All My Sons

Reviewed by Jodie Crawford

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Altrincham Garrick Playhouse bring us this “intensely personal” Arthur Millar play, All My Sons, directed by Carole Carr.

The play centres around the Keller family, a family suffering from the unknown fate of one of their sons, Larry, who has been reported “missing in action” three years previously.

The father, Joe, played by David Beddy, had been acquitted of supplying faulty cylinder heads for combat planes, during the war, and left his business partner take the blame.

The daughter of the business partner was the Keller’s son Larry’s sweetheart, Annie (Katie Cullen) who after the incarceration of her father had moved to New York City with her mother. In the play, we see her return to her childhood hometown and into the bosom of the Keller family. Some of whom are delighted by her visit, while others are reminded so much of their loss by her return. Larry’s brother Chris (Tom Broughton) is still living at home and is working with his father. He has plans to marry Annie and not everyone is happy about it – this triggers a spiraling of emotions as the truth finally sets itself free.

This play is about versions of truth, relationships and community. Although this play is decades old, there is so much that is relevant today.

Altrincham Garrick Playhouse, once again demonstrates to us that they have talent in abundance. This cast is truly superb. David Beddy plays the strong yet vulnerable Joe Keller perfectly. One minute we love him, the next we see him as a victim and then we hate him and then we grieve for him. Exceptionally portrayed by Beddy.

Tom Broughton is a beautiful Chris Keller, he commands the audience and has great chemistry with the equally talented Katie Cullen as Annie. Brigid Henningway plays the anxious and heartbroken Kate Keller perfectly. She walks the fine line of villain and victim magnificently. The entire cast is spectacular.

Although it isn’t an easy play to watch at times and it’s hard to say that it’s an enjoyable story, it is important. It’s a story that Miller wrote with purpose, as he did with everything he wrote. We learn through his script that we are all versions of ourselves, and that things are not always as they seem.

Bravo, Altrincham Garrick Playhouse, once again you bring us great theatre in such a truly professional way.

All My Sons is running until Saturday 19th November at the Altrincham Garrick Playhouse tickets available here.

Interview | Martin Kaye talks Elton John – It’s A Little Bit Funny

Elton John: It’s A Little Bit Funny tells the incredible story of Elton John’s rise and fall (and rise again) as one of the most successful singer/songwriters ever.

What would you do if you got the chance to meet your all-time hero? That’s exactly what crossed Martin Kaye’s mind when he found himself performing in Las Vegas at the same time as Elton John a few years go – Kaye as Jerry Lee Lewis in Million Dollar Quartet and John in his The Million Dollar Piano show.

It’s this concept that has formed the basis for Elton John: It’s A Little Bit Funny, a new show starring Kaye that comes to The Bowdon Rooms in Altrincham from Monday 19th to Saturday 24th July 2021.

The show tells the (imagined) tale of one extraordinary night in Las Vegas when Elton superfan Kaye bumps into the bespectacled star and happens to spend the evening with him.

It’s a night of confessions, anecdotes, jokes and – of course – fabulous songs. And Kaye is the biggest Elton John fan ever – so who better to sing and play Elton’s greatest songs and narrate this tall tale of an unforgettable celebrity encounter. 

Here we learn a bit more about the show from writer and star Martin Kaye:

ON: Where did you get the idea for the show from?

Martin: “Well, I’m a massive Elton John fan, he’s the reason I play the piano and have done since I was a wee lad growing up in Manchester, so his music has always had a through line in my life. I was living and working in Las Vegas in ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ at Harrahs, and Elton John was also performing across the street at Caesars Palace, and I always wondered what it would be like if I ran into him, so… when I saw that Katy Lipson (one of my long time Mancunian friends) was creating so much incredible theatre in the UK, I told her I would love to work together on some kind of Elton show. She put me in touch with her script writer Chris Burgess, and the rest is history!”

 

ON: Can you tell us a bit more about the show and how it’s developed?

Martin: “Well, we firstly had to figure out how to tell a story without doing any kind of Elton John impersonation – I’m not a fan of those kinds of things, and I don’t sound or look anything like him anyway! (So anyone hoping for an Elton impersonator will be disappointed!) We wanted to just tell the story as earnestly as possible, and we thought “what better way than to tell it than through the music of Elton John and Bernie Taupin themselves”. So that’s what we did! It’s got the ups and downs, musically and narratively speaking, weaving through the story of my and Elton’s life. I’m at the front on the piano, singing and playing my little heart away, backed by the most incredible three piece band, and we play all the hits, as well as some really great deep cuts and b-sides which, if you know Elton’s music well, you may know, but if you don’t, it’s an opportunity to hear some new music, which just happen to be really great brilliantly-written songs by one of the world’s most beloved writing partnerships.”

ON: Why do you think Elton John’s songs are so well-loved and still as popular now as when he first recorded them?

Martin: “In terms of Elton himself, I think that, at the time, he was just so incredible to watch. He was nothing like anyone had ever seen since the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard – it was even a step beyond that – so people latched on to that. But it wasn’t just the performance. Match that high-octane performance with amazing songs. Life-changing songs. Songs that people could sing along to. It’s just one of those magical collaborations, isn’t it?! The Lennon/McCartney of the 70s and beyond. And the music was so diverse, so broad. It stretched from country to rock to pop to jazz to orchestral, even to musical theatre. It covered so many genres that there was something for everyone. And those early albums – gosh, those songs were just so good. Beautiful and original melodies, but somehow familiar. And at the very root of it, Elton just knows how to write an amazing chord progression. It’s so simple, yet it’s also not! And it always works. It just… works.”

ON: Which is your favourite Elton John song and why? Is this also your favourite one to perform?

Martin: “As you discover early on in the show, ‘Your Song’ was the reason I fell in love with music, so it’s easily my favourite song because of its importance to my life. And yes, it’s definitely one of my favourites to perform. There are others, sure, coz I also love the high energy stuff – Saturday Night’s Alright is a belter!”

ON: What was performing in Las Vegas like?

Martin: “I can’t even put it into words. It was a dream come true. It was everything I imagined it to be, and so, so much more. As soon as Million Dollar Quartet arrived, we became celebrities there – it was so strange, and as I mentioned earlier, the local Vegas community is so tight and really gets behind its artists, it’s so unbelievably supportive. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. So while I was there, I worked on other projects, I performed at charity shows and other events, I made friends for life – and I got to go to work on the strip! As an entertainer, living and working in the entertainment capital of the world – yep, that’ll do!”

ON: Are you looking forward to bringing the show to the Bowdon Rooms? What can audiences expect?

Martin: “I can’t WAIT. To be able to bring any show to my hometown of Manchester is special, and to be able to perform a show that’s so close to my heart – it doesn’t get much better than that really! I don’t want the audiences to expect anything, except a really fun night of incredible music, performed by a really tight band, with a wild story told by a local bald bloke.”

Elton John: It’s a Little Bit Funny stars Martin Kaye and his band, directed by Ben Stock, written by Chris Burgess, musical arrangements by Andy Collyer, production design by Ben M. Rogers, produced by Katy Lipson for Aria Entertainment.

Elton John: It’s a Little Bit Funny runs at the Bowdon Rooms, Altrincham from Monday 19th to Saturday 24th 2021. Please visit The Bowden Rooms for more information and tickets.

Listing Information

Elton John: It’s a Little Bit Funny

Monday 19th to Saturday 24th July 2021

The Bowdon Rooms, Altrincham

Tickets: £25.00 + Booking Fee 

Concessions: £22.00 + Booking Fee

For groups of 10+ please contact the venue direct on 0161 926 8992 http://www.thebowdonrooms.co.uk