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Showing posts from January, 2018

Review of Broadway Lights And West End Nights at Northampton College

I have followed the acting course at the University of Northampton for the last five years now, but this Saturday I experienced the Level 3 Musical Theatre group at Northampton College for the first time, as they presented a performance by their first and second-year students. The evidence from this first encounter suggests that there is some very good talent on its way through this course.

The evening presented a nicely varied selection of performances from six shows, Avenue Q, Rent, The Lion King, Cats, Mary Poppins and Sweet Charity, both providing some lovely singing routines and a few of pure dance, allowing the students to show many of their, very obvious, skills.

From the collection of 21 routines presented, there were a few standout moments, the best of which for myself was Mungojerrie & Rumpleteazer performed by Tom Kalek and Lily Cushway. This was a routine of such polish that I would happily have watched on any stage, never mind a student performance. Kaley and Cushway…

Review of Mamma Mia! at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

Ahead of my trip to see Mamma Mia! in Northampton, I had enough conversations about the show to discover that there appears to be no in-between with people over their love or hate of the work of ABBA (music and lyrics by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus). For your information, patient reader, I fall firmly in the love department and an audience member of Mamma Mia! like myself is always going to ride on a tidal wave of joy as this jukebox churns out an incredible selection of their numbers (and truly reveals a substantially great back catalogue, that even a hater could not deny), however, is the show they are weaved around actually any good?

The answer is mostly, yes. It is though, a typical popcorn musical where you are just required to switch your brain off for two hours or so and ride that tidal wave to Kalokairi, and observe the bright colours and frivolous nature of the plot.

The plot, such as it is, involves 20-year-old Sophie, who is heading towards marriage. Upon discovering…

Review of A Passage to India at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

Creating the world of E. M. Forster's A Passage to India for the stage and into a little over two hours running time offers many challenges, not least creating the visual world of India. However, this co-production between Royal & Derngate and simple8 throw away any need for complex sets, and bring the world of India, including some of its wildlife to life via boxes and bamboo canes. The success of this is really quite amazing as perhaps the crowning moment of the elephant brings home the most. Simple8 is an award-winning ensemble group and the way they work together to get their characters travelling through the world of India explains why they have received the awards.

A Passage to India is a 1924 novel telling of Britain's generally unpleasant rule in India and takes as its story an encounter between the elderly Mrs Moore (Liz Crowther), Adela (Phoebe Pryce), who is keen to see the real India, and Dr Aziz (Asif Khan). While their meetings seem pleasant, to begin with, e…

Review of The Play That Goes Wrong at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

It is scary to contemplate that it is almost four years since I first saw Mischief Theatre's The Play That Goes Wrong. It is no secret that on that night I enjoyed it quite a bit (and ended up on stage, but that is another story). I returned the next evening to watch it again and then stalked it down to London later that same year, which over three years later it continues its remarkable West End success story. Since my last encounter with this original, I have seen Chris Bean's ramshackle Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society create chaos on stage and television with Peter Pan Goes Wrong, mess-up Dickens' A Christmas Carol and even gatecrash BBC Radio at Christmas. This fourth encounter with the original The Play That Goes Wrong though, offers the opportunity to see it in the hands of a different cast for the first time. How can pretenders of the original creators shape up in this anarchic disaster of a play?

Actually, as it turns out remarkably well. It is true that it did …