Thursday, 23 March 2017

Welsh National Opera’s La Bohème at Milton Keynes Theatre

Well I’m an opera convert! I honestly didn’t think it would be my thing but went along with an open mind, being my first visit to an opera and enjoyed every moment start to finish.


La Bohème tells the tragic love story of bohemians Rodolfo, Mimi and their friends living in the Latin Quarter of Paris in the 1840’s. It’s Christmas Eve and Rodolfo meets Mimi unexpectedly when she needs help with her candle. It’s love at first sight and each act takes us through their journey, all the while Mimi’s sickness progresses.


The opera is in four acts, composed by Giacomo Puccini and based on Scènes de la Vie de Bohème by Henry Murger. I cannot compare to other Operas or other versions of La Bohème, however the performance from last night’s Welsh National Opera was outstanding. The stage sets, lighting and costumes really transported the audience to Bohemian Paris and had a touch of modern technology projecting a backdrop of the smoky Parisian skyline and falling snow. Awesome work by the orchestra too and the music was captivating.


Matteo Lippi, Tenore and Jessica Muirhead, Soprano performed the leads. The full cast was fantastic but the singing from the leads really gave us goosebumps!


Can’t wait to see WNO’s Madam Butterfly on Friday evening now – if there are tickets left, you’ll want to grab some quick for an alternative Friday or Saturday night of culture and charm.



Tickets available on www.atgtickets.com


Tuesday, 14 March 2017

REVIEW: The Play that Goes Wrong at MK Theatre

The Play that Goes Wrong at MK Theatre 



As the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society show us their acting skills they can only put on a brave face when all around them is chaos as the play descends into farce. Even when the set starts to fall around them the actors continue to act through it all to keep up appearances of a professional show.
We’ve all been to amateur dramatic shows where things go wrong, lines are forgotten and stage sets fail. Well the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society takes this to new levels. The play quickly descends into farce with a touch of the Vaudeville theatre thrown in for good measure.
The energy and commitment of the actors was amazing with excellent delivery of lines and great comic timing. The play makes you laugh from beginning to end. What a joy!
The Play that Goes Wrong saw its first inception at the Edinburgh fringe before going to the West End and is now touring the UK. It was cleverly written by Henry Lewis, Johnathan Sayer and Henry Shields who first met at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and are the core members of this innovative company called Mischief Theatre. We are sure to see much more from this talented theatre group.
The Play that Goes Wrong is winner of the Laurence Olivia Award for Best New Comedy so to see what all the fuss is about get yourself a ticket to see this show while they last.
On till Saturday 18th March. Tickets from www.atgtickets.com/Miltonkeynes or telephone 0844 871 7652 (booking fee applies)

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox at Milton Keynes Theatre

‘We are all different, but there is something kind of fantastic about that, isn’t there?!’

This play, adapted for the stage by Sam Holcroft was charming, witty, silly and brilliant, I’m sure Roald Dahl himself would love it. Great fun for all the family with just the right amount of naughtiness, peril, guts and gore that kids LOVE.

The story follows Mr Fox and his friends as they find ingenious ways to outsmart the horrible, stinky farmers trying to catch them. It explores the theme of greed versus sharing and how being kind and working together will ultimately save the day. With a few drops of adult humour thrown in, it really was a wonderfully funny play to watch with some catchy songs and a few relatable modern anecdotes.

The stage set was superb, really interactive with lots going on and the costumes were perfect, quite funny and highlighted the characters personalities. Brilliant performance from the whole cast acting, singing and dancing and to entertain kids and big kids alike, they played their characters skillfully well.


Can you outfox a fox? Hurry along to Milton Keynes Theatre this week to catch them before they dig their way out! The show runs until Saturday 11th March - grab your tickets now from www.atgtickets.com


Thursday, 2 March 2017

Funny Girl with Sheridan Smith

Based on the life story of Fanny Brice (actually Fania Borach born in 1891) a music hall star who went on to star in the world famous Ziegfeld Follies revues. She met and married inveterate gambler Nicky Arnstein and had two children.

The story was turned in to a most successful musical film in the late 1960’s starring Barbra Streisand and Omar Sherif.

This version is both excellent and dynamic, the full cast are great as is the orchestra.
However, casting Sheridan Smith in the part of Fanny Brice was a master stroke, she plays the part with wit, verve and pathos, her singing though is absolutely brilliant throughout.
She draws you in to her character with her enthusiasm and energy.
So “move over Barbra and let Sheridan take over”.

The acoustics of the MK Theatre were as usual very good, the stage set was flexible and conveyed the scene being portrayed.
The costumes beautifully portray the fashions of the period.
All in all a most enjoyable evening at the theatre.

Funny Girl runs from 28th Feb to 4th March at Milton Keynes Theatre. For tickets, visit: www.atgtickets.com




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)