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.

The Legend returns to Milton Keynes

MATTHEW BOURNE’S SWAN LAKE 

If ever a theatrical experience truly deserved the epithet ‘iconic’, Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake is it.

Credit: Johan Persson/

Returning to Milton Keynes Theatre with a fresh look for the 21st century – while still retaining all the breathtaking elements of the original production – Matthew Bourne and award-winning designers Lez Brotherston (Set & Costumes) and Paule Constable (Lighting) have created an exciting re-imagining of the classic New Adventures production.

Thrilling, audacious, witty and emotive, this Swan Lake is perhaps still best known for replacing the female corps-de-ballet with a menacing male ensemble, which shattered conventions, turned tradition upside down and took the dance world by storm.

Collecting over thirty international accolades including an Olivier Award in the UK and three Tonys on Broadway, Matthew Bourne’s powerful interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece is a passionate and contemporary Swan Lake for our times.

Matthew Bourne says: “When we first started to do it, we had audiences walking out when the Prince and the Swan started dancing together. We had little girls in tears that it wasn’t performed with the tutus and pointe shoes that they were expecting; some people refused to come and see it at all. But we’re a contemporary dance theatre company, so we had to tell a story through movement, in a different way, and it needed a big idea to make people see it in a different way as well.

For me ultimately it is about someone struggling with who they are. We can all relate to an individual who in the society that they are in can’t be who they really are. I think the piece moves people because it has a message about looking for acceptance; but it also moves people because it’s about loss as well, and it’s about people that you’ve lost.

I feel those themes are very universal and very much things that touch all of us. It’s a very human piece and global – both in its message and in the way that it brings us all together.”

If you haven’t seen the show that, 25 years ago, changed the shape of ballet as we know it, you have an unforgettable treat in store; if you’ve seen it before, the emotional truth, the beauty and the compelling drama of this refreshed production will certainly draw you back.

 Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake is at Milton Keynes Theatre from 29th Jan – Sat 2nd Feb

Box Office: 0844 871 7652, online:  ATGTICKETS.COM/MiltonKeynes  Under 25s Offer – £15 per ticket Wed – Thu 7.30pm (Limited Availability)

If your idea of ballet is still ladies in tights and tutus and men in tights without them then you are at least 23 years out of date! It was in 1995 that Matthew Bourne changed the world of dance forever, winning over most of his critics before the interval of that opening night. These swans are aggressive, masculine and utterly believable!

On the opening night at Milton Keynes Theatre the show featured Max Westwell as The Swan, Liam Mower as The Prince, Katrina Lyndon as The Queen and Carrie Willis as The Girlfriend. The audience were treated to this spectacular evening of beautiful music, fabulous sets and a brilliantly talented cast with a dancing prowess matched by their first class acting from start to finish. Matthew Bourne has tweaked this latest production, just enough to freshen it a little but not to upset those that don’t like change of any sort! The long standing ovation at the end of the evening proved just why Matthew Bourne’s wonderful direction fully deserves all the awards this production of the most popular ballet has already received – and those it will undoubtedly receive in the years to come!

Ernie Almond

The Marlowe Society’s Much Ado About Nothing

Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing is at the Cambridge Arts Theatre from 23-26 January.

Cambridge University’s The Marlowe Society, one of the university’s most acclaimed dramatic societies, returns to Cambridge Arts Theatre after a string of successful productions in recent years including Romeo and Juliet and Edward II.

This year will see The Marlowe Society perform Much Ado about Nothing, one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies. Marrying sharp witticism with edge, Much Ado about Nothing introduces us to two of Shakespeare’s most loquacious lovers: Benedick and Beatrice. A vivid and compelling tale, this romantic comedy explores the transcendent nature of love and its capacity to overcome the obstacles of family, society, honour and deception.

Richard Beecham, who will direct Much Ado About Nothing, has directed productions across Britain and on tour, including productions at The Old Vic, Theatre Royal Bath and the Watford Palace, where he was nominated for Best Director in the Off-West End Theatre Awards for Broken Glass, as well as receiving a nomination for UK Theatre Awards’ Best Production for Dancing at Lughnasa and a nomination for Manchester Theatre Awards’ Best Production for Rose.

The Marlowe Society has launched the careers of some of Britain’s greatest actors including Sir Ian McKellen, Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston and Derek Jacobi, and continues its tradition of showcasing the best theatrical talent at the university.

Much Ado About Nothing is at the Cambridge Arts Theatre until  26th January

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

Presenter Mike Moore (Black Cat 107) went along on opening night and gave his thoughts about the production:

This production by the very talented Marlowe Society is simply stunning! Avoiding the trappings of a complicated set, occasional props and lighting effects were used very successfully to depict the various scenes. They decided to bring the story right up to date – using, of course, the Bard’s original words. I was gripped from start to finish and it would be unfair to pick out any particular actor as the entire ensemble were as they should be, a close knit-team. The opening of act two with the not so bright members of The Watch was hilarious! Well done to all concerned – a production worth seeing – twice at least!

Black Cat 107 available on fm around St Neots, DAB+ across Cambridge and on TuneIn on the internet.

The Worst Witch at Cambridge Arts Theatre

THE WORST WITCH is at the Cambridge Arts Theatre from Wednesday 6th to Sunday 10th February

Adapted from Jill Murphy’s original much loved children’s books The Worst Witch is an action-packed stage adaptation with songs, music and magic for children aged 7+.

‘Told with wit and ingenuity’ THE GUARDIAN

Mildred Hubble, the good-hearted but accident-prone ordinary girl, begins her first year at Miss Cackles Academy for Witches. As she struggles to fit in, Mildred’s inevitable mayhem upsets her nemesis, fellow student Ethel Hallow and Deputy Headmistress Miss Hardbroom, just as an old enemy returns with a plan for revenge that threatens the academy and the world.

The Worst Witch is adapted for the stage by Emma Reeves (Royal Television Society Award for Best Children’s TV Programme & 2017 British Screenwriters Award for Best Children’s Programme), who adapted the books for the CBBC series and directed by Theresa Heskin (2017 UK Theatre Award for Best Show for Children and Young People)

The Worst Witch is at Cambridge Arts Theatre 6-10 February

Box Office: 01223 503333, email: boxoffice@cambridgeartstheatre.com

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