Share |
Sep 30th

Peter Pan Preview @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye
3490_full[1].png
Our all too brief summer has ended, the leaves are turning and the heating is back on.  As the nights start to draw in, the thought of winter becomes a reality once more and we need to look for something to cheer us up during those long, dark months.  What better than an excursion to the fantasy land of panto, with its colourful costumes and sets, energetic performances and laughter to lift our spirits? For this year’s panto preview, the Waterside opened its doors to everyone and the theatre was filled to capacity with excited children wearing pirate’s hats and waving flags, accompanied by parents and grandparents.  In a fun packed hour, we were treated to songs, comedy and audience participation as we were introduced to the stars of this year’s show.

Compere for the event was panto supremo Eric Potts of First Family Entertainment (formed in January 2005)one of the leading Pantomime production companies in the world. Promoting the traditional values of pantomime, First Family Entertainment has seen a growth in sales at all the venues it produces in and their productions have received rave reviews from critics and audiences alike.  Eric is best known on TV for playing Diggory Compton on Coronation Street, but as panto dame and writer of hundreds of pantos, he reigns supreme.  Warming up the audience with jokes and participation, he then introduced us to the cast in glorious costumes who each gave us a taster of their characters.
russell_grant624x351[1].jpg
Star of the show this year is the effervescent Russell Grant, playing Roger the Cabin Boy (!), who danced onto the stage in sequined shoes and a colourful red, sparkly outfit.  Russell’s star is certainly in the ascendant after his appearance on Strictly Come Dancing as his theatrical career has been revived.  I was lucky enough to meet this charming man after the preview and he told me how his life has changed since he took to the dance floor.  Theatrical impresario Bill Kenwright asked Russell three times to appear in the Wizard of Oz, but he refused not feeling he could replace Michael Crawford.  When Andrew Lloyd Webber made some changes to suit him (and with Arlene Phillips as choreographer) Russell was finally persuaded to step back onto the stage at the London Palladium 34 years after his last appearance.  Russell started out as a Butlin’s Red Coat and appeared in more than 30 musicals and comedies, so it felt like going home and he clearly loves being back on stage again.

Russell is currently playing Teen Angel in the touring production of Grease and Arlene has choreographed some wonderful samba, salsa and cha, cha, cha dance routines for him.  The BBC has asked him to do several more Strictly Come Dancing specials with Flavia, he’s appearing on TV’s Celebrity Wedding Planner and hosts a radio show about football.  His horoscope websites receive an amazing 4-500 million hits every day around the world and record producer Brain Harris has just asked him to record the 1965 hit ‘The Clapping Song’.  So life is certainly full of activity for Russell and he is absolutely relishing the revival of his showbiz career.  Having lost an astonishing 11 stones, had a knee operation and taken up dancing, he’s a fit and energetic 61, I’m sure we can expect a memorable performance in the panto.

He told me he’d been offered 15 pantos around the country, so I asked him why he’d chosen The Waterside?  He said ‘First Family Entertainment have such great production values and this will be my second panto with them, as I was in Milton Keynes last year as the Genie of The Lamp in Aladdin.  I was very keen to work at The Waterside as this is a fantastic theatre, absolutely AWESOME.’ We’re certainly pleased he’s starring in the panto and look forward to seeing him dazzle us with his dancing skills!

images[3].jpg
Returning to the Waterside is Andy Collins, playing Smee, who starred alongside Cilla Black in Cinderella two years ago.  Andy has to be one of the hardest working entertainers in the business as he told me he’s constantly dashing around London doing warm-ups for Alan Carr’s Chatty Man, Alan Titchmarsh, Jonathan Ross, Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Take Away and Celebrity Juice.  As a TV Presenter, he’s probably best known as the host of Garden SOS and Family Fortunes.  Andy is delighted to be back at The Waterside, as he lives locally, but is also happily going to be working alongside his 8 year old daughter Molly!  She worked very hard and had to audition to be in the show, so it’ll be a lovely experience for both of them to be on stage together.  This is Andy’s 14th panto and everyone will be pleased to know that he’s going to be performing his much-loved version of The Twelve Days of Christmas again.
matt-brown-alt-1342738468-article-0[1].jpg
Heart Radio DJ Matt Brown received a phone call out of the blue asking him to be in the panto and he’s very excited to be playing the role of Starky.  This will be Matt’s first time on stage and he’s very enthusiastic to be a part of such a prestigious panto and says that he’ll be very popular with his two children when they see him performing.   With a 4.00 a.m. start for his breakfast show in Reading and two shows a day in Aylesbury, it’ll be an exhausting run for Matt, but I’m sure he’ll cherish the experience and enjoy himself.
357536[1].jpg

No panto is complete without a baddie for us all to hiss and boo and they don't come badder than Steve Serlin as Captain Hook.  We loved to hate him in Dick Whittington last year as King Rat and he really stole the show with his rodent-like moves, powerful singing and wicked ways.  Since then Steve has played the roles of Vladamir and Mick in a musical about the Monkees entitled Monkee Business and has just finished a run of Mack and Mable at Southwark Playhouse, playing Mr Kessell.  Future projects include the stage version of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. He also works regularly with a big band performing rock in the corporate sector and recently sang at an exclusive wedding in the South of France! Steve is also thrilled to be back in Aylesbury and working again for First Family Entertainment and we can be sure of another ‘capt’ivating performance.


home-feature[1].jpg
Local singer Holly Brewer will be playing Wendy in her first starring panto role.  Having won the Milton Keynes Got Talent Show 3 years ago aged just 14, Holly now performs gigs around the area, plays piano and is beginning to write her own music.  With a beautiful, but belting, singing voice, pretty face and blond hair, Holly is the perfect principal girl and I know the kids will love her.

Pettigrew_Adam-260x329[1].jpg
Playing the title role of Peter Pan is Adam Pettigrew who was unable to attend the preview as he’s currently starring in Wicked in the West End.

Make sure you book early to put some sparkle and laughter into those cold winter days!  Ticket prices £9-£26.00 the show runs from 8th to 31st December 2012.

To book tickets go to:

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

Reviewed by:

Yvonne Delahaye
29.9.12

 



Sep 20th

Julius Caesar @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye
7700_sml[1].png
It’s a sad fact of life that wherever you live in the world and whatever time period we find ourselves in, there will always be dictators who try to control the masses.  Apart from the language, this play could have been written about any conspiracy to overthrow a dictatorship and remains as relevant today as when it was written.

Julius Caesar is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1599. It portrays the 44 BC conspiracy against the Roman dictator Julius Caesar, his assassination and the defeat of the conspirators at the Battle of Philippi. It is one of several Roman plays that Shakespeare wrote, based on true events from Roman history, which also include Coriolanus and Antony and Cleopatra.

RSC Chief Associate Director Gregory Doran has set the play in modern Africa, providing an exhilarating and gripping backdrop to the story.  The recent tragic events at the mine in Johannesburg, shows us that these people are prepared to fight with guns, knives and machetes to get what they want.  It’s this cultural passion and lack of fear for personal safety that makes this production so real and exciting.  From the African drumming, to witch doctors, the costumes and the set, we are transported to contemporary Africa, bringing the text alive and relevant to today’s world.

Deftly playing the title role of Caesar, Jeffery Kissoon is not the most visible character as he appears in only three scenes and is killed at the beginning of the third act. Unfortunately one of his best speeches was interrupted by a sick audience member, but he managed to battle on through the disruption. 

Paterson-Joseph-243x317[1].jpgMarcus Brutus speaks more than four times as many lines and the central psychological drama is his struggle between the conflicting demands of honour, patriotism and friendship.  Patterson Joseph is outstanding as the tormented protagonist in events and is well-known from his many TV appearances including Hustle, Peep Show and Doctor Who.

images[1].jpg‘Friends, Romans, Countrymen lend me your ears’ is the first line of Mark Anthony’s often quoted monologue, showing how the power of oratory can change public opinion.  Ray Fearon as Mark Anthony gives a powerful, mesmerising (potentially award-winning?) performance that was exciting and compelling to watch.  Ray is an Associate Artist at the RSC and has played the title roles in Pericles and Othello, but is best known on TV for playing garage mechanic Nathan Harding on Coronation Street!

Adjoa Andoh is Portia the seductively beautiful wife of Brutus who tries to distract her husband and calm his agitation and grief.  Adoja has a very striking presence and gives a passionate performance as the tragic wife who commits suicide. TV appearances include Law and Order UK, Scott and Bailey and Silent Witness.

The rest of the ensemble cast that all make this such an incredible show are: Segun Akingbola (Trebonius/Favius/Varro); Mark Ebulue (Artemidorus/Carpenter/Cato); Ricky Fearon (Cicero/Lucilius/Cobbler/Popilius); Andrew French (Decius Brutus/Titinius); Marcus Griffiths (Marullus/Octavius’ Servant/Pindarus/Publius); Ivanno Jeremiah (Octavius Caesar); Samantha Lawson (Caesar’s Servant); Simon Manyonda (Lucius); Joseph Mydell (Casca); Cyril Nra (Caius Cassius); Ann Ogbomo (Calpurnia); Theo Ogundipe (Soothsayer); Jude Owusu (Cinna, the Poet/Anthony’s Servant); Mark Theodore (Metellus Cimber/Messala); Ewart James Walters (Caius Ligarius/Lepidus); Chinna Wodu (Cinna, The Conspirator/Clitus).

Following its success at the RSC Stratford, the play moved into the Noel Coward Theatre for a sell-out 6 weeks and is now on tour until 27th October. 

• Aylesbury Waterside Theatre 19 – 22 September
• Bradford Alhambra Theatre 25 – 29 September
• The Lowry, Salford 2 - 6 October
• Norwich Theatre Royal 16 – 20 October
• New Theatre, Cardiff 23 – 27 October

It’s one of the most  exhilarating pieces of theatre you’ll ever experience, so if you haven't already booked a ticket get online now!
To book tickets go to:
http://uktheatrenet.ambassadortickets.com/whatson.aspx

Prior to the show, outgoing Chief Executive Elizabeth Addlington bade a sad farewell to the Waterside before introducing the programme of shows for the autumn season.  Incoming General Manager Jamie Baskeyfield will have an exciting season ahead starting with Blue Orange, Dreamboats and Petticoats, Northern Ballet’s Beauty and the Beast, Great Expectations, 42nd Street, plus an array of Live Screenings, comedy nights and one night only shows.
7947_sml[1].png
Director of Blue Orange, Christopher Luscombe, told us that as well as being a thrilling psychological play, there’s a lot of laughter in there too.  Robert Bathhurst was drawn to the play as it’s a meaty role with lots of depth. Blue Orange is the electrifying story of Christopher (Oliver Wilson), who believes that a notorious military dictator is his father. In the battle of wills his psychiatrist Robert (Robert Bathurst) plans to thrust him back into the community, but a young doctor (Gerard McCarthy) thinks this is too soon. A compelling and witty battle of freedom and ambition unfolds.  The play runs from Tuesday 25th to Saturday 29th September with tickets from £10.00 to £32.00.


6871_sml[1].pngBruce MacKinnon, Producer of Great Expectations, gave us some insight into the new touring production coming to the Waterside from 30th October to 3rd November.  With a cast of 15 actors, it’s a dynamic piece originally performed for theatre-in-education.  Adult Pip is played by Paul Nivison, with Jack Ellis (Coronation Street, Where the Heart Is, Bad Girls) as Jaggers, Chris Ellison (The Bill) as Magwitch with Paula Wilcox (Emmerdale, The Smoking Room, Man About the House) as Miss Havisham.  Tickets from £10.00 to £32.00.

To book tickets go to:
http://uktheatrenet.ambassadortickets.com/whatson.aspx
Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
19.9.12
Sep 9th

Comedy Club @ The Second Space, Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye
Many years ago I was touring in a play when we spent 5 weeks at The Grand Theatre in Blackpool.  A new bowling alley was opening and all the casts from shows around the town competed against one another.  Somehow I ended up in the team with The Crankies, Jiminy Cricket and Frank Carson!  None of us were very good, but Frank took it very seriously and offered advice on how to bowl.  Despite his best efforts to coach us we came last, but what I remember most is that even when he was trying to be serious, Frank was still very funny!  He was a naturally funny man and his catchphrase ‘It’s the way I tell ‘em’ will last forever I’m sure.

To be a great comedian you have to be naturally funny, know how to handle an audience and have exceptionally funny writing skills.  Peter Kay is a classic example of a contemporary comedian who has all those qualities in abundance.  His brilliantly funny TV series Phoenix Nights proved what a great writer he is, as well as being an intelligent and witty man.

Sadly, the acts I saw on Friday at The Second Space, Waterside Theatre have an awfully long way to go to be classed as great comedians.  The compere for the night was Fin Taylor, who immediately alienated the audience by complaining that the theatre was like a lecture theatre, had a bad smell and the audience were too far away!  Duh, that just means you’ve actually got to work harder to get them on your side!  He didn’t have an act of his own, but relied on picking out audience members and making fun of their names or professions.  Yes a lot of comedians like Al Murray and Dara O’Briain use this technique, but they have the wit to make something out of what they’re given and are naturally funny.  When we had to wait till the second act for the biggest laugh of the night to come from an audience member, then you know this really isn’t working!  Fin had been picking on a man called Eldo who was from Italy and eventually asked him what his surname was and one clever guy in the audience said ‘Rado’...get it ‘Eldo..rado’.  Funny, but surely this should have come straight from the mouth of the compere?

Next up was Pat Cahill, described as having an ‘unpretentiously surreal and absurd outlook’....hmmmm.  The funniest thing for me was that he used a coathanger to make his hand held mic into a hands-free one!  Maybe a song about a dog with a tumour is funny to some people, but I’m afraid it left me stone cold.  After a couple of minutes I kept looking at my watch willing the time away.  He rambled incessantly for half an hour about ‘things inside other things’, but it all led nowhere and again I felt that his material really did need a lot of work.

The second act faired slightly better when Adam Bloom came on, as at least he had a lot of energy and put himself into the audience to try and make a connection.  He had some good one-liners and some good material, so the evening was redeemed a little.  However, when he resorted to making fun of the Paralympics and women with some very non-PC jokes it all fell flat again.  Of the three acts, he certainly was the one who managed to entertain the audience for at least some of the time and was at least more naturally funny. 

The three acts really need to work on their material, watch some comedy greats like Morecombe & Wise and The Two Ronnies and find out what really makes people laugh.  I felt all of them had just a few minutes of material, but padded it out to try and make half an hour and it really didn’t work.  I know it’s the hardest thing in showbiz to do stand-up and try to make people laugh, but if you’re not naturally a funny person with a clever wit, then you really do have to work, work and work at it to perfect your act.  In the meantime, as they say, don’t give up the day jobs!

The next Comedy Club at the Second Space, Waterside Theatre is on Friday 12th October at 8.00 p.m. with Ryan McDonnell, Ian D Montford & John Gordillo.  Tickets cost £10 and can be booked on:
Box Office: 0844 871 7614
http://uktheatrenet.ambassadortickets.com/whatson.aspx

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
7.9.12
Sep 7th

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - Live Screen @ The Second Space, Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye
curious_164x98jhojZs[1].jpg
As always you know that when you see a National Theatre production you will see something extraordinary and this show is no exception.  The Second Space at the Waterside Theatre was packed to capacity to see the live screening of this sell-out show.

The play is based on the novel by Mark Haddon, adapted by Simon Stephens.  Christopher, fifteen years old, stands beside Mrs Shears’ dead dog. It has been speared with a garden fork, it is seven minutes after midnight and Christopher is under suspicion. He records each fact in the book he is writing to solve the mystery of who murdered Wellington.
He has an extraordinary brain, exceptional at maths while ill-equipped to interpret everyday life. He has never ventured alone beyond the end of his road, he detests being touched and he distrusts strangers. But his detective work, forbidden by his father, takes him on a frightening journey that upturns his world.

Not having read the book, I was unsure of what I might make of this tale about a dead dog.  However, this play is about a boy suffering from Autism and the effects this has on the lives of those around him.  Naturally we draw comparisons with the film Rain Man, but this play has much more depth and gives us a much greater insight into the workings of Christopher’s mind.  Luke Treadaway is astonishing as Christopher and at no time do you see someone 'acting' – he really IS Christopher.  Much as I like Dustin Hoffmann, I always felt that he was ‘acting’ the part of Raymond in Rain Man and not actually ‘being’ him.  I know that this will be the start of an exceptional career for Luke as his talents will be seen around the world from these NT live sceenings.

Paul Ritter gives a gritty performance as Christopher’s troubled father, who would do anything for the son he loves, but can’t cope when his relationships fail.  Niamh Cusack plays Siobhan, the teacher who encourages Christopher to excel in his maths, and narrates most of the story.  Nicola Walker shows us the emotional trauma that she went through as Christopher’s  mother Judy and the pain she felt at leaving him.

This production is very dynamic, physical theatre and requires the actors to be fit and flexible, as the moves are finely choreographed. Una Stubbs was perfect as the caring neighbour Mrs Alexander and shows us that even at 75 she’s still very agile and nimble, throwing herself around the stage with gusto.

The play is set in the round with a simple set, which very cleverly uses flashing lights and texts to convey the sense of where the action has moved to. I suspect that seeing the live screening with several different camera angles enabled us to see things that perhaps you may miss in the theatre itself.

The play is directed by Marianne Elliot and runs at the National until 27th October.

The next Live Screen event at the Second Space, Waterside Theatre is on Thursday 11th October at 6.45.  Once again this is an acclaimed National Theatre production starring Julie Walters in The Last of the Haussmans.

To book tickets for the Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury click on:
http://uktheatrenet.ambassadortickets.com/whatson.aspx
Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
6.9.12
Aug 26th

The English Youth Ballet's Sleeping Beauty @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

sb3.png
Last night I was lucky enough to be invited to witness the return of the English Youth Ballet to the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre and watch their performance of ‘Sleeping Beauty’.

The policy of the English Youth Ballet is to perform full length productions of classical ballet in the regional theatres of the UK, and to give young dancers outside London an opportunity to perform within a professional setting. This performance featured an impressive cast of up to 100 young dancers, most of which live in Bucks and Herts, and it magically brought to life the well-known story of Aurora, the beautiful princess who pricks her finger and is cursed to fall asleep, along with the rest of the kingdom, until the handsome Prince awakens her with a kiss and the spell is broken.
sb4.png

Having grown up as a ballerina myself, I have visited the ballet many times, but to date this is the first time I have seen ‘Sleeping Beauty’. I am happy to say that I found it an enchanting production.

As the production begins, the audience watches as guests start to arrive to celebrate the birth of Princess Aurora. Straight away the production is given an immense feeling of grandeur simply owing to the vast number of performers on stage. Each group enters, dressed in beautifully colourful and elaborate costumes, and take it in turns to dance to welcome the new princess. This section included one of my favourite pieces from the evening, with some of the younger members of the cast appearing as yellow birds, wearing vibrant tutus, and performing a spritely and fun dance. The children’s understanding and interpretation of the music really shone through and showed how much they were really enjoying themselves.
sb1.gifWith the production having such a young and vibrant cast, I found it appropriate that the company have changed some of the details of the story to create their own interpretation. In this production, when Aurora pricks her finger at her sixteenth birthday, instead of the arrival of fairies and woodland nymphs as in the original adaptation, she is put in a cryogenic state, taken to the Arctic, looked after by the Cryonites (ice fairies) and later discovered by a royal artic explorer.  Sewing needles are also used instead of the traditional spinning wheel. However, my favourite change was that of having the character of the evil fairy that is not invited to the birth celebrations and who then puts the spell on Aurora, this character was replaced by the wicked Aunt Carabosse, who was played expertly by somewhat surprisingly by the company’s Steven Wheeler. When she makes her first appearance she is accompanied by a crew of menacing rats, played by younger members of the cast and I found their performance, combined with their intricate rat masks and costumes both comically and dramatically captivating. Other principle roles were danced handsomely throughout the production in the form of Julianne Rice Oxley as The Good Fairy, Emma Lister as Sleeping Beauty and Lorien Slaughter as The Prince.
sb2.png

The music in the second half of the production was arguable the most recognisable, with much of it having been used in Walt Disney’s own 1959 adaptation of the story. The romance of the story was embodied beautifully as the cast comes back together to celebrate the forthcoming wedding of Sleeping Beauty and her prince, again wearing an array of gorgeous costumes and dancing to the piece of music which, in Disney’s version, became the timeless waltzing melody ‘Once Upon A Dream’.

Overall, I really enjoyed the evening and as a performer who would have relished the opportunity to perform in a production like this in my youth, I find it uplifting to see both the performers on stage and the young people in the audience really enjoying the genre. A magical experience and glittering new production, not to be missed.

Reviewed by:
Vicky Poole
24.8.12

Jul 4th

Dandy Dick @ The Theatre Royal, Brighton

By Yvonne Delahaye

6144_full.png
What could be better on a summer’s evening than to take in a breath of sea air, have some fish and chips and go on to see a good play?  I was lucky enough to be invited to the opening night of a rarely seen English comedy by Arthur Wing Pinero entitled Dandy Dick, starring Patricia Hodge and Nicholas Le Prevost.

The first show out of the stable of the recently launched Theatre Royal Brighton Productions, a subsidiary of the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG),  helmed by the company’s artistic director Christopher Luscombe, Dandy Dick plays at the Theatre Royal Brighton and runs until 7 July prior to an eight-week UK tour and planned West End transfer.

Dandy Dick - which, aptly, was written in Brighton in 1887 - tells the story of the Very Reverend Augustin Jedd, a pillar of Victorian respectability, who preaches regularly against the evils of horseracing and gambling. However, a visit from his tearaway sister, Georgiana, leads him to risk all at the races, much against his better judgement. Mayhem ensues, with romantic intrigue, mistaken identity and a runaway horse.

The play opens in the Morning Room at the Deanery, where the Dean’s two frivolous daughters , Sheba (Jennifer Rhodes) and Salome (Florence Andrews) arrange a tryst with their soldier paramours Mr Darbey (Charles de Bromhead) and Major Tarver (Peter Sandys-Clarke).  The girls have got into debt having costumes made – a timeless problem most women will recognise – but the arrival of their Aunt Georgina provides them with an intriguing way to resolve their problems.  Thus the scene is set for mayhem and laughter as all goes awry!

Patricia Hodge is Aunt Georgina, a very butch widow whose involvement in horse racing has created a rift with her brother, the very righteous Dean Augustin Jedd.  Patricia gives a superb performance as the masculine Georgina and it’s good to see just how versatile she is as an actress. Patricia’s career spans film (Betrayal, Behind Enemy Lines), theatre (Noises Off, Calendar Girls) and television (a BAFTA nomination for Hotel du Lac, The Falklands Play and, of course, Miranda).6868_full.png
Nicholas Le Prevost ekes out every bit of humour with some wonderful facial expressions and asides to the audience.  At times his character reminded me of Malvolio in Twelfth Night, particularly when he ends up in the police cell! Nicholas’s distinguished stage career includes many productions at the National Theatre, including My Fair Lady, for which he was nominated for an Olivier Award. More recently, he was seen in The Misanthrope with Keira Knightley.

Dandy Dick is a jolly good romp of a farce and there are laughs aplenty throughout with some brilliant performances from all the cast, notably Michael Cochrane as Sir Tristram Mardon, Bart, John Arthur as Blore and Rachel Lumberg as Hannah Topping.

Dandy Dick last had a major production in a 1987 tour, and was last revived in the West End in 1973 with Alistair Sim and Patricia Routledge. The other two play revivals planned for Theatre Royal Brighton Productions’ three-play opening season are John-Dighton’s 1948 farce The Happiest Days of Your Life (famously filmed in 1950 with Alistair Sim, Margaret Rutherford and Joyce Grenfell) and Bernard Pomerance’s 1979 play The Elephant Man (based on the true story of Joseph Merrick and filmed by David Lynch in 1980).

In the coming months, Luscombe and his associate directors Maria Aitken and Philip Franks will also be developing “new titles and other rarely seen classic titles” through a series of workshops and readings at their Brighton home for future productions.

Commenting on the Theatre Royal Brighton Productions inaugural production, ATG joint CEO Howard Panter said it was indicative of a growing trend: “There is a renaissance happening in regional theatre, and we have undoubtedly seen a shift from the centre of the theatrical landscape being London – from Sussex to Scotland and everything in between, audiences are keen to see quality plays without travelling many miles for the pleasure.”

ATG is the UK’s biggest theatre owner, with a portfolio included 27 major regional receiving houses. The group’s recent pre-London box office successes have included Zach Braff’s All New People and the National Theatre tour of One Man, Two Guvnors.

Arthur Wing Pinero was a contemporary of Shaw and Wilde and his characters are finely developed, funny and instantly recognisable.  The success of TV series Cranford, Larkrise to Candleford and Downton Abbey, shows that we all love period pieces and this comedy really doesn’t date with exceptionally funny writing and performances, it makes for a terrifically fun night out.

The play comes to The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury on Tuesday 17th July running to Saturday 21st July.  Ticket prices from £10-£32.
 Box Office: 0844 871 7614
http://uktheatrenet.ambassadortickets.com/whatson.aspx

Tour dates are:
Tue 10th Jul -
Sat 14th Jul 
Richmond Theatre
Richmond
Tue 17th Jul -
Sat 21st Jul 
Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
Aylesbury
Tue 24th Jul -
Sat 28th Jul
Churchill Theatre
Bromley
Tue 31st Jul -
Sat 4th Aug 
New Victoria Theatre
Woking
Tue 7th Aug -
Sat 11th Aug 
Theatre Royal
Glasgow
Tue 14th Aug -
Sat 18th Aug  
Grand Opera House
York
Tue 21st Aug -
Sat 25th Aug 
New Alexandra Theatre
Birmingham
Tue 28th Aug -
Sat 1st Sep
Opera House
Manchester

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
4.7.12

Jul 2nd

Against Time - Flawless & ENB @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

5895_full.png
Out of all the great shows I’ve been able to see at The Waterside Theatre this season, Against Time was the one that I’ve been most eager to see as the UK’s national ballet company English National Ballet (ENB)and World Dance Champions Flawless come together in a collaboration fusing streetdance, acrobatics and ballet. The ten Flawless dancers and ten ENB ballerinas showcase their skills and combine their talents to create an exciting and innovative show that is, quite simply, AWESOME!


05.jpg
The show is set in a school where the delicate ballerinas are dwarfed by the hunky Flawless men and I initially found myself wincing when the boys were lifting the girls lest they break their fragile bodies!  The premise of the show is a fantasy journey about a professor with a magical hat who can change time and the kids who try to prevent his evil plans. 

In the initial scenes there are some ‘dance offs’ as Flawless show off their incredible street dancing talents and the girls their classical ballet skills dancing on points with extended arms.  The contrast between the two styles is beautifully enhanced when the girls practice their barre work to Swan Lake and the boys then have a go too!  It’s funny and creative and the girls then have a go at street dancing too and give the boys a run for their money!  As they merge their styles and begin to collaborate together the story takes off and leads us into a magical garden. The costumes and routines of the Fireflies, Ladybirds and Damselflies were stunning and the dancing statues were scarily lifelike and produced one of the show’s highlights as they all danced to Maroon Five’s ‘Moves Like Jagger’.  It was a fantastic routine and one I’d really love to see again and again.03.jpg

Another highlight was seeing the fabulously colourful Spanish costumes and the dances with masks to Christina Aguilera’s ‘Ain’t No Other Man’.  Then it was tango time with an incredibly powerful routine of Argentina Tango danced to the seductive tunes of ‘Roxanne’ from Moulin Rouge, sung by Ewan McGregor.

The internationally acclaimed ballet Company and the stars of the UK number-one box office smash hit movie StreetDance 3D and StreetDance 2, first joined forces in 2011 for the Peace One Day concert at the O2.  This exciting new show Against Time has been created by Flawless artistic director and lead choreographer Marlon “Swoosh” Wallen and Jenna Lee, soloist and choreographer at English National Ballet working together to  fuse the opposing poles of dance to generate a groundbreaking dance experience . 


6501_full.png
Jenna Lee joined ENB in 2002, and has performed major roles with the Company, she has created many of English National Ballet’s more adventurous small scale dance works. In 2006 Jenna choreographed Ballet Rocks to launch Sky HD. Other notable creations include The Beautiful Game, A Football Ballet and pieces for the main stage at Bestival. Jenna is also an expert in mass-participation choreography, having worked with over 200 school children for Swanning Around, a huge dance project which was performed at the Royal Albert Hall and for World Expo in Shanghai in 2010.

Marlon ‘Swoosh’ Wallen has received awards for Flawless including Best Street Dance Group and Best Choreographed Group. Under his leadership Flawless were named ‘UK Street Dance Champions’, ‘International Dance Champions’ and then crowned ‘World Dance Champions’ after taking on over 50 nations from around the
world in Germany. They were also the first and only group ever to get full marks from all the world judges in street dance history!


6497_full.png
Last year Flawless completed a 110 date tour of their own award winning show Chase The Dream which also ran in the West End and attracted critical acclaim. Their inspirational and exciting choreography has helped to make street-dance more appealing to a mass audience. Flawless were finalists in Britain’s Got Talent in 2009, where Simon Cowell said they were “one of the best things I have ever seen in my life”

Wayne Eagling, Artistic Director of English National Ballet said “Collaborations like this are vital for English National Ballet to keep the Company fresh and modern and for dancer development. It’s a fantastic opportunity for Jenna to showcase her skills which have been nurtured by the Company and to see a whole new audience introduced to the world of ballet.”

This show is imaginative, exciting and creative and is truly the best dance show I’ve ever seen  Every move is perfectly timed and executed sometimes at great speed and left me awestruck at the incredible skill and talent of all the cast.   The music is a great mix of contemporary and classical and really takes dance to a whole new level, with its fusion of styles. Any lover of dance and theatre will not want to miss this amazing show.

The next date available is:
Fri 06 - Sun 08
Jul 2012
Palace Theatre Manchester

To book tickets go to:
http://uktheatrenet.ambassadortickets.com/whatson.aspx

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
30.6.12

Jun 30th

Roy Orbison and Friends @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye
3214_full.png
Whenever I hear of a Roy Orbison tribute I can’t help but think of that hysterically funny episode of Only Fools and Horses.  In case anyone has never seen it (catch it on YouTube) Del Boy organises the cabaret for the local hoodlum.  His girlfriend Raquel  ends up singing with a Roy Orbison tribute and all goes well until he sings ‘Crying’ when they discover that he can’t pronounce his ‘Rs’.  It’s a classic episode and I’m sure I’m not the only one who now smirks whenever I hear that song?

Barry Steele has been performing as Roy Orbison for 10 years and is the top Roy tribute act in the business. He sounds just like him and has toured all over the UK, New Zealand and Europe.  This Roy Orbison and Friends show is produced by his wife Lynne and has been touring since 2009.

Taking centre stage, Roy stands and sings some of his most popular hits starting with Only the Lonely, Up Town, Love Hurts and Walk-on.  Barry stands quite stiffly and barely moves, but somehow you get drawn into the song lyrics and the wonderful timbre of his voice.

The first ‘friend’ to be introduced was the Johnny Cash tribute, performed by Peter John Jackson.  Peter gave an energetic performance of Down the Line, Orange Blossom Special and I Got Stripes.  Personally, I don’t enjoy country music nor Johnny Cash’s voice or songs and found it a bit out of place in a rock and pop show, but the audience seemed to enjoy it.

Next up was the Elvis tribute Paul Malloy singing That’s All Right, Blue Suede Shows, Teddy Bear and Don’t be Cruel.  Paul has a great voice and sounds like Elvis, but doesn’t quite have the hip wiggles or charisma to carry it off completely.

‘Roy’ returns with another selection of great hits Running Scared, Blue Bayou, It’s Over and then showed a clip of newspaper cuttings headlining the tragic death of Roy’s first wife, Claudette.  She was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1966 aged just 25 and when he then sang It’s too soon to Know I confess I had tears in my eyes!  Finishing off the first act (minus the fake tan and chest wig) Barry sang the version of Crying that Roy recorded with KD Lang.

After the interval came Claudette and, from the film Blue Velvet, In Dreams followed by Sweet Dreams and a song by The Platters, The Great Pretender.
Barry’s very talented band of musicians were then given some performance time, as they gave a terrific performance of The Shadows' Apache, with Carl Windsor on lead guitar.  Barney Williams was amazing as Jerry Lee Lewis on vocals and keys for Great Balls of Fire and Whole Lotta Shaking and I’d have loved to have seen some more of him.

Pete returned as Johnny singing God’s Gonna Cut You Down, Boy Named Sue, Sunday Morning Comin’ Down and Ring of Fire.    Then Elvis was back in the building in a GI uniform to sing GI Blues, Stuck on You and, his most popular song, It’s Now or Never.

The final set from Barry included Down the Line and Penny Arcade before covering some of the Travelling Wilburys' songs firstly End of the Line and with Steve Hill on vocals, Handle with CareYou Got It was used in a TV ad campaign in 2003 and the last song, Drove All Night was recorded by Roy in 1987, but not released until 1992, several years after Roy’s untimely death at just 52 in 1988.

There could only be one song to play for the encore and to get the audience on its feet singing along and it had to be Pretty Woman!  The song of course is now linked to the 1990 film of the same title starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts.

The artists were a bit before my era, but it’s a very good night’s entertainment and a lot of the songs appear in films and TV ads, so are quite familiar.  The show does run nearly 3 hours though and I actually feel that the show would have been complete without the addition of the ‘friends’ Johnny Cash and Elvis.  The band are all so accomplished that it would have been good to have a few more tracks just featuring them.  They are Carl Windsor on lead and acoustic guitar, Barney Williams on keyboards and vocals, Richard Young on drums, Alan Whittam on base and Steve Hill on lead guitar and vocals.

The tour continues to

Sat 30th Jun
  Gladstone Theatre
Port Sunlight
Fri 6th Jul
 Exmouth Pavilion
Exmouth
Sat 7th Jul
  Brewhouse Theatre
Taunton
Thu 12th Jul
  Palace Theatre
Southend-on-Sea
Fri 13th Jul
 Leas Cliff Hall
Folkestone
Sat 14th Jul
  Kings Hall
Herne Bay
Sat 11th Aug
Southport Theatre & Floral Hall Complex
Southport
Fri 17th Aug
  Pavilion Theatre
Worthing
Sat 18th Aug
  Buy Now
Princess Theatre
Torquay
Sun 19th Aug
  Buy Now
Princess Pavilion
Falmouth
Fri 24th Aug
  Shanklin Theatre
Shanklin
Mon 27th Aug
  Pavilion Theatre & Cromer Pier
Cromer
And for further dates visit www.barrysteele.com

To book tickets for the Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury click on:
http://uktheatrenet.ambassadortickets.com/whatson.aspx

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
29.6.12
Jun 25th

The Bolshoi Ballet Raymonda - Live Screening @ The Second Space, Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye
4825_full.png
If you’re an avid ballet fan, I’d imagine that seeing the Bolshoi Ballet performing live in Moscow would be a lifetime ambition?  Thankfully you no longer need to travel to Russia to achieve this, as owing to the marvels of technology you can now see a live ballet in a theatre near you!

Raymonda is a full-length ballet in three acts, created in 1898 at the Marlinsky Theatre by Marius Petipa and Alexander Glazunov.  It became an overnight success in Russia and has previously been revived by the Bolshoi Ballet in 1984 and 2003.  Famous for its Pas de Deux, Pas de Quatre, Variations and its Grand Pas Classique Hongrois (or Raymonda Pas de Dix), the full-length ballet is only danced by a handful of companies worldwide.

Raymonda, niece of Countess Sybil de Daurice, French noblewoman, is betrothed to Jean de Brienne.  De Brienne arrives at the castle to bid farewell to Raymonda before leaving for the crusade led by the King of Hungary.  In a dream, Raymonda is reunited with her finance, but as he disappears a Saracen Knight, Abderakhman,  appears and declares his passionate love for her.  The following day the Saracen Knight appears at the palace, but is rejected by the terrified Raymonda.  His attempts to abduct her fail and Jean de Brienne returns and defeats Abderakhman.  Naturally the final act is the wedding ceremony with dancers entertaining the happy couple, but the focus is very much on the bride and groom.

Not being an expert on ballet, this was one I’d never heard of before, but it was certainly good to be able to see one of the world’s top companies performing.  The backdrops were huge and set the scenes of the lavish palace and the enchanted garden superbly.  The medieval costumes were perfectly designed with muted colours and elegant lines.  During the dream sequence, the Corps de Ballet performed some beautiful dances in exquisite midnight blue and silver costumes, which enhanced the dream-like feeling.  The vivid orange, gold and brown costumes of the Spanish costumes in the second act were also stunning.  The Arabian scene with the Moroccan-style costumes, complete with fez, and the dance with sticks, was the highlight of the show for me.

Raymonda was beautifully danced by Maria Alexandrova, with the handsome Ruslan Skvortsov dancing the role of Jean de Brienne.  For me though it was Pavel Dmitrichenko, dancing Abderakhman, who stole the show.  His energy, charisma and sheer physical skills made him memerising to watch, with his dance moves being a mixture of ballet and Cossack dance.

Libretto by Yuri Grigorovich after scenario by Lidia Pashkova
With the Orchestra of the State Academic Bolshoi Theatre of Russia
Choreography: Maestro Yuri Grigorovich
Music Director: Pavel Sorokin
Set Designer: Simon Virsaladze
Lighting Designer: Mikhail Sokolov
Assistant Choreographer: Natalia Bessmertnova

It was a very enjoyable way to spend a Sunday afternoon, though be warned that in Russia the intervals last for 25 minutes so the show runs to three hours!

Watch out for further live screenings at your local theatre.
To book tickets for the Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury click on:
http://uktheatrenet.ambassadortickets.com/whatson.aspx
Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
24.6.12
Jun 16th

Frankenstein Live Screening @ Second Space, The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

5365_full[1].png
The National Theatre has always produced exceptional theatre, with top rated actors and now with the tours and live screenings, it really has become not only national, but global.  With the technical capabilities now available, people around the world are able to see screenings of plays performed live from the South Bank.  I’ve always loved going to the National, as no matter where you sit you can be guaranteed of a good view and the acoustics are outstanding, so you can also hear everything. 

I was fortunate enough to see a recording of the live screening of Frankenstein with Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role and Jonny Lee Miller playing The Creature.  These screenings have proven so popular that even though the play is no longer running, theatres have requested screenings, so the National have been able to show the recorded screenings.  What you see in the recording are views that you wouldn’t see sitting in the audience, as in shots taken from overhead and close-ups of the actors from different angles, as you would on TV or film.  However, you still get the excitement and thrill of watching live theatre and get drawn into the show as if you’re sitting in the theatre.

The story of Frankenstein was written by Mary Shelly when she was in her late teens.  It’s a classic story of someone being shunned by society because of the way they look and the lack of compassion and love they experience, leading them into taking horrific revenge.

This production, a new play by Nick Dear, gives the creature a voice and the story is told from his perspective.  Jonny Lee Miller gives an extraordinary performance from hatching out of the egg like structure with twitching physical movements as he discovers his body and how it works.  This initial scene was so touching, you could feel his pain in each move and emphathised with this strange creature.  When he meets his maker, Frankenstein, he is so horror-struck at what he has created he rejects ‘The Creature’ and abandons him to the world.

The play takes us through The Creature's journey as he is beaten and rejected by everyone, until he meets the blind man de Lacey (beautifully played by Karl Johnson) who treats him respectfully and educates him.  The Creature has an amazing mind, but after being rejected again by de Lacey’s family, sets out on a quest to wreak revenge on the uncaring master who created him.  His one desire in life was to find love where he could live in peace away from the judgements and fear of the outside world.  All he is given in the end is lies and betrayal and he learns that hatred and humiliation are intrinsic facets of human behaviour.

Jonny Lee Miller’s performance is completely mesmerising and you cannot but help to feel sympathy for him and understand why he is driven to commit such horrors. 
Benedict_Cumberbatch_filming_Sherlock_cropped[1].jpg
Benedict Cumberbatch is brilliant as the cold-hearted, pompous, self-righteous inventor who has no understanding of love and compassion.  
In the production, the two actors swap roles and I would be fascinated to see the alternate screening.  This must have helped to seal the bond between the two actors and it’s very tangible in the strength of their performances.  The actors recently jointly won the Olivier Award and deservedly so for these most physically challenging and demanding roles.

There were also a few notable comedy moments from Ella Smith as Clarice and Mark Armstrong as Rab with John Stahl as his uncle Ewan.


imagesCADNGWAT.jpg
 During the initial days Jonny Lee Miller  was best known for his roles in the  films Trainspotting and Hackers (1995), co-starring Angelina Jolie, whom he married in 1996. They separated eighteen months later and were divorced on 9 February 1999. Miller worked steadily in film and theatre with less public notice until 2008, when he starred in two seasons of American TV series Eli Stone followed by lead roles in the Broadway play After Miss Julie and the BBC production of Emma. In 2010 he had a featured role on the Showtime series Dexter as the fifth season's chief antagonist Jordan Chase. Miller played Roger Collins in Tim Burton's film Dark Shadows, which opened 11 May 2012.

Benedict  Cumberbatch's most acclaimed roles include Stephen Hawking in the BBC drama Hawking (2004); William Pitt in the historical film Amazing Grace (2006); the protagonist Stephen Ezard in the miniseries thriller The Last Enemy (2008); Paul Marshall in Atonement (2007); Bernard in Small Island (2009); Sherlock Holmes in the modern BBC adaptation series Sherlock (2010-2012); and Peter Guillam in the spy thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011). In late 2011, he played Major Stewart in Steven Spielberg's BAFTA and Academy Award nominated War Horse (2011).
220px-DannyBoyle08[1].jpg
The play is directed by Oscar winning (Slumdog Millionaire) Director Danny Boyle. He is best known for his work on films such as Slumdog Millionaire, Shallow Grave, 127 Hours, 28 Days Later, Sunshine and Trainspotting. Boyle was presented with the Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking Award at the 2008 Austin Film Festival, where he also introduced that year's AFF Audience Award Winner Slumdog Millionaire. On 17 June 2010, it was announced that he will be the Artistic Director for the 2012 Olympic games opening ceremony

The second screening of Frankenstein with Jonny Lee Miller playing Frankenstein and benedict Cumberbatch playing The Creature, is on Thursday 19th July at the Second Space, Waterside Theatre. 

To book tickets click on:
http://uktheatrenet.ambassadortickets.com/whatson.aspx

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
14.6.12