Your Toys

756005152-04-07-2017-15-47-54.A picture of Your Toys

Slot Machine Theatre have created a pure delight for families with their latest production, Your Toys. The 5 strong cast don overalls to resemble furniture removal workers and, surrounded by a set full of cardboard boxes and flatpacks, they bring make-believe to the stage awakening youngsters imaginations.

The show sees the audiences’ well-loved toys take to the spotlight as they go on a journey through sand, sky and even a jungle, animated by the clever puppeteering performers. There’s squeals and smiles from the mini-theatre goers during the fun filled 60 minutes as they witness their toys coming to life, from plastic dinosaurs to even a prized scarf!

The innocence and charm of childhood is used to the max in this production with audience participation creating sound effects, kids drawings projected onto the backdrop and a script with its own made up gobbledygook. To top it all off we got to see a Doc McStuffin’s toy busting some great dance moves alongside Bagpuss and a Panda…how many times can you say you will witness that? A real joy to watch and I imagine a unique show every time, depending on which toys come to play!

IMG_5903

Daisy, our mini-reviewer

 

Mini-reviewer Daisy, aged 7

“I loved the fact that the toys from the audience were put in the show. I recommend that you should bring your toys to this show. The ages that are welcome are 5 – 9 years. The puppeteers were amazing Matthew Coulton, Nadia Morgan, Isabel Sharman and Nicola Blackwell. We loved seeing our toys in the adventure. My favourite part was when they did dancing with the toys on the stage and when the toys sang  Don’t Eat The Berries which was very funny. The musician Nick Tigg was as good as the puppeteers, making outstanding sound effects and putting smiley faces on the crowd.”

Your Toys played The Lowry, Salford Sunday 29th October

The show is next played at The Lyric, Hammersmith, London 4th November

 

Flashdance the Musical

joanne-clifton-as-alex-owens-credit-brian-hartley-02

By guest reviewer Casey Nicole Gwilliam

Flashback to the 80’s in this dazzling production of the all time classicJoanne Clifton dazzles as the feisty Alex, a young apprentice welder with a passion for dance, and a dream to get into the prestigious Shipley School of Dance.

With the help of her old dance teacher Hannah (Carol Ball), Alex prepares for her Shipley audition, as well as falling for the dashingly handsome Nick Hurley (Ben Adams) and having to save the day and set her friend Gloria (Hollie Ann Lowe) straight, she seizes the opportunity and dances her heart out.

ben-adams-and-flashdance-company-credit-brian-hartley-01

The numbers that were amongst audience favourites included “Maniac” and “Gloria” as well as the crowd pleasing “I Love Rock and Roll” which wowed the audience as the immensely talented ensemble dazzled with their moves demonstrating some  incredible tricks that made the audience wince and then cheer. The entire ensemble gathered together and created an absolutely amazing and retro atmosphere, wowing the audience with their moves and vocals that left even the audience breathless!

The lighting and set along with the extremely vintage costuming hurled the audience into the 80’s along with the perms and pumps. The authentic 80’s feel gave a sense of nostalgia, and was in keeping with the 1983 movie of the same title. Keeping audiences happily entertained.

flashdance-company-credit-brian-hartley-05

Joanne Clifton’s performance stood out as leading lady, Alex. Her husky voice was perfect for the scrappy young dancer and her acting and singing skills were on a par with her dance; proving to be a delightful triple threat. As well as having the audience envy her for pulling off spanks and a sports bra for the majority of the show.

Overall the show makes for an extremely enjoyable evening and was an instant hit with the audience, everybody was up dancing during the finale mega-mix ensuring everyone got a chance to show their moves!

flashdance-company-credit-brian-hartley-08

Flashdance the Musical is on at the Blackpool Opera House until Saturday 4th November, tickets available here http://www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk/events/flashdance/

Slava’s Snow Show

Slava

Created by Slava Polunin back in 1993, Slava’s Snow Show has been seen across the world from Argentina to Australia winning multiple awards along the way.

This brilliantly bonkers show feels spontaneous and free with clever improvisation from Slava’s troop of clowns; adults and children alike are captivated by this enthralling and imaginative piece.

Lead clown Assissiai guides us through the evening via a series of scenes which surprise and engage the senses, moving from gentle, precise mimes to loud blaring snowstorms in an instant this multi-sensory piece keeps the audience engaged from start to finish.

There is a rich mix of sketches which don’t shy away from the darker emotions of life but offer reflective moments as we observe Assissiai and his bemusement at the world, he is pensive and poetic, juxtaposed to this are the green clowns who accompany him throughout the piece, loud, silly and hilariously mischievous.

Slava 2

The beauty of this show is the variety and joy it brings; from quiet pensive moments to the jubilant festival atmosphere at the finale this show is inclusive and wonderfully interactive. Nobody in the stalls escapes the giant cobweb which is pulled across the entire audience, tangling them up creating a giddy delight, nor do many escape a soaking from the clowns who clamber across the audience, their broken umbrellas spouting sprays of water onto the squealing spectators beneath them.

You can’t helped but be whisked up in this magical spectacle as the audience is encouraged to be free and act very differently than they usually would at the theatre. Joy spreads through the audience as the finale builds, the energy of the performers is infectious.

Slava’s aim was to ‘…help the spectators be released from the jail of adulthood…to create a show that would take us back to our childhood dreams’ as adults and children joyfully play together in the snow, shrieking with delight as giant bouncing balls approach it is abundantly clear he has more than achieved his aim. Fantastic family fun!

★★★★

Slava 1

On at the Lowry until Sunday 29th October tickets available here www.thelowry.com/events/slavas-snow-show

 

Liza Pulman sings Streisand

Liza2

By guest writer Amy Stutz

Singer, actor and one-third of cabaret group Fascinating Aida, Liza Pulman is on the road with her new show that honours the legendary icon Barbra Streisand.

Liza creates a thrilling and vibrant 90-minute set showcasing Barbra’s sensational career and finest musical numbers. The American singer, songwriter, actress, and filmmaker Barbra Streisand had a remarkable career spanning 6 decades and Liza draws this into a humorous and entertaining show that tells the story of Barbra Streisand through her iconic hits, enhanced by Liza’s exceptional 6-piece band The Stardust Ensemble.

There is no doubt Streisand has a catalogue of hits, but Liza draws together a strong array of numbers that span her impressive career, demonstrating her immense ability to sing just about anything and make it her own. Kicking off with Barbra’s powerful number Don’t Rain On My Parade from the musical Funny Girl, Liza sings soulfully with a jazzy flair, displaying her tremendous vocal talent. Starting as she means to go on, Liza doesn’t do an impression or tribute act to Barbra, but uses her exemplary vocal talent and stage presence to bring Barbra’s music to life.

Interjected within the music, Liza fuses her show with wit and humour as she tells the story of Barbra’s life, even including personal anecdotes. After the high-spirited opening, Liza slows it down with You’ve Got A Friend written by Carole King that appears on her album Barbra Joan Streisand.

liza 1

Despite her phenomenal musical credits, Barbra only ever actually appeared in two Broadway musicals, the first being I Can Get It for You Wholesale by Harold Rome. Liza delves into the history of the musical which wasn’t particularly strong until Barbra stepped out on stage in the second act to sing Miss Marmelstein, which has the audience instantly on their feet, rising Barbra Streisand to fame. Liza plays tribute to this with her expressive and energetic performance of the fearlessly funny song.

Displaying the fine range of Ms Streisand, Liza strips it back to a touching performance of Sleeping Bee accompanied by Andy Taylor’s beautiful guitar. A pivotal moment in Barbra’s career is when she stepped on live television to sing with Judy Garland and Liza highlights this with a stunning number that displays her sweet and crisp vocal tones, which also shines in her rendition of New York State Of Mind.

Opening the second act of the evening, led by the extraordinary musical director Joseph Atkins, The Stardust Ensemble are multi-talented as they bring an abundance of dynamic instruments to show the diversity of Ms Streisand and her classic musical numbers. Neil Diamond’s You Don’t Bring Me Flowers is performed by Liza with poignancy and emotion.

Ending with two phenomenal belters, Happy Days Are Here Again and People, Liza’s vocal range is nothing less than astonishing. She encapsulates the audience with each musical number that are bursting with characterisation. Her stage presence is fused with knowledge and charisma to bring a well-rounded show that is entertaining, engaging and a sincere tribute to the phenomenon that is Barbra Streisand.

★★★★★

Liza Pulman is currently on tour with Liza Sings Streisand and tickets and information can be found here.

 

Sunset Boulevard

SUNSET BOULEVARD. Ria Jones 'Norma Desmond'. Photo Manuel Harlan (4)

After firstly workshopping the role of Norma Desmond an incredible 26 years ago Ria Jones finally gets to shine as the leading lady in Leicester Curve’s revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s magnificent Sunset Boulevard which opened at Manchester’s Palace theatre last night.

Forgotten screen siren Norma Desmond (Ria Jones) lives a lonely and reclusive life in her mansion up on Sunset Boulevard, the silent movie star is surplus to requirement now that talkies have taken over tinsel town, yet she refuses to believe there could ever be a bigger star than her. She desperately needs a comeback, an opportunity to make people realise she is still a big deal, cue the arrival of penniless screenwriter Joe Gillis (Danny Mac) who stumbles into her fantasy world and becomes seduced by the luxurious lifestyle and the potential ‘masterpiece’ she feels will make them both their fortune and catapult her back where she belongs.

Ria Jones gives the performance of her life as Norma Desmond in this twisted and tragic love story. Her portrayal of the aging actress, clawing onto her past relevance is sublime. One minute she is carefree, laughing, smiling and full of joy the next full of rage as her insecurities suffocate and threaten to consume her. Fragile yet fearless, talented but tragically cast aside by Hollywood, Jones puts every ounce of her being into her performance and is an absolute triumph.

Danny Mac is equally superb as writer Joe Gillis, his desperation to succeed sucks him into Desmond’s fantasy, vocally this is a hugely demanding role and Mac is more than up to the job as he guides us through this tragic tale, rarely off stage he delivers and then some, he is perfectly cast and entirely believable, his voice smooth and strong.

SWJOFZ~4

High praise must also go Molly Lynch as Betty Schaefer and Adam Pearce as Max Von Meyerling, both are superb in their supporting roles making each hugely memorable.

With deliciously dramatic staging, involving Norma Desmond arriving into most scenes via moving platforms or via theatrically winding staircases Sunset Boulevard really is a show of great style and serious quality. Ben Cracknell’s atmospheric lighting is outstanding, illuminating both Colin Richmond’s set and costumes to perfection, Norma Desmond’s costumes especially are delightfully opulent, velvets and silks are lavishly jewelled and feathered, further rubber-stamping the undeniable diva we see on stage.

Accompanied by a sublime sixteen piece orchestra Sunset Boulevard is not to be missed, dramatic, dark and utterly compelling.

★★★★★

On at the Palace theatre until Saturday 4th November book tickets here; http://m.atgtickets.com/shows/sunset-boulevard/palace-theatre-manchester/

Sleeping Beauty

Claire Sweeney

Regal Entertainments continue their commitment to delivering top class year round pantos with their latest half-term offering in the form of family favourite Sleeping Beauty.

Starring theatre legend Claire Sweeney and the much loved Tam Ryan this is a high energy, high quality, fantastically fun family show that delivers first class entertainment for both children and adults alike.

There’s the traditional opportunities to boo, cheer and scream, ‘It’s behind you’ as well as just the right amount of cheeky jokes to keep Mum and Dad entertained as the little ones in the audience giggle and sing along to lots of well-known classics including Always Look on the Brightside of Life and Proud Mary.

Roy Brandon and Tam Ryan

Claire Sweeney is brilliantly cast as Carabosse, bad tempered, bad mannered and of course completely wicked. She whips the audience into a booing frenzy as she attempts to spread doom and gloom across the Kingdom by ruining Sleeping Beauty’s plans for happiness with Prince George.

Sweeney is joined by a very strong cast who each bring enormous fun to this great production. Panto favourite Tam Ryan is on top form as Chester the Jester, wonderfully entertaining and charmingly cheeky he has the audience in hysterics from start to finish.

Sleeping Beauty 2

Jess Pritchard also shines as Fairy Sparkle, delivering every line in rhyme she guides us through the story with her witty and sharp narration.

With stunning costumes, impressive sets and beautiful choreography from Sarah Walker, Sleeping Beauty will have you wishing it was panto season all year round, oh no it won’t, oh yes it will!

On at the Theatre Royal St Helens until Sunday 29th October, tickets available here; www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com/show/?show_id=873570128 

Sleeping Beauty

 

 

 

 

Behind the Scenes of Flashdance – The Musical – Part 2 Ben Adams

ben-adams-and-flashdance-company-credit-brian-hartley-01

As part of out Flashdance The Musical interviews we spoke to Ben Adams who plays Nick Hurley alongside Joanne Clifton as Alex Owens ahead of the show’s opening night this evening  in Blackpool.

Flashdance is associated with one of the most iconic dance scenes ever; will we see you throw some shapes during the show?

Ben: My character isn’t supposed to dance at all, he’s the polar opposite really to Alex the female lead who does a huge amount of dancing, I don’t really get to do any, I don’t think the producers knew that I could dance as there wasn’t anything in the script, although I do throw a few shapes at the end but it’s nothing spectacular compared to the rest of the incredibly talented cast, particularly Joanne Clifton her dancing is fantastic.

ON: The last time we saw you on the stage you were playing Aladdin in Panto, how does appearing in a musical differ to panto?

Ben: It’s very, very different, my character in Flashdance is quite serious, also American, they really are very different art forms, similarly though it’s a lot of fun, I’ve had so much fun doing this show so far, it really is a great role to play.

ben-adams-as-nick-hurley-credit-brian-hartley

ON: How did you become involved in this production?

I’d spent the first sort of six months of this year writing and producing for other artists, but I kind of felt that sitting in a studio writing things for other people to go and have fun with is something I could always do alongside other work and also something I can do as I get older, I feel at the moment I haven’t really got the performing bug out of my system so when Flashdance came along I though yes this is a perfect opportunity to get out there, tour the country and have a bit of fun while doing so.

ON: Sellador are known for their creativity, how have you found working with them?

Selladoor are brilliant, such an incredibly brilliant production company who are doing so well at the moment, the last production I saw of theirs was Little Shop Of Horrors which was absolutely fantastic, so as soon as I realised that Selladoor were doing this I knew it was an absolute no brainer, I knew it was going to be a great show.

ben-adams-and-flashdance-company-credit-brian-hartley

ON: Your new single has been getting plenty of attention, could a new album and maybe a tour be next on the cards?

Before I agreed to do Flashdance I’d already planned to do the album so I’ve actually finished that now and was going to put it out but thought maybe we should postpone it as I don’t have a lot of time to go out and promote it but now so much is done online anyway so you can really reach so many people online and through social/online media so it’s not really a problem, the album is now planned for the beginning of 2018 which I’m really excited about. It’s really nice to see what a great response the single has got as I think a lot of people in my position are maybe pushed into doing more middle of the road stuff, not necessarily tracks that are particularly modern but because I produce my own material I can really do whatever I want to do.

ON: We’ve noticed a bit of activity on twitter from your musical the Eugenius! account, can you give us any spoilers?

I can’t announce anything officially but watch this space for an announcement very, very soon! Make sure you’re following!

the-flashdance-company-credit-brian-hartley-10

ON: After your experience working with Joanne Clifton would you consider a stint on Strictly?

I actually did Strictly in Norway and I came second which Joanne likes to rub in because obviously she came first, I’m not sure I’d be allowed to do the British one due to already doing a version but I absolutely loved it. It was so much harder than it looks, there were things that I was doing that I thought looked good and then they judges just told me it was all wrong, I quickly had to buck up my ideas and really learn it as best I could. The discipline is unbelievable, it’s very tricky.

Speaking of tricks, you’ll be in Blackpool for Halloween, will you be playing any tricks on your fellow cast members?

Of course! I’m a 35 year old man with a 16 year old mind, so there will be a lot of that I’m sure, I haven’t quite worked out what yet but I’ll absolutely be planning something!

Flashdance opens at the Blackpool Opera House on Monday 23rd October and runs until Saturday 4th November for tickets head to www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk/events/flashdance/