Trump – The Musical

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Trump – The Musical. 53Two Manchester

Director: Kyle Williams

Writer: Laurence Peacock

Reviewer: Matthew Forrest

The Blowfish Theatre is carving out quite the reputation for themselves: First there was Boris-The Musical, and now we have Trump – the Musical. It’s a hard task to make some of these influential people of power any more ridiculous than they are or god forbid, they may even show them in a more positive light, however writer Laurence Peacock walks the tightrope between the two and manages to create fun-filled night out.

The plot may at first seem too far-fetched to comprehend but with all that has gone on in the world, nothing would surprise me! It’s 2020 and Donald Trump (David Burchhardt) is running for election and is planning to make America great again (again!) However he has a few issues to contend with: an infatuated Vladimir Putin (Natasha Lanceley), a maniacal Kim Jong-un (Lanceley again in a dual role) and his plan to blow up the moon and of course his biggest issue: the loss of his mobile phone. Meanwhile over in the UK, which is now just England and Northern Ireland, King Nigel Farage (Kyle Williams) plans to invade Scotland, as the UK is on its uppers as a result of Brexit. Only two people can save the day: Rod (Polly Bycroft-Brown) press sectary to Trump and Roger Lavery (Laurence Peacock) Chief Minister to King Nigel: however Lavery has his own sinister agenda.

This is a political-comedy with plenty of bite poking fun at both the late and right: at times it’s absurd and a bit silly with a plot that is nonsense, but don’t let that fool you – some of the gags are bang on point: there are jokes about the treatment of disabled people, racism and immigration which are near-the-knuckle, but rather sadly aren’t too far from the truth; surely good theatre/comedy should entertain but also open up channels of debate and Trump – The Musical does that.

The ensemble cast are on great form: all over-the-top in their lampooning: Burchhardt has the easiest job of playing the narcissist Trump. He really can’t go wrong, whilst Williams is having a ball as the foul-mouthed Farage. However it’s the performances of Lanceley and Bycroft-Brown that really standout; both have a gift for comedy that shines through.

There are some great musical numbers in there, courtesy of musical director Dominic Lo, who also plays Putin’s aid Sergei. Make America Great Again! (Again!) and The New Good Old Days certainly have a satirical edge to them, but stand-out for me is Rootin’ for Putin, which is simply fantastic because of its absurdity.

Overall this is a hilarious, fun filled night out that will have you grinning throughout. A bit like an episode of the Thick of It, only laced with LSD. It’s a must for fans of musicals and satirical comedy, however if you’re easily offended still go along anyway – you’re in for a treat!

For more tour dates of Trump – The Musical visithttp://www.blowfishtheatre.weebly.com/trump.html

 

 

 

 

TEDDY

Molly Chesworth and George Parker as Josie and Teddy

Josie and Teddy, played by Molly Chesworth and George Parker. Photo by Scott Rylander

Opening Night Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

If Shakespeare did rock ‘n’ rock musicals I’d imagine they would look a lot like Teddy. Penned by award-winning writer and actor Tristan Bernays this new musical is full of lyrical verse (synonymous with Bernays work) bringing melody into the spoken word and not just the songs around them. It’s a genius production as it rethinks the musical genre and takes risks not just with the content (setting the action in a gritty 50s post Blitz East End rather than presenting the era as the sugar coated ‘dreamboats and petticoats’ dialogue we are used to) but also by having just two actors onstage throughout performing a number of different roles.

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Photo by Scott Rylander

Molly Chesworth plays Josie, a ladette, decked out in her best ‘teddy boy suit’, red lipstick slicked on, ready to tear up London town for a night to remember. Chesworth fizzes with energy from the moment the spotlight shines on her, portraying Josie as a sassy, fired up, passionate East End girl. She is mesmerising to watch and you can’t help but get drawn into her desire to live life to the full, whatever the cost. Equally impressive is George Parker as the aptly named ‘Teddy’ who strives to live up to the subculture ‘teddy boy’ persona of the era. He’s a wide boy with wide eyes for Josie and together the two anti-heroes are like a watered down version of Bonnie & Clyde, willing to risk anything for each other, driven by the excitement and thrill of doing no good.

It’s like witnessing a masterclass in acting from the duo as they morph into a number of different roles during the production. From gangster heavies, to an old fragile pawn shop owner, their physical and vocal characterisation conjures up images in the audiences’ imagination without the need for a costume or set change. In fact, the majority of Max Dorey’s set design is minimal for this reason I imagine, with just the use of some corrugated iron for the backdrop, a ladder which takes the actors up to an upper level and a number of advertising posters from the 50s up on the wall.

Johnny Valentine and the Broken Hearts. Photo by Scott Rylander

Not only will the acting impress you but the onstage live band will get your toes tapping too. Johnny Valentine and the Broken Hearts provide the soundtrack to the musical with a plethora of original songs which suit the mood perfectly and sound like they have just come out of the jukebox. The band gets the party started early on with a short set before Teddy starts and also goes on after the production has finished, resulting in you leaving the theatre wanting to rock ‘n’ roll into the small hours. They are an integral part of the show as Johnny provides the focus as the music idol of our two protagonists as they spend the night trying to get close to him.

Teddy will leave you breathless, not just from watching the vigorous performance on display from the actors (which includes an incredible jive that wouldn’t look out of place on the Strictly dance floor) but also because the dialogue and action is so fast paced it is like taking a ride on a rollercoaster.

So, strap yourself in, get yourself down to The Lowry theatre before the run finishes on 17th Feb, this is one musical you would be a fool to miss!

https://www.thelowry.com/events/teddy

For more tour dates see: http://snapdragonproductions.com/productions/teddy/

 

 

Peter Bergin is Peter Pan!

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Peter Bergin who trained at Rose Bruford, will take flight in Blackpool as he takes over the role of Peter Pan from Jake Quickenden who will soon be appearing on ITV’s Dancing On Ice.

Featuring a live band, lavish set and spectacular costumes, JM Barrie’s classic story has been wowing audiences at Blackpool’s Winter Garden’s since December 16th. Read our ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review here.

Also appearing are TV star Jennifer Ellison as the villainous Captain Hook, Blackpool’s own Maureen Nolan as Mrs Darling and Radio Wave’s Breakfast Host Scott Gallagher as Hook’s hapless sidekick, Smee.

The show runs until Sunday 7th January, offering audiences just a handful more opportunities to capture this magical family, musical adventure!

Tickets can be purchased here.

Evita

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Opening Night rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Reviewed by Matthew Forrest

It’s hard to believe that next year will see Evita celebrate it’s 40-year anniversary. The Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice collaboration became the first British musical to win the Tony award for best musical then in 1996 Evita received the Hollywood treatment when it was turned into a major motion picture starring Madonna, Antonio Banderas and Jimmy Nail. Even after all this time, the love and affection for this musical monster shows no sign of waning.

The musical charts the rise and fall of Eva Perón. From her humble rural upbringing, to her move to Buenos Aires in an attempt to become a star of stage and screen. She would meet and marry Colonel Juan Perón who would be elected president of Argentina. This is a classic tale of an ambitious young woman who desires fame, power and wealth, but at what cost to her physical health and to Argentina financially?

Evita 2 Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright’s Evita is full of life and energy: the story is so exhilarating, told at such a breakneck speed that you hardly have time to breath. Madalena Alberto plays Evita with a great deal of sass and attitude juxtaposed with beautiful elegance and grace. It’s little wonder the people of Argentina fell for her charms on the basis of this exceptional performance. Alberto’s rendition of Don’t Cry for me Argentina is simply spine-tingling. Alberto is supported by a great cast; Gian Marco Schiaretti is on fine form as Che, acting as our guide and the shows conscience his presence looms over the production providing humour and a certain degree of menace. In addition Jeremy Secomb is equally as good as Juan Perón; a stern imposing figure whom like the rest of us falls under Evita’s spell.

Evita 1 A special mention to for Cristina Hoey, whose rendition of Another Suitcase in Another Hall, very nearly steals the show. However what stood out most for me, was Bill Deamer’s fantastic and intricate choreography on the big ensemble numbers such as And the Money Keeps Rolling In (and out ) and A New Argentina: add into the mix the bright, colourful costumes and extravagant set design and you cannot help but be impressed by the energy and vibrancy of it all.

The action is pacey with much more humour than I anticipated. Overall this is a seriously quality production that has lost nothing from its transfer from the West End to a tour production. With stunning performances and incredible score Evita is a thrilling night out that will stave off the cold winter blues and certainly provide a hefty dose of Latino-heat!

Evita Evita is on at the Palace Theatre Manchester till the 9th December tickets available here

Little Women

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Louisa May Alcott’s much loved classic about the four March sisters growing up in Civil War-era New England has been a literary favourite for almost 150 years now. Seen previously on the big screen, radio plays, TV series and straight theatre plays the March sisters undoubtedly have a place in the hearts of many, this is the first time however the Broadway musical has made its way to European shores as the incredibly successful pairing of Hope Mill Theatreand Aria Entertainment continue their vision to deliver accessible musical theatre in Manchester.

The production offers a condensed take on the heart-warming story of trailblazer Jo and her three sisters, Meg, Beth and Amy March, with Jo at the spirited centre of the piece. With their father off at war and their mothers encouragement to be the best versions of themselves they can be, the sisters set out on their path to becoming ‘little women’.

Amie Giselle-Ward is outstanding as Jo, passionate, strong and always true to herself, Giselle-Ward embodies perfectly the brash and bold Jo Marsh with a raw energy that utterly captivates, fiercely loyal and defiantly proud her characterisation is honest and raw as she delivers an incredibly moving and deeply emotional performance. She fizzes and boils over with a determination to live the life she chooses not one society choses for her, a woman seemingly ahead of her time when the book was first published in 1868 and an absolute heroine to women today.

The ten strong cast are incredibly hard working and beautifully demonstrate the importance and strength of family, love and hope regardless of the situation or difficulties they face. Each of the sisters are perfectly cast, Jemima Watling is superb as Meg, sweet and sensible, with a heart full of love. Katie Marie-Carter makes for a fabulous Amy, spoiled and selfish she is wonderfully dramatic. Cathy Read plays Beth with sweet affection, gentle and kind with a real sincerity she is the calm to Jo’s perfect storm.

Bronagh Lagan’s direction ensures the production remains entirely committed to delivering Louisa May Alcott’s message of love, family and female empowerment with wonderful storytelling throughout.

Ben M Rogers light design gently warms the production, allowing Nik Corrall’s simplistic yet effective set to shine. The intimate setting of Hope Mill Theatre is perfect for this engaging production, giving audiences the most wonderful connection with the characters as Jason Howard’s music and Mindi Dickstein’s lyrics are brought to life by Rickey Long’s superb musical direction.

Little Women is a celebration, joyful, spirited and full of heart. The perfect festive treat for all ages, delivering an important and current message that into each life some rain must fall but never let that diminish the fire within you.

On at Hope Mill Theatre until Saturday 9th December tickets available here

Hope Mill Theatre announces 2018 season!

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Award-winning Hope Mill Theatre and resident producer Aria Entertainment today announce their much anticipated 2018 season, with three bold, exciting and ambitious in-house productions.

The converted mill in Ancoats currently hosting the European premiere of Little Women enjoyed a landmark 2017 season which saw 5* critically acclaimed productions and London transfers for Yank! and Hair with Pippin following in early 2018 will begin the season with the world premiere of new British musical The ToyBoy Diaries (on sale today).

This new musical comedy which runs from 18 January to 10 February 2018 charts the hilarious and sometimes heart-breaking sagas of mid-life dating. When twice-divorced Lily inadvertently finds herself under a much younger man, it opens the door to a wild new world of inappropriate relationships. From Tom the Tender to Sam the Submissive, via Paul the Policeman, Hat Trick Patrick and Matt the Monstrous (with Old Willy and Philandering Phil mixed in along the way) Lily finally finds Ben the Bountiful.

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Spring Awakening will run from 19 March to 3 May 2018. A production hailed as “one of the great musicals of the last decade” (New York Times) and the winner of eight Tony and four Olivier Awards, Spring Awakening follows a group of teenagers in late-19th-century Germany navigating the struggles and virtues of blossoming youth, with an electrifying fusion of morality, sexuality and a Grammy award-winning rock score. This landmark musical will be presented in an intimate and bold new production helmed by director Luke Sheppard (In The Heights, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole).

Third show to be announced is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s romantic classic Aspects of Love which will run from 5 July to 4 August 2018. Featuring the iconic “Love Changes Everything” Aspects of Love tells the story of passion, love and loss across three generations of a family and their artistic companions, against a background of 1940’s France and Italy.

The hugely successful partnership between Joseph Houston and William Whelton, the co-founders of Hope Mill Theatre and producer Katy Lipson, of Aria Entertainment is further testament to their commitment to make Hope Mill Theatre the home of new musicals and revivals in the north and beyond with two more yet-to-be announced productions in Autumn/Winter.

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William Whelton and Joseph Houston, co-founders of Hope Mill Theatre said: “We wanted to make sure our third season was even more ambitious and we feel we have managed to achieve that with the world premiere of the new British musical The ToyBoy Diaries, an exciting revival of Spring Awakening with an Olivier Award-winning creative team and our first staging of an Andrew Lloyd Webber classic – Aspects of love. Once again we have proved the power of regional theatre and continue to spearhead Hope Mill Theatre as a leading player in new musical staging, musical premieres and exciting revivals.”

Katy Lipson, of Aria Entertainment, who has just seen her production of The Addams Family transfer to Singapore stated “I have enjoyed working with the theatre on taking our shows to new commercial levels in London and am extremely delighted to announce the first three shows of our 2018 season, it is an honour to share this diverse selection of work with you. We hope to continue to champion the genre and bring in audiences from far and wide.”

Further information can be found here

@Hopemilltheatr1

@ToyBoyDiaries

 

Spamalot

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Review by Matthew Forrest 

 The programme states that Spamalot is lovingly ripped off from the motion picture” of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Well for my money, this production is doing itself a disservice; if anything it’s enhancing the ‘Python’ legacy and introducing them to a wider audience. 

As a Python fan, you sometimes take it as a given that most people will love them and their work as much as you do. However that’s not always the case, as some people just “don’t get it” or have never seen the Python’s in action before. For die-hard fans like myself, the nay-sayers and the unacquainted, Spamalot is the perfect night out, suitably ridiculous, occasionally bewildering, but always hilarious! 

Following the plot of the film, Spamalot sees King Arthur and his faithful servant Patsy, as they attempt to enlist various brave and not so brave knights to join him at his court in Camelot. It is here that the voice of God or, more accurately Eric Idle, send Arthur and his Knights on a quest to seek out the Holy Grail. 

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As you would expect it’s absolutely bonkers: most of the set-pieces are in there, from The Knights who say Nee and Black Knight: with the welcome addition of a new character in the Lady of Lake. 

The cast are on great form: Bob Harms is excellent as the pompous, self-absorbed King Arthur, Rhys Owens is on equally good form as Patsy, a polar opposite to his master but certainly the brains of the outfit. Sarah Harlington offers a scene stealing turn as the Lady of the Lake, who has an equally inflated opinion of herself, similar to that of King Arthur. 

They are supported by a fantastic, hard-working cast with most taking on multiple roles, who are all given their moments to shine. Standout scenes include Jonathan Tweedie’s Lancelot and his daring rescue of Prince Herbert and the cast’s spectacular Knights of the Round Table routine. 

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Eric Idle, along with John du Prez have come up with catchy and funny tunes that aren’t strictly in keeping with the show. The Song That Goes Like This takes a much-needed swipe at musicals and their big defining tunes, whilst You Won’t Succeed in Showbiz, takes a well-aimed shot at celebrity culture and has been updated with numerous topical references. In addition, there is the über-camp His Name is Lancelot and of course the old faithful Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. However, it’s Sarah Harlington’s vocals on Whatever Happened To My Part? and her duet with Norton James in Lady of the Lake that really bring the house down. Harlington’s voice is phenomenal: so much power blended with her comic timing certainly make you wish her part was that bit bigger. 

Director Daniel Buckroyd has certainly got the best out of his cast, with all involved displaying a gift for comedy, and allowing room for a spot of adlibbing as well.  Some cast members just about managed to told hold it together, which really added to the fun of it all. 

I really can’t fault this wonderful show. It has everything you would want in a musical: silly, uplifting fun, catchy tunes and a sing-a-long, to boot. You really can’t ask for more. Spamalot is currently on a nationwide tour and is well worth catching when it comes to a theatre near you. 

 On at the Manchester Palace Theatre till the 11th November tickets available here