Archive for April, 2017


When deciding to review this show, I was dreading what I might have to write. You see, never have I attended a show with so much favourable feedback as in the case of Billy Elliot. My God, everybody loved it, giving rave reviews. But what if it was another dud for me? That certainly happened with the Commitments.

No such fears. From the opening segment with The Stars Look Down, I was drawn into the stage. And this was no mean feat as I wasn’t in the best position to appreciate the view and acoustics back in Row T of the stalls.

With a book and lyrics by Lee Hall, plus music from Elton John, the show is based on the 2000 film of the same name. Billy Elliot tells of a 12-year-old boy set against the backdrop of the 1984 miners’ strike. Rather than attending boxing lessons, Billy stumbles into a ballet class and finds he has a love of the dance.

Now the writer in me first looks to the script, and this one was epic. Clever, natural dialogue which slaps you in the face when you least expect. Best line of the show. “Susan Parks, you look like a spastic starfish.” Oh yes, how I love blatant political incorrectness. And the music and dance was … fantastic. This is a show which truly ticked all the boxes.

Of the musical numbers, Shine stood out immediately. Then we had the spectacular of Solidarity with Billy and the Ballet girls amidst the conflict between miners and police. One, however, which really entertained was Expressing Yourself with the dancing dresses. At the start to Act Two, I can’t emphasise how much I loved Merry Christmas, Maggie Thatcher. Thatcher masks, puppets, and finally, a giant ogress nemesis of the 1980s miners. And my favourite song lyric. “Oh, my darling, oh, my darling, oh, my darling Heseltine. You’re a tosser, and a wanker, and you’re just a Tory swine.” Sung by children. Brilliant.

On the dance front, we were treated to an amazing segment of Swan Lake in which Billy dances with his older self. Electricity was as it says in the name – electric. Towards the end, we had the poignant farewells as the miners return to work and Billy says his goodbyes. Many a tear in the house. Then the finale topped off a great evening of spectacular choreography, voice and performance.

On the night, Billy was played by Haydn May with Amy Rhiannon Worth as Mrs Wilkinson. Dad was Martin Walsh, Tony (Scott Garnham), Grandma (Andrea Miller), Mr Braithwaite (Daniel Page), Michael (Elliot Stiff) and Debbie (Lilly Cadwallender).

Billy Elliot was directed by Stephen Daldry with choreography, Peter Darling and musical supervision from Martin Koch . The producer was Sally Green.

So, everybody else loved it, and as much as I enjoy being the dissenting voice, I can’t on this occasion. Billy Elliot was out of this world.

 

Cheers.

 

Antony N Britt

 

 

 

Antony N Britt

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This May, Aldridge Musical Comedy Society (AMCS) make a welcome return to the Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock for a magnificent celebration of fifty years as a society. The show is Fabulous at 50 and never has a title been so apt. Last year, AMCS put on two well-received productions of the highest standard in Thoroughly Modern Millie and Once Upon a Time. You can expect Fabulous at 50 to be no different.

Aldridge Musical Comedy Society (AMCS) Fabulous at 50 – Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock – 18 to 20 May 2017

Great voices, breathtaking dance and good humour, Fabulous at 50 features numbers from Les Misérables, Oklahoma, All Shook Up, Oliver, Rent and many more. Direction for Fabulous at 50 is in the safe hands of Julie Lamb with choreography by Sarah Hemming and musical direction – Mark Bayliss. Julie, who is also chairperson of the society, spoke about the show, “I’m so proud to be celebrating the 50th anniversary of AMCS and feel very honoured to be directing such a talented group of people on this special occasion.”

Making a return to the stage is society president, Paula Garratt, who appeared in AMCS’ first ever production – Calamity Jane. “When I started with AMCS 50 years ago,” Paula said, “I never thought I would be lucky enough to join this great company on stage in celebration of those 50 years. I am very proud of everyone associated with the society.”

AMCS currently has a core of 30 members and are always on the lookout for more of all ages. Rehearsing in Aldridge every Wednesday, the society, in addition to two shows a year, also perform for charity functions and care homes.

Aldridge Musical Comedy Society (AMCS) Fabulous at 50 – Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock – 18 to 20 May 2017 © Antony N Britt 2017

And the shows continue. With Smokey Joe’s Café (Nov 2017) and West Side Story (May 2018) already confirmed, the next fifty years is underway. But not until this current celebration is complete and from experience, AMCS guarantee the 50th anniversary show will be nothing less than Fabulous.

Fabulous at 50 is on 18 to 20 May 2017 (1930 start). Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock.

Tickets available from AMCS (01543 480626) or Box Office (01543 578762).

Adults £12. Concession £10 and Under 16s £8.

Aldridge Musical Comedy Society (AMCS) Fabulous at 50 – Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock – 18 to 20 May 2017

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

I’ll admit it now. I know nothing about dance, as my society’s choreographer will testify. I can’t tell a Cha Cha from a Paso Doble. Therefore, you may wonder how I can comment on and review a dance show? Well, there must be others out there like me, so what’s in a show like this for the uneducated? The answer – plenty of entertainment.

Brendan Cole: All Night Long – Birmingham Symphony Hall – 24 March 2017

So, an evening with Strictly Come Dancing’s, Brendan Cole. We had a spectacular opening of a Samba to the song which titled the show – All Night Long. Then followed the Cha Cha with Love Potion Number 9. I was initially worried that being on a stage and not a dance floor, someone might fall off, which then promptly happened when Mr Cole slid at the end of a number and ended in the lap of a woman in the front row. Mind you, I don’t think she minded.

And it wasn’t just Brendan Cole. He was superbly supported by five dancers who went it alone in such routines like I Can’t Stand the Rain, of which the ladies costumes were, ahem, interesting. Certainly had the few men in the audience captivated.

And that’s another thing. About 90% of the audience were women, and of the males I could see, all were older than me. Now, being the youngest man at a gig isn’t something which happens to me a lot these days, but I didn’t feel left out. A Rumba (Fields of Gold), Quickstep (Nine to Five) and Jive (Tell Her About It). All captivated as did the spectacular Argentine Tango to Skyfall.

In between some routines were non-dance songs from singers and the band, the singers being, Iain Mackenzie and Julie Maguire. Musical arrangements were overseen by pianist, Barry Robinson. The cast of dancers for the tour were: Faye Huddleston, Crystal Main, Matt Harris, Craig Jones, Victoria Burke, Sallyrose Beardall and Michael Johnson.

But it wasn’t all about dancing. On the night, we heard tales of the Strictly show with many of the anecdotes referring to politician, Ed Balls, the surprise novelty hit of the previous series. Also, expected quips about fellow dancer and friend of Cole, Anton Du Beke.

So how did the show satisfy an ignoramus? Well, I loved it, and apart from worrying about the women’s dresses igniting during the Paso Doble, my entertainment lasted all night long.

Brendan Cole: All Night Long – Birmingham Symphony Hall – 24 March 2017

Cheers.

Nick

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