23rd Jun2017

The Kite Runner (Theatre)

by timbaros

The Kite Runner Playhouse Theatre Amir (David Ahmad) Hassan (Andrei Costin) Photo Irina ChiraThe beautiful story of two young Afghani men returns to the London stage in a production that will break your heart.

The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini’s best-selling 2003 novel, was turned into an acclaimed 2007 movie and recently won rave reviews at London’s Wyndham’s Theatre, is back again and now paying at The Playhouse Theatre. Its story resonated so much with theatregoers, and after sellout crowds in its original run, it’s been granted to fly again in a limited 8-week run.

The Kite Runner is the story of true friendship, and also true betrayal. David Ahmad is Amir, who lives with his wealthy father Baba (Emilio Doorgasingh) in Kabul, Afghanistan. They employ Baba’s long-time servant Ali (Ezra Faroque Khan), along with his son Hassan (Andrei Costin). Both Amir and Hassan lost their mothers, so Amir and Hassan have become close, even though they both come from different classes of society. They’ve formed a bond with each other and especially love to fly kites together. Hassan ends up becoming Amir’s kite runner – he basically retrieves the kite after knowing where it’s going to fall. The young men are practically inseparable, especially when the local thug Assef (Bhavin Bhatt) threatens them perhaps because he is jealous of their close friendship. But one day, after a kite competition, Hassan is captured by Assef, who proceeds to taunt and then rape him. But it’s Amir who witnesses the whole thing – he doesn’t even step in to help, and it’s a guilt that he carries around with him, enough so that he attempts to have his father get rid of Hassan and Amir. This is when the story goes in a different direction and takes us on a journey to America where Amir and Baba eventually find themselves after leaving war torn Afghanistan. Amir eventually settles down in San Francisco with a wife, but he’s torn with guilt over what he did or did not do for Hassan. And this guilt has him trace his steps back to Afghanistan in the hopes of finding Hassan and to rekindle the relationship that they had when they were boys. But there’s more in store for him than what he bargains for.

The Kite Runner doesn’t need any sort of magic wand or razzle dazzle to tell it’s story – it’s the story in itself that is strong enough to hold the audiences attention. We see the beautiful friendship between Hassan and Amir that is eventually shattered and when the story takes it to another direction we feel Amir’s pain and heartbreak and guilt and we hope the characters will eventually find happiness, though deep down we know that’s not going to be the case. Matthew Spangler has successfully adapted the book for the stage (again) while Director Giles Croft works with an excellent acting ensemble with a very minimalist set as he excellently guides his actors to portray the characters very beautifully and emotionally.

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18th Jun2017

Lady Bunny in Trans-Jester (Theatre)

by timbaros

340A0338She’s the queen of drag queens, and almost as famous as the Queen of England, Lady Bunny is back in town to perform her one woman show called “Trans-jester,” and no one is safe from her catty claws and endless wit. It’s a no holds-barred performance that is the best of Lady Bunny.

She commands the stage in her glitteringly-best sequins and a wig that practically reaches the ceiling. With shiny jewellery that, she tells you, is bought at yard sales.

Lady Bunny, direct but not straight from New York, provides her loyal and tongue-wagging audience with literally an oral history of her life, which included lots of black cock-sucking jokes, as well as her days as a no name drag queen in Atlanta Georgia USA when her and Rupaul used to be roommates.

Lady Bunny also gets all political by discussing the ridiculous notion of how now everyone has to go by a label. She tells us that she remembers when it used to be only ‘G’ but now it’s LGBTQIA – she screams that it’s ridiculous to have labels – and the audience agreed with her with a roaring cheer! Bunny doesn’t hold back when discussing Bruce Jenner and his transformation to Caitlyn and how his Republican arse and new pussy doesn’t come close to representing her community. And there are quite a few hilarious Kardashian jokes thrown in for good jester.

But Bunny is best when she does jokes. They come fast and furious in the part of the show that is her tribute to the old U.S. television show Laugh-In. It’s a skit she used to do at the late and great Wigstock Drag Queen festival she founded in the late 1980’s and which sadly came to an end in 2001.

Lady Bunny is an institution, and she should be in an institution (ha ha ha). But she’s one of a kind, the Queen, a pure Lady, and now’s your chance to go see her live in person before she’s put out to pasture. Long Live Lady Bunny!

Lady Bunny Trans-jester is playing at the Soho Theatre until Saturday July 1st.

To buy tickets, please go here:

http://sohotheatre.com/whats-on/lady-bunny-in-trans-jester

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23rd May2017

5 Guys Chillin’ (Theatre)

by timbaros

5 Guys Chillin' (c) Laura Marie Linck (7)There’s a chemsex party taking place at the King’s Head Theatre. No, it’s not an actual party – It’s the returning show 5 Guys Chillin’.

In the comforts of the living room of J (David Palmstrom) and M (George Fletcher), them and three other guys (actually men) are enjoying each other as well as the drugs on the table in order to experience the highs, and in some cases, the lows, of what gay men (not all gay men) are getting into nowadays; drugs and sex and more drugs and in some cases unsafe sex in private house parties.

B (Gareth Watkins) and R (Tom Ratcliffe) are a bit of an unmatched couple; R is very young but not so innocent, while muscular big daddy B is experienced and likes it any which way and loose. And the last one to arrive at the party is Pakistani PJ (George Bull). He’s a bit unsure as to why he’s there, but slowly gets into the action. But he’s got a story to tell the other guys; he’s actually married with a young child because it’s what is expected in his culture. Besides him, all the guys have stories to tell; B’s story is particularly vivid as he recounts the time he was spit roast in Berlin where sexual diseases were not discussed. It’s all a lot to take in; the plays’ honesty and brutal nature is scary because know all know these types of gay men, and parties, do actually exist. And all the actors should be admired for performing such an in your face play shedding emotions as well as bravely shedding their clothes. Writer and Director Peter Darney seems to have gotten the tone and characters right, but luckily I wouldn’t know because I’ve never been and don’t plan to go to one of these parties.

Playing until June 3rd – for tickets, please go here:

https://kingsheadtheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873572428/events/128101674

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22nd May2017

Judy (Theatre)

by timbaros

Judy! 11 - photocreditIt’s Judy Judy Judy in the new show aptly titled Judy now playing at the Arts Theatre in Central London.

We are treated to Judy Garland in three pivotal stages of her life. There’s the young Judy before her Wizard of Oz role – ages 13 through 16 – brilliantly played by Lucy Penrose. Then there is Palace Judy – the time in Garland’s life when she was performing on Broadway at the Palace Theatre, age 29 – with Belinda Wollaston in the role. Then we’re treated to CBS Judy – the 47 year-old star (played by Helen Sheals) who, unbeknownst to all, was in the last year of her life while having her own television show on America’s CBS network.

The intertwining of Judy’s lives in this show is both fantastic and fabulous. It’s also tragic because Judy died at the age of 47 in London due to an overdose of barbiturates in 1969 (a few days later the Stonewall riots kicked off). Judy had such a tumultuous life, and it didn’t make matters any better in that she was an extremely insecure, and nervous, woman. Young Judy’s father (played by Joe Shefer) ran a cinema, but he also had a predilection for young boys. Her mother Ethel (Amanda Bailey) was an extremely controlling stage mother. But Palace Judy’s life isn’t much better. In her 20’s she takes various drugs just to help her get through each day, and even though she married five times, it was Sid Luft (Harry Anton) who was the one who really cared for her. But CBS Judy (who actually opens the show with a rounding version of ‘Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries’ – sung brilliantly by Sheals) seems to be on the right track – she’s got a hit television show – but the network keeps on demanding more and more from her, and the bills keep piling up. It’s too much for a woman as fragile as Judy to take, and even though her death is not played out on stage, we all know what’s going to happen to her next.

Judy is excellent. It’s all due to the three women who play Judy, they are all very good – but it’s Penrose who shines a bit more because she plays the version of Judy who is young and innocent, and Penrose conveys that excellently. When all three sing ‘Almost Like Being in Love’ – it’s an event! And when all three get together to sing the finale – ‘Over the Rainbow’ – there’s not a dry eye in the house.

Director and writer Ray Rackham, along with the rest of his crew, have staged a musical that tells the life of Judy Garland who was larger than life. And the parallel timeframes used in this production is genius. Cleverly, the musicians also act in the show, including Judith Kramer, who plays CBS Judy’s assistant. This same production was at the intimate Southwark Playhouse last year and it’s good to see that practically the same cast and crew were brought back to stage this show in a bigger theatre for more people to watch it.

Judy is a fabulous and fantastic show. It’s only playing at the Arts Theatre until June 17th, so catch it as soon as you can. Tickets can be bought here:
https://artstheatrewestend.co.uk

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19th May2017

Kings Cross [Remix] (Theatre)

by timbaros

Kings Cross night sky landscapeTake a journey to 1980’s London, specifically the King’s Cross area, through the storytelling of Tom Marshman, in the new show Kings Cross Remix. The one man show, at the Camden People’s Theatre, is a tour de force performance by Marshman, too young to remember the stories he’s telling, yet he tells them so vividly, with such authority and believability that he makes us actually believe he was there. Through the use of video and audio tape recordings of the people who were actually around during those times, Marshman weaves together these stories in a 60-minute show to great effect. He talks about the long gone disco Bagely’s nightclub, the denizens of King Cross including the hookers and the club kids, a unique story about the late and great Leigh Bowery, and grainy video footage of the once popular gay bar and club The Bell (this footage can also be found on Youtube). But Marshman also transports us to this decade when lots of our fellow friends were dying of AIDS, and one audio clip of a man who is a patient representative at a local clinic remembers the days when gay men were diagnosed with GRID (Gay Related Immune Deficiency) and were in their last days as there no hope for them. Marshman also chillingly brings up the arrival of patient zero – the man who introduced HIV into England. This and more is all told with the songs of Donna Summers Last Dance and lots of other disco classics as the soundtrack, and footage of Jimmy Somerville in his early days who can now be found from time to time drinking at his local bar Central Station. Marshman’s show celebrates a time when the scene in Kings Cross was more fun but also a bit dangerous and not posh as it is now. It’s a great show and Marshman does a very good job in telling these stories.

For tickets, please go to:

https://www.cptheatre.co.uk

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17th May2017

Room (Theatre)

by timbaros

unnamed-319The story of a mother and son held captive in a room was so beautifully and emotionally told in last year’s film ‘Room.’ There is now a stage adaptation of that Oscar-winning film playing at Theatre Royal Stratford East.

Emma Donoghue, who wrote the book in which the film was based on, also wrote the stage adaptation, and it’s an interesting one. The stage show mimics the plot of the movie, however, more elements are added to it. First off, there’s a narrator who speaks out loud the thoughts of 5-year old Jake (ably played by Harrison Wilding on the night I saw it); it’s Jack’s perspective this show is told from (as in the book); and surprisingly the show is also told via songs – effective at times but a bit inappropriate at other times.

Room, in case you missed the film, is about a woman and her son who are being held hostage by a man simply known as Old Nick (Liam McKenna). The mother, Ma (excellently played by Witney White), has been imprisoned by him for seven years. Ma and Jack are unable to leave the room, locked in by the man who is Jack’s father who takes his liberties with Ma whenever he wants. And Ma has to be ever so grateful when he brings her and Jack the staples and necessities they need to live on. But it’s Jack who has adapted to living in the room – it’s all he knows. He also knows to hide in the wardrobe when Old Nick comes to visit – it’s these time that the show takes, to great effect, a dark and eerie tone. It’s complemented by the set – a room in the middle of the stage – that cleverly swings around when Nick is ‘visiting’ – so we see Jack’s frightened viewpoint from the wardrobe – which is also his bed – it’s expertly thought out. Jack’s thoughts come via the narration by Fela Lufadeju – Big Jack – who is Little Jacks’ voice and his conscience. It’s narration that at times is cute and funny and at times very serious, but it’s also does get in the way of the very dramatic story unfolding on stage.

Without giving too much away, and as mentioned above, the rest of story plays out in similar parallel with the movie, with the second half taking place in a home (as opposed to a room), where Ma and Jack have to adjust to life outside the room. It’s with the help of Ma’s mother (a good performance by Lucy Tregar) that shifts the second half into another gear, a bit slower and less intense than the first, but dramatic nonetheless.

Room has elements of it that work and don’t work. Room’s premise is very theatrical, with the whole story being told inside four walls, which this production excellently shows. In the first room there are the items that Jack has named (plant, TV, etc..), then there’s a hospital room, and then on to Grandma’s house, it’s a set superbly designed by Lily Arnold. And there is also excellent use of lighting and visuals on the walls that are characters and images seen from the eyes of a child. The cast do a very good job and it’s a helluva emotional show to be performing seven times a week (three young actors take turns playing the role of Jack). But the use of Big Jack is a device that doesn’t quite work, and some of the songs (music by Kathryn Joseph) in the second half just don’t quite work with the dark theme of the show. Nonetheless, if you loved the movie and read the book, then this is must see theatre, and only it’s playing until June 3rd.

To book tickets, please go here:
http://www.stratfordeast.com

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15th May2017

Salomé (Theatre)

by timbaros

SALOME by Farber ; Directed by Yael Farber ; Designed by Susan Hilferty ; at The National Theatre, London, UK ; 6 April 2017 ; Credit : Johan Persson

It was always going to be hard to produce a version of Salomé on the stage. It’s a story that’s mythical, biblical, violent, and perhaps a bit confusing. A new version of the show is now playing at The National Theatre, and it’s executed beautifully.

Staged by Director Yael Farber, this version of Salomé, at a short 110 minutes with no interval, will mesmerize you but may also confuse you as the story is told through song and dance and imagery and hebrew, and lots of sand and water. But it’s the story of Salomé who was born the daughter of Herodia who was a princess of the Herodian Dynasty of Judea during the time of the Roman Empire. Salomé, as you may or may not know, is infamous for receiving the head of John the Baptist. Played in this show by Isabella Nefar, Salome is not very respected, stands naked on the stage, has sand thrown all over her, but it’s at the end that she’s redeemed and resurrected, but the road to get there is an intense one.

A character by the name of Nameless (Olwen Fouéré) tells the story of Salomé, as Salomé the character doesn’t speak, and takes place in Roman occupied Judea. She’s yelled at and ridiculed by her stepfather Herod (Paul Chahidi), but finds something, perhaps a kindred spirit, in Iokanaan – John the Baptist (Ramzi Choukair).

But it’s not just the story, it’s the design of the show, by Susan Hilferty, that takes us on a journey, or perhaps better worded – on a ride – a ride that’s both luminous and heavenly, with lighting that adds mystery and darkness. It’s also the haunting vocals and chanting of Israeli folk musician Yasmin Levy and Syrian soprano Lubana Al Quntar that will take your breathe away. Their vocals that accompany the story told on stage is the most memorable part of the show – their voices are out of this world, and listening to them is well worth the price of the ticket.

Salomé will be broadcast by NT Live on Thursday 22 June 2017. For further details visit NTLive.com

Below is a list of connected talks and events for Salomé:
Acts of Violence and Salomé, Monday 12 June, Cottesloe Room, 2-5pm
Mothers/Daughters/Sisters, Wednesday 21 June, Cottesloe Room, 6-7pm
Yaël Farber, Friday 14 July, Olivier Theatre, 6-6.45pm

To buy tickets, please go here:
https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk

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14th May2017

When Harry Met Barry (Theatre)

by timbaros

IMG_0073n3It’s not When Harry met Sally but When Harry Met Barry at the Above the Stag Theatre in Vauxhall.

Unfortunately there is no orgasm scene in sight, just a few catchy tunes and a few laughs in a show that is cute and lively and a fun night out.

Harry (Brandon Gale) and Barry (Sam Peggs) had a ‘thing’ seven years ago, but now TV chef Harry is dating fashion designer Spencer (Austin Garrett) while junior lawyer Barry has hooked up with the quirky yet adorable Alice (Maddy Banks). Spencer and Alice are serious about their relationships with Barry and Harry, respectively, even to go so far as to discuss wedding plans! Gads! But when Harry and Barry accidentally bump into each other, their love and desire for each other is rekindled, enough so that it causes a whole heep of heartache and a breakdown in their current relationships. Set to trendy and memorable musical numbers – very modern and hummable with ‘Why Ask for the Moon’ one of the better songs – When Harry met Barry is a true musical romance with a love triangle that will set your heart aflutter. All adequately sung and acted by the very young cast, with Banks doing a particularly good job in her role as the jilted young woman. It’s got cute music, a goodlooking and energetic cast, and one all too brief scene of two of the sexy actors in their underwear. It looks like Above the Stag theatre has another hit on their hands.

To buy tickets, please go here:

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06th May2017

Angels in America (Theatre)

by timbaros

Angels In AmericaIt’s seven and a half hours long, and it’s shown in two parts, but Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes is well worth a watch.

Calling it epic does not even describe the show. Now playing at the National Theatre, it is monumental, larger than life, phenomenal, engrossing, but it is in no way too long or too boring – sure it may be a bit complex, but it’s first class theatre. And both parts of the production – Millennium Approaches and Perestroika – really do need to seen together. And the cast in this current production is top notch – actors you might not be able to see in such a production again in your lifetime. But more on the cast later.

Unfortunately Angels in America is totally sold out – it’s been sold out since tickets went on sale, and calling it the hottest ticket in town is an understatement (the upcoming Hamilton may come close, but Angels is in limited run, only up until August 19th). So If I were you, I would do anything to get a ticket. But more on that later.

Angels In America

Angels in America has won almost every theatre award up for grabs. Written in 1993 by Tony Kushner, it’s won the Tony and Pulitzer Prize awards, and both parts were performed in London in the early 90’s. What is it about? Well, first and foremost it’s about AIDS in New York in the 1980’s – that horrible decade when friends were dying right and left, dissappearing only never to return. There was no cure, and when people started to see purple lesions on their skin, they knew that it was all over. But Angels in America is also about so much more. It delves deep into relationships that we have with each other and especially with ourselves, it deals with power, greed, lust, lies, betrayal as well as fantasy, ectasy, religion and last but not least life (notice that I did not mention death). The show is complex only in that it goes off into the deep end at times for the necessity of one of the characters. Angels is also still very timely, as it touches on immigration and discrimination based on heritage – themes we are seeing first hand in the much changed political climate that we now live in.

Andrew Garfield is Prior Walter – and he’s got AIDS. He’s goodlooking yet very thin, and has the tell-tale signs of the disease (Kaposi’s Sarcoma). James McArdle is Louis Ironson, his boyfriend who’s having a hard time dealing with Prior’s illness. Then there’s Joe Pitt (Russell Tovey), who is married to Harper Pitt (Denise Gough). The Pitt’s are Mormons from Seattle and live in Brooklyn. Harper Pitt has problems, she’s agoraphobic and has hallucinations. Joe, a clerk in a law office, is deeply-closeted.

Then there is Roy Cohn (Nathan Lane), a notorious ruthless lawyer who happens to be gay but doesn’t quite believe it himself and definitely doesn’t want anyone to know this. So for over seven hours we go on a ride with these characters as Angels in American puts them, and us, through a rollercoaster of emotion and drama. Louis is unable to care for Prior and walks out on him at the moment that Prior needs him most. Louis strikes up more than a casual friendship with Joe as they both work at the same law firm. Meanwhile, Joe, who becomes more than a bit friendly with Cohn his mentor, eventually falls in love with Louis. Meanwhile, Prior (and eventually Cohn) are taken care of by nurse Belize (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett). But alls not right in Prior’s life – he’s seeing angels, angels that are trying to tell him a message, angels that are a response to his illness, yet there’s not much these angels can do for him except only to be by his side (or to fly over him)……they’re helpless just as much as he is. There’s also a crisis in the Pitt home – Joe’s mother sells her house in Utah and goes to Brooklyn to look for her son who has just announced to her that he is gay. And Cohn can’t accept the fact that he’s got AIDS – he informs his doctor that it’s liver cancer that he’s got. And Belize turns out to be the real angel in the show – taking care of the dying, the ones who don’t accept the fact they’ve got AIDS and the ones who are way too young to die of AIDS.

Angels in American deals with a dark time in gay history – the AIDS plague. Conservative President Ronald Reagan didn’t help matters by doing nothing about the disease, Rock Hudson had just died, and the stigmatisation of the disease pretty much erased all the gains that the homosexual community had achieved in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. But in this retelling, and for those of us old enough to be around where all this actually happened, it takes us back to the time when there was nothing we could do for our friends dying of the disease but to just hold their hands and watch them die. And Angels in America takes us back to those horrible time. It’s a credit to the story and the production that the performers excel in their roles and take it to the next level. Garfield has a field day playing Prior – he’s in agony because he’s dying and because Louis has left him – and Garfield gives it his all and succeeds enormously. Lane was made to play Cohn – caustic yet not a bit remorseful, even after the ghost of Ethel Rosenburg practically stands over him waiting for him to die. Lane is just simply superb. Tovey – in his biggest stage role yet – doesn’t disappoint. His Joe Pitt is vulnerable yet determined to be who he’s supposed to be, and he accidentally falls in love with Louis yet is still in love with his wife, and Tovey is very believable every second he is on stage. Stewart-Jarrett, practically an unknown, holds his own with the acting heavyweights on the stage. His nurse and friend Belize is practically the glue that holds the other characters together – and Stewart-Jarrett does it so sarcastically and beautifully. A star is born. McArdle is adequate – he’s got a lot to do and say and it’s perhaps one of the hardest characters in the show as so much centers around him – and McArdle just about succeeds, but less so Gough as Mrs. Pitt who doesn’t quite wow us as the others do. Other notable performers include Susan Brown as Harper Pitt, Joe’s mother, and especially Amanda Lawrence, who plays the Angel, a nurse, a homeless woman, and a Sister, among others, is there nothing this talented performer can’t do?

Of course, the sets and music are all amazing, and director Marianne Elliott brings it all together in excellent fashion – but it’s all about the acting (and the message) in Angels in America, the message is loud and clear – this show is history in the making and relevant to all of us now, even 25 years after it was written.

The National Theatre is running a ballot for £20 tickets so I urge you to give it a try. There are two ballots left:
Ballot no.’s 4 and 5
Show dates included in the ballot: 11 Jul – 29 Jul and 2 Aug – 19 Aug
Ballot opens at midday on: 26 May and 30 Jun
You’ll need to log-in to your National Theatre account or create an account to register for the ballot, you can do so here:
https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/angels/login?destination=node/5066

Also, Angles in America will be broadcast live to cinemas around the UK and internationally. Part One will be broadcast on 20 July and Part Two will be broadcast on 27 July. For more information and to buy tickets, please go here:
http://ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk

Photos by AiA Perestroika Production Images (c) Helen Maybanks

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02nd May2017

Pam Ann (Theatre)

by timbaros

pam-aystria-2Trolley Dolly Pam Ann returns to London with her 20th Anniversary tour – Touch Trolley Run to Galley – but it’s pretty much the same schtick she’s been doing over and over again.

Australian Pam Ann (real name Caroline Reid) has been making the rounds as the self-described ‘Queen of the skies’ for the past 20 years all round the world, and in this show she let’s us know it. Now playing at the Leicester Square Theatre, the ‘air hostess’ show begins with a video montage of previous shows and the famous people that she’s hung out with. Yes, from the minute the video starts we are reminded the show is all about her. She lets us know that she’s an iconic international celebrity airhostess who has developed cult status over the years with her fans (most of whom are gay and who love her bitchiness and candor), but I’ve got no idea how she’s lasted this long! The show begins by her picking four audience members onto the stage to create a new Spice Girls band (who are also celebrating their 20th anniversary). On the night I saw the show, she conveniently picked four gay men from the audience (after all, gay men are so much more likely to ‘get her’) to ‘become the Spice Girls. Picking on audience members is a time and tested old tradition used by comedians when they don’t have enough material to fill a show (‘what’s your name, where are you from’), and it’s a bit lazy to do so at the beginning! Anyways, Pam Ann was very funny with them; she was quick with one-liners and put downs, and the men took it in jest. It’s funny, but I wanted more jokes about the current state of the airline industry (she did open up with a joke about the United Airlines fiasco but it was a bit too sudden and too quick).

The second half of the show had her bring out a trolley filled with, of course, alcohol, as well as with a bevy of dolls that represented airline stewardesses from all over the world (an Australian transgender doll was quite funny), but we’ve all see this before from her, many many times. Pam Ann tells us why she loves BA, while her alter ego Lilly ‘comes out’ all too briefly, and of course she makes fun of Ryanair (who wouldn’t). But as the show goes, it ‘we’ve seen and heard it all before’, and two hours in she leaves the stage and tells the audience to expect something great – but when she did come back all we were presented with was a change to a more glittering outfit and she then proceeded to take selfies with the audience members whom she chose to be the Spice Girls, and then thud, the show ended, with not a laugh in sight. Pam Ann: Touch Trolley Run to Galley 20th Anniversary tour is 2 hours and 20 minutes long, but this consisted of a 20 minute interval and 20 minutes of video footage, including two videos of her interspersed in scenes from the Great British Bake off – it would’ve been a bit funnier if she would’ve done this live, but that would’ve been perhaps too much effort?

For tickets to see Pam Ann, who is at the Leicester Square Theatre until May 27th, please go go:
https://leicestersquaretheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873556409

For more information about Pam Ann and the rest of her UK tour, please visit:
pamann.com / @pamannairbitch / facebook.com/pamannairhostess

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15th Apr2017

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (Theatre)

by timbaros

(left)Lizzii HillsWilton’s Music Hall in the East End has another hit on it’s hands.

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is their fun and superb new show now playing at the historic venue. And it’s got the right cast to succeed without really trying to be a hit!

Mark Pickering plays J. Pierrepont Finch – an ex-window washer who cleverly climbs the corporate ladder by taking tips from a book called ‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying’ (obvs). His first step is to get a job, so he starts in the mail room at World Wide Wicket Company, working with Bud Frump (a very good Daniel Graham) – the nephew of CEO JB Biggley (Andrew C. Wadsworth). Company secretary Rosemary Pilkington (Hannah Grover) takes a liking to Finch, but Finch has more climbing the ladder to do, and soon enough he’s a junior executive. In the blink of an eye he’s promoted to run the advertising department. And eventually Finch will be after Biggley’s job, who has employed in the company his mistress Hedy La Rue (an excellent Lizzii Hills). She’s stacked but not too bright, and unfortunately she gets enlisted in Finch’s new advertising campaign where she gives away the clues to a company competition, which could possibly lead to hers, Finch’s, and the company’s downfall. It’s a story told in laughs and colorful songs.

The cast are perfect and the staging particularly brilliant. Especially good are Pilkington (great voice and timing) Hills (great comedic wit), Graham (perfect for the role as the spoiled newphew who doesn’t quite get what he thinks he deserves – with great facial expressions), and Matthew Whitby as the HR Director. Excellent direction by Benji Sperring brings this production, which is based on the 1952 book and the 1961 Broadway musical (and which has not been seen in London since 1963 when it played at the Shaftsbury Theatre). It’s pretty much as relevant today as it was when it was originally produced. And the very last song – Company Way – where Maisey Bawden finally comes into her own and belts her heart out, leaves the audience wanting more.

Tickets to the show, which ends it run on April 22, can be bought here:
https://wiltons.org.uk/whatson/288-how-to-succeed-in-business-without-really-trying

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11th Apr2017

Miss Nightingale (Theatre)

by timbaros

Miss Nightingale - The VaultsThe story of a chanteuse called Miss Nightingale who is caught between three men in 1940’s London during WW2 is now playing at The Vaults under Waterloo Station.

Leaving war-ravaged Berlin behind, Maggie Brown (a very talented Tamar Broadbent) and Polish George Nowodny (an excellent Conor O’Kane) arrive in The Big Smoke with Brown’s musical talent. Almost immediately, Brown is spotted by producer Sir Frank Worthington-Blythe (Nicholas Coutu-Langmead) and is urged to start singing for her supper. She’s a hit and starts dating Tom the drummer (Niall Kerrigan). But when their relationship goes down the drain (a bit unexpectedly), Brown, now known by her stage name of Miss Nightingale, falls into the arms of Frank. But Frank and the seductive George have struck up a relationship, all of this amidst the constant threat of blackouts, bombs and The Blitz – life in London during World War II was a treacherous and at times tortuous place.

Miss Nightingale is similar to the storyline in Cabaret where the songs are catchy and campy, however, there is the fear of the unknown, and it’s set amidst the drama and terror that is happening in the outside world. Broadbent is absolutely wonderful as the star of the show, petite yet singing with a big voice and big personality – she commands the stage. Coutu-Langdmead is just as good in his meaty role as Brown’s best confidante and Frank’s lover – though he’s got lots of emotional scars from his past that he can’t soon forget. But the actors in this show not only act, they also play the instruments! O’Kane is especially adept when he’s playing several instruments during one of Broadbent’s songs – is there nothing this man can’t do? The action (and drama) takes place in the small stage space that is The Vaults, not much space to move around but the actors do it, and class it up with their excellent performances and singing.

Miss Nightingale is playing at The Vaults until May 20th.

https://www.thevaults.london/miss-nightingale

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09th Apr2017

42nd Street (Theatre)

by timbaros
42nd Street  London

42nd Street
London

It’s got Razzle. It’s got dazzle. It’s the tapiest and most glittering show in town. It’s 42nd Street!

42nd Street is back in London and it played to a star-studded crowd on opening night (even the Duchess of Cambridge was there!). There were more stars in the room then in the skies, and there were more sparkles on stage than on Guy Fawkes night! 42nd Street is one of the most well-known and loved musicals of all time. Originally a 1933 film and based on a novel by Bradford Ropes, 42nd Street made it to broadway as a musical 47 years later (what took it so long?). It found it’s way to our shores in 1984, playing at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane (where it’s playing now!) and launched the career of Catherine Zeta-Jones, who was a chorus member fortunate enough to be bounced to the lead role one night when the main star and the understudy were both sick. The lead role, of wanna be musical star Peggy Sawyer, will definitely make Clare Halse, who is in this new production, a star.

Mark Bramble, who originally wrote the book (along with Michael Stewart) directs this new production, and it’s a non-stop bacchanalia of fun! And with an amazing and flawless cast of over 50, 42nd Street has gotten better with time, even though it tells the same old time-trodden story of a young girl from a small town – Peggy Sawyer – who goes to the big city and dreams of making it big. She gets a job as a backup dancer in a new show called Pretty Lady, and the Pretty Lady in the title is Dorothy Brock (fabulously played by singer Sheena Easton). Brock is in love with Pat (Norman Bowman), who disappears off to Philadelphia. So Brock wants to follow him there, forcing the show to move to there. But Brock breaks her ankle, so after getting fired for causing Brock to break her leg, Sawyer is roped back into the show, this time as it’s lead, and she’s only got 48 hours to learn the part, to learn the dance moves, and is wooed and coddled by director Julian Marsh (Tom Lister). But it’s Billy (Stuart Neal) who really takes a liking to her. Will she be ready and rehearsed in time to open the show? Will the nerves get the best of her? I’m sure we can all figure out how it plays out – and plays out it does, much to our delight!

42nd Street  London

42nd Street
London

But the story line pretty much takes a back seat to the musical numbers. Songs such as ‘I Only Have Eyes for you’ – beautifully sung by Easton, and ‘Lullaby of Broadway’ and ‘We’re in the Money – sung by the entire cast, are just as memorable now as when they were originally written. Act 1 moves us from the stage of the 42nd Street theatre to The Gypsy Tea Kettle Restaurant and then on to Philadelphia, while Act 2 takes us from the dressing rooms to Philadelphia train station – all realistically cleverly designed. And those dance numbers – wow! There is one amazing scene where a dozen or so female dancers are on the floor while a mirror hovers above them for the audience to see – it’s breathtaking! This cast is definitely the hardest working cast in town – from the opening number where they tap themselves to death to the finale where they all come down the amazing lite-up stairs – it’s one singing sensation after another. Halse is superb (with an excellent voice) as the lead, Easton is delicious as Brock – who would’ve guessed Easton had so much acting talent, and it’s her acting stage debut! And Maggie Jones and Christopher Howell excel in their supporting roles. With excellent choreography by Randy Skinner, 42nd Street is simply a must show to see.

42nd Street is playing until October 14, 2017. To buy tickets, please click here:

http://www.42ndstreetmusical.co.uk

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03rd Apr2017

Adam & Eve and Steve (Theatre)

by timbaros

DSC_6077It’s not Adam & Eve but Adam & Eve and Steve (plus the Devil) at The Kings Head Theatre.

A musical version of the biblical story that we all know and love so well is just what we need in this time of Brexit and Trump. But in this story Steve (Dale Adams), and not Eve, is accidentally created by God (the voice and later the body of Michael Christopher) – thanks to Beelzebub – the Devil (played to camp perfection by Stephen McGlynn). But Adam (an innocent looking Joseph Robinson) thinks that Steve is actually Eve, but then God waves his magic wand and creates the real Eve (a sexy Hayley Hampson) and it all becomes very confusing for Adam. Beelzebub tempts them all to take a bite of, as he calls it, the pom (a/k/a apple) against God’s wishes. But Steve wants to be with Adam, and Eve wants to be with Adam, and Adam is confused, and what does Beelzebub (and the mostly gay audience) want? For Adam and Steve to hook up, and, of course, Beelzebub (and us) wants everyone to sin! Set to a sinfully silly musical score (‘I want to shop for furniture’ was one of the most memorable tunes) and tons of references to the existing world (Uber, Ikea, gluten free), with lots of skin on show, Adam & Eve and Steve won’t change your life but it will make you forget all about the outside world for a luckily brief 75 minutes.

For tickets, please go to:

https://kingsheadtheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873566822/events/128005665

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