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Showing posts from July, 2018

Review of Flashdance - The Musical at Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes

For the second week running, the Milton Keynes Theatre is overrun by a wave of eighties nostalgia as Selladoor's production of Flashdance The Musical follows hot on the heels of An Officer and a Gentlemen. However, is it nice to have more of that classic decade upon the stage? The answer mostly is yes, despite the fact that the story driving Flashdance is that light and flimsy at times, you just have to sit back and watch the dancing and the bright colours to get you through.

Welding genius, Alex Owens, has her sights set for a bigger thing beyond this tired and struggling factory in Pittsburgh.  Hoping to take her dancing beyond Harry's bar, she plans to make big, via Shipley Dance Academy.  Then, also drifting into her life comes Nick Hurley, who initially unknown to her, happens to be the factory bosses son, the scene is set for romance.

Flashdance has a generally excellent cast led with a tremendously good performance from Joanne Clifton as Alex Owens. Those familiar with …

Review of The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

During the interval of The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband, last weeks production at The Playhouse Theatre Northampton, I got involved in a conversation between a couple sitting next to me. The lady was very much of the opinion that the play was a comedy, while the gentleman, had formed one that it was a tragedy. They were joking of course in the conversation, but it did highlight the differences that Debbie Isitt's dark comedy might have between the sexes. And also now perhaps the passing of time. When this was written in the nineties, Isitt's play was a forthright feminist play, heralding the championing over of the ladies over the man. One the ex-wife plotting to cook him, the other, the new lover, potentially already very tired of him after just three years.

The husband, Kenneth (Jem Clack) elopes initially in pursuit of sex with Laura (Diane Wyman), after his nineteen years of marriage with Hilary (Corinna Leeder) has become tired and passionless. Then later, he elopes secr…

Review of Bugsy Malone (Clyde Company) at The Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

Last night I was back at Royal & Derngate to see the Youth Theatre/Young Company production of Bugsy Malone, this time seeing the almost completely different cast of Clyde Company. This second evening of the show had the fortune of running much smoother, with less of the technical issues that had beset the previous evening and restricted the success of some of the scenes.

It was most apparent in the Fat Sam's Grand Slam scene, which became a greater hive of activity, with a full dance routine taking place, which unfortunately hadn't happened the previous night. Leading this scene was a full-on performance from Morgan Charles as Tullulah, exhibiting the vocal talent, and most especially the dance skills she had shown in last years Fame.

In the lead for this second company, and taking a much different approach to the role, was Nathan Stroud. Here we had a more mature Bugsy, not just in age, but in personality. The slightly more serious style worked excellently alongside a st…

Review of Bugsy Malone (Bonnie Company) at The Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

The enduring favourite with youth theatre groups gets the Royal & Derngate Youth Theatre/Young Company treatment under the directorship of the Youth Theatre Manager, Ashley Elbourne, and between them, they do as much as they can with the show. With this, my second viewing of Bugsy Malone, it is becoming more apparent to me that the show itself is a little flimsy in some areas. It has a fabulous, single wacky premise (Splurge Guns and custard pie deaths), that doesn't have the strength for a whole show, especially when you discover that Paul Williams book isn't quite strong enough to keep the interest, and certainly not as strong as some of his music.

It helps though that the cast is clearly all having fun, much more than in a previous production youth production I saw a couple of years ago. Owen Howard as the lead continues to grow as a performer on the stage in his turn here as the lead. He has a confident stage presence and more especially, a charm which makes Mr Malone…

Review of An Officer And A Gentleman - The Musical at Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes

I had an advantage of coming to An Officer and a Gentleman unburdened by a knowledge of the film, having somehow inexplicably avoided seeing the iconic eighties Richard Gere and Debra Winger original. However, on the evidence of The Musical version, it's a heavy popcorn movie, with the emphasis on the corn(y) variety. Writers Douglas Day Stewart and Sharleen Cooper Cohen have taken the original screenplay, and shoehorned, some more successfully than others, a bagful of eighties classics to create what just about amounts to a successful musical.

The story, such as it is, revolves around a bunch of US Navy recruits attempting to survive the pipeline and get their chance at the big flying game. Under the eye of Sgt Emil Foley (played with a heavily characterised approach by Ray Shell), a few survive the training, and also get up close and personal with the young ladies of Pensacola, Florida.

Leading the story are two romantic couples, Paula (Emma Williams) and Zack (Jonny Fines), an…

Review of A Servant To Two Masters by University of Northampton BA Actors at Jacksons Lane Theatre, Highgate, London

The third and final of the three plays presented by the third year University of Northampton BA Actors was wacky with a capital W interpretation of the already crazy Carlo Goldoni play A Servant to Two Masters. This play is very much more familiar to modern audiences in the guise of Richard Bean's extremely successful reworking One Man, Two Guvnors', but here Lee Hall's slightly more traditional set version is given a box of frogs working over by director Frank Wurzinger.

I have to be honest, this entire setup should have been so good, many of the cast had worked so well in other roles of similar style, outrageous comedy, playing to the audience, many were clearly so adept at this from their previous shows. So, why did A Servant To Masters fall down so badly?

I think, for me, one word sums it up, control. The craziness is not controlled, the cast appears to be often just having too much fun themselves, which doesn't translate the audience (well this one anyway). The c…