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Apr 27th

Ifs, Buts and Babies @ The Second Space, Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

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As an actress I’m very much aware that good comedy roles for women are few and far between, especially as you reach your ‘middle youth’!  The ratio of roles for men to women is about 3 to 1, so competition is very fierce.  The best solution to this dearth of good roles for women seems to be to get out and write your own!  It’s certainly worked well for Miranda and touring shows like Calendar Girls and Hormonal Housewives, playing to packed houses, prove that there is a big market for plays starring women enacting women’s lives.

When Avelia Moisey and Jill Neenan met in 2004 their oldest kids were 3 years old, attending the village nursery.  They soon realised that they had similar backgrounds having trained in music and theatre and had both worked professionally in the business.  Coffee mornings soon became an opportunity for them to start bouncing ideas off each other for their own show and ‘Ifs, Buts and Babies’ was born!IMG_7379e.jpg

 Avelia studied trumpet, organ and singing at the Royal Academy of Music and her career has encompassed international tours and West End theatre work including Cats, Calamity Jane (with Toyah Wilcox) and Oliver.  She has recorded original CDs with Marti Webb (after touring with Magic of the Musicals) and Brain Conley in Jolson.

 Jill graduated from University of Warwick with a BA Honours in Music and Drama and went on to study at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama.  Jill has appeared in panto, opera, musical theatre and classical shows include performing as Principal Soloist at the London Palladium and at the Schonbruun Palace in Vienna.

Ifs, Buts and Babies takes a light-hearted look at the highs and lows of being a parent, from the desire to have a baby through to the first day at school.

Highly entertaining, this professional two woman show provides down to earth snapshots of the trials and tribulations, tears and triumphs of parenthood through outstanding original songs and duologues, including When Is The Time For Me?, If Only and Big Knickers.

Avelia and Jill create a variety of different unrelated characters from stressed out mums, to babies, toddlers, a  supernanny and a physiologist.   The predominantly female audience laughed and chuckled as they recognised only too well the different scenarios, advice and frustrations of being a parent.  I’m not a parent myself, but coming from a large family I have lots of nieces and nephews and understand how hard it must be to know how to handle the varying demands of parenthood and be able to juggle your own life.

The show is a great mix of comedy, interspersed with cleverly written songs and some fun dance routines, but with just the right amount of pathos in the song Why Me?  Unlike some of the other female shows that can perhaps be too focused on hormones and the female anatomy, this show keeps it to real life experiences, situations and emotions.  They’ve also made it very accessible to men, as they would also be able to relate to the demands of parenthood portrayed.  Far too often men can feel excluded from women’s shows, as instead of dealing with our own issues, they go down the feminist route and take a pop at men’s inadequacies.  Sure we all know that 'Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus', but, hey, vie la difference – life would be pretty boring without them!

This is an enjoyable night out for any stressed out parent to relax and have a good laugh!

The show is touring to:

10th & 11th May, Aldridge Youth Theatre, Walsall
15th June, Players Theatre, Thame
21st June, The Guildhall Theatre, Derby
27th June, Harrogate Theatre
13th & 14th September, Limelight Theatre, Aylesbury
16th October, Old Town Hall Theatre, Hemel Hempstead

Further dates and show information, please visit:
www.ifsbutsandbabies.com

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
26/4/13

Apr 21st

My First Cinderella @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

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How many of us can remember our first ever visit to a real theatre?  What about our very first live ballet?  I grew up in a remote area on the Welsh borders in the foothills of the Black Mountains, so theatre for me was village hall productions and ballet was just something I knew about from the TV.  Somehow when I was 8 years old I’d decided I wanted to be a ballet dancer, even though there were no ballet classes in the area and I’d never seen a ballet!  Who knows how images are formed in our minds when we’re young, but although I didn’t ever do ballet, I did go on to become an actress!

My First Cinderella is aimed at children from 3+ to introduce them to the world of ballet and the magic of live theatre.  I took my grown-up niece Melissa and her little boy Cain (yes that does make me a Great Aunt – but if you emphasise the word GREAT it doesn’t make me sound ancient!) to see the show.  Cain is just over two and a half, but is a fan of Strictly Come Dancing and has a cartoon ballet DVD that he loves watching, so we felt he was ready for his first live theatre experience.

The My First... series brings young audiences their first taste of ballet through the magic of fairytales, captivating music and beautiful dance. ENB2 features graduating dancers of outstanding potential from English National Ballet School in performances produced by English National Ballet.  My First Cinderella is choreographed by George Williamson, English National Ballet’s Associate Artist. Earlier this year, at the age of 21, he created Firebird; a new work to Stravinsky’s classic score for English National Ballet.

My First Cinderella tells everyone’s favourite rags-to-riches story in a beautifully adapted version for young audiences. Cinderella is tormented by her spiteful stepsisters and longs to attend the Prince’s glamorous ball. Abandoned to an evening of drudgery, Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother appears and transforms her into a glittering Princess who shall go to the ball.

Concept and Direction: George Williamson and Loipa Araujo
Choreography George Williamson
Company Répétiteur: Antony Dowson
Musical Director: Gavin Sutherland
Costume: David Walker

The theatre was packed with children of all ages, some dressed as Cinderella and Prince Charming, accompanied by parents, grandparents and aunties.  Cain was enthralled as the story was narrated throughout by actress Jane Wymark, dressed as the Pastry Cook, who gave all the characters a new voice and accent.  It’s a wonderful way of explaining the story to children, bringing the fairy story to life and enabling us to understand the dance.  The production is colourful with sumptuous costumes and vibrant sets and everyone was drawn into the magic.  We hadn’t seen the Four Seasons in Cinderella before, so that was a new innovation, but it worked really well to transport the scenes from kitchen to ballroom.

It was also good to see that audience interaction brought elements of panto into the show, as the kids were encouraged to shout out ‘he’s behind you’.

The running time of one hour and 20 minutes with an interval is absolutely perfect to keep children’s attention.  Cain was captivated by it all and only once did he start to look around at the ceiling and start asking ‘what’s that’, the way small children do!
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After the show, Cain had a little run around outside and as we went back in for me to take this photo, he asked if we were going to see the show again?  That surely must be the ultimate critique of the show if a two year old wants to go and see it again, then it really is good.  When he saw his Nana later on he very excitedly told her all about it! I hope that when he’s grown up (and I actually feel like the elderly great-aunt that the image conjures up), he’ll remember the magic of seeing his very first ballet in this wonderful theatre!

The tour continues to:

Bromley, Churchill Theatre
27/04/13 – 28/04/13
Oxford, New Theatre
4/05/13 – 5/05/13
Crawley, The Hawth
11/05/13 – 12/05/13
Manchester, Opera House
18/05/13 – 19/05/13
London, Richmond Theatre
25/05/13 – 26/05/13
www.ballet.org.uk

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
20.4.13

Apr 19th

Lee 'Memphis' King @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

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Elvis is alive and well and is currently touring the UK in the form of Lee Memphis King, who was officially declared the best Elvis Tribute Artist in the world at the prestigious 2005 Collingwood Elvis Festival held annually in Canada. This is attended by the top Elvis tribute artists from around the world and the judges’ criteria for awarding this prestigious title are based on the authenticity of the voice, stage performance, appearance and adopting Elvis’s personality and passion on stage.

Lee Memphis King has played nearly every major UK theatre including The London Palladium, NIA Birmingham and O2 Indigo to name a few. He is the only tribute artist to date to perform at Hammersmith Apollo.

When Elvis Presley died in 1977, it's estimated there were about 170 people impersonating him. This number grew and grew and in the year 2,000 it was estimated there were about 85,000 Elvis impersonators. This statistic is according to the funny website http://www.murderousmaths.co.uk/elvis.htm that does some extraordinary calculations to say that by 2043 the world will be populated by Elvis tributes!

Contrary to popular belief, Elvis impersonators have existed since the mid-1950s, just after Elvis began his career. The first Elvis impersonator was a 16-year-old boy named Jim Smith, who could neither sing nor play the guitar!  Many other Elvis impersonators appeared while Elvis was still alive, evolving mainly out of small town talent competitions which took their influences from major music artists of that time. It wasn't until after Elvis' untimely death on August 16, 1977 that impersonating Elvis started to become popular in the mainstream. The large growth in Elvis impersonators seems tightly linked with his ever-growing iconic status.

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Over the last 10 years as Lee has toured his One Night of Elvis, but in this brand new show for 2013,  Lee Memphis King presents the ultimate tribute to The King. Celebrating the entire career of the musical legend, from his first single in 1954 up to his untimely death in 1977, Lee brings the majesty of the voice and the electrifying power of Elvis's performance back to life. Accompanied throughout by his world class band and backing singers that breathe the life into the music of a legend. The show also features large screen projection, making it the biggest Elvis show to tour UK theatres.

Opening the show with Heartbreak Hotel, Blue Suede Shoes and Shake, Rattle & Roll, Lee rocks the house as everyone sings along and a couple start dancing in the aisle.  Wearing a gold sequined jacket with black trousers and shoes, with Elvis’s trademark jet black hair and sideburns, Lee captivates the audience with his gyrating hips, energy and vocal resemblance to Elvis.  What made Elvis unique was the mix of gospel, rock, blues and soul in his voice that hadn’t been heard before (or since then really), plus his stunning looks and moves of course!

The rest of the first act covered his earlier hits including That’s All Right, Treat Me Right, Hound Dog and Jailhouse Rock, ending with the beautiful If I Can Dream.  Elvis performed this at his 1968 comeback tour in a white suit, which Lee also wore to finish the act.

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Act two focused on Elvis’s Vegas years, where he performed over 1200 sell-out shows right up to the end of his life.  Naturally, a white cat suit features strongly as we sing along to In The Ghetto, Let It Be Me, One Night With You, Polk Salad Annie, The Wonder of You and many other classics, ending with Suspicious Minds.  It made me realise just how many hits Elvis must have had in his career, though I was a little disappointed that his greatest hit It’s Now or Never wasn’t included in the show.

Lee was supported throughout by his brilliant band, Luke Thomas, Adrian Dear, The Brass Monkeys, James Elliott-Williams, Dean Elliott and Stephen Price.  Jill Schoonjans and Shelly Beckett provided some powerful backing vocals and the screen with video clips and photos helped to bring Elvis’s life and career back into focus.

It really is a great night’s entertainment and I was pleased to see that there were people of all ages in the audience, even young teenagers with their parents.  This will ensure that although Elvis has ‘left the building’ in body, his spirit, music and films will endure forever!
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Next tour dates:
Fri 19th Apr,  New Alexandra Theatre,Birmingham
Fri 3rd May, Churchill Theatre, Bromley
Sat 11th May,Phoenix Theatre, Blyth
Fri 17th May, Bristol Hippodrome, Bristol
Fri 31st May, The Robin 2,Wolverhampton
Sat 1st Jun , Playhouse Whitley Bay, Whitley Bay
Fri 7th Jun, King's Lynn Corn Exchange, King's Lynn
Thu 13th Jun, Sunderland Empire Theatre, Sunderland
Sat 5th Oct, Tivoli Theatre, Wimborne

For more information visit: www.leememphisking.com

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye, 18/4/13

Apr 9th

The Mousetrap @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

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Many years ago I was touring the UK in a play and was asked to audition for The Mousetrap.  I’d never seen the play, but was sent a copy which I read and set off on the train from Darlington to London to audition.  All went well and the Director liked my performance, but realised I was ‘too petite’ for the role!  I don’t think I’m giving anything away by saying that all the characters must be of average height and build and I just didn’t fit the costumes! 

Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap is, of course, the world’s longest running stage production with nearly 25,000 performances to date and to celebrate the 60 years since it opened in the West End, the play has been on a record-breaking tour since September 2012.   It seems our fascination with a good murder mystery remains as constant today as it was in 1952. 

Mousetrap Productions has licensed 60 productions of The Mousetrap world-wide to mark the 60th year. During this period the world’s longest running show will be seen in every continent, with professional productions scheduled for Australia, China, Korea, Turkey, South Africa, Russia, Czech Republic, Hungary, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Poland, Spain, Scandinavia, Venezuela, and across the United States and Canada.

The cast for this second leg of the UK tour includes some well-known TV faces: Steven France (Eastenders, The Bill) as Christopher Wren, Karl Howman (Brush Strokes) as Mr Paravicini, Bruno Langley (Coronation Street, Doctor Who) as Giles Ralston, Graham Seed (Yes, Prime Minister UK Tour, BBC Radio 4’s The Archers) as Major Metcalf and Jemma Walker (Family Affairs, Eastenders) as Mollie Ralston. Elizabeth Power (EastEnders) as Mrs Boyle and Clare Wilkie (Eastenders) will play Miss Casewell.  Bob Saul will reprise his West End role as Sgt Trotter.

I’d also like to give a special mention to the understudies who tour the country ready to step into the breach at a moment’s notice, who are Pamela Hardman, Jamie Hutchins, Michael Instone and Becky Pennick.

You really can’t beat a good Agatha Christie to give you a range of complex characters and a storyline so full of twists and possibilities, it’s almost impossible to guess ‘whodunnit’.  That’s what keeps people flocking back to see The Mousetrap after all these years, as it really has become a national institution.  It is obviously a period piece, but has a lot of warmth and humour and is pure escapism.  Personally I can’t watch the endless TV detective shows that like to show lots of grizzly close-ups of corpses, which I find unnecessary and repulsive.  Agatha Christie knew that a good murder mystery should be all about the characters and a compelling storyline and that’s why Miss Marple and Poirot are still so popular today.

The Mousetrap is continuing to sell out on its UK tour as its continuous run in the West End sets more and more records.  I can’t tell you ’whodunnit’, but I can tell you that if you’re a fan of Christie and haven’t managed to see it in the West End, now’s the time to book your ticket at a theatre near you!
                                                              
Aylesbury Waterside Theatre Box Office, call  0844 871 7607 (bkg fee) or visit www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury (bkg fee)
Performances:    Mon 8 – Sat 13 Apr
Tickets:   £10 - £27
Box Office:   0844 871 7607 (bkg fee)
Online Booking: www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury (bkg fee)


The tour continues to:
Brighton Theatre Royal
15 Apr - 20 Apr | 0844 871 7650
Norwich Theatre Royal
22 Apr - 27 Apr | 01603 63 00 00
Bristol Hippodrome
29 Apr - 04 May | 0844 871 3012
York Grand Opera House
06 May - 11 May | 0844 871 3024
Nottingham Theatre Royal
13 May - 18 May | 0115 989 5500
Truro Hall for Cornwall
20 ay - 25 May | 01872 262466
Wolverhampton Grand Theatre
27 May - 01 Jun | 01902 42 92 12
Further tour dates can be found on www.mousetrapontour.com

Reviewed By:
Yvonne Delahaye
8th April 2013

Mar 13th

‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ at the Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury, Tuesday 12th March

By Yvonne Delahaye
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Last night I was lucky enough to be invited to witness Bill Kenwright’s current touring production of ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre.

The world-renowned show is a sparkling family-friendly musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with lyrics by Tim Rice. It retells the Biblical story of Joseph, his eleven brothers and the coat of many colours, and includes unforgettable songs such as ‘Those Canaan Days’, ‘Any Dream Will Do’ and ‘Close Every Door to Me’. ‘Joseph’ was first presented as a 15-minute pop cantata at Colet Court School in London in 1968 and was recorded as a concept album in 1969. It received stage productions beginning in 1970 and expanded recordings in 1971 and 1972. While still undergoing various transformations and expansions, the musical was produced in the West End in 1973 and in its full format was recorded in 1974 and opened on Broadway in 1982. Several major revivals and a 1999 straight-to-video film, starring Donny Osmond, followed.

Despite the popularity and success of the show, combined with the fact that I am an avid musicals fan, I had never actually seen a production of this show before. Therefore I was very excited to see what it had to offer; I am happy to say I was not disappointed.
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The whole cast worked wonderfully as an ensemble and I was especially impressed with Joseph’s 11 brothers. They all provided both a strong vocal and physical performance and worked amazingly well together, as well as each very capably taking on other individual chorus roles.

Keith Jack, runner-up in the hit BBC series ‘Any Dream Will Do’, took on the title role of Joseph. Although at certain points his pronunciation came across as a little ‘taught’ rather than natural, he coped well with the balance of pathos and comedy that the role demands and by the time we got to his haunting rendition of ‘Close Every Door to Me’ he had truly won me over. I also really enjoyed Lauren Ingram’s performance in the role of Narrator. This is a demanding role as it cements the narrative and the individual songs together, and with her clear diction and pure and light soprano voice, she did this beautifully.

 One of the famous ‘stars’ of any production of ‘Joseph’ is of course the children’s choir, and this production was no exception. The choir of thirty, who, like the Narrator, remain on stage throughout the majority of the performance, executed their role superbly, providing a strong and dynamic vocal backdrop for the other performers. I especially enjoyed it when they got to take centre stage and perform a medley of songs from the first act as the opening to the second act; it was lovely to see how much they were enjoying themselves.

However, I must state that my favourite performance of the night was from Luke Jasztal who took on the role of Joseph’s brother Reuben and, more impressively, the Elvis-styled Pharaoh. Quite often with Elvis tributes or Elvis-style performances, the portrayal is often rather tongue-in-cheek and appears as merely a bad, cheesy and often overcooked impersonation; this was not true for Luke. He had a strong and dynamic voice and his portrayal seemed convincingly truthful and well executed, without a hint of sarcasm, whilst still remaining funny at the appropriate points.

In fact, I didn’t realise before seeing the show how funny some of it was. Whether it was the brother’s inflatable sheep, the singing camel, Joseph’s amusing angel appearance or Potiphar’s ‘American Express’ credit card, there were plenty of little jokes throughout the show to keep the atmosphere light and jovial.

You only need to look at Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s back catalogue to realise that he is a highly skilled composer. However, I also think that the vast array of varying styles of music you’ll find in ‘Joseph’ is also a tribute to this. With a cowboy country how down (‘One More Angel in Heaven’), a 1920s style ‘Potiphar’, a gospel choir in ‘Go, Go, Go Joseph’, an American football theme with accompanying cheerleaders for the appearance of ‘Elvis’ Pharaoh, a French themed ‘Those Canaan Days, and a calypso carnival (‘Benjamin Calypso’), there really is something for everyone.

This is a fun-loving and highly enjoyable production with beautiful brightly coloured costumes and an exceedingly talented cast. I even found myself drawn in to the welcome sentimentality of Joseph’s reunion with his father and brothers at the end of the piece. With a crash or drums and a flash of light, the show then ends with a bright, colourful and energetic medley of all the main numbers from the show. As the cast members exited the stage into the auditorium, many people were on their feet, dancing and clapping with them. A great night out for all the family, not to be missed.

Further Performances: Wednesday 13th March – 1.30pm and 7.30pm Thursday 14th March – 1.30pm and 7.30pm
Friday 15th March – 5pm and 8pm
 Saturday 16th March – 1.30pm, 4.30pm and 7.30pm
Ticket prices range from £10.00 - £32.00, available from www.atgtickets.com
Reviewed by:
 Vicky Poole
12.3.13
Mar 5th

WOW - A Celebration of the Music & Artistry of Kate Bush @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

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‘Wow! Wow! Wow!  Unbelievable. Ooh yeah, you’re amazing, we think you’re incredible!
’  Never have song lyrics seemed more apt than watching Maaike Breijman perform as Kate Bush, with whom she shares a birthday, and an uncanny resemblance in appearance, performance and vocal style. Maaike is set to astound audiences worldwide, as she sings Kate’s greatest songs, performs numerous dance routines live on stage with a full troupe of musicians, dancers and state of the art light and video show.

Since the release of her debut album, The Kick Inside in February 1978, Kate Bush has toured just the once, performing 25 shows across the UK and Europe in April and May 1979. Despite this fact Kate’s albums are still as popular today as they were upon release, her new album, 50 Words for Snow, went straight into the top ten of the album charts.

The first live date of Kate Bush’s one and only tour started in Liverpool in 1979. “Kate’s fans have waited over 30 years to see what we believe will be the next best thing to the real thing. It seems only fitting to launch the show in Liverpool” said Producer Spike Beecham at the start of the tour.
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From the opening of the show with Moving, James and Cold Gun we knew we were in for a unique theatrical experience, as Maaike changed costumes for each number to portray the story of each song and the videos enhanced the storytelling.  I didn’t know those first songs, but then came the familiar notes of Babooshka and Wow and I was totally absorbed by Maaike's captivating performance.  The moves, the dancing, the costumes, the facial expressions were all as you’d imagine how Kate would perform a concert as Maaike morphed into Kate.  She was completely uninhibited, free and believable and the audience loved her. 

Dance is very much a part of the show and the dancing and choreography were exceptional, particularly on Running Up the Hill (choreographer/movement director Hester Schröfer). Talented dancers Joseph Reay-Reid and Alex Parsons support Maaike brilliantly throughout the show.  The band are also integral to the show and these outstanding musicians are: Barney Taylor (Keyboards & Programmer, Backing Vocals), Bobby Kewley (Bass Guitars, Cello & Backing Vocals), Jerney Molenaar (Additional/ Backing Vocals), Paul Tsanos (Drums, Percussion & Musical Director), Paul Molloy (Guitars & Backing Vocals).bandbw.jpg

Maaike also plays the baby grand piano for the first few numbers of the second set, adding to our astonishment at her incredible talents. 
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Kate’s songs and videos were renowned for their humour, wit and intelligence and every song tells a story. 
I well remember the video of Cloudbusting with Donald Sunderland playing the Professor and it really was more of a short film than a pop video, so to see the 'cloudbusting machine' on stage was an unexpected surprise.  The props and videos screened behind the band helped to create the mood of each song and this really makes the show a complete theatrical narrative.  The only downside was the lights that blazed into the audience at times, which may cause problems if you’re a migraine or epileptic sufferer and perhaps this needs to be changed?

The most memorable song of the evening for me was the hauntingly beautiful Army Dreamers, with Maaike dressed in black holding a bunch of purple tulips and Joseph and Alex in army flak jackets.  The lyrics are even more poignant today than when it was released in 1980 and I felt a lump in my throat as I watched.
“what could he do?
Should have been a rock star."
But he didn't have the money for a guitar.
"what could he do?
Should have been a politician."
But he never had a proper education.
"what could he do?
Should have been a father."
But he never even made it to his twenties.
What a waste --
Army dreamers.
Ooh, what a waste of
Army dreamers.

Of course there could only be one song to finish the show with and that was Wuthering Heights, leaving the audience giving a standing ovation and craving more. Truly Kate Bush is a unique and exceptionally talented artist and Maaike brings her own outstanding talents to make this an unforgettable night.

The tour continues to 10th March, with a European tour commencing in April and further dates to be announced.  Visit www.wow-theshow.com for more information.

Wed 6th March – Venue Cymru, Llandudno
Thu 7th March – Opera House, York
Fri 8th March – Derngate Theatre, Northampton
Sun 10th March – Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London
European Dates 2013
Thu 25th April – Carre Theatre, Amsterdam
 
Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
4th March 2013

Mar 2nd

Ellen Kent's Carmen @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury 1st March 2013

By Yvonne Delahaye

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Eagle-eyed readers of the Aylesbury column may have noticed that I have been absent from reviewing since last October. Thankfully, Pete Benson has been keeping you updated on the shows at the Waterside with some excellent reviews and I’d like to thank him for stepping into the breach.  In case you’re wondering where I’ve been hiding, I’ve been back treading the boards myself playing the leading role in the farce Touch and Go at The English Theatre of Hamburg.  As professional actors ourselves Pete and I perhaps have a different perspective of what works for us and we can only be honest in our reviews by giving our personal take on what we’ve seen.  I’m very pleased to be back reviewing at the Waterside Theatre and am looking forward to the new season, but Pete will continue to review as well.

Last night I saw the opera Carmen. Directed by Ellen Kent, this traditionally staged, dazzling new production set in Seville and reflecting a Goya painting, with fountains, flowers, orange trees and even a rescue donkey, should guarantee an evening of passion and romance.

Starring international mezzo soprano Nadia Stoianova as Carmen, this is the story of a bewitching gypsy girl whose tantalising beauty lures a soldier to desertion and ultimately leads to her own murder.

Carmen features some of the most evocative and best-loved melodies in opera, including perhaps the best-known baritone aria of all; The Toreador’s Song.

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I confess to not knowing very much about opera, but I’ve seen a few productions of Carmen over the years.  As an actor and singer myself I can appreciate the incredible amount of vocal training required to be an opera singer.  However, what I find difficult is that despite being superb singers, they are not always the best actors.  For me, the role of Carmen should be played by someone like Gina Lollobrigida (as she was in her heyday), a sultry, sexy, passionate Mediterranean woman, who can express wildness and total abandonment.   Nadia was just too nice and too ‘safe’ in her performance and I found myself wondering why Don Jose would give up his life and career for her.  However, the toreador Escamillo did have the strutting power and presence needed to bring some passion back into the show and was very believable.

Despite this, it was an enjoyable show made much more accessible by the box at the top of the stage running subtitles!  This really is a great way to bring people into the theatre to see opera, who previously would have avoided it for fear of not understanding what is being sung.

Tour Dates:
Sat 2 Mar New Alexandra Theatre Birmingham
Sat 9 Mar Regent Theatre, Stoke on Trent
Wed 13 Mar Princess Theatre Torquay
Thu 21 Mar  New Wimbledon Theatre
Sat 23 Mar  New Victoria Theatre
Tue 09 Apr  Liverpool Empire
Fri 12 - Sat 13 Apr   Edinburgh Playhouse

For further dates and booking visit: http://uktheatrenet.ambassadortickets.com/whatson.aspx
Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
1 March 2013

Oct 12th

Live Screening of Last of the Haussmans' at The Second Space, Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

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Continuing the season of Live Screenings from the National Theatre Live, The Last of the Haussman’s saw the return of Julie Walters to the stage after a 12 year absence. Anarchic, feisty but growing old, high society drop-out Judy Haussman remains in spirit with the Ashrams of the 1960s while holding court in her dilapidated Art Deco house on the Devon coast. After an operation, she’s joined by wayward offspring Nick and Libby, sharp-eyed granddaughter Summer, local doctor Peter, and Daniel, a troubled teenager who makes use of the family’s crumbling swimming pool. Together they share a few sweltering months in this chaotic world of all-day drinking, infatuations, long-held resentments, free love and failure.

This is the first play written by actor Stephen Beresford, who decided to send it off to The National and was very surprised to receive a call saying they wanted to perform it.  Stephen set it in his home town of Dartford and the weather beaten set is vividly created by Vicki Mortimer, perfectly replicating a dilapidated seaside art deco home.  The play is superbly directed by Howard Davies.

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This is certainly an actor’s play, in that the characters are fully defined, finely honed and three dimensional.  There are a lot of very clever one liners and some really good comedy moments, particularly the scene where Nick (Rory Kinnear) tries to chat up the pool boy.  I found his brilliantly observed character portrayal as the gay, ex-junkie, son a master class in acting.  I felt every nuance, mannerism and emotion and he was perhaps the only really likeable character in the family.  Helen McCrory gives a very powerful performance as Libby the vitriolic daughter hell bent on ensuring that she receives her inheritance, but we are also shown her vulnerabilities and mistakes.

Julie Walters creates one of her trademark eccentric characters, as the old hippie who doesn’t give a stuff about what anyone else thinks, including her children.   One of Britain’s best-loved and most versatile actors, Julie Walters has won BAFTA, Golden Globe and Olivier Awards for her work. Her screen credits range from Educating Rita to celebrated work with Victoria Wood, from lead roles in the movies of Mamma Mia! and Harry Potter to portraying Mo Mowlam for Channel 4.

Libby’s sullen 16 year old daughter Summer is played with relish by Isabella Laughland and it seems that she may be the only sensible one in the family. The cast of characters is completed by two outsiders, Matthew Marsh’s Peter - a neighbouring doctor friend of Judy’s who embarks on a brief affair with Libby - and Taron Egerton’s Daniel, a young aspiring competitive swimmer who lives next door as a carer to his bedbound mother.
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Dysfunctional family relationships occur everywhere and I'm sure we all recognise the need to try and hold onto the past and keep the family house and its possessions.  If there is a message in this play though, it probably comes from Judy who tells her children not to get weighed down with material possessions and to go out and live life to the full.  Maybe that’s a motto worth thinking about?

The next Live Screenings are The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury are:
The National Theatre’s Timon of Athens on Thursday 1st November at 6.45 p.m.
Royal Opera House’s The Nutcracker on Thursday 13th December at 7.15 p.m.
The National Theatre’s The Magistrate on Thursday 17th January at 6.45 p.m.
Ticket prices £13.50-15 to book go to:

http://uktheatrenet.ambassadortickets.com/whatson.aspx

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
11.10.12

Oct 12th

The Illegal Eages @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

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Only one of these men was born in America. None of them were in Linda Ronstadt’s backing band nor were they the winners of six Grammy Awards but they do sound an awful lot like five men who were. The Illegal Eagles are an Eagles tribute band, see what they did there, ‘Illegal Eagles’?
 
From the get go the band proves that they are more than capable of good strong accurate harmonies on the Eagles first single release Take it Easy, one of an impressive catalogue of familiar songs that have resonated down a generation. As titular front man Jeff Green is visually the most like an Eagle, he has both the hair and the accent and like the rest of the band is a consummate musician. During one of the high points of the show Darin Murphy plays lovely fretless bass on song I was unfamiliar with called New York Minute. The Eagles technically only covered it as it was written by founder member Don Henley for his own solo album after he left the band.

During the interval my guitarist friend who watched the show with me assured me that the band had authentically replicated the Eagles music and harmonies and that these were top class musicians. And for sure these are not five blokes from down the pub setting out to make a fast buck. Their biographies show that they are five professional musicians with a wealth of experience in the world of music and it more than showed.10243.jpg

They tease us nicely in the second half with a discussion of what are the greatest all time opening riffs in rock music, complete with demonstrations of such greats as Gary Moore’s Still Got the Blues, Pink Floyd’s Money, Sweet Home Alabama et al but we all know what the best is going to be. “Just play it won’t you”. The double necked guitar appears so there is little doubt left. Then those oh so familiar opening notes of Hotel California sound out, and no one doubts that there was ever a greater opening riff than this.
Band originator Phil Aldridge made one of the most heartfelt introductions that I have ever heard of ‘his friends’ in the band before they rocked us to the closing, Life in the Fast Lane.

Only the Eagles can look like the Eagles and be the Eagles but in a world where I can never get to see the Eagles at the height of their fame the Illegal Eagles come a pretty good second. Thanks guys for giving me a little taste of an era gone by.

Illegal Eagles tour dates.
OCTOBER
FRIDAY 12 - Truro - The Hall For Cornwall
SATURDAY 13 - Torquay - The Princess Theatre
TUESDAY 16 - Watford - The Colosseum
WEDNESDAY 17 - Fareham - Ferneham Hall
FRIDAY 19 - Basingstoke - The Anvil Theatre
SATURDAY 20 - Worthing - The Pavilion Theatre
MONDAY 22 - Sunderland - The Empire Theatre
TUESDAY 23 - York - The Grand Opera House
WEDNESDAY 24 - Grimsby - The Auditorium
THURSDAY 25 - Wellingborough - The Castle Theatre

NOVEMBER
FRIDAY 2 - Dorking - The Dorking Halls
FRIDAY 16 Stoke - Victoria Hall
FRIDAY 23 - Chesterfield - The Winding Wheel
WEDNESDAY 28- Bury St Edmunds - The Apex Theatre

DECEMBER
SUNDAY 2- Wolverhampton - The WulfrunTheatre

To book tickets for the Waterside Theatre go to:
http://uktheatrenet.ambassadortickets.com/whatson.aspx

Reviewed by:
Pete Benson
11th October 2012

Oct 3rd

Dreamboats and Petticoats @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

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The first few minutes of a show are so important to connect with the audience and when it works well, will carry you along for the rest of the performance.  Last night was a perfect example of how to start a show, with some funny banter between the grandfather and his granddaughter, leading straight into Let’s Dance.  We all relaxed and allowed ourselves to be transported back to 1961, singing along to some of the greatest hits from that year and enjoying the age-old story of the complications of teenage love.  It’s a heart-warming show that will put a smile on your face and uplift you with its energy and memorable songs from the Rock ‘n’ Roll era.

Inspired by the smash hit million selling albums Dreamboats and Petticoats One, Two and Three, the show is written by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, the team behind Goodnight Sweetheart, Birds of a Feather, The New Statesmen and Shine On Harvey Moon.  Since its opening in the West End in 2009 Dreamboats and Petticoats has been seen by over a million people. Following its success, the team  wrote another 60s based show, Save the Last Dance For Me, which came to the Waterside in February 2012 and promises to be just as successful as this one.

Dreamboats and Petticoats tells the story of shy schoolgirl Laura’s crush on Bobby, who only has eyes for the statuesque blond Sue, who only has eyes for Norman.  In turn, Laura’s piano and song writing skills attracts Norman, as they all compete to win the national song writing competition.

Scott Haining gives a delightful performance as love-sick Bobby the teenage boy with acne.  His lovely singing voice and sincerity make him a joy to watch.  TV credits include Waterloo Road, Doctors and My Parents are Aliens.  Elizabeth Carter is also charmingly innocent as Laura and pitches it just right giving a very credible performance as a 15 year old schoolgirl.  Ben James-Ellis creates a likeable character in Norman, the man with little talent, but a huge ego.  Former model Amy Diamond proves that she’s not just a pretty face with a gorgeous body, she knows how to act and can belt out a tune too!  Amy was a finalist in TV’s Over The Rainbow, the Andrew Lloyd Webber’s BBC talent show.

Playing a number of roles including Bobby’s dad was Terry Winstanley.  I spent the first act trying to think where I knew him from and assumed it was in a TV sitcom, as he’s so good at playing comedy.  Terry was, in fact, one of the last 32 who reached judge’s houses on last year’s X-Factor!  He had a few songs to belt out here and looked as if he was having the time of his life in the show.  He has definitely found his niche in musical theatre playing comedy roles and I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of him in years to come.

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As always this is a fantastically talented ensemble cast who not only sing, dance and act, but play instruments too.  Dan O’Brien plays Laura’s brother who finds romance with Sue’s best friend Donna (Anna Campkin)  Gavin is great playing Frank/Slugger/Compere.  Patrick Burbridge, Joey Ellis, Emma Jane Morton, James Nitti, Rachel Nottingham, Josef Pitura-Riley, Mike Slader, Will Tierney, Chloe Edwards-Wood and Christopher Wheeler make up the rest of this gifted ensemble.

Featuring classic tracks from Roy Orbison, The Shadows, Eddie Cochran, Billy Fury, and many more, including Let's Dance, To Know Him Is To Love Him, Shaking All Over, Bobby's Girl, Three Steps To Heaven, Little Town Flirt, Only Sixteen, Runaround Sue, Happy Birthday Sweet 16, Let It Be Me, Great Pretender, C'mon Everybody, Let's Twist Again and many more hits from music's golden era!dreamboats%20011[1].jpg


There’s still time to book your tickets for a joyful night of escapism.
01 - 06 Oct 2012 Waterside Theatre Aylesbury
15 – 20 Oct 2012 Pavillion Theatre Rhyl
22 - 27 Oct 2012 Regent Theatre Stoke
05 - 10 Nov 2012 – Regent Theatre Ipswich
12 – 17 Nov 2012 – Churchill Theatre Bromley
20 – 24 Nov 2012 – New Theatre Cardiff
Ticket prices £12.00-£35.00 to book go to:

http://uktheatrenet.ambassadortickets.com/whatson.aspx

Reviewed by:

Yvonne Delahaye
1.10.12