Come From Away ~ Phoenix Theatre

I’m an islander! How could I not be after such a fabulous show? Come From Away is a stunning piece of musical theatre, simply done with maximum effect and another visit is definitely in order.

The story centres around the grounded plane which landed in Canada following the 9/11 terror attacks. The very small community in Newfoundland welcomed some 7000 passengers into their lives.

The musical maps the incredible transition undertaken by every individual as lives intertwines and hope and love are the overriding themes. The musical numbers punctuating the tale are beautifully constructed with care and detail by Irene Sankoff and David Hein. ‘Welcome to the farthest place you’ll get from Disneyland’ is such a poignant and scene-setting lyric in the upbeat number ‘Welcome to the rock’.

The cast is compiled of a strong, talented ensemble of triple threat performers who each bring the various real-life characters to the fore in a caring, almost affectionate manner. It’s clear that the cast are affected by the story and keen to tell it and portray it to the best of their ability. Notable performers in an altogether flawless company include; Jenna Boyd, Helen Hobson, Robert Hands and Rachel Tucker.

It’s no wonder the show boasts four Olivier Awards, go and see it if for no other reason than it’s a wonderfully heartening experience at a time when everything else in the world feels so uncertain.

Book now: Come From Away tickets

Casualty ‘One’ ~ Episode Review

Oh my! What a series finale for Casualty, and what an incredible year they’ve had! The National Television Award win, all of the amazing storylines that have rolled out as the series has progressed. Many plots carried over week to week giving even more reason to keep tuning in. Tonight, history was made and I couldn’t be prouder of website Patron, Cath Shipton – for leading the pack as they took a brave step. Here are just a few highlights from an episode I shall remember for a long time to come…

Duffy ~ Well, Cath gave one of the performances  of her career didn’t she? As the hub of the activity, the responsibility for the episode lay on her shoulder. She shouldered it brilliantly, the natural ease with which she appeared to take the helm was quite something. I feel that this history making episode will always be associated with Cath, and that’s quite an accolade.

Work Experience ~ The work experience girls were a fantastic addition to the chaos, they fitted in brilliantly and speaking personally as one who worked for the NHS and has taken charge of students, the opposite behaviours of the pair were on point. What I especially loved was how much Duffy inspired them both. Will we see then as trainee nurses in the future? I hope so!

Picture Shows: Jez Andrews (LLOYD EVERITT) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Adrian Heap

Jez ~ Jez loses his cool as he realises that a patient he has pulled from a burning building has left a baby behind in there and he hasn’t the opportunity to go in after her. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the paramedic so in-glued and I feel that recent events have taken their toll on him. Well played by Lloyd Everitt who knocked his performance out of the park in extreme circumstances.

Trouble in Triage ~ Missing a Receptionist? No problem? Wrong! The lack of Noel means that triage is not in hunky dory order and a patient is put at risk as a result. A good reminder of how all members of the team in a hospital environment (or indeed any working environment) are integral cogs.

Picture Shows: David Hide (JASON DURR), Di (JENNY PLATT), Alicia Munroe (CHELSEA HALFPENNY) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Adrian Heap

One Shot ~ Finally, congratulations on the entire team on pulling off no mean feat as a finale de force. It was very clear that the episode had been filmed in one take and therefore gave a different feel, ambience and atmosphere to the overall show. A gamble that paid off, undoubtedly!

Casualty Episode Cast


Wind In The Willows ~ London Palladium

Wind In The Willows is running at the London Palladium and you can book tickets here: Wind In the Willows Musical

Star rating: *****

Wind In the Willows is one of my favourite childhood stories and a refreshingly new musical take on the story hasn’t gone amiss. so thanks to Julian Fellowes, George Stiles and Anthony Drewe there’s a spanking brand new musical at the London Palladium and it’s simply sensational.

All of the well-known characters are there and they have catchy, toe-tapping musical numbers to accompany their travels as they strive to contain their bumptious, over-bearing mate, Mr Toad.

The popular plot which revolves around Mr Toad’s obsession with having to have the next big thing in his possession without a thought for others. Ratty, Mole and Badger endeavour to bring the vagrant amphibian to order with weasels, stoats and foxes attempting to foil them at every turn. A classic tale of good triumphing over evil and the solidarity of good friends.

The set which worked superbly on the Palladium stage  drew me in from the outset, as far as I was concerned, I was watching the action from the river bank, the wild wood and from outside Toad Hall. The motor cars used were incredible, all attention to detail had been carefully adhered to and it was quite something to watch Toad’s first car undergoing construction during the vibrant number ‘The Amazing Mr Toad’. The interior of Badger’s house was mesmerising, I felt that I needed eyes everywhere to fully appreciate how intricate it appeared to be.

My personal highlights from the score include ‘One Swallow Does Not A Summer Make’, ‘The Wild Wooders’ and ‘We’re Taking Over The Hall’ has to be my overall favourite. Aletta Collins’ choreography was stunningly effective, enabling characterisation to be combined effortlessly. The fight choreography shone too, thanks to the direction of Kate Waters.

Neil McDermott plays Chief Weasel as sumptuously sinister and conniving – there’s just enough comedy in there to redeem the role. He’s really quite the epitome of evil as he takes off with the otter pup, Portia (Emilie Du Leslay) to fatten up for his lunch, while her usually ever-present mum, Mrs Otter (Denise Welch) fears the worst, quite rightly. Gary Wilmot never fails to impress me, he is such a wondrous musical theatre performer, in my opinion, that the role of Badger could not be better cast. His vocal ability remains as extraordinary as ever and he offers the solid stability that the role commands. Simon Lipkin as Rat and Craig Mather as Mole make for a duo de force, they make the perfect pair of pals and Lipkin in particular brings great sarcasm to the role of Ratty… especially during their duet ‘Messing About In A Boat’. They also dealt with a props mishap marvellously! Mentions must also go to Natalie Woods (whom I was already familiar with from her appearance in Gypsy) as the tap dancing horse and Jenna Boyd as both Mrs Hedgehog and Gaoler’s daughter, what an incredible voice! Plus Evan James as Bucky the Rabbit, he stole almost every scene for me, what a cheeky little turn. What of Mr Toad? Well, Rufus Hound was indisposed, unfortunately, but what we were treated to in his place was an understudy performance so astonishing that at times I wondered if Mr Hound had walked on and we hadn’t been made aware. Kudos to Chris Aukett, big shoes to step into and yet he poop pooped with gusto and made the role his own.

If you’ve never seen Wind In the Willows, you couldn’t wish for a more zany, exuberant version to introduce you to the classic story. Enough of the original tale remains while the new take on the masterpiece adds a new dimension which in turn transforms this glorious show into a masterpiece in its own right. Grab a ticket now, you’ll feel poop pooped if you don’t!


On 19 August 2017 I was fortunate enough to be invited back to see Wind in the Willows as Rufus Hound was off sick when I reviewed the show. Rufus certainly puts his own stamp on the role of Mr Toad and it’s difficult to imagine anybody else in the part, now. His verve, mischievousness and sheer unbridled energy is a joy to watch. I have always rated Rufus as a performer, but he has excelled himself in this production and it seems to come naturally to him.

Chris Aukett was understudy at my first visit and I have to applaud him for a job well done, he couldn’t have played the character more like Hound if he had tried. Indeed whether you get the familiar name as Toad or his understudy – you have a performance de force worth every penny.


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