Review: Beyond the Barricades at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre by Lara Wadey 

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After an extremely long week, the last thing I I wanted to do on a Sunday night was to drag myself out to the theatre. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a massive musical fan although I must confess that I had never heard of Beyond the Barricades. For those of you who are as ignorant as me,  it’s a concert portrayal of the greatest songs in musical theatre, all performed live! So off I went with the attitude that they had better not mess this up, as these are the kind of songs that if not pulled off properly, would be a disaster in the making.

I’m not gonna lie, the opening number from Miss Saigon was a bitter disappointment as it didn’t grab my attention as I expected it would. Personally I would have opened up with something a little more powerful. However from the second song on-wards I was totally hooked. The show stars four very talented singers, Andy Reiss, David Fawcett, Katie Leeming and Poppy Tierney, all of whom have incredible CV’s; plus a band of three as part of the very simple set, including perfect lighting and a screen reflecting the musical of the moment.

During the first half I was blown away by Andy Reiss’s ‘Gethsemane (I Only Want to Say)’ from Jesus Christ Superstar.  It was simply stunning. I’ve actually just Googled the show only to be disappointed that it was playing until only a week ago at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.

The show was full of musical hit songs including ‘Masquerade’ (Phantom), ‘The Heat is on in Saigon’ (Miss Saigon), ‘Suddenly Seymour’ (Little Shop of Horrors) ‘The Quintet’ (West Side Story) and other songs from The Phantom of the Opera, The Jersey Boys, The Lion King, Blood Brothers and a spectacular finale from, of course, Les Misérables.

We were completely spoilt with the Les Misérables section and I was so into it that I didn’t want it to end. They even managed to perform ‘One Day More’ and pulled it off exquisitely.

Every now and again we all have those moments in life where everything else is forgotten including all the chaos going on around you and you are literally living and breathing in the moment – and for me that’s what this show does. It brought back all the memories and moments from when I originally saw the shows. It brought back memories of my childhood as I grew up with these songs. I absolutely loved every moment, to the point that I have the music playing in the background as I write this review.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one that was blown away with the incredible vocals this evening. We really could have been sitting in the West End. It goes without saying that the standing ovation it received was incredibly well deserved

If you get the opportunity to see Beyond the Barricades, I urge you to buy tickets. Even if musicals are not your thing, maybe watching this will encourage you to venture out to the West End to try something new.

If you’re a lover of musicals then this show is for you. Find out more about the Beyond the Barricade UK tour here http://www.beyondthebarricade.com/tour

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Review: Deathtrap at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

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After arriving at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre on a cold Tuesday night to a very busy theatre, I became a little more than excited to see Deathtrap. Never truly sold on thrillers, it takes a lot to get me excited and guessing ‘whodunit?’ or ‘who’ll do it’.

This new production of Ira Levin’s Tony-nominated classic thriller Deathtrap is currently on tour, and continues to hold the record as the longest running thriller in Broadway history. This spine-chiller stars Paul Bradley as Sidney Bruhl and Jessie Wallace as Myra Bruhlwho you’d know from the role of ‘Kat Slater’ in EastEnders.

So, what’s it about? Sidney Bruhl, a once-successful writer of stage thrillers, is in the grip of chronic writer’s block, when young playwright Clifford Anderson sends Bruhl his brilliant new whodunit, Deathtrap. Desperate to set Broadway alight once more, should Bruhl kill the newcomer and pass the play off as his own?

As the play started, I was a little taken back with Jessie’s accent. I guess I was expecting Kat Slater voice that I was used too. You very quickly learn who the actors are as they set the scene. There was only one set throughout, which actually felt rather inviting, with its high beams of an old barn, fireplace, writers desk, movie posters, books and weapons, giving you the feeling that you were there at home with them.

It would be wrong of me to give to much of the plot away with its twists and turns. I was very pleased with myself for guessing one of the twists and my friend guessed another; but the rest kept me on the edge of my seat as we watched the story unfold.

Sidney Bruhl (Paul Bradley) and Myra Bruhl (Jessie Wallace) relationship didn’t gel for me onstage as much as I would have liked; but maybe that’s the kind of marriage they had, plus the fact she wasn’t happy with her husband actions.

The comical element of the play was a psychic neighbour Helga ten Dorp, Beverley Klein.  She was genius and completely over the top as she kept the audience laughing from one moment to the next. I also burst out laughing at Sidney Bruhl’s (Paul Bradley) scene at the beginning of Act II, when he tried to get into a locked draw to take a sneeky peak at Clifford Anderson’s work.

Bruhls’ lawyer, played by Julien Ball, brings energy to the play. As well as the young playwrighter Clifford Anderson, Sam Phillips, who stole the show for me. He clearly lived and breathed his role, bringing it to life.

When a play, with only one set and 5 characters, has you believing them and the storyline to the point that the twists surprise you, then it definitely ticks all the boxes.

Just don’t forget to look over your shoulder on your way home!

Deathtrap runs until Saturday 23rd September at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. Tickets are available fromhttp://www.atgtickets.com/venues/aylesbury-waterside-theatre or call the Box Office on 0844 871 7607.

Review: Northern Ballet – The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre by Lara Wadey

“As this unlikely friendship blossoms against the backdrop of the unthinkable events of World War II, Bruno’s childlike curiosity leads this poignant story to a devastating conclusion.”
I was really pleased when I heard The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas was touring, yet when I found out it was the ballet and not a play, I wasn’t as excited to see it. I have only been to the ballet a few times, I’m far more into plays and musicals, therefore this review is based on how this production made me feel as i’m not educated enough to judge ballet. I was more than happy to go with an open mind, hoping I would fall in love with it.

This new production is based on the children’s book The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by Irish novelist, John Boyne. It tells the story of a friendship between two boys, Bruno, the son on a concentration camp Commandant, and a young Jewish boy, Shmuel – the boys are divided by a barbed wire fence. Bruno doesn’t understand anything about where Shmuel lives, or who he is. To him, he’s just a new friend – a boy wearing a pair of striped pyjamas.

I knew this was going to be a dark story, unfortunately the first half didn’t grab my attention. I accidentally dosed off a few times; I’m not sure if it was because I was tired, or if I found the story line hard to follow. Personally I feel that ballet isn’t for someone that isn’t familiar with the story, as it can be really hard to understand, even though I have seen the film and knew the story, I still struggled. I had every intention to leave half way through but a friend encouraged me to go back in for the second half and I am glad that I did.

The second half was completely different, the show simply came alive and became interestingly beautiful. I loved how the set with the barbed wire looked so real; plus you could actually feel the relationship between Shmuel and Bruno, how they danced together was so moving. 

It was great to see an audience of all ages each being touched in difference ways from the powerful story about friendship – and it really stood out to me that hate is something that’s taught. 

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas runs until Saturday 10th June 2017 at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. Tickets are available from http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/aylesbury-waterside-theatre or call the Box Office on 0844 871 7607.


 

Review: A Judgement in Stone at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre by Lara Wadey

Building on the phenomenal decade-long success of The Agatha Christie Company, Bill Kenwright presents a new production adapted from one of the most celebrated works of the writer often hailed as the successor to Agatha Christie.

I’ve not read any of Ruth Rendell’s books, but who doesn’t like a thriller. I was looking forward to an evening with the question of ‘Who done it?’ running through my mind.

The story is set back in 1978 at the home of the Coverdale family at Lowfield Hall. The curtain rises on Eunice Parchman played by Sophie Ward, a woman who turns out to be the family housekeeper. It’s clear from the start that she finds life hard and struggles to fit in. Little did they know that after hiring what seemed the perfect house keeper, it would turn into a murder of a family of four on Valentine’s Day.

Although staged in one room, the story bounces back and forth from the current day with Detective Superintendent Vetch played by Andrew Lancel and Detective Sergeant Challoner played by Ben Nealon trying to figure out what happened; as well as taking us back to the time of the 9 months leading up to the murders taking place. The scenes went back and forth effortlessly, and not once was I confused as I followed the play.

As the play went on we soon got to know the characters and the small number of suspects, but rather than a ‘Whodunit?’ play, I would say this was more of a ‘Why did they do it?’ play.

Eunice Parchman (Sophie Ward) came across as timid and shy, yet her body language spoke volumes. All the characters, had strong personalities and we soon got to know just how much as the play unfolded. The father, George Coverdale (Mark Wynter), was a strong man, married to his second wife Jacqui Coverdale (Rosie Thomson) who was a very lively soul and between them they had two children Melinda (Jennifer Sims) and Giles Coverdale (Joshua Price).

It was a pleasant surprise to see Antony Costa playing a delinquent gardener Rodge Meadows but one of my favorite characters has to be the postman’s wife Joan Smith (Deborah Grant) who although might have had a shady past has a new devotion to the church – the scene where she was singing and dancing on the table was simply comical!

This might not be one of my favorite plays, but it captured my attention from beginning to end. According to the lady behind me, I was laughing most of the way through, so it must have done something right.

I heard a few people say they preferred the second act, but I actually preferred the first where we got to know the characters. I would have liked it better if there had been a few more twists and turns to keep me guessing all along whodunit? And I was also most disappointed when we found out who it was, and even more so when we found out the reason why.

Fans of Rendell’s murder mysteries would probably embrace this staging far more than me, and although I enjoyed the evening, it was a little sluggish to gain a newbie fan.

A Judgement in the Stone runs until Saturday 3rd June 2017 at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. Tickets are available fromhttp://www.atgtickets.com/venues/aylesbury-waterside-theatre or call the Box Office on 0844 871 7607.

Its Just Jokes! Comedy Show at Slug & Lettuce MK by Lara Wadey

This is the second time I’ve been to Its Just Jokes. The first time my friend and comedian Will E was performing and as always steals the show! If you’ve never seen Will E perform, make sure you put it on your ‘to do list’, as he is one of my all time favourite comedians! It’s because of this I was a little worried that the show wouldn’t live up to my expectations as Will E has already set the bar so high for me. 

When compére Elroy Welsh takes to the stage, his lovable presence, quickly gains control of the audience, which is never an easy task. I love how his character tells jokes like someone telling stories on a personal level; randomly jumping from one joke to another, making you laugh along side with him. 

The first act of the night is Aurie Styla, a comedian from London, with Jamaican and Cuban descent on his mother’s side. You might have seen him on BBC3 or BBC 1Xtra or from the comedy circuit. This is one man with a microphone who actually gets you thinking about life and direction. He touches on subjects like kids, and how money, sleep, manners are three things you lose by having them… how we shouldn’t settle in relationships and if you do not love yourself the way that you are – we can’t talk! His unhurried delivery and big smile makes him a pleasure to watch and I loved how he could laugh at himself when he accidentally hit himself a little too hard on the head with the microphone when acting out a joke. He is a naturally, funny, down to earth person; I look forward to his ‘STRAIGHT UP’ tour at the end of the year. 

Next it was hilarious to have some audience participation live on stage with Elroy, including lip syncing and one guy pretending he was Magic Mike dancing to the famous song Pony. It was a joy to see the audience get so involved, I find we are so reserved at times that it’s very rare to see people actually let go and not care like when we were kids growing up. 

After the second break and to close the show was Toju the millitant black guy, as seen on channel 4’s Balls of Steal and you will probably remember him from Britains Got Talant in 2014, where he received Ant and Dec’s golden buzzer! – The moment he set foot on stage his energy was very present, he was like a bull in a china shop. I love a comedian that is very close to crossing the line – and he was just that… as well as being spot on with all his impressions. 

The highlight of the night was my friend Tab’s face when this guy basically cringed at the fact of eating pussy… my friends face said literally said “you don’t eat pussy” so much, the whole audience kept looking at her and roaring with laughter. I guess you had to be there but it was pure gold! So, tonight we learnt from Toju that if you wanna keep your women… you gotta eat pussy!

This was without a doubt an outstanding night of quality comedy from start to finish. Even with Will E setting the bar so high, these guys nailed it! 

Its Just Jokes has been running for 8 months based at The Slug and Lettuce in Milton Keynes. If you love live comedy, then continue to support nights like this, as we are lucky to have this venue on our doorstep without having to venture into London. 

Bravo guys, we will definitely be back!

Tickets and details for future shows are available at www.itsjustjokes.co.uk 

Miller & Carter Aylesbury – Steakhouse – by Lara Wadey

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When you hear that a Miller and Carter Steakhouse is opening up in Aylesbury over a Toby Carvery, you’re clearly going to get a little bit excited. I’ve never eaten in a M&C restaurant before so obviously I went on social media to have a quick look at the pictures of what people were eating and to gain an insight into what we would be expecting; everything I saw looked divine with people raving over the food offered.

As the restaurant was having a few dry runs for staff training leading up to the opening night I went along with a friend and our two daughters to try it out.

On arriving at this brand-new building, first impressions were great. The building was a lot bigger than expected, open and spacious, good lighting, great interior, plus a separate bar area where you could enjoy a drink before and after your meal. Note that the bar is for restaurant guests only, it’s not open to the public if you’re not eating.

As we sat down we were given a feedback form, so we were able to review the night ahead.

I’m the first to admit I have a little OCD and like things done properly.  So I was rather concerned to find the cutlery placed on the left-hand side and not the right – not a good start. Then we weren’t given menus and after 15 minutes I had to ask for them – it really didn’t matter but would’ve created a better first impression. Also when we ordered water for the table and advised the waiter we wouldn’t be drinking wine; it would have been nice for the wine glasses to have be taken away, thus gaining table space.

Conner F was our waiter this evening, he was efficient in advising us on what he thought we would like. There is something for everyone, including vegetarians, a three course children’s menu for £10 and also a cocktail menu.

Once we had placed our order we sat back to soak up the atmosphere, checking out everyone’s food as it came out guessing what was on the plate. The girls came back saying how amazing the bathrooms were; with different mirrors leading upstairs to them and a large painting of a bull, it gave a classy feel to the restaurant. However my friend did point out that the lighting wasn’t right for selfies, obviously a very important detail in this day and age.

An hour and 40 minutes into the night we were still waiting for our main course; naturally I was expecting to wait longer than normal being a trial run, but as it was 9:10pm on a school night I had to ask where our meals were. The manager Nathan came over assuring us that he would go and find out what was happening; but unfortunately he didn’t get back to us… another 20 minutes later and nothing. We had clocked in 2 hours now.

Finally, my daughter’s meal came out. Don’t get too excited – that was it. A meal was brought to us but it was a mix up with another table, at that point I would have eaten anyone’s meal. My daughter didn’t want to start eating as she wanted to wait for us. Another 15 minutes later I approached the manger Nathan again, he seemed shocked that only one of our meals had come out. I cheeky advised him that it was nothing two free cocktails couldn’t sort out.

After over two hours of waiting, and two wrong meals brought out to us; my friend wanted to cancel hers. We were offered the two free cocktails to make up for it, to which I immediately accepted but my friend initially refused.

As we were in the process of cancelling our meals, they were actually brought out to us, my friends daughter ordered the children’s meatballs and pasta which was quite a small portion even for a children’s meal.

My friends medium-rare lamb was well done with far too much extra fat on it – she actually had a lamb shank at IKEA only a few weeks ago and came back raving that I had to go and eat there as it was amazing and so tasty! Therefore tonight it was IKEA 1 – Miller and Carter 0.

What can I say about my Moroccan style superfood salad with rump steak?  Let me just ask “How can you go wrong with salad?” I don’t think anyone has gone as far wrong with salad as Miller and Carter did tonight.

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Let’s start with the presentation. As you can see from the photograph there is no presentation, this was exactly how it was put in front of me; my 12-year-old could have presented it better.

Let’s play a game of spot the difference…. How many differences from the two photographs have you spotted? Let me tell you… 1. No roast rooted vegetables 2. No brown rice, 3. No quinoa, 4. No broccoli, 5. No pineapple & ginger dressing – there were baby leaves grapes, and tomatoes and cucumber – that shouldn’t have been there. How can you go so wrong?

Our lovely waiter Conner F, couldn’t have been more apologetic and talked my friend into finally accepting the complimentary cocktail. Only to be told moments later that they had ran out of puree, so were unable to make the cocktail! – I forgot to mention earlier that there was a number of meals on the menu that they had ran out of – for example the lobster. The manager Nathan never came back to me when he went to find out what had happened to my salad and to at least get some dressing. I couldn’t believe how rude he was. We were only told by Connor F, that unfortunately they got our order wrong and had to cook it all over again; if this was the case, surely it’s best to tell the customer and more importantly to feed the children.

Obviously we appreciated that we would experience some teething problems and maybe wait even an hour and a half for a meal, but to experience one thing after another as we did was just too disappointing, especially when everyone else’s meals looked so delicious.

I sincerely hope that what we experienced was just an unfortunate blip and that they will indeed get their act together before the opening on the 19th May as the restaurant certainly has the potential to be a really remarkable establishment – let’s hope it’s remembered for the right reasons in future.

www.millerandcarter.co.uk/restaurants/south-east/millerandcarteraylesbury

Review: ‪King Of Pop – The Legend Continues‬ at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

Navi as Micheal Jackson

I’ve seen quite a few Michael Jackson impersonators in my life, generally when I am on holiday where part of the entertainment is an artist impersonating him, you know one of those shows where the music draws you in and you end up staying there until the very end.

This was the first time I got to see Navi, who is regarded as the world’s No. 1 Michael Jackson tribute artist, who was hand picked by Michael himself as his official body double.

Navi has also performed at two of Micheal Jackson’s birthday parties, where I heard that even his family and friends were fooled thinking it was Micheal performing until he sneaked up behind them! Apparently his performance was so incredible they couldn’t believe it wasn’t him.

Navi is currently touring the UK, and for one night only we were privileged to have him at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. On entry to the theatre, I was impressed to see that so many people had put great effort into dressing up; not just fans that grew up with his music, but children as young as 6 years old were rocking in Michael Jackson outfits, hats and gloves; I actually felt guilty that I hadn’t thought to bring my 12 year old along.

With all that said and Micheal Jackson setting the bar so high for anyone let alone impersonators, Navi had a lot to live up to if he were to exceed my high expectations.

Disappointingly the show didn’t win me over initially and it took me about 20 minutes to warm to the show; maybe it was that I had to get my head around the fact that it wasn’t actually MJ or maybe it just needed a more explosive opening.

However the moment Jennifer Batten stepped on to the stage with her guitar the show lit up and the screams erupting from the audience were that of a concert. For those of you who don’t know, she was MJ’s lead guitarist for 10 years; joining Michael Jackson on three sell-out world tours including Bad, Dangerous and History. I’d love to ask her how she feels about touring with Michael Jackson for 10 years and then ending up in Aylesbury with a MJ tribute artist but I guess her answer would be that she’s keeping his music alive!

Navi is obviously a very talented young man; who can easily by mistaken for MJ by his looks, mannerisms and dancing; as they were all spot-on!

Everyone in the audience were up on their feet throwing themselves into having a fantastic time and the guy next to us even jumped over the back of his seat and ran to the front of the stage to join the many others soaking up the atmosphere and dancing at the front.

It was all so very fab to see a sea of mobile phones taking photos and recording the show (we’re not normally allowed mobiles in the theatre) to take home memories from the show. Plus with everyone sharing on social media these days, how much free advertising is that for nothing!

Of course all the much loved tracks were performed, including Billy Jean, Bad, Man In The Mirror, Beat It and many more; I’m not going lie, I was disappointed that the Earth Song wasn’t performed, an encore with that at the end would in my opinion have been the icing on the cake.

The staging although basic with the band worked. The lasers and lights made it feel concert like; and the three energetic backing dancers were awesome (if anyone knows their names, please could you get in contact with me). All this plus the authentic-looking costumes, gave the show authenticity, making it a top night out and one not to be missed.

It was very clear that most of the audience knew who Navi was or have already seen him; but for the rest of us it’s probably quite clear that we will see him again. I’m now looking forward to the new film based on Micheal Jackson where Navi is playing MJ himself.

With the King of Pop no longer with us, this show is definitely the next best thing to bringing the legend back for us, our children and our children’s children.

Tickets are available from http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/king-of-pop-the-legend-continues/#overview_tab or call the Box Office on 0844 871 7607.