Posts with the label regional theatre
Showing posts with label regional theatre. Show all posts
Showing posts with label regional theatre. Show all posts

Wednesday 22 July 2020

The Barn Theatre announce outdoor festival: BarnFest

The Barn Theatre in Cirencester has announced the launch of their first Summer outdoor theatre festival, BarnFest – Outdoor Theatre Festival, which will run from 25 July until 5 September.

The outdoor festival, which will be held within the grounds of Ingleside House adjacent to the theatre, will bring the award-winning theatre outdoors with entertaining productions catered towards the whole family ranging from children’s entertainment to re-imagined Shakespeare.

Giffords Circus star Tweedy the Clown will launch the inaugural BarnFest season with his new family entertainment extravaganza Tweedy: Al Fresco!

The season will be followed by Natasha Barnes and Vikki Stone in their musical mashup Funny Gals: A History of Women Being Hilarious In Musicals. The show explores the comedy music written for women in musical theatre.

Outdoor theatre company Illyria Theatre will be bringing three of their acclaimed productions to the festival: The Wind in the WillowsThe Emperor’s New Clothes and The Adventures of Doctor Dolittle.

Rosie Day, will star in her play Instructions For A Teenage Armageddon. The production, directed by Georgie Staight and featuring the voice of Maxine Peake as Sensible Scout Leader Susan, previously had a successful run at The Old Red Lion Theatre in London. Instructions For A Teenage Armageddon is co-produced by Studio POW and the Barn Theatre.

New theatre company SCOOT Theatre will bring their re-imagined production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a 60-minute retelling set within the world of cricket, to the festival. The production, directed by Joseph O’Malley, features a cast including past Barn Theatre actors Aaron Sidwell and Max Hutchinson.

The season will also feature two brand new co-productions from the Barn Theatre. The first will be a new production of Simon Reade’s play adaptation of Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo, directed by Alexander Knott, will run at BarnFest from 17th to 22nd August. The show is co-produced by Take Two TheatricalsBoxLess Theatre and the Barn Theatre.

A new production of the Kander & Ebb musical revue The World Goes ‘Round will complete the run as part of BarnFest. The production will be directed by Kirk Jameson with musical direction by Nick Barstow.

Iwan Lewis, Artistic Director said: “We’re back! I am absolutely delighted to announce that the Barn Theatre, under unprecedented circumstances, is launching its very first outdoor theatre festival, BarnFest. Since the government statement allowing outdoor theatre to take place just over a week ago, the team have worked tirelessly to bring together a month-long programme of events featuring everything from children’s entertainment to Shakespeare. So, there’s something for all the family. I’d like to assure everyone thinking of attending that your safety has been paramount in planning this event. All precautions have been taken to ensure you enjoy a safe and friendly festival environment and we cannot wait to have our audiences back at the Barn.”

The theatre will be adhering stringently to all government guidelines during the festival and have released further details and information regarding the venue and procedures to keep audiences, staff and performers safe on their website here:

The Barn Theatre announce outdoor festival: BarnFest

Wednesday 22 July 2020

Friday 24 November 2017

Son of a Preacher Man (UK Tour), Grand Opera House, Belfast | Review

Son of a Preacher Man (UK Tour)
Grand Opera House, Belfast
Reviewed on Tuesday 21st November 2017 by Damien Murray

With its combination of an all-star line-up of principals and the timeless music made famous by the late Dusty Springfield, this show looked and sounded promising as a good night out at the theatre and expectations were high.

However, incorrectly referred to by many as ‘the Dusty Springfield musical’ (totally not the fault of the producers), this show is neither the Dusty Springfield story nor a bio-musical about her, but rather a style of juke-box musical that features her many hits held together by an unnatural and most ridiculous of storylines.

The complex and convoluted plot revolves around a cross-generational trio of individuals with relationship issues, who, by coincidence, arrive at the same time at a Soho coffee shop (formerly The Preacher Man record shop) in search of an answer to their respective lonely heart problems.

The legendary record-shop owner, the long-dead Preacher Man, had been a sort of agony uncle with an ear and a solution for those with relationship problems back in the 60s and the coffee shop is now under the control of his less-confident son, Simon, played with great experience by Ian Reddington.

Representing the older generation, Michael Howe played Paul, the first of the three troubled individuals, with assurance, while Debra Stephenson’s middle-aged widowed teacher, Alison, was good, but the awkward script didn’t allow her the same opportunity to develop her character to the same extent as the others.

However, the undoubted star of this show was young Diana Vickers, as Kat from the mobile phone generation, who brought a nice balance of humour and great vocals to the show.

Indeed, due to her young age, Vickers was probably the least familiar with the music of Dusty, which makes it even more surprising that she was the one who did the greatest justice to her songs in this show.

The set’s authentic and realistic-looking Soho coffee shop, complete with scene identifying neon signs, was impressive and was, generally, well-used by the talented cast of multi-instrumentalists in the form of on-stage actor musicians, aided by other hidden musicians.

Musically, this was good, but the combination of dodgy vocals from some performers and a few new song arrangements may have disappointed die-hard Springfield fans. 

However, it was the efforts of the majority of the cast and those great songs that saved this show, especially the already mentioned vocals of Vickers and the stand-out harmonies of the three Cappuccino Sisters, played by Michelle Long, Kate Hardisty and Cassiopeia Berkeley-Agyepong.

However, despite its attractive lighting plot, good cast of principals and creative team, this production was sadly let down by its overall slow pace, its weak narrative and Craig Revel Horwood’s unsubtle choreography.

I am led to believe that on-going changes are being made to improve on its weak points … we can only hope that such improvements are in place long before the end of the scheduled tour.

Son of a Preacher Man (UK Tour), Grand Opera House, Belfast | Review

Friday 24 November 2017

Wednesday 8 November 2017

Cilla (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Cilla (UK Tour)
New Wimbledon Theatre 
Reviewed on Tuesday 7th November 2017 by Olivia Mitchell 

I have to admit, unlike many, I didn't grow up with Cilla Black. I knew a few of her hit songs but until an hour before seeing the show, had never seen an episode of Blind Dates so despite having heard good things, I was a little dubious as to whether this would be the show for me. I'm pleased to report that my doubts were uncalled for, as the show is spectacular. 

This new production chronicles the Merseyside National Treasure's rise to fame accompanied by the hits of not only Cilla herself, but the other bands of the time. This is a unique take on the jukebox formula which instantly won over the audience of older people reliving the hits they grew up with and the younger generations alike. 

Whilst many jukebox musicals are an excuse to perform hit songs with little storytelling, Cilla has Jeff Pope's stellar book to accompany it. This allows us to become invested in the show and performances rather than just waiting for the next song. With moments of drama, light and shade, there's really something for everyone and the show provides a well rounded theatrical experience with a depth not often seen in jukebox musicals. 

As the lead, Kara Lily Hayworth becomes the Liverpool lady and heart of the show in a faultless performance from start to finish. Expertly embodying Cilla's iconic speaking voice as well as her vocally tough songs, Kara becomes Cilla and has the audience wrapped around her finger from start to finish. Her performance of the demanding role is certainly a memorable one and I can't commend her more highly for her stunning portrayal.

The Beatles and their manager Brian Epstein (Andrew Lancel) feature majorly in the show and give wonderful and iconic performances. The costumes, voices and mannerisms of each person are done to a T and you almost forget you're watching a tribute to these artists and not them live in the flesh!

As Cilla's devoted companion, Carl Au gives a charming performance throughout. His vocal performances are worth the wait when in act two he sings a delightful rendition of 'A Taste of Honey' overall he is endearing and a joy to watch.

The supporting cast are wonderful, especially Cilla's parents who deliver some hilarious one-liners throughout. Mention must also be made of the set design by Gary McCann which is striking and seamless in moving us from the Merseyside Club to Abbey Road to the London Palladium just to name a few. 

Cilla Black was a woman of the people's hearts and a National Treasure who will always be remembered for her stunning voice, wit and charm. This musical does the perfect job of remembering her  and chronicling her life in a glitzy and exciting but truthful way. Whether you're a massive Cilla fan or not, this show will certainly provide fantastic viewing!

Cilla runs at the New Wimbledon Theatre until November 11th before continuing its tour.

Cilla (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Wednesday 8 November 2017

Thursday 19 October 2017

All Or Nothing (UK Tour), Waterfront Hall | Review

All Or Nothing – The Mod Musical (Tour)
Waterfront Hall, Belfast
Reviewed on Wednesday October 18th by Damien Murray

Having missed its planned opening night due to cast travel problems caused by Storm Ophelia, the touring production of All Or Nothing – The Mod Musical blew into town for its Belfast debut a night later than expected.

Combining the story of a popular music-linked culture with the more personal, tragic and human story of one of its main bands, The Small Faces, who not only spear-headed the movement but also encapsulated its dress style, attitude and music, All Or Nothing is a jukebox musical … with a twist.

For, in the role of the ‘older’ Steve Marriott, Chris Simmons narrates what is essentially Marriott’s own story from beyond the grave as he guides us chronologically through the group’s history in flashback to give us a raw account of what being the front-man of this important British pop group was really like… warts and all.

Apart from Simmons’ believable performance as the ever-present ‘older’ Marriott and the show’s nostalgic and hit-filled score, the key to the success of this show is that it was written by Carol Harrison, who – as a friend of lead singer, Steve Marriott – had real insider knowledge of the man, the Small Faces as a group, their musical and business frustrations and of the Mod movement during its early days.

Named after the group’s biggest hit and only chart-topper (which knocked The Beatles off the chart’s top spot), All Or Nothing is a biographical piece of 60s nostalgia about a generation of free spirits.

Although the set was relatively basic, it was functional and the production not only boasted that most coveted of Mod essentials, a Vespa scooter, but also authentic costumes, hairstyles and dances, with some great choreography, incorporating the trademark 60s moves of the dancers in various television pop shows of the era.

However, this musical is not so much about the Mod movement as it is the disturbing story of a young pop group, covering its many non-glamorous moments from being mismanaged and vigorously exploited by the ‘Al Capone of pop’ – Don ‘I’ll exploit you for all your worth’ Arden – to the slow demise of the group and from Marriott being a trouble maker at school through to his tragic and untimely death.

We learn: how the group got its name; why they were the only group to be banned from performing on Top Of The Pops; why there was a change of style from Mod to Hippie; of Marriott’s relationship with P.P. Arnold; how his ego got too big; and how he got Rod Stewart’s girlfriend … while Stewart got his band.

Playing live and loud, the actor musicians playing the members of The Small Faces – Samuel Pope (young Marriott), Stanton Wright (Ronnie Laine), Alexander Gold (Ian McLagan) and Stefen Edwards (Kenny Jones) – were all exceptionally good, not only at recreating the group’s many hits, but for perfectly capturing the personality, physical appearance and even the individual playing/performance styles of their respective characters.

The show is peppered throughout with humour and references to and appearances by other celebrities from the era like Andrew Oldham, Robert Stigwood, Rod Stewart, David Jacobs, Cathy McGowan, Stanley Unwin and Tony Blackburn (and even including performances from such characters as Sonny and Cher, Dusty Springfield and P.P. Arnold), as the group appears on such iconic television pop shows as Thank Your Lucky Stars, Juke Box Jury, Ready Steady Go and Top Of The Pops.

Ahead of its transfer to the West End for a limited run, it is easy to see why this touring production has been building up quite a cult following. However, offering, perhaps, too much detail (particularly in early scenes), this show could benefit from some cuts and, with such basic sets and sound balance issues between the pre-recorded extracts and the live music, a higher degree of production values could easily make this cult piece the mainstream hit it deserves to be as a biographical/jukebox musical.

This raw, true and sad story has a moving and emotional ending with a heart-breaking solo acoustic extract from All Or Nothing by Chris Simmons before the mood changes in an up-beat hit-filled finale.

All Or Nothing runs at Waterfront Hall until October 19th

Photo credit: Phil Weedon

All Or Nothing (UK Tour), Waterfront Hall | Review

Thursday 19 October 2017

Wednesday 4 October 2017

Flashdance (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Flashdance (UK Tour)
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 3rd October 2017 by Olivia Mitchell 

Based on the 1983 film (which I've never seen), Flashdance is the story of Alex Owens, a welder who dreams of being a dancer but has had no formal training. She plucks up the courage to apply to the prestigious Shipley Dance Academy and also meets a new love interest on the way who just so happens to be the boss' son. 

There are a number of side plots, like the mechanics facing jobs losses, Gloria being drawn into a seedy drug filled world and her boyfriend Jimmy attempting to make it as a comedian in New York but these feel a little unnecessary. They're obviously added in to pad out the show but I felt it would have flowed better without them as they're not explored enough to add much. 

But lets be honest, people don't go to Flashdance for the plot. They're there for the big money numbers and nostalgia for the classics they remember, something which the show certainly provides. The instantly recognisable 'Maniac', 'What a Feeling' and 'Gloria' have the audience excited and invested whilst most of the other songs are not particularly memorable. That's not to say that the vocal performances aren't brilliant though. Ben Adams gives a strong performance as the misguided, rich boy, Nick Hurley. His popstar vocals are not those typically heard in musical theatre but they work well in the show and his his rendition of 'Enough' was especially good.

Joanne Clifton is outstanding as Alex. Obviously she's known for her dance skills but seeing them life and with so much energy is spectacular to see on stage. Vocally she is also strong and her acting stood up well within the cast and she is a very solid lead. I was particularly impressed by Hollie-Ann Lowe who showed a number of sides to Gloria as well as some lovely vocal moments. A special mention must go to Colin Kiyani (Jimmy) who's voice is beautiful and I got major Ben Platt vibes during 'Where We Belong'.

Matt Cole's choreography is definitely the highlight of the production; tight and sleek throughout it provides some wow moments of impact. One thing I didn't like was the use of click tracks during some of the ensemble dance numbers such as 'I Love Rock and Roll'. I completely understand how demanding it is to do the energetic choreography at the same time as singing but it just felt a little obvious to me and could have been covered up more. However, the performances were still great.

This is definitely a feel good musical, whilst it does look at some darker themes, they are definitely not what you focus on. It's more of a drama with music but the energetic and sharp performances are enough to draw you in and will certainly leave you tapping your feet!

Flashdance runs at the New Wimbledon Theatre until October 7th

Flashdance (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Wednesday 4 October 2017

Wednesday 27 September 2017

The Addams Family (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

New Victoria Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 26th September 2017 by Valerie Field

The spooky, kooky classic, The Addams Family has made its way to the New Victoria theatre, Woking in its spectacular UK tour.

The Addams Family first become known to the public in the 1960’s as a TV show, they then made their way to the big screen in 1991 and on finally to Broadway in 2010. This production is the first ever professional one in the UK and has received brilliant reviews since it opened.

The story is about the very weird and spooky family whose daughter, Wednesday falls in love with a ‘normal’ boy. This causes many problems and some hilarious situations and she tries to tell her overprotective family and discovers that no one is really as normal as they seem. 

The energy was up right from the get go of the show. During the iconic opening theme tune music, the entire audience joined in with the signature clicks which was very funny and set the night off on a fantastic foot.

Carrie Hope Fletcher as Wednesday Addams and Cameron Blakely as Gomez were the stand out performances for me, with fantastic acting and singing from both. Cameron was suitably wacky and humourous whilst Carrie was suitably moody and full of love.

Samantha Womack looked great, but I felt that she didn't have the presence you would have expected from her character of Morticia. Whilst she looks the role and embodies the character well, she was a little underwhelming at times and could have played the character up a little more.

Les Dennis was unable to perform as Fester but his understudy, Scott Paige did very well as the man who’s in love with the moon. Dickon Gough' was the biggest surprise as Lurch. When he burst into song at the end, the whole audience were shocked at his fantastic voice.

All the scenery, stage sets and special effects were brilliant and all in all it was a very entertaining and enjoyable show. I would have liked it to be a little more spooky but its definitely worth a visit before the tour ends.

The Addams Family is at the New Victoria Theatre until September 30th before continuing its tour.

The Addams Family (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

Wednesday 27 September 2017

Friday 22 September 2017

Legally Blonde (UK Tour), Churchill Theatre | Review

Legally Blonde (UK Tour)
Churchill Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday September 21st 2017 by Olivia Mitchell

Pink, energetic and a whole load of fun, the current tour of Legally Blonde is a joyous way to spend a carefree few hours at the theatre. It tells the story of Elle Woods, a sorority girl who hatches a plan to get into Harvard Law School to win back her ex-boyfriend Warner who would rather marry someone “serious”. Once there Elle realises she’s more than just the dumb blonde she’s been brought up to be and, joined by her Greek chorus and adorable dog Bruiser, she turns the world of law upside down.

Lucie Jones is a complete triumph as Elle. Having seen her in Les Mis, a solo concert and Rent, I was looking forward to seeing how she'd take on the role of Elle and she just does it wonderfully. Her comedic timing is completely perfect, bringing laughs in left, right and centre with her various one liners, squeals and movements. Lucie’s voice is as clear as a bell, her beautiful tone rings out on every word and she is just outstanding from start to end. 

Alongside Lucie is David Barrett as the hard-working, slightly dowdy, Emmett. They have a wonderful chemistry and bounce off each other to create a believable blooming relationship. David has a lovely voice and he perfectly balances his calm and collected self with Elle's hyperactivity. Liam Doyle and Laura Harrison take on the roles of Warner and Vivienne well, both with lovely voices and good characterisation to show their development throughout. The audience were drawn Rita Simons as Paulette as she poured her heart out at her first meeting with Elle; she radiated warmth and nailed the comedic role although her singing could've been slightly more powerful at times.

The ensemble are great and full of energy, especially during Whipped into Shape and There! Right There! both of which were stand outs of the show with the UV skipping ropes in Whipped being particularly effective. I do feel that the Greek chorus could have been developed a little more with extra emphasis on the personality of each member, but their vocals were spot on  and I loved their costumes, especially their Heathers-esque court room attire.

The choreography worked well with the piece and was energetic and fun enough to keep the momentum up throughout. The movement in There! Right There! was especially enjoyable to watch and the build throughout the piece was fab. The cheer section in What You Want could definitely be developed more to actually include cheer moves and give it more power but it was by no means unenjoyable.

I have a few reservations with the costumes purely from a picky point of view, such as Vivienne's heels being too high to fit with the frumpy look she is supposed to have and Elle's final court room suit just not having enough oomph and again being a little old-fashioned. Some of the costumes could have been updated to make them look less dated but I did enjoy the various changes and the various shades of pink!

The megamix at the end was over the top and quite unnecessary as, in my opinion it somewhat cheapens the production but it did work well to get everyone clapping along and smiling their way out of the auditorium and I certainly left feeling  warm and joyful...
though I would've anyway without the mix!!

Overall this is a really enjoyable production. It's the perfect mix of lightheartedness and a little drama, it doesn't claim to be anything it's not and it's the ideal show for a girls night out. Charming and funny it reminds us that being yourself is the most important thing and will definitely leave you wanting to channel your inner Elle... I'm finding pink, sparkly clothes this minute!

Legally Blonde (UK Tour), Churchill Theatre | Review

Friday 22 September 2017

Thursday 21 September 2017

The Addams Family (UK Tour), Bristol Hippodrome | Review

Bristol Hippodrome
Reviewed on Tuesday 19th September 2017 by Isobelle Desbrow

Full disclosure this show is a must see for all, with a mixture of pure wit, funny lines and the occasional sexual innuendo underpinned by a fabulous musical score, everything hit the right notes, especially the actors.

The scene changes were smooth, and visually or musically pleasing, never a dull moment. The acting was exquisite, Cameron Blakely as Gomez was the perfect mix of enthusiasm and misguided sentimentality. Morticia played by the stunning Samantha Womack was perfectly caste, an incredible voice matched with brilliant characterisation. Carrie Hope Fletcher played a very powerful Wednesday Addams, with pitch perfect harmonies, she was a thrill to watch. The relationship she portrayed with Lukas Beineke played by Oliver Ormson was magical. ‘Crazier than You’ was spectacular with perfect vocals and staging. 

Without giving away too much Lurch certainly didn’t leave much to imagination with well timed movements and grunts, Dickon Gough is definitely a wonderful addition to the cast, especially towards the end!

A special mention must go to Scott Paige who stepped into rather large shoes to play Uncle Fester as Les Dennis was out for the evening. Scott was one of my highlights for the evening as he had wonderful vocals and characterisation, he brought so much to the character and I would love to see him one day stepping out into more of a leading role.

The music was well played and perfectly underpinned the drama of the  musical. The costumes perfectly brought to life the outrageous, kooky Addams family world, especially with the exceptionally detailed ancestors. Each of whom were played fantastically by the ensemble and it was clear how much character development had been done in the rehearsal room. They also added a whole other dimension to full cast pieces such as ‘When You’re an Addams’ and ‘Full Disclosure’.

Overall this show is witty, modern and leaves nothing to the imagination. With updated jokes, amazing vocals and spooktacular acting it is a must see for all! 

The Addams Family (UK Tour), Bristol Hippodrome | Review

Thursday 21 September 2017

Cilla (UK Tour), Edinburgh Playhouse | Review

Cilla: The Musical (UK Tour)
Edinburgh Playhouse
Reviewed on Tuesday 19th September 2017 by Liv Ancell

I have to start with a confession: I’m a typical millennial who’s only exposure to the life’s work of Cilla Black prior to watching this show was watching her as the feisty host of Blind Dates when I was a kid. The extent of my research before turning up to the theatre was a quick Spotify search, followed by a couple of obligatory listens. 

However, the excitement and glamour of this show not only won over the audience - the majority of which were in their 50s and 60s, turning up in force to pay tribute of to a much-loved entertainer of their days - but it succeeded in winning over my millennial heart, too.

One feature of the production which thoroughly deserves a mention is the set design, the brainchild of Gary McCann and lighting designer Nick Richings.  The show’s concentric arches lent so much depth to the Playhouse stage, while the clever use of lighting gave the audience many unexpected delights. 

From a brick-walled Merseyside club, to the red-curtained London Palladium, to a psychedelic TV set in far-flung New York: the light effects and set changes transported the audience along with Cilla on her categorical rise to fame. The changes were seamless, genius, and utterly magical, transforming the stage from a wood-panelled 60s recording studio to a street of terraced houses in the blink of an eye.

Onto the show’s protagonist. Our Liverpool legend was embodied perfectly by Kara Lily Hayworth, who not only took the whirlwind of costume changes (seriously, I lost count) in her expert stride, but a challenging repertoire of Cilla Black songs and covers (I lost count of how many songs she belted out) too. 

The audience was enraptured from start to finish by her breath-taking exhibition of ballads which ranged from rock to pop and showed no signs of flagging throughout. Mastering a 60s Scouse accent and even retaining it while singing is no easy feat, and Hayworth stunned with her performance in what must be a seriously challenging and demanding role.

Despite my no-show to the swingin’ decades of the 60s, even I was pleased to be able to recognise some of the show’s characters. The Beatles and Brian Epstein, their legendary manager, feature heavily throughout the story as contemporaries of Cilla. The show’s Beatles were so brilliantly cast that at one point my companion whispered, “That guy looks so much like Paul McCartney that it’s actually freaking me out”.

Carl Au gave an endearing performance as Bobby Willis; charming the audience from beginning to end as Cilla’s loyal companion. His solo performances are well worth the wait; in Act 2 Bobby realises his own singing ambitions and performs a lovely rendition of “A Taste of Honey”. Meanwhile, Cilla’s parents bring a comedy aspect to the show with their hilarious repeated one-liners which had the audience in stitches every time.

Her death a couple of years ago brought sadness to many hearts across this nation, and this show looks to celebrate her incredible talent. Cilla will stun and surprise you from start to finish, with its catchy tunes and rise-to-fame story. With its chintzy and glamorous sets, excellent supporting cast and jaw-dropping lead, this show will leave you awe-struck - and it certainly won’t disappoint you, whether you’re a Cilla fan or just an unwitting millennial like myself. 

Cilla runs at the Edinburgh Playhouse until September 23rd before continuing its tour.

Cilla (UK Tour), Edinburgh Playhouse | Review