Monthly Archives: March 2016

Review – Tap Factory

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When I heard the title ‘Tap Factory’ I automatically thought of old fashioned tap dancers, that would probably bore me to tears within half an hour. My 11-year-old daughter who’s a dancer asked if she could come, so I took her along to get a child’s perspective.

The show started somewhat strangely, with Jorffy Mayomba sweeping down the side of the stalls whilst chatting away to the audience. Although humorous it seemed a pointless way to set the scene. I personally think it would have been greatly improved by starting it from the drum scene hence creating a huge immediate impact.

Anyway, tap dancing has clearly come a long way since the days of top hats and canes. This show is a combination of disciplines including tap dancing, hip hop, acrobatics and street dance all married together in the one show. Choreographer and Artistic Director Vincent Pausanias should be complimented by putting together an incredibly skilled show.

I guess for some, two hours of tap and banging could actually be rather monotonous, but this show was anything but. It was fast and energetic with each artist exceptional in their own discipline. How these guys kept their passion, power and speed together for that length of time was jaw dropping.

There might not be much of a story line, but there didn’t need to be as there was nothing that these guys couldn’t turn into rhythm and music, from cans to ladders, sand and even water thrown onto their barrels which gave an amazing effect. The clever lighting added an extra dimension.

Maciej Labutin and Andrea Catozzi will take your breath away with their stunning aerial and floor acrobats, not to mention their exceptional perfectly sculpted bodies. Yes ladies, a few tops might come off during the show – not that you’ll be complaining! Jorffy Mayomba brings comedy value to the show as well as Jérémie Champagne who holds the show together and actually reminds me of Luigi from Mario Bros, with his cheeky smile and dungarees.

I guess if I was asked to describe the show in a sentence I would ask you to close your eyes and think of Stomp: The Musical, The Dreamboys, Mario Bros, circus acts, hip hop dancing, urban dancing, acrobatics and a little comedy and voilà you have the Tap Factory.

This show has certainly brought tap dancing into the 21st-century, attracting all ages. My 11 year old daughter loved every moment tapping herself out the theatre all the way home.

These incredibly skilled artists are ones to watch out for; you can catch them as they continue their UK tour.

lARA

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Review: Annie

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The musical Annie has been around for decades, and yet millions still continue to love the rags to riches story of little Annie who grew up in a New York orphanage in the 1930s. For a little girl who’s had a life full of hard knocks, she really was in full spirit tonight.

For those of you that live in a cave and who are unaware of this show, it is about a little red headed orphan who gets invited to spend Christmas at Mr Warbucks home. The 11-year-old leaves her friends at Miss Hannigan’s orphanage and goes off to fulfil her lifelong dream of finding her parents. The story is of what happens along the way …

From the moment the show started it had me. I felt as if I was at the West End and not in Aylesbury. Instantly Annie and the six children (played by Rosanna Beacock, Kya Davis, Ashley Goldberg, Hollie Potter, Isabelle Byrne and Lissy Many) in their orphain beds wowed us with their sharp energetic dance routines and passionate performance. From beginning to end the show kept me in rapt attention pulling my eyes like a magnet to the stage.

The sets effortlessly moves from one scene to another, I thought it was really interesting how the jigsaw design with Manhattan map reflected on Annie’s life as she put the pieces of her life together. I also concluded that it probably resembled the way America was doing similarly under the leadership of President Roosevelt. I specifically loved the scene when they’re in the cinema and the tap dances trotted them out giving the effect of a horse and carriage. It was the simple yet effective touches that really make this show shine.

As much as Annie (Madeleine Haynes, age 12), whose voice in my opinion is way beyond her years, and the ‘team Tiffany’ stole the show, all the adults were just as talented and on point.
Lesley Joseph, best known for playing Dorien Green from Birds of a Feather, played the bitter Miss Hannigan, and although I probably would have dressed her in lingerie over a dress through out the show (as that’s how I visualised Miss Hannigan to be) and her American accent could possibly do with some more work, but with her exceptional solo Little Girls and performance Easy Street, it is hard to believe that Lesley Joseph is 70 years old!

Alex Bourne was the loving Daddy Warbucks, and he looked and felt the part as we watched him instantly fall head over heels for Annie before offering to adopt her. Alongside him was Grace (Holly Dale Spencer) whose strong performance certainly complimented both him and the show. Well, after all as the saying goes – behind every great man is a great woman.

Rooster (Jonny Fines) and Lily (Djalenga Scott) were the con artists we know and love from the film and will leave you singing Easy Street all the way home. Oh and let’s not forget Sandy (Amber), the two year old labradoodle who got everyone “Oohing”, and “Ahhing”, every time she came on to the stage.

I really should have listed everyones name from the programme in this review and urge you all to go and see it as each performer deserves a huge accolade, not just the cast – the orchestra, the creative team, wardrobe and the director Nikolai Foster. The show wouldn’t attain this standard without everyone pulling together to make this one hell of a team.

This production of Annie will certainly leave you feeling positive and upbeat, but if it’s not your cup of tea always remember, tomorrow is only a day away.

Annie runs until Saturday 19th March at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre.
Tickets are available from www.atgtickets.com/venues/aylesbury-waterside-theatre or call the Box Office on 0844 871 7607.

 

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Review: Noël Coward’s Private Lives

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When Noel Coward wrote Private Lives in 1930, who knew that it would be a multi-award winning comedy, and that 80 years on people would still flock to see his play as they did at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre?

The story begins at The Deauville Hotel where Elyot Chase (Tom Chambers) is honeymooning with new wife Sible Chase (Charlotte Ritchie), and his ex wife Amanda Prynne (Laura Rogers) with her new husband Victor Prynne (Richard Teverson), completely unaware that each divorced couple are only a room apart.

Initially I thought that this had the potential to be a really funny play, having no idea how the story would unfold. 

When Elyot and Amanda realised on their balconies that they were only next door, it was clear that after 5 years divorce they still had feelings for each other, despite their turbulent marridge. They left their newlyweds and eloped to Paris like lovestruck teenagers.

The set was swiftly changed from a balcony scene to a 1930’s apartment, where Elyot and Amanda, completely besotted with each other, before the cracks as to why their relationship became disfuntional in the first place soon appeared. They are both ever so childish, but it’s hard to believe that Amanda being a strong women, would ever really be intersted in Elyot and his boyish charms. I guess we all have a weak spot when love is involved.  

I really have to question why and what was the point the play? Unfortunate it was lacking a certain something and the humour for me was just far too dry, even though I laughed out loud on quiet a few occasions. In and out within 2 hours, it was definitely lacking a certain je ne sais quoi. 

This may be an English stage classic that people will continue to adore but it simply didn’t tick enough boxes for me, although it does continue to confirm that very few relationship are completely normal in our private lives.

Private Lives runs until Saturday 13th March at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre.

Tickets are available from www.atgtickets.com/venues/aylesbury-waterside-theatre or call the Box Office on 0844 871 7607.

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Review: End of the Rainbow

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Walking into the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre I was expecting yet another jukebox musical, but to my surprise was given so much more.

This review is probably written for those people still wondering what actually did happen to Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz played by Judy Garland. Although a fan of her music many may not necessarily be aware of what was actually going on behind the scenes even though she was so often in the public eye.

The set was very simple, yet elegant. It was fascinating watching Judy Garland played by Lisa Maxwell struggle with every day life from staying in a small hotel room to being in the limelight on stage at The Talk of the Town. I was instantly drawn into the play, hanging on to every word as Lisa effortlessly slid into character, perfectly taking on all the mannerisms and voice of Judy, as well as her strengths and weaknesses.

I loved the fact that this play was much more than the jukebox musical, although I would question whether Judy Garland fans might think this was a really depressing play as it depicted her serious struggle and yet continual denial with her addiction that stemmed back from her childhood when her mother used to give her pills from a very young age. Her destruction wasn’t only with drink and drugs but was also within relationships, as we see her with yet another new man, soon to be husband number five.

With a cast of only four, it’s a touchy job to keep a show onpoint all the way through, but they managed to achieve this perfectly. I cannot praise Lisa Maxwell enough. Usually linked with Loose Women or The Bill, her performance was flawless from scene to scene as she cleverly delivered Judy’s strength, struggle and incredible voice. Her fiance Micky Deans, played by Sam Attwater, showed what it’s like to give in to someone who’s desperate and manipulative, even though he was out to make a name for himself as her manager. The person that truly loved her unconditionally was devoted pianist Anthony Chapman played so sensitively by Gary Wilmot. One wonders how life would have turned out for her if she had moved to Brighton with him…

The only change I would have made to the show is to emphasise the golden opportunity to end the first act 5 minutes later, when we see Judy at the begining of the second act on stage in London cutting her show short telling everyone to “F off”, before the lights quickly went out. Oh, and in my opinion the chandelier should have been bigger and lower, but that’s just me being picky.

All in all it’s a heart touching play by an exceptional cast, very cleverly written by Peter Quilter of the life of Judy Garland and her fabulous humour. I left feeling so sad that she never found out what it felt like to have no place like home.

End of the Rainbow runs until Saturday 5th March at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre.

Tickets are available from www.atgtickets.com/venues/aylesbury-waterside-theatre or call the Box Office on 0844 871 7607.

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