The wait is over! Kinky Boots kick into MK Theatre!

HIGH HEELS, HIGH FASHION AND TOWERINGLY HIGH CAMP:

THESE BOOTS ARE MADE FOR MKT

Kinky Boots, the winner of every major Best Musical award, comes to Milton Keynes Theatre to cheer us all up just as the clocks go back and the nights draw in.

With a book by Broadway legend and four-time Tony® Award-winner Harvey Fierstein (La Cage aux Folles), and songs by Grammy® and Tony® winning pop icon Cyndi Lauper, this joyous musical celebration is about the friendships we discover, and the belief that you can change the world when you change your mind.

Charlie Price has just inherited the family business, an olde worlde gentlemen’s shoe factory, as it teeters on the brink of bankruptcy. Quality shoes just don’t cut it in this age of cheap as chips knock-offs and fall apart as soon as you look at it materials.

Charlie’s dad put his workers’ welfare above the profit margin and the business is about to go down the pan as a result. But help arrives in the unlikely but spectacular form of Lola, a fabulous performer in need of some sturdy new stilettos, and Charlie suddenly realises that giving it large can sometimes produce mini miracles – and get you onto the catwalks of Milan.

Inspired by true events that happened just up the road in Northampton and following on from the 2005 British movie, Kinky Boots stars Kayi Ushe as Lola, Joel Harper-Jackson as Charlie and Paula Lane as Lauren.

Book writer, Harvey Fierstein said: “The inspiring story of Kinky Boots will soon complete its full circle journey from Northampton to the silver screen to Broadway and London and now, at last, back home to Northampton as it embarks on a national UK tour. How often does that happen? It’s been an absolute thrill to witness the giant heart of our show raise audiences up out of their seats in clamorous joy night after night in the West End and I am now so glad to experience its homecoming.”

The show is directed and choreographed by two-time Tony® Award-winner Jerry Mitchell (Legally Blonde, Hairspray).

Kinky Boots is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 9th November

Box Office: 0844 871 7652 or online:www.atgtickets.com /miltonkeynes

if you’re a lover of good stories, or musicals in general, or a real theatre luvvie this production will give you the best night out in ages! Playing to a fine nine-piece band (led by Richard Anderson) this talented cast take us through laughs and the sad moments and quite a few surprises and carry the entire audience along from the first line to the glorious finale! It seems unfair to mention particular cast  members because this was a highly talented and tightly knit company, each playing their part wonderfully, but the stunning duet between Lola ( Kayi Ushe) and Charlie (Joel Harper-Jackson) “Not My Father’s Son” will bring a lump to the throat of even the toughest audience members. Talking of tough, Dimitri Lampra who plays worker Don in the factory, a man with no understanding that people can be different to him but still to be valued, was superb as this bully. Will he come round to a sensible way of thinking ever? You’ll need to get along to the MK Theatre to find out.

The sets and costumes were not just fantastic, but exactly right for every scene and every character.

I don’t often gush like this after a performance, but I promise if you can manage to get a ticket after reading this, you will have the most enjoyable theatrical evening ever!

Ernie Almond

Kinky Boots is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 9th November

Box Office: 0844 871 7652 or online:www.atgtickets.com /miltonkeynes

Pricilla packs ’em in – but…………

Pricilla Queen of the Desert at The Milton Keynes Theatre

Pricilla Queen of the Desert is still packing them in after 25 years! The Milton Keynes Theatre was crammed to the rafters for opening night on Monday! I guess many had not seen the show before because for us old diehards that had seen it several times this production left us wanting. The cast were great and every one of them gave us 110% – I particularly liked Miles Western as Bernadette, the older one of the leading trio. Joe McFadden playing the lead I thought was more likeable and gained our sympathy more than in other recent touring versions. So what was it that jarred? The orchestra under the direction of Sean Green was great so that just leaves the direction or the sets or the costumes. Well, the sets were disappointing, where was the sharp intake of breath when we first saw the pink bus? The penultimate scene looked as though our fabulous trio were peeping over the wall of some sort of drab stockade. The costumes were unglamorous, not sexy and looked uncomfortable. The MacArthur Park costumes looked about as easy to manage as a Pudsey Bear or even Mr Blobby costume and the boys finale costumes were about as unsexy as you could get.

Such a shame for the talented cast with a score of thirty or so top, top tunes.
Bear in mind that I must be wrong because at the end the audience stood and cheered and danced and called for more – how could that many people all disagree with me??

Ernie Almond

Royal & Derngate nominated in two categories in UK Theatre Awards 2019

Royal & Derngate, Northampton  has been nominated for the Excellence in Inclusivity Award in the UK Theatre Awards 2019, while designer Ti Green is nominated in the Best Design category for her work on Royal & Derngate’s co-production Touching the Void,. Winners will be announced at ceremony on Sunday 27 October.

 The UK Theatre Awards celebrate creative excellence and the outstanding work seen on stages nationwide, demonstrating the breadth and depth of outstanding talent in theatre and the performing arts, both on stage and off.

 The Excellence in Inclusivity award, for which Royal & Dernagate has been nominated, recognises the promotion of inclusivity within an organisation’s programming and workforce, along with its audience and community engagement.

 Ti Green has been nominated for the Best Design award for her work on Touching the Void, a co-production between Royal & Derngate, Bristol Old Vic, Royal Lyceum Edinburgh and Fuel. Based on the memoire of mountaineer Joe Simpson, the play has toured nationally and internationally and transfers to London’s West End this autumn.

Congratulations to the Royal & Derngate team on being nominated – we’ll keep our fingers crossed for you!

Dolly’s 9-5 The Musical a huge hit all over again!

The hilarious show 9 To 5: The Musical visits Milton Keynes Theatre from 24th – 28th September.  It stars Amber Davies as Judy Bernly, Louise Redknapp as Violet Newstead, Lucinda Lawrence as Roz Keith, Georgina Castle as Doralee Rhodes and Brian Conley as Franklin Hart.

9 To 5: The Musical is based on the hit movie and centres on three office workers who turn the tables on their sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot of a boss. They conspire to take control of the company and learn there’s nothing they can’t do. Outrageous, thought-provoking and even a little romantic, 9 To 5: The Musical is about teaming up and taking care of business. Feisty, fun and oh so fabulous! The show features Dolly Parton’s original Oscar nominated hit title song, 9 to 5, along with her new Tony and Grammy nominated score. With 18 original Dolly Parton numbers, including numbers from her last two albums Backwoods Barbie, Shine Like the Sun, Get Out and Stay Out and Let Love Grow.

Dolly Parton said recently:  “I am so excited that 9 to 5 the Musical is coming to Milton Keynes.  I’m hoping you have as much fun watching it as I had writing the music for it. 9 to 5 the Musical is perfect for anyone that’s ever wanted to string up their boss, which is almost all of us. So come join the fun! “

The 2008 Backwoods Barbie tour (which features in 9 To 5: The Musical) completely sold out in the UK as well as her own successful  UK tours, which was Dolly Parton’s most successful to date.

9 To 5: The Musical  was written by Patricia Resnick, with music and lyrics by Dolly Parton. It is directed by Jeff Calhoun.

9 To 5: The Musical at The Milton Keynes Theatre this week!

Box Office: 0844 871 7652 or online:  www.atgtickets.com /miltonkeynes

Jess Bermudez was lucky enough to be at the opening night,

The tyrannical and sexist boss of a busy office Franklyn J Hart, played with just the right amount of venom and lecherousness by Brian Conley gets his come-uppance by three of the workers! Violet (Louise Redknapp), Doralee (the Dolly part played by Georgina Castle) and newcomer Judi (Amber Davies) use some, shall we say unusual, methods to bring Franklyn down a peg or two!

OK the story is weak (I can’t think of many other musicals with strong stories) but the show just bubbles along and, as you might expect from Dolly Parton, there’s plenty of Dolly-type songs, lots of “Yee-Har!”, a whole scene in pink – and plenty of wigs! The three girls are a formidable team in the script and in fact a formidable team period. Special mention I think should go to Louise Redknapp whose powerhouse performance – she sings and dances in eight of the fourteen numbers – has you hooked from the very start. The show also stars Brian Conley as Franklyn Hart Jnr Brian is almost a regular at the MK Theatre – Barnum and pantomime etc. – he is always popular of course and as Franklyn hart Jnr doesn’t disappoint his many fans. Don’t miss this evening of pure fun in the theatre!

9 To 5: The Musical at The Milton Keynes Theatre this week!

Box Office: 0844 871 7652 or online:  www.atgtickets.com /miltonkeynes

Fab-U-lous! or tired? Annie arrives in Milton Keynes

FORGET THE HARD KNOCK LIFE FOR A FEW HOURS

IN THE COMPANY OF ANNIE!

Just three words: ‘fab-u-lous’! Strictly’s meanest judge, Craig Revel Horwood, sashays into Milton Keynes Theatre on a wave of terrific reviews for his performance as the gin-sozzled, tyrannical Miss Hannigan in the smash-hit revival of ANNIE.

Set in 1930s’ New York during The Great Depression, plucky little Annie is living a life of misery at Miss Hannigan’s orphanage. But guess what? Her luck is about to change as she’s chosen to spend a fairy-tale Christmas with famous billionaire capitalist, Oliver Warbucks (Alex Bourne).

Meanwhile, the only Christmas spirit that Miss Hannigan tolerates comes in a bottle as she hatches a plan to scupper Annie’s happiness by foiling the search for the little red-headed moppet’s true family…

But, with her irrepressible cheeriness and her honest-to-goodness positivity, Annie still manages to inspire the U.S President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, to restore America’s economy and introduce a federal emergency relief programme. Not bad going for an 11 year old. Sounds like exactly who we need here in the UK right now.

With its Tony® award-winning book and score, including the unforgettable songs It’s The Hard-Knock Life, Easy Street, I Don’t Need Anything But You and Tomorrow, you can bet your bottom dollar that you’ll love it.

And yes, you will go home singing Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I love ya, Tomorrow, it’s only a day a-waaaay!!

Annie is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 6th July

Box Office: 0844 870 0887 or online: www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes

Fans of Annie the Musical will love this lively production of the show. With its great sets, its stylised choreography and its glorious music. I just think that had we been able to actually understand any of the lyrics it would have made a bit more sense. This might have been 50% down to The Milton Keynes Theatre’s inherent sound problem that many reviewers have mentioned over the years, but also to a group of actors coached in a sort of Brooklyn accent didn’t help. However accurate it might have been didn’t reach the front row of the circle!

How I wish that Drama Schools would teach their young pupils not to gabble! Same as in Matilda, our lovely young Annie seemed to rush through all lib & lyric until she came to an extended high note which she held onto in perfect pitch for as long as the musical director needed.

Have been watching productions of this show since Stratford Johns as Daddy Warbucks and before, I was hoping for more comedy from Rooster and his Blonde Bimbo girlfriend and more to hate about Miss Hannigan, in fact we rather liked her!

Whatever “it” is, I didn’t feel this production had it.

Disappointing.

Ernie Almond

Annie is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 6th July

Box Office: 0844 870 0887 or online: www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes

Les Miserables arrives at MK Theatre!

Cameron Mackintosh’s Acclaimed production of

“Les Miserables”

Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 8th June.

With Killian Donnelly as ‘Jean Valjean’ will be Nic Greenshields as ‘Javert’, Katie Hall as ‘Fantine’, Martin Ball as ‘Thénardier’, Sophie-Louise Dann as ‘Madame Thénardier’, Harry Apps as ‘Marius’, Tegan Bannister as ‘Eponine’, Will Richardson as ‘Enjolras’ and Bronwen Hanson as ‘Cosette’.

Killian Donnelly recently played the role of ‘Jean Valjean’ in the West End production of “Les Misérables”. Prior to his run in “Les Misérables”, he played the role of ‘Charlie Price’ in “Kinky Boots” on Broadway, a role he originated at the Adelphi Theatre in the West End in 2015, for which he was nominated for an Olivier Award. His other theatre credits include ‘Huey’ in “Memphis” at the Shaftesbury Theatre, he created the role of ‘Deco’ in “The Commitments” at the Palace Theatre and has also played ‘Tony’ in “Billy Elliot” at the Victoria Palace Theatre as well as ‘Raoul’ in “The Phantom of the Opera” at Her Majesty’s Theatre.

Nic Greenshields (Javert) most recently appeared in “Young Frankenstein” at the Garrick Theatre. His many other West End credits include “Les Misérables” at both the Queen’s and Palace Theatres, “The Phantom of the Opera” at Her Majesty’s, “Billy Elliot” at the Victoria Palace and “Miss Saigon” at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

Katie Hall (Fantine) numerous credits include playing ‘Cosette’ in this production of “Les Misérables” in 2009, she also played the role at the Queen’s Theatre and in the 25th Anniversary Concert at the O2. Her other credits include ‘Christine’ in “The Phantom of the Opera” at Her Majesty’s and on tour, ‘Johanna’ in “Sweeney Todd” at the London Coliseum and ‘Maria’ in the national tour of “West Side Story”.

Martin Ball previously appeared as ‘Thénardier’ in “Les Misérables” at the Queen’s Theatre. His other West End credits include ‘Monsieur André’ in “The Phantom of the Opera”, ‘Harry’ in “Mamma Mia!”, ‘Mr Banks’ in the first national tour of “Mary Poppins”, He was in the original London cast of “Wicked” and in the cast of “Top Hat” in both the West End and on tour.

Sophie-Louise Dann’s many West End credits include ’Celia’ in “The Girls” (Olivier Award nomination), ‘Barbara Castle’ in “Made in Dagenham” and ‘Diana Divane’ in “Lend Me a Tenor” at the Gielgud Theatre, for which she was nominated for an Olivier Award.

Harry Apps makes his professional debut as ‘Marius’ having successfully auditioned at the recent open auditions for the show.

Tegan Bannister (Eponine)  West End credits include ‘Young Nala’ in “The Lion King” and “Les Misérables” at the Queen’s Theatre.

Will Richardson (Enjolras) has appeared as ‘Rum Tum Tugger’ in “Cats” and ‘Rolf’ in “The Sound of Music”, both on international tour.

Bronwen Hanson (Cosette) has appeared in “Broken Wings” at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Whilst training her credits include ‘Sally Bowles’ in “Cabaret”.

Since Cameron Mackintosh first conceived this new production of “Les Misérables” in 2009 to celebrate the show’s 25th anniversary it has taken the world by storm. Originally touring the UK throughout 2009/10, and concluding with 22 performances at the Barbican, this production was hailed by audiences and critics alike and inspired the hugely successful movie version starring Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway and Eddie Redmayne. The brilliant new staging has scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo.

Based on Victor Hugo’s classic novel, Boublil and Schönberg’s magnificent score of “LES MISÉRABLES” includes the songs, “I Dreamed a Dream”, “On My Own”, “Stars”, “Bring Him Home”, “Do You Hear the People Sing?”, “One Day More”, “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”, “Master Of The House” and many more.

 Les Miserables is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 8th June.

Box Office: Best Availability Monday to Thursday performances. Call the theatre’s dedicated Les Misérables booking line on 01908 547669 (open Mon-Sat, 12–6pm) or visit: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/les-miserables/milton-keynes-theatre/.

Check daily for returns and last minute ticket releases.

 Theatre Box Office: 0844 871 7615 online atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes

Jess Bermudez writes:

 Cameron Mackintosh’s Les Miserables has long been one of my favourite musicals. Having seen five previous productions I admit to being a little blasé as I took my seat. But from the opening notes of the overture from the fine orchestra under the direction of Ben Atkinson and then a brilliantly performed opening soliloquy by Jean Valjean (Killian Donnelly) I knew this was about to be one of those really special performances! So it turned out to be, in fact one of my favourite nights in the theatre so far.

The sets designed by Matt Kinley were stunning. I felt that the whole show had been tightened up a notch, the evening as emotional as it was seemed to fly past. So much energy and passion from every member of the cast helped to tell the story. Because the entire company were so brilliant I am loathed to pick out highlights, but I feel Tegan Bannister deserves a mention for the way she sold the idea that she was so in love with a man who just considered her a friend in her song “On My Own” – a beautiful rendition! Jean Valjean’s “Bring Him Home” reduced me to tears, I think the best I have heard it sung in all six times I’ve seen the show. Special mention too to Shane O’Riordan who was standing in as Marius, he did an excellent job and the entire audience really took to him.

All in all a wonderful production, many congratulations to the whole team both cast and the Creative and Technical teams. If you take my advice you’ll be ringing for tickets right now!

Jess Bermudez

Les Miserables is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 8th June.

Box Office: 0844 871 7615 or online atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes

 Best Availability Monday to Thursday performances. Call the theatre’s dedicated Les Misérables booking line on 01908 547669 (open Mon-Sat, 12–6pm) or visit: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/les-miserables/milton-keynes-theatre/.

Alexandra Burke is back in The Bodyguard at MK Theatre!

THE BODYGUARD: IT’S GOT ROMANCE, SUSPENSE, HIT SONGS… AND ALEXANDRA BURKE!

Milton Keynes Theatre is delighted that Alexandra Burke has returned to the starring role of ‘Rachel Marron’ in the international smash hit production of the award-winning musical THE BODYGUARD.

 Since winning the fifth series of The X Factor in 2008 Alexandra Burke has sold more than one million copies of her debut single, Hallelujah, in the UK, played leading roles in the West End and, in 2017, reached the final of Strictly Come Dancing. Alexandra returns to the role of ‘Rachel Marron’ following her triumphant run in the show in the West End and the subsequent sell out 2015/2016 tour.

Based on Lawrence Kasdan’s 1992 Oscar nominated Warner Bros. movie starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner, THE BODYGUARD, directed by Thea Sharrock with book by Alex Dinelaris, was nominated for four Olivier Awards and has since played to sell-out houses all over the world.

Former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard, Frank Farmer, is hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron from an unknown stalker. Each expects to be in charge but (spoiler alert!) what they don’t expect, is to fall in love.

A romantic thriller, THE BODYGUARD features a host of irresistible classics including Queen of the Night, So Emotional, One Moment in Time, Saving All My Love, Run to You, I Have Nothing, I Wanna Dance with Somebody and one of the biggest hit songs of all time – I Will Always Love You.

Alexandra Burke will perform at all evening performances only

The Bodyguard is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 23rd March

 

Box Office: 0844 871 7652 or online: www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes

What a brilliant production this is! From its very lively start through many very clever set changes & special effects, sixteen great Whitney Houston songs, some very fine singing and dancing and as if that weren’t enough, its a thriller of some quality!

You can forget Alexandra Burke XFactor Winner and replace that from now on with Alexandra Burke STAR! She carried us through the show assisted by a very talented supporting cast (loved the voice of Micha Richardson who plays Alexandra’s sister in the show) and a tight and witty script. Quite a performer is Alexandra, we were watching her as Rachel Marron, never once did my mind stray to Whitney Houston’s portrayal.

Playing opposite Alexandra is French actor-singer Benoit Marechal and what a couple they make! Not only a fine looking actor, (He’s a successful International known model) he proved that he has a fine way with comedy too!

Here’s an evening you really mustn’t miss and you only have until the 23rd March to acquire one of the few available tickets. On opening night the whole house was on its feet long before the end of the finale!

Jess Bermudez

The Bodyguard is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 23rd March

Box Office: 0844 871 7652 or online: www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes

The Band triumphs at Milton Keynes

THE BAND opened at Manchester Opera House on 8 September 2017 to critical and public acclaim.

The musical stars Rachel Lumberg as Rachel, Alison Fitzjohn as Claire, Emily Joyce as Heather, Jayne McKenna as Zoe, AJ Bentley, Nick Carsberg, Curtis T Johns, Yazdan Qafouri and Sario Solomon, winners of BBC’s Let It Shine, as The Band, and playing the girls when young are Faye Christall (Rachel), Katy Clayton (Heather), Rachelle Diedericks (Debbie), Sarah Kate Howarth (Claire), Lauren Jacobs (Zoe) with Martin Miller as husband Jeff and Andy Williams as Dave.

THE BAND is a new musical about what it’s like to grow up with a boyband. For five 16 year-old friends in 1992, ‘the band’ is everything.

25 years on, we are reunited with the group of friends, now 40-something women, as they try once more to fulfil their dream of meeting their heroes.

THE BAND is directed by Kim Gavin and Jack Ryder, designed by Jon Bausor and choreographed by Kim Gavin, with lighting design by Patrick Woodroffe, video design by Luke Halls and sound design by Terry Jardine and Nick Lidster.

THE BAND is produced by David Pugh & Dafydd Rogers and Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, Mark Owen, Robbie Williams.

The Band is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 9th March

Box Office: 0844 871 7652, online:  atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes 

If I’m honest, I wasn’t over excited about seeing this show, but had I not bothered I would have missed a real treat! The Band is something new, very different to the usual run of pop musicals. The script is sharp and very witty, there is a story – yes a real story! The packed Milton Keynes Theatre laughed, clapped, cried, cheered and at the end got up and danced!

The sets work very well. The use of projection onto a conglomeration of different shaped screens was very effective, we even had a full sized passenger plane take off over our heads!

The comedy and the pathos in an altogether excellent script by Tim Firth, were handled very well by an excellent cast led by Rachel Lumberg and Alison Fitzjohn. After a fairly low key start with just the younger girls, the arrival of Alison Fitzjohn as the grown up Claire is a theatrical experience you won’t forget!

The winners of BBC’s programme to find the band itself can be more than proud of themselves as the sang and danced (and played a few other roles) dare I say as well as any boy band has ever done!

An excellent night out. It’s not a tribute to Take That, it just uses their music. It is much, much more than an evening watching a tribute show. Go and see for yourselves – if you can get a ticket!

Ernie Almond.

The Band is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 9th March

Box Office: 0844 871 7652, online:  atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes 

Is The Royal really Haunted? (Backstage Tours)

Behind the Curtain at Royal & Derngate

Theatre enthusiasts can enjoy an informing and entertaining backstage tour experience, with a wonderful storyteller taking them to explore the unseen areas of the Royal and Derngate auditoria. The next Behind the Curtain tours are scheduled for Monday 4, Tuesday 5, Wednesday 6 and Friday 8 March.

Visitors will be taken back in time, starting from the opening night in 1884. Exploring this colourful history, they will hear the real life stories of people who created, performed in or were audience members at shows at the theatre throughout the decades, discovering where Doctor Who was filmed and where Errol Flynn learned his craft. There is also the chance to discover how Made in Northampton productions are created with a visit to Royal & Derngate’s workshop and paintshop. The theatre’s resident ghost may even make an appearance along the way!

Behind the Curtain is an engaging theatrical tour suitable for groups, schools and individuals and lasts approximately 90 minutes. Customers are advised to wear flat shoes.

In addition, exclusive tours can be arranged for groups, and there is also a special version of the tour for primary schools, including an option to visit the Derngate auditorium control room and have a go at operating the lights.

Unfortunately, the standard tour is not suitable for those with access requirements, but accessible tours suitable for those with access needs, hearing or visual impairment are available with prior booking. Please contact erica.martin@royalandderngate.co.uk for further information or to book a primary school, exclusive or accessible tour.

Call Royal & Derngate Box Office on 01604 624811.

The next tours are on

Monday 4 March at 11.30am, 1.30pm and 3.30pm

Tuesday 5 March at 11.30am and 3.30pm,

Wednesday 6 March at 10.30am, 12.30pm, 2.30pm and 4pm

Friday 8 March at 2pm and 4pm.