Tuesday, June 18

West Midlands

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, ...
Bugsy Malone – The Rep, Birmingham
West Midlands

Bugsy Malone – The Rep, Birmingham

This revival production, originally seen in the West End in 2015, has come to Birmingham for two weeks, in the summer holidays, as part of its first professional tour. Bugsy Malone first started life as a musical film where it’s use of child actors playing every role as adults, made it stand out from the crowd. Keeping to this idea, seven of the principal roles are played by children. The adult ensemble takes all the other roles filling the stage and performing with the principals in the musical numbers. Set loosely in prohibition America, Bugsy Malone transports us to the age of gangsters, flappers and mob rivalry. However as this is a family friendly show, the gangs are running a soda business and the guns fire “Splurge” the next step in custard pie weaponry. Fat Sam’s Speakeas...
Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em – Regent Theatre
West Midlands

Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em – Regent Theatre

Fans of the original sit com in the 70’s, when we only had three channels on the TV, will be intrigued to observe the stage version of ‘Some Mothers do ‘ave ‘em. With some vague recollection of a time when Michael Crawford was the very accident prone, hapless ‘Frank’, with his facial expressions that often required no words, any stage version certainly has a lot to live up to. Written by Guy Unsworth and Raymond Allen and directed by Unsworth himself, the delivery of the comedy itself must be applauded. The writers ensure that there is a consistency to the energy in the entire performance and jokes come fast and are plentiful. Occasionally it felt as though there was almost ‘too much’ to laugh at as there were so many comedic lines delivered by all the cast throughout the entire perfor...
The Allesley Silas – Belgrade Theatre Coventry
West Midlands

The Allesley Silas – Belgrade Theatre Coventry

Originally performed in a circus marquee in Allesley as part of the Coventry City of Culture 2021, The Allesley Silas has a short run at the Belgrade Theatre. This production is a version of the George Eliot’s novel Silas Marner. It plays heavily on the local connection, the setting of Raveloe is actually Allesley and the Rainbow pub features many times in the story. Continuing the local feel, the play was devised by a production team that has connections to the area. It features professional actors alongside local community performers. Silas Marner lives in Raveloe, mixing as little as possible with the locals. This raises questions as to why and what he does. When he is robbed people’s opinions start to change. Everything is turned around even more for Marner when an orphan com...
Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em – The Alexandra, Birmingham
West Midlands

Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em – The Alexandra, Birmingham

Across the eons of time the bleep-bleep-bleep morse code theme tune familiar to millions of viewers from those old three channel TV days comes wafting into the very hot and sticky auditorium of the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham taking every single audience member back to their childhood. “Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em” was an iconic show set in the heart of middle-England sit-com land which not only gave television a number of breathtaking stunts, but a number of producers a number of headaches and any number of impressionists a regular income impersonating its star. No impressionist of the 70’s was worth their show biz salt without donning a beret and saying in a slightly camp way, “Oh, Betty!” Anyone could do and everyone did. It was a show which seared itself into our s and the theme tune...
Waitress – Wolverhampton Grand
West Midlands

Waitress – Wolverhampton Grand

As far as I can see, Waitress has been a huge success internationally with various runs on Broadway, West End and around the world and it was undoubtedly loved by the audience last night who greeted it like an old friend, laughing and cheering in equal measure at appropriate moments. Everyone seemed very familiar with the piece - apart from me. Nope. Never seen it, never heard of it. Didn’t recognise a single tune. This is no bad thing when accessing a new piece, but I did have an unsettling feeling of missing out. All the pieces fitted together - great performances, great music, great production, but beyond the clear professionalism of all concerned it didn’t quite touch me. I was, however, in a minority. Based on Adrienne Shelly’s 2007 movie of the same name it has now evolved, seemi...