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Thursday, 2 January 2020

REVIEW: Cinderella at the Hexagon, Reading

Cinderella is the best pantomime title with a delightfully familiar story of good overcoming evil in family conflict and while the writers of the Lyric Hammersmith and Southampton NST felt the need to play with the story, Justin Fletcher sticks to a straight traditional retelling of the tale in his tenth appearance at Hexagon Pantomime. The result is a gently paced Christmas treat for the young families of Reading.

Fletcher, better known to his young audience as Mr Tumbles as well as writing the script stars as Buttons and benefits from director Stephen Boden, the man behind the producers Imagine, and Adrian Edmeades as choreographer ensuring a balanced mix of song, dance and Panto business in a disciplined controlled production with an even pace and good use of all the cast members. Fletcher responds by doing what he does best charmingly and un-aggressively engages the audience in an effortless way.

Monday, 30 December 2019

10 Musicals we can't wait for in 2020

City of Angels at the Garrick Theatre 

Josie Rourke’s “ingenious, stupendous revival” (The Telegraph) premiered in 2014, when it was hailed as “a blissful evening” (The Stage) that’s “smart, seductive and very funny” (Evening Standard). With a swinging score by Cy Coleman and David Zippel and a brilliantly witty book by Larry Gelbart, CITY OF ANGELS is a musical love letter to the glamorous world of old Hollywood and film noir.

Sunday in the Park with George at the Savoy Theatre

Academy Award nominee Jake Gyllenhaal and Tony Award® winner Annaleigh Ashford star in Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece Sunday In the Park with George coming to London for a strictly limited run at the Savoy Theatre from June 2020.

Hello, Dolly! at the Adelphi Theatre 

Imelda Staunton is back where she belongs in Hello, Dolly! at the Adelphi Theatre in 2020. This brand new production re-unites Imelda with Director Dominic Cooke following the critically acclaimed production of Follies at the National Theatre. Meddlesome socialite turned matchmaker Dolly Levi travels to Yonkers, New York to find a match for the miserly, unmarried ‘half-a-millionaire’ Horace Vandergelder, but everything changes when she decides that the next match she needs to make is for herself. 

Cinderella at the Hope Mill Theatre 

Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella comes to Hope Mill Theatre this Spring with the fully staged UK premiere of this classic fairytale. Brought to life in an enchanting musical by the duo behind Oklahoma, Carousel and South Pacific. The smart and beautiful young Ella lives in the care of her wicked, self-absorbed stepmother Madame and Madame’s two daughters, Charlotte and Gabrielle. Ella’s only friends in the world are the animals in the woods, “Crazy Marie” and the revolutionary student Jean-Michel. Meanwhile in another part of the kingdom, Prince Topher is trying to find himself and learn his place in the kingdom. When his scheming advisor Sebastian suggests throwing a Ball so the Prince can meet potential brides, Ella and Topher’s different worlds come together. Expect the unexpected in this clever retelling of the beloved fairytale. 

Be More Chill at the Other Palace 


Coming to The Other Palace from 12 February: BE MORE CHILL is the new musical sensation that’s about to invade your brain… in the best way. An unprecedented international phenomenon, this original and hilarious show exploded onto the musical theatre scene and electrified audiences during its runs off- and on Broadway. Featuring a Tony Award®-nominated score bursting with addictive earworms, BE MORE CHILL is a mind-bendingly fun hit about the competing voices in all of our heads.

The Prince of Egypt at the Dominion Theatre 

Experience the epic emotion and soaring music of THE PRINCE OF EGYPT, the extraordinary new musical from three-time Academy Award-winner Stephen Schwartz. Journey though the wonders of Ancient Egypt as two young men, raised together as brothers in a kingdom of privilege, find themselves suddenly divided by a secret past. One must rule as Pharaoh, the other must rise up and free his true people; both face a destiny that will change history forever. Based on the acclaimed DreamWorks Animation film, and featuring the Academy Award-winning, chart-topping song ‘When You Believe’, THE PRINCE OF EGYPT is an exhilarating, powerful and joyous celebration of belief and the human spirit.

Frozen at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane 

Frozen in the West End will begin previews in October 2020 with tickets going on sale from January, it has been announced. With music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez and book by Jennifer Lee, tickets for the musical go on sale on 6 March – priority booking opens in late January, with groups and schools booking opening on 24 February. The show is based on the highest grossing animated film of all time, which was released in 2013 and won two Academy Awards, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA.

The Drifters Girl at the Garrick Theatre

The Queen of British Soul and West End leading lady BEVERLEY KNIGHT stars in the world premiere of a brand new musical - THE DRIFTERS GIRL. Coming to the West End Autumn 2020, discover the remarkable story of THE DRIFTERS, one of the world’s greatest vocal groups, and the truth about the woman who made them.

Carousel at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park

Celebrated for our innovative approach to classic musicals, rediscover Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel in the unique surroundings of Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. Featuring a score that includes ‘If I Loved You’ and ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, director Timothy Sheader reunites with Superstar choreographer Drew McOnie.

Pretty Woman at the Piccadilly Theatre 

One of Hollywood’s most beloved romantic stories of all time is now coming to the West End! Pretty Woman: The Musical features direction and choreography by two-time Tony Award® winner Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots, Legally Blonde, Hairspray), an original score by Grammy® winner Bryan Adams and his longtime songwriting partner Jim Vallance (“Summer of ’69”, “Heaven”) and a book by the movie’s legendary director Garry Marshall and screenwriter J.F. Lawton.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

REVIEW: Cinderella at The Vaults

An immersive and modern take on the classic fairy-tale made famous by Disney and performed up and down the country every December, Cinderella at The Vaults was more of a Christmas party than a theatre show.

Set in a pub, the bar sits along one wall, with audience seated in both cabaret style and theatre style along the three remaining sides. We are welcomed into the pub and shown to our seats by the characters as they inhabit the venue. The actors truly inhibit their characters and indulge in playing with the audience, teasing them and welcoming them into the world.

Mike, played by Jimmy Fairhurst and taking on the usual role of Cinderella’s fairy godmother, is the host of karaoke and warms up the audience with both his dress sense and a wonderful rendition of Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. Once the audience have had a chance to get a drink from the bar and been sniffed by Buttons the dog, the show begins as every fairy-tale should: with a rendition Bohemian Rhapsody.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

REVIEW: CinderELLA at the Nuffield Southampton Theatre

CinderELLA at the NST was the third reworking of the traditional magical Christmas Pantomime title of the week. Having seen a female Buttons marry an ugly sister at the Lyric Hammersmith and a smelly dog called Buttons get washed in a Karaoke pub at the Vaults, I was prepared for something different with the NST version this Christmas. In Michael Fentiman's version there is no Buttons and two Cinderellas, one young one, Cinders who cares for an older one Ella, whose two nieces Melania and Ivanka are trying to con her. With original music by Barnaby Rice and a cast of seven actor musicians the result is a quirky charming musical entertainment with more than a hint of the style and tone of Into the Woods and a slight sense of work in progress. 

There is a strong opening to the show with a grand evocative Art Deco ballroom stage setting and a gorgeous bridal gown centre stage which magical flies out to whoops of delight from the young girls in the audience. The opening number sets the tone with "Once upon a time" establishing the two Cinderella characters, both grieving lost love ones and the mystical policeman.

Saturday, 23 November 2019

REVIEW: Cinderella at the Lyric Hammersmith

The Lyric Hammersmith is a curious venue with the wonderful Frank Matcham interior reinstalled inside a new seventies breeze block box with basic finishings and this year's Christmas offering of Cinderella which runs from 16th November to 5th January 2020 seems to follow the same idea with the traditional classic Pantomime story updated in a modern basic frame. I doubt that there will be a more politically correct version of Cinderella on offer this year reflecting the affluent diverse local population and attracting an audience of yummy mummies with their kids.

Jude Christian who wrote and directed the 2018 pantomime Dick Whittington, and directed the 2017 Jack and the Beanstalk, has written "the usual Lyric twist" version of Cinderella set in The Hammersmith of today. Here Buttons is a female tailor who falls in love with one of the ugly sisters, Cinders in dungarees and aspiring to be an astro physicists, falls for a shortsighted shy Prince Bob and the Stepmother has a pet alligator! There are jokes about zero hours contracts, January 31st tax deadlines, Fracking, drones near Heathrow and Pizza Express in Woking and then curiously innuendo references to Fallopian tubes and having only one ball to give the show a grown up feel. 

Saturday, 21 September 2019

REVIEW: Northen Ballet's Cinderella at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking

Cinderella is a fairy-tale we have all grown up with; a charming riches-to-rags-to-riches story of a young woman’s journey to happiness and love… Following the death of her husband, Countess Serbrenska (Cinderella’s Stepmother) enslaves Cinderella to a life of pot scrubbing and floor cleaning as she’s driven mad by grief. She continues to spoil her own daughters, Natasha and Sophie, but leaves Cinderella in the dark. Thankfully, there is magic in the air and Cinders is soon to be saved, and in turn, find true love and an inner strength any young woman should admire. 

Like many, I’ve known this story (or variations of it) since I was three years-old, but never before have I been moved by this tale like I was during this production. The Northern Ballet has created pure magic with this ballet; the spectacle, the costumes, the music arrangements, the dancers, the huge set pieces – it’s truly magical. A little Christmas-y for mid-September but you’ll hear no complaints for me in that regard.

Friday, 21 December 2018

REVIEW: Cinderella at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking

Cinderella – a charming fairytale and “the Fairy Godmother of all pantomimes” for British audiences everywhere. There is certainly a level of artistic licensing here which tweaks this classic tale for a 2018 audience, but the story fundamentally remains the same: After the death of her mother, Cinderella’s father remarries a woman who turns out to be truly wicked. Favouring her two daughters above her new step-daughter, she mistreats Cinderella as a maid and deprives her of the privileges her own daughters enjoy. Thankfully, all hope is not lost as Cinderella meets a handsome Prince, with the help of her Fairy Godmother, and (eventually) they live happily ever after. Hopefully this is not a spoiler to any of our readers! 

As Baroness Demonica Hardup (the wicked step-mother) is poster-boy Craig Revel-Horwood who relishes in milking every Strictly Come Dancing joke for all they’re worth, with even the producers chiming in and naming ‘her’ daughters Tess and Claudia! He also nods to his credit as Choreographer for ‘Sister Act’ with his own “fab-u-lous” version of “Fabulous Baby”. Revel Horwood is not a casting gimmick – he is a superb talent and earns his space on that stage with not only his dance ability but his terrific voice too. After heavily criticising Katie Price for her stint at Woking two years ago due to her dismal lip-syncing and effortless (not in a good way) acting, I was not only relieved but pleased to welcome Revel Horwood to this production. He was a true asset. I am however disappointed that in the souvenir brochure/programme, Sophie Isaacs is not even pictured on the cover despite being the titular role - it seems Mr Revel Horwood needed more space to showcase his insanely sparkly costume! 

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

REVIEW: Cinderella at the St Albans Arena

Writer Paul Hendy and Director Bob Golding continue their long association with the St Albans Arena with this wonderful fresh feeling production of Cinderella which sets off at a brilliant pace and the first half fizzes by delightfully. For some reason they cut back in the second half sticking to the basic elements only to keep the overall running time under 2 hours. It leaves you wanting more but feeling slightly short changed. The hilarious first half is driven along by two characters who are often walk on parts with Bob Golding an excellent Dandini, channelling his Eric Morecambe looks and comic timing to great effect and Ian Kirby ringing every ounce of comedy from Baron Hardup , here with echoes of Michael Palin at his comic best. The St Albans Arena audience know what to expect and respond loudly with a minimum of encouragement. We get the usual pun filled routine from a cart and of course the “legendary St Albans arena ghost bench.”

The script is packed with new sounding gags and plenty of old ones and references to the poor folk of neighbouring Luton and Watford, brilliantly signposted on every occasion. There is also a strong attempt to address the concerns of the Politically Correct Panto critics with two clever interventions from a "supremely self confident eight year old in the juvenile chorus” who takes centre stage to warn the principals about gender stereotypes and roles. As Hardup says “hasn’t Pantomime changed in last three years". 

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

REVIEW: Matthew Bourne's Cinderella at New Victoria Woking

Matthew Bourne's company New Adventure have a prestigious reputation for exciting contemporary ballet and this revival of the 1997 production of Prokofiev's Cinderella arrives at Woking after its latest tour. It based on a beautifully conceived resetting of the fairy story into war torn London during the blitz. It draws it's inspiration from the black and white films of the era including the romantic film Brief Encounter and starts with Pathe news footage. 

The staging is set within the ruined walls which provide a background to the various London locations which are elegantly designed by Lez Brotherston including The Cafe de Paris , the London Embankment, an underground station and Paddington station with back clothes of St Paul's Cathedral and London skylines. The air raid sirens and aircraft search lights add to the period setting. 

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Matthew Bourne's THE CAR MAN & CINDERELLA to be released for Cinemas and on DVD

New Adventures is delighted that Matthew Bourne’s “THE CAR MAN” is now available on DVD, with a Blu-Ray release set for Monday 11 December 2017, produced by Illuminations. The company is also thrilled to announce that Matthew Bourne’s “CINDERELLA”, filmed live at Sadler’s Wells, will be broadcast on the BBC over the Christmas period ahead of a worldwide cinema release from February 2018. 

Matthew Bourne said today, “The release of “THE CAR MAN” for home entertainment and the new recording of “CINDERELLA” for national and international broadcast is bringing the work of New Adventures to an even larger new audience who maybe do not have access to our live performances. It is part of a long held ambition to film all of our work for posterity but also as an inspirational educational tool for our work with young people.”

First seen in 2000, “THE CAR MAN” has been a smash-hit in the UK and around the world and this recording for Sky Arts was made at Sadler’s Wells during the show’s most recent revival in 2015. The DVD and Blu Ray release includes an exclusive 17-minute behind the scenes featurette, “The Making of The Car Man”.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

15 Broadway musicals that should come to the West End

The West End has a bunch of musicals playing that have transferred over from Broadway including Wicked, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Pajama Game, The Book Of Mormon, Jersey Boys and Memphis to name a few. I look at some productions that have played on Broadway that should come to the West End... Take a look and see if you agree! Have I missed any? Tweet me the ones you'd like to see come to London! @PocketSizeBoy


Dreamgirls made its broadway premiere in late 1981 and closed on August 11 1985, after 1,521 performances. Around the time it was on Broadway a film version was in the works with names such as Whitney HoustonLauryn Hill and Kelly Price in the mix to star. However it didn't actually happen until  2006 with Jamie FoxxBeyoncĂ© KnowlesEddie MurphyDanny Glover and Jennifer Hudson starring. The production has never actually made it over to London. You'd think with the success of the film that it would be a perfect time to produce it. I'd love for this show to come to London, I think it would do pretty well and with the right creative team it could be incredible! 


Aida made its Broadway premiere in 2000, the show has music by Elton John and lyrics by Tim Rice and was produced by Disney. The show closed after 1,852 performances and two national tours followed.  The show has never been professionally performed in the UK, with the composers both originally from the UK its seems London would be a great place to bring the production to. The soundtrack is unbelievable and I am convinced the West End would be a perfect place for it. 

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