Saturday, June 15

West Midlands

Wicked – Birmingham Hippodrome
West Midlands

Wicked – Birmingham Hippodrome

“There’s No Place Like Brum!” There’s certainly no place Brum for the next few weeks as the international green-faced, broomstick-wielding, hit-stuffed mega-musical drops its house on the stage of the Birmingham Hippodrome which it will be calling no place like home until the 7th April. “Wicked” erupted on Broadway in a flume of green smoke 21 years ago and has been dazzling us with a rainbow of pizzazz ever since. Stemming from Gregory Maguire’s 1995 revisionist exploration of the characters from L.Frank Baum’s 1900 novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” itself adapted into the cloyingly sentimental and techo-surrealist 1939 movie starring Judy “Slippers” Garland, “Wicked” has become the mainstay of both West End and Broadway with many an actress donning the Shrek-hued make-up and defy...
And Then There Were None – The Alexandra
West Midlands

And Then There Were None – The Alexandra

When first I read “And Then There Were”, a novel sensibly shorn of its original title, I closed the final page convinced that no one for a thousand pounds could work out how the murder was done. The explanation was so profoundly improbable and bizarrely unlikely as to warrant a well-deserved grunt and a huff and a sigh of incredulity from this reader. However, despite my lowly opinion, the book has found its place as a (if not “the”) best-selling crime novel of all time. Quite a claim in such a packed genre with everyone from Richard Osman to Alan Titchmarsh having a crack. We love murders! We love detectives - be they little old ladies, vain Belgians or high-functioning sociopaths in deerstalkers. This tome by the indisputable monarch of murder, Agatha Christie, (Dame of the British Empi...
Bhangra Nation: A New Musical – Birmingham Rep
West Midlands

Bhangra Nation: A New Musical – Birmingham Rep

2024 starts with a bhang! Dancing just got serious! The Birmingham Rep presents the UK Premiere of Bhangra Nation. This is a sensational new show about finding your true self and explores the thrilling world of competitive Bhangra dancing.  The story follows a university Bhangra dance team. When teammates Mary and Preeti's Bhangra team qualifies for Nationals, they set off on opposing quests to dance to their own beat. Preeti believes that the team needs to stick to tradition, but Mary is passionate about shaking things up to belong to today. Drawing from competitive Bhangra and mixing it with other Indian and Western dance forms, Bhangra Nation – A New Musical is a brash, intoxicating, and joyous musical comedy for today. Photo: Craig-Sugden We are instantly transport...
An Officer and a Gentlemen – Alexandra Birmingham
West Midlands

An Officer and a Gentlemen – Alexandra Birmingham

Like “Dirty Dancing” before it, yet another of the screen to stage transmutations which seem to proliferate currently, “An Officer and a Gentlemen” has a single, vibrant choreographic image around which all else might be considered mere dressing. He lifts her up (presumably where she belongs) and carries her from the factory surrounded by applauding workers and colleagues. So ingrained is that image in my mind I can recall it without any research 42 years after its release! Such is the power of screen, but what of stage? In the highest grossing movies of 1982 only ET and Tootsie* elbowed “An Officer and a Gentleman” into third place just above Rocky III - which, I’m sure, would make an excellent ballet - proving itself a huge success for Richard Gere, Debra Winger and the very shouty L...
Spot’s Birthday Party – Theatre Severn
West Midlands

Spot’s Birthday Party – Theatre Severn

It’s hard to believe Eric Hill’s joyous creation has been bouncing joyfully through children’s literature for over forty years. I’m not sure what that is in doggy years, but Spot’s appearance in Shrewsbury this afternoon showed no sign of old age or flagging. “Where’s Spot?” quietly appeared on our book shop shelves in 1980 and slowly went talkies all over the country and onto bedroom bookshelves all over the world. Spot, the worldwide phenomenon, has barked in over sixty languages and has appeared on television, video, DVD, CD and now, in what appears its natural habitat, on stage. Surrounded by a giggling, gurgling, pointing, chatting audience with an average age of about 6, this critic took his seat wondering what wonders would unfold in the doggy world of which he knew so little. W...
2:22 A Ghost Story – Wolverhampton Grand
West Midlands

2:22 A Ghost Story – Wolverhampton Grand

We should have known Danny Robin’s career would have led him up the cemetery path towards the dark side of the racks when one of his first forays into entertainment was the kids tv show, Young Dracula. The signs were all there. We should have sought the help of a vampire slayer when we had the chance, but no. Danny grew into an adult with a penchant for the paranormal, a weakness for the weird, a taste for the terrifying and an urge for the uncanny. As a young stand-up he may have died many times, but in the afterlife, he seems to have reincarnated himself as a presenter of the hauntingly addictive and truly unsettling TV and radio reality series, “Uncanny”. Those of us who hid behind a cushion as each ghostly tale throttled our imagination will approach this play with trepidation, angst ...
Edward Scissorhands – Birmingham Hippodrome
West Midlands

Edward Scissorhands – Birmingham Hippodrome

Matthew Bourne’s buoyant, yet tender, tale of acceptance and difference arrives at the Birmingham Hippodrome to a rousing audience welcome adding to the growing list of shows about inclusivity and understanding, “Everyone Talking About Jamie”, “Billy Elliot” etc which British audiences seem to adore and welcome with open arms. For those who don’t know, the ballet first emerged as a film by Tim Burton, a director known for championing odd, quirky and ultimately endearing tales of equally odd, quirky and ultimately endearing characters with Edward Scissorhands being, perhaps, one of the oddest. The 1990 gothic fantasy romance (as Wikipedia terms it covering as many bases as possible in an attempt to describe it) provided a great vehicle for Johnny Depp drawing on the director’s feelings of ...
The Full Monty – The Alexandra
West Midlands

The Full Monty – The Alexandra

Most people know one thing about The Full Monty, it’s about a group of men who decide to be male strippers. There is however a whole lot more to this brilliant show than that. The themes in this play are as relevant now as they were when the story was first written. As the redundant steel workers struggle to make ends meet and deal with unemployment in their own ways, we are shown a realistic portrayal of the struggles faced by anyone in that position. Each character has his issues, Gaz the laddish, confident rogue played with gusto and heart by Danny Hatchard, who would do anything for his son. Dave (Neil Hurst) dealing with weight problems and rock bottom self-esteem and Gerald (Bill Ward) trying desperately to hide his unemployment from his wife and the world. These and the other me...
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – Wolverhampton Grand
West Midlands

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – Wolverhampton Grand

Everybody’s Talking About Finton! Rarely do you get the chance to witness an understudy triumph in a role, but tonight at the Grand was once such moment. Finton Flynn slipped into the title role with big heels to fill which he did with aplomb. A joyous, buoyant comic performance tempered with a well judged dash of poignancy made this performance in equal parts outstanding and endearing. He exploded with assured confidence and squeezed every drop out of line and every lyric. Certainly, a performer to look out for. Elsewhere Rebecca McGinnis more than held her own as Jamie’s long-suffering mother nailing a beautiful ballad in act two. She forms a great comic partnership with Shobna Gulati whose comic heritage is well-known. And Talia Palamathanan is a total delight as Priti and nails ...
Peter Pan the Musical – The Old Rep
West Midlands

Peter Pan the Musical – The Old Rep

Go on and join The Old Rep Theatre for something magical this Christmas as Peter Pan The Musical flies into Birmingham. Based on the infamous novel by J.M. Barrie, with book, music, and lyrics by Piers Chater Robinson. This production is produced by the BOA group. Alec Fellows-Bennett returns to head up the creative team as Director, with CiCi Howells as Choreographer, Stephen Watkins as Musical Director, Daniel O’Neill as Set Designer and Leanne Fitchett as Costume Designer. Alongside them is Will Monks as Lighting and Projection Designer and Clive Meldrum as Sound Designer. The story follows a free-spirited, mischievous young boy who can fly and never grows up, Peter Pan spends his never-ending childhood having endless adventures in Neverland as the leader of the Lost Boys, intera...