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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

Feb 24th

Rehearsal for Murder @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

Following his phenomenal decade-long success with The Agatha Christie Theatre Company, which sold over two million tickets and played to packed houses around the UK, theatrical impressario Bill Kenwright created The Classic Thriller Theatre Company and is now touring its first production Rehearsal For Murder.

This murder mystery comes from the pen of the legendary award-winning writing team Richard Levinson and William Link, the creators of the unsurpassable mystery series Murder She Wrote and the award-winning TV detective series Columbo.

 

Photograph provided by The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury.

Playwright Alex Dennison is left heartbroken when his fiancée and leading lady Monica Welles is found dead from an apparent suicide after the opening night of her stage debut. On the anniversary of that ill-fated night, Alex assembles the same cast and crew in the same theatre, for a reading of his new play. But as the reading progresses, the play’s similarity to actual events becomes increasingly uncomfortable for the participants, and it soon becomes clear that Alex believes Monica was murdered and his new play is a devious cat-and-mouse chase to uncover her killer...

The production stars ROBERT DAWS (Poldark, The Royal, Outside Edge, Roger Roger), his wife and co-star from The Royal AMY ROBBINS (Casualty, Blood Brothers) and three of the most popular members of the Agatha Christie Theatre Company SUSAN PENHALIGON (Bouquet of Barbed Wire, A Fine Romance), ROBERT DUNCAN (Drop The Dead Donkey, Go Back For Murder) and BEN NEALON (Soldier Soldier, Black Coffee). Joining them are STEVEN PINDER (Brookside) and LUCY DIXON (Waterloo Road, Hollyoaks).

The production is directed by ROY MARSDEN who is best known as an actor, particularly in his role as Adam Dalgliesh in Anglia TV's P.D. James series, which he played for 15 years. But he has also been directing plays since he was 15 years old and had two successful West End runs with Noel Coward’s Volcano and Agatha Christie’s (under the pen name Mary Westmacott) A Daughter’s A Daughter. His most recent work for Bill Kenwright was directing a UK tour of Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black theatrical follow up The Small Hand.

It seems that our fascination with ‘whodunnits’ will never wane and the theatre was very well attended.  It’s always good to see familiar faces from the TV and also to see plays touring as well as musicals. Robert Daws, as playwright Alex Dennison, drives the play forward in a huge role where he’s never off the stage.  The cast all do a great job in their roles, but the play is a bit slow, confusing and clunky at times.  As a jobbing actor myself, I enjoyed the ‘backstage’ setting and some of the in-jokes, particularly about actors and food, which are very accurate! 

The play runs to Saturday 27th at The Waterside and there’s still time to book tickets. Visit Aylesbury Waterside Theatre Box Office, call 0844 871 7607 (bkg fee) or visit www.atgtickets.com/Aylesbury (bkg fee).

Performances:                       Mon 22 – Sat 27 Feb

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

Tickets:                                 From £10 (£11.90 when booked online or over the phone)

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

Groups Hotline:                0844 871 7614

Access Booking:                0844 871 7677 (Bkg fee)

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

 

Reviewed by:

Yvonne Delahaye

22.2.16

 

Jan 22nd

The Perfect Murder at The Mill at Sonning

By Clare Brotherwood

 

The murder in question may or may not be perfect, but this production certainly is.

It has all the ingredients of great entertainment in spades - side-splitting comedy, tragic pathos and spine-chilling horror.

Adapted for the stage by Shaun McKenna from the first of crime writer Peter James’ series of novels featuring detective Roy Grace, it tells the story of Victor and Joanie, for whom marriage really is murder. After 20 years, all they do is bicker and Victor wants to make a new life with his mistress Kamila while Joanie’s unrequited passion drives her into an affair with cabbie Don.

James, whose books have sold 16 million and, after last night, will have at least one more avid reader, certainly doesn’t spare his audience with niceties. Victor - and to some extent Don - is a sexist chauvinist for whom I had no sympathy, and Andrew Paul, last seen as the evil Dan Jones in Coronation Street, is perfectly cast. He gave me the shivers whether alive or dead! In the hands of Aneta Piotrowska and Sonia Saville, however, prostitute Kamila and unloved wife Joanie get all my sympathy.

As with every tragedy laughter isn’t far from the surface and there are some real belly laughs to be had, not least Don’s propensity to using rhyming slang, even though he comes from Tunbridge Wells! Adam Morris is full of himself  as the uncouth Don but he does win me over in parts.

Aneta Piotrowska is perfect as Kamila, a hooker with a heart, while Nick Lawson is suitably understated as DC Roy Grace, working on his first case.

Set in the sixties and accompanied by some well thought out songs from that era, The Perfect Murder also has chilling sound effects from Matt Smee.

Director Keith Myers and his cast have this exciting play really well balanced and, although another version of The Perfect Murder is currently touring the country, starring EastEnders favourites Shane Richie and Jessie Wallace, it is coming nowhere near Berkshire/Oxfordshire. Besides, it sits so much better in the intimate, atmospheric, and some say, haunted, Mill!

 

The Perfect Murder is at The Mill at Sonning until March 12.

Box Office: 0118 969 8000

www.millatsonning.com

Jan 21st

The Small Hours at the Theatre Royal Windsor

By Clare Brotherwood

January is not the best time for theatre. Post-Christmas, people may have to budget. Then, of course, it’s either too wet or too cold to contemplate going out in the evening.

So it was good to discover that Rehearsal for Murder, last week’s production at the Theatre Royal Windsor, not only sold out but is being brought back at the end of the month for those who missed it - or, indeed, want to see it again.

Such was the popularity of this murder mystery that, late in the day, the powers that be fitted in another play of the same genre, The Small Hours, by that most prolific of writers, Francis Durbridge.

Best known for his Paul Temple series, which began in 1938 and which I still listen to on BBC Radio 4Extra with the same fondness people have for Brief Encounter, Durbridge’s whodunnits are chock-full of red herrings - and surprises - and The Small Hours doesn’t disappoint.

Some members of the cast are well-used to coppers and criminals. Graham Cole, who plays Chief Inspector George Westwood, and Mark Wingett (millionaire Oliver Radford) are both easily recognisable from the TV series The Bill, and they each play their roles with gravitas.

Since his days as Robbie Jackson in EastEnders, Dean Gaffney has also played his fair share of murder mysteries, as well as appearing in The Bill, and in this production he plays a character so edgy that you are bound to think he is up to something. Is this one of Durbridge’s red herrings? You can only find out be going to see it! The writer is sure to keep you guessing throughout the play, though just before the interval an intruder at the hotel belonging to Carl Houston - played diligently by Simon Dutton - is identified. I think it would have created even more suspense if the audience had been kept waiting until the after the break before being named.

Despite having only fairly small parts, some actors of note add their expertise to the production. Deborah Grant, still memorable for her role in A Bouquet of Barbed Wire, which brought fame for Windsor regular Susan Penhaligon, is efficient as Houston’s PA, and we warm to Georgina Leonidas, Katie Bell in several of the Harry Potter films, as the long-suffering as the wife of philandering chef (Mark Curry). That only leaves Carol Royle as Vanessa Houston, still beautiful as the trophy wife.

With chilling music from James Wickens, The Small Hours is a fun night out for those of us who like to be kept guessing.

The Small Hours continues at the Theatre Royal Windsor until January 30

Box Office: 01753 853 888

www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk

Jan 21st

The Glenn Miller Story with Tommy Steele @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

What do you think you’ll be doing when you reach the grand age of 79?  Putting your feet up, perhaps playing a bit of golf or bowls to keep active, or touring around the country doing 8 shows a week of acting, singing and dancing?  If you’re Tommy Steele and showbiz adrenaline runs through your veins, then the fact that you’re now 79 years young holds no barriers!  OK, maybe your voice isn’t quite what it used to be and the dancing is little more than a shuffle and maybe this is a role that you should have played 40 years ago, but a packed theatre shows people still know and love you and want to see you perform, so why not?

Tommy Steele

Tommy Steele became Britain’s first teen idol and rock and roll star, when he reached No 1 in the charts with ‘Singing the Blues’ in 1957.  His film credits include Half a Sixpence, The Happiest Millionnaire and Finian’s Rainbow.  With a successful recording career of hit records, Tommy also has numerous West End credits to his name, including Scrooge, Singing in the Rain and Some Like It Hot.

Over dinner one evening in the summer of 2014, Tommy chatted with theatrical impresario, Bill Kenwright, about his admiration for Glenn Miller and said he has toured the world, following the orchestra.  ‘What a musical it could make, what dances, what tunes’  said Bill and so from those initial discussions, the idea of turning The Glenn Miller Story into a show began. 

It’s an intriguing story that was made into a film in 1954, which starred James Stewart.  Miller was born in 1904 and in 1919, created the innovative new sound with a high-leading clarinet leading over the saxophone section.  That was the year they released ‘Moonlight Seranade’ and ‘In the Mood’ which topped the Billboard chart for 13 consecutive weeks.  On 15th December 1944, Glenn boarded a flight from London to Paris and is reported missing and was never seen again.

The music of The Glenn Miller Orchestra is timeless and no matter what your age you’ll recognise most of the songs.  This show perfectly recreates that iconic sound with a 16 piece orchestra on stage.

  

Supporting Tommy in this show is a fantastic troupe of singer/dancers, Zoe Nicole Adkin, Siobhan Diffin, Jessica Ellen, Nathan Elwick, Jordan Oliver and Alex Tranter with some brilliant swing and tap routines, choreographed by Bill Deamer.   Sarah Soetaert plays Helen Burger, the girl Miller courts and marries.

 

Cast

 

The theatre has been fully booked for the whole week, which shows the love of Miller’s music and the enduring popularity of Tommy Steele.  His joy and enthusiasm is infectious and, despite having to suspend a huge amount of disbelief, was a delight to watch.  When he came out of character at the start and end of the show, we saw the true showman working the audience and loving every minute of it!  Good for you mate, I hope I’ve got as much va, va voom when I’m 79!!!

The show runs till Saturday 23rd at The Waterside, Aylesbury and continues to:

Edinburgh Playhouse from 26th-30th

Bristol Hippodrome from 23rd-27th Feb

Liverpool Empire from 29th Feb-5th March.

Tickets available from www.atgtickets.com

 

Reviewed by:

Yvonne Delahaye

 

19th January 2016

Jan 13th

Rehearsal for Murder at the Theatre Royal Windsor

By Clare Brotherwood

 

When I discovered that Agatha Christie had been sidelined for ‘classic thrillers’, I was disappointed.

The Queen of Crime is a difficult act to follow and producer Bill Kenwright’s Agatha Christie Theatre Company has sold over two million tickets during its 10-year tenure.

But Kenwright’s new Classic Thriller Theatre Company, which made its debut at Windsor’s Theatre Royal this week, couldn’t have got off to a better start.

Rehearsal for Murder, written by Richard Levinson and William Link, the men behind Columbo and Murder She Wrote, is a tremendously satisfying mystery chock full of my favourite things: It is set in a theatre - tick; it features a wonderful assortment of characters - tick; it has a good balance of humorous and hair-raising moments - tick. But most of all it is a cracking good yarn full of surprises, a complex plot through which director Roy Marsden skillfully guides his cast.

The action takes place in 1989 and opens in a West End theatre where, a year to the day, Alex Dennison’s latest play had opened to mixed reviews. A few hours later the leading lady and Dennison’s bride-to-be, movie star Monica Welles, had fallen to her death - but was it suicide or murder?

As Dennison and Welles, Rehearsal for Murder brings together again Robert Daws and Amy Robbins, who both starred in eight series of The Royal on ITV. Daws is almost frightening in his character’s passion to get to the truth. His emotion is palpable, especially in the closing scene, but, sadly, Robbins lacks the bearing of a movie star.

Susan Penhaligon undoubtedly steals the show as the affected producer Bella Lamb, closely followed by Robert Duncan as leading luvvie David Mathews. Lucy Dixon does a good job of reinventing herself from northern mouse to acerbic vamp in her role as young actress Karen Daniels, and Holly Ellis adds freshness in her almost comic performance as Dennison’s new and inexperienced assistant Sally.

This play within a play is fascinating stuff. On opening night it did drag a little in the first act but, nevertheless, it continued to sweep me along to I knew not where until the very end. But as they say on Through the Keyhole, the clues are there!

Well worth seeing.

 

Rehearsal for Murder is at the Theatre Royal Windsor until January 16.

www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk

Box office: 01753 853888

 

It then tours:

Jan 25-30: Malvern Theatre

Feb 2-6: Cardiff New Theatre

Feb 8-13: Richmond Theatre

Feb 15-20: Regent Theatre Stoke

Feb 22-27: Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

Mar 21-26: Kings Theatre, Edinburgh

Dec 17th

Dick Whittington @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

 

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a pantomime to get you into the festive spirit and this year at The Waterside it’s Dick Whittington.  It’s the tale of Dick and his feline friend Tommy, whose quest for fame and fortune is thwarted by the dastardly Queen Rat, but  he finds love along the way and strives to win the hand of the lovely Alice.

 

X-Factor winner from 2013, Sam Bailey stars as Fairy Bowbells.  We all remember the story of Sam, the former cruise ship singer who then worked as a prison officer, before shooting to stardom on X-Factor.  This is Sam’s first theatrical show and she makes a warm and sweet fairy and clearly the kids love her.  She’s got a lot to learn about acting and timing, but by the end of this run I’m sure she’ll have gained a huge amount of experience, which will prepare her for next year’s tour of Chicago, where she’ll be playing Mama Morton.

 

Another X-Factor finalist, Melanie Masson who appeared in 2013 belting out Janis Joplin’s Cry Baby, plays the role of Queen Rat.  Melanie trained at Queen Margaret University and gained a Diploma in Dramatic Art and her training and theatrical experience shows, as she relishes the role and gives a strong performance as the villainous Queen Rat.

 

Aylesbury’s favourite resident, Andy Collins, returns to play Idle Jack and keeps the energy up throughout.  There were jokes along the way setting up The Twelve Days of Christmas, which has become a tradition now for Andy to perform.

 

The diminutive Rachael Louise Miller plays Alice Fitzwarren,(who we all thought was one of the school-children initially)  the love interest of Dick Whittington played by Kristopher Milnes.  Jason Sutton is Sarah the Cook, with Indi-Jay Cammish playing Tommy The Cat.  Chris Nelson is Fitwarren/Sultan and also directed the show.

 

Some of the cast were having vocal problems, which can happen with the demands of  intensive panto rehearsals and performances, but hopefully they’ll all make it through the run!

 

There are some beautiful costumes and sparkly sets, which all help to create some magic for the children and the show runs until 3rd January 2016.

 

Dick Whittington Performances:  Fri 11 Dec 2015 – Sun 3 Jan 2016 (Times vary.)

 

Tickets:                              £10 - £27.75 (£11.90 - £30.65 when booked online or over the phone)

 

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

 

Groups Hotline:               0844 871 7614 Access Booking:   0844 871 7677 (bkg fee)

 

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

 

Reviewed by:

 

Yvonne Delahaye

 

14.12.15

 Images courtesy of Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury