Cinderella

Cinderella Image 11 - Credit David Munn Photograph

Panto isn’t just for Christmas at the Theatre Royal in St Helens with Regal Entertainments continuing their tradition of regular school holiday pantomimes with this Easter’s offering of Cinderella.

The theatre continues its run of attracting well-known names to St Helens with Lee Latchford-Evans from cult pop group Steps taking the role of Prince Charming.

A trained actor as well as singer, Latchford-Evans showed off an easy likeable charm as the Prince as well as a predictably good singing voice.

Georgina Parkinson was a sweet-voiced Cinders with funny man Lewis Devine returning as Buttons following his stint at The venue at Christmas, and proving just as popular with audiences this time.

Cinderella Image 1 - Credit David Munn Photography

Resident dame Si Foster (who also co-writes with Ben Ebgelen) and Mark Newall take on the role of Kendall and Kylie the Ugly Sisters – a brilliant double act who throw plenty of shade and wow in a series of tremendously tacky frocks and wicked weaves. Watch out for the Bags for Life gag – bravo!

Samantha Palin is a warm and distractedly dotty Fairy Godmother, with big hair and bling that wouldn’t look out of place on a Real Housewife of Cheshire. And Andrew Geater is a dashing if somewhat snooty Dandini – they both have fantastic voices and get their moments to shine vocally.

I’m a sucker for the traditional panto transformation scene that usually closes Act 1 and the show certainly doesn’t disappoint here with a gorgeous mix of ballet, baby animals (courtesy of the charming juvenile dancers) and yes – real Shetland ponies! (One of these makes a hilarious reappearance in Act II that had my young co-reviewer in stitches and that I know he will be talking about for days to come.)

Cinderella Image 10 - Credit David Munn Photograph

All of the music is incredibly well chosen. From 80s anthems like Holding Out For a Hero and Love Lifts Us Up (Where We Belong) to musical theatre floor fillers like One Night Only and Fabulous Baby, every song was a total crowd pleaser.

And needless to say Step’s fans won’t go away disappointed with a medley of their biggest hits featuring to the audience’s total delight.

Add to this beautiful and vibrant costumes, charming sets and a brilliantly funny and topical script (anyone who has ever pleaded with ‘Alexa’ will appreciate one gag in particular) that will appeal to all ages, adds up to a warm and witty show that will leave you feeling fuzzy inside.

And with ticket prices starting at an incredibly reasonable £13 – this is a high quality family pantomime at applaudingly affordable prices.

A cracking treat for Easter!

On until Sunday 15th April, tickets available here.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Lucy Jo Hudson and Ensemble

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

It’s that time of year again, oh no it isn’t! Oh yes it bloomin’ well is! As pantos pop up across the country and evil villains prepare for an almighty booing, St Helens is no exception with a star-studded Snow White opening at the Theatre Royal for the festive season.

Starring Corrie and Where The Heart Is favourite Lucy-Jo Hudson and a pre-recorded ten foot tall Magic Mirror in the form of local legend Johnny Vegas, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has it all from plenty of ‘it’s behind you’ to a spectacular interactive 3D section which is spine tingly good and more than worth the ticket price alone.

There is something for everyone in the high energy and hugely entertaining production. With superb sets and lavish costumes full of colour and sparkle, Regal EntertainmentsLtd put their impressive stamp on this production, further demonstrating their commitment to delivering high quality, accessible local theatre. Writers Si Foster (who also takes on the role of Evil Queen Camilla) and Ben Engelen deliver an enormously funny script with plenty to keep the little ones entertained and even more to thrill Mum and Dad…just wait for the outrageous Andy Pandy scene! Hilarious! Nazene DanielleLangfield’s choreography is impressive and intricate as both senior ensemble and children from local dance schools all get the chance to shine.

Richard Hazlewood, Johnny Vegas and Si Foster

Lucy-Jo Hudson makes for a perfect princess; she’s sweet but sassy with an incredibly beautiful voice, her time on TV show Dance, Dance Dance clearly well spent as she delivers each routine with precision. Receiving many of the laughs is local funny man and audience favourite Lewis Devine as Muddles, hugely charismatic and immediately likeable he has the audiences in stitches from that start with his mad-cap antics and hilarious impressions.

St Helens Theatre Royal once again deliver a perfect panto, Snow White is a guaranteed festive treat for all ages, it’s easy to see why this show has already been extended offering audiences an extra week to catch it. With impressively high production values, plenty of audience interaction and a strong cast who bring an enormous amount of fun to the show, Snow White is a wickedly wonderful night out!

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is on at the Theatre Royal St Helens until Sunday 14th Jan tickets available here

 

The Salon

Telling the story of soon to be divorced Carol and her colleagues, ditzy X Factor wannabee Tia and Shelia who doesn’t want much in life other than a toy boy with the stamina of a marathon runner, The Salon makes a welcome return to St Helens Theatre Royal this week.

The show is a hilarious behind the scenes look at the outrageous daily happenings in your average high street salon when you’re struggling to get over a broken heart and the local gangster has launched a hostile takeover bid on your business and will do anything and sleep with anyone to get it.

Penned by former Hale and Pace sketch writer and Liverpool playwright Drew Quayle, The Salon boasts a stellar Liverpudlian line-up including Radio City favourite Leanne Campbell, Brookside’s Sarah White and Phillip Olivier and Blood Brother’s Olivia Sloyan as well as Emmerdale’s Peter Amory and Towie’s Harry Derbidge.

There are some great performance in this riotous production directed by Sylvie Gatrill. Leanne Campbell plays recently heartbroken salon boss Carol to perfection, pitching her character just right as she battles through daily life in the salon while her ex and his new girlfriend have moved in across the street, she is the calm in the storm of salon life, instantly likeable, she has the audience rooting for her from her first line.

Managing the sex obsessed Sheila, played brilliantly by the sharp and sassy Sarah White and fame hungry, nice but dim beauty therapist Tia (delivered perfectly by OliviaSloyan) isn’t easy for Carol, not only is she nursing a broken heart but is agony aunt to salon owner Neil (Peter Amory) while trying to ward off local gangster Tony’s (Philip Olivier) advances.

There are some real laugh out loud moments in this adult comedy including an eye watering waxing session with some great comic timing from Philip Olivier and a scarily realistic boozy breakdown from jilted Carol.

Regal Entertainments Ltd set is impressive and authentic, allowing for scene changes within one static set, with the Salon taking centre stage and owner Neil’s fabulously flamboyant flat situated above.

The Salon makes for a great night out, flirty, filthy and full of fun!

On at St Helens Theatre Royal until Saturday 25th November tickets available here

Family Panto Offer!

Sleeping Beauty

GET £10 OFF A FAMILY TICKET*

Using the code CARABOSSE

This half-term Regal Entertainments present the most spellbinding panto of them all, the enchanting Sleeping Beauty.

Featuring a star-studded cast including TV and West End Star Claire Sweeney as the evil fairy Carabosse, Shameless’s Warren Donnelly as The King, the hilarious Tam Ryan as Chester the Jester, the incredibly talented Laura Gregory as Princess Aurora and St Helens’ resident Dame, Si Foster as Dame Queenie.

Sleeping Beauty tells the enchanting tale of Princess Aurora, who is cursed by the evil fairy Carabosse after failing to receive an invite to the Royal Christening. Aurora is tricked into piercing her finger on a spinning wheel on her 16th birthday by the evil fairy, and is destined to eternal slumber unless a handsome prince can break the curse with true loves kiss.

SLEEPING BEAUTY
ST HELENS THEATRE ROYAL
Date: Sat 21 – Sun 29 Oct
Time: 1pm & 5pm
Tickets: Family Tickets £31 & £45 with this offer

* Offer is valid for online, telephone and in person bookings. Offer DOES NOT apply to Sat and Sun 1pm performances, and CANNOT be used for Golden Seats. The offer will allow customer to receive £10 off a Family Ticket. Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer, or redeemed against tickets already purchased. Offer expires at midnight on Sunday 15th October 2017

 

 

Helen Forrester’s Twopence To Cross The Mersey

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Cast of Twopence To Cross The Mersey. Photo by Dave the Pap.

Set during the time of the Great Depression Twopence to Cross The Mersey is a bleak play which highlights the poverty and squalor of the dark days of the 1930s. Adapted for the stage from Helen Forrester’s most famous novel it is a semi-autobiographical tale of a middle-class family who fall on hard times and move to Liverpool to start over again. Helen (Maria Lovelady) is just twelve years old when her father (Christopher Jordan) is made bankrupt and her plus her six siblings make their way to Merseyside with their socialite mother (Emma Dears) dragging her heels behind. As the oldest child in the family Helen is made to stay at home and look after her newborn brother whilst the others go to school and her parents look for work.

Maria Lovelady puts in a touching performance as the put upon Helen who is made to grow up fast when all she yearns for is to enjoy being young and to go to school to learn. Lovelady has played the role previously and, despite being an adult playing a child, is extremely believable making the audience root for her to get a happy ending.

There’s a plethora of characters throughout the play, portrayed by the eight strong cast, with some impressive quick costume changes from one to another. Hats off to actress Eithne Browne who takes on a massive nine roles, making each one as well-rounded as the other and stealing every scene she is in.

final-scene-with-full-cast-2016-credit-dave-the-pap

Photo by Dave the Pap.

Christopher Jordan and Emma Dears are great in the supporting roles of Helen’s Mother and Father. Dears’ facial expressions and cut glass accent had the audience simmering in disgust as she expertly displayed the self-absorbed Mother and her inability to think of her children’s welfare before her own.

With a minimal set of little more than two wooden door frames, a table and two chairs the cast had to work hard to create the image of a deprived Liverpool through their acting ,with the help of inventive sound effects and mood lighting. They pulled it off though and proved you don’t always need lavish sets for a production to work.

My only criticism would be the overuse of narration by the characters, in particular Helen, who on numerous occasion went from narrating in character to talking to others onstage which was a little confusing and took a while to get used to. There’s less narration in the second half of the play which makes for smoother viewing and less stilted action.

St. Helen’s Theatre Royal is the last stop on Twopence To Cross The Mersey’s seven venue tour across the North West and North Wales beginning back in September at Liverpool’s well-renowned Royal Court Theatre.

Runs at St. Helen’s Theatre Royal until 12th November.

www.twopencetocrossthemersey.com