Dreamboats & Miniskirts at The Churchill Theatre

I went to see Dreamboats & Miniskirts at The Churchill Theatre in Bromley this week. It is written by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran who are the team behind well known tv series such as Goodnight Sweetheart and Birds of a Feather to name but a few.

For those of you who don’t know this is the sequel to the well known Dreamboats & Petticoats. I personally hadn’t seen this musical before but it is still touring after having its debut at The Churchill in February 2009! I was a little concerned I wouldn’t know what was happening in the sequel but needless to say I didn’t need to worry as it drops in all the necessary information within the early stages of the play.

The Story

Set in 1962-1963 the story follows on from Laura and Bobby’s musical success some 18 months before but shows them being torn apart by the fact that Laura is more successful as a sole act than Bobby. Bobby rejoins his youth club band and they tour the country looking for musical success.

Dreamboats and Miniskirts UK Tour - credit Darren Bell (6)

The amount of fantastic songs throughout this production is brilliant, I found myself tapping, singing and nodding along to every single one including classics such as, House of the Rising Sun, It’s in his kiss, Twist and shout and more. All the cast have fantastic voices, my favourite being Anna Campkin who plays Donna who’s singing and acting was natural and seamless. Also to note are the saxophone players, Chloe Edwards-Wood and Laura Sillett who play alongside a fantastic Trumpeter Joseph Hardy, this trio worked tirelessly all night with their excellent playing and acting.

Overall

I must admit to find the story line a little ‘loose’ and some of the acting fairly ‘stage school’ but the numerous well known songs, the casts tireless singing and musicality really do make it an enjoyable production.

Dreamboats and Miniskirts is at The Churchill until 10th October. Get your tickets here.

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What a great time in Memphis! (the Musical!)

I went to see Memphis the musical last week and all I can say is AMAZEBALLS!

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An all singing, all dancing, quality London hit Musical I haven’t stopped raving about it to anyone who will listen to me..! I’ll stop you now if you’re thinking it’s a musical about Elvis – it’s not. The brief synopsis is about a love story between an underground black singer, Felicia, and a white DJ, Huey, who wants to help her get a record deal and promote ‘black’ ‘r n b’ to the masses on the middle of the radio dial.

Set in the 1950’s when segregation was still in full swing in America it touches on many poignant issues with racism, coloured people not being able to have high class jobs, coloured music that isn’t allowed to be on mainstream radio, mixed race relationships being illegal,  Felicia and Huey both getting beaten up because they are seen out in public together,all of which, for me who has a black partner and mixed race children is unimaginable.

The story gives a great base to some AMAZING singing and dancing, I literally was blown away and forced into the back of my seats with the quality of these actor and actresses voices and moves! Usually starring Beverley Knight as Felicia I was quite disappointed to find out that her understudy was covering on the night we attended but I had no reason to be. Rachel John’s voice and acting was fantastic and I had no reason to thing that she shouldn’t/couldn’t do this role every single night. Playing the lead male Huey was Matt Cardle, winner of the X-Factor. I must admit to having some reservations about whether the lovely Matt could pull it off but I’m pleased to say I think he did really well. I loved him on X-Factor and so it was a treat to see him live, his voice isn’t a traditional theatre power house voice but he hit some great notes, sang all the songs beautifully and I really bought into his character.

The whole cast were fantastic, the danced and sang for their lives throughout the whole performance and probably all deserve a mention however Huey’s mother Gladys played by Claire Machin had my partner and I in stitches. She really stand out in her portrayal of a hard nosed irish/american catholic white mother. Her comedic timing and intentionally ‘bad’ dancing was brilliant.

The atmosphere here is hard to describe, at times I had goose bumps, at others I had tears in my eyes and through most of it I just wanted to get up and dance!

I highly recommend this musical and am sure you will love it as much as I do, so get yourself to the Shaftesbury Theatre now before it finishes in October!

Find out more Memphis the Musical Tickets

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East is East at the Theatre

L-R Pauline McLynn (Ella Khan) &  Sally Bankes (Antie Annie) - East is East UK Tour - Photo By Marc Brenner  (474)

Last night I had the pleasure in seeing East is East at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley whilst on its UK tour. Currently starring Simon Nagra and  Pauline McLynn (known for playing Mrs Doyle in Father Ted amongst other award winning roles)

For those of you that haven’t seen the film this is a story written by Ayub Khan Din set in 1971 in Salford about a family headed by George, a Pakastani immigrant who is married to an English woman, Ella, played by Pauline McLynn and hosts a family of seven children. The over ruling line of the story is George ‘Gengis’ trying to give his children a Pakastani and Muslim upbringing in the ever changing age of the 70’s in Manchester, anyone who doesn’t comply is ousted and considered ‘dead’ by George. His wife is conflicted between the love and protection of her children and the love for her husband.

The story is a poignant one which must ring true with many families even today still trying to encourage traditional family and religious values and struggling but there is plenty of laughs to be had with the various ‘bastard’ ‘idiot’ ‘stupid’ lines that come from both Ella and George. The siblings are brilliant actors and actresses portraying perfectly the love for their family but the conflicting relationships that the situation brings. Auntie Annie played by Sally Bankes was the jewel in the crown for me, she completely represented the hard up Mancunian persona and with her well timed wit and humour made me warm to her completely.

Highly recommended for some thought provoking points and a good laugh.

Find out more and book here : http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/east-is-east/the-churchill-theatre-bromley/

Top Hat The Musical Review

I had the pleasure of going to see the triple Olivier award winning show Top Hat at The Churchill Theatre in Bromley this week.

I adore musicals and this really doesn’t fail to impress with some truly amazing costumes (apparantly in excess of 200!), sets, dancing and singing.

Top Hat tells the story of Broadway sensation Jerry Travers who dances his way across Europe to win the heart of society girl Dale Tremont. Played by Alan Burkitt and Charlotte Gooch respectively, these two were paired beautifully and were superb.

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The script is witty and had me laughing out loud throughout the performance, watch out for the hilarious butler, Bates played by John Conroy and Alberto Beddini played by Sebastien Torkia who remind me strongly of Manwell from Fawlty Towers. The songs include Cheek to Cheek, Top Hat, White Tie & Tails, Let’s Face the Music & Dance and Puttin’ on the Ritz and had me singing along all through the show!

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There were many times when I wanted to jump up and dance along. I really can’t tell you how magical the whole night was in words, I was really stunned at the quality of acting, stunning dancing and brilliant set changes.

This is not to be missed, wherever and whenever you have the chance to see it.

Would you consider the theatre for a night out?

Are you an avid theatre goer?

I must admit the truth and tell you I haven’t been to a proper grown up play for aaaaaaaaaaaages.

I did take Z to see The Tiger Who Came to Tea last summer as part of the Kids Week in the West End where kids go free and both he and I loved it.

Living in Bromley we have The Churchill Theatre on our doorstep and I don’t know about you but I wasn’t aware of all the fab plays they have there across this year which span from musicals to stand up to intense intellectual productions.

Talking of intense productions. I had the honour of attending the premier (at The Churchill!) of The History Boys by Alan Bennett, voted ‘the nations favorite play’ last year and winning endless awards it was one I was excited to see.History Boys-202

Overview

For those of you don’t know The History Boys is a comic drama which covers the summer after A-Levels where a group of boys stay on in the classroom to be preened for Oxbridge exams. It’s set in the 80’s and some may find it a little on or behind the line as it represents what happened in certain schools and places in that time period where headteachers may of turned a blind eye….

It’s a thoughtful story of the time which covers comradery, not only with the boys but with their teachers, and gives you an insight into intellectual learning where it meant more to teach life than just a curriculum.

The director Kate Saxon notes, ‘the play does not present realism…their take on sexuality too liberal for the time. There is no bullying in the group…by freeing itself of realism the play is able to take a microcosm of the time and place and allow us to see relevancies that stretch far beyond it.’

Atmosphere

The theatre was packed! Considering it was a Monday evening this wasn’t something I expected and the bar was buzzy in the interval. It may not be something you immediately think of for a night out but an early dinner, good play, few drinks before, in the interval and after it offers it all really!

The Play

It had me listening intently at times, honestly, trying to keep up, it had me feeling sad and feeling happy. Evoking emotions like a rollercoaster and it made me realise that a lot of the olden days in teaching had a magical quality to them regarding the passion of old school teachers. The team of school boys bounced off one another easily and the play ran through perfectly. Hector (played by Richard Prior) managed to endear himself to me even though he was the one person acting inappropriately…

As is quoted again by the director ‘Bennet helps us along; the lessons are far reaching. Not only do they cover life, love and death, the extra-curricular lessons are equally enlightening.’

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The History Boys runs until Saturday 2nd May at The Churchill Theatre. Find out more and book your tickets here PLUS quote ‘HISTORYPACKAGE’ and receive a Band A seat, program and drink for £25.

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