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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

Feb 10th

Anything Goes @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury 9th-14th February 2015

By Yvonne Delahaye

Anything Goes Tour

Image courtesy of Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

When Anything Goes opened on Broadway at the Alvin Theatre on November 21, 1934, it ran for 420 performances, becoming the fourth longest-running musical of the 1930s, despite the impact of the Great Depression on Broadway patrons' disposable income. Directed by Howard Lindsay with choreography by Robert Alton and sets by Donald Oenslager, it starred Ethel Merman as Reno Sweeney, William Gaxton as Billy Crocker and Victor Moore as Moonface Martin.  The 1936 film version also starred Ethel Merman, but with Bing Crosby in the role of Billy Crocker.  In 1956 a new version of the film was made again starring Bing Crosby, but with Mitzi Gaynor playing the new role of Patsy Blair.

This version of Anything Goes is produced by Stage Entertainment, in association with Sheffield Theatres and is directed by Daniel Evans and choreographed by Alistair David and will be touring to 32 venues around the UK until the autumn.

Anything Goes Cast (Credit - Johan Persson)

Photo credit: Johan Persson

When Billy Crocker discovers that his heart’s desire, debutante heiress Hope Harcourt is engaged to an English aristocrat, he stows away aboard the S.S. American to win her back. Aided by a string of eccentric passengers on board the luxurious transatlantic liner, can this web of love be untangled before they reach Southampton?

A sensational cast of 26 is led by Hugh Sachs (Bendidorm) Jane Wymark (Midsomer Murders) and Olivier Award nominees Debbie Kurup (The Bodyguard, Chicago) and Matt Rawle (Evita, Martin Guerre).  Anything Goes has Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter and features some of his wonderful songs I Get A Kick Out of You, You’re the Top, It’s De-Lovely and, of course, Anything Goes.  Some of Porter’s lyrics and key changes are very complex, but this strong cast make them look effortless.  It’s good to see a musical with three good main roles for women and they’re all perfectly cast.

The big production tap dancing routine to Anything Goes was superb and the show really came alive at this point, so I felt it was a shame there isn’t another big number earlier in the show.  There is, however, a very clever swimming dance routine that works extremely well.

The second act is completely stolen by Evelyn Oakleigh’s (Stephen Matthews) hysterical rendition of The Gypsy in Me.  Now that’s how you make your mark amongst a huge cast!

Due to some technical issues, the show was 15 minutes late starting and I felt it took a while to get into the flow, but the set, divine costumes, comedy capers and hi-jinks soon has the audience engaged and having a good time.

The Original Book is by P.G. Wodehouse & Guy Bolton & Howard Lindsay & Russel Crouse. New Book by Timothy Crouse & John Weidman. Originally produced by Lincoln Centre Theatre, New York City.

The show runs at The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury to:

Performances:   Mon 09 – Sat 14 Feb 
Evenings 7.30pm Thu & Sat Mat 2.30pm
Tickets:  £15.90 - £39.90 (Premium seats also available) when booked in person at the Box Office or for full details when booking on-line or over the phone visit www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury (bkg fee)
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 www.facebook.com/AnythingGoesTour
Twitter www.twitter.com/AnythingGoesUK_

For full tour dates, visit:
http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/anything-goes/

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
9/2/15

Twitter: @yvonnedelahaye

Dec 18th

Cinderella @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

Cinderella at AWT 2014 011 Press Res.jpgCinderella at AWT 2014 069 Press Res.jpgCinderella at AWT 2014 064 Press Res.jpgCinderella at AWT 2014 051 Press Res.jpgCinderella at AWT 2014 044 Press Res.jpgCinderella at AWT 2014 042 Press Res.jpg

Photos: Barry Rivett of Hotshot Photography, courtesy of The Waterside Theatre.

A lot of people would find the thought of spending an afternoon in a theatre packed full of primary school children quite horrifying, but it’s actually a wonderful way to enjoy a panto.  For the kids this might be their first introduction to theatre and what better way to have fun than with all their school friends screaming and shouting together!   The atmosphere was thick with excitement and anticipation and it was a joy to watch them really having fun, waving their hands, singing along to this year’s top hits, hissing, booing and screaming ‘he’s behind you’!  You just can’t help but join in and enjoy yourself.

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This year’s panto is a sparkling traditional production of Cinderella, featuring glittering sets, gorgeous fairytale costumes, big song and dance routines, lots of audience participation and 2 very cute Shetland ponies pulling the coach.


Starring as Fairy Godmother is the stunning actress/singer Suzanne Shaw, who also co-directed the show.  She belts out some songs, waves her wand with gusto and helps to create some magic to transform Cinderella’s life.  The lovely Russell Grant plays Baron Hardup and shows he hasn’t forgotten his light-footed dance moves as he’s still a regular on Strictly Come Dancing.

Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist Andrew Derbyshire makes the perfect Prince Charming. With his good looks and exquisite singing voice, he has some delightful duos with the beautiful Holly Brewer who plays Cinderella.  This is her third year in panto at The Waterside and she was excited to be returning to play this role.


TV personality Andy Collins also makes a welcome return as Buttons and this year is very special for him, as his 10 year old daughter Molly is in the dance ensemble.  Andy always engages the audience and delivers some great comic moments and it was good to see favourite sketches The Twelve Days of Christmas and The Ghost on the Bench again.


Returning to The Waterside to play one of Cinderella’s pulchritudinously challenged siblings, Cheryl, is the magnificent Tim Hudson.   With some gloriously outrageous costumes, Tim’s twerking will sit in the annals of my memory for years to come!  Dave Lynn plays the delightfully wicked Mel and the two provide the perfect combination of vulgarity and crassness.


This truly is a magical pantomime to be enjoyed by all the family, so make your Christmas even more special this year and book your tickets now!
The panto runs to Saturday 4th January 2015.

Tickets:  £10 - £30.40. See website for times and prices. www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury (bkg fee)
Box Office:  0844 871 7607 (bkg fee)
Groups Hotline:  0844 871 7614
Access Booking: 0844 871 7677 (bkg fee)


Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
17.12.14

Follow on Twitter: @yvonnedelahaye

Dec 17th

Dick Whittington @ The Swan Theatre, High Wycombe

By Yvonne Delahaye

  Dick_image_Lead2.jpg

With the X-Factor finals over and the race for the Christmas Number 1 on, we turn our thoughts to panto season to really help us get into the festive spirit.  This year The Swan sees a welcome return of Shane Ritchie in the title role of Dick Whittington.

untitled.png (Photo: Robert Workman)

Shane is best known for playing Alfie Moon in EastEnders for which he’s won numerous awards and the panto naturally has many references to his character and the soap.  There are plenty of opportunities to hear the familiar ‘duff, duffs’ of the EastEnders theme tune and even a voice-over by Kat!  Shane is a great all-round entertainer, who engages the audience immediately with his quick wit and warmth and the panto really comes to life whenever he’s on stage.

An unusual twist in this panto is to have a Queen Rat, rather than King Rat, played by Kim Tiddy.  Kim is best known for her role as PC Honey Harman in The Bill and more recently as Heidi Costello in Hollyoaks.  She looks great and plays her role with relish, but it was when singing the Rihanna hit, Diamonds in the Sky, that she showed herself to be an accomplished singer and dancer too.


Malcolm Lord, as Mrs Fitzwarren, also makes the most of his role and is a wonderful comic dame with outrageous costumes providing the perfect foil for Dick. Another unusual twist was having The Sultan of Morocco played by local illusionist Phil Hitchcock.  It worked a treat, as his magic is truly amazing and I have absolutely no idea how he made things appear and vanish in front of our eyes.

They’re supported by Sharon Ballard as Spirit of the Bells, who has also appeared in EastEnders playing Gillian.  Nicola Weeks plays Dick’s love interest Alice Fitzwarren and they both take it all in good part when their big ballads are upstaged by comedy routines.

untitled 1.png (Photo: Robert Workman)

The sets were delightful and the colourful costumes were spectacular, especially at the end of the end of the first and second acts. It’s a great family panto and is very funny, providing the perfect vehicle for Shane’s comic talents.  The only scenes I felt that didn’t work and dragged the show down were the sailor scenes with the Trio Hatton. They just weren’t actors and the 2 scenes in the first act could have easily been cut and would have made it a tighter, more enjoyable show.

The show runs until Saturday 4th January 2015. Go to www.wycombeswan.co.uk to buy tickets.


Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
16.12.14
Follow on Twitter: @yvonnedelahaye

 

 

 

Oct 21st

The Perfect Murder @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

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Our TV screens are awash with crime dramas with detectives trying to solve the crime, but have you ever wondered how to commit the perfect murder? Victor Smiley and his wife Joan have been married for a long time. But their marriage has reached crisis point and Victor has decided there is only one way to get Joan out of his life forever... but he’s about to get a nasty surprise... as a young Detective Roy Grace starts to investigate his very first homicide case, dark forces intervene and Grace begins to fear that nothing is quite as it seems in this entertaining dark comedy thriller.

This is the first ever stage production of the work of international best-selling crime thriller novelist Peter James – who has sold over 15 million books of his Roy Grace series and been published in 36 languages – The Perfect Murder, which spent 15 weeks at No.1 in the book charts, has been adapted by award winning writer Shaun McKenna.

Olivier Award winner Ian Talbot directs an all-star company in the autumn re-casting of The Perfect Murder. Having donned his white coat for eight series of ITV’s 1960’s hospital drama The Royal, Robert Daws, best-known to millions as Dr Gordon Ormerod, plays Victor Smiley. Robert's extensive TV credits have also seen him appear on screen as Sam Mountjoy in Roger Roger, Tuppy Glossop in Jeeves and Wooster and Roger Dervish in the award-winning Outside Edge. His extensive theatre credits include The Secret of Sherlock Holmes and Public Property in the West End and UK tours of Michael Frayn's Alarms and Excursions and David Harrower’s Blackbird, the later of which also starred Dawn Steele.

Dawn Steele has starred in numerous hit TV series including the BBC’s Monarch of the Glen, Sea of Souls and she played the hugely popular character of Alice Collins in ITV’s Wild at Heart. Other theatre credits include the lead role in The Agatha Christie Company's production of Verdict and Dawn also starred in Noel Coward’s previously undiscovered Volcano in both the West End and on tour.

They are joined by Gray O’Brien – who continues his highly acclaimed role as the loveable Don Kirk. Gray recently enjoyed an award-winning three years in Coronation Street and has also starred in the TV series Titanic, Peak Practice and Casualty as well as in the West End in Sleuth; Thomas Howes (DC Grace) who played the much loved character of William the footman in Downton Abbey for which he won a Screen Actors Guild Award and whose theatre credits include The Winslow Boy and the National Theatre Production of The History Boys and finally Romanian born Simona Armstrong, who the British public took to their hearts when she was discovered in the BBC's How do You Solve a Problem Like Maria and who now continues her run in the role of Kamila.

The play itself is very black comedy and all the performances are good, but I felt it was in need of some cutting especially in the first act.  The second scenes between Victor and Joan went on far too long and it seemed that the audience were getting restless for the plot to move forward.  The story was lifted by the appearance of Don Kirk (Gray O’Brien) looking extremely buff in just a pair of boxers and from there the proceedings progressed with unexpected twists and turns, interspersed with very dark humour.  It’s very enjoyable and should be taken with a huge pinch of salt, but I think if it was 20 minutes shorter it would be ‘the perfect play.

The Perfect Murder is produced by Joshua Andrews and Peter James, in association with Paul Tyrer and Jamie Clark at the Booking Office. Their next production – Peter James’ best-selling novel Dead Simple tours the UK from January 2015.

Book now at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre Box Office on 0844 871 7607 (bkg fee), or online at www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury  (bkg fee)

Performances:   Mon 20 - Sat 25 Oct 
Evenings 7.30pm, Thu & Sat Mat 2.30pm
Tickets:  £10 - £32.50 when booked in person at the Box Office or for full details when booking on-line or over the phone visit www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury (bkg fee)
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)

Reviewed By:
Yvonne Delahaye
20.10.14
Twitter: yvonnedelahaye

A light has gone out in the theatre world, as we pay respect to one of the most warm, much loved and vibrant actresses of our time.
AYLESBURY WATERSIDE THEATRE TO OPEN A BOOK OF CONDOLENCE
IN MEMORY OF LYNDA BELLINGHAM
Following the sad news of Lynda Bellingham losing her brave battle with cancer Aylesbury Waterside Theatre will be opening a book of condolence in her memory .

Lynda, originally from Aylesbury, was a firm supporter of the theatre, taking part in the ‘Topping Out’ ceremony in 2009, she also helped to launch the theatres first season in March 2010 and appeared on stage starring in Calendar Girls as part of that opening season.

Elizabeth Adlington Area Theatre Manager for Aylesbury Waterside Theatre said ‘On behalf of our staff and our customers we will be opening a book of condolences for the people of Aylesbury to share their memories of Lynda and their tributes and messages of support for Lynda’s loved ones.  We were privileged at the Waterside to have met Lynda on a number of occasions.  Our thoughts are with her family at this sad time.  She was a wonderful warm lady who will be sadly missed’

The book of condolence is now open to the public during opening hours at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre in the main foyer.

Oct 8th

BARNUM @ The Swan Theatre, High Wycombe

By Yvonne Delahaye

BARNUM_Wycombe_600x200_2.jpg ‘Barnum’s the name, P T Barnum, and I want to tell you that tonight, on this stage, you are going to see - bar none - every sight, wonder and miracle that name stands for!’
This exhilarating musical follows the irrepressible imagination and dreams of Phineas T Barnum, America’s Greatest Showman. The story of his life and his marriage to Chairy reveals a couple who looked at the world from opposite sides of the spectrum, and also reveals that she was the practical one who made his dreams come true.  We follow the legendary showman’s life as he lit up the world with colour, warmth and the excitement of his imagination and finally teamed up with J A Bailey to create Barnum and Bailey’s Circus - the Greatest Show on Earth.

Starring Brian Conley (Oliver!, Hairspray, Jolson) and Linzi Hateley (Mary Poppins, Mamma Mia!, Chicago, Les Misérables), Cy Coleman’s wonderfully exuberant score includes the hits; Come Follow The Band , The Colours Of My Life and There Is A Sucker Born Ev’ry Minute .
 Barnum is a musical with a book by Mark Bramble, lyrics by Michael Stewart, and music by Cy Coleman. It is based on the life of showman P. T. Barnum, covering the period from 1835 through 1880 in America and major cities of the world where Barnum took his performing companies. The production combines elements of traditional musical theatre with the spectacle of the circus. The characters include jugglers, trapeze artists and clowns, as well as such real-life personalities as Jenny Lind and General Tom Thumb.

The original production opened at the St. James Theatre on Broadway, on April 30, 1980 and closed on May 16, 1982 after 854 performances and 26 previews. The show starred Jim Dale as P.T. Barnum, Glenn Close as Chariy Barnum and Marianne Tatum as Jenny Lind. Jim Dale won a Tony and Drama Desk Award for his performance in the title role.

The show made its West End debut on June 11, 1981 at the London Palladium, where it ran for 655 performances. The London cast included Michael Crawford as P.T. Barnum, Deborah Grant as Charity Barnum and Sarah Payne as Jenny Lind. Crawford reprised his role opposite Eileen Battye in a UK Tour of the show which ran between 1984 and 1986, stopping off at various venues including the Manchester Opera House and Victoria Palace Theatre. The tour was recorded for television and broadcast by the BBC in 1986. It was later released on VHS and DVD.

In 2013 Cameron Mackintosh revived the musical at the Theatre in The Park for the Chichester Festival Theatre, which was closed at the time.  Two-time Tony nominee Christopher Fitzgerald played Barnum and when a UK tour was muted, Brian Conley was cast and so the hard work began for him.

Brian Conley is one of our great all-round entertainers and is perfectly cast as the larger-than-life showman, commanding the stage, eking out every bit of comedy, but also showing emotional depth in the second act.  I saw him earlier this year at The Swan in his one man show and his warmth, humour and energy infects the audience and you know he has everyone in the palm of his hands.  He said then that he was anxious about learning to tight rope walk and we all held our breath when he, thankfully, made it across the stage.  This role needs a big personality and with Brian’s stature dominating the stage, I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing the role now.

Linzi Hately, as his wife Chairy, is the perfect match and we really feel the genuine warmth, affection and support that she gave to husband P.T. She has a beautiful singing voice and captures her strength and vulnerability perfectly. When Kimberley Blake, as Jenny Lind the opera singer, sang Love Makes Such Fools of Us All you could hear every crystal note, so pure and resonant was the sound I’m sure it could shatter glass!

The show is brash, colourful, energetic and dynamic.  It’s a sensory feast that leaves you dazzled at all of the activity, never being able to see everything as there is so much happening all around you.  The costumes are sumptuous and vibrant and the ensemble of dancer/acrobats are so incredibly talented and strong, that I did wonder how some of their feats got past the Health & Safety brigade!


The show runs at The Swan, High Wycombe from:
Tue 7 - Sat 11 October
Tickets £23.00* - £39.00*
A £1.50 per ticket booking fee applies, capped at six per order. Fee-free booking for Friends of Wycombe Swan; Groups of 10+ please call 01494 552875.
The tour will continue around the UK until next summer, so for dates near  you please visit:
http://www.barnummusical.com/tour/

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
7.10.14
Twitter: yvonnedelahaye