Tag Archive: Writing


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

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

My latest short story (Spillage) is available now in the latest anthology from the wonderful Monnath Books, titled, Tabula Rasa.

Antony N Britt - Spillage - Tabula Rasa

Tabula Rasa is the theory that humans are born without preconceived notions or built-in mental content. In a more philosophical sense, it represents a clean slate. Within this anthology, we have twenty-one diverse stories from authors exploring this concept. These stories depict new beginnings, new relationships, and even new worlds. Join us in exploring frightening interactions with strangers, metaphysical body swaps, future technology, and strange occurrences.

Edited by Natalie Rix and Lozzi Counsell, Tabula Rasa is the latest in an excellent line of anthologies from Monnath Books.

You can purchase Tabula Rasa HERE!

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

It’s pantomime time and Aldridge Musical Comedy Society (AMCS) are staging Sleeping Beauty at Great Wyrley. AMCS have a reputation for great shows and Sleeping Beauty is no exception. Fantastic voices and dance, plus an original script by local writer Antony N Britt (Yes … me). Being an author and loving amateur dramatics, it was only a matter of time before the two worlds collided. And this is it!

Sleeping Beauty - The Pantomime  (Coming to Great Wyrley – 22 to 24 November 2018)

The show is full of great numbers which will have you clapping and tapping your feet until the end. Songs include: Tragedy, Colour My World, These Boots Are Made for Walking, Dear Future Husband, Electricity, Walking on Sunshine, Once Upon a Dream, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Hot Stuff, Electricity and … the list goes on.

AMCS have produced exceptional pantomimes in the past and I’m overjoyed at the opportunity to continue that tradition. Writing Sleeping Beauty took five months. One to concoct a matter of fact plot, then four more to complete the script. It’s a mammoth workload, also being in the show, but the temptation was too hard to resist. And what a joy to be not only directing but appearing alongside my fellow members whom I’m proud of every single one.

Assisting me with direction is Julie Lamb while I’m also thankful to be working alongside the exceptional Sarah Beckett (Choreography) and Mark Bayliss (Musical Direction)

The show is at Great Wyrley High School Theatre from 22 to 24 November (1930 evenings with an additional 1420 matinee on Saturday 24 November).

Tickets are available by phoning 0798446400. Alternatively, you can go online to Stagestubs at this link.

Prices are £13/Adult, £10/Concessions and £7/Under 16s. We also offer a family ticket (2 adults/2 children) for £35.

Great entertainment for all the family.

 Sleeping Beauty - The Pantomime  (Coming to Great Wyrley – 22 to 24 November 2018)

Cheers.

 

Antony N Britt

First time seeing Sutton Coldfield Theatre Company and a first watching All Shook Up.

All Shook Up is loosely based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and supported with music by various songwriters, made famous by Elvis Presley. A simple plot by Joe DiPietro is funny and well-written, but it’s the familiar tunes which get the audience going.

Launching full company with the massive Jailhouse Rock, we were treated to excellent voice and dance, full of energy. And then the hits kept coming: Heartbreak Hotel, One Night with You, Teddy Bear/Hound Dog, Blue Suede Shoes, Don’t Be Cruel, A Little Less Conversation, Fools Fall in Love and of course, All Shook Up. I normally only list half a dozen in my reviews but this show is an exception. And that’s before I reach my own personal favourite – Can’t Help Falling in Love which I like for my own reasons. Another good number was Let Yourself Go which included a great scene in the museum where the statues come to life. The show ends with Burning Love where the cast have their moment and are allowed, quite rightly, to go wild. And much deserved an ovation they got.

Leading the line with a strong voice was Adam Gregory, playing Chad, while opposite we had Lucy Surtees, also in great form in the role of Natalie/Ed. Supporting well in their principal roles were Tony Orbell (Dennis), Kerrie Davies (Sylvia), Ben Green (Jim), Chloe Child – who had one of the loveliest smiles I’ve ever seen (Lorraine), Ed Mears (Dean), Louise Grifferty (Matilda), Vanessa Morgan (Sandra) and Ben Adams (Earl).

All Shook Up was directed by Elisa Millward with musical direction from Sheila Pearson and choreography, Maggie Jackson.

This show is a period piece with a modern feel and the traditions of an old-time farce. Something for everybody, even if you’re not an Elvis fan. And then you have the wonderful job Sutton Coldfield Musical Theatre Company did in bringing it to an audience. I always say I enjoy watching an amateur company as much as professional productions, but there was nothing amateur about this. Right up with the best. All Shook Up is a show which must be real fun to perform, and this transfers well onto the audience.

Great theatre company, great show.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

Two years ago, Third From The Right Productions introduced me to a brilliant show I’d not heard of: Shout! And now they’ve gone and done it again with the excellent Disenchanted. This Off-Broadway musical is the brainchild of Dennis T. Giacino who wrote the book, music and lyrics.

Disenchanted tells about several fairy tale princesses whose stories have been corrupted by that most evil of beings – Disney. These are characters gone wrong, and in spectacular fashion. Very off-the-wall and tongue-in-cheek.

Bemoaning the fact they often seem to be vulnerable and in need of rescuing by a handsome prince, our princesses put the record straight. Life is not all happy endings with reality very different. It’s a sentiment I totally approve of, as will be seen by anybody attending my own self-penned pantomime in November; ironically, Sleeping Beauty, from AMCS.

Leading the disenchanted we had a fearsome Snow White (Natalie Baggot), a dreamy Sleeping Beauty (Gaynor Whitehouse) and a fluffy-headed Cinderella (Jo Foley). Foley’s performance reminded me, in looks as well as character, of Emma Chambers’ Alice in The Vicar of Dibley. Combining well for Once More Happily Ever After and A Happy Tune, the three were present throughout much of the performance, supporting, complimenting and downright bickering.

Also present were Gillian Homer (Pocahontas), Amy Pearson (Mulan – who may or may not be a lesbian) and Kaz Luckins (Rapunzel & The Princess Who Kissed A Frog). Then we had the out of rehab, Little Mermaid (Sarah Coussens) and Princess Badroulbadour (Kerry Davies). The latter also played my favourite character in the show, the clinically insane Belle, singing (of course) Insane.

Each of the cast contributed to great all-round entertainment. A breath of fresh air which the only shame is afterwards, I can’t find evidence of a CD Soundtrack anywhere. Damn! I want to relive the moment.

Other top numbers for me were: Honestly, Big Tits and All I Wanna Do is Eat. Then there was Not Von Red Cent, involving audience participation in the form of a sing-off between the front row right and … the rest of the audience. Guess where I was sitting? I don’t think we did too bad, though.

Disenchanted was directed by Jez Luckins with choreography and supporting direction from Gaynor Whitehouse. The musical director was Chris Corcoran.

Second time for me experiencing Third From The Right Productions and the first for Disenchanted. I’d recommend both whenever you get the chance. Word of warning, though. Sit on the front row at your peril.

Disenchanted – The Blue Orange Theatre, Birmingham – 31 August 2018

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

My only other encounter with Lollipop Theatre Arts was earlier this year when I attended their presentation of Me and My Girl.  But what could I expect this time? The Addams Family was a single performance resulting from a summer school. I learned afterwards, the kids had begun from reading initial scripts, auditions, then rehearsals to a full show in just nine days. I mean, come on, they were brilliant last time, but can you really pull off a show in nine days?

The Addams Family - Great Wyrley High School Theatre - August 17 2018. (Photo used with kind permission from Lollipop Theatre Arts)

The opener, When You’re an Addams, was outstanding. One of the best-delivered first numbers I’ve ever seen. And it was then I knew I was in for a treat.

Stand outs for me were Wednesday’s Growing Up, Just Around the Corner, Crazier Than You, What If? Live Before We Die and the exceptional The Moon and Me. Top track on the night, though, was Pulled, sung by the excellent Abbey Laycock (Wednesday Addams).

Of course, that’s not to say there weren’t other top performances. In fact, I couldn’t see a weak-link. Youth can be misinterpreted as inexperienced at times, but there was nothing of the kind here. Any of these artistes would be welcome in mine or any other company treading the boards.

Of the other principles, Thomas Gould played Gomez with a stage presence to be proud of. Supporting as his other half, Morticia, was Katie Hayes, who I can also not praise enough. And then we had Tom Horton as Fester. This kid will go far if he wants to. A natural entertainer. Other excellent showings came from Sasha Donoghue (Pugsley), Millie Cooper (Grandma), Emily Smith (Mal), Amy Horton (Alice) and Alex Jeffreys (Lucas). A special mention must also go to Florie Miles (Lurch) who apart from creating a great character, had the difficult task of keeping a straight face throughout.

Supporting well were a troop of dancers and ensemble who looked as if they were having a great time (Loved the corpse bride outfit).

The Addams Family was directed by Lucy-Ellen Parker with choreography from Helen Stone and musical direction of a good orchestra by Matthew Davis.

Asking about the summer school (I still couldn’t quite get into my head – nine days), I was told the cast are there every day, then return home to cram-up. And it showed. This did not have the look of a holiday project, more a polished production which had been months in the making. Perhaps there is something to be said for this type of method. With the intenseness of the shorter period, there is less chance of forgetting what you have learnt than with a weekly schedule spanning months. You’d have expected rawness, and mistakes, but none were obvious to me. And for the rest of the audience, it was pure faultless entertainment.

So twice now I’ve seen Lollipop who really deserve a bigger audience. And I’m sad I was on my own this time as I want to share them with my friends. Spread the message, folks. This is a great company.

The Addams Family – Great Wyrley High School Theatre – August 17 2018

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

I’m a great fan of theatre, be it professional, amateur or youth. And to be honest, some of my best experiences come from the latter two. Therefore, it was pleasing I saw a mixture of both in Around the World in Amazing Musicals, presented by Comic Theatre Company.

Around the World in Amazing Musicals – Sunfield Community Theatre, Clent – July 6 2018

Interspersed between amusing sections of dialogue from Phillies Indiana Fogg (John Underwood) were song after song from a variety of musicals which indeed, covered all areas of the globe.

Kicking off with Hello and You and Me from Book of Mormon, we then journeyed to Chicago where I particularly enjoyed We Both Reached for the Gun. This was sung well by Justin Randle with a superb ventriloquist performance, if a little creepy (But we like creepy) from Natalie Buzzard. Afterward, Natalie showed her singing skills in Roxie with great support from Peter Holmes and Ian Underwood.

We then went on a sea trip with songs from Anything Goes, a show I’ve enjoyed in the past and it was great to see an exuberant cast giving it all for Bon Voyage. So much so, I then wanted to see the whole of Anything Goes. Of course, I didn’t, apart from further offerings of I Get a Kick Out of You (Denise Jefferson) and You’re the Top (Jan Brennan and Peter Holmes).

Further numbers on our trek came from Sweeny Todd, Oliver! and Mamma Mia. Who doesn’t like a bit of Abba.

Into Act Two and three from Matilda. This is a show I’ve not seen and is currently on at the Birmingham Hippodrome near me. After seeing Comic’s interpretations, I may just check the whole show out.

I’ve said in the past how much I adore youth theatre, seeing the genesis of careers and the potential. Well I did on this occasion as one of my two favourite numbers of the evening came with Holly Nelder’s rendition of Naughty. And it wasn’t just the powerful voice, also the performance which captured the attention. Owning the stage.

The other highlight of a great evening was Movie in My Mind from Miss Saigon. An incredible duet by Chloe Turner and Jess Billingham. Then, to round off the night we had a bit of fun with When You’re an Addams from The Addams Family.

Direction and Choreography was by Chloe Turner with musical direction from Edward Harrison.

An excellent evening supplied by an excellent company. And to top it off, we won a very nice picnic basket in the raffle. Okay, this now means I have to go on a picnic, but who’s complaining.

Around the World in Amazing Musicals – Sunfield Community Theatre, Clent – July 6 2018

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

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