Review, Theatre

Northern Ballet – The Little Mermaid: A Review

The shimmering backdrop of the Northern Ballet’s the Little Mermaid, with its centrepiece of two silver blocks, demonstrates in equal parts the beauty of the underwater world and the mermaid Marilla’s isolation from it later on. Similarly, this enchanting production shows in equal parts the pain and the hope that have allowed Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy-tale to remain in the hearts of both children and adults for centuries.

David Nixon OBE’s stunning choreography shows every heart-wrenching step of the mermaid Marilla’s tragic journey, whilst also demonstrating the more lively and uplifting segments of the tale to great effect. It is of course performed spectacularly, with every precisely timed movement being swiftly and effectively performed. This is accentuated by Sally Beamish’s fantastic music, with both it’s booming crescendos and quieter moments adding to the soul of the piece overall, also helped by the fantastic acting throughout. The way in which these aspects combine to create the underwater world and its magical atmosphere as the dancers are lifted and the staging shines, are also very impressive.

In a combination of all these elements, every agonising emotion that Marilla goes through is felt, but at the same time the love she feels for the Prince Adair shines through and as the final note plays, a feeling of hope and peace settles onto the stage. As previously stated, this is what makes the Little Mermaid such a fantastic story and it was delightful to see it brought to life at Milton Keynes Theatre.

The Northern Ballet’s The Little Mermaid is on at Milton Keynes Theatre until the 21st of April – for more information, you can to http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/northern-ballet-the-little-mermaid/milton-keynes-theatre/ .

Theatre

Quick Fire News: Grease, Little Mermaid and more

Grease for new UK tour

Grease will go on a tour in 2020. The first new production of the iconic musical in 25 years will make its way across the UK from May to September next year, opening at the Royal and Derngate before moving on to Eastbourne, Woking, Wycome, Liverpool, Nottingham, Manchester, Canterbury, Blackpool, Darlington and Coventry. Tickets are on sale now.

More cast and creative for Message in a Bottle

Further cast and creatives have been announced for the Sting- Kate Prince collaboration Message in A Bottle. The show, which will feature some of Sting’s most iconic music, will feature Alex Lacamoire (best known for his work on Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen) as musical director, as well as Lukas McFarlane, Tommy Franzen and Natasha Gooden in the lead roles. The show will premiere at the Peacock Theatre next February and will then tour to Theatre de La Ville Luxembourg, The Lowry, Salford, and the Birmingham Hippodrome. Further international dates are to be confirmed soon.

Daveed Diggs for live action Little Mermaid?

Daveed Diggs is reportedly set to appear in the live action Little Mermaid. Variety reported that the actor, best known for his work in Hamilton, is in talks to play Sebastian in the film, which will also feature new music from Lin Manuel Miranda.

Michael Jackson Broadway musical gets date and theatre

The new Broadway musical based on the life of Michael Jackson has set dates and confirmed a theatre. The show, titled MJ, will play its first previews at the Neil Simon Theatre on the 6th of July 2020, in advance of its opening night on the 13th of August. Cast and creatives are expected to be announced soon.

News, Theatre

Quick Fire News: Heathers tour, Joshua Henry and more

Heathers To Tour

Heathers the Musical has announced a UK tour. The hit musical, which had two highly popular runs in London last year, will be making its way across the UK in 2020. The news was posted on their social media feeds earlier this morning. Further dates and casting are expected to be announced soon.
Be More Chill for London run

Be More Chill is set to transfer to London next year. The cult Broadway show will play an 11-week run at the Other Palace, previous home of Heathers and Eugenius. Tickets are expected to go on sale on Tuesday 8th of October.

Kate Garraway to star in five West End shows in one day

Kate Garraway will star in five West End shows in one day for charity. Raising money for Make Some Noise, who support disadvantaged children, on the 10th of October she’ll start off as a cocktail maker in Big the Musical before travelling to the Gillian Lynne Theatre to appear as a parent in the end of School of Rock. Her next show will be Magic Mike Live, followed by Waitress and then her final role will be as a wedding guest in Mamma Mia.

Joshua Henry takes phone from audience member

Meanwhile, there was drama on Broadway as Joshua Henry took a phone from an audience member during The Wrong Man. Mid performance, he took the phone from the punter and threw it under the seat risers. Use of phones in the theatre has become a controversial issue in recent years, with famous incidents including Patti LuPone taking an audience members phone in a similar manner, Lin Manuel Miranda changed the words of Hamilton to ask a woman filming to stop and when two audience members in the national tour of Titanic were called out by actors on Twitter for watching the World Cup.

Theatre

The Ultimate Guide to Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Priscilla Queen of the Desert drives into MK Theatre tonight! If you want to learn more about this ever-popular show, check out my Ultimate Guide:

The plot

Based on the 1994 film of the same name, the show tells the story of two Drag Queens and a transgender woman who travel across the Australian desert.

The history

In spite of its low budget and lack of funding, upon its 1994 release, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert was a surprise hit, making strides for greater LGBT representation on the big screen and charming audiences worldwide. It was adapted into a stage musical in 2006 and first premiered at the Lyric Theatre in Sydney where it ran until 2008 and was nominated for three Sydney Theatre Awards, winning 3. Priscilla made her first trip overseas when the show came to the West End in 2009 and since then it’s played in 25 countries, including a Broadway run and US, UK and Australian tours.

The music

Priscilla is a jukebox musical packed with pop hits including I Will Survive, True Colours, I Love the Nightlife and It’s Raining Men.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert is on at Milton Keynes Theatre from the 30th of September to the 5th of October – for more info, please visit: https://www.atgtickets.com/.

News, Theatre

Quick Fire News, Six, Waitress and More

Amie Atkinson leaving Six

Amie Atkinson is leaving the West End production of Six. Having originated the role of Katherine Howard in the show, which adds a modern pop twist to the wives of Henry VII, she’ll play her last performance on the 13th of October. Vicki Manser will then take over the role up to the 15th of December.

UK Theatre Awards Nominees Announced

The nominees for the UK Theatre Awards have been announced. Nominees for Best Musical Production include the Color Purple, Standing at Sky’s Edge and West Side Story, whilst Life of Pi, Ulster American, The Watsons are all up for Best New Play. In other major categories Audrey Brisson (Amélie), Jenna Russell (The Bridges of Madison County) and Rebecca Trehearn (Sweet Charity), are nominated for Best Performance in a Musical and Faye Castelow (The Audience), Hiran Abeysekera (Life of Pi), Mark Gatiss (The Madness of George III), Kudzai Sitima (Princess and the Hustler), are all nominated for Best Performance in a Play. The winners will be announced on the 27th of October.

Upstart Crow for West End run

David Mitchell will once again play Shakespeare, this time in the West End adaptation of his hit BBC sitcom Upstart Crow. The show, opening at the Gielgud Theatre in 2020, will take audiences back to Shakespearean England for a comedic slant on the life of the famous playwright. It will also mark the West End debut of the comedian and actor, who’s primarily known for television work including Would I Lie to You, the Peep Show and That Mitchell and Webb Look. Gemma Whelan, who played Kate on the show will also reprise her role.

Waitress extends booking period

Waitress has extended its booking period. In spite of the unfortunate fate of its Broadway counterpart, which is set to close next January, the show continues to see success in London, as it’s now booking until March 2020.

Review, Theatre

9 to 5 the Musical at MK Theatre: A Review

Even outside of its ingenious set and entertaining storyline, what really brings the UK touring production of 9 to 5 to life is the fantastic cast.

The story of three women fighting through the misogynistic world of the 1980s, primarily by getting revenge on their sexist boss, is fresh from the 80s film of the same name, which was actually the source of the famous Dolly Parton song.

The show feels very much of the film’s era, from the plotline to some of the more old-fashioned style of humour, but it still works fantastically for 2019 audiences. This is especially true due to the cast, with Brian Conley as Franklin Hart Jnr (the aforementioned boss), particularly having brilliant comedic timing.

Other stand out cast members include Amber Davies as Judy Bernly, Georgina Castle as Doralee Rhodes and in the case of the press night, understudy Laura Tyrer as Violet Newstead. The way that the three women at the centre of the story grow throughout it is fantastic to see and the impressive vocal skills of all three leads helps too.

The fun and empowering storyline is also matched by an upbeat score, with the highlight of course being the famous Dolly Parton song that’s sung about 20 million times, but is deservedly well received well every time.

A final thing to mention is the inventive staging, which makes use of video screens without feeling cheap and which is simple but highly effective.
Overall, 9 to 5 is a fun night out with an upbeat and empowering story, as well as inventive staging and hilarious humour.

The Ultimate Guide to..., Theatre

The Ultimate Guide to 9 to 5

As 9 to 5 is set to arrive at MK Theatre this week, today I’m giving you the Ultimate Guide to this classic show!

The plot

Based on the 1980 film of the same name, 9 to 5 is the story of three women in an office who take revenge against their misogynist boss.

The history

As previously mentioned, the film on which the show is based was first released in 1980 – it was actually based on an idea by Jane Fonda (who played protagonist Judy), who was inspired by the organisation “9to5”, which has aimed to support women in the workplace since its 1973 founding. The film was actually originally intended to be a drama, but Fonda said that that version of the story felt “too preachy”.
With its themes of women being empowered in the workplace, the movie version was revolutionary in its time, is still the 20th highest grossing comedy of all time and became an iconic moment for Dolly Parton, especially as it resulted in one of her most famous songs.

With a book by Patricia Resnick and music by Dolly Parton, the musical first premiered in LA in 2008 before moving to Broadway in 2009. The show was nominated for several awards and has since toured the US. The production about to play at MK Theatre is actually the second UK tour and is fresh off a highly successful West End run, with even the same principal cast.

The music

The most well-known song from the show is of course the title number. The rest of the score is comprised of original songs by Parton, meaning it of course has a country twang throughout, although overall the sound of the show is fairly contemporary.

9 to 5 is on at MK Theatre from Tuesday the 24th to Saturday the 28th of September. For more info, please visit http://www.atgtickets.com.

Theatre

Avenue Q interview

Often touted as “Sesame Street for grown-ups”, Avenue Q has become an iconic piece of musical theatre since it first premiered in 2003. It’s currently on tour across the UK. A few weeks ago, I caught up with Ellis and Chloe, ensemble members from the touring version currently going across the UK to chat about learning puppetry, the Bad Idea Bears and their favourite parts of the show.

When we chat at MK Theatre we’re not alone, being joined by two of the smallest puppets of the show.

“They may appear sweet and cuddly, but they are awful”, says Ellis of the Bad Idea Bears, who are apparently a “devil and devil” on the shoulder of the protagonist Preston.

“There’s no good cop at all”, Chloe adds.
And of all the puppets in the show, which are their favourites?

“I’d say Yellow Bear is my favourite, because she’s the lightest and the easiest to work”, Chloe says. Ellis’ favourite is Nicky, for the same reason, as he says that “he’s the easiest and least heavy”.

They certainly have a wide range to choose from when asked that question, as there are over 30 puppets in the show in total.

“What’s nice about our tracks in the ensemble is that we have to learn all the different puppets because you never know what’s going to happen, so it’s about figuring out the difference between for example this guy and Trekkie monster, who’s huge”
And do they have any tips on how to bring the puppets to life?

“The first thing we did was just learning where the elbow should be and how the hand should be, basically the elbow’s got be tucked in with the hand here,”, Chloe explains, talking us through the process a little more.

“It’s really uncomfortable because you’re kind of facing the opposite way to make the eyes straight on, so you have to train it to go like this which kills”
“And these are the easy ones!”, Ellis adds. “You won’t feel your arm for a while, or your shoulder!”

Avenue Q is currently touring across the UK – for more information on dates and tickets, please go to http://avenuequk.com/tour-dates.