Downton Abbey Movie ~ Is It Too Late?

I’m a self-confessed fan of the popular ITV series Downton Abbey, to the point of fan-girling, checking out the fandom activity and feeling fairly bereft when the Abbey closed its doors at Christmas back in 2015. News of a movie to enable Downton’s enthusiastic following to take another peek into the upstairs and downstairs goings on was met excitedly, by me and by fellow fans of the Fellowes drama.

However, as the years have rolled by with (from what we mere members of the public could tell) not so much as a sniff of a script and longstanding cast members almost continuously cagey when asked questions about a possible movie by the media, the question mark over the potential movie hovered precariously. As a blogger who predominantly covers theatre I was delighted to discover so many of my favourite actors from the drama series treading the boards. Phyllis Logan toured with Noel Coward’s ‘Present Laughter’ which in turn offered a superb opportunity I might not otherwise have had.  I took a trip to Chiswick to carry out an interview and enjoyed coffee and croissants with Ms Logan while I was at it, she’s an actor who has been high on my radar since she played Lady Jane in Lovejoy. Her colleague, Lesley Nicol opened my eyes to fantastic and extremely worthy charities, so I was over the moon (bears!) to interview her for my blog, too. With the vast majority of the show’s famous faces being kept busy in various ‘jobs’ (just check out the credits that Lily James who played Lady Rose has wracked up!) the movie seemed a distant and not so urgent thought.

Phyllis Logan appeared in the UK tour of Noel Coward’s Present Laughter in 2016.

When the announcement of impending filming broke, not so long ago, and just over 2 1/2 years after the festive finale, my initial reaction wasn’t to jump for joy. What year are they planning on setting it in was top of my list of queries. Are we picking up straight after their new year celebrations therefore following Mr Carson’s (Jim Carter) journey of enforced retirement or will we pick it up long after life has changed for Downton’s inhabitants? I’m the first to admit that my over-active imagination already sees the Carsons living a different life and has Mrs Patmore paired off with widowed hanger-on, Mr Mason (Paul Copley).

With the Downton Abbey film’s release date now set for 20th September 2019, my humble opinion of a movie following long after momentum has been lost has shifted. I think it was the Instagram post from Michelle Dockery (the ever-popular Lady Mary – follow her: https://www.instagram.com/theladydockers/ to check out the post I’m referring to) that not only cemented in my mind that this IS happening, but also transported me back to the good old days when social media buzzed with anticipation of the next series of Downton Abbey. I recalled the Duchess of Cambridge visiting the set while the final series was in production, the excitement surrounding that was palpable. So maybe regaining some of that old Downton Abbey-inspired joy will be just the ticket for 2019?

One thing’s for sure, I’ve moved from sceptic to eagerly awaiting and hope beyond hope that Fellowes won’t let us down! In fact, I have one plea to make – do what you will with all of the characters but please let Mrs Patmore be happy!! Back in the day I would have begged for Lady Edith’s (Laura Carmichael) happiness, however unless a curve ball is coming our way, it seems that her future was looking rosy by the time we bid au revoir to the Crawley family.

Bring on 20th September 2019, then…

 

Photo Credits: ITV & Nobby Clark 

 

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Switzerland ~ Theatre Royal, Bath

Star rating *****

Phyllis Logan may be due to reprise her role of TV’s favourite Scottish housekeeper, Mrs Hughes in the ever-popular Downton Abbey. However her latest role at Theatre Royal, Bath in the Ustinov Studio couldn’t be further from the kindly yet no-nonsense character that viewers were desperate to see romancing the Downton’s Butler. In ‘Switzerland’, writer Joanna Murray-Smith has characterised the late great Patricia Highsmith, author of such novels as ‘Strangers on a Train’ and ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’ thus providing Logan with a wondrous challenge. It’s one that she meets head on and indeed as Highsmith, I believe Logan gives one of the best performances of her career. Given that I was already a fan, this opinion speaks volumes.

The play takes place in the last days of Highsmith’s life, she’s holed up in her Switzerland home where she lives a fairly simple life. Although she’s surrounded by a multitude of weapons which are her pride and joy, perhaps not an unusual interest for a crime author. Clouds of smoke billow frequently as the dying writer puffs away on cigarette after cigarette and she’s also keen on an early morning beer or many, many wee drams. A visit from a representative from Highsmith’s New York based Agent catalyses a chain of events which ultimately leads the audience to question everything they’ve just seen. Yes, Edward Ridgeway (Calum Finlay) arrives and he’s hell-bent on cajoling Highsmith into writing another Ripley before she succumbs to whatever illness he seems to know is ultimately going to claim her. Certainly, we see the worst of the author’s character as she bays bear every ugly nuance, even going so far as venturing into Ridegway’s bedroom in the middle of the night with the latest knife in her grizzly collection. However, changes in Ridgeway’s persona as the piece unfolds suggest that all is not as it seems.

Logan’s American accent never falters, she’s embraced this monstrous, bizarre, show tune loving (I’ll never listen to ‘Happy Talk’ the same way again), homosexual in ways that I could never have anticipated. To be able to forget that it’s the actor playing a part is always testament to their capabilities and I forgot that Phyllis Logan was playing Patricia Highsmith. Calum Finlay is a superb match as Edward Ridgeway – antsy, edgy and subtle before the crux of the matter unfolds. The chemistry between the pair is palpable at times and the pace they create between them is nothing short of overt perfection. Director, Lucy Bailey’s touch is evident throughout – the symmetry between the actors and the director is quite remarkable. The set invites the audience into the home of an intelligent, troubled mind and you almost need to be able to have your eyes everywhere all at once to take it all in. There are clues everywhere in relation to Highsmith’s personality. Joanna Murray-Smith has written an intricately woven script so intense that 1 hour 40 minutes without an interval is thoroughly necessary.

If you enjoy dark humour, a twisting tale of solitude, doubt and indeed, love awaits you and it’s truly glorious.

The production closes on Saturday 1 September, book your tickets here: Switzerland Tickets

Photo Credits: Nobby Clark

The Good Karma Hospital, Episode Six ~ Review

The Good Karma Hospital has aired its season finale! I think it was one of the most beautifully filmed episodes in the entire series and had the previous episodes been of this quality, my earlier reviews might have been more favourable on the whole. The fact that there is to be a second series when other programmes haven’t been re-commissioned puzzles me. However, that aside – here are my views on the final instalment:

Photo Credits: ITV

Dr Walker departs? ~ With the love of Ruby’s (Amrita Acharia) life making an appearance at the end of the last episode, the plot moves along quickly as she and the man she has been trying to forget disappear to start a sight-seeing trip around India. It all occurs so early on in the episode that it’s fairly predictable that Ruby will be back to the GKH before long and that the relationship with ex lover boy will be over. Leaving the way open for Gabriel (James Floyd)?

Crash horror ~ The bus crash was quite something, it was the catalyst that sent Dr Walker hurtling back to the Hospital and helped her to decide that it was the right choice to stay. That aside, I thought it was a heart-in-mouth moment that wouldn’t have gone amiss earlier on in the series. The chaos and fall-out was one of the strengths of this episode.

Maggie’s last wish ~ It was obvious that Maggie (Phyllis Logan) was going to pass away, given that Ms Logan had revealed that she wouldn’t be making series two should there be one. It was an award-worthy effort from Logan, Philip Jackson as Paul and Leanne Best as their daughter. The reappearance of their daughter, with a perfect Stourbridge accent, I might add – set off a chain of events which almost resulted in Maggie being flown back to the West Midlands. This would not only have been a harrowing experience given her state of health, but there was the added dimension that Maggie thought of India as her home, now. I really enjoyed the interaction between Maggie and Lydia (Amanda Redman), I felt that there was finally another side to the doctor’s personality coming to the fore. The final scenes for Maggie were beautifully shot, turtles making their way to the sea and a sense of freedom for the character as she finally succumbs to her illness. Applause from all of us at Break A Leg, there wasn’t a dry eye in our house.

Lydia and Greg in love ~ I’m still none the wiser about Greg (Neil Morrissey), there has been very little suggestion of back-story. However, what I can tell you is that he is the best that Lydia has ever had! In so much as he is good in the sack, I believe… too much information from the Doc as she makes this announcement at the bar. She’s not even that sozzled by the looks of it. Has this put the seal on their relationship and does that bode well for the next series that I believe is coming? Regardless, at least Lydia gave the man his due and admitted to their shenanigans, even if it was ever so slightly inappropriately done.

Second series announced ~ ITV have been axing many programmes after the first or second series, of late. This is where I get on my soap box and have a moan – Home Fires is the first I need to shout about, axed after the second series and on a massive cliff hanger. The cast, the setting and the scripts for this wonderful show were consistent and engaging, I always felt that it had a similar run in it to that of its Sunday evening contemporary, Downton Abbey.  Brief Encounters has been axed after series one and there was so much more mileage in that show. Another stellar cast and scripts that were so well crafted. I reviewed the first series, here and I raved about it week in, week out. Then, The Halcyon was announced as the recent victim of the ITV axe. In my opinion, that had the capacity to continue, too.

It has come as a surprise that there will be a second series of The Good Karma Hospital, although the show has grown on me to an extent – I would love to know why it has been favoured. Will I tune in for series two, though? Why not!

 

 

The Good Karma Hospital, Episode 5 ~ Review

This week’s penultimate instalment of The Good Karma Hospital was, for the most part, underwhelming again, the saving graces very much being Phyllis Logan and Philip Jackson as the Smarts. I still find that the show as a whole has not resonated with me and therefore, much as I play hunt the positives every week, there isn’t a great deal that I find to rave about. However, here’s a few comments on episode five, for your delectation!

Lydia’s losing battle ~ Lydia (Amanda Redman) breaks down in the arms of Greg (Neil Morrissey) (no I won’t ask what he’s doing there, again – it’s still not obvious, I’ll just leave it!). Following the attempted suicide of a patient whom Lydia could have dealt with better, to say the least! It’s just another example of Lydia’s head-strong and bullish behaviour getting her into ‘trouble’. Will she learn? At least she has a heart I suppose, the softer side was a welcome change.

Saluting The Smarts ~ The episode wasn’t off to a completely interesting start so my interest waivered. Then Maggie (Phyllis Logan) and Paul (Philip Jackson) gave an acting masterclass and took the episode up a whole lot of notches! Talk about raising the game! Maggie was insistent on taking a heavy going walk to the top of a mountain to reach a temple, all for the sake of mumbo jumbo which she felt might hold healing powers. Paul was at the end of his tether with her ‘nonsense’ and lost the plot with his terminally ill missus. What could make matters worse at such a time? Maggie collapses and winds up at The Good Karma Hospital. Their two-hander scene towards the end moved me to tears. I suspect she might not come out of hospital, now – sad times, but the acting has been first class from this pair.

Shout out to my ex ~ Ruby (Amrita Acharia) has a catch up with her ex and feelings comes flooding back for the young doctor. I think that Gabriel (James Floyd) is possibly showing some green eyed monster ways so that could be interesting. Although with one episode to go, how much of that we’re going to see could be limited. Looks like the ex has made the trip to India, anyway – if the ending scene is anything to go by.

Sri Lanka ~ The setting for this programme is another saving grace, I thoroughly enjoy drinking on the beautiful scenery every week and it’s given me a desire to go and visit the place. I don’t think it passes for India necessarily but it’s certainly a gorgeous setting and a well chosen location in many ways.

Verdict? ~ I’m miffed that this has not been a show that I have taken to my heart as I had hoped, if I were giving a star rating to the overall show, so far it would get 3 out of 5 stars. If next week blows that score out of the water, I’m willing to admit that I was wrong. However, I have a feeling that the series finale will be mostly notable for the demise of Maggie, unless we finally find out more about Greg and his purpose? Or why he is with the good doctor? Let’s see…

 

 

Photo Credits: ITV

The Good Karma Hospital, Episode 4 ~ Review

The Good Karma Hospital is still not floating my boat, I hope to be more positive about the show each week, but I’m not feeling any more attuned to it. Amrita Acharia is very much the star from my point of view, her performance is subtle and carries the show. Here are a few of my comments:

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Nimmi Harasgama as Mari

Mari’s Moment ~ Mari (Nimmi Harasgama) seemed to have a moment to shine this week when she fan-girled over a patient who was a rather famous performer. Her attempt to gently coax her idol away from the painkillers she had become so dependent on was quite a moving scene. Especially when some of Mari’s own backstory was revealed. I’m keen to see more of Mari’s character, now – my interest is piqued.

Paul’s Piss-Up! ~ “You’re pissed!” said Maggie (Phyllis Logan) when Paul (Philip Jackson) reappeared from his visit to Greg’s (Neil Morrissey) bar. Living in a small hut which I expect is somewhat removed to their residence in Stourbridge, seems to have took its toll. Their short separation does the trick, as does the alcoholic intake for Paul and there’s a rather humorous ‘reunion’ later on. This pair are a driving force in the programme.

Greg? ~ I’m still none the wiser as to Greg’s purpose in the show, with two more episodes to go, will we have some light shone on the reason for his character’s necessity? With Morrissey having been in the top billing for this programme, I had expected he would play a more integral role.

Ruby and Gabriel ~ I enjoy the way their relationship is playing out, it’s still a will they/won’t they which simmers and yet moves in slow motion simultaneously. Gabriel (James Floyd) has pride, amongst other things, to overcome. Ruby most definitely has demons to push past, but I can’t help feeling that they could help each other through. Long may the chemistry continue.

Two Episodes to go ~ The fact that we already know that Phyllis Logan is not going to be in any further series (should there be any more) alarms me. Not just because she adds some credibility to the show, but because it seems far too fast to be wrapping up Maggie’s story in just two episodes, now. I hope it’s not rushed and the audience feel cheated by the way this plays out.

Verdict? ~ I am eager to see how episode six finishes and whether there are unanswered questions, because as it stands I think that four episodes would have been enough. I am also of the humble opinion that there are too many characters who have been thrown into the mix without an introduction. They crop up when the story line suits.

 

 

The Good Karma Hospital, Episode Three ~ Review

The Good Karma Hospital is now halfway through its series and I am still slightly underwhelmed by it. I am getting to know the characters and feel that the way in which each storyline is wrapped up neatly (apart from the plots that belong to the main cast, of course) is quite an effective touch. I’m still baffled by Greg (Neil Morrissey) and his purpose other than to serve booze and have it off with Lydia (Amanda Redman), will all become clear or is this the sum total of the character? Anyway, here are a few highlights of the episode:

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Bhang!

AJ’s Harem ~ AJ (Sagar Radia) has been a rather naughty fellar, moving from young female tourist to young female tourist and declaring his love for them before they depart for their journey home. His misdemeanours find him out as he breaks the heart of yet another starry eyed young lady who is willing to stay in India to be with him. Tut tut!

Lydia ~ She’s still a closed book, not much of her character has emerged for me to be able to make an assessment of her yet, but she has softened somewhat and has become less like Connie Beauchamp of Casualty! Her relationship with Greg is a mystery and yet the way she chooses to be with him must come from a deep-rooted past history. I felt by the end of this instalment that there was a flexible side to her persona which may have opened up as a result of the Dementia story line that she had been so immersed in during the episode.

Baby Blues ~ A baby dumped on Lydia’s doorstep triggers a myriad of emotions for Ruby (Amrita Acharia) when she is quite literally left holding the baby and finds herself in the middle of a heart-breaking story. The baby’s mother had been told by her parents that she could not keep the baby and therefore he had been taken from her in the night. The harrowing situation causes Ruby to open up to Dr Varma (James Floyd) about her pregnancy a couple of years ago, which resulted in a miscarriage. The back-story behind her split with her beau begins to come to the fore and Acharia gives a very believable performance.

Stourbridge vs India ~ Maggie (Phyllis Logan) is living her days in India to the full, indulging in a shot of bhang and encouraging her husband (Philip Jackson) to do likewise. The pair of them are in the festival spirit and Maggie appears to be blissfully happy as she sports her sari. However, in typical Phyllis Logan fashion, there is a seamless transition from care-free to bordering on hysteria at the renewed thought that she hasn’t got long left to live. I have to hand it to her, she has embodied the role and given it her all, as always.

Temple of Love ~ When Gabriel (Dr Varma) takes Ruby to the temple (which comes as a surprise to her) and her past begins to surface, the spark and chemistry is palpable. Please can we have some romance on the cards? It’s definitely brewing!

Verdict this week? ~ Still growing on me, but my opinion improves with every episode!

Photo Credits: ITV

 

 

 

The Good Karma Hospital, Episode Two ~ Review

I dutifully sat down to embrace episode two of the drama which did not hold my attention last week. Has the second instalment swayed me? The answer is that the jury is still out, I remain unconvinced that this will hold a place in my heart in quite the same way as Home Fires has (and it continues to take that prime spot). However, here follows some highlights and comments from my humble point of view:  

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Amrita Acharia

Dr Gabriel Varma ~ I didn’t take much notice of Dr Varma (James Floyd) , last week, however I was interested to watch his character develop in this episode. His determination is clear and I foresee many a clashed head between himself and Dr Ruby Walker (Amrita Acharia). Whether there is a mutual attraction bubbling away beneath the surface (as suggested extremely pointedly by Dr Lydia Fonseca (Amanda Redman)) remains to be seen, but there’s certainly chemistry there. Strength of Gabriel’s character was the order of the day following a motorbike accident which had consequences for more than just the doctor.

Girl Power ~ Lydia and Ruby are starting to find a common ground and their relationship worked for me, this week. The sense that they are building towards a mutually beneficial and educational bond is clear and I have the feeling that there will be an occurrence where Ruby has to come to Lydia’s aid. There is a predictability to the format of this programme, that’s for sure!

Maggie’s Marvellous ~ Biased I may be, I had the great pleasure of getting to know Phyllis Logan last year and she is a supporter of this site. However, I intentionally critiqued this show from a neutral point of view and last week, I was questioning if this was the right show for Ms Logan to appear in, post-Downton. She had stepped out of a huge hit of a television drama to a programme that didn’t get off to the best start from the look of the feedback I was privy to throughout last week. This time around I was actually impressed with her portrayal of Maggie, I enjoyed the window into her past with her husband (Philip Jackson). That was the Phyllis that has earned her such a sizeable fan base.

Fonseca’s Foibles ~ I am still likening Dr Fonseca to Connie Beauchamp from Casualty, however the side to her that wills her colleagues to succeed is markedly different to her fellow fictional counter-part. I am eagerly anticipating the reasons behind her arrival in India which must surely begin to emerge soon. In fact I am warming to the character’s quirks, yet remain unconvinced by the relationship she has with Greg (Neil Morrissey).

Mighty Motors! ~ If I learned one thing during the Exotic Marigold Hotel films, it’s that mopeds and motorbikes are both the way forward and a serious life-threat at one and the same time. I was impressed with the filming of the moped ride shots, particularly when Ruby was precariously ducking in and out of tight spaces and dicey situations.

Verdict? ~ OK, it has improved, I’m not inclined to rave about it yet, but as Sunday night viewing goes, it’s not bad!

 

The Good Karma Hospital, Episode One ~ Review

On paper, and indeed from the trailers, this promised to be a much-needed Sunday evening drama to fill the void left by the likes of Downton Abbey, Mr Selfridge and the sadly missed Home Fires. The cast list alone beckoned me to tune in, however I’m not as over-awed as I anticipated. The over-riding feeling of slight disappointment has thrown me, so this review is rather mixed, and I am trying to focus on the positives and characters. I am aware that the second episode may have the capacity to change my mind entirely. I’ll be willing to admit if I’m wrong and first episodes are always difficult as the majority of the instalment sets the overall scene and introduces key characters.

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Dr Fonseca and Dr Walker

Dr Ruby Walker ~ Amrita Acharia was one of the main redeeming features of the show. Her back-story was made clear immediately, a failed relationship behind her (or not!) and she seemed disenchanted with the NHS (what a surprise). Dr Walker appears to be a likeable character with no preconceived ideas and she soon rolled up her sleeves to deliver a baby girl, united that baby girl with a father who did not want to know and handled her first fatality since her arrival, following a brutal stabbing. She faced Dr Fonseca (Amanda Redman) with a determination and I feel that I can connect with her and the baggage that she brings.

Dr Lydia Fonseca ~ A good cop and bad cop all rolled into one who bore an uncanny resemblance to Connie Beauchamp from Casualty and Holby City. There is obviously a long story waiting to emerge for Dr Fonseca and the light and shade in the character make-up was all there. I found her greeting of Dr Walker to be unnecessary, bordering on rude, however I feel confident that her traits will be examined as the episodes unfold. I can’t buy into her relationship with Greg McConnell (Neil Morrissey) yet, but I can’t help but think of Tony from Men Behaving Badly whenever I see him. I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt!

Ram Nair ~ I really took to his character, every good drama should have a reliable and loveable side-kick and I get the impression that Darshan Jariwala is playing that very role. Facial expressions from Jariwala spoke a thousand words and I couldn’t help but chuckle when his picture was used on the back of the ambulance. That was a priceless moment.

Phyllis Logan and Philip Jackson ~ Considering their appearances in the trailers, there was little seen of this pair (who play Maggie and Paul Smart) and a few more scenes featuring them might have swung my opinion in a more favourable direction. I realise that Maggie has a tragic revelation to acquaint her husband with and that will need to be handled sensitively, however, more from their daughter’s wedding wouldn’t have gone amiss. It was a surprise that they weren’t as integral to the overall plot as I had believed they might be. However, I note that they are in all six episodes, so there is time for that to develop.

India ~ I thought that the setting of the show was incredible and there was a definite Exotic Marigold Hotel meets Wild At Heart vibe emulating. However, I’m not sure if this was just me, but the fact that we were already aware that it was shot in Sri Lanka stuck in my mind and I was unable to compute that this was India. Maybe too much knowledge can spoil it?

Overall verdict ~ I wanted to fall in love with The Good Karma Hospital at first sight, but instead, I find that I can take or leave watching the rest of the series. I possess the necessary staying power, though and with Break A Leg’s Patron, Phyllis Logan on board, I am in it for the duration.

Photo credits: ITV

 

 

Break A Leg Top Five Touring Shows of 2016

Touring productions are part of the vast majority of shows that I go along to review, so whittling down a short list of the top ones from 2016 is no mean feat. The task has been eased somewhat as a few of my personal idols have been treading the boards this year and their appearances were highlights in themselves. Here we go, folks:

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Phyllis Logan as Monica in Present Laughter – I’ve waited a lifetime to see her on stage… it was worth the wait!

Present Laughter tour – the winner of Break A Leg Critic’s Choice Award for best touring/regional production, I had multiple reasons for taking this show to my heart. First of all, I’ll make no bones about the fact that I have been a huge fan of one of the stars of the play, Phyllis Logan, since I was a very little girl. So to see an idol on stage was a particular delight, and she was brilliant, plus she is also now a Patron of the website. Thumbs up all round! I thought that the cast as a whole were incredible, though and as well as having the pleasure of seeing another fantastic and well-known actor tread the boards, Samuel West, I also enjoyed Rebecca Johnson’s performance. I had seen her in Wendy & Peter Pan at the RSC in 2015 and loved her, so to see her in a Noel Coward play (I am a real fan of Mr Coward’s work) was a treat. I could gush further about the production, but I think the award for the show speaks for itself and I watched it once with a press ticket in my hot little hand and paid to see it again. That always speaks volumes, too! Well done to Stephen Unwin, who directed brilliantly.

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Rehearsal For Murder featured a stellar cast!

Rehearsal For Murder tour  – another play on my list for so many reasons, the chance to see Amy Robbins and Robert Daws on stage together couldn’t be missed and the cast were all superb. Stellar performances from each and every one and excellent direction. It was a dramatic thriller which had me gripped and frantically trying to fathom who dunnit. It also made for terrific interval debating between my husband and I. Neither Mr Daws or Ms Robbins disappointed, either and I’m now all the keener to see them tread the boards again. My interest in thrillers was also piqued from this particular play, so it was a winner in all respects!

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Julie Legrand was outstanding in The Rivals, she was so ready to play Madame Malaprop!

 The Rivals tour – my first trip to Bristol Old Vic Theatre and what a pleasant one it was, too. With Break A Leg Critic’s Choice award winner, Julie Legrand as Madame Malaprop amongst a cast who worked together so smoothly and wonderfully well. It was my first introduction to the work of another one of Break A Leg’s award winner, Lee Mengo as Bob Acres. Although I was familiar with the play, I had not seen it performed before, and my face ached from laughing. The entire production was a joy from start to finish, the theatre had a welcoming and enticing atmosphere and I met one of my long-time idols, Ms Legrand, afterwards too which was a moment I’ll never forget. A brilliant night at the theatre.

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Blood Brothers will always be one of my favourite musicals. What a score!

Blood Brothers tour – always a favourite musical of mine, I did the same trick as with Present Laughter – bought a ticket to see it at one theatre and had a press ticket to see it elsewhere.  I never tire of Lyn Paul as Mrs Johnstone, I think it’s fair to say that it is her part and I’m always guaranteed to enjoy her performance. Adding Sarah-Jane Buckley to the cast as Mrs Lyons has really set it off. I have always thought that she has been an excellent actress each time I’ve seen her either on telly or on stage. Not only have I found her to be one of the best actresses to play Mrs Lyons, but I gather that she did a fine job when it came it stepping in to Ms Paul’s shoes and taking on the role of Mrs Johnstone. I adore the musical score for this show and I look forward to seeing Graham Martin play the multiple roles that he has made his own over the years. Graham is a friend of my husband’s and it’s always a good excuse to see him when Blood Brothers does the rounds.

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Rocky Horror Show… long may they continue making a man with blonde hair and a tan – they have a regular punter in little old me!

The Rocky Horror Show tour – another of my all-time favourite musicals that, had I have had the time, I would have paid to have seen at another theatre after having reviewed it with my press ticket in Malvern. I had seen Liam Tamne in Hairspray and Les Miserables before, but he really came into his own as Frank-N-Furter. OK, it helped that he was easy on the eye, but the mischief and mayhem that he put into the role was outstanding. I love everything about this show, from the audience participation and leaping out of my seat to do the Time Warp, which never gets old – to the variety of narrators that grace the stage. We had Steve Punt play the narrator on this occasion and he was amazing. Hats off also to Sophie Linder-Lee, my favourite Columbia so far. I fully expect that this show will be in my top five choices again, next year!

Phew what a challenge that was… I wonder if any shows will knock The Rocky Horror Show and Blood Brothers off the list in 2017? Excited to out!

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