Friday, May 27

West Midlands

Magic Goes Wrong – Birmingham Hippodrome
West Midlands

Magic Goes Wrong – Birmingham Hippodrome

Mischief Theatre is back and back with a bang, literally, well a puff of smoke in this case. Their new show Magic Goes Wrong has arrived at The Birmingham Hippodrome where much havoc is being caused. Right from the start as you wait in your seat for the show to begin the actors break the fourth wall, (a trademark of Mischief Theatre) and are already up on-stage causing chaos. The resultant effect is bursts of laughter from the audience. This show is centred around a magic fundraiser, and everyone has an act. Every character manages to reel you in, testing all your emotions. But of course, nothing runs smoothly and there is blood, sweat, and tears. Amongst all the drama and farce there is still a clear narrative to the show which is easy to follow.  The story is fantastically wr...
We Will Rock You – Wolverhampton Grand
West Midlands

We Will Rock You – Wolverhampton Grand

Calling all rock theatricals, We Will Rock You has stomped its way down to the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre. In light of its 20th anniversary, Ben Elton is back at the helm directing. Whilst this musical has always seemed a little farcical due to the science fiction setting on the now renamed iPlanet it's still a firm favourite for many who were a fan of the iconic band, Queen. The show's story follows two rebels, Galileo and Scaramouche who fight against the oppressive ways of the regime to bring back the much-loved and forgotten rock and roll era. There was audible laughter from the audience throughout the show as the musical was effortlessly funny and there were plenty of comedic moments peppered throughout. The cast spouted lyrics that ranged from Gangnam Style to reciting the ly...
Mamma Mia – Birmingham Hippodrome
West Midlands

Mamma Mia – Birmingham Hippodrome

Stephen Fry once compared ABBA to a bottle of coke. It wasn’t because their bubbling pop music was sweet and saccharine. It was because the original glass bottle was so well designed - becoming a design classic - it could withstand a hundred times more pressure from its contents than it needed to. A case of over-design. Just like ABBA. Their work is so well designed, so perfectly engineered and far, far better made than it ever needs to be - that they too have become classics. If Benny and Bjorn had created songs half as good they would still be some of the most outstanding pop music in the world. And “Mamma Mia”, that staggeringly successful stage show, stands testimony to the words and music of those talented Swedes and their well-designed pop classics. The auditorium of the Birmingh...
Cluedo – The Alexandra
West Midlands

Cluedo – The Alexandra

If you love classic board games, then you are in for a real treat because the detective board game Cluedo, a fan favourite has been made into a play. This play is a brand new comedic whodunnit. The Hasbro board game has had several versions and has seen many alterations over time. There was also a 1985 hit film called CLUE based on the game itself. This new stage play is directed by Mark Bell who is known for The Play That Goes Wrong, another comedic spoof on stage. This is no different and is just as farcical and nonsensical, however, this only adds to the experience, I could clearly hear the audience in hysterics at almost every other line spoken. The plot occurs on a dark, stormy evening at a country house where Miss Scarlett, Professor Plum, Mrs Peacock, Reverend Green, Mrs Whit...
Akram Khan’s Jungle Book Reimagined – Birmingham Hippodrome
West Midlands

Akram Khan’s Jungle Book Reimagined – Birmingham Hippodrome

Beyond reclaiming a colonial text, character names and a pun on the words “urban jungle” there is little to connect “Akram Khan’s Jungle Book - Reimagined” with “The Jungle Book” by Rudyard Kipling. It is very inventive, though, but with a kind of invention usually the preserve of student shows and the fringe. Card boxes, which were plentiful, were gainfully employed in various roles and made for an intriguing Kaa, but my heart sank when I saw yet another company wafting a large sheet on stage to portray the sea. It had great intentions. It was a noble attempt to use the original story as a metaphor for the present ecological crisis and if you don’t clock that then Great Thunberg’s voice will undoubtedly confirm its credentials for you. The scant and surprisingly spartan set was supple...
Catch Me If You Can – The Alexandra, Birmingham
West Midlands

Catch Me If You Can – The Alexandra, Birmingham

This thrilling mystery based on the play Trap for a Lonely Man by French writer Robert Thomas arrives in Birmingham this week. Not to be confused with the Leonardo Di Caprio film of the same name, this American adaptation written by Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert, Catch Me If You Can tells the story of newly married Daniel Corban. Daniel and his wife have gone to the mountains for their honeymoon when Elizabeth Corban goes missing. While the police are searching, Elizabeth returns, but Daniel is adamant the woman is not his wife. Is he losing his mind or is something more sinister going on? With a single room set throughout and a small cast, Patrick Duffy as Daniel Corban is on stage for most of the play. He convincingly portrays the desperation and determination of his character...
Madam Butterfly – Birmingham Hippodrome
West Midlands

Madam Butterfly – Birmingham Hippodrome

With all the characteristic style and élan we usually associate with Welsh National Opera, “Madam Butterfly” wafted decorously and gracefully into the Birmingham Hippodrome last night, alighted with panache and, once her work was done, flitted off on the thermal undercurrents of a warm and adoring audience and was seen no more. It was a delight. A crowded, expectant and semi-masked audience sat entranced as the tale unfurled of Captain Pinkerton’s child-bride, Madam Butterfly who, after providing him with a home life and a child, is deceived and betrayed by her thoughtless husband and commits the act which all deceived and betrayed wives seem to commit in opera, but I’ll not inflict a plot-spoiler so early in proceedings suffice to say the denouement arrives inevitably but shockingly a...
Footloose – The Alexandra
West Midlands

Footloose – The Alexandra

Go cut loose down at The Alexandra Theatre Birmingham where Footloose has unashamedly danced its way into town. This fan favourite musical promises to be a smash hit. This musical is based on the 1984 film of the same name, with music by Tom Snow, lyrics from Dean Pitchford, and the book by Pitchford and Walter Bobbie. The show tells the story of Ren McCormack, an ordinary teen from Chicago who moves to a small town where dancing is banned. Ren attempts to overturn this ban and convince the town to get on its feet, resulting in moments of hilarity, triumph, and self-discovery. The music stole the show for me with classic 80s hits including Holding Out for a Hero, Almost Paradise, Let's Hear It for the Boy and of course the unforgettable title track Footloose. The iconic songs had th...
Diversity Connected Tour – Alexandra Theatre
West Midlands

Diversity Connected Tour – Alexandra Theatre

I don’t know about you, but 13 years have flown by. It feels like only yesterday it was 2009 and Diversity was winning Britain’s Got Talent. Since then, they have gone from strength to strength and have become extremely successful. Now, Diversity is back with an extravaganza of a show. As promised on their last tour, this one is bigger and better than ever! Fans will not be disappointed at this spectacle of a show which is full of powerful and energetic routines. This new show centres around social media, the internet, and the new digital world that we now find ourselves living in. It is aptly named Connected, highlighting how we are all interlinked no matter where we are in the world thanks to this new digital age. This is cleverly done by intertwining visuals alongside video messages...
Bedknobs and Broomsticks – Wolverhampton Grand
West Midlands

Bedknobs and Broomsticks – Wolverhampton Grand

The iconic Disney film Bedknobs and Broomsticks has been adapted into a ‘magical musical’ with additional songs from Neil Bartram, and a new book by Brian Hill. Adapting a beloved film for the stage can be risky, but Candice Edmunds and Jamie Harrison navigate the challenges with some flair and ingenuity. Harrison’s clever design references the original film’s animations, which also influence Gabriella Slade’s costume designs and Sam Cox’s hair and wig work. The opening sequence cleverly situates the piece in London during the Blitz as the Rawlins’ children’s world explodes. Following a bomb blast their bedroom shatters, its fractured parts framing the stage providing a constant reminder of the reality of war. There is some clever theatrical magic as we see the Rawlins’ children evacua...