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Friday, 23 March 2018

REVIEW: Pressure at Richmond Theatre

David Haig has written and stars in this fascinating play about a little known critical role in the D-Day landing planning played by Group Captain James Stagg, a committed straight talking Scottish meteorologist who is called upon to lead an international team to predict the weather conditions in the channel for the landings. Set in the room he occupies constantly in the run up to the events in Southwick House on Portsdown Hill in Hampshire over the period from 2nd June to 6th June 1944, the play explains his predictions and the response from Allied Command.

It requires the audience to understand the different terminology and techniques in predicting the weather and the writing manages to make this interesting. On the one hand the American Krick uses historical charts over the last twenty one years, whereas Stagg uses his intimate experience of British weather patterns and a 3D view of conditions including the high level gulf streams. He says he is a scientist not a gambler and says amusingly " there is nothing predicable about British weather" and that a long range forecast is twenty four hours plus! It is a critical decision for General Eisenhower because he has to safely land 160,000 men and equipment on the Normandy beaches. As one character says there is so many tanks and equipment in Britain that "only the barrage balloons stop the country sinking"!

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Casting announced for Priscilla, Queen of the Desert at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch

Full casting has been announced for the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch’s regional professional premiere of the glamorously feel-good musical, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. It runs at the theatre from 27 April – 26 May. 

Mark Inscoe is thrilled to be reviving the role of Bernadette having previously performed the part in the West End production. Playing Tick is Tom Giles (Ragtime, Charing Cross Theatre; Muse of Fire, Shakespeapriscilre’s Globe) and Adam will be performed by Daniel Bailey (Motown the Musical, Shaftesbury Theatre; The Lion King, Lyceum Theatre).

They will be joined by Miracle Chance, Michael Cuckson, Molly-Grace Cutler, Clara Darcy,Lemuel Knights, Natasha Lewis, Tom Self, Lauren Storer and Josh Tye. 

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert will be directed by the Queen’s Theatre’s Artistic Director Douglas Rintoul (Rope, The Crucible, Made in Dagenham). He says, ‘Following on from our hit production of Made in Dagenham, I was keen to make another regional premiere of a great modern musical at the Queen’s Theatre. Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is absolutely ripe for a new, more intimate, stripped back, actor-musician midscale production. The film blew me away back in the mid-1990s - it’s a great story of friendship and empowerment and is packed full of top tunes, fierceness, fun and poignancy - what more could one ask for?’

REVIEW: The Rivals at the Watermill Theatre, Newbury

I last saw Richard Sheridan's The Rivals in 1983 on the Olivier stage at the National Theatre with a sumptuous Bath Crescent set and a glorious cast which included Geraldine McEwan as Mrs Malaprop, Michael Horden as Sir Antony Absolute with Patrick Ryecart as his son Jack and Tim Curry as Bob Acres. It lIved long in the memory and therefore it was interesting to see what the intimate space of the Watermill theatre in Newbury could do with the classic restoration style comedy of love and deceit. The dated attitudes to the role and expected behaviour of women including the dangers to them of reading is both parodied and reinforced by the play. As a result Director Jonathan Humphreys and Designer James Cotterill make a determined attempt to present the play differently with a cast of just eight.

They set the play not in the houses and parks of Bath but on a Georgian stage with shell footlights and a mass of ornate drapes and a large thrust stage which means a fifth of the audience view the production from the side as very little of the action takes place behind the proscenium arch that the curtains frame. While the curtains do suggest different internal locations they make an odd backdrop to the crucial duelling scene where the truths get revealed. WIth the audience on three sides you might expect them to be regularly addressed with the comic asides of the play but this is restricted to them being asked to hold a book and duelling pistols and occasional glances. This fails to make the most of the setting or make the audience conspirators in the confusion on stage.

REVIEW: Cilla the Musical at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking

Telling the rags to riches story of entertainment star Cilla Black, Cilla The Musical is a real crowd pleaser of a show. Starring Kara Lily Hayworth in the title role, the show is packed full of memorable songs and an easy to follow narrative of love, ambition and the pitfalls of fame.

Hayworth is a fantastic Cilla with her mannerisms and physicality spot on for the role. Having wowed crowds in Moulin Rouge last year, she’s a performer to watch out for and her vocal in Anyone Who Had a Heart at the end of act one was a particular highlight (even inducing a standing ovation before the show had ended!

Monday, 19 March 2018

First look: Ruthless! The Musical at the Arts Theatre

Ruthless! is about to open at the Arts Theatre and the company has opened the doors to the rehearsal room to offer a sneak peek on the most outrageous musical that has ever graced the West End. Acting as the executive producer and general manager for the London run, the Menier Chocolate Factory is currently hosting the star-studded cast, who we found tirelessly going over the dazzling musical numbers. 

A frothy Kim Maresca reprises her role as Judy Denmark, after a successful off-Broadway run. During the taster event, she interpreted the opening motif Tina's Mother and was soon joined on stage by the delicious Dancing on Ice judge Jason Gardiner. His presence in drag as Tina's agent Sylvia St. Croix is a guaranteed recipe for success.

Tina's drunken grandmother is brought to life by the legendary Tracie Bennett, whereas the protagonist herself, the eight-year-old Tina, is played in turns by four exceptionally talented young performers: Charlotte Breen, Lucy Simmonds, Anya Evans, and Fifi Bloomsbury-Khier.
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