Review 5***** Amelie the Musical The Other Palace @TheOtherPalace @AmelieMusicalUK

Witty, winsome and whimsical. Amélie The Musical is based on the 2001 film, where one little girl with a big imagination carries out remarkable acts of kindness to bring happiness to those around her. Until one day, Amélie meets arty Nino, her heart begins to pound and everything changes… 

Audrey Brisson is phenomenal as quirky Amélie, her playful personality and sprinkles of mischievous magic brighten a world where everything and everyone goes around and around and around over and over again and again…Amélie slices through the monotony with delightful charm, although Brisson always cuts in with a hilariously blunt quip just in time to avoid over sweetening the performance. 

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Review: 5***** Mother Goose The Marlowe Theatre Canterbury @marlowetheatre @MarcPickering @ #HomeIsWhereThePantoIs #canterbury #pantomime #mothergoose #pantoseason @ben_roddy @lloydhollett @DrRanj

I have a number of traditions at Christmas which make the season special. These include putting a green man bought at Canterbury Cathedral on the top of the Christmas tree while listening to Michael Buble, watching Muppet Christmas Carol, and cooking enough red onion chutney to feed an army.

Going to The Marlowe panto – “It’s the law”

Another essential is pantomime, but not just any old pantomime. Canterbury Marlowe’s panto is, for me, one of the great joys of the Christmas season and despite moving away from the city, there was no way I was going to miss it. I can categorically say that I was right to make the trip as it, once again, was absolutely brilliant.

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Review: 3*** An Act of God – The Vaults @thevaultsuk @ActOfGodLondon @leakstarches

Tweetingit: 3* Think the Ten Commandments could use a re-boot? Comedian Zoe Lyons imagines God in stand-up mode; predictable but occasionally very funny.

An Act of God presents something of a moral conundrum, re-treading themes that have kept satirists busy for generations. It belongs to the same family of writing that produced the Life of Brian and Book of Mormon. However, where Brian and Mormon concentrate broadly on the concept of faith; this play goes back one stage further; what if God popped down and re-drafted the Ten Commandments for 21st Century consumption. In fact, what if God was a lesbian comedian in silk pyjamas; or in Zoe Lyons’ words ‘Sharon Osbourne’s dykey niece?’. An interesting concept without doubt; more importantly how would God judge the human race and its achievements? With the assistance of Archangels Michael (Matt Tedford) and Gabriel (Tom Bowen); Zoe re-writes the Ten Commandments with a critical assessment of life’s biggest questions.

Essentially, we see God in stand-up mode with a source of material that most comedians could only dream about. Zoe methodically ticks off each commandment offering a detailed progress report. Think of God as Head Teacher delivering a pupil assessment. Archangel Gabriel holds an I-Pad tablet (geddit?!) and scribbles notes on the wall; meanwhile Archangel Michael mingles with the audience seeking questions they’ve always wanted to ask God. It’s a reasonably coherent piece that holds together with some genuinely funny throwaway lines. The play has already been a hit on Broadway, and writer David Javerbaum has written bespoke material for a British audience. So I was baffled by the inclusion of some poorly judged gags. A line about the holocaust was a huge blunder; there is potential for a reactive piece drawing on current events but opting for the jugular is not a good look.

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News: What more can you need to know on a cold Friday morning to cheer you up than the news that JASON DONAVAN IS BACK IN JOSEPH @JDonOfficial @LondonPalladium @JosephMusical @jacyarrow

Following his critically acclaimed professional debut this summer Jac Yarrow is to wear the Dreamcoat again while Jason Donovan returns to the role of Pharaoh from 2 July 2020!!!

Michael Harrison and the Really Useful Group are delighted to announce that Jason Donovan and Jac Yarrow will be back at the London Palladium in 2020, as the new, smash hit production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat returns following its triumphant season this year.

Jason Donovan will return in the role of Pharaoh. He was originally in the show when he made his defining stage performance as the title character of Joseph in the 1990s, in a sold-out 18-month run which produced a No.1 single and best-selling soundtrack album. Jason raised the roof of the London Palladium this year as Pharaoh, who rocks ‘Song of the King’ in the iconic musical by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Continue reading “News: What more can you need to know on a cold Friday morning to cheer you up than the news that JASON DONAVAN IS BACK IN JOSEPH @JDonOfficial @LondonPalladium @JosephMusical @jacyarrow”

Review: 3*** Reputation The Musical – The Other Palace @TheOtherPalace @ReputationLdn

A fresh out of the box musical drawing inspiration from the golden age of Hollywood. Pleasant songs compensate for a lightweight script.

The cosy studio of the Other Palace is now home to the newest off West End musical. Reputation throws the audience back to 1935 with the Hollywood studio system in full effect. Our story begins when an advert appears in Variety magazine asking for original film scripts. Michelle Grant (Maddy Banks) is an aspiring young writer attending language and deportment college in Paris; a finishing school that teaches everything but how to further her ambitions.

Michelle is persuaded by friends to submit her film script. However, Michelle is duped by small time crook Freddy Larceny (Jeremy Secomb), who has cultivated a reputation in Hollywood passing off other people’s work as his own. Back in Paris the penny drops and Michelle hires lawyer Archie Bright (Ed Wade) to reclaim her script. Both sides go court where Judge Stevens (Corey Peterson) now has to rule on the script’s origin. Can Michelle prove her case or will Freddy outgun her with his own hotshot lawyer?

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Review: 5***** Death of a Salesman – Piccadilly Theatre @SalesmanWestEnd @WendellPierce @TeamPiccadilly

A heavyweight cast join forces with a heavyweight writer to create a tour de force in theatre; an intoxicating mix of style and attitude. Not to be missed.

The cult of celebrity does sometimes work in mysterious ways; my earliest recollection of Arthur Miller was not as a great 20th Century playwright. But more as the third husband of Marilyn Monroe; a nerdy, bespectacled egghead in the wrong relationship.

It looked a monumental mismatch of two very different legends. I’ve happily learnt otherwise down the years. And now this stunning Young Vic production has transferred to the West End, Miller’s work can be savoured by a much wider audience. Death of a Salesman premiered on Broadway in February 1949, and subsequently won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony award for Best Play. For a story that’s now 70 years old it still feels remarkably fresh; universal themes are explored in a riveting study of family life that will strike a chord with everyone.

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Review: 4**** God’s Dice – Soho Theatre @sohotheatre @Baddiel @exitthelemming

For someone who made his name in stand-up and sketch based comedy, David Baddiel’s first outing as a playwright comes as something of a surprise. God’s Dice sets an examination question that is both daunting and challenging. What would happen if the existence of God could be scientifically proven? It seems a million miles away from the Mary Whitehouse Experience and whimsy of Three Lions. But Baddiel has created an intelligent and original piece of theatre.

Henry Brook (Alan Davies) is a highly respected but unfulfilled professor of physics. His wife Virginia (Alexandra Gilbreath) is a leading writer whose books have set the benchmark for academic research in atheism. The attractive Edie (Leila Mimmack) joins Henry’s class and offers him a proposition; being asked to accept the principles of quantum physics is much like being asked to believe in God. Henry is intrigued by Edie’s assertion; and they begin work on a scientific explanation for miracles in the Christian faith. Virginia is naturally dismissive and wonders if Edie has aroused more than his intellect. Best friend Tim (Nitin Ganatra) is an IT professor and ageing lothario. He too doubts Henry’s claim he is only interested in Edie’s hypothesis. Henry decides to write a book on the subject with Edie as his researcher; he feels invigorated by the opportunity to step out of Virginia’s shadow. When the book is published Edie’s motives become clear as events take an unexpected turn. The origins of Tim’s friendship with Henry are also revealed as skeletons rattle in the closet. Henry now has to decide how finish something he started.

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Review: 4**** Katheryn Howard – Hope Theatre @TheHopeTheatre

The Tudors represent a tumultuous period in British history and arguably provided the inspiration for Game of Thrones. Henry VIII ruled for 38 years and collected six wives along the way. But who of the six spring most readily to mind; Catherine of Aragon, long suffering first wife, whose divorce sparked the reformation; or the scheming, seductive Anne Boleyn; how about Jane Seymour, the perfect wife who provided Henry with a cherished male heir? But Katheryn Howard wedged between Anne of Cleves and Catherine Parr doesn’t necessarily stand out?

A play solely about Katheryn is therefore long overdue. But some context might be in order before our story begins. In 1540, Henry marries Anne of Cleves using the 16th century equivalent of Tinder. On the strength of a portrait painted by Hans Holbein the deal is duly sealed. But Henry likes her not; he does however like Anne’s Lady-in-Waiting Kathryn Howard. Henry is immedietly smitten by the teenager 32 years his junior. Henry’s marraige to Anne is quickly annulled and Katheryn lined up as his new Queen.

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Local theatre – trying out my new home town’s theatre for the first time and we are going big with @7oaksPlayers ‘ Jesus Christ Superstar!

Things to make sure you have access to when moving to a new place :

  1. A decent coffee shop which does a proper flat white and offers a variety of milk (yes I am a spoiled middle class Londoner)
  2. Some good cosy pubs with big chairs and tasty pub grub
  3. Some good spots for sitting and reading in the park
  4. A shop where you can get all your nerd requirements – dice, board games and other accessories
  5. A theatre which puts on a variety of great shows throughout the year.

I have lived in Sevenoaks for the last 3 months and have managed to find the first four but now, I am excited to say, I get the opportunity to take the theatre for a test run too when I go to see the Sevenoaks Players putting on Jesus Christ Superstar

The Sevenoaks Players are an amateur dramatics society local to Sevenoaks and have been performing in the area since 1922. In their time, they have performed a huge array of musicals, plays and variety shows and perform up to 4 shows a year!

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Review: 3*** The Last Act of Harry Houdini – The Cockpit Theatre @cockpittheatre @UKTheatreNet @TheCompanyO

Tweetingit: 3* A solid one man show delving into the mind of a puzzling and often misunderstood showman. Harry Houdini wouldn’t have had it any other way.

On 31 October 1926, magician and escape artist Harry Houdini died in Detroit. Ninety three years later almost to the day, Barry Killerby performs The Last Act of Harry Houdini at the Cockpit Theatre in Marylebone. There was certainly an eerie atmosphere as the spotlight settled on a top hat glistening with stardust. Our story begins two weeks prior to his death in Montreal, where he is preparing for a theatre show. Aged 52 Houdini’s glory days were largely behind him and had returned to his roots in Vaudeville.

The circumstances of his life and death are analysed in a highly literate one hour monologue. The narrative works well in flashback as snap shots feature key stages in Houdini’s life. The son of a Rabbi, Houdini was born Erik Weisz in Hungary. The family immigrated to America in the late 1870s, where they struggled to find their way. Houdini’s courtship of future wife Bess is well documented; so too his rise to prominence as an escape artist and keen eye for a photo opportunity. His obsession with spiritualism was evident and frequently clashed with mediums, whom he saw as nothing more than poorly trained magicians.

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