Tuesday, June 18

Yorkshire & Humber

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – Hull New Theatre
Yorkshire & Humber

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – Hull New Theatre

This week Hull New Theatre plays host to the hit musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, a production inspired by the 2011 TV documentary Jamie: Drag Queen at 16 which features County Durham lad, Jamie Campbell, who, from a young age, liked to dress in girls’ clothes. The theatre was packed on Monday evening; would everybody be talking about Jamie at the show’s end? Sixteen-year-old Jamie New (the super talented Ivano Turco) lives on a Sheffield council estate with his mum Margaret (a passionate performance from Rebecca McKinnis). Single mum Margaret’s best friend is bargain-loving Ray (the amusing, sassy and protective Sejal Keshwala). The opening scene shows Jamie and his classmates with patient teacher, Miss Hedge (the irrepressible Sam Bailey), discussing their career asp...
The Syndicate – Sheffield Lyceum
Yorkshire & Humber

The Syndicate – Sheffield Lyceum

We all dream of the big lottery win but The Syndicate at the Sheffield Lyceum just falls short of hitting the theatre jackpot. Written by the supremo of creating relatable characters Kay Mellor completed the writing of this just before her death in May 2022. The Syndicate is directed by her well known daughter, Gaynor Faye, who also plays Kay, the Lottery representative. One winner from this production is the set and costume designer Bretta Gerecke. The first Act set is the shop building the characters are employed at and has multiple playing areas that allow for mood and tone. It is full and detailed and effortlessly transforms into the more clinical house interior of Stuart’s swanky new home in Act Two. A definite nod to the loss of comfortable familiarity to a harder less embracing new...
My Fair Lady – Leeds Playhouse
Yorkshire & Humber

My Fair Lady – Leeds Playhouse

For many My Fair Lady is the ultimate big screen version of a musical, but famously the vocals of one of the leading actors was overdubbed and the other talked his way through the whole thing. This Leeds Playhouse co-production with Opera North offers a return to the original hit musical that featured a young Julie Andrews, and here both leads are great singers who do full justice to Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s classic score packed with showstoppers. My Fair Lady is based on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion that took its inspiration from a Greek myth where a sculptor fell in love with one of his creations. Lerner’s book turns it into a fable where an arrogant phonetician Henry Higgins takes on a bet he can turn any woman into a lady, so he plucks Cockney flower seller Eliza...
Give Us A Sign – Bilton Theatre
Yorkshire & Humber

Give Us A Sign – Bilton Theatre

Talk about life imitating art! On Thursday evening, as my sister and I tried to follow directions to Bilton Theatre (in between house numbers 17 and 19, Main Road), to watch its amateur dramatic production of Give Us A Sign, I mentally prayed for a sign. Lo and behold, a gentleman appeared carrying a huge sign with the theatre’s details on. Phew! Surely a good omen? Turns out it was. Members of Bilton Amateur Dramatic Society (BADS) tread the boards in the village of Bilton, a short distance, east, from the city of Hull. Taking our seats in this cosy little venue, reached via a narrow lane off the Main Road, we perused the printed programme thoughtfully left on our chairs and waited for curtain up. At 7.30pm sharp the heavy stage curtains parted to reveal a suburban sitting...
The Kite Runner – Sheffield Lyceum
Yorkshire & Humber

The Kite Runner – Sheffield Lyceum

Based on the bestselling novel by Khaled Hosseini and adapted for the stage by Matthew Spangler, The Kite Runner is an epic tale of childhood friends Amir and Hassan, set in the backdrop of Afghanistan in the 1970’s. Their tumultuous story is seemingly mirrored by the horrific realities of a country on the cusp of war. The Kite Runner does not shy away from mature themes of the atrocities of brutality, rape, war and political upheaval and handles them with an exemplary display of compassionate sensitivity. Directed by Giles Croft with Design by Barney George and Composition and Musical Direction by Jonathon Girling this production is all encompassing and draws the audience into a time of affronting through Amir’s own story. If you have read the 2003 book, then I would say this production;...
Northern Ballet: Beauty & The Beast – Leeds Grand Theatre
Yorkshire & Humber

Northern Ballet: Beauty & The Beast – Leeds Grand Theatre

There have been countless versions of Beauty & The Beast over the years in film and the theatre, but David Nixon’s version for Northern Ballet is a million miles away from the saccharine Disney version delving deep into the darker elements of this love story that has its origins in Ancient Greece. Northern Ballet’s former artistic director looks to Cocteau’s classic 1946 movie for his inspiration, which offers the dancers a much more challenging understanding of how if we fail to look beyond exteriors we will miss things like love, compassion and the inner demons that make us all human. Although this is a far more subtle reading of this fable it retains all the key elements as a vain prince who is cursed by his narcissism to become a beast until he can find true love when someon...
Come From Away – Hull New Theatre
Yorkshire & Humber

Come From Away – Hull New Theatre

A complimentary badge was handed to me, along with a press pack, as I entered the Hull New Theatre on Tuesday evening, to watch the musical Come From Away. The badge depicted the Earth surrounded by the words “Wherever We Are”, words relating to one of the 14 songs in this uplifting musical. The story centres around the Newfoundland town of Gander whose inhabitants found themselves playing hosts to almost 7,000 passengers, as American and Canadian planes were grounded on September 11, 2001 after two planes crashed into the Twin Towers in New York. Although the tragedy was the catalyst for Gander’s upheaval, this lively musical doesn’t dwell on the bad stuff. The all-singing, all-dancing cast, accompanied by talented musicians, portray townsfolk who refuse to be downhearted by the...
Mind Mangler – Hull New Theatre
Yorkshire & Humber

Mind Mangler – Hull New Theatre

My reviewer mind started to be slightly mangled as I was handed my press pack in Hull New Theatre’s foyer on Thursday night, and told there would be no programme available for Mind Mangler: Member of the Tragic Circle. No programme meant I had to really pull up my reviewer socks and, gulp, concentrate for the duration of the show. After the initial shock wore off, I took my seat in row N of the stalls, after being handed a pencil and a folded card upon which we were asked to write our full name and a secret about ourselves. Now, my regular reader will know I have an intense aversion to audience participation. So I tucked the blank card away from the prying eyes of the tall young man collecting completed cards from those eager theatregoers not as averse to the spotlight. Howeve...
Little Shop of Horrors – Hull Truck Theatre
Yorkshire & Humber

Little Shop of Horrors – Hull Truck Theatre

There was an air of excitement in the packed foyer of Hull Truck Theatre, on Thursday evening, as theatregoers entered in their droves to watch a production of Little House of Horrors. Taking our seats, we were faced with a stage setting showing a small florist shop, on Skid Row, in downtown New York, belonging to a Mr Mushnik. Customers are few and far between, with drunkards and drop-outs being the only passers-by. Mushnik (Andrew Whitehead) has two assistants - nerdy Seymour (Oliver Mawdsley), whom he took in as an orphan, and the lovely Audrey (Laura Jane Matthewson), regularly battered by her abusive boyfriend, Orin (Mathew Ganley). Things were much livelier outside the shop, mainly due to three characterful females - guitarists Crystal (Zweyla Mitchell Dos Santos) and Ro...
Here You Come Again – Leeds Playhouse
Yorkshire & Humber

Here You Come Again – Leeds Playhouse

‘What would Dolly do?’ That’s the premise for the UK version of a musical comedy based on some of the greatest songs from country music’s undoubted queen Dolly Parton and one of the all-time great songwriters in any genre. Asking that question is fortysomething Kevin marooned in his parent’s attic during lockdown after splitting up with his boyfriend and his furlough pay is coming to an end. His boyhood room is a shrine to Dolly and as if by magic - or his subconscious - the relentlessly upbeat country and gay icon pops up to help her flamboyant, but secretly floundering, superfan find his way. This is not only a love letter to a big hearted philanthropist who has distributed 150 million free books to kids because her beloved daddy couldn’t read, but to a hall of fame songwriter ...