Entertainment Views Interviews Star of The Full Monty UK Tour…. Amy Thompson

Amy Thompson is a household name in the Entertainment Views HQ home, as a presenter of Channel Five’s Milkshake, she is a firm favourite with my five year old son. We have also seen her in pantomime twice, where she never fails to dazzle. Amy is currently treading the boards in the UK tour of The Full Monty, I was delighted to hear that Amy had added another credit to her list and couldn’t wait to hear all about her latest role.

Thanks for chatting to me, Amy – tell me about The Full Monty and the character you’re playing.

It’s always a pleasure to chat to you, Helen. The Full Monty play is written by Simon Beaufoy, he’s adapted it for the stage and it’s based on the original movie version. I play Mandy, she’s Gaz’s ex-wife (Gaz is played by Gary Lucy). Gaz owes Mandy child maintenance money, or there’s a chance he will be stopped from seeing his son. Mandy is with a man called Barry, he’s safe and secure. Life with Barry is different to life with Gaz. There’s still love there for Gaz though, so there’s still a chance for Gaz if he can get his act together. The reason Gaz needs the money is so that he can pay Mandy, so she is definitely part of the reason Gaz and his mates decide to become strippers.

Amy as Mandy in The Full Monty (far right of the picture)

What inspired you to go for the role?

Milkshake! are very supportive of me going off to do other things when there’s an opportunity and I still film the Milkshake! at the same time. I’m a Yorkshire girl and my background is in theatre so I’m going back to my theatrical roots. The Full Monty came along and offered me the chance to do something different.

How do you feel the show translates years after the movie was released?

The subjects that are handled are still relevant today, although it’s a fun show there are many serious issues dealt with. There’s unemployment, depression, homosexuality, body image etc. From a political point of view it’s relevant too.

What’s your personal highlight of the show?

I love the fact that I get to watch the amazing Andy Dunn (who plays Gerald) on stage, that’s a highlight for me every show. He’s an incredible actor and has worked with Hull Truck Theatre, the same as me.

Does it feel strange to be on stage as opposed to in front of a camera?

Not at all, because I started off in theatre and always thought that would be where I would be working. Milkshake! came along ten years ago (in March) and I love that I can do television and theatre. I also do pantomime every year too, I played Cinderella last season.

Any particular ambitions for the future? Are there any roles you’re keen to play?

I’d love to do more theatre and get into musical theatre, which is really difficult to get into. Les Mis is one of my favourite shows. I’d like to do something different where I have the opportunity to play a variety of characters.

Last year, Coleen Nolan encouraged a group of famous ladies to bare all in aid of Breast Cancer, would you be tempted to join in if it’s organised again and they ask you?

How funny you should mention this as I appeared in pantomime with Michelle Heaton last season and she did this. She told me about what it meant to her and I’d definitely do it if I was asked, it’s for a great cause.

Amy thinks you’ll have a great night at the theatre if you book a ticket to see The Full Monty on its UK our – here’s the all important link: fullmontytheplay.com/

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Milkshake! Live The Magic Story Book Tour ~ Telford Oakengates Theatre

Milkshake! Live is on UK tour – check out all the dates here: Milkshake! Live Tour Tickets

Star rating: *****

If your child is a fan of the early morning television programme, Milkshake! which appears on Channel 5 or if they are fans of the popular characters whose shows are shown on the programme – they will LOVE The Magic Story Book Tour. With two presenters who are familiar from the television programme and a whole host of famous faces from a variety of children’s telly favourites, this is a show set to delight.

We were in for a treat with the gorgeous Amy Thompson and Olivia Birchenough in charge and taking on the roles of many fairy tale characters as they guided Milkshake Monkey on his quest to be a Fairy Tale Prince. What was notable about both presenters was their superb acting ability and Thompson in particular is extraordinarily exceptional at performing with a different accent. Her Geordie wolf was a particular favourite of mine!

With each fairy tale visited by Milkshake Monkey and the girls, cam a different children’s television character. Fireman Sam, Noddy, Bob the Builder, Shimmer and Shine and loads more – whatever your child’s taste, I guarantee it will be catered for. It was also glorious to visit Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Dick Whittington, I’ve missed panto season (oh yes I have!) and this was just the tonic.

You can catch the show at many venues around the UK, is one of the hottest tickets for the kids and big kids in the family.

My Top 10 Performers ~ 2017

Performers on stage… I’ve seen a few, but then again… no I’ve definitely seen a few and I’m full of admiration for so many of them. So, who made my top ten this year? Well I’ve had a difficult time whittling the list down but the top ten have each impressed me in ways that have continued to resonate as the year has worn on. Here we go, in no particular order!

Claire Machin ~ I think that The Girls has to be my favourite West End show of 2017 and although it didn’t make my top 5 shows list, it’s still up there as one of the highlights of my theatre-going calendar. I think Claire Machin was one of the crowning glories in that show and she’s also one of my favourite interviewees ever. I urge you to see this amazing lady on stage if you can, her voice, her tenacity and her energy are all infectious. She’s a star.

Daniel Taylor ~ I’ve seen this man in three different guises this year and excels in each of them. Whether he’s imitating Tommy Cooper, spitting and whining as Sammy in Blood Brothers are donning a pair of high heels and mocking Cinderella – he’s an actor de force and will always have my support. Amazing performer and one of the best I’ve seen in a long time, not just in 2017.

Michele Dotrice ~ She’s been one of my favourite on screen actors for years and years, however seeing her in The Girls (twice!) has cemented her as one of my stage favourites too. She can sing, she has comic timing in abundance and she whipped her kit off live on stage too – my hero! I would say I’d like to see more of Michele on stage, however….!

 

Graham Martin ~  I’ve always admired Graham’s ability to play multiple roles in Blood Brothers to an extremely high standard (to the point where I feel the show wouldn’t be the same without him), but he also impressed me in The Hollow at Stoke Repertory Theatre. I’m only sorry to have missed his performance as the King in pantomime this year. Graham’s one of the finest triple threats in my humble opinion.

Sarah Jane Buckley ~ Sarah Jane was my first ever favourite soap star, I’d not really had a favourite character in any of the soaps prior to Kathy Barnes rocking up in Hollyoaks and stirring things up. Sarah Jane is my favourite Mrs Lyons in Blood Brothers too, however this year I also had the chance to see her play Mrs Johnstone when she stepped in for Lyn Paul. She was absolutely sensational, I could wax lyrical forever. I’ve also finally seen her in pantomime this season, which was another amazing experience. There’s nothing Sarah Jane can’t do, she’s a natural in every genre of performance.

Tim Churchill ~ Another Blood Brothers star who is my favourite Mr Lyons for sure, but who also starred in Stoke Repertory Theatre’s The Hollow and showed another element to his acting talent. It’s given me a taste of what other roles he would lend himself to, a very talented actor.

Cathy O’Reilly ~ I was really impressed by Cathy’s performance in The Hollow at Stoke Repertory Theatre, she can convey so much without words and the movement and fluidity she put into the role has stuck with me. She’s a talented actor who I’m keen to see perform in other roles in the future. I believe she would be able to play a variety of characters, this introduction has been the tip of the iceberg.

Sean Jones ~ I’ve watched Sean as Mickey in Blood Brothers many, many times and he is inspirational in the role. I feel every nuance of emotion in his performance. So he most definitely makes it to my list because he’s the best Mickey in my favourite musical. I also saw him in as Silly Billy at in Sleeping Beauty Rhyl Pavilion Theatre and he was amazing. Completely reminiscent of my favourite comedy stars whom I grew up watching with comic timing to rival any stand up comedian.

Amy Thompson ~ Amy was on my radar on Channel 5 as a Presenter on Milkshake! because I have a three year old, however last year I was blown away by her performance as Sleeping Beauty at Malvern Theatres. This year, I’ve watched her in the role again and she wowed me all over again, so for her sheer triple threat ability – she’s one of my top performers of 2017.

Robert Daws ~ I’ve always rated Robert Daws, another actor who began as an on-screen favourite then blew me away with his stage roles. How The Other Half Loves was an excellent fit for him, he conveys so much without words and embodies every character he portrays. I highly recommend catching him in a theatre production, I was only sorry not to have been able to have seen How The Other Half Loves again.

 

 

Sleeping Beauty ~ Rhyl Pavilion Theatre

Sleeping Beauty stays at Rhyl Pavilion Theatre until 6 January 2018 – BOOK NOW! www.rhylpavilion.co.uk/sleeping-beauty/

Star rating: ******

I’ve seen more than my fair share of Pantomimes this season – oh yes I have! I’m having a ball and I’ve liberally dished out the stars which have been richly deserved. However, I have found one which deserves more than five stars, and that’s Sleeping Beauty which is gracing the stage of Rhyl Pavilion Theatre.

I couldn’t find fault with this stunning spectacle if I tried and there’s not one weak link amongst an exceptional cast who each play a full role in the show. Unlike many shows I’ve seen before where a Fairy might only be seen for a few key scenes and a King would appear a handful of times – every character is at the hub of the perfectly paced production.

There’s a fantastic mixture of musical numbers and with Sarah Jane Buckley as Fairy Snowflake, Vicky Entwistle as Carabosse and Amy Thompson as Sleeping Beauty herself, at the helm, musically the show is already in superb hands. All three female leads have stunning vocal capability which they demonstrate to the maximum. Add Sean Jones to the mix as the hilarious Silly Billy and Chris Warner Drake as the Prince and the performance level is taken to another dimension. With Charles Burden as Nanny Glucose bringing a wealth of experience to the show and Sam Patrick making an excellent Pantomime debut.

The combination of modern material blended with traditional madcap pantomime high-jinx delighted the packed house and truly makes this a pantomime with something for everyone. Family orientated with jokes for adults and the smaller members of the audience.

The scenery is quite something, providing an elaborate backdrop fitting for the fairy tale. There are a few special effects which I won’t spoil, however the quality of the content means that effects are merely a bonus feature. Magic is created by every actor on stage who are each giving 110% to make this a pantomime de force.

The opportunities for audience participation are plentiful, the fourth wall is smashed, just as it should be. Sean Jones is nothing short of a comedy genius and his natural talent is reminiscent of the comedy heroes I grew up watching. Charles Burden’s Nanny Glucose is an able sidekick for Billy, a traditional Dame indeed with many quick changes and a superb range of costumes. Chris Warner Drake played the Prince as a solid, dependable hero and he was a perfect match for Amy Thompson as the gentile and beautiful Princess. I’ve seen Thompson as Sleeping Beauty previously and she never fails to impress me, she is one of the finest Pantomime Princesses I’ve seen. Vicky Entwistle as Carabosse was a revelation to me, such a seething, feisty and fiery baddie – Entwistle embraces the role and gave an outstanding performance. As for Sarah-Jane Buckley, she’s the epitome of magic, sparkle and silliness. She’s glitzy, glittery and also offers precise comic timing and a West Country accent! The best Fairy in Panto-land, in my humble opinion.

If you’re in need of a post-Christmas pick-me-up then this seaside extravaganza is just the ticket and you’ve got just over a week to see it.

Sleeping Beauty ~ Malvern Theatres

Sleeping Beauty runs at Malvern Theatres until 8th January 2016 – to book visit: Malvern Theatres Website

Star Rating: *****

What a pantomime, in all the best senses of the word, Sleeping Beauty in Malvern is most definitely my pantomime of the season. It has been cast perfectly with stars who all grasp the concept of family entertainment and the heart of the tradition and have produced a glorious show which has really put me in the festive spirit.

The set provided an elegant backdrop, the costumes were fabulous and it was clear that this has been a real team effort where everybody should be commended for creating a magical party atmosphere. This pantomime take on the fairy tale varies slightly to the Disney version which most people are aware of, but the basics are all there and the straight forward story was easy to follow for my young toddler, he enjoyed every moment.

chris-p
Chris Pizzey stars as Silly Billy and has also directed the show.

Directed by Chris Pizzey, the story of Sleeping Beauty is told through a terrific mixture of popular musical numbers, slick and well placed choreography and the tongue in cheek humour that one associates with this genre of show. Amy Thompson is a beautiful Princess Rose, she has all the gentile, too-good-to-be-true loveliness but she avoids portraying her as sickly sweet and brings some substance to the role. Her vocal ability is stunning and she has wonderful chemistry with her Prince (David Barrett). Barrett plays the role in a humorous super-hero style but doesn’t take the character too seriously, which works. He is well-matched vocally with Thompson and I felt that the audience were on his side. Rebecca Wheatley was a wonderfully giggly and sparkly fairy, she was superb at telling the tale both through narration and song, I was already familiar with Wheatley’s singing voice and she didn’t disappoint. Chris Pizzey also took the role of Silly BIlly “when I say Silly you say Billy!”, as an experienced children’s’ entertainer he was spot on in the comedy role and his cheekiness was infectious. Quinn Patrick was my kind of Dame, as Nanny Glucose he interacted brilliantly with the audience, picking out a ‘boyfriend’ from among the audience. His comic timing was particularly on point and he had a hilarious scene with Pizzey in act two involving a ‘mirror’, what was a highlight. I was also delighted to hear Patrick call upon so many classic pantomime jokes, all of which he executed fantastically. What of the baddie? I hear you ask? Oh yes I do! Gillian Wright (who made her appearance to the tune of the Eastenders theme) is now my all-time favourite pantomime villain. As Carabosse, her evil laugh was a joy to behold, she coaxed the audience participation from the outset and she threw herself into her big number, proving that she is so much more than just Eastenders’ Jean Slater. Wright can sing, dance, express so many emotions with facial expressions which was entertaining in itself and she clearly enjoys what she’s doing. I would travel anywhere to see her on stage again.

gillian
Gillian Wright is my favourite baddie to date! Fabulous as Carabosse.

If you want a traditional, family pantomime with plenty of opportunities to sing along, featuring a classic love tale told by a superb cast, this is the one for you. I can’t recommend it highly enough, a first class production.

Spotlight On… Malvern Panto ~ Sleeping Beauty Star, Amy Thompson

Sleeping Beauty runs at Malvern Theatres from 15 December 2016 to 8 January 2017, for more information and to book your tickets for this fabulous family pantomime, follow this link: http://www.malvern-theatres.co.uk/events/event/sleeping-beauty-2/

Amy Thompson is a recognisable face from Five’s Milkshake, but this Christmas she is transforming into a beautiful Princess to lead the story of Sleeping Beauty at Malvern Theatres. Amy chatted to Break A Leg about the show:

panto-malvern

Hi Amy, thank you ever so much for talking to Break A Leg, what are you most looking forward to about panto this year?

Being back here in Malvern, because I did my very first professional pantomime here in 2009 with UK Productions and I was Jack in Jack and the Beanstalk. It’s nice to be back and this will be my eighth pantomime now. To come back here a bit more seasoned and playing a Princess is just lovely. The audiences here are lovely and the new cast are great, this is the third time I’ve played Sleeping Beauty. Sleeping Beauty is a Princess from the start, too which is nice to play, I’ve played Snow White and Cinderella and they’re downtrodden to start with and then become Princesses.

What makes you excited for this year’s panto?

I’m excited every year but I think this year we have a strong mixture of people in the cast and we all get on really well.

What do you like about playing this type of role?

My job is to tell the story truthfully and tell it well, I like getting lost in the part and playing out the story of this young eighteen year old who has had all of this building up in the background, everything had been building up to her important birthday.

My costumes are beautiful and although I don’t know what my songs are going to be yet, I’ve always had lovely songs to sing in the past.

What do you love about panto?

It’s so much fun and I don’t think it’s Christmas without panto. I love the audience reactions and the fact that it’s a lovely story to tell.

What would you say to the people of Malvern who may not have bought a ticket yet?

 This script is very truthful to the story, laced with fabulous songs and a brilliant cast, lots of comedy, something for all the family. Whether you’re three or eighty three, there’s something for everyone.

Thanks for chatting to me, Amy – can’t wait to see you strut your stuff!

 

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