Category Archives: music

Review: GHOST The Musical at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

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I am sure there are very few people of a certain age that haven’t seen the classic 1990 movie Ghost, a film that very nearly didn’t happen. I couldn’t remember the last time I saw the film, so I was going to refresh myself by watching it leading up to the show. But with Easter and the school holidays, time ran away and the closest I got to watching it was the movie trailer en route to the theatre; at least I was able to refresh myself with the story line. Needless to say by the time I got to Aylesbury Waterside Theatre I was excited for the night ahead, and it was clear from what felt like a sold out opening night that I wasn’t the only one.

So, for those of you that don’t know. Ghost is about a banker Sam Wheat, played by Andy Moss that you would recognise from Hollyoaks, and an artist Molly Jensen played by Carolyn Maitland. One night as they were walking home they were mugged and during the struggle with a gunman, Sam was shot leaving Molly alone to cope with his loss… or so we think; until he meets Oda Mae (Jacui Dubois) a psychic that helps Sam set things right.

We couldn’t see the stage when we went in. All we could see was a simple blue curtain, reflecting the colour of the advertising material with the quotes ‘Oh my love, my darling…’ and ‘I’ve hungered for your touch’, which of course had you humming the famous Unchained Melody song before the show even started.

You could argue that the show didn’t really get going until Sam died. But I would say that was the same with the film, as anything before Sam dying just set the scene, which of course showed us how in love the couple really were. It’s really hard to pull off such love and emotion on stage, plus with Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze setting the bar so high, yet they nailed it. Initially I thought the smiles and mushy stuff, boarded on cheesy, but as the show went on and as you got to know the characters, it worked; they worked.

I did wonder how they would adapt the film to stage and how the songs would bring the story to life. Unchained Melody was of course the famous song we were all longing to hear. I’m actually playing it now as I write this. If I was being really picky of all the 15 songs they performed there is probably only one I questioned was necessary. Actually, come to think of it,  that’s probably the only thing I would change during the whole evening, so that can’t be bad.

During Act One I caught a few people wiping their eyes; I smiled but didn’t think there was anything to get that emotional about. Then as the story unfolded and as we learned about the betrayal of Carl (Sam Ferriday), Sam’s colleague and we saw how Oda Mae got emotionally attached to Sam wanting to help him in protecting Molly, I found my emotions also running away with me.

There is no doubt that this is a very talented cast. Yes, maybe the set could have been a little more flashy at times; although the simplicity of the scene involving the Subway Ghost (Garry Lee Netley) was excellent. Maybe a few more characters were needed to get a bigger impact in the dance scenes, but these are minor details that really didn’t matter. The love and emotion between the two main characters stole the show, together with the strength, passion and emotion in their voices – they completely won me over.

For the first time ever in my life and in the three years I’ve been writing reviews I cried in the theatre; therefore the show must have nailed it to make me believe!

Ghost runs until Saturday 22nd April 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.

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Review: Dreamboats and Petticoats at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

 

I’m not sure why, but I chose not to review Dreamboats and Petticoats last year. It may have been the poster that put me off, or the fact it was 1960’s music. At the time it just didn’t appeal to me but for their 10th year anniversary tour I thought I would give it a try. There I was on a cold Monday night, tired and hungry from a long day at work, wondering why on earth I had agreed to this!

Dreamboats and Petticoats The Musical is inspired by the multi-million selling albums, with hit songs of the rock ‘n’ roll era. That’s all I knew about it as I walked into the auditorium. The red curtain was down, leaving no teasers as to what the show might be like. As I’m not a fan of jukebox musicals, specifically ones without a little story line to go along side it, I was full of dread and trepidation.

Let me take you back to 1961, (before I was born) where music and emotions ran high. Norman (Alastair Hill) and Bobby (Alistair Higgins) compete to win not only a song writing competition, but also the attention of the busty Sue, played by the gorgeous Laura Darton. It’s a typical teenage love story where geeky boy likes hot girl, but hot girl likes cool boy who will eventually break her heart, and geeky girl just goes unnoticed – you know how it goes.

There is a reason why one should never judge a book by its cover, and this show is one of the reasons why. From beginning to end the stage was bursting with colour, with an up to date set showing pictures and images of the 60’s era as well as bright lights, wonderful 1960’s costumes and an electric atmosphere! Praise the Lord, there was even a story line, which, although predictable, was still heart warming and sweet, as one might expect from a love story. I even found myself becoming quite emotional following the story, both with sadness and smiles.

Of course it had all the classic tracks from Roy Orbison, The Shadows, Eddie Cochran, Billy Fury and more… including Let’s Dance, To Know Him Is To Love Him, Shaking All Over, Bobby’s Girl, Little Town Flirt, Only Sixteen, Runaround Sue, Happy Birthday Sweet 16, Let It Be Me, Great Pretender, C’mon Everybody, Let’s Twist Again.

You really don’t have to be a 1960’s fan to fall in love with this musical. Both my 12-year-old daughter and mother would love this show as it really does cater for everyone. It’s not old and dated as the poster might make you believe. It’s a young, funky and fresh show that will keep rock ‘n’ roll up to date for generations to come.

I never dreamed for a moment that I would have loved Dreamboats and Petticoats so much. I was clearly born in the wrong decade, as I would have made a great 60’s chick!

Dreamboats and Petticoats runs until Saturday 25th February 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 of The World Famous Dreamboys 2016 UK Tour by Lara Wadey

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Where do you even start when you’re writing about the most successful male strippers in UK history, The Dreamboys?

A lot of people probably wouldn’t have even clicked onto this link to read this review; they would have an initial impression that The Dreamboys show is sleazy, full of cheese and covered in baby oil. But they’d be wrong; this isn’t your usual striptease. I mean yes these guys are strippers, which basically means removing items of clothing to music… but being strippers and putting on a show are two very different things.

I couldn’t have been more excited when The Dreamboys owner David contacted me asking if I could review the show as his personal guest. Well who was I to say no? I felt like a child at Christmas, as I rushed through the back stage door to meet the boys before the show along with Georgia Farquharson from New! magazine. Let me tell you that watching a group of hot hunks getting ready, running around half naked with fake tan is not as it is not an easy task ladies… but I think we coped rather well – jealous much?

Even before the boys walked onto the stage, the audience were beyond excited. There we clearly those who had come to see the boys’ tour year after year and then then there were the virgins of the audience just like me.

The opening music and lighting was enough to confirm that Magic Mike has competition! Of course there were certain things about the show that I possibly would change, I questioned some music choices, I questioned if it needed so much audience participation. As you would expect there is an element of cheese such as the sailor and fireman routine, but the show wouldn’t be what it is without it. Sometimes as a critic you just need to sit back and ask simply yourself – did you enjoy the show? To which my reply would most certainly be a big fat YES!

The Dreamboys is about putting on a show; it’s where the world of fantasy merges into reality. The impressive choreographed dance routines, fire trick and the strengths of each individual artist are warmly received by women and men of all ages; I found myself on certain moments tightly holding my friends arm, slightly cringing, yet totally excited because I didn’t know what was coming next or whether or not they were going to cross the line, whatever your line might be. These guys were more than just bodies, they clearly had talent behind those abs. I train myself so I can appreciate the discipline that these guys go through to keep their chisels flawless bodies in perfect shape.

Geordie Shore’s Scotty T made a brief appearance. The reality TV star was instantly welcomed by his fans screaming louder as he danced around the theatre; it was hilarious watching everyone’s heads turn like owls to watch him.

We live in the world driven by fame, so as much as I believe The Dreamboys don’t need a celebrity in the show as they are talented enough, I do understand Scotty T has his place, helping the show reach out and attract new generations to theatre and the arts.

Not to disappoint any of you, I know you’re all thinking it, desperate to ask if the boys are ever fully nude. Yes, they are ladies and gents… enjoy!

No matter the occasion, a hen night, birthday or just a girlie night out, this action packed 2 hour show will literally have you begging for more, it really is 69 shades of Dreamboys!

I cannot thank The Dreamboys owner David, their manager Simon and the boys themselves enough for their hospitality before, during and after the show. You really have made their new No.1 fans dream come true, have a great tour and I’ll see you in 2017 for more naughtiness.

For more information and to book your tickets for their Theatre and Arena UK tour go to www.dreamboystour.co.uk and for their Resident Saturday night shows in 12 major Cities across the UK

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Review: Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage 2016/2017 tour by Lara Wadey

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Does Dirty Dancing really need an introduction? I guess not, but for the very few who don’t know what it is, you should hang your heads in shame right now.

Dirty Dancing captured the hearts of the nation in the 80’s and to this day it still remains one of my favourite movie classics. I remember sneaking off to my girlfriend’s house to watch it as mother said I was too young, shhh don’t tell her.

It’s set in America and tells the story of the Houseman’s family holiday in 1963, where 17 year old daddy’s girl Francis ‘Baby’ Houseman (Katie Hartland) is disappointed when she finds out her summer is going to be spent at The Hotel Resort of the Catskill Mountains, with her parents, yawn! However, her luck turns around as she meets and falls in love with dance instructor Johnny Castle (Lewis Griffiths), much against her father will, as he clearly wasn’t the kind of of man he wanted for his daughter, or so he thought.

It follows the movie very closely; at times you could argue that it was too close, as I felt I wanted to remain in some of the scenes a little longer in order to be able to absorb it. There were a few add ons, some of which I would question as to whether they were necessary, and others like Johnny’s bare bottoms was definitely welcomed by the audience.

Of course this show wouldn’t work without the chemistry between Baby (Katie Hartland) and Johnny (Lewis Griffiths). It was funny watching Baby’s attempts at dancing at the beginning, as I’m sure on a personal level that is how most of us would see ourselves; but on a professional level it can’t be easy to pretend to dance badly.

The show captured me from beginning to end and now and again I caught myself uttering the next line, or swinging my hip from my chair only to smile to myself when I realised what I was doing. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.

The set moved from scene to scene effortlessly, which made the stage appear larger than it actually is; special effects were used with lighting and holograms, which meant they even tried to pull off the lake scene, which although was funny, boardered tacky.

I found it a little raunchy at times. Towards the end of the first act one could have heard a pin drop as everyone held onto the sexiness of the bedroom scene (you’ll know which scene I’m talking about if you’ve seen it). One of the ladies even commented to me that I was lucky to have my man to go home to which made me laugh.

The whole cast were on point. I don’t want to name drop as I wouldn’t want to leave anyone out. The only criticism I have is that sometimes I wish lines were spoken and felt in the same way the music was felt through dance.

If you get the chance, take a trip back to the summer of ’63 – you’ll have the time of your life! – Oh, and yes, they do the lift!

Dirty Dancing runs until Saturday 24th September 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.

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Review: Chicago the Musical

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In the three years I have been writing reviews, I have never been more excited than to review Chicago. I fell in love with the film starring Rene Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones in 2002 and then again as the West End production I saw in 2008.

For most of you I am sure that Chicago needs little or no introduction, but for those of you that don’t know, I will take you back to 1924 when Chicago was run by gangsters, was it fully of criminality as well as jazz and glamour. Cook County jail had women on ‘murderers row’, all with their own story to tell. Just like the kiss-and-tell tactics used today to become celebs, these women used their tales to become stars.

Just as I expected the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre was packed on press night. The opening number All That Jazz sets a strong alluring tone, leaving you wanting more. There aren’t many musicals where the orchestra are on stage, leaving the set very simple, but certainly doesn’t take away from the energy on stage. However I had to repress the urge to push them back a metre or so to enable extra space for the dancers.

Murderesses Sophie Carmen-Jones (Velma Kelly) owned her roll from the start rocking her little black dress and Roxie Hart (Hayley Tamaddon) from Emmerdale, also instantly won us over, well after I got over the fact that she wasn’t blonde! Soon they found themselves on death row together, fighting for the fame that will keep them from the gallows in 1920s Chicago.

Chicago wouldn’t be Chicago without the puppet master John Partridge as Billy Flynn, you would recognise him from Eastenders and Big Brother. He plays a smooth talking lawyer, who knew how to play the media to get the verdict he was after. After his performance of All I Care About I wasn’t sure what I thought, then after his exuberance performance of We Both Reached for the Gun with Roxie, I was sold! Not to mention the classic number Razzle Dazzle. Only knowing him from TV it’s clear to see the stage is where he belongs.

Chicago is a fast paced musical, with a strong flawless cast. The singing, acting and choreography were on point. My favourite number is still the Cell Block Tango with Velma and the girls.

Another favourite was Gina Murray as Matron ‘Mama’ Morton, even though I felt she should have been a bigger build, I’m probably comparing her to the film here, she most certainly didn’t need a bigger voice as she wowed us performing When You’re Good to Mama. This was her first night after two weeks of rehearsals and if this was her performance on opening night then all I can say is Mama is certainly going to be good for the show!

It’s probably best I don’t forget to mention Amos Hart played by Neil Ditt, aka Mr Cellophane. He nailed his role and is far from invisable. Actually I don’t want to leave anyone out, as there is usually a few weak links in a show; but with such a strong talented cast together they put on an unforgettable dazzling show, it really would be a crime to miss it and all that jazz!

The show will be touring until Saturday 16th July. Tickets are available from http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/chicago/aylesbury-waterside-theatre/

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Review: Chaplin – The Charlie Chaplin Story

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I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived at Aylesbury’s Waterside Theatre to review Chaplin – The Charlie Chaplin Story. Of course I have heard the name Charlie Chaplin and I knew he was famous for his bowler hat and cane. But of the actual man, I knew nothing, so being the film geek that I am I was interested to see what I would learn about the first British icon of cinema.

The play opened with a musical number setting the scene for this heart-warming and powerful tale. This fascinating story weaves through Chaplin’s early journey as a young boy through the dark streets of Victorian Vaudeville London to the glitz of early Hollywood. The play kept flashing back to his childhood, which was a little confusing at first but once I got my head around the characters; everything started to fall into place.

Rachael Wood (Emmerdale) was exceptional as Hannah Chaplin, Charlie’s mother, with strong vocals and presence. Even though she was desperate to save her family; she was able to teach her sons the importance of following their dreams, teaching them that if you have nothing, you have nothing to lose!

Steven Arnold (Coronation Street) plays Keystone Studios boss Mack Sennett, as well as Sydney Chaplin, Charlie’s brother. He seemed to be a little dry to start but warmed into the roles; maybe it was the fact this simple white shirt didn’t blend well with the rest of the costumes and set.

The younger Charlie was played by Helena Gullan who was mainly muted, but had a strong energy and presence throughout. The older Charlie was brilliantly played by Bryan Hodgson. I didn’t want him to stop, his facial expressions, the exquisite charm in his voice, his mannerisms, he was simply divine; he is a star in the making!

Tristan Teller also has more than one role; he added the comedy value to the show and was just as much a lead as Chaplin was with his brilliance.

I loved the old London grit that was injected into the show, how easily it went from Chaplin’s early years in London and workhouse conditions to the glitz of showbiz in Hollywood as he follows his dreams and stood by what he believe in, himself.

As well as incredibly talented actors, they were musicians too, as they played the piano, cello, and violin on stage effortlessly creating each scene themselves which added character to the show. The simple touch of having the instruments on stage, as well as some actors playing more than one role, made you forget that this was only a cast of six.

As Hannah Chaplin said, “If you have nothing, you have nothing to lose” and that is how I felt about this show, I had nothing to lose by going but I gained a thoroughly entertaining evening with an incredibly talented cast that will remain with me. Bravo.

The show will be touring until Sunday 24th July. Tickets are available from http://www.atgtickets.com/search/?search=chaplin++.

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Review: The Sound of Music

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Following a successful tour in 2015, the Sound of Music is back again and starting it’s tour at Aylesbury’s Waterside Theatre.

As we all know, The Sound of Music is based on a true story of the world-famous singing family, taking us on a journey in search for their dream of happiness, as they escaped to freedom when Austria became part of the Third Reich at the start of WWII. The Trapp Family Singers and Baroness Maria von Trapp’s 1949 autobiography was inspired by Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse to create a Broadway musical in 1959. And then  the 1965 film that most of us grew up with. I know in my household we watched it more than just at Christmas time.

Being the huge fan that I am, I set the bar high before entering the theatre. I try not to compare shows to films, but sometimes when you love a film so much it’s hard not to do so.

I was really pleased to see that the show attracted a variety of ages, confirming the fact that this really is a timeless classic. I was lucky enough to be able to take my 11 year old with me, as she has grown up with the film.

From the first scene, I knew this was going to be world class and on point. Lucy O’Brian, a runner up from The Voice, had hugh shoes to fill as I felt she would never be able to be Julie Andrews who to me was perfection personified. Yet with songs including My Favourite Things and Do-Re-Mi performed quite early on, Lucy instantly won over the audience, and myself and we were soon all singing along lustily with her.

Unfortunate Andrew Lancel, as Captain von Trapp, didn’t win me over as quickly and I am sincerely hoping it was just press night jitters. I understand that at the start it’s his role to act a little cold and wooden, as that was the Captain’s nature and way of coping after losing his wife. But after falling in love again with Maria it would have been nice to feel that he was a little warmer and less vacant; although his performance in Edelweiss was indeed heart-warming.

The children were superb, energetic and engaging throughout. Annie Holland as Liesl was a beautiful and innocent as Charmain Carr was in the film and her duet Sixteen Going on Seventeen with Rolf played by Kane Verrall was elegantly performed. One thing however I would have changed was for them to do the dance routine from the film in the So Long, Farewell scenes. It’s a part that I feel would really stand out and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one waiting for it.

What can I say about Jan Hartley as Mother Abbess? She simply stole the show at the end of Act I with Climb Ev’ry Mountain – what a voice! If I was able to hit rewind and watch her again, I would have done so. She was simply outstanding.

For me there were a few surprises and a few new songs that I was not expecting, but that’s because I was anticipating the film on stage. The set was magnificent, effortlessly moving from one scene to the next, taking you with them on their journey.

It doesn’t matter if you are a fan of The Sound of Music or not, this has to be one of the best musicals I have seen. It’s an emotional night not to be missed and I am not ashamed to admit that I cried more than once!

Grab yourself a ticket and follow your dream with the von Trapp Family Singers, for a unforgettable night out.

The Sound of Music runs until Saturday 21st May 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.