Press Review: Footloose at The Alexandra Theatre

Note: This review is for the 2022 UK tour of Footloose.

Based on the 1984 hit film starring Kevin Bacon (which was itself loosely based on true events in the town of Elmore City, Oklahoma), we follow the story of Ren McCormick (Joshua Hawkins) and his mother, who move from Chicago to Bomont, a rural backwater town following the abandonment of his father. There, he discovers that rock ’n’ roll music and dancing is banned following the deaths of four young people in a car accident, with a traditional, conservative and strictly religious community spearheaded by the Reverend Shaw Moore (Darren Day). Taking matters into his own hands, Ren befriends the loveable (although rather dim-witted) Willard Hewitt (Jake Quickenden), falls in love with Rev. Moore’s rebellious daughter, Ariel (Lucy Munden), and campaigns for a dance to be allowed for the seniors of the school.

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Press Review: Dreamboats & Petticoats: Bringing On Back the Good Times at the Alexandra Theatre

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ A feel-good show full of fun and nostalgia

Note: This review is for the UK 2022 tour.

Featuring rock ’n’ roll songs from the million-selling Dreamboats and Petticoats albums, we see the return of Bobby, Laura, Sue and the gang in the third instalment of the smash-hit musical on stage at the Alexandra Theatre this week.

With a healthy dose of nostalgia from the start, we follow the story of Norman and the Conquests as they take on a summer gig at Butlins, Bognor Regis, and the interweaving sub-plots of the band members and their friends. Bobby (David Ribi) and Laura (Elizabeth Carter) are struggling with a long-distance relationship while Laura reluctantly embarks on a summer season in Torquay, Sue (Lauren Anderson-Oakley) feels unwanted and overlooked by flirtatious husband Norman (Alastair Hill) after giving birth to their baby. Band manager Ray (David Luke) is unsure of his career as a hairdresser and convinces girlfriend, Donna (Samara Clarke) to join them at Butlins. Including songs such as C’Mon Everybody, Blue Moon, Mony Mony and Keep on Running, we are taken on a trip down memory lane as the characters navigate their way through the trials and tribulations of young love while wanting more from their music careers. There is plenty of chemistry and all are talented vocalists, each getting the opportunity to shine in both the individual and group numbers.

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Press Review: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at The Alexandra Theatre

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Stunning!

The acclaimed novel by C.S. Lewis has been brought to life on stage with the production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. 

Directed by Michael Fentiman and based on the original production by Sally Cookson with original Set and Costume design by Rae Smith, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe tells the story of Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter, wartime evacuees who discover the world of Narnia inside a wardrobe. 

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An Interview with Sam Buttery from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at The Alexandra Theatre

Direct from London, the acclaimed production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is coming to the Alexandra Theatre stage in Birmingham this week and I had to opportunity to have a quick chat with cast member Samuel Buttery, who is playing the role of Mr Beaver. When we spoke they were on a train on the way to Birmingham.

It sounds like you’ve had a really busy time!

It’s be so busy! I think this month we’ve been to Edinburgh, Plymouth, Canterbury, Glasgow and now Birmingham. It’s a lot!

What can the Birmingham audience expect from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe?

I think they can expect something heartfelt. It feels like a communal endeavour without being poncy and too insincere. I’m  lucky in that everyone in the cast and company is really nice and we have formed really close bonds, and the play ends up being about community and togetherness and what happens when goodness can win. 

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Playing Catch-Up… Again

I started February with the best of intentions. I had just completed a No Spend Challenge over January and was feeling a massive sense of achievement, so set myself a whole series of goals over February. One of them was to blog at least twice a week… and now it’s March and to say I failed spectacularly would be an understatement. 

However, despite the storms and constant rain, February was fast-paced and pretty exciting at times with lots of both short and long-term unexpected opportunities. 

Ever heard the analogy about waiting for a bus for ages and then three all arrive at once? 

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An Interview with Oliver Farnworth from Fatal Attraction

Based on the classic Paramount Pictures Corporation motion picture, James Dearden’s intoxicating new stage play of Fatal Attraction, brings the definitive movie thriller to Birmingham’s Alexandra Theatre. I had the opportunity to have a chat with Oliver Farnworth – who plays the lead male role of Dan Gallagher – ahead of the show arriving in Birmingham this week.

Fatal Attraction is coming to the Alexandra Theatre. What can the Birmingham audience expect from Fatal Attraction?

I think the title ‘Fatal Attraction’ will be fairly familiar to a lot of the audience. The notion of the ‘bunny boiler’ was born from the iconic ‘80s film with Michael Douglas and Glenn Close playing the two protagonists. There will be a familiarity with the original story which is obviously very tense and twisted, a gripping psychological thriller. With any adaptation you wouldn’t necessarily want to go and see a film word for word put on stage, so there is very much a theatrical adaptation. James Dearden the writer has been on board and he’s updated the script – there’s a bit more of a twist in the ending. I’d say he’s brought it into more modern day as far as there are more questions around culpability and motives, blame and consequence, It’s very much a classic thriller but brought into an updated, modernised stage version using lots of theatrical licence, twists and tricks. But fans of the original won’t be disappointed – we’ve kept a lot of the original content. There’s a lot to enjoy. 

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Press Review: School of Rock at the Alexandra Theatre

Based on the 2003 movie starring Jack Black and with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Glenn Slater and a book by Julian Fellowes, School of Rock tells the story of Dewey Finn (Jake Sharp), a wannabe rock star who impersonates a substitute teacher in a prestigious prep school. Upon discovering the musical talent of his young students he forms a band in an attempt to win the Battle of the Bands contest. 

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An Interview with Jake Sharp from School of Rock, the Musical

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s School of Rock, the Musical is coming to The Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham next week.

Based on the cult film starring Jack Black, School of Rock follows slacker Dewey Finn as he turns a class of straight – A  students into an ear-popping, riff-scorching, all-conquering rock band! As they prepare for the Battle of the Bands, can Dewey make them embrace the empowering message of rock?

I was delighted to get the chance to speak to Midlands-born actor Jake Sharp about his role of Dewey Finn ahead of next week’s show.

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Press Review: Bat Out of Hell at the Alexandra Theatre

Note: This review is for the UK 2022 tour. 

Bat Out of Hell is a rock musical with with music, lyrics and book by Jim Steinman. Steinman was a prolific songwriter, with hits including Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart, Celine Dion’s It’s All Coming Back To Me Now and Air Supply’s Making Love Out of Nothing at All, but is probably best known as the composer of the songs for Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell album trilogy. These are predominantly the musical numbers that feature throughout the show. 

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Press Review: Jersey Boys at the Alexandra Theatre

Note: This review is for the 2021 / 2022 UK Tour of Jersey Boys at the Alexandra Theatre.

Oh What a Night!!!

And, indeed, it was.

Written by Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice, with music by Bob Gaudio and lyrics by Bob Crewe, the award-winning Jersey Boys tells the true story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, from their beginnings as four guys from New Jersey, to their meteoric rise to fame with their distinctive style and eventual induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While this may appear as a classic musical rags-to-riches story, we get to see the real trials and tribulations of behind one of the biggest bands in history – from stints in prison and run-ins with the mob, to debt, divorce and the loss of Valli’s daughter. 

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