Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Review: La Strada

Based on Federico Fellini’s 1954 screenplay drama meaning ‘The Road’, one of the most influential movies ever made. This brand new stage adaptation is brought to us by Olivier Award nominee Director Sally Cookson with music composed by Benji Bower.
This is a soul-searching life-on-the-road story filled with heartache, loneliness, love, humour and beauty. The story begins with Gelsomina’s penniless mother selling her to the travelling strong man Zampano (Stuart Goodwin) after her sister’s death. Gelsomina (Audrey Brisson) is a simple and girlish character full of whimsy and loves her home by the sea. She’s thrown into a rough and dangerous but colourful world of post war Italy meeting the free-spirited performing artists and circus folk along the way. They meet the very funny Il Matto (The Fool) who helps Gelsomina find her purpose, he says ‘what’s in that ugly artichoke head of yours’. Very funny and a brilliant performance from Bart Sorocznski.
La Strada brings together a talented cast of actor-musicians in which they bring the story to life through their stage movements, story telling, sound effects, singing and beautiful, haunting music so that the audience is on the road with them. A very simple set with a few props and atmospheric lighting is all that’s needed to tell this tale and for the audience to fully enjoy their experience following Gelsomina and Zampano. Fantastic performances from both Goodwin and Brisson too, portraying their characters brilliantly and what a breathtaking voice Audrey has!
The films message is as poignant today as ever, as written by Francesca Fabbri Fellini (Fellini’s niece), ‘the pain of loneliness, the need we feel for each other, the certainty that each of us is good for something, no matter how humble and obscure we may be’
A must see!
La Strada at Milton Keynes Theatre – 20th–25th February. For tickets, visit www.atgtickets.com

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

REVIEW: The Red Shoes at MK Theatre

The Red Shoes at MK Theatre

Tuesday 14th February 2017

 


The story is loosely based on the Hans Christian Anderson fairy story that also became a film. It always helps to do some research before you go to get the full understanding of the story. After all there are no words, just a beautiful story told through dance, mime and music. Altogether it was quite refreshing and relaxing for the theatre goer.
Matthew Bourne, probably the best chorographer of recent times has turned the story of the Red Shoes into an exquisite piece of art. With beautiful music and a mixture of ballet and contemporary dance this is a show that shouldn’t pass you by.
The set is a work of art in itself with an enormous arch that moves around to show the back and front of a stage. This play is about a play so quite multi- levelled. It can be difficult to keep up with the scenes as it shifts from the stage play to the touring company’s travels but that in no way detracts from the journey as we drift from one magical scene to another. There are moments away from the main action such as the beach scene that at first seems a bit out of place but merely reflects the different places where the touring company visit. There is light relief with the alternative sand dance that amuses the audience. It certainly shows the versatility of Matthew Bourne.
All the cast were excellent but I must mention Ashley Shaw who played the lead of Victoria Page whose dancing and interpretation of the role was magnificent.  Perfect casting.
The show is on at Milton Keynes until Saturday 18th February. This show is bound to sell out so be quick!
Tickets from www.atgtickets.com/Miltonkeynes or telephone 0844 871 7652 (booking fee applies)

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

REVIEW: Not Dead Enough at MK Theatre

Not Dead Enough at MK Theatre

Tuesday 30th January 2017

 


This play is just what the theatre needs at the moment. Let’s blow the cobwebs away this new year and watch a good old crime thriller from the celebrated author Peter James. Slowly his plays are being adapted to the stage and are very closely adhering to the script of the book. This is because Peter is fully involved in bringing his work to the stage and is passionate about his craft. Surprisingly enough his Detective Grace novels haven`t reached TV so all the better for us theatre goers.
Not Dead Enough was expertly crafted and executed (if that’s the right word bearing in mind the story line) with a polished performance from a well-chosen cast. We all know Shane Ritchie who played Detective Grace and can only marvel at his versatility in the many roles he has played over his acting career.
The story centres on Brian Bishop, played by Stephen Billington, who is the chief suspect for the murder of his wife but he claims to be 60 miles away at the time of the crime. Stephen who likes to play bad boys can easily turn the charm on to disarm you.  The whole cast gave an excellent performance with moments of humour scattered throughout the play. They really gelled as an acting team.
The stage was well defined into different areas, where the central stories play out. The lighting was used to great effect during the darker scenes. At first the sound was a little low but that was soon addressed as the cast settled into their first night in MK Theatre.
If you like reading the crime novels of Peter James, one of the best crime writers of all time, then don`t miss the opportunity to see this story brought to life.
The play is on till Saturday 4th February.
Tickets from www.atgtickets.com/Miltonkeynes or telephone 0844 871 7652 (booking fee applies)

Friday, 27 January 2017

Thoroughly Modern Millie, Milton Keynes Theatre, January 26th 2017.

Millie tells the story of a country girl from Kansas, who arrives penniless in New York determined to throw off her dowdy life style and fully embrace all that’s new, risqué and modern in the city.

Those who know Joanne Clifton from her marvelously creative dancing on last seasons Strictly Ballroom competition on the BBC, will be in for a surprise as to what a great all round performer and singer she is.
This is an excellent show that allows her to fully demonstrate her talents.

It has to be said that the whole cast put in a great and spirited performance, special mention to Michelle Collins as the evil Mrs Meers who does a terrific Chinese accent via Benny Hill, Graham MacDuff as Trevor Graydon who produces an exceptionally funny drunk scene and Jenny Fitzpatrick, especially her marvelous performance of Only in New York at the end of the first half, simply brilliant.

The music and dancing throughout are superb, properly capturing the sounds and atmosphere of the times, the musicians were fluid and exceptionally musical.

The sound quality is clear and distinct and not so loud as to be distorted, the stage set
is both interesting and versatile, easily covering the seedy hotel of Mrs Meers, the offices of Trever Graydon, the local prison and then the penthouse of Muzzy van Hossmere.

The original book by Richard Henry Morris was re-conceived as a film for Julie Andrews in 1967 to rave reviews and huge box office success.

This presentation captures the mood and exuberance of those heady times in New York and is great entertainment for all.



Thoroughly Modern Millie is running until Saturday 28th January at Milton Keynes Theatre. To catch some last minute tickets, head over to atgtickets.com


Wednesday, 14 December 2016

REVIEW: Dick Whittington at MK Theatre

Dick Whittington at Milton Keynes Theatre

13th December 2016

 


A truly mad old English tradition – the Pantomime!  A noun described in the Oxford Dictionary as ‘An absurdly exaggerated piece of behaviour’, well that’s exactly what you can expect from this year’s panto at Milton Keynes theatre and it was fabulous.

From dazzling costumes to vibrant stage sets that changed from scene to scene, audience participation to topical jokes, it was great fun all round.

This year we saw Stacey Solomon as Fairy Bowbells and Samantha Womack as Queen Rat, good versus evil to keep the audience in peril with a sprinkling of hope for dear Dick and his friends. Kev Orkian starred as Idle Jack, a narrator, entertainer, joker, story-teller, funny-man – he did great at involving us all in the show. Kevin Brewis, Chris Jenkins, Hannah Ponting, Marc Pickering, Shane Knight and Sophie Hart completed the ensemble and we could see and feel how much fun they were having playing their parts – which made it all the more enjoyable to watch.

Although everybody’s performance was flawless, right down to Tommy the cat and the swarms of rats, my absolute favourite character of them all was Sarah The Cook. Played by Kevin Brewis, this year’s Dame was truly outrageous with quintessential, flamboyant costumes, colourful make-up and witty, sassy lines.

The show takes you with Dick on his journey from rags to riches, meeting his friends and foes along the way. Mix a timeless story with topical references, some musical hits and even a surprise immersive underwater adventure – it’s Christmas entertainment at it’s best for all the family.

Book Tickets now! Dick Whittington is at Milton Keynes Theatre until 15th January 2017. 
To book tickets go to: atgtickets.com

Thursday, 24 November 2016

REVIEW: ENB The Nutcracker at MK Theatre

The Nutcracker, Milton Keynes Theatre, 23rd November 2016.



 This was a most wonderful and enjoyable evening:- from the excellent music by Tchaikovsky, with pieces that we are all familiar with. To the terrific dancers who filled the stage with delight, there were times when there was so much happening it was difficult to take all of this wonderful action in.

The theatre too did it's part, last week we sat in the front of the stalls, this week the first few rows had been removed and the orchestra pit had appeared, it was filled with a marvelous full orchestra including two harps and a children choir.

The stage sets are very imaginative, with an ice skating scene which looks quite realistic and suitably chilly. The story develops from a simple bedroom scene through to a full Christmas party, the escape balloon lifting up into the gods and then the garden scene.

The performers and dancers were excellent, interpreting the music with great grace, enthusiasm and elegance.

It was a truly magical evening, one we would like to see again.

Our thanks to everyone involved.

The Nutcracker runs at Milton Keynes Theatre from 24th – 26th November. Tickets from www.atgtickets.com/shows/nutcracker/milton-keynes-theatre

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

REVIEW: Relatively Speaking at MK Theatre

Relatively Speaking by Alan Ayckbourn

Milton Keynes Theatre, Monday 14th November 2016.

 

  

This was a most enjoyable performance from beginning to end, with just four players, the story funnily portrays misinterpretation, based on the assumption of facts that are not quite as they seem to the four characters. Particularly to the young man Greg, who is unaware of the complicated romantic history of his new girl friend Ginny and the people he thinks are her parents.

We are introduced to the young couple in a dodgy London bedsit, before moving to a comfortable detached house in South Buckinghamshire commuter belt of the early 1960's, where the story and the situation unfolds most cleverly.

The dialogue is clearly presented with just the right amount of pauses to allow the audience to laugh, but to also keep a smooth flow in the performance.
However this is what you would expect from such experienced actors as Robert Powell and Lisa Goddard, but they are more than ably supported by Lindsey Campbell and Antony Eden as the young couple.

The two sets excellently show a scruffy bedsit in London and then the detached property in Buckinghamshire ,with lots on means for the characters to enter and exit the performing area.

The audience all seemed to enjoy the humour and performances of the play, they also found great interest in the "home counties map" that hung as a curtain before the two acts.
The map was pre-motorway so showed a different England than you would see today for road and rail routes.

The play was first known as “Know My Father” in 1965, but soon became Relatively Speaking when it was presented in London in 1967.

Relatively Speaking is running at MK Theatre until Saturday 19th November. Tickets are available from www.atgtickets.com/shows/relatively-speaking/milton-keynes-theatre