Cilla is Back! (By popular demand)

I’m pleased to tell you that Cilla is back at Milton Keynes – by popular demand and I’m not surprised one little but!

 

CILLA – THE MUSICAL is the spectacular and heart-warming musical adaptation of the critically acclaimed hit ITV television series by Bafta-Award winner Jeff Pope (The Moorside, Philomena, From The Cradle To The Grave, Mrs Biggs and the acclaimed Little Boy Blue which had ITV audiences glued to their screens). It tells the extraordinary story of the ordinary girl from Liverpool whose teenage dreams of stardom lead her to becoming one of Britain’s best-loved entertainers of all time. Milton Keynes Theatre has done well to get Cilla – The Musical so soon after it’s world premiere at the Liverpool Empire on 7th September this year.

It’s an introduction by a young John Lennon to music mogul Brian Epstein that changes Priscilla White’s life forever. By the age of just 25 she would be known as singer and TV Star Cilla Black, Number One selling artist and at the fore-front of the Brit-Pop music scene. The musical score is the ultimate soundtrack to the 60’s including Cilla’s greatest hits Anyone Who Had a Heart, Alfie and Something Tells Me, Twist and Shout by the Beatles, California Dreamin by The Mamas and The Papas’ and many more.

Bill Kenwright’s new musical features: Kara Lily Hayworth as Cilla, who beat thousands of hopefuls in nationwide open auditions for the coveted role. Andrew Lancel (Brian Epstein); Carl Au (Bobby);  Bill Caple (Ringo Starr); Joshua Gannon (Paul McCartney);  Michael Hawkins (John Lennon).

The musical reunites Tom Dunlea, Michael Hawkins and Gemma Brodrick-Bower, all of whom starred in Jeff Pope’s original ITV mini-series Cilla, on which the musical is based. It also reunites Andrew Lancel with the role of Epstein, which he played on stage to great critical acclaim in Epstein – The Man Who Made The Beatles. Andrew is best known to TV audiences as super-villain Frank Foster in Coronation Street and as DI Neil Manson in the long-running ITV television series The Bill.

The legendary Merseybeat sound is authentically performed live on stage by the cast who are completed by: Alan Howell; Jay Osbourne; Alex Harford; Will Kinnon; Jenny Murphy; Tom Sowinski; and Christopher Weeks.

Cilla – The Musical is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 3rd November for just 8 performances including 3 matinees

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

I was fortunate enough to be at the opening night in Milton Keynes – and it was an amazing experience! Previously after seeing very many Bill Kenwright productions I thought he’d hit a high with Joe McElderry as Joseph, but Cilla – The Musical is without doubt Mr Kenwright’s finest so far!

The lavish sets, the music as close to the original as it is possible to be all served to create the perfect atmosphere for our visit back to those days when pop music was changing, in fact young people in general were beginning to realise that new music was theirs and not meant for the middle aged who were still worshipping the crooners of the previous decade!

Kara Lily Hayworth is stunning as a performer and absolutely perfect in the role of Prescilla White who very soon became Cilla Black. Kara most certainly held her own alongside seasoned performers such as Andrew Lancel (a moving performance as Brian Epstein), Pauline Fleming as Big Cilla and Neil Macdonald as Cilla’s father John White (“I know about these things, I was in the Merchant Navy!”) – and the night was hers!

The rest of the cast, actors and musicians all were wonderful and the sounds they re-created took those of us of a certain age straight back – it was real, there’s no doubt!

I’m sure this will sell out this week and it should move into London if all’s fair, but if you can manage to get a ticket you’re in for a theatrical treat!

Cilla – The Musical is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 30th September

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

Benidorm hits the spot in Milton Keynes.

Benidorm at Milton Keynes Theatre until 20th October.

Age guidance: 12+

Starring Jake Canuso (Mateo), Janine Duvitski (Jacqueline), Adam Gillen (Liam), Sherrie Hewson (Joyce Temple-Savage), Shelley Longworth (Sam), Tony Maudsley (Kenneth) and featuring Neptune’s very own Asa Elliott, the official world premiere of Derren Litten’s smash-hit ITV comedy Benidorm is set to bring sunshine and smiles to the UK and Ireland in the stage debut production of the hugely popular TV show.

ITV’s award-winning comedy celebrates over a decade of all-inclusive hilarity, having followed the ensemble cast of holiday makers and staff for ten series since it first broadcast in 2007. Litten has now written an all new set of Alicante escapades for the much-loved cast members as they swap sangria for the stage – after a quick spruce up at the Blow ‘n’ Go!

A dose of Benidorm sunshine with your favourite stars from the Solana live on stage for the very first time.

Age guidance: 12+

Benidorm is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 20th October.

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

I hadn’t a clue how the popular television series would transform onto the stage, but I needn’t have doubted it. With a packed theatre bursting with Benidorm fans, a set that worked well as the reception, poolside, bar and function room of the Solana Hotel! This with the added attraction of the same stars that appear in the TV series recreating their roles, the show was great fun from beginning to end. Good idea to have a 12+ rating as some of the material is not offensive, but certainly adult.

Ibsen this aint, but if you like Benidorm the series then you’ll love this! You’ll be lucky to get a seat though!

Benidorm is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 20th October.

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

Vulcan 7 at The Cambridge Arts Theatre “is Hilarious”!

Vulcan 7 is at the Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday 6th October

This new comedy is written by and co-stars Adrian Edmondson and Nigel Planer.

Gary Savage (Adrian Edmondson) and Hugh Delavois (Nigel Planer) were students at RADA together. Now in their sixties, they meet in an Icelandic wasteland, on the set of a fantasy movie “Vulcan 7”.

Hugh has had a plodding career but has landed the role of Vulcan’s butler – a small but regular role – and he’s making his seventh film for the franchise.

Gary is a has been Hollywood A-lister who has fallen on lean times and is playing a guest monster with four hours in make-up and one word in the script.

Sparks fly inside the trailer as old wounds are opened and outside the trailer things are not going to plan either: the director’s gone AWOL, the catering trucks on the wrong side of a ravine, and the volcanic activity is growing more lively by the minute…

The cast is complete when Lois Chimimba appears as the movie runner who referees the constant tension between the two actors.

Vulcan 7 is at the Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday 6th October

Box Office: 01223 503333 or go to www.cambridgeartstheatre.com

Mike Moore of Black Cat 107 in St Neots went along to see the opening night at Cambridge and these were his thoughts:

The show is hilarious and fans of Ade and Nigel will not be disappointed, the characters are totally believable and once the tension and history between them is established that takes the background as the drama of what is to become of them stranded in this caravan perched on the side of a ravine – the opposite side to the catering trucks – takes over.

This is a must see, if you enjoy the work of either of its stars you will have a brilliant night of theatre. But please note there is an age guidance of 14+ which could also apply to maiden aunts as the language does get a bit colourful at times! .

Vulcan 7 is at the Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday 6th October

Box Office: 01223 503333 or go to www.cambridgeartstheatre.com



Rain Man at The Arts Theatre – a triumph!

RAIN MAN

BY DAN GORDON

Directed by Jonathan O’Boyle

Rain Man is at The Cambridge Arts Theatre from 8th – 13th October.

Based on the MGM motion picture · Story by Barry Morrow · Screenplay by Ronald Bass and Barry Morrow · Produced by special arrangement with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc.

Bill Kenwright presents the inaugural Classic Screen to Stage Theatre Company production of Rain Man. Mathew Horne (Gavin & Stacey, The Catherine Tate Show) stars as Raymond Babbit opposite Ed Speleers (Downton Abbey, Wolf Hall) as Charlie Babbit.

TWO BROTHERS. ONE DESTINY.

When self-centered salesman Charlie Babbitt discovers that his long-lost brother Raymond, an autistic savant with a genius for numbers, has inherited the family fortune; he sets out to get ‘his half’.

Charlie ‘borrows’ Raymond from the institution where he has spent most of his life and the two brothers embark on a trip across America where Charlie soon discovers that Raymond is worth more than he could have ever imagined…

Inspired by the heart-warming Oscar-winning film, which famously starred Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman and won Oscar’s for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Director and Best Actor, Rain Man follows previous acclaimed Bill Kenwright productions of films to the stage such as A Few Good Men, The Shawshank Redemption and Twelve Angry Men.

The production was directed by Jonathan O’Boyle whose credits include Rasheeda Speaking (Trafalgar Studios), This House (UK Tour); Pippin (Hope Mill Theatre/Southwark Playhouse); and Hair (Hope Mill Theatre/The Vaults) winner of the WhatsOnStage Award for Best Off West End Production.

Rain Man is at Cambridge Arts Theatre from 8th – 13th October.

 Box Office: 01223 503333or online: www.cambridgeartstheatre.com

I was lucky enough to see this production a little earlier in this tour, these were my thoughts….

When I saw the Bill Kenwright production of Cilla I thought it was his finest work so far – Rain Man is most certainly its equal. It is a beautifully told story, thanks to the book by Dan Gordon and Jonathan O’Boyle’s direction. A fairly basic set which transforms seamlessly from office to bedroom to casino never detracts from the actors.

The very strong cast lead by Mathew Horne and Ed Speleers keep the audience entranced and completely immersed in the story. Although he’s done plenty of acting for the screen I was very surprised to learn that this is Ed Speleers’ stage debut! He gave such a strong performance – the perfect foil and complete contrast to Mathew Horne’s wonderful portrayal of Raymond, the adult autistic brother that has spent most of his life in an institution. I took with me a friend who teaches young adults with various forms of autism and he assured me that Mathew had obviously done his research as his performance was completely accurate.

I urge you to get to see this amazing piece of work, try as I might I couldn’t pick fault with the tiniest thing. Congratulations to a superb effort from The Classic Stage to Screen Theatre Company and this particular cast and crew.

Rain Man is at Cambridge Arts Theatre from 8th – 13th October.

 Box Office: 01223 503333or online: www.cambridgeartstheatre.com

 

Shrek The Musical is back at Milton Keynes!

Shrek The Musical returns to Milton Keynes 

shrek the musical,mcdermott,chisall,blackwood,walsh,photo: Helen Maybanks

Based on the award-winning DreamWorks animation film, Shrek The Musical is this year’s must-see show for all the family – and when we say ‘must-see’ you really MUST see it!

Let’s face it, Shrek is an unlikely looking hero but with his loyal (if hugely irritating) steed Donkey, he embarks on a quest to rescue the beautiful (if a little temperamental) Princess Fiona from a fire-breathing, love-sick dragon.

shrek the musical,mcdermott,chisall,blackwood,walsh,photo: Helen Maybanks
Add the diminutive Lord Farquaad and a gang of fairytale misfits, and you’ve got an all-singing, all-dancing, all-gloriously funny spectacular GIANT of a hit show!

The company stars Steffan Harri as the swamp-dwelling Shrek, the role he previously played in the West End. Laura Main is damsel in distress Princess Fiona. Bedfordshire’s Marcus Ayton is Shrek’s wisecracking sidekick Donkey and Samuel Holmes is pint-sized villain Lord Farquaad.

Nigel Harman (well-known, well-loved and consistently well out of order playing a series of bad boys in Eastenders, Downton Abbey and the Sky Living series, Mount Pleasant) has directed the tour. Having played Lord Farquaad in the West End, Nigel came to the role of director knowing exactly how entertaining the show is for both adults and children and determined to make it even more of a monster of a hit. And when you’ve got a full line-up of fairy-tale characters at your disposal, how can you not have fun?
So, would you please give a big welcome to the Three Little Pigs, Pinocchio, Three Blind Mice (in stockings and carrying white sticks) some tap dancing rats, a large, low flying dragon, a tortured gingerbread man and, of course, a cross-dressing wolf!

Featuring a great score of all new songs as well as cult Shrek anthem I’m a Believer, Shrek The Musical is making Milton Keynes Theatre the biggest, brightest, most beautiful place to be this summer!

Shrek the Musical is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 5th August

Box Office: 0844 8717652 or online: www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes

Shrek poster

Even if the cast hadn’t been 1st class (They are, they’re great!) I would tell you to get to see Shrek the Musical at Milton Keynes Theatre purely for the design and production values alone! From the utterly brilliant costumes to the sets, the special effects (including a wonderful singing dragon) to the direction by Nigel Harman. Those things alone would make a fabulous night out for all the family. Don’t run away with the idea that this is just a show for children, I guarantee the adults of the family will laugh a lot, have sympathy for Shrek and enjoy the excellent 7 piece orchestra lead by Colm O’Regan.

I probably shouldn’t single out anyone from this talented cast, they were all just perfect, but from the moment Steffan Harri (Shrek) opens the show he’s got the audience in the palm of his hand, he’s no mean singer either. Marcus Ayton (Donkey) and Laura main (Princess Fiona) both prove that in addition to fine singing talents they both have a flair for comedy. Speaking of comedy, Samuel Holmes as Lord Farquaad absolutely tears the house down with some brilliantly funny scenes! I’m now a devoted fan of his horse “Fibreglass” – the only horse I’ve seen with a reverse gear!

You might not leave the theatre singing any of the tunes – apart from I’m A Believer the Monkey’s old hit, which like in the film is used for the end credits, but you will most certainly come out with a smile on your face having had a truly magnificent theatrical experience!

Ernie Almond.

Shrek the Musical is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 5th August

Box Office: 0844 8717652 or online: www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes

Matilda the Musical is at Milton Keynes!

Winner of over 85 international awards, including 16 for Best Musical, Matilda The Musical is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 30 June.

The title role is being shared by Annalise Bradbury, Lara Cohen, Poppy Jones and Nicola Turner.

Craige Els is reprising the role of Miss Trunchbull, having played her in the West End for three years between 2014 and 2017. He is joined by Carly Thoms as Miss Honey and Sebastien Torkia as Mr Wormwood as well as former West End cast-mate Rebecca Thornhill as Mrs Wormwood.

 Matilda The Musical is written by Dennis Kelly, with music and lyrics by Tim Minchin, and direction by Matthew Warchus. The production is designed by Rob Howell, with choreography by Peter Darling, orchestrations, additional music and musical supervision by Christopher Nightingale, lighting by Hugh Vanstone, sound by Simon Baker and the special effects and illusions are by Paul Kieve.

The production will be accompanied by Change My Story, a new RSC education programme inspired by Matilda The Musical and devised in collaboration with each touring theatre partner to help build long term partnerships between school communities and theatres. 

  • Matilda The Musical has now been seen by more than 7.7 million people worldwide. Having swept the board at the 2012 Olivier Awards, with a record-breaking seven awards, and winning four Tony Awards and a Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theater for the four girls sharing the title role on Broadway, Matilda The Musical has now played in over 60 cities and has played more than 5500 performances worldwide.

 

Matilda The Musical is produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company with André Ptaszynski and Denise Wood as Executive Producers. The production was developed with the support of Jeanie O’Hare and the RSC Literary Department.

Matilda The Musical is at the Milton Keynes Theatre until June 30th.

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

The sets, the music and all of the production methods used are spectacular! The mother & father and of course Miss Trunchbull are beautifully crafted characterisations of the Dahl books and an absolute joy to watch. My only problems were that much of the dialogue was missed due to the usual poor sound quality and I found it difficult to have any sympathy for Matilda herself! I’m sure she got all the words in the right order and the Matilda on duty on the night I was there, enunciated perfectly (possibly too perfect?) but for all that I got the feeling this was a recitation with nothing behind the eyes.

Fans of musicals with children in the cast will love this although don’t expect a Wow moment like in Oliver or Billy Elliot.

Ernie Almond.

10 Minute Standing Ovation for Legally Blonde in MKT!

OH MY GOD YOU GUYS! LEGALLY BLONDE IS at MILTON KEYNES

EastEndersRita Simons, X Factor & Eurovision entrant Lucie Jones, and Bill Ward, star of Coronation Street and Emmerdale star in a major new UK tour of the smash-hit Broadway and West End musical Legally Blonde The Musical, at Milton Keynes Theatre until  Saturday 2 June.

Legally Blonde The Musical is an all singing, all dancing romantic comedy, a fun-filled, feel-good pink fest. College sweetheart and homecoming queen Elle Woods, doesn’t take no for an answer. When her boyfriend dumps her for someone more serious, Elle puts down the credit card, hits the books and heads for Harvard Law School. Along the way, Elle proves that being true to yourself never goes out of style.

Legally Blonde The Musical has music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin, book by Heather Hach, and is based on the novel by Amanda Brown and the MGM motion picture.

Based on the Reese Witherspoon film, Legally Blonde The Musical earned seven Tony nominations and 10 Drama Desk Award nominations during its Broadway run. In the UK it was nominated for 5 Laurence Olivier Awards winning 3 including Best New Musical, and was nominated for 8 Whatsonstage Awards winning 4 including Best Musical.

Rita Simons (Paulette Bonafonte) is best known for playing Roxy Mitchell in BBC’s EastEnders for which she has won numerous awards and is one of Britain’s best loved actresses. Rita has also appeared on TV in Mile High as Hannah, Dream Team as Julie and London’s Burning. In Spring 2012, Rita was the subject of a major documentary film Rita Simons: My Daughter, Deafness and Me made by Leopard Films for BBC1. Rita actively supports the charity RNID.

Lucie Jones (Elle Woods) recently played Maureen in the 20th anniversary UK tour of Rent. Her previous theatre credits include: Elle Woods in Legally Blonde (Leicester Curve); Molly in Ghost (Asian Tour); Victoria in American Psycho (The Almeida); Meatloaf in We Will Rock You (International Tour); Kelly Byrne in The Prodigals (Edinburgh Festival); Cosette in Les Miserables (Queens Theatre, West End and O2 Arena). Her TV acting credits includes: Melody Carver in Midsomer Murders (ITV); Louise in The Sarah Jane Adventures (BBC). Lucie was a finalist in the 2009 series of The X Factor.

Bill Ward (Professor Callahan) is best known for his work on two of the country’s leading soaps. He has just finished 3 years playing farmer James Barton in Emmerdale. Previously, he played the builder Charlie Stubbs in Coronation Street. In addition to his many and varied TV and film credits Bill is no stranger to the stage and has worked on everything from Sophocles to The Spice Girls at Bristol Old Vic, Manchester Royal Exchange, Northern Stage, Clwyd Theatr Cymru, and The National Theatre Studio amongst others. He’s played Prospero in The Tempest in Guildford, Lancelot in Spamalot in the West End, and Kevin the Gnome in a muddy field in Glastonbury.

Legally Blonde is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 2nd June

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

 I was lucky enough to be at the press night of Legally Blonde at Milton Keyne – and what a night! This show has toured before, but this production beats the previous incarnations hands down! It has pace, lots of new ideas and its lots of fun! They have subtly brought it slightly up to date in place – but not so’s you’d notice. Lots of great new production ideas (involving bicycles etc.) and I thought the classroom at Harvard and the courtroom scenes worked better than ever without being too cluttered with tables and chairs. All in all, this is a great night out, the audience stood as one and applauded for a good ten minutes – don’t miss it! 

Legally Blonde is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 2nd June

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

Summer Holiday the Musical at MK Theatre

 NEW STAGE MUSICAL VERSION OF SUMMER HOLIDAY
AT MILTON KEYNES THEATRE

A brand new production of the feel- good musical, Summer Holiday, featuring Cliff Richard’s classic hits is at the Milton Keynes Theatre, until  Saturday 19 May.

Based on the iconic 1960’s film starring Cliff Richard and The Shadows, Summer Holiday includes all of the number one hits from the movie, plus some additional Cliff Richard classics.

Talking on the lead role of Don, made famous by Cliff Richard, is singer-songwriter Ray Quinn. Ray shot to fame as the runner-up in ITV1’s The X Factor in 2006. This spurned a career in both music and of late musicals, with his debut album ‘Doing it My Way’ entering the charts at Number 1, and quickly gaining platinum status. Ray is perhaps best known of late for ‘doing the double’ on ITV1’s hugely successful show Dancing on Ice, winning for the first time in 2009, and then again on Dancing on Ice: Champion of Champions in 2014. Ray’s theatre credits include Danny Zuko in Grease (West End), Dirty Dancing (West End), Legally Blonde (UK Tour) and most recently, The Wedding Singer (UK Tour).

The role of Jerry, the long-suffering agent, will be played by Bobby Crush. Famous in the UK for 45 years primarily as a pianist, but also as a songwriter, actor, broadcaster and television presenter, Bobby rose to fame after six winning appearances on Opportunity Knocks (ITV). West End successes include three seasons at the London Palladium alongside Jack Jones, Vic Damone and Dame Julie Andrews. He also spent a year with Max Bygraves in SwingalongaMax at the Victoria Palace and was chosen to appear for Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother at The Royal Variety Performance. Bobby has also appeared in four musicals starring as Dr. Frank N. Furter in The Rocky Horror Show, Vernon Gersch in They’re Playing Our Song, L.M. in Pump Boys and Dinettes and Billy Flynn in Chicago at top theatres around the United Kingdom. Bobby’s debut album ‘Bobby Crush’ reached the UK top 20, and he plays the role of Pharaoh on Pickwick’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. TV credits include two series of Sounds Like Music (ITV) as the show’s host, and most recently, Bobby has been playing Billy Sparkle in the popular TV comedy Benidorm (ITV). In April Bobby will be seen on a major new series for ITV called Last Laugh in Vegas, which documents Bobby’s American debut alongside 7 other legendary British acts and their adventure to star in a Las Vegas show.

Sophie Matthew plays runaway singer, Barbara, with Taryn Sudding taking on the role of Stella, her controlling fame-hungry mother. Sophie is best known for playing the role of Sarah in Our House (UK Tour), and also played the role of Ginny in Humans (Channel 4). Taryn Sudding played Angie in the 1997 production of Summer Holiday. She is most well-known for playing Bombalurina in Cats across the world over a fourteen-year period, including in the original South African production. Other notable roles include Grace Farrell in Annie (South African Production), and Elsa in The Sound of Music (SA and international tour).

Summer Holiday tells the story of Don and his fellow London Transport mechanics as they journey together in a red double-decker bus through Paris, the Alps, Italy and Greece. Along the way they pick up a girl singing group and a young American pop star who is on the run from her domineering mother!

 

This hit-filled musical features many of 1960’s biggest songs including In the Country, Summer Holiday, Travellin’ Light, Bachelor Boy, Move It, Living Doll, The Young Ones and On the Beach.

Summer Holiday is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 19th May

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

I went along to the press night with keen anticipation. Sadly, it turned out to be more of an exercise in how to put on a National Tour without spending too much! The set was made up of black drapes (very obviously hiding the bus, giant sliding panels of Travel Posters – and a bus.

The costumes, set, and the choreography all seemed to me to lack much inspiration or even imagination. Sure there were some sixties dance moves, but I got the impression that once they’d found half a dozen moves from that era, they made do, when in fact there were probably very many to choose from.

I can’t think why Ray Quinn’s management got him into this, surely they read the script? It was worthy of a local am-dram or at best an End of the Pier show. Ray is a fine, multi talented performer and did his best with some very poor material. It was good to see Bobby Crush, never happier it seems than when he’s wearing something outrageous! If you’ve not seen Bobby playing Dame in panto, you get an inkling from this performance.

My verdict? Most disappointing. If it was mine I’d keep the cast, keep the music, keep the finale and ditch the show! (or at least re-write it!)

Ernie Almond.

Children’s auditions for Nativity! The Musical

Following sold-out performances in London and a triumphant UK tour in 2017, Jamie Wilson, Entertainment One (eOne), Ramin Sabi and Belgrade Theatre Coventry are delighted to announce the return of Nativity! The Musical and are on the look-out for children across the UK to audition for the 2018 UK tour.

Bright, young stars from across the country will have a chance to sparkle and shine as one of the children from Oakmoor School. Auditions will be held around the country, coming to Milton Keynes on Saturday 30 June.

 Other dates include: Liverpool on 30 May, Oxford 9 June, Stoke 16 June, Coventry 7 July, Nottingham21 July and London 14 July. Auditions for both Edinburgh and Glasgow will be held in Edinburgh on the 23 June (children will need to be available to play both venues).

 All children auditioning must be:

 Children must be age 9-12 years old by 1st September 2018

Strictly no taller than 4ft 7inches

Children must live within 45 miles commute to the venue and be available to perform the playing dates of the venue they are auditioning for – tour dates listed below
Characterful but disciplined children with strong singing, acting and movement skills and with a passion for performing

 Nativity! The Musical is written and directed by the creator and director of the blockbuster film series, Debbie Isitt. Debbie said;

 ‘We are looking for characterful but disciplined children who can ‘act’ as snobby and superior and yet have a sense of fun and can give over the top performances if required.  We need the children to have good movement ability – marching, basic choreography and have excellent posture.  They should also be able to sing confidently, have basic acting ability and enjoy performing’.

Every child in every school has one Christmas wish, to star in a Nativity, and at St Bernadette’s School they’ve decided to mount a musical version! Join teacher Mr Maddens and his crazy assistant Mr Poppy as they struggle with hilarious children, and a whole lot of sparkle and shine to make everyone’s Christmas wish come true. Featuring all of your favourite sing-a-long songs from the smash-hit films including Sparkle and Shine, Nazareth and One Night One MomentNativity! The Musical promises to be the perfect feel-good comedy for all the family.

To audition, children must be pre-registered with Keston and Keston the Children’s Regional Casting Directors via the iOS App ‘Keston Casting- downloadable’ which can be downloaded for free via the app store or registration can be via the website www.kestonandkestoncasting.com.

 All children who fall within the criteria above will be sent an invite with full information and the location for the audition.

The Play That Goes Wrong – MK Theatre

The Play That Goes Wrong, the West End’s Olivier Award winning box office hit, sets off on its third major UK tour, visiting Milton Keynes Theatre, Monday 23 – Saturday 28 April.

Winning eleven international awards, including the 2015 Olivier Award for Best New Comedy and a 2017 Tony Award for its Broadway transfer, The Play That Goes Wrong continues to play to sold out houses in the West End, whilst enjoying its new status as Broadway’s longest running play. It is a remarkable rags-to-riches story for a play, which started its life at a London fringe venue with only four paying members of the public at the first performance, and has since played to an audience of almost one and a half million worldwide. In 2017, The Play That Goes Wrong played simultaneously in twelve countries.

Co-written by Mischief Theatre company members Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, The Play That Goes Wrong is a highly physical comedy packed with finely-tuned farce and Buster Keaton inspired slapstick delivered with split-second timing and ambitious daring. The play introduces The ‘Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’ who are attempting to put on a 1920s’ murder mystery, but as the title suggests, everything that can go wrong… does, as the accident prone thespians battle on against all the odds to get to their final curtain call.

Why would all these regional theatres want a return visit of our little murder mystery show when last year’s tour went so badly wrong. I am at a loss to understand it.” Producer, Kenny Wax

Mischief Theatre was founded in 2008 by a group of graduates of The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) and began as an improvised comedy group. Their other production The Comedy About A Bank Robbery is now booking into its third year in the West End at the Criterion Theatre and their new improv show Mischief Movie Night opens in the West End on 13 December at the Arts Theatre.  The company is led by Artistic Director Henry Lewis and Company Director Jonathan Sayer.

The touring cast presents: Jake Curran (Chris), Catherine Dryden (Annie), Bobby Hirston (Max), Benjamin McMahon (Dennis), Gabriel Paul (Trevor), Steven Rostance (Jonathan), Kazeem Tosin Amore (Robert), Elena Valentine (Sandra) with David Kristopher-Brown (Understudy), Laura White (Understudy), Liam Horrigan (Understudy) and Louisa Sexton (Understudy).

The Play That Goes Wrong is directed by Mark Bell, with set designs by Nigel Hook, lighting by Ric Mountjoy and costumes by Roberto Surace. The Play That Goes Wrong is produced in the West End and on tour by Kenny Wax Ltd and Stage Presence Ltd.

The Play that Goes Wrong is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 28th April

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

I went along early in the week and I would be less than truthful if I said all ran smoothly. The few minor technical hitches were cleverly covered up by this stellar cast led by actor/director Trevor (played by Gabriel Paul). I’m sure that with the help of a few nails, a hammer and a roll of gaffer tape all will be well by the time you see this – and see it you must if only to witness the best corpse in the business played by Steven Rostance.