42nd Street ~ Theatre Royal, Drury Lane

Star rating: ****

The glitzy, glittering, all singing all dancing spectacular continues to light up Theatre Royal Drury Lane as a new Dorothy Brock hails her arrival in glorious fashion.

Bonnie Langford has taken over the role of Brock, the legendary star who leaves the way clear for new talent when she sustains an injury which leaves her in a wheelchair. She plays opposite Clare Halse who has been playing the role of Peggy Sawyer since the show opened in April 2017.

Set in the 1930’s, 42nd Street is based around a show ‘Pretty Lady’ at the helm of which is Julian Marsh (Tom Lister) – the curtain opens on the casting call, as several male and female wannabe chorus-liners strut their stuff. Late to the party is Peggy Sawyer, who has travelled from Allentown to audition and has been hanging around at the stage door, terrified to go in. Having missed her chance, despite juvenile lead Billy Lawlor’s (Ashley Day) attempts to show her off after he takes a shine to her, it seems that her journey has been wasted. Dorothy Brock  is heading up the cast and although she can sing, dancing is not one of her talents, in spite of her star status. The story is one of luck changing on a sixpence, unfortunate events becoming the catalyst for better things and an unpredictable love story. Musical numbers include I Only Have Eyes For You, Go Into Your Dance, We’re In The Money, About A Quarter To Nine and Lullaby of Broadway. Classic musical theatre songs which may be familiar to many, even if they don’t readily associate them with 42nd Street.

Bonnie Langford was captivating and absolutely on point as Dorothy Brock. She’s been hoofing it since she was seven – the consummate professional, with decades of experience was really apparent. Clare Halse as Peggy was also exceptional. A well matched pair of leading ladies indeed. Tom Lister has a commanding presence as Julian Marsh, notable chemistry with Halse too.

You won’t be able to stop yourselves from tapping along to the music and lyrics from the extraordinary duo; Harry Warren and Al Dubin and Randy Skinner’s choreography is superb.

Catch the show while you can and book your tickets here to meet those dancing feet: https://breakaleg.entstix.com/tickets/42nd-street

 

 

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EastEnders Round-Up ~ Week Commencing 6th March 2017

Walford has provided every emotion going, this week. Ian’s (Adam Woodyatt) results from his recent tests, Shaks (Shaheen Jafargholi) loses it with Keegan (Zack Morris) and Carmel (Bonnie Langford) blows her top. It’s all going on… here are a few highlights:

Picture Shows: Carmel explodes at Shakil as she tries to make the enormity of the situation he’s in sink in. Carmel Kazemi (BONNIE LANGFORD), Shakil Kazemi (SHAHEEN JAFARGHOLI) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Kieron McCarron

Shakil at Boiling Point ~ Having been associated (you can hardly call it friendship) with Keegan, Shakil finally snaps and pummels the bully, this week. Although Keegan has supposedly allied himself with his school ‘pal’, he has been tormenting him just as much if not more than Bex (Jasmine Armfield). Finally pushed to his limits, Shaks turns on the hateful teen. This won’t be the last of it, so I’m interested to see how this plot continues. EastEnders haven’t shied away from showing the horror of bullying. I applaud them for that.

Carmel’s crisis ~ The situation between Bex and Shaks ultimately beings problems for their parents and in this case it’s Carmel (Bonnie Langford), Martin (James Bye) and Stacey (Lacey Turner) who end up at loggerheads. With Carmel being grandmother to Stacey’s baby, this clash of heads does not bode well. Carmel and Stacey had already endured a tempestuous relationship, this latest twist appears to be the final nail.

Stacey Branning. Stacey Fowler (LACEY TURNER) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Nicky Johnston

Ian’s ‘ills’ ~ Ian finally goes to the GP surgery to receive what he anticipates to be devastating test results. He reveals to his family, in dramatic scenes, that he hasn’t much time left. Cue Jane (Laurie Brett) in floods and Kathy (Gillian Taylforth) in shock as he continues his tale of woe. It seems that Ian doesn’t have much time left to prevent himself from heading towards type 2 Diabetes. Although that’s nowhere near the tragic storyline fans had in mind, it’s great that EastEnders have shone a spotlight on the seriousness of this situation. No more donuts for Ian!

Shirl takes one for the team ~ Shirly (Linda Henry) is a mum who will go all out to protect her family, and she is now offering to go to prison in place of Mick (Danny Dyer). You can’t knock Shirl for following her maternal instinct, but I really don’t want her to go! With Danny Dyer taking a break from the show, I wonder if the writers will put Mick behind bars for a short time?

I miss Lee ~ I have to admit that I didn’t realise how much I would miss Lee Carter (Danny-Boy Hatchard) until I saw his performance on Let’s Sing & Dance for Comic Relief and felt a pang of regret that he has left the Square. I’m sure I can’t be on my own for feeling that he is a talented actor and I hope he moves on to bigger and better. At least the door is left open to enable him to return. The storyline that he left on was a well-crafted plot and he deserves a British Soap Award for his exit.

 

Eastenders Round-Up ~ Week Commencing 30 January 2017

Walford post-bus crash, an interesting place that’s for sure – especially with Martin (James Bye) up and about with not a care in the world. So how has the disaster affected the residents and has Mick (Danny Dyer) dealt with Whitney-gate, yet? Let’s see what the week held in store:

Programme Name: EastEnders - Portraits 2017 - TX: n/a - Episode: EastEnders - Phil Mitchell (No. n/a) - Picture Shows:  Phil Mitchell (STEVE MCFADDEN) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Kieron McCarron
Picture Shows: Phil Mitchell (STEVE MCFADDEN) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Kieron McCarron

Stacey and Martin – baby talk ~ Stacey (Lacey Turner) has been hell bent on having a baby with Martin and since he was discovered under the bus, last week. So… with Martin showing no signs whatsoever of having suffered any lasting damage from the disaster in which a solitary unknown character died (yes, I am still harping on about that!), Stacey is raring to go. Although this does seem to have sprung up out of the blue and taken over their lives, at least Stacey has said she will go for help with her mental health ahead of the potential pregnancy. Stacey also has a run in with Carmel (Bonnie Langford) when she is trying to interfere with the way that Stacey is raising her grandson. I suspect that this will rear its head again!

Tony’s Wife Sniffs Around ~ Phil’s (Steve McFadden) late friend, Tony is a constant reminder of his near-miss and the arrival of Tony’s Wife has set alarm bells ringing for Sharon (Letitia Dean). Is she seeking revenge because Phil got the liver transplant over him? We wait with baited breath. Sharon and Phil have taken the time to have dinner together and re-connect, this week – but I doubt this is a long-term eventuality.

Babe – oh dear! ~ Babe (Annette Badland) is in trouble or causing trouble, that’s the long and the short of it. When Ian falls asleep at the bar (Mr Beale’s health is the issue, if you read the spoilers) and Babe accuses him of being drunk – it’s no wonder that Mick’s (Danny Dyer) blood boils over. Babe has already been warned numerous times by her despairing family and with rumours stating that the character’s days are numbered, could the end be nigh for her? I’ll miss Babe if and when she exits the square, she stirs the pot and causes controversy, I like that in a Walford resident!

Sisters… ~ Kim (Tameka Empson) marching into Denise’s (Diane Parish) adult learning class was not her brightest idea. Humiliating Denise in front of her class was the icing on the cake, hence the decision to tell Kim that she should consider herself abandoned. They’ve always endured a tempestuous relationship, but has this latest development spelled the beginning of the end for the feisty siblings? Whatever happens, I can’t help but think that Empson and Parish play the duelling pair brilliantly, they are entertaining even at the height of dramatic exchanges!

Jane Beale ~ I always like to round-off with a piece about a character and on this occasion I want to pay tribute to Jane Beale, who is played brilliantly by Laurie Brett. Jane was one of my first favourite female characters on the square and I was a bit gutted when she left. Although it was great to see Laurie move on to pastures new, and do so well outside of Walford, I am pleased that she has retuned, re-married Ian (Adam Woodyatt) and continues to grace our screens in a superb role. She has had some cracking storylines from the outset.

9 to 5 The Musical – Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Reviewed by Helen and Garry McWilliams

9 to 5 Four 9 to 5 One

The glitz and glamour of ‘Dollywood’ arrived in Wolverhampton this week in the form of touring musical ‘9 to 5’ based on the film starring Dolly Parton and with music and lyrics written by the lady herself. Our second visit to see this fun, fast and furious show, yet it did not fail to have us exiting the theatre with a huge smile on our faces and a real hankering for a pink glittery Stetson (maybe just for Helen…).

‘9 to 5’ tells the story of three working girls from very different backgrounds, they need a job but they don’t need the hassles that come from their chauvinistic, sexist boss Franklyn J Hart. However, a hazy ‘day-dream’ during an alcohol and smoke-fuelled girls night in comes to fruition, and with outlandish consequences. There are some toe tapping numbers, including the title song ‘9 to 5’, ‘Shine Like the Sun’ and ‘Change It’. There’s also a surprise visit from Dolly herself, making it a show that we truly believe has something for everyone.

The three leading ladies are all exceptional, each one stands out on in their own right for playing believable characters who couldn’t differ more from the other. Jackie Clune is Violet, the head-strong widow who is desperate for promotion and who’s dream is to become the first female CEO. Clune has a beautifully rich vocal tone, ably singing all of the numbers to a high standard. ‘Let Love Grow’ (duet with suitor Joe in act two) was a memorable moment. Natalie Casey has put her trademark ‘quirkiness’ on the role of Judy and displayed her usual precise comic timing together with a marvellous vocal range. Casey is an actress of immense talent and her career successes to date reflect her versatility. It must be a difficult task to take on the role of Doralee which is cherished by Dolly’s fans (it’s the role that Dolly played in the film) but we couldn’t fault Amy Lennox, she epitomised Parton while simultaneously making the character her own. ‘Backwoods Barbie’ was her solo number and Lennox’s singing voice lent itself to the country and western genre, superbly. This girl is one to watch out for, and we both felt that we could picture her in many other leading roles, we hope our prophecy comes true!

Ben Richards is an outstanding ‘Mr Nasty’ aka the boss, Franklyn J Hart, the character is despised by most but adored by Roz Keith, office memo enthusiast and ‘odd-ball’ who’s desire is that Hart feels the same way as she does about him. Bonnie Langford played the role of Roz when we watched this for the first time, so these were big shoes to fill – but Anita Louise Combe should be commended for a hilarious performance.

The cast for this production is fairly minimal in comparison to other shows that we have seen, but there’s a real sense that this is a team effort and opportunities for each performer to provide a glimpse of what they’re capable of. A thoroughly talented ensemble, indeed and praise must go to Lori Hayley Fox as Margaret, a cameo role that has stayed with us since the first time around and that we eagerly anticipated watching again – “atta girl!”.

The show stays at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until Saturday 18th May and you can book tickets via their website http://www.grandtheatre.info. Tour dates can be accessed at http://www.9to5themusical.co.uk.

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