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.

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MAMMA MIA! Press Release

PRESS RELEASE

“MAMMA MIA!”

ANNOUNCES NEW BOOKING PERIOD

TO SATURDAY 14 SEPTEMBER 2019

AT LONDON’S NOVELLO THEATRE

ON SALE NOW!

 

The global smash hit musical MAMMA MIA! at London’s Novello Theatre is now extending its booking period from Monday 4 March to Saturday 14 September 2019.  MAMMA MIA! will celebrate its 20th birthday in London on 6 April 2019.  The box office for the new booking period is now open.

 

The London cast of MAMMA MIA! stars Sara Poyzer as Donna, Kate Graham as Tanya, Ricky Butt as Rosie, Richard Trinder as Sam, Neil Moors as Harry, Stephen Beckett as Bill, Georgia Louise as Sophie, Alec Porter as Sky, Charlotte O’Rourke as Ali, Leah St Luce as Lisa, Damian Buhagiar as Pepper and Eamonn Cox as Eddie, with Caroline Deverill playing the role of Donna Sheridan at certain performances.

 

Also in the cast are Chloe Ames, Chloe-Jo Byrnes, Adam Clayton-Smith, Adam Davidson, Luke Hall, Lauren Hampton, Jack Heasman, Jennifer Hepburn, Stuart Hickey, Zoe Humphryes, Mark Isherwood, Tyler Kennington, Robert Knight, Chanel Mian, James Willoughby Moore, Natasha O’Brien, Dean Read, Beth Relf, Annie Southall and Katy Stredder.

 

From West End to global phenomenon, MAMMA MIA! is Judy Craymer’s ingenious vision of staging the story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs with an enchanting tale of family and friendship unfolding on a Greek island paradise.  To date, it has been seen by over 60 million people in 50 productions in 16 different languages grossing more than $2 billion at the box office.  In 2011, it became the first Western musical ever to be staged in Mandarin in the People’s Republic of China.  MAMMA MIA! is also currently playing an International Tour, receiving great critical and public acclaim.

 

MAMMA MIA! originally opened in London at the Prince Edward Theatre on 6 April 1999, before transferring to the Prince of Wales Theatre in 2004, and then to the Novello Theatre in 2012.

 

The London production of MAMMA MIA!  has been seen by over 8.9 million people, played over 8,000 performances and has broken box office records in all three of its London homes.

 

Produced by Judy Craymer, MAMMA MIA! The Movie became the highest grossing live action musical film of all time upon its release in 2008.  A second film, MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN, opened in July 2018 and is the most successful live musical movie sequel of all time.

 

With music & lyrics by Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus, MAMMA MIA! is written by Catherine Johnson, directed by Phyllida Lloyd and choreographed by Anthony Van Laast. The production is designed by Mark Thompson, with lighting design by Howard Harrison, sound design by Andrew Bruce & Bobby Aitken, and musical supervision, additional material & arrangements by Martin Koch.

MAMMA MIA! is produced by Judy Craymer, Richard East & Björn Ulvaeus for Littlestar in association with Universal.

LISTINGS INFORMATION

Novello Theatre

Aldwych

London WC2B 4LD

 

Ticket Prices: From £15.00

A £2.25 per ticket booking fee applies to tickets booked online, and a £2.75 per ticket booking fee applies to tickets booked by phone. No booking fee on tickets purchased in person at the Novello Theatre Box Office.

All prices include £1.25 restoration levy.

Early Bird Pricing – anyone booking four months or more in advance of the performance they are attending (Monday to Thursday performances only) will save £20 on Band A and Premium tickets, but only through Delfont Mackintosh Theatres, either online, in person at the theatre, or by calling the Novello Theatre Box Office.

Performance Times:

Monday – Saturday 7.45pm

Matinees – Thursday & Saturday 3.00pm*

* extra Tuesday matinees 6 & 20 August 2019

Christmas 2018/19 Performance Schedule

Monday 24 December     NO PERFORMANCE

Tuesday 25 December     NO PERFORMANCE

Wednesday 26 December     7.45pm

Thursday 27 December     3.00pm and 7.45pm

Friday 28 December     3.00pm and 7.45pm

Saturday 29th December     3.00pm and 7.45pm

Monday 31 December     3.00pm and 7.45pm

Tuesday 1 January      7.45pm

Wednesday 2 January     3.00pm and 7.45pm

Thursday 3 January     3.00pm and 7.45pm

Friday 4 January     7.45pm

Saturday 5 January     3.00pm and 7.45pm

Currently booking to 14 September 2019

The performance lasts 2 hours and 35 minutes (including a 15-minute interval)

Box Office: 0844 482 5151

http://www.mamma-mia.com/

http://www.facebook.com/mammamiamusical

http://twitter.com/MammaMiaMusical

For cast interviews with Donna and the Dynamos (AKA Sara Poyzer, Kate Graham and Ricky Butt) click the image!

MAMMA MIA!
London Cast 2018/2019

Mamma Mia and cast members; Stephen Beckett, Sara Poyzer, Kate Graham and Ricky Butt have been nominated for awards at this year’s Entertainment Views Awards, to vote please follow this link: Entertainment Views Awards 2018 

Entertainment Views Interviews Donna & The Dynamos (AKA MAMMA MIA! Stars Sara Poyzer, Kate Graham and Ricky Butt)

Earlier in the year I was delighted to see the latest cast of MAMMA MIA! in the west end production and they blew me away. Collectively, the Dynamos are the best three I’ve seen in all my years of watching and occasionally reviewing the show. Sara Poyzer plays Donna and she sparkles with a down to earth quality which I always feel ought to be an overt trait in Donna. Kate Graham is obviously in her element as Tanya, tongue-in-cheek humour, glamorous and loving life whilst attracting the younger man! Ricky Butt as Rosie is everything I expect the character to be – perfect comic timing and her understanding of the character’s persona shows.

MAMMA MIA!
London Cast 2018/2019

To be able to interview the three actresses who have reignited my passion for the musical was an absolutely superb opportunity, so without further ado – I give you…. DONNA AND THE DYNAMOS!!!

Sara Poyzer (Donna)

Thanks for talking to Entertainment Views, Sara, I know you’ve played Donna before on international tour, what enticed you back and made you want to play the role in the West End? 

When I finished the international tour after being on the road for four years, it was the travelling I was tired of rather than the role itself so it was a real treat to be asked to come into the west end and do it. Particularly with the second film coming out and the 20th anniversary of the show coming up. Of course there was no guarantee that I would get the job when I went for it so to be offered it was like being offered the role all over again. I was absolutely delighted!

The chemistry between the three Dynamos works so well, what do you think the secret is? 

I’ve known Kate (Graham, who plays Tanya) for years and we are very old friends and because I’ve done this show for a few years, as soon as I knew Kate was in the cast and that Ricky (Butt, who plays Rosie) had been cast as Rosie we met for coffee ahead of rehearsals and said “right, we’re mates, we’re mates on stage and off stage” and that’s grown over the past few months as we’ve got to know Ricky. We have a genuine friendship and we support each other professionally, emotionally and personally. We’re mates and I’m glad that shows on stage.

What’s your favourite Abba song in the show?

I love singing The Winner Takes It All.

What did you think of MAMMA MIA! 2? Did it live up to your expectations? 

I thought it ticked every box as far as being very sentimental with great story telling and excellent performances. I left with a smile on my face, which was exactly how I reacted to the first film as well. I think in this day and age the film is a real tonic for life’s daily pressures and challenges. I went to the film premiere and I was star struck by the stars and celebs sitting by me so I was half watching the film and half watching Cher out the corner of my eye!

Do you think there’s room for a MAMMA MIA! 3?

I don’t know but I’d like to see Mamma Mia 2 on stage!

If you weren’t in MAMMA MIA! what would you have your eye on doing next in your career?

I don’t know, my heart is in theatre, I love doing theatre – maybe I’d go for something more serious and classical which is where my training is. I think maybe I’d like to work at the National Theatre next.

What led you into a career as a performer? 

I got a job at Nottingham Playhouse Theatre and started to see a lot of plays and it was a bit like an epiphany, I fell in love with performing and the whole romantic notion of what theatre is. So at the age of 24 I decided I wanted to go to drama school. I auditioned for a few drama schools, got in to one and got a local council grant. I trained as a straight actor but I ended up in the cast of Billy Elliot which propelled me into the world of musical theatre. I have no regrets because I absolutely love musical theatre, I think it’s a really powerful medium.

Finally, what would you say to encourage potential audience members to book a ticket and come and see you all? 

The show has so many universal themes such as friendship, love, guilt, joy and comedy. There are so many different elements in this show that I think although it sounds such a cliché when I look out during the finale each night I see people from all walks of life and it feels like it’s appealing to all of them. It’s one of those shows that ticks every box and it features the music of Abba, and they have written such amazing pop songs.

 

Kate Graham (Tanya)

Thanks for talking to Entertainment Views, Kate, so you’re no stranger to the show and indeed the role as you played Tanya on international tour, what made you decide to play the role again? 

I played the role eight years ago and I loved it. After I finished the international tour I had been waiting for it to come up when I was free.

What’s your all-time favourite Abba song?

I like Angel Eyes but I also like When All Is Said and Done. I can’t ever fail to be moved by Happy New Year, whenever I hear it I start bawling, no matter what time of year it is!

What’s your personal highlight from Mamma Mia? 

I like Under Attack, although I’m not in it! I think it’s a really good song, I love Sophie on the bed surrounded by the dads and Donna gets a really sexy costume in it. My favourite scene that I’m involved in is the bedroom scene where we sing Chiquitita and Dancing Queen, it’s just a really great scene from start to finish, the progression of it is really fun. The connection that the three of us have is great.

What did you think of MAMMA MIA! 2?

I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m sure it’s marvellous?

It is, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed! So, moving on to your career, what led you on this particular career path? 

I just really liked doing it, I’ve always liked creating something or performing something or telling a story. I came from quite an academic family so they forced me to go to college and do a proper degree first but all the way through I carried on acting and singing in my spare time. Eventually when I’d done all my qualifications I said “now can I go and do it?” and I was told yes!

Are there any roles that are on your bucket list for the future? 

I just like working and actually the roles that I would play probably haven’t even been created yet, I love doing new things. Prior to doing it I would have said I’d like to play Mrs Wilkinson in Billy Elliot but now I’ve done it! That’s the only role I’ve really hankered after. I always play character roles, I always play smaller roles so they tend to be quirkier and come up in things that are new and you don’t know exist yet.

Previously you worked as assistant director with the children who starred in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, is that something you’d be keen to go back to in the future? 

Yes I would, I really enjoyed it. I always think you’re better at teaching performance while you’re still performing yourself.

Finally what would you say to encourage everyone to come and see MAMMA MIA!? 

Come and see us, it’s a really great evening out at the theatre.

 

Ricky Butt (Rosie)

Thanks for talking to Entertainment Views, Ricky, so first of all, how familiar were you with MAMMA MIA! before you took the role of Rosie? 

Very familiar, I’m friend with Jenny Galloway who was Rosie in the original cast and I remember meeting up with her and she told me how all the songs were going to fit in and I thought that sounds amazing. Funnily enough I did the sound effects for the very first MAMMA MIA! film as a Foley Artist. So this was a natural next step.

Congratulations on winning an Emmy for your work as a Foley Artist, by the way! What led you in that direction in the first place? 

It was when I’d had children and a friend of mine was doing it, an opportunity came up to do it with her – and it fitted in with my family. What they liked was my dancing background as it helps if you have a natural ability to move. It’s become a secondary career as when I had my children I’d turned my back on the theatre really. Now I’m back working in the theatre and I’ve been doing the Foley along with it.

As the Dynamos in Mamma Mia, yourself, Sara and Kate are by far my favourites to date – what makes that chemistry work so well? 

We just seem to click and complement each other very well. I share a dressing room with Kate who plays Tanya and we’ve got to know each other very well so we bring something new into the relationship of Rosie and Tanya every night. I take whatever she throws at me on stage and throw something back.

You also have great chemistry with Stephen Beckett as Bill…

Yes, we are on the same page, we wanted to make it feel as if the characters really like each other, I wanted it to come across that Rosie is testing the waters to begin with and not just after a man. Also, instead of wearing heels for the wedding as Rosie sometimes does, I wear flats so that we can make use of the height difference between us too.

What did you think of MAMMA MIA! 2?

I loved it, I thought particularly when the older characters came on it seemed to give it a bit of a boost and then I thought the rest of the film really worked.

Which roles have you got an ambition to play in the future? Would you carry on in musical theatre if you could? 

I’m at an age where there isn’t that much for women of my casing so I think I’ve won the lottery playing Rosie! These roles don’t really come up very often and this time I got the golden ticket! I’d been asked to audition for the role a couple of years ago and I turned it down, but I’m doing it at the right time now.

Finally, what would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket to see MAMMA MIA!? 

I know of people, even other actors who have been to see the show and have come out feeling moved and haven’t been able to believe how good it is. It is a jukebox musical and I think people think it’s going to be a bit cheesy but it’s much better than you might think it’s going to be. You’ll have a great time.

I’d like to thank all three ladies for their time, it was great fun chatting to them all and I urge you all to buy a ticket to see MAMMA MIA!: Mamma Mia Tickets 

Can I also draw your attention to the Entertainment Views Awards which are voted for by the public and part nominated by the public, part nominated by the panel. Sara Poyzer, Kate Graham, Ricky Butt and Stephen Beckett are all shortlisted as is the show itself – cast your vote by 1st November: Entertainment Views Awards 2018 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seven Spectacular Family Shows to see this Autumn in the West End *Guest Post from TickX*

Our impressively sunshiny-summer has come to an end, meaning it’s time for families to head back to the office and back to school. Luckily, London’s theatre playground has a whole host of family shows to cheer up the Autumnal months, featuring well known classics and one-off specials. Whether it’s a midweek treat or a weekend adventure, head to the West End this Autumn with our sizzling pick of shows to see with the kids.

1. Matilda

The Roald Dahl classic gained its second wave of fame with the movie release in 1996. It was then reimagined as a stage adaptation by Dennis Kelly and Tim Minchin and premiered at the Cambridge Theatre in 2011. The musical version of the gifted girl brings to life all the memorable characters before your very eyes; the vain and fraudulent Wormwoods , the adorable Miss Honey and the terrifying Miss Trunchbull, with a brand new cast set for September 2018. After scooping up a record number of Olivier Awards for a musical and receiving wide critical acclaim, Matilda the Musical is beloved by audiences of all ages.

The show is running at the Cambridge Theatre until October 19th, set to welcome its eighth million spectator after a stellar run in the West End. With magic and madness, Matilda is the perfect mid-week treat to get you to the weekend, and will now be showing at an earlier time of 7pm on weekdays to better accommodate families.

2. Lion King

It feels like this show has been around for a long time – and it’s simply because it really is that good. Similarly to the Disney film released in 1994, the award-winning musical pulls on heartstrings as it tells the tale of lion cub Simba and his quest to overthrow his uncle to become the rightful king of the pridelands. Set against the backdrop of the Serengeti Plains, the rhythmic African music and sing-a-long lyrics created by Sir Elton John and Tim Rice for the movie are brought to live in the evocative live score, while the colourful creative costumes are nothing but impressive. Children and adults alike will be immersed into the world of the Lion King, as characters such as Zazu, Timon and Pumba, Rafiki, the hyenas and more are played out on stage in a novel approach to children’s theatre.

The epic musical more than justifies its extensive run at the Lyceum Theatre. As the cool weather creeps in this Autumn, the Lion King guarantees to warm your soul.

 

3. Aladdin

Alternatively, swap African plains for Arabian nights and head to the Prince Edward Theatre for an enchanting magic carpet ride. Aladdin is another example of a Disney classic creatively remastered for stage, bringing all the best elements from the 1992 film to life as never before imagined. While some reviews have suggested the musical is a panto-in-disguise, there has been no doubt that the spectacular sets, special effects and jewel-encrusted costumes translate the magic of Agrabah to stage.

Furthermore, young children will be captivated by the larger than life characters such as The Genie, while the elder among us will revel in the plot’s synonymity with the Disney animation. Plus, any show that features hits such as ‘A Whole New World’ and ‘Friend Like Me’ is certainly worth its salt. The exotic escape is the perfect way to tackle the beginning of the new school year and the end of summer, uniting radiant colours, a golden lamp and youthful nostalgia to transport you away.

 

4. School of Rock

Nothing cheers kids up for going back to school than the School of Rock. This musical offers something a little more grown up than the likes of Disney, but is still very geared towards families and children aged eight and over. Based upon the 2003 movie starring Jack Black, School of Rock the Musical follows struggling and unemployed rock guitarist Dewey Finn as he poses as a substitute teacher to make some money. Finn realises his students are musically-talented, and so sets forth in spawning a school rock band who are to compete in the Battle of the Bands. The fun and rebellious West End production features music by theatre royalty, Andrew Lloyd Webber, combining songs from the film and new original numbers. Undoubtedly, the best part of School of Rock is the pocket-sized talent on stage, where the child cast can really rock out and impress audiences.

 

5. Wicked

The prequel to the ‘Wizard of Oz’ has become a global sensation. It follows two protagonists; Elphaba and Glinda, who grow up to become the Wicked Witch of the West and the Good Witch of the South. From their perspective, we learn what lead them into their distinguished roles, cultivating a story of friendship and rivalry, love and betrayal and importantly, Elphaba’s lapse into ‘wickedness’. Children will fall in love with the beautiful score created by Academy-award winning Stephen Schwartz while adults will cherish it’s associations to the 1939 classic starring Judy Garland as ‘Dorothy Gale’.

This Autumn, the gravity-defying musical will be celebrating a whopping 12 years in the West End, after surpassing its landmark 5000th performance at the Apollo Victoria Theatre last month. It has gained such uniform approval that there have even been talks of making it into a movie – just be sure to see it on stage first.

 

6. Paddington in concert

On Sunday 14th October, the Peruvian bear will commemorate its 60th anniversary with a live 60-piece orchestral accompaniment to the 2014 film ‘Paddington’. George Jackson will be commanding The Novello Orchestra with Nick Urata’s cheerful score, inducing the perfect introduction for young children to classical music. Moreover, the cute and charming film inspired by Michael Bond’s children’s books won the hearts of adults too, making it a great afternoon out for all the family. Hollywood stars Julie Walters and Nicole Kidman contribute to the film’s star-studded cast, while Ben Whishaw provides the voice for Paddington. It received plenty of praise and critical acclaim, founded upon its ability to transform a treasured classic into a modern movie with appeal for today’s kids.

The production is a one-off event set just before the busy half term. It promises to entertain and charm at the Theatre Royal, and even feature guest stars Nick Urata and Paddington!

 

  1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Enter a world of spells and sorcery this Autumn with the eighth installment of the wizardly-wonderful Harry Potter series by JK Rowling presented on stage. It famously secured the most Olivier Awards for a play despite only opening in 2016, and has been described as a ‘triumph’ (The Daily Telegraph) and ‘magical experience’ (London Evening Standard). The creatives behind Parts 1 and 2 of the Cursed Child include multiple award winning Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, responsible for writing and directing the play respectively, worked closely with Rowling to ensure the stage adaptation is as spellbinding and captivating as the book. It tells the tale of Harry Potter, 19 years on, tackling demons from his past. Similarly to the literary saga, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child live has proven popular across generations, with audiences of all ages leaving the Palace Theatre in awe.

Written by Aminah Barnes on behalf of TickX, a ticket search engine comparing events such as theatre, gigs and club nights across the UK.

 

Mamma Mia ~ Novello Theatre, London

Star rating: *****

Approximately twenty to twenty one years ago, Donna Sheridan met three men within a short space of time and… dot dot dot! Mamma Mia remains as spectacular a West End hit as it has for the past nineteen years it’s been entertaining audiences of a wide age range. In fact with the show almost as old as Donna’s daughter, Sophie, it couldn’t have been a better time to revisit a show I’ve seen a grand total of six times, now.

Abba’s songs have always stood the test of time, if they hadn’t have successfully filtered through various decades the show wouldn’t have worked at all. The popular hits are surely one of the main draws to this particular musical, and nobody in the audience is out of place if they sing along! Unless they’re louder than the lead during a ballad of course!

The striking feature with this latest incarnation which has undergone a recent cast change is that I truly feel I have witnessed the best combination when it comes to casting for Donna, Tanya and Rosie. The chemistry between Sara Poyzer (Donna), Kate Graham (Tanya) and Ricky Butt (Rosie) was so unbelievably natural, infectious and gripping that it rivalled that of Streep/Baranski/Walters in the movie version. The trio were simply electric together and their delivery of such favourites as ‘Dancing Queen’, ‘Super Trooper’ and the hilariously choreographed ‘Chiquitita’ was simply musical theatre magic at its best. While in previous trips to see the feel-good show I’ve always left the auditorium with a smile on my face and a spring in my step, I left reluctantly on this occasion as I had an over-riding feeling of desperately needing to see the show again… right there and then!

Of course, the triplet of triple threats were not alone in creating such an overwhelmingly engaging atmosphere, their male counterparts were equally talented super troopers. From Dean Read’s palpable love-struck Sam Carmichael to Neil Moors who was understated yet extremely likeable as the wannabe spontaneous Harry Bright to free spirited Aussie Bill Austin who is played with astonishing verve and impeccable comic timing, by Stephen Beckett. Add Georgia Louise to the mix as antsy bride-to-be, Sophie who’s seeking out her father so he can walk her down the aisle – Georgia gave a beautiful performance. Alec Porter was well cast too as her husband-to be, Sky, another triple threat to watch out for.

The set transports you to a Greek island quite effortlessly with simple, effective and practical staging, almost minimal which allows the sheer energy of the musical to take the limelight. There’s not one weak link in an ensemble who each characterise the roles they play, brilliantly. The orchestra were a joy to hear, powerful and a match for the fine vocalists who sing Abba’s technically stringent back-catalogue as if it’s second nature.

Do you need to be a fan of Abba to enjoy the twists, turns and laugh out loud comedy of this gleeful show? No! Even if you’re not a fan of Abba’s music, I wager that a trip to see Mamma Mia might just convert you.

Book your tickets now: Mamma Mia Tickets

 

Photo Credits: Brinkhoff/Mogenburg 

*** Feature Show *** ~ Aladdin

If I ask if you’ve seen Disney’s Aladdin – the vast majority of you will put your hand right up and might even give me a chorus of ‘Friend Like Me’ the popular big number sung by the incomparable late great Robin Williams who played the Genie. If you’re a theatre fan (or even if you’re not much of a theatre-goer) you’ll have to have been living in a cave not to have heard of the West End’s version of Disney’s Aladdin which has been wowing packed houses at Prince Edward Theatre.

My question is, have you seen it yet?

If the answer is no, would you like to find out some excellent reasons why you shouldn’t miss this spectacular West End show?

If the answer is yes, maybe the reasons I’ll hit you with will inspire you to go again…

  1. It’s Disney! ~ need I say more? Disney sprinkles its inimitable magic whether it be on screen or stage and to step inside the theatre and see this show is to absorb a whole new world of Disney magic (pardon the pun!).
  2. A famous Princess ~ maybe you’ve heard of Jade Ewen? She’s made a name for herself as a popular singer before joining the show and she makes for a perfect Princess Jasmine.
  3. Sing-along ~ unlike some musicals, this one boats so many well known songs that you can’t help but sing along.
  4. A glorious theatre ~ if this is your first time in the West End then you couldn’t pick a better theatre to start with than the Prince Edward Theatre. The atmosphere in the beautiful auditorium alone will astound you before curtain up!
  5. Watch the trailer and let that speak for itself! 

Are you convinced? Would you like to know a secret?

Thanks to the magic lamp, we have an offer you’ll LOVE! No booking fee for performances from 4 – 28 June 2018. Sound like a plan? Go for it: Aladdin Tickets

 

 

 

Photo Credits: Aladdin the Musical Website 

** This article features Affiliate Link with Encore Tickets **

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!

Pick of The West End

The West End is saturated with a cornucopia of musicals, plays and extraordinary theatrical pieces – it’s not always easy to know what to choose and often tempting to want to see it all! If you’re anything like me, that is! So – Break A Leg are going to try to make that choice easier by bringing you a weekly bulletin of offers, deals and opinions. The good news is that you can book tickets through this website as we are partnered with the wonderful Encore Tickets. So, step inside our short guide to the pick of What’s On in the West End this week! 

West End hit, Matilda plays at the Cambridge Theatre, a new West End cast has just been announced and its exceptionally critically acclaimed:

‘Writer Dennis Kelly and composer and lyricist Tim Minchin go to the top of the class with this anarchically joyous, gleefully nasty and ingenious musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s story’ –  The Observer

If you love the story in book form or you’ve seen the film, you’ll love this brilliant adaptation – it’s pure theatrical gold!

 

Click away to grab a deal today – just hit the image below! 

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Aladdin is set in the town of Agrabah where Princess Jasmine is unhappy with her father, The Sultan’s desire to find her a royal groom. Jafar, the power-hungry Grand Vizier is however, plotting to take over the throne. Jasmine sneaks out of the palace and meets Aladdin, a charming street urchin and reformed thief. When they are found out, Aladdin is sentenced for execution.  Jafar, however saves him and orders him to fetch a lamp from the Cave of Wonders…. but when there is a lamp, there is also a Genie! Aladdin is transformed into Prince Ali in attempt to Jasmine’s heart and prevent Jafar’s evil plans.

To see the West End Musical adaptation ‘in the flesh’ at Prince Edward Theatre, find a magic lamp… or simply…

Click away to grab a deal today – just hit the image below! 

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A major new production of the smash-hit West End and Broadway musical swings into the new Marble Arch Theatre.
Nomax is single, broke and drinking his sorrows away when five guys named Moe – Big Moe, Little Moe, Eat Moe, Know Moe and Four-Eyed Moe – appear out of nowhere to help him straighten out and sing and dance his way to love!
Featuring the hits of original jazz king Louis Jordan, including Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby, Early In The Morning, Choo Choo Ch’Boogie and, Saturday Night Fish Fry, Five Guys Named Moe is a theatrical experience like no other!

Would you like to experience it?

Click away to grab a deal today – just hit the image below! 

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In The Woman in Black, junior solicitor Arthur Kipps journeys to the funeral of a client, Mrs Alice Drablow where he sees a young woman with a wasted face, dressed all in black, standing in the churchyard. Confused by the villagers’ reluctance to speak of The Woman in Black, Kipps goes to Mrs. Drablow’s former home Eel Marsh House, a building in the middle of a marsh, cut off from the mainland at high tide. While sorting through her papers he finds a box of letters, and ultimately discovers, to his own terrible cost, the dreadful secret of the Woman in Black.

Price Band A Tickets – Tuesday performances: Was £47.50 Now £20.00, saving 58%

Valid until 24 October 2017

Click away to grab a deal today – just hit the image below! 

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OPENING 12 September 2017 and if you want to know what the show’s all about, read my review of its run at Coventry Belgrade Theatre, here: Footloose Review

Click away to grab a deal today – just hit the image below! 

10 Interesting Facts About London’s West End

*** Guest Blog by http://www.boxoffice.co.uk ***

Quite apart from being one of the top tourist attractions in London, the West End is part of the fabric that holds the ‘Big Smoke’ together. For centuries the West End has held a pivotal cultural importance in the capital city and is soaked in the kind of history and symbolism that entrances millions of visitors every year. Such a heritage brings with it countless fascinating stories, and here are some of the most incredible facts about London’s West End.

  1. The Garrick Theatre on Charing Cross Road was opened in 1889, but its construction was delayed and became extremely complex after an underground river was discovered during excavation for the foundations of the building.
  2. Mousetrap is the longest running play in the West End. With over 26,000 performances the Agatha Christie murder mystery play has run continuously since 1952 when it opened at the Ambassadors Theatre. It is currently showing at the St Martin’s Theatre where it was first transferred in 1974.
  3. The longest running musical in the West End is Les Misérables, which opened in September 1985. It has run continuously ever since, overtaking Cats as the longest running production in 2006. It is currently staged at the Queen’s Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, where it celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2015.
  4. Another name for the West End is ‘Theatreland’ and the boundary of this is generally accepted as being from The Strand in the south, Oxford Street to the north, Regent Street to the west and Kingsway to the east. However, some landmark theatres are included within the ‘West End’ which lay outside of this boundary, such as the Apollo Victoria Theatre.
  5. Many famous West End theatres are thought to be haunted, but most stories surround the Royal Drury Lane Theatre, which is thought to be haunted by several ghosts. Most sightings surround the ghost of actor Charles Macklin, who is said to be a ‘tall, thin and ugly’ ghost with a bad temper.
  6. West End theatres come in all shapes and sizes, and many have been refurbished, rebuilt and extended many times. However, you could fit the entire 432-seater Fortune Theatre, opened in 1924, onto just the stage area of the Dominion Theatre.
  7. It is believed that the very first theatre in London was opened in 1576 and was simply named The Theatre. However, the first theatre in the area now known as the West End was the Theatre Royal, which was opened in 1663.
  8. Floods were not unusual in the 18th and 19th centuries, but did you know that the Dominion Theatre on Tottenham Court Road stands on the site of the Great Beer Flood of 1814? Eight people died when 570 tonnes of beer crashed through the walls of the Horse Shoe Brewery, and while injuries were sustained by the 15 foot waves created in the streets, it is believed some people were also crushed by the rush of people drinking free beer off the streets.
  9. The story of Peter Pan; or the boy who never grew up, has been adapted on to the West End stage several times at many different theatres, most recently the Adelphi theatre, but did you know that Great Ormond Street Hospital owns the copyright to the story, after author J.M. Barrie gifted the rights to the hospital in 1929, eight years before his death? Sales of the story in various formats have since earned the hospital millions in vital revenue.
  10. During the Second World War a total of 167 bombs were dropped on the area known as the West End.

This article was written by Box Office Theatre Tickets – buy your London theatre tickets from www.boxoffice.co.uk today!

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