06th Dec2016

Beauty on the Piste – Theatre

by timbaros

img_8415nIt’s Panto season in case you’ve been hiding under a rock, and with that comes shows that are silly and campy, some good and more than a few not so good. But does it really matter?

This year’s panto at Above the Stag is ‘Beauty on the Piste,’ a reimagining of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and it’s exactly what you would expect, but perhaps a bit less. This is the plot, in a nutshell: Morag (David Moss) and her son Mac (an adorable Ross Tucker) own a tea house high up in the mountains in a town called Les De Nice (Les Dennis – cue laugh here). Passing by the tea house is the young lithe and blond boy Beau (Joshua Oakes-Rogers) and his father Gustav (Andrew Truluck). Beau is eternally horny and always on Grindr (we’re getting tired of Grindr being in almost every gay play nowadays). But nearby is where The Beast (Jamie Coles) lives, behind huge gates in an old mansion, and he’s hardly ever seen. One night Morag and Gustav decide to take a walk to get to know each other better, but they are kidnapped by The Beast, and it’s up to Morag and Beau to go looking for them. They find them in The Beast’s home, and Beau trades places with his father to let him free, and it’s only a matter of time before sparks fly between Beau and The Beast. But trouble lies on the horizon; the gay Sebastian St. Moritz (Simon Burr), who owns lots of the property in Les De Nice, wants to raise the rent of the tea house, so what’s the newly rescued Morag and her son going to do? Throw in Mabel the Fairy (a cute Briony Rawie), and The Beasts housekeeper – Heidi (Ellen Butler) – who keeps morphing into various items one finds in the house- and what you’ve got is a show, with a sing-a-long, that’s full of glitter and glee. Does it matter that the songs are awful? No! Does it matter that this production is not one of the Stag’s better shows? No! And does it matter that most (if not all) of the cast can’t sing? Of course not! Why? Because you’re not going to see ‘Beauty on the Piste’ because it is sold out for the rest of it’s run! So perhaps console (or congratulate) yourself and buy a ticket to their next production – ‘Bitches Ahoy’ – a show that bills itself as a ‘gay holiday hilarity’ – hopefully it’s a return to the Stag’s better quality shows. Just one month to go until Panto season ends, whew!

To buy tickets to ‘Bitches Ahoy’, which starts from January 19th, please go here:

What’s On

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29th Nov2016

Testosterone (Theatre)

by timbaros
Testostorone Production Photos by Rhum & Clay Theatre Company  Photo Credit: Richard Davenport for  The Other Richard info@theotherrichard.com

Testostorone Production Photos
by Rhum & Clay Theatre Company
Photo Credit: Richard Davenport for
The Other Richard
info@theotherrichard.com

Kit Redstone – a female to male transgender actor – explains what it’s like to enter a men’s locker room for the first time in the new play Testosterone.

The play, at the New Diorama Theatre near Warren Street tube station, is a semi-autobiographical look at Redstone’s coming out as a man and what it’s like to do so in such a testosterone heavy environment as the locker room. The show also briefly delves into Kit’s previous life as a woman, as well as the first time he received testosterone – at the doctors office. Told with a bit of drama, and humor, it’s a story that Kit is brave enough to have written and again to tell on stage. But Kit doesn’t just tell his story, he relives it, cleverly, with the locker room as a device to explain the whole male heavy environment that he now belongs to. The show, successfully, looks at how masculinity is so prevalent in a locker room environment, and questions whether it is real or is it a facade? Alongside thirty-something Kit are three other actors who display their manliness (not literally), and masculinity; two jocks (Matthew Wells and Julian Spooner) and the fabulous singer/drag queen Daniel Jacob (also known as Vinegar Strokes). They help Kit to tell his story as well as perform in fantasy sequences that move the story along which helps the audience to better understand Kit’s journey. It’s a straightforward, and brave, telling of Kit’s transformation and the new world he lives in.

TESTOSTERONE
Tue 22 Nov – Sat 3 Dec @ 19:30
Saturday Matinees @ 15:30
TICKETS
£15; £12.50 concessions

New Diorama Theatre
15-16 Triton Street

Regent’s Place
London NW1 3BF

BOOKING INFORMATION
For the best tickets, book online at www.newdiorama.com
To book by telephone, ring 020 7338 9034

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22nd Nov2016

La Soiree (Theatre)

by timbaros

6-la-soiree-leicester-square-david-girard-credit-brinkhoff-moegenburg-jpgThe best show in Central London is now playing for a limited time only in Leicester Square – it’s La Soiree!

Back in London for a 7th time, La Soiree is a theatrical experience that will wow and shock you – it’s circus, vaudeville and burlesque all rolled up into one in a show that’s funny, mesmerizing, and very enjoyable. In the especially-built venue that is the Spiegeltent right in the middle of Leicester Square, it’s a show in the round, in a velvet draped salon of carved wood, polished mirrors and the feeling of having stepped into another world, and where every seat has a good view of the shenanigans the performers get up to. Grab a drink at the bar and have fun watching these amazing performers:

-Denis Lock is a bubble-making master. He makes bubbles in all sorts of shapes and sizes, including a carousel – he really needs to be seen to be seen!
-Songstress Acantha Lang, from New Orleans, sings intermittently throughout the show – her vocals are large and high octane! She’s a diva and she owns it!
-Captain Frodo is a hilarious comedian who is able to put his whole body through two small tennis racquets – it’s contortionism at it’s very best!
-The very naughty and funny Ursula Martinez – she finds hankies in the most unusual places – enough said!
-Daredevil Chicken is a man and woman duo who do incredible costume changes and are able to toss bits and pieces of bananas into theirs (and audience members) mouths. They are side splittingly funny!
-Jarred Dewey likes to swing, on a swing (he’s a trapeze artist)! And he does it with very little clothes on.
-Hamish McCann, while shirtless, performs a jaw-dropping pole act that makes it look like he’s literally walking up a light pole. He makes it look easy.

For two hours you will be entertained, and your jaw will drop, not only at the amazing feats these performers accomplish, but also because it is all very hilarious and raucous.

So step away from the busy and blustery streets of London into this plush cabaret venue where you will have a really good time!

Christmas in Leicester Square
Friday 11 November 2016 to Sunday 8 January 2017

Tue-Thurs: 8pm

Fri & Sat: 7pm & 10pm
Sun: 7pm

Christmas Schedule varies – please check website:
Box office:
www.la-soiree.com
0207 492 9942

LA SOIRÉE NEW YEAR’S EVE LISTINGS INFORMATION

Tickets from £120 if purchased by 26th December 2016.

Doors from 8pm. Performance time: 9pm

Run Time: 2 hours including interval

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23rd Oct2016

Ragtime (Theatre)

by timbaros

unspecified-4The U.S. is in turmoil: racial discrimination is rife while immigrants arrive by the boatload to escape feast and famine in their own countries. This could describe present day U.S. but it’s actually the early 20th century in the new production of “Ragtime” now playing at The Charing Cross Theatre.

Ragtime the novel was originally written in 1975 and had it’s London stage debut in 2003, after it had debuted on Broadway in 1998. The revival of the show was brought back to London’s Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in 2012. This new version, directed by Thom Southerland, is very ambitious, with a very crowded cast of 24 on a stage barely able to fit in their singing, dancing and acting.

It’s the turn of the 20th century in New York and we are sung the story of three different groups; an upper class family, African Americans, and Eastern European immigrants, and eventually all their lives will cross in a show that packs a lot in it’s over two hour running time in a theatre that was too hot and a bit too uncomfortable.

The upper class family takes from and centre. It’s the wife, who’s called Mother (Anita Louise Combe) with a young son and a husband who leaves the family behind to go on an exhibition to the North Pole. Then there’s the African Americans, fronted by Coalhouse Walker Jr. (Ako Mitchell), a Harlem musician whose girlfriend Sarah (Jennifer Saayeng) leaves her baby on Mother’s doorstep, but eventually moves in with Mother and is found living there by Coalhouse. Then there’s the immigrants – Tateh (Gary Tushaw) and his daughter (Alana Hinge) – who arrive in the big city with nothing to their name. However they don’t find their American dream in New York so Tateh decides they should go to Boston but right before their trip they meet Mother and her son. And trouble is in store for Coalhouse and Sarah who get harassed by unfriendly locals and it’s at this point when the first half ends.

The second fails to match the first half’s intensity and drama. It neatly wraps up the storylines, with themes of reunions and acceptance but it’s all a bit of a letdown after the energetic and frantic first half. The cast are all fine, with the excellent vocal chords of Saayeng and Bernadette Bangura. And Combe and Tushaw provide much dramatic acting in their roles, while Samuel Peterson is adorable and perfect as the son on the night I saw it.

If there ever was a musical that’s full of music, this is the one. It’s a good old classic American story that’s pure red, white and blue – there’s nothing as American as this show. And what a pertinent time to have on display this show of Americana, when the U.S. is going through a most unusual election, and where black men are continuously getting killed, and immigrants from all over the world wanting to live to live there. What took place in the early 20th century is still taking place today.

‘Ragtime’ is now playing at the Charing Cross Theatre until Dec. 10th. To purchase tickets, please go to:

http://charingcrosstheatre.co.uk/theatre/ragtime

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16th Sep2016

Briefs (Theatre)

by timbaros

a3-briefs-image-only14There are seven men who strip down to their briefs every night on the Southbank – in a show called ‘Briefs!’

At the London Wonderground right near the London Eye, ‘Briefs’ is one of the world’s hottest all-male boylesque extravaganzas. For the fourth straight year, these men are packing in audiences, and packing it in their briefs, to perform their stunts and magic tricks whilst leaving very little to the imagination! This Australian sixtet (plus one New Yorker) is led by the glamorous and vivacious and sarcastic hostess Shivannah. She is our guide throughout the show, with multiple outfit changes that outsparkle the spotlights!

And her boys put on quite a show! For starters, we get Louis Biggs who has a thing for unscrambling a Rubick’s cube in his briefs, to Evil Hate Monkey (yes, that’s his name in the program) who does acrobatics that take him up and down, legs spread in the air, and another who does yo yo tricks that are a bit too close to his bits for comfort. And the best for last is the finale where heavily tattooed Mark ‘Captain Kidd’ Winmill splashes all about in a large champagne glass, and, just a word of caution – don’t sit in the first two rows!

‘Briefs’ is a show of glitter, flesh, high heals, very naughty jokes, and undressed men put in compromising positions, all for the benefit of their audience. It’s circus, physical theatre, showmanship and fun, lots of it, and it’s burlesque – with balls! The men have spent the last year touring the world and they’re fame is ever increasing, so now’s your chance to go see them. It’s a limited run that’s ending on September 24th – so get tickets now! ‘Brief’s’ is oh so sexy!

http://www.londonwonderground.co.uk/whats-on/briefs1

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14th Sep2016

Party (Theatre)

by timbaros

14bfb5b1943a5c0d1ca5e35adbe44c72There’s a party going on in Vauxhall and you’re all invited!

‘Party,’ a play at the Above the Stag theatre, is about seven gay men who get together one evening to hang out, chat, be together, and basically talk about sex, as gay men do! And what a party it is! It involves alcohol, lots of alcohol, where seven handsome and hunky guys pretty much up for anything, play a game called Fact or Fantasy, a bit like Truth or Date, which involves, of course, male nudity – all taking place in a cozy living room.

‘Party, ’written by David Dillon in 1992, originally ran in Chicago before moving to New York, and has even been produced internationally. For this version, directed by Gene David Kirk, the party, and action, takes place in a British man’s living room, with references to British culture, news, and the requisite British accents! It’s the home of Kevin (Nic Kyle), who is letting out his extra bedroom to Peter (Stefan Gough). In attendance at the party are dancer Brian (Jamie Firth), teacher Ray (Ben Kavanagh), Philip (Lucas Livesy), James (Sam Goodchild) and young and innocent Andy (Tom Leach). They’re all friends, good friends, but when they decide to play Fact or Fiction, a game where one man is to tell the truth, lie, or act out someone else’s fantasy, secrets are revealed, as well as skin, lots of skin, in a game where being shy is not an option! And it’s Ray who steals the show with best lines – he actually berates Andy for not knowing who ‘Barbra’ is or how to tell the difference between a cast album and a soundtrack. Peter reveals, during the game, that he’s got a secret crush with one of the men, while Brian is sexy and he knows it, and is the first to strip off. It’s a party in this intimate theatre where the audience feels like they’re right in the middle.

‘Party’ is 100 minutes of very funny jokes, lively atmosphere, and laugh out loud comedy. It’s play which celebrates gay men who enjoy the company of other gay men, sexual attraction or not. And all the actors deserve praise, and courage, for baring it all – it’s exciting and done in good taste. This is one party you definitely don’t want to miss. Buy your tickets now as Above the Stag has just announced a three week extension to the show, which will now run until October 30th.

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07th Sep2016

The Naked Magicians (Theatre)

by timbaros

The Naked Magicians Christopher  Wayne & Mike Tyler - Trafalgar Studios 31 Aug - 24 Sep (2)There are two men who get their kit off every night near Trafalgar Square, and I recommend that you go have a peak!!!

These two men are Mike Tyler and Christopher Wayne, and they are starring in a new show at Trafalgar Studios called ‘The Naked Magicians.’ Having seen the show, I can vouch that they do indeed take off all of their clothes (except for the strap that holds the microphone battery!).

Directly from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Tyler and Wayne are two Aussies who’ve been performing as naked magicians all over the world for over two years, so they’re both used to baring all in front of an audience. But their charm and cheekiness in the way they strip is unique, and best of all, lots of fun.

Both men are actual real-life magicians (and not strippers) and their show features all sorts of magic tricks. Ninety minutes in length, the handsome gents perform tricks such as pretending to smash an audience members mobile phone, using an inflatable penis to get members of the audience to reveal their porn names (name of street you grew up on and the name of a pet) while already having it written down, card tricks galore, and of course the disappearing clothes trick, are all part and parcel of what they do. Of course, any magic show wouldn’t be a magic show without audience participation, and some lucky (?) members of the audience get the chance to go on stage and help the men to ‘perform’ their magic. Since this boisterous magic show is R-rated, the humour and the jokes, are for an adult audience, so if you’re prudish, go see Aladdin instead! And near the end of the show, the buffed men wear top hats, not on their heads, but hats that are strategically placed and in which an audience member is tasked with holding the hat in place while Christopher performs some rope tricks. It’s hilarious! By the time the men attempt to get themselves out of straightjackets (tied by two audience members), they are practically naked, but it’s the hungry audience who wants to, and gets to, see more, and they definitely get to see more. ‘The Naked Magicians’ takes magic to a whole new naughty level and it’s a level where you want to be at!

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04th Aug2016

Rotterdam (Theatre)

by timbaros

Rotterdam - Alice McCarthy and Anna MartineExcellent performances and a very timely storyline make ‘Rotterdam’ a must-see show.

Fiona (Anna Martine) has been in a long-term relationship with Alice (Alice McCarthy) for seven years. They’re English but moved to Rotterdam so that Alice could avoid coming out to her parents. Fiona is Alice’s first girlfriend – when they initially met Alice was dating Fiona’s brother Josh (Ed Eales-White). It’s a rocky relationship, even more so when Alice finds it very difficult sending an email to her parents to announce to them that she’s lesbian and is in a lesbian relationship, and has always told them that Fiona was her roommate. However, one day Fiona announces that she wants to transition to become a man, and that she always felt like she was a man in a woman’s body. It’s not easy for Alice to accept this bombshell, but when Fiona decides to starts to living as a man and tells Alice to start calling her Adrian, their relationship is put the test, even more so when Alice starts taking a liking to Lelani (Jessica Clark), a very sexy and very vivacious lesbian woman at her work.

The running joke in the play is that why would anyone want to live in Rotterdam? We’re told that it’s a city where things pass through, not stop, that it’s a place for transition. And that’s exactly what Fiona is about to do – transition – she is cisgender. And Martine really pulls the role off. She’s got the toughest part in the play where in the first half she’s Fiona but in the second half she’s the masculine-looking Adrian. It’s an excellent transformation. The rest of the cast are all almost as perfect. McCarthy is good as the stressed out girlfriend who doesn’t quite know what to do or how to handle Fiona’s transition. And Clark is delicious as the ‘other woman’ – with her sexy moves and even sexier accent.

Writer Jon Brittain hits the nail on the head in dealing with this issue, so in the news because of Bruce Jenner’s recent transition to Caitlyn Jenner. ‘Rotterdam’ was originally produced at Theatre 503 in Battersea and makes a superb transition to the Trafalgar Studios. And Donnacadh O’Brian excellently directs the cast in the smaller of Trafalgar Studio’s theatres, with a clever set and great pulsating music by Robyn. Make a stop and see ‘Rotterdam.’

To get tickets, please click here:

http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/rotterdam/trafalgar-studios/

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13th Jul2016

Through the Mill (Theatre Review)

by timbaros

DB5S8393It’s Judy Garland times three in the new musical ‘Through The Mill’ now playing at Southwark Playhouse.

The show gives us Garland in three different stages in her life. There’s the young Judy before her Wizard of Oz role – ages 13 through 16 – brilliantly played by Lucy Penrose. Then we have the 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 finally we are presented with CBS Judy – the 47 year-old star (played by Helen Sheals) who was in the last year of her life during which she had her own television show on America’s CBS network.

These three eras of Judy’s life are superbly intertwined in a show that’s both fantastic and tragic. We all know that Judy died at the age of 47 in London due to an over-dosage of barbiturates. But she 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. By this time she takes various drugs just to help her get through her day (and to get her on stage). Her life seems to be a mess, though she’s got her husband Sid Luft (Harry Anton) with her at all times. By the tim CBS Judy (who actually opens the show with a rounding version of ‘Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries’) sung brilliantly by Sheals, her life seems to be on track, she’s got a hit television show, but the network keeps on demanding more and more from her. It’s too much for a woman as fragile as Judy, and though her death is not played out on stage, we all know what’s going to happen to her.

‘Through the Mill’ 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 a version of Judy that is young and innocent, and Penrose conveys that excellently. When Young Judy and Palace Judy duet on ‘Zing, Went the Strings of my Heart’ together in the intimate theatre, 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 Ray Rackham, along with the rest of his crew, have staged a musical that’s larger than life in a theatre that’s as intimate as a living room. And the parallel timeframes used in this production is genius. Cleverly, the musicians also act in the show, from Carmella Brown who plays CBS Judy’s assistant, to Don Cotter who is very good as Louis B. Mayer, the head of MGM who greenlit Garland for ‘Wizard of Oz. Please go see ‘Through the Mill,’ even if you’re not a Judy Garland fan. It’s a fabulous show.

‘Through the Mill is playing until July 30th. To buy tickets, please go to:

Through the Mill

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02nd Jul2016

1984 (Theatre)

by timbaros

Andrew Gower in 1984 Credit Manuel Harlan.jpgGeorge Orwell’s classic book 1984 was not always going to be easily transferable to the stage. But a new production of it has just opened at the Playhouse Theatre.

If you’ve ever read the book (either in school or for leisure), you will know the story. Written in 1949, when the year 1984 seemed like a long way off, Orwell wrote about a world where, simply, big brother is watching everything you do, everywhere you go. It’s like the present day North Korea where the government dictates how and where you will live your life, but it takes it to a bit more extreme in that anyone with an individual thought or who speaks bad about the government is punished, it’s a totalitarian state.

The protagonist of the show is Winston Smith (bravely acted by Andrew Gower). He knows and understands that the world he lives in is bad, cruel, harsh. And he really hates it. He has put his thoughts onto paper, an illegal act if there ever was one. But there’s lots more to this complicated story, on the surface and underneath, and to explain it would be to write a very long explanation.

But in summary, Smith has an affair with Julia (Catrin Stewart) and it all goes wrong for both of them. You see, they thought that a secret bedroom they were shown by a shopkeeper was free of surveillance, but it wasn’t. They’re rustled up and taken to prison where they are interrogated, and the shopkeeper turns out to be a spy for the government. Smith is labeled a ’thought criminal’ and is tortured, and comes face to face with his self-confessed worst nightmare – rats.

A production of 1984 was produced by Nottingham’s Headlong Theatre company before embarking on a UK tour in 2013 and then had a sell out run at the Almeida Theatre. It’s a show that’s hard to watch. The story, and characters, are a bit complicated and not very well understood; we seen them but don’t really know who they are. And perhaps that’s the point. But it takes shock theatre to all new levels with lots of blood in the torture scene (the woman next to me had her eyes closed), and the use of very bright strobe lights used intermittently during the play which is very jaring. But it’s Chloe Lamford’s sets that keep ‘1984’ in it’s time period – it’s a minimalist world where total surveillance is common. Credit goes to Directors Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan for putting together a show from a book that’s been described as complicated at best. And Gower gives an amazing performance as the literally tortured soul who is punished for his thoughts.

If you can stomach a production of 1984, then this is well worth the effort. If you’re looking for something a bit lightheated, then this show is not the show for you.

http://1984theplay.co.uk

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30th Jun2016

Get ‘Em Off (Theatre)

by timbaros

91fcb92abe00587dbdff24216fe17eddThe Full Monty is now playing at Above the Stag Theatre in Vauxhall.

Well, it’s not exactly The Full Monty – it’s called ‘Get ‘Em Off!’ Set in the suburbian enclave of Croydon, ‘Get ‘Em Off’ takes place in the only gay bar around for miles – The Golden Canary – and it’s a dive. Run by proprietor/proprietress Quinny, a/k/a Baz (Dereck Walker), it’s a bar that needs some spicing up. So it’s his employee Mitch (Joe Goldie) who comes up with the idea of turning Monday night into a gay strip competition to bring in more customers. And so that’s what they do. And they encourage their customers to enter in the hopes of winning the cash prize. Milosh (Michael Nelson), from Kosovo, is one of the first ones to enter, he’s definitely not shy about showing his body. Then there’s Ricky (Ashley Daniels), who is a regular customer to the bar when his boring partner (David Michael Hands) is out of town on business and who actually forbids Ricky from going to the gay bar as he doesn’t think they should lead ’that kind of lifestyle.’ But there’s a spark between Milosh and Ricky that’s palpable.

Meanwhile back at the bar, Baz, all dolled up in sequins and a head wrap, hosts the competition. Mitch urges his all so sexy and very hot straight friend Luke (Tom Bowen) to enter, hey Luke’s wife is about to give birth to their first child so he says why not? And it’s poor Brian (Stuart Harris), Mitch’s school teacher, newly single after six years, trying to find his way back into the gay scene, and finds himself at The Golden Canary. With the strip competition such a success, Quinny decides to enter her men in a national strip competition. So ‘Get Em Off’ follows The Full Monty’s plot where the men practice and practice for the competition where we all know what’s going to happen.

‘Get Em Off’ should’ve been called ‘The Gay Full Monty.’ It’s a camp musical comedy with very funny lines but not very funny nor memorable songs (one is titled ‘Get Your Dick Out), and there’s a waxing scenes that’s a bit dreadful. The book, by Jon Bradfield and Martin Hooper, gives Quinny some of the best lines in the show, though Milosh and Mitch have some as well. Walker steals the show even when his/her men get naked – he’s hilarious! Hands also deserves a mention as he plays various roles and is unrecognizable in each one of them. ‘Get Em Off’ is not the best show the Above the Stag has produced, but it’s perhaps perfect for the summer season when all gay boys want to do is see to watch light-hearted fare with cute guys and lots of nudity. This is the show for them.

To purchase tickets, please click:

Get ‘Em Off!

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21st Jun2016

Titanic (Theatre)

by timbaros

13329426_1004915136224632_2850082151825824399_o_galleryThere is no Celine Dion singing ‘My Heart Will go On,’ but the new stage production of ‘Titanic’ is a classy production with an outstanding cast.

Playing at The Charing Cross Theatre, ‘Titanic’ tells the story of the doomed ocean liner that set sail from Southhampton UK for a journey to New York City. But before reaching it’s destination, it hit an iceberg, and started taking on lots of water. While some passengers were lucky enough to escape on lifeboats, others remained on the sinking ship. In total, more than 1500 people died whereas only over 700 survived. Of course, this production of Titanic does not have a cast of 2200 people nor is there a huge ship on stage, it’s practically a bare bones theatre production where the focus is on the acting and the singing.

The set consists of the deck of the ship, and that’s it, but it works and blends in very well with the cast of 20. Included in this cast are actors/actresses who play the officers and passengers of the ship – both rich and poor. But it’s Claire Machin who plays 2nd class passenger Alice Beane who from the onset steals the show with her musical description of who is who as they board the ship (the Astors, Ladies and Lords, Politicians, and celebrities), while deeply wishing that she was traveling first class, and not second. But it’s genius in that most members of the cast play more than just one character, drifting in and out of each scene – very fluid and ver elegant. Philip Rham is all so stoic as the ship’s captain, while Luke George as the bellboy is so innocent yet unaware of what fate has in store for him.

‘Titanic’ enjoyed a two year run on Broadway in 1997, and most recently had a run at London’s Southwark Playhouse in 2013. So does London really need another ‘Titanic’ stage show just three years later? Yes, because this production is fantastic. Director Thom Southerland does wonders with the small stage in which to tell a story that is perhaps larger than life. And with music and lyrics by Maury Yeston and story and book by Peter Stone, this production of ‘Titanic,’ which has received rave reviews, will sweep you off your feet from start to finish.

To buy tickets, please click on the below link. ‘Titanic’ runs until August 6th, 2016.

http://charingcrosstheatre.co.uk/theatre/titanic

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18th Jun2016

Aladdin (Theatre)

by timbaros

006-1Disney has done it again. They’ve produced another musical based on one of their very popular animated movies – this time it’s ‘Aladdin.’

Already playing on Broadway where it opened in 2014 to very good reviews, Aladdin takes the colorful animated movie and successfully transfers it to the stage. It’s a production so colorful, so full of life, with quite a few memorable scenes, that it’s likely this show will follow in the footsteps of ‘The Lion King’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’ in entertaining lots of children (and adults) for years to come.

Of course the ‘Aladdin’ film is most famous for Robin Williams as the voice of the Genie. It was a natural fit; his huge character persona so in line with the genie’s. In the stage version, the genie is just as memorable (played by a campy and very funny Trevor Dion Nicholas), who practically steals every scene he’s in. He can grant three wishes in this love story between Aladdin (Dean John-Wilson) and the Princess Jasmine (Jade Ewen). Aladdin is poor, and hangs out with a trio of losers and thugs in the town of Agrabah. Meanwhile Princess Jasmine is very unwilling to enter into an arranged marriage by her father the Sultan (Irvine Iqbal). But lurking in the background is the Sultan’s Prime Minister Jafar (Don Gallagher) – his right hand man who wants to overthrow the Sultan and will do whatever it takes to do so. This entails locating a dangerous cave where there’s a special lamp that grants wishes. Back in town, Princess Jasmine dresses as a commoner and walks around town and meets Aladdin. They’re smitten with each other but the romance hits a rocky start when Aladdin gets arrested for being in the palace. He’s saved by Jafar, who enlists him to go into the cave to retrieve the lamp. But it’s Aladdin who, accidentally, gets to own the lamp, and like in the film, he has three wishes to make, wishes that will not only change his life but the lives of his friends and Princess Jasmine as well.

Aladdin is not a perfect musical. There’s not very many memorable musical numbers (except the well-known ‘Friend Like Me’ and ‘A Whole New World,’ which plays out on a magic carpet flying above the stage with the stars twinkling all around. It’s a magical and mesmerizing scene). John-Wilson is good as Aladdin, but he doesn’t wow us. Gallagher as the evil Prime Minister is especially good. He’s evil, cunning and very clever, with the aide of his assistant Iago (Peter Howe). Former England Eurovision contestant Ewen, as Princess Jasmine, is very good and proves that she can sing AND act. However it’s Dion Nicholas as the genie who you will cheer and applaud. But it’s the sets, wow the sets, that are the real star of the show. Moroccan deserts, palaces, villages, sunsets, and perfect costumes are all worth the ticket price. And while ‘Aladdin’ resurrects the story and music written for the 1992 movie by Alan Menken and lyrics by Tim Rice and the late Howard Ashman, it’s no ‘Lion King’ but it sure comes close.

http://www.princeedwardtheatre.co.uk

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21st May2016

Showboat (Theatre)

by timbaros

showboat_140212It’s a show that’s older than you and me. It’s a show that has stood the test of time. It’s ‘Showboat’ and it’s back in London.

Now playing at London’s New London Theatre on Drury Lane, it’s a spectacular recreation of the show that had it’s first performance in 1927 in New York, staged by Oscar Hammerstein II. Yes, that’s how old this show is, almost a century, and it’s new production shows that ‘Showboat’ has got sea legs.

If you don’t know the story, ‘Showboat’ is a show that is made of two parts. The first part is where we get introduced to the boat (called ‘Cotton Blossom’ which is spectacularly recreated on stage), it’s a boat that’s used to put on shows. It’s captained by Andy Hawks (Malcolm Sinclair) with a cast of whites and a crew of blacks. Captain Hawks’ single and carefree daughter Magnolia (Gina Beck) works on the boat, and it’s there where she meets and falls for the handsome yet mysterious Gaylord Ravenal (Chris Peluso). They get married and eventually have a daughter, but it’s the second act that gets dark. You see, Gaylord’s a gambling addict, can’t control his addiction, and can’t support his family, especially after they move to Chicago and have a baby girl. The lifestyle they knew and loved on the boat becomes a distant memory. As the years roll on, she and Gaylord split, and he disappears. But eventually her family and friends rally around her. It’s all told in great musical style with a cast that has loads of talent.

The original London production opened in May, 1928 at the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane. It came back in 1971, and then again in 1998 at the Prince Edward Theatre. There was a short-lived production in 2006 at the Royal Albert Hall, and now it’s back for a new generation to see and it has not lost it’s life. Classic songs such as ‘Ol’ Man River’ (sung by Emmanuel Kojo) to ‘Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man’ (sung by an ensemble of the woman) are given new life by the singers. It’s the very talented cast, chief among them Beck, Peluso, and Danny Collins as a fellow performer, and Sinclair, who stand out. Masterfully directed by Daniel Evens, with lots of great musical numbers including entire ensemble dance routines, this ‘Showboat’ is a must see, especially in the New London Theatre where every seat in the house is a good seat.

To buy tickets to ‘Showboat’ – please click here:

http://showboatmusical.co.uk

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