Entertainment blog filled to the brim with as much entertainment goodness you can get in one place! From television favourites to movies to live theatre to music to family days out, it's all covered here by Helen McWilliams and a small team of guest reviewers. Thanks for stopping by!
Birmingham Hippodrome half-term workshops. Credit: Simon Hadley
Birmingham Hippodrome is staging an exciting programme of free theatrical workshops this Easter half-term. Designed with the family in mind, children of all ages will be entertained with a range of free workshops from Monday 15 – Friday 19 April.
For the first time at the Hippodrome, the theatre will host an accessible Sensory Circus (17 Apr) for children with additional needs including Autism, Asperger’s and other complex disabilities. As well as the Sensory Circus, there will be specially created chill out spaces close-by featuring circus play tents filled with sensory toys and apparatus.
In partnership with DanceXchange, Family Yoga (15 Apr) will offer parents and their little ones the chance to spend some happy, healthy time together. In the Street Dance workshop (19 Apr) expect a Hip-Hop inspired event where kids can work up a sweat with seasoned Street Dance teachers in the lead up to B-SIDE Hip-Hop Festival, coming to Birmingham this May.
In-keeping with Easter traditions, Easter Activities (15-19 Apr) will invite families to create their own colourful eggs, plus the chance to take part in an egg-citing Easter egg trail. There’s also the chance to discover industry secrets with Stage Make-Up for Families (16 Apr), with the opportunity to create dramatic characters and artistic make-up for the stage.
Arts and crafts take centre stage in the Build your own Brum workshop (18 Apr), working with illustrator Tsz, you’ll get to redesign your very own Birmingham. You can also join a Protest Flag Makingworkshop (16 & 19 Apr) inspired by Les Misérables. Drop in and create a flag with a message of peace or protest.
In the Make Your Own Theatre Poster workshop (15 & 18 Apr), families can come together to create eye-catching theatrical posters inspired by some of the headlining productions that have graced the Hippodrome stage.
The Missing’s Julien Baptiste returns in the titular role of a new six-part drama for BBC One
French detective Julien Baptiste, who first appeared in The Missing series one and two, returns in the titular role of a new six-part drama for BBC One. Starring Tchéky Karyo, Tom Hollander and Jessica Raine.
“Never-quite-retired detective and erstwhile beekeeper Julien Baptiste is a character very dear to our hearts. After seeing him brought to life by the incomparable Tcheky Karyo in The Missing, we always knew we weren’t quite ready to let him go if the right story presented itself. We’re glad it finally did, and hope people enjoy seeing Baptiste take centre stage in his show as much as we have.”
Julien Baptiste is staying in Amsterdam where his daughter has recently had a child. Forever under their feet and restless, he is invited to meet up with old flame Martha Horchner, the chief of police in Amsterdam. But this isn’t a lunch to catch up on old times – she wants his help to find a missing girl, Natalie, the niece of Englishman Edward Stratton. She believes the case is connected to a Romanian sex trafficking gang. It’s vital that they find her.
Julien meets up with Edward and they begin their search, but it’s not long before Julien realises that all is not as it seems. Why does nobody want to talk about the missing girl? Who is the man following Celia, Julien’s wife? What is the connection between the case and the transsexual brothel, whose owner has sent someone to follow them? Who is the mysterious woman, Kim Vogel, who helps the sex industry girls and tells them that Natalie has run away to Germany?
As Julien starts to uncover some of the truths behind the lies, he realises there is more to this case that meets the eye. By the time Baptiste becomes aware of the danger that he has been drawn into, Julien’s own family are in mortal danger and Julien is caught in a trap.
Baptiste is a nail-biting ride full of twists and turns, where nothing and nobody are as they first seem. Amsterdam is both the backdrop and a veneer, and Julien Baptiste must search its narrow alleyways and its basements and canals, to uncover the dark side of the city.
Did you watch this fantastic drama? As a Jessica Raine fan I was hugely eager to see her in a new role and this one absolutely suited her – what a superb character for a great actress to get her teeth into. Here’s an interview with Jessica Raine which has been provided for re-publication by the BBC Media Centre.
Tell us about Genevieve’s character – what is her background story? Genevieve is an officer at Europol, heading up a team trying to get enough evidence together to nail a gang called the Brigada Serbilu, which concerns itself with human trafficking. She’s quite blunt and tactless and rubs people up the wrong way when she’s first introduced in the series, but she’s incredibly focused and determined to get the guy she needs to get. It’s a scary focus, as she doesn’t care how she treats everyone else.
What is Genevieve’s relationship with Julien? When Genevieve meets Julien you feel like she’s really marking her territory. She’s a little bit patronising and you feel like she’s definitely overriding him with the decision-making. She wants him out of the way even though she respects what he’s done in the past. Genevieve doesn’t have much time for Baptiste at the beginning, however, as the series progresses I think she really becomes much more respectful of him and his methods and they become quite close by the end, which is a great journey to play.
What is Genevieve’s relationship with Edward? With Edward, Genevieve is constantly trying to persuade him to do what she wants and doesn’t really think about what the consequences are for him. To her, he is someone who’s in way over his head – but she also sees him as an opportunity. It’s an opening for her that she hasn’t had before with this case, so she has to get him onside. But she is also quite irritated by him, so it is quite a fractious relationship – which has been really fun to play with Tom.
What’s it been like filming in Amsterdam and Belgium? I’ve loved it. I’ve had a week in Amsterdam but didn’t get to see much of it because we were working all the time. Antwerp I’ve become really familiar with and I love it, the people, the shops and the art as well as the food! I just absolutely adore it to be honest. I want to come back. I can understand why people come out here and live here. It’s just amazing.
What’s it like working with Tom and Tchéky? Great. They’re so different. Tchéky is so unbelievably French, and I mean that in a really lovely way. He’s very philosophical about things. He’s great to act with. He’s always very present. Tom is loads of fun to work with. He’s done his research, he knows what he’s doing and then just sort of let’s rip on a scene, which has been really positive.
Theatre has been my passion since I can remember and although in the past couple of years I’ve not been blogging as actively about my best loved genre of entertainment, it’s never left my radar.
Last night’s Olivier Awards reignited the theatrical spark for me and there are shows I will make it my mission to see – especially given the superb performances of excerpts from many of the nominated productions. From the magnificent Disney’s The Lion King to the stonking new musical Come From Away to Six – a pop concert style musical like no other I’ve seen before – the West End is packed with shows to suit every taste. The Tina Turner musical also looks incredible and if you heard Adrienne Warren who plays the real life legend, I’m sure you can’t fail to agree that she does Ms Turner proud and then some! Rosalie Craig made me feel alive with her rendition of Being Alive from Company and a finale featuring such wonderment as the stunning cast of Olivier winner Sir Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake was a dream come true. Jason Manford was a superb host, witty and offering up relevant comedy, I found the comment about the over-charging in theatre bars particularly poignantly funny. He showed off his musical theatre side with the fantastic Janie Dee and Ruthie Henshall in tow, which was an unexpected treat indeed.
What of the award winners in the hotly contested categories? Although I’ve yet to see the show as I don’t frequent London as often as I would like, I’m delighted for Company, Jonathan Bailey and Patti Lupone – worthy winners in the Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical category, Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical category and Best Musical Revival. Judging by the immense performance given by the cast of Come From Away, their Best New Musical win (amongst other awards) was well deserved, the production stars one of my favourite performers, Jenna Boyd, it’s got to be worth a watch just to see her! Catherine Zuber should also be congratulated, her costume design for The King And I is a triumph and she should rightly be celebrated. Shout out to my favourite Donna and the Dynamos, Sara Poyzer, Kate Graham and Ricky Butt who presented that particular award in their Mamma Mia! costumes. Porgy and Bess was also on my radar and a winner from the Best Opera nominations which I had high hopes for. I must also add my congratulations to the terrific super-talent Monica Dolan for her win for Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for All About Eve. I haven’t seen the play yet but Monica Dolan is a chameleon on an actress and wows me in all she does.
Here’s the full list of winners….
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Jonathan Bailey for Company at Gielgud Theatre
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Patti LuPone for Company at Gielgud Theatre
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC
Come From Away – Book, Music and Lyrics: David Hein and Irene Sankoff; Music Supervisor, Arrangements: Ian Eisendrath; Orchestrations: August Eriksmoen; Musical Director/UK Music Supervisor: Alan Berry; and the band of Come From Away at Phoenix Theatre
BEST NEW DANCE PRODUCTION
Blkdog by Botis Seva at Sadler’s Wells
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN DANCE
Akram Khan for his performance in Xenos at Sadler’s Wells
BEST ENTERTAINMENT AND FAMILY
A Monster Calls at The Old Vic
BEST THEATRE CHOREOGRAPHER
Kelly Devine for Come From Away at Phoenix Theatre
MAGIC RADIO BEST MUSICAL REVIVAL
Company at Gielgud Theatre
BEST ACTOR IN A MUSICAL
Kobna Holdbrook-Smith for Tina – The Tina Turner Musical at Aldwych Theatre
BEST ACTRESS IN A MUSICAL
Sharon D. Clarke for Caroline, Or Change at Playhouse Theatre
CUNARD BEST REVIVAL
Summer And Smoke at Almeida Theatre and Duke of York’s Theatre
BEST NEW COMEDY
Home, I’m Darling at National Theatre – Dorfman and Duke of York’s Theatre
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN AFFILIATE THEATRE
Flesh And Bone at Soho Theatre
WHITE LIGHT AWARD FOR BEST LIGHTING DESIGN
Jon Clark for The Inheritance at Young Vic and Noël Coward Theatre
ROYAL ALBERT HALL AWARD FOR BEST SOUND DESIGN
Gareth Owen for Come From Away at Phoenix Theatre
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Catherine Zuber for The King And I at The London Palladium
BLUE-I THEATRE TECHNOLOGY AWARD FOR BEST SET DESIGN
Bunny Christie for Company at Gielgud Theatre
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Chris Walley for The Lieutenant Of Inishmore at Noël Coward Theatre
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Monica Dolan for All About Eve at Noël Coward Theatre
BEST NEW OPERA PRODUCTION
Katya Kabanova at Royal Opera House
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN OPERA
The ensemble of Porgy And Bess at London Coliseum
Kyle Soller for The Inheritance at Young Vic and Noël Coward Theatre
Patsy Ferran for Summer And Smoke at Almeida Theatre and Duke of York’s Theatre
SIR PETER HALL AWARD FOR BEST DIRECTOR
Stephen Daldry for The Inheritance at Young Vic and Noël Coward Theatre
AMERICAN AIRLINES BEST NEW PLAY
The Inheritance at Young Vic and Noël Coward Theatre
As a family we are self-confessed Disney-holics – we’ve been fortunate enough to attend a number of Disney On Ice productions as well as having travelled to Disneyland Paris for holidays on a few occasions. The Disney magic never waivers for us and this particular incarnation of the spectacular ice show featuring our favourite Mouse was exceptional – maybe my favourite to date.
All of my best loved Disney films were included as we were taken on a journey of mystery and wonder to seek out hidden treasures with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy. Who better to go on an adventure with? The added treat is that every character who appears through the majestic red curtains are on ice skates and performing the most stunning moves and tricks across the pure white glittery surface.
The quality of the costumes for this first class display is quite indescribable – the attention to detail for each character brings them to life, it’s glorious viewing for young audience members and the big kids also get just as much entertainment and delight from the show. With popular hits (from the various movies we were treated to) accompanying the splendour and a packed arena singing along, it couldn’t have been a more joyful experience and what a wonderful window into Walt Disney’s imagination.
The films were recreated on ice through beautiful and precise choreography and spellbinding movement as well as nail-biting headbangers and other amazing spins, turns and jumps. We saw The Lion King, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Aladdin (one of my personal favourites, look out for the elephant!), Tangled, Toy Story, Frozen and if you could have seen the Disney Princes and Princesses all in one glorious scene – if you’re a Disney fan you couldn’t fail to be moved and over-awed. There was a lovely surprise in the form of excerpts from the Finding Dory movie too which was transfixing in the extreme.
You’re never too old for Disney and definitely never too old for Disney On Ice, book your tickets now and enjoy a magical experience you’ll never forget:www.disneyonice.com
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.
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
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!
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.
Hard to believe it’s been 30 cracking years since that loveable double act, Wallace & Gromit first graced our screens and quickly gathered a cracking following of fans of all ages. They’re one of my favourite animated duos of all time, in fact my little family and I met Gromit at Blackpool Pleasure Beach last year! Are you a fan of Wallace and Gromit too? If so, read on!
Carrot Productions team up with Aardman Animations for
Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels UK tour in Spring 2019
The 38 date tour will feature live
orchestral accompaniment from a professional orchestra drawn from members of
the Hallé and BBC Philharmonic orchestras among others.
In May and June 2019, Carrot Productions will tour Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels to 38 major venues across the UK, including London’s Barbican Centre, Manchester’s The Lowry, and Birmingham Symphony Hall.
Speaking about this new venture for her organisation, Carrot
Productions’ Managing Director, Rachel Whibley, said: “We are so delighted that Aardman have
granted us exclusive rights to launch this tour in the UK. With six years’
experience behind us of presenting The Snowman to thousands of satisfied
audience members across the country, we are well placed to deliver this
wonderful Wallace & Gromit programme. It will be a pleasure to present such
a high-quality show in partnership with the inspirational team at Aardman,
providing huge fun for audiences of all ages”.
Wallace & Gromit’s Musical
Marvels features Wallace preparing to perform his musical masterpiece My Concerto in Ee Lad with help from his
faithful companion Gromit. This interactive experience features specially
created animations as well as live orchestral accompaniment and escapades from
the Picture House Orchestra and presenter Matthew Sharp. The show
also exclusively features a screening of the all-time classic animation, The Wrong Trousers, again with live
Sean Clarke, Head of Rights and Brand Development, Aardman added: “It is wonderful to see Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels going on
tour in 2019, the 30th anniversary year of Wallace & Gromit!
Carrot Productions have produced a fantastic show, featuring live orchestral
music for one of Aardman’s best loved shorts, The Wrong Trousers, and we look
forward to audiences across the UK having the opportunity to enjoy this unique
Carrot Productions are an innovative organisation: over the years they have commissioned several new works – both music and animation – to perform alongside The Snowman. They are relishing the opportunity to cover further new ground with this ambitious Wallace & Gromit tour.
Aardman, the world famous, four times Academy Award® winning animation studio, are creators of Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep, Creature Comforts and Chicken Run among others. Nick Park’s Oscar-winning The Wrong Trousers was Aardman’s first 30-minute film and is one of the most successful animated films ever made.
Presenter Matthew Sharp is an internationally renowned musician, actor, director and performer. He is recognised as both a compelling classical artist and a fearless pioneer, with his adventures in music and across disciplines described as ‘unrivalled’ and ‘unprecedented’. Booking for the tour is now open via the Carrot Productions website https://www.carrotproductions.com/
Dinnerladies from the genius mind of the late, great Victoria Wood remains one of my firm favourite sitcoms to this day, all these years on. The man who played Victoria’s character, Bren’s love interest, Tony – is the brilliant Andrew Dunn. Andrew is playing the role of Gerald in the UK tour of The Full Monty so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to chat to him about the show.
Thank you for chatting to Entertainment Views, Andrew tell me about The Full Monty and the character you’re playing.
If you’re familiar with the film, you’ll know the story. It’s set in Sheffield and set around six out of work steelworkers who get together to become male strippers. I play Gerald, he hasn’t told his wife that he’s been made redundant, he goes out ‘to work’ every morning – but he has nowhere to go and its all an act to keep up the pretence.
What do you think the strengths of the show are?
The subject matters dealt with are relevant today. It’s a feelgood piece of theatre but as the writer, Simon Beaufoy says, he’s amazed that it’s a feelgood piece when the subject matter is depression.
How does it compare to the movie version?
Unlike the musical version the play is just the same as the film. We have the dole queue scene where the lads start dancing to ‘Hot Stuff’ and we do the full monty at the end. There are big lights on stage which are supposed to ‘blind’ the audience at the end but there have been times when the audience haven’t been blinded by the lights!
What have audience reactions been like so far?
Well they’ve bought a ticket to see it because of what they think they’ll see at the end! We get standing ovations and the audience are always on our side. It’s a fun show to do, that’s why I’m still touring with it. The audience get into it and they follow the story to the end.
I can’t not mention Dinnerladies as I still love the sitcom now, what was the best thing about being part of the series?
All the people I got to work with, there’s one episode where I’m standing with the late Dame Thora Hird, Dora Bryan and Eric Sykes. I grew up watching them on television. People wanted to work with Victoria.
The series has maintained its popularity after twenty years….
Yes, and its been shown on Gold channel which helps. We also toured theatres with it and it was amazing to see that young children were watching it and giving us pictures they’d drawn of the characters. People still stop me in the street and quote lines from it. I don’t think that she thought about the future but the way she wrote things meant that the humour is still there and relevant.
Back to The Full Monty, why should everyone buy a ticket to come and see it?
It’s a feelgood piece and a great night at the theatre, come along and have a good night out!
The all-important link to check out the tour dates/venues and buy tickets to see The Full Monty, is here: fullmontytheplay.com/