Cilla storms it at Milton Keynes!

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 30th September

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

CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME returns to MILTON KEYNES THEATRE

The multi-award-winning production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, returns to Milton Keynes Theatre, Monday 4 – Saturday 16 September, for its second major UK tour!

Playing the central role of Christopher Boone is Scott Reid (recently appearing in BBC1’s comedy Still Game), with Lucianne McEvoy as his teacher Siobhan, Emma Beattie as Judy, David Michaels as his father Ed, Debra Michaels as Mrs Alexander and Eliza Collings as Mrs Shears.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is adapted from Mark Haddon’s best-selling book by Simon Stephens and directed by Marianne Elliott. The production is designed by Bunny Christie, with lighting by Paule Constable, video design by Finn Ross, movement by Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett for Frantic Assembly, music by Adrian Sutton and sound by Ian Dickinson for Autograph.  The Associate Director is Elle While.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time received seven Olivier Awards in 2013, including Best New Play, Best Director, Best Design, Best Lighting Design and Best Sound Design and five Tony Awards on Broadway including Best Play.

The show tells the story of Christopher Boone, who is fifteen years old.  He stands beside Mrs Shears’ dead dog, which has been speared with a garden fork, it is seven minutes after midnight and Christopher is under suspicion. He records each fact in a book he is writing to solve the mystery of who murdered Wellington.  He has an extraordinary brain, and is exceptional at maths while ill-equipped to interpret everyday life.  He has never ventured alone beyond the end of his road, he detests being touched and distrusts strangers.  But his detective work, forbidden by his father, takes him on a frightening journey that upturns his world.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is at  Milton Keynes Theatre, until 16 September

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

Jess Bermudez went along to the opening night….

 Can you honestly imagine the world where no-one was capable of ever telling a lie? Christopher is a teenager with Asperger’s Syndrome and because of it cannot tell a lie and he assumes that everyone he meets is the same – until he discovers that his own parents have lied to him!

This breathtaking National Theatre production is as fine a piece of theatre as you will ever see.

It is a stunning story of a boy with autism, cleverly adapted from Mark Haddon’s novel by Simon Stephens and told by a truly talented cast. Due to the wonderful direction by Marianne Elliot, movement direction by Scott Graham & Steven Hoggett, brilliant set design and special effects, we get to see and feel exactly what Christopher feels inside during (for instance) his first ever trip on his own from his home in sleepy Swindon to the hustle and bustle of London. I swear the entire audience felt his panic!

This production is an absolute “must see” so if you haven’t already got tickets, get on-line right now – and just hope you’re not too late! 

Jess Bermudez

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 16th September

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