd September – Tuesday 23rd September Stevenage Gordon Craig Theatre
Wednesday 24th September Lancaster Grand Theatre
Thursday 25th September Grimsby Auditorium
Friday 26th September York Grand Opera House
Sunday 28th September Glasgow Theatre Royal
Monday 29th September Edinburgh Playhouse
Tuesday 30th September Billingham Forum Theatre

Further dates and info on www.hahahood.com

@HaHaShow

Reviewed by:
@Yvonne Delahaye
7.9.14

Aug 12th

One Man Two Guvs @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

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Carlo Goldoni (1707-1793) born in Venice, wrote over 200 plays, of which 150 are comedies.  One of his best known works, Il Servitore di Due Padroni (The Servant of Two Masters), was given a new lease of life by Richard Bean, who adapted it in 2011 for the National Theatre, setting it in Brighton in 1963.  Now seen by over 1 million people worldwide, this internationally-acclaimed smash-hit has been hailed as 'the funniest show on the planet' by The Mail and a 'comic classic' by The Guardian and has been hugely successful on Broadway, in the West End and on tour in the UK as well as Australia, Hong Kong and New Zealand..

One Man, Two Guvnors is the hilarious story of Francis Henshall who, fired from his skiffle band, becomes minder to Roscoe Crabbe. But Roscoe is really Rachel, posing as her own dead brother - who's been killed by her boyfriend Stanley Stubbers. Francis spots the chance of an extra meal ticket and takes a job with one Stanley Stubbers - but to prevent discovery, he must keep his two guvnors apart. It has been described as a glorious celebration of British comedy - a unique, laugh-out-loud mix of satire, songs, slapstick and glittering one-liners.

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The acclaimed production has songs by Grant Olding, performed by skiffle band The Craze, who entertain the audience before the first and second acts. Every movement is carefully choreographed for maximum comedy effect by the Physical Comedy Director  Cal McCrystal and Choreographer and Tour Director Adam Penford, with designs by Mark Thompson, lighting by Mark Henderson, sound design by Paul Arditti, fight direction by Kate Waters.

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Literally throwing himself into the role of Francis Henshall is Gavin Spokes who recently appeared in 1984  and Jamie Lloyd's production of She Stoops to Conquer.  He played Hardy in Laurel and Hardy for the Watermill Theatre.

Emma Barton, Shaun Williamson, Derek Elroy One Man 2 Guvs.jpgShaun Williamson, probably best known for his roles as Barry in EastEnders, Extras and Life's Too Short for Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, plays scrap dealer Charlie ‘the Duck’ Clench.

Emma Barton, playing Francis’s love interest Dolly, is well known to TV viewers for her role as Honey Mitchell in EastEnders, a role she played for three years and she recently appeared in Celebrity Masterchef.

Jasmyn Banks is Pauline Clench, Alicia Davies is Rachel Crabbe, Michael Dylan is Alfie, Derek Elroy plays Lloyd Boateng, Edward Hancock is Alan Dangle (playing the role of ‘an actor’ which I really enjoyed) and Patrick Warner plays Stanley Stubbers

Taking its roots from Commedia dell’arte, the play often moves into pantomime with carefully crafted  audience participation.  The restaurant scene, as always, is the funniest scene in the play, leaving the audience roaring with laughter at the slapstick antics and mishaps.  Precise comic timing is an absolute must in this show and the cast execute this to perfection.

Having seen the original tour with the superb James Cordon starring, I was a little disappointed to see that some very coarse lines had been added, which seemed to be unnecessary and actually distracted from the comedy.  The style seems to have changed too, playing specifically for laughs, but the audience love it nonetheless and I can see this touring for many years to come.

Performances:   Mon 11 – Sat 16 Aug
Evenings 7.30pm, Thu & Sat Mat 2.30pm
Tickets:  £10 - £29.50 when booked online or over the phone. (premium seats also available)
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)

The tour continues to:
Crawley Heath
18 – 23 August 2014
Regent Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent
25 – 30 August 2014
Liverpool Empire
1 – 6 September 2014
Theatre Royal, Bath
8 – 20 September 2014
Royal & Derngate, Northampton
22 – 27 September 2014
Further dates and info can be found on:
www.onemantwoguvnors.com


Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
11.8.14

Aug 6th

April in Paris @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury 5th - 9th August 2014

By Yvonne Delahaye

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John Godber is the third most performed playwright in the UK, after William Shakespeare and Alan Ayckbourn. His plays are performed across the world with Bouncers being the most popular and it’s easy to see why he’s so successful.  John writes characters that are real, human, truthful and very, very funny. April in Paris was written in 1992 as part of the Hull Festival and in 1994 was nominated for the Olivier Comedy of the Year Award.


Al and Bet are not what you'd call 'love's young dream'. Bet's bored, Al's at his wits' end and they're stuck in a romance rut! Then out of the blue the passionless pair win a holiday to Paris! Will the city of love rekindle some life into this dying relationship? Will they succumb to the allure of l'amour in 'gay Paris'? Or will it be battle-stations amongst the boulevards? Join the intrepid pair as they sample the delights of the continent. Will Paris persuade them that they are a perfect partnership or is this the end of 'la rue' for Al and Bet?


John revisited the play 22 years after he wrote it and discovered that the themes of high unemployment, redundancy and house price stagnation were still endemic in Yorkshire.  In this version, the play is still very fresh, well balanced and relevant and it’s two stars, Shobna Gulati and Joe McGann, bring the characters to life, sharing their lives, dreams and disappointments with us.

Shobna Gulati is best known for playing Anita in Victoria Wood’s Dinnerladies and Sunita Alahan in Coronation Street from 2001 to 2006, a role to which she returned at the end of 2009 and departed again in 2013. Since then she has been a panellist on Loose Women.

Joe McGann became a household name as Charlie Burrows, the “housekeeper” in the hit TV comedy series The Upper Hand which ran for six years. His major stage roles include Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls, Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof and Ray Say in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice.

April in Paris is produced by Paul Tyrer & Jamie Clark for April in Paris Ltd with Jane Walmsley and Michael Braham for JAM Pictures Ltd, in association with Derby Theatre.

The dialogue is fast-paced, with almost a laugh on every line and is hysterically funny.  Shobna and Joe are both brilliant as Bet and Al and we totally believe in their characters and relationship.  Every comic nuance is delivered with great energy, enthusiasm and truth.  As my friend Vicky said ‘they make it look so easy’, but as we’re both actors too we know only too well just how hard they both have to work to keep an audience entertained with just 2 actors on stage. The play has great warmth and the moments of pathos are touching, but never dwelt on for long as the laughs just keep on coming. 

The set is very cleverly designed by Pip Leckenby and we loved the 2 understudies, Emma Keele and Robert Ashcroft, dressed as French mime artists who made the set changes hilarious.

Tickets are available from Aylesbury Waterside Theatre Box Office on 0844 871 7607 (bkg fee), or online at www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury  (bkg fee)

LISTINGS
Performances:   Tue 05 – Sat 09 Aug
Evenings 7.30pm, Wed & Sat Mat 2.30pm
Tickets:  £10 - £29.50 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)
The tour continues to:
AUGUST
12th-16th Malvern Theatre
19th-23rd Churchill Theatre, Bromley
26th-30  Glasgow Theatre Royal
SEPTEMBER
1st-3rd   Lyceum Theatre, Crewe
4th-6th  Opera House, Manchester
9th-13th  Richmond Theatre
15th-20th Chesterfield Pomegranate
24th-27th New Brighton Floral Pavilion
30th-4th Oct Dundee Rep Theatre
OCTOBER
7th-11th  Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
14th-18th Civic Theatre, Darlington


Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
5.8.14

Apr 10th

Dial M for Murder @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

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We all love a good murder mystery thriller that keeps us on the edge of our seats and guessing right until the end and this play really delivers.  Dial M for Murder  was written in the early 1950s by Frederick Knott and was famously made into a film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1954, starring Ray Milland and Grace Kelly.  Hitchcock rarely moved the action outside the single-room setting, capturing the play’s claustrophobic intensity.

Tony (Daniel Betts) is convinced his wife Sheila (Kelly Hotten) is having an affair with Max (Philip Cairns). We watch mesmerised at Tony’s precision in planning what must surely be the perfect murder… until it falters in the most unexpected way. 007.jpg
Daniel Betts (Tony) is outstanding as he convinces his wife that he’s a loving husband, whilst coldly calculating her demise.  The cast, which includes Christopher Timothy as Inspector Hubbard and Robert Perkins as Captain Lesgate, all deliver solid performances in keeping with the period, that keep us in suspense throughout.
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Mike Britton has designed an amazing set that helps to create an atmosphere of tension and expectation. 

The play is directed by Lucy Bailey, whose hit production of Fortune’s Fool is currently playing at the Old Vic.    She writes ‘Dial M for Murder operates on a surface of terrible politeness; beneath it, there’s violent, erotic, almost impenetrable undercurrents.’
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This really is a stylish, intensely gripping thriller that will stick in your mind for many years to come.  You really must go and see this superb production, Dial M for Magnificent!

Tour continues to:
15th-19th Festival Theatre, Malvern
22nd-26th  Theatre Royal, Nottingham
29th April-3rd May Theatre Royal, Norwich
6th-10th May Opera House, Manchester
13th-17th Birmingham Repertory Theatre
20th-24th Yvonne Arnauld Theatre, Guildford
27th-31st May  His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen
4th-7th June New Theatre, Cardiff
10th-14th June  Hall for Cornwall, Truro
17th-21st  Arts Theatre, Cambridge
24th-28th June Theatre Royal, Glasgow

For more info, visit www.dialmonstage.co.uk

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
8th April 2014

 

Apr 2nd

Nina Kristofferson's Billie Holiday Story @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

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It’s a sad fact that some of the world’s most talented artists live their lives in alcohol and drug-induced hazes and die tragically young.  The comparison between Amy Winehouse’s tragically short life and that of Billie Holiday is very marked, but we can take comfort that their music will remain forever.  Billie died in 1959 at the age of 44 of cirrhosis of the liver, after many years of alcohol and drug abuse.

Billie Holiday’s story is extremely sad, beginning with childhood rape and prostitution, but somehow she managed to escape and at 15 became a singer.  Her unique style of improvisation was based on hearing Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong singing and wanting to use her voice as an instrument.  Without any formal training and with a limited range, she created sounds that are virtually impossible to emulate even today. 

Frank Sinatra was influenced by her performances on 52nd Street as a young man. He told Ebony in 1958 about her impact:
With few exceptions, every major pop singer in the US during her generation has been touched in some way by her genius. It is Billie Holiday who was, and still remains, the greatest single musical influence on me. Lady Day is unquestionably the most important influence on American popular singing in the last twenty years.

Lady Day was the nickname given to Billie by her old friend saxophonist Lester Young and the name stuck.  Between 1944-47 she won the Esquire Magazine’s Gold and Silver Awards for Best Female Leading Jazz Vocalist.  Billie Holiday was posthumously inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, which is a special Grammy award established in 1973 to honor recordings that are at least 25 years old and that have "qualitative or historical significance."  In 1972, Diana Ross portrayed Holiday in the film Lady Sings the Blues, which is loosely based on the 1956 autobiography of the same name. The film earned Ross a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress.
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Nina Kristofferson’s Billie Holiday Story is touring following a successful run in the West End’s Charing Cross Theatre in 2013.  Supported by a 5 piece band, the show features some of her most memorable songs God Bless the Child, Don’t Explain, All of Me, The Man I love, Lover Man, Strange Fruit and Body and Soul amongst others.  Interspersed with the songs, Nina acts out some of the stirring and haunting memories that plagued Billie throughout her life.

Nina’s extensive career has encompassed theatre, TV, panto, Shakespeare and cabaret.  It’s very tough to perform a one-woman show, but Nina is supported throughout this show by her brilliant band Allan Rodgers (Musical Director/Pianist), Martin Shaw (Trumpet), Phil Donnelly (Double Bass), Albert Gaza (Tenor Sax/Clarinet) and Elliott Henshaw (Drums). It’s so hard to encapsulate the specific sounds that Billie Holiday could make with her voice, but occasionally Nina manages it on Don’t Explain and All of Me.  Nina’s rich, mellifulous tones reminded me more of Sarah Vaughan, a contemporary and sometime rival of Billie Holiday.

Despite her continuing popularity and influence on today’s pop singers, sadly the 1200 seat theatre was only about a quarter full.  I think it would perhaps have more impact in a smaller theatre, where the intimate nature of the story could be more fully appreciated.

The tour continues to:
8th April The Churchill Theatre, Bromley
9th April New Wimbledon Theatre
16th April Grimsby Auditorium
17th April Grand Opera House, York
1st May New Victoria Theatre
8th May New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham

Reviewed By:
Yvonne Delahaye
1st April 2014

 

Mar 27th

FAME - the Musical @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

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‘You want fame? Well, fame costs and right here is where you start paying in sweat.’  These iconic words are still used today to promote the New York City High School for Performing Arts, where this musical is based.  Conceived by David de Silva, he enlisted British director Alan Parker to make the hugely successful 1980 film FAME, which was remade in 2009.  The film spawned a TV spin-off show featuring many of the original film cast Lee Curreri, Albert Hague, Gene Anthony Ray and Debbie Allen. Irene Cara, who played Coco Hernandez, had a massive worldwide hit with the title song and the movie won its composer, Michael Gore, two Academy Awards for Best Score and Best Song.

Thirty four years after the film’s release and people are still dreaming of stardom and success, but many now get fast-tracked through the route of reality TV, without the hard work, sweat and sacrifice professional training demands.  In 1967 journalist and broadcaster Malcolm Muggeridge wrote ‘in the past if someone was famous or notorious it was for something – as a writer or an actor or a criminal; for some talent or distinction or abomination.  Today one is famous for being famous.  People who come up to one in the street or in public places to claim recognition nearly always say ‘I’ve seen you on the telly.’

FAME The Musical has retained its following despite many incarnations and this new production has perhaps lost some of the dynamism of the past.  Gone are the iconic legwarmers, which is a great shame especially as some of the audience arrived in them complete with lycra leggings!  This production has brought the story up-to-date complete with mobile phones, but I thought it would have been better to keep it set in the 80s as a timepiece of bygone times, before the advent of reality TV.  The story focuses more on the relationships between Carmen Diaz (Jodie Steele) and Schlomo (Harry Blumenau), the extraordinarily lithe Alex Thomas as Tyrone and Iris (Sasi Strallen) and the crush Serena (Sarah Harlington) has on Nick (Alex Joran-Mills).

We have to wait until the second act to see some of the best dance routines, which I’d have like to have seen more of, by Director and Choreographer Gary Lloyd.

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There was a stellar performance by Landi Oshinowo as Miss Sherman, whose rich, gospel tones lifted the whole production.

FAME has enjoyed seven West End runs since premiering in the USA in 1988 and continues to be performed all over the world.  There is only one tune you’ll be singing on your way home and that, of course, is the title track FAME and it’s gonna live forever!

The show runs at The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury to 29th March and the tour continues to:

Liverpool Empire
14th-19th April 
Edinburgh Playhouse Theatre
21st-26th April
Regent Theatre Stoke-on-Trent
28th April-3rd May

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
24.3.14

Mar 23rd

Sing-a-Long-a Grease @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye
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Hands up anyone who spent Saturday night wearing a paper bag on their head?  Just me and my friend Tricia then?  Oh and about 1000 others at The Waterside Theatre who joined in the fun for Sing-a-long-a Grease!  It’s a fun night where we were all given a party bag with tissue, balloon, chequered flag and popper to use at appropriate times during the film, as well as the bag itself (no we honestly didn't just decide to wear it throughout!).

The evening gives people a chance to dress up and there were some wonderful costumes, from Pink Ladies with pink wigs and jackets and the guys dressed as a T-bird.  The evening begins with the host warming everyone up and holding a competition for the best costumes.  About 30 people took to the stage and first to win a prize was an 8 year-old boy, dressed as Danny and with all the cool moves sorted out.  Two ladies who’d spent some time making eye-catching costumes with rollers in their hair also won prizes as did a brave lady who’d walked through the streets wearing pyjamas, a dressing gown and carrying a teddy bear!

Watching the film again and singing along to the great songs, Hoplessly Devoted, You're the One That I want etc. and joining in with the action is such a enjoyable way to spend an evening.  If you’ve ever been tempted to one of these nights, then go along.  The great thing is you can take your kids as well and enjoy a fun night out as a family and have something to talk about for years to come.

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
22nd March 2014
Mar 5th

Tonight's The Night @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

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With over a hundred million records sold worldwide, Rod Stewart is one of the most successful singer-songwriters of all time.  From his early albums singing folk, rock, R&B and soul, Rod went on to win great acclaim and a prestigious Grammy Award in 2005 for his popular album Stardust..The Great American Songbook Vol 111. Renowned for his raspy, distinctive voice, Rod can sing any genre of music and his old mate Elton John recently described Rod as ‘the second-best rock singer ever’.
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There are very few singers with a career spaning 50 years who could write and release a new album entering the UK charts at No 1, but that’s what Rod achieved in 2013 with Time.  It’s a classic rock album, with Rod very much back at the top of his game, proving that at 69 his popularity still continues to grow.  I’ve been a fan of Rod’s since being introduced to his music by my first great love as a teenager, so his music creates some very fond memories for me and I was looking forward to seeing this musical.

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Tonight's the Night is a "compilation musical" by comedian Ben Elton, based on the music of Rod Stewart. It opened in October 2003 at the Victoria Palace Theatre, and ran for just over a year.  The show is set in a gas station in the States where shy car mechanic Stu (Ben Heathcote) makes a Faustian pact with the Devil to swap his soul with Rod Stewart’s.  It’s a lighthearted romp interspersed with some of Rod’s greatest hits and hearing the songs sung with a different arrangement, makes you remember just how good some his lyrics are.
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Michael McKell makes the most of playing Stoner, a character based on Mick Jagger and manages to upstage everyone whenever he’s on stage!  photo06.jpg
The star of the show for me though is Jade Ewen who plays Dee Dee.  She has such a beautiful tone to her voice and her performance is the most natural and convincing.  Jade represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2009, achieving 5th place and then joined the girl group, Sugababes.

Personally I can’t say I enjoyed the storyline very much, but it was great to hear some of Rod’s songs again, although I thought the arrangement and belting out of one of my favourite's, This Old Heart of Mine, was a travesty. Still the audience enjoyed singing along with everyone on their feet for the end Megamix: Rhythm of My Heart/Maggie May/What Am I Gonna Do?/Stay with Me/Sailing.

The show continues at The Waterside until Saturday 8th March and the current tour continues into August.

• 3 - 8 Mar
• AYLESBURY Waterside
• 10 - 15 Mar
• BRIGHTON Theatre Royal
• 17 - 22 Mar
• New WIMBLEDON Theatre
• 24 - 29 Mar
• STOKE Regent Theatre
• 31 Mar - 5 Apr
• SUNDERLAND Empire
• 14 - 19 Apr
• BROMLEY Churchill Theatre
• 21 - 26 Apr
• MILTON KEYNES Theatre
• 28 Apr - 3 May
• YORK Grand Opera House
• 12 - 17 May
• DERRY Millennium Forum
• 19 - 24 May
• ABERDEEN His Majesty's
• 27 - 31 May
• SHEFFIELD Lyceum Theatre
• 2 - 14 Jun
• GLASGOW King's
• 16 - 21 Jun
• NOTTINGHAM Theatre Royal
• 23 Jun - 5 Jul
• BRISTOL Hippodrome
• 7 - 12 Jul
• OXFORD New Theatre
• 14 - 19 Jul
• NORWICH Theatre Royal
• 21 - 26 Jul
• WOKING New Victoria Theatre
• 28 Jul - 2 Aug
• CANTERBURY Marlowe Theatre

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
3.3.14

 

Feb 28th

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye
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Not a lot of people know that
in 1988 Sir Michael Caine was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for his role as Lawrence Jameson in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.  He lost out to Tom Hanks in Big, but also nominated that year was John Cleese in A Fish Called Wanda.  Who would have thought that 3 of the funniest comedies ever made, which you can still roar with laugher at today, were made in the same year?  It’s a shame for Michael that the film was released in that year, as undoubtedly he would have won for his brilliant portrayal of the con artist had it been in a different year.  He did win the award 10 years later though for Little Voice, playing the seedy part of Ray.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels co-starred the master of physical comedy Steve Martin, as small time con artist Freddy Benson and Glenne Headly as Christine Colgate, who the duplicitous pair try to con out of $50,000 with hysterical results.  Directed by Frank Oz, the screenplay was written by Dale Launer, Stanley Shapiro and Paul Henning. Shapiro and Henning co-wrote the 1964 film Bedtime Story, starring David Niven and Marlon Brando, which Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is based on.

In 2004 Jeffrey Lane wrote the book for the show and David Yazbek wrote the lyrics and music. Dirty Rotten Scoundrels the musical opened in California and went on to open at The Imperial Theatre on Broadway in January 2005, playing 626 performances before closing in September 2006.  The show received a string of Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations with Norbert Leo Butz winning both awards for Outstanding Actor in a Musical, for his role as Freddy Benson.

Finding the right cast for the UK production was essential and there couldn’t be anyone else but the superb Robert Lindsay to play the suave, sophisticated Lawrence Jameson.  Fans of his popular TV sitcom My Family may not know that he had a very successful career in musical theatre, winning an Oliver award for Best Actor in a Musical in 1985 for Me and My Girl.  The show transferred to Broadway and Robert went on to win both the Tony and Drama Desk Awards in 1987.  He has a great voice, is a consummate dancer and is a joy to watch as he ekes out every ounce of comedy as the slick, quick thinking con-man.

Rufus Hound (One Man, Two Guvnors) has a difficult task to compete with Steve Martin’s unforgettable Freddy Benson, but he manages to make it his own and there are some great visual gags, particularly in the second act.

TV and screen icon Samantha Bond (Downton Abbey, James Bond films) plays the elegant Muriel Eubanks in her first musical and proves that she’s also a wonderful all-round performer.

Doc Martin regular John Marquez plays Jameson’s corrupt police chief Andre Thibault, who manages his affairs for a cut of the proceeds. Lizzy Connolly gives an energetic performance as Oklahoma girl Jolene Oakes, whose ‘engagement’ to Jameson leads to the creation of Benson’s brilliantly funny Ruprecht.

The beautiful Katherine Kingsley gives a fantastic performance as Christine Colgate, the girl the two con men try to dupe and end up falling in love with.

It’s hard to emulate the success of the film, but the show works and is a really great evening’s entertainment.  The song lyrics are very funny, though I can’t remember any of the tunes, but you’ll certainly leave the theatre feeling uplifted having laughed all the way through.  It has made me want to see the film again to savour the characters again and again.

The show continues at the Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury until Saturday 1st March before opening at the Savoy Hill Theatre, London on 10th March 2014. Tickets available from www.atgtickets.com

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
27.2.14