Tag Archive: Musical Theatre


One of the most famous shows of the last thirty years with the role of Mrs Johnstone considered iconic. However, I had never seen Blood Bothers so needed to tick another off the list.

This is a tale of a mother who after having twins, gives one (Eddie) away to make ends meet. To stop her ever seeing Eddie, the adopting mother uses Mrs Johnstone’s superstitious nature to spin a tale, saying if ever the boys learn of each other’s identity, both will die. Of course, they do meet, become friends, fall out, and then reach an inevitable tragic conclusion.

I had little empathy with Mrs Johnstone, as it happens. Well, she gave away her son far too easy. Still, the lead was played well by 1970s singer, Lyn Paul, considered by many to be the definitive in the role. Very powerful and poignant vocals. I am so glad I saw her on this occasion.

Also billed at the top was Robbie Scotcher as the Narrator. He too gave an excellent performance, although I did find the inclusion of a narrator obtrusive at times. Then we had the twins; the rough-edged Mickey and more sheltered and studious Eddie, portrayed by Alexander Patmore and Joel Benedict respectively.

Now, the thing about Blood Brothers is that it is set when the twins are aged 7, 14, then through to 18 and beyond, with all their Act One scenes as juveniles. And as well as Patmore and Benedict tackled being 7-year-olds, I still found it cringing and embarrassing to watch at times. Women can get away with this far batter, as was shown by the excellent Danielle Corlass as Linda, but grown men pretending to be little kids … Noooooo! Then, supporting well on the night we also had Chloe Taylor (Mrs Lyons), Daniel Taylor (Sammy) and Tim Churchill (Mr Lyons) in addition to a good chorus.

My biggest praise for the show, as a writer, must go to the book by Willy Russell. Well-written, being funny and dark at the same time. It takes talent to turn a mood so quickly. However, if Russell’s script is top-drawer, the music is less so. I found the songs generic and dull, with the same tunes reprised too much. The most enjoyable for me was Kids’ Game with the more popular Tell Me it’s Not True, overrated (in my opinion). Other decent numbers included Easy Terms, My Child and Bright New Day, while on the other hand, Marilyn Monroe must be the most awful song I’ve heard in musical theatre (and it’s reprised to death).

Positives from Blood Brothers in addition to the script were the performances from the cast and band, whereas a major negative was the lack of dance (There is very little). Plus, the show has a dated feel to it, although that seems par for the course with Bill Kenwright directions, I’m afraid.

This review might suggest I hated Blood Brothers, and that’s not so. I did enjoy the show, but was not bowled over as one might expect. Still, I’ll give 7 out of 10 for a production which survives more on reputation than delivery.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

Before going to see 9 to 5, I only knew three things about the show: Two songs and the fact it’s famous for Country and Western songwriter, Dolly Parton. And as the show kicks off, we get to see two of those with a video intro from Dolly before launching the title song, 9 to 5. A nice touch, but not needed as the cast straight from the start have the audience’s full attention with excellent song and dance, full of energy and perfected skill.

I had a special interest in this show, however, as Here for You was one of the first numbers I ever sang solo in my own stage exploits during a concert. Sitting centre of the stalls on row B, I got almost as good a view of Doralee (Ahem!) as when I was on stage.

Now, twenty minutes into the show and with both songs I was familiar with having already gone, I wondered if it had peaked for me. Not a chance. It does always help if I know songs, but such was the calibre of delivery, it didn’t matter. Around Here, Backwoods Barbie, Heart to Hart, Change It and Shine Like the Sun were all amazing. Great vocals with equally matching choreography.

Set in the 1980s, 9 to 5 is the tale of three women fighting their boss for equality, and leading the pack, former Eternal star, Louise Redknapp was outstanding as Violet. Then we had Amber Davies playing Judy and I have to say, what a shining performance, especially during Get Out and Stay Out. But how can anyone fit into the heels of Dolly Parton? Well, Georgina Castle did, and Dolly would be proud. The trio really worked well together and looked a close-knit team

Supporting well, though were Lucinda Lawrence as the devoted assistant, Roz, to the sexist Franklin Hart Jnr (Sean Needham). And we also had Christopher Jordan Marshall (Joe), Jemima Loddy (Missy), and finally, Laura Tyrer as the gloriously alcoholic Margaret.

9 to 5 is simply a fantastic feelgood show, full of laughs included in a good script from Patricia Resnik. But credit to the production on this tour who made the whole experience unforgettable. Jeff Calhoun (Director), Lisa Stevens (Choreographer) and Mark Crossland (Musical Director) led a great team.

A good indicator of how much I enjoy a show is if I immediately purchase an original cast recording. And I have (Well, streamed it, at least). This is a show not just for fans of Dolly Parton, but everyone. One of the best I’ve seen and appreciated by the entire audience on my visit.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt.

The sun has got his hat on. Hip hip hip hooray!

This May, the NODA nominated Aldridge Musical Comedy Society (AMCS) return to The Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock with a classic musical in Me and My Girl.

Set in the 1930s, Me and My Girl tells the story of the noble residents of Hareford Hall and their search for a new heir. That lucky person is common cockney, Bill Snibson, however, the Duchess of Dene, who has the task of imposing tradition onto Bill, does not approve of Bill’s girl, Sally Smith. He must learn to live within the rules or retire back to Lambeth with an annuity.

With a musical score by Noel Gay, plus book from L.Arthur Rose and Douglas Furber, the show enjoyed colossal success in the 80s and 90s following script revisions by Stephen Fry. Me and My Girl is still funny today with instantly recognisable songs: The Lambeth Walk, The Sun Has Got His Hat On, Love Makes the World Go Round, Leaning on a Lamppost and Once You Lose Your Heart. These are but to name but a few. Adding to that, great dance routines which audiences will love.

Now in their 52nd year, AMCS are known for delivering quality and professional shows which go beyond the remit of amateur dramatics. At the directorial helm this time is long-serving member, Julie Lamb. She is supported in production in excellent fashion by the trusted team of Sarah Beckett (Choreography) and Mark Bayliss (Musical Direction).

Tickets are on sale now and you can get them by calling 07588 141841 or direct from the box office (01543 578762). Alternatively, they can be purchased online at this link.

Me and My Girl is on 16 to 18 May 2019 (1930 start) with an additional Saturday 18 May Matinee (1430 start). Prices for evening shows are £15/Adult, £12/Concession and £10/under 16s. Matinee prices are £12/Adult, £10/Concession and £10/under 16s.

Next time that you’re Cannock way, any evening, any day, you’ll find us all, doing the Lambeth Walk. Oi!

Me and My Girl Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock – 16 to 18 May 2019 AMCS

Don’t miss out.

Cheers.

 

Antony N Britt.

I first saw Avenue Q years ago, therefore when I heard of a touring production coming to my area, I had no hesitation taking a second helping.

Avenue Q – New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – 16 February 2019

Avenue Q is Sesame Street grown up – and totally corrupted. Simple, but it works, and there are numerous messages in the show which we may not wish to admit to – but are oh so true. With a book by Jeff Whitty, plus music and lyrics from Robert Lopez and Jeff Mark, Avenue Q has been entertaining audiences for years, and this packed New Alexander Theatre experience was no exception.

For those not acquainted, Avenue Q features puppet characters alongside three humans, interacting with each other. The puppets are animated and voiced by actors, who although unconcealed onstage, are completely ignored by both human and puppet characters. All puppeteers wear black to minimise distraction as opposed to the colourful clothing of the humans. This works and you soon focus on the puppets as though they were real.

The script to Avenue Q is funny, well-written and backed by an excellent selection of songs. These include Sucks to Be Me, If You Were Gay, There is Life Outside Your Apartment, I Wish I Could Go Back to College and For Now. But I also have special favourites. Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist totally speaks the truth while There’s a Fine, Fine Line would be at home in any musical. Also, The Internet is For Porn, which will bring the house down every time. “Me up all night honking me horn to porn, porn, porn.” Oh yes!

Then we come to the scenes. No matter how many times I see it, I will never be ambivalent towards puppet sex. And the dream sequence … “I know, put my earmuffs on the cookie.” But we also have the closet gay (Rod) singing My Girlfriend in Canada who “Comes from Vancouver and sucks like a Hoover.” The song then finishes with the words, “And I can’t wait to eat her pussy again.” I do have to admit, I’ve played around and used that line on many a musical theatre song at the end, just to hear how it sounds.

A great night with a brilliant cast led by the puppeteers: Lawrence Smith (Princetown/Rod), Cecily Redman (Kate Monster/Lucy the Slut), Tom Steedon (Nicky/Trekkie Monster/Bad Idea Bear), Megan Armstrong (Mrs Thistletwat/Bad Idea Bear/Second Arm), And then the humans: Saori Oda was brilliant as Christmas Eve as were Oliver Stanley (Brian) and Nicholas McClean (Gary Coleman). Yes … this is meant to be Gary Coleman from TV’s Different Strokes. Ensemble were: Jasmine Bell, Ellis Dackombe, Chloe Gentles and Robbie Noonan.

Directing and choreographing Avenue Q was Cressida Carre with musical direction from Dean McDermott.

If ever you get the chance, I would certainly recommend a trip down to Avenue Q. I guarantee you’ll enjoy being in the neighbourhood.


Avenue Q – New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham – 16 February 2019

Cheers.

Antony N Britt.

It’s always a privilege to witness youth productions so I was delighted to attend this showcase from Walsall College’s Supported Learning Performing Arts Students.

A Showcase of Performance Work – Walsall College – !4 February 2019

With my background in autism, I’m all for inclusion, and my recent 2018 Sleeping Beauty Pantomime highlighted this with two of the cast members taking part. Performing Arts is for everyone, and a way people can express themselves.

On the night we were treated to music, dance, sketches and monologues, plus other spoken word. And what a joy it was to see the diversity of talent.

Kicking the evening off were the Level 1 Diploma Group dancing to Hairspray’s You Can’t Stop the Beat. A nostalgic trip for me, having danced this in panto (In full Captain Hook costume) a couple of years back. Further dances came with Stray Cat Strut although my favourite was a medley of Smooth Criminal, Don’t Stop Me Now and Mr Blue Sky. Come on, you can’t beat a bit of Elo and Queen. Also by the Diploma Group was a poignant tribute to fallen heroes with music and spoken word. This included The Sounds of War written and delivered by Mikail Ali. As both a writer and performer, I know first-hand how much harder it is with your own work as opposed to someone else’s. And we also had Alisha Clarke, reading from her novel, The Black Rose. Talent indeed.

The second of three learning groups were the Level 1 Certificate Group whose Latino Jazz Vibes was clever and entertaining. This group also rounded off the wonderful evening with When I Kissed the Teacher (No better way to end the show than Abba). However, they were also responsible for many monologues and sketches, the highlight of which for me was a wonderfully delivered piece by Imogen Williams titled, Sorry I’m Late.

The longest section of the show was an adapted version of The Wizard of Oz from the Entry Group 3 students. A delight from start to finish made more so by the wonderful performance of Abdul Raheem as the warlock whose wicked laugh had the audience in stitches. Following this the group then entertained with a mime to the vocals of Gemma Wyke with Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

Credit goes to all students, though. Namely: Tom Andrews, Ayrshire Grant-Cable, Chris Cribb, Kane Hedley, Adil Hussain, Leighton Lewis, Sean Rogan, Devonite Smith, Olivia Tolley, Shantae Watson, Imogen Williams, Mikail Ali, Alishia Clarke, Symone Cunningham, Simranjit Dhillon, Dean Fields, Stuart Foster, Katie Henworth, Eleanor Peat, Brandon Pope, Jessica Matthews, Lauren Robbins, Matthew Britt, Ainsley Edwards, Stephen Miller, Abdul Raheem, Kirsty Startup, Jordan Titley, Ben Twells and Gemma Wyke.

The show was directed and choreographed by Thomas Armstrong, Katie Fieldhouse, Tanya Lewis and Emma Speake.

It’s all very well learning, but this must be fun, and there was evidence in abundance these gifted students were having just that – a great time. In fact, these young people are more than capable of progressing and would be welcome additions to many a dance and theatre company.


A Showcase of Performance Work – Walsall College – !4 February 2019

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

I’ve never reviewed a music album before. As you will see from my previous, I mainly do rock gigs and musical theatre reviews. I’m also not interested in TV talent contests, most of the time. However, for two seasons I have been watching The Voice Kids (UK version) and am totally captivated by the talent of these youngsters which often surpass their years. One such is Lucy Thomas and I was delighted to learn she had gained a recording contract through Cavendish Records resulting in a debut CD, appropriately titled – Premiere.


Album Review – Lucy Thomas: Premiere

Lucy was one of three favourites of mine from the 2018 series (None of whom made the final, strangely enough). A travesty, and I still stand by my opinion that Lucy was the best and more so now based upon the resulting 12 tracks on Premiere.

At the time of release, Lucy is still only 14, and it defies belief when you listen to not only the purest of voices, but one which is so much the finished article. Up there with the best.

Premiere is a delightful mix of musical numbers for anyone with a love of the stage and screen. Opening we have Never Enough from The Greatest Showman. Way ahead of the rest (personally speaking) in being my top tune from that movie. And with this version, I have no hesitation saying Lucy’s is better than the original.

Next, we move to a classic; a tale as old as time with Beauty and the Beast. The words and Lucy’s voice are hypnotic. A true fairy tale in vocals. And these are just for starters. Other tunes include Let It Go (Frozen), Listen (Dream Girls), Someone Like You (Jekyll and Hyde), Defying Gravity (Wicked) and a second from Greatest Showman in Tightrope.

But Lucy also works well with other artists, duetting for two numbers with fellow Voice Kids contestant (and finalist), Will Callan. First, they perform Can I Have This Dance. Now – ahem, I have never watched or listened to High School Musical 3, but this is a lovely tune made special by two great voices. The second collaboration appears with the final track on the CD – The Day I Met You. This and three further songs on Premiere (Starlight, Suddenly and One Day) come from a new musical, Rosie (written by Chris Broom), and are all sung with the same excellence as the rest on the album.

I am so glad I made this purchase and listen to it a lot. I now also watch with interest at a fledgling career developing into a big one. I do hope there is more to come and looking at Lucy’s website, we see evidence of past performances in musical theatre. Maybe one day soon we will hear some of these massive tunes with Lucy in the West End or on tour. That must be the aim, and I think she can make it.

Album Review – Lucy Thomas: Premiere

You can buy Premiere through many outlets but also here from Lucy’s site.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt.

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