Wednesday 12 April 2023

The Mousetrap (Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

The Mousetrap (Tour) 
New Victoria Theatre 

“The World’s longest running play”, The Mousetrap is a classic whodunit play that has been running for 70 years in London’s West End and is now embarking on a UK tour. Seeing this touring iteration, it's easy to see why it has stood the test of time and continues to charm audiences.

The play is well-written and tightly plotted, with plenty of twists and turns to keep the audience guessing until the very end; Agatha Christie proves again why she continues to be one of the most lauded and loved mystery writers. The characters are interesting, and the performances by the cast are generally strong. Todd Carty as Major Metcalf and Kieran Brown as Mr Paravicini give especially strong performances and really engage the audience.

One of the things that impressed me about The Mousetrap is how it manages to keep you engaged and guessing throughout the entire performance. The play does an excellent job of setting up the mystery and then slowly unraveling it, with each new revelation leading to more questions and intrigue. Not only this, but sprinkled amongst the mystery of it all, are some really humorous moments which go down very well and make the pacing really work.

The set design and staging of the play are simple yet effective, and the use of lighting and sound helped to create a suitably ominous atmosphere, without being gimmicky or over the top.

Overall, The Mousetrap is a fantastic play that is definitely worth seeing for two hours of escapism. Whether you're a fan of murder-mysteries or just enjoy a good story, this play will not disappoint. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a thrilling and entertaining night out at the theatre. Find out for yourself Whodunit at your local touring theatre!

Reviewed on Tuesday 11th April 2023 by Valerie Field

{AD PR Invite- tickets gifted in exchange for honest review}

Tuesday 4 April 2023

Vikki Stone on her Olivier Award Win | Hey Duggee Live | Interview

Vikki Stone is a British composer, comedian, actress and musician who has had huge success in tv, radio and theatre. She recently won an Oliver Award for her adaptation of the popular children's TV show, Hey Duggee. Vicki sat down to talk to us about her process when taking something from screen to stage, and how important it is for young people to experience theatre...

Firstly, congratulations on being an Olivier Winner 2023! Where were you when you found out you were nominated?
I was at the gym. (I didn’t share my excitement with anyone around me, as I’m not sure they’d have fully understood what I was excited about.)

You won for Hey Duggee which is a show that entices young audiences/families to the theatre, perhaps for the first time. What was the process like for creating a show, made to entertain and engage children?
Hey Duggee is a well loved kids TV programme, and there are 300+ episodes, so the very first thing myself and co-adaptor Matthew Xia did was sit down in a room with a massive whiteboard and write down all the things that audiences would expect to be in the show. We also wanted to surprise audiences, and deliver an experience that lifts the 2D cartoon into a 3D theatre world. We were also aware that this show would be many people’s first time in the theatre, so we wanted to make it magical and memorable too. We kept that list of audience expectations in our minds throughout the whole process and I think it paid off.

Why do you think it’s so important to involve people of all ages in theatre?
Family co-viewing, which is where Hey Duggee Live sits, is such an important genre of theatre. Those shows where 3 year olds can sit* down with parents, and grandparents and everyone has a good time.

*In Hey Duggee Live there’s no pressure that the under fives have to sit. There’s probably more bouncing around with joy, than sitting.

Within theatre you’ve had a pretty diverse career, what draws you to a project?
When I first started writing theatre it was whoever would pay me! There’s an advantage in the arts for those that can write without the pressure of needing to earn a living, and they can afford to be more choosy, I was not one of those people. I don’t think we talk about that enough in the arts. I wrote anything and everything. These days I do have passion projects that I’m working on that don’t have any finance attached, and you have to believe in those much more, and hope that at some point in the process someone will come along and help get it off the ground.

If you could create your next dream job, what would it include?
I’ve got something “in development” that is pretty much my dream job. I’d really like to work on an on-screen musical theatre show next! Watch this space.

What advice would you give to other female writers who want to break into the industry and forge out a path like yourself?
My advice would be to keep pushing and pivot if necessary. My whole career has been formed out of pivoting, and all the skills I gathered along the way - classical music, stand-up, composing - all form part of who I am as a writer now.

Thank you so much, congratulations on the award!

Sunday 2 April 2023

For Black Boys..., Apollo Theatre | Review

For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Hue Gets Too Heavy
Apollo Theatre

For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Hue Gets Too Heavy is powerful and thought-provoking production which offers a unique perspective on the challenges faced by young black men in today's society. The exceptionally strong play tackles heavy topics such as mental health, racism, and police profiling, all with a skilful blend of humour and heart that keeps the audience engaged from start to finish. For Black Boys... is a must see in its limited run.

The performances from the cast, made up of Mark Akintimehin, Emmanuel Akwafo, Nnabiko Ejimofor, Darragh Hand Aruna Jalloh and Kaine Lawrence are universally strong, with each actor bringing a unique and enticing angle to their role. Ryan Calais Cameron's writing is equally impressive, with sharp dialogue and powerful monologues that strike you whilst watching and also stay with you long after the play has ended. What's so effective is how the show flawlessly integrates spoken word, music, and dance to create an immersive and multifaceted experience. The whole thing is utterly seamless and flows with such a strong balance of urgency and intimacy.

The set design (Anna Reid) and lighting (Rory Beaton) add to the immersive experience, transporting the audience to the therapy room, without feeling basic; and the use of multimedia elements and striking choreography (Theophilus O. Bailey) add extra layers of depth to the production. As a whole it feels incredibly modern, relevant and powerful; a stunning representation of why new British Theatre is so necessary.

The show tackles important and sometimes taboo topics surrounding mental health, masculinity, and the experiences of young Black men and it's often incredibly moving; but what works so well is how these important social issues are balanced with humour and light. The authenticity which runs through the piece makes it feel so personal, and the audience really go through the journey with the performers.

For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Hue Gets Too Heavy is a deeply moving and important work of art that, is a must-see for those interested in social justice, mental health, and ultimately, the power of storytelling. When the ensemble come together, they create some of the most powerful theatre seen in the West End in a long time.

Reviewed on Saturday 1st April 2023 by Olivia Mitchell
photo credit: Ali Wright

{AD PR Invite- tickets gifted in exchange for honest review}

Friday 31 March 2023

Cast Announced for 42nd Street Tour

David Ian for Crossroads Live and Jonathan Church Theatre Productions are thrilled to announce that Samantha Womack will star as Dorothy Brock, alongside Michael Praed as Julian Marsh, Faye Tozer as Maggie Jones, Les Dennis as Bert Barry and Nicole-Lily Baisden as Peggy Sawyer in the UK tour of 42nd Street.

The cast will be completed by Sam Lips as Billy Lawlor, with Erica-Jayne Alden, George Beet, Charlie Bishop, Kevin Brewis, Olly Christopher, Briana Craig, Jordan Crouch, Rhianna Dorris, Ashleigh Graham, Alyn Hawke, Aimee Hodnett, Connor Hughes, Deja Linton, Sarah-Marie Maxwell, Greta McKinnon, Ben Middleton, Benjamin Mundy, Anthony Ofoegbu and Jessica Wright.

Following its run at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, the production will visit Leeds, Bristol, Plymouth, Cardiff, Glasgow, Milton Keynes, Liverpool, Manchester, Southampton, Newcastle, Woking and Belfast. Current tour schedule below, with further dates to be announced.

Samantha Womack most recently starred as the White Witch in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at the Gillian Lynne Theatre. Her other credits include the role of Rachel in The Girl on the Train both in the West End and on tour, Morticia Addams in The Addams Family UK tour, Nellie Forbush in the Lincoln Center’s production of South Pacific at the Barbican and on tour, and Miss Adelaide in Michael Grandage’s production of Guys and Dolls alongside Patrick Swayze. Her screen credits include Ronni Mitchell in EastEnders, Mandy in Game On, the titular role in Imogen’s Face and The Kingsman franchise.

Michael Praed’s theatre credits include Tom Beauregard in Darker Shores at Theatre Royal Windsor and on tour, George in War of the Worlds at the Dominion Theatre, Alex in Aspects of Love at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Lawrence Jameson in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Dexter Haven in High Society and Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music all on UK tours. His television credits include the role of Frank Clayton in Emmerdale, Prince Michael in Dynasty and the titular role in Robin of Sherwood.

Faye Tozer is best known as a member of BRIT Award winning pop band Steps. Her theatrical credits include Singin’ In The Rain at Sadler’s Wells and on tour in the UK and Canada, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at the Apollo Theatre, and touring productions of In The Spotlight, Over The Rainbow, Me And My Girl, Love Shack and Tell Me On A Sunday. Faye was also a runner-up in BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing in 2018.

Les Dennis most recently starred as Grandad Trotter in Only Fools and Horses The Musical. His other West End credits include Wilbur in Hairspray opposite Michael Ball at the London Coliseum, Amos Hart in Chicago and Bill in Me and My Girl. His touring theatre credits include Art, Legally Blonde, High School Musical 2 and Uncle Fester in the musical comedy The Addams Family. His many TV credits include Michael Rodwell in Coronation Street and a fictional version of himself in Extras.

Nicole-Lily Baisden’s theatre credits include the role of Nabulungi in The Book of Mormon, both in the West End and on tour, and Hope Harcourt in Anything Goes at the Barbican Theatre and on tour.

Sam Lips’ theatre credits include the role of Don Lockwood in Singin’ In The Rain and Scott Hastings in Strictly Ballroom, both in the UK and Canada. His Broadway credits Cats, Chicago, Pippin, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella and The Cher Show.

This new production will be directed by Jonathan Church (Singin’ in the Rain, The Drifters Girl) with choreography and design by Olivier Award winners Bill Deamer and Rob Jones, lighting design by Ben Cracknell, sound design by Ian Dickinson and Gareth Tucker, video design by Jon Driscoll, musical supervision by Jennifer Whyte and orchestrations by Larry Blank.

This iconic song-and-dance spectacular features a hit parade of toe-tapping songs, including the title number, “We’re In The Money”, “Lullaby of Broadway”, “Shuffle Off To Buffalo” and “I Only Have Eyes For You”. 42nd Street is a timeless and inspiring showbiz fairy tale that combines breath-taking tap dance routines, backstage intrigue, classic romance and delightful comedy to dazzling effect.

Fresh off the bus from small-town America, young and beautiful Peggy Sawyer arrives in New York City dreaming of her name in lights. She quickly catches the eye of a big-time director and lands a spot in the chorus line of Broadway’s newest show…and when the leading lady gets injured, Peggy gets her shot at stardom.

42nd Street is a larger-than-life, massively entertaining celebration of musicals and the irrepressible spirit of Broadway that’s guaranteed to lift anyone’s spirits.

42nd Street has music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Al Dubin, and book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, based on the novel by Bradford Ropes. Original direction and dances were by Gower Champion. The show was originally produced on Broadway by David Merrick.

The use of all songs is by arrangement with Warner Bros. and EMI Publishing Ltd.