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Jun 8th

One Man, Two Guvnors at the Theatre Royal Windsor

By Clare Brotherwood

A drama of a different kind took centre stage at Windsor’s Theatre Royal last night when the audience had to be evacuated because of flash flooding.

But the adverse weather conditions were nothing compared to the thunderous applause the Windsor Repertory Company would most surely have received for their spirited production of Richard Bean’s award-winning comedy One Man, Two Guvnors.

Nothing could detract from this energetic, and hilarious rendition, which got the Windsor Repertory Festival of six plays in six weeks off to a splendid start.

I’d already seen this in London’s West End and Andrew Beckett’s performance as Francis Henshall will remain in my memory just as much as James Cordon’s. Instantly loveable, this bundle of fun is a human dynamo as he throws himself about the stage, endearing himself to us as he becomes increasingly confused as to which gangster he is working for. It’s just as well his part is so physical as Henshall is obsessed with food and Beckett has to consume quite an amount during each performance!

Under Paul Taylor-Mills expert direction, the rest of the cast also come up to the mark. I especially like Jonathan Ray’s OTT performance as the theatrical Alan Dangle, and Anton Tweedale as Alfie, the 87-year-old arthritic waiter whose slow progress across the stage is a thing of wonder.

Song and dance plays a part too, with Hannah Vesty as Dolly doing a great routine. Oh, and there’s a bit of audience participation, quite apart from the flooded front stalls!

In the hands of the Windsor Repertory Company, One Man, Two Guvnors is unbridled madness and I can’t wait to see what these versatile performers come up with in the following weeks. Certainly they have a diverse programme, but then, that’s how actors learned their trade back in the day.

The Windsor Repertory Company was first created in 1938 by John Counsell,  the late owner of the Theatre Royal (his daughter actress Elizabeth Counsell was present last night) and last year, to celebrate 200 years of the Theatre Royal Windsor, weekly rep was revived to critical acclaim. Let’s hope other theatres will take its lead.

One Man, Two Guvnors is at the Theatre Royal Windsor until June 11. The Windsor Repertory Festival then continues with:

June 14-18: Deadly Nightcap

June 21-25: Bedroom Farce

June 28-July 2: Jamaica Inn

July 5-9: The Ladykillers

July 12-16: Pygmalion

Box Office: 01753 853888

www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk

May 26th

Laila The Musical at the Theatre Royal Windsor

By Clare Brotherwood

Laila has everything you want from a musical - and more.

Pravesh Kumar’s sensitive interpretation of the age-old tale of Laila Majnu, together with memorable music and songs, a simple but stylish set and a talented cast, deserves to be in a West End theatre.

But this show has much more to offer than most musicals. Asia’s rich culture and traditions, its haunting sufi music and pulsating Bhangra beat seamlessly blend with modern day British life and its music.

That’s not all. Though the story of star-crossed lovers - 700 years older than Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet but with many similarities - will bring a lump to your throat, award-winning RIFCO’s production has some hilarious moments which wouldn’t look out of place in pantomime. The scene in which some gloriously camp courtiers cavort around the stage particularly had the audience in stitches, while Laila’s cruel brother fits perfectly into the role of the out and out villain.

I don’t normally empathise with the characters in musicals. I view them very much as giving a performance. Because they are singing their stories they never seem real to me. But with Laila I became totally absorbed. In the title role, Mona Goodwin’s pure, soaring voice really touches the heartstrings, while it is easy to see why she should fall in love with Qays, played by Reece Bahia, with his boy band good looks and passionate performance.

Award-winning Surrinder ‘Shin’ Singh Parwana, one of the most prominent British Asian vocalists in the UK, exudes energy as Qays’s kindly father but later shows he is capable of much more when he transforms into the camp but cruel prince who marries Laila.

Every member of the cast and the crew have pulled together to make this a vibrant, colourful spectacle on one hand and a beautifully presented, intimate love story on the other.

 

Laila The Musical is at the Theatre Royal Windsor until May 28.

Box Office: 01753 853888

www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk

 

It then ends its tour:

May 31-June 4: The Lowry, Salford

www.rifcoarts.com

May 20th

The Sound of Music @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

 Poster

There are some things that have become an essential part of Christmas time, panto, crackers, dramatic soap storylines and, of course, The Sound of Music.  Released in 1965, following its adaptation of the 1959 Broadway musical, it starred Julie Andrews and Christopher Plumber and  has become the most successful movie musical in history. It all began with the story of the Trapp Family Singers and Baroness Maria von Trapp’s 1949 autobiography, which inspired Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse to create a Broadway musical in 1959. The Sound of Music tells the true story of the world-famous singing family, from their romantic beginnings and search for happiness, to their thrilling escape to freedom as their beloved Austria became part of the Third Reich at the start of WWII.

The unforgettable score features some of the most memorable songs ever performed on stage, including Edelweiss, My Favorite Thing, Do-Re-Mi, Climb Ev’ry Mountain, So Long, Farewell and of course, the title song, The Sound of Music. This touring stage production is produced by Bill Kenwright, directed by Martin Connor, choreographed by Olivier Award winner Bill Deamer, with musical direction by David Steadman.  Gary McCann has created a wonderfully lavish, clever set recreating the abbey and house against a stunning backdrop depicting the mountains beyond.

BBC1’s The Voice runner-up and award-nominated Lucy O’Byrne stars in the role of Maria in this spectacular five-star production.  Lucy O’Byrne became a household name when she shot to success as the runner-up in the live shows of the TV talent show. With chart-topper Will.i.am as her mentor, and biggest fan, Lucy made history as the first classical singer to reach the final, impressing the nation with her stunning vocal range. Now, having recently performed at the BBC Proms, she makes her musical debut as the young postulant, Maria. Her first album, Debut, was released earlier this month.  Lucy has a warmth, charm and energy perfectly suited to Maria and once settled into the role, proved she deserved to be playing the lead.

Captain Von Trapp is played by Andrew Lancel, best known for his roles in Coronation Street as Frank Foster (for which he won Villan of The Year at the British Soap Awards) and as DI Neil Manson in The Bill.  This is Andrew’s first musical and was only his second performance since taking over the role, so he did look a bit uncomfortable at times.  He does have a nice baritone voice though and I’m sure once he settles into the role he’ll start to relax and enjoy it. 

 

Photo: Pamela Raith, courtesy of The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

Someone who looked completely relaxed and at ease with himself and the role was Duncan Smith as Max and I loved his camp performance.  The show was completely stolen for me by Jan Hartley as Mother Abbess whose sublime rendition of Climb Every Mountain, shook the theatre as she hit that top D, now that really is a voice that deserves to be heard!  The rest of the cast includes Isla Carter (Baroness Elsa), Kane Verrall (Rolf), Annie Horn (Liesl), Zoe Ann Brown (Sister Margaretta), Kate Scott (Sister Berthe), Tammy Davies (Sister Sophia), Jude Neill (Ursula), Anouska Eaton (Baroness Elberfeld), Jon de Ville (Franz), Pippa Winslow (Frau Schmidt), Scott Ainslie (Admiral von Schreiber), Piers Bate (Baron Elberfeld) and Lewis Barnshaw.

If you love the film (and who doesn’t?), this production is a ‘must see’.  The heart-warming love story translates perfectly to the stage, the singing is divine and the operatic tones at times, particularly in the choral harmonies in the abbey, seem heavenly. 

 

For tour details and to book tickets, visit www.atgtickets.com

 

 

Reviewed by:

Yvonne Delahaye

@yvonnedelahaye

20.5.16

May 13th

It Runs in the Family at The Mill at Sonning

By Clare Brotherwood

It Runs in the Family has been tickling our funny bones since 1987 - and after the opening night performance of The Mill at Sonning’s latest production I’d say it’s still the perfect prescription for a pick me up.

 I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much. I really did laugh til I cried. We all know Ray Cooney is the master of mirth but even his scripts would be nothing without a director and actors who can deliver the goods, and Ron Aldridge and his cast went straight into their first performance with gusto, galloping along at a cracking pace and with perfect timing. It was an absolute delight and I felt privileged to be in the audience.

Set in the doctors’ common room of a London hospital, the play charts the mishaps of Dr David Mortimore who is about to give a lecture at an international conference. Enter an old flame who tells him he has an 18-year-old son desperate to meet him, but with Mortimore’s wife and the crusty chairman of the board of governors in the mix, the situation quickly descends into the usual Cooney chaos with lots of banging doors, entrances and exits, and oddball characters talking themselves into impossible situations.

At the centre of the plot as Dr Mortimore is Harry Gostelow who delivers an impassioned performance, fielding everything that is thrown at his character. But then every member of the cast gives 110 per cent and makes the most of what they have to play with, especially Nick Wilton who is outstanding as Dr Hubert Bonney - he puts so much in his performance I worry he’ll blow a gasket! Even Brian Hewlett as the wheelchair-bound Bill steals a scene or two with a part which could so easily have just been a cameo role.

It Runs in the Family is just what the doctor ordered. Miss it at your peril!

It Runs in the Family is at The Mill at Sonning until July 2.

Box Office: 0118 969 8000

www.millatsonning.com

May 10th

Jekyll and Hyde at the Theatre Royal Windsor

By Clare Brotherwood

When it comes to setting the scene, talkingScarlet’s production of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale couldn’t be much more basic.

Geoff Gilder’s set is simple, almost amateurish, but adaptor and director Nicholas Briggs’ original music and David North’s lighting create an atmosphere which sends shivers down your spine.

Not a lot has been spent on costumes, either, and although the cast includes some worthy actors they seem limited in what they can do. Even during the transformation scene where Jekyll turns into Hyde, Gary Turner can do nothing but scream and shout (which he does well enough to chill the blood!) until the lights go out and you see him changing places with Andrew Fettes, who plays a menacing Mr Hyde, his face usually hidden in a muffler or a mask. A second changing of places later in the play is much more fluid.

But it’s not all bad. I like the way RLS’s story of the good doctor who creates a concoction which changes him into his evil alter ego is presented. Mostly it is related by Jekyll’s lawyer, Gabriel Utterson, as he recounts his friend’s story to burly police inspector Newcomen (Ben Crowe) with the help of flashbacks. In the main, the actors seem too young for their characters but Neil Roberts as the lawyer does carry some authority.

As the production is only in the second week of a long tour, I trust it’ll soon settle down and come together. I wish it well.

 

Jekyll and Hyde is at the Theatre Royal Windsor until May 14

Box Office: 01753 853888

www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk

The tour then continues:

May 23-25: Playhouse Theatre, Weston Super Mare

June 8-11: Haymarket, Basingstoke

June 13-15: Lyceum Theatre, Crewe

June 23-25: Palace Theatre, Newark

July 5-9: Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne

August 9-13: Grand Theatre, Swansea

August 16-20: Buxton Opera House

August 23-27: Churchill Theatre, Bromley

September 6-10: Grand Theatre, Blackpool

September 12-13: Wyvern Theatre, Swindon

September 15-17: The Core at Corby Cube

September 18-20: Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells

September 21-23: Dundee Repertory Theatre

September 30-October 1: Marina Theatre, Lowestoft

May 3rd

Let It Be @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

Flyer

Photo; Provided by Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

Say the words ‘Let it Be’ to most adults and immediately they’ll think of the Beatles, 46 years after the song was released.  It’s extraordinary how much the music of The Beatles still permeates our lives and new fans are discovering their music every day.  They were a phenomenal global success with their music rooted in skiffle, beat and rock and roll, They formed in 1960, playing in Hamburg and then the Cavern Club in Liverpool. Manager Brian Epstein moulded them into a professional act, and producer George Martin guided and developed their recordings, greatly expanding their popularity in the United Kingdom after their first hit, "Love Me Do", in late 1962. They acquired the nickname "the Fab Four" as Beatlemania grew in Britain the next year, and by early 1964 became international stars, leading the "British Invasion" of the United States pop market. 

The Beatles were George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. They are the best-selling band in history, with estimated sales of over one billion units. The group received 7 Grammy awards, 15 Ivor Novello Awards and an Oscar. They have more multi-platinum albums, more number one singles and more number one albums than any other group. They are the only act to have simultaneously held the top five positions on the US Billboard chart. They are the only group to appear five times in the top 100 best-selling singles in the UK – no other group appears more than twice. Their song Yesterday is the most covered song in history. Their song I Want To Hold Your Hand is the fastest selling single of all time. The Beatles 1 is the fastest selling CD of all time. The group officially split in December 1970.

The national UK tour is visiting 26 theatres across England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales entertaining theatregoers with a show spanning the iconic eras of the band’s illustrious career.

Let It Be audiences can look forward to a show lasting more than two hours bursting with timeless hits, show-stopping sets, dazzling costumes and a brilliant performance which fans will never forget. The show also continues to attract theatregoers and fans of live music, alongside the most dedicated Beatles’ enthusiasts. The Beatles have never been so popular with a real resurgence in the band’s popularity and new fans discovering their music. 

The cast of talented musicians have already toured the show to some of the biggest stages in the world including Broadway.  With the help of some excellent wigs, the lads really look like the Fab Four and do a fantastic job at recreating their sound and humour.

Photo; Provided by Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

 

Performances:   Mon 5 – Sat 7 May

Mon– Sat eves 7.30pm

Thu & Sat mat 2.30pm

Tickets: From £17.50 (£20.40 when booked online or over the phone)

Box Office: 0844 871 7607 (bkg fee)

Groups Hotline: 0844 871 7614

Access Booking: 0844 871 7677 (bkg fee)

Online Booking: www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury (bkg fee)

Facebook: Let It Be UK Tour

Twitter: @thewaterside1

 

Reviewed on: 

Yvonne Delahaye

@yvonnedelahaye

2nd May 2016

 

Apr 6th

Tom, a Story of Tom Jones, the Musical @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

The word ‘legend’ is often bandied around about people whose achievements have been somewhat minor.  Tom Jones, however, really has earned the title of ‘legend in his own lifetime’ with over 50 years since reaching number 1 with ‘It’s Not Unusual’ in 1965. Since then, he has sung many forms of popular music – pop, rock, R&B, show tunes, country, dance, soul, and gospel – and sold over 100 million records. Jones has had thirty-six Top 40 hits in the United Kingdom and nineteen in the United States; some of his notable songs "What's New Pussycat", "Delilah", "Green, Green Grass of Home", "She's a Lady", "Kiss", and "Sex Bomb".

Photo by Simon Gough courtesy of The Waterside Theatre

Jones was awarded an OBE in 1999 and received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for "services to music" in 2006. He has received many other awards throughout his career, including the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1966, an MTV Video Music Award in 1989, and two Brit Awards, winning Best British Male in 2000 and Outstanding Contribution to Music in 2003. From 2012 to 2015 Jones was one of the four coaches on the BBC television talent show The Voice UK.

TOM. A Story Of Tom Jones. The Musical is written by Mike James and directed by Geinor Styles, with musical direction by Ben Goddard, set design by Sean Crowley and sound design by Mike Beer.  The story charts Tom’s early life in Ponypridd with his teenage sweetheart, Linda Trenchard, whom he married a month before their baby son, Mark, was born, when they were both 16. Linda is clearly a very strong woman, who completely supported Tom’s ambitions at the expense of her own life.  It takes a woman of enormous strength to allow their partner to follow their dreams, even with the knowledge that he was cheating on her during that time.  Much has been written about their relationship over the years, but their marriage has endured all these years and that is testament to a deep, unconditional love.

Kit Orton plays the hip swivelling Tom, whose voice and moves has everyone enthralled and he clearly had something very special that was recognised early on.  Elin Phillips plays his long-suffering wife Linda, showing a depth to her character that gives us an insight into how this couple survived all this time.

The show takes us on a journey of 8 years, with Tom playing the pubs and clubs, striving for success.  I’m sure this grounding has enabled Tom to keep reinventing himself and stay at the top of his game all these years.  With reality TV offering a quick route to success nowadays, I doubt many of today’s new stars will be known in 50 years time.

If you’re a fan of Tom (and let’s face it, who isn’t?), it’s a great night to give you an insight into his early performing years.  There are some great songs along the way and a few to sing along with at the end. 

Director Geinor Styles said: “Just very occasionally an opportunity comes along that has the words ’perfect fit’ written all the way through it like a stick of rock.  In this case it’s rock and roll and the compelling story of the early days of this county’s most famous son – the living legend that is Sir Tom Jones.”

The development of this production has been supported by the Arts Council of Wales, Welsh Government, RCT, NPT Theatres and Wales Millennium Centre.

www.tomthemusical.co.uk


Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
@yvonnedelahaye
5.4.16

Mar 18th

Last of the Red Hot Lovers at The Mill at Sonning

By Clare Brotherwood

A red hot lover Barney Cashman isn’t.

It’s the end of the Swingin’ Sixties, when love was free, and Barney feels he is missing out.

Like so many of Neil Simon’s characters, the 47-year-old father of three and owner of a fish restaurant wants ‘to belong’, and so he embarks on a series of romantic trysts in his mother’s New York apartment.

But for red hot read damp squib. What follows is a poignant but hilarious series of botched attempts at love-making as the quietly spoken, fastidious Barney strives for something ‘decent and beautiful’.

As Barney, Stuart Fox is perfect. Looking guilty and out of his depth, his attempts to hide any trace of his visits to his mother’s home are hysterical, and when it comes to communicating with women, well…. you can tell he is married to his childhood sweetheart. His frustration at his ineptitude does, however, bring out his dark side which can be quite disturbing.

As his first paramour, Laura Doddington is magnificent as Elaine, a full-on, in-your-face broad who thinks nothing of cheating on her husband.

In complete contrast, Dido D’Alangurton plays Bobbi, a goofy, neurotic night club singer who has Barney smoking pot and singing pop songs, while Gloria Donna Tudd is Jeanette, his wife’s best friend, dowdy, depressed and depressing.

Under Robin Herford’s expert direction, Last of the Red Hot Lovers is a complete entertainment, but this production has a secret ingredient which I will not divulge but which only makes it even more special.

As usual, the set is exemplary, and congratulations must go to Edward Lipscomb who is making his debut at the Mill as set designer.

 

Last of the Red Hot Lovers is at The Mill at Sonning until

Box Office: 0118 969 8000

www.millatsonning.com

Mar 8th

Private Lives @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

Sir Noël Peirce Coward (16 December 1899 – 26 March 1973) was an English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer, known for his wit, flamboyance, and what Time magazine called "a sense of personal style, a combination of cheek and chic, pose and poise".

Born in Teddington, south-west London, Coward attended a dance academy in London as a child, making his professional stage début at the age of eleven. As a teenager he was introduced into the high society in which most of his plays would be set. Coward achieved enduring success as a playwright, publishing more than 50 plays from his teens onwards. Many of his works, such as Hay Fever, Private Lives, Design for Living, Present Laughter and Blithe Spirit, have remained in the regular theatre repertoire. He composed hundreds of songs, in addition to well over a dozen musical theatre works (including the operetta Bitter Sweet and comic revues), screenplays, poetry, several volumes of short stories, the novel Pomp and Circumstance, and a three-volume autobiography. Coward's stage and film acting and directing career spanned six decades, during which he starred in many of his own works.

Private Lives, written in just three days, remains Coward’s greatest success and the play that marked the peak of his career. Coward himself played Elyot with his ex-wife Amanda being played by Gertrude Lawrence an association unrivalled for clamour during their lifetimes and a legend to this day. Elyot and Amanda are a gloriously selfish divorced couple who, by a quirk of fate, meet again on their honeymoons with their new spouses and reignite their old spark. The revival of their fiery romance, alternating between heated rows and passionate reconciliations, reminds them that although they cannot live with each other, nor can they live without.

A masterpiece of 1930’s high comedy full of razor sharp wit and sparkling dialogue, Private Lives remains one of the most sophisticated, entertaining plays ever written, offering an evening of acutely sharp, divinely decedent, and unashamed humour. The leading roles have attracted a wide range of actors; among those who have succeeded Coward as Elyot are Robert Stephens, Richard Burton, Alan Rickman and Matthew Macfadyen, and successors to Lawrence as Amanda have included Tallulah Bankhead, Elizabeth Taylor, Maggie Smith, Kim Cattrall and Lindsay Duncan. Directors of new productions have included John Gielgud, Howard Davies and Richard Eyre. The play was made into a 1931 film and has been adapted several times for television and radio.

Private Lives - Production Images - Laura Rogers (Amanda Prynne) & Tom Chambers (Elyot Chase) photo by Alastair Muir PL326.jpg

Photo: Alastair Muir (provided by Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury)

This latest production is touring the country, prior to a West End run and features Tom Chambers (Top Hat, Strictly Come Dancing) as Elyot, Laura Rogers (Tipping The Velvet) as Amanda, Charlotte Ritchie (Call the Midwife) as Sybil and Richard Teverson (Downton Abbey) as Victor and is directed by Tom Attenborough. The set designer Lucy Osborne has done a fine job, creating wonderful art deco sets and costumer supervisor, Ed Parry, has created some chic period styles in particular the silk pyjamas worn by Amanda in the second act.

With all the recent talk about Eton and Oxbridge educated actors taking all the roles, I actually think that for Coward’s plays, this is what is required.  His characters really are light, whimsical and two dimensional and require a very light touch to play the humour, sophistication and glamour, particularly in Private Lives.  I felt that although the set and costumes were in the right period, the contemporary approach of the actors didn’t quite fit with the class system and style of the time.  There are particular ways of walking and moving with good deportment that was prevalent in the 1930s and was missing in this production.  It’s a very wordy play and some of the dialogue in the first act got lost through speed.  It’s also quite difficult to get the fights right between the warring couple, as it needs to be somehow played for comedy and not drama. 

How wonderful must it have been to have seen Burton and Taylor playing these roles, but it’s good to see that Coward’s work continues to be as popular as ever.


To book visit the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre Box Office, call 0844 871 7607 (bkg fee) or visit www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury (bkg fee).


Performances:

Mon 7 – Sat 12 March
Mon – Thu eves 7.30pm
Thu & Sat mat 2.30pm

Tickets:  From £15 (£16.90 when booked online or over the phone)
Box Office:  0844 871 7607 (bkg fee) Calls 7p per min plus your phone company’s access charge
Groups Hotline:  0844 871 7614
Access Booking: 0844 871 7677 (bkg fee)
Online Booking: www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury (bkg fee)

Reviewed by:
Yvonne Delahaye
7.3.16
@yvonnedelahaye

Mar 4th

End of the Rainbow @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

Lisa Maxwell in End of The Rainbow

Image provided by The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

When you’re a theatre reviewer you watch a variety of shows, but very occasionally you see a show that totally blows you away and this is a show and a half!  Lisa Maxwell is magnificent as the deeply flawed Judy Garland and she gives a performance that is fearless, animalistic and completely authentic.  She totally inhabits Judy, with all her mannerisms and nuances perfectly portrayed and her powerful voice emulates all the intonations and phrasing flawlessly.  Close your eyes and you could not tell the difference, but even with your eyes open you cannot see Lisa Maxwell, all you see is Judy and that is one of the greatest achievements any actor could hope for.

Don’t expect this to be a happy ‘Over the Rainbow’ show, as this is a gritty and realistic portrayal of Judy in 1968, set to make an explosive comeback in London, but fuelled by her destructive addictions.  As a young star in the 1930s, MGM plied her with drugs to keep the frenetic filming schedule on track.  Thus began a lifelong addiction, that created psychological breakdowns and led to her eventual death a few months after this show is set.  Here we see a Judy about to marry her younger fiancé (who would be her 5th husband), who tries desperately to get her off the drink and drugs, but he’s fighting a losing battle as her dependency is so ingrained. 

A hit in the West End and on Broadway, End of the Rainbow features some of Garland’s most memorable songs The Man That Got Away, Come Rain Or Come Shine, The Trolley Song and of course Somewhere Over The Rainbow. There is a lot of humour with Garland’s legendary tenacity and razor-sharp wit, but if you’re offended by bad language, then beware as she had a very potty mouth!

Lisa Maxwell IS Judy Garland. Lisa is an actress and television presenter, best known for her role as Samantha Nixon in ITV’s The Bill from 2002 and 2009, and as a panelist on ITV’s Loose Women from 2009 – 2014. Other television credits include EastEnders, The Russ Abbot Show and The Lisa Maxwell Show.

Sam Attwater is also totally believable as Mickey Deans and gives a strong performance, as he tries to take control of the relationship and steer Judy in the right direction. Sam made his TV acting debut in 2009, playing Ricky in Hollyoaks. The following year he joined EastEnders and its online spinoff EastEnders: E20, as Leon Small. Stage credits include Brad in the 40th Anniversary tour of The Rocky Horror Show, Dreamboats and Petticoats in the West End, and the 2014 UK Tour of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Sam won the sixth series of ITV’s Dancing on Ice in 2011, and returned for the 'All Stars' series in 2014.

Adding even more drama to the mix, is Judy’s relationship with gay pianist Anthony Chapman, who is totally in love with her. This creates huge friction between him and Mickey, forming a dynamic triangle that intensifies the tragedy. Beautifully played by Gary Wilmot as Anthony, it was good to see him in a straight acting role. Gary’s musical theatre stardom began when he played Bill Snibson in the hit production of Me and My Girl at the Adelphi Theatre. His many theatre credits include Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (West End and Tour), Oklahoma! (UK Tour), The Pajama Game (Shaftesbury Theatre), The Invisible Man (Menier Chocolate Factory), Chicago (UK Tour), Half a Sixpence (UK Tour), HMS Pinafore and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre) Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (London Palladium), Carmen Jones (Old Vic) and Copacabana (World Premiere, Prince of Wales Theatre).

End of the Rainbow first premiered at the Sydney Opera House in 2005, before playing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2006. It returned to the UK in 2010 in a new production at Northampton Royal & Derngate, transferring to the West End the same year where it ran for 6 months and received four Olivier Award nominations. A Broadway run followed in 2012, where it received three Tony Award nominations. It is written by Peter Quilter, whose plays have been presented in over 40 countries around the world and translated into 30 languages. For End of the Rainbow, Peter received an Olivier Award nomination for Best New Play.

 

Credit must also be given to Director Daniel Buckroyd, for bringing out the very best in all the actors, keeping us hooked throughout. Daniel has been Artistic Director of the Mercury Theatre, Colchester since July 2012, where credits include Aladdin, Noises Off, Cinderella, Macbeth, Betty Blue Eyes, The Opinion Makers, The Butterfly Lion, The History Boys, The Hired Man and Michael Morpurgo’s Friend Or Foe. It is designed by David Shields.

 

It’s so sad to see how such talented people can be destroyed by drugs and drink and the parallels between Judy and Amy Winehouse are stark.  This show is one of the best pieces of theatre I’ve seen in a long time, with incredible performances all round and I’d recommend anyone to get off the sofa and fight to see it!

 

Performances:                 Thu 3 – Sat 5 Mar

                                       Thu – Sat eves 7.30pm, Thu & Sat mats 2.30pm

Tickets:                            From £15 (£16.90 when booked online or over the phone)

Box Office:                        0844 871 7607 (Bkg fee. Calls 7p per min plus phone company’s access charge)

Groups Hotline:               0844 871 7614

Access Booking:               0844 871 7677 (Bkg fee)

Online Booking:               www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury (Bkg fee)

Facebook:                        Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

Twitter:                            @thewaterside1

 

For tour dates, visit www.endoftherainbowtour.co.uk

Reviewed by:

Yvonne Delahaye

@yvonnedelahaye

3.3.16