Cinderella’s Prince is an Airman!

The much-anticipated return of Matthew Bourne’s “CINDERELLA” is at  Milton Keynes Theatre from 13th – 17th February.

Matthew Bourne said: “Cinderella is one of my most heartfelt works and a personal favourite amongst my re-imagined classic stories. I’m delighted to have brought together this cast of current star performers, experienced New Adventures veterans and exciting young talent. I’m thrilled to see another generation of Company dancers take on this beloved production”

Fresh from their triumph playing Victoria Page in “The Red Shoes”, the role ofCinderella’ will be performed by Cordelia Braithwaite and Ashley Shaw.

Credit : Johan Persson

Cinderella’s heroic Pilot, ‘Harry’, will be performed by Will Bozier, Andrew Monaghan and Dominic North.

‘The Angel’ (Cinderella’s ‘Fairy GodFather’) will be danced by Paris Fitzpatrick and Liam Mower.

‘Sybil’, Cinderella’s Step-Mother, is performed by Madelaine Brennan and Anjali Mehra.

‘Robert’, Cinderella’s Father is performed by Alan Vincent and Dan Wright.

One of New Adventures’ most loved productions Matthew Bourne’s “CINDERELLA” is a thrilling and evocative love story, set in London during the Second World War. This interpretation of the classic fairy tale has, at its heart, a true war-time romance. A chance meeting results in a magical night for Cinderella and her dashing young RAF pilot, together just long enough to fall in love before being parted by the horrors of the Blitz.

With Lez Brotherston’s sumptuous costumes and sets, which won an Olivier Award for his original designs, and lighting by Olivier Award-winning Neil Austin, “CINDERELLA” will be performed in Surround Sound, designed by Paul Groothuis and features a specially commissioned recording played by a 60-piece orchestra.  Matthew Bourne’s vivid story telling has never been more heart-stopping and touching, and will take the audience into the heart of Prokofiev’s magnificent score, and the sights and sounds of war-torn London.

2017 marks 20 years since “CINDERELLA” first premiered in the West End and it concludes a year-long celebration of work to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of New Adventures.

“CINDERELLA” is at  Milton Keynes Theatre from 13 – 17th February.

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

I have been on, in and around theatre for getting on for three score years and ten and have learned a bit, but I wouldn’t presume to know enough to criticize Matthew Bourne production. The man is – and I don’t ever remember using this term in print before – a genius! All I can do is to describe what I saw and try to persuade you to go and witness Cinderella at the MK Theatre this week.

Prokofiev,s wonderful music was used in the original Bolshoi production of Cinderella in 1946 and the well know Frederick Ashton version in London. But who apart from Matthew Bourne, would come up with the idea of using the same score, but setting the whole thing in London during the blitz? He says that it was when he heard the Prokofiev sat and wrote the piece during the Second World War that set him thinking.

Well, it worked! This is certainly different, the story is used magnificently, but the usual “handsome prince” is a wartime pilot suffering from the after effects of a crash. Every member of the cast is a separate character that we get to know as the story unfolds.

There are Step sisters, a pretty nasty stepmother as you might expect but watch out for Angel danced brilliantly on the night we were there by Paris Fitzpatrick. No standard ballet positions here, twists, turns and occasionally contortions the like of which you might see on a solo dancer on BGT and did I notice a little nod towards moon walking?

We see ARP Wardens, spivs, prostitutes and rent boys. The surround sound is wonderful for the recording of the 60 piece orchestra – and it certainly helps as the bombs begin to drop!

I’ve been careful not to give too much away, but believe me this is a new treatment that works perfectly and is mesmerising to watch. A far cry from Sir Frederick Ashton, but I’ve a strong feeling that he would love it!

Get a ticket if you can!

Ernie Almond

“CINDERELLA” is at  Milton Keynes Theatre from 13 – 17th February.

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

“Eccentric but Endearing Comedy” at Magdalene College

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, is William Finn’s Tony award-winning musical and it’s at the Cripps Auditorium, in Magdalene College, Cambridge from 13th – 17th February.

An eccentric but endearing comedy, the show tells the story of a hilarious Spelling Bee though a unique mixture of musical numbers, improvisation and audience participation. Six high-schoolers face their fears, dreams and angst in a bid to gain a slot in the National Spelling Bee. Overseen by adults who are seemingly stuck in adolescence themselves, the result is a bawdy journey about competition and growing up. It manages to strike the perfect balance between being surreal, realistic and touching.

 Rehearsal photograph

Director, Leo Béar, was drawn to taking on the musical due to its particular combination of eccentricities syas “It combines the best parts of musical theatre, from catchy songs and well-explored characters to fantastic punchlines and a story you actually want to see through to the end.” Uncommonly, Spelling Bee also involves ad lib and audience participation. Realising that this is something he never “imagined working with in theatre”, Béar promises that these techniques add an entirely “special something” to the show; no two performances will be exactly the same.

 Refreshing, bold and wistful, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is a musical that stands out against the crowd – and gets the crowd involved.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, is at the Cripps Auditorium, in Magdalene College, Cambridge from 13th – 17th February.

Tickets available online: mmps-bee.com/ticket

Jersey Boys is Back at Milton Keynes Theatre!

JERSEY BOYS UK Tour 2017/2018

 

JERSEY BOYS, at Milton Keynes Theatreuntil Saturday 3 February, stars as Frankie Valli Michael Watson, (We Will Rock You, original London casts of Imagine This, Sister Act and Shrek the Musical).  Simon Bailey as Tommy De Vito,(The Phantom of the Opera, I Can’t Sing: The X Factor Musical and We Will Rock You).

JERSEY BOYS UK Tour 2017/2018

 On the night that I saw the show James Winter did a fine job standing in as Bob Gaudio as did Karl James Wilson as Nick Massi. Michael and Simon  have previously performed their roles in JERSEY BOYS in the West End to great acclaim.

JERSEY BOYS first opened in London at the Prince Edward Theatre on 18 March 2008 and moved to the Piccadilly Theatre in March 2014. The Olivier Award-winning West End production closed on Sunday 26 March 2017 and the first UK & Ireland Tour of JERSEY BOYS was a record-breaking success and ran for 18 months, this being the 2nd tour of the show looks as though it will have a similar success

JERSEY BOYS is the remarkable true story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and their rise to stardom from the wrong side of the tracks. These four boys from New Jersey became one of the most successful bands in pop history, were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and sold 175 million records worldwide, all before they turned 30. The show is packed with their hits, including Beggin’, Sherry, Walk Like A Man, December, 1963 (Oh What a Night), Big Girls Don’t Cry, My Eyes Adored You, Let’s Hang On (To What We’ve Got), Bye Bye Baby, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, Working My Way Back to You, Fallen Angel, Rag Doll and Who Loves You.

JERSEY BOYS UK Tour 2017/2018

Winner of Broadway’s Tony, London’s Olivier and Australia’s Helpmann Awards for Best New Musical, JERSEY BOYS is the winner of 57 major awards worldwide and has been seen by over 25 million people worldwide. JERSEY BOYS first opened in London at the Prince Edward Theatre on 18 March 2008 and moved to the Piccadilly Theatre in March 2014. The Olivier Award-winning West End production closed on Sunday 26 March 2017 and the first UK & Ireland Tour of JERSEY BOYS was a record-breaking success and ran for 18 months, this being the 2nd tour of the show looks as though it will have a similar success

JERSEY BOYS is written by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, with music by Bob Gaudio and lyrics by Bob Crewe. The UK & Ireland Tour production is staged by the entire original Broadway creative team, led by director Des McAnuff and choreographer Sergio Trujillo.

JERSEY BOYS is at Milton Keynes Theatreuntil Saturday 3 February

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

JERSEY BOYS UK Tour 2017/2018                            

Ernie Almond went along on Wednesday, and these were his thoughts:

 The set, which is on show as the audience arrives is reminiscent of West Side Story with its high wire fences and metal gantries – but of course the music is so very different to that! Speaking of the music, it was very good to see live musicians on stage as part of the show – albeit helped here and there by some very good click tracks. The arrangements and the vocalisation by this talented cast I’m sure not only pleased the packed house of Frankie Valli fans, but the old man himself – not that Mr Valli senior was in attendance!

I have to be honest, I’ve seen more sparkling performances of Jersey Boys, but the voices were as good as ever, even if the “boys” are now nearer 40 than 30 let alone the 16yr olds they are supposed to portray at the beginning.

The set worked well and the scene changes handled with the help of cast members were efficient and happened smoothly before our eyes. I would take to task set designer Klara Zieglerova and costume designer Jess Goldstein for the finale though. Mainly a grey and white set with some spectacular lighting effects (mainly white), all very well you might think, but the principal cast were by that time in grey suits! They all but disappeared, not helped by the fact that the whole show came to an end with the cast wandering off in all directions waving to the audience.

Ernie Almond

JERSEY BOYS is at Milton Keynes Theatreuntil Saturday 3 February

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

Dance To The Music at The Beck!

Dance To The Music, starring Kristina Rihanoff, Robin Windsor and Oksana Platero is at the Beck Theatre, Hayes this week!

Wed 17 January 2018

Dance To The Music

Dance to the Music is a new exciting must see dance show like no other!

Created by and starring Kristina Rihanoff – one of the most renowned dancers and choreographers from the popular BBC1 Strictly Come Dancing TV show. Kristina will once again team up with her former professional dance partner, Robin Windsor, who starred on Strictly for four years. Also gracing the stage will be the beautiful Oksana Platero, who partnered Judge Rinder on Series 14 of the hit show and is famous for her jaw-dropping lifts! Oksana’s husband Jonathan Platero will also be joining the cast.

Joining Kristina, Robin and Oksana are a full cast of dancers, plus two amazing singers, Chris Maloney (X Factor finalist), and singer/songwriter Beth Sherburn.

Dance to the Music will present to the audience the one and only dance show in theatrical history, which will feature all styles of dancing. The audience will experience the evolution of dance through musical eras, starting from the roaring twenties, with tap and Charleston, going through every decade of dance crazes up to modern day Ballroom and Latin!

Argentine Tango, Lindy Hop, Jive, Rock-n-Roll, Funk, Waltz, Disco, Breakdancing, Street, Contemporary Ballet, and Salsa are just a few spectacular styles which will be presented to you by our incredible and versatile team of dancers, performed to your favourite ultimate music hits of all time – you will be jumping from your seats to join in!

Dance to the Music is at The Beck Theatre, Hayes on Wednesday 17th January 2018

Box Office: 020 8561 8371 or online:  www.becktheatre.org.uk

Conley wows them at Milton Keynes.

Cinderella at Milton Keynes Theatre starring Brian Conley, Gok Wan and Lauren Hall

Cinderella opened with a magical moment when Fairy Gok Mother welcomed the audience to a captivating scene of spectacle whilst sitting on a half moon with glittery smoke beneath making it dreamy and fantastical. With that it set the mood that this was going to be really magical.
Then a short trick using a stack of luggage that formed a door which was used to introduce the star of the show Brian Conley. The moment he set foot on that stage raucous laughter could be heard from all sides of the theatre. He had indeed arrived and his story telling truly captivated the audience.
Unfortunately I was in danger of forgetting that I was watching a panto as Brian’s Buttons totally dominated the story of Cinderella. This engaging artist truly awakened the audience and his delivery of jokes really brought the house down.
The production also rightly boasts beautiful sets and wonderful costumes.

Cinderella at Milton Keynes Theatre starring Brian Conley, Gok Wan and Lauren Hall

IThe only thing that did not impress me were the ugly sisters. They were rarely very funny at all and they even seemed to fade as the story went on. This was more than made up for by Brian and Gok Wan who had such chemistry which really was the highlight of this production.

Cinderella at Milton Keynes Theatre starring Brian Conley, Gok Wan and Lauren Hall

There was another highlight when the carriage brought huge delight to the audience as it started to move towards the audience reminiscent of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Jhez Bermudez

Cinderella at Milton Keynes Theatre starring Brian Conley, Gok Wan and Lauren Hall

Cinderella is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Sunday 14th January.

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

Sunset Boulevard sets MK Alight!

ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER’S “SUNSET BOULEVARD” at Milton Keynes Theatre, 28th November –  2 December.

STARRING RIA JONES AS ‘NORMA DESMOND’ AND DANNY MAC AS ‘JOE GILLIS’

 

Last year, Ria Jones played the role of ‘Norma Desmond’ at the London Coliseum when Glenn Close was indisposed, receiving rave reviews and standing ovations for her performance. Ria has recently starred as ‘Dorothy Brock’ in 42nd Street at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. Her West End credits include ‘Fantine’ in Les Misérables, ‘Grizabella’ in CATS and ‘Florence’ in Chess. Her touring credits include ‘Alex’ in The Witches of Eastwick, ‘Mrs Overall’ in Acorn Antiques – The Musical, ‘Reno Sweeney’ in Anything Goes and ‘The Narrator’ in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Danny Mac who plays Joe Gillis captured the nation’s hearts and received overwhelming support during his incredible time on BBC1’s Strictly Come Dancing making it all the way to the final. He most recently starred as ‘Gabey’ in On The Town at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. His other musical theatre credits include Wicked and Legally Blonde.

Adam Pearce (playing Max Von Mayerling’), has many West End credits to his name including Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre, as well as the original casts of Love Never Dies at the Adelphi and The Light Princess at the National Theatre. Adam has also appeared in Evita, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Sweeney Todd, all at the Adelphi.

Molly Lynch (Betty Schaefer)most recently appeared in English National Opera’s Carousel at the Coliseum, where she has also appeared in Sweeney Todd. Her other credits include Fiddler on the Roof at Grange Park Opera.

One of the all-time great musicals, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony Award®-winning (Best Musical, Best Original Score and Best Book of a Musical) masterpiece SUNSET BOULEVARD is a compelling story of romance and obsession, based on Billy Wilder’s legendary film, with Don Black and Christopher Hampton’s wonderful book and lyrics. This much-loved score includes the title number Sunset Boulevard, With One Look, As If We Never Said Goodbye, The Greatest Star Of All and The Perfect Yearand is performed by a full 16 piece orchestra.

In her mansion on Sunset Boulevard, faded, silent-screen goddess, Norma Desmond, lives in a fantasy world. Impoverished screen writer, Joe Gillis, on the run from debt collectors, stumbles into her reclusive world. Persuaded to work on Norma’s ‘masterpiece’, a film script that she believes will put her back in front of the cameras, he is seduced by her and her luxurious life-style. Joe becomes entrapped in a claustrophobic world until his love for another woman leads him to try and break free with dramatic consequences.

“SUNSET BOULEVARD” is at Milton Keynes Theatre from 28 Nov – 2 Dec.

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

Review.

I have managed to see three different productions of Sunset Boulevard, the original London run when Petula Clarke had taken over the lead, the revival last year with Glenn Close which was semi-staged and this touring version with Ria Jones. There’s no way that Ms Jones can be considered Glenn Close’s stand in now – she IS Norma Desmond!

I spoke to Ria before the Milton Keynes run of the show and we were discussing how Norma Desmond in the show is a character that audiences need to love, hate and sympathise with in equal measures. Not an easy task for an actress, but Ria has got the balance exactly right.

Ria Jones is ably supported by a very strong cast led by Danny Mac who narrates, sings, dances, acts and manages to be a bit of “eye candy” for the ladies whilst he’s doing it!

This touring production is a BIG show! It has a big and very fine 16 piece orchestra that manages to somehow sound like a 40 piece one, it has a big set (although the sliding panels became a little tiresome, a big cast and take it from me, the show is very big on talent!

A great night out for musical fans, people that love the film industry and those of use that love a bloody good story!

Ernie Almond

“Sunset Boulevard” is at Milton Keynes Theatre from 28 Nov – 2 Dec.

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

The Addams Family at Milton Keynes Theatre

The Addams Family at the Milton Keynes Theatre until 28th October

Prepare to click your fingers as everyone’s favourite ghoulish clan, THE ADDAMS FAMILY, come to Milton Keynes Theatre Tuesday 24th Saturday 28th October, as part of their UK & Ireland premiere. With book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice; music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa; and based on the characters created by Charles Addams, heads will roll… with laughter!

Wednesday Addams, the ultimate princess of darkness, has grown up and has a shocking secret that only Gomez knows; she’s fallen in love with a sweet, smart young man from a respectable family! Now, Gomez Addams must do something he’s never done before — keep a secret from his beloved wife, Morticia. Everything will change for the whole family on the fateful night they host a dinner for Wednesday’s “normal” boyfriend and his parents. All the usual clan are present – Uncle Fester, Lurch, Pugsley et al.

The full touring cast includes Samantha Womack (Morticia Addams), Les Dennis (Uncle Fester), Carrie Hope Fletcher (Wednesday Addams), Cameron Blakely (Gomez Addams), Valda Aviks (Grandma Addams), Grant McIntrye (Pugsley Addams), Dickon Gough (Lurch), Charlotte Page (Alice Beineke), Dale Rapley (Mal Beineke), and Oliver Ormson (Lucas Beineke).

Completing the cast are, Kathryn Barnes, Jessica Buckby, Perola Congo, Gavin Eden, Jacob Fisher, Christopher D Hunt, Kirsty Ingram, Rhona McGregor, Scott Paige and Jak Skelly.

 

The UK & Ireland Tour will be directed by Matthew White, who recently directed She Loves Me at the Menier Chocolate Factory, where he also directed Candide, Sweet Charity (and West End) and Little Shop of Horrors (and West End). Choreography will be by Alistair David, whose recent theatre credits include Two Noble Kinsmen (Royal Shakespeare Company), Show Boat (Sheffield Crucible Theatre and New London Theatre) and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre). The production will be designed by Diego Pitarch, with musical supervision by Richard Beadle, lighting design by Ben Cracknell and musical direction by Andrew Hilton

 

. The Addams Family is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 28th October

Box Office: www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes or Call:0844 871 765

Ernie Almond went along to see the show……

Halloween came early to Milton Keynes! The spooky, kookie family The Addams Family are here in full force! This comedy musical is sure to please any existing fans and collect very many more during the week. With wonderful performances by Samantha Womack and Cameron Blakely as Morticia & Gomez and Carrie Hope Fletcher as Wednesday Addams we were all set. Unfortunately Les Dennis was off on the night we went (we wish him better) and so Uncle Fester was in the very capable hands of Scott Paige. Rick Elice & Marshall Brickman’s book is witty, with plenty of adult but not offensive humour. Always nice to have real musicians in the pit and under the direction of Richard Beadle, they did credit to Andrew Lippa’s score. Half term, so the audience was generally younger than usual at MK, but they loved it – as did us old ‘uns!

The Addams Family is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 28th October

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

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

Grease Is The Word in MK!

Grease is the word! The hit 70s musical returns to Milton Keynes Theatre from Monday 28th August to Saturday 2nd September.

 The cast includes Tom Parker (The Wanted) who makes his musical theatre debut playing Danny Zuko, Danielle Hope (Over the Rainbow winner) who plays Sandy and Louisa Lytton (Strictly Come Dancing, EastEnders) who plays Rizzo.

Since opening on Broadway in 1972 and the smash hit movie starring John Travolta and Olivia Netown-John, Grease’s place has been firmly established in the cultural Hall of Fame, having seduced the hearts of millions with its back-to-back sizzling tunes. It’s the original high-school musical featuring everyone’s favourite characters – Sandy, Danny, the groovy T Birds, the sassy Pink Ladies and the whole gang at Rydell High – and all the unforgettable songs from the hit movie including You’re The One That I Want, Grease Is The Word, Summer Nights, Hopelessly Devoted to You, Sandy, Greased Lightnin’ and many more.

Voted the “No 1 Greatest Musical”*, Grease has proved that a musical love story, bursting with denim, cheerleaders, slick hairstyles, rock’n’roll, 1950’s pop culture and an irresistible mix of teenage angst and young romance is timeless and universal.

This award-winning production originally opened in the West End in 1993 where it enjoyed a hugely successful run of 6 years. The show has since toured throughout the world playing to sell-out audiences and breaking box office records everywhere, having been seen by over 12 million people in the UK alone.

Grease is at Milton Keynes Theatre from 28th August until Saturday 2nd September.

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

A packed house on Monday greeted this show with huge enthusiasm. There were very many young people in the audience and it did cross my mind that they might miss many of the references back to the 1950 Rock ‘N’ Roll culture. But if they did it didn’t show! They cheered until they were hoarse, clappped and sang along to every number! There was even a lady member of the press near me singing along with the solo numbers which I found a bit off putting!

The story line as described above was as close to the film as you could expect and the sets and costumes were sparkling, spectacular and exactly right. I particularly liked the band led by Griff Johnson surveying all from above and helping no end to set a great atmosphere even during the overture (if I dare use that word about a rock ‘n roll show!).

The choreography I wasn’t quite so sure about even though it was staged by our top lady Arlene Phillips. It was a bit stylised  and as I’m old enough to have lived through this era it seemed a little like a collection of the ‘special’ moves of the time as against normal jiving that the teenagers would have done. But this is theatre, so I assume we need spectacle more than realism.

The cast are very strong in fact a couple of them I got the feeling could easily have played the two leads off the stage! Danielle Hope as Sandy gave us as close to Olivia Newton John as we could expect and just was the teenager all the young girls in the audience wanted to be. Somehow she also managed to scrunch her fine head of dark hair into a succession of uncomfortable looking blonde wigs!

Wanted fans will have loved Tom Parker’s debut in Musical Theatre and I expect it will have earned him lots of brownie points even though I felt he could have been stronger. Having to do a Brooklyn (?) accent made several of the cast a bit difficult to understand at times, I wondered at the time if it might be as well to compromise on the accent for a British tour?

All in all, this show truly sparkles and if you can get a ticket I’d take a bet that you’ll be dancing, cheering and clapping along with the rest at the finale! Get a ticket if you can!

Ernie Almond

Grease is at Milton Keynes Theatre from 28th August until  Saturday 2nd September.

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