Press Review: Saturday Night Fever at The Alexandra Theatre

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ A fantastic feel-good evening of entertainment

Based on the smash-hit 1977 film starring John Travolta, with one of the biggest movie soundtracks in history, Saturday Night Fever has arrived at The Alexandra Theatre.

Directed by Bill Kenwright, Saturday Night Fever tells the story of Tony Manero (Jack Wilcox), an Italian-American living in Brooklyn, New York with his family. Working as a paint clerk during the week, Tony lives for the weekend where he is the undisputed king of the local disco. When a dance competition is announced, he meets the beautiful and talented dancer Stephanie Mangano (Rebekah Bryant) and convinces her to become his partner. 

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Press Review: Noughts & Crosses at The Alexandra Theatre

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Gripping and thought-provoking

Sephy and Callum sit together on a beach. They are in love. It is forbidden. Sephy is a Cross and Callum is a Nought. Between Noughts and Crosses there are racial and social divides. A segregated society teeters on a volatile knife edge. As violence breaks out, Sephy and Callum draw closer, but this is a romance that will lead them into terrible danger…

Based on the first book in Malorie Blackman’s Noughts & Crosses series, directed by Esther Richardson and adapted by Sabrina Mahfouz, Noughts & Crosses offers a love story (very loosely based on Romeo & Juliet) set in an reimagined society. The Crosses – all people of colour – hold the power, while the Noughts – the white population – are at the mercy of the discriminatory rules and restrictions placed upon them. Sephy (Effie Ansah), a Cross, is the daughter of the Home Secretary Kamal Hadley (Chris Jack) and lives a life of privilege Her childhood friend Callum, a Nought, has won a place at her prestigious school for Crosses, causing a violent series of protests and backlash. Their developing romance is strictly forbidden, and both sides face huge barriers and prejudice while trying to simultaneously be together while finding their own paths. 

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Press Review: The Shawshank Redemption at The Alexandra Theatre

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ A powerful piece of theatre

Based on Stephen King’s 1982 novella Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption (which was also the inspiration for the smash-hit 1994 movie starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman), The Shawshank Redemption has been adapted for a theatre audience in a 2022 UK tour. 

Presented by Bill Kenwright, directed by David Esbjornson and adapted from the novella by Owen O’Neill and Dave Johns, The Shawshank Redemption tells the story of Andy Dufresne (Joe Absolom), who is wrongfully convicted of the murder of his wife and her lover and is sent to the notorious Shawshank facility to start his double life sentence. As he deals with the harsh brutality and cruelty of prison life, he strikes up an unlikely friendship with the prison fixer Ellis ‘Red’ Redding (Ben Onwukwe). However, when his talents for accountancy are discovered by Warden Stammas (Mark Heenahan), he realises a desperate plan to escape is needed… 

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It’s Been a While…

Back in July I acknowledged how much my working life had taken over and decided that I needed to break out of the little work / sleep / work / sleep bubble I had created for myself. Thankfully, I have been able to do just that, but this hasn’t freed up much time or improved my ability to sit down and actually write about it. In a desperate attempt to catch up, here’s three months of life experiences in a single post, just in case I don’t get the chance to write another one for a while. 

I have still been able to do my regular reviews at the theatre which I look forward to. It’s a great way to spend the evening – a lovely team, great building, and when you get a show that absolutely blows the roof off, it leaves you with a buzz that can last for days. 

One of those shows has been Bat Out of Hell. Within the first five minutes when I saw it in January I knew that I was watching something special, despite that fact that I had absolutely no idea what was going on for some of it. Just like my RENT obsession that developed some years ago, I have fallen equally in love and decided that I absolutely had to see it again. So, I booked The Bloke and I tickets to see it at The Winter Gardens in Blackpool and a hotel room for the night.

It’s been a few years since we last visited, so we set off super early to avoid any potential M6 traffic hell, and found ourselves stood on the pier on a dull, but very warn day at 8.00am. For the rest of the day we were shameless tourists – we went to the top of the tower (during which The Bloke mustered up enough courage to actually walk on the glass), won prizes on the horse racing game and played on the 2p machines in the arcades, ate junk food and bought snacks from a shop where the guy behind the counter was actually wearing a bullet proof vest. And then we saw the show, it was amazing, and I was so overwhelmed that I cried on the way back to the hotel. It was just fabulous, even with the drunken men who decided to sing so loudly that two rows physically moved to get away from them. 

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Press Review: The Mousetrap at The Alexandra Theatre

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As news spreads of a murder in London, a group of seven strangers find themselves snowed in at a remote countryside guesthouse. When a police sergeant arrives, the guests discover – to their horror – that a killer is in their midst! Which one is the murderer? Who will be their next victim? Can you solve this world-famous mystery for yourself?

Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap at the Alexandra Theatre plays for six nights as part of its 70th anniversary tour and was a fantastic way to spend Tuesday night this week, and a full house no less. Lucky for us, The Mousetrap has continued to delight audiences for much longer than the initial fourteen months that Christie herself said she would “give it,” in the fifties when it debuted.

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Press Review: Fisherman’s Friends: The Musical at The Alexandra Theatre

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ Fun, witty and heart-warming with plenty of sole

From the pier of Port Isaac, Cornwall to the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury, Fisherman’s Friends: The Musical is loosely based around the true story of the surprise chart-topping Cornish singing sensations and their smash-hit 2019 movie.

Directed by James Grieve with the Book by Amanda Whittington, Fisherman’s Friends tells the story of a group of fisherman in a traditional Cornish village who sing folk songs and shanties to raise money for the local lifeboat. They are spotted by passing visitor Danny (Jason Langley), a former A&R Executive from London who is immediately captivated by the music and convinces them to record a demo to send to Island Records. But is the British public ready for an album of sea shanties and traditional Cornish folk songs?

Yes, they were.

And after watching Fisherman’s Friends: The Musical, so am I.

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Press Review: Fame at The Alexandra Theatre

Note: This review is for the Stage Experience performance of Fame at The Alexandra Theatre.

Back after a two-year hiatus, the renowned Stage Experience returned to The Alexandra Theatre with their latest production of Fame. 

Based on the 1980 iconic film which spawned a popular television series, Fame follows the final class of New York City’s celebrated High School for the Performing Arts through their struggles, fears and triumph as they navigate the worlds of music, drama and dance

Showcasing the very best in local young talent, the Alexandra’s annual Stage Experience is open to anyone aged 9-24 years old who have a passion for performance, wardrobe, stage management or behind-the-scenes technical skills. Over the last few weeks, 60 young performers and 10 technicians from all over the West Midlands have intensively rehearsed to bring their latest production to life. 

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King Kong is Back!

Fifty years after its first exhibition, a key piece of Birmingham history has returned to the city. 

The brainchild of Birmingham property developers Cordia Blackswan in collaboration with Hockley Social Club, a seven metre (22ft) statue of King Kong is on display at the the new King Kong Park on Great Hampton Row in the Jewellery Quarter. 

Created by artist Nicholas Monro, King Kong was commissioned in 1972 for display in Manzoni Gardens in the Bull Ring. Following the brief to make it ‘city oriented,’ the 18ft fibreglass statue (chosen because of its association with New York City), quickly became a popular icon but was sold four months later once sponsorship funding dried up. After being displayed elsewhere in Birmingham and then at markets in Edinburgh and Penrith, it now resides in a garden overlooking the Penrith Hills. 

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Press Review: Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em at The Alexandra Theatre

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ An evening of hilarious and unadulterated chaos. A joy to watch!

Note: This review is for the UK 2022 tour.

Based on the beloved 1970’s sitcom by Ray Allen starring Michael Crawford and directed by the award-winning Guy Unsworth, Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em tells the story of the accident-prone Frank Spencer (Joe Pasquale). His wife Betty (Sarah Earnshaw) has exciting news, but he’s preoccupied by possible newfound fame as a magician. Joined by Betty’s mother Mrs Fisher (Susie Blake), her boyfriend Mr Luscombe (Moray Treadwell), and priest Father O’Hara (James Paterson), there are plenty crossed wires, misunderstandings and mishaps as Frank and Betty attempt to host a dinner party and do an interview with the BBC. 

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Date Night in the City

Part of my Happiness List for July is Date Night – spending time with The Bloke for no other reason than just because. An opportunity presented itself recently to go out into Birmingham and do just that.

Those of you who have followed the blog for a long time will be aware of my obsession with the musical RENT. It has been something that has been a big part of our relationship – he has ‘No Day But Today’ engraved on the inside of his wedding ring, we walked back up the aisle to ‘I’ll Cover You’ after we got married, he even went along with it when I wanted to go and find Antony Rapp when we went to watch it in London in 2016 (read about the whole adventure here). While it’s our favourite show it’s rare that we get the chance to see it, so when an ad appeared on Facebook that there was a performance at the Blue Orange Theatre in the Jewellery Quarter that evening we booked tickets and decided to turn it into a pseudo-spontaneous date night. 

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