Matilda the Musical Tour Around the UK

Roald Dahl wrote the book Matilda which was adapted into a film by Danny DeVito. However, it is the musical which is proving to be the most popular version. Tim Minchin wrote the songs, and Dennis Kelly adapted the book. In 2018 you don’t need to live in London to see it, as there is going to be a Matilda the Musical Tour!

Matilda the Musical, Matilda the Musical tour

Matilda the Musical tour takes in a handful of venues, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for more.

ATG Theatre Card and Groups members can buy advance tickets now. Tickets are released to the general public today on the 26th April.

Matilda is based on Roald Dahl’s much loved book, adapted by Dennis Kelly and with original songs by Tim Minchin. Matilda The Musical is the story of an extraordinary little girl who, armed with a vivid imagination and a sharp mind, dares to take a stand and change her own destiny.

Winner of over 85 international awards, including 16 for Best Musical, Matilda the Musical continues to delight audiences in London, Australia and on tour around the USA.

‘BELIEVE THE HYPE’
New York Post

‘EASILY THE STANDOUT MUSICAL OF THE DECADE’
Sunday Times

The Matilda the Musical Tour will visit the following venues :

Sunderland Empire
8 May – 2 June 2018

Milton Keynes Theatre
5 June – 30 June 2018

Manchester Palace Theatre
18 September – 24 November 2018

Follow this link to book tickets! (Affiliate link)
For more information head here to find out more about the Matilda the Musical Tour.
We still haven’t seen Matilda, it has been on our to-do list for a long time. The musical is still running in the West End and is popular. I’ve found that tickets sell way up-front for the good seats – you’re often looking to book at least six months in advance! Nonetheless, we will be going to see it at some point.
This post contains an affiliate link. 

Cinderella at York Theatre Royal

I have been going to the York Panto since it first started in 1977. There has been one consistent force since then, the actor Berwick Kaler. This is his 38th panto. This year we headed out to see Cinderella at York Theatre Royal.

Berwick Kaler in Cinderella at York Theatre Royal
Berwick Kaler in Cinderella at York Theatre Royal – photo by Anthony Robling

Cinderella at York Theatre Royal is 2016’s panto. This is the fourth production over many years, and of course is a story we’re all familiar with.

The ingredients for a good panto :
• slapstick. Essential, and must be executed well
• a dash of anarchy in a child-friendly manner
• the obligatory water scene
• a cast who work well together
• plot – not essential, but needs to get where it needs to be
• ad-libs
• corpsing. It is acceptable to laugh at anything you weren’t expecting which happens during the panto, especially if you are a castmember
• catchphrases that return every year
• very famous people are NOT essential to make a panto good

I would say if there was a tick box of these essentials, then Cinderella at York Theatre Royal has them all. There has been one big thing missing this year though.

Berwick Kaler, the co-writer and the longest serving Panto dame in the country had a pacemaker fitted back in August. He’s fine now, and is back in this year’s performance. His trusty sidekick Martin Barrass had a horrible motorbike accident in September. He is recovering, but has had to miss this year.

Suzy Cooper and Harry Hughes plus mice at Cinderella at York Theatre Royal. Photo by Anthony Robling
Suzy Cooper and Harry Hughes plus the young people’s team as mice at Cinderella at York Theatre Royal. Photo by Anthony Robling

Other regulars are present and correct. David Leonard (long-serving too) is back as the baddie – Baroness von Naff. Suzy Cooper has also done over 20 years at the Theatre Royal, and returns playing Cinderella. Making up the numbers is AJ Powell who takes what would be Barrass’ place alongside Berwick Kaler. They’re the ugly sisters Priscilla and Hernia.

AJ Powell, Berwick Kaler and David Leonard in Cinderella at York Theatre Royal. Photo by Anthony Robling.
AJ Powell as Priscilla, Berwick Kaler as Hernia and David Leonard as Baroness von Naff in Cinderella at York Theatre Royal. Photo by Anthony Robling.

The production starts with a song ‘It’s a Pantomime!’, and Berwick is on stage. I always well up a bit when he stands at the front, and says “me babbies, me bairns”. It gets me every time! I’m not sure when he started saying it, but it’s something which has always been there and that I’ve grown up with.

The story follows the classic Cinderella tale but with a few variations. The ball happens, the glass slipper is lost, and Prince Charming’s love needs to be found. There are references dropped into the show from 2016 – Brexit, Trump, Pokemon are three that I think happened. Pokemon had my nephew laughing out loud.

Cinderella has the usual films which feature in key parts of the show. They don’t disappoint. We get Carpool Karaoke with Suzi Quatro and Berwick Kaler which is good daft fun. Then there’s a Rocky Horror Picture Show tribute featuring Harry Gration. This had me laughing out loud and cheering by the end.

The York Rescue Boat features too. The boat works on the Ouse and Foss and has had a horrible busy year. There is an option to donate to them in the programme too.

Cinderella at York Theatre Royal. Photo by Anthony Robling
Cinderella at York Theatre Royal. Photo by Anthony Robling Charleigh Webb (as Charleigh), Harry Hughes (as Buttons), Scott Wallace (as The Newcomer), Hermione Lynch (as Prince Charming), Jake Lindsay (as Dimdini), Danielle Mullan (as Fairy Godmother), Jack Lansbury (as Prince’s Equerry), Lauren Newton (as Lauren)

There are plenty of references to things around York including the obligatory mention of the suburb Clifton Without. Wagon Wheels feature (we got one!!) and more. No more Newcastle Brown this year for the daddies, they’ve changed the beer!

People travel from all over to see the York Panto. I can’t even try to explain it, it’s bonkers. It’s Cinderella, but not as you know it. You’ll go once and you’ll want to return.

What I love about the York Panto is that it works on every level. We were sat up in the gods where I could hear my mum laughing out loud. Shaun was enjoying it, and I had H and her cousin next to me who were both laughing out loud.

It’s a small production – it runs without understudies. If someone gets injured, the show must go on. I do remember Berwick Kaler getting hurt one year and having to be careful in the water scene the following night. It’s a brilliant production and it’s the same cast, bar the children dancers, every night. It’s a team.

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to bring H to the York Panto. Every year when I lived in York or went back for Christmas we would go on Christmas Eve. This year we went the day before, and we’re still talking about it! This might be as H got a shout out by Berwick and the gang during the songsheet section!

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Cinderella at York Theatre Royal runs from 8th December 2016 to 28th January 2017. Just go. You won’t regret it. The York Panto always makes The Guardian Top Panto picks every year (possibly as Alf Hickling is an old York lad so he too grew up with it).

Thank you to James the York Theatre Royal Communications Manager for sending me the photos! 

Mary Poppins at Southampton Mayflower

Way back in the early 2000’s, Shaun bought me tickets to see Mary Poppins on stage as my birthday present. I was pretty happy with it, and really enjoyed the show. When I spotted Cameron Mackintosh was bringing it out on tour I hung on hoping for a date near London, before eventually deciding we could really do with a weekend away – and our closest venue happened to be Southampton!
Zizi Strallen as Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins is one of my favourite Disney films – it’s magical, brings back fond childhood memories and of course has the wonderful Julie Andrews starring in the main role. So how well does it translate onto the stage?

Firstly, this isn’t an adaptation of the film. Many parts cross over, but it does focus on the books a little more. The focus of the film is Jane and Michael’s behaviour and relationship with their parents – and the various nannys they’ve had to squash their behaviour. Along comes Mary Poppins and the whole family goes on a magical ride while dealing with their issues, and coming out of the other side.

So what is different? Some of the songs have been rearranged, but not in a bad way. Some songs have been dropped. Some new songs have been created.

But what stays the same in Mary Poppins? The magic. Mary does go up the bannister on the stairs, she flies – several times. The classic songs are there. The first half highlight is ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ with the second half being ‘Step in Time’. ‘Chim Chiminee’ forms a narrative around the story as well. Quite frankly with these three I was delighted.

Then the cast – Zizi Strallen was wonderful – she played Mary Poppins straight, but with a good comic timing – I was often laughing out loud. She had me in tears at the end of both halves too – and only The Sound of Music makes me do that. Bert is played by Matt Lee who is brilliant – and what I liked the most, neither actor tried to be Julie Andrews or Dick Van Dyke (which I think The Sound of Music had a bit of – only Connie Fisher and Petula Clark have been the least-Julie-like Maria’s). The supporting cast were brilliant too – H loved the children who brought out plenty of giggles from her.

Here’s the trailer :

Mary Poppins is on tour right now – it’s the last night in Southampton tonight and they’re booking right up until next year. If you saw the London production, it’s exactly the same.

It’s a fabulous, magical night out. Oh, and there’s plenty of Mary Poppins merchandise for sale at the shows too – there’s even a parrot umbrella (£22 for us, I passed).

We managed to get tickets at the rear of the stalls at the Mayflower – a reasonable £35ish each. Add to that a night booked at the Ibis Budget which was a ten minute walk away and it all worked out pretty well.

For an even greater idea of what it’s like, here’s the trailer from when we saw it, starring Laura Michelle Kelly as Mary Poppins and Gavin Lee as Bert.

Check the Mary Poppins Musical dates over on the official site here – and get your tickets ordered soon!

The Sound of Music Live on DVD

It is no secret that The Sound of Music is my favourite film – it’s something I always enjoy, and am currently enjoying passing my love onto H. (who also loves it, thank goodness) Over Christmas, ITV got ambitious, following in the footsteps of several productions in the US, doing a proper version of it on tv – The Sound of Music Live – and now it’s available on DVD.

The Sound of Music Live

The Sound of Music Live is exactly that – but don’t expect the same version as the film – this time around it’s the stage play, with just one alteration from that, having ‘Something Good’ in place of ‘An Ordinary Couple’ (it was written for the film). Following Social Media when it was on tv, a lot of people didn’t realise this – and I think it is important that it’s different – and I think tells the Von Trapp story a bit clearer too. (which is still massively different from the musical, but that’s just pulling hairs)

The Sound of Music Live - Kara Tointon

Kara Tointon stars as Maria and did an excellent job, at times I felt she was singing in a similar way to Julie Andrews – this may well be her singing voice of course, though I’m not sure. When we saw the touring stage production last year, Danielle Hope did similar.

The Sound of Music Live - My Favourite Things
The Sound of Music Live – My Favourite Things

Julian Ovenden plays Captain von Trapp and also does an excellent job.

The Sound of Music Live - How Can Love Survive
The Sound of Music Live – How Can Love Survive

With The Sound of Music Live following the stage play, characters like Max and Elsa have a much higher profile role, and the songs ‘How Can Love Survive’ and ‘No Way to Stop It’ (both dropped from the film) make an appearance, tackling Austria and the oncoming Anschluss.  I’ve always felt this part of the film is important, as you get to see the reason the Captain and Elsa split, paving the way for him to marry Maria – and while this is a musical and isn’t an accurate representation of what happened in real life, it’s closer! Max is played by the fabulous Alexander Armstrong (this role is made for him!), while Elsa is played by Katherine Kelly – and both are again, excellent.

The Sound of Music Live - No Way to Stop It
The Sound of Music Live – No Way to Stop It

H’s personal highlight was the appearance of Mel Giedroyc as Frau Schmidt, the housekeeper, what with her love of Bake Off. Mel’s BAFTA nominated sister, Coky Giedroyc directed The Sound of Music Live alongside the Tony Award winning Martin Koch. Oh, and of course it goes without saying, the children were brilliant too!

The Sound of Music Live - Do Re Mi
The Sound of Music Live – Do Re Mi

So here’s what to expect – plenty of singing, Nuns, fun, Wedding, a competition and then there’s the extras. The following night on tv there was a ‘Making Of’ film which I missed – and is included on here so I’ll finally get to see it!

The Sound of Music Live - DVD menu

What you won’t get with The Sound of Music Live – a puppet show while they all yodel (The Lonely Goatherd is the song they sing with Maria when they’re scared of the thunderstorm), My Favourite Things is placed back at the Abbey when Maria leaves to go to the Von Trapp home. ‘I Have Confidence’ (written for the film) doesn’t appear. The songs are in a different order – but remember, this is the original song order, the film changed them around.

The Sound of Music Live - The Lonely Goatherd
The Sound of Music Live – The Lonely Goatherd

All in all, The Sound of Music Live is an enjoyable hour and a half and I’d recommend to anyone who hasn’t seen the stage play – and indeed, anyone who has!

The Sound of Music Live - So Long Farewell
The Sound of Music Live – So Long Farewell

The Sound of Music Live is out now and can be ordered from Amazon now!

We were sent a copy for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own. All images are my own personal screengrabs from the DVD. 

Annie the Musical UK Tour

I’ve always loved musicals, and I’m more than delighted that H has inherited my love of people randomly bursting into song for no apparent reason too. While The Sound of Music might not be her favourite (yet), there’s several musicals we love, and recently we bought tickets for Annie the Musical when it arrived at the New Wimbledon Theatre on its UK tour.

Annie the Musical logo

Annie the Musical was born in 1977 and was one which fell onto my radar properly with the 1982 film. I was hooked, the songs were catchy and I seem to remember us renting a video copy of the film many times – I knew all the songs off by heart (and I didn’t own the soundtrack until recently).

So what’s to say about Annie? You probably know the story, so I won’t go into it in detail, other than to say this production follows the original stageplay. Songs like ‘We’d Like to Thank You Herbert Hoover’ make a welcome reappearance, a sarcastic song to the former US President from the residents of Hooverville (a shantytown built during the Great Depression where homeless people live – the US had hundreds of these Hoovervilles in the 1930s)  “you made us what we are today….“.

Annie the Musical NYC

‘NYC’ is the centrepiece of the musical, lots of bright colourful trips as Annie, Grace and Daddy Warbucks decide to walk to the movies through NYC, and done so well.

For our performance the role of Miss Hannigan was played by Lesley Joseph and she was great – although I did wonder where her NY accent was – it was definitely more her own voice (which is fine, I’m not complaining) – she was excellent! It made no difference to H, mind.

Annie the Musical Hard Knock Life

The children playing the orphans were brilliant – the character of Annie is in pretty much every scene, that’s a lot of work such young children, and ours was fantastic. The orphans made a great team alongside her too.

The sets were simple but you knew where you were – H found it really exciting that the orphans all were “asleep” in their beds with the main curtains up, so we saw them there on stage before the play started, with an old thirties style radio playing music in the background.

Annie the Musical You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile

As with most musicals, the songs keep coming, and what I like the most about Annie the Musical is how clearly it tells the story of New York in poverty and how President Roosevelt was set to do something about it. With the context of the rich and poor alongside Annie’s positivity “the sun’ll come out, tomorrow…” you’re given a more complete story of New York at the end of the Great Depression and how things were set to change for the better. Which of course went way over H’s head, she just likes the songs!

Annie the Musical

Annie the Musical is on tour now, and throughout 2016 – I’d highly recommend going – and they have a well-stocked merch table too with plenty of things to choose (H went for a photo book taken from the stage show, pictures of which accompany this review – it costs £7 so not too bad at all!). Tickets can be booked here.

The Insatiable, Inflatable Candylion.

I’ve been a huge Super Furry Animals fan for many years now. Lead singer Gruff Rhys has also released several solo albums, including his second, ‘Candylion’. This album is the inspiration and music for a new play in Cardiff this Christmas – The Insatiable, Inflatable Candylion.

The Insatiable Inflatable Candylion

The Insatiable, Inflatable Candylion has words and music by Gruff Rhys – and is at Cardiff’s SWALEC Stadium this Christmas. Here’s the press release :

A festive treat from the creative minds behind the genre-bending Praxis Makes Perfect: this December, Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys, writer Tim Price and director Wils Wilson will team up to create National Theatre Wales’ The Insatiable, Inflatable Candylion, a playful theatre gig inspired by Gruff’s 2007 seminal album Candylion and featuring an array of colourful characters and sing-along live music.

Gruff Rhys The Insatiable Inflatable Candylion

This Christmas, take a trip to Pixel Valley, a magical world filled with positive vibes, colourful, mixed up characters and badminton. 

Come on an adventure with Polar Pear, Sledgehog, Cheffyl and the larger than life insatiable, inflatable Candylion… what will become of life in the valley when negative vibes take over the town?

Gruff Rhys joins an ensemble of actor/musicians including Sweet Baboo, Remy Beasley, Lisa Jên Brown, Matthew Bulgo, Dyfan Dwyfor, Natasha Lewis, Dyfrig Morris, Kliph Scurlock and Emma Daman Thomas.

The Insatiable Inflatable Candylion

They will perform a mixture of new songs written by Gruff and old favourites from the Candylion album, in an immersive production that blurs the line between a theatre show and live music gig.

Expect a mix of new songs and old favourites in a theatre gig for all ages.

Dates: 16 December 2015 – 2 January 2016
Venue: SWALEC Stadium, Cardiff, CF11 9XR

Performance Schedule

16.12.2015  : 7pm
17.12.2015  : 7pm
18.12.2015  : 9pm
19.12.2015  : 2pm & 7pm
21.12.2015  : 2pm & 7pm
22.12.2015  : 2pm (Audio Description)
23.12.2015  : 2pm & 7pm
24.12.2015  : 2pm
26.12.2015  : 5pm
28.12.2015  : 2pm
29.12.2015  : 2pm | 7pm
30.12.2015  : 2pm (Relaxed Performance)
31.12.2015  : 2pm
01.01.2016  : 9pm
02.01.2016  : 2pm & 7pm

Box Office: http://www.nationaltheatrewales.org/insatiable-inflatable-candylion
By phone: 029 2037 1689

Ticket Prices:

  • £17.50 / £15 conc
  • Children (ages 4–16): £12.50
  • Family Ticket (four people, to include at least one child): £50
  • Groups of 10+: £15 per person, organiser goes free
  • Schools (teacher goes free for every 10 pupils): £8.50
    (£1 booking fee per ticket applies when booking via telephone)

Recommended for ages 4+

and just in case you really aren’t aware of the wonderful ‘Candylion’ album, you can stream it via YouTube

Hello Kitty Live Fashion & Friends

Hello Kitty Live – Fashion & Friends is on its way, with an extensive UK tour in October 2015!

Hello Kitty Live Fashion & Friends

Hello Kitty Live – Fashion & Friends is on its way, with an extensive UK tour in October 2015, and an official World Premiere at Hammersmith Apollo, London on Thursday 8th October.

The full Hello Kitty Live tour goes on general sale at 9am on the 10th April at www.hellokittylive.com – and there will also be a special appearance at Westfield Shepherds Bush W12 in M&S at 1pm this Friday – 10th April.

Sanrio GmbH, Live Nation and Zen Tiger Live in association with WME Entertainment officially announce the forthcoming launch of HELLO KITTY LIVE – FASHION & FRIENDS. The first chapter of a series of live shows starring Hello Kitty, her family and the other Sanrio characters.

HELLO KITTY LIVE – FASHION & FRIENDS gives fans of all ages the first ever opportunity to physically enter the world of Hello Kitty as she takes to the stage live and in 3D for this World Premiere, the latest development in the continuing evolution of this global super brand.

A ‘Pop Show’ in the truest sense, the soundtrack features high calibre artists including Charli XCX, Bruno Mars, Kylie Minogue, Echosmith, Clean Bandit, Flo Rida and many more.

See Hello Kitty like you’ve never seen her before as this fashion icon welcomes audiences into her world in a story that highlights the value of friendship, creativity, respect for nature and a love of learning.

The producers at Zen Tiger Live have assembled an accomplished creative team comprised of Richard Lewis, creative director of a long list of successful productions including Peppa Pig Live and Lazy Town Live; Del Mak, choreographer of TV show Got to Dance and LRNZ, one of the most acclaimed upcoming visual artists on the digital scene. Together they have created a fun-packed show, where the characters on stage and the animations on a mega HD screen interact with the public as the story unfolds.

Steve Homer, Promoter at Live Nation Entertainment, said ‘We are delighted to have Hello Kitty Live – Fashion & Friends on our roster; she is a natural addition to a line-up of Global superstars we work with including Madonna, Rihanna and Beyonce.’

Hello Kitty Meet & Greet – The Atrium, Westfield London W12, Friday 10 April 1.45pm

To celebrate the announcement of the UK Tour and tickets going on sale, Hello Kitty will be visiting The Atrium at Westfield London in White City on Friday 10 April at 1.45pm. Fans and families are welcome to come along to meet Kitty in person.

Fans will also be invited to enter a competition to win the ultimate Hello Kitty fan prize – the ‘Platinum Hug’ VIP package at a venue of their choice, plus runner-up HELLO KITTY LIVE SUPER-FAN GOODY BAG prizes which will be full of exciting Hello Kitty merchandise.

An exclusive and limited series of HELLO KITTY LIVE – FASHION & FRIENDS merchandising will be available only at the show venues.

Hello Kitty Live - Fashion & Friends. Credit Sanrio Puroland 2

The official premiere will be in London on 8 October 2015 at the Hammersmith Apollo before the show departs for an extensive tour across the UK with future dates planned across Europe (tba).

Here’s the UK tour information!
Adult tickets: £18 – £25 per ticket*
Child & Family (in sets of 4, must in include at least 1 child): £16 – £22 per ticket
Schools & Groups: £16 – £22 per ticket (11th ticket for teacher free)
* Premium ticket: £29.50 (Aylesbury and London only)

TOUR SCHEDULE

Sunderland Empire
5pm Monday 5 October 2015
www.atgtickets.com/sunderland
0844 871 3022

Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
5pm Tuesday 6 October 2015
www.atgtickets.com/aylesbury
0844 871 7607

Nottingham Royal Concert Hall
7pm Wednesday 7 October 2015
www.trch.co.uk
0115 989 5555

Hammersmith Eventim Apollo
7pm Thursday 8 October 2015
www.eventimapollo.com
0844 249 4300

Bournemouth Pavilion
11am & 3pm Saturday 10 October 2015
www.bournemouthpavilion.co.uk
0844 576 3000

Northampton Derngate
1pm & 4pm  Sunday 11 October 2015
www.royalandderngate.co.uk
01604 624811

Edinburgh Usher Hall
1pm & 4pm Tuesday 13 October 2015
www.usherhall.co.uk
0131 228 1155

Aberdeen Music Hall
12noon & 3pm Wednesday 14 October 2015
www.aberdeenperformingarts.com
01224 641122

Dundee Caird Hall
2pm & 5.30pm Thursday 15 October 2015
www.cairdhall.co.uk
01382 434940

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
1pm & 5pm Saturday 17 October 2015
www.glasgowconcerthalls.com
0141 353 8000

Manchester Palace Theatre
11am & 2.30pm Sunday 18 October 2015
www.atgtickets.com/manchester
0844 871 3019

Liverpool Auditorium
5pm Monday 19 October 2015
www.echoarena.com
0844 8000 400

Stoke Regent Theatre
4.30pm Tuesday 20 October 2015
www.atgtickets.com/stoke
0844 871 7649

New Wimbledon Theatre
4.30pm Thursday 22 October 2015
www.atgtickets.com/wimbledon
0844 871 7646

St David’s Hall Cardiff
5pm Friday 23 October 2015
www.stdavidshallcardiff.co.uk
029 2087 8444

Brighton Theatre Royal
1pm & 4.30pm Sunday 25 October 2015
www.atgtickets.com/brighton
0844 871 7650

Wolverhampton Civic Hall
11am & 3pm Monday 26 October 2015
www.wolvescivic.co.uk
0870 320 7000

Southend Cliffs Pavilion
11am & 2.30pm Wednesday 28 October 2015
www.southendtheatres.org.uk
01702 351135

Portsmouth Guildhall
11am & 2.30pm Thursday 29 October 2015
www.portsmouthguildhall.org.uk
0844 847 2362

York Barbican
11am & 2.30pm Saturday 31 October 2015
www.yorkbarbican.co.uk
0844 854 2757

 

The Sound of Music UK Tour

The Sound of Music UK tour is in Wimbledon at the moment. H and I caught the Wednesday matinee performance this week, and loved it. Read on to find out more!

the sound of music uk tour

The Sound of Music UK tour is calling at various venues around the UK at the moment, and is currently at the New Wimbledon Theatre. I’ve grown up loving the film and the play, both of which have their differences. I’ve seen the film more times than I could even estimate, and have seen several stage productions too. Most productions seem to try to recreate the film on stage – understandable as it’s such a lovely film, but they’re missing a trick as the original stage play makes the film much easier to understand. In addition to this, the play has many funny moments which don’t feature in the film at all.

Fortunately the Sound of Music UK tour version is the play – with just one minor change, subsituting ‘An Ordinary Couple’ for ‘Something Good’ (which was written especially for the film).

the sound of music uk tour 2

Danielle Hope plays Maria, and was marvellous. A lot of her pronunciation and the way she sings brings memories of Julie Andrews in the same role, a comparison which is hard to avoid when she’s wearing a short blonde wig. We didn’t have Steven Houghton as the Captain, but his understudy Lynden Edwards was great. I was looking forward to seeing Houghton as I’d seen him seven years ago in Blood Brothers, so that was a bit disappointing. The children were all marvellous and all their voices worked well together. Jan Hartley as Mother Abbess was wonderful too – ‘Climb Ev’ry Mountain’ was powerful and moving (I may have shed a tear or two).

The play itself brings back in the old numbers ‘No Way to Stop It’ and ‘How Can Love Survive’ both songs featuring a singing Baroness Schraeder and Uncle Max, giving them a bit more depth of character than the film did – and with the former song giving the situation in Austria (the Anschluss) a perspective – Elsa and Max believe you can’t stop what’s going to happen, and try to convince the Captain he should pretend to be on-side with the Nazis. This is what leads to the Captain and Elsa breaking up. The latter song is sung again by all three, celebrating their individual wealth and trying to work out how they’ll actually exist together when they’ve both got everything they individually need!

Let’s not forget young Rolf – a different character to the one in the film; the silence in the theatre at the end scene in the Abbey as the Von Trapps escape shows how convincing he was; his love for Liesl and his warnings for them to leave Austria are given a satisfying ending.

the sound of music uk tour h

This was H’s first proper musical on stage, and she loved it. Her favourite character was Gretl, probably as she’s five too – she’s already being like her mummy… ! She managed well with it, the first half of the play is approximately an hour and a half, with a 20 minute interval and a 55 minute second half – so it’s quite long but there are plenty of songs which break up the dialogue when you’re five and just want to hear the music.

Everywhere is celebrating the film being 50, but I would highly recommend seeing the Sound of Music UK Tour while you can – the production is going all over the UK at the moment and just this weekend Wimbledon are offering half price tickets. We’d already bought our tickets, but they’re also doing a ‘Children go Half Price’ deal too (subject to availability, terms and conditions apply).

My biggest criticism. No merchandise! I’d have loved to have a book to accompany it, or even just pictures in the programme. I came away having spent £3 and hoping to spend more. I’d even buy a soundtrack were one to exist – mainly as my only version of ‘No Way to Stop It’ is the original Broadway Mary Martin version!

the sound of music uk tour - poster

The Sound of Music UK Tour has a Tumblr page here

Bill Kenwright’s site is over here with dates and information – plus a gallery where you get a good idea of the gorgeous sets on stage.

I’m already thinking about going again… sigh!

There’s an awesome timelapse video over here of them setting up the stage at Wimbledon

and a fabulous extended trailer here which gives you an idea of how fab Danielle Hope is too

Our next visit to Wimbledon will be for the touring production of Annie in November – H is just as excited about that! (as am I, it’s been over thirty years since I’ve seen it on stage!!)

Aladdin at the Secombe Theatre, Sutton

I love panto season, and for a long time now I’ve been desperate to take H to one. She has been to productions at school, but I fear those are watered down versions suitable for younger audiences – all fine, but we need proper pantomimes in our lives! Polka Dot Pantomimes have brought their production of Aladdin to the Secombe Theatre in Sutton, and today we went to see it.

Aladdin at the Secombe Theatre

Aladdin is a good safe pantomime to produce. The story works well and the more audience participation you can work into it the better. H had been excited all week, wondering how the genie would get out of the lamp – and it didn’t disappoint.

We made our way to the Secombe Theatre, our biggest local theatre in the Borough of Sutton, which has been under threat of closure (as has the Charles Cryer Theatre in Carshalton) – and what struck me was how the theatre *should* have had more people in there – where are people going? Why aren’t people making the trip? Especially when it’s an excellent production at a really reasonable price. Don’t get me wrong, the theatre wasn’t empty, but it wasn’t full either.

Aladdin was loads of fun. I’m a fairly harsh critic when it comes to pantomimes – being from York I spent almost every December in my childhood (and teenage, and later years) going to the York Panto – a long-term production by Berwick Kaler. You need a good dame and villain, slapstick, lots of audience participation, the old catchphrases and of course topically re-worded songs from current pop hits even indie snobs like me will have heard of as well as the obligatory singsong at the end. Aladdin had all these – and the cast did a marvellous job! Berwick Kaler has been on the BBC this week talking about the hard work behind a panto dame, and I’d agree – they carry the show.

Aladdin Secombe

H didn’t take long to warm up, once she got her head around shouting at the stage a lot (or booing) she was in her element. Behind us was Rosie and Boo who were having a brilliant time as well. Big brownie points go to Aladdin and Princess Jasmine singing ‘Love is an Open Door’ from Frozen, which H was beaming through – no lyric changes needed. In the second half the flying carpet sequence was nice and simple but had her captivated.

The baddie was a GREAT baddie – he played the part perfectly. There was the obligatory water fight (water pistols squirting us, the audience – hilarious!), plenty of ‘IT’S BEHIND YOU!’s and just everything that makes a proper old school panto feel right. Oh and of course, asking the audience for their opinion and having several under tens tell you exactly what you should do, just for the cast to completely ignore it and do the opposite (well, it wouldn’t be a panto if you didn’t)!

aladdin magic wand

The humour worked on both levels – not too confusing for the kids, plenty of gags about Sutton, Cheam and Morden, and plenty of laughs for five year olds too. Merch-wise, programmes were £2.50 and the sparkly light options were £4 each – not too bad at all, and H loves hers!

Widow Twankey was excellent – as were Wishy Washy and the Genie. In fact, everyone was great. I have no complaints, and found it was a fine production. The final word goes to H though – “it was AMAZING!!”

I just hope the Secombe Theatre stays open so that productions like this can continue for future generations to enjoy.

Polka Dot Pantomimes have many productions up and down the country – check them out!

We were provided with free tickets for this performance. All opinions are my own. OH yes they are.

Grandad, Me and Teddy Too at the Polka Theatre

We’ve just got back from Grandad, Me and Teddy Too at the Polka Theatre, Wimbledon, a lovely new play by Sarah Argent, targeted at 2-5 year olds.

grandad me and teddy too

Grandad, Me and Teddy Too is a wonderful charming play – and is all about the distance a child, Mia, has from her Grandad, and how they connect, both in person and online.

This appealed to me, as H’s grandparents are in York and Australia – we have nobody close by. The internet is our main means of communication to stay in touch; we have regular chats over Skype and Facetime with Shaun’s mum and dad, whereas I tend to talk to my mum over the phone.

Grandad, Me and Teddy Too has just the two characters with a nice simple set on stage, and plenty of dialogue to capture a child’s imagination. Katherine Carlton plays Mia – a girl of approximately four, five or six years old, and Gordon Warnecke plays Grandad.

I liked that Mia had the exact facial expressions that H often pulls – I was giggling away at some of them – it’s an adult observing a child and doing it well. Mia speaks to Grandad every night on the computer, counting down the sleeps until he’ll be visiting her. Grandad lives in Argentina, so he has a bit of a way to travel.

Once he arrives he joins in Mia’s games, but often doesn’t quite play them as she would like, making her a bit cross. Again, I have seen those facial expressions myself, I’d say very accurate! They go for a ride on a magic carpet to the South Pole as well! Unfortunately he can’t stay and soon has to go back home again.

Grandad, Me and Teddy Too is at the Polka Theatre in the smaller Adventure Theatre (capacity 30-50 people), lasts for approximately 40 minutes and runs from the 8th October 2014 until 8th February 2015. This means you have seats around the edge for adults, and children are encouraged to sit on their own in front of the stage.

grandad me and teddy too Frozen ticket

As well as this, children are encouraged to bring a teddy or toy along with them – if you happen to take a picture of your teddy or toy on the way to or from the Polka Theatre, make sure it has the hashtag #BYOBear and that the Polka Theatre are tagged on Twitter (@polkatheatre) or Facebook (/polkatheatre), and each week their favourite photo will win a prize!

We were charmed by Grandad, Me and Teddy Too – and I felt sad we’re so far away from all our relatives. We’re lucky these days computers make it so easy to stay in touch. H loved the play, and when I asked her about her favourite part, she loved the section with the balloons. I would highly recommend going to see this, especially if you have long-distance relatives. It was a really lovely show which resonated with me in so many ways.

We were given complimentary tickets for the purpose of review – all opinions are our own.