Spotlight On… Star of Pete ‘n’ Keely, Katie Kerr

Pete ‘n’ Keely comes to Tristan Bates Theatre from 2 – 20 May – click here, to book tickets: Pete n Keely

This award-winning musical will be led by Katie Kerr (Little Shop of Horrors, Menier Chocolate Factory; Fat Pig, Comedy Theatre; Sweeney Todd, English National Opera) and David Bardsley (Titanic, Charing Cross Theatre; Guys and Dolls, National Theatre; The Fix, Donmar Warehouse).

 It’s 1968. America’s Swingin’ Sweethearts, Pete Bartel and Keely Stevens, are performing live on national television! The only catch? They haven’t spoken to each other in five years. As the inevitable blow-up gets closer, the songs become increasingly double-edged.

Here’s an exclusive interview with one of the stars if the show, Katie Kerr…

Hi Katie, thanks for talking to Break A Leg. Tell me about the piece and your character.

It’s 1968. America’s Swingin’ Sweethearts, Pete Bartel and Keely Stevens, are performing live on national television! They haven’t spoken to each other in five years.

I’m really looking forward to diving into the character of Keely and building an onstage relationship with the brilliant David Bardsley. Obviously I’m sure a lot of character work will be done in the rehearsal room, but from reading off the page, I love Keely’s fire! She really holds her own and is a strong female character who also has moments of vulnerability.

What was your initial impression of the script?

Fast paced, exciting, funny! 

Do you think it will be easy to translate from page to stage?

Yes I do, I’m really looking forward to what our director does with the “on air” and “off air” moments within the piece. 

Did you have any ideas about what you wanted to bring to the role?

I have some ideas but I always want to go into the rehearsal room with an open mind.

How will the space lend itself to the piece?

Honestly, I have never been to the Tristan Bates before so I am excited to see it. From what I have been told it is a very intimate space and I think that will be brilliant. It will give us as actors the chance to play the truth, with a live television show. 

What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?

Come along for a fun packed, comedy filled, fiery flash back in time!  

Thanks so much to Katie for her time, the show sounds amazing!

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Casualty ‘Reap The Whirlwind: Part One’ ~ Episode Review

What an episode! Jam-packed with everything you can imagine, from strike action, to the patient care debate to a cliff-hanger that had fans panicking that we’ve lost a well-loved character. Here are some highlights from a stellar episode…

Dr Lily Chao (CRYSTAL YU), Bridget Haas (DAME SIAN PHILLIPS) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Alistair Heap

There’s a Dame in the ED ~ Dame Sian Phillips was one of the esteemed guest stars putting in an outstanding performance as a patient who is told that she has months to live due to spreading Cancer. There were some excellent scenes featuring the Dame with Duffy (Cath Shipton) and Lily (Crystal Yu) and I know how much they enjoyed having her on set. A popular guest choice, it seems!

Robyn returns ~ Robyn (Amanda Henderson) and baby Charlie are still spending their time at Holby City, but this current visit involves a spot of eavesdropping for Cal (Richard Winsor), a disapproving Lily soon catches on and mum and baby leave. Robyn can’t stay away from the place, that’s for sure and the strike seems to provide her with a reason to be there. I say enjoy maternity leave!

Sam Strachan (TOM CHAMBERS), Caleb Knight (RICHARD WINSOR) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Alistair Heap

Strike! ~ Cal is still defiant against Sam (Tom Chambers) in his strike action, and most of the doctors are with him – how long will the two lock horns before a compromise is reached? I foresee a drama ahead before any light at the end of the tunnel is visible.

Sam vs Patient Care ~ Sam is also rubbing staff up the wrong way as he throws his weight around quoting breached waiting times and suggesting that patients waiting to go to a ward are moved into the corridor. Duffy (Cath Shipton) is up in arms and Lily (Crystal Yu) sees the sense in Duffy’s work ethic too.

Gemma’s off the rails (again!) ~ Finally, Gemma (Rebecca Ryan) is in trouble with big brother, again! Iain (Michael Stevenson) discovers that Gemma is behind the recent photos of Alicia (Chelsea Halfpenny) because she has felt belittled by the young doctor and is also jealous of her dalliance with Sam. Iain declares it to be the last straw and Gemma finds herself out on her ear. Of course she has a meltdown which results in her calling Lily, who has already washed her hands of the young tearaway and by the time Lily reaches her ‘pupil’, she is recklessly driving around the car park. This does not end well… cue cliff-hanger.

 

 

Eastenders Round-Up ~ Week Commencing 17 April 2017

Sonia’s (Natalie Cassidy) back and inserting her trumpet into general conversation, again – as well as causing chaos as she tries to protect her daughter. Add a funeral and a spot of heckling at the Mayor into the mix and it all bodes well for a happy week in Walford! Here are some highlights…

‘Woody’ Woodward (LEE RYAN) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Nicky Johnston

Bump it with a trumpet ~ Sonia may be back fleetingly to see her bullied daughter. She may have wreaked a spot of havoc, too by launching herself at Sharon (Letitia Dean) in the Square – that was funny! However, why oh why does Sonia’s trumpet have to be brought up on every given opportunity? Cassidy’s returns are becoming a ‘spot the word trumpet’ game for yours truly!

New Character (Hands high when we fly by!) ~ Lee Ryan (from Blue!) has joined the cast as Woody, sent by Linda (Kellie Bright) to help out at The Vic. His arrival did not go down well initially but it seems that he is having a positive impact on the pub’s takings – so we’ll see…

Bullying ~ Sonia’s intervention has brought Bex’s (Jasmine Armfield) ordeal to a head and although Louise (Tilly Keeper) is let off (should she have been? I don’t think so!) the two main culprits have had some comeuppance. Although they look set to transfer their wrath to Louise. Possibly not wise, have they met Phil (Steve McFadden)?!

Funeral ~ It’s Sylvie’s funeral and Tina (Luisa Bradshaw-White) has gone all out and ordered a ‘MUM’ wreath from Billy (Perry Fenwick) at late notice. It seems rather extravagant when there is a distinct lack of turn out, but Shirl’s (Linda Henry) arrival heralds some sense of occasion and the pub is quite well patronised by Sylvie’s mates, so all is as it should be. RIP Sylvie!

Steven surprises Lauren by suggesting they shop for an interview outfit – his treat. Lauren Branning (JACQUELINE JOSSA), Steven Beale (AARON SIDWELL) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Jack Barnes

Lauren’s lament ~ Lauren (Jacqueline Jossa) is on tenterhooks as she awaits news of a potential interview. When she finally cottons on to the fact that the email may have gone to her spam folder, she is delighted to discover that she has been invited to the interview she has been pinning her hopes on. Steven (Aaron Sidwell) is supportive as ever, although his dreams of a family are somewhat dashed. On the day of the interview, Lauren arrives to discover that her photocopier man is not the photocopier man. Playing with fire, Lauren…

Broadchurch Series Three, Episode Eight ~ Review

The Broadchurch finale was so spectacularly packed with the unexpected, twists, turns and yet as the plot unfolded I was aware that I had fleetingly considered the configuration. Although I hadn’t counted on grooming and the fact that one of the culprits would have no shame whatsoever. This series has been incredible, it’s been full of well-crafted scripts with excellent casting and it’s gone out on a high. I would love a fourth series, even though I know it’s not going to happen.

My highlights can be found in the video below, I felt that a unique ending deserved a unique (unique for my blog, anyway!) send-off…

As I bid a fond farewell to my favourite on-screen double-act, I thank Chris Chibnall for exceptional work. I thank the cast and crew for a quality television programme and David Tennant, I’d like to just thank, generally (I’m sure I speak for many!!).

Abigail’s Party ~ Malvern Theatres

Running at Malvern Theatres until Saturday 22 April 2017, click here to book tickets: Malvern Theatres

Abigail’s Party was quite ground-breaking in its day, with the incomparable Mike Leigh at the helm and Alison Steadman heading up the cast as Beverly, it made waves on screen and on stage. The production that is currently on UK tour keeps to the essentials that are familiar to those who have encountered the show before, in whatever incarnation it might be – however there are subtle changes that individualise it, too. Here are some strengths of the production and observations:

©NOBBY CLARK

Amanda Abbington ~ take on an iconic role and you’ll be met with scrutiny, undoubtedly. What I liked about Abbington’s portrayal of Beverly was that she has made her own mark on the part and it was clear that she was deviating from Steadman’s way of playing the monstrous hostess. Although there were many time throughout the play when Abbington reminded me of Steadman, I realise that it’s always going to be difficult to travel so far away from the original ‘way’. Especially when the original is so popular and renowned.

Passive-Aggression ~ previously, I have only seen this on television before so certain themes and elements of the script weren’t highlighted as clearly as they can be and indeed, were on stage. Passive-aggression is a theme which I associate with the story, especially in relation to Laurence (played by Ben Caplan in this piece) as the tension he’s feeling builds up until a frenzy ensues. I hadn’t taken particular notice of how passive-aggressive Tony (played by Ciaran Owens) can be. In fact in this version his ‘bullying’ of Ange (Charlotte Mills) is out there and quite uncomfortable to watch in the nicest possible way.

©NOBBY CLARK

Staging ~ the staging replicates the set that I know so well from the TV incarnation and that drew my attention from the outset. It was so authentic-looking that I could almost have been watching it on ‘the box’ and that is a great strength of this production, for me.

Ange ~ Charlotte Mills played Angela very differently to Janine Duvitski who originated the character. I always felt that Duvitski played the role as a caricature whereas Mills has put a different take on it and given more substance to the role. I am aware that this noticeable change (in my opinion) could be highlighted by TV vs Stage though.

Music ~ Demi Roussos has always been an artist that I associate with this show, but all of the music choices make it what it is. Yes, Demi is an integral cog, but Elvis is as much a part of the play and then there’s Laurence’s aptly timed classical ‘favourites’ too. Music can add an extra dimension to a piece and it just wouldn’t be Abigail’s Party without the soundtrack being spot on.

Thanks to Guest Reviewer: Jen Franklin

 

Spotlight On… Director of Blush, Edward Stambollouian

Following a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Festival, the award-winning BLUSH will now be transferring to the Soho Theatre and embarking on a UK tour.

Written by Charlotte Josephine, BLUSH tells five candid stories about revenge porn and its many victims. Exploring why society has a desire to shame and how we allow this to happen, BLUSH shines a light on the secrets we attempt to keep in the dark.

Blush opens at Soho Theatre on 16 May 2017 and runs until 3 June 2017 – to book tickets click here: Soho Theatre Box Office

Here’s an exclusive interview with director of the piece, Edward Stambollouian…

Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, Ed. Tell me about the piece and your vision for it.

BLUSH is a new two-hander written by Charlotte Josephine. It’s performed by Charlotte, and by Dan Foxsmith (who are both founding members of Snuff Box Theatre). The piece is about shame, the internet and image based sexual violence. It follows five individual stories of people caught up in spirals of shame and looks at how we deal with that emotion in the internet age of instant gratification. Our production of the play hopes to access the feeling of shame, and put the actions of shame under the microscope. Why do people use violence to deal with shame? How is shame inherited, or passed on? How can we stop that self-perpetuating cycle? How do we break away from shame?

What do you hope the audience will take away from the production?

BLUSH follows five people through their own individual experiences of shame, revenge and sexuality. Charlie plays three women and Dan plays two men. I hope each member of the audience will find themselves drawn to a different character and will connect in some way with their struggle, with their understanding of sex and sexuality.  I hope we are challenging the audience to confront the shame in their own lives, and how, even on a small scale, they deal with that on a daily basis. I think the play will also allow people to question their relationship with the internet. It’s certainly had an effect on me and changed the way I interact with the online world.

Did rehearsals alter your initial thoughts, at all?

When I first read the play I was sort of terrified! The structure of the writing, the playful chaos of the storytelling, the quick-fire multi-rolling; it all seemed like a massive challenge. I love it when plays put me outside my comfort zone, but I couldn’t see the production in my head. That scared me. We started with a week of research and development on the play. I met with Dan and Charlie and started to workshop what the language of the piece might be. Working with the two of them got me excited. Charlie is a badass. Her writing is fierce, politically charged, poetic and often wicked funny. She has a lot to say and she isn’t afraid to say it. She wants to get her audience thinking; she wants to make them angry; her plays are a call to arms. Her plays buzz with vitality and theatricality. They’re challenging but damn good fun…

What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket?

Value for money…it’s five shows in one! Charlie has written five fascinating characters and BLUSH mashes them together in an exciting, action packed hour. Not to mention our brilliant creative team (design by James Turner, sound by Harry Blake, lighting by Seth Rook Williams and movement by Polly Bennett). For lovers of Charlie’s last play (Bitch Boxer) this is a must see, and for those that haven’t seen her work before this an opportunity to catch a brilliant young voice with a lot to say!

Finally, any advice for budding directors?

Try everything once. As an emerging director it often feels like you’ve got to be “the director who does those types of plays”. It’s really easy to get pigeon-holed. I find it creatively stimulating to constantly put myself outside my comfort zone and to always try new things – at least once! It’s how I’ve found myself directing stand-up comedy, radio plays, devised work, storytelling and, most recently, an international YouTube tour! You always learn something from each project, and even if the lesson is – “I don’t want to direct any more Opera” – at least you’ve found that out.

Thanks to Ed for a great interview, Break A Leg wish you well with the run.

Casualty ‘When The Whistle Blows’ ~ Episode Review

An episode that showed a commitment to the continuation of a few plots, which is one of the show’s strengths at the moment, but also gave a meaty storyline to a guest character – this episode is one of my favourites from the current series… here’s a few highlights:

Lisa Duffin (CATHY SHIPTON) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Alistair Heap

Duffy’s at the hub ~ With the much publicised one-shot episode featuring Duffy (Cath Shipton) at the hub, it was a pleasant change to be able to enjoy Duffy at the heart of the action in this episode. She knew copper, Jay (Tim Dantay) from way back when, and it was a fascinating if not tragic storyline as Duffy inadvertently covers for her old friend when he reacts badly to the death of his young colleague. If this was anything to go by, I think we’re going to be in for something special later in the year.

Cal’s revolt rolls on ~ Cal (Richard Winsor) made it abundantly clear to Sam (Tom Chambers) that he was not going to take news of the department cuts lying down. What began as a mutual respect between the pair when they first met, had become a toxic relationship very rapidly. Let’s face it, Sam is ruthless so whether he was a genuine supporter of the junior doctor was always in question. When Sam stops over-time/locum shifts Cal is outraged, even Dylan (Will Beck) doesn’t take the news well. However, with Cal hell-bent on going on strike and not everybody behind him in his action, I spy disaster.

Sam Strachan (TOM CHAMBERS), Caleb Knight (RICHARD WINSOR) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Alistair Heap

Jez’s hi-jinks ~ Jez (Lloyd Everitt) has made no secret of the fact that he likes men and women, however his recent dalliance with Louise (Azuka Oforka) had left the nurse in hope that he was devoted to her. Not the case, in fact he has only gone and bedded Elle’s son, Kalen (Percelle Ascott) (without realising who the mother of his latest fling was) – so romance with Louise is off the table…

Elle’s surprise ~ Elle (Jaye Griffiths) made a few quips about Jez throughout the shift, only to be rendered speechless when she discovered the truth. Her son is gay and Jez spent the night with him under her roof, and then swinging from the roof when he attempted to hide! Elle’s initial reaction is not a favourable one, however, she shows a reasonable and supportive side to her nature as the news settles in.

One-shot ~ News that the one-shot episode is in the can has come as a welcome and much anticipated treat for me, especially as Duffy is leading the episode and I know how capable Cath is of handling such a demand. I can’t wait to see it and look out for my interview with a relieved Cath, just after filming had finished.

Neighbours Ramsay Street Round-Up ~ Week Commencing 10 April 2017

Ramsay Street is scarcely drawing breath after Brad and Lauren’s departure – proving that life does go on even after two major characters have left (OK, I’m still dwelling on this, I liked them, I miss them…) – here are a few highlights from a jam-packed week:

Back to the booze ~ Sonya (Eve Morey) hasn’t been sleeping, no surprise really with her miscarriage and witnessing her husband betraying her. However, the demon drink has beckoned to her and it looks as though it’s taken a hold when she answers the door to Mark (Scott McGregor) with a bleary eyes. It’s clear she’s suffering from a hangover. Slippery slope, Sonya!

Sonya & Mark ~ Sonya and Mark have been on the brink of moving their friendship forward for a while, now. Toadie (Ryan Moloney) is already suspicious of the pair. It appears that they are about to take the step that we’ve seen coming when a kiss is initiated, while they’re both lying on Sonya’s bed. However, Sonya puts a stop to it! Surprisingly, I have to say – unsurprisingly, Mark is put out. However, I still can’t ‘see’ them as a couple and Mark is actually irritating me with his pining for what I don’t think he should be having!

Brooke’s back! ~ Brooke (Fifi Box) reappears in Ramsay Street, seemingly after Sheila’s (Colette Mann) drunken message asking for her to return! However, although she claims to be back for her daughter, Xanthe (Lilly Van Der Meer) – a text from a mystery sender tends to suggest otherwise. Her return is not altogether a popular one, that’s for sure.

Leo struggles ~ Leo (Tim Kano) is struggling, not only with the news that his dad is Paul (Stefan Dennis) who is not his favourite person – what an understatement! He is also not finding it easy to move on from Amy (Zoe Cramond) wheras she seems to have coped with the news slightly more admirably. On the outside she looks as though she is coping with it, anyway…

Paul embraces fatherhood ~ Paul is delighted with the news that he is a father to David (Takaya Honda) and Leo. He embraces it and offers to take his ‘family’ out to dinner. David (who also comes out to his brother, which is met with a joyous response!) is also keen to give it a go, but Leo is going to take much longer to get on side.

 

2017 Eastenders Round-Up ~ Week Commencing 10 April 2017

EastEnders has been packed with more juice than a blood orange and still the drama continues – here are a few of the highlights from Albert Square…

Alexandra D’Costa (SYDNEY CRAVEN) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Jack Barnes

Stacey’s Preggers ~ Stacey (Lacey Turner) has been trying to get pregnant again so that she can truly have a baby belonging to Martin (James Bye) and she’s succeeded. Baby Fowler is conceived and the couple couldn’t be more delighted as they decide to keep the news between themselves. With Jean (Gillian Wright) back on the scene (hooray, might I just say? I love Jean!) I can’t imagine that the news is going to be met with a full hoorah as we all know what happened to post-natal Stacey last time. Let’s see where they’re going with this pregnancy storyline for the character. It could be a bumpy ride (pardon the pun!).

Bex’s Bullies ~ Bex (Jasmine Armfield) suffers again at the hands of bullies; Louise (Tilly Keeper), Madison (Seraphina Beh) and Sydney (Alexandra D’Costa). Destroying Bex’s guitar is one step too far, but luring her into a false sense of security by having Madison make her believe that she has broken away from the gang and wants to be friends, ends in more than tears. Handing over a box of sweets to Bex as a peace offering, let’s just say the chocolate ones aren’t chocolate! Louise is obviously not happy to be a part of the bullying but it looks as though she can se no way out. The storyline is reminiscent of bullying suffered by a few fellow pupils when I was at school and I’m sure is extremely relevant today. Bullying should be highlighted and EastEnders are doing a grand job of that.

Michelle tries to make amends with Bex while she helps out in the Café, but is stopped when Madison, Alexandra and Louise enter. Michelle Fowler (JENNA RUSSELL), Bex Fowler (JASMINE ARMFIELD), Louise Mitchell (TILLY KEEPER) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Jack Barnes

Sonia’s back! ~ Sonia (Natalie Cassidy) returns when her daughter cries out for help as a result of her bullying hell. So, is mummy going to put a stop to it? How long is she staying for this time? And most importantly of all, where’s her trumpet? Hee hee…

Ian steps back ~ Ian (Adam Woodyatt) starts to consider stepping back from his business empire building as Jane (Laurie Brett) tries to convince him that spending more time together would be a better use of his time. Will the workaholic take his wife’s advice and start to become all about the pipe and slippers? It is Ian Beale we’re talking about, I’ll believe it when I see it!

Lauren & Josh ~ Lauren I(Jacqueline Jossa) is dolling herself up for a night out with the girls again and happens to mention to Josh (Eddie Eyre) which nightclub opening she will be at. Of course he turns up, but she bolshie Lauren bolts when her crush goes to kiss her. What game is she playing?

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