Sister Act takes Milton Keynes by Storm (again)!


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.

Book tickets at ATGTICKETS.COM/MiltonKeynes

Review by Jhez Bermudez.

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 MusicalBest 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.
  • Jhez Bermudez

Girl From The North Country Is at Milton Keynes Theatre from November 15th – 19th.

Box Office: 0844 871 7615 or

The Shawshank Redemption arrives at MK Theatre

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.

Ben Onwukwe 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

Box Office: 0844 871 7615 or

Fishermen and Shanties galore at Milton Keynes

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 BloodNo 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.

Box Office: 0844 871 7615 or online: ATGTICKETS.COM/MILTONKEYNES

Blood Brothers gets ‘em standing & cheering in Milton Keynes 

Blood Brothers

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

Box Office: 0844 871 7615 or

Doom & Despondency amid the glitter

Cher Show is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 13th August.

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.

The Cher Show is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday, 13th August.

box office: 0844 871 7615 or online:



Dance routines wearing flippers? Mama Mia! Arrives in Milton Keynes in style!

Mama Mia!

The show with the best ever finale! A load of camp old nonsense? Well yes, it’s both of those things – but don’t underestimate this theatrically camp and maybe OTT offering! Even if you enter the Milton Keynes Theatre full of doubt (as I did) it’ll have you standing and cheering at the end, guaranteed! (As I was!)

Unfortunately there’s quite a bit of scene setting that needs to be done at the beginning. This takes place 3months before the wedding of Sophie (Jena Pandya) and Sky (Toby Miles), so we find Sophie showing her two mates Ali (Jasmine Shen) and Lisa (Mariella Mazzilli) her mother’s diary giving details of three of her boyfriends just before the time of Sophie’s birth. One of them is probably her father! Wouldn’t it be great to have her true father give her away? That’s as much of the plot as I’ll give away, but the scene – though absolutely necessary, does take a while and would be tough for a seasoned performer let alone 3 of the younger members of the cast. 

But don’t panic, after this slightly slow start, on bound Tanya (Helen Anker) and Rosie (Nicky Swift) who are soon joined by Donna (Sophie’s single mum played by Sara Poyzer)and things really start moving! As an ex three-girl singing group they certainly know how to perk things up and give it some welly!

From then on the very accurate renditions of ABBA songs flow almost non-stop, cleverly woven into the story. Even from the 3 Dads played superbly by Richard Standing, Daniel Crowder & Phil Corbett

There’s lots of fine choreography which though fitted the 70’s theme didn’t for a second feel dated. Praise to choreographer Anthony Van Laast for that. Good to have some (if augmented at times) live musicians in the pit under the direction of Carlton Edwards

The whole show is a lot of fun with plenty of good music. Plenty of laughs along the way – special mention for the hilarious routine with Rosie and Pepper (James Willoughby Moore). 

If you doubt the idea of taking one singing group’s music and weaving it into a story, some have tried and failed – but Mama Mia! will prove to you that it can work and work spectacularly!

Mama Mia! is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 6th August.

Box Office: 0844 871 7615 or online

Bat Out Of Hell rides into Milton Keynes

The perfect tribute to music legends Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman, Vicky Edwards catches up with Martha Kirby and Glenn Adamson from Jim Steinman’s Bat Out of Hell – The Musical.

If you didn’t already know that Bat Out of Hell started life as a musical, it’s a fact that probably comes as no surprise – the songs are so theatrical and anthemic. Entitled Neverland and written by Steinman in 1974, the premise was a futuristic Peter Pan story.  But producers didn’t bite, so in 1977 the album was recorded instead, claiming an eight-year tenancy in the UK charts and turning Meat Loaf a global superstar.  

And when the show finally hit the stage in 2017, the result was pretty much the same: two sell-out West End seasons and a ‘packed-to the-rafters’ run in Manchester. Now, in the wake of Steinman’s death last year, and more recently that of Meat Loaf, it certainly feels like a fitting time for their theatrical legacy to be embarking on a national tour.

Glenn Adamson as Strat and Martha Kirby as Raven,

Ernie Almond’s review
The London Production of Bat Out Of Hell won all sorts of awards, from Radio 2 Audience Award for Best Musical to 8 WhatsOnStage awards including Best New Musical. Having now seen the touring version as it came screaming into MK Theatre starring local actor Glenn Adamson as Strat and Martha Kirby as Raven, I can honestly say that every one of those awards (& more) should be repeated for the touring production of the show. obviously a tour of a show as big as this has its own technical difficulties. For example, you cant push a whole car into the orchestra pit, so Raven calmly takes out the engine and throws that in!

Apart from the two leads i did enjoy Falco & Sloane (Jamie Jukes & Laura Johnson) but quite honestly even those little mentions are unfair because every person on that stage was faultless! Some good comedy sprinkled across it and some truly excellent dancing. But its the songs that we all loved Meat Loaf for that strike home so accurately. With the amount of special effects (I refuse to give any away) which were stunningly executed and the huge sets, I don’t see how this show can move into a theatre one day, have tech runs and open on the Tuesday with a wonderfully slick and polished performance! But ask anyone thats seen it and they’ll tell you its a show you simply must not miss! Apart from the cast, the songs, the sets and the effects, theres also a fine live band conducted by Iestyn Griffiths.

The perfect post-pandemic pick-me-up, Bat Out of Hell – The Musical also honours the memory of two brilliant musicians, Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman. Grab your tickets. Paying your respects will be a total pleasure.

Bat Out of Hell is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 25 June.
Tickets are available from ATGTICKETS.COM/MiltonKeynes

Cluedo opens its many doors in MK Theatre

A new British play, based on an American play that was based on an American film that was itself based on a British board game! Phew! Where would you start?

Well, lets begin with the set. If you can imagine a large single box set which needs nine (yes 9!) fully functioning doors, secret panels, hidden safe, folding walls to expose several other rooms AND a working – one way or another – chandelier, you need a truly top designer. Fortunately for the packed houses this play attracts, they found the perfect one in David Farley! No set wobble here as the doors start slamming! I was not surprised to see that the direction was in the more than capable hands of Mark – The Play That Goes Wrong- Bell. The same speed and precision are needed in this play as the other one.

The cast headed by Michelle Collins as the glamorous ”business woman” from Soho Miss Scarlett and Daniel Casey as Professor Plum were all excellent . Breaking the 3rd wall occasionally and generally keeping the whole thing moving (I mean moving too, he had to open and close those heavy walls to the other rooms!) and with a great raport with the audience was Jean-Luke Warrell as Wadsworth the butler. A lovely cameo as a fake French maid got plenty of laughs as played by Laura Kirman and the same could be said for the accident-prone vicar in the hands of Tom Babbage. I also loved the almost Joyce Grenfell like gangliness of politician’s wife Mrs Peacock (Judith Amsenga). The title of the most unfortunate person of the night I suppose goes to Liam Horrigan who plays three characters – all of which meet fairly horrific ends! Special mention must go to Harry Bradley standing in as Professor Plum on the night we went, the Professor didn’t put a foot wrong – well no more wrong than any of the other characters! Wesley Griffith as the slightly dim Colonel Mustard and Etisyai Philip as Mrs White (sadly “lost” 2 husbands already) made up the main characters in this very strong cast.

Considering I had the audience member directly behind me who thought she should give a running commentary for those that didn’t understand and laugh at 100 decibels if any character so much as blinked, I think i managed to get all of the humour in the script and the physical stuff without being distracted too much,

The stylised form of acting and movement was certainly different if not exactly my cup of tea, but then, as the lady behind said in a loud voice for all the stalls to hear – not just once but at regular intervals ”this is SO fucking funny!” She obviously knows her stuff!

Cluedo is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 4th June

Box Office:

Steve Harley live at The Core

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 28 May                       CORBY – The Core @ Corby Cube

tickets from: