Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Footloose: The Musical

Everybody cut loose! Footloose! What a fab musical, I absolutely loved it.

The story starts with Ren and his mum moving away from trendy Chicago to the small and old-fashioned town known as Bomont. A town where dancing is illegal and we follow Ren and his friends as they challenge this law; wanting to express themselves in the art of music and dance.

They've done a great job of developing the classic 80’s movie into an actor-musician show. The cast is incredibly talented and very entertaining to watch. They are acting, singing, playing instruments and dancing at the same time – I was mesmerised from the first scene to the last and there are some great comedy moments too, especially from Willard, played by Gareth Gates. He’s a really funny character – he engaged the audience well with his comical faces and actions directed towards us and his silly jokes got a good giggle.

Luke Baker and Hannah Price played the rebel lovebirds Ren McCormack and the reverend’s daughter Ariel Moore. They were both brilliant and I particularly liked Rusty and Willards relationship too (Gareth and Joanna Sawyer) which was awkward but lovely! With 80’s classics like Footloose, Holding Out For A Hero and Let’s Hear It For The Boy, you can’t help but tap your feet and sing along.

Hats off to all the creatives from the fantastic choreography to the lighting and stage sets (which were far from simple) and one of the best sets I’ve seen from a touring theatre show, you can see the amount of effort, time and detail that went into creating it.

Without giving too much away, the ending has all the audience on their feet clapping, dancing and cheering so we left buzzing.

Footloose the Musical is running this week at MK Theatre from Monday 17th – Saturday 22nd October. Tickets from www.atgtickets.com

Friday, 7 October 2016

The Full Monty at MK Theatre

Based on the 1997 smash hit film and adapted for the stage by Oscar winning writer Simon Beaufoy, this was a funny and heartfelt production. This is Simon’s first time writing for the stage and he did a great job at capturing the same hardships and comedy from the original movie. Based in Sheffield and not known for their airs and graces, the working class men speak bluntly and honestly with their strong Sheffield accents. 

Unpretentious, kind of grey, a little bit miserable yet funny and heart warming at the same time, the play takes you through their journey from the closure of the steel works, their struggles to find work, the fear of losing their loved ones; to the nonsensical idea of becoming male strippers to make some fast cash. 

As the men start to get their heads around the idea, they work through their own inhibitions of body image and what people will think, bringing together some unlikely friendships in the process.

The cast were brilliant and you really felt their troubles and accomplishments with some great humour thrown in, rude jokes, blunt insults and cheekiness - the audience reacted really well to this play. At times, I felt the play was moving quite slowly with a few long scenes that could perhaps have been shorter, or funnier, however they were necessary to tell the story.

A special mention to Reiss Ward who played Gaz’s son Nathan – this was his first time performing in front of a live audience. He was a natural; a brilliant young actor at only 12 years old! He’s going to have a fantastic career if he keeps this up – well done Reiss!!

The stage set really brought the audience into the bleak atmosphere of the closed down steel factory and worked well as the setting for all the scenes – with some clever change of mood lighting and background music, the design team effectively took you from one scene to the next.

Overall, this was great show and I would definitely recommend it.

Running from: Monday 3rd – Saturday 8th October
Box office: 0844 871 7652
Website: atgtickets.com

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

REVIEW: Sister Act at MK Theatre

Sister Act at Milton Keynes Theatre


Starring X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke, this Broadway and West End musicial has finally come to Milton Keynes. Alexandra has come a long way from her X-Factor days, and gave a brilliant performance throughout. Set in the late 70s, the show was full of disco and motown songs which Alexandra performed effortlessly, her rich voice filling the auditorium with soul and funk.

Directed and choreographed by Craig Revel Horwood, this is musical adaptation of the 1992 movie starring Whoopi Goldberg. It followed the original story, however none of the original songs from the film featured in the stage version. This didn’t detract from the performances though.

The set was well executed. The convent was a gothic style church interior with tall arches that doubled as a tacky nightclub with a clever tweak of the lighting. The big finale (without giving too much away) was also very impressive, which goes to show that a lot of thought has been put into the stage design.

The rest of the cast also performed well. A particular highlight was the characters playing the musical instruments on stage as part of their character. This added a whole new dimension to the show and made the music of the show really come alive. A slight hiccup when one of the characters’ microphones failed, but he soldiered on through. We were close enough to hear him without the microphone, however this could have caused problems for the people at the back.

My only negative was when the sisters were eating Christmas dinner. I understand that at this point in the show, they hadn’t had any musical advice from Deloris Van Cartier (Burke), however their screachy singing was a bit hard to understand.

Sister Act runs at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 1st October.
Box office: 0844 871 7652
Website: www.atgtickets.com/Miltonkeynes

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

REVIEW: Breakfast at Tiffany's at MK Theatre

Breakfast at Tiffany's at Milton Keynes Theatre

Firstly a hands up moment, we have not seen the iconic film with Audrey Hepburn, but felt that this would give us an unbiased view on the night’s performance, however we were aware of the story's content.
Sadly we were disappointed with the performances, especially having looked forward to at last seeing this play. 

Apart from Holly`s husband "Doc" who you could clearly understand, it consisted of a lot of mostly shouted dialogue, in rather poor shrill American accents, this was especially bad when several characters were talking at the same time or closely together and their words over-laid one another and it all got a bit confused.

The theatre is blessed with an excellent p.a. system and voices carry very well without the need to over act them. In fact over acting was probably a major problem with the whole performance, there was no great depth of characterisation involved and we didn`t feel much empathy towards them.

This managed to confuse any of the subtleties of the humour in the script and any nuances of emotion even in the sad hospital scene where she has miscarried her unborn baby.
We have watched Georgia May on Strictly Come Dancing and know she is a talented performer, similarly Matt in Downton Abbey so this again was a disappointment.

The stage sets were imaginative, and it has to be said that the cat was good too.
To summaries if the dialogue was taken at a slower pace and with less shouting we are sure this would improve theatre goers pleasure, hopefully this will happen as the actors settle more in to their roles.

The show is on until Saturday 25th September.
Tickets from www.atgtickets.com/Miltonkeynes or telephone 0844 871 7652 (booking fee applies)

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

REVIEW: Keep Dancing at MK Theatre

Keep Dancing at Milton Keynes Theatre


For those of us who love Strictly (and who doesn’t?) then it’s great to bring elements of the show to your local theatre. There are many spin offs from Strictly which bring the atmosphere of the dance in real life rather than watching it on television. However some spin offs work better than others! 

This particular show features the talents of Jay McGuiness and Aliona Valani, so definitely some eye candy for everybody. Certainly Jay is top of the amateur dancing tree but I can’t help but wonder if Jay was out of his depth in this show.

Really the best performances are from the professionals. Strictly favourite, Robin Windsor was really the star of the show along with Anya Garnis and the other professional dancers to make it an extravaganza of music and song.

Unusually there was no story to loosely wrap the singing and dancing around nor was there any attempt at keeping to a particular theme. This made the show more of a variety event showcasing different styles of music and dancing. Fans of Latin and ballroom will be impressed but the audience also loved the more modern and innovative dances. The dancing is certainly full on from start to finish with some of the best choreography in this genre on stage at the moment. There also couldn’t be a Strictly-type show without the marvellous costumes where sequins are the order of the day. So it’s not too late to get off the couch and experience the magic of dance right here in Milton Keynes.

The show runs until Saturday 10th September.

Tickets from www.atgtickets.com/Miltonkeynes or telephone 0844 871 7652 (booking fee applies)

Thursday, 1 September 2016

REVIEW: Sunny Afternoon at MK Theatre

Sunny Afternoon at MK Theatre

 This sensational smash hit West End musical has finally come to Milton Keynes! Winner of the 2015 Olivier Award for Best New Musical, this is a fantastic feel-good musical with brilliant storytelling and acting. It follows the ups and down fortunes of The Kinks, and explains how they rose to eventual stardom through some very stormy waters.

The music of Ray Davies was carefully crafted throughout the story. The musical is full- on loud at times as they reenact scenes from their heyday to the most gentle renditions of heartfelt songs that took your breath away with the emotion and pathos of it all. They say Ray Davies wrote from his experiences in life so there was nothing contrived about how the songs were interwoven through the show. It really was a step into the past for the audience and for those of us who were there and who remember the sixties! Do you remember when the Kinks first played on Top of the Pops and their American tour? It’s all here on stage in MK!

The singing in this performance is brilliant, and the audience thoroughly enjoyed hearing all the iconic hits, including You Really Got Me, Waterloo Sunset, Lola, All Day and All of the Night, and many more! It`s easy to forget how talented Ray Davies was and actually what a prolific song writer he was.

If you are a Kinks fan then this is a show not to be missed.
There is still time to catch it.

Running from: Tuesday 30th August – Saturday 3rd September
Box office: 0844 871 7652
Website: atgtickets.com

Monday, 8 August 2016

REVIEW: Stage Experience: Fame the Musical at MK Theatre

 Stage Experience: Fame the Musical – Review

Milton Keynes Theatre’s popular youth musical theatre project, Stage Experience, has returned in the form of Fame the Musical! This brilliant production follows the story of students at New York City’s famous High School for the Performing Arts, and the 100-strong young cast gave a fantastic, confident performance.

With well-known, feel-good classic tracks, such as ‘Fame’, the audience really enjoyed the performance.

One part that really stood out for me was when Serena Katz played by Mille Burlace sung her solo. She came across as confident and accomplished.

The costumes were also brilliant, with the theatre group looking very enthusiastic and happy to be performing. The set was relatively simple but this worked well as it didn’t overshadow the fantastic acting and singing from the youth theatre cast.