Spotlight On… Star of The Railway Children, Joy Brook

The Railway Children is currently playing at Malvern Theatres until Sunday 27 August, book tickets here: Railway Children Tickets before continuing on a UK tour.

I chatted to Joy Brook who is playing the Mother in the show…

Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, Joy, tell me about the piece and your character.​ ​

The Railway Children was written by E Nesbit in 1905, and tells the story of a wealthy family living in London and when the father mysteriously disappears, they are forced to sell up and move to a small village in Yorkshire where the three Children (Roberta, Phyllis and Peter) and their mother, discover a whole new way of life, and have lots of adventures along the way.

I play the Mother, who unlike many women of the time, although respectable, is also quite bohemian in her thinking. She effectively becomes a single parent, and whilst hiding the secret of where their father has gone, tries to teach the children through example, how to treat other people with generosity, and kindness. She does seem to be based upon E Nesbit, and certainly her politics echo the author’s thoughts.

What was your initial impression of the script?

​I have always loved the book of the Railway Children, having read it when I was very young, and of course the famous film adaptation starring Jenny Agutter and Bernard Cribbins seemed to be a staple every Christmas. So I read the script, with a slight amount of trepidation (… nobody wants to have their memories crushed), but found myself turning the pages and loving it.  ​

Was it easy to translate from page to stage? ​ ​

We are helped enormously by having the dream team of the Director, Paul Jepson, and Designer Timothy Bird. Together, their vision for the show brings everything to life. We obviously can’t have a real steam engine on stage, but Tim’s design is wonderful, and without giving anything away, the audience will see lots of trains in this production! The story itself lends itself beautifully to the stage, and the adaptation by Dave Simpson won’t disappoint anyone familiar with the story already. ​

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

​I remember watching the film when I was younger, and loving Dinah Sheridan as mother, so it was such a wonderful opportunity to get to play this character. In rehearsals it became very clear that Mother is not the typical Edwardian lady of the time. She is intelligent and resourceful, and whilst hiding the secret of their father’s disappearance, turns the children’s new life into an adventure. There is wonderful warmth to the character, and finding the energy of the character was the key for me.  ​

How does the space lend itself to the piece?

Our stage has to be many things. A railway station, a cottage, a railway tunnel, the rolling Yorkshire dales, and the railway line where the children are faced with trying to prevent a train crash – so it has to be adaptable. Our design takes the audience to all of these places, with the use of design trickery…. truly magical. ​

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

The wonderful thing about the railway children is that it truly appeals to all the family. Children love the story (and the trains!) And parents will find all the elements that they loved in the film. It is a beautifully told story that will make you laugh and cry. It is a story that has resonated through the years, and in today’s politically fractured climate, it is proving to be especially relevant. Now that’s not bad for a family show!
Thanks so much for a wonderful interview, Joy – all the best with the tour. 



Brassed Off ~ Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Brassed Off runs at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until Saturday 2 September 2017 – book tickets here: Brassed Off Tickets

Star rating: *****

Brassed Off marched into the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre this week and it’s setting the stage alight with uplifting live music City Of Wolverhampton Brass Band and stellar performances from a tight knit cast.

The production is based on the true story of the impending closure of the mines in Grimethorpe and the Grimethorpe Colliery Band which is at the heart of the tale. With characters whom many will be familiar with from the film version which starred Pete Posthlethwaite and Ewan McGregor – the stage version does not disappoint. In fact it more than does justice to the plight of the miners in my humble opinion and as a piece it also stands for solidarity, unity and integrity.  It’s far from a happy-go-lucky tale though as it doesn’t shy away from dealing with health, both physical and mental. Comedy drama and it’s very best under the careful and considered direction of Gareth Tudor Price.

Jeffrey Holland gives one of the performance of his career as Danny, the man at the helm of the band. I would have believed that he had been conducting for years and his wry comic timing adds an extra dimension to the character. I’ve watched Jeff in many, many different roles over the years, I find it easy to forget that it’s Jeff playing the part and always find his performances believable. Christopher Connel was a great match as his son, Phil, a man who is hiding the pain of poverty and has an endless stream of bailiffs at the door. Connel played the part with subtlety and only brought Phil’s flaws to the fore when the timing was right. Miriam Grace Edwards also put in an excellent performance as Phil’s wife, Sandra – she had chemistry with Connel and also with Ash Matthews who was a joy to watch as son, Shane. I particularly enjoyed the scenes between Holland and Matthews as granddad and grandson – a formidable team!

The sound from City Of Wolverhampton Brass Band is spectacular. Clara Darcy as Gloria is a revelation, she played the fugelhorn and I had goose bumps, what an incredible tone.

I can’t recommend the show enough, it truly is a journey that I suggest you take, go and follow the loveable band members and their posse around fourteen villages, in an attempt to win a marching band contest. Get swept up in the passion of the protestors who are against the closure of the mines. Laugh with the miners who have a ‘wet’ to forget the stresses of work and the band! One of the best shows I’ve seen at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre.

Casualty, Series 32 Episode 1 ~ Review

A brand new series of Casualty and what an episode it was! An absolutely stellar instalment with terrific performances from all concerned and ‘heart in your mouth’ scenes. Here are some highlight while I catch my breath! 

Dylan ~ Reluctant hero of the hour, Dylan is at the centre of the action as some of the team help out in a French refugee camp. He’s ‘befriended’ by a young lad and can’t walk away when a situation has him torn. The episode is an opportunity to show another dimension to the character and of course, Will Beck embraces that and brings the right amount of heart to the role when it’s needed.

Alicia ~ Alicia seems ill-equipped to deal with the dire situation before her and cracks open the booze – a decision which sees her side-lined when she needs to be at the hub. Not the wisest move there, Doctor!

David Hide (JASON DURR), Dr Dylan Keogh (WILLIAM BECK) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Alistair Heap

David ~ David seems to be firing on all cylinders again after last series saw him plunge to the depths of despair, his mental health in tatters. He’s forging quite the formidable double act with Dylan.

Connie ~ Connie had been making great strides in her relationship with Grace, but it’s cut short when Sam absconds with their recuperating daughter. It seems he’s fed Grace a line that her mother is in on the plan and the youngster couldn’t be happier. Whereas Connie…. interestingly she drops the ball with a patient, and I expect that’s only the start.

Ethan ~ From Ethan’s behaviour, I’d say he is not going to find it easy to hide his secret. The fact that it’s eating away at him is clear and ultimately he does have too much integrity. I anticipate an implosion!



Role Contributor
Dylan Keogh William Beck
David Hide Jason Durr
Alicia Munroe Chelsea Halfpenny
Louise Tyler Azuka Oforka
Connie Beauchamp Amanda Mealing
Charlie Fairhead Derek Thompson
Ethan Hardy George Rainsford
Jacob Masters Charles Venn
Robyn Miller Amanda Henderson
Max Walker Jamie Davis
Iain Dean Michael Stevenson
Grace Beauchamp-Strachan Emily Carey
Sanosi Jemal Tut Nyuot
Mariam Jemal Adelaide Obeng
Cameron Hamilton Cian Barry
Emile Coudert Raphael Desprez
Chanda Perry Shobu Kapoor
Steve Perry George Rossi
Writer Dana Fainaru
Producer Dafydd Llewelyn
Director Steve Brett

Spotlight On… Star of 9 to 5 The Musical, Leo Senè

9 to 5 will burst onto the scene at Upstairs at the Gatehouse Theatre, London from 30 August to 1 October 2017, book your tickets here: 9 to 5 Tickets

Read all about it here: 9 to 5

I caught up with Leo Senè, who plays Franklin Hart Jr. in the show…

Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, tell me about the piece and your character?

9 to 5 is a staged musical version of the classic film of the same name, which stared Dolly Parton in one of the main leads. The musical follows the same story of three women taking back control from their sexiest and egotistical boss. It follows Violet, Judy and Doralee on their journey of discovery and female power in a male dominant world. The musical comedy has music by Dolly Parton who created the original song 9 to 5 for the film. 

I play the role of Franklin Hart Jr, the boss of the workplace and the stories “villain”, he is an incredible vain and egotistical man who makes all of his employees lives a living hell, especially the females. 

What was your initial impression of the script?

The first time I read the script is immediately saw how much heart is in the story. Amongst all of the comedy, music and dancing is this true to itself piece about friendship and standing up to adversary. It is incredibly uplifting and brings a sense of pride with it. The writing is incredibly witty and smart and really gives you clear insight into these characters within the first few scenes. From there its builds and builds and the writing enables us to love all the characters, and mainly relate to them all in some way. 


Was it easy to translate from page to stage?

The challenge of any piece of theatre is taking it from the script and putting it onto the stage, what 9 to 5 does so well is that the writing does it all for you, which as an actor is a blessing. The lines and the narrative are so full detail it lends itself to be played in so many ways. 

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

In my eyes this role is a gift, Franklin Hart is so full of character and I just want to do the script justice. I want people to love to hate the character, be on the verge of finding him so outrageous yet hilarious at the same time. That’s all said without giving to much away, everyone will have to come and see the show and what all the cast bring to the stage. 

Leo with Pippa Winslow, in rehearsals

How does the space lend itself to the piece?

The gatehouse is such a renowned venue and I myself have seen shows at the venue and always surprised how the creatives make such an intimate space seem so full of life. It will be the intimacy that will play to this shows strength. The story carries the show and in the surroundings of the gatehouse auditorium the audience will feel right among the action.  

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

9 to 5 is such a classic feel good show, it has heart and is full of laughs. It is an incredibly tight and well written musical, with songs that will have you tapping along throughout the show and singing them all the way home. There is no better way to spend an evening than at the theatre, 2 hours away from anything else and just be in the world that theatre provides. So make sure you buy ticket before they all go. 

Thanks so much, Leo – I can’t wait to see the show, it’s one of my favourites! 


Spotlight On… Star of 9 to 5 The Musical, Pippa Winslow

9 to 5 will burst onto the scene at Upstairs at the Gatehouse Theatre, London from 30 August to 1 October 2017, book your tickets here: 9 to 5 Tickets

Read all about it here: 9 to 5

I chatted to the fantastic Pippa Winslow, who plays Violet in the show – here she is telling us all about the show…

Pippa in rehearsals

Thank you for talking to Break A Leg, Pippa. Tell me about the piece and your character…

9 to 5 the Musical is a hilarious musical comedy based on the hit 1980 film.  In addition to some great laughs the show tackles equal opportunities for women in the workplace – as relevant today as it was in the 70s. My character, Violet, struggles to be recognised in the workplace because she isn’t ‘one of the boys’.

What was your initial impression of the script?

I love how close it sticks to the film, which I absolutely love, while adding some brilliant songs.

Was it easy to translate from page to stage?

Absolutely. The cast and creatives are all so amazingly talented and hard working it has been such fun putting this show together.

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

I grew up in America during this era so I understand the cultural references in the script – plus my natural American accent suits Violet perfectly. There is so much about this character that resonates with me, Violet is a really comfortable fit.

How does the space lend itself to the piece?

The great thing about performing the show at Upstairs at the Gatehouse is we get to really concentrate on the story telling. There isn’t space enough to have a huge set so we aren’t distracted by that. The prime focus of the show is on the characters’ relationships and their journey through the story.

More from rehearsals

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

If you’re ready for a night of hilarious comedy, brilliant choreography, a bit of a love story and song after song of fun, upbeat, toe-tapping music, this is a show you don’t want to miss.

Thank you so much, Pippa – great to be able to interview you for Break A Leg, again! I can’t wait to see the show. 

Spotlight On… Florin C Pascu from Leapfrogtown

Florin C Pascu is drummer in the band, Leapfrogtown – Break A Leg have been following the band closely as they develop new tracks and prepare for future gigs and festivals. Here, Florin talks to Break A Leg about a typical rehearsal and his kind of music. 

Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, Florin, What is/are your favourite track/s and what brings this/those to the forefront of your mind?

‘Somebody Said’ is my favourite track as it has an optimistic melody line and comes straight in with a verse and great groove/feel. “Come on we can do better than that, bury the hatchet cut that crap. Free the love and be this thing together” That is beautiful!  I can’t wait until that song is next to play in the set list. 

‘Better Than This’ is also a song I like a lot, especially that is a reggae beat to it and it makes you dance. I like the phrase “all my enemies, they don’t exist” in this song. 

Describe a typical rehearsal to me…

In a typical rehearsal I talk a lot! We usually chat for a little while before starting. We play the usual set list and we work on some new material. It is good that Chris does not take the whole thing as a strict leader, he is open minded and lets the others come up with ideas regarding structure especially.  Generally speaking they are productive rehearsals.      

Sometimes I am on the phone/texting while we rehearse, Chris likes that!!

What is your personal style of music? Both as a musician and as a listener?

I like Rock and Funk but if I look at myself in future events I would see myself on big stages playing Rock music. When it comes to listening I really like everything from Classical to world music, reggae, afro Cuban, jazz, electronic music, trip hop.  Most music I like including Byzantine (which is so great).

What do you find the most rewarding part of being a musician? 

That you can free yourself from everything and just be with that moment, be present. It gives joy. If I am happy I play, if I am sad I play.

What do you think your life would be like without music?

I think I would have chosen to be a footballer or tennis player if no music was around. It is hard to answer as I was in situations when I didn’t listen to music for a long time and I was enjoying the quietness but when I got back I got really happy and appreciated it.  I could not go too long without music though!

Finally, sell the band to me, why should everybody listen to Leapfrogtown’s sound?

The band has a great vibe and of course we are tight. The music has something commercial in it and it is easy to listen. It is catchy and uplifting. Danceable with great chords and rhythm. A strong reason for why I think people should listen to it is the fact that we do put a lot of passion, work and we are serious about it.

Thanks Florin! A great interview… Here’s the video footage from Leapfrogtown’s live in-house gig back in March. 


Don’t Blame The Bankers… $t00pid!

Don’t Blame The Bankers… $t00pid has one final performance at Canal Café Theatre, tonight! Book your tickets here: Canal Cafe Theatre Box Office

Star rating: *****

45 minutes of sheer innovative and evocative writing and performance. Don’t Blame The Bankers… $t00pid captured our imaginations from the outset, it makes a bold and impacting statement as performer, Serafina Salvador emerges in a wedding dress made of bank notes and marries her laptop! It’s the start of a journey of discovery, digital dilemmas and ultimate burn-out, over-seen by Destiny.

The show has been beautifully written by Serafina, she has used a mixture of verse, rhyme and monologue to capture the spirit of an eager young banking minion by the name of ‘Prayer’. So clear and concise is the imagery created by the words that we were instantly transported to her place of work and comprehended the nerves, anxiety and buzz of the environment. Although the piece is based on experience of the banking world and trading floor, the essence of the story applies to most workplace situations. It was clear that everyone in the full house identified with one or more of the emotions and situations presented. There’s also comedy in abundance and great comic timing too.

Don’t Blame The Bankers… $t00pid! also offers excellent audience interaction, especially on the part of Destiny (played by Anne Musisi). Destiny is a loveable and care-free character who is determined to rescue Prayer from herself. She has a song which was performed brilliantly and added an extra dimension to the overall flavour of the piece. Andrew Hyde also puts in a notable performance as the voice over of the Deputy, liaising with Destiny to help her with her mission.

Simone Vause has directed the show and her vision is palpable, she has made the best use of the space, too.

Overall, a thought-provoking play which resonates on many levels and could also lead you to question your own life. Let’s hope we all have Destiny on hand keeping a watchful eye on our choices!


Reviewed by Guest Bloggers: Hayley Makepeace and Jen Franklin



King Lear ~ The Globe Theatre

King Lear runs at The Globe Theatre until Saturday 14 October, book your tickets here: King Lear Tickets

Star rating: *****

Many productions of King Lear have emerged over the past twelve months, however from my personal point of view, this version resonated more keenly and Nancy Meckler’s direction emulates my own feelings when I read the play.

Of course, Lear is a tragedy, following the title role’s descent to madness which he self-catalyses when he pits his three daughters against the other and send his youngest away when she is unable to articulate her feelings in the same elaborate way that her elder two have done. For the most part this incarnation is portrayed as a tragedy, however it’s appropriately punctuated with comedy to enhance the equilibrium of the piece. Characterisation from each member of the cast felt natural, beautifully synchronised and there’s a strong sense of unity amongst the strong ensemble – even when characters’ paths are divided.

The set lent itself to the splendour of the Globe’s stage, so basic and stripped back that it laid way for the space itself to take the lead. There was a desolate council-estate feel to the backdrop, it set the tone for the piece and costumes added to the theme and ambiance created.

Emily Bruni was a strong and fiery Goneril, her feistiness was all consuming yet the nuances in her performance were engaging. Similarly, Sirine Saba as Regan was a force to be reckoned with, her facial expressions alone told the audience of her hatred for her foolish father. Saskia Reeves’ performance as Kent was inspired, vulnerability, sensitivity and an underlying sense of loyalty which the character battles with. Reeves was captivating in the role and has an extraordinary stage presence. Loren O’Dair gave a stunning performance as the Fool, incorporating her musical talent and with a Pierrot-style which made so much more of the part than merely a comedy aide. Ralph Davis brought great physicality to the role of Edmund, he connected superbly with each character whom he interacted with. Kevin McNally was surely born to play Lear, the sheer swiftness with which he delivers each radical character trait, remarkable in itself. The chemistry with his three daughters is palpable and although his frailty is not highlighted until later in the play, the suggestion is subtly present from the outset, kudos to McNally’s portrayal and ability. A finer Lear I have yet to see, especially as his comic timing is an asset, which would be wholly unexpected from such a piece and such a character.

The Globe’s King Lear strikes the perfect balance of tension, trauma, violence, devastation and comedy – all of which dovetail to produce an innovative version of the Bard’s famous tragedy. If you’ve never seen it on stage, this would be a perfect introduction, if you’ve seen previous productions, this one has plenty to offer and is worth giving your time to.


Images: Marc Brenner





Trust Me, Series One, Episode Two ~ Review

Here’s Chloe Buckles, our wonderful television Guest Reviewer to sum up the latest episode of Trust Me…

As Cath Hardacre’s pretence as Dr Ally Sutton begins to unravel, viewers are left wondering who’s going to be the first to realise she isn’t who she says she is? Or will she actually be able to make it work?

The web of Cath Hardacre’s (Jodie Whittaker) lies is getting even more complex and tangled as we dive into the second episode of this BBC mini-series. We visit the A&E department briefly in this episode as Cath clearly now is at home in her new role. And occasional slip-up or mispronunciation of a word is all that can tell her apart from her other A&E doctor colleagues – all of whom love this new doctor who takes times to talk to and care for her patients like no other doctor they’ve seen before.

Ally (JODIE WHITTAKER) – (C) Red Productions – Photographer: Mark Mainz

In this episode we focus in on Cath’s newly formed relationships with co-workers and new-boyfriend Andy Brenner (Emun Elliott). But it’s these relationships that look like they could be her unravelling, as well as her past sticking its nose in and coming back to haunt her. However, she does manage to get HR off her back by obtaining (at long last) a fake passport for herself in Ally’s name.

Returning to her routes in Sheffield to visit her ailing dad, Cath makes plans to see former partner Karl (The Inbetweeners star Blake Harrison) who seems to have his life back on track and is keen to kick start the relationship between them and spend time with his daughter, Molly. Of course, not only is Cath now in a new relationship with colleague Andy, but Karl has no idea of what she’s currently up to – taking on the identity of her best friend. However, if anyone, I think Karl might be the most sympathetic to her situation and probably the only person that we’ve met who would keep up the pretence on her behalf.

Another concern for Cath is pesky journalist Sam Kelly (Nathan Welsh) who’s following up the story of neglect of patients at her former hospital. Desperate to be the one to expose what’s going on, he’s tracked Cath down at her new place of work and was dangerously close to spotting that she no longer goes under the name of Cath Hardacre and is masquerading at best friend Ally. Telling him she needed a fresh start, and allowing Sam to believe that Karl abused her, Sam eventually promises to stay away and leave her to her new life. I’ve got a feeling we’ll be seeing more of him though.

Ally (JODIE WHITTAKER) – (C) Red Productions – Photographer: Mark Mainz

Attending a conference with colleague and line manager Brigitte Rayne (Sharon Small) was where another strand of this massive lie was likely to be pulled apart, as a former work colleague seemed to recognise Cath. These excellent scenes gave us some welcome insight into Brigitte, who so far seems to be a stressed out and a not very well respected boss, as well as naïve to how Cath is pulling the wool over her eyes. The scene shared between them outside was particularly well done as Brigitte tells Cath of how she neglected to spot sepsis in a young girl, because she wanted to finish her shift and go home, and the result of which was that the young girl died. A powerful scene that showed some insight into Brigitte’s character and also, I’m sure, made Cath realise how much she is playing with fire with patients lives.

The final relationship threatening to uncover Cath’s secret is her new relationship with colleague Andy Brenner. He’s already worked out that something is amiss after speaking to a friend of his who knows the real Ally Sutton. And when he intercepts a call about Cath’s dad we can see something is beginning to click into place for him as he reaches for the trusty internet for answers. Will he be able to work out what Cath has been up to? And if he does, is there any hope for their relationship?

Oooh sounds like gripping stuff, Chloe – and don’t forget you can catch Chloe’s own blog over at Inept Ramblings Blog

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