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Mar 13th

The Barricade Boys @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

Opening a show with a ballad is a high-risk strategy, but if I’d been a judge on The Voice I’d have turned my chair on the first note!  With the angelic vocals of Simon Schofield launching into ‘I Dreamed a Dream’, joined by the rest of the Barricade Boys with tight harmonies, the audience were captivated within seconds.  It was a superb start to what was one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time.

The Barricade Boys was formed by Simon and Scott Garnham, two very seasoned West End Musical Theatre performers.  All of the team are industry professionals and the show was created to provide superior entertainment for the professional theatre market and corporate industry.  The Barricade Boys have played major roles in musical theatre from The Phantom of the Opera, Wicked and Billy Elliott to Jersey Boys, The Sound of Music and, of course, Les Miserables.

Since forming two years ago, they’ve toured the world on cruises, appeared at St James Theatre on Broadway with TV appearances including The Paul O’Grady Show and This Morning.  From 5th-23rd December 2017, the boys had a residency at Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new theatre The Other Palace and featured an array of special guests including Matt Lucas, Michael Xavier and Rachel Tucker.

After the first number, the boys introduced themselves and upped the tempo to sing Stuck in the Middle With You, then a medley from The Blues Brothers, followed by Volaire before being joined by kids from the Pauline Quirke Academy.  It’s a great idea to involve a local stage school as you’re guaranteed seats will be filled with proud family and friends and it helps to connect with the audience even more.  A mix of songs from Motown and the hauntingly beautiful Going Home song from Les Miserables followed, ending the first half with songs from Jersey Boys

The second act opened with the boys being joined again by the Pauline Quirke Academy to sing A Million Dreams, from the soundtrack of The Greatest Showman.  After some rock n’ roll, there was a lovely 4-part harmony version of Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror.  These guys can sing anything and adapt to all genres of music, so the challenge was to create a jazz/swing song from the comedy song Master of the House.  As a jazz singer myself, I loved it and it really did work.

Supported by The Barricade Boys band, keyboard player and MD James Doughty had his own chance to shine, with a storming version of It Don’t Mean a Thing, showing his incredible vocals talents as well.

Next came a disco era of songs from the 70s, squeezing in a fabulous rendition of Uptown Funk as well, followed by a magnificent version of Bohemian Rhapsody.  They couldn’t forget The Beatles influence on pop music and sang a couple of numbers to finish.  The audience were on their feet stomping and clapping for more, so the encore had to be another song from Les Miserables, One More Day.

Their versatility, incredible vocals and harmonies, dance moves, energy, enthusiasm and stage presence make this a show not to be missed.  I was smiling all the way through, singing along to the songs and wished I qualified to become one of the team, but I’m the wrong gender!  They were having so much fun and the theatre was filled with a warmth and happiness that rarely happens.  Book your ticket NOW, it’ll be one of the best decisions you make!

Tour dates can be found on

http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/the-barricade-boys/

This week:

Wednesday 14th @ Grand Opera House, York

Thursday 15th @ Leas Cliff Hall, Folkestone

Saturday 17th @ Victoria Hall, Stoke-on-Trent

Sunday 18th @ Southport Theatre & Convention Centre, Southport

For more details about The Barricade Boys:

https://www.barricadeboys.com/

 

Reviewed by:

Yvonne Delahaye

@yvonnedelahaye

12th March 2018

 

 

 

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

Mar 7th

Some Mother's Do 'Ave Them at the Richmond Theatre

By Douglas McFarlane

 

Some Mother's Do 'Ave Them

Some reviews are easy. They make you want to write and write. Stream of consciousness kicks in and you want to tell the world about the performance.

Tonight, I'm pleased to say, I saw something special.

Christopher Biggins, Jenny Eclair, Bonnie Langford....and that was just the audience.

It was press night at the Richmond Theatre, and there was something buzzing. The photographers were snapping away at the entrance. Those arriving seemed younger and cooler than the usual crowd. 20 something women constantly preening their hair, gay chaps standing around seeing and being seen and stars nodding at the bar, knowing their presence was noticed. Someone behind me asked her friend why it was such a different audience. Press night, I said.  

But I was taken by surprise by what I was about to see.

Buy tickets now is all I can say.

Joe Pasquale.

I had heard him talking about his role on BBC Radio 2 this week. He was suggesting he'd made the role his own.  He was of course talking about the classic Michael Crawford TV Series from the 70s which I used to love watching with my parents. 

Would it deliver, I thought. It was brave to take on an iconic role and I was suggesting on social media that it was going to get a great review just for that.  

However, it was incredible. Who'd have thought Joe Pasquale is an amazing theatre performer. The lines came thick and fast, and the dialogue was sharp, focussed and delivered at a pace that you'd expect from perhaps a farce.  This wasn't farce. This was something even better. 

Pasquale's performance was engaging, mesmerising, intriguing and just perfect. 

I want to see more of him in any comedy role. He's got a gift in his voice, his comedy timing, his natural delivery and warm character. 

All the other cast were truly amazing. Betty, played by Sarah Earnshaw was spot on. Susie Blake was delightful. Moray Treadwell simply exquisite. David Shaw, excellent. And Chris Kiely, perfect. 
 

I'm delighted to say it was the funniest thing I've seen for a long time..... in the Noises Off, The Play That Goes Wrong class.... and what impressed me more, was it reached out to young audiences. Those in front of me laughed as much as I did, and  stood up at the end for a well deserved standing ovation, whilst the cast were dancing to Mud's "Tiger Feet".

All I can say is, your life won't be complete unless you buy some tickets and get yourself and your belly, down to an Ambassadors Theatre near you, and laugh, and laugh and laugh.  I did, and it was a fantastic night at the theatre.  

I just love reviewing for gems like this.

 

Review by Douglas McFarlane

 

Coming to a theatre near you, including...

 

 

Tour Dates

LONDON Richmond Theatre

Tue 6 – Sat 10 Mar

Box Office: 0844 871 7651

 

BROMLEY Churchill Theatre

Tue 13 – Sat 17 Mar

Box Office: 020 3285 6000

 

PORTSMOUTH New Theatre Royal

Tue 20 – Sat 24 Mar

Box Office: 023 9264 9000

 

HULL New Theatre

Tue 26 – Sat 30 Jun

Box Office: 01482 300 306

 

DARLINGTON Hippodrome

Tue 3 – Sat 7 Jul

Box Office: 01325 405405

 

NORWICH Theatre Royal

Tue 10 - Sat 14 July

Box Office: 01603 630000

 

LEICESTER Curve Theatre

Tue 17 - Sat 21 July

Box Office: 0116 242 3595

 

See more at

http://somemothersdoaveem.com

Mar 7th

Son of a Preacher Man @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

  Son of a Preacher Man Tickets at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre,

Dusty Springfield was born Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien on 16th April 1939 in West Hampstead, but was brought up in High Wycombe until the early 50s.  Starting her career in 1958, Mary was a folk singer and joined a band called the Lana Sisters, leaving them in 1960 to form a pop-folk trio with her brother Tom called The Springfields.  They chose the name whilst rehearsing in a field and so ‘Dusty Springfield’ was created.

One of the few female singers who were iconic enough to be known just by their first names, Dusty enjoyed huge chart success throughout the 60s. With her rich mezzo-soprano voice, she garnered fans from around the globe and had hit after hit. The Look of Love was written by Burt Bacharach for the 1967 Bond parody Casino Royale and was nominated for an Oscar for best song.

After the huge international success of Mama Mia, there’s been a huge demand for shows based on the music of some of the best known singers.  Son of a Preacher Man is set in a former Soho club, where three broken-hearted people meet to try and find the ‘Preacher Man’ to help heal their hearts.  Trying to match lyrics with a storyline is not an easy task and this conceit is very clunky and at times ridiculous.

The actors try their best to believe in this ludicrous plotline and I really felt for them as it’s so hard to give credibility to this bunkum.  There were some very odd decisions taken which had the audience laughing for all the wrong reasons, e.g. someone popping in and out with a trombone, dancing with a chair as if in love with it and ending a song with everyone collapsing on the floor….?  We were all looking at one another in disbelief! 'Wishin' & Hoping' took on a new meaning.....

The second act was a fraction better than the first and there was a very good version of ‘A House is Not a Home’.  The songs of course are what people want to hear and if you can filter out the rest of the show I’m sure people will go home singing ‘I Only Want to Be With You’, ‘The Look of Love’, ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’ and ‘Son of a Preacher Man’. 

A new authorised biographical musical 'Dusty' is in production and starts touring in June.  Meanwhile, if you’re a big fan of the songs, Son of a Preacher Man tours the UK till 2nd July and continues at The Waterside until Saturday 10th March.  www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury

 

Reviewed by:

Yvonne Delahaye

6.3.18

@yvonnedelahaye

Mar 5th

Hedda Gabler at Milton Kenes Theatre

By Alison Smith

 

Hedda Gabler at Milton Keynes Theatre

 Hedda Gabler is a timeless, distressing portrayal of a self-centred, purposeless woman.  Although the play was written by Ibsen in late 19th century  such female ‘victims’ still exist in the 21st century -  women  whose lives are desolate – echoed perfectly  in Jan Versweyveld’s design of the Tesman’s empty, cold, grey apartment, the only colour the flowers scattered by the neurotic Hedda.

 The other female roles in the play  - the New Women in the 1890s– Mrs Elvsted and Juliana, Telsman’s aunt, have found  their roles in society – the former in writing, the latter in caring; but Hedda can find no justification to her life. She married to avoid being alone and to have a comfortable existence, but she finds herself isolated , with a husband  who is not living up to her societal expectations, and she is pregnant. None of this matches the vision she had of her life.

 The other men in Hedda’s life, Brack and Lovborg, were once her lovers; Lovborg still feels affection for Hedda; Brack, a brute, abuses her. Does Hedda bring this on herself? To some extent she does. She is cruel, manipulative and dishonest .Even  the fact that she is beautiful can in no way justify her treatment of others – her disdain towards her academic husband, her contempt towards Mrs Elvsted and her manipulation of Lovborg, leading to his death. But the men are also controlling – physically as well as mentally – they feel they can caress her at their whim, and, in the case of Brack, violently .

Lizzy Watts gives an excellent portrayal of Hedda; angular, cold, scantily dressed in a dressing gown and silk shift – perhaps too depressed to dress. Tesman  - why doesn’t Hedda take his name? – is acted by Abhin Galeya. He gives a very rounded performance and clearly delineates Tesman’s obsessive yet caring and humane nature, the antithesis of his wife’s character.

One modern touch was Joni Mitchell’s Blue,  music which only Hedda heard. The words ‘crown and anchor me, or let me sail away’ echo her feelings as do the words by Cohen in Hallelujahe words  crown and anchor me or let me  dressing gown and silk shift - , ‘the only thing I’ve learned from love is how to shoot somebody’. Hedda was not alone in her despair.

  

Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen in a new version by Patrick Marber is at Milton Keynes Theatre until  1111111111111111111111111111Saturday 3rd March  

www.atgtickets.com

0844 871 7652

Booking fee applies

 

Feb 28th

This is Elvis @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

By Yvonne Delahaye

This Is Elvis Tickets at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre,

The enduring appeal of Elvis ‘the Pelvis’ (over  40 years after his untimely death in 1977 at the age of 42) makes it hard to believe that in 1968 he was considered to have had his day.  It had been 7 years since his last concert in Hawaii and his popularity had been eclipsed by the Beatles and other British bands.  A string of average movies and songs left him in the shadows, but when a special TV show was broadcast in December 1968, his career was reignited. 

Elvis’s notorious manager, Colonel Tom Parker, negotiated a fee of $1.25 million with NBC for the TV show and subsequent album.  Producer/director Steve Binder taped Elvis in a small room singing old hits, gospel and classic rock and roll songs, musically supported by close friends in front of a very close audience.  Four one-hour sessions were recorded with Elvis dressed in black leather and spliced together to make the final TV show.

The TV show was such a huge hit that it became known as the ’68 Comeback Special, as it rejuvenated Elvis career.  Taking full advantage of his renewed popularity, Colonel Parker secured Elvis a four-week engagement at the International  Hotel  in Las Vegas and the rest, as they say, is history!

The first act of This is Elvis recreates all the dramas surrounding the filming of the iconic TV show, building a picture of his relationships with Priscilla and Colonel Parker, up to rehearsals before opening night at Vegas.  The second act gives us a full-blown concert as performed by Elvis at The International Hotel, Las Vegas, featuring a plethora of hits from That’s All Right Mama, Viva Las Vegas, Blue Suede Shoes, It’s Now or Never, The Wonder of You to Jailhouse Rock and many, many more.....

Canadian actor/singer Steve Michaels totally captures Elvis’s vocal dexterity, exciting stage presence and charisma.  His performance is so authentic you can almost believe you’re in the presence of The King himself!  With a superb ensemble cast of talented actor/musicians, the show takes us down memory lane and sparkles with the magic of an everlasting icon.  Elvis was definitely ‘in the building’ and if you’re a fan, this show should not be missed!

The show runs at The Waterside until Saturday 3rd March.  For tour dates and booking please visit http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/this-is-elvis/

Reviewed by:

Yvonne Delahaye

26.2.18

@yvonnedelahaye

Feb 27th

The Weir at The Richmond Theatre

By Douglas McFarlane

The Weir

 

The Weir is the name of a pub in Dublin which in turn was named after a nearby waterway. The characters in the pub congregrate at a slow pace. It's the countryside after all, where things move a little slowly.  The characters come to life one by one as they tell a variety of different stories each more stranger than the next. 

The stories continues throughout the 90 minute play, without an interval, and as they unfold they gently lull the audience to being part of their intimate environment. 

This is a play that has been performed around the world since 1997 and won an Olivier Award for best new play two years later. So it certainly had potential. However as it's a very quiet play, any audience movement or noise can be heard. Additionally, the female character, Valerie, was supposed to be from Dublin, but in this performance she was played as an English woman.

Having said that the two lead actors who took on most of the dialogue, delivered some great character interpretations and made this play worth seeing.  The audience on a cold wintry night were certainly warmed up after this evening's performance.

The Weir is on at the Richmond Theatre this week, before heading to the Arts Theatre in Cambridge.



Review by Douglas McFarlane

Feb 27th

The Play That Goes Wrong at The King’s Theatre, Glasgow

By Cameron Lowe

 

If there is a play in existence with a more apt title than “The Play That Goes Wrong”, I have yet to see it!  Mischief Theatre have crafted 100 minutes of mirth and mayhem that had me laughing until I hurt … and then I laughed some more!

This week, Glasgow’s King’s Theatre plays host to a play within a play as a fictional group of not-so-talented am-dramers  (the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society) present “The Murder At Haversham Manor” as the accurately titled “Play That Goes Wrong”.  And boy, does it go wrong!

Before curtain up we are treated to a performance of outstanding incompetence as the “stage crew” attempt to set the stage.  From the opening introduction by Director “Chris” (stiffly portrayed by Jake Curran) we are in no doubt that we are about to be “entertained” by a troupe bearing a remarkable heritage of disastrous am-dram flops. 

The curtain rises and we are entertained by shameless overacting from the players with outlandish and unconvincing characters and a broad disrespect of “the fourth wall”.  This is all delightfully OTT and delivered to wring maximum laughs from the outset.  But this would become tired quite quickly … if the writers did not have an endless supply of acting faux-pas and theatrical cock-ups waiting in the wings; each one more calamitous than the last!  Prop mix ups, prat falls, disintegrating sets, dropped lines, slapstick, badly timed entrances … every single one a disaster in its own right; enough to send any self-respecting amateur fleeing from the stage.  Yet, these are all presented in one show in all of their awkward, heart stopping, nightmare inducing glory.  And we laughed so hard!

Kazeem Tosin Amore (as Robert playing Thomas Collymoore) gives a great comic portrayal of the victim’s school chum with a particular highlight as he tries to break a dialog loop through purple faced rage and mouthfuls of ‘white spirit’.  Elena Valentine (as Sandra) gives a delightfully unconvincing performance as femme fatal Florence Collymoore and becomes the victim of some spectacular physical gaffs.  Bobby Hirston is the prat-fall king as Max (playing Cecil Haversham) and Benjamin McMahon is the youthful Dennis who is superbly miscast as the aging Perkins.  Catherine Dryden develops her character beautifully to hilarious effect as Annie (the somewhat reluctant crew member cum understudy).  Jake Curran was excellent (as Chris playing Inspector Carter), particularly as he broke down over the audience’s reaction to his response to a lost prop.  I’m laughing out loud as I type this … LEDGER!

Direction from Mark Bell expertly balanced the tight timing required for such a complex piece of physical theatre with just enough leeway for the actors to thoroughly enjoy the performance and give the audience a feeling that everything was fresh.  Nigel Hook’s set design was inspired; adding significantly to the laughs.  Despite all of the superlatives above, the script from Mischief Theatre’s own writing team of Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields was truly the star of this outstanding show.

A special mention has to be made of the production programme.  It really is worth every penny is very funny in its own right.

If you fancy a really good, wholehearted belly-laugh (and who doesn’t need a laugh these days) get your tickets to this hilarious show now.

Photos by Robert Day

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG

King’s Theatre, Glasgow

Mon 26 Feb - Sat 3 Mar 2018

Mon-Sat 7.30pm

Wed & Sat, 2.30pm

www.atgtickets.com/glasgow

0844 871 7648* calls cost up to 7 p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge

 OR ... catch the show at Edinburgh's Fesival Theatre from 12-17 March 2018

Feb 23rd

A Passage To India: The Park Theatre, Finsbury Park

By Elaine Pinkus

Based on the novel A Passage To India by EM Forster, adapted by Simon Domandy and performed by simple8.

It is pre World War 1, at a time of British imperialism and colonialism. Forster’s A Passage to India was an observant critic of the assumptions made by those who settled into this vast nation of many cultures. The unearned holding of power and the misdirected autocracy of the British, demeaning those whose land they usurped, is made clear through their bigoted and racist attitudes and behaviour, performed with conviction by simple8.  India was a country keen to have its own independence but also a  land of many cultures and castes where social diversity, intolerant of each other, prevented that very dream.

Having seen the David Lean film of the novel with its vivid scenery, beautiful costumes and vibrant colour, I was sceptical of it being produced as a play in so small a theatre space. How would it be effective? How could it be convincing? And yet it was! Simplistically set on a stage whose colour represented the dust and the sand, we were transported through the power of suggestion and imagination to the magnificence of the colourful sunsets, the Maribar hills, the bleak and dangerous Maribar caves, the torrential rainfall and the hanging mangoes. We travelled on elephants and horses, shook unsteadily in train carriages and shared the fearful sensations of the echoes that resonated even after we had left the claustrophobia of the caves. And yet there was no technology, no super-imposed film effects. This entire production, in its seeming simplicity, allowed us to suspend reality and uphold belief. But this was not simplistic. It was carefully directed by Sebastian Armesto and Simon Dormandy via the excellent collaborative physicality of the company whose numerous tableaux captured the essence of India.  

Forster’s novel was inspired by Whitman's poem of the same name which held that the physical journey to India is only a prelude to the spiritual pathway to God. A notion held by the goodly Mrs Moore (Liz Crowther) and the earnest Dr Aziz (Asif Khan). But this spirituality cannot be achieved in a country that lacks its own harmony in its diversity; a people who cannot hope to connect with the British colonisers who do not understand India's mystery. Just as the many castes and cultures of India fail to unite in their common desire for independence, so too do these disconnected peoples fail to harmonise. Those who have taken and assume the power see the Indians as a sub-class, inferior to their own and with whom they cannot socialise or integrate but rather use for their own ends.

Credibly portrayed are the contemptible and despicable Callenders (Matthew Douglas and Hannah Emanuel), McBryde (Christopher Doyle) and Turton (Nigel Hastings). Clearly they do not intend to live alongside the Indian people. Rather thay will govern them. Genial college master, Cyril Fielding (Richard Goulding) strives to bridge that gap but is in part naive and misguided and achieves only to disappoint Aziz (Asif Khan) who has tried desperately to close the divide but does not understand the nuances, hypocrisy and twisting turns of the British, despite the warnings of his more aware associates whose contempt of the oppressors is evident. Ultimately Aziz's eyes are opened: 'you cannot be friends with the English'. There too is Adela (Phoebe Pryce) who in her priggish and proper manner claims she truly wishes to befriend and know the Indians rather than be a tourist in India. Nowadays we might accuse her of self delusion.

A Passage To India - The Company. Photo by Idil Sukan_preview.jpeg

 The Company

At its start and throughout the production is the atmospheric music of Kuljit Bhamra, performed by Kuljit Bhamra and Phoebe Pryce and variations of lighting (Prema Mehta) which create the burning heat of Chandrapore and the claustrophobic darkness of the Maribar caves. And so the scene is set. We are in Forster’s (and Whitman’s) India. The mood is set and the mystery of India is evoked.

A Passage To India - Kuljit Bhamra and Meera Raja (live music). Photo by Idil Sukan_preview.jpeg

 Kuljit Bhamra and Meera Raja

Against this and at the core of the novel/play is the harsh echoing of the caves, performed by the company who beat wooden poles on the stage boards and whose voices slowly gather to a screaming crescendo. This is an echo that suggests madness, fear and terror, that reduces everything to nothing and yet is everything. Mrs Moore (Liz Crowther), in her search for God and reason is shaken beyond her wits; Adela hallucinates and imagines an experience that causes her to make false accusations against the only Indian individual with whom she has tried to make a friendship. And so begins the downward spiral that culminates in a severing of any hope of partnership of the two cultures and serves only to ignite the already smouldering resentment that hovers so close to the surface.

Some may find the performed echo to be annoying and bothersome. It is lengthy and loud. However, I believe that it achieved its purpose. It was maddening, almost deafening at times, but it enabled our imagination to transcend into the terrifying experiences of these two women.

A Passage To India - Liz Crowther (Mrs Moore). Photo by Idil Sukan_preview.jpeg

Liz Crowther (Mrs Moore)

This question at the heart of A Passage to India challenges us today just as it did a hundred years ago. With their new adaptation of Forster’s masterpiece and a diverse company of fourteen, simple8 finds in the past a mirror for our own divided times, carefully re-imagining this ground-breaking novel for contemporary Britain.

Simple8 is an award winning ensemble company who specialise in creating innovative and bold new plays - all performed on a shoe string. The sincerity of their performance in A Passage To India and their commitment to the portrayal made effective Dormandy's adapted piece. I thoroughly enjoyed it and left the theatre deep in thought.

A short postscript, the running time for this production is 2.5  hours including a 20 minute interval. The age guidance given is 7+. On a personal note, I do not think this production would suit young children and would recommend it to an adult audience.

(Whilst writing this review, I would like to add that my recent visits to the Park Theatre, Finsbury Park, have been highly rewarding and I would recommend this theatre for its exploration into different writings and productions.)

Photography: Idil Sukan

A PASSAGE TO INDIA

Venue: Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, N4 3JP

Dates: 20 Feb – 24 Mar 2018

Age guidance: Suitable for 7+

Performances: Tue – Sat Evenings 7.45pm, Thu & Sat Matinees 3.15pm

Parents & Babies: Wed 21 Mar, 1pm

Prices: Previews £18.50, Tue-Thu & Sat Matinees Standard £20.00 - £29.50, Concessions £18.50 - £22, Child £15, Young Patrons £10 (20 – 27 Feb)
Booking: www.parktheatre.co.uk / 020 7870 6876

*10% telephone booking fee, capped at £2.50 per ticket.

Feb 22nd

Beautiful - The Carole King Musical at Milton Keynes Theatre

By Louise Winter

Reviewed by Louise Winter 20th February 2018Tour poster Carole King

This musical takes us from King's teenage years, around 1958, to the release of the 'Tapestry' album and her subsequent performance at Carnegie Hall in 1971. It's a short period of her life under the lens here but goodness did she pack in a hell of a lot!

King really was a gifted young woman with an incredible talent for songwriting. She knew she had something to share and when she was sixteen recorded 'The Right Girl' to showcase her talents to prospective labels. Falling for Gerry Goffin and marrying him in 1959 meant these two brilliant writers formed a personal and professional partnerhship. Taken on by the impresario Donnie Kirshner at the Brill Building they became part of his songwriting business and together wrote for The Shirelles, (Will You Love Me Tomorrow), Bobby Vee, (Take Good Care of My Baby) Little Eva, (The Locomotion), The Drifters (Up on the Roof), and The Monkees (Pleasant Valley Sunday). Others who recorded Kings music are The Beatles, Aretha Franklin, James Taylor, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, and the list goes on. As a solo artist she has recorded 25 solo albums; Tapestry, the first, was at number one for 15 weeks in the US, sold over 25 million copies and remained in the charts for six years.

This show depicts what must have been a hugely exciting time professionally and doesn't shrink from the drama of her personal life with Goffin and his infedilities and mental health issues. King had two children with Goffin and despite divorcing him in the late sixties continued to work with him intermittently over the years. They were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990. Working in the Brill Building at the same time as King and Goffin were Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann. The friendship and 'competetive' drive of the two couples is a central theme to the storyline.

Carole King Weil and Mann

Image copyright Graig Sugden

Bronté Barbé as King has a cracking voice when she really lets go but is a little shrill and fast with her dialogue at times. Kane Oliver Parry as Goffin is a good match for Barbé and they work well on stage together. Amy Ellen Richardson as songwriter Cynthia Weil is wonderful and her relationship with Barry Mann (Matthew Consalves) is a source of much of the humour; they have the best lines among some very funny ones throughout. Weil and Mann had some major hits too with 'On Broadway', 'You've Lost That Loving Feeling', 'We've Gotta Get Out Of This Place', which all feature in the show

Carole King Craig Sugden

image copyright Craig Sugden 

Centre to this show is song after song after song, performed by a very energetic ensemble moving the story on dynamically. They have numerous parts and are chopping and changing characters  throughout. Strong of voice and exuding confidence, they bounce on and off the stage as The Drifters, The Shirelles, The Righteous Brothers. 

A really good evening out with a crowd pleasing playlist and a high energy cast who are committed making this a show well worth seeing.

Plays MK Theatre until Saturday 24th Feb and then continuing on tour

Tickets from 

http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/beautiful-the-carole-king-musical/milton-keynes-theatre/

Box office 0844 871 7653 Booking fee applies