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.
Based on the classic 1987 Paramount Pictures Corporation motion picture starring Michael Douglas and Glenn Close, James Dearden (who also wrote the screenplay) has adapted the definitive movie thriller into a new stage play.
Fatal Attraction tells the story of lawyer Dan Gallagher (Oliver Farnworth), who has a weekend affair with the seductive Alex Forrest (Kym Marsh) after meeting in a bar while his wife, Beth (Susie Amy) and daughter are out of town. While initially perceiving it to be a short fling and wanting to return to his normal life, he soon discovers that Alex isn’t willing to let him go…
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.
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.
The last time I saw Chicago on stage was on the West End about fifteen years ago. I have vague memories of enjoying it but nothing of note stands out, so I was looking forward to seeing it again.
With multiple Broadway and West End revivals, tours and a 2002 Hollywood film starring Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones, multi-award winning Chicago is one of the most revered and well-known musicals in history. Set in 1926, Chicago tells the story of Roxy Hart (Faye Brooks), who faces trial for murder after killing her lover. To avoid an almost-certain conviction and death sentence she hires charismatic lawyer Billy Flynn (Darren Day), who concocts a sensationalist storyline to dupe the public, the tabloids, her rival cellmate Velma Kelly (Djalenga Scott) and downtrodden husband Amos (Joel Montague).
The Bloke asked me the other day of my opinions of the last twelve months. Admittedly, my initial thought was to respond with “dumpster fire.” On a general day to day basis it has been tough. Working from home sometimes means that it is difficult not to get into your own head and can feel like you’re spending 24/7 within the same four walls, and during moments of extreme stress there is little escape. However, amidst the lows there have been a number of highs.
The start of 2021 was indeed a dumpster fire of epic proportions. Within the first month The Bloke got covid (this was before the vaccinations were available) and was incredibly ill for weeks while being quarantined upstairs, two family members had heart attacks (both are thankfully doing okay), the roof in the kitchen started caving in after five years of asking the landlord to fix it and when I lost my temper he put our rent up in retaliation. A few weeks later I had to have a tooth removed – a small filling fell out just before covid hit in 2020 and dentists were closed for months – and after a year the tooth became so damaged the only option was to take it out.
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.
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.
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?