Review: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

As soon as I see the Coca-Cola Truck advert and the John Lewis advert on TV, I know Christmas is approaching fast and then before I can catch my breath I find myself at press night in Pantoland!

Although freezing outside, inside with the excitement of everyone preparing for one of the best nights of the year was so welcoming and warming. We were greeted as always with jaw gaping smiles as we collected our tickets, programs and of course the flashing, spinning lights for the children; then we we clapped our eyes on the amazing dwarfs made out of balloons especially for a silent auction in order to raise money for charity.

Having arrived early for the pre-party, we had an extra treat of listening to the talented Andrew Woodford playing the piano, amidst of all the festivities being underway.

I find as I get older that I live for the joy I see in children enjoying themselves and tonight was indeed one of those nights! I’m not sure if the show was sold out, but walking into the auditorium it certainly felt like it as the air was completely buzzing with the spirit of Christmas.

Snow White as most of you know, is based on a fairy tale with a magic mirror and a poisoned apple. Tonight we had a Wicked Queen (Su Pollard) who is consumed with jealously of Snow White’s beauty (Jenna Innes) so much so that she goes to extreme lengths to marry her Prince Charming (Jon Moses), by hypnotizing Snow White’s best friend Muddles (Andy Collins), to get him to kill her and bring back her heart. It is in the woods she finds herself at the Dwarfs cottage (as pointed out by a very cute little girl Timarra), and of course they fall in love with her and invite her to stay – Meanwhile, The Prince, Snow White’s Nurse (La Voix) and Muddles make it their task to rescue her from the evil Queen.

They say you are only as good as your weakest link, well there were definitely no weak links in this casting! Each member of the cast brought their own strength to the show. Snow White was a beautiful innocent with vocals to match. The Prince, known as Prince Fredrick of Fairford Leys, actually looked like the perfect Disney prince, tall and handsome with a perfectly chiseled jawline and hair, with such strong vocals that everyone in the theatre was dumbstruck when he sung ‘Who I’d Be’ from Shrek the Musical. It was so soft – I would happily let Princy read me bedtime stories anytime! They absolutely nailed the Wicked Queen with Su Pollard. Her evilness was wicked, and one of my favorite lines of the night has to have been “I’ve just seen my worst nightmare, children! I hate children, horrible little creatures…” then adding, “I might hate children, but I love their dads!”, typical of something I would say – it was really nice to meet her afterwards so the children could she how nice she actually is. Of course panto wouldn’t be panto without our very own double act, the wonderful Andy Collins and dame extraordinaire La Voix, both bringing humour, fun and laughter to the show, as well as the now expected Twelve Days of Christmas act – it’s a shame they didn’t use the fire hose, but that didn’t stop them with the super soakers!

In true panto style there was audience participation throughout, jokes for everyone, clearly a lot going over the children’s head straight to us adults. There were boo’s, hiss’s, cheers and jazz hands from us all. I was more than impressed with the set that wasn’t cheap as you’d normally expect from usual panto sets and the amazing costumes were on point as always.

I’ve been reviewing shows for nearly 5 years and I would be the first to pick fault at something, and in fact have become somewhat high maintenance, but I really couldn’t fault anything… what can I say Waterside, you nailed it! Congratulations to everyone.

If you get the chance this Christmas, grab yourself, a friend or loved ones some tickets and heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to Waterside you go – it really is a must see!

Snow White runs until Sunday 31st December 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: Hairspray at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre by Lara Wadey

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My daughter and I couldn’t have been more excited to see Hairspray on opening night at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre. She turned 13 yesterday so joining mummy to review this was the icing on the cake. I would say that Hairspray to teenage girls today is what Grease was to me when I was growing up.

It was so exciting turning up to what felt like a sold out performance; flicking through the programme, taking Snapchats using the Hairspray filter, not to mention enjoying the little goodie bag from Paul Mitchell with some great goodies from the neon range, which supports anti- bullying – Thank you PM!

As the show started we were immediately transported back to 1962 in Baltimore, where Tracy Turnblad (Rebecca Mendoza) lived – a big girl with big hair and even a bigger dream to dance on national TV and also into the arms of heartthrob Link Larkin (Edward Chitticks). In doing so, the show touches some serious subjects as she finds herself fighting for racial equality in an effort to make every day a Negro Day.

My daughter, a massive fan of the movie, told me during the interval that she was a little disappointed that it didn’t follow the same lines as it had songs in it that she didn’t know – I think she was expecting the film on stage. But once I told her the film was based on the show she’s was like “Ohhhh, I see”.

The cast is without a doubt tremendously talented, with strong vocals and excellent choreography by Drew McOnie. For me Seaweed (Layton Williams) stole the show. At one point he did a round off multiple flick back tuck, to which my daughter and I immediately glanced at each other and smiled; my daughter is a cheerleader/dancer so she really appreciates tricks like that – honestly, it was hard to take my eyes of him.

I enjoyed the second half even more than the first. As well as Seaweed, Motormouth Maybelle (Brenda Edwards) was another unforgettable character and her strong presence lit up the stage, especially during her solo ‘I know where I’ve been’.

If I was to be picky, I could say that there were a few annoying accents that made some of the cast less loveable. At times I even questioned if they had forgotten the set as it was so basic, although I did love the basketball hoops reflecting a sports hall – the stage was always bright and full of colour so maybe the extra set wasn’t needed, who knows? The costumes were fantastic, I would love to be left alone to play dress up in their dressing room for a few hours!

All in all this is a fun production and a great entry into theatre. If you are looking for something that’s going to blow you away, then this probably isn’t the show for you. It’s a fun show, full of colour, music and soul and it’s guaranteed to get you up dancing to ‘You can’t stop the beat’ by end of the show.

Hairspray runs until Sunday 11th November 2017 at 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: The Railway Children at Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

I’m ashamed to admit that I have never read the book, nor even seen the film The Railway Children, so my review has to be from a complete blank canvas.
What I do I know is that The Railway children is a well-loved tale, made famous by the 1970’s movie. It’s a story about a family whose life gets turned upside down when their father mysteriously disappears, forcing them to leave the comforts of their privileged life in London, in exchange for a very basic existence in Yorkshire. 

Annoyingly I was distracted at the start due to a technical difficulty. An annoying buzzing sound from above the stage made it almost impossible to hear the characters. However, once that was overcome, I was able to concentrate and follow the story of the lives of three children called Phyliis (Katherine Carlton), Peter (Vinay Lad) and Roberta (Millie Turner) who moved to the Three Chimneys cottage with their Mother (Joy Brook), while they waited for their father (Andrew Joshi) to return – little did they know that he was actually in prison.

The play was rather charming and easy to follow, as we watched the children make a new life for themselves after meeting Perks (Stewart Wright) the railway station manager and his son John (Callum Goulden). Their morning routine was to visit the railway line daily to wave at the old gentleman on the 10:15am train as they patiently awaited their father’s return. The relationships they made along the way were simple, the kind of relationships that teaches us about life, as we make contact with different people along our journey. 

There were strong performances throughout. I thought Roberta/Bobby was very strong indeed, and Phyliis and John did make me burst out with laughter on one occasion. I thought the stage was very affective, and the use of a large video screen made the railway station seem so very realistic. 

All in all the play was charming, rather like a bedtime story. I am convinced families will enjoy this play as an outing, although it didn’t pump me full of adrenaline as a musical would. I left feeling relaxed and ready for bed, with the warm feeling that I now finally know the intriguing story of The Railway Children. 

The Railway Children runs until Sunday 5th November 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: 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

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.