Monday, November 28

Yorkshire & Humber

<strong>Nobody: A Dance-Circus Adventure – Hull New Theatre</strong>
Yorkshire & Humber

Nobody: A Dance-Circus Adventure – Hull New Theatre

I have just one question to ask the seven performers who entertained in Nobody: A Dance-Circus Adventure at the Hull New Theatre on Thursday evening, and that is “What planet are you all from?”. I’ve lived on planet Earth all my life, so I’ve sort of got an inkling of what humans are capable of. But this crew are out of this world. The stage setting started off simply enough with a few random boxes, lit up to look like mini-office blocks (that’s my interpretation, anyway). A huge video screen backdrop showed a cityscape of high-rise buildings, and a sky full of moving clouds. A massive cube in front of the screen was draped in material, showing a building plus moving digital scenes. Each alien, I mean performer, plays two roles - one as a crow, representing the humans’ inner voic...
<strong>Demon Dentist – Hull New Theatre</strong>
Yorkshire & Humber

Demon Dentist – Hull New Theatre

My second trip to the dentist in one week saw me at the Hull New Theatre on Wednesday evening, when Demon Dentist came to town. Thank goodness my first visit was a much less scary experience - nothing like the evil tooth-puller let loose on the stage in this adaptation of David Walliams’ book. The dental monster, the aptly-named Miss Root (Emily Harrigan), is the stuff of nightmares, especially for 12-year-old Alfie (Sam Varley), whose bad dental experience six years earlier had put him off dentists for life. However, strange things had been happening in the town where Alfie lives with his loving dad (James Mitchell), which had drawn the schoolboy back into the world of teeth, or lack thereof in some cases. Children who had lost a tooth and had placed it under their pillow rea...
<strong>The Shadow Whose Prey The Hunter Becomes – Leeds Playhouse</strong>
Yorkshire & Humber

The Shadow Whose Prey The Hunter Becomes – Leeds Playhouse

It’s hard to think of many pieces of work where actors with disabilities are lead actors and even less so where they have roles that offer them much more. This powerful piece was devised by Australian people with disabilities working with Back to Back Theatre in Geelong. It’s performed by three actors with different intellectual disabilities (the term used in their native land) and is a breath of fresh air as it makes the audience understand them as people with the same hopes, dreams and faults as anyone else as they explore what true equality might look like. Simon Laherty, Sarah Mainwaring and Scott Price have called a public meeting ostensibly to discuss what a civic society might look like, but soon turns into a passionate debate about what it means to be seen as just a disabled...
<strong>The Sound of Music – Rotherham Civic Theatre</strong>
Yorkshire & Humber

The Sound of Music – Rotherham Civic Theatre

The Sound of Music - based on the true story of the von Trapp family and taken from Maria von Trapp’s memoir, ‘The Story of the Trapp Family Singers’ has wowed audiences and critics alike since its Broadway debut in 1959. With their last collaboration of music and lyrics by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II and the book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, the musical is a timeless classic. After winning five Tony Awards including Best Musical, it was adapted into an award-winning film in 1961 starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. This romantic and unforgettable musical takes place in Austria as a time of impending war. Lively novitiate Maria, how has clear cut plans to become a nun even though she has trouble following the rules of the abbey. Wisely, Maria is sent by ...
The Commitments – Hull New Theatre
Yorkshire & Humber

The Commitments – Hull New Theatre

I spent Hallowe’en in Dublin, Ireland - not literally, I was at the Hull New Theatre on Monday evening watching The Commitments, a story set in the Emerald Isle. The production, part of a nine-month UK and Ireland tour, had me hooked from the opening scene of a disparate bunch of pub regulars, in the run-up to Christmas. Based on the 1991 film of the same name, it tells of local working-class music-lover Jimmy (James Killeen) who persuades a number of his compatriots to form a band with him. Amazed to be asked, they all agree; three girl singers and a very experienced trumpeter, Joey the Lips (Stuart Reid), also sign up. Deco (Ian McIntosh) is equally amazed to be asked to be the lead singer, only having sung in public on a drunken night out, which he had no recollection of. W...
Bugsy Malone: The Musical – Hull New Theatre
Yorkshire & Humber

Bugsy Malone: The Musical – Hull New Theatre

On Tuesday evening a packed Hull New Theatre sat facing quite a drab stage setting as they waited for “curtain up” for Bugsy Malone: The Musical. Well, drab soon turned to fab as the fantastic setting throughout turned out to be one of the best I’ve seen in any show. The nightclub tables, complete with lit lamps, descending from above, tablecloths billowing out, was just one unforgettable scene. All credit must go to stage designer Jon Bausor, who was also responsible for the amazing costumes throughout. The story, set in 1920s New York, centres around rival gangster bosses, club owner Fat Sam and the smartly dressed Dandy Dan, two small-time “hoods” for whom nothing seems to go right - often with hilarious consequences. Exciting events, often to a backdrop of the rat-a-tat-tat o...
The Commitments – Sheffield Lyceum
Yorkshire & Humber

The Commitments – Sheffield Lyceum

I had been waiting for this one, as a fan of the novel-cum-cult film by Roddy Doyle and I certainly enjoyed my evening. This musical whilst a 5-star juke box musical night’s entertainment, leaves the purists amongst us longing for a more politically developed and socially aware production.  Instead of the slight nod to the issues of drugs and disillusion in the 1980’s Dublin, early comments such as ‘the Irish are the blacks of Europe’ are unfortunately never fully explained and explored. The production in effect sells itself out to the jukebox genre whilst promising to be so much more, it runs in the veins of similar productions such as We Will Rock You rather than dealing with the issues like Green Day’s American Idiot. But all that said The Commitments is was a cracking night of Rh...
The Osmonds: A New Musical – Hull New Theatre
Yorkshire & Humber

The Osmonds: A New Musical – Hull New Theatre

I headed to the Hull New Theatre on Tuesday evening to review The Osmonds: A New Musical, safe in the knowledge that my financial outlay would be minimal. A free ticket and interval drink meant my only expense would be a pre-production coffee. I was absolutely certain that Donny Osmond’s recording of Puppy Love and his sister Marie’s Paper Roses (the only two Osmond songs I could recall … apart from my worst song of all time, Crazy Horses) would never, ever make it on to my ageing iPod. Well, dear reader, all I can say is I will never be rich. Back home I downloaded everything Osmondy I could find (except Crazy Horses!). From the not-so-glittery curtain up, the show grew on me by the minute. It was Jay Osmond (Alex Lodge), one of the older Osmonds, who narrated their story, writt...
Orpheus In The Record Shop – Leeds Playhouse
Yorkshire & Humber

Orpheus In The Record Shop – Leeds Playhouse

One of the rare bright spots during the pandemic was getting masked up between outbreaks up to see Orpheus In The Record Shop, and this unique collaboration between rapper Testament and Opera North is back as we return to whatever the new normal is. Fusing mysticism, rap, beatboxing and some of the country’s best classically trained musicians, Testament has boldly reworked the Orpheus myth of a musician descending into the underworld to reclaim his lost love. It’s a broad mix of influences that shouldn’t really work, but it does partly due to Testament’s confidence is his ability to beatbox and rap his way through this classic tale, and the fact that the members of Opera North’s Chorus and Orchestra have totally bought into his vision as they drift onto the stark Quarry stage throug...
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo – Hull New Theatre
Yorkshire & Humber

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo – Hull New Theatre

With names such as Helen Highwaters (aka Duane Gosa), Vavara Laptopova (Takaomi Yoshino), Maria Clubfoot (Alejandro Gonzalez) and Olga Supphozova (Robert Carter), in the programme, it was going to be difficult to take anything seriously at the Hull New Theatre on Tuesday evening, when Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo brought their male-only troupe to the city. But we in the decent-sized audience soon realised this extremely talented bunch were deadly serious when it comes to their art - ballet dancing, with a difference. Men in tutus may not sound appealing, but I can promise you there wasn’t a hairy chest, no huge biceps or a five o’clock shadow to be seen - these “ballerinas” were graceful, toned, ultra-fit and had the best legs in the business. And they danced en pointe f...