The producers of the smash hit PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL are delighted to announce that the show will embark on a UK and Ireland Tour opening in Birmingham in October2023, will visit Milton Keynes Theatre TUESDAY 19 – SATURDAY 30 MARCH 2024.
The West End production continues to play at the Savoy Theatre where it is currently booking until 11 June 2023.
Big night out. Big. HUGE. PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL is Hollywood’s ultimate rom-com, live on stage. Once upon a time in the late ’80s, Vivian met Edward and her life changed forever. Be swept up in their romance in this dazzlingly theatrical take on a love story for the ages – and get to know these iconic characters in a whole new way – in a sensational show guaranteed to lift your spirits and light up your heart.
PRETTY WOMAN: THE MUSICAL features original music and lyrics by Grammy Award winner Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance, a book by Garry Marshall and the film’s screenwriter J.F. Lawton, it is directed and choreographed by the two-time Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell.
Featured in the musical is Roy Orbison and Bill Dee’s international smash hit song ‘Oh, Pretty Woman’ which inspired one of the most beloved romantic comedy films of all time. PRETTY WOMAN the film (produced by Arnon Milchan – New Regency Productions) was an international smash hit when it was released in 1990.
Based on the Sunday Times bestseller which inspired one of this century’s most treasured films, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel takes us on a journey to India with an eclectic group of British retirees as they embark on a new life. The luxury residence is far from the opulence they were promised, but as their lives begin to intertwine, they are charmed in unexpected and life-changing ways.
Starring the icon of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Academy, BAFTA and Golden Globe-Award winner, Hayley Mills (Wild at Heart, Pollyanna, The Parent Trap), household favourite and screen and stage star Paul Nicholas (Jesus Christ Superstar, Just Good Friends, Eastenders) and Paula Wilcox (The Lovers, Coronation Street, Trying). The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a joyous comedy about taking risks, finding love and embracing second chances, even in the most surprising of places. Get ready for the journey of a lifetime.
“I am delighted to join the company of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, as this beautiful story of love and the importance of new beginnings receives a new life as a fantastically feel-good show. Tales that warm the heart and lift the spirit are a much-needed tonic at this time and I am thrilled to be visiting so many of the UK’s beautiful towns and cities as part of the production’s exciting journey, later this year.”
“I’m so thrilled that my characters are stepping into a new life on the stage. They’ve been waiting impatiently for the curtain to rise, and none of them is getting any younger. So welcome again to the Marigold Hotel! We’ve assembled an amazing cast, so I hope they bring you plenty of laughs, and some warm sparks of recognition.”
Taken at a very leisurely pace Deborah Moggach’s heartwarming comedy is set in the most realistic set (stunning design by Colin Richmond) of a seriously rundown hotel in Calcutta. The excellent cast bring us an intriguing story of human relationships and the problems (& joys) of growing older. As with any group of older people there’s lots of laughter and each one of this top notch cast bring us a masterful characterisation – each one a separate study of someone we might know.
With such a cast, lead by Hayley Mills, Paul Nicholas & Rula Lenska, in fact all 14 of them at the very top of their game, they all connected immediately with the packed audience and we all knew straight away what each character was thinking, let alone actually saying. I must just say though as a grumpy old git myself that I did enjoy Andy Dela Tour’s ability to play just that and still bring home the laughs.
The technical team behind this production should be congratulated too, we could (for a change) see and hear everything perfectly in fact you could almost taste the concoctions from that kitchen – even during those rare moments when the cook was sober!
If you, like me enjoy an evening in the theatre that will make you smile, yet on the way home be thinking of some of the more serious issues that it points out, this is most definitely for you!
Conclusion: If you haven’t got your ticket yet, you need to beg for one!
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is at @MKTheatre until Saturday 28th January 2023.
This year I’ve seen the spectacular at Milton Keynes, the lower budget but just as much fun at Wellingborough, the villain steal the show at Northampton and now the perfect pantomime in Shrewsbury! Beauty and the Beast has everything, great “proper” sets (not digital), fabulous costumes and the six main characters, each with their own skills brilliantly cast.
Brad Fitt as Madame Bellie Philoppe (Belly Flop, get it?) maybe laid back and relaxed in his approach, but it works and he has the packed audience hanging on his every word – and woe betide any hecklers who take on his razor sharp wit! Nurse Nelly’s costumes are utterly brilliant, completely original but outrageously funny!
Without doubt comedy juggler Tommy J Rollason (this year’s BGT) is completely at home in Panto. He plays Philippe Philoppe (flip flop – there’s another one!) with such energy and the most engaging style you’ll see on stage this year! Tommy J is an absolute natural and highly talented, keep your eye out for this name to get really big! Both he and Brad make the most of Paul Hendy’s pun-packed script!
Disney Channel’s Samantha Dorrance is a beautiful Beauty who makes falling in love with this hideous beast (played with great charm and some strong singing by Tom Carter-Miles) seem the most natural thing in the world!
Kane Oliver Parry plays Danton who firmly believes he’s the answer to every woman’s prayer! Kane gets the joke and plays it for all it’s worth!
I must mention the most engaging fairy you ever saw! Jo Osmond plays Fairy Nuff (there’s another) with lots of bossy-boots and humour! She put me in mind of Gladys Pugh in Hi Di Hi. In fact, if anyone is thinking of a remake…….
You’ve only got until the 8th January to see this great show and it’s almost sold out – so make a move today!
Verdict: if you have to, kill for a ticket!
Beauty and the Beast is at Theatre Severn until 8th January
Lesley Joseph is just a sheer joy! I’ve seen her in all kinds of theatrical guises and I’ve never once seen her turn in a bad or even lack lustre performance. So to have her back in Milton Keynes again is the perfect Christmas present!
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is quite possibly the most lavish pantomime we’ve had at MK, the sets and costumes were quite as spectacular and eye catching as anything 8 Argyll Street, W1 has ever offered.
Leslie Joseph as the wicked Queen Dragonella proving that she’s definitely mastered the art of being evil whilst at the same time getting every laugh! If I say any more about her, you’ll think I’m besotted – and you wouldn’t be far from the truth.
Rob Rinder as The man in the Mirror was very nearly as spectacular. I take back every misgiving I might have had about Judge Rinder appearing in pantomime. He joined in everything wearing more and more outrageous costumes and he danced along with the company’s fine professionals with gay abandon!
It is always wonderful to see one of the country’s top comedy icons doing their stuff live onstage and Paul Chuckle didn’t disappoint. One or two routines with the very capable Aaron James (playing Muddles) harked back – I think – to the days onstage with Barry as the Chuckle Brothers.
Busy actress and singer Charlotte Haines makes a beautiful Snow White opposite her fine Prince Harry of Haversham. Dale Mathurin plays the prince and proves that some Shakespearean actors have splendid singing voices too!
I must mention the chorus of dancers and the Dwarfs who all did a truly fabulous job, there’s one big special effect that will amaze you , especially if the lighting man is on his metal!
There are several wonderful surprises this year waiting for you which I won’t spoil, but I just know you’ll be talking about them for days afterwards.
If there is a weak link this year it might be a couple of the front cloth routines but certainly not the carefully rehearsed, very slick and extremely funny Panto standard “12 Days of Christmas”
You and all the family will be assured of a brilliant time – if you can get tickets! If you’re quick you can still get some for some performances and I know you won’t regret it!
Verdict: Spectacular, brilliantly staged and dressed, very funny with some great dancing and singing – what’s not to like?
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Sunday 8th January 2023.
Producers Jamie Wilson and Whoopi Goldberg present smash-hit musical, SISTER ACT. At Milton Keynes from 21 – 26 November.
Based on the iconic movie, this sparkling tribute to the universal power of friendship, sisterhood and music tells the hilarious story of the disco diva whose life takes a surprising turn when she witnesses a murder. Under protective custody she is hidden in the one place she won’t be found – a convent! Disguised as a nun and under the suspicious watch of Mother Superior, Deloris helps her fellow sisters find their voices as she unexpectedly rediscovers her own.
Sandra Marvin will play ‘Deloris Van Cartier’ alongside Lesley Joseph as ‘Mother Superior’ and Lizzie Bea as ‘Sister Mary Robert’.
SISTER ACT features original music by Tony® and 8-time Oscar® winner Alan Menken(Disney’s Aladdin, Enchanted), lyrics by Glenn Slater, book by Bill and Cheri Steinkellner with additional book material by Douglas Carter Beane. SISTER ACT is produced by Jamie Wilson and Whoopi Goldberg. Tom Leonardis, Head of Whoopi’s production company, will also be on the producing team.
SISTER ACT. At Milton Keynes from 21 – 26 November.
I left home on a rainy evening to watch the newly revived Sister Act at Milton Keynes Theatre and this production brought sunshine on a cold blustery wintery evening through the dazzling and stellar performances of the cast who brought joy and laughter to a responsive audience. Lesley Joseph who played the role of Mother Superior captivated us, the audience, with her superb acting skills and brilliant comedic timing. She personified the character with wit, humour and flawless delivery and her solo number deserved the deafening applause she got from an involved and entertained audience. On the other hand, Sandra Marvin who played Deloris Van Cartier delighted us with her stunning vocals and fantastic delivery of the comical sketches that elicited laughter and appreciation. I must say that t who played sister Mary Robert delighted us all with her vocal prowess and that note she held so long left us breathless for a moment which defined her amazing lungs which got me so mesmerised. In fact the entire cast made this production a success due to their undeniably livid and refreshing approach in delivering their parts. The lighting stage set up and music all made this musical a must see and the musical numbers make you want to join them on that stage because of the infectious energy and impeccable singing and dancing. One must come to watch this without remembering the film and no need to do a comparison because this production stands out for its own merit of fun, comedy and original music. If you want to have an evening of laughter and fun , this is worth your time and money which I simply call glorious. Truly it is a divine musical comedy and I loved it💖💖💖 so what are you waiting for book your tickets and be delighted.
Girl From The North Country is an uplifting and universal story about family and love which boldly reimagines the legendary songs of Bob Dylan, like you’ve never heard them before.
It’s 1934 in the heartland of America and we meet a group of wayward souls who cross paths in a time-weathered guesthouse. Standing at a turning point in their lives, they realize nothing is what it seems. But as they search for a future, and hide from the past, they find themselves facing unspoken truths about the present.
The Broadway production of Girl From The North Country, currently playing at the Belasco Theatre, has received seven Tony Award nominations including, Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Orchestrations, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role and Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical – The production was also nominated in the Best Musical Theatre Album category at the 2022 Grammy Awards.
Writer and Director Conor McPherson said of the Dublin and UK Tour cast “It’s a joy to be working with our supremely talented new cast. Each of them brings a terrific range of experience and energy to the show. it’s an absolute delight to embark on this new adventure together.”
Bob Dylan said at the opening of the Broadway production: “To be associated with Conor McPherson is one of the highlights of my professional life. It goes without saying the man is a genius for putting this thing together and I’m thrilled to be a part of the experience. My songs couldn’t be in better hands.”
Girl From The North Country first opened at The Old Vic in July 2017 to huge critical acclaim and playing to sold out audiences. It transferred to the Noël Coward Theatre in December 2017 and the production went on to have a sold out run at the Public Theater, New York in 2018.
Review by Jhez Bermudez:
After a long and fairly stressful day at work I drove to Milton Keynes theatre for the Press Night of Girl From the North Country. Upon entering the auditoriumm, I immediately found myself being immersed into a dark period in Duluth, Minnesota in 1934. I could feel the melancholic mood as I saw the stage design which transported me into the time of the depression in America.
Director Conor McPherson really knows how to make you forget where you are as his actors descend onto the stage with none of the usual announcements about taking pictures or mobile phones. That opening prepares your mind for the surprises you are not expecting. I felt like a neighbour who is watching how a family go through their worries, sorrows & misfortunes in life. The superb acting and the excellent singing voices of the cast took me deeply into the experience of angst, pain, misery, the tragedy of broken dreams, unrequited love, racism, poverty – almost connected to what we are all facing in the world right now.
To me it felt a bit slow in the first half, but brought us into the deeper aspects of such tragedy before your eyes in the second half where you become a witness of the never-ending depression each character has to go through in this dramatic play with songs of Bob Dylan which is heartwarming your soul. So much so that I was in deep misery when I got to listen to the songs sung with such deep emotion. I was left in a sad state thinking how people suffer in such tragic moments of their lives. The Howlin’ Winds were the onstage band under the direction of Andrew Corcoran
My friend Kelly who was with me agreed that the songs really changed the mood of this production. We were both delighted by the dazzling performance of Frances McNamee as Elizabeth Laine and the heart wrenching voice of Mrs Nielsen played by Maria Omakinwa.
The Happy Thanksgiving Day really made me realise that no matter how hard life is, there is a reason to celebrate. Go watch this production and experience life’s tragedy unfold before your eyes which is almost like watching Blood Brothers and Billy Elliot that light can still shine amidst the darkness.
Girl From The North Country Is at Milton Keynes Theatre from November 15th – 19th.
The Shawshank Redemption is at the Milton Keynes Theatre until 22nd October.
Based on Stephen King’s 1982 novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption and adapted by Owen O’Neill and Dave Johns, this thrilling stage production examines desperation, injustice, friendship and hope behind the claustrophobic bars of a maximum-security facility.
The 1994 feature film, starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, was nominated for seven Academy Awards. The Shawshank Redemption went on to become the nation’s favourite movie and a huge source of inspiration to film makers, with The National Film Registry citing the film as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
Despite protests of his innocence, Andy Dufresne is handed a double life sentence for the brutal murder of his wife and her lover. Incarcerated at the notorious Shawshank facility, he quickly learns that no one can survive alone.
Andy strikes up an unlikely friendship with the prison fixer Red, and things take a slight turn for the better. However, when Warden Stammas decides to bully Andy into subservience and exploit his talents for accountancy, a desperate plan is quietly hatched…
This production sees Joe Absolom take on the role of the wrongly convicted Andy Dufresne with Ben Onwukwe as his inmate Ellis “Red” Redding.
Joe Absolom’s impressive TV career has barely seen him off our screens in twenty-five years: from Matthew Rose in EastEnders to Al Large in Doc Martin, Christopher Halliwell in A Confession and Andy Warren in The Bay.
Joe Absolom said, “The Shawshank Redemption is one of my favourite films, an incredibly moving tale of friendship and injustice, and I’m thrilled to be playing the iconic role of Andy Dufresne on stage around the UK”.
Ben Onwukwe boasts a 30-year stage career including leading roles with the RSC and the Royal Court, as well as 11 years on TV as Recall McKenzie in London’s Burning and, more recently, the role of Jackson Donckers in Professor T.
BenOnwukwe said, “I’m delighted to be returning to the role of “Red” in this amazing production. The Shawkshank Redemption film is one which many hold close to their hearts, and it’s exciting to be bringing Stephen King’s story to new audiences. It is a modern meditation on HOPE and in these times, it is Hope that we need”.
My thoughts on this production: With a very strong cast behind them, Ben Onwukwe and Joe Absolom make a formidable team. with an excellent set giving the accurate impression of a cold, drab, stone prison exactly as described by Stephen King in the original book. At the beginning, Ben Onwukwe as Red has the unenviable but necessary task of quite a lengthy monologue to set the scene and tell the tale of his friend and fellow prisoner Andy, but he is a very commanding actor who has no trouble in quickly getting us – and keeping us spellbound during the narrative. As you would expect after seeing him in many roles in TV dramas, Joe Absolom got the role of Andy Dufresne spot on! if anything he underplayed it which was just what was needed – we believed and liked the character of Andy from the start. All of the characters in the story are so well defined by this great cast and, with the set and subtle use of sound effects (clanging prison doors etc), i dont know if Stephen King has been over to check out this latest production of his work, but I’m pretty sure he’ll love it when he does!
The Shawshank Redemption is currently on a major tour of the UK and I’d quite like to see how it works in a smaller more intimate space, but get to see it this week in MK Theatre if you can!
The Shawshank Redemption is at the Milton Keynes Theatre until 22nd October
The world premiere production of FISHERMAN’S FRIENDS: THE MUSICAL is set to visit Milton Keynes Theatre 04 – 08 October with an all star cast.
FISHERMAN’S FRIENDS: THE MUSICAL is based on the true story of the Cornish singing sensations, Fisherman’s Friends, and the hit 2019 film about their life. When a group of Cornish fishermen came together to sing the traditional working songs they’d sung for generations, they hoped to raise a few quid for charity. Nobody, least of all the fishermen, expected their story to end on the Pyramid stage of Glastonbury. Packed with sea shanties, FISHERMAN’S FRIENDS is a feelgood voyage about friendship, community and music.
Featuring hit shanties made famous by the band including Keep Haulin’, Nelson’s Blood, No Hopers Jokers & Rogues and many more.
FISHERMAN’S FRIENDS: THE MUSICAL is produced by ROYO with Flying Fish Productions, Mighty Village, Island Records, David Mirvish and Cornwall Playhouse Productions
Unfortunately for me, I had a seat in one of several patches in the circle at MKT with a sound problem that I have complained about over the years! Maybe its time for the sound engineer to actually take a walk round the entire theatre! So, wether it was this technical problem or not but several of the cast sounded as though 8 shows a week was telling on their voices! Although the actual words being sung ldidn’t reach us in our little corner of the row F in the circle i did speak to several of the more fortunate audience members during the interval and they confirmed my suspicion that the show might benefit from a re-think to get a little more book and maybe a couple less shanties! By the interval (72mins in) we only got as far as the record producer persuading the fishermen to record their first try. As the umpteenth shanty started for no apparent reason – but then if there was a reason i wouldn’t have heard it! – i almost expected cries of ”Oh get on with it!”
When I saw the original documentary I was truly excited at the wonderful story of the Fishermen’s Friends. I liked very much the idea of the musicians being part of the cast, I liked the set, I thought they got round the problem of having mostly the fishing inn but sometimes scenes in the boat in a rough sea so well – I just felt that the lib could be revised even at the cost of a couple of verses of shanty! The man sitting one side of me loved and joined in with every sea shanty, whereas the man sitting the other side of me slept through a great deal of it. so I dont expect everyone to agree with my thoughts.
Fisherman’s Friends is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 8th October.
Often described as “the ideal Musical for those that don’t really like Musicals” Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers was originally commissioned by Merseyside Young People’s Theatre and had its premier in 1981 at Fazakerley Comprehensive School in Liverpool. Eventually, after a bit of titivating and fleshing out by Russell it ran to full houses at the Liverpool Playhouse. It then transferred to London’s West End where it won an Olivier award for Best Musical although it’s run there was not as long as had been hoped. Bill Kenright got his hands on it, put it on in the Albery (now the Noel Coward) Theatre where it ran for 3 years then transferring to the Phoenix where it had a record breaking run of 21 years!
As ever from Willy Russell, the story is gritty and well observed. The story concerns the twin sons of a single mother. She is very poor and reluctantly gives up one of them to a wealthy woman who is desperate to have a child. The two boys never know they are related but become good friends after meeting when they are seven (nearly eight). We see them grow up and this fascinating production keeps the audience completely gripped as all the trials and tribulations unfold.
Niki Colwell Evans plays the mother (Mrs Johnstone) who doesn’t have the easiest life. Brilliant performance by Niki and you’ll find yourself laughing (and crying) along with her.
The two sons are as different as chalk and cheese played by Sean Jones & Jay Worley. These two have to progress from 7 year olds to middle age and so skilful are both actors that the whole time we completely believe them – both the lighter moments and the more dramatic. If there was an award for touring productions I think Sean and Jay, along with love interest Linda (Carly Burns) would win Best Performance hands down! As for the excellent supporting cast – Mr & Mrs Lyons (Paula Tappenden & Tim Churchill), Sammy (Timothy Lucas) the list goes on. Some very fine performances from all cast members some playing more than one role and a fine band under the direction of Matt Malone make this a proper theatrical event!
Conclusion: Kill for a ticket if you have to!
Blood Brothers is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 3rd September
Cher Show is at Milton Keynes Royal & Derngate Theatre from 10th – 14th January. i saw the show when it came to Milton Keynes Theatre back in the summer and these were my thoughts then …..
If this story is to be believed, Cher has had hardly any light moments in her life. The signing of that first contract with Sonny was the start of a very downward spiral that just seems to have continued. Even the times that she hoped to win an Oscar but didn’t are made as big an event in the show as the time she did win one for her amazing performance in Moonstruck. The set is black and grey looking for all the world like a branch of Johnson’s Dry Cleaners with its racks and racks of costume bags on hangers.
The use of many blasts of lights from a wall of coloured spots straight out from the stage certainly put colour onto the audience’s faces! One thing I didn’t know about Cher, she always had a set of dancers dressed as the campest row of sailors you ever saw!
I’ve just watched a clip online of Cher introducing her band, singers & dancers to the audience at one of her concerts – she was such fun, a million miles away from the Cher portrayed in The Cher Show.
The cast however, we’re top class, all of them. The three Chers: Babe (Millie O’Connell) gave us a good glimpse of the feisty young Cher, Lady (Danielle Steers) with possibly the closest to the sound of Cher’s voice and a special mention for Star played most convincingly on the night we were in by stand-in Samantha Ivey. Not sure when Samantha got the “You’re On” call but we’ll done that lady, not a foot wrong! Sonny (Lucas Rush) was such an accurate portrayal that those of us old enough to have seen Sonny & Cher perform had real memories brought back by Lucas’s skill.
Bob Mackie played with gay abandon by Jake Mitchell, put me in mind of the days of the GayLib protests against John Inman at his most flamboyant!
If you prefer you musicals downbeat, this one starts at a low point in Cher’s life and slowly works it’s way down from there. If you are a fan of Cher’s songs then these are very acceptable cover versions of the real thing. This show covers from when Cher was just 16 to where she admits to being 52 – that’s 36 years and still those camp sailors are still. Wearing the same outfits!
Conclusion: If you’re a fan of Cher, this is an eye opener, if you like her music then you’ll hear faithful portrayals of 35 of them.
Cher Show is at Royal & Derngate Theatre from 10th – 14th January..