Friday, 16 March 2018

Crazy For You - An interview with Charlotte Wakefield

This week, Phonebox spoke to Charlotte Wakefield, who is currently starring as Polly Baker in the UK Tour of Crazy for You.

As Charlotte says, George and Ira Gershwin’s iconic music is ‘a classic story of love and mistaken identity… it has classic numbers such as I Got Rhythm, it’s got slapstick comedy – it has everything you could want in a show!’ 

Charlotte has appeared in a dazzling array of musicals ranging from Spring Awakening to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and in Crazy for You, she’s once again stepping into new territory. ‘It’s in a different vein,’ she explains to us, ‘I’m using my tap skills, which I’ve never used professionally before, it’s just an entirely different genre.’ Something else that makes Crazy for You stand out is that it’s what Charlotte describes as ‘an actor-musician show’, meaning that ‘all of the instruments are played by the ensemble, so there’s no orchestra’.

When asked, Charlotte lists her favourite musicals, which include ‘Mary Poppins, Me and My Girl, Fiddler on the Roof and the Sound of Music, which I’ve been in at the Regents Park Open Air Theatre’, as well as numerous others. ‘I’m a huge musical theatre fan’, she says, ‘I try to listen to at least one new score a week!’.  

She goes on to explain why she loves performing in musicals, as ‘you get to do lots and lots of things all at once, it’s a different emotional outlet. To see people singing along and tapping their legs is also really rewarding.

She then went on to say, ‘Theatre is personal to so many people in so many different ways – and we’re able to bring theatre to people who need it. When I meet people after the show and they tell me that they’re going through a rough time and how the 2 ½ hours have helped them, that’s great too.’

And does she have any advice for those who want to go into Musical Theatre? ‘Patience is a virtue’, she responds, ‘you have to keep believing, continue to work hard and always keep learning. You need to be aware that you will have to work hard, but that all your hard work will pay off eventually.’

When we ask which record she would take with her if she were stranded on a desert island, she thinks long and hard before responding ‘It’s cheesy to say, but probably I Got Rhythm, because it’s quite uplifting’, before she jokingly adds,  ‘although you’d probably get a bit bored of it after a while!’    

Crazy for You is on at Milton Keynes Theatre from Tuesday the 20th to Saturday the 24th of March. For more information, go to

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Review: Fat Friends The Musical at Milton Keynes Theatre

This week, Key Mellor’s Fat Friends The Musical is at MK Theatre until Saturday 10th March. The story follows Kelly (played by Jodie Prenger) along with her friends and family (Kelly’s mum is played by 2013’s X-Factor winner Sam Bailey) as her wedding day draws closer and she cannot fit into her dream dress. Kelly buys the dress anyway and then latching onto the publicity, local slimming club owner, Julia Fleshman offers to pay for the dress if Kelly follows her plan and fits into the dress – in just six weeks! Mischief ensues as we follow the group leading up to the big day.

I haven’t seen the television series, but I can imagine it is relatable and rather funny to watch the oddball group of friends from Headingly as they drool over battered cod and chips whilst removing as many layers of clothing as possible before standing on the scales for the weekly weigh-in!

This musical was quite fun and an entertaining evening, however unfortunately for me, I just couldn’t click with plot or the characters! I felt it was a little tedious. The stage set was well done - simple, colourful street design which transformed into the inside of each shop. As well as excellent sound and lighting which is always the case at MK Theatre. The acting, singing and dancing was good especially Jodie Prenger’s solos but I felt that the songs didn’t give her chance to show us what she’s really made of. Also a fab performance from Rachel Wooding as Kelly’s rude, insufferable sister. The music was easy listening with some laugh out loud lyrics and dance moves in parts but not catchy and I can’t say I could remember any of the tunes or lyrics once we left the theatre. The characters themselves were funny, relatable and normal people but I wonder if this should have stopped on the television or maybe a feature length comedy film – just not sure if it works as a musical.

That being said, we had a fun evening and there was some seriously good talent up on the stage and a fantastic job from the live orchestra.

For tickets, and to decide for yourselves on this one, visit

Thursday, 15 February 2018

REVIEW: Matthew Bourne's Cinderella at MK Theatre

 Matthew Bourne's Cinderella at Milton Keynes Theatre


Tuesday 14th February 2018

For those of you who are familiar with Matthew Bourne's work then you will not be disappointed in this retelling of the Cinderella story through dance. The show is a mixture of contemporary dance and ballet reflecting the skills of this amazing choreographer. The story is set in the London Blitz of the 1940s and uses the score from Prokofiev which provides the haunting and atmospheric music of the show. The stage set is dramatic with all the sounds, light and noise we would expect during the London Blitz. The set was expertly transformed; it was one minute a bombed ballroom and next a moon lit scene of ethereal quality.
I did find the story a little confusing at times, who was who, who was dead and who was alive. Plus there were some sub plots around to add to the mix.  But that said, the dancing was superb and the atmosphere was enchanting.
The whole cast were excellent so it's hard to single out anyone although I did think that the Angel played by Paris Fitzpatrick held the story together. Cordelia Braithwaite was beautiful and mesmerising as Cinderella and Will Bozier played the handsome pilot. Most of the cast seemed to play several parts so it was a highly energetic performance. This is a show not to be missed.
Cinderella is on at MK Theatre until the 17th February.
Tickets from or telephone 0844 871 7652 (booking fee applies)

Friday, 2 February 2018

Shappi Khorsandi - THE STABLES - TONIGHT!

Known for television appearances including Live at the Apollo and Have I got News for You, as well as her stand-up comedy and her work as an author, Shappi Khorsandi is taking a more historical angle with her latest show, ‘Mistress and Misfit’. Going to around 50 venues across the country, including the Stables TONIGHT! She’ll be using her critically acclaimed brand of stand up to tell the story of Emma, Lady Hamilton, the actress and model best known as the mistress of Lord Admiral Nelson.

“I relate Emma’s life to modern women and, like all stand ups, I draw people into the world as I see it so it’s a very personal show”, Shappi explains.     

“When you’re a stand-up, people have come to see you and share the experience with you. They can read a book about Emma, Lady Hamilton, but the way I tell her story draws people into my stand-up, which I hope is why they bought a ticket in the first place.”  

She started off trying to write a novel about this often-misunderstood historical figure, but eventually settled on doing a comedy show about her instead. She also outlines a few of the similarities between them, saying that: “We were both artist’s models. She modelled for great artists, I modelled for GCSE students in Tower Hamlets. I have never worked in a brothel, but I have had moments that I would only tell you about on stage or when very drunk. I will be sharing some of those stories in ‘Mistress and Misfit”.       

She will also be exploring the ways in which Emma has been dismissed by history, in a way that historical women often are. As she explains, “Any woman who does anything seen as salacious is still demonised today. That’s a very modern theme. It’s not exclusive to Georgian times.

“Emma ended her days derelict, penniless and alcoholic in Calais. There was no monument to her. We have not been told what a massive impact Emma had on Nelson’s life. Historians have wanted to make Trafalgar about Nelson and not ‘this harlot’.”    

You may also recognise Shappi from her recent appearance on “I’m a Celebrity”, which has also inspired her creatively.

“It made you really look at life from a different angle” she says of the experience. “You are too hungry to think of anything apart from what you want to do with your life. You have time to figure that out. It made me think I really, really want to write that play.”    

But underpinning everything Shappi does is a love of comedy. “It’s a compulsion” she says. “It’s a sort of madness. Stand-ups are all mad. We are bright, and if we weren’t mad, we’d be doing something else.”   

Forget having a boring Friday night in - Shappi Khorsandi is appearing at the Stables TONIGHT. For tickets, go to