La Cage Aux Folles arrives in Milton Keynes

La Cage Aux Folles sashays into MK Theatre with JOHN PARTRIDGE and ADRIAN ZMED

Bill Kenwright presents the highly anticipated first ever UK tour of the Tony and Olivier award winning La Cage Aux Folles at Milton Keynes Theatre from Tuesday 8 – Saturday 12 August.

John Partridge will play the iconic role of Albin, who moonlights as star drag act Zaza at the infamous La Cage aux Folles nightclub. Partridge’s extensive theatre credits include the West End productions of A Chorus Line at the London Palladium, Cats, Starlight Express and Chicago. He is also well known for playing the loveable Christian Clarke in BBC’s EastEnders and as a judge on TV’s Over The Rainbow.

Adrian Zmed will play Georges, partner of Albin and owner of the nightclub. Zmed co-starred with William Shatner as Officer Vince Romano in the 80’s hit TV show T.J. Hooker, which ran for 90 episodes over 5 years, and for playing Johnny Nogerelli in the cult classic film Grease 2.  This will be his first stage appearance in the UK although he is no stranger to Broadway musicals having previously led the casts of Grease, no fewer than 3 times, Falsettos and Blood Brothers.

One of the West End’s most revered leading ladies’, TV star and recording artist Marti Webb will play Jacqueline, friend to Albin and Georges, and owner of the restaurant Chez Jacqueline. Webb has played leading roles in numerous West End and touring musicals including Evita, Godspell, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Blood Brothers, Oliver, Oklahoma, 42nd Street, and Half-a-Sixpence. She received huge critical acclaim for her unforgettable performance in Tell Me on a Sunday, which was written specifically for her by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Don Black. She has recorded nine solo albums and had many hit singles, including the smash hit Take That Look off Your Face.

Dougie Carter will appear alongside them as Jean-Michele, Samson Ajewole as Jacob, Su Douglas as Marie/Madame Renaud, Alexandra Robinson as Anne, Paul F Monaghan as Dindon /Renaud, and Jon De Ville as Francis. Joining them on stage as Les Cagelles will be Jordan Livesey, Matthew Ives, Louie-George Daniels, Liam Paul Jennings, Micah Holmes and Richard Leavey. Completing the cast are Luke Byrne, Jane Quinn, and Rachel Cumino.

Written by Harvey Fierstein and Jerry Herman, and based on the 1973 French play of the same name by Jean Poiret, La Cage Aux Folles follows the story of Georges, the manager of a Saint Tropez nightclub, and his partner, Albin, a drag artiste and the club’s star attraction. They live an idyllic existence in the south of France but behind the curtains of this sparkling extravaganza, all may be about to change when Georges’ son Jean-Michel announces his engagement to the daughter of a notorious right-wing politician determined to close down the local colourful night-life. Drama and hilarity ensue when a meeting of the parents forces them to cover up their vibrant lifestyle. Will Albin be able to play the role of his life to ensure that Jean-Michel can marry his love.

Setting out on its first ever UK tour, this brand new production is produced by Bill Kenwright, directed by Martin Connor, choreographed by Olivier Award Winning Bill Deamer, designed by Gary McCann, with Wigs and Make-up Design by Richard Mawbey, Lighting by Ben Cracknell and Sound by Dan Samson (the team responsible for the sumptuous current hit, The Sound of Music), and musical direction by Mark Crossland. This lavishly funny tale of unconditional love and family values, will leave you feeling the need to celebrate that life’s not worth a damn ‘til you can say I am what I am.


La Cage Aux Folles is at Milton Keynes Theatre from Tuesday 8 – Saturday 12 August.

Box Office: 0844 871 7652 or Online: 

I’m sure this production will please all John Partridge fans greatly, though I’m not sure that La Cage enthusiasts will feel as excited. Having seen him excel in pantomime, I got the feeling that he was treating this fine love story as just that. Jumping out of character to throw asides to the audience (How on earth did Strictly Come Dancing get a mention?) What with that and Zaza’s north of Watford Gap accent, when time came for this glittering star of a night club on the French Riviera to perform it owed more to The Wheeltappers & Shunters Club than to a parody of the Folies Bergere. However John Partridge‘s voice remains superb and his rendition of I Am What I Am at the end of act one was beautifully moving.

Georges played by Adrian Zmed managed to keep Zaza calm and the action flowing although there were times when I felt sorry for him as he seemed to be having trouble walking let alone dancing!

One of the surprises of the night was Marti Webb playing restaurant owner Jacqueline, Marti has managed to keep that amazing voice in perfect nick – and used it to great effect!

I loved the music, couldn’t fault the singing at all and the sets and costumes were stunning and perfect for a 2nd rate club during that era. But the wigs! Oh those wigs! From the awful brown thing with a fringe in the first scene to the entire chorus having to come on wearing what looked like a bunch of those luminous green bubble wigs that you can buy for a £1 on the market! I’m sure they cost a great deal more than that, but that’s the impression they left me with.

All in all a show that will give you a good night out. If you’ve never seen it before you’ll probably love it, but if you have, prepare for not the worst, but most certainly not the best!

Ernie Almond.

La Cage Aux Folles is at Milton Keynes Theatre from Tuesday 8 – Saturday 12 August

Box Office: 0844 871 7652 or Online:

Stunning Adaptation of Jane Eyre at MK Theatre

The most imaginative adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre at Milton Keynes Theatre.

An energetic and imaginative new adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece, Jane Eyre, is at Milton Keynes Theatre, until Saturday 15 July.

JANE EYRE UK Tour 2017
Royal National Theatre.                                       Photo: BrinkhoffM+Agenburg

2017 marks the 170th anniversary of the first publication of Jane Eyre – a significant time to be touring Charlotte Brontë’s classic and much loved story. The highly acclaimed co-production between the National Theatre and Bristol Old Vic heads to Milton Keynes this summer with Nadia Clifford taking the central role of Jane Eyre and Tim Delap as Rochester.

Charlotte Brontë’s story of the trailblazing Jane is as inspiring as ever. This bold and dynamic production tells the story of one woman’s fight for freedom and fulfilment. From her beginnings as a destitute orphan, Jane Eyre’s spirited heroine faces life’s obstacles head-on, surviving poverty, injustice and the discovery of bitter betrayal before taking the ultimate decision to follow her heart.

Director Sally Cookson, said about her production of Jane Eyre: ‘Adapting a novel for the stage is a challenging prospect – especially when that novel is cited as many people’s favourite of all time. It is always daunting when you’re working on a story which everyone knows so well, because you want to surprise and maybe challenge people’s expectations, without losing any of the things which make them like the story in the first place.’

JANE EYRE UK Tour 2017
Royal National Theatre                                                   Photo: BrinkhoffM+Agenburg

Manchester born and bred Nadia Clifford has previously appeared at the National Theatre in Alistair McDowell’s sell-out production of Pomona and Tim Delap will make his National Theatre debut as Rochester. They are joined by Hannah Bristow (Helen Burns/Adele/St John/Grace Poole/Abbot), Matthew Churcher (Musician), Alex Heane (Musician), Melanie Marshall (Bertha Mason), Belfast born and bred Paul Mundell (Mr Brocklehurst/Pilot/Mason), Cardiff born David Ridley (musician), Evelyn Rivers (Bessie/Blanche Ingram/Diana) and Lynda Rook (Mrs Reed/Mrs Fairfax). The cast is completed by Ben Cutler, Jenny Johns, Dami Olukoya, Francesca Tomlinson and Phoebe Vigor.

Jane Eyre is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 15th July

Box Office: 0844 870 0887 or online:  

I was lucky enough to get a ticket for this company’s opening night at Milton Keynes Theatre and these were my thoughts:

It takes companies as skillful as the National Theatre and the Bristol Old Vic to collaborate and between them dissect, strip down, rethink and then reassemble one of the world’s classic stories – and come up with another world class classic performance!

This wonderful performance is not what you might expect. It has fine music, but it’s not a musical. It has interesting choreography, but there’s precious little dance. The costumes are just right, but this is not your standard period piece.The sound effects and lighting are perfectly blended, managing to echo exactly the emotions of the various characters. The set is reminiscent of the decking at home that I’ve been meaning to rip up for ages and the half built house from 7 Brides – but it is completely believable in all its forms during the story.

You might expect the leading roles in any National Theatre production to be played to perfection – which they most certainly were by Nadia Clifford and Tim Delap – but I could see no weak link in any of this chain of players. I think special congratulations for the wonderful performance of Lynda Rooke playing two very different women Mrs Reed and Mrs Fairfax and, like the entire cast, various other roles. Likewise Paul Mundell’s characters were all wonderful, including Pilot the dog that was utterly believable without resorting to the use of any hideous furry costume!

This was most certainly an evening not to be missed. even though I think it slightly indulgent of the director to keep the show at 3hrs 15 minutes. There were certainly scenes, beautifully played, but we did get the gist after ten minutes but they took 30 minutes over the telling.

I don’t ever profess to be an expert, I am a keen theatregoer and the above is purely my own opinion. But I’m pretty sure you’ll agree with most of it if you can get a ticket! If you know anyone that’s managed to get one – offer them a small fortune for it, you’ll thank me afterwards!

Billy Elliot the Musical finally arrives in Milton Keynes

Billy Elliot the Musical is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 17th June


 Billy Elliot the Musical is set in a northern mining town, against the background of the 1984/’85 miners’ strike, Billy’s journey takes him out of the boxing ring and into a ballet class where he discovers a passion for dance that inspires his family and whole community and changes his life forever.

Acclaimed by audiences and critics alike, Billy Elliot the Musical has now been seen by nearly 11 million people across five continents and is the recipient of over 80 awards internationally, including ten Tony Awards and five Olivier Awards. In 2006, Liam Mower, James Lomas and George Maguire, the first three boys to play the title role, became the youngest performers ever to have won the Olivier Award for Best Actor with the show also picking up the Best Musical prize.

Billy Elliot the Musical is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 17th June

Box Office: 0844 871 7652 or online:

Ernie Almond writes:

I saw the opening night and I’m sure that even though it’s at MK for three weeks, when that 1st night audience gets a chance to spread the word, you won’t get a ticket for love nor money! The word I fully expect them to spread is Stunning, Stunning, Stunning!

From the opening seconds until the fantastic finale this talented cast had a packed theatre spellbound! The set, swapping from church hall to Billy’s home (plus a few surprise extras) was efficient, interesting and at times spectacular.

I was particularly taken with the Peter Darling’s choreography perfectly coping with such difficult scenes as when the tough miners, the slightly comic policemen and the little ballerinas are all on stage doing the same routine and not one of them looked out of place!

For those of us that remember the difficult times of the miners’ strikes the story is not only gripping but absolutely plausible – the audience experiencing emotions that range from fun and laughter to anguish and even fear. People of all gendres were shedding tears, and I don’t mean tears of laughter.

A superb job done by the entire cast, but special mention has to go to the Billy on duty on our night Haydn May (I’m sure the other three Billy’s are equaly as talented) what a strenuous performance to get through each time! Haydn looked as though he thoroughly enjoyed every second, as we his adoring audience did! Dad brilliantly played by Martin Walsh, has a difficult time as a member of the very manly mining community coming to grips with the fact that his son wants to be a dancer. Anna-Jane Casey had the full sympathy of the audience – especially when she decides to stand up to Dad and elder son Tony (Scott Garnham) who cannot see further than mining being a tradition and no other way could possibly work.

Dont expect an easy night watching an inconsequential musical, this is hard hitting and gritty, but you will probably spend the final ten minutes standing, cheering the cast as we did!


Billy Elliot the Musical is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 17th June

Box Office: 0844 871 7652 or online:


Does Your Mother Know the first ever MAMMA MIA! UK Tour will come to Milton Keynes Theatre from Tuesday 2nd – Saturday 20th May. Prepare to be ABBA-solutely amazed!

Photo by Brinkhoff M+Âgenburg.

MAMMA MIA! is Judy Craymer’s ingenious vision of staging the story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs with an enchanting tale of family and friendship unfolding on a Greek island paradise. To date, it has been seen by more than 60 million people in 50 productions in 16 different languages. MAMMA MIA! The Movie is the highest worldwide grossing live-action musical film of all time.

The touring cast includes Helen Hobson (Donna Sheridan), Gillian Hardie (Rosie), Emma Clifford (Tanya), Alex Bourne (Sam Carmichael), Jamie Hogarth (Harry Bright), Christopher Hollis (Bill Austin), Lucy May Barker (Sophie Sheridan), Phillip Ryan (Sky), Fia Houston-Hamilton (Ali), Blaise Colangelo (Lisa), Louis Stockil (Pepper) and Brad Veitch (Eddie) will star in the production from Monday 13 February 2017.

International Tour 2017

Photo by Brinkhoff M+Âgenburg.JPG

From West End to global phenomenon, the London production of MAMMA MIA! has now been seen by more than 10% of the entire UK population. It is one of only five musicals to have run for more than 10 years both on Broadway and in the West End, and in 2011, it became the first Western musical ever to be staged in Mandarin in the People’s Republic of China.

With music & lyrics by Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus, MAMMA MIA! is written by Catherine Johnson, directed by Phyllida Lloyd and choreographed by Anthony Van Laast.

The MAMMA MIA! UK Tour is produced by Judy Craymer, Richard East & Björn Ulvaeus for Littlestar in association with Universal and NGM.

Mamma Mia! is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 20th May

Box Office: 0844 871 7652 or online:

Ernie Almond writes….

I went along on the opening night at Milton Keynes and I have to say that the packed house of (I assume) Abba fans were absolutely thrilled to hear every known Abba song and one or two that we didn’t remember.

The show may be corny and contrived, but I think that is what we all loved about Abba themselves wasn’t it? Excellent performances from the likes of Lucy May Barker and the three supposedly more adult members, until they don their stage costumes – but I dont want to spoil anything, Helen Hobson, Emma Clifford and some wonderful comedy moments from Gillian Hardie.

You might get the impression that the writers kept remembering an Abba song and then found a way to fit it in – much to the delight of the packed Milton Keynes Theatre.

If I have any criticism, it would be that being a fan of the island of the Greek island where the story is set, I was hoping for a backcloth with views of something similar. Instead of which we were treated to a front and a back cloth of blue waves – making me feel that the entire show was being performed under water! But what do I know?

Ernie Almond

Mamma Mia! is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 20th May

Box Office: 0844 871 7652 or online:

30 years on Shirley Valentine wows audiences in Milton Keynes!


Willy Russell’s heart-warming comedy Shirley Valentine premiered in 1986 and took the world by storm. In celebration of its 30th Anniversary the first major revival of this national treasure is at Milton Keynes Theatre, from 27 March – 1 April. Shirley Valentine stars much loved actress Jodie Prenger in the title role.

Shirley is a Liverpool housewife. Her kids have left home and she makes chips and egg for her husband while talking to the wall. Where has her life disappeared to? Out of the blue, her best friend offers her a trip to Greece for 2 weeks and she secretly packs her bags. She heads for the sun and starts to see the world and herself very differently.

With a career spanning over four decades Willy Russell is undeniably one of the most successful playwrights of his generation. His plays, including Educating Rita, Blood Brothers, Our Day Out and Shirley Valentine.

Of the revival Willy Russell says;

It’s now thirty years since Shirley Valentine first walked onto the page, into my life and the lives of so many others. Shirley cooked her first meal of egg and chips on the stage of the Everyman Theatre Liverpool before then hoofing it down to London where along with the cooking and talking to the wall she started picking up the string of awards she’d win in the West End, on Broadway and in the film that earned both BAFTAs and Academy Award Nominations. Since those early days Shirley has had an incredibly rich and varied life, appearing in many tongues across the globe in countless productions and being performed by many great actresses. The one thing Shirley Valentine has not done of late is extensively tour the UK. There have been approaches and plans mooted but, somehow, it’s just never quite felt right and so I’ve resisted such efforts – until now! And what has made the difference? When producer Adam Spiegel introduced me to Jodie Prenger I knew in an instant that here was a formidable actress, one who possessed the grit and the warmth, the drive and the vulnerability, the energy and the heart to make Shirley Valentine really live again. How could any playwright resist that or deny the whole of the UK the chance to see Jodie bring Shirley to life?”

Jodie Prenger is perhaps best known for winning the role of Nancy in the West End production of Oliver! through the BBC television series I’d Do Anything. Most recently Jodie toured the UK in the classic musical Tell Me On A Sunday. She also played the title role in the national tour of the musical Calamity Jane and has starred in One Man, Two Guvnors both in the West End and on tour and as Lady of the Lake in Spamalot.

Glen Walford, director of the original production, will direct this major revival. Shirley Valentine is produced by Adam Spiegel Productions (Motown, The Last Tango, The Producers, Dance ‘Til Dawn, Midnight Tango, Love Me Tender, The Mousetrap on Tour).

Shirley Valentine is at Milton Keynes Theatre from 27th March until 1st April

Box Office: 0844 871 7652 or online:

This brillant masterpeice by Willy Russell is witty and not without pathos. It is hilarious at times but almost every line hits home with someone in the audience! This one-woman play is different to the film because all the other characters (and there are many) come alive through the actions and voice of Shirley as she converses with her best friend – her kitchen wall.

I imagine having to learn this peice would even daunt the Dame Judys and Dame Helens of this world, but Jodie Prenger pulls off a stunning performance. Engaging with the audience from the first few seconds, she twists and turns around the kitchen whilst relaying life with husband Joe as it seems to her.

Jodie Prenger has a wonderful natural comedy timing. I loved her use of the pause, often bringing an even bigger laugh. She is so perfect in this role that you would swear Willie Russell had written it for her! Congratulations too to director Glen Walford whose work made us believe we were really there in the kitchen with Shirley, just behind the wall she so often chats to.

But the night is Jodie Prenge’s,r who made us all love and have huge sympathy for this character. Jodie makes her just so funny, so believeable and so strong with the use of her various talents and Willie Russell’s lines. In fact Jodie is so good in this that I’ve now completely forgiven her for Calamity Jane! Do please try to get to see this, I promise you’ll thank me afterwards for forcing you!

Ernie Almond

Shirley Valentine is at Milton Keynes Theatre from 27th March until 1st April

Box Office: 0844 871 7652 or online:

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG at Milton Keynes Theatre

The Play That Goes Wrong, the West End’s Olivier Award winning box office hit, is at the Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 18th March.

Co-written by Mischief Theatre company members Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields, The Play That Goes Wrong is a highly physical comedy packed with finely-tuned farce and Buster Keaton inspired slapstick delivered with split-second timing and ambitious daring. The play introduces The ‘Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society’ who are attempting to put on a 1920s’ murder mystery, but as the title suggests, everything that can go wrong… does, as the accident prone thespians battle on against all the odds to get to their final curtain call.

Photo: Helen Murray

The Play That Goes Wrong is set to receive its Broadway debut, with the original cast opening at the Lyceum Theatre in New York on 2 April 2017. It is a remarkable rags-to-riches story for a play, which started its life at a London fringe venue with only four paying members of the public at the first performance and has since played to an audience of over half a million.

Mischief Theatre was founded in 2008 by a group of graduates of The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) and began as an improvised comedy group. The company made its television debut last Christmas on BBC One, with a TV production of Peter Pan Goes Wrong filmed in front of a live studio audience, featuring guest star David Suchet as the narrator. The company is led by Artistic Director Henry Lewis and Company Director Jonathan Sayer.

The Play That Goes Wrong is at the Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 18th March.

Box Office: 0844 870 0887 or online:

Photo: Helen Murray

I went along early in the week and I would be less than truthful if I said all ran smoothly. The few minor technical hitches were cleverly covered up by this stellar cast led by actor/director Trevor (played by Graeme Rooney). I.m sure that with the help of a few nail, a hammer and a roll of gaffer tape all will be well by the time you see this – and see it you must if only to witness the best corpse in the business played by Jason Callender.

Ernie Almond

The Play That Goes Wrong is at the Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 18th March.

Box Office: 0844 870 0887 or online:

Two great shows coming to Royal & Derngate.

Customers are going to be spoiled for choice at Royal & Derngate at the end of March, with two great weeklong shows! In the Derngate auditorium  Sister Act – the sensational feel-good musical directed by Craig Revel Horwood and starring Alexandra Burke.

Based on the smash hit movie starring Whoopi Goldberg and Maggie Smith, Sister Act tells the hilarious story of Deloris Van Cartier (Played by Alexandre Burke), a 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!

Sister Act is at The Derngate, Northampton from 27th March until 1st April.

 Box Office: 01604 624811 or online at


At the same time, the Classic Thriller Company will be in the Royal auditorium is a new stage thriller from the queen of psychological crime Ruth Rendell. Widely considered to be one of Rendell’s greatest works, A Judgement in Stone is loved for its brilliant rendering of character, plot and motive, and is undoubtedly Rendell at her thrilling best.

A Judgement in Stone is at The Royal, Northampton from 27th March until 1st April.

Box Office: 01604 624811 or online:




The Ghost Train steams into Hitchin

The Ghost Train by Arnold Ridley directed by David Lester is at The Queen Mother Theatre, Hitchin from 24th February until 4th March

A disparate group of travellers are stranded at a remote country railway station late on a stormy night with no hope of reaching their destination that day. The stationmaster tells a story about a strange death on the line and of a Ghost Train. They dismiss the story and prepare to spend the night, but then strange things happen … This is an exciting and suspenseful thriller making its first appearance at the QMT on a set designed to give the audience a real chill! Not to be missed. Regularly nominated by critics, as one of the scariest plays performed in the theatre, this is Bancroft Players 400th public production.

Ghost Train is at the Queen Mother Theatre, Hitchin from 24th February until 4th March

Box Office: 01462 455166 or online:

Fredrico Fellini’s La Strada at MK Theare


Kenny Wax Ltd with Cambridge Arts Theatre & Bristol Old Vic present The Belgrade Theatre Coventry’s Production Federico Fellini’s LA STRADA

One of the true masterpieces of modern cinema, Federico Fellini’s 1957 Oscar-winning film, LA STRADA (The Road), will be brought to life on stage in a brand new adaptation directed by Olivier Award nominee Sally Cookson with music composed by Benji Bower.

A soul-searching story filled with beauty, sadness, humour and acute observation, La Strada tells the tragic and tender tale of wide-eyed Gelsomina who is sold by her impoverished mother to the brutish strongman Zampano, a travelling sideshow performer. Their journey through the Italian countryside leads them to a ragtag touring circus where they meet Il Matto the free-spirited tightrope walker, who tries to rekindle Gelsomina’s broken spirit.

Director Sally Cookson says:

Felini’s iconic film has always fascinated me and the thought of using it as a starting point to make a piece of theatre was one I couldn’t resist. A folk-tale like odyssey – this story sees three lost souls travelling ‘the road’ and searching in different ways to find meaning in their lives. Using physical story telling, music and movement, we will be attempting to find a theatricality to re imagine this story of human suffering, longing and redemption.”

Featuring live music and original songs, La Strada brings together a multi-skilled cast of performers and musicians. Audrey Brisson (Cirque de Soleil’s Quidam The Wild Bride and National Theatre’s The Elephantom) plays Gelsomina, Stuart Goodwin (Sally Cookson’s Sleeping Beauty; Kneehigh’s Tristan & Yseult) plays Zampano and Bart Soroczynski (Cirque de Loin’s The Fool & The Princess; ENO’s Benvenuto Cellini; RSC’s The Merry Wives of Windsor) plays Il Matto.

La Strada is directed by Sally Cookson who is an associate artist of Bristol Old Vic. Together with long-time creative collaborator, composer and musical director Benji Bower.

La Strada is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 25th February (matinees on Wed & Sat)

 Box Office: 0844 870 0887 or online:

I saw the show on Monday evening and these were my thoughts…..

After quite a run of high profile musicals it is truly refreshing to see this new theatrical version of Fellini’s masterpiece La Strada. Directors Sally Cookson and Benji Bower are to be congratulated for dreaming up this very novel way of storytelling. For their bravery too because the entire show started with the story but no actual script until the actors first met at rehearsals! The whole wonderful experience has been honed at rehearsals and probably during the run by the cast and directors. The result is a compelling story that as they say during the action was told a thousand years ago and also told today. I promise you this is very different, clever, witty and you’d be foolish to miss it!

Ernie Almond

La Strada is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 25th February (matinees on Wed & Sat)

 Box Office: 0844 870 0887 or online:

Matthew Bourne’s latest production at Milton Keynes

New Adventures are delighted to announce full casting for the World Premiere of Matthew Bourne’s production of THE RED SHOES, at the Milton Keynes Theatre from 14 – 18 February.

The Red Shoes

 “Victoria Page”, the girl who dreams of being a great dancer, immortalised on screen by Moira Shearer, will be created by New Adventures star, Ashley Shawmost recently seen across the UK and internationally as “Aurora” in Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty. Rising star and fellow “Aurora”, Cordelia Braithwaite, will also play the role, along with Sleeping Beauty favourite Katrina Lyndon in her principal role debut (at certain performances).

Sam Archer who created the title role of Edward Scissorhands in 2005 and who has starred in Cinderella, The Car Man and Play Without Words returns to the Company to play the iconic role of Svengali-like Impresario “Boris Lermentov”. Chris Trenfield will also play Lermentov, as well as musical genius, “Julian Kraster”; the man with whom Victoria Page falls in love. Sharing the role of Julian will be one of New Adventures most popular dancers, Dominic North, who was this year nominated for his second National Dance Award, along with rising star Andrew Monaghan who has already debuted leading roles in Swan Lake, The Car Man and Sleeping Beauty.

Completing the principal cast are the leading dancers of the Lermentov Company. Prima Ballerina, “Irina Boronskya” will be played by Michela Meazza, returning to New Adventures where she has danced and created many leading roles (including “Lady H” in Dorian Gray, “Joyce” in Edward Scissorhands and “The Stepmother” in Cinderella). She is joined by Company favourites Anjali Mehra, most recently seen as both “The Queen” and “The Girlfriend” in Swan Lake and Nicole Kabera, currently playing “Queen Eleanor” in Sleeping Beauty.

“Ivan Boleslawsky” the role made famous by Robert Helpmann will be created by one of New Adventures finest young dancers, Liam Mower (the original West End Billy Elliot but now taking on his seventh principal role with New Adventures). Also playing Ivan is popular company dancer, Danny Reubens, who scored a great personal success recently as “Jack” in Lord Of The Flies.

Company choreographer and ‘character dancer’ “Grischa Ljubov”, is created by veteran company dancer, Glenn Graham, who as well as playing “The Swan” in Swan Lake has recently been seen as “King Benedict” in Sleeping Beauty. Also playing the role of Grischa will be Leon Moran recently seen in Sleeping Beauty, The Car Man and as “Jim” in Edward Scissorhands.

A beloved fairy-tale and Academy Award-winning movie, THE RED SHOES has seduced audiences and inspired generations of dancers with its tale of obsession, possession and one girl’s dream to be the greatest dancer in the world. Victoria Page lives to dance but her ambitions become a battleground between the two men who inspire her passion.

Matthew Bourne’s magical new adaptation of the legendary Powell and Pressburger film reunites him with his regular collaborators and New Adventures Associate Artists and the team that brought you the world wide hit, Sleeping Beauty; Lez Brotherston (set and costumes), Paule Constable (lighting) and Paul Groothuis (sound).

This World Premiere is set to a new score arranged by Terry Davies using the mesmerizing music of golden-age Hollywood composer, Bernard Herrmann (most famous for his collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles and Martin Scorsese), whose work ranges from the witty and playfully robust to the achingly romantic and bittersweet.

An intoxicating drama where life imitates art with fateful consequences; THE RED SHOES will dazzle your senses and break your heart.

Matthew Bourne’s THE RED SHOES is at Milton Keynes Theatre from 14th – 18th February.

Box Office: 0844 870 0887 or online:

I went along on Tuesday evening, these were my thoughts:

I have so far seen four of Matthew Bourne’s stunning creations and I would describe at least three of those productions  as masterpieces created by a genius. The Red Shoes is most certainly in that catagory!

Even actors have difficulty portraying a play within a play without overdoing the difference between the two, but to convey that in dance so perfectly is why they needed Matthew Bourne at the helm. There ‘s plenty of comedy both subtle and – in the case of Wilson & Kepple with no Betty(?) – not so. Some parts needed to be chilling and you could feel that chill-factor sweep across the audience.

As ever with this company it was such a team effort, Sam Archer, Ashley Shaw and Dominic North the three non members of the “Ballet Lermontov” took us through the story brilliantly. (I think Dominic must have his own dresing room by now at Milton Keynes Theatre!) Liam Mower‘s career just goes from strength to strength, I particularly loved the double act with Joe Walkling, fine dancing and great comedy!

All in all, if you’re a true ballet enthusiast or, like me, none too knowlegable about the genre, I can assure you of a fabulous night in the theatre with The Red Shoes. NOT TO BE MISSED!

Ernie Almond

Matthew Bourne’s THE RED SHOES is at Milton Keynes Theatre from 14th – 18th February.

Box Office: 0844 870 0887 or online: