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

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

REVIEW: The Commitments at MK Theatre

Review of The Commitments at MK Theatre

 



The story is simple; a Dublin producer has to get a group of amateur musicians together to make a band. And like all good bands they have some rocky times where they argue like mad and in an Irish sort of way.
It all adds up to some rocking good music with plenty of soul. The songs are all familiar and our favourites from back in the day. Songs like River Deep, Mountain High, Mustang Sally and I Heard it Through the Grapevine are all interweaved effortlessly through the story, which by the way had plenty of laughs.
Although this was a musical it thankfully didn’t have lots of dance routines just some straightforward good songs with a little bit of choreography where necessary. The stage was simple but effective. The cast had some amazing singers but none more so than Brian Gilligan who played the lead role of Deco. What a star! We will surely be seeing more of him in the future. Other notable performances were from Amy Penston who played Natalie who was the best female lead singer in the show. Andrew Linnie who played Jimmy was adorable and in many ways held the show together. The token famous person was Kevin Kennedy (of Curly Watts fame) who is spending more time in musical theatre but taking the more elderly roles!
This is one of the best musicals around so don't miss it.
It's on at MK Theatre until Saturday 5th November.
Tickets from the box office 0844 871 7652 Booking fees apply.
www.atgtickets.com/miltonkeynes    Booking fees apply.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

REVIEW: Cats at MK Theatre

Review of Cats at Milton Keynes Theatre

 


Funnily enough Cats is a musical that I had bypassed all these years since the first showing in 1981 so it was about time I went to see what all the fuss was about. Well what a performance – a true example of excellent musical theatre. The enduring musical Cats written by Andrew Lloyd Weber has had a bit of a makeover in recent years. The story hinges on the lives of different character cats living on a dumpster. It`s quite a complicated and intricate set all adding to the atmosphere on the stage.
There are lots of big set dances with the very large cast and a range of different music and dance styles from jazz to ballet. The cast were athletic and gymnastic in their dance skills. As we got to know the individual cats then it was the solo pieces that the audience liked and recognised the most. Grizabella, the old decrepit cat played by Marianne Benedict performed the song Memory at least twice, well why not, it`s so good!
The cats came into the audience on many occasions and that was an excellent way to involve the theatre goers and to marvel at the intricate detail of the makeup and costumes. They were superb!
The show is all about the visuals and not the story and more of a variety show for cats which is probably why it`s called Cats!
There is still time to catch Cats at MK Theatre. It’s on till Saturday 29th October.
Tickets from www.atgtickets.com/Miltonkeynes or telephone 0844 871 7652 (booking fee applies)

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