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Review of Saturday Night Fever at Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes

I would like to think that whenever you were born, you would be familiar with the existence of Saturday Night Fever. If you are it would probably be because of one of three things, the tremendous music, the John Travolta strut, or the white suit. However, beyond the iconic badges like this, can Saturday Night Fever still bust the moves in 2019?

By day Tony Manero sells paint, by evening he gets it in the neck from his family, by night he shakes his impressive dance moves at nightclub 2001 Odyssey. In between, he plays for the ladies and gets into scuffs which make him limp before his big dance contest. And yes, that's pretty much the storyline there in this version, that fails to use the strands of the original film to better effect, and pursue making it a feelgood music show instead.

So, you need to decide if you want your Saturday Night Fever to be just about the music, dance, flashing lights and the opportunity for Richard Winsor as Tony to try to out pose John Travolta? If yes…
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Review of The Exorcist at Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes

The 1973 film of The Exorcist is famous more for its content than its quality, and few, even die-hard fans would deny it's of its time to a certain extent. It is also a bold film to choose to stage, involving tricks aplenty and a heavy reliance on not turning the whole thing into a farce. So, does this stage version from John Pielmeier (original book by William Peter Blatty) work, or are we in for a demonic night of theatre?

The story, should you not know, is thin and relatively basic, revolving around the possession of 12-year old Regan by a demon calling himself playfully Captain Howdie. It is a sweeping statement to call it a story of satanic child abuse, but that if anything makes it clear to some of the strong content that contains within, and trust me when I say strong.

The first thing to know from this version over the 2017 original London staging (originally performed in 2012 in the US) is that for the tour it has been split by an interval, unfortunately, bar takings count…

Review of Nigel Slater's Toast at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

Sometimes in theatre, it doesn't take you long to decide if you are going to like a show or not. Like the opening of a book, whether you try not to judge, that initial moment can decide the entire evening, and with Nigel Slater's Toast, that initial moment is pretty much perfect. However, back to that in a moment.

I confess readers that I did not know of Mr Nigel Slater before this evening, much to the horror of my cooking and foodie enthusiastic companion of the evening. However, this tale of the early life of Slater, bouncing around the sixties and into the seventies, needs no knowledge as Henry Filloux-Bennett's play, based on the book by Nigel Slater himself, gives you everything you need to know.

Toast opens to the start of what is to be a glorious sixties and seventies soundtrack and a playful loving sequence of dancing kitchen units as the cast bring us into the world of nine-year-old Nigel. At home with mum, making jam tarts, and of course, waiting for that toast t…

Review of Richard Alston Dance Company: Final Edition at Royal & Derngate, Northampton

As a dynamic and enthusiastic theatre-goer, I often find myself attending the theatre seeing things that I enjoy, but also, that technically I know very little about. Dance, and in the case of the Richard Alston Dance Company, more specifically contemporary dance, is one of them. So, when these reviewing opportunities come about, I tend to fall back to type and say more whether things looked good, and I enjoyed it.

The Richard Alston Dance Company: Final Edition looked good and I enjoyed it.

However, I'll never get away with that as a review, and Sir Richard Alston and his magnificent dance company deserve more in any case.

Formed in 1994, this group has been thrilling audiences every single year with new work and for this final tour, the thrills are no less. On its stop at Northampton, the pieces performed went from the gently simmering Brahms Hungarian to the bold heartwarming Mazur, onto pace and drama in A Far Cry, and ending with a stunning collection of pieces in Voices and L…

Review of The Woman In Black at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

In the world of modern theatre, The Woman in Black doesn't need any introduction. Now over thirty years since the actors first trod the boards in Scarborough telling Susan Hill's story, through Stephen Mallatratt's stage adaptation, this show has packed the audiences in and travelled widely. When the play opened in London in 1989, few probably thought it would still be there 30 years later, but there it stays, thrilling audiences. So, it's a pretty good play, right? Let's see.
Arthur Kipps (Robert Goodale) has a story to tell, a horrific one based on his own experience after travelling to Eel Marsh House, the final home of the late Mrs Alice Drablow. To tell his story, and to relate his "five-hour" tale, he seeks the help of "The Actor" (Daniel Easton), and a ramshackle theatre, which fortunately does have a good sound system and sound engineer. So, Kipps' story can be told.
I first saw The Woman in Black five years ago, and back then, I comme…

Review of 9 to 5 at Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes

9 to 5 - The Musical is a 2008 show based on the original 1980 film starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and music legend Dolly Parton, who with this musical writes the music and lyrics expanding its content extremely successfully beyond the main song 9 to 5 itself. However, the question, is this worth your time in 2019? Simple answer, yes. This two-hour feast of colour, tunes and broad characters provides a ridiculously camp and surreal night of entertainment.

The story such as it is (deliberately corny book by Patricia Resnick), revolves around three bold females dealing with the inequality in the workplace, while their lecherous boss seeks a crude conquest of one one of them "girls". It is a fascinating study in fact if you think deeply about how things have taken a long time to change, and not as one character refers, resolved in ten years. However, deep thinking isn't really the point of 9 To 5, even if it attempts to have a message at its core.

In the leads we have Am…

Review of Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

When you finish watching the two hours of Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story, the briefness of it, and the fact that you have heard nearly everything that the great Buddy himself was able to give to the world enforces the sadness more. If it hasn't by the time of final spotlight, you will probably by then, have a tear in the eye, if any of Buddy Holly's music ever meant anything to you. Eighteen months is all that the world had of Buddy, and this show does make you feel how brief that period is.

Buddy along with his The Crickets, went from nobodies at a backwater radio show in 1957 and onto total world recognition before his death in 1959. During that time a collection of perhaps unchallenged music showing this period of music was created. As Elvis was gyrating his hips, Buddy performed, in heaven forbid, his glasses. Thick rimmed ones at that. He wanted to be different, he challenged things, and yes, he would have created brilliant, innovative music for years, without any doubt.