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Apr 17th

Writer Douglas Day Stewart talks about An Officer and a Gentleman the Musical on the eve of its national UK tour

By Clare Brotherwood

One of the highest grossing films of all time, ever since An Officer and a Gentleman hit our big screens in 1982, this multi-Oscar-winning movie has, says its creator Douglas Day Stewart, changed lives and, according to the US Navy, was the greatest thing that had ever happened to them. Now Day Stewart has written An Officer and a Gentleman the Musical, which premiered at the Curve Leicester earlier this month and is now touring the UK. At a press conference at the Edinburgh Playhouse this week, he talked about the film, the musical and how Edinburgh is playing a part in their future.

Before he arrived at the press conference at the Edinburgh Playhouse, Douglas Day Stewart had been in his hotel room, finishing the final touches to the screenplay for a sequel to his original film of An Officer and a Gentleman. “It’s a bit of a secret,” he added. “I’ve been working on it for three years and I’ll be taking it to Warner Brothers in the next couple of weeks.”

At 78, Day Stewart shows no sign of letting up. He is as enthusiastic about An Officer and a Gentleman now as he was when he first wrote it back in the Eighties and it won three Oscars - for Best Supporting Actor (Louis Gossett Jr), Best Music and Best Original Song (Up Where We Belong, which also won a BAFTA).

“I’ve seen it about 100 times. I like it,” he laughed. “Once I start I can’t stop watching it.”

An Officer and a Gentleman tells the story of Zack Mayo who is training to become a US Navy pilot, has a tough time from his drill sergeant and falls in love with a local girl, and Day Stewart based the story on his own experiences in the US Navy. “I was an artist, an actor, and one day I was visiting my parents’ house still in make-up where I met an officer who told me we were about to go to war, though people didn’t really know anything about it yet. He said I could join the Army where I’d probably die on some muddy battlefield or join the Navy and live through the whole thing. I wanted to live so I went to Newport Rhode Island (Naval War College) for 12 weeks.”

Day Stewart went on to base ‘the officer and a gentleman’ on himself, though he ‘roughed him up a bit’ to make him more interesting. “I was in the military for three-and-a-half years and there is something about it you never get out of your blood. It’s a very unique experience and it made me a stronger person. Hollywood people are pretty tough but not as tough as a drill sergeant. That school was the toughest thing anyone could imagine and that’s what I tried to portray in the film.”

In order to keep it authentic, Day Stewart insisted on being one of the producers so he could ‘protect it all the way’. He hired military experts and had a big say in the casting.

John Travolta had starred in Day Stewart’s ‘highest rated TV film at the time’, The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, so he was first choice, but when he chose not to do it the part went to Richard. “He is a consummate professional,” Day Stewart explained. “His Buddhist beliefs are very real. He does a lot for a lot of people. He is genuine, a real human being. For the film he taught himself to do the real martial arts. Everything he does he does with that dedication.

“Louis (the first African American to win an Oscar) is another man, like Richard Gere, who believes in things other than his own fame.”

But we are here to talk about An Officer and a Gentleman the Musical, and Day Stewart says he’s excited and thrilled about it.

“It’s pleasing to me to see this story which is so personal being reincarnated. It’s not hard to maintain an enthusiasm for it. So many people’s lives have been touched by it. Time Magazine said we took the negativity of the military out of the Vietnam War and I am proud of this.

“It’s an experience. It’s not like anything you have seen. It’s not like any other kind of musical. It’s so uplifting and emotionally powerful. It will make people fall in love again and retake their vows. It is as much for young people as their parents. It’s a story the young generation needs.

“It’s not quite as raw as the movie. It is respectful that you are watching live entertainers, but we still maintain the raw edge of excitement, sensuality and action. It’s a roller coaster ride.”

As well as including the hit song from the film Up Where We Belong, it also features Eighties classics such as Don’t Cry Out Loud, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Toy Soldiers and Material Girl.

The musical is directed by Nikolai Foster, artistic director at the Curve, who recently directed the West End productions of Annie and Calamity Jane and is, says Day Stewart, ‘going to emerge as one of the UK’s artistic lights’.

“He moves at the speed of light. Every scene moves into the next with such fluidity.”

He also has praise for choreographer Kate Price, ‘another great bright light in the UK’. “She’s fresh and she has a certain style which makes it fun, but the routines feel integral.”

An Officer and a Gentleman the Musical will be touring the UK until September. Meanwhile, Day Stewart, whose past credits include the ground-breaking 1980 film Blue Lagoon starring Brooke Shields, is enthusing about the sequel to the film.

“It’s a trailblazer. It’s about female empowerment. I’ve taken the daughter of Zack who wants to be a jet pilot, but who knows her dark secrets? And there’s also a gay love story in there.”

Future projects include ‘other deeply personal stuff’. “It seems the only way you can succeed in the film industry today is to get a comic book character, but stay with what you know. Don’t try to tailor yourself for the market,” he said.

An Officer and a Gentleman the Musical is at the Edinburgh Playhouse from July 2-7 www.atgtickets.com/edinburgh  0844 871 3014

Until April 21: Curve Leicester

April 24-28: Leeds Grand Theatre

May 1-5: Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

May 7-12: Wycombe Swan

May 15-19: Birmingham Hippodrome

May 21-26: Liverpool Empire

May 28-June 2: Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Dublin

June 4-9: Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

June 18-23: Theatre Royal Newcastle

June 25-30: Wales Millennium Centre

July 9-14: Milton Keynes Theatre

July 23-28: Theatre Royal, Nottingham

July 30-Aug 4: Bristol Hippodrome

Aug 6-11: the Marlow Theatre, Canterbury

Aug 13-18: Manchester Opera House

Aug 20-25: Theatre Royal, Plymouth

Aug 27- Sept 1: Regent Theatre, Ipswich

Sept 3-8: The Alhambra Theatre, Bradford

Sept 10-15: Glasgow King’s Theatre

 

Apr 5th

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

By Trevor Gent

Arriving at the theatre to see lots of empty seats for the first performance of this horror thriller by Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde at the Swan theatre, High Wycombe was a shame. This was perhaps due to the delay of one day to start the week run due to technical issues, but hopefully a few more people will come to see this one. This production is from the Rose Theatre Kingston in cooperation with the Touring Consortium Theatre Company. Stage play adapted by David Edgar and produced by Kate Saxon.

It was a signed performance and although I did not need it, but should you have needed this facility I was pleased to see that the subtitles kept up with the dialogue on stage, unlike watching TV with text which is usually playing catch up. There were also a lot of younger people in the audience as it seems that this is in the curriculum for GCSE, but as the action on stage unfolded I found myself thinking I hoped they had more of a clue as to what was going on than me.

Being penned by a Scot it was perhaps inevitable that some of the main actors in this play portrayed their role using a Scottish accent, some better than others though.

I liked the simple set and staging albeit somewhat dark in a lot of places for effect should the scene require a more sinister feel or mood. It was clever how the space was used to scene change almost immediately just by a backdrop change, swing of a side wing or bringing on a work bench.

Originally written in 1886 it is a Gothic novel where Dr Jekyll transforms into Mr Hyde, a man without a conscience, through the use of potions. Eventually the transformations get out of control, and his friends become aware of his situation. Drug abuse of the Victorian era one could say and the consequences that it brings. A struggle between two personalities, one good and one bad, where one eventually takes over.

There is a lot of dialogue and at times it is quite difficult to follow, and hear at times, especially in the first half but try and stick with it. I found it much easier in the second half.

Phil Daniels takes the main role as Dr Jekyll, he is a fifty year old Doctor, fascinated by the workings of the human brain and intrigued by notes he has discovered in a book left by his late father, outlining a way by which a man may separate the two opposing elements of his personality. Jekyll is a highly intelligent man who enjoys his own company, and, despite his wealth, is careful and lives simply. As Hyde, he is younger, smaller and dangerous. Hyde has no inhibitions, and engages in violent, depraved acts, not caring if he is observed. In the play, he is a murderer and rapist. Hyde is released, and Jekyll is restored, with the consumption of specific and mysterious potions.

On the whole he does quite a good job as it is quite a daunting challenge to change from one character into another, right before your very eyes so to speak.

There is quite a large cast and they all play their parts well. I especially enjoyed Annie the parlour maid who originally works for Katherine (Dr Jekyll’s sister) However, she leaves Katherine’s employ after her father is violent towards her, and seeks refuge with Dr Jekyll, who takes her in and gives her a position in his household, despite the disapproval of his valet, Poole. Annie is a perceptive young woman, who nevertheless falls foul of the devilish Mr Hyde. She is dismissed by Jekyll when he realises she is pregnant.

The chilly temperature in the theatre certainly helped to keep you alert and added to the tension on stage. I always enjoy an evening spent in any theatre and it you want to catch this production at the Swan it continues there until Saturday 7th April and after that at the following venues.

King’s Theatre, Edinburgh
Tues 10 – Sat 14 April 2018

Box Office
0131 529 6000

Alhambra Theatre, Bradford
Tues 17 – Saturday 21 April 2018
Box Office
01274 432000

Wolverhampton Grand Theatre
Tues 1 – Saturday 5 May 2018
Box Office
01902 429 212

Cambridge Arts Theatre
Tues 8 – Sat 12 May 2018

Box Office
01223 503 333

Darlington Hippodrome
Tues 15 – Saturday 19 May 2018

Box Office
01325 405 405

Mar 8th

Mindgame @ Wycombe Swan Theatre

By Trevor Gent

Set in a remote lunatic asylum it hardly sounds a laugh a minute, but one of the (many) surprises of Anthony Horowitz’s sly and slippery play is that it invites us to laugh at the whole thriller genre. It is still dark though, exploring murder, madness, and evil, and questions what motivates people to commit terrible crimes. Nothing can be taken for granted, from the name of a pet Labrador to the identities of the three main characters.

 

Andrew Ryan plays Styler, a writer of gory serial killer biographies who’s come to Fairfield’s asylum to interview his latest subject. His path is blocked by Dr Farquhar (the Q is silent) played by Michael Sherwin, who seems reluctant to trust Styler, and even more reluctant to let him leave. Sarah Wynne Kordas plays Paisley (although it is while before we actually see her). Rather surprisingly having volunteered to don a straight jacket, he is trapped in a nightmare world that’s steeped in references to famous thrillers.

 

There are murders behind curtains, intercepted notes of warning, echoing screams, jerky snatches of tinny music, and questionable liver sandwiches. It’s all piled on so thickly that you soon realise you’re watching a kind of pastiche of the thriller genre – one that exploits our fascination with tales of murder and lunacy.

 

The play is set in a single room but things are never quite what they seem with doors turning into cupboards, and various difference between the acts and the brick wall slowly building in the background. The atmosphere is tense and you have to keep your wits about you to keep track of what is going on. However I won’t give it all away and certainly won’t tell you the ending like some reviewers (otherwise what is the point of going to see it?).

 

After watching this play the famous Nick Ross quote from Crimewatch came to mind

"Don't have nightmares, do sleep well”. Thankfully I did!

 

If you missed it at the Wycombe Swan there are still some performances to go:

 

March 14-17, Belgrade Theatre, Coventry
March 19-24, Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds

Feb 9th

Forever Dusty - Theatre Royal Windsor and touring

By Kate Braxton

It’s only fair to set the scene here and say I am an out and out Dusty fan. I live in a cottage behind her grave and have been hugely anticipating the arrival of Forever Dusty at Theatre Royal Windsor this week - a reviewer's life is Forever Uncomfy...

…This biographical new show has set off on tour with Strictly Theatre Entertainments, and ‘entertaining’ sums it up, in a beehive. It’s nostalgic, dramatic and a simmering pot of emotion from start to finish. Phew!

We’re stepped apace through Dusty’s life story by a script of chapter-style scenes, cataloguing her meteoric rise from shy Irish schoolgirl, Mary O'Brien, through fame and adulation, yet we are also a party to some of her darker periods overshadowed by mental illness, addiction and private struggles with love. The overriding feeling is that she was untouchably brilliant, yet humanly vulnerable. It’s hard not to be empathetic.

Both Springfield’s famous and lesser-known songs drive the narrative in this five person show, and although she physically bears little resemblance to Dusty, the big white boots are filled admirably by Katherine Ferguson. If the characterisation felt a little shaky through Act 1, there is very much a sense of ‘owning it’ come the latter part of the show.  She delivers sequences of magic, including her full rendition of ‘Son of a Preacher Man’, the heady, lingering  'Look of Love', and we get the full force of her performance during ‘I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself' as Katherine's Dusty is driven to her knees by the unmanageability of her life.

Mvula Tampa injects additional power to the production as Dusty’s ‘hidden’, and apparently long-suffering African-American lover, Clare. Her vocals are terrific, her stage presence, quite mystifying. In many of their scenes together, I was perhaps over-drawn to the intrigue of her performance and this ‘dunno what to make of this’ feeling was amplified in their duets, since the pair’s voices compete pretty hard for attention. In many ways, Clare personifies the controversy and conflict in Dusty’s life, so that element of unprettiness is strangely acceptable.

In stark contrast to this emotional heat – and I think for some respite to the audience’s nervous system from writers Jonathan Vankin and Kirsten Holly Smith - the more one-dimensional characters of Dusty’s brother, Dion/Tom and American Producer, Jerry, are given a safe pair of hands in the shape of Josh Harris.  Ashlea Lauren and Samantha Palin also provide strong additional support through musical numbers and anecdotal scenes.

A terrifically balanced selection of musical numbers is crisply delivered by musical director, Pete Dodsworth and his on-stage band, who sadly, but per the direction and writing, remain relatively detached from the stage work.

The unchanging set and simple production values focus all of our attention on the full company’s action and interaction.  With a little sharper attention to the dialogue flow, and some fine-tuning to the shared vocal balance, I believe the show has the potential to be something spectacular in performances to come. 

Runs at Theatre Royal Windsor from Weds 7 - Saturday 10th Feb

  • Show Times
  • Wed – Sat 8pm, Thu 2.30pm, Sat 4.45pm

 
Box Office: 01753 853 888 (10am - 8pm Monday - Saturday)
Feb 7th

Crazy For You

By Trevor Gent

High energy, high kicking and gloriously glamorous, the acclaimed Watermill Theatre production of Crazy for You is the ultimate feel-good musical. Strictly Come Dancing winner Tom Chambers stars in this multi-award winning, romantic comedy, featuring a fabulous score from the Gershwin brothers’ songbook. Music and Lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin. Book by Ken Ludwig.

Crazy for You charts the troubled love story of Bobby (played by Tom Chambers), son of a wealthy New York banking family and frustrated Broadway hoofer, and Polly (Charlotte Wakefield), daughter of the proprietor of a failing theatre in Deadrock, Nevada. Sent to close the theatre down, Bobby falls for Polly and, in the guise of a Hungarian impresario, decides to save the theatre by putting on a show. The show also starrs Claire Sweeney in the role of Irene Roth.

Mistaken identities, heartbreak, happiness and a wealth of memorable tunes, including I Got Rhythm, They Can’t Take That Away From Me, Nice Work If You Can Get It and Embraceable You all feature in this exhilarating celebration of the great Broadway musicals.

The production is well worth its West End billing and is certainly a show stopper of a musical, a real feel good treat with energetic dance routines, fabulous costumes , comic moments and ofcourse some great song and dance numbers. The live on stage musicians added  to the experience as it is something you do not always see on stage. Tremendous entertainment.

There are some blind spot issues for people sitting on the sides of row due to blocked effects on the stage and so actors could not been seen when performing there, which was frustrating and disappointing. However, overall the experience was very pleasurable and this is certainly one I can recommend.

Unfortunately no production photos were provided for the performance but some can be found on the tour link http://www.crazyforyoutour.com/

 

 

The first touring performance of this production was at Plymouth Theatre Royal on Thursday 17th August 2017.

 

The show continues at the Swan Theatre High Wycombe until Saturday 10th February (Box office 01494 512 000) and then at the following locations:

 

13th to 17th Feb - Truro, Hall for Cornwall - 01872 262466

20th to 24th Feb - Ipswich, Regent Theatre - 01473 433100

27th Feb to 3rd Mar - Llandudno, Venue Cymru - 01492 872000

6th to 10th Mar - London, New Wimbledon Theatre -  0844 871 7646

20th to 24th Mar - Milton Keynes Theatre -    0844 871 7652        

27th to 31st Mar - Aberdeen, Her Majesty’s Theatre -  01224 641122

3rd to 7th Apr - Edinburgh, Playhouse - 0844 871 3014

10th to 14th Apr - Bradford, The Alhambra Theatre -     01274 432000      

24th to 28th Apr - Sunderland, Empire - 0844 871 3022

1st to 5th May - Swansea,  Grand Theatre - 01792 475715

8th to 12th May - Wolverhampton, Grand Theatre - 01902 429212

15th to 19th May - Woking, New Victoria Theatre - 0844 871 7645

29th May to 2nd June - Brighton, Theatre Royal - 0844 871 7650

4th to 9th June - Leicester, Curve - 0116 242 3595

                                   

Dec 20th

The Rat Pack - Live from Las Vegas

By Trevor Gent

Last night my guest and I enjoyed a Christmas treat with The Rat Pack - Live from Last Vegas at the Haymarket theatre in London (from January 9th to Saturday 3rd February 2018 it will be The Rat Pack - Live From Las Vegas celebrating Ella Fitzgerald’s centenary).

Frank

The celebrated West End production of the Olivier Award-nominated The Rat Pack - Live from Las Vegas, returns to the Theatre Royal, Haymarket – which was its home for its first West End run in 2003 - for a strictly limited season from Wednesday 13 December - Saturday 3 February.

The cast features Garrett Phillips as Frank Sinatra, Nigel Casey (Dean Martin), David Hayes (Sammy Davis Jr), with Joanna Walters, Amelia Adams-Pearce, Rebecca Parker and Laura Darton as The Burrelli Sisters.

Musical Director of the 12-piece Rat Pack Big Band is Matthew Freeman.

Nicola Emmanuelle will also join the show from Tuesday January 9 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the First Lady of Song and Queen of Jazz, Ella Fitzgerald. Songs featured in this special edition of the production will include Night and Day, The Lady is a Tramp, Mack the Knife and S’Wonderful.

From 13 December to 6 January, The Rat Pack - Live from Las Vegas - devised, directed and choreographed by Mitch Sebastian - will have a Christmas theme with the Pack’s unique take on such festive classics as Baby It’s Cold Outside, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, White Christmas, Winter Wonderland, Jingle Bells and Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow.

The original show updated

At the start of the 1960s, The Rat Pack led by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. were the toast of Las Vegas. With the world’s rich and famous jetting in to see them joke around and sing some of the finest songs ever written, the guys also starred together in a series of glamorous Hollywood films, set fashion trends, rubbed shoulders with the US President, politicians and mobsters... and partied hard as the coolest cats on the planet. The Rat Pack - Live from Las Vegas recreates that special time. Prepare to drift back in time to an era of glitzy nights spent on the Vegas strip in the company of three of the world’s most popular entertainers. This spectacular production - with a very special Christmas theme until 6 January - celebrates the incredible singing talent of three world-famous entertainers and performers and some of the finest music and song that has ever been recorded. Frank, Sammy and Dean are once again performing in the world-renowned Copa Room at the famous Sands Hotel, supported by the fabulous Burrelli Sisters and The Rat Pack Big Band in a critically acclaimed show that clocked up over 1,000 West End performances on its West End premiere. Frequently imitated but never bettered, The Rat Pack - Live from Las Vegas features hit after hit, including Pack favourites The Lady is a Tramp, Mr Bojangles, That’s Amore, I’ve Got You Under My Skin, What Kind of Fool Am I?, Volare, My Way, Candyman, Everybody Loves Somebody and many, many more. If you wish you’d swung with the hardest partying pack in town, now’s your chance!

Frank


With the arrival of Frank on the stage the show swings straight into action and flows smoothly as we meet Sammy and then Dean. Filled with fun and laughter, not to forget a song or two, this will have you head nodding, knee and foot (and whatever else) twitching along with tunes you will know. You may even be tempted to sing along with some too.

The three main cast members were all superb and smoked and drank their way through the show (with the odd joke or two) engaging with the audience well.

The experience was slightly affected by a couple of rather inebriated girls in the row in front of us who swayed, chatted and whooped throughout, and a loved up couple next to them who maybe should have just got a room instead of going to see the show?

Nevertheless well worth a visit to see this show so catch it if you can.

Post London dates are detailed below. Enjoy and Happy Christmas!

Dean
The Rat Pack - Live from Las Vegas is produced by Paul Walden & Derek Nicol for Flying Entertainment & TRH Productions

www.theratpacklivefromlasvegas.com

Following the West End season, The Rat Pack - Live from Las Vegas
featuring Ella Fitzgerald Centenary Celebration will play:

Tuesday 6 - Saturday 10 February
Glasgow King’s Theatre

Tuesday 13 - Saturday 17 February
Liverpool Empire Theatre

Tuesday 20 - Saturday 24 February
Manchester Opera House

Tuesday 27 February - Saturday 3 March
Edinburgh Playhouse

Tuesday 6 - Saturday 10 March
Eastbourne Devonshire Park Theatre

Tuesday 13 - Saturday 17 March
Sunderland Empire Theatre

Tuesday 20 - Saturday 24 March
Cardiff New Theatre

Tuesday 27 - Saturday 31 March
Birmingham Alexandra Theatre

Monday 2- Saturday 7 April
Dublin Gaiety Theatre

Thursday 12- Saturday 14 April
Belfast Waterfront Hall

Tuesday 17- Saturday 21 April
Woking New Victoria Theatre

Tuesday 24 - Saturday 28 April
Blackpool Grand Theatre

Tuesday 1 - Saturday 5 May
Sheffield Lyceum Theatre

Tuesday 8 - Saturday 12 May
Darlington Hippodrome

Monday 14 - Saturday 19 May
Dartford Orchard Theatre

Tuesday 22 – Saturday 26 May
Bath Theatre Royal

Tuesday 29 May – Saturday 2 June
Crawley The Hawth

Tuesday 5 – Saturday 9 June
York Grand Opera House

 

Nov 8th

The Nutcracker - Vienna Festival Ballet at Theatre Royal, Windsor

By Kate Braxton

The Nutcracker has long been the ballet of choice for Christmas. Tchaikowsky’s world-famous masterpiece is an enchanting tale set in a winter wonderland of twinkly lights, snowy peaks and includes a trip to a magical Kingdom of sweets.  What’s not to like, for all the family?!

The highly popular Vienna Festival Ballet begins its touring production of the classic this week in Windsor, where we join a Christmas Eve party for Clara and her brother, Fritz. Their mysterious uncle – a bit of a magician -  brings a special toy soldier doll (Nutcracker) for Clara, which at midnight, he transforms into a handsome Prince.  Clara finds herself amidst a nightmarish war between giant mice and the toy soldiers. She saves the Prince from the Mouse King and they journey onward to the Kingdom of Snow as we head into the interval.

Founded in 1980 by world-renowned Austrian dancer, Peter Mallek, Vienna Festival Ballet devise a beautifully classical show. The scenic backdrops are simple, yet effective. The costumes capture imagination through dream-like softly coloured hues and the choreography is traditionally styled.

I'm a great fan of the tableaux and realistic life-scenes that the company creates. This is well displayed during the Act 1 party setting where the ensemble characters come to life, expose personality and draw us into the scene. Naomi Solomon’s slippered shape-throwing as Grandmother is a treat.  The individual dances are also delivered with passion, although there is missing chemistry between some dance pairings, with the exception of Jodie McKnight as Clara, and Ashley Selfe as The Nutcracker. They are well-matched and have evident mutual respect.

In Act II, The Nutcracker Prince escorts Clara to The Kingdom of Sweets where they dance with the Sugar Plum Fairy. Casey Pereira delivers the classic solo dance with sweet control, well supported by Dean Rushton as her Cavalier.

My favourite sequence is the celebration of sweets from around the world; chocolate from Spain, tea from China, coffee from Arabia etc, we have the Trepak dance from Russia and a Waltz of the Flowers. It provides the opportunity for classical ballet to be taken to different levels, and demonstrate the versatility of the dance form to ballet newcomers. Vienna Festival Ballet’s style might have been a notch more contemporary at this juncture, but it is the artistic director’s choice to present with tradition at the fore. The Arabian and Trepak dances were the delight for me, but each to their own colourfully-wrapped picking.

And this is what The Nutcracker allows; there is something for everyone, thanks, in some way, to the ‘Strictly’ factor. So if Widow Twanky’s become a bit Wishee Washee for your family, consider The Nutcracker for a highly touching festive experience.

The Nutcracker runs at Theatre Royal Windsor from 6th - 11th November 2017

For tickets call Box Office: 01753 853 888

www.theatreroyalwindsor.co.uk

For details of tour, go to www.viennafestivalballet.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sep 11th

SPAMALOT TOUR OPENS IN BLACKPOOL

By Kirstie Niland

Until Saturday 16th September, Blackpool Opera House

The Tony award-wining musical Spamalot has kicked off its national tour in Blackpool - and it's funnier than the black death.

Lovingly ripped off from the hugely successful 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, this spammier than ever brand-new show from Selladoor Productions is a riotous comedy full of misfit knights, killer rabbits, dancing nuns and ferocious Frenchmen. Join King Arthur as he travels with his hapless Knights of the Round Table on a divine mission to locate the illusive Holy Grail – with uproarious consequences.

Spamalot was the winner of the 2005 Tony Award for Best New Musical, while it enjoyed a victorious West End run. This hilarious show was written by Python legend Eric Idle, who has been entertaining the British public for over 50 years. The funnyman also wrote the score alongside John DuPrez, famous for his work on Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life amongst a host of other big-name scores.

Michael Williams, Managing Director at the Winter Gardens Blackpool comments “ We are delighted to be staging the opening performances of the brand new tour of the much loved musical Spamalot. The musical joins an eclectic mix of events at the Winter Gardens Blackpool which truly offers something for everyone.”

The new tour is produced by the award winning Selladoor Productions and Mercury Theatre Colchester. Selladoor’s recent tours include Footloose, American Idiot, Avenue Q and Little Shop of Horrors.

With comic tunes including Brave Sir Robin, We’re Knights of the Round Table and perennial favourite Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, Spamalot audiences are sure to be dancing in the aisles. 

Book tickets at Blackpool Opera House here.

Full tour details here.

Photographs courtesy of Winter Gardens Blackpool

Sep 3rd

How the Other Half Loves - Alan Ayckbourn (Theatre Royal Windsor & UK Tour)

By Kate Braxton

It was Bill Kenright who produced the first UK tour of this hit comedy in 1973. This week, with 44 years of mileage, he waves it off on a new run from Windsor following an acclaimed West End revival.  

Its success as a work today proves Ayckbourn’s entertainment value to be timeless.  Although the language, social status commentary and hard-wired telephone props tie it to the late Sixties/early Seventies, the underlying human traits strike today’s virtual chord good and clearly.

The action involves 3 couples of varying age and standing, and both Bob Phillips and William Featherstone are employed by Frank Foster. At the centre of the piece, Frank is tirelessly trying to fathom out what is going on around him. Although he fails to see it, his own wife Fiona is having an affair with Bob, who is in constant conflict with his wife Teresa who feels neglected while raising their baby and is suspicious of his behavior.

The contrasting relationships here help the audience to follow the intertwined plot: one polite, evasive and ‘listening-not-listening’, the other screamy-shouty Corrieastenders styley and we cleverly find ourselves in both living rooms at once, experiencing two different home lives in full simultaneous flow.

A third couple, William and Mary Featherstone, are essentially used as alibis surrounding the affair and both Bob and Fiona have sworn their respective spouses to secrecy over the rumoured red herring infidelities of the innocent couple. All a bit of a ‘Whodunnit?(Ooer)’ for Frank.

The first act culminates in a brilliantly choreographed dinner table scene, which is actually two parties happening on successive nights, with The Featherstones attending each one. Genius!

Robert Daws is exquisite as the flummoxed Frank. He, with Caroline Langrishe as wife, Fiona, provide rich comic artistry and stage experience, along with glorious performances from Matthew Cottle, reprising his role of William from the West End and Sara Crowe’s hilariously awkward Mary. 

Leon Ockenden, best known for his role of Will Chatterton in Coronation Street strides onto the stage with a pec-load of presence, and Charlie Brooks’ Teresa is brash and feisty. While both will appeal to the popular soap audiences, their appreciation of Ayckbourn’s comedy is noticeably less mature than the other actors.  

 

Director, Alan Strachan has worked alongside Ayckbourn for many years, and the depth of his appreciation of the piece is reflected in its slick coordination.  This is a very challenging play to direct, with two scenes taking place simultaneously, and in his own words, “it’s one of the most difficult I’ve ever come across. The concentration required is just extraordinary.” Yet he makes it look easy. 

To top off the enjoyment of the show, Theatre Royal Windsor has just had a full interior refurbishment in partnership with paint and decoration specialists, Farrow & Ball.  However, the dominating delight of this play is in its quickfire action and reaction, so any of the tour venues deserve to have a full house.

How the Other Half Loves runs at Theatre Royal Windsor from 30 Aug - 9 Sept 2017

Booking: 01753 853 888

For full UK tour details see www.kenright.com

 

     

 

 

Jul 12th

The Wedding Singer (the Hilarious Musical based on the Hit Film) at the Wycombe Swan.

By Trevor Gent

 

Wedding Singer

Well I must be one of the few people who never saw this film when it came out! It was mostly because I was not a fan of Adam Sandler from his previous efforts on screen. However, this fact did not detract from my enjoyment of this very entertaining musical. Whilst the audience took their seats there was a screen on stage showing 1980’s film clips including, Rambo, Back to the Future, Weird Science and even Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan.

It’s 1985. Hair is huge, greed is good and rock-star wannabe Robbie Hart (Jon Robyns) is New Jersey's favourite wedding singer fronting the band ’Simply Wed’. When his own fiancée dumps him at the altar a seriously mixed up Robbie makes every wedding as disastrous as his own.

Can sweet natured Julia (Cassie Compton) and her best friend Holly (Lucie Jones) lure Robbie out of the dumpster and back into the limelight?  Or is he going to see her head off down the aisle with Wall Street bad boy Glen (Ray Quinn). Only Grandma Rosie (Ruth Madoc) seems to be able to see that Robbie and Julia are the couple that are meant to be.

Dumpster

I won’t go through the whole storyline as you need to experience this yourself but it’s a feel good story with some rocky moments along the way.

There are many good musical numbers, my favourites ‘It’s your Wedding Day’, ‘Casualty of Love’ with some Thriller Video type dance moves, ‘Right in Front of Your Eyes’ and ‘Single’ There is even a bit of Rap from Rosie which went down well with the audience.

Rosie Rap

The cast were wonderful and there are lots of laughs too. Apart from the main characters my favourite has to be the drunk bridegroom and the bar drunk (I think played by the same person). If you are looking for entertainment this is certainly one to see and I may just go out and rent the film on DVD too!

 

Full cast list on this link http://theweddingsingermusical.co.uk/cast-creative

 

THE WEDDING SINGER

Music by Matthew Sklar

Book by Chad Beguelin and Tim Herlihy

Lyrics by Chad Beguelin 

Based upon the New Line Cinema film Written by Tim Herlihy 

Directed and Choreographed by Nick Winston 

Performances by arrangement with Music Theatre International (Europe) Ltd

 

 

Future tour dates listed below:

 

Tuesday 11 – Saturday 15 July.

Box Office: 01494 512 000

High Wycombe, Swan Theatre                                         

Website: www.wycombeswan.co.uk

 

Monday 17 – Saturday 22 July                                           

Box Office: 0114 249 6000

Sheffield, Lyceum Theatre                                                    

Website: www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk

 

Tuesday 25 – Saturday 29 July                                                    

Box Office: 01492 872000

Llandudno, Venue Cymru                                                           

Website: www.venuecymru.co.uk

 

Tuesday 1 – Saturday 5 August                                                  

Box Office: 020 3285 6000

Bromley, Churchill Theatre                                                     

Website: www.churchilltheatre.co.uk 

 

Tuesday 8 – Saturday 12 August                                                

Box Office: 01752 267222

Theatre Royal, Plymouth                                                             

Website: www.theatreroyal.com

 

Tuesday 22 – Saturday 26 August                                             

Box Office: 0844 848 2700

Leeds Grand Theatre                                                          

Website: www.leedsgrandtheatre.com

 

Tuesday 29 August – Saturday 2 September                          

Box Office: 0844 871 7650

Theatre Royal Brighton                                                                

Website: www.atgtickets.com

 

Tuesday 5 – Saturday 9 September                                           

Box Office: 01892 530613

Tunbridge Wells, Assembly Hall Theatre                         

Website: www.assemblyhalltheatre.co.uk

 

Tuesday 12 – Saturday 16 September                                      

Box Office: 01743 281281

Shrewsbury, Theatre Severn                                                    

Website: www.theatresevern.co.uk

 

Tuesday 19 – Saturday 23 September                                      

Box Office: 01792 475715

Swansea, Grand Theatre                                                         

Website: www.swanseagrand.co.uk

 

Tuesday 26 – Saturday 30 September                                     

Box Office: 023 9282 8282

Portsmouth, King’s Theatre                                                   

Website: www.kingsportsmouth.co.uk

 

Tuesday 3 – Saturday 7 October                                                

Box Office: 01902 429212

Wolverhampton, Grand Theatre                                               

Website: www.grandtheatre.co.uk  

 

Reviewed by Trevor Gent

11th July 2017