Tag Archive: Theatre


First show of the year and what better way to start than a panto. Now I’m a huge fan of Birmingham Youth Theatre, especially after last summers’ brilliant Disco Inferno. Therefore, I had no hesitation in attending Jack and the Beanstalk at The Old Rep Theatre, Birmingham.

Yes, we all know the basic plot of Jack and the Beanstalk, so I won’t bore you with the details. However, each production needs an original take and Director, Joe Logan delivered that with his own script. As a writer of pantos myself, I admired magic moments on the night that I wish I’d thought of in mine. The character of Alexa was a touch of genius; the way she slipped into the Amazon Information Device when asked a question. And kudos to Ruby Blount for a superb performance, especially in the opening barrage of facts which must have been extremely hard to learn.

As our hero, Jack, Charlie Bland was in fine form and excelled equally with Blount, duetting in Human Nature. And in Jack’s sibling (Silly Billy), Megan Allsop equally delivered the laughs and performed well during Dance Monkey.

Of course, a panto needs a Dame (which I believe needs to be convincing as a female and played with respect). I’m happy to say Harrison Doherty did just that with a gorgeous but funny Dame Dolly. Likewise, there is room for a fairy and Maddison Clarke’s glorious Fairy Hiccup was a booze-fuelled character with unfortunate contractions of the diaphragm. It worked well. And portrayed equally as lackadaisical was Dylan O’Connor’s King Snoozy who teamed up with Dame Dolly for a wonderful Take a Chance on Me.

And we come to the baddies. As I say, I like pantos which differ from the norm and the Princess, who traditionally ends up with the hero, was this time the villain of the piece. Lily-Mae Nicholls was wonderfully evil as Princess Jill. A nice twist and Material Girl entertained the audience well. Alongside Jill in the evil stakes was Rhys Bishop as Baron Stuck Up Johnson, getting boos in the right places and leading an ensemble well with an extremely modified version of Heathers, Candy Store, renamed Behind the Door.

I’m not sure if you should call Tik (Josh Mills) and Tok (Lola Harper) villains, more tools of the Baron and Princess. These two were excellent comic stooges and performed a great slapstick routine in the kitchen. It was a result of these shenanigans that we had one of the moments of the night with the Sausage Roll Medley. Hilarious, although verging on a heinous crime to rock fans with I Love Rock and Roll Sausage Rolls, We Built This City on Rock and Roll Sausage Rolls and Don’t Stop Believing – “Just a sausage roll.” Awesome. And we even had a cameo voiceover from Birmingham Hippodrome panto legend and Youth Theatre patron, Matt Slack as the voice of the giant.

My favourite principal character, however (and getting a huge round of applause in the bows), was Goldie Harper, a singing, out of tune harp, played by one of the youngest talents in Marni Carroll. She had the audience howling with off-key renditions including Lonely, Let it Go and 5000 Green Bottles.

Other numbers of note, overseen by Musical Director, Chris Corcoran, included We Got the Beat, Can’t Stop the Feeling, the haunting Into the Unknown and a humorous costumed performance of Talk to the Animals.

Writer, Joe Logan, also directed and oversaw choreography including an excellent dance troupe consisting of Bethany Gilbert, Olivia Jefferson, Anna Simpson, Ellie Cosgrove, Beatrice Roberts, Emily Denigan, Carter Evans and Luke Griffiths. Assisting Logan in direction was Emily Ewins and you get the feeling of a team effort with the cheers and elation behind the curtain at the end, the results of those endeavours.

Heck, I’ve overrun. By at least 100 words. But that’s what Birmingham Youth Theatre do to you. Give you lots to rave about. And they’re back at The Old Rep Theatre (June 30 to July 2 2022) with High School Musical. I cannot recommend them enough.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

Due to a ridiculous schedule with my own production and other commitments these past few months, I’m way behind on publishing reviews, so sorry about that.

*****

It was a last-minute decision to see Robin Hood and his Band of Merry Men, but I’m glad I did. Set in an intimate venue with about 50 in attendance, you were right amongst the action. I often say rather than watch a performance, I like to experience and be part of one, and Robin Hood certainly did that for me.

As well as being in a small venue, Robin Hood only had a cast of six, but such was the quality of the script by Oliver Hume, it made no difference to the enjoyment. Full of jokes, new and old (You have to have them in panto), the script also paid homage to classic sketches of the past, my favourite being, the vessel with the pestle/chalice with the palace routine made famous by Danny Kaye in 1955’s The Court Jester.

Robin Hood was courtesy of Aunty Jen Productions, whose founder, Jennifer Rigby, also played Lidl Jen. The butt of the jokes, Jen’s character was a typical Audiences’ Best Friend and held the show solo on occasions. A job well done.

Playing Robin and Marian we had Annaliese Morgan and Nicolette Morgan, respectively. Both had great singing voices, excellent stage presence, and had those watching warm to them throughout.

There is nothing like a dame, and Mark Jeffries was superb as Nurse Juicy Lucy, having the audience eat out of her hand, and eating any participant for breakfast, if they dared to have a go back. I have views on pantomime dames and loved how Jeffries played Lucy with respect. Some actors use the Dame for cheap laughs at the man in a dress, but Lucy was gorgeous, darling. The character was who you saw on stage.

The baddie in The Sheriff of Nottingham was bad indeed, and I mean that as a huge compliment. Neville Cann had the darkness of villainy, mixed with essential comic moments at the right times. Plus, a wonderful, sinister laugh.

Rounding off our six was wandering minstrel, Alan-a-Dale, performed superbly by Danny Teitge. Opening a show is a huge responsibility and Danny rose to this task, nailing it while setting the scene for more to come. And what a voice!

The sign of a good production is how quick time flies, and Robin Hood flew like an arrow. A thoroughly enjoyable evening from a company whose future productions I highly recommend. Therefore, when at two hours’ notice you have a thought to check if there is anything on that is local, you may find a gem like Aunty Jen.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

Due to a ridiculous schedule with my own production and other commitments these past few months, I’m way behind on publishing reviews, so sorry about that.

*****

Legally Blonde is one of the best musicals to appear in the 21st Century, popular with audiences and critics alike. However, it needs to be done well and fortunately for the people of Cannock, Brownhills Musical Theatre Company did exactly that.

This is a show I have seen a lot but also the smallest venue/stage I’ve witnessed it performed. I’m glad to say, nothing was lost. Much of that was due to the size of the cast. Many amateur societies struggle for members, so it was refreshing to see around forty on stage. The difference this makes to company numbers cannot be ignored. A huge wall of sound combined with great expression and interaction from all.

Legally Blonde tells the tale of Elle Woods (played superbly by Phillippa Mills) who goes to Harvard to pursue love, but instead finds herself, fresh love, and a new direction. It’s a great script by Heather Hack, alongside fantastic music and lyrics from Laurence O’Keefe and Neil Benjamin. And one of the main plusses is that Legally Blonde is filled with strong characters. In these, Adam Gregory excelled as Emmett while Charlotte Simcox shone in the role of Paulette. Her main number, Ireland, is such a good (tongue in cheek) number and always raises a laugh, as it did on this occasion.

Then we had the villain of the piece in Professor Callaghan with Chris Parry delivering a top-drawer performance in stage presence and during Blood on the Water. Also starring was Adam Merrall as Warner who cruelly dumps Elle at the beginning of the show during Serious. Then we had Stacey Ward (Vivienne), Charlottle Trigg (Brooke Wyndham) and Emma Wyatt (Enid Hoops). Supporting too, were Hattie Parry (Pilar), Louise Hewitt (Serena) and Claire Goodwin (Margot) – The Greek Chorus of Delta Nu. As I have said, it was a large cast, so I can’t name everyone. However, as I was needled the last time I reviewed this show for ignoring the dogs, on this occasion they were Humphrey and Stan. They behaved well.

Legally Blonde has terrific numbers: Positive, So Much Better, What You Want, Bend and Snap and the title song, Legally Blonde (of which there are two equally good versions). However, my favourite is still the glorious There! Right There!

All shows need a good production team and Legally Blonde had theirs with Kelly Tye and Richard Tye (Directors), Alex Priestly (Musical Director) and Alex Woolliscroft (Choreography).

The last couple of years have been hard on theatre and local amateur companies. It was, therefore, a joy to see the audience appreciate the challenging work of cast and crew and display as much enjoyment as those on stage.

Theatre is back.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

Due to a ridiculous schedule with my own production and other commitments these past few months, I’m way behind on publishing reviews, so sorry about that.

*****

I admit from past experiences I’m not a fan of Bill Kenwright Productions, so I approached Heathers with a tinge of worry amid the excitement. You see, I had not seen the show before, yet was familiar with the music due to both Off Broadway and West End Original Cast Recordings. I also had good memories of the 1988 Daniel Waters film of the same name which (incidentally) this musical follows closely.

Heathers tells of Veronica Sawyer, an unfashionable High School student, desperate to belong to the major clique, all named Heather. After initial success, Veronica falls foul of leader, Heather Chandler and turns to new student and bad boy, Jason Dean (JD). What follows is a tale of murder, revenge and suicide. But however dark the themes may sound, there is a glorious wealth of humour throughout.

What makes Heathers work is an excellent book with a top-drawer selection of songs from Kevin Murphey and Laurence O’Keefe. All are memorable; not a weak tune among them. Still, to bring such a good template to life, you need the cast, and all on show were amazing.

I must say, I loved every bit of Rebecca Wickes’ performance; be it song or character; her mannerisms were so believable. She was outstanding as anti-heroine, Veronica, with numbers: Beautiful, Dead Girl Walking and I Say No, out of this world. Equally so was Simon Gordon in the role of JD who duetted exceptionally with Wickes in Seventeen and Our Love is God, as well as his own Freeze Your Brain.

“And then there’s the Heathers. They float above it all.”

On my viewing, the Heathers were Daisy Twells (Chandler), Merryl Ansah (Duke) and Lizzy Parker (McNamara). These three absolutely smashed it as the terrible trio, especially during the popular Candy Store. Individually and respectively, The Me Inside of Me, Never Shut Up Again and Lifeboat again exceeded expectations.

Supporting, we had Liam Doyle (Kurt) and Rory Phelan (Ram) as the expertly portrayed dense High School Jocks, lured to their deaths by JD. Also on show were Bailey Hart (Ms Fleming) singing Shine a Light, Mhairi Angus (Martha) with Kindergarten Boyfriend, plus Andy Brady and Kurt Kansley as Ram and Kurt’s fathers.

This tour production was directed by Andy Frickman with choreography from Gary Lloyd. Musical direction was in the hands of Gary Hickerson.

Heathers is a brilliant show, a real rollercoaster ride which flows at an amazing speed without a dull moment in sight. The tour has now ended but I urge you to check it out either back in the West End or the next available tour. This time, Bill Kenwright Productions left me satisfied and wanting more.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

Due to a ridiculous schedule with my own production and other commitments these past few months, I’m way behind on publishing reviews, so sorry about that.

****

Great tunes, colourful costumes and characters that are wildly OTT. All ingredients of a successful modern show, and Priscilla Queen of the Desert has the lot.

Based on the 1994 film of the same name, Priscilla tells the story of three drag queens travelling across the Australian outback to perform at Alice Springs. However, as with most film adaptations, Priscilla has its own set of musical numbers, and these are taken from various artists to significant effect.

Sounds such as Say a Little Prayer, Don’t Leave Me This Way, Always on My Mind and I Will Survive are all classic hits and were excellent. And for me, it was the rousing crowd pleasers which did exactly that: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Colour My World and Hot Stuff were amazing, but highlight of my night was Go West, which had the whole audience going wild at the end. Although, I would like to give a mention to the wonderfully delivered Pop Muzik, sung by Grace Lai (Cynthia) with the bizarre utilisation of (ahem) ping pong balls.

In the role of our ladies, we had Edwin Ray (Tick), Miles Western (Bernadette) and Nick Hayes (Felicia) and although Pricilla had a decent size cast, these three principals have a heavier share than in most musicals. But pull it off they did. All strong, giving excellent, powerful performances. Supporting in great fashion too was Daniel Fletcher as Cynthia’s shell-shocked husband, Bob. This character made great comic additions to an already funny script. Other performances of note were Rebecca Lisewski (Marion), Kevin Yates (Miss Understanding), Ronan Burns (Frank) and Jak Allen-Anderson (Farrah). Then I must mention the splendid Divas who provided lead and backing vocals throughout. These were Claudia Kariuki, Aiesha Pease and Rosie Glossop.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert was produced by everybody’s good neighbour, Jason Donovan with Helen Siveter as Resident Director, Ian Talbot (Director), Richard Atkinson (Musical Director) and Tom Jackson-Greaves (Choreographer).

A lovely show with a funny, well-written script from Stephan Elliott and Allan Scott combined with great retro music, dance, and colour. So, if you want all of these, I’d keep a lookout for the show’s return. I know I will.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

It’s been a heck of a long time. Eighteen months, to be precise. For everyone who loves Musical Theatre. And this was no more so evident than seconds into the opening number of Disco Inferno; the aptly placed Celebration/A Night to Remember. The smiles on the faces of Birmingham Youth Theatre showed exuberance at being on stage, plus that bit extra on returning. For most, this was the first time in a theatre since before Covid hurled itself onto an unsuspecting world and I admit, there were tears in my eyes to be finally witnessing theatre once more.

Birmingham Youth Theatre – Disco Inferno – Crescent Theatre Birmingham – July 24 2021

As a lover of both Amateur and Youth Theatre, Disco Inferno was a joy to watch from start to finish. What is even more remarkable was the short time and opportunities needed to put this show together. From Zoom rehearsals to dancing in the local Cannon Hill Park, it exemplifies what being on stage means, and the desire to create a show.

Set in 1976, Disco Inferno tells the story of aspiring singer, Jack, played excellently by Charlie Bland, and his deal with the Devil’s right hand, Lady Marmalade – the equally outstanding Maddison Clarke. The fallout of this arrangement is Jack’s relationship with Jane of whom Ruby Blount also excelled with a strong performance.

I must admit, I was a little sceptical at first regarding the musical subject matter as 70s disco fills me with horror, being more a rock fan. However, Disco Inferno wasn’t just limited to one genre. We had a smattering of Bowie (Starman) and The Sweet (Ballroom Blitz) which I totally approved of. And generally, Elton John (Crocodile Rock, Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word and Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting) is liked by all. The music was treated with respect and the kick it deserved under the guidance of Musical Director, Chris Corcoran.

Sometimes in theatre you witness a simply magic moment, and I was fortunate on this occasion to do so. Enter Lily-May Nicholls as Kathy giving a rendition of Street Life, only to be confronted by the demon of Am-Dram, dodgy microphones. This one cut out through the entire song, but I was happy to be in Row B where I could hear the excellent vocals. But it’s such a shame when something happens to ruin the moment. Therefore, forward to Act Two where Lily-May was given the opportunity of a second run of the song and boy did she smash it. So brave to do so, as I know from experience when something has gone wrong, it plays on your mind that the next time could go equally as bad. Not so this time. Fantastic.

As well as those already mentioned, we had tremendous principal performances from Harrison Doherty (Tom), Mollie Ewins (Maggie), Josh Mills (Heathcliffe), Florence Slade (Terry), Joe Logan (Lily), Lola Harper (Nicky Diablo) and finally, Cameron Simpson (Duke) who stoked the fires of Hell with a bit of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown and Fire.

In addition to those mentioned above and choreographed by the aforementioned Joe Logan, were six specialist dancers: Bethany Gilbert, Liv Jefferson, Ellie Cosgrove, Matilda Ventham, Anna Simpson and Wiktoria Matysiak. These performed exceptionally considering the shorter amount of practice they must have had during the run up to the show. But they were not alone. An ensemble too big to mention must have made director, Mark Shaun Walsh proud indeed.

It’s great to experience Musical Theatre again and even more so witnessing the talent of the future. And one of the youngest also caught my eye. Little Marni Carroll seemed to be active and in character every time she was on stage. Something I like to instil into my own casts. Always an interaction, expression or reaction. Tremendous.

So, well done Birmingham Youth Theatre for coming back with a bang. An inferno of music and dance for all to see.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

You are cordially invited to the Palace Ball in honour of Prince Charming (who has been ordered to find a wife by The King). Dressing up–optional. We want you to have the time of your life. Therefore, let the magic commence.

It’s pantomime time and Aldridge Musical Comedy Society (AMCS) are staging Cinderella at The Prince of Wales Theatre, Cannock. AMCS have a reputation for great shows and Cinderella is no exception.

Cinderella lives at Hardup Hall with her sister Bonnie, and three attractive, but not nice stepsisters named, Chardonnay. Spumante and Prosecco. Also at the Hall are the cook and part-time witch, Madame Lidl, plus Buttons, who tries to hold everything together.

Prince Charming, along with his assistant Dandini, searches for the girl he danced with at the Ball, but who vanished leaving nothing but a shoe. To complicate matters, the land is in a crime wave. Not only are the villains Deichmann and Brantano about, but also the notorious Ninja Cat, who keeps beating them to the spoils.

Will Cinderella have her happy ending? Does the prince find his bride? And how can a size 5 shoe fit only one person? With outstanding songs and laughter, the truth will out.

21 to 23 October 2021 (1930) plus Saturday Matinee (1430).

To welcome you back to live theatre, AMCS are offering Cinderella at vastly discounted prices, an unbeatable offer for this classic tale audiences have enjoyed for years.

£10 Adults & £7 Under 16s

Tickets are available from the Box Office on 01543 578762 or online at https://boxoffice.wlct.org/event_description.aspx?eventid=1051

Cinderella is my latest work, combining once again my love of musical theatre and writing. It’s been a long hard road for theatre, and we would love to see audiences return. Plus, it hasn’t been easy rehearsing, with full removal of restrictions yet to happen. So, socially distanced groups of six it has been, then taking to the outdoors to learn the dances. Well, the show must go on.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

Cinderella is the latest pantomime by Author & Theatre Reviewer, Antony N Britt, with plans for more to come.

One of Antony N Britt’s aims is to remove stereotypes. Therefore, expect strong female characters who rescue helpless Princes. Also, no ugly sisters, just beautiful ones with dark personalities. And Dames these days should be more attractive drag instead of hairy men in dresses. Written for 21st century audiences, these scripts still contain, though, many traditional pantomime elements families have enjoyed for years.

Cinderella – The Pantomime: Script Now Available to Hire

The Story

Cinderella lives at Hardup Hall with her father (The Baron), sister (Bonnie) and three attractive, but not nice stepsisters (Chardonnay, Spumante and Prosecco). The stepsisters arrived with their mother (Madame Waitrose) who married the Baron. Also at the hall is Buttons, son of the live-in-cook (and part-time witch, Madame Lidl), plus numerous Kitchen Kids who appear by magic, notably when Lidl waves her wand.

Prince Charming is sent by the King to find a bride and along with companion, Dandini, visits the town of Hardup. All the women fall for the prince, much to the dismay of Buttons who loves Cinderella. If only he would declare it, though, for Cinderella secretly loves him in return.

To complicate matters, Hardup Town is in the middle of a crime wave. Not only are the villains, Deichmann and Brantano about, but so too the notorious Ninja Cat who keeps beating them to the spoils.

Will Cinderella get to the ball? Does the prince find his bride? And how can a size 5 shoe possibly fit only one person?

The truth will out.

Cinderella – The Pantomime: Script Now Available to Hire

Hire Fees, based on proposed theatre capacity:

Up to 150 seats £40 per performance.

151 to 300 seats £50 per performance.

301 to 500 seats £60 per performance.

Over 500 seats Please ask for quote per performance.

Video Licence and Editable Script included in above prices.

For further details and to hire Cinderella, you can use either the contact function or direct at antonynbritt@gmail.com

Also Available for Hire: Sleeping Beauty.

Coming 2021 – Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

Sleeping Beauty is the first pantomime by Author & Theatre Reviewer, Antony N Britt, with plans for more to come.

One of Antony N Britt’s aims is to remove stereotypes. Therefore, expect strong female characters who rescue helpless Princes. Also, no ugly sisters, just beautiful ones with dark personalities. And Dames these days should be more attractive drag instead of hairy men in dresses. Written for 21st century audiences and already performed successfully, Sleeping Beauty also contains many traditional pantomime elements audiences have enjoyed for years. Plus, with a script containing 65-70 minutes of dialogue, this leaves ample time for similar in songs for the ultimate musical theatre experience.

The Story

Welcome to the kingdom of Edsheeran, a land of magic, song and … chicken drumsticks! Well, not everything is straightforward, as King Stefan discovers when the evil witch, Maleficent places a curse on the young Princess Aurora.

Therefore, faced with the possibility of falling into a never-ending deep sleep, the princess is taken away to live in secret under the new name, Rose, by three, ahem, trustworthy witches.

Twelve years pass and it’s time for Rose to return home for her wedding to Prince Phillip, with all the grace and decorum of a princess. Okay … again, some things simply don’t go to plan. You see, Rose would rather dress like a boy, stealing from orchards while planning to mine diamonds in the Ariana Grande Mountains. Perhaps her friends, Nova and Nebula, can talk some sense into her. Then again …

Meanwhile, Maleficent has waited patiently and sends her servant to enlist help in making sure the curse is fulfilled.

Does Prince Phillip even want to marry the girl? And will he save the day? Only if Rose can rescue him first. And everyone else. Can Flora keep her two fellow witches under control? Will Fauna find a man? And does Merryweather ever stop eating? And just who is that bird thing which keeps flying around?

All will be revealed …

Script Hire Fees, based on theatre capacity:

Up to 150 seats £40 per performance

151 to 300 seats £50 per performance

301 to 500 seats £60 per performance

Over 500 seats Please ask for quote.

Video Licence and Editable Script included in above prices.

To hire Sleeping Beauty, you can use the contact function at the top of this page or direct at antonynbritt@gmail.com

Photos from the Aldridge Musical Comedy Society 2018 production of Sleeping Beauty.

Also Available for hire – Cinderella

The only TV talent show I watch is The Voice Kids UK. The reason for this is they are all so wonderful. However, in the four seasons so far, three have stood out for me to such an extent I have followed their progress, and one of these is Lucy Thomas.

What’s remarkable about Lucy is despite being 16, she already has two excellent albums in her catalogue. Part of this is down to Chris Broom of Cavendish Records who in Lucy’s own words, has believed in her and worked tirelessly on both albums and the promotion of her as an artist. But to do that you need the artist themselves, and Lucy’s voice and overall talent is incredible.

Much of the magic of Encore is a choice of songs which not only suit Lucy, but ones she develops, making them her own. Opening, we have a rendition of Mariah Carey’s Hero, a tune I’d never given much thought to, but I do now. Next up is a personal favourite of mine in Run, made famous by Snow Patrol. An extremely difficult song to sing and again this version certainly has Lucy’s stamp marked on it. If you check out Lucy’s YouTube, you will still find a version by her as a ten-year-old, so it’s lovely to hear it now it on a CD.

Other tracks include powerhouses such as A Million Dreams (Greatest Showman), Memory (Cats) and My Heart Will Go On (Titanic). The fact Lucy seems so at home with these massive numbers is a testament to her ability.

Lucy’s 2019 album Premier featured four songs from Chris Broom’s upcoming musical, Rosie, and as I write this, I am listening to a fifth, the beautiful Gentle Breeze. Here is a song which highlights both the purest of voices and the strength to make a performance grow.

With such variety in the twelve tracks, it’s hard to pick a favourite but at the moment it’s Say Something, a goosebumps moment, duetting with younger sister, Martha (Future contestant on The Voice Kids, surely?).

But this is not to say there are five weak tracks because that simply isn’t true. All are of top quality with the remainder being Desperado (Eagles), Reflection (Mulan), I’ll Never Love Again (A Star is Born), Beautiful Ghosts (The Film – Cats) and I Have Nothing (The Bodyguard).

In Premier, we had talent burst on the scene and now Encore has Lucy reaching a maturity which clearly states she’s in an industry where she belongs.

You can purchase Encore from all outlets and website: lucythomasmusic.com

And check out Lucy Thomas’ YouTube Channel.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt.

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