Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Sister Act is just heavenly. Milton Keynes Theatre.

Sister Act the Musical has all the bits from the film you love plus a whole load of new songs that make this musical truly heavenly.  It follows the story of the first film, Sister Act but with the new songs that gives it a whole new feel to the show.

Alexandra Burke plays Dolores and she really stretches her acting talent in this role.  We all know that Alexandra is a fantastic singer and this show gives her a chance to show a range of vocals including gospel and disco.  And there were definitely glimpses of Whoopie Goldberg in her performance but of course this role belonged to Whoopie so that is expected.
The young shy postulate sister Mary Robert is played by Sarah Goggin and she is absolutely outstanding – keeping her shy demeanour for most of the show but wow what a voice that shy nun has.  And everyone’s knows these nuns can’t sing, well until of course Dolores comes along.  Poor Mother Superior, played by Karen Mann.  She has a job on her hands to try to keep things running smoothly but Dolores is someone who isn’t exactly quiet.

This show has some fantastic show tunes.  This includes Take Me To Heaven which is performed at the beginning and end of the show.  When I Find My Baby is a great soul classic which sounds like a love song until you listen to the lyrics and realise Curtis is singing about killing Dolores.  I Could Be That Guy is a great number about how Eddie wants to be the man Dolores might fancy.

Curtis Shank is the bad boyfriend who is trying to kill Dolores after she witnessed a murder. Arron Lee Lambert plays the low life but it’s difficult to really hate him as he is likeable and can sing beautifully.  He has three henchmen who support him in trying to find Dolores. Pablo (Ricky Rojas), Joey (Samuel Morgan-Grahame) and TJ (Sandy Grigelis) who are funny and brilliant in their own song during the second half.

To stop them a policeman called Eddie, who was at school with Dolores, is trying to protect her. Eddie badly wants to be ‘that guy’ who Dolores would go for as he is secretly (or perhaps not so secretly) in love with her.  You cannot help but like Eddie who is played by Jon Robyns.  Jon makes the character not only likeable but you actually find yourself willing him to get his girl.

Many of the cast played instruments in the show rather than have a separate band or orchestra. This is becoming quite a common feature in recent years and for some shows this works perfectly (such as Calamity Jane).  I am not convinced that Sister Act is a show that should adopt this stance as it can detract from the actual acting and singing and moving the story along.  That said, all the performers who did play instruments did so at an excellent standard.

This is a feel good show and had the audience up on its feet.  If you want to feel good…go and see this show.

4 stars.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Bridget Jones's Baby

I made an educated guess that the first time I encountered Bridget was 15 years ago.  I Googled (cause nowadays my memory isn’t all that being 40-something and why try to remember when you have Google at your fingertips).  And sure enough it was exactly 15 years ago. (just call me a genius!)

All women everywhere can recognise their inner Bridget.  We have all worn a dreadful Christmas present to not hurt our relatives, we have all worried about our weight and we have all (most definitely) worried if we would ever find love.
The first and second films tell of the two loves of Bridget’s life.  Daniel Cleaver and Mark Darcy.  At the end of film two we think Bridget has found her happy ending.   But there is no money in a happy ending so here is film three.

I am not giving any spoilers away to say that Daniel Cleaver does not feature in this film.  This is a good thing as we want to move away from the same old story.  Bridget still has two love interests. The original Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) but also Jack (Patrick Dempsey).  Bridget finds herself in a music festival and literally falls for Jack (in the mud) while her friend Miranda (Sarah Solemani) flirts with Ed Sheeran (played by Ed Sheeran!).  Bridget finds herself pregnant and is not sure who the father is and this is basically the premise of the story.

Now I am not for a minute suggesting that we have all found ourselves in this position but it is the way she is inept at saying something (stop talking Bridget!) that makes us love her.  Renee Zellweger brings such a warmth to the role – who doesn’t love Bridget?

I am an intelligent woman with a very serious job but those close to me know me as quirky and weird.  This is because secretly I am Bridget Jones.  I do say silly words that come out of my mouth without thinking. (I once said frozy when I was thinking both icy and frozen and I am famous for saying trilology rather than trilogy…hmmm maybe I should write a dictionary?)

I understand Bridget, her heartfelt attempts to live the perfect life when life is far from perfect and especially often blurting out feelings without taking a measured approach.  

Life isn’t perfect.  Life is bloody difficult at times.  But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Let’s stumble through life and appreciate what we have.  Enjoy your friends, family and good times, lord knows that 2016 has taught us life is short – so celebrate your inner Bridget and go see this film. Its like putting on that comfortable pair of shoes - hello old friends. 

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Keep Dancing - Milton Keynes Theatre

They couldn’t have timed it better.  As Strictly Come Dancing is back on our screens this week, Keep Dancing hits Milton Keynes Theatre and takes us on a journey of dance.  If you like Strictly you will love this.  It has all the sparkle, glamour and grace that you have grown to expect.

The show opens with You Should Be Dancing which is just spectacular!  Yes, we should be dancing but it is rather hard to do in your seat so just sit back and enjoy the professionals.

Robin Windsor is a big name from Strictly and he does not disappoint.  He moves so well and every part of his body works with the music to whatever piece of music he is dancing to. And I mean every piece.  Every hand movement finished to perfection.  Every bicep.  And yes he does wear an almost see-through shirt.  He is extremely sexy and perhaps this show should carry a warning as many men and women could get a bit hot under the collar.

Robin’s partner in crime is Anya Garnis, another Strictly professional who partners Robin for many of the numbers.  They are fantastic together and she is at ease with ballroom as she is with the tango; a very sexy number that cannot fail to impress.
The other famous duo are the winners of Strictly 2015, Jay and Aliona who left audiences amazed at their Pulp Fiction dance last year.  Alas they don’t perform that dance in this show, which is a bit of a disappointment, but it is great to be this close and see them dance live.  There are moments when you forget that Jay is not a professional dancer as he can move very well to some very fast numbers.  As for Aliona, she is just perfect.  Every step, every finish is complete.  Forget a 7; they get a 10 from me!

The ‘ballroom’ section was very emotional.  It was just like watching an MGM film.  With numbers such as There’s No Business Like Show Business and New York New York you really felt transported back to those golden days.  The elegance and grace as they moved around the stage was breath-taking.

There was a jive section where we travelled back in time to the 1940’s.  This had some humour in it as Robin tried to dance with each female dancer in turn and even sneaked a kiss from one or two.  It really told a story through dance.  The Charleston captured the feel of the 1920’s and gave some elegance and drama to the show. With wonderful outfits to match once again you were transported back in time.

The singers often came to sing a song while the dancers were getting changed. Stormy Weather and Why Don’t You Do Right? were outstanding.  It was disappointing that there were no dancers on the stage during this time; just one or two would have been enough to compliment the singing.  After all the show is called Keep Dancing. A mention is well deserved for the musicians who were fantastic offering us Spanish guitar and amazing percussion.

There was a range of dance styles including a contemporary number from Robin with some other male dancers.  It was captivating to watch and you could be forgiven for holding your breath.

The finale included a disco medley which got the audience dancing and on its feet.  Who doesn’t love a bit of disco?  It included Play That Funky Music, Boogie Wonderland, Boogie Nights and Le Freak.  And to finish there was a Gloria Estefan Medley which was very Salsa friendly.  The outfits were very bright and vibrant but did look a bit like a car wash when they spun around.

This is an energetic and lively show with some amazing dance routines.  There is not a story or flow to the show but instead offers a variety of different dancing styles and a fantastic array of costumes.  If you love sparkly, glamour, elegance and everything that is Strictly, then you will love Keep Dancing. Its FAB-U-LOUS darling!!

Keep Dancing is at Milton Keynes Theatre until Saturday 10 September 2016. 

4 stars.

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Sunny Afternoon - Kinks Musical

The Kinks. I bet you can name one or two of their hits!  Well Sunny Afternoon is a brand new musical featuring the music of The Kinks and this show has really got me!

Read more of my review on 'About Milton Keynes' website.