Six ~ Malvern Theatres

Star rating: *****

Welcome to the show to the historemix! What an inspired musical Six is! It is easy to see why it is an award winning piece of theatre and a sell out to boot.

It reminded me of a history lesson combined with the feistiness of the characters in the West End hit ‘Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour’ mixed with the vibe of The Spice Girls. Something for everyone? Most definitely and possibly a good way to introduce younger audiences to theatre too.

There was enough sequins to make the Strictly Come Dancing costumes look plain, the backing band wouldn’t have looked out of place with Robert Palmer and the cast had all the right credentials for a successful girl band line up!

Every tune was catchy and every girl had an amazing singing voice. Lauren Drew was exceptional as Catherine of Aragon, Maddison Bulleyment shone as Anne Boleyn, bold and ballsy lass indeed! Lauren Byrne provided stark contrast as the meeker Jane Seymour, Shekinah McFarlane was fierce as Anne of Cleves. Jodie Steele’s vocals were incredible as she rocked the role of Katherine Howard and Athena Collins gave a memorable portrayal of Catherine Parr the sixth wife.

You’d have to be as mad as Henry VIII to miss this lesson in history and life! Go, watch, enjoy and watch out for ‘Don’t Lose Ur Head’ that was my favourite. Book now:

Six tickets

Reviewed by Jen Franklin

Birthday Blog-Post

As you know, dear readers – I don’t often take to my blog for particularly personal posts, however my big 40 arrived on Monday and it’s inevitable that I’ve reflected on the past 10 years. Where in my standard day I’ve been able to fit in this reflection is a bafflement when I spends most of my waking hours trying to remember everything my social butterfly son has going on in his little life! I wouldn’t have it any other way though.

Entertainment Views (previously known as Break A Leg) turned 6 years old last month so blogging has dominated my 30s for sure. It’s no wonder my husband and son roll their eyes when they spot me with my laptop – which at times has been almost permanently glued to my knees.

One of my favourite shows of 2019 – Club Tropicana

Theatre has been at the heart of everything I’ve done, and it will certainly continue to be as my passion for it has been awoken ten fold over the past months. Music goes hand in hand with theatre of course so that has taken a prime position in my blogging career and I will also be carrying on with as many movie reviews as I can squeeze in, it’s easier now that the youngest reviewer in the ‘team’ can sit still for at least 5 minutes in the cinema.

When I turned 30 I had very little to think about apart from myself, which was a fairly easy task…. sometimes easy…. occasionally easy…. not all that easy! A month after I turned the big 30 I joined a local amateur musical theatre group to have a go at performing on the stage myself, something I’d often given thought to but not considered myself cut out for. My amateur performing career started with a bit of fun in the chorus of Hello Dolly and finished with the role of one of the daughters in The Pirates of Penzance – I met the man who would become my husband and we have our own little family now. Although my days of cavorting about the stage are over, my husband will never leave performing behind (and so he shouldn’t, he’s ace!) and our son is a born performer. I, on the other hand prefer to write about it!

Another memorable occasion from my 30th year was a double show day in London’s West End with my very best friend, Hayley. We had both hit 30 that year so we celebrated with a matinee of Blood Brothers and an evening performance of Phantom of the Opera. It was the first time we had seen either show! Those of you who follow my blog will know that we have seen ‘Blood Brothers’ many many times since and we could probably play the roles of the boys in a gender swapped production, we know it so well!

Sarah Jane Buckley as Mrs Lyons in Blood Brothers

As I enjoy the last few days of my 30s I’m hugely grateful to the various people who’ve come into my life over the past decade. They might not be so grateful… but I am. The vast majority of them have stuck around and become friends whom I treasure, some have come and gone quickly and taught me a lesson along the way.

One of the most poignant moments occurred on Wednesday night, I had been kicking my heels up in London (I say heels, for the most part I was sporting Mickey Mouse trainers… what else?!). In the afternoon my friend Jen (whom I met four years ago through my blog) and I had been sitting level with the most humungous chandelier. We were in the cheap seats at the Old Vic, watching open mouthed as the legendary Sally Field and Bill Pullman did their thing on stage in All My Sons. In a traditional two show day to celebrate her birthday and mine, we strolled across the river to watch Mamma Mia! which was light relief after the intensity of the previous production we’d chosen. Joining us in the audience that evening was one of the most recent friends I’m delighted to have in my life, Yvonne Howard. I had seen her play Katisha in The Mikado with ENO when Sky Arts had broadcast it and thought she was the bees knees. As I sat in the beautiful Novello Theatre, Jen on one side of me and Yvonne on the other, with my three favourite Dynamos (Sara Poyzer, Kate Graham and Ricky Butt) being their usual talented selves on stage together with another new friend of mine, the wonderful Stephen Beckett (nobody wears the finale costume like Mr Beckett does!) – it was akin to a culmination of my past 6 years as a blogger. A Night to remember for sure, one of the happiest places for me is singing Abba tunes in amongst a full standing ovation surrounded by friends on stage and off.

MAMMA MIA! London Cast 2018/2019

There are moments in life we never forget, however large or small – and most of my treasured memories have taken place in the theatre in one way, shape or form! So here’s to my 40s and more years of spreading the word about entertainment goodness.

To complete my rambling I’d like to give you my top 40 theatrical moments from the past decade – indulge me if you will, the list has been a joy to reflect upon!

Iolanthe (ENO was one of the highlights of my year in 2018
  1. Top of the list has to be first being introduced to Sara Poyzer, Kate Graham and Ricky Butt as the dynamos in Mamma Mia! Not only did their stunning performances reawaken my love of musical theatre, their sheer exuberance, energy and talent has turned me into a life long fan of all three ladies.
  2. Stephen Beckett must come next, not only for his brilliant portrayal of Bill Austin in Mamma Mia! but also for his memorable performance as Prospero in The Tempest at Stafford Castle.
  3. Yvonne Howard’s performance as the Queen of the Fairies in Iolanthe at the Coliseum last year. She is responsible for my interest in opera going beyond Gilbert & Sullivan, even though this particular production was a G & S.
  4. Sticking with Yvonne Howard, I’ve yet to see her live as Katisha in The Mikado with The ENO – however watching her via the broadcast on Sky Arts was one of the pinnacle moments in my love of theatre.
  5. All My Sons at the Old Vic was firmly on my radar as soon as I knew that Sally Field and Bill Pullman would be leading the cast. It’s not every day that Hollywood legends perform on stage and certainly not a regular occurrence for that to happen in London. I will never forget the buzz of seeing them right there in front of me bringing a level of intensity to a classic play that moved me immeasurably.
  6. Blood Brothers ~ the countless amounts of times I’ve watched the show speaks volumes. Plus I LOVED Sarah Jane Buckley playing the role of Mrs Johnstone, she understudied the part so opportunities to see her were limited, but thank goodness I was able to see her.
  7. The Girls – or Calendar Girls the Musical was so good I saw it twice in the West End and I’m all set to see it on tour too. One of the best moments in the West End version was Claire Machin as Cora singing ‘Silent Night’.
  8. Club Tropicana was one of the cheesiest musicals I’d ever had the pleasure of reviewing, but it was absolutely brilliant and Kate Robbins stole the show.
  9. Cats, I’ve seen it plenty of times before, but I went to review it at New Wimbledon Theatre with my lovely friend Judy Buxton and she had never seen the show. So not only was I blown away as usual by the content, I was also overwhelmed to watch my companion’s reaction as she was overcome by the emotion of the show.
  10. Move Over Mrs Markham at The Mill at Sonning was a fantastic highlight of last year, starring the aforementioned Judy Buxton, her husband, Jeffrey Holland, plus the super talented Finty Williams. A farce de force!
  11. Sunset Boulevard at the old Comedy Theatre, London (now the Harold Pinter Theatre) was a defining moment of my 30th year – I adored Kathryn Evans as Norma Desmond and the show inspired me to have a go at treading the boards myself. In fact it was ‘With One Look’ that I used to audition to join a musical theatre company.
  12. Gypsy at the Savoy Theatre absolutely rocked my world. Imelda Staunton has long been a favourite actress of mine but this performance was on a whole new level. I will never forget Julie Legrand as Electra either!
  13. Wit at the Manchester Exchange Theatre starring Julie Hesmondhalgh has to be one of the most poignant pieces of theatre I have ever seen. She is so much more than Hayley from Coronation Street and the sublime Julie Legrand also starred in the production.
  14. I think that Jeffrey Holland is one of the most talented stage and screen actors around and his one man show And This Is My Friend Mr Laurel is exceptional – I can’t wait to watch it again.
  15. The Rocky Horror Show has to be seen to be believed and is one of my best loved musicals. Audience participation aplenty and great fun to dress up as weirdly and wonderful as we all like. Let’s do the time warp again!
  16. Evita – not only one of the most powerful Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals in my humble opinion but one that holds s many special memories. One of the most poignant being my son’s first kicks when I was expecting, it was during ‘Peron’s Latest Flame’.
  17. The Mousetrap, a legendary show that I was delighted to finally see – it’s an intricate tale and what a superb set!
  18. 42nd Street was one of the first musicals my parents took me to see so to be able to review the production in the west end last year was an amazing opportunity. Clare Halse was an incredible Peggy Sawyer.
  19. Wendy and Peter Pan at the RSC still resonates now as a production, it was magical and enticing. I loved Rebecca Johnson’s performance as Mrs Darling too.
  20. Present Laughter, the Noel Coward play was on my radar when it toured as it starred Phyllis Logan and I had been keen to see her on stage. It did not disappoint and neither did Ms Logan. Rebecca Johnson also co-starred and gave yet another excellent performance.
  21. My second experience of watching the marvel that is Phyllis Logan on stage was provided by a two-hander play called Switzerland and it was spell-binding.
  22. The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium was glorious, I’d invested my time in watching the search for Dorothy on BBC One so to be able to see the winner in action was quite something. Plus Michael Crawford was outstanding.
  23. Wind in the Willows which was also on at the London Palladium was so much fun, I loved the songs and Jenna Boyd was a real treat in her roles as well as the irrepressible Rufus Hound.
  24. Over The Rainbow starring Lisa Maxwell and Gary Wilmott was a stunning piece of theatre, heartbreaking and packed with biopic content. Maxwell’s performance was second to none.
  25. Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour was a raucous riot of a show from beginning to end and a fabulous afternoon out with the girls, especially with Hooch on offer!
  26. King Lear at the Globe Theatre was worth all the standing up to see Kevin McNally as the King and a fantastic cast – it was one of the best incarnations of the piece that I have seen.
  27. Avenue Q brings puppetry and inappropriateness galore, it’s one of the most hilarious evenings in the theatre I’ve had. You’ll not be able to get the lyrics out of your head.
  28. The Lady Vanishes is one of my favourite plays from this year so far, I’ve not been so engrossed in a mystery on stage in a long time. Tension in the auditorium created by the drama on stage was palpable.
  29. The Snowman is one of my favourite films and on stage it’s a wonder. Ballet and enchantment, it’s not to be missed and I will definitely watch it again in the future.
  30. I’d never seen Ruddigore before, however last year I was delighted to have the chance to see it at Malvern Theatres. What a performance the whole cast gave, they were a sensation.
  31. Night Must Fall was a gripping thriller I had the pleasure of reviewing in Malvern a few years ago, starring the marvellous Gwen Taylor. It’s a play I’d be interested in reviewing again as I spent so much of the previous experience on the edge of my seat!
  32. Ghost Train was another fine example of a play which left me with many questions. Judy Buxton was memorable in this as an eccentric older lady. She was great fun to watch.
  33. Anita and Me was a fine example of a poignant play set ahead of its time. and with a stellar cast too it’s one of my favourites.
  34. Brassed Off was a wonderful production which started life at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre and was yet another chance to see Jeffrey Holland on stage. Beautifully done.
  35. Jersey Boys was an emotional one to watch, one of our best friends whom we lost at the end of 2016 adored the show and had seen it many times. I could see why he loved it so much, it was joyful and also informative.
  36. The Buddy Holly Story is one of my all time favourite shows, it’s got all my best loved hits in it! Of course it’s tinged with over-riding sadness but anyone who knows the story before they watch the show will be expecting the inevitable.
  37. 9 to 5 at Upstairs at the Gatehouse was such a fabulous show and worked in the small scale space. Pippa Winslow was on fire as Violet.
  38. Pippa also starred in The Sound of Music on tour and I loved that production, it was well cast and the closest to the film version that I’ve seen.
  39. Funny Girl, a show I’d managed to miss in the west end however on tour I saw Natasha Barnes, much celebrated for stepping into Sheridan Smith’s shoes and boy could I see why. Nova Skipp did an excellent job of standing in as Fanny Bryce’s mother too.
  40. Finally, nobody shines on stage quite like my husband Garry McWilliams, he’s the consummate professional even when he’s appearing in amateur production. His training at Arts Ed never fails to show and I think he’s a talented performer. I am biased, but it’s also true!
Jeffrey Holland – And This Is My Friend Mr Laurel

That’s all folks! I can’t wait to make more memories and fall in love with many more productions during the next decade. I’ve got lots in the diary so I look forward to sharing my thoughts on my theatrical meanderings during my first year in the 40s club.

Entertainment Views Interviews: Leo Mercer – Writer and Producer of GUY: A New Musical

The creators of multi-award-winning The Marriage of Kim K, leoe&hyde, return with an uplifting new musical about modern masculinity, body image, and the hook-ups and downs of dating in the 21st century. GUY’s heart-pounding electronic score will reel you in to this FOMO-arousing, catch-he gay rom-com, transferring to the King’s Head Theatre in a revised version after a successful premier and tour, winning multiple awards.

***** “exceptional cast… catchy [music]… a joy to watch” Theatre Box

Guy is a gay millennial looking for love. Guy is fat, nerdy and shy. Guy feels like he doesn’t fit in to the gay community. But when a rejection on Grindr pushes Guy to make terrible life choices, he is forced to confront his inner demons, all the while pushing away everyone close to him. With 12 heart-pounding electronic-pop anthems, this millennial odyssey through bingeing, gyming, prejudice, hook ups, beauty standards, and stolen identity is a much-needed reminder that the only person you can be is yourself.

****½ “[An] irresistible rom-com of the highest order… [this] show has the potential to be very big indeed” The Reviews Hub

Sometimes sexy, always real, GUY is a game-changing gay rom-com for the 2010s: with nakedly honest characters; an unapologetically moving portrayal of the hook-ups and downs of 21st-century dating; and a thought-provoking glimpse behind the veil of modern masculinity, male beauty standards, and unspoken prejudices within marginal communities. Tied together with a pioneering and infectiously catchy electronic score, GUY channels floor-filling EDM anthems, indie electronica, queer hip-hop, and PC Music with the lyrical charm of Sondheim, and the earworm melodies of Schwartz.

**** “A really fresh new musical with fantastic songs and great performances” West End Wilma

Following an acclaimed run at The Bunker, GUY’s tour won the show Best New Writing at the Buxton Fringe 2018, and the show now returns to London. The lead role of Guy is played by Brendan Matthew, who is joined by Seann Miley Moore. Moore first came to the attention of the UK public in The X Factor 2015, where he reached the finals. Since then, he’s toured gay pride internationally and launched a successful solo pop career, releasing his first EP last year. GUY is his UK theatre debut. The show is written and produced by leoe&hyde, following the success of their debut production The Marriage of Kim K (2017). The rising millennial musical theatre company received strong reviews, multiple awards and international attention last summer for the show, and have been called ‘a formidable partnership’ (Review Hub).

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Leo Mercer chatted to Entertainment Views about the musical, focusing on the challenges and what the audience can expect. 

Thanks for talking to Entertainment Views, Leo. Tell me about the production, how did the idea form, how long did it take before the script was ready to be read/work-shopped?

After the success of The Marriage of Kim K, Stephen and I wanted to do something a little bit different. Kim K was so ornate, operatic and complex, but we’d really been getting obsessed with electronic-pop. So in October, we just sat down and wrote the pop songs that we were feeling at the time, really raw, honest and emotional, without having to worry about crafting a story.

As it turned out, a few weeks later I had an “aha” moment, when I realised that those songs essentially tell a love story not dissimilar to those that my generation tend to experience, and I drafted a script around them. Some of the songs in the show – Mutual Prostitution, Is Your Body Who You Are – were written then, and as we’ve developed the show, lots of new material has been created to fill in the important moments.

This show really was an accidental baby – WE HAD OTHER PLANS! But once an idea grabs you, you’re grabbed. We then got performance slots at Hope Mill and The Bunker, and rushed through seven drafts of the show to get it ready. We’ve redrafted it again between those performances and the run we’re about to do at The King’s Head.

Did you have a clear ideas of who you wanted to cast?

Not at all: we went into auditions with a mega open mind. It’s always difficult rejecting auditionees – there are so many brilliant people out there deserving of a part, and you just want to send them each huge emails explaining why they’re wonderful too. However, we’ve never once doubted the cast members we ended up choosing: they’re dedicated, hard-working, lovely and absolutely talented. They’ve said they feel like the characters; the audience keep commenting on the fit between cast and character; it’s become a very lovely and collaborative process.


Has your vision for the piece altered during rehearsals?

Not really, but it has deepened. There are things we want to achieve in GUY – for example: a sophisticated, almost filmic show – and the chance to practice means we’re understanding what that actually involves more day by day. It often feels like when you have an idea for a show, and it’s so clear and simple in your mind, that the whole writing and production process is about trying to reach that simple, end point, but you go through lots of complex groundwork to get there.

What can the audience expect from the show?

Someone tweeted after the show saying the show fulfilled their expectations of being unexpected, and I think that sounds about right. Our shows always take a very pop culture matter – Kim Kardashian in The Marriage of Kim K, Grindr in GUY – but approaches them as if they’re something you’d expect from something much more “establishedly cultural”

What do you envisage audience reactions might be?

 Stephen and I always joke that we wish we had a mind-scanner, and as everyone leaves the show could collect all the thoughts that people have. Based on what we’ve heard, I’d imagine that mind-scanner would detect several earworms, an intense sense of connection with Guy, and a sense that they’ve seen some aspect of their own life mirrored back at them.

What do you hope they’ll take away from the piece?

I don’t really know what catharsis is, but I think that’s the aim? 21st century society has made a lot of humans very confused about their bodies and what love should be, and watching a closely observed character deal with this will hopefully let a reader go on their own psychological journey at the same time as Guy does.

Thanks to Leo for an insightful interview, wishing the cast and crew all the best for their run. The show runs until Saturday 1 September 2018. 

Book tickets here: GUY Tickets

 

 

Entertainment Views Interviews: Star of Matilda, Rebecca Thornhill

Matilda The Musical is on UK tour – book your tickets to see the show, here: Matilda the Musical Tickets

Rebecca Thornhill first became a familiar face and voice to me when she appeared in the National Theatre’s Oklahoma, starring alongside one other than Hugh Jackman! I also recall her performance as Mrs Banks in the stage version of Mary Poppins, she was outstanding. When I heard that she’s appearing as Mrs Wormwood in Matilda The Musical I was extremely excited to have the opportunity of putting some questions to her about the show – without further ado…

Thank you for talking to Entertainment Views, Rebecca. Tell me about Matilda The Musical and the part you’re playing…

I’m playing Mrs Wormwood, Matilda’s mum. Matilda’s mum is more occupied with herself that her daughter.

How familiar were you with the story before you joined the cast?

I had read the book a while back but I knew the film very well.

What’s your personal highlight in the show?

My number ‘Loud’ which is gruelling fun!

What are the challenges of your role? 

Like most roles, keeping It fresh as the first performance.

Which character would you like to play if you could swap for a day?

Miss Trunchbull. It’s the best!

Why do you think that Roald Dahl stories have remained such a firm favourite?

 People can relate to the characters in their own lives and love the morals he teaches us. Also, we all love a dark side.

What can the audience expect from the show?

To have their emotions woken up and be a child again and for the children to be inspired by the amazing kids!

Why should everybody book a ticket to come and see it?

It’s the best night out ever!

Huge thanks to Rebecca for a fantastic insight, looking forward to hearing my Guest Reviewer’s opinion after next week’s performance in Milton Keynes! 

Entertainment Views Interviews: Star of Matilda The Musical, Carly Thoms

Matilda The Musical is on UK tour – book your tickets to see the show, here: Matilda the Musical Tickets

Carly Thoms first appeared on my radar when she played the title role of Little Voice in the final production at the original Union Theatre. She shone and her performance resonated for a long time. Now, she’s playing the role of everybody’s favourite teacher, Miss Honey in the critically acclaimed, Matilda. The show will arrive in Milton Keynes next week so I was keen to catch up with Carly again to find out about her latest challenge. 

Thank you for talking to Entertainment Views, Carly. Tell me about Matilda The Musical and the part you’re playing…

I play Miss Honey, Matilda’s kind and caring teacher who is saved by Matilda’s strength!

How familiar were you with the story before you joined the cast?

Matilda was my favourite book when growing up so to be a part of this production is a real dream come true.

What’s your personal highlight in the show?

I love “When I Grow Up”. It is so relatable for children and adults alike! It makes adults think about their inner child and it’s a very magical moment of the show because of that.

What are the challenges of your role? 

Miss Honey can easily become a victim character so finding the points where she shows strength was very important to me when discovering the role.

Which character would you like to play if you could swap for a day?

Mrs Wormwood – I would love to wear that costume and she has some of the best lines in the show in my opinion!  

Why do you think that Roald Dahl stories have remained such a firm favourite?

They seem to always centre around an unlikely hero and I think the underdog winning appeals to all people whichever background they come from and whatever age.

What can the audience expect from the show?

A fun filled evening with laughter, tears and to leave with a warm feeling in your heart.

Why should everybody book a ticket to come and see it?

The show is in its 7th year and is still going strong. As the posters say, “believe the hype”!

Huge thanks to Carly for a superb interview, I’ll be excited to hear what my Guest Reviewer thinks of the production. Break a leg, Carly! 

Olivier Awards 2018

Another year gone since we last celebrated the world of Theatre in the company of ‘Larry’. Last year’s Olivier Awards were in danger of transitioning into Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Awards! This year, however, the winners have been selected a little more evenly across the board, although as far as plays are concerned, The Ferryman were very successful tonight and in the musicals genre, Hamilton collected a fair amount of the coveted trophies, as predicted. There were a few surprises though, which didn’t go amiss, one of them being Best Actress in a Musical going to Shirley Henderson for Girl from the North Country.

Photo Credit: Olivier Awards Twitter Account

I’m personally delighted that Follies was recognised as having the best costumes, a well deserved win for Vicki Mortimer. Follies bagging Best Musical Revival was also exciting to hear!

The show itself which was broadcast on ITV at 10:20pm (and sadly, not in its entirety), showcased some fantastic productions and I am inspired to see Young Frankenstein The Musical. I thought that looked like a scream (pardon the pun) and what a brilliant showbiz number they selected to show off. 42nd Street, I have reviewed and the numbers they chose to perform remain as wow-factor fuelled now as when I saw the show live, last year. Tracie Bennett singing her solo from Follies was the highlight of the night for me, she blew the roof off the Royal Albert Hall, it’s a shame there couldn’t have been two winners in the Supporting Actress in a Musical category!

Here’s the full list of winners, see how many you agree with, I feel the list below indicates a good range of diversity in the arts and would like to congratulate each and every winner.

Photo Credit Matthew Murphy

Full List of Winners:

Best actor in a supporting role in a musical

Michael Jibson, Hamilton

Best actress in a supporting role in a musical

Sheila Atim, Girl from the North Country

Outstanding achievement in music

Hamilton

Best new dance production

Flight Pattern

Outstanding achievement in dance

Francesca Velicu, Le Sacre du Printemps

Best entertainment and family

Dick Whittington

Best theatre choreographer

Andy Blankenbuehler, Hamilton

Best musical revival

Follies

Best actor in a musical

Giles Terera, Hamilton

Best actress in a musical

Shirley Henderson, Girl from the North Country

Best revival

Angels in America

Best new comedy

Labour of Love

Outstanding achievement in affiliate theatre

Killology

Best lighting design

Howell Binkley, Hamilton

Best sound design

Nevin Steinberg, Hamilton

Best costume design

Vicki Mortimer, Follies

Best set design

Bob Crowley, An American in Paris

Best actor in a supporting role

Bertie Carvel, Ink

Best actress in a supporting role

Denise Gough for Angels in America

Best new opera production

Semiramide

Outstanding achievement in opera

Joyce DiDonato and Daniela Barcellona, Semiramide

Best actor

Bryan Cranston, Network

Best actress

Laura Donnelly, The Ferryman

Buy tickets here for The FerrymanThe Ferryman Tickets

Best director

Sam Mendes, The Ferryman

Buy tickets here for The FerrymanThe Ferryman Tickets

Best new play

The Ferryman

Buy tickets here for The FerrymanThe Ferryman Tickets

Best new musical

Hamilton

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Don’t forget to visit our Break A Leg Ticket Shop where you can buy tickets to a wide variety of West End shows and also a number of UK attractions. 

Spotlight On… Star of Follies, Sarah-Marie Maxwell

Last year I saw an outstanding young actor in the ensemble of The Fix at The Union Theatre, Sarah-Marie Maxwell stood out for all of the right reasons and somehow I knew this was just the start of a fantastic career for her. Since then she has appeared in The Braille Legacy and She Loves Me. However, until 3rd January 2018 you can see her in The National Theatre’s critically acclaimed production of Follies and I’m so excited for her! Sarah-Marie was interviewed for Break A Leg last year and I’m delighted that she agreed to chat to me again, so without further ado…

Thank you so much for talking to Break A Leg again. Tell me about Follies and your experience so far.

Follies has been an incredible experience so far. At 24 having the opportunity to work with such fantastic people and in The National Theatre of all places is so overwhelming. I honestly pinch myself most days I’m in the building. 

What are the challenges of the show?

This is a mammoth show with moving set, a revolve, huge costumes and a cast of 37 strong so it does come with its challenges. I think, certainly for myself anyway, staying completely connected with my older self purely by observing throughout the first 45 minutes of the show, wearing a relatively heavy headdress is a challenge but one I enjoy and discover new things during each performance. 

What are your personal highlights?

It’s so difficult to choose just one highlight as the piece is stunning in its entirety. If I narrowed it down to 4 moments they would have to be the duet between our gorgeous Alison Langer and Dame Josephine Barstow. ‘One More Kiss’ is so haunting, so beautiful that it goes straight through you and Alison and Josephine’s voices are pure perfection together. It’s very moving and has had us all crying since rehearsals.

The second is singing ‘Beautiful Girls’ at the top of the show after we’ve seen the Follies ghost showgirls take the space and the Follies ladies re-enter the theatre after many years. Every single cast member is on stage and it feels like a phenomenal celebration of the past and present. It’s magical! A truly special moment. 

I just have to mention Imelda Staunton’s version of ‘Losing My Mind’ it’s hard to put into words how fascinating she is as a character to watch and she has been my idol for many years so it’s madness I get to share the stage with such a fiercely talented woman. She blows the roof off the Olivier stage after that number and with her performance it’s inspiring. 

And my very own highlight would have to be opening the show as a 1930’s Swarovski encrusted, feather wearing showgirl. I feel nervous every time standing at the top of the tower waiting for my green light to go. I can’t quite describe the feeling when I step out onto that high balcony and see the faces in the audience, it’s hard to put into words but it’s certainly a feeling I’ll never forget. 

Did you have any ideas of what you wanted to bring to the character?

When I learned I was the younger self of one of the Follies ladies I did a fair bit of research to bring as much to the room as I possibly could, mostly on the 1930’s era in Paris as that’s where Solange is from. But after working one to one with Geraldine who plays Solange, we discovered things together and made choices based on what we both thought of the character. I felt I had a responsibility to capture all the things my co-worker envisioned her younger self to be before leaving the Follies. It was interesting and lovely to work closely with the lovely Geraldine Fitzgerald.

What do you think the strengths of the show are?

The show has so many strengths. I think not having an interval is the biggest strength in this particular piece. I know as an audience member having no interval seems daunting but Follies was originally written this way and it’s great that we at The National get to honour Sondheim and how he intended the show to be. It keeps the audience invested in every character till the very last beat. They come out really feeling like they have been on the journey with us.

Which character could you see yourself playing in future years and why?

If I could be one character in the show in the future I would really love to play Phyllis. She is such a complex character and has a huge emotional journey that I would love to explore and delve into in future years when I have more life experience. Watching Janie Dee as Phyllis in the show is mesmerising. I just constantly want to know what she is thinking as her character it’s so detailed.

Finally, sell the show to me – why should everybody beg, borrow or steal a ticket? 

The show really does sell itself but I can tell you, you do not want to miss it. From the set to the sensational costumes, the storyline and out of this world performances from industry legends. It’s a no brainer. 

Follies is the must see show of this year. So make sure when it comes to January 3rd 2018 you haven’t missed out! 

Team Break A Leg are in on 19th December and we can’t wait! Thanks again to ‘Young Solange’ for her time, Sarah-Marie Maxwell, you deserve every success and I can’t wait to be able to see you where you belong. 

The Hunting Of The Snark ~ Malvern Theatres

The Hunting Of The Snark is on UK tour of various theatres, catch all the tour dates hereThe Hunting Of The Snark

Star rating: *****

Inspired by Lewis Carroll, The Hunting Of The Snark is a musical cornucopia of delights, silliness and adventure. A fantastic show for kids and adults alike and engaging from beginning to end. I am inclined to say that it captured the imagination of my three year old son just a touch more than any show he has seen, and he’s seen and loved many productions.

The story follows a boy (Jordan Leigh-Harris) who is desperate for a relationship with his father, the Banker (Simon Turner), it’s just the two of them since they lost mum and the boy is often left waiting at school for an hour to be collected. the Banker is greedy for more money and has discovered that a Snark has been spotted on Snark Island. Thought to be extinct, finding the Snark would mean a ridiculous amount of money in return. The boy is also exited at the thought of such an adventure, but his father recruits The Bellman (Ben Gaplin) to assist, and he brings a beaver with him. Naturally! With the boy stowing away on board the ship to the island, danger looms and the arrival on Snark Island is not a smooth one. The group encounter a mad Butcher (Polly Smith), a trouser-loving JubJub (Ben Gaplin), a Baker (Will Bryant) with amnesia and a Bandersnatch (Will Bryant) who collects everything he can get his paws on.

The songs are catchy, vibrant and tell the story as articulately as the script does. The puppetry enthused all of the children in the audience, he was my Son’s favourite character. Jordan Leigh-Harris was excellent in her professional debut, she played a boy quite convincingly in fact! Simon Turner was brilliantly bolshie as the Banker, Ben Gaplin was highly entertaining as The Bellman and hilariously funny as the JubJub. Polly Smith gave the stand out performance, not only as the extremely creepy yet amusing Butcher, but also with the various cameo appearances that she made throughout. Her ability to mimic any accent sees to know no bounds!

I highly recommend the show as an alternative to the usual Alice in Wonderland which tends to be the Lewis Carroll story that is usually on offer. From the simple yet effective set to the tight, strong cast – go and see this while you can, it’s already wowed the West End!

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