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 www.atgtickets.com/Miltonkeynes 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 https://stables.org/.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Hamilton West End: A Review



Phonebox's Cara Lee recently visited one of her absolute favourite musicals for the first time - having fallen in love with the soundtrack a few years ago due to its amazing success over the pond...here's her review:

You don’t need to be a theatre aficionado to know that Hamilton (which tells the life story of the eponymous American founding father who wrote his way out of poverty, into the American Revolution and eventually into ruin, all using the modern language of hip hop with a multi-racial cast) is a pretty big deal. It’s got 11 Tonys, Pulitizer Prize and Grammy – but is it really worth the hype? Well, I’m happy to say that I can answer that question with a resounding yes (I already could have to be honest, but that’s besides the point).

First of all, as most of you will know, the music is fantastic- insanely catchy tunes combined with swift and clever lyrics make for some of the best written musical theatre in years. This fast pace is also matched by incredibly energetic choreography which constantly fills the revolving stage. These words are brought to brilliant life by a fantastic cast, especially the surprisingly fresh out of drama school Jamael Westman who encapsulates in his performance both Hamilton’s more than slightly arrogant swagger in addition to his emotional side, without missing a beat of the show’s often dense libretto. Giles Terrera’s Aaron Burr (Hamilton’s mentor and friend turned rival) comes across as more of an outsider than Broadway original Leslie Odom Jnr’s cool and emotionless portrayal, especially considering his unique voice, but this suits the character brilliantly.

These two distinct portrayals also bring out an even starker contrast between Hamilton and Burr, which is of course the driving force of the entire show. And Michael Jibson practically steals the show as the often hilarious King George III, who pops in at a few intervals to comment on events across the pond. Jason Pennycooke also has a spring in his step which suits the roles of both Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson perfectly. Rachel John brings Angelica Schuyler’s strength to life wonderfully, whilst Rachel Ann Go has the exact combination of sweetness and the power that makes Hamilton’s wife Eliza such a great character. And those are just the standouts in what is an all-around stellar cast.

A surprisingly great aspect of the live production of Hamilton is the impressive lighting, which swiftly shifts from song to song in a very effective manner. The staging and costumes are simplistic, but this truly allows the music and performances to shine- additionally, the majority of the costumes take enough historical aspects to fit with the story, whilst reflecting on the modern atmosphere of its telling.


All in all, this is a fantastic production of a wonderful show, which is quite rightfully one of the biggest shows in the West End right now.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

REVIEW: Jersey Boys at MK Theatre

Jersey Boys at Milton Keynes Theatre

 

Wednesday 24th January 2018

 


We are all interested in the story of how a band becomes as famous as  Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. There's an amazing rise to fame for the four boys from New Jersey and also from the wrong side of the tracks. The musical tells their story fantastically through their music. And what fantastic music it is too. All of our favourite songs are sung in full or in part measure. I had certainly forgotten how prolific they were in having some of greatest songs that have stood the test of time. Who can forget “Walk like a Man” and Sherry Baby”?

The show is an award winning one with a fabulous score and arrangements enhanced by the iconic dance routines of the band. Surely this must be the greatest forerunner of the boy bands we see today although possibly with more talent! I particularly loved the harmonies of the boys.

The show was fast moving with multiple changes of set that one could never be bored. It was really a feel - good show of outstanding quality. 

Credit must go to the four boys Michael Watson, Simon Bailey, James Winter and Karl James Wilson who took the main leads. Also well done to Arnold Mabhena who seemed to mop up so many different roles I lost count!

Jersey Boys is on at MK Theatre until Saturday 3rd February.
Tickets from the Box Office 0844 871 7652 (fees apply) or online at
www.atgtickets.com/shows/jersey-boys/milton-keynes-theatre

Friday, 19 January 2018

The Snowman, Milton Keynes Theatre, January 17th 2018



Production by Birmingham Repertory Theatre
The Boy - Cameron James Sutherland
The Snowman - Martin Fenton
The Ice Princess - Emanuela Atzeni
Jack Frost - Davide Fienauri
Music Box Dancer - Tomoyo Jequier
The song “Walking in the Air” sung by Aled Jones


Based on the original book by Raymond Briggs of 1978 and the animated cartoon in 1982.
This is an adaption by the Birmingham Repertory Theatre which dates back to 1993 and has over the years been much extended to make this familiar and heartwarming story into a most excellent 90 minute show.

There is no dialogue but the simplicity and slightly ethereal production of the story and the clever mime and dance to put it across, easily convey it to the audience both young and old and it is truly magical. The original music by Howard Blake enables the various scenes to be set and compliments the story being told. The additional members of the cast, which includes various additional snowmen, penguins and of course the “boys” mum and dad, all perform their parts in the story well too.
The orchestra a vital part in expressing the wonderful mood of each scene. However, it is the “goose bump” moment when Walking in the Air starts to play and the Snowman and the Boy start to fly that is the high point of the show and again is truly magical.
They portray a slow and gently grace with their movement above and around the stage. The show is full of gentle humour (and scary bits with Jack Frost an addition to the film) that will appeal to young and old alike. The stage sets, costumes and falling snow graphic are simple but excellently done. The theatres sound was great as usual. 
Highly recommended. Thank you to all concerned.
For tickets, visit www.atgtickets.com

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Cinderella Panto at MK Theatre




A fantastic show again this year from the mother of all Pantomimes, Cinderella. Starring the fantastic Gok Wan and Brian Conley as The Fairy Gok Mother and Buttons. A perfect pairing for the stage as they bounced off one another effortlessly and had the audience in stitches! I was a little worried for the gent sat behind us, thought he might have an accident!

In typical panto style, they picked on the audience - a huge well done to Nikki of Olney – if you see this, we were cheering for you! I couldn’t think of anything worse than being pulled up on stage in front of hundreds of people…you were great :D (note: shy people, don’t sit too close to the front!)

Multi-coloured, sparkling, glitz and glam stage set with the usual wow factors – fireworks, flying coach, magic, show ponies, OTT costumes, rude jokes – you name it, they had it.

A big shout out the full cast and creatives for putting on such a wonderfully magic Christmas show that kids and big kids alike adored. Thank you to the MK Theatre Orchestra for playing excellent music and we had a few sing-a-longs. The ugly sisters were wicked, very funny and their costumes as always were outrageous.


Head over to MK Theatre to catch this year’s pantomime in all its glory – running until Sunday 14th January 2018.