The Lady Vanishes ~ Malvern Theatres

Star Rating: *****

Take a classic thriller written by Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder, the film version having been directed by Alfred Hitchcock, add a stellar cast and one of the most atmospheric sets I’ve seen in a long time – what do you get? A flawless production of The Lady Vanishes.

Although I was already familiar with the title of the production, initially I was unfamiliar with the story. Therefore watching the action and mystery unfold with no prior knowledge was a real treat. The scene and tone at the railway station were immediately set and there was an overriding feel of authority and fear as Hitler’s Germany reigned supreme. The characters are introduced gradually and they all have a tale to tell, while a few characters remain vague which helps to build the tension and suspense throughout. What’s evident from the outset is that clues are everywhere and dovetail perfectly when the conclusion is reached.

The story is paced to perfection by the strong ensemble, Juliet Mills shone as Miss Froy – the lady who seemingly vanishes aboard a train to England, Lorna Fitzgerald has the opportunity to demonstrate that she is capable of extraordinary stage craft – I had known her as Abi Branning in Eastenders. As Iris, the young woman who is hell bent on discovering what has happened to Miss Froy, she couldn’t have characterised better. The chemistry and sublime partnership Fitzgerald has with Matt Barber as the unintentionally comedic Max. Barber is another familiar face from the television, having starred as the husband of Lily James’ character, Lady Rose, in Downton Abbey. While Barber remains a firm favourite of mine from the series, for as a screen actor I felt he was a joy to watch – on stage he excels further and every nuance of his performance was measured and deliberate – he certainly has hidden depths. Maxwell Caulfield possessed an eerily unpleasant quality in the somewhat pivotal role of Dr Hartz, it was really easy to dislike him and suspect him. Robert Duncan and Ben Nealon often stole the show as cricketing enthusiasts and businessmen, Charters and Caldicott. Duncan’s comic timing had me laughing out loud on more than one occasion. Philip Lowrie played the fairly benign Eric, apparently trying to run off with Margaret (Elizabeth Payne) yet making a dog’s dinner of their scandalous liaison. Lowrie and Payne made a watchable and believable couple – Lowrie’s years of experience on stage and screen are obvious and I was fascinated with Payne’s stage presence and superb diction.

Antony Lampard’s adaptation lends itself to the stage, brilliantly and Roy Marsden’s direction is on point as always, he’s one of my favourite directors. You’ll be sure to become an armchair sleuth as the story unfolds, chaos ensues and inevitable tragedy occurs too.

The Lady Vanishes stays at Malvern Theatres until Saturday 23rd March, book now: https://www.malvern-theatres.co.uk/whats-on/the-lady-vanishes/

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CheeseFest ~ Press Release

CheeseFest celebrating 30 Years of Wallace & Gromit is coming to Worcester.

Saturday 13th April 2019 Three Counties Showground, Malvern, WR13 6NW

We are very excited to announce that CheeseFest UK is back for 2019, celebrating 30 cracking years of Wallace & Gromit.

Join us on our grand UK tour with over 15 live dates, celebrating all that’s great in the world of cheese. Expect the most incredible melted delights and delicious cheese-based cuisine presented for your culinary pleasure by the finest fromagers from across the land.

Experience some of the greatest cheeses in the world with melted raclette, gooey mozzarella sticks, top notch toasties, and a whole host of unique slices and cheese innovations from the UK’s best traders.

CheeseFest promises to be a grand day out for all the family with a jam packed programme of feasting and entertainment hosted by the world’s most famous cheese ambassadors Wallace & Gromit. Kids can enjoy model making, life-size vehicles, film screenings of popular Wallace & Gromit movies, and a meet & greet with Wallace and Gromit themselves. Young and old, all are welcome, so don’t be sheepish – get involved! If you would like more information about CheeseFest please contact Info@cheesefestuk.com or visit our website www.cheesefestuk.com

Sensational 60’s Experience ~ Malvern Theatres

I always say I was born in the wrong era, I was brought up listening to the hits of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s courtesy of my parents’ excellent taste in music. One of my all-time favourite hits from the 60’s is ‘Out of Time’, one of my all-time favourite bands is The Searchers and I love The Fourmost and Herman’s Hermits. So, the Sensational 60’s Experience was certainly the show for me!

Chris Farlowe

The evening was jam-packed full of hits from the golden era when, in my humble opinion, music was at its best – The Fourmost opened the show and immediately set the one for the evening. The packed auditorium were singing along from the outset and the band were a joy to hear. The Swinging Blue Jeans also offered plenty of opportunities for toe tapping and swaying as we were treated to Hippy Hippy shake amongst other hits. Herman’s Hermits epitomise the 60’s for me, ‘Into Something Good’ is one of the ultimate feel-good songs, such a bouncy tune and I’ve been singing it all weekend. I couldn’t wait for Chris Farlowe to appear, he’s got a dry sense of humour which appeals to me straight away. His voice is incredible, rivalling any of the young stars who are up and coming in the noughties and when he completed his set with ‘Out of Time’ it made my year. Mike Pender topped off the night, singing all the famous tracks from the back catalogue of my favourite band, The Searchers. It was a treat to hear the former voice of The Searchers singing his way effortlessly through all of my best loved songs from ‘Don’t Throw Your Love Away’ to ‘Needles and Pins’.

In the second half, a 60’s tribute band called New Amen Corner – they played their own set before becoming the backing group for Chris Farlowe and Mike Pender. Their sound – classic 60’s and they’d be as engaging in a concert of their own, they really brought the house down.

Overall, it was a night to remember, the finale was a sight to behold and I can’t wait to see the show again. Go and see it at a venue near you: www.stagerightpromotions.co.uk/our-shows/

CDs are available from most artists at on the night, however you can also check out these links for a range of albums available to purchase online:

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