Review: 5**** Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert – The 02 Arena, London via @SkyArts #CultureinQuarantine @AlfieBoe @MsLeaSalonga @realmattlucas

Tweetingit: 5* Victor Hugo’s sprawling epic seamlessly transfers from stage to the stadium rock atmosphere of London’s 02 Arena. A perfect production showcasing rare genius.

Once upon a time I acquired the hardback version of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Needless to say 1,232 pages stayed in pristine condition as I contrived excuses not to read it. Hugo’s masterpiece had so many alternative uses – mine was primarily a doorstop before its convenient loss during a house move. Any literary guilt was assuaged by the brilliant stage version that first graced the London stage in 1985. My own twisted logic dictated that I no longer needed to read the book. It is after all a brilliantly distilled version of the novel that marries narrative with beautifully constructed songs.

This film made in 2010 marked the 25th anniversary of the show’s first production at the Barbican. The transfer from theatre to the stadium like 02 Arena might at first present a challenge. However, Les Mis easily fills the 20,000 capacity venue as the songs grow bigger and better. Two giant screens flank a full orchestra and huge choir stretching across the stage.  Sets are stripped away as cast members take the stage in authentic 19th Century costume. The unique atmosphere was obvious even on the small screen and one could sense the film captured a very special night.

Continue reading “Review: 5**** Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert – The 02 Arena, London via @SkyArts #CultureinQuarantine @AlfieBoe @MsLeaSalonga @realmattlucas”

Seeing the positives – the things I hope theatre will take from lockdown! #staycreative #cultureinquarantine @HIT_CPH #theshowmustgoonline @robmyles

Ok, so before I begin this, there is no questions that this C-19 and lockdown is horrendous for the arts and for actors, musicians, theatre makers and so on. BUT I want to try and think of some positives so that is what this is about.

I have been speaking to a lot of people recently about how “this” will all affect things in the future. These have included how will it effect the way we work – will we all work from home more? How will it affect the views on home schooling?  But the one which is the most interesting from our point of view is how will we consume culture and make theatre in the future? I guess much of this is being considered with the view that we might be in lock down for a while longer. But what about after that? How will, this affect theatre long term?

The new normal for theatre?

The other reason I began thinking about this is because last week I attended a fabulous reading of a play, Night of the Living by Dave Lankford, performed by House of International Theatre (HIT)

Afterwards there was a Q&A to get the audience talking about how it worked, how it could be developed for the future and what would make the experience of theatre in this format better. 

Continue reading “Seeing the positives – the things I hope theatre will take from lockdown! #staycreative #cultureinquarantine @HIT_CPH #theshowmustgoonline @robmyles”

Review: 3*** Antony and Cleopatra – RSC at Stratford-Upon-Avon @MarqueeArtsTV @TheRSC #staycreative

Tweetingit: 3* A well-drilled, highly talented cast go through the numbers and deliver a slick production. But this feels like an overly sterile approach to an infrequently staged play.

Well three hours four minutes and thirty five seconds is a bit of a stretch even for a battle hardened theatre goer like me. But I was undaunted by the marathon that is Antony and Cleopatra. Watching online is a less onerous prospect as it can be split into bite sized viewing portions.

Even so, a highly efficient production by the RSC at Stratford-Upon-Avon is still heavy going. There is a slavish commitment to detail that adds little to the narrative and sails dangerously close to self-indulgence. Tony and Cleo is essentially a love job hovering between tragedy and history – a tale supercharged by the greatest power brokers of the ancient world.

Continue reading “Review: 3*** Antony and Cleopatra – RSC at Stratford-Upon-Avon @MarqueeArtsTV @TheRSC #staycreative”

More places to stream shows this Easter Sunday (and beyond) #CultureInQuarantine #staycreative

And the shows available for you to stream just keep rolling in.

One of the only positives I can see about this whole thing right now is that people who might not usually get the opportunity to go to the theatre (too far away, too expensive) have the chance to see some of the best shows around.

So here are the next batch for your enjoyment. 

We will of course get reviewing as many as we can. 

Continue reading “More places to stream shows this Easter Sunday (and beyond) #CultureInQuarantine #staycreative”

Review: 5***** Cirque Du Solei 60 minute special 27th March 2020 #cirqueconnect @Cirque #staycreative #CultureInQuarantine

There are now many plays and musicals being streamed access the internet but sometimes we all need a bit of variety. You need something you can just watch and enjoy, something where you do not have to follow a complicated story, or get heavily invested in the lives of the characters on stage only for them to die, be heartbroken or something else tragic. So, I propose to you that at times like these, when we are anxious about the outside world and fed up being stuck indoors, there is simply nothing better than watching people performing incredible death defying acrobatic feats on, for example, a giant floating ships high above an enormous swimming pool!

Cue Cirque Du Solei with their 60 minute special!

Continue reading “Review: 5***** Cirque Du Solei 60 minute special 27th March 2020 #cirqueconnect @Cirque #staycreative #CultureInQuarantine”

Review: 4**** Funny Girl – The Palace Theatre, Manchester @digitaltheatre and @SkyArts @Sheridansmith1 #staycreative #CultureInQuarantine

Tweetingit: 4* A hugely entertaining production of a Broadway classic based on the life of performer Fanny Brice.

Funny Girl is synonymous with Barbra Streisand and her portrayal of Fanny Brice both on stage and film; the latter won her an Academy Award for Best Actress in a leading role. It turned Streisand into a global superstar and set the bar for all performers who contemplated filling her shoes. It seems barely credible the musical disappeared from the West End stage for nearly 50 years. It wasn’t until 2016 that it returned to London at the Savoy Theatre before embarking on a highly successful national tour.

The story begins with Fanny (Sheridan Smith) wistfully looking back on her life. The ever trusty flashback clicks into action, and we are back in Vaudeville with a teenage Fanny trying to prove herself. Her mother (Rachel Izen) and friend Mrs Strakosh (Myra Sands) wonder if Fanny is too plain to make it as a stage performer. However, Fanny is undaunted and succeeds with the help of dancer Eddie Ryan (Joshua Lay). She makes a name for herself as a performer and meets handsome entrepreneur Nick Arnstein (Darius Campbell). They inevitably fall in love as the trials and tribulations of their relationship are carefully plotted.

Continue reading “Review: 4**** Funny Girl – The Palace Theatre, Manchester @digitaltheatre and @SkyArts @Sheridansmith1 #staycreative #CultureInQuarantine”

News: The Barn Theatre streaming Henry V on 27th March at 6pm #staycreative #CultureDuringQuarantine #WorldTheatreDay, @aaronsidwell @Laurensamuels88 #saveourbarn #HenryV

The Barn Theatre have announced plans to live stream their critically acclaimed production of William Shakespeare’s Henry V on World Theatre Day (27 March).
The production, which stars Aaron Sidwell (Wicked, American Idiot, Loserville, Ghost,
EastEnders) and Lauren Samuels (Bend It Like Beckham, Romantics Anonymous, We Will Rock You, Grease, Water Babies, Over The Rainbow), will be streamed live to the theatre’s Facebook, YouTube and Twitter accounts on Friday 27th March at 6pm.


Henry V, which was called “a populist Hal for a post-Brexit world” by Dominic Cavendish from The Telegraph, is directed by Hal Chambers, with designs by Emily Leonard, fight direction by Christos Dante, movement direction by Kate Webster, composition by Harry Smith, BroadwayWorld UK award-nominated projection designs by Benjamin Collins, sound design by Chris Cleal and lighting by Sam Rowcliffe-Tanner.

Since launching in 2018, the Barn Theatre has gained national recognition by producing 12 Built By Barn shows to upwards of 80,000 audience members and being awarded The Stage Awards’ Best Fringe Theatre of the Year Award 2019. Their contribution to the local community stretches further than just the theatre with large scale outreach programmes, school workshops and collaborative projects around the centenary of the First World War, the ‘record-breaking’ Cirencester Human Poppy, and The Cirencester Advent Festival that have enhanced the well-being of the community and draw thousands of visitors to the town.

Continue reading “News: The Barn Theatre streaming Henry V on 27th March at 6pm #staycreative #CultureDuringQuarantine #WorldTheatreDay, @aaronsidwell @Laurensamuels88 #saveourbarn #HenryV”

Review: 4**** Westside Stories – The Making of a Classic via BBC I-Player @BrunoTonioli #CultureDuringQuarantine #staycreative

Tweetingit: 4* A revealing documentary tracing the anatomy of a musical that broke all the rules and took the genre into new territory.

Among the many delights on BBC I-Player is this excellent documentary presented by Bruno Tonioli and Suzy Klein. Made in 2010, it provides a fascinating insight of a classic that almost never happened. The genesis of Westside Story began in the 1940s when choreographer Jerome Robbins had a spark of inspiration, a contemporary musical based on Romeo & Juliet. He recruited composer Leonard Bernstein and acclaimed playwright Arthur Laurents. However, the dream team failed to agree on the project’s direction and it was mothballed. With the addition of whizz-kid lyricist Stephen Sondheim a legend of musical theatre was eventually born.

We are presented with a highly intelligent study of a musical that re-defined the genre first on Broadway then the West End. Musical theatre was awash with bright, frothy productions like My Fair Lady and Oklahoma! But Westside Story was completely different. Dangerous and edgy, it had a Bernstein score tinged with Latin rhythm. A Shakespearian tragedy was duly transformed. Romeo & Juliet had decamped to New York as Tony and Maria, the Capulets and Montagues morphed into the Jets and Sharks warring over disputed territory. Sondheim added the flourish with dynamic lyrics that enlivened Laurent’s book. It was the perfect combination of song, dance and drama.

Continue reading “Review: 4**** Westside Stories – The Making of a Classic via BBC I-Player @BrunoTonioli #CultureDuringQuarantine #staycreative”

Review: 4**** The Importance of Being Earnest – The Vaudeville Theatre @marqueetv @VaudevilleTh #CultureDuringQuarantine #theatre

Tweetingit: 4* The big daddy of farce taking pot shots at Victorian social convention to great comic effect. A wonderful production showcasing the legendary wit of Oscar Wilde.

When The Importance of Being Earnest premiered in February 1895 it represented the zenith of Oscar Wilde’s career. It was also a personal nadir as his affair with Lord Alfred Douglas was exposed. Lord Alfred’s father, the Marquis of Queensbury tried to attend the first night and present him with a bouquet of rotten vegetables. He was barred from entering but the damage was already done as the play closed after 86 performances.

The subsequent trial scandalised Victorian sensibility as Wilde was convicted of gross indecency. A glittering talent was shattered as he was imprisoned for two years. His death at the painfully young age of 46 only served to heighten the work of a genius. The play itself inspired many of the modern farces written by Ray Cooney and Michael Frayn. However, they lacked the verbal dexterity of Wilde’s razor like script.

Continue reading “Review: 4**** The Importance of Being Earnest – The Vaudeville Theatre @marqueetv @VaudevilleTh #CultureDuringQuarantine #theatre”

Interview: Joe Ringer of Norfolk's Joe Ringer Band, talks to us about what he is doing right now, how he is keeping himself occupied during this time and what projects he has coming up #staycreative @JoeRingerBand #music #interviews

Our series of interviews with those in the entertainment industry continues today with Joe Ringer, Musical Director, singer, and owner of the Joe Ringer band (JDB).

Joe always has something going on. The JRB are a premiere party band who are well know across East Anglia and beyond. Joe has created a band for all occasions – a 6, 8 or 14 piece bands are available as well as background jazz or acoustic music.

They have performed on Stages cruise ships (and were due to do so this year again alongside Lea Salonga and John Barrowman). They put on regular concerts including a Christmas spectacular and “Nights at the Musicals” shows. Their performances rarely have tickets to spare and if you want them for a birthday or wedding gig, you’ll to book months in advance. Alongside this, Joe MDs for local musical theatre companies and does all the musical arrangements for his group. So, with the corona virus putting a halt to all of this for a bit, I spoke to him to find out what he is doing now and how he is staying creative at this, to be frank, shitty time.

Continue reading “Interview: Joe Ringer of Norfolk's Joe Ringer Band, talks to us about what he is doing right now, how he is keeping himself occupied during this time and what projects he has coming up #staycreative @JoeRingerBand #music #interviews”
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