An Interview with Norton James from Jersey Boys

There’s nothing better than speaking to someone who genuinely loves what they do, and Norton James is clearly one of them. Currently starring in the UK Tour of smash-hit musical Jersey Boys, I had the chance to have a chat with Norton and find out more about his life as an actor, being on stage and what it’s like being in an award-winning show. 

Tell me a little bit about you! How did you become an actor?

My dad trained as an actor and he ended up running a theatre which actually isn’t too far from Birmingham so it was always in the family! It started with a teacher called Tom Goodluck who gave me the role of Mr Bumble in Oliver as I was the biggest kid in school, and I thought “oh, I quite enjoy this!” and it all kind of started from there. I was playing rugby and I found theatre and I thought “ah, I prefer that!”. From that I went off to drama school and I’ve focused on it over the last five years and I’ve been very fortunate to work and keep everything going

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Press Review: Horrible Histories at the Alexandra Theatre

We all want to meet people from history. The trouble is everyone is dead! So it’s time to prepare yourselves for Horrible Histories live on stage with this special production of Barmy Britain!

I was unable to attend, but my friend Anna was more than happy to oblige on my behalf!

Directed by Neal Foster with music by Matthew Scott, Horrible Histories is the stage adaptation of the critically acclaimed franchise. The show is unusual in that it stars just two performers – Jack Ballard as Rex and Morgan Philpott as Roger. Would this take anything away from the performance? 

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Press Review: Death Drop at the Alexandra Theatre

Note: This is a review for the 2021 UK Tour of Death Drop. 

Starring Ru Paul’s Drag Race legends Willam, Ra’Jah O’Hara, Karen from Finance and the UK’s very own Vinegar Strokes, Death Drop is killer comedy that is set in a mysterious mansion  in 1991, as group of rather flamboyant and unique guests gather for a dinner party to celebrate the 10th wedding anniversary of Prince Charles and Princess Diana. With plenty of hidden secrets and shady behaviour, the ferocious finger pointing and savage speculation begins as one-by-one each guest is murdered. 

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An Interview with Ra’Jah O’Hara, star of Death Drop

Following rave reviews at London’s Garrick Theatre, smash-hit drag murder mystery Death Drop will be sashaying into the Alexandra Theatre next week (23rd – 27th November) as part of their UK 2021 tour.

Starring Ru Paul’s Drag Race legends Willam, Ra’Jah O’Hara, Karen from Finance and the UK’s very own Vinegar Strokes, the killer comedy is set in 1991, as a gaggle of guests gather on the mysterious Tuck Island for a dinner party like no other. The tension rises as the outrageous guests reveal their questionable pasts and hidden secrets. As the ferocious finger pointing and savage speculation begins, one by one they sashay away, until at the last, nerve-shredding, side-splitting moment we find out who-dunnit!

I got the chance to have a quick chat with Ra’Jah O’Hara at Mailmaison Birmingham ahead of the Birmingham shows to find out more about Death Drop, her character Summer Raines and what makes the ‘Queen of the Death Drop’ tick.

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Press Review: 9 to 5 at the Alexandra Theatre

Note: This review is for the 2021 UK tour of 9 to 5.

Dolly Parton’s smash hit musical returns to the Alexandra Theatre direct from rave reviews and sold out shows on the West End and I couldn’t have been more excited. I was lucky enough to see the show just over 2 years ago on the same stage so I already knew that it was going to be a good night.

Based on the 1980 film starring Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and Dolly Parton, the show has an Oscar, Grammy and Tony award-nominated score by Dolly Parton herself, and a book by the iconic movie’s original screenwriter Patricia Resnick.

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Press Review: Bedknobs and Broomsticks at The Alexandra Theatre

Note: This review is for the UK 2021 tour of Bedknobs and Broomsticks

When three orphaned children – Charlie (Conor O’Hara), and his siblings Carrie and Paul* are reluctantly evacuated from wartime London following the death of their parents to live with the eccentric Eglantine Price (Dianne Pilkington), they have no idea what adventures lie ahead. They discover that Eglantine is a trainee witch, who is learning magic from spells she has bought from Emelius Brown (Charles Brunton). Complete with a flying bed, an enchanted bedknob, a broomstick and a book they go on an incredible adventure to find a secret spell that will defeat their enemy, which takes them from Portobello Road to the depths of the beautiful briny sea.

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Press Review: Grease the Musical at The Alexandra Theatre

Note: This review is for the UK 2021 tour of Grease the Musical.

It has been 50 years since Grease premiered at the Kingston Mines Theatre in Chicago before transferring to Broadway and 43 years since the release of the film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton John, undergoing multiple revivals, tours and a live TV performance making it one of the most successful musicals in history. 

The 2021 UK tour is the first new production in 25 years, and with an iconic soundtrack including Summer Nights, Greased Lightnin’, Hopelessly Devoted to You and You’re the One That I Want, it has big shoes to fill. Judging by the packed and excitable audience at The Alexandra Theatre it clearly still remains as popular as ever. 

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Press Review: Derren Brown Showman at The Alexandra Theatre

Note: This review is for the 2021 theatre tour of Derren Brown’s ‘Showman.’

The Bloke visited The Alexandra Theatre last night to watch Derren Brown and his latest show, Showman. 

What makes this review difficult is that it is challenging to describe the show without giving any spoilers. With over 20 years of appearances on the stage and screen, Derren Brown is a household name that is known for his ability to trick the mind into believing a different reality.

“All I can reveal is that the show will ultimately be about you, the audience member, because that’s what I find most interesting. There are places I’d like to take the audience where we haven’t been before. I always aim to have it deliver more than you’d expect. I’m excited to be at the starting point of that process. Getting it on the road will be my favourite part of the year.” – Derren Brown.

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Press Review: Dirty Dancing at The Alexandra Theatre

Note: This review is for the 2021 UK tour of Dirty Dancing.

As someone who has seen the film so many times that I can still recite the dialogue and lyrics by heart, I was interested to see how it would translate from the big screen to the Alexandra Theatre stage

Dirty Dancing tells the story of Frances “Baby” Houseman, an idealistic middle-class teen who is vacationing with her family at the sleepy Kellerman Resort in 1963. Her summer is about to change when she meets the charming and handsome resort dance instructor Johnny Castle…

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Press Review: The Cat and the Canary at the Alexandra Theatre

Note: This review of The Cat and the Canary is for the 2021 UK tour.

“Twenty years after the death of Mr. West, his descendants gather to learn who will inherit his vast wealth and the hidden family jewels. Within moments, the heritage hunters turn into prey. Walls crack open, shadows loom, and dark secrets are revealed.”

On a suitably dark and rainy Monday evening, we sat down at the Alexandra Theatre to watch the latest show from The Classic Thriller Theatre Company with their production of 1920s murder mystery The Cat and the Canary.

The original play, written by John Willard, opened on Broadway almost a century ago and has since spawned three movie adaptations. The plot utilises that classic whodunnit setup and setting; assembling an ensemble cast in an ancestral mansion on a dark, stormy night, just in time for things to start going awry when a homicidal maniac escapes from a nearby asylum. Adapted for a modern audience by Carl Grose, and directed by Roy Marsden, the play offers up all the twists and turns you would expect from the genre, along with some tongue-in-cheek humour and, of course, plenty of scares!

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