Saturday, 6 January 2018

Oscar Wilde's 'De Profundis' at the Vaudeville Theatre

Part of the year long season of Oscar Wilde plays at the Vaudeville Theatre on the Strand is a short series of performances of the long letter Oscar wrote to Bosie from Reading Gaol. It's performed by Simon Callow lasts around 1:40 hours. How Simon remembers all those words, those endless, numerous words while on stage alone is really quite astonishing. Or at least it was until I noticed the two screens attached to the front of the dress circle, presumably there 'just in case'.

A bare stage with just a chair and a light shining above Simon's head, this is all about the words and the emotion behind them, the sheer exasperation of Oscar with Bosie's behaviour at times, the feeling that he in thrall to the younger man who uses Oscar and he just can't break away from him, even when he flees to Paris to put some distance between them. The letter tells us of their friendship and relationship over the years, recounting specific incidents and how Oscar reacts and interprets them. Of course, we only hear Oscar's side of the story but Lord Alfred Douglas sounds like a nasty little shit who was only interested in using Oscar for his position and money and then loses interest. The awful thing is that Oscar seems to see this quite plainly but keeps forgiving the little shit and keeps giving him more money and attention.

I've seen Simon Callow on stage before in plays, but this was just him along on stage with only a chair as a prop and to sit on. He does move around, gets down on his knees. stands, leans on the back of the chair, sits on an arm, but that's it. He's caught in a small space with his memories, just like Oscar was when in jail. It was an impressive performance.

'De Profundis' was adapted for the stage by Frank McGuinness and performed by Simon Callow.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

The Plastic Bag Awards 2017

It's that time of year again when awards are awarded, winners are overjoyed and losers try to smile through their tears but let's not get sentimental since there can be only one winner (no tied votes here). Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Plastic Bag Awards for 2017, in other words, the Baggies!

Best Theatre - Shakespeare

This has been a poor year for Shakespeare in the Plastic Bag and there are only two nominees in this category. Both are worthy to be nominated but neither were perfect productions.

'Hamlet' at the Almeida Theatre
'The Tempest' at the Barbican Theatre

I liked the new production of 'Hamlet' with Andrew Scott right up until the made-up ending scene and I liked Simon Russell Beale as Prospero and I loved the fluidity of the electronic flying Ariel but it wasn't really all that smooth. So, neither ticked all the boxes, but the Baggie goes to 'Hamlet'.

Best Theatre - Drama

There were some very powerful productions on stage in 2017 and the list of nominees could easily have been expanded but it's limited to five:

'The Glass Menagerie' at the Duke of York's Theatre
'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf' at the Harold Pinter Theatre
'The Ferryman' at the Gielgud Theatre
'Angels in America' (both parts) at the National Theatre
'Young Marx' at the Bridge Theatre

Imelda Staunton and Paddy Considine both gave astonishing performances in 'Who's Afraid' and 'Ferryman' respectively and 'Angels' was a great ensemble performance across both parts of the play. 'Menagerie' and 'Marx' both had their great moments in very different types of play. The award must go to 'The Ferryman' for the excellent writing and poetry in the lines, the great performances and the shocks and twists and turns when least expected.

Best Theatre - Musical

The West End still seems to be full of musicals that have been on forever or jukebox musicals but there are still some gems with revivals and even new musicals being written and produced. The nominees are:

'Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill' at Wyndham's Theatre
'The Life' at Southwark Playhouse
'Follies' at the National Theatre
'42nd Street' at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
'Everybody's Talking About Jamie' at the Apollo Theatre

If there was an award for new musical it would go to 'Jamie' and new one full of life and love and and joy but it's up against stiff competition this year. It was great, as always, to see Sharon D Clarke in 'The Life' and be introduced to new talent T'Sham Williams, and Audra McDonald was astonishing in 'Lady Day. However, the winner has to be the great production of 'Follies' at the National Theatre and the excellent performances by Imelda Staunton and Janie Dee.

Best Entertainment

An 'entertainment' is a performance that doesn't really fit into any of the other categories, such as one-man/woman shows, readings and cabaret. There are only three nominations this year:

'Miss Hope Springs' at the Wigmore Halls
'Bent' at the National Theatre
'A Poem for Every Day of the Year' at the National Theatre

The winner was easy to pick for the harrowing and powerful performance of a staged reading of 'Bent' at the National Theatre, a production I won't soon forget.

Best Gig

There was a time when I'd go to a gig a couple of times a month (or more) but these days it's a much rarer thing. There are only three nominations:

Suzanne Vega at the London Palladium
Bananarama at Hammersmith
The Unthanks at the Royal Festival Hall

It is always a joy to see Suzanne Vega play live and last year was the anniversary shows for 'Solitude Standing' and '99.9C' in which she played both albums all the way through. The Unthanks gave a veery moving performance with an orchestra as backing band and there were some astonishing arrangements of their songs. But the Baggie must go to those three mad girls in Bananarama who brought joy to Hammersmith and made us all young again. Keep it up girls!

Best Dance

I saw a lot of dance in 2017, with lots of triple bills of ballets as well as full length performances. Two Wayne McGregor's ('Woolf' and 'Codes') and both were excellent and innovative. Two one-act ballets from separate triple bills at the Royal Opera House really stood out as well as an innovative production of the story of 'Alice'.

'Woolf Works' at the Royal Opera House
'Tree of Codes' at Sadler's Wells
'Rubies' as part of the 'Jewels' triple bill at the Royal Opera House
'Flight Pattern' as part of a triple bill at the Royal Opera House
'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' at the Royal Opera House

The judging panel found this to be a very difficult decision but they were kept locked away until they could hand over an envelope with one title in it. That title was 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' for the astonishing performances, the innovative designs and the sheer wonder and fun of the thing. Well done Royal Ballet!

Best Exhibition

This category was a difficult one to narrow down the nominees from the large number of really good exhibitions visited this year, but here are the final nominations:

'Revolution: Russian Art 1917 - 1932' at the Royal Academy
'Michelangelo & Sebastiano' at the National Gallery
'Raphael: The Drawings' at the Ashmolean Museum
'Lawrence Alma-Tadema: At Home In Antiquity' at Leighton House Museum
'C├ęzanne Portraits' at Musee D'Orsay and the National Portrait Gallery

It was great to see artists whose works I;m very familiar with next to those of artists I've never heard of before and wondering why not? Seeing classics from the High Renaissance and revolutionary works from the last century and then seeing painting after painting by an artist who hasn't had his own exhibition in over 30 years. So much to see and wonder at. However, the Baggie goes Mr Cezanne and his portraits of family and friends that I saw both at Musee D'Orsay and at the National Portrait Gallery.

Best Film

Given the many different film genres it's probably unfair to try to compare films showing wild leaps of imagination next to documentaries but there's only one category for film I'm afraid. The nominees are:

'La La Land'
'Wonder Woman'
'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2'
'Here To Be Heard: The Story of The Slits'
'Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World'

'La La Land' was a joy and a sadness, 'Wonder Woman' was an inspiration and 'Guardians' was just daft fun. 'The Slits' told a story I was partially familiar with but from a different perspective and 'Rumble' told a story I wasn't familiar with at all and I learned so much from it. The winner has to be 'Here To Be Heard: The Story of The Slits' because I go back so many years with those women. Well done!

And there you have it, the Baggies for 2017! I wonder what 2018 will be like?

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

'A Christmas Carol' at The Old Vic

This evening was another Christmas in a visit to The Old Vic to see the new version of 'A Christmas Carol' which is one of my favourite stories so I can't help but be a harsh judge of any production of it. The problem in trying to do a blog is that The Old Vic asked visitors not to share the many surprises and moments of wonder in the show so we don't spoil it for others. I'll do my best to avoid spoilers and only mention anything that's already been mentioned in reviews.

The first surprise was entering the auditorium to see it split in half by a runway from the stage to the back of the stalls. I knew there were seats on stage but the auditorium has virtually been remodelled for this show. In various places around the auditorium (and, I assume, in the circle) were actors dressed as market traders handing out oranges and mince pies to any who wanted them. I thought that was a lovely touch for the season.

With no scenery and minimal props it's quite an accolade to consider how the acting and the imaginative lighting created such a warm spectacle and drew the audience into its magic. I loved the hundreds of lanterns suspected above the stage to help create the atmosphere. The first 'wow' moment for me was when Marley walked onto the runway and proceeded to walk the length of the stalls dragging behind him a huge chain that went on and on and on - dead spooky!

It's not perfect and there are downsides to this new version. Too much is made up! Surely everyone knows that we never meet Scrooge's dad, that Mr Fezziwig wasn't an undertaker, that no-one made eulogies over Scrooge's coffin and that Scrooge celebrates Christmas at his nephew's house not with the Cratchits. It's not rocket science guys, there's a book where the story is all written down for you. I know you can't have all the story on stage but why make up so much when there's already a perfect story to explore?

Anyway, leaving that to one side (I *am* an 'A Christmas Carol' purist after all) there's more than enough magic in the show - and not a little daftness in the second half - to make it a magical experience. There was when .... um and then there was when ... and then, um.... No, I won't spoil it for you, you need to see it for yourself. I can tell you that snow erupts over the stalls to gasps of wonder, excitement and surprise (I got snowed on so was happy). It was also nice to hear so many Christmas carols woven into the story. I liked hearing sentences from the book spoken every now and then, mainly by the chorus.

Rhys Ifans was good as Scrooge, a bit mean to start off with (of course) and gradually finding his comic bone as the play progressed. It's clearly a star vehicle for him but he played it as part of an ensemble cast that took all the other parts, changing roles and costumes every few minutes. They were excellent and I wouldn't single any of them out as ether particularly good or bad - they were a solid cast.

By the end of the play we see the truth in Dickens' words that close the story in that, " was always said of him [Scrooge], that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge." Mr Scrooge is surely the Spirit of Christmas. I loved it and bought the programme.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

'A Woman of No Importance' at the Vaudeville Theatre

A year of Oscar Wilde plays has started at the Vaudeville Theatre so it was time to jump in and get all Wildean. An additional draw was a cast headed up by Eve Best, Anne Reid and Eleanor Bron with the additional delight of William Gaunt having a small role as a local clergyman (I last saw him play John O'Gaunt, his namesake). With that cast and a Wilde play, what's not to like, especially when we were seated down the front of the stalls with perfect views?

The play opens at the country house of Lady Hunstanton who has invited a range of different people in the hops of having an interesting weekend. We have a young lady from America, various members of the aristocracy that seem to go from one country house to the next, a young clerk that Lady Hunstanton has taken an interest in, a politician and various others. A late Victorian play is, of course, full of morality and preaching and very so often you can clearly hear Wilde's Irish views spouted by the young American lady, a cypher for his own views on 'society' and the upper classes.

When Lord Illingworth offers the young clerk, Arbuthnot, a job as his secretary everyone is happy for him. It's a good step, after all. And his mother is invited to join the party for dinner. And that's where the tone changes since Mrs Arbuthnot ran away to live with Lord Illingworth when they were both young but he refused to marry her when she became pregnant. She doesn't want her son to have anything to do with the father who did nothing to help them all those years ago and we see her explain that Lord Illingworth is actually his father. That's where the twists and turns become ever more sharper.

It's a very enjoyable production, excellently delivered. Eve Best is a safe pair of hands as the 'woman of no importance', independent and strong whose only flaw seems to be her relationship with her selfish son. The son annoyed me - that's partly the writing of course, but mainly his stupid 'Ed Sheeran' hair style that was all over the place while everyone else was in character. It was a delight to see Eleanor Bron on stage who was imperious and, well, she played Eleanor Bron really well.

A very pleasant surprise was seeing Anne Reid on stage for the first time. Not only did we get a great performance but she came out in-between acts with some of the 'servants' to sing appropriate songs that helped the story move forward and she has a lovely singing voice. She was a friend of Barbara Cook so that's hardly surprising.

Once we got over young Arbuthnot's tantrums at the end of the play he finds a glove in his mother's drawing room, not knowing that Lord Illingworth had visited earlier and his mother had slapped his face with that glove. Her response to the question of whose glove it was was a very satisfying ending when she said it belonged to 'a man of no importance'. Take that!

Well done all, I really enjoyed this production and I'm looking forward to the next one now. Seeing a Wilde play every few months seems like a nice thing to do. Thank you Vaudeville for taking the plunge and committing to a Wilde year!

Fra Angelico 12/12

This year I've been posting a photo of a painting by Fra Angelico that I've actually seen on the 18th of the month to celebrate his feast day of 18 February. This month, in the run up to Christmas, it's right to post a nativity scene from San Marco in Florence.

In this scene we see Mary and Joseph praying to their son while St Peter Martyr and St Catherine also pray to their lord. I like the angels on the roof (they get everywhere) and the donkey and the ox in the stable. Despite all the characters in the painting it's actually quite sparse, with a bare ground for the babe to lie on and bare walls to the stable. There's also no real reason for the saints to be there.

I've enjoyed sharing my year of Fra Angelico paintings and I'm looking forward to seeing more 'new' paintings by the good brother next year at the exhibition in Boston. 

'The Box of Delights' at Wilton's Music Hall

This evening we went to see an epic battle of good and evil to save Christmas in 'The Box of Delights' at Wilton's Music Hall. I've never been to Wilton's before but it had a Christmas Tree in the (rather small) auditorium so it gets a thumbs up from me. It's actually the perfect setting for a play like this and it helped create a lovely atmosphere.

We had wolves (oh yes we did), magicians, magical boxes with the power to shrink you down to the size of a mouse, a witch who flew, a master jewel thief, a deluge and, best of all, Toby, a really clever dog who definitely wasn't a puppet.

Our hero is Kay Harker who is on the train to his guardian's house for Christmas when he meets an old Punch & Judy man who has a mysterious Box of Delights. The old man is being hunted by wolves in human form and he must ensure the box is protected at all costs. The wolves want the box for their lord who is an evil magician and wants to use it to time travel and wreak havoc (which is what evil magicians do). The evil magician needs to stop Christmas happening to save himself so he arranges for all the clerics in the cathedral to be kidnapped and imprisoned so there's no-one left to celebrate Christmas. And the clock is ticking, getting closer to Christmas Eve...

It's a dark tale of dastardly dealings and despair until Kay plucks up his courage to confront the evil magician to save his friend and save Christmas. A roller-coaster ride of ups and downs that I won't spoil for you here - you'll have to see it for yourself.

The best things about it were Matthew Kelly as the nice magician (he also played the evil magician) and Josefina Gabrielle as the evil witch who can fly (and she does). Both were on top form and a joy to behold (I'd cross the road to avoid that witch, just in case...)

There were some lovely, imaginative scenes, like when the old man opens the Box of Delights and we see a golden, be-jewelled phoenix flying around the stage before it smolders in its own embers. The designers have clearly put some thought into how to make this work in a magical way on that small stage. And, by and large, they succeed. It wasn't perfect by any means but I really enjoyed it. It made me leave the real world outside and slip gently into this magical world and share the perils and joys of this strange 1930s world.

Well done all, I really enjoyed it! And thank you for saving Christmas!

Sunday, 17 December 2017

'Pinocchio' at the National Theatre

This years' Christmas show at the National Theatre is 'Pinocchio', the Disney version rather than sticking to the book. I've been looking forward to this one: will it have the Disney magic? how will his nose grow? what will the transformation from puppet to boy be like? It's not the easiest story to transfer to the stage but I thought it was done rather splendidly.

The first surprise was that the 'humans' in the story are actually the puppets. Heads and torso for the 'humans' were carried round by the actor playing the part plus helpers to move the arms and it worked really well. It also added another level of menace in some of the scenes, with giants looming over poor little Pinocchio.

You do, of course, already know the story. Geppetto is a toy-maker who makes a puppet boy as his son and Pinocchio has a series of adventures that help him to become a human boy. He's handily given a cricket as a conscience to help explain the story and, in this version, Jiminy is a lady puppet so doesn't have the top hat and spats I was expecting. The 'star fairy' - when not played by a human - is a flame that flits about the stage and I have no idea how they did that. I suspect it was magic.

Since the 'humans' are puppets, it makes it easier for Pinocchio to be played as a real life human dwarfed by the puppets he interacts with. The scene when Pinocchio is carved out of a tree trunk is a surprise I won't spoil here but it made me sit up and take notice. What I didn't understand was why Pinocchio had trousers and braces but no shirt? Of course he wears a shirt and should be given one immediately. The poor thing must've been freezing in this weather.

The only section I wasn't keen on were the Pleasure Island' scenes that seemed over-long and a bit obvious. It was nice to get different voices and sounds on stage by that point in the play - and nice to have the stage full of scenery and props that kept being moved and changed - but I felt those scenes could easily have been shortened without affecting the overall play.

I'm pleased they included the main songs from the film - 'When You Wish Upon A Star' and 'I've Got No Strings' - and I couldn't help grinning like a loon when they were sung (and I was singing along in my head), In that scene the 'puppets' (played by humans, of course) were dangling on the end of strings while Pinocchio danced around freely. I loved the patchwork costumes in these scenes which helped with the overall illusion. It was nice that both musical themes kept swirling back very now and then amongst the other music in the play.

Was it perfect Christmas viewing? No, not quite, but it was full of spectacle and surprises that keep even older children like me happy. I bought the programme but probably won't do the colouring in and other games it included.

Well done to Joe Idris-Roberts as Pinocchio, Audrey Brisson as Jiminy, Mark Hadfield as Geppetto and Annette McLaughlin as the Blue Fairy, with a special shout to David Langham as the evil Mr Fox who got his just desserts by cutting off his own tail. That's what happens to baddies, you know.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

The Tale of The Christmas Goose

Way back in the olden days, Horatius was sitting on a small hillock which was his favourite place to observe the woodlands around his lake. He was watching an old man dressed in rags collecting firewood in the forest on the night before the special celebration. The old man didn't seem to be very good at this task, and, thought Horatius, those sticks are all damp and won't help make a fire for anyone. Horatius was a goose of all the colours of gold and sand and had often seen the villagers collect wood for their fires. The villagers didn't have feathers, after all, and needed something to keep them warm in the depths of winter, especially in the snow.

The goose turned his head to look at the old man from a different angle and then flew off to gather his brothers and sisters to help the old man. The geese collected dry branches and sticks and dropped then at the feet of the old man who stood and looked at them in astonishment. When there was a goodly pile of dry tinder Horatius landed back on the hillock and went 'Honk' and bowed to the old man before flying away to a tree a bit further back in the forest to see what happened next.

The old man bowed to the golden goose in thanks and gathered up the sticks and created three bundles which he left outside three hovels in the village and went back to his own shack on the edge of the village. Horatius followed the old man to see what would happen and did't understand why the old man gave away all the dry twigs rather than build a nice fire to keep himself warm. 'Humans' thought Horatius and, when he returned the next day, saw that the old man had gone.

Spring and summer passed and Horatius had his own brood of goslings who were, generally, scamps but in a good way. Then, as the leaves had fallen and the snow and frost appeared, he saw the old man again and called on his children to collect a pile of firewood for the old man and stash it under a fir tree to keep it dry. Then Horatius issued a loud 'HONK' to the old man to alert him to his gift and the old man came over in wonder. He sat beside the golden goose and stroked his neck and his wings and said 'thank you Master Goose' with a low bow.

So it happened every year afterwards when the snow appeared and the special day drew near. Horatius was to be found waiting for the old man with a pile of dry kindling with his children and grand-children watching from deeper in the forest. The old man would bring a bag od seeds of the highest quality so his friend could have a snack while they comforted each other in a friendly silence.

The old man grew older and so did Horatius. Until one year the old man found a pile of dry twigs under a tree but there was no sign of his friend. He left the bag of seed for Horatius's children and shed a tear.

The King's castle wasn't far from the wood and on the day of the big celebration the old King, resplendent in his best holiday robes was looking forward to the new treat he'd been promised by his hunters. They entered his banqueting hall with a cage with a rough shape inside with the colours of dull bronze.

As the cage was put down the shape stirred and a final, defiant 'HONK' issued from the cage.  The King instantly recognised the voice of his old, winter friend from his trips into the woods disguised as a poor man in his annual penance. He jumped up and demanded that the cage should be opened and the bedraggled goose set free. The king picked up the body of his old friend and, with tears in his eyes. said 'It's me, Horatius, my friend' . Horatius recognised the old man's voice and rested his head on his shoulder which was covered in fine silk and damask.

The old king carried his friend to the table and sat him down in the place of honour on a soft cushion, ordering water and high quality seeds for his friend. Then he issued a proclamation that never again should golden geese be hunted in his kingdom. Horatius issued a loud 'honk' and his children, and grand-children and great-grand-children appeared at the windows to honour the old king and their treaty. And then he nipped the king's finger to remind him that they were still a free people and not subject to the whims of humans. And the old King giggled.

Centuries passed and we remember good King Wenceslas and the firewood but we rarely hear about his friend, Horatius. The golden geese remember him, though, and celebrate him when the snow falls and humans search for dry sticks on that special night. Keep your eyes peeled and you might see Horatio honouring his ultimate grandfather, standing on a small hillock with lots of dry sticks waiting to be claimed by anyone who needs them. Some things are important.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

'Network' at the National Theatre

We went to see 'Network' at the National Theatre a couple of weeks ago at a preview performance to give it the once over and afraid it'll remain once with me. I saw the film decades ago and haven't really given it much thought since then. I suppose it's quite topical at the moment with the power of the media being used to distort reality than than report it - fake news and all that, media companies trying to manipulate audiences and a USA president that lives on Twitter - and that alone can justify a play like this. But a play based on a film? I don't know, where are the original ideas?

I'm obviously out of the loop here, but since when did one third of the Lyttelton stage become a restaurant with the kitchen at the back of the stage? Am I missing something here? And why are so many people wearing black wandering round the stage with lots of cameras and mics? The set is meant to be a TV news studio - that much I get - but what about the rest? And the huge video screen at the back of the stage to show off-stage scenes and close-ups of action on the stage - I was there to see a theatrical production not a semi-cinema thing. Honest folks, sometimes less is more.

So. The basic story is that a veteran news broadcaster has a breakdown on screen and that creates a whole new audience for him that the network wants to exploit, His catchphrase - I'm mad as hell and won't take it anymore - becomes the theme of the show and we see how things spiral out of control. Something I really didn't like was the cast treating us like a pants audience, getting us to shout out the catchphrase at various points in the play. Um, no thank you. And please get that bloody on-stage camera-man out of the way of the acton please!

No. I didn't enjoy it. If I want to watch a screen I'll go to a cinema thank you. It's all too clever by half. It seems to be doing well but I won't be returning for a second look.

'42nd Street' at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane

I have history with '42nd Street'. It's the first show I saw on Broadway way back when and I saw it on (wait for it) a theatre on 42nd Street itself.  That might've been the reason I booked to see it but I can't remember. And here it is, back in London at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane where it first ran back in 1984. Things come full circle. As you'd expect, it's the glitziest, sassiest, biggest show in town at the moment and can outshine the sun in pure wattage from the costumes alone... This is show biz writ large!

The story's been done a thousand times in different ways, of out-of-town girl arriving on Broadway to make it big and she does. In this case, we have Peggy Sawyer who can sing and tap like nobodies business managing to get a job in a show, accidentally knocks over the star who breaks her ankle and can't perform. Peggy is fired of course but, when the cast realise the show will close before it's even opened, they all want Peggy to play the lead to keep the show going and make her a star. And that's what happens. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to work that out.

I think that's the strength of the show, really. It's not about complex plotting and characterisation, it's about spectacle and having a good time, an escapist fantasy with some great songs and some astonishing dancing, particularly the ensemble tap dancing scenes. There's a cast of thousands in the brightest, sparkliest costumes imaginable. And, if you're reading this blog, you probably know about half of the songs already. Honest.

The star name on the bill is Sheena Easton - yes, *that* Sheena Easton - as the has-been star who breaks her ankle. Initially it took me a while to work out who she was since I wasn't there to see Sheena, but every now and then her voice reverted to her true voice that niggled at a memory and then there she was, Sheena Easton on stage. It's was her slow version of 'I Only Have Eyes For You' that made me sit up and realise who I was seeing on stage. The real star, however, was Clare Halse as Peggy Sawyer, tapping and singing her way to becoming a real name on the West End stage. She was an impressive sight indeed.

The real star of the show, however, was the ensembled chorus that danced and sang their way through the show, quick costume changes and ever-more sparkle. They were step perfect in all their dances - with so many dancers on the stage at the same time you'd think it would be easier to hide a mis-step but it actually stands out like a sore thumb and this cast didn't put a step wrong when I saw them. Most impressive indeed! How on earth did they manage the rehearsals with so  many on stage at once?

If you want a feel-good show that doesn't engage too much brain power but is full-on show biz then I've no hesitation in recommending '42nd Street'. Turn up expecting to be entertained and you will be. I guarantee!