By Jeeves by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Alan Aykbourn @OfficialALW @Ayckbourn #ByJeeves #JeevesWooster #PGWodehouse #Musical #Farce #VirtualTheatre #Theatre #Stage

By Jeeves
By Andrew Lloyd Webber
And Alan Ayckbourn

Rated: ****

I just love theatre and I’ve wanted to see By Jeeves for a long time now, based around the characters of the famous P.G Wodehouse books – Jeeves and Wooster. This is a Musical/Play and it is jolly entertaining. The music was composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and directed by Alan Aykbourn, both who are masters at their craft. Andrew LLoyd Webber with his music and Alan Ayckbourn with his plays/farces.
The cast includes Martin Jarvis and all the cast play their parts splendidly well. You can buy it on DVD, listen to the soundtrack and see small previews on You Tube. It’s worth a watch. Below you will see the synopsis and review.

By Jeeves cover

Synopsis

At a benefit gala to raise money for a new church steeple, Bertram “Bertie” Wooster is preparing to take the stage. The banjo-playing star is thrown for a loop when he finds his banjo has been stolen! Bertie’s faithful manservant, Jeeves, suggests Bertie tell the story of his adventure to Tot leigh Towers to entertain the impatient audience. Bertie recounts to the audience how he became embroiled in the romances of several dim-witted members of the privileged class. With mistaken identities, romantic entanglement, and the adventures of the upper class, By Jeeves is the quintessential British musical farce.

Review

I just had to write about this play because it simply won’t leave me alone. I have had the song “Half a Moment” stuck in my head for a couple of days now. Anymore and I’ll have to play it on Spotify or play it on my keyboard, since I have the music for it. It is actually a really good song though, as are all the songs in this musical.

This musical, perhaps because it also has Alan Ayckbourn, who is a playwright and an incredibly skilled one at that, is partly play and partly musical. The two mediums meet together and actually rather well. It makes this unique in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s body of work to date as it isn’t song after song to convey the story. It is the spoken word with some background music and songs within it, which together, masterfully tell the story which is based on the books of Jeeves and Wooster by PG Wodehouse. It is very funny, and I do hope one day it will be revived and do a proper UK tour. It’s a play within a play (if you’ve been following my blog recently, you’ll see there’s perhaps a bit of a trend in that here. It does seem to work very well). I feel it would do well to be on tour, when the virus is over and all is safe (it will be one day), as we have The Play That Goes Wrong, which has now got quite a body of work that is incredibly successful and By Jeeves, which came long before that team, is a bit like that, but with all the Jeeves and Wooster humour within it.

There’s fun with props in a clever way and songs that are memorable – more than just Half A Moment. There are clever lines and musically, notes brilliantly forged together, as you would expect. It is all in all feel-good and entertaining as there’s mistaken identities and romance all on a fun adventure that is also done so well with parts addressed directly to the audience. It’s a farce that is done well, so I have absolutely no idea why on earth it should have been a flop when it opened in London, except slightly over long, but not by much. Perhaps it should have toured and could have been more of a success that way with different audiences, or perhaps it was to do with timing, who knows, but what I do know, is it is jolly good and quite simply spiffing.

I watched this online. There are tracks on Spotify and some previews around on YouTube. Do watch out for Cats on You Tube via The Show Must Go On. It is free, but you can donate money to the actors’ fund if you so wish as they are all totally out of paid work at the moment. This is a kind thing Andrew Lloyd Webber is doing to help us stay at home or to stay alert, depending on which part of the country you are in and to help actors too.

I thank Andrew Lloyd Webber and the cast and production team for putting this on and for introducing new people, like myself who had never seen it before and always wanted to, to have that opportunity to watch it and for keeping little snippets of it around. It is also available to buy on DVD.

Andrew Lloyd Webber is working on a new musical – Cinderella and is busy writing the orchestrations of it, as well and his team doing a marvellous job entertaining us all and keeping us all informed on Twitter – @OfficialALW is where he and his team can be found.

 

Love Never Dies by Andrew Lloyd Webber @OfficialALW #BenElton #LoveNeverDies #AndrewLLoydWebber #FrederickForsyth #GlennSlater #Theatre #Review #VirtualTheatre #Musicals #Books

Love Never Dies
By Andrew Lloyd Webber
Rated 5 stars *****

Love Never Dies

Today I present a review of the sensational follow up to Phantom of the Opera – Love Never Dies by Andrew Lloyd Webber. This was a virtual event. Like most musicals, there was also a book produced too. This is however primarily a theatre review, but would give you an idea too as music, lyrics and the written words in a book collide for both art forms.

Composer – Andrew Lloyd Webber

Lyrics – Glenn Slater

Book written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Ben Elton and Frederick Forsyth.

Synopsis

The year is 1907. It is 10 years after his disappearance from the Paris Opera House and the Phantom has escaped to a new life in New York where he lives amongst the screaming joy rides and freak-shows of Coney Island. In this new electrically-charged world, he has finally found a place for his music to soar. All that is missing is his love – Christine Daaé.

Christine is struggling in an ailing marriage to Raoul. She accepts an invitation to travel to New York and perform at a renowned opera house. In a final bid to win back her love, the Phantom lures Christine, her husband, and their young son Gustave from Manhattan; to the glittering and glorious world of Coney Island, not knowing what is in store for them…

Review

A couple of weeks ago I watched Love Never Dies by Andrew Lloyd Webber on You Tube. It is the sequel of Phantom of the Opera and is every bit as stunning and attention grabbing as The Phantom of the Opera. It got some bad press, but certainly would not from me. It is set on Coney Island. For those who do not know – Coney Island is near New York and was a place that gained a reputation for fun fairs, circuses, and freak shows. Today, this doesn’t really exist quite in that form, but there does seem to be a fun fair and eateries.

The Phantom has moved from Paris to Coney Island and seems to be controlling it with all its glitz and mystique, but still has an obsession with Christine. The singing is beautiful, the music and lyrics works so well for the story that is being told. There are bits of music and song reminiscent of the times in the opera house in Paris in the first musical about the phantom, but there are plenty of terrific original songs to whet your appetite and really get into as well. The musical is full of life when showing the circus. The set is always sumptuous and at times has an element of fun to it, although always dark. The atmosphere that is created fits every mood and absolutely fits with the storytelling.

There’s shocks and surprises and some almost edge of your seat scenes. This is a musical that swept me away with it and grabbed me and took me into every dark corner, every bit of romance and every bit of emotion. If this is ever on stage, when things return to normal (which they will someday), it would be absolutely be quite the spectacle to see.

I was slow off the mark writing about this. Other life things took over, so it is not available on YouTube anymore, but there are previews and it is available on DVD. So, not all is lost. That is the positive, that you can indeed still watch this spectacular musical.

Andrew Lloyd Webber, every Friday for 48 hours has got creative and kind and is putting on You Tube many of his musicals and concerts under The Show Must Goes On. Pay or do not pay into the actors’ fund, that is up to you. It looks like Cats is the next musical to be streamed.

Review of the Outstanding – The Habit of Art By Alan Bennett #AlanBennett #TheHabitofArt @OriginalTheatre #MatthewKelly #DavidYelland #Theatre #VirtualTheatre #VirtualEvent #Review

The Habit of Art
By Alan Bennett
Rated: 5 Stars *****
Available now online

The Habit of Art Poster.jpg

I have been watching some online theatre because I’ve been missing theatre performances and stage doors. The Habit of Art by Alan Bennett is one of the terrific plays I have seen being streamed and you can too.This production marks the first ever revival of the play and I am so pleased it has been revived. On the poster it says “La
It is with great thanks to Alan Bennett for giving permission to stream his play that should have been touring and to The Original Theatre Company and cast and all those behind the scenes for also allowing this to happen. I only hope that one day theatres will re-open and that proceedings will be normal someday in the not too distant future and touring will re-commence.
I have a link after my short review.

The Playwright and Cast


Alan Bennett      Matthew Kelly    David Yelland
Alan Bennett                Matthew Kelly                       David Yelland

Playwright – Alan Bennett is one our greatest and most celebrated playwrights, with a cavalcade of stage and screen blockbusters including The History Boys, The Lady in the Van, The Madness of King George and Talking Heads. He is applauded as a genius for his sharp character observations and treasured for the way he beautifully balances wit, wistfulness and compassion.
Director – Philip Franks

Matthew Kelly – Olivier Award Winning (Of Mice and MenToast and Pride and Prejudice)
David Yelland (Chariots of Fire and The Crown)
Veronica Roberts (Tenko, Peak Practice)
Robert Mountford (Anita and Me)
John Wark (Dead Sheep)
Jessica Dennis (Henry Vand The Tempest, Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre)
Benjamin Chandler (Passing From The Third Floor Back).

Synopsis

In The Habit of Art, Bennett gives us a play about a meeting between the poet WH Auden and the composer Benjamin Britten.

Exploring friendship, rivalry and heartache this multi layered masterpiece examines the joy, pain and emotional cost of creativity.

Review

Wow!!! Alan Bennett is a clever, genius playwright as lots of people will know. This play is absolutely brilliant. It is actually incredibly funny and poignant, even more so than what I first thought it would be. It is also thought-provoking at times as it explores life. I was going to see this in Edinburgh, but it got cancelled as lockdown occurred. I thank The Original Theatre Company for putting it online.

Matthew Kelly gives an outstanding performance in what is a play within a play as does David Yelland as WH Auden and Benjamin Britten as they portray the relationships between them and their lives. This is however also a play within a play, as I’ve said and so, this is where it also gets very funny because this is what they’re trying to do, is rehearse to get the play about these 2 men to its showtime stage. So, there’s the trying to get the lines just so and the little squabbles about things and the silent relenting to directions and the trying to get points across. So, it’s as much about the relationships between the cast and behind the scenes people as it is the actual poet and musician they are trying to portray. It all sounds more high brow than it actually is.

The emotion, the relationships of different kinds, the pain and the rivalries are captured tremendously in every word, in every nuance in the tones of voices. There’s the real sense of WH Auden and Benjamin Britten still wanting to produce great works like in their real heydays and the need to work together. I’ll leave it to viewers to watch to see if they manage to collaborate or not. 

There’s also the emotion and sometimes the frustrations of backstage people too as they try to get things just so for the actors and direct and so and so forth. Some of this is really poignant too, as well has having some humour, as you get a glimpse into that part of life.

 The actual play and the rehearsal go seamlessly together because the timings and the writing is also so outstanding. I will say that what you absolutely have to remember is to forget present day sensibilities, WH Auden and Benjamin Britten lived in very different times. I honestly cannot praise this play enough. I had a fabulous time watching it and I am sure many others will too. I hope one day it will be able to tour up to Scotland again. 

Just below is the link that will direct you to the page of the play itself. This is a paid performance whereby you pay whatever you can. Actors, backstage and front of house are all out of work just now and I must say this play is definitely worth paying some money for the privilege to watch it. It really doesn’t have to break the bank. You will get more directions online as to how to watch.

You can also watch The Croft too, all under that one payment. It comes directly afterwards. I will review this too. At the time of writing this review, I am yet to see it. I must say that it does sound very good too and very different in contrast to The Habit of Art.

Click Here For The Play

The Habit of Art Poster

#Review of Ten Times Table – 1 Committee, 1 Pageant Funny Results. 5 stars ***** #TenTimesTable @RobertDaws @Ayckbourn #Edinburgh #York #Shrewsbury #Cheltenham #Chesterfield #Brighton @captheatres #Play #Theatre #humour #TheatreGoers

Ten Times Table
By Alan Ayckbourn
Rated – 5 stars *****

Bill Kenwright presents The Classic Comedy Theatre Company, who are performing – Ten Times Table – An excellent play by Alan Ayckbourn, set around a committee trying to put on a pageant. This is a fun revival of the Ayckbourn’s 1970s comedy play that is currently on a UK tour. Below, after the review, is also a list of where the play appears to be touring next, including links.

The Cast includes:

Robert Daws (The Royal, Outside Edge and Roger Roger. Also author and podcaster) 
Deborah Grant (Not Going Out and Bergerac) 
Gemma Oaten (Emmerdale, Holby City) 
Robert Duncan (Drop The Dead Donkey)
Mark Curry (Hollyoaks, Last Of The Summer Wine)
Craig Gazey (Coronation Street and The Full Monty, West End)
Elizabeth Power (EastEnders)

Ten TImes Table.jpg

Review

Braving the beginnings of Storm Ciara, a friend and I went to see the play we had booked months in advance at the Edinburgh King’s Theatre. The verdict – we both Loved It! This is a wonderful play that kept us entertained from start to finish. There were certainly lots of laughs to be had in this captivating, very enjoyable play. With an excellent cast performing the play, it was a great evening.

The basic premise is, a committee that is being formed in the Swan Hotel for the Pendon Folk Festival. It isn’t as easy as it seems as they try to create, develop and put on a re-enactment of “The Pendon Twelve”, after a story about the massacre is discovered.

The results of the committee are hilarious as the story unfolds, showing the many personalities around the table. There’s the chair just trying to keep everything together, albeit not terribly well and often ends up dominated by others, the one who interrupts and doesn’t really get on with anyone and storms out, the shy one, the one who is pedantic, the one just trying to get the task done, the one who doesn’t always follow what is being said or done and people with opposing points of view. The personal issues also come into play a bit too… Even though some of the behaviours/personality types are exaggerated, they are recognisable, so there is a bit of accuracy there.
They all have to find a way to reach the end result – to showcase the pageant. They all want the same goal, but all doesn’t exactly go to plan…

The Committee is led by Ray – played by Robert Daws, who is a treat to watch as he gave the audience a huge range of his acting talents. The way he delivers each line is so on-point and so expressive. Deborah Grant played Helen excellently and with great energy for this strong-willed, character. All the cast give equally terrifically strong performances. There isn’t one who lets the side down as it were.

The play is directed by Robin Herford, who has done a great job in managing this cast and it all flows very well with all the comings and goings.

For a play that is predominantly set around a committee table, it has excellent comedic writing and comedy-timing. It is a fantastic play that I recommend seeing for a great afternoon or evening out. It is highly entertaining from start to finish. My friend and I certainly were not disappointed as we talked about it all the way to the train station. The weather was horrendous with the storm, but it was absolutely worth it.

Here is a list of where the play is touring next:

Mon, 10th February 2020 to Sat, 15th February 2020
Grand Opera House, York»
Mon, 17th February 2020 to Sat, 22nd February 2020
Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury»
Mon, 24th February 2020 to Sat, 29th February 2020
Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham»
Mon, 9th March 2020 to Sat, 14th March 2020
Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield»
Mon, 23rd March 2020 to Sat, 28th March 2020
Theatre Royal, Brighton»

What to expect on the blog #blog #amreading #bookish #theatre

I have many more great sounding books in my To be Read pile. Some by very established authors, some not quite so, but are starting out. All look good!
A thud after the swing of the letterbox usually signals the post is more exciting than a bill. A huge thud that sounds like it is going to go through the floor means its a hardback book. Most are paperback and that too is fine and still sounds more exciting than a bill.

I have children’s books, young adult books and adult books. During February and March, there will be reviews of children’s books that promote the eco-system, take children on an adventure, show children interesting and fun characters.

For Young Adult, there will be coming-of-age and fantasy.

For Adult, there is Crime Fiction, Biography, Humour in Fiction, Families in Fiction, Historical Fiction and more…

I have also been to the theatre recently, so you can expect a review on a terrifically cast play by Alan Aykbourn.

Thanks for following my blog.

Great Theatre Shows from 2019 and some to look out for on tour in 2020 #Theatre #Plays #Musicals #Humour #Drama #Theatregoers #London #Edinburgh #Glasgow #2019 #HappyNewYear #TheatreWrapUp #Review #culture

Great Theatre Shows from 2018 and 2019

I have seen some fantastic theatre shows and the shows I loved in 2018 and 2019 are, in no particular. Some of these plays are touring right now within the UK and others are getting set for national UK tours. So, I hope you have fun looking out for them. They are categorised by musicals and plays only. So, without any further to-do, here is my lists, with very brief reviews.

Musicals:

les mis        Theatre Strictly Ballroom musical
Strictly Ballroom – (on national tour in 2020). When I saw this in London, it was so much fun. It had a great cast, including Will Young as the narrator at that time. The costumes are outstanding and just so beautiful. The set was cool. The dancing and songs are expertly performed and choreographed.
Please take note that Strictly Ballroom (based on the same name) is doing a national tour within the UK (including Scotland in 2020). It has been expertly put together by Strictly’s Craig Revel-Horwood, amongst many other people. So, do look out for this fun, feel-good show. It is A-Maz-Ing… see what I did there? I couldn’t help myself, it had to be done. This is an exciting show and one that I am so pleased to see tour.

Les Miserables – This is exquisite and full of emotion. I’ve seen it twice, once in London, once in Edinburgh and it doesn’t matter where you see it, you are in for a treat. It is so well-performed and well-cast no matter the location. The performance, the set and the costumes are all so rich and it is all so atmospheric. It is often in London and also on tour.
A full review can be found within my blog

Plays:

The Greatest Play in The History of the World – This play was at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and has now reached London (check it out now for January 4th 2020. It’s an original love story set on Preston-Road and in space and time. Time has stopped in this wonderfully written and performed one-woman play that has poignancy and honour and I just love the use of shoes. You have to see it to see what I mean. I don’t want to spoil it. Shoes aren’t used in the conventional sense. Not when this was performed in Edinburgh anyway. There’s also great music too. The set may be minimalist, but the way it is written and performed feeds incredibly well into the imaginations of audiences because it is so cleverly done and so immersive and captivating.
It is performed by Julie Hesmondalgh (Haley Cropper in Corrie and other shows) and written by her husband Ian Kershaw (writer for Corrie, Cold Feet and many more shows).

This House – This play was an unusual play in that it encouraged people to be part of the cast on stage for the whole play. This was a political play set in the 1970’s and was set in the Houses of Parliament. There was a great cast playing the opposition party and party in power. There were high stakes, debates, fist fights in the parliamentary bar, crucial votes that had party’s hanging by a thread, games and tricks. It was all there. A friend and I with a number of others took up the limited spaces on stage, which was split for the left and the right of the House with its mocked up parliamentary seats. We were given our lines and directions as the play went on and followed accordingly to become part of the cast. It was lots of fun, if not a bit daunting looking onwards at a full theatre where the rest of the audience was sitting. It was completely immersive from our point of view and we are glad we did it and both enjoyed the experience immensely. Some of the key cast also took time at the interval to talk to my friend and I, which was most interesting and of which we again thank them for this. This immersive and brilliantly conceived play was written by James Graham.

ArtThis was a terrific play at the Glasgow Theatre Royal about 3 men and a piece of modern art, which happens to be a white canvas, bought for a huge amount of money. The play gets revived every so often and is worth looking out for. It is about friendships and those friends falling out and making up, it is about life and all the paths that it can lead people down. It also has a big twist in it. It is poignant, important, funny, sad and such a great pace. When I saw it, the cast was Stephen Thomkinson (Wild at Heart, DCI Banks and much more) Denis Lawson (New Tricks, Holby City and much more), Nigel Havers (Coronation Street, The Cockfields, Midsomer Murders and much more). I thank Denis Lawson and Nigel Havers again for their time in having a very pleasant quick chat and signing my programme.
Full review can be found on my blog. 
Duet for One – I saw this at the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh as part of a national tour. I think I saw this in 2017, but then it toured again in 2018, which is why it is on this list. It was a both serious and funny two-handed play (tours from time to time), about a woman with MS, which at the time of me seeing  it was Belinda Lang, and wow, what a performance. She played someone coming to terms with MS and limited mobility as if she could have had it herself (I sadly speak from experience as a member of my family has it). The emotion was there, the movement and everything was brilliantly executed. If this ever tours again, seriously consider seeing it. This was a revival of this play, so it isn’t impossible for it to return. It isn’t as depressing as it seems. This play has humour at many points. It is so well-written. It was so lovely to be able to actually tell her how well she played her part and to hear what she had to say about it – which was all positive things. I also thank her again for signing my programme and especially for talking to my mother and being so insightful.
A full review can be found within my blog.

Humble Boy – directed by the always very busy Paul Miller, I wish it would do a national tour. If it did this, I would certainly write a full review. It is one of those plays I think people should see. It was a funny play that tackles love, death, friendship and the importance of bees. This play had it all. It had emotion, serious and tender moments, poignancy as well as so much humour. It was so well-written by Charlotte Jones.
The set was amazing. I saw it in a round theatre and it was set in a garden. The time it must have taken to set up the scenery must have been immense. Parts were actually real plants. I loved having to walk on the cobblestones to my seat with my friend (we were on the front row and the set started right in front of the front row). The cast were all fabulous – Belinda Lang (from 2 Point 4 Children she played the mother and other shows and theatre), Paul Bradley (Cardio-surgeon in Holby City and other shows), Selina Cadell (Pharmacist in Doc Martin and other shows), Jonathan Broadbent (Silent Witness and other shows). There was also Christopher Ravenscroft and Rebekah Hinds.
The cast all sounded like they enjoyed performing this show at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, London. It was a joy and privilege to catch up with the cast after the show, of which I thank them for their time and their sheer kindness and also for signing my tickets.

The Importance of Being Earnest – This was a fun production of Oscar Wilde’s play, brought to the Vaudeville Theatre by Classic Spring. It was in London (another play I think should tour. His plays do tour from time to time nationally within the UK, so do look out for them. The play was full of humour and was recognisable from the film-version of the play. There was again, another great cast, most notably – Stella Gonet (House of Elliott, Holby City, Outnumbered and much more), Sophie Thompson (Coronation Street and much more, also sister of Emma Thompson), Jeremy Swift (Downton Abbey) and many more. A full review can be found in my blog. I thank Stella Gonet again for having a very pleasant chat and for asking if I would like my programme signed.

De Pro-fundis – Simon Callow performed this in Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival when I saw it. This was a play I just had to say Wow at. I was hooked from the beginning to the end. I have seen quite a number of his one-man plays before. All are amazing and this was no different. It was played with conviction, energy and how he remembers all those lines, I will never know. If you ever see Simon Callow is doing a one-man play or even doing a book talk, I urge you to go. De-Profundis was the letter Oscar Wilde wrote from prison. It was haunting, dark. No one talked, no one made a noise in the audience, you could hear a pin drop, until the stunned audience erupted in applause at the end. He captured everyone from start to finish. The set was minimalist, his performance was passionate and full.

I have some plays already booked for 2020 of which I shall review and I am planning on doing a quick resume of different plays and musicals I have seen as many of them still run in theatres today and I suspect they will for many years to come. This will be done in- between book reviews and the occasional article. I’ve plenty of exciting things to be blogging about in 2020 and I hopefully many more exciting opportunities will crop up in the future. For now, I hope you enjoy what I have for my 2019 resumes and all else that is on my blog. I hope you all had a great Christmas and I wish you all a Happy New Year and all the best for 2020. Thank you too for following and reading my blog, without such, it wouldn’t exist. I love writing my blog and always grateful to those who give me opportunities to review and to write and to talk to people and to those who read what I write. Thank you!!!!