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Oct 12th

Barbershopera's The Three Musketeers @ The Second Space,Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye
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One of the great things about The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury is that the main auditorium seats 1200 people and takes in big scale touring productions. Sometimes though it’s nice to see a smaller production and The Second Space provides the perfect venue for fringe theatre and comedy nights. For two nights only, multi-award winning theatre group Barbershopera present their new musical comedy based on Alexandre Drumas’ classic The Three Musketeers.

Barbershopera, were the toast of Radio 4’s Christmas play season and this is the fourth full-length musical production from writing partners Rob Castell and Tom Sadler. Previous Barbershopera work has played in the West End and throughout the UK, winning multiple awards at the Edinburgh Festival and at the International Musicals Festival in South Korea. Reinventing Alexandre Dumas' much-loved adventure story with four-part acappella harmonies, the three guys and a girl sing you through the epic adventure of The Three Musketeers.

With her village under threat of destruction at the hands of the villainous Cardinal Richtea, young Nicole D'Artagnan must head to Paris to win support of the King's Musketeers. Murky undertakings plague the progress of our heroine and her new-found trio of friends as they battle corruption, femme fatales and the cultural confusions brought on by a quest to England. All for fun and fun for all! 

Barbershopera! - The Three Musketeers

The talented cast work very hard and bring a lot of energy to creating numerous roles between them. LAURA DARTON plays D'Artagnan and Cardinal Rich Tea Laura has recently finished training at Mountview and says she is thrilled to be making her professional debut with Babershopera. PETE SOREL CAMERON plays King Louis of France and Aramis. Pete joined Barbershopera in 2009 and has been performing with them across the UK – notably at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. HARRY STONE,  playing Porthos and Milady, trained at Stonelands School of Ballet and Theatre Arts and his theatre work includes performances in PayBack and The Tempest. RUSSELL WALKER, as Athos and Duke of Buckingham, trained at the Arts Educational London Schools and will be joining the cast of Wicked after his time with Barbershopera.

It’s a shame there were only 30 people in the audience, as I understand just how hard the cast had to work, but it didn’t diminish their enthusiasm and the vocals and harmonies were all on point! 

Tour dates:
12th Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
 13th Long Sutton Market House
16th Preston Playhouse
17th Kendal Brewery Arts Centre
18th Frosterley Village Hall
 19th Corbridge Village Hall
 21st Canterbury Festival, Spiegel Tent
22nd Leicester Square Theatre
24th Westacre Theatre
25th Westacre Theatre
26th Westacre Theatre
For further info visit: www.barbershopera.com

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
11.10.13
Sep 24th

Sleeping Beauty Preview @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

 We may just be a few days into autumn and it's a warm, sunny day in the mid-20s, but it won't be too long before the cold, dark nights of winter are here and panto season is upon us once again (oh yes it is!).
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Get set for a wicked Christmas at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre as The Queen of the Square becomes Queen of the Vale! Star of stage and screen  Anita Dobson leads a world class cast as boo-able baddy, Carabosse in this year’s traditional family pantomime Sleeping Beauty Fri 13 Dec 2013 – Sun 5 Jan 2014.

As Angie Watts in Eastenders, Anita Dobson has won a multitude of awards. With a hugely successful  West End career under her belt,  Anita is no stranger to showbiz having appeared in numerous TV programmes including, Casualty, Hearts and Bones, Lily Savage, Dangerfield and Slap Bang to name a few. She has won a whole new legion of fans following her success on Strictly Come Dancing, and most recently been seen on stage in Almost Like Being In Love The Vagina Monologues V-Day, Chicago, Calendar Girls, Hello Dolly, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Island of Slaves, Bette and Joan and in Frozen at the National Theatre for which she was nominated for Best Actress for an Olivier Award, Evening Standard and London Theatre Critics Awards.
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Back by popular demand joining Anita, is Aylesbury’s very own comedian Andy Collins as Chester the Jester.  You’ll be guaranteed a rib-ticking, laugh-a-minute performance with Andy who’s done it all, from Shakespeare to stand-up, club-land to cabaret, MTV to CITV. Andy has also hosted Family Fortunes and presented programs including Garden S.O.S, Street Mate, and Alan Titchmarsh Show. The title role will be played by the stunning Holly Brewer, Buckinghamshire’s favourite singer and songwriter. Holly made her Waterside debut in Panto last year playing Wendy and is delighted to return again this year to work with what she describes as ‘the panto dream team’

This year’s hilarious and truly traditional pantomime Sleeping Beauty promises a fairytale ending for your Christmas celebrations with more jokes and join-in-fun than any other. Not to mention show-stopping song and dance, larger-than-life characters, colourful costumes and spectacular sparkling sets!
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Sleeping Beauty tells the tale of a beautiful princess who pricks her finger and falls into a deep sleep – thanks to an evil spell cast upon her by the wicked fairy. Will her true love be able to awaken her and save the kingdom from this enchantment? You’ll have to book your tickets to find out!

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Book today for a panto you could only dream of! Just call Box Office 0844 871 7607 (bkg fee) or visit www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury (bkg fee).

LISTINGS

Performances:   Fri 13 Dec 2013 – Sun 05 Jan 2014
(Times vary. Contact the Box Office or visit the website for further details)
Tickets:   £10 - £23.50 (premium seats and family tickets are 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)

Sep 23rd

Steaming @ The Elgiva Theatre, Chesham

By Yvonne Delahaye

Set in a Turkish baths in London’s East End, Steaming is a play about 6 women who meet and chat about their lives, then become united in trying to save the baths from closure.  When it was written and first performed in 1981 by Nell Dunn, it won an Oliver Award for best comedy.  32 years on though, the play appears dated, coarse and irrelevant to today’s world.

It is a problem to find plays with good roles for women, but the blatant full-frontal nudity throughout the show made it very difficult to listen to or care about each woman’s plight.  One chap sitting near to me spent most of the time with his head in his hands and one lady behind me commented that women really don’t walk around like that in baths in the UK.

Ruth Curtis as the bath attendant gave a spirited, sincere and energetic performance as Violet, who listens and offers advice to all the women, then takes up the cause to stop the baths from closing.  Gaye Poole created a lovely warm, comic character as Mrs Meadow and these 2 ladies both projected to the back (we were in Row G and had to strain to hear a lot of the dialogue).  With the lack of projection, clear diction and energy in the first half we noticed that a number of people left in the interval, though the second act was a bit stronger.

A great deal of money must have been spent on the set, which had radiators, pipework, a kitchen, several doors, loungers and a screened off area. There was also a cold water tub, which the nude ladies jumped into several times, making us feel that we were being voyeuristic watching a soft porn show. It saddens me to think that when terrible atrocities are being committed against women around the world, this sets the cause back exponentially.

This current production of Steaming was performed as a one-off run at The Elgiva Theatre in Chesham from 18th-22nd September.

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
21.9.13

Sep 20th

The Osmonds: American Jukebox @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye
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From being discovered by Disney in the early 60s to becoming regular performers on the Andy Williams Show, The Osmonds career has now spanned an astonishing 54 years!  The large family of singing siblings have been popular the world over with their brand of wholesome, family entertainment and joyful personalities.  Who can remember little 9 year old Jimmy Osmond singing Long Haired Lover from Liverpool?, which became a massive number one hit in 1972?  This year little Jimmy celebrated his 50th birthday and is still performing around the world in a variety of Osmonds shows, celebrating not only their own music but a variety of genres. The Osmonds: American Jukebox takes us through a selection of songs from the 50s to the 70s, ensuring there is something there for everyone.

Lead singer Emiley Penny opened the show with a belting version of I’m Coming Out, then Higher and Higher.  With Hayley and Stacey as backing singers and dancers throughout the whole show, their energy and enthusiasm set the mood for a great evening’s entertainment.  Emiley was joined by a band member to bring an element of audience participation with a karaoke version of Wonder of You, followed by a duet and dance to Time of My Life.

With a large video screen showing highlights of the Osmonds career through the decades and an introduction by Bob Cosby, the excitement grew as everyone waited for the three brothers to come out and sing, after a short interval.  This show features Jimmy, Jay (58) and Merrill (60) who set the tone with Having a Party. A selection of country songs followed including 9-5 before zooming back to the 50s with Rock and Roll is Here to Stay, Jailhouse Rock, La Bamba, Great Balls of Fire (giving Jay a chance to show off his drum solo spot), Wake Up Little Suzie and Rock Around the Clock.

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Next up came a few of the Osmonds own hits including Just Like a Yo-Yo and Loving You Could be so Easy.  For me the highlight of the evening was the Stevie Wonder medley with Higher Ground, Signed Sealed, Delivered, Superstitious and For Once in My Life.

Paying tribute to their lifetime mentor, friend and father figure Andy Williams who sadly passed a year ago, they sung a barber shop song from one of his early shows.  The close harmonies and complexity of the song were amazing to watch.  As a tribute to Andy Williams they are continuing his traditional Christmas Show and sang 2 of my favourite Andy songs Girls Go By and Moon River.

The Osmonds are unique in their success as a band and as solo performers. They have recorded over 200 albums, sold over 100 million copies with 59 gold and platinum recordings. They have sold out venues worldwide, breaking box office records and received countless awards, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The show ended with a medley of some of The Osmonds most popular individual hits Long Haired Lover (Jimmy), Puppy Love (Donny), Paper Roses (Maria) through to the 70s and the band’s most successful song Crazy Horses.
For the encore The Osmonds sang 2 spiritual songs Are You Up There and I Believe, which were sung with sincerity and truth.

The show is very slick, their vocals and harmonies are wonderful and the show has a Las Vegas feel with the 3 girls changing into sparkling costumes throughout.  The tour continues:
21st September - The Alban Arena, St Albans
22nd September – Richmond Theatre, Richmond
24th September – Anvil Arts, Basingstoke

Jimmy Osmond will be playing Captain Hook at The Grand Theatre, Swansea this December.

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
18.09.13
Sep 17th

Big Band Night @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

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Following the huge success of the first Big Band Night in May, Mike Smith and his Orchestra and singers returned to the Waterside last night.  I’d had a very intense and tiring day working in a conference centre as a role play actor, playing 6 different roles and dashing around with barely time to breathe.  My fellow actors were all looking forward to getting home and putting their feet up and I must confess that the temptation to chill out on the sofa and watch Corrie was very strong!  After a good meal and hot shower though I put on my dancing shoes and headed off to the theatre. 

Once again I was amazed at the transformation from theatre auditorium to ballroom and was quite contended to sit and watch the ballroom dancers and listen to the music.  I tried to image what it must have been like in the 1940s when everyone dressed up and danced to a big band, as the familiar sounds of In the Mood and Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree resounded around the theatre.  Nowadays, apart from one stylish lady who wore a long black dress, gloves and diamante jewellery, people don’t dress up and could easily have been going to a b-b-q rather than a ballroom dance.

The band played a great selection of music, allowing the dancers to take to the floor and practice their Quick Steps, Fox Trots, Tangos and Waltzes.  Mike even got the orchestra to play a Viennese Waltz, though quite a few couples gave up on that one after a spin too many!  Without any dance partners ourselves, my friend Tricia and I got up and did some solo Cha Cha Cha and Samba dances and still had fun. 

Once again the superb Matthew Ford treated us to his wonderful vocal dexterity and pelvis trusts as he sang a selection of Tom Jones, Frank Sinatra and Michael Buble songs.  High kicking to New York, New York was a must for us and Dance the Night Away was a good way to round off the evening.

I’m certainly glad I found the energy to go along on a Monday evening, but really hope that the next Big Band Night will be either on a Saturday night or even a Sunday afternoon.  I’m sure there will be lots more people who’d love to come, including some of my Ceroc friends who just can’t make it over on a week night.  They’re a great band, playing a variety of music to sing and dance to.  Even if you don’t dance, you can just sit back, relax and soak up the ambience enjoying a good old fashioned dance night out.

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
16.8.13

Aug 19th

King Lear @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

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The great thing about being a reviewer at The Waterside, is that you get the chance to see a variety of theatre shows.  A few weeks ago I saw Mickey’s Rockin’ Roadshow and a few days ago Shakespeare’s King Lear and you can’t get much more diverse than that can you?  This is the touring production from London’s prestigious Globe Theatre, founded by American actor and director Sam Wanamaker which opened in 1997, as a modern reconstruction of the original theatre on the original site.

Touring theatre was in Shakespeare’s blood and after a 400-year break, The Globe resurrected this tradition in the summer of 2007, with a touring production of Romeo and Juliet.  This current production of King Lear has toured 18 venues in the UK, as well as Turkey, Romania, Austria, Germany and Denmark, with a stop off at The Globe Theatre in May.  The production uses an Elizabethan style booth stage, making it easy to fit into a range of theatre sizes.

 It's a complex story, but basically old King Lear proposes to give up his crown and divides his kingdom between his three daughters - but his rash generosity is cruelly repaid. Lear discovers too late the falsity of the values by which he has lived and is ultimately plunged into despair and madness. Its tempestuous poetry shot through with moments of humour and heart-rending simplicity, King Lear is a profound exploration of the human condition in all its extremes and complexity.

At the top of the show we saw dancing, singing and the cast playing instruments as they interacted with the audience.  It seemed as if we were about to watch a panto, such was the jollity of this opening.  In fact, this play does have some similarities to Cinderella, with the 2 wicked sisters ostracising their sincere sister and manipulating their father into believing how much they love him. 

That’s probably where the similarity ends though, as these 2 women are filled with hatred, plotting against one another, carrying out  heinous acts of cruelty and betraying their loved ones.  The twists and turns and ultimate tragedies almost made TV’s The White Queen seem like a tale of everyday family life!

With the exception of Lear himself, the 8 strong cast play several roles and slide effortlessly from royalty to servants, making it seem as if there is a huge cast.  The production is very fast-paced and energetic, keeping us engaged in what is quite a complicated plot.

Directed by Bill Buckhurst, the title role is played by Joseph Marcell, best known as Geoffrey in the television series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and last at the Globe in the 2011 production of Much Ado About Nothing.  It’s an exceptionally strong cast of superb ensemble acting, but I found Oliver Book playing the multiple roles of Edmund/King of France and Oswald, riveting to watch.  He has such energy, commitment and power, I’m sure he’s an actor we’ll soon be seeing as the next Brit to make it big in Hollywood.

This was the final leg of the tour, but check out http://www.shakespearesglobe.com/ for details of forthcoming productions. 

Judging by the almost full theatre in Aylesbury, there’s still a huge demand to see The Bard’s works and I look forward to the next Globe tour.

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
16.8.13

Aug 8th

Mickey's Rockin' Road Show @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury 6th-7th August 2013

By Yvonne Delahaye

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What to do with the kids during the long summer holidays?  That’s the perennial question many parents ponder on, as the weeks loom ahead and kids easily get bored.  One way to keep them entertained for a few hours, but to give them lifetime memories, is to take them to the theatre to see Mickey’s Rockin’ Roadshow.   Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy, are joined by some of our favourite Disney characters as they set out on a road trip and decide to put on a talent contest.

I took a party along of 3 small children, Cain, Evie and Sadie, who were all very excited to see the show and join in the fun.  Accompanied by their mums (my niece Melissa and neighour Alice) we all enjoyed the show as much as the kids.  In fact for me the delight in taking kids to see a show is watching their excitement and looks of wonder at seeing the characters come to life on stage.  Readers may remember that I took Melissa and Cain along to see My First Cinderella in April and Cain still talks about it whenever he passes the theatre.  We can’t underestimate how wonderful memories can be created in our little ones minds', when the colourful spectacle of live theatre creates a magical experience.

Mickey’s Rockin’ Roadshow is a live stage spectacular, packed with fun, sing-along-songs and dance.  Cinderella looked beautiful and we were amazed at the clever costume change into a gorgeous glittery ballgown, right before our eyes.  Cain’s favourite Disney character Woody was there, with Jessie and Buzz Lightyear, encouraging us to shout out ‘yee’haw’ at the hoedown.  I’ve always loved Tigger though, so I was happy to join in the bounce song with him and the rest of the kids in the auditorium!

PosterIt's a great, fun show and everyone works really hard to keep it moving along and energetic.  One word of warning though, the merchandise on sale is very expensive, so you may want to think about how you deal with 'pester power' beforehand!

You can catch the show to the end of August at the following venues and create some magical lifetime memories for your own kids:




9th-11th
Millennium Centre, Cardiff
13th-14th
The Brighton Centre, Brighton
16th-18th
New Wimbledon Theatre, London
22nd-25th
Blackpool Opera House, Blackpool
28th-31st
Sunderland Empire, Sunderland

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
6.8.13 
      

Jun 22nd

Rainy Days & Mondays: The Carpenters Greatest Hits Live @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

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‘Rainy days and Mondays always get me down’
and as I glance out of the window with the rain lashing down, the beginning of summer seems a long way off.  I’m sure we can all relate to those lyrics, but when sung by Karen Carpenter you can easily forget your melancholy and be uplifted by her beautiful voice, despite the lousy weather.

Tribute acts are sometimes given a hard time, but as a singer myself I know just how much work it takes to create a show and sound like the artist you’re portraying.  Not only do you have to be a superb singer with a vast range, but you must be able to accurately mimic the phrasing, intonation and timings of the artist.  Classically trained singer Clare Furley has all of these attributes and captivates the audience with her uncanny vocal resemblance to Karen’s rich, chest vibrato and deep tones.  ImageHandler.jpg


Musical Director Phil Aldridge had toured his show ‘Tribute to the Carpenters’ around the world since 1991, until he felt it had come to its natural end.  That was until Phil heard Clare singing a TV jingle and after meeting, they created a new show called The Carpenters Story.  Claire’s wonderful vocals compliment Phil’s superb musical arrangements to perfection, offering audiences the opportunity to once again share the unique sound of Richard and Karen, The Carpenters.

This new concert Rainy Days & Mondays: The Carpenters Greatest Hits Live was a sell out, receiving standing ovations in Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham and Newcastle in 2010.   In its first full National UK tour since then, the packed theatre proves that even 30 years after her untimely and tragic death, we all love to hear a Carpenter's song. 

The hits are numerous and just keep on coming, Close to You, Superstar, Sing, Top of the World, Yesterday Once More, Solitaire, For All We Know, Only Yesterday, Please Mr Postman and we know them all.  What wedding reception hasn’t played We’ve Only Just Begun as the first dance and it’s the perfect song to start the show.  My personal favourite is This Masquerade, as with its jazzy arrangements it fits in perfectly to my jazz sets and everyone loves it.  Ending the show (with the only song that I know containing my name), Jambalaya, had us all on our feet singing and clapping along.  With an encore of Goodbye to Love, they certainly left the audience wanting more and with so many hits to choose from, the show could have lasted another 2 hours!

The current tour dates are few and far between, but with the enduring popularity of The Carpenters I’m sure they’ll soon be adding in lots more dates.

Sat 22 Jun   Theatre Royal, Brighton
Fri 25 Oct   Kings Theatre, Glasgow
Fri 1 Nov  Richmond Theatre, Richmond

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
21.6.13

May 15th

Birds of a Feather @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

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Many years ago when Birds of a Feather was regularly on our TV screens, I had the pleasure of working with Lesley Joseph in a corporate video for a well-known travel company.  I was amused to see that in real life Lesley still had her trademark long, red talons and I remarked how difficult it must be to carry out every day tasks, but she assured me she could and that you just got used to it.  Lesley, of course, played the nymphomaniac Dorien Green in Birds of a Feather and it was good to see her on stage, looking as fit, youthful and glamorous as ever.  How she manages to run around the stage in those impossibly high heels is beyond me, as I don't think I'd manage more than a few steps!
 
Birds of a Feather ran for almost 10 years until 1998. Set in Chigwell, it chronicled the misadventures of Sharon Theodopolopoudos and Tracey Stubbs (Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson) and their man-eating neighbour, Dorien Green (Lesley Joseph).

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Pauline Quirke will most recently be remembered as Hazel Rhodes in ITV1’s Emmerdale, she is also well known for her portrayal of Olive Martin in the award winning drama The Sculptress, Down to Earth, Cold Blood and Missing. In 2008 Pauline Quirke celebrated 40 years in the entertainment business and launched the hugely successful Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts, with over 30 academies across the United Kingdom. They bring everything that Pauline has learned and loved about the industry to a whole new generation. Since the last tour of Birds of a Feather, Pauline has just been seen in ITV drama series Broadchurch starring alongside David Tennant.

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Linda Robson rose to prominence in Shine On Harvey Moon and also appeared in Harry’s Game and Play ForToday amongst others before starring as Tracey in Birds Of A Feather for nine years.  Subsequent TV included Jobs For The Girls, Grumpy Old Women and The Bill and feature films have included Anuvahood and Outside Bet.  Linda’ theatre work includes Grumpy Old Women, A Passionate Woman, The Food Chain and Telstar in London’s West End and not forgetting her dip into the jungle in “I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here…” at the end of 2012.
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Lesley Joseph has recently been touring in the hugely-successful Calendar Girls and her vast array of other theatre work includes Sir Peter Hall’s production of Home, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Piaf, The Miser, Annie, Hot Flush, Office Suite and a successful one-woman show, Singular Women.  Lesley’s TV work includes the ITV soap Night And Day for two years as well as a host of other shows for all the major channels and a plethora of light entertainment shows including a regular spot on This Morning, Wish You Were Here, Stars in Their Eyes and Celebrity Come Dine with Me.

For a TV sitcom to run for 10 years you know it must have been something very special. At the centre of every episode was the great friendship, warmth and affection between the 3 ladies and this still beams out across the auditorium.  You immediately feel relaxed and at home with these people that we see as friends, instantly getting involved in their lives and wanting to catch up on the last 15 years. 
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As soon as the curtain goes up, we’re introduced to Tracey’s 16 year-old son Travis (played by Pauline’s real life son Charlie Quirke) and discover how he’s been totally mollycoddled by his mum.  As Sharon arrives carrying her Lidl shopping bags into Tracey’s luxury home, we know how little their lives have really changed.  The laughs just keep on coming when they go to visit Dorien in a home for the ‘well-off’ and the mayhem ensues.

I absolutely loved the show.  It’s brilliantly written by Gary Lawson and John Phelps and is very fast and very funny, as gag after gag just keep the audience in stitches.  It’s also bang up-to-date with references to the Cyprus crisis and Facebook, keeping the characters and situations fresh and relevant to today.

The set is very cleverly designed by Andrew D Edwards and I also enjoyed the video clips in the scene changes and the residents dancing around to move props was inspired.  Simon James Green does an excellent job directing the show and he is also the Creative Director of The Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts.  The show is produced by The Comedy Theatre Company, producers of the highly successful tour of Victoria Wood’s dinnerladies and Keeping Up Appearances.

If you enjoyed watching the TV series over the years, then you really shouldn’t miss out on seeing these lovely ladies live on stage, as their warmth, laughter and friendship fills the packed theatre.  I suspect this will tour for as long as the ladies would like to keep going and they all looked to be really enjoying themselves, which helped us to enjoy ourselves too.

Tickets are on sale now. Visit Aylesbury Waterside Theatre Box Office, call 0844 871 7607 (bkg fee), or book online at www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury (bkg fee).

LISTINGS
Performances:   Tue 14 – Sat 18 May
Tue – Sat Evenings 7.30pm, Matinees Thu & Sat 2.30pm
Tickets:   £10 - £26 (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)

Next tour dates are, but full tour information can be found at www.birdsontour.com

May 21 - May 25 SOUTHAMPTON, Mayflower
Mats: Thu/Sat: 2.00. Eves: 7.30  
May 28 - Jun 01 NEWCASTLE, Theatre Royal
Mats: Thu/Sat: 2.00. Eves: 7.30  
Jun 18 - Jun 22 BROMLEY, Churchill Theatre
Mats: Thu/Sat: 2.30. Eves: 7.30  
Jun 25 - Jun 29 YORK, The Grand Opera House
Mats: Wed/Sat: 2.30. Eves: 7.30  

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
14/5/13

May 6th

Big Band Dance Night @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

Since its opening in October 2010, I’ve seen a vast range of productions at The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury from musicals, plays, ballets, opera, comedy, concerts to panto, but for one night only the auditorium was turned into a spectacular ballroom. Mike Smith’s Orchestra and Singers (with award-winning vocalist Matthew Ford) took to the stage with a mix of quickstep, jive and foxtrot along with many other big band numbers, ranging from In The Mood, Moonlight Seranade, Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree, through to some of the jazz standards made famous by Frank Sinatra Mack The Knife and My Way, to name but a few.

The transformation into a dance hall was absolutely amazing.  Gone were the rows of seats, carpets and sound box and who’d have suspected that underneath lurked a terrific wooden dance floor with a bar at the back! Very clever that this was built into the design and I hope this will be the first of many more dance evenings.

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The Mike Smith Orchestra are one of the UK’s most versatile Orchestras promising sparkle with every performance. Mike Smith has been involved in the Big Band scene for many years; first fronting an Oxford- based Big Band, Blue Velvet, who toured throughout Europe under his direction.

Despite the success of Blue Velvet, Mike was keen to break away from the traditional 1940s Big Band style, and went on to form a completely new orchestra capable of performing a wide range of music and styles to appeal to all ages. This marked the start of his Orchestra’s now fully established reputation for quality entertainment with Mike hand-picking each member of his 15 piece Big Band from the country’s best musicians and singers. 

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The band is in good company with Best UK Male Big Band vocalist Matthew Ford. Matthew regularly makes appearances with the BBC Concert Orchestras and has also worked with the Northern Sinfonia, City of Birmingham Symphony and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. Matthew’s in great demand performing with the BBC Big Band, Grammy-nominated John Wilson Orchestra, the Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra and many others. He has also been invited to perform for both domestic and international royalty. Recently Matthew has broadcast on BBC2 (Friday Night is Music Night) with West End Stars Lee Mead and John Barrowman.  Matthew has a rich tone to his voice, with a very powerful vibrato and I could have listened to him singing all evening.

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The evening though was really all about the dancing and there were some very serious ballroom dancers taking to the floor throughout the evening.  Although I did ballroom many years ago, Ceroc dance is my favoured dance of choice and I was joined by a group of friends who are all accomplished Ceroc dancers.  For the uninitiated, Ceroc is modern jive, with a mix of  swing, Lindyhop and a bit of ballroom thrown in for good measure!  John and Clare had come over from Milton Keynes and met up with their friends Gary and Pauline from Ruislip.  Tricia hails from High Wycombe and I drove over from Amersham.  I mention this because Ceroc dancers will travel for miles to dance at a good venue and everyone absolutely loved the dance floor, the amount of space and the theatre itself and all want to go back again soon!  We also met a couple of Ceroc dancers from Buckingham and I can tell you that when word gets around the Ceroc circuit, The Waterside will soon be scheduling in regular dances.

Turning The Waterside into a ballroom was a fantastic idea and one that I hope will be repeated time and time again.  It also enabled a lovely lady called Agnes (who’d recently moved to the area) to decide to come along by herself and enjoy a great night out and meet new friends.  The theatre is very much a part of the community, but events like this will ensure that its reputation spreads far and wide with people making long journeys to spend an unforgettable evening there.

For details of the current programme of events visit:

http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/aylesbury-waterside-theatre/

and to book your tickets now, visit Aylesbury Waterside Theatre Box Office, call 01296 745135

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
4/5/13