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Review of Noises Off at Milton Keynes Theatre

Michael Frayn’s 1982 play Noises Off is perhaps British farce at its most chaotic and has created a vast number of spin-off plays of its ilk, no less more successful than The Play That Goes Wrong , which you can see a heavy influence upon. The chaos in question, much like that influenced play, is the play within a play structure, a play titled Nothing On . The production is on a constant edge of disaster as we see, through three acts, a dress rehearsal, a behind-the-scenes scene of often silent slapstick and finally the catastrophic onstage spectacle to culminate the show. So, after over forty years, is this still the cracker it was back then? The simple answer is yes, Michael Frayn's show is remarkably well structured to sustain longevity, but, maybe at the interval you might not realise that, as the first act is, at times clunky, wordy, and not as funny as you might expect of such a successful play. However, as the second and third acts play out, you realise how astute Frayn has
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Review of The King and I at Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes

The original stage version of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I hit Broadway in 1951 and both that and the later film version made a star of Yul Bryner, and the evocative tale, based on Margaret Landon's novel Anna and the King of Siam has continued to captivate audiences to this day. Whether this be for nostalgic reasons, or, simply put, because it is tremendous, is unknown. However, the latter part of that is true. I first saw The King And I on the same Milton Keynes Theatre stage three years ago, and I was enthralled. It has to be said that the passing of the years has not changed that position, mostly, helped in no small way by the fact that this new tour brings the same two amazing leads as back in 2023. The first obvious thing from The Lincoln Center Theater Production of The King and I is that it looks gorgeous, despite being a touring production, this carries with it a lot of set, costumes and props to make you feel that you are getting as near as possible, a Lo

Review of I, Daniel Blake at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

Ken Loach's devastating 2016 film I, Daniel Blake sent shockwaves through many areas when it first came out and the worlds of politics and the general community became at odds with its depiction of the benefits system and the world of poverty. The political minds rubbished the theory and tales within it, but others knew well, living on the breadline and weaving and trying to survive the system themselves, that is was very true. Daniel Blake is an upstanding citizen, a typical worker, who following a heart attack, hopes quite rightly, to be protected by the state in his bad days. This fails to happen as he finds himself unable to provide the points needed to gain benefit for his inability to work, and cannot take Universal Credit as he cannot work unless he continues to apply for jobs he simply cannot take. The system fails him, and fails his new friend Katie and her daughter Daisy, "transported" from London at the whim of the system. The play has been cleverly and skillf

Review of Jesus Christ Superstar at Milton Keynes Theatre

It is hard to believe but way back in 1970 when Jesus Christ Superstar first appeared it failed to get the backing it needed to be staged, therefore the show found its first release as a concept album. The following year though, following the album's success, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice's rock opera launched upon the stage of the Mark Hellinger Theatre on Broadway. The journey of the revolutionary show had begun, but, is it still a revelation now, that is the question. The answer is a clear yes, this show following, loosely, the final days of Jesus Christ is as strong and striking in this version, hot from Regents Park Open Air Theatre, as the show may ever have been. Rather unusually for a review, I have to open by commenting on movement and the immense choreography that has been created by Drew McOnie. Rarely has a show, beyond that of a dance one of course, been so impactful in the essence of movement. Our cast arrives at the opening show in a rabble-

Review of The Drifters Girl at Milton Keynes Theatre

This new musical The Drifters Girl first opened in Newcastle as recent at October 2021 and since then it has gained quite a success. Transferring to London and running for several months at the Garrick, it became a greater success thanks to the casting of Beverley Knight in the lead role of unforgiving Drifters manager Faye Treadwell. Its success there saw this UK and Ireland tour which now lands at Milton Keynes for one week. Knight has gone now, having moved on from the show before it left London, and in her place at Milton Keynes Theatre and on as first cover, was Loren Anderson, on for main lead Carly Mercedes Dyer. She is a controlling presence in the lead, and tries hard to make Treadwell likeable, because, in many ways, she isn't a nice person. Her drive for success, following her effective falling into the role after meeting then Drifters manager George Treadwell, feels exploitative at times of the coming and going members of The Drifters. However, maybe I am already ahead

Review of Kinky Boots (N.M.T.C.) at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

The musical Kinky Boots is perhaps the perfect show for the homegrown theatre group Northampton Musical Theatre Company to perform with the very core of the story bred within this very county. The tale of of Charlie Price and his encounter and unlikely partnership with a certain Lola is based on a true story of factory W. G. Brooks Ltd and the owner Steve Pateman. Back in 1999 his story of men and their wearing of shoes for women featured on a BBC documentary and this in turn inspired the 2005 film, Kinky Boots . Finally, in 2012, this musical adaptation of the story hit the stage, with a book by Harvey Fierstein and songs written by Cyndi Lauper. Longtime readers of my blog with good memories may remember that five years ago I reviewed the opening of the UK professional tour of Kinky Boots , also at the Royal & Derngate. While I enjoyed the show, I didn't give it the most favourable review. Five years on, and a second viewing, have I warmed to the charms of Charlie and Lola&#

Review of Calendar Girls The Musical at Milton Keynes Theatre

The true story of Calendar Girls , a group of middle-aged ladies getting their kit off for a Women's Institute charity calendar  became a global story and success back in 1999, and even more so when writer Tim Firth penned the 2003 film. It was inevitable that the success of the film would spur spin-offs, and in 2008 a stage play appeared, and then a few more years later, in 2015, Firth collaborated with Gary Barlow to produce this musical, first staged in Leeds. It became a success in the West End and in 2018 went on a UK tour. And now, we have a second tour travelling around the country with a slightly revised score and book. So, twenty years after the film, does the tale from Yorkshire still pull at the heartstrings? The answer is yes, the story of Annie and her husband John's battle with leukaemia that spurs her friend Chris to come up with the thought of the calendar is still an emotional rollercoaster. However, with this mix of upbeat and gentle songs from Barlow, it is n