Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Prism Starring Robert Lindsay At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW

From Marilyn Monroe to Rambo, the extraordinarily illuminating story of double Oscar-winning cinematographer Jack Cardiff's film career followed by an Alzheimer's-stricken retirement in Buckinghamshire is played by the always incandescent and forever our very own Nottingham Clarendon College alumnus Robert Lindsay.

In his converted garage bursting with memorabilia of a filmography that includes The Red Shoes, The African Queen and The Prince And The Showgirl, together with mementos of his secret romances with legendary movie goddesses, Jack is writing his autobiography whilst grappling with his declining health and the assistance/hindrance of his son Mason, a boho Tara Fitzgerald as his wife Nicky and his newly appointed carer Lucy, played by a fantastically convincing and versatile Victoria Blunt.

But this is Robert Lindsay's show and it's a super-stellar performance of the heartwrenching confusion and darkness of Alzheimer's punctuated with moments of that familiar twinkling humour, laughs, song, dance and a bit of fisticuffs from our local neighbourhood sexy sexagenarian. Robert Lindsay ages and rejuvenates remarkably by decades in front of your very eyes, brilliantly mixing pathos with verve and animation and effing and blinding and wooing for Blighty, with a camera and a dirty martini in each hand.

A touching and intimate first act explodes into life after the interval with lighting tricks, techniques and sweeping cinematic flourishes flooding the stage, invoking intoxicating Golden Age Hollywood glamour, with fabulously romantic flashbacks and special movie legend guest stars and confidentially, we recommend you lighten up these descendingly gloomy October evenings not through a glass, darkly, but through a glorious technicolor kaleidoscopic stunning spectrum of light and emotions with this precious multi-faceted gem of a play. Shine on.

Prism is at Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 26 October 2019  Full details and ticket prices can be found on the Nottingham Theatre Royal website
Wednesday, 7 November 2018

The Madness Of George III Starring Mark Gatiss At Nottingham Playhouse REVIEW

Opening with a beautiful and visually arresting scene with the entire cast pausing in full regalia in the manner of a richly dramatic Baroque painting, this Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company production of The Madness of George III is a local production for local people and also a worldwide audience - with tickets still currently available for a special 20 November performance to be broadcast live to 700 UK cinemas and an incredible 2500 venues in 65 countries 

Mesmerising in the titular role, Mark Gatiss' prolific acting spectrum and range royally lords over the entire play, masterfully portraying the humour, the horror, the gut-wrenching grotesque and gentlemanly gravitas combined with a heart-breaking vulnerability during his brutal and harrowing medical treatments which forces you to mentally strap yourself down to your seat to avoid leaping on stage to give him a comforting hug.

But the distressing scenes of suffering and maltreatment are skilfully balanced with humour by the expert pen of Alan Bennett and never has such a profuse run of poo jokes been such a welcome relief. Mark Gatiss' performance is ably accompanied by Nicholas Bishop as a pensive William Pitt, a magnificent Adrian Scarborough as the didactic Doctor Willis, Debra Gillet fiercely charming as the love-matched Queen Charlotte and Sara Powell as a dignified Lady Pembroke.

Set in ingenious concertina-kaleidoscopic scenery which expands outwards and back into itself to a fold-as-you-go Georgian-Ikea effect and with women cast in several of the male roles with varying degrees of success, confidentially, The Madness of George III is a sumptuous and illustrious event for the city, and with majestic authority and with regal pomp, poop and circumstance, Mark Gatiss Rules OK.

The Madness of George III is at Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 24 November 2018. Full details and ticket prices can be found on the Nottingham Playhouse websiteThursday, 13 September 2018

Shrek The Musical At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW

Photo by Tristram Kenton

To successfully transfer the boundlessly unlimited medium of animated film to the confines of a real-life stage show takes a visionary with outside-upside-backflipping-over-the-box thinking and Shrek the Musical joyfully ticks all those boxes with an imagination of psychedelically monster proportions, roar!

Bellowing onto stage and making the light fittings rattle, Steffan Harri's hunkily-ug-er-lee Shrek teams up with Marcus Ayton's sassily kick-ass Donkey to rescue the smart, wise-cracking and amazingly streetwise for one so longterm-housebound Prncess Fiona, both cutely and fiercely played by Amelia Lily.

From the super-heavily knee-padded dastardly-dinky and irresistibly-naughty Lord Farquaad to an animatronic portable traybake Gingerbread Man, a fluffy slipper turned tap-dancing rat infestation and a staggeringly-gigantic puppet dragon-rockstar, Shrek the Musical sticks to the kiddie-to-adult-appeal script with enough wit and ingenuity as to both equal the classic film version and to create a stand-alone entertainment spectacle all of its own, playfully referencing  Les Mis, Wicked, Avenue Q, The Lion King and more along its merry way.

It's a singalonga farting and belching competition love-story, a screamingly-funny technicolour extravanga, Mother-Hubbard! Confidentially we recommend you get your freak on for the looniest-tooniest real-life cartooniest anti-fairytale in the land! You'd better believe it.

Shrek The Musical is at Nottingham Theatre Royal until Sunday 23 September 2018. Full details, show times and ticket prices can be found on the Nottingham Theatre Royal websiteWednesday, 9 May 2018

The Last Ship at Nottingham Playhouse REVIEW

Docking last night at Nottingham Playhouse for a week, The Last Ship musical, with original score and lyrics composed by Sting, is a salty sea tale of shipbuilding, love, loss, heartbreak, resilience and defiance - complete with a first night performance sprinkled with extra special rock star super-stardust by the attendance of none other than Sting himself, sitting right there in the auditorium in jeans and piratey red and blue striped t-shirt, hello sailor.

The decline of shipbuilding in Tyne and Wear, on paper an unlikely and difficult story for musical theatre, is intertwined with a love-interest romance between the dishily fantastic Gideon Fletcher (Richard Fleeshman) returning home after seventeen years at sea to win back his childhood sweetheart, the gloriously feisty Meg (Frances McNamee). With an earthy, gutsy and roaringly-exceptional cast led by a staunchly convincing and endearing Joe McGann in fine voice as foreman Jackie White, it's a dramatically and poignantly staged show, full of heart and pride running the full spectrum of fervent and affecting emotions.

With a spectacular setting showcasing breathtaking projections by Olivier Award winners 59 Productions transporting the audience through incredible storms with vast ships and glowering moody shipyards, it's a jaw-droppingly impressively staged show, interspersed with beautifully poignant flashback moments, bewitching dancing silhouettes and thrillingly-fierce protesting women at the picket line. Sting's wistful ballads, jaunty sea shanties and raucous protest songs are accompanied by folk dancing and lots and lots of exuberant foot-stamping and stomping with spine-tingling choral singing from the cast.

With a standing ovation on this opening night and Sting on stage at the finale stomping along with the cast, confidentially, we recommend you get your stomping boots on for some cathartic stamping about the decline of shipbuilding, the problems with the NHS and some retro anti-Thatcherism to boot, ahoy and wye aye mateys.

The Last Ship is at Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 12 May 2018. Full details and ticket prices can be found on the Nottingham Playhouse website

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Hairspray At Nottingham Theatre RoyalREVIEW

Exploding gloriously onto stage like a giant psychedelic sequinned-scattering party-popper, Hairspray hit Nottingham running and generating enough breathtaking energy to sky-rocket the sub-zero February temperatures all the way up to eleven and settled in to go-go on with the show which is twisting and shouting in town for a whole fabulous, flamboyant fortnight.

Addressing hard-hitting racism and segregation issues in 1960s Baltimore with unabashed full-on thunderous ra-ra razzmatazz, Hairspray is a joyous, feelgood spectacle, both fervently and light-heartedly making everything and anything seem possible.

Cha-cha-ing without putting a foot wrong or a hair out of place, and sprayed to within an inch of their haircuts, this is a one hundred percent tip-top top-notch inch-perfect cut-above show. Cast, singing, dancing and staging all bellow out QUALITY and are topped off with the roof-raising, hair-off-your-face-blowing knockout performance by the supreme and divine X Factor semi-finalist Brenda Edwards as Motormouth Maybelle together with a truly touchingly-funny double act of Nottinghamshire-bred Norman Pace and the toweringly gorgeous Matt Rixon as star-turn Tracy Turnblad's parents, awww.

Get on up, get down and get up again and shake what your mother gave you for the not-standing-but dancing ovation after the eye-popping, jaw-dropping, back flipping finale. Confidentially, we recommend you leave your calculus for the morning bus, doo-wop doo-wop a dinga linga shimmy-shimmy right on over to Nottingham Theatre Royal and spray it all over liberally at maximum volume for sensational glittery shine, technicoloured vitality and long-lasting hair-raising bedazzling pizazz (keep away from naked flames.)

Hairspray is at Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 24 February. Full details and ticket prices are available on the Theatre Royal website

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Cinderella At Nottingham Playhouse REVIEW

Once upon a time, in a magically serendipitous local Christmas fairytale, no sooner had one newly matched Royal couple visited our fair city this very week then, slap my thigh, another popped merrily right up the very next day, complete with a Meghan Markle-lookalike Cinderella in the launch of the annual Nottingham Playhouse Christmas panto. 

A beautifully charming dancing woodland creature scene with delightfully gambolling badgers, foxes and hedgehogs, a loveable Buttons and a boy-band-blonde Prince Charming rockin some damn fine duets with a genial Dandini all set the scene of cutesy panto adorableness which all suitably crazily descended into a madcap riot with the unleashing of the triple-threat-terrible-trio of the Step Sisters and their Auntie, the Dowager Duchess Devilla, deliciously-devilishly played by a raucous Rebecca Little.

And oh boy, was John Elkington doing it for himself as sensational Step-Sister Bella, whether wisecracking local gags, batting away first night glitches with a flutter of false eyelashes or belting out a bring-the-house-down torch song solo, woah!

What the show lacked in a bit of a short-changed side-step off-stage transformation scene and a royal palace ball scene that only appeared to have five guests, it gleefully made up for with great one liners and sight-gags including a brilliantly simple joke about hiding a key under a clock that was only a painting on the set, an in-out in-out screwball broken-down car comedy routine, whooped-up incongruous dance routines and local reference jokes taking the mick out of everything from Beeston to Broadmarsh all mixed together with more running gags about sponsors Nottingham City Transport than you could shake a Robin Hood Pay As You Go Card at (with another two gags guaranteed to turn up right behind -you!) All topped off with a surreal but strangely soothing tap dancing fluffy bunny rabbits number.

But the funniest part of the show was the fantastic ad-libbing by John Elkington with children from the audience brought onstage to sing along with Bella in the Songsheet Scene. And there was also a special surprise guest appearance onstage (and apparently the biggest surprise to himself) by none other than Adam Penford on his very first day as the new Artistic Director of Nottingham Playhouse.

With a glorious array of outrageous costumes, beautiful dresses, a glittering golden carriage and stunning crystal slippers to sprinkle stardust on your festive season, it's time to officially cross Prince Harry off your Christmas wishlist and treat yourself instead to a Haribo sweetie high, wave your spinning psychedelic toy windmills in the air, indulge in cathartic bellowing audience participation and release your pre-Christmas angst and/or get right into the festive spirit, Nottingham Playhouse Cinderella panto-style.

Cinderella is at Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 20 Jan 2018. Full details of show times and ticket prices can be found on the Nottingham Playhouse website

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Crazy For You At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW

Loaded to the rafters with lashings of classic musical numbers, Crazy For You is a hybrid-Gershwin mash-up, a let's-put-the-show-on-right-here/mistaken identity kray-zee tale, punctuated by cracking oneliners, sight gags, physical jokes and some of the most sublime stage show songs of all time.

Achingly-beautifully voiced leading lady Charlotte Wakefield delivers mesmeric performances of Someone To Watch Over Me, Embraceable You and But Not For Me, transcending the silly-nonsense story all the way up to top quality theatre.

But the star of the show we've all come to see is Tom Chambers' moves- and boy, does he bring them, and loads of old Hollywood-stylee all over the dancefloor - and then some. Toe-twisting and slide-gliding with panther-like grace, he swoops, he soars, he scores and he dances with alpha-male ownage, leaping onto piano tops and nimbly clambering up nervewracking ladders and high platforms, whew.

The show slowly builds and then firmly finds its feet in the Act One climax performance of I Got Rhythm, a jaw-dropping, glorious, fantastical tangle of rootin' tootin' singing and tap dancing mixed up with (count 'em) QUADRUPLE threat musicians playing their instruments right dang in the middle of it all and with Tom Chambers dexterously playing drumsticks on the upturned feet of the dancing girls, it's the show-stopping musical money-number. Choreographer, take a bow.

Looking hot but not given enough to do is the woefully under-used former Strictly winner Caroline Flack, strangely denied any kind of killer dance-routine that we all know she could pull off, no sweat. And if only we could have seen Polly's mum dance on stage!

Cray-cray and cute, plucky, screwy and sunny, Crazy For You is a tonic of fun to warm you up in this chilly season. Confidentially, we recommend you go nuts fer it.

Crazy For You is at Nottingham Theatre Royal until 7th October 2017. For full details of show times and ticket prices can be found on the Theatre Royal websiteWednesday, 14 June 2017

Funny Girl At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW

Following not only in those formidable funny footsteps of Barbra Streisand but also famously filling in for Sheridan Smith is a serious ask spectacularly answered by the phenomenal Natasha Barnes as leading lady Fanny Brice in this delectable Menier Chocolate Factory musical revival of Funny Girl.

Nailing those legendary power anthems and sensitive numbers alike, owning and stealing every scene, combining breathtaking energy and heartbreaking pathos it's an extraordinary tour de force performance/walk in the park by a girl on fire. Confident, commanding and comfortable, loveable and huggable, this Replacement is a natural and a star.

Oh and hey, Mr Arnstein! Get a load of the former Pop Idol-finalist turned smooth-with-all-the-moves matinee-idol-heart-throb Darius! Knocking our eyes out with Hollywood-movie star looks and crooning with a voice of honeyed-velvet, Darius is an irresistible revelation and a perfectly cast love-match, oozing old-school charm and seduction, oh boy, yes siree and no kidding.

This whole show is an inch-perfect production, gorgeously-costumed, lavish and swish,
featuring a stunning dual-aspect stage with stylishly-slinky scene transitions, a tip-top top-notch cast, and gloriously glamourous dancing girls and boys and favourite highlights include the hilariously-sexy dinner-and-chaise-longue seduction scene and the beautifully and thrillingly choreographed helluva par-tay back home at Henry Street.

A delicious distraction from recent sad events in this summer of uncertain times, allow a little extra time for pre-show bag searches and for the standing ovations at the end because sassy, spine-tingling and sensational, she bangs the whole shebang! Confidentially, the joke's on you if you don't go go go and grab yourself a ticket for the hot-dang funniest gal in town.

Funny Girl is at Nottingham Theatre Royal until June 17th. Full details and ticket prices can be found on the Theatre Royal websiteWednesday, 22 March 2017

Love Letters Starring Ryan O'Neal And Ali MacGraw At Nottingham Theatre Royal PREVIEW

Hollywood comes to Nottingham this November when acting legends Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal hit the Theatre Royal stage in the critically-acclaimed play Love Letters.

The play sees the reunion of the two actors who first appeared together in the Oscar-winning 1970 film Love Story which spawned the famous quote, "Love means never having to say you're sorry."

After training as a professional boxer and working as a stuntman, Ryan O' Neal's first major television role was in Peyton Place and he was chosen from more than 300 hopefuls for the role of Oliver Barrett in Love Story opposite Ali MacGraw who began her career as an assistant on Harper's Bazaar and whose acting career began with the leading role of Brenda Patamkin in Goodbye Columbus.

Love Story was a huge success and landed O’Neal both Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Best Actor and Ali MacGraw an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe award.

After Love Story Ryan O'Neal starred in the comedy What's Up Doc with Barbra Streisand and the Oscar-winning Paper Moon with his daughter Tatum whilst Ali MacGraw starred in The Getaway with Steve McQueen.

‘I am absolutely thrilled to be bringing two such huge stars to the UK in this wonderful and moving play. Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal are true Hollywood legends and it will be very special indeed to see them live on stage together' said Love Letters producer David Ian.

Transferring to the UK following a Broadway run and a sell-out US Tour, celebrated playwright A.R. Gurney’s enduring romance tells the story of a love affair lasting over 50 years. Andrew Makepeace Ladd III (O’Neal) wrote his first letter to Melissa Gardner (MacGraw) to tell her she looked like a lost princess when they were both seven years old. Through personal triumphs, despair, wars, marriages, children and careers, they poured out their heartfelt secrets to each other defying a fate that schemed to keep them apart.
Love Letters is at Nottingham Theatre Royal from Monday 27th November to 2nd December 2017. Ticket prices, times and booking details are available on the Theatre Royal website hereWednesday, 18 May 2016

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW

Tootling merrily into town with a bang on a twelve day flying visit, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang winged its way into Nottingham's Theatre Royal, turning heads with a melodious sugar-rush helluva ride.

With Toot Sweets ingeniously on sale in the foyer and starring the cherubically-curly, sweet-like-chocolate-voiced Lee Mead plus Cindy and Barry outta EastEnders as the evil CHILL-drrren hating Baron and Baroness Bomburst, this stage production takes on a different visual style and slightly later era than the film version, with a motor-biking Truly Scrumptious, violet and purple coloured costume schemes plus added girl dancers also showing what they can do with an ol' bamboo.

It's a successfully super-fun high-energy show, from the imaginative wrap-around projections with Dad's Army style animations to the crackpot inventions to the cracker performances by the show-nicking delightfully naughty comedian spies Boris and Goran to the father-of-all-childhood nightmares, the malevolently cloak-whirling ultra-villain Child Catcher. Carrie Hope Fletcher is a charming and exquisitely-voiced Truly Scrumptious blending into delicious musical concoctions with Lee Mead's endearingly-paternal Caractacus Potts in Doll On A Music Box, whilst a lacklustre Chu-Chi Face is acquitted by a boomingly, bloomingly brilliant Roses Of Success commandingly led by Andy Hockley as a top-notch Grandpa Potts, yes siree.

An incredible, edible sweetie of a show, confidentially, we recommend you fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumper night - with mouthfuls of cheers.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is at Nottingham Theatre Royal until May 29. Full details can be found on the Theatre Royal website here
Thursday, 14 May 2015

The Importance Of Being Earnest Starring David Suchet At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW

It was another sensational theatrical coup for the city last night as Nottingham played host to the premiere of the breathlessly-anticipated delightfully delicious Agatha Christie/Oscar Wilde mash up of rapier wit, immortal quotables, cucumber sandwiches, muffins, cups of tea and Poirot cross-dressing as Lady Bracknell in the latest inspired version of The Importance of Being Earnest.

It's his first ever performance as a woman and David Suchet is one helluva lady. Gliding imperiously onto stage as the legendary ultimate Victorian matron-diva s/he cuts a truly unforgettable figure, with completely convincing deportment, delivery and demeanor that is every inch the iconic corseted Titaness, from her skirt-swooshing, high heel-revealing indomitable gait, to the burgundy-enclothed impressive bosom, right up to the indignantly-quivering feathers in her hat.

Accompanied by a cast of vivaciously-flirting bright young things including Emily Barber as a sparklingly-posh Gwendolen Fairfax, and the mighty firecracker of Michele Dotrice as Miss Prism, reduced to giggly girly gesticulations whenever in the presence of a charmingly-wooing Richard O'Callaghan as Reverend Canon Chasuble, the play, split by two intervals, gains magnificently in momentum culminating in a mesmerising third act of precisely balanced rhythm, pace and perfect enunciation.

An exquisitely set performance showcasing the chemistry and the humour of the English language at its very finest and top class upper-class entertainment that had the audience up on its feet wild with applause, you can catch this production right here first in Nottingham weeks before it hits London's West End and confidentially, we candidly recommend you get on it like Lady Bracknell's bonnet.

The Importance of Being Earnest is at Nottingham Theatre Royal until Sat 16th May 2015. Full details and ticket prices can be found on the Theatre Royal website here

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Top Hat At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW

With a hat-trick of shiny Olivier Awards in its bedazzling mitts, this first-ever stage adaptation of RKO's motion picture Top Hat swept, tapped and sashayed into town dripping elegance and ravishing gorgeousness in its glittering path.

Starring, in true musical theatre tradition, understudy-turned-leading-man Alan Burkitt who not only had to step in at the last minute on the original West End Top Hat opening night but also has to follow in the lighter-than-air iconic debonair winged footsteps of Fred Astaire (no pressure) he proves to be no less than a long, lithe, leggy and lean gliding tap-dancing MACHINE with smooth as satin moves sublimely mixed with energy and grace. And with Charlotte Gooch as his splits-kicking glitzy feathered Ginger Rogers this dream-team power dance couple hit their fabulousness zenith in the exquisite Cheek to Cheek, together swooningly oozing swish swirling swelegance all over the dancefloor and confidentially, we're in heaven.

With a sizzling screwball 1930s plot peppered with one-liners, gags and comic turns by a terrific supporting cast together with a stageful of million dollar troupers dancing to divine Irving Berlin classics, lavish and lush, it's a sumptuous musical, genuinely funny and gloriously glamorous.

Dressed up to the nines, tens and elevens, top class, top notch and top dollar, confidentially we recommend you trip lightly and fantastically (or backwards and in high heels) to Nottingham Theatre Royal to catch this show. Super duper.

Top Hat is at Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 15 November 2014. Full details, show times and ticket prices can be found on the Theatre Royal website here

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Natalie Imbruglia In Things We Do For Love At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW

It's a tale of unrequited love and requited love, illicit passion, ardent desire and secret, pervy admiration and it's into this hilariously lovable bizarre love rectangler Nineties Alan Ayckbourn revival that Neighbours legend and worldwide pop sensation the divine Natalie Imbruglia makes her stage acting debut.

Jolly hockey sticks ex-prefect and confirmed singleton Barbara - played like a magnificently perfectionist Titan by the extraordinary Claire Price - lives in the middle flat of her converted house and in a tantalising peep-show stage set up which reveals just the calf-skimming floor of the flat above and the ceiling of the basement flat below, home of lovelorn Barbara fan and DIY lackey Hamish. Into Barbara's inch perfect conversion world skips her sweetie-pie old school friend and freshly engaged Nikki - a breathlessly animated and Brit accent-perfect Natalie Imbruglia followed by Edward Bennett as hunky Scot fiancé lover-man Hamish to temporarily live in the flat above.

But brewing beneath the conversational social niceties, the tea and sherry and nibbles and nice blouses is a crazy-houseful of animal passions, let loose by Barbara's insanely disastrous dinner party, which confidentially ends up hosting possibly one of the best on-stage drunk scenes EVER by Simon Gregor as the gloriously peculiar lovesick Gilbert.

With cosy and civilised domesticity mixing dangerously with rampant lust that confidentially leads to possibly the funniest and most outrageously-choreographed on-stage lovers' fight scene EVER, this play is an acting-quartet triumph by the cast as Barbara and her heart-breakingly heart-meltingly passionate too-close-for-comfort subarban neighbours

Love, laughs, fighting and an Aussie goddess in the flesh, three curtain calls from an enraptured audience can't be wrong, there's not many things not to lurrve about the most bonkers and anarchically-romantic love story in town, fall in love with it at Nottingham Theatre Royal until this Saturday.
Things We Do For Love is at Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 3rd May. Full details including ticket prices can be found on the Theatre Royal website here
Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The Play That Goes Wrong At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW

If you think you're having a bad day then you really need to go and see The Play That Goes Wrong. Like most bad days, it all starts optimistically enough with Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society enthusiastically staging their amateur production of period murder-mystery drama The Murder At Haversham Manor with an endearingly hammy cast peppered with talcum-powdered-aged hair, notes written on hands and a lovably belief-suspending actor who claps along delightedly whenever the audience applauds him. But after an unfortunate false start, followed by various unlucky mishaps, every few seconds in the play something - or several simultaneous things- go wrong. And confidentially, it's probably the funniest catalogue of absolute unmitigated ill-fated and downright dangerous disasters you'll ever see in your life.

With valiant determination to Stick To The Script Whatever Happens whilst every conceivable nightmare -plus a hundred more problems you wouldn't dare to dream of - crash and hurtle around their ears, the cast gamely stagger on in spite of corpses that can't stay dead no matter how hard they try and heart-stoppingly break-neckingly precarious scenery-induced accidents that result in nothing less than girl-on-girl armed combat whilst a running gag of prop mix-ups leaves the hapless detective/director character resignedly reduced to writing notes on a vase. With a set of keys.

But if that old "Am-Dram theatre going awry"  theme sounds a little bit like familiar territory- and in some ways it is, particularly with the play's occasional Basil Fawlty/Ripping Yarns undertones - it's the incredible side-splitting split-second timing, choreography and ingenuity of this insane physical comedy that lifts it all the way up from likeable-enough silliness to a top-notch ding-dong stellar performance in an absolute classic class of its own.

Deserving a First Class Degree with Honours in Funniness and proving so many wrongs do make a right, lovably shambolic, accidentally anarchic - and don't forget to look out for a dogged little performance from a special guest star from Nottingham who may/may not make it onto the stage -  confidentially, this play can do no wrong in our eyes, do the right thing and catch it at Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday this week.
The Play That Goes Wrong is at Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 29th March 2014. Full details about show times and ticket prices can be found on the Theatre Royal website hereThursday, 6 February 2014

Singin' In The Rain At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW

After the rainiest and wettest January in the history of all time EVER, you know what we could really do with? Some more rain. And you may think you've seen enough of every kind of rain to last a lifetime, but you ain't seen nothing till you've seen it honest-to-goodness chucking it down indoors.

Starring the forever-delectable Maxwell Caulfield (who, confidentially, will always, always be Miles Colby to us) as studio boss R F Simpson and Faye Tozer outta Steps reaching new heights of peroxided squeakiness as silent film starlet Lina Lamont, this adapted stage production also stars an incredible 12,000 litres of water in a technologically-triumphant, fun-drenched show.

Following in the soaking wet tap-dancing footsteps of the Singin' in The Rain movie is a helluva big ask and the transition to stage has led to sometimes choppy and cluttered scenes, but there are notable stand-out moments, the beautiful dancing precision of the girls in the bustin' out of the cake routine All I Do, the startlingly effective wriggling group dance-clump in Broadway Melody and then come on with the rain, because when it pours down fast on stage into mightily impressive shin-deep puddles, it's a mesmeric sight to behold and the no holds barred, no wishy-washy water conservation, full-on kickin' and splashingly- fantastic dance routines are truly exceptional and lift this show up to a highly original and special live theatre event.

Meanwhile, achieving the impossible feat of following madcap make 'em laugh meister Donald O' Connor and blowing everyone else out of the water is the superb knockabout fall-about Stephane Anelli as Cosmo Brown, oozing that sexy sass and ease of proper old Hollywood talent and effortlessly stealing every scene he's in, topping it all off with the Moses Supposes routine which gloriously captures the essence of the original and transports you right back into the movie.

Dripping with high-octane energy and soaked with style, confidentially, we recommend you grab your sou'wester and your fella with an umbrella, come in from the rain, go to the Theatre Royal and let yourself get, absolutely soaking wet. And you can sample a veritable soupçon of this squelchy, sloshy spectacle in the official trailer below.

Singin' in the Rain is at Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 15th February. Full details and ticket prices can be found on the Theatre Royal website here
Sunday, 8 December 2013

Peter Pan Starring David Hasselhoff At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW

Two names have been on Nottingham's lips with bated breath since the outrageously fantastical announcement was made back in June of the showbiz pair up we could hardly dare to dream of and to make all our Christmases come at once, Hasselhoff And Pollard; Hofficially the Most Watched TV Star In The World together with Nottingham's Favourite Superstar Daughter live on stage for six weeks and the hottest goddamn ticket in town.

To an electric sweetie-munching local atmosphere of sugar-high frenzied anticipation, the Peter Pan story began to unfold with Wendy, her brothers and an alarmingly massive gallumping Nanny receiving a flying visit from Peter Pan who transports the children to Neverland. And it's in this enchanted faraway land from an immense glitter ball with a slow reveal that first emerges Su Pollard to humongous whooping and applause, back home in town and on stage where she belongs, brighter, better and bluer than ever as Mimi the Magical Mermaid, giving it her all with Nottingham lovingly giving it all right back at ya.

More pirate and Red Indian high jinx and musical numbers follow until the show is stopped and taken up another mind-bendingly awesome level by the the entrance of David Hasselhoff as Captain Hook, striding onto stage like a mighty towering panto Colossus, a jaw dropping spectacle dripping in brocade, feathers and tumbling jet-black ringlets. Knight Rider, Baywatch and Hoff gags a-plenty abound but it's his big number in the second act that gets those timbers permanently and forever shivered with Hoff commanding and commandeering the stage, legs apart in full-on actor's stance a mwha-ha-ha moustachioed-villian vision in white, accompanied by dancing girls and a cute pirate chorus in a billowing sea of dry ice as he belts and bellows his number like a singing Panto Titan and a Sight To Behold the likes of which You've Never Seen In Your Life.

Meanwhile there's some serious scene-stealing shenanigans afoot from Ben Nickless as Mr Smee with a naughtily delicious chocolate bedtime spoof of 50 Shades of Grey guaranteed to maul and tease you plus a freaky and screechingly funny Pamela Anderson tribute to boot and either ducking from those pesky water pistols, heartily indulging in a foam rock fight with dandy pirate men, singing-along or getting up and down for the Dance-Hoff, aint no way you'll be staying put in your seat when this show gets started, me hearties.

Clap your hands and believe! All hail and be upstanding for the Almighty King Hoff of Panto! Confidentially, we don't care who you have to Hassle for a ticket, just hoist up your mainsail and fly to the second star to the right and straight on till morning to the hands down best show in town and Nottingham event of the year, arrrr!

Full details of Peter Pan performance times and ticket prices can be found on the Theatre Royal website hereWednesday, 26 June 2013

Peter Pan Panto Launch At Nottingham Theatre Royal

Photo © Nottingham Confidential
Ahoy me Nottingham hearties! 'Twas with a merry swash and a buckle that local heroine Su Pollard, Blue Peter presenter Barney Harwood and a cardboard cut-out of David 'The Hoff' Hasselhoff did launch the Peter Pan Panto at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham exactly six months before Christmas Day, arrrrrrr!

Whilst The Hoff sent his hilarious apologies and panto greetings via a video link from his home in LA, Nottingham's favourite daughter and home-town legend, the super-duper superstar Su Pollard shimmered into view as Mimi the Magical Mermaid, a vision in matching sparkling blue dress, hair and lipstick whilst CBBC's Barney Harwood wisecracked through proceedings as a naughtily impish Peter Pan.

"Oooh, it's always wonderful to be back in Nottingham," Sue told us confidentially. "You never forget where you've been brought up and where you've been given a chance in life, do you? And the lovely thing is, I've also been sent an honorary ticket for life member at Nottingham Arts Theatre where I trained! I was so lucky to join that, I learned a lot from there darling, I was there about fourteen years, yes, man and boy! So I'm thrilled!

"And here in the Theatre Royal I've had a seat named after me! It's J17, I was so thrilled, they surprised me and I said, I'll love that! They said they'd call it Su Pollard's Nottingham Seat but I said ooh no, that's too poncey, we won't have that, let's call it the Queen Of The Midlands! And that meant as much to me as meeting the Queen, dear! And whoever sits in it when they come and watch the panto , I'll throw marshmallows at you!

"Can you imagine dear, David Hasselhoff! I think it'll be great, he's popular with everybody and you know what, I like that he sends himself up, he's able to joke about himself and the girls all love him and the ladies will probably swoon! I think it'll be fabulous."

Photo © Nottingham Confidential

"I did a little dance when I heard about David Hasselhoff," said Barney Harwood "I haven't told anyone that, but I did a little boogie. He's been on TV since I was a kid, 1982-1986 was Knight Rider, you see how I'm a geek, I know all the dates. He drove the coolest car in the world, he had all the coolest gadgets and I used to pretend to be David Hasselhoff as a kid, I used to run round the streets talking to my watch. And now he's going to be the bad guy in this and I've got to scrap with him with a sword. He's a genuine bona fide hero of mine and I can't wait to meet him.

"This is my first panto in Nottingham and I'm going to be here about six and a half weeks, so I'll need plenty of tips on chippies and good places to eat and and I'm bringing my camera as I like taking photographs so I need good places to take some nice shots!"

So whilst Nottingham buzzes with excitement at possibly one of the most fabulous panto line-ups EVER, what more could we want- but to be told possibly some of the best secrets we've heard confidentially EVER. "I think the secret I can tell you is when I'm on stage, even though you can see the regular Peter Pan costume, there's another costume underneath..." said Barney Harwood. " It's for a specific reason and even though what I'm about to tell you sounds weird and probably not quite right, I have to do it. When I'm Peter Pan, I wear incontinence pants. Now listen, the harness digs into certain areas and the only way to protect those areas when you're flying is to wear those pants so that's my secret and do NOT tell anybody!"

And you can watch Su Pollard's secret confidentially in the video clip below!

You can also see our photo album of the launch in glorious technicolor on our Facebook page here

Peter Pan is at Nottingham Theatre Royal from December 7th 2013 to January 12th 2014. Full details can be found on the Theatre Royal website here

Friday, 22 March 2013

OPERA NORTH La Clemenza di Tito At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW

Photo by Bill Cooper

This season sees Opera North's first ever staging of Mozart's very last opera written when, gravely ill and desperate for money, he broke off working on the Magic Flute to take this commission to celebrate the coronation of the new Emperor of Bohemia.

Written in 1791 and set in Ancient Rome, Opera North's stark, state-of-the-art, high-tech version cleverly combines touches of Roman costume with this season's fabulous must-have lace-up boots, corsets and Mac make-up whilst Annemarie Kremer is thrillingly magnificent as jealous and vengeful femme fatale Vitellia, setting the monochrome backdrop alight with flaming fire-engine red hair and flashes of her crimson linings as she cavorts naughtily on a table top to seduce her hopelessly-devoted admirer Sesto, whilst keeping a dagger handy in her clutch bag.

It's a tale of furious sexual envy, assassination plots and loyalty and honour's wrestle with betrayal as Vitellia convinces Sesto to kill his friend the Emperor Tito when he plans to marry another woman. With achingly-beautiful duets, unmistakeable Mozart phrases and a sublimely-ardent aria by Annio begging for La Clemenza di Tito- the clemency of Titus- this is a powerfully-compelling, all-engrossing and utterly captivating opera, superbly and flawlessly interpreted by Opera North's cast and company.

Treacherous, lustful, obsessive, passionate, moving, touching and at times very funny, La Clemenza di Tito, not always considered one of Mozart's most celebrated operas, absolutely deserves this renewed attention and confidentially, our highest recommendations.

Opera North are performing La Voix Humaine with Dido and Aeneas on Friday March 22 and Otello on March 23 at Nottingham Theatre Royal. Full details and ticket prices can be found here

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Dirty Dancing At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW

Photo by Alastair Muir
Here in town on its very first national tour, you've got the next three whole weeks to sneak away from your parents, get on down to the basement with the cool kids (you know what you need to carry with you) and get your Dirty Dancing freak on like it's the summer of 1963.

Despite its bubblegum-pink logo and copious merchandise, this show is in fact no trite, flashy lesser version of the legendary film, but a genuine re-imagining by the original screenwriter Eleanor Bergstein who 'didn't want to just slap a movie onstage', a notion clearly evident in the show's surprisingly artistic and intelligent staging. Refreshing touches include the dancers performing individually rather than the traditional musical ensemble unison (nothing wrong with unison but individualism makes a nice change) a great feeling of energy, verve and choreographed movement in the choppy short scenes and a revolving centre in the stage used imaginatively to great effect together with breathtakingly beautiful outdoor landscapes capturing the infamous log and water scenes and a clever dance training week montage, all evidently put together with thoughtful loving care to create a successfully profound on-stage interpretation.

But fans of the original film will also have all their Dirty and Dancing boxes ticked, flicked and kicked. Jill Winternitz is a charmingly earnest and outspoken Baby, artfully avoiding drippy ingenue territory and instead fun, funny and feisty, whilst Paul-Michael Jones is a long, lean, leggy, leather jacket-clad Johnny and you have just gotta see that bad boy DANCE, commanding the stage with his height and assured expert poise, tearing the place down with Nicky Griffiths as ow-chihuahua hot mama mind-bendingly bendy splits-kicking Penny and then leaping back onto stage from the stalls to deliver the legendary 'Baby' and 'corner' line to ecstatic whoops from the audience followed by a wowzer 360 degree, effortless, spectacular version of THAT iconic lift.

Cool, slick, classic and cute, a genuine theatrical triumph, both in addition to the film and as a stand-alone experience, confidentially we recommend you mambo, merengue and hotfoot it along to grab those last few tickets to this show, yeah baby!

Dirty Dancing is at Nottingham Theatre until Saturday March 2nd. Limited seats are available, more details available on the Theatre Royal website here

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Cinderella At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW

Photo by Robert Day
It's the most wonderful time of the year and NOTHING, not even a humongous dose of this season's must-have sniffle virus will spoil panto for us, and, it turns out, being drugged up to the eyeballs on Lemsip and cough sweeties only makes the Ugly Sisters' uber-psychedelic costume changes even more mind-bendingly out-there and gloriously over the top and the festive slap your thigh toilet humour nose-squirtingly funny at Nottingham Theatre Royal's Cinderella.

Starring Three Degrees legend Sheila Ferguson as the Fairy Godmother, who belts out her solos with dazzling superstar glam and sass, and ex-Eastender, West End darling and yummy eye-candy for the big girls (and some of the big boys)  John Partridge as a delectably delish and superbly voiced Prince Charming, the show is a madcap riot of gags, glitter, gorgeousness and goody bags all heartily enjoyed by a guffawing audience.

Stealing from the audience and throwing toilet rolls, doing unspeakable things to birds (not real birds!) and suffering unmentionable stool-related injuries together with an unbelievable for-all-the-wrong-reasons Cher impression are the unashamedly milking it and overdoing it comedy duo The Grumbleweeds, whose relentless larking about and dressing up together with a seemingly insatiable desire to get their kit off at any random opportunity will get even the most hardened humbug chortling in spite of themselves.

With singalongs, a snow-covered audience and a flying horse to take our lovely Cinders to the ball it's a fun, festive family night out, so don't waste your Christmas washing every grain of salt in the salt cellar and giving the kitchen floor that third scrub, go along and ooh and ahh and shout and boo and fill up your boots, Christmas panto style.

Cinderella is at Nottingham Theatre Royal until Jan 13 2013. Full details and ticket prices can be found on their website here.
You can also read interviews with John Partridge and Sheila Ferguson in our Nottingham Confidential Cinderella panto launch article here.
Wednesday, 28 November 2012

42nd Street At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW

It's the show of shows that puts the word 'jazz' together with the word 'hands' and adds 'eyes' and 'teeth' and the curtain rises on 42nd Street just high enough to reveal an army of tap-dancing feet, thundering away in perfect rhythm so hard and so fast it blows back your hair, blows you back in your seat and blows your mind all the way back to 1930s Broadway.

Tap fetishists, prepare to have all your tap dancing needs fulfilled and to be transported to a clamouring and clattering tap-dancing nirvana as, with no excuses and not even a nod to any update to modernity, this show does it wholeheartedly, unashamedly '30s style, and anyone who's seen those original black and white tap dance movies will watch in breathless wonderment to see all those familiar formations and routines faithfully and immaculately reproduced with spot on timing in glorious technicolor real life.

Infamous West Enders Marti Webb and Dave Willetts, hugely impressive and imposing as always, provide the big names and big voices for that old tale of wide-eyed innocent ingenue gets a part in the chorus line of a Broadway show with a lot of backstage shouting and hoofing and and blah blah blah, who cares, never mind the silly story, feel the SONGS, the mightily awesome musical legends, that come one after another, wham after bam after mam including We're in the Money, Keep Young and Beautiful, Lullaby of Broadway, I Only Have Eyes For You and of course the titular humdinger 42nd Street.

An enormous mirror is lowered in one scene to reflect the showgirls' geometric dance poses in a kaleidoscope Busby Berkeley style and it's pure, pure spectacular old school classical Hollywood glamour and electrifying hardcore pezazz, and when the music breaks and the theatre is filled with the deafening percussive rumble of storming tap dancing, hold onto your breath because it'll be taken away by a non stop tap dance finale that thrills on and on and on at the end.

Featuring the sets and dazzling costumes from the US production, this epic UK tour ends this week right here in Nottingham and confidentially we recommend you grab your very last chance to gorge yourself on the gorgeous extravaganzas of naughty, gaudy, bawdy, sporty, fast, furious, fantabulous, fantastical 42nd Street.
42nd Street is at Nottingham's Theatre Royal until December 1st. Full details and ticket prices can be found on their website, 20 October 2012

Jesus Christ Superstar At Nottingham Capital FM Arena REVIEW

For devout followers of the holy 1973 film version, this updated Jesus Christ Superstar is a bit of an adjustment at first with its right-on anti-capitalist tent-dwelling protestor movement setting, but what it loses in a beardless Jesus, it gains in an abundantly his 'n' her dreadlocked Mel C Mary Magdalene Spice and a familiarly eye-liner smudged Tim Minchin as Judas Iscariot

Staged on a flight of steps with the orchestra on either side encased in scaffolding that the disciples hurl themselves and come somersaulting off onto stage in a rebel-rousing frantic and frenetic beginning before soothing down with the Jesus, Mary and Judas trio singing the gorgeously sublime Everything's Alright, it's after the interval that the show really settles into itself and becomes the almighty and wondrous arena-staged spectacular that Andrew Lloyd Webber originally intended.

Critics have questioned whether the musical's highly-emotive and sometimes harrowing scenes can really be successfully captured in venues this size, but the intimacy of the big screen close-ups together with the cast frequently roaming the aisles of the audience both contrasts and works together with the all out belting rockstar performances of the leads, creating a truly exceptional and new theatrical experience. And we weren't kidding about those belting rockstar perfomances- Tim Minchin's edgy, dodgy and disturbed Judas develops into an epic and awesome character of desperation and he does ROCK, wowing the crowd with his solos and winning our empathy with the wretched and tragic inevitability of his predicted betrayal whilst Mel C equally spellbinds big time with her moving, powerful, and touching Mary Magdalene. And it's quite a sight to behold ten thousand people completely stunned and transfixed during the heart-wrenching, show-stopping and tour de force Garden of Gethsemane solo where Jesus weeps and rages against God about his impending death, with Ben Forster alone but filling the stage and showing off a glorious vocal range reaching celestial notes so high, they would make the Bee Gees wince.

Meanwhile, a quite incredibly slimmed-down Chris Moyles pulls off a fun five minute crowd pleaser as a red-spangled suited gameshow host Herod surrounded by tap dancing girls with a live Lord or Fraud? phone in vote to determine Jesus's fate, even throwing in a cute Nottingham joke at the end and almost parodying the actual search for this show's lead on ITV's Superstar.

And so what initially seemed a bit of an oddball-collection of casting came together and all turned out to be just a little bit genius actually, so to all those who might have doubted him, you better BELIEVE in his omnipotent power, because fashionably unfashionable that is has become nowadays to admit to being in any way religious, still they flock in their tens of thousands to come and see this show- that's all about Jesus. The Lord Webber sure still knows how to perform those old mysterious wonders and ways.

Jesus Christ Superstar is at Nottingham Capital FM Arena until Oct 20. Full details and ticket prices can be found on their website here

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Diary Of A Football Nobody At Nottingham Playhouse REVIEW

In the week of the discovery of a Roman settlement along the A453 and the promotional launch of Jake Bugg's album comes Billy Ivory's spirited adaptation for the stage of former Clifton resident and Notts County midfielder David McVay's diaries 'Steak Diana Ross: Diary of a Football Nobody'.

What distinguished 'SDR' from the glut of seventies football biographies and terrace reminiscences published a decade ago- apart from its contrast of an era when the protagonist's lot revolved less around Ferrari, Maserati and Gucci but Shipstones-soaked nights with Stubbsy, Braddy and Archie- was the eloquent access the author provided to his own teenage feelings and a vivid cast of characters set in a now-lost Nottingham. So how would this bawdy rights of passage already mooted for the screen translate first to the stage? Happily, from kick off- sorry, curtain up- the audience, many in club colours having arrived straight from a deflating afternoon at Meadow Lane (L 0-1 v Tranmere Rovers) discovered to their relief that their evening's entertainment was in safe hands.

To the accompaniment of a throbbing seventies soundtrack and disarmingly near to the bone faux-commentary introduction from BBC Radio Nottingham's 'Uncle' Colin Slater, Perry Fitzpatrick's Dave McVay launched himself on stage addressing the audience like an Adidas clad version of Alan Silitoe's Arthur Seaton in 'Saturday Night and Sunday Morning'.

The pace was unrelenting as director Matt Aston translated with imagination both the iconic matches and extra curricular episodes of the diaries and if one or two of the characters in black and white became blurred in the more slapstick passages, Eric Richard provided a compelling reference point in an eerily accurate and brilliantly incomprehensible interpretation of gnomic Notts manager Jimmy Sirrell.

Events took a more poignant turn as the helter skelter of the first act moved to a more measured reflection of off the field matters with Seamus O'Neill affecting as McVay's terminally ill granddad and if the conclusion that there's more to life than football was a little telegraphed, the combination of authentic Nottingham voices, dialogue and sentiment compensated.

With a finale courtesy of the great Les Bradd and Ennio Morricone that was quite literally uplifting, the referee finally blew time prompting an enthusiastic response from a healthily large attendance.

The word of mouth at Dave McVay's book signing earlier in the day at Notts County's Club Shop was already positive and, with the momentum of a good run, who knows, film location scouts at Crusader Island in Clifton might not seem so far-fetched after all.


Diary of a Football Nobody is at Nottingham Playhouse until Oct 20. Full details of dates and ticket prices are available on the theatre's website

Monday, 10 September 2012

Cabaret at Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW

Photo by Jim Marks
As if Cabaret the musical didn't have enough to offer already with its irresistible tale of 30s Germany's hedonistic excesses, two love stories, those forever-fantastic Kander and Ebb numbers, and the looming nightmarish political backdrop, this current revival adds even more jaw-dropping thrills, interpretations and shocks that keep coming and tumbling on and right out at you with its astoundingly imaginative staging and choreography and a superb cast, including Michelle Ryan, Will Young and Sian Phillips, who sizzle so hot, they threaten to catch fire at any moment.

You've seen her do cockney and bionic now watch her sing, dance and do posh, Michelle Ryan is funny, sweet and charming, has a very lovely voice and pulls off the sensationally inventive and acrobatic dance routines with great flair, cartwheeling and sweet-talking her way into aspiring novelist Clifford Bradshaw's affections and bedroom. Beautiful, with a perfect figure, confidentially, we'd liked to have seen more things done with her costume and a more defined unique look created for this girl who could so easily carry anything off.

The biggest revelation is an almighty Will Young, who explodes onto stage in all sorts of ways that you've never seen him before or could even imagine. It's the performance of a lifetime, he cavorts and preens and gyrates and thrashes around and teeters from unnerving to frolicsome to terrifying. Like a man demented and possessed, he beguiles and pouts and wails and rants- oh, and he can sing too. If you're not a Will Young fan he will wow you and win you over forever, if you are a fan you get to see him in leather hotpants, it's a win-win situation.

A surprisingly mostly middle-aged and middle of the road audience didn't in fact seem that surprised at all by the full frontal (and rear) nudity, guy on guy snogging and cocaine-snorting, enthusiastically responding to the hugely entertaining, emotionally charged, sinister and dark edged fairground grotesque carnival atmosphere of this exceptional show.

From Sally Bowles' brilliantly intricate entrance Mein Herr, to the hilarious bottomless-bed setting of Two Ladies, the petrifying puppetry of Tomorrow Belongs To Me and the chillingly unforgettable finale, it's a musical theatre masterpiece, a spectacle of epic and awesome proportions, confidentially, whether you happen to be rich or not, we don't care how you get the money, just do whatever it takes and buy a ticket for this show (and get ready to get on your feet for the ovation at the end.)

Cabaret is at Nottingham Theatre Royal September 10-15. Ticket prices, times and full details are available on their website here

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Cinderella Panto Launch At Nottingham Theatre Royal

Photo © Nottingham Confidential
As make-believe snow softly billowed out into the July sunshine and Tony and Poe the uber-cute Shetland ponies patiently shook their wee manes and tails, Inside Soap Sexiest Male Award-winner John Partridge and Three Degree Sheila Ferguson's fairytale carriage also awaited for the launch of Cinderella, this year's panto at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham.

This was pantomime pretty much at its purest, and you could taste the glitzy razzle-dazzle in the air (mixed with snowflakes in our hair) in the genuinely fun and funny (very pre) panto atmosphere at Nottingham's Theatre Royal, with two big and beautiful showbiz personalities expertly getting us into an early Christmas spirit and holding the launch audience entertainingly and comfortably in the palm of their hands.

"I'm playing the Fairy Godmother and what I like to bring to it is the American street cred, because the kids seem to really identify with the African-Americanisms, if you know what I mean, not trashy, but the slang they hear on TV, they relate to it and can identify with the story much more than (puts on simpering voice) 'ooh, yes children!' They don't want to hear that, they hear that at school!" laughs pop legend Sheila Ferguson who also told us a secret confidentially which you can watch in the video below.

With fan-mobbing and special signings at the stage door for his performances, it's no secret that John Partridge is universally fancied as a leading man in many West End musicals as well as for playing Christian Clarke in EastEnders. But what we really wanted, was for him to tell us a secret, confidentially.

"My secret is...I love bagpipe music. I do! I think it's patriotic and I'm a romantic and there's something very Braveheart about it for me, my father's Scottish and it conjures up all sorts of images of the past, all the history and patriotism and champions. I used to Scottish dance, I wore the outfit." So. John Kilbride in a kilt, we'll leave that image with you, confidentially...

"I was last in Nottingham with Miss Saigon in 2005, it was very different then, before the trams and I had a brilliant time, I was here four weeks and I had an amazing time, I was out every night, I never saw any trouble, I never had any trouble. Everywhere's got a rap, you know, everywhere's got good bits and bad bits and good sides and bad sides and I'm really looking forward to being here again."

Photo © Nottingham Confidential
Cinderella will be running from December 8- January 13 with John playing Prince Charming and he's used to long runs in the West End, but with that special energy that panto needs, how does he keep each performance fresh? "You know, that tends to take care of itself, you can't try to keep something fresh, I try not to recreate the same thing every night because each show has to have a rhythm and an energy of its own and it does anyway, and if you try to recreate what you had the show before, it's never going to be a good show because you can never capture those moments. Otherwise, it becomes two dimensional and something that's very difficult to find truth in. And with any show, play or fairytale, you have to have elements of truth in that. Audience participation helps but it's not a free-for-all, you're still having to direct an audience and invite them to participate, to laugh at some moments and not at others because even in something like Cinderella, there is an element of love and loss and you want everyone to feel all those emotions so they have the best experience. You don't just want them shouting all the time 'Oooh John, take your top off!'

With promises of an animatronic horse flying with its coach over the audience taking Cinderella to the ball whilst Sheila Ferguson belts out a big number, confidentially, we can feel it in our decorations in the attic that this panto is going to be an extra-fabulous one. Christmas can't come soon enough, and not just for us, tickets for the show are selling faster than this time last year already!

You can check out lots more photos of the event on our Facebook page here

Cinderella is at Nottingham Theatre Royal 8 December to 13 January. You can find out more about the show as well as ticket prices and bookings at

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

A Slice Of Saturday Night At Nottingham Arts Theatre REVIEW

Photo by Tim Biller
You may think you haven't heard of the musical A Slice of Saturday Night- and yet there's something awfully familiar about all of its songs... for this cheeky 60s pastiche merrily and blatantly rips off songs by The Beatles, Sonny and Cher, Simon and Garfunkel and the rest with naughty gusto and without even batting a heavily false-eyelashed eye.

It's that old-fashioned and evergreen story of the agonies and ecstasies of a teenage night out at the Club A Go Go set around 1964, and the band are on stage recessed into a striking checker-board set designed by director David Price. All dressed up with somewhere cool to go in lovingly-designed fabby 60s costumes and hairdos, the cast do a fun turn as a likeable bunch of preening, pepped up, love-lorn and loved-up show-off/insecure young birds and blokes.

It's upbeat teenage angst but what really got the audience rockin' was the fnar-fnar adolescent naughty rude bits, the wistful duet 'Seventeen And Never Done It' plus other songs about teenage, ahem, 'stirrings', prompting hearty cackles from the auditorium and, confidentially, some quite splendidly-loud snortings of laughter from our row. This is amateur theatre, but it's easy to forget that during a tour de force rendition of The Long Walk Back by the very impressive Cory Nugent and some truly lovely ensemble singing by the cast. Ciaran Stones is a bit of a comic star as pill-popping goon-ball Eddie and you wouldn't want to mess with Malcolm Cotton as club owner Eric 'Rubber-Legs' De Vine, jovially in charge, and looking like he can handle himself. Hannah Rogers-Gee's nicely-haughty don't-touch-me ice maiden amusingly comes across quite sulky Catherine Tate as Frigid-Bridget and wide boy Christopher Smith does a great job of fancying himself as Gary whilst Kirstie Brown is sweetie-sweet and in beautiful voice as shy new girl Sharon, along with flirtily-beehived Sarah Lee as Penny and Shirl and a heartfelt Amy Rogers-Gee, wishing for a flat chest in the song Twiggy.

It's a two-hour musical tumble of playful fun with the cast mingling with the audience in the interval, and if you're lucky/unlucky you might be taken by the hand by a likely lad or dolly bird and led onstage to take part in Eddie's Hokey Cokey in front of everyone! (Can't say you weren't warned!)

Cool! Fab! Trendy! It's the hippest show in town and you can help yourself to A Slice of Saturday Night every night this week- until Saturday night. Pull on those Chelsea boots and hipster trousers and boogie and groove on down to watch this People's Theatre Company cast at our very own Nottingham Arts Theatre whilst you still can, yeah baby.

Tickets cost £12/£10, full details of show times and booking can be found at

Sunday, 1 July 2012

New Theatre Companies Launch At Nottingham Playhouse

This autumn, Nottingham Playhouse will launch two new in-house theatre companies, offering acting opportunities to emerging artists of the future as well as local people of all ages who want to have fun.

Playhouse Young Company will be open to 18-25 year olds with previous acting experience or training who will be given the opportunity to work with professional directors and develop their drama skills and perform in a full-scale studio production in 2013 in the Neville Studio at Nottingham Playhouse.

Playhouse Ensemble will be open to everyone of all ages interested in theatre who want to have a go at performing with the chance to have fun, meet new people and work together towards a performance in 2013 at the Neville Studio.

Playhouse Young Company Auditions will be held on July 17. The first term of the course will run on Tuesday evenings, 7:30pm to 9:30pm from September 25 to December 4. The cost per term is £70 and bursaries will be available.

Playhouse Ensemble will run on Wednesdays from 7-9pm on dates between September 19- November 28. The cost per term is £70 (£60 under 16s and over 60s)

To book your place, contact Nottingham Playhouse Box Office on 0115 9419419

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

South Pacific At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW

Photo by Simon Annand
It was a suitably balmy and sultry evening last night for the opening of the much-lauded and Olivier Award-nominated South Pacific tour, aptly helping to transport the Nottingham Theatre Royal audience right into the show's sun-drenched paradise island setting.

Starting as it well and truly carried on, in full-blown rapturous, romantic style with much sighing and exchanging of longing glances between Nellie and Emile, the show's lead couple, the first scene swept us all up and away with the soaring love-struck passion of Some Enchanted Evening (breathless sigh) But- hello sailor! Things soon heated up a good few notches when the bustin'-all-over-with-buff Seabees bounced somersaulting onto stage with a hearty rendition of There Is Nothin' Like A Dame with saucily-updated choreography that even happily blows that infamous Morecambe and Wise version well out of the water.

Samantha Womack proves she's a lot more than a purdy face as the winsomely steadfast Nellie Forbush either singing her heart out "I'm in love! I'm in love! I'm in love! I'm in love!" or questioning her own beliefs and prejudices as the complications of her relationship develop. From the wickedly funny Bloody Mary to the weepy Cable and Liat love story, to the legendary songs, including the haunting and bewitching Bali Ha'i (and even the challenging Happy Talk is performed with terrific artistry)  it's a breathtaking and heartbreaking, top quality and top class, swooning and passionate production, with heart-felt performances from a superb cast, beautifully set and brilliantly lit, with exquisite scenic depictions contrasting with the roaring clamour of war.

Great for incurable romantics, sun-worshippers and those who like men (or women) in (and out of) uniform, no need to wash this one out of your hair, it's more of a deep-nourishing leave-in conditioner, for extra creamy, dreamy musical loveliness, with captivating dancing-shimmer and younger-than-springtime shine. The water's lovely, go on in, you know you're worth it.
South Pacific is at Nottingham Theatre Royal until June 9.
Monday, 21 May 2012

Derren Brown Svengali Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW

Photo by Gary Moyes

Famous and infamous now for his hugely popular television shows, from Mind Control to the notorious Russian Roulette, Seance and the more recent The Experiments, the Derren Brown live mess-with-your-mind experience proved a tantalising prospect, and Nottingham's Theatre Royal provided the perfect atmospheric stage for his Svengali Tour's Frankenstein's-monster/Victoriana freak-show/sideshow set complete with clockwork whirings and ominous background music.

Enigmatic and engaging, Derren Brown is magician, mind-acrobat and astonishingly talented artist to boot. He is the modern/old-fashioned showman extraordinaire, geekily-handsome and mesmeric, small and slight but with magnificent stage presence and to witness the phenomenal hold he has on people live on stage and all around you is an exceptional theatrical experience, with full-on audience participation (easy to opt out of, phew) engaging the entire theatre, right up to the balcony.

Even if you're not particularly a fan, or not especially into magic, you can't help but be drawn in to his giddying powers of fast-talking persuasion and manipulation, his genuinely adroit and intelligent talent and his ability to transform illusion and suggestion into a thrilling and fascinating spectacle, with both tremendous ease and great flourish and aplomb.

Confidentially, we're bursting to regale you with all the impossible tricks and treats but along with the whole Derren Brown tour audience we've taken a vow of, well, confidentiality. Charisimatic, with energy, wit and panache, it's entertainment like they don't make any more and it'll blow your mind and socks off. In Nottingham for the whole week, the show is as good as sold out, lucky you if you have a ticket, you're in for one helluva ride.
Derren Brown Svengali is at Nottingham Theatre Royal until May 26
Thursday, 3 May 2012

Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker! Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW

Photo by Simon Annand
It's an out-of-season festive opportunity to crack all those May-gathered nuts this week as Christmas comes early/late to Nottingham's Theatre Royal with Matthew Bourne's version of the perennial favourite Nutcracker.

This interpretation begins in grim and grey austerity with a Dickensian-style orphanage which actually cracks open allowing Clara, the nutcracker prince and the orphans to escape to a snowy wonderland and a darling skating scene. From here, Clara journeys to the bubblegum-pink technicolor Sweetieland, a yummy and scrumptious assortment box of confectionery delights dripping with delectable candy cane, humbug, liquorice allsorts and knickerbocker-glory dancing treats culminating in a three tier ballet cake.

Compared to the groundbreaking wowser-factor of Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake, his Nutcracker! is pink candyfloss-fluff, cute fun with sweetie-sweet moments and sugar-sprinklings of innovation, but the choreography for the really iconic and infamous parts of the score is well, remarkably unremarkable, these real kid-in-a-candyshop musical opportunites sadly squandered.

Scrummy and lovely to watch with beautiful girls and pretty boys, Nutcracker! is an indulgent sugar-rush dancing dessert that will have you singing Everyone's A Fruit And Nut Case all the way home. Worth going just a little bit nuts for.

Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker! is at Nottingham Theatre Royal until May 5. Full details and ticket prices available at

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Sister Act At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW

Photo ©Tristram Kenton 
If you're still suffering withdrawal symptoms from the fantastic Sound Of Music production that toured last year, here's a show that might just go some way to filling that nun-shaped void- all souped up to a high octane, funky-on-down beat.

Busting open with a nightclub disco number, Cynthia Erivo is a sassy firecracker in purple thigh-highs as Deloris Van Cartier, the infamous Whoopi Goldberg role from the original film. There are a few story shifts for this musical version which now takes place in 1970s Philadelphia, with Deloris in her 20s instead of late 30s and at the beginning of her career rather than the end and fans of the film won't be hearing Rescue Me and My Guy (My God) as Motown has their own musical and the songs couldn't be used. An entirely original score was composed for the show and if fans wonder if the musical suffers from losing the familiar hits, then confidentially we can say, no way Jose!

Sister Act is a non-stop blast of entertainment of 70s spangly pizzazz and soul-sister moving and a-grooving, with show-stopping numbers and bring-the-house-down dance routines featuring Deloris's scary gangster boyfriend and his rubbish-moonwalking, cheerfully cheesily-seductive back up dancing-singing gang, a triple-quick changing (how did they DO that?) adorably love-interest sweaty cop and the familiar assortment of nuns including the naive ingenue one, the hyperactive one and the wizened shuffling one (watch her hip-hop!) Faithful to the film and with typical musical theatre speed (the duration of one song) Deloris transforms the tone-deaf collection of pious nuns into a sensational heavenly-funk choir (hallelujah!) with truly spectacular, hilarious and eye-popping dance moves.

Glitter-drenched, fast, furious, funny, glorious, divine and with Sinbad from Brookside playing a Monsignor, this show dazzles and razzles in excelsis Deo. Go and get down, get your groove on, clap your hands, it'll put a smile on your face, faith in your heart and it's damn good your soul, ooh yeah.

Sister Act is at Nottingham Theatre Royal till March 31st, full details and ticket prices can be found at

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Long Day's Journey Into Night at Nottingham Theatre Royal

Photo by Sheila Rock
It really is a tremendous coup for Nottingham Theatre Royal to be one of only five theatres in the UK to be hosting this revival of what is considered to be one of the greatest American plays of the 20th Century before it transfers to the West End this April until the summer.

Starring David Suchet and Laurie Metcalf, Long Day's Journey Into Night is set in 1912 and takes place on one summer's day in the family of James and Mary Tyrone and their sons Jamie and Edmund. With a light beginning, it swiftly develops into an intense, compelling and often harrowing drama of money struggles, drug addiction, consumption and family love-hate dysfunction, deftly punctuated with familiar and welcome comic observations.
Eugene O'Neil didn't go far for his inspiration of this semi-autobiographical play, himself the child of a touring Irish actor and a mother who disliked theatre, and with life experiences of Catholicism, working at sea, gold-prospecting, alcoholism and a spell of convalescence in a sanatorium, all of which and more are touched upon in the play.

In a gorgeous and elegant setting and with mesmeric and sometimes agonising rhetoric of blame, excuses, apologies and explanations, each character is revealed and unravelled throughout the course of the story. The first half gradually builds and leads up to a tour de force performance by Laurie Metcalf in a demanding mood-changing part that instils both sympathy together with a growth in understanding of her family's frustration in her ability to recover, and it's a performance absolutely matched by the wonderful David Suchet's powerfully moving and stirring explanations of his attitudes to wealth and poverty. Kyle Soller gives a poignant performance as the coughingly-consumptive Edmund whilst James Jr's explicit drunken confessions about sibling love and rivalry are the most dynamically-written of the play, both gut and heart-wrenching.

Top-quality, stylish and intelligent this truly is exceptional theatre. At three hours running time, Long Day's Journey Into Night is a long evening and one that demands an emotional investment from its audience, but confidentially it's one that's definitely worth paying for.

Long Day's Journey Into Night is at Nottingham Theatre Royal until March 10. Ticket prices and full details can be found at

Friday, 2 March 2012

Forever Young at Nottingham Playhouse REVIEW

It's a story of sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll, fighting, drinking and accidental stage diving all mixed up with walking frames, catheters, oxygen tanks, artificial limbs, hair loss and flatulence. Forever Young is talking about about a degenerate and regenerating generation, about growing old and about staying young by following that good old-fashioned adage of making your own entertainment- with knobs on.

Set in a home for retired Nottingham actors, and liberally and merrily peppered with local gags and Playhouse in-jokes, Forever Young's cast comprises a delightfully dotty and saucy collection of luvvies who intersperse their shuffling around and sitting in chairs time with soliloquy and pop mash-ups, electrifying singing and precarious dancing, including a gingerly romantic/ explicitly risque Bolero combo routine.

Banging their walking sticks and cavorting along to I Love Rock 'n' Roll, Respect and Barbie Doll and wonderfully unique Nirvana, Doors and John Lennon cover versions and with sensational individual and ensemble performances and impressive physical theatre, all brilliantly choreographed and timed. it's an original, poignant and hugely fun idea. Old age has never been more cool at the hippist old folks home in town and confidentially, we're reserving our retirement places now. The show is still going on, Forever Young is at Nottingham Playhouse till March 10 for the very last time, come on baby, let them light your fire.
Dates, tickets and details can be found on the Nottingham Playhouse website, 19 February 2012

Saturday Night And Sunday Morning, The Musical, At Nottingham Playhouse

Photo by Shawn Ryan
This May, Nottingham will be putting the show on right here with a brand new home-grown musical version of the legendary Nottingham classic Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.

Based on the book rather than the film, this musical version was created by Nottingham composer Stephen Williams and writer Cathy Spoors who, incorporating styles from the time, have brought trad jazz, rock 'n' roll and skiffle into Alan Sillitoe's gritty story of working class life in 1950s Britain.

Nottingham's own Tom Keeling will be leading the cast (pictured left with Amanda Bruce as Doreen outside the White Horse Inn, Radford, where the film was made.) Saturday Night and Sunday Morning follows the story of anti-hero Arthur Seaton, who works at Nottingham's Raleigh factory by day and spends his weekends drinking, fishing and womanising. Songs include Don't Let the Bastards Grind You Down and Best Silk Stockings and keeping the local influence, the show's sets and costumes are designed and made by students from Nottingham Trent University. Tom is also writing a blog charting his journey into becoming Arthur Seaton and you can follow his progress here
You can catch this amateur production commissioned, written and performed by Nottingham people for the people of Nottingham at Nottingham Playhouse from 8-12 May and tickets are priced from £12- £18, 15 January 2012

Dance Your City Competition

Photo by Dan Aucante
There's still time for Nottingham dancers to compete for the opportunity to perform in the Queen Elizabeth Hall at London's world famous Southbank centre in the new digital competition Dance Your City.

Entrants are invited to create a one minute dance piece in front of an iconic landmark in their city and confidentially, with the Robin Hood statue, the castle, the lions in the Market Square, Sky Mirror and the Brian Clough statue just for starters, Nottingham has plenty of iconic landmarks to choose from!

The winning group will perform as the opening act for the acclaimed Spanish choreographer, dancer and filmmaker Blanca Li, who has choreographed videos for Goldfrapp, Kanye West and Blur. Blanca will also be bringing her new street dance show Elektro Kif, which features an all-male cast and a mix of breakdancing, disco, vogue, popping and locking, to the Nottingham Playhouse on Monday 13 and Tuesday 14 February.

Full details of how to enter the competition can be found at

Tickets for Elektro Kif at Nottingham Playhouse can be booked at Saturday, 17 December 2011

Sleeping Beauty At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW

Photo courtesy of Nottingham Theatre Royal
Starring that demigod of panto, the irrepressible, irresistible Joe Pasquale, Sleeping Beauty at Nottingham's Theatre Royal is a flash-bang-wallop night of festive fun, bursting at the seams with special effects, FABulous costumes and happy-dancey pizazz.

With truly extraordinary 3D scenes (which confidentially, had us freaking and shrieking with laughter) an amazing flying motorbike which comes up over the stalls and a toweringly- spectacular drag-queen dame, it's a full-on family show with humour catering for kiddies and adults alike, with plenty of local jokes added to boot.

But it's Joe Pasquale's show, arriving on stage with a torrent of loveably-awful gags and then ad-libbing like crazy, torturing his fellow cast members leaving most of them corpsing, no matter how hard they tried to keep straight faces and crazily veering off the rather unimaginative script at all angles.

Glitzy, spangly, sparkly and with that special panto-energy from the all-ages family audience, Sleeping Beauty will get a laugh out of even the most determined Christmas-grouch, slap our thighs if it doesn't.

Local Playwright Simon Carter's Plays Phys Ed And Blink Come To Nottingham
Award-winning playwright and comedy sketch writer Simon Carter is about to have two of his plays performed in his hometown of Nottingham. Phys Ed, a critically-acclaimed one-man play is finishing its UK tour, including a highly successful stint at the Edinburgh fringe, with a one night performance in Calverton, whilst Blink is currently in rehearsal and will be performed by The People's Theatre Company at The Nottingham Arts Theatre in November.

"It was accident more than design getting back into playwriting. I'd worked as a comedy sketch writer and I was the creator of the Traces Of Nuts show, one of the most successful audio comedy podcasts in Britain. I'd written a couple of plays a while ago and I was invited to take part in the Nottingham One Act Play Festival 2010 and did really well with a show called Limbo, a one hour, one-man show. One thing led to another and The Nottingham Arts Theatre asked if I would be interested in writing a full-length piece for them so I started writing Blink and I also wrote Phys Ed which toured at the Edinburgh festival this year. So my first love was really playwriting and it's great to be getting back into it.

"Phys Ed is a comedy monologue, a one man show about a PE teacher in a public school and he's rugby obsessed but his identical twin brother is phenomenally more successsful than he is and is a rugby international so he lives in his brother's shadow. But he gets the opportunity to get some glory back for himself when he and his team of 12-year-old kids are in the final of a national rugby tournament. It's about sibling rivalry and people who carve out their own heroic path, it's a comedy drama, family-orientated, very light-hearted show. The play is performed by Nicholas Osmond, familiar to Radio 4 listeners as the voice of Leon in The Archers and to younger audiences from his appearances in BBC TV's The Sarah Jane Adventures.

Simon Carter and Nicholas Osmond
"Blink is a serious piece about a guy called Thomas who suffers from a condition called locked-in syndrome. Patients who suffer from this are fully aware and can hear but they've lost the part of the brain that enables them to move and communicate in a regular way and their movements are limited to basic things such as blinking and twitching fingers. They develop these very intricate systems of commmunication through a letters chart so they can blink out the letters of a word and form a sentence but a sentence may take two hours, it's very painstaking and very difficult. It's an interesting avenue for drama, it's fairly intense. Blink is currently in rehearsal and because it's a brand new play, recently written and never been seen before, I'm involved with the rehearsal period and I go in once or twice a week. I try and blend into the background and not say too much because I want the director and actors to develop the characters and don't want to interfere too much. I'm there more to advise and assist."

Phys Ed plays at St Wilfrid's C of E School Hall, Calverton, Nottingham NG14 6FG on Friday Oct 28 at 8pm. Tickets are £4/£3 concessions and can be reserved by calling             0115 965 2775      
Blink is at Nottingham Arts Theatre Nov 15-19 full details of times and ticket prices are available at, 12 October 2011

Amanda Donohoe In Star Quality At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW

On paper, it all sounded too delicious for words, the UK tour premiere of a Noel Coward satire set behind the scenes of a West End play, starring Golden Globe winner Amanda 'Pulled Adam Ant at 15/Naked Castaway/Legendary LA Law Lesbian' Donohoe. An evening of witty, erudite theatre and Hollywood fabulousness would be in store for sure...

There's no nice way of saying it sure wasn't. Amanda Donohoe has an illustrious track record in film, television and theatre but last night she was visibly struggling to perform right from her first entrance. Unsure of herself and her part and needing prompting, she even broke a sacred Theatre Law and called out 'Line!' when she forgot her words again midway through a major speech in the second act, something we've never, ever seen in a professional production. We don't know why it all went so wrong, it could well have been a very unlucky one-off, or a chronic case of first-night nerves, she could get herself back to her usual top, top form for the rest of the run and we really hope she does because it all made for rather uncomfortable viewing.

And what of the play itself? Confidentially, we find it hard it believe this was really a Noel Coward play at all. It wasn't funny, it wasn't clever, it was just a rather ordinary play-within-a-play without a single quotable line or one particularly memorable character. There was, however, one shining little star, displaying great promise in his all-too-brief appearances on the stage, giving a relaxed and confident performance. Bothwell the dog, Amanda Donohoe's character Lorraine Barrie's pet, played a sweet and well-behaved little cutie, stealing the show and adding very welcome awww-factor.

All in all, a sadly disappointing night. Amanda, we hope you get your mojo back, Noel, you've let us down mate. Bothwell the dog-  extra walkies for you, poppet.
Star Quality is at Nottingham's Theatre Royal until Oct 15, running time is 145 minutes, full details can be found at, 17 July 2011

The Sound Of Music Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW

Unless you have made a concerted life-long effort to avoid it, The Sound Of Music is a film nearly everyone has grown up with through its repeated television showings and therefore its feel-good sentimentality has a quality you either hold extremely dear to your heart or just can't bear at all. Either way, The Sound Of Music is so symbiotically linked with the performance of its star Julie Andrews as Maria, that it was always going to be a wrench to watch someone else play the role. Connie Fisher proved a popular and successful choice after she won the part in the reality show 'How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?' and this production sees Verity Rushworth (Hairspray, Emmerdale) take on the infamous lead role.

Confidentially, at first we didn't like Verity Rushworth as Maria at all! She has a nervy-twitchy breathless quality that proved irritating at first and clashed uncomfortably with our memories of Julie Andrew's gauche but hearty joie de vivre. However, as Maria moves from the Abbey to Captain Von Trapp's villa and meets the children, she blossoms into a character of winsome and kindly innocent enthusiasm and we pretty much fall for her hook, line and sinker.

Three sets of children are used on a rota for this production, and even if you don't like kids, last night's set were adorably perfect, causing quite a bit of sniffling and eye-dabbing amongst the audience around us with their gorgeously-sweet harmonies and their exceptionally-precise marching and dancing (perkily choreographed by Arlene Phillips.)

All in all this is a spectacular and fabulously lavish production, the quality of the singing is superb, the supporting cast are excellent bar none and the sets really are extraordinary, particularly for the Abbey wedding scene (hopefully that's not too much of a spoiler!) The lurrrve story in the stage version differs slightly to the film version (to its detriment, as it's less of a love-triangle) and maybe a few things were a bit too squashed downstage, including a little-bit-too-static Something Good but these are just minor details, this is a top-class production that will make your heart sing like a lark, laugh like a brook and dance with a cream-coloured pony. Swish, sumptuous and slick, if you love the film, go running up that hill and catch this show.

The Sound Of Music is at Nottingham Theatre Royal until August 6. All booking details are available on the Nottingham Royal Centre website

If the Sound Of Music has inspired you to take up singing there are choirs in Nottingham to join at Music For Everyone

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Calendar Girls At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW

Photo courtesy of Nottingham Theatre Royal
It was certainly the right weather last night to get naked, or rather nude, as temperatures soared the Theatre Royal generated a steamy atmosphere of its own before any disrobing took place on stage and even Nottingham Confidential quietly peeled off a couple of items of clothing in what were some of the very few empty seats of the show's opening performance.

Calendar Girls, for anybody still actually unaware of the plot, tells the true story of a group of Yorkshire women who belong to the Women's Institute and decide to pose nude for a charity calendar. This new tour treats us to an absolutely stellar telly cast including Dorian from Birds Of A Feather plus Marlene from Only Fools And Horses plus Viv from Emmerdale plus Bodybag from Bad Girls plus Gladys from Hi-de-Hi plus Little Mo from EastEnders plus Camilla from Strictly Come Dancing all together and practically a story in themselves, bonanza!

Calendar Girls is a lovely fun show with weepy bits, the dialogue is snappy, the set design is clever and the nude photography shots are imaginatively and very entertainingly done with both discretion and great aplomb. The casting is terrific for this run and everyone gives convincing portrayals of the ups and downs of female friendships. Cheekily, not all the months were photographed (which would have made a pretty useless calendar) but that was really the only jarring point. It's upbeat charidee stuff guaranteed to cheer up your evening as confirmed by the great guffaws which accompanied last night's performance and confidentially, we definitely recommend you go along this week and get an eyeful.

Calendar Girls is at Nottingham Theatre Royal until Saturday 9 July 2011. Full details on the website

Friday, 17 June 2011

Nottingham Play Hits Edinburgh Fringe HR'd!

'Take the worst cabaret acts you've ever seen in your life, a woman who works in HR and a boss who redefines bitchy' and you've got the beginning of HR'd Day's Night, a comedy created by and starring Nottingham writer James 'Lloydie' Lloyd which will be showing at the Laughing Horse @ The Counting House at this year's Edinburgh Fringe. The play, which premiered at Nottingham Arts Theatre last year, also stars Catherine Clarke and Marilyn Ann Bird who are members of Nottingham's MissImp improvised comedy troupe along with Lloydie. The story revolves around Trish, HR wage slave by day and compere of a spectacularly awful cabaret club by night. "We're very excited," says Lloydie, "it's such a fun piece about an evil boss and office scandal mixed with bitching and bad cabaret, we can't wait to take it to Edinburgh."
Directed by Martin Berry, whose West End credits include Joesph and Blood Brothers, the show will run for eight days from 13th-20th August. Confidentially, we wish HR'd Day's Night all the best in Edinburgh and if the show does well we could see it return to do another run back home at a theatre in Nottingham.

You can also see Lloydie and other members of the cast perform improv comedy with MissImp at Nottingham's Glee on the second Wednesday of every month and on the last Friday of every month at The Arts Organisation in Nottingham

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Backstage Secrets Revealed In Nottingham Royal Centre Magic Lantern Tours

Originally built in 1865, Nottingham's Theatre Royal has a rich history and many stories to tell and regularly on Saturday mornings you can join the Magic Lantern Tour to hear all about them. Hosted by local 'actor, scholar, poet and historian' Ezekial Bone who takes the character of the the theatre's shapeshifting story-telling ghost, the tour begins in the theatre's foyer and gives the opportunity to explore behind the scenes and find out how shows are created at both the Theatre Royal and adjoining Royal Concert Hall. Lasting up to two hours and covering the extensively-researched history of both the theatre in Nottingham and its surrounding area, the interactive tours are suitable for all ages and cover the whole story of the theatre, from its opening night right up to the contemporary entertainment it offers today.
Tickets cost £5.50 and all tour dates can be found on the Royal Centre website

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Tell Me On A Sunday Starring Claire Sweeney At Nottingham Theatre Royal REVIEW

Now this was a little bit of a tricky one. Claire Sweeney, one-woman show, girl leaves home to seek love in New York,  one of the shorter and smaller Andrew Lloyd Webber productions.... hmmmm. Finally, we decided. We plumped for jelly babies as our snack of choice and settled in for the evening's entertainment.
Originally conceived in 1979, Tell Me On A Sunday has undergone various updates along the way, but inevitably still feels a little bit dated and dusty, and all in all it's a rather slight affair, with a nothing little story about a girl who ricochets from one unsuitable man to another and has a bit of a cry, a bit of a moan to her mum back home by email (wot no Skype?) and the odd good sing about it. It's the kind of wet and weepy singing rom-com that threatens to grate the nerves of even the girliest of girls, making you want to yell out loud, for God's sake girl, take a break!
So this is very much a lesser-Lloyd Webber but nonetheless it still has elements of those very familiar Webberesque qualities of sentimentality, pathos and winsome tunefulness with its emotional title song and the more well-known hit 'Take That Look Off Your Face' And like all of his shows, there is something in the style of the music that chimes within you with its heartfelt romanticism and moments of upbeat cheer. But more than anything, Tell Me On A Sunday is really one of those vehicles that the starring performer has to absolutely 'own' as there aint nowhere to hide when you're the woman in a one-woman musical. Confidentially, Claire Sweeney performs pretty much as expected, she's kinda middle of the road and likeable, her voice is pleasing  if a little unreliable and tends to go a little flat with vibrato- though this may be first night nerves- and all in all she looks in great shape. But it's such a short, old and odd show that lacks any kind of whizz-bang-thank-you-ma'am razzamataz  that you do leave feeling a little bit empty, a little bit cheated and a little bit like you ate too many jelly babies.
Did we enjoy it? Well, it didn't blow our socks off but yeah, on the whole we did. Would we see it again? No. Do we recommend it? If you're a Lloyd Webber fan, for curiosity value you should see it. If you're a Claire Sweeney fan (and she's still in our Top Five Fave Celeb Hair) then you should see it. If you're a bloke, move along love, apart from the brief underwear scene, there's really nothing for you to see here.

Tell Me On A Sunday is  at Nottingham's Theatre Royal until June 4th

Friday, 20 May 2011

Footloose at Theatre Royal Nottingham REVIEW

We've been busy, busy, busy since we launched Nottingham Confidential, but last night we decided to go out and treat ourselves to one of our favourite things- watching hot young guys dance, so merrily we tootled along to catchFootloose at Nottingham's Theatre Royal. Last night's audience had a huge group of teenage fans seated up in the Gods who were jumping up and down in a mixture of frenzied anticipation and mixed bagged sweets from the new candy stall in the theatre foyer (mmm, Jazzies).
At the strangely slighter late start of 8pm, down went the lights and up flashed the Footloose logo to an overture which began with 80s classic 'Holding Out For A Hero', frenetically accompanied by much squealing and foot stamping from our teenage Gods audience. And so the show starts, straight in there with the title song and dance routine, no messing around, flash bang wallop, just what you want, Footloose, Footloose belted out by an adorable and exceptionally gifted singing and dancing jumping-bean cast. From that point on, things started to slide somewhat, Footloose has the most see-through of thin plots, teenager moves from Chicago to a small hick town called Beaumont, falls for the Reverend's daughter, blah, blah, teenage rebellion and ...hell what? In Beaumont dancing has actually been banned (which confidentially, we have learned is actually based on a true story.) Bad news for dance fans and bad news for the musical as a whole as there isn't another really good routine until the start of Act Two, which truly is a wowzer. More drivelly plot ensues until dancing is finally allowed in Beaumont again and we hit the fifteen minute dance finale HALLELUJAH! If there's one thing Nottingham Confidential knows, it's that we know good dancing when we see it and boy, did we see it last night. The Footloose cast are the best dancers we've seen in this town in a looong time performing fantastically complicated routines including mid air splits all hit brilliantly by everyone. Truth is, the Footloose dancers are just way too good for Footloose, but for that fantastic last dance finale we still recommend you pull on your dancing shoes and hot foot it to the Nottingham's Theatre Royal, show ends this Saturday night.

Footloose is still showing at The Theatre Royal, Nottingham Friday 20th May 6pm and 9pm and Saturday 21st May 5pm and 8pm