Wednesday, 25 November 2015

REVIEW: Flavia and Vincent's Last Tango at MK Theatre

Flavia and Vincent’s Last Tango

The famous duo dance their last farewell

Having just finished their sell-out hit shows Midnight Tango and Dance ‘Til Dawn, Strictly Come Dancing stars, Flavia Cacace and Vincent Simone, are quite literally dancing their last dance in the aptly-named show, The Last Tango arguably the best in the trio of performances.

As soon as the music started, there was romance, drama and delight as the pair whizzed around the stage. The audience were completely captivated by their high-energy performance from the first song to the last dance move!  Although Flavia and Vincent's speciality is the Argentine Tango there were plenty of other dance routines to keep the audience happy. There was an excellent of choice of music and singing from Perry Como to our favourite Van Morrison songs. The stage set was particularly enchanting depicting a man looking back over his life as memories are triggered from memorabilia found in the loft.  At points, the intimate performance was quite moving too – they really brought emotion and passion into their performance to the song Autumn Leaves. A real highlight of the show. The Argentine Tango champions finished with the most wonderful finale and got so much praise from the audience and a much deserved standing ovation.

Directed by Olivier award winning director and choreographer Karen Bruce, this feel –good performance really did showcase their best work and isn’t one to miss. 

The show continues till Saturday 28th November. Tickets still available from the box office.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

REVIEW: Shawshank Redemption at MK Theatre

Injustice, hope and friendship - Shawshank Redemption at MK Theatre.

Shawshank Redemption at MK Theatre

This new stage production is inspired by the classic film, The Shawshank Redemption; also based on the short novel by Stephen King. Those who haven't seen the film may enjoy the play equally well.
Adapted by Owen O’Neill and Dave Johns, and directed by David Esbjornson, this production should definitely be on your ‘must-see’ list! Full of desperation, injustice, hope and friendships, this performance had the audience on the very edge of their seats. 

The two leading actors, Ian Kelsey and Patrick Robinson, play characters Andy Dufresne and Ellis ‘Red’ Reading who find each other in the most unlikely of circumstances. The strongest performance was certainly by Patrick Robinson.

The audience are taken behind the bars of a maximum-security facility, created brilliantly by the set-designers; it certainly captures the claustrophobic atmosphere of an American prison.  Also make sure you are prepared for some powerful scenes of a graphic nature that has the audience gripped. 

Shawshank Redemption is on at MK Theatre until 21st November. 

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

REVIEW: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at MK Theatre

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

From Tuesday 3rd to Saturday 7th November 2015, the highly acclaimed National Theatre production, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, is being performed at Milton Keynes Theatre. Having been performed in the West End and on the proud receiving end of seven Olivier Awards, the ingenious production is currently on its first nationwide tour.

Based on Mark Haddon’s award-winning novel, the show - adapted by Simon Stephens and directed by Marianne Elliot – had some absolutely amazing reactions from the audience. From the moment the boy appears on stage with a dead dog at his feet, the audience knew they were in for a fantastic performance.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Joshua Jenkins in the title role as Christopher, was very believable and the audience were so engrossed in his performance. With very little props and set, it was all centred on Christopher who is autistic, how he sees the world and his experiences, leaving most of the other details, such as the setting, to the audience’s imagination. It`s a very physical drama with amazing lighting effects to tell the story. The play is partly narrated so that we are seeing the world through the eyes of Christopher which brings with it great humour amid the intensity of the drama.

Visit the Curious Incident website for more information about this thrilling performance at Milton Keynes Theatre:

Some tickets still available from the box office. This is a play you don`t want to miss!

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

REVIEW: The Glenn Miller Story at MK Theatre

The Glenn Miller Story

The Glenn Miller Story at MK Theatre

In this new, dazzling production, the audience are taken through the ups and downs of the life of Glenn Miller. He begins with a simple trombone and the hopes of becoming a world-famous star. Then, once meeting and marrying Helen Burger, he finally reaches the stardom he has always dreamed of.

However having become accustomed to this life of fame and fortune, the music legend suddenly vanishes as he flies to Paris over the English Channel during WWII, intending to go and entertain the troops. It really was a performance of fame and hope shrouded in mystery… What really happened to Glenn Miller?

A live band performed the stunning music throughout the show and how fantastic it was! The songs include ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing’, ‘Sing Sing Sing’, ‘Get Happy’ and ‘Moonlight Serenade’, all of which were extremely popular, with the audience often clapping and singing along.

Tommy Steele himself played an absolutely fantastic role; he was captivating and so likeable – especially when he spoke to the audience at the very end. Another actor who really stood out was Sarah Soetaert who played Helen Burger. She has such an incredible voice, which harmonises so well with Tommy Steele’s tone.

The Glenn Miller Story is on at Milton Keynes Theatre until 31st October – visit to book.

Friday, 23 October 2015

REVIEW: Romeo and Juliet at MK Theatre

English National Ballet's Star-Crossed Lovers

Review of Romeo and Juliet at MK Theatre

Romeo and Juliet at MK Theatre
Once again, the English National Ballet have achieved great things with their performance of Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet is a classic tragedy by William Shakespeare, but when told through ballet, it becomes even more of a dramatic, passionate piece.

From the world famous balcony scene with two star-crossed lovers, to their tragic final moments, this energetic performance literally had it all. Sergei Prokofiev’s live score, performed by English National Ballet Philharmonic, was absolutely breath-taking; it accompanied the ballet with such cleverness and panache.

Romeo and Juliet themselves - played by Isaac Hernandez and Erina Takahashi - were cast fantastically well; they were believable and their dancing told such a powerful story.  Having said this, the one dancer who really stood out was in fact Mercutio, played by 19-year-old Cesar Corrales. His comical dancing solos and immature nature worked in brilliant timing with the orchestra’s score – the humour entwined throughout his dancing isn’t something I’ve seen before in ballet. 

The most significant scene by far was the final Act, as Romeo lay dead and Juliet awoke to find him. However another immensely powerful Act was that led by Tybalt and Mercutio: the fight scene. Even though the set design was very simple, it was particularly effective in this scene; the clashing of swords really had the audience in utter silence, completely in awe of the actors’ skills teamed with Rudolf Nureyev’s powerful choreography.

The show’s last night at Milton Keynes is on 24th October – visit to book.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

MP Fights to Protect UK Heritage

Parliament’s administrators are considering putting an end to using vellum to record Acts of Parliament.
Newport Pagnell is home to William Cowley, the only remaining company in the UK who produce parchment and vellum which is made from animal skin to document historical records relating to centuries of Parliamentary activity.  

Parliament’s continued use of parchment and vellum is the envy of the world and it’s thanks to vellum and its durability that we can read journals dating back to King Charles II, King Richard I and several million historical records for Parliament, including the Magna Carta, the most celebrated document in history, which has survived for 800 years. 

Established in 1870 and now one of three surviving producers in the world, Paul Wright, of William Cowley said,

"There is bitter irony that the very year we celebrate 800 years of Magna Carta, we may also witness the end of recording Acts on vellum. Vellum has excellent 'green' credentials, needs no specialist aftercare, and has provided us with more understanding of earlier civilisations than any other historical artefact."

Mark Lancaster MP, is seriously concerned that proposals for Parliament to end the use of vellum will in fact be a longer term cost and has written to the Chair of the Administration Committee, Sir Paul Beresford to share his concerns. 

Mark commented,

“I’m determined to try and do my bit to convince Parliament to continue to use vellum to record Acts of Parliament for future generations. What records will exist in 2815?  What evidence will be left for future generations?   Historians have known that but for the use of vellum, we would not have the information or the understanding of earlier civilisations that we have today.  I for one would not want to rely solely on electronic data to preserve and protect our heritage. I understand the need to reduce cost but I believe this particular measure is short sighted and Parliamentary authorities should reconsider.”

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

REVIEW: King Charles III at MK Theatre

The Queen is Dead!

Review of King Charles III at MK Theatre

Following sold-out performances at the Almeida Theatre, King Charles III has hit Milton Keynes Theatre, bringing with it the shock that the Queen is dead. Directed by Rupert Goold and penned by award-winning Dr Foster writer, Mike Bartlett, the regal play explores not only Britain’s most famous family, but how the prince perceives ruling the roost for the very first time.

The humourous side of the play was continually enjoyed by the audience, however there are clearly more serious undertones to the dramatic performance too. With William and Kate – who is particularly well-cast and looks uncannily like the Duchess herself – having to make tough decisions, the play really did give an insight into just how significant the royal family are.

One character who particularly stood out was Prince Harry, played by Richard Glaves. His charm, immaturity and likeability really shone through and he constantly had the audience enthralled in his outbursts! King Charles III himself – played by Robert Powell – faces some very important decisions and there was a chill to be felt over the audience at two particularly haunting points in the performance – but we won’t give too much away.

King Charles III at MK Theatre
With the same setting used throughout, it worked seamlessly and the lighting worked fantastically well with the backdrop.  With crowns and royalty galore, it really was an exciting performance. Having already won an Olivier Award and a Critics Circle Award for Best New Play 2015, this really is a must-see!

King Charles III is at MK Theatre until 17th October – visit to book.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

REVIEW: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at Milton Keynes Theatre

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Based on the comedy film, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is set on the French Riviera and is all about two individuals who are trying to dazzle a millionaire heiress. Michael Praed plays the con man who makes a healthy living trying to persuade rich women to part with their cash. Written by Golden Globe and Emmy Award-Winner Jeffrey Lane, the scenes are full of hilarity which, more often than not, lead to real belly-aching laughter!

The set was absolutely brilliant and, from scene to scene, the transition was completely seamless. As for the costumes, they were superb and reflective of the period and characters’ varied personalities. There was a variety of dancing scenes expertly executed by the troupe. The cowboy dancing and the salsa dancing were a joy to watch.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at Milton Keynes Theatre

Michael Praed and Noel Sullivan, in particular, made a great pairing and you could tell a lot of rehearsal had gone into their performances.
Gary Wilmot and Geraldine Fitzgerald also had a great double act that endeared the audience.  The pair were, by far, the audience’s favourites.
Carly Stenson played the lead female role and has a great voice. Her career is sure to go onwards and upwards.
This was a most cheerful production with lots of laughter to be had; this isn’t a production to miss.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is on at MK Theatre until Saturday 26th September.