Blithe Spirit ~ Malvern Theatres

Star rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

One of my favourite Coward plays and starring the incomparable Jennifer Saunders in the resplendently iconic role of Madame Arcati! It’s a deliciously comedic role at the heart of a madcap tale involving a rather smug, second time married author called Charles. He’s looking for a muse to help him to write his next novel, and Psychic Medium Madame Acarti fits that bill. He hopes to find her out as a fraud and sets up a dinner party with his wife, Ruth, also inviting Dr and Mrs Bradman.

As the evening unfolds, accompanied by incessant clumsiness from new maid, Edith and much suspense when the bonkers Medium is going about her hilarious business, one thing Charles hasn’t bargained on is Madame Arcati not necessarily being the fraud he hopes she’s going to be. The reunion with his late wife, Elvira is wholly unexpected too.

It’s Coward at his best and for the most part the cast do it justice. The pace of their dialogue and interaction with each other is almost always spot on and characters who might be easy to discount and miss in the grand scheme of things are brought to the fore subtly and successfully.

Saunders triumphs in the role she was surely meant to play, she brought everything to the character that I expected her to bring. I was not disappointed in the physical comedy she added, the exceptional delivery of beautifully crafted lines and her facial expressions spoke volumes.

Geoffrey Streatfield plays Charles so meticulously that it’s easy to see his wealth of theatre experience has prepared him to do the character justice. Lisa Dillon is quite stunning as Ruth, it could be such a benign role if you allowed it to be and she has done a sterling job, a real class act. Lucy Robinson also takes a relatively smaller role (Mrs Bradman), makes it her own and engaged me in every scene she appeared in. Lucy is an actress with whom I’m familiar and it was a joy to see her on stage. Simon Coates was a great match for her as Dr Bradman, they were quite the comedy duo in fact. Rose Wardlaw provided many a laugh out loud moment as Edith the hapless maid, certainly an actress to watch out for as she really stood out for all the right reasons. Emma Naomi had wonderful poise and sensuality as the miffed spirit, Elvira, however she could have been a little more coquettish and mischievous. There’s a lot of fun to be had with that role.

Overall it was a great evening at the theatre. The set was sensational and lent itself brilliantly to the ghostly happenings. You’ll be sorry to miss this production. Some tickets may still be available: Blithe Spirit Tickets

Anton and Erin ~ Dance Those Magical Movies – Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Star rating: *****

What better way to cheer up a long arduous January than with the glorious partnership of Anton Du Beke and Erin Boag? You might know them both from BBC One’s Strictly Come Dancing, although Erin finishes the show a few years ago now (and is much missed!).

The beauty of Anton and Erin’s tours is that Lance Ellington, known for his exceptional vocal ability which has been demonstrated on Strictly Come Dancing, provides vocals for their show. His velvet tones lend themselves wonderfully to all of the song choices and it was so fantastic to hear him live that I soon found myself looking him up on Spotify! If you love him too I suggest you do the same. Adding her strong voice and gorgeous dance steps to the mix is the talented Laura Emmitt. There are also six backing dancers in the company, all of whom are as engaging to watch as the main pair themselves.

From the waltz to the foxtrot to the quickstep ~ Anton and Erin led us on a journey of wonder and set the silver screen atmosphere with every ebb and flow. Accompanied by the mighty London Symphony Orchestra, it was a real treat from beginning to end.

Both stars have the gift of the gab and their chats with the audience were appreciated immensely. There’s also a chance to put your own question to them and that section of the show is as entertaining as the dancing itself. Not forgetting that Anton also has a rather decent singing voice and I adored his duet with Lance.

Dirty Dancing, West Side Story, Chicago, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Austin Powers are all included in the cornucopia of movie music choices. Austin Powers was a particularly popular option given the dance that Anton performed with his 2019 Strictly partner, Emma Barton (they was robbed!).

Make sure you catch this magical tour: Anton and Erin 2020 Tour

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