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Showing posts from October, 2016

Review of Grease by the Northampton Musical Theatre Company at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

The last two years have been an interesting path for the Northampton Musical Theatre Company at the Derngate. In 2014 their presentation of South Pacific was a remarkable feat which stood up so well in comparison with the soon to be professional staged Oklahoma! Then 2015 they took what might have been quite a gamble with a much less known title Sister Act, despite it being a huge film hit of the past, the musical was somewhat less known. It was a gamble that unquestionably paid off as the theatre was filled and it remains not just the very best amateur production of a musical I have seen, but superior in so many ways to professional touring shows.

So maybe, just maybe, 2016's decision to present Grease as their big show has got to be a disappointment. I myself up to seeing this show hadn't seen Grease in a theatre live, but a lot of people have and I have spoken to many who were not going to this simply because they are, in my own contortion of their thoughts Greased out. How…

Review of Danny Hero at The Core at Corby Cube, Corby

I had created so much anticipation for myself with Danny Hero at The Core, that there was perhaps an almost inevitability that it would end up a disappointment. Sadly it was, despite it still be a tremendously entertaining show. That is a brilliantly weird introduction to a review, so I think I should explain myself.

I personally believe that the pre-publicity for the show had a seriously contrasting positive/negative effect and offers interesting thoughts on how to publicise a show. Trailers by their inherent nature offer nuggets of delight, often making a show appear far better than it turns out. Those behind Danny Hero chose to run a large bulk of publicity with a YouTube recording of a song from the show, Man Of Steel. It worked in selling my ticket, as after I heard it, it was pretty much 90% of the reason I decided to make absolutely sure I got to see the show. So, it did its job.
However the problem lies with the fact that Man Of Steel is a simply incredible musical theatre son…

Review of Planet Circus OMG! 2016 at Billing Aquadrome, Northampton

An unexpected call from a friend who had received a free ticket, à la Willy Wonka's Golden Ticket, to go and see a circus for free, left me sitting in a circus tent a few hours later for the first time in about thirty years.


It was a wise, albeit on occasion, scary decision. I have to confess that when seeing shows like this, where there is an element of danger involved I do tend to squirm into the chair I sit. This happened mostly during the opening act of the second half of the show, the suitably titled Wheel Of Death. I rolled into an uncomfortable ball, while the five or six year old behind me gleefully shouted that "they are going to die!".


This was a scary welcome to the second act, after the first much more relaxing first half. It works excellently and is credit to producer and director Mark Whitney that the show is perfectly balanced, with the bulk of traditional circus arts in the first half, while the more spectacular and often more modern feeling ones are in …

Review of Mindgame by Masque Theatre at the Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

After clocking up over two hundred and fifty theatre reviews in less than three years, I nonchalantly thought that any show I have thrown at me, I can confidently cover. That was before I went to see Masque Theatre's production of the Anthony Horowitz play Mindgame last evening. A cast of three weave you into a mysterious web, where absolutely nothing is what it seems and leaves a terrified reviewer the prospect of trying not to reveal those weaves. I am of course bold and brave(ish) though, so this will not trouble me. Too much.

First performed in 1999, Mindgame sees true crime writer Mark Styler (William Portch) arrive at the optimistically named mental institution Fairfields. His target is to meet, interview, profile, and tell the life story of inmate Easterman, a notorious serial killer. In charge at the hospital is Dr. Farquhar (Vince Perry), a bold presence, but surprisingly confused character to be in charge of such important patients. Completing our cast of characters is t…

Review of Not Now Darling by Moulton Players at Moulton Theatre, Northampton

It is safe to say that the performance of Not Now Darling by Moulton Players didn't go quite as smoothly as we or no doubt they hoped, however despite everything, it still resulted in a highly entertaining evening.

Released in 1967, Not Now Darling is a full out farce from Ray Cooney and John Chapman and does everything expected of it. Bawdy, sexist and more than a little chaotic, it really is an impressively funny play, albeit a rather silly premise. However that is farce for you.

For the best part this production currently on at Moulton Theatre delivers the goods. However for a farce to gel perfectly it has to be delivered with style and a tremendous pace, and unfortunately for this third night performance, a large number of prompts were required. This unfortunately distilled it a little, losing a few of those perfectly timed jokes into the bargain. Having said this, the mishaps offered moments of brilliance of their own, Ken Francis as Arnold Crouch successfully spun a prompt i…

The Royal & Derngate 10th Anniversary Celebration

This Sunday I had the honour of attending the celebration event of the Royal & Derngate 10th Anniversary. This was a record of the overwhelmingly successful years since the two theatres were brought together following a £14.5 million merger and refit to bring the two venues together in a single access complex. While I am a mere beginner at Royal & Derngate, with not yet three years of visiting under my belt, it was delightful to be invited to this event.

Our hosts for the event were Jack Shaloo and Katie Bernstein (who interestingly only for me perhaps, I saw as understudy as Little Sal in Urinetown in London in 2014) who presented the show via an always entertaining and often really funny song routine. Accompanied by Dougal Irvine on guitar (who was also the creator of the music and lyrics) and Ollie Hance on piano. The witty song took us through the shows and different areas that the theatre has worked on through the years and sledgehammered a way to introduce each of the spe…

Review of Richard Alston Dance Company at Royal & Derngate, Northampton

Despite having watched Strictly Come Dancing since Len Goodman almost had hair, dance is a generally rarely tapped area for me at the theatre. I have seen a very select few and been impressed by some University contemporary work, been amused by our own home grown Strictly and been generally bored by some ballet. However at the high recommendation of the blogging supremo The Real Chrisparkle, I found myself in the Derngate auditorium watching the Richard Alston Dance Company.

My actual evening had started an hour before the main show was to begin, as I sat in on a very interesting pre-show talk from Richard Alston himself. He guided us through the four pieces that were to be performed on the evening and I have to say that the background stories did help a great deal in appreciating the stories the dances were telling.

Our four pieces performed in order were Rejoice in the Lamb, Isthmus Remix, Tangent and An Italian in Madrid. Each of the pieces were choregraphed by Richard Alston, with…

Review of Fun Palaces 2016 at Royal & Derngate, Northampton

For those unaware of what Fun Palaces is all about (except fun of course), they are an idea born from an attempt in the sixties by Joan Littlewood and architect Cedric Price to bring a "laboratory of fun" that would travel from place to place bringing arts, ideas, creation and that key fun to different locations. It never happened. However in 2014, the idea was reborn and across the country in the first weekend of October, 130 places in the UK became a place of "Fun". The Royal & Derngate held one that very year which I attended and it was a day I spent eight hours in the theatre milling about, intrigued by what was going on. For 2016, mine and R&D's third year, I joined them again on both the Saturday and Sunday.

For 2016 there was no question that I had more fun than my previous two years. Indeed I had quickly regressed to childhood upon arrival, making a shadow puppet with the help of Lisa Shepherd of Imaginary Ordinary. Going rogue, shunning the temp…