Steve Harley live at The Core

Widely considered one of the most charismatic performers on stage, Steve Harley continues to play to sold-out venues across the UK and Europe. 

For Steve, life on the road is more than just a job: it is almost his life’s blood. 

And with the February 2020 release of the all-acoustic CD, “UNCOVERED”, the original Cockney Rebel shows no sign of slowing down.

The Acoustic Band for 2022 will find Steve supported by long-standing violinist/guitarist Barry Wickens, and Oli Heyhurst on double bass, with Dave Delarre on lead acoustic guitar.

Steve has been playing Live shows around the world for over 45 years and the thrill of another night in another place to another audience has not dimmed at all.

“We have real adventures on tour, “says Steve. “I’ve seen the Northern Lights, the Midnight Sun and dozens of wonderful galleries, museums and great cities, all on my down-time. I have a great life as a Wandering Minstrel!”

“UNCOVERED” includes a re-recording of Steve’s popular song “Love, Compared With You” with a newly composed third verse, plus eleven other songs he’s always wanted to perform. The album features Barry Wickens on viola and acoustic guitar, Oli Hayhurst on double bass, Tom Hooper on percussion and the Roots Music Legend, Martin Simpson, on guitar. Steve also sings a duet with the amazing Scottish singer, Eddi Reader.

The acoustic sets for 2022 will include songs from the new CD, plus a selection from the vast and eclectic Harley Songbook. Mr Soft, Judy Teen, Sebastian and the legendary Make Me Smile will all be re-produced in the unique acoustic style.

Close-Up Culture stated: “It was an intimate night in the presence of a great musician. An individual whose passion for live performance and perfection (it shows in his face) remains undiminished.”.

Rod Stewart, who covered Steve’s song “A Friend For Life”, describes him as “One of the finest lyricists Britain has produced.”

MOJO said simply, “Harley creates rock songs that are proud, lyrical and full ofyearning.”  Steve has also been described as “A consummate performer at the top of his game,” and this show will bear that out.

Steve received a Lifetime Achievement Award for Acoustic Music from the Acoustic Festival of Britain in 2018.

Saturday 28 May                       CORBY – The Core @ Corby Cube

tickets from:

Les Miserables is here!

Since Cameron Mackintosh first conceived this acclaimed new production of LES MISÉRABLES in 2009 to celebrate the show’s 25th anniversary it has taken the world by storm continuing to enjoy record-breaking runs in countries including North America, Australia, Japan, Korea, France and Spain. Boublil and Schönberg’s magnificent iconic score of LES MISÉRABLES includes the classic 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. Several of its songs have become real life anthems of revolution wherever in the world people are fighting for their freedom. Seen by over 120 million people worldwide in 52 countries and in 22 languages, LES MISÉRABLES is undisputedly one of the world’s most popular and contemporary musicals. Cameron Mackintosh’s production of LES MISÉRABLES is written by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg and is based on the novel by Victor Hugo. It has music by Claude-Michel Schönberg, lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer and original French text by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel, additional material by James Fenton and adaptation by Trevor Nunn and John Caird. Orchestrations are by Stephen Metcalfe, Christopher Jahnke and Stephen Brooker with original orchestrations by John Cameron. The production is directed by James Powell and Laurence Connor, designed by Matt Kinley inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo with costumes by Andreane Neofitou and Christine Rowland, lighting by Paule Constable, sound by Mick Potter, musical staging by Michael Ashcroft and Geoffrey Garratt, and music supervision by Stephen Brooker and Alfonso Casado Trigo.

Joining the previously announced Dean Chisnall as ‘Jean Valjean’, Nic Greenshields as ‘Javert’ and Katie Hall as ‘Fantine’ will be Ian Hughes as ‘Thénardier’, Will Callan as ‘Marius’, Nathania Ong as ‘Eponine’, Helen Walsh as ‘Madame Thénardier’, Barnaby Hughes as ‘Enjolras’ and Paige Blankson as ‘Cosette’.


I’m convinced that this Cameron Mackintosh production of Les Misérables is the show of the year for the Milton Keynes Theatre and possibly the majority of the theatres this glorious cast will have visited by the end of their tour. Everything about the production is as perfect as I’ve seen. The sound and lighting are so good that you hardly notice them, the sets are huge, spectacular, complicated, realistic – and work like a dream! Brilliant work by director James Powell ably assisted I’m sure by resident director Jo Parsons, meant that there was never a moment with nothing going on and if you took a still shot at any moment you just know you’d get a perfect shot like a beautiful painting.

I’m afraid to mention the cast by name because right from the first few seconds when some of the boatmen had solos to sing, right to the finale you couldn’t fault any of them. But special mention must got to Will Barratt standing in on the night I went in the part of Jean Valjean with a faultless performance. Will Callan as Marius making his professional debut is quite a find and I’m sure will have a busy career from this show on. Playing the only character in the story that gets little sympathy from the audience but with a stunning solo ”Stars” that almost brought the house down was experienced singer/actor Nic Greenshields, a very fine and powerful foil for Jean Valjean. Always popular are innkeeper Thénardier and Madame Thénardier thank goodness Cameron Mackintosh persuaded Ian Hughes & Helen Walsh two of the best in the business to play these rascals. Just when you need a little light relief, along comes Master of the House taking the place by storm. Wonderful performances. But then we were treated to fine performances from every single person on that stage, I wish I had the space to mention everyone of this cast.

All in all, the best night at the theatre since the anniversary tour of Phantom of the Opera and I’m not at all sure that this production didn’t top that one! I can’t really believe there are people left who’ve not seen Les Mis yet but if you haven’t – or even if you’ve seen all the previous versions, get along to see this!
I don’t believe this production of Les Misérables will ever be bettered!

Ernie Almond.

Les Misérables plays Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 21 May with tickets from £13. General bookings: 0844 871 7615*; Access bookings: 0333 009 5399; Group bookings: 0207 206 1174, ATGTICKETS.COM/MiltonKeynes*

Jersey Boys storm back into Milton Keynes!

Jersey Boys is the story – warts and all – of the Four Seasons both with Frankie Valli as a member and later as Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

Four Seasons’ fans will be thrilled to know that Jersey Boys is back at the Milton Keynes Theatre on its way round the UK. The show did very well in London running for 9 years from 2008 in the West End – and even better on Broadway where it lasted a brilliant 12 years on Broadway.

if you’re expecting a sort of tribute show to the group, forget it because this goes much deeper. The Four Seasons themselves were very harmonious onstage but not so off it. Michael Pickering played Frankie and he and the rest of the cast were all excellent both the sound of the Four Seasons and the arguing off stage were at all times believable and I think the Four Seasons sound was very accurately portrayed. The Frankie Valli voice is quite special as you might remember and quite where Michael Pickerning gets it from I can’t imagine – quite small in stature as was Frankie himself but a breathtaking moment once you hear that voice! We see the life of the group at its best and during it many down times. Co-author of the script Rick Ellis said ” It’s not so much a musical as a play about four guys who wrote music.” It’s about revenge, betrayal, and crime & punishment. We see the effects living for long periods on the road as a busy entertainer has on your life and especially your relationships. But, if you are a fan of the Four Seasons you will get a wonderful recreation of so many of their songs – there’s 34 musical numbers in the show and you’ll know every one of them!! We see the time that Barry Gordie joined the group and his talent for writing perfect songs certainly helped the group’s success but even his joining the group didn’t please everyone! It’s certainly a tough story, but its a real worthwhile thing to go and see! The sets work very well and are managed very smoothly with the lighting team and the stage crew working very much in sync. The sound – especially during the speech, needs to be really crisp or we don’t get every word if the actors are putting on American accents. During the songs all was well.

The show is a delight and received a well deserved standing ovation on the Wednesday night I was there.

Tickets: or phone 0844 871 7615

The show runs at Milton Keynes Theatre until 5th March.

Dreamgirls arrives in Milton Keynes!


Featuring the classic songs ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’, ‘Listen’ and ‘One Night Only’, this sensational production of Dreamgirls had its critically acclaimed West End première in December 2016 at London’s Savoy Theatre, 35 years on from opening on Broadway.

Meet the Dreams – Effie, Lorrell and Deena – three talented young singers in the turbulent 1960s, a revolutionary time in American music history. Join the three friends as they embark upon a musical rollercoaster ride through a world of fame, fortune and the ruthless realities of show business, testing their friendships to the very limit.

Dreamgirls stars Nicole Raquel Dennis as Effie White with Sharlene Hector performing the role at certain performances. Milton Keynes actress Natalie Kassanga will play the role of Deena Jones at Milton Keynes Theatre, her hometown venue

Dreamgirls is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Sat 5 Feb

Box Office: 0844 871 7615 or

Online: ATGTICKETS.COM/MiltonKeynes

I went along on Press Night and these were my thoughts:

Dreamgirls arrived in all its glory at The Milton Keynes Theatre – along with a fine 10 piece orchestra under the direction of Simona Budd.

This true-to-life story of a three girl harmony group in America in the 70’s had Sharlene Hector in the lead on that night as lead singer Effie White. She has a voice you could mistake for that of Jennifer Hudson and got a well deserved standing ovation for her rendition of “I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” – the song that most people talk about and one which quite frankly the first act truly needed.

The Other two girls, Deena Jones (Natalie Kassanga) the girl that not only stole Effie’s lead role in the group but also her man and the youngest member Lorrell (Paige Peddic) were both well cast I thought but needed a little more pezaz. I thought after they became successful the “Diana Ross” look of a top, very wealthy star might have been helped by a different costume and more bling.

This show is shortened slightly – we don’t really get the downfall of Jimmy Early (Played with loads of energy by Brandon Lee Sears – what a performer he is!) or the hard times that Effie went through as a single, out of work parent.

The show keeps its ensemble and musicians really busy with almost 30 original musical numbers.

Christopher Gopaul was Curtis Taylor Jnr on the night we went. He’s the nasty manager of the group and I felt his performance could’ve been stronger and nastier – I also got the impression he was having to play well above his true age which is always difficult especially if romance is involved.

Dreamgirls is a strong story of showbiz’s good times and the tough ones. Lots of good music into the bargain – you’ll have a good night out, if you can get a ticket!

Ernie Almond

Dreamgirls is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Sat 5 Feb

Box Office: 0844 871 7615 or

Online: ATGTICKETS.COM/MiltonKeynes

Diversity slays ’em at MKT!

They say if you arrive at the theatre in the wrong mood you will not enjoy the show no matter what! So I have to be honest and say that yes, I was one of the doubters. How could a dance troupe – even Diversity – be the stars of a pantomime? Pantomime is traditional fayre, with traditional routines and gags – not up Ashley Banjo‘s street at all!

I couldn’t have been more wrong! Not just Ashley but all the boys & girls joined in many of the comedy routines with gusto. “If I Were Not In Pantomime” being one that stood out that both I and Simon Trott (Pete Firmin) will remember for a very long time. Me because I laughed a lot and Simon because he’s having to spend the entire Christmas season being smacked in the face with a frying pan several times nightly! What a way to earn a living!

Daniel Boys was a particularly slimy Fleshcreep, the giant’s henchman and he kicked off the show with his own evil dancers perfectly. In fact Fleshcreep kept up the level of boos he recieved right to the end. Good baddy stuff!

The sets and costumes were proper panto glam and glitter. The giant actually appears and isn’t just projected onto the set, we see Jack cheating by flying a working helecopter to the top of the beanstalk, flying right out over the stalls in the process!  The script was sharp and witty, the songs fitted in perfectly and Jack and all his (Diversity) brothers’ routines are energetic, hugely skilfull and with the humour we’ve come to expect from this gang.

Pete Firmin as Simon was most likeable. He won the audience over within seconds and they loved him and his tricks. Such a good pro that I got the feeling that if anything untoward happened he would just carry on entertaining us until it was fixed – no problem!

I have a thing about Pantomime dames, I’m convinced that they should be the wrong side of forty (age & waist) and not be a female impersonator. Even the late great Danny La Rue  made sure he had Alan Hayes with him to fly the flag of proper panto dames. The dame in Jack & The Beanstalk at Milton Keynes is perfect! Dame Trott was played brilliantly by Jack Land Noble, a true expert! From a family steeped in show business, Jack knows exactly what he’s doing and the audience realise this very quickly and relax knowing all is well. His costumes are of course ridiculous but at the same time just right.

The good fairy character, in this production Mother Nature (Gina Murray) was much in evidence and unusually for this character had several songs which were all a delight. Similarly the beautiful Princess Jill (Laura Evans) with yet more dancers as her entourage made the perfect partner for Jack – even though he was head shoulders and chest above her, or so it seemed!

The songs, special effects, dance routines and standard Panto gags all just helped the story along and we – thats us led by our hero Jack won the day in the end and the Giant came crashing down!

Make no bones about it, this is the finest, most spectacular pantomime even Milton Keynes Theatre has had for a while as the rapturous, standing ovation proved! I’ve seen quite a few so far this year and without a doubt this one stands a mile out in front of the others!

Get a ticket – if you can!

Jack & The Beanstalk runs at the Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 8th January

Box Office: 0844 8717615 or online: www.atgtickets/miltonkeynes


Lost Boys found alive & well at The Chrysalis Theatre!

Peter Pan at The Chrysalis Theatre, Milton Keynes


It’s good that Milton Keynes has a choice of panto’s this year since 1702 Productions have brought Peter Pan to the Chrysalis Theatre for this Christmas season. It’s been made purposely more affordable for families to come and enjoy this romp through (or close to) JM Barrie’s wonderful story of the boy who never grows up. Seasonal pantomime gags are added to a script written by Steven Gordon-Wilson which uses songs well known to the young audience from shows as far apart as Annie and Hairspray.

Lucy-Rose Rollason in the title role brings plenty of gusto to the part. She is from a thoroughly theatrical family (her brother Tommy J is currently in panto just down the road in nearby Dunstable). She flew across the stage as expected and managed to look comfortable in the process!

Leading the comedy was ventriloquist Steve Hewlett with his sidekick Arthur Lager as Mr Smee & Grandad Smee respectively. With or without the puppet, Steve’s experience and considerable comedic talent helped keep up the pace of the show.

Captain Hook was played by that EggHead CJ de Mooi. He was rather more snide than evil, though had there been a little more volume on his mic I think he would have sounded more powerful and the youngsters would be properly scared! He quite obviously revelled in playing this famous baddie and even managed to keep the audience glued through a song that almost went on as far as the third star on the right. (Maybe the director’s axe could descend cutting a few verses from some of the songs to bring the show down to 2hours including interval)

I think 1702 Productions have made a real find in Luke Byford as Mrs Smee. I’ve always believed that a panto dame needs to be at least 45-50 years old and slightly rotund but I’m pleased to report that young Luke proved me wrong entirely! He was funny, loads of energy, grabbed every opportunity to react to audience members and was always good fun and in character. He reminded me at times of Old Mother Riley and I can see him back next year as Widow Twanky or Dame Trott!

Children’s entertainer Kev Stevens as Starky could have been given more to do, I’m sure another trick or two here and there would’ve pleased the young members of the audience. Although they did wheel on the BooBox (whatever that is) but didn’t seem to actually get round to showing us what that was all about.

Other cast members included the children of course Wendy (Cara Bo), John (Alyssa Denehan) & Michael (Harvey Smith). Tiger Lily was played with some panache by local performer Lillia Grace who, on the night we were there, coped very well with her scenes downstage in the dark!

Eveey Ruth and her dog Pasha (playing the crew’s dog Fish) and the outrageous Jono Andrews did well considering they were rarely involved with the plot.

The older dancers from Rollason Stage School performed beautifully – as did the younger dancers, if only they’d appeared to be enjoying themselves. I think a couple more performances and they’ll know where they should be on each entrance.

Old favourite Mr Blobby makes several appearances, knocks the set and half the cast over and says “Blobby, Blobby Blobby” a lot! ….What more can I say?

The night we went to see the show was about the 4th performance and unfortunately for the cast and crew it suffered a few technical problems with lighting (or lack of it) and sound ( or lack of it), but I’m sure that will be sorted by now. So if you’re looking for a fun evening full of panto gags and that Peter Pan magic that won’t cost you the earth, then Peter Pan at the Chrysalis Theatre in MK is your best bet!

Peter Pan is at The Chrysalis Theatre, Milton Keynes until 2nd January

ticket link:

Magic Goes Wrong at MKT

Raising the bar with their dare-devil stunts, jaw-dropping feats and irresistible comedy genius, Mischief’s Magic Goes Wrong comes directly from the West End to Milton Keynes this week.
Created with magic legends Penn & Teller, Magic Goes Wrong is Mischief’s biggest and most daring comedy catastrophe to date. Magic Goes Wrong follows a hapless gang of magicians as they stage an evening of grand illusion to raise cash for charity. As the magic turns to mayhem, accidents spiral out of control and so does their fundraising target!
Magic Goes Wrong will be playing at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 23 October.
I think there must be something wrong with me.
Magic that Goes Wrong had all the makings of a very enjoyable night at the theatre. Lots of expensive illusions, a mind reader that couldn’t and Blade – a danger man who did himself more injury than a one-legged high-wire act!
My first problem (which didn’t seem to affect anyone else in the audience) was that once you realise that the main premise is so simple – the fact that each trick goes wrong is no surprise and hardly funny.
I found that I wasn’t being convinced that we had a band of amateur magicians that couldn’t quite do it. Like it’s predecessor The Play That Goes Wrong, I saw a series of carefully set up and carefully rehearsed mistakes. I wondered at one point if some of the cast members were just not experienced enough to carry it off. They were doing all the right moves but not quite getting the laughs.
Don’t get me wrong, as far as I could see the rest of the audience loved it – especially those given to “Whooping” at every opportunity!
Therefore it must’ve been just me that found it a bit flat with perfectly good comedy situations that didn’t quite strike home.
Ernie Almond

 Magic Goes Wrong will be playing at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 23 October.

 Box Office: 0844 871 7615 Online : ATGTICKETS.COM/MiltonKeynes

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella


Saw the show this week in the Gillian Lynne Theatre, Drury Lane. After purchasing the New London Theatre halfway through the Run of Cats, Andrew later decided to rename it after the show’s wonderful Choreographer Dame Gillian Lynne. During the recent pandemic he seized the chance to to completely refurbish, especially the air conditioning and the seating. It now boasts a 100% fresh air ventilation system and of course a good view of the stage from every one of it’s comfortable new seats. The theatre has an enormous revolve which you’ll find out about when you get to see Cinderella!

So, what about the show? With book by Emerald Fennell, lyrics by David Zippel and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber it has a pretty good start.

It is very clever, but very different, which you realise about four minutes into the opening chorus. It is amusing that as the show starts the audience slowly catch on from the lyrics of the opening number by the ensemble, to the fact that our Cinderella might not be the text book blonde and beautiful fairytale princess!

There are apparently two princes, Sebastian – played to perfection on the night we went by understudy Michael Hamway I think (because there was no note in the programme or announcement). We are informed that Prince Charming is away, presumed lost at war. The Queen ( Rebecca Trehearn) and the Stepmother (Victoria Hamilton-Barritt) have some wonderful comedy moments both together and with their fledglings. Cinderella’s Step Sisters are two blonde numpties that look as though they’re direct from TOWIE. Great fun and well played by Georgina Castle and Laura Baldwin.

We first meet Cinderella in all her Doc Martined glory as she is discovered adding graffiti to a statue. I think the casting of Carrie Hope-Fletcher for this part was inspired!

There’s a lot of interesting new music in the show and during Cinderella’s soliloquy the audience were spellbound.

By the way, don’t fret about Prince Charming (Caleb Roberts) – he does arrive eventually – and when he does all I will tell you is that you’ll remember his entrance and song for a very long time!

The standing ovation at the end of the show was proof it it were needed that Lord Lloyd-Webber has yet another hit on his hands….

Cinderella is at the Gillian Lynne Theatre, Drury Lane until at least May 2022.


Ernie Almond.

Waitress, huge success at Milton Keynes Theatre

Meet Jenna, a waitress and expert pie-maker who dreams of some happiness in her life. When a hot new doctor arrives in town, life gets complicated. With the support of her workmates Becky and Dawn, Jenna overcomes the challenges she faces and finds that laughter, love and friendship can provide the perfect recipe for happiness.

Starring Lucie Jones who reprises the role of ‘Jenna’ having recently played the part in the West End production of the show at the Adelphi Theatre. Lucie first came to prominence in 2009 when she reached the finals of ITV’s The X Factor. Since then, her many West End theatre credits include ‘Cosette’ in Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre, ‘Victoria’ in American Psycho at the Almeida and ‘Maureen’ in RENT at The Other Palace.

Having played ‘Jessie Grant’ in ITV’s Emmerdale for two years, Sandra Marvin joined the West End production of Waitress to play ‘Becky’. Her many other West End theatre credits include most recently ‘Mrs Fezziwig/Mrs Mops’ in A Christmas Carol at the Dominion Theatre, City of Angels and Committee at the Donmar Warehouse, ‘Miss Motormouth Maybelle’ in Hairspray at the Shaftesbury Theatre, ‘Queenie’ in Show Boat at the New London Theatre. Sandra also sings the title track on the Grammy Award winning soundtrack for the George Clooney film, Gravity.

Evelyn Hoskins most recently played the role of ‘Dawn’ in Waitress in the West End at the Adelphi Theatre. Her other theatre credits include the title role in Carrie at Southwark Playhouse, Spring Awakening at the Lyric Hammersmith and in the West End, The Boy Who Fell Into A Book at the Stephen Joseph Theatre and The Secret Garden at Birmingham Rep.

Matt Willis is probably best known as a member of the double Brit Award winning band Busted, who have released four No1 UK singles, two platinum albums and sold over four million albums in the UK. No stranger to the musical theatre stage, his West End credits include ‘Fiyero’ in Wicked at the Apollo Victoria, ‘Nick Hurley’ in Flashdance at the Shaftesbury Theatre and most
recently ‘Bob Cratchit’ in A Christmas Carol at the Dominion Theatre.
WAITRESS is based on the 2007 movie written by Adrienne Shelly. Music and lyrics are written by GRAMMY award-winning, singer-songwriter sensation Sara Bareilles, wIth a book by Jessie Nelson, direction by Tony-award winner Diane Paulus and choreography by Lorin Latarro, Waitress has garnered multiple awards and nominations in both America and the UK, receiving acclaim from both audiences and critics alike.
WAITRESS opened on Broadway on 24th April 2016 at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, where it ran until 5th January 2020. Waitress celebrated its official opening night at the Adelphi Theatre in London’s West End on 7 March 2019.

Waitress is at The Milton Keynes Theatre until Sat 9 Oct (2:30pm & 7:30pm)

Box Office: 0844 871 7615 Online : ATGTICKETS.COM/MiltonKeynes



Some people like musical comedy, others like romance or drama or pathos or all four. Well you’re in luck because the best new musical for ages, Waitress has the lot!

Singing, or a particularly dramatic piece of acting, yes – but I’ve never witnessed applause just for a bit of business before and in this show it happens often! 

The Director (Diane Paulus) and Choreographer (Lorin Latarro) must have not only worked very closely together – and they must both have an eye for detail! We saw props being handed out and put away as part of a dance routine, very neat! The set changes happen smoothly and seem to carry the audience from one situation to another seemlessly!


its very difficult to pick out a member of the cast that deserves special mention, because they all do. Lucie Jones, as Jenna was a revelation! She took us all through Jenna’s trials and tribulations beautifully with plenty of humour and when there was a need, brought the packed audience to tears.

Matt Willis as Dr Pomatter proves that after the success of Busted he is still guaranteed very good living in musical theatre. The duets between Matt & Lucie were a joy – especially the potential hit “You Matter To Me”

Sandra Marvin (Becky), Evelyn Hoskins (Dawn) and George Crawford (Ogie) added a huge amount both in the comedy and musically and were all so perfectly cast!
The whole ensemble deserve a mention, I could go on for pages – but the best idea is to go to MK Theatre and enjoy one of the best nights in the theatre you’ll have this year!

Ernie Almond.

Waitress is at The Milton Keynes Theatre until Sat 9 Oct (2:30pm & 7:30pm)

Box Office: 0844 871 7615 Online : ATGTICKETS.COM/MiltonKeynes