Spotlight On… Musical Theatre Star, Jon Jon Briones

Olivier award nominated and What’s On Stage award winning Jon Jon Briones has played the role of the Engineer in Miss Saigon on numerous tours and until the beginning of this year, he played it again in London’s West End. He’s reprising the role yet again in 2017 on Broadway. I caught up with Jon Jon to find out what his favourite scene from his signature show, is and what led him to a performing career.

Thanks for talking to Break A Leg Review, so tell me about Miss Saigon and revisiting the role of the Engineer. What is your favourite scene from the show?

Not necessarily my favourite but the first 15 minutes of the show is very important and very hard to do because it sets up the whole show. It’s very intense, with so many characters to introduce and you have to show the ugliness of the situation and the ugliness of how people react to that situation. If that is done right then you set up the whole narrative of the show to the end.

What made you decide to become a performer?

I think I decided to become a performer when I realized I’m happiest when I’m on stage. I once wished I was on stage 24 hours a day and then I was cast in Miss Saigon in 1989 and doing 8 shows a week, that was the closest to that wish and I’ll take it.

What career do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t a performer?

I can’t be anything else but an actor.

Is there a favourite theatre you’ve performed in?

The Prince Edward Theatre would be up there with some of my favourites but I also love the intimate theatres. You’re not just talking top your scene partner but you also feel like you’re conversing with the audience.

Any particular roles you’d like to play in the future?

There’s a ton of roles I would love to play. Iago in Othello would be one of them.

jon jon
Jon Jon playing the role that he is famous for… The Engineer in Miss Saigon



Apart from Miss Saigon, what is your favourite musical and why?

The very first Musical I saw was West Side Story on TV when I was growing up in the Philippines and it changed my life. I thought life should always be expressed that way. When you’re happy, sad or angry, one should always be able to break into a song and dance. Now, wouldn’t that be a fabulous world!

If you could invite three famous people (alive or deceased) to a dinner party, who would they be and why?

Maya Angelou, Barack Obama and Lin Mauel Miranda. No explanations needed there because of the awesomeness and their heart.

For more information about Jon Jon, visit:

Thanks to Jon Jon for sparing time out of his hectic schedule to chat to Break A Leg.

All Photos credited to:

What Lies Between Me & Jean ~ Press Release


Starring: Anthony Poore & Anna-Lisa Maree

Written & Directed by: Anna-Lisa Maree

Jean Pocket is the female alter ego of Northern Drag Artiste Steven Saxby who is about to embark on his first one Wo/Man UK Theatre tour “JEAN POCKET – STITCH BITCH TO THE STARS”. Steven may be able to handle a “tanked up lesbian” in the comfort of the clubs on the cabaret circuit but his long suffering stage manager Lou doubts he will ever be ready to unleash ‘Jean’ on the paying public.

Anthony Poore and Anna-Lisa Maree star in What Lies Between Me & Jean

In ‘real life’ Anthony Poore is the award winning drag artiste Tanya Hyde and Anna-Lisa Maree has worked extensively as a Company Stage Manager – this is truly a casting where life imitates art or should that be vice versa in this case?!!

To book tickets visit this link:

Read the exclusive interview with Anna-Lisa Maree, here:

Casualty ‘History Repeating’ ~ Review Of 1000th Episode

Casualty reached a momentous milestone last night, 1000 episodes in the can! To mark this auspicious occasion? Bring back one of the most beloved characters who has been coming and going since her appearance in the very first episode in 1986. Yes, Duffy (played by Cath Shipton) returned as an agency Nurse again, and the word on the ED is that she’s going to be back to stay. That should put a smile on Nurse Fairhead’s face, the chemistry was always there between Charlie and Duffy, and there were a few nods towards a potential relationship development.

It seems that while she was on the other side of the world with her husband Ryan and three sons, Duffy trained as a midwife. This extra skill came in handy last night when Dr Elle Gardner (Jaye Griffiths) was faced with a tough decision, a pregnant mother with a blood clot in her lung was adamant that her 7 month old fetus as not going to be delivered by caesarian section. For Nurse Louise Tyler (Azuka Oforka) it was a situation that was too reminiscent of her past experience, and it was lucky that Duffy was on hand to steady the situation.

Jaye Griffiths plays Dr Elle Gardner

The other central storyline revolved around Dr Dylan Keogh, who’s father ended up in the ED as well as his half sister. An ethical debate ensued and a heart to heart with the sullen Consultant’s step-mum, which was long over-due, took place. Maybe a wake-up call for the loveable grump?

William Beck plays Dr Dylan Keogh

Not forgetting poor Rita, yet another let down in her love life, will the jilted Nurse ever catch a break? Of course, us viewers could all see it coming a mile off, which made it all the more heart wrenching to watch!


My overall opinion? An excellent 1000th episode which showed the team doing what they do best and had an equal measure of crises in personal lives, too. If you’re like me, I expect you were watching for the chemistry between Charlie and Duffy? Bring it on, say I!


All photo credits: BBC

Spotlight On… Writer of What Lies Between Me & Jean, Anna-Lisa Maree

Anna-Lisa Maree or Twinkle as she’s often known, enjoys a varied career both backstage and onstage, her most recent employment in a Stage Management capacity includes ‘The Rise & Fall Of Little Voice’ at the Union Theatre and the UK Tour of ‘Bad Jews’. Anna-Lisa is a great supporter of this blog and more importantly, she’s a talented writer with so much to offer the arts. Her latest play, What Lies Between Me & Jean is on the cusp of appearing at the Red Gallery this July.

I caught up with the theatre fairy for a second interview,  on this occasion, to find out all about her new writing.

Thank you for chatting to Break A Leg again. Tell me about What Lies Between Me & Jean, where did the idea originate from and how long has the writing process taken?

Jean Pocket is the female alter ego of Northern Drag Artiste Steven Saxby who is about to embark on his first one Wo/Man UK Theatre tour “JEAN POCKET – STITCH BITCH TO THE STARS”.

Lou Harper is the Production Stage Manager for the tour, and having taken the job as a favour to a friend ‘ever the professional’ Lou is becoming increasingly exasperated by her challenging artiste and his delaying tactics in actually getting on with the rehearsal process.

Several years ago I collaborated with a London based drag artiste and wrote a show, however for one reason and another much of the material that I had written didn’t quite make the journey from page to stage and the whole production process was certainly a learning curve for us both, We now look back with much hilarity and wisdom, although at the time I think it’s fair to say we both wanted to kill each other! I have subsequently written a play inspired by our experiences and ultimately it is the creative collision of 2 world’s of entertainment; the ability to be able to handle a ‘tanked up lesbian’ with an amusing ad-lib on the cabaret circuit and the discipline required for a scripted theatrical production. Elements of ‘What Lies Between Me & Jean’ had already been written, it was material that I knew at some point would be heard and as with everything now’s the right time.

Describe the writing process to me, how many drafts did you do before you were satisfied with the final product and did the overall picture alter much as you progressed?

This was such an easy piece to write and incredibly cathartic, we live and learn and only once a situation has passed do we fully understand the whys and wherefores of it all. I’ve lived and breathed most of what I write about so my writing process is invariably short and sweet! The only major alteration I have made to this particular script was a reference to a certain actress, at the time the play was originally written back in January 2016 it was a very positive usage of her name but in light of recent press the gag could now be perceived as a ‘dig’ at her and that’s the last thing I would want.

Twinkle wearing one of her many theatrical hats!

You’re playing one of the two roles, will it be an easy transition? From writer to actress?

My job as a writer is done, the script is ‘there’ and I’m now looking forward to totally transforming for the role, with a little help from my friend and wig stylist extraordinaire, Darron Harrold! Although the character is inspired by my ‘real life’ experiences as a Company Stage Manager Lou was always in my mind visually very different. She has been a tough cookie to cast for various reasons and in the end I just thought “many moons ago I was nominated as one of the Critics Choice’s at my Post Graduate Showcase in ‘The Stage’, so with the right wig and costume I myself can make Lou the woman I always envisaged her to be!”

However should there be life for this play after the Red Gallery the powerhouse that is Charlotte Gorton is definitely getting first refusal on the role of Lou, I only crossed paths with her a month ago and have had the pleasure of watching her perform as ‘Mari’ in Little Voice for the entirety of June, she is a truly phenomenal actress and I’d be honoured for her to play the part.

How did you select your co-star? What attributes were you looking for?

I needed someone who could fully comprehend the complexities of Steven’s world and character, the man behind the make-up, the ‘lady’ herself and all that lies in between! Anthony Poore is perhaps better known as the award-winning drag artiste Tanya Hyde, not only is he an accomplished artiste on the cabaret circuit he has also appeared in the West End so has a perfect understanding of the trials and tribulations that both Steven and Lou experience. This will be the third time we have worked together and we will be reuniting again this August when Anthony reprises the role of Nathan Tate in my production of ‘Blast From The Past’, Upstairs At The Gatehouse.

What can the audience expect from the piece?

Laughter, Leopard print and a nod to the Legend that is Lily Savage!

Finally, can I have some words of encouragement for potential audience members? Sell the show to me!

This is a rare insight into what really goes on during the daytime in the wonderful world of a drag artiste, preparing to tread where their high heels have never trod before.

What Lies Between Me and Jean will play at the Red Gallery as part of Milk which is run by Prevalent Grit in association with The New Shoreditch Theatre and The Red Gallery. The aim being to showcase new writing. The show dates and times for Anna-Lisa’s piece are Tuesday 5th July at 19:30, Thursday 7th July at 14:30 and Thursday 7th July at 19:30. A link to the Facebook page for the event is here:

The press release is below, which include a link for booking your tickets!

Spotlight On… Glenn Adamson

Glenn Adamson has just completed a run in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice at The Union Theatre. He’s also been asked back to appear in pantomime at The Mercury Theatre, but what have his career highlights been to date and how did he come to be an performer? I found out!

How have you enjoyed the role of Billy in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice and how familiar were you with the piece prior to landing the part?

I’m originally a northern boy and now live in Leeds between jobs. So I love the strong northern writing of Little Voice, and I actually think I’ve met all of these characters at some point (that’s a scary thought). I first saw the play at the West Yorkshire Playhouse a couple of years ago, I loved it so much I went back the next night. I knew then I wanted to be in this play and Billy is the obvious role (though I’d happily audition for LV) so I jumped at the chance to audition.

Have you a favourite scene or moment in the show?

I love the celebration dance off between Sadie and Mari to ‘Jackson Five’. You laugh, you cringe, but we’ve all done it at some point in our lives – when you are so happy and the only way to express it is to dance! I also look forward to that because we all give it beans with our own routine back stage, if you could see into the wings you’d see the remaining cast members throwing some serious shapes!

Has your perception of your character and indeed the story altered as the show has progressed?

The idea of Billy climbing LV’s bedroom window to speak to her, when he barely knows her, is quite a creepy notion. How would you react if a stranger starts banging on your window! I felt like a creep doing it at first, but now I’ve realised he’s just willing to do anything to get through to this girl. She’s a rare find for Billy, they are both surrounded by big characters in a world of noise and chaos, and they both are quiet and introverted. He finds his parallel in LV and he’ll stop at nothing to make her notice him. I imagine they are probably each other’s first and only friends, people are quick to give up on quiet people, they mistake shyness for rudeness or stupidity, when actually they are just observing the world and taking it all in. He’s so eager for a like minded friend and he finds her.

What led you to follow a performing career?

I was very theatrical from a young age, always playing characters and putting on performances for anyone that would watch. As I got older I became quite shy and thrived off the idea of being someone else for a small period of time. I was so confident when I was pretending to be someone else but not as Glenn. So my parents sent me to the local youth theatre and I thrived there. Glenn the actor was much more confident than Glenn the school boy. I refused to do any drama at school, I was too afraid of people seeing that side of me. I still find it much easier to get on stage in front of an audience than I would to talk to a stranger for the first time.

Any highlights so far?

I did a national tour of ‘Secret Love: The Doris Day Story’ and played Doris’ son. It was filled with soft shoe dances and amazing songs. It was a great meaty role and I was working with great actors that taught me lots about how to survive in this industry. My favourite jobs are always the ones where I’m the youngest in the cast, everyone takes you under their wings and you get adopted theatre parents for the run. I realise it’s not going to be that way forever, thus far though I’ve always been the youngest in any cast I’ve been in. Long may it continue!!

What is your advice for people who wish to follow a career in performing arts?

I went straight to drama school at 18. I sometimes think that’s too young to go and train. I was so eager to be out in the industry. But at 18 its such a big change just to leave home and live alone, let alone some of the pressures of drama school and the things you have to do. I’d tell an 18 year old me, to take a year to find myself, do all the things you can’t do as an actor, like travelling the world etc. It’s so hard to play a range of other complex characters on stage when you don’t really know who you are yet! Once your out of drama school for the first two years just take whatever comes you way, you learn on the job.

Finally, a little birdie tells me you’re playing Dick Whittington this Christmas, are you excited to be performing in another pantomime and what do you enjoy most about panto?

Yes I can’t wait. I’m heading back to The Mercury Theatre in Colchester after playing Aladdin for them last year. I love it there, I’ve never known such a friendly welcoming environment. I’m just grateful they haven’t got sick of me yet. The Mercury really get it, they keep in all the stuff families love splosh scenes and ghost gags etc, but they write their actors a really strong script and a beautiful score to sing. So everyone’s happy! It’s not too cheesy but still has the family magic.

 Thanks to Glenn for chatting to Break A Leg, I can testify that he was the perfect Billy in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice and best wishes are sent to him for future projects and indeed, panto! Oh yes they are….

Feature Photo credit: Scott Rylander

Power Monkeys Episode Four ~ Channel Four

Post-vote episode and Priya  (Archie Panjabi) from the Brexit bus has offered Michael Gove a blow job! Or more accurately, Spencer (Kevin McNally) has managed to get hold of her unlocked phone, and what with him still being drunk (on cider, probably!) there is nothing but mischief ensuing.

In the other camp, Oliver (Jack Dee) ironically, has bet on Brexit’s triumph and won (in sterling!). Ruby (Liz Kingsman) is clueless as ever and hasn’t even voted!

Power Monkeys
The No Thank EU Bus celebrate Brexit’s win! Credit: Channel Four

The episode was mostly dominated by the Brexit bus, unsurprisingly, with Priya looking forward to becoming a government minister and Spencer’s outlandish insinuations about those who have voted to remain. The team aboard the bus have become a tight comedy foursome and they’ve collectively grown on me over the course of the series so far.

The Tories are preparing for Priya’s return, which is not looking likely to be welcomed and I have enjoyed the continual recurrence of the bitterness felt by Sara (Claire Skinner) in relation to the one night stand with Tony.

Trump’s jet has landed in Scotland, bewildered Brett (Robert Wilfort) is in his own bubble as usual, this time he has been spotted flamenco dancing by Trump. He’s also had a row with the printer and is blaming the Chinese for their workmanship. The partnership between Wilfort and Bullmore has fast become a partnership to be reckoned with. The Trump jet remains my firm favourite, overall.

Two episodes left to go and I am won over, this viewer will be sorry to wave goodbye to the monkeys, even though my initial reaction wasn’t as bananas as I had anticipated.

Spotlight On… Actress, Hannah Norris

CUT by Duncan Graham 
The Vaults Theatre, Launcelot Street, London SE1 7AD

Tuesday 5th – Sunday 31st July 2016

Tickets are available from £12.50 from!cut/c1e1t.  

Hannah Norris is undertaking the task of performing in the London premiere of CUT at The Vaults this July. She’s already performed the role in this dramatic and powerful play from the pen of Duncan Graham. I chatted to Hannah to find out what the audience can expect from this extraordinary piece.

Please tell me about CUT and what your first impression was of the script and the concept.

CUT is a 60-minute poetic, intense theatre work to be performed by one woman. It was inspired by Greek sources, the likes of Clytemnestra, Medea, and Atropos of the Three Fates. It’s written by award-winning Australian playwright Duncan Graham. It’s about fear and threat – and in a disjointed way – follows the story of a woman being pursued by a man.

Duncan and I have been friends for a long time and about 6 years ago when I first heard he’d written this one-woman play, I knew I wanted to read it. I thought the title was evocative and when I heard there were moments of total darkness, I was even more intrigued.

When I first read the script, I cried. It’s not a sad story, I don’t think, but I found it very powerful. I was sucked right in to the world of the play. There is a great rhythm to the text, not only in the words but the pauses and blackouts that surround them and the way that the script shifts landscapes, ideas and points of view. Right away I knew I wanted to perform this show.

Production shot from CUT

Any highlights from the show? Any poignant moments or favourite scenes?

The blackouts and periods of sensory deprivation the audience experiences is a highlight for me (and them). I can feel the anticipation growing in the audience throughout my introductory speech, and when they get dropped into the first blackout – it’s very exciting. My favourite experience of the work is when I can feel the audience on side, and going on the journey of the play with me. Also surprising the audience from scene to scene.

What sort of audience reactions have you received for the piece, previously?

For our rehearsals, Duncan and I spent a lot of time in a small, windowless room trying things out, exploring the theatrical language we were going to use and ways to tell the story of CUT. I was terrified before my first performance and greeting the audience as they came into the room because they looked like such a general public audience and we weren’t sure if we’d made something really weird or arty and how non-theatre people would respond to it but they loved it. Absolutely loved it.

Because of the total darkness in the show, the audience are warned that if they want to leave the performance the show will stop, they’ll be escorted out and unable to return. We have had people do this a handful of times and in Adelaide a reviewer had to leave in the introduction because he was claustrophobic and terrified of what was in store.

Audiences certainly feel the threat and fear that is alive in the piece.

Do you suffer from nerves before a performance and what do you do to combat this?

I mostly feel nervous if I feel unprepared for something. I operate the sound and lights for CUT in performance with a remote control device that my technical director, Sam Hopkins, invented for this show. And the first preview in Edinburgh last year was pretty nerve-wracking as it was such a new idea to use it and I didn’t feel fully confident with it yet. My main way through nerves is with breathing and focus. To try and still my mind by deepening my breath, and probably shaking out my body a bit. And to trust that I know what I’m doing. It can be challenging sometimes though.

Any advice for budding actors?

Follow your dreams.

If you want to do musicals, make sure you take dance classes – that was a surprise to me when I started auditioning, that the first stage of musical audition was the dance and you had to get through that before they looked at your singing or acting and dancing was my weakest of those skills. So make sure you can dance if you want to do musicals.

Also, just go for it. Read plays, watch films, put on your own shows, be in fringe shows, care about the world, and if you want to do it, don’t have a back-up plan – try and make it work first and then look for other options if it doesn’t work out. But don’t let it beat you before you even start.

What would you say to encourage potential audience members to attend?

That CUT is an unforgettable experience. You go inside the world of the play. It is immersive, but not like the larger scale kinds of immersive theatre that are around at the moment, but in that you are right inside and close to the performer, the action, the ideas – and it’s dark and scary. It’s definitely still entertaining though. So come!

Thanks to Hannah for a great interview, ground-breaking theatre by the sound of it!


Feature photo credit: Dominic Marley

Othello ~ Stafford Festival Shakespeare, Stafford Castle

Othello is staged at Stafford Castle – 23rd June to 9th July 2016

Jealousy, corruption, love and murder, all in one play, and all acted out in front of the sensational backdrop of Stafford Castle. It’s that time of year again, Stafford Festival is presenting its Shakespeare offering, outdoors and this year’s choice of Othello proved to be an inspired decision.

Set in Venice and Cyprus, with a seaside postcard 50’s theme and a marvel of a set coupled with perfect lighting design, it’s a production to be proud of. Othello tells the tale of a decorated war hero who has secretly married his love, Desdemona, he is the subject of envy for Iago, an ensign in Othello’s army. Iago despises the fact that Cassio has been promoted over him and he is aware of a rumour that his own wife, Emilia, has had an affair with Othello. Roderigo, a civilian in Venice, has misguidedly confided  in Iago, his love for Desdemona and Iago takes advantage of this, too. The villainous plans of Iago begin to unravel the happiness of each central character, until their fate claims them.

Oliver Wilson plays the love-struck title role, he showed a good command of the role, directing my attention to Othello’s unbridled joy, his plight and his inevitable downfall. I noted the gradual decline in his ego and mentality as Iago planted his evil seed. Iago, played by Niall Costigan is villain through and through, conniving, cunning, almost rat-like qualities in his movements. He also brought an even degree of comedy to the role, which gives another dimension to a complex character. Despite the title of the piece, Iago is the pivotal character, in my opinion, he has his finger in every pie and orchestrates every nuance. Madeleine Leslay makes a stunning Desdemona, every inch the young and beautiful new bride, she has believable chemistry with Wilson and also plays the relationship with Cassio with marked subtle overtures. James Lawrence gives a well balanced performance as the unwitting Cassio, he is particularly skilled in the fight scenes. Hester Arden breathed life into Emilia in a way I’ve not witnessed before, a variety of strategically placed facial expressions, together with body language to set her apart from Desdemona. A particularly impressive performance.

The cast as an ensemble were strong, with not one weak link among them and it was thrilling to see so many of them were also adept musicians and singers. Indeed the musical accompaniment was the key to set this piece apart from its contemporaries. Congratulations to Producer, Derrick Gask, Clare Prenton (Director) and the rest of the production team, you’ve created something special.



Power Monkeys Episode Three ~ Channel Four

A slightly belated write up of this week’s Power Monkeys, and what an apt day to be posting on! The result aside (and what an interesting episode the result will make for, next week!) this week’s episode was mostly concentrating on the characters themselves, I felt. Naturally, aboard the Trump jet reference was made to the Brit who attempted to assassinate the wannabe President, and discussions about preventing Brits from gaining access to Trump were had. I still think that Brett, played by Robert Wilfort, is a great character, his lack of understanding and awareness beyond the Trump campaign is so insular that it’s funny.

The Russians were also on form, with Ben Willbond as Oleg playing a delicious prank on President Obama, the pairing with Alex Utgoff as Alexi is getting better every week. The tongue in cheek references are always so close to the bone, and probably more accurate than we would believe.

There’s still an undercurrent with Tony (Anthony Calf) and Sara (Claire Skinner) following their one night stand, and Oliver (Jack Dee) is in the dog-house when he mentions a trigger word “Nutter!”.

Kevin McNally and Jack Dee Photo Credit: Channel Four

Kevin McNally stole this episode for me, he steps his character of Spencer up another gear each week. His comments about Nigel Farage were hilarious and his complete disregard for Gerry (Andy Nyman) and his recent bereavement was notable, whether intentional or not!

Overall, this week’s instalment appeared to feature more character based stories than those that made the news, but it’s still becoming an impressive piece of telly.

Powered by

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: