Thursday, 19 April 2018

Review: The Little Mermaid Ballet


This week we went along to Milton Keynes Theatre to see the lovely ballet by David Nixon OBE. Having always been in love with the story of The Little Mermaid and watching the Disney version several times a day (as a child!), I was very excited to see this grown-up adaptation of the story. Mermaids, and their earlier related form the Siren, have been a part of myth and folklore since at least the ancient Greeks, however Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy-tale is one of the most well known and loved stories to this day. Nixon’s ballet resembles Andersen’s fairy-tale much closer to that of Disney and as such you must prepare yourselves for the not-so-happy ending as the Little Mermaid learns that you do not always get what you want. You will be pleased to know that Marilla does have a trusty friend in the form of Dillion the seahorse.

Ballet is an artistic and delicate form of dance and lends itself perfectly to the undersea movements you would expect. The stage was lit up beautifully with a bluish, twinkling aqua-like glow and then a bright, warm sunshine glow when Marilla washes ashore. Along with the lighting and music of course, a simple stage was transformed through the use of two large arched structures to show us the underwater palace, cliffs and even the ship. The costumes were beautiful with lots of silks and sequins to show off the soft movements and specs of sunlight as you’d expect underwater. The performance overall was very charming, elegant and a delight to watch. The music was enchanting and all the dancers performed brilliantly. The other-worldly floating movements of the mermaids and the much more energetic routines of the sailors harmonised perfectly with the music and you always knew what was going on even though there is no dialogue.

Well done to all involved and thank you for bringing us a perfect adaptation of the adored fairy-tale, The Little Mermaid.


At Milton Keynes Theatre until 21st April, for tickets go to www.atgtickets.com

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

REVIEW: Hairspray at MK Theatre

Hairspray – The smash hit musical arrives
in Milton Keynes this week

An ultimate feel-good musical that everybody will love! We went to see the show last night at MK theatre and having not seen the show before or being too aware of the story, I admit that we were expecting something a tad cheesy. It was totally cheesy - in a brilliantly fun, colourful, great music, great acting and dancing kind of way!

The story follows Tracy Turnblad, an overweight not-so-popular teenager in 1960’s Baltimore. She’s completely obsessed with the Corny Collins Show and seeks to get a spot as one of the show’s ‘Miss Hairspray’ girls. In a time where segregation was the norm between different races and religions, Tracy takes on the media and the public’s expectations to forefront a campaign for ‘Integration Not Segregation’. Things needed to change and no more would the black community be separated from the white community and everybody would be able to dance and sing together!

Tracy, played by Rebecca Mendoza, is a very likable character and Rebecca’s performance was outstanding. This was her professional debut and I thought she was fantastic. The same goes for the entire cast, ensemble and musicians. There were some very melodic and powerful voices among them and Brenda Edward’s (Motormouth Maybelle) solo was particularly spine-tingling. An excellent performance and break dancing routines from Layton Williams as well – we interviewed him for April’s magazine so it’s always great to check out their performance on the night.

The stage set was quite simple with a few backdrop changes and some props and costume changes, but with all the bright colours and terrific dance routines and hair bigger than you can imagine, it all worked really well. We left humming the tune to You Can’t Stop The Beat and proceeded to talk about the show all the way home.

Go to www.atgtickets.com for tickets – the show is at MK Theatre until Saturday 14th April

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Review: Crazy For You at Milton Keynes Theatre

Crazy For You at Milton Keynes Theatre

Tuesday 20th March 2017


 
Crazy for You tells the story of Bobby who, despite working for the family’s bank, would rather be a Broadway star. After being sent to close a failing theatre down in Deadrock, Nevada, he falls in love with the owners daughter, Polly, and tries to save the theatre by putting on the greatest show of all time.

Charlotte Wakefield who played Polly was brilliant. She portrayed the character well and I believe she was the best singer on stage. However, all the singing was excellent and the songs were very catchy and had good narrative. I’m not quite sure where the two hotel reviewers fitted in, and don’t think they added anything to the story.

The set was ok with not much changing from scene to scene. Visually, this got a bit boring towards the end but the amount of action and dancing on the stage made up for this.

I particularly enjoyed the fact that all the actors also were the orchestra and all the music was played live on stage and became part of the performance but I expected more from the big finale that I think could have lasted longer.

Crazy for You is on at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 24th March. For more information and tickets, go to www.atgtickets.com

Friday, 16 March 2018

Crazy For You - An interview with Charlotte Wakefield


This week, Phonebox spoke to Charlotte Wakefield, who is currently starring as Polly Baker in the UK Tour of Crazy for You.

As Charlotte says, George and Ira Gershwin’s iconic music is ‘a classic story of love and mistaken identity… it has classic numbers such as I Got Rhythm, it’s got slapstick comedy – it has everything you could want in a show!’ 

Charlotte has appeared in a dazzling array of musicals ranging from Spring Awakening to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and in Crazy for You, she’s once again stepping into new territory. ‘It’s in a different vein,’ she explains to us, ‘I’m using my tap skills, which I’ve never used professionally before, it’s just an entirely different genre.’ Something else that makes Crazy for You stand out is that it’s what Charlotte describes as ‘an actor-musician show’, meaning that ‘all of the instruments are played by the ensemble, so there’s no orchestra’.

When asked, Charlotte lists her favourite musicals, which include ‘Mary Poppins, Me and My Girl, Fiddler on the Roof and the Sound of Music, which I’ve been in at the Regents Park Open Air Theatre’, as well as numerous others. ‘I’m a huge musical theatre fan’, she says, ‘I try to listen to at least one new score a week!’.  

She goes on to explain why she loves performing in musicals, as ‘you get to do lots and lots of things all at once, it’s a different emotional outlet. To see people singing along and tapping their legs is also really rewarding.

She then went on to say, ‘Theatre is personal to so many people in so many different ways – and we’re able to bring theatre to people who need it. When I meet people after the show and they tell me that they’re going through a rough time and how the 2 ½ hours have helped them, that’s great too.’

And does she have any advice for those who want to go into Musical Theatre? ‘Patience is a virtue’, she responds, ‘you have to keep believing, continue to work hard and always keep learning. You need to be aware that you will have to work hard, but that all your hard work will pay off eventually.’

When we ask which record she would take with her if she were stranded on a desert island, she thinks long and hard before responding ‘It’s cheesy to say, but probably I Got Rhythm, because it’s quite uplifting’, before she jokingly adds,  ‘although you’d probably get a bit bored of it after a while!’    


Crazy for You is on at Milton Keynes Theatre from Tuesday the 20th to Saturday the 24th of March. For more information, go to www.atgtickets.com

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Review: Fat Friends The Musical at Milton Keynes Theatre


This week, Key Mellor’s Fat Friends The Musical is at MK Theatre until Saturday 10th March. The story follows Kelly (played by Jodie Prenger) along with her friends and family (Kelly’s mum is played by 2013’s X-Factor winner Sam Bailey) as her wedding day draws closer and she cannot fit into her dream dress. Kelly buys the dress anyway and then latching onto the publicity, local slimming club owner, Julia Fleshman offers to pay for the dress if Kelly follows her plan and fits into the dress – in just six weeks! Mischief ensues as we follow the group leading up to the big day.

I haven’t seen the television series, but I can imagine it is relatable and rather funny to watch the oddball group of friends from Headingly as they drool over battered cod and chips whilst removing as many layers of clothing as possible before standing on the scales for the weekly weigh-in!

This musical was quite fun and an entertaining evening, however unfortunately for me, I just couldn’t click with plot or the characters! I felt it was a little tedious. The stage set was well done - simple, colourful street design which transformed into the inside of each shop. As well as excellent sound and lighting which is always the case at MK Theatre. The acting, singing and dancing was good especially Jodie Prenger’s solos but I felt that the songs didn’t give her chance to show us what she’s really made of. Also a fab performance from Rachel Wooding as Kelly’s rude, insufferable sister. The music was easy listening with some laugh out loud lyrics and dance moves in parts but not catchy and I can’t say I could remember any of the tunes or lyrics once we left the theatre. The characters themselves were funny, relatable and normal people but I wonder if this should have stopped on the television or maybe a feature length comedy film – just not sure if it works as a musical.

That being said, we had a fun evening and there was some seriously good talent up on the stage and a fantastic job from the live orchestra.


For tickets, and to decide for yourselves on this one, visit www.atgtickets.com