Monday, November 28

West Midlands

Nativity! The Musical – The Rep, Birmingham
West Midlands

Nativity! The Musical – The Rep, Birmingham

Based on the film Nativity! The musical version premiered at The Rep in 2017 and has since had three runs in London and a UK tour. This family favourite has come home for Christmas, returning to The Rep, bringing some Sparkle and Shine to everyone. We see two Coventry schools trying their best to get a five-star review for their annual Nativity play. The private school Oakmoor excel at this where the underachieving St Bernadette’s fail to get even one star. Head of St Bernadette’s Mrs Bevan is determined this year will be different and enlists her nephew to help. While Mr Poppy is a hit with the kids his ideas are very different to Teacher Mr Maddens. Can they work together to create a masterpiece? Will Hollywood come and will lost loves be re kindled? Undisputedly the stars of this...
The Osmonds – The Alexandra, Birmingham
West Midlands

The Osmonds – The Alexandra, Birmingham

For those in their youth consumed by the 70’s legends the Osmonds last night’s show must have been a heart-warming skip down memory, for those of us who were not it was all a little bewildering. The audience was sharply divided into three camps - whooping, life-long fans, long suffering husbands and bewildered critics. The latter being by far the smaller group. This clearly does what it says on the front cloth. It is the story of the Osmonds from their early days to pretty much now and, had their lives had more dramatic turns, perhaps the story could have been more engaging, but it’s difficult to relate to these successful characters whose only anguish seems to be the dropping off of their TV rating. A later scene of bankruptcy has real bite and dramatic content but arrives for too late i...
Much Ado About Nothing – Birmingham Rep
West Midlands

Much Ado About Nothing – Birmingham Rep

I always approach Shakespeare tentatively. Not that he’s not good. In fact, I’ve heard many reports that’s he’s one of the best, but I just don’t have the ear for his words. I have trouble keeping up. So, being a thoroughly professional reporter and not wanting to lose the thread or the point or the plot, I chose to bone up prior and read up in the plot. I needed have bothered. Robert Hastie’s production made the entire plot easily and clearly accessible with a proliferation of signing, signage and surtitles designed to include just about everyone in this all-inclusive, highly-accessible, disability-friendly production. Despite some of the bard’s more esoteric images and clunky metaphors the notions, ideas and thoughts came over crystal clear easily vaulting the Shakespearean language ...
Sister Act – Birmingham Hippodrome
West Midlands

Sister Act – Birmingham Hippodrome

Immaculate! If you see only one Holy Catholic mass this season, make sure it is “Sister Act - A Divine Musical Comedy” at the Birmingham Hippodrome! It’s a joyous, elegant, comic romp riven through with the kind evangelical zeal usually only witnessed at the most passionate of churches. In the beginning was the film and the film, according to most critics, was good, and Whoopi Goldberg was, according to those same critics, “heavenly”. That was 1992 and now, thirty years later, the story is reborn and praise the lord it’s a hit! The Good Book by Cheri Steinkeller and Bill Steinkeller wipes out memories of the film whilst still retaining its joyful, liberating tone. Mix in Alan Mencken’s music and Glenn Slater’s lyrics and you have nothing short of a miracle of musical theatre! Oka...
South Pacific – Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham
West Midlands

South Pacific – Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham

For a show 73 years old, “South Pacific” more than holds its own in the modern world. Its central premise, which is fleetingly mentioned in James A. Michener’s novel “Tales of the South Pacific” but given full-flight in the musical adaptation by those giants of Broadway, Rodgers and Hammerstein, is one of racism - a subject as pertinent today as in 1949. The cross-race romance is explored deftly and sensitively, and prejudices are challenged. But this is not a preaching show. This is slap-bang Broadway classic which ran for over five years on its initial run. So, expect some solid, stonking numbers - which we get in abundance. Daniel Evans, newly appointed co-director of the RSC, helmed this ship into safe harbour when he was in charge in Chichester and he has re-shaped, re-imagined, r...
Fisherman’s Friends The Musical – The Alexandra, Birmingham
West Midlands

Fisherman’s Friends The Musical – The Alexandra, Birmingham

This musical is based on the 2019 film of Fisherman’s Friends, which also takes its inspiration from the surprise hit group of the same name. The production sails into Birmingham this week as one of its first venues on a UK Tour. When city boy Danny stumbles across a group of sea shanty singing fisherman in the little village of Port Issac, he believes he has found the next big thing. Can he gain the trust and the hearts of the village or just a slap with a wet fish? For a couple of hours you are given a window into the lives of the people of Port Issac in Cornwall. Traditions and history are part of their daily lives, dotting an old language through their conversation, celebrating Saints days and above all being there for each other. Although life is not the easiest and there is un...
Derren Brown: Showman – The Alexandra, Birmingham
West Midlands

Derren Brown: Showman – The Alexandra, Birmingham

I promised Derren I wouldn’t tell you anything. Well, it wasn’t just me - there were about fifteen hundred of us. All sworn to secrecy which, to be fair, doesn’t allow me much scope to tell you about the show, but let’s have a bash anyway. So, Derren Brown has been beguiling, bewitching and bewildering us with brash bravado and unashamed chutzpah for over twenty years offering a self-proclaimed blend of "magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection, and showmanship” and last night at the Alex in Birmingham he certainly provided examples of all of those in equal measure. He proved himself a master of reading body language and facial ticks to an uncanny and unsettling, Sherlockian level. He sniffed out someone’s childhood accident after a few minutes of looking them over. Did he read it o...
Fame – The Alexandra, Birmingham
West Midlands

Fame – The Alexandra, Birmingham

For those of us who grew to what passes for maturity in the eighties it’s almost impossible to hear the theme from “Fame” and not be enthralled by all the joy, freedom and liberation that tune offers. Dancing in the streets! Ignoring your parents! Dodging classes!  “Fame” was a watershed moment in our lives and re-invented itself as a watered-down TV show, a stage musical and remake. This new production foreshadows a reunion of the original TV cast soon in Birmingham and brims with all the youthful exuberance which made the original so unique. Boasting all the best in West Midlands talent, it brings together a huge cast of 60 young people between 19 and 24 as part of the Alexandra’s Stage Experience overseen by the imaginative and inventive skills of PollyAnn Turner together with ...
Les Misérables – Birmingham Hippodrome
West Midlands

Les Misérables – Birmingham Hippodrome

Theatre critics can sometimes be very useful. Take Sheridan Morley, for instance, who, in the mid eighties, was almost the only voice amidst a tsunami of naysayers to have something nice to say about Les Misérables. Nearly every other critic slammed it with lines like "a witless and synthetic entertainment”. The show proved them wrong and continues to prove them wrong and at 38 years it is undoubtedly one of the most successful theatrical achievements in world history. I hadn’t seen the show since 1986 but it has been with me ever since so reuniting with it last night at the Birmingham Hippodrome was like meeting a long lost friend and a long lost friend who looks and sounds a lot brighter and vibrant than the passing years would suggest. It really is a stunning price of work. The plot tr...
The Cher Show – Birmingham Hippodrome
West Midlands

The Cher Show – Birmingham Hippodrome

35 smash hits - one pop goddess screams the strap-line for “The Cher Show” and, I think, they may well be right. Cher is an iconic goddess descending from pop heaven to regenerate herself both artistically and physiologically many times over her astounding life on earth. She may not be able to claim to be an EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony) but she has accumulated an Emmy, Grammy and Oscar - you can work out the acronym yourself. From stepping into producer Phil Spector’s office in 1962 and saying “Hi” to stepping off the Abbacopter in 2018 and saying, “Mes enfants, je suis arrive!” it has been a rollercoaster career in all manner of media from film to TV to music to stage. A career many may think too implausible to capture in a simple stage musical. Well, they’d be wrong… Not one, ...