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: www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes

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: www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *