REVIEW: Northern Ballet’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, May 2022

 

Northern Ballet captivates theatregoers with vibrant parties and impassioned partnering in The Great Gatsby.

An invitation to this lavish narrative ballet, set in an era of dreaming and dancing, is the perfect way to welcome Northern Ballet back to the city. David Nixon’s stylish production captures the spirit of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel by gliding through scenes that fizz with razzmatazz, romance, reflection and rage.

Fitzgerald’s poetic, perceptive prose provides a sage social commentary on a particular age – the Roaring Twenties. Still, Gatsby’s story is as relevant today as it was when it was published in 1925. Why? Well, because it deftly explores universal themes, including love, loneliness and longing.

 

Northern Ballet dancers Abigail Prudames, Joseph Taylor and Sean Bates as Daisy Buchanan, Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby. Daisy and Gatsby are dancing together while Nick observes from a distance.

 

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REVIEW: ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, April 2022

 

Anybody searching for a little bit of glitter in the grey needs to strut, stride or simply stroll into a performance of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.

This colourful production is a lesson on how to shine as an individual. A celebration of difference. A reminder that you are a work of art. It energetically insists that you learn who you are and love it. And, by championing anyone brave enough to be who they really are, it urges you to reconsider how you treat others.

Everybody has been talking about this new musical since it burst onto the scene in 2017 – the gossip only intensified when the film adaptation was released in 2021. The gutsy comedy narrative is inspired by the real life of openly gay teenager Jamie Campbell, an aspirant drag queen from the north of England. His efforts to overcome prejudice and wear a dress to his school prom were broadcast in a 2011 BBC documentary, Jamie: Drag Queen at 16.

Life is a catwalk for flamboyant Jamie, but the dress is something of a metaphor for anything anyone might want to do. Even if you run away at the mere mention of a runway, you will feel like you can take on the world in style after enjoying this story of belonging.

 

Everybody's Talking About Jamie. Layton Williams as Jamie. Layton is a mixed-race performer with close-cropped, bleached blonde hair. He is wearing a light-wash denim jacket, matching jeans, a grey vest and red high-heeled shoes. He is striking a pose while dancing alongside other uniquely dressed individuals.

 

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REVIEW: ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, April 2022

 

Sun beams are smiling and rainbows are shining! A good morning follows an evening spent watching Singin’ in the Rain.

Life is rather stormy of late, but this week’s offering at Milton Keynes Theatre is a musical to make you happy again. Jonathan Church’s glossy production captures the spirit of the classic 1952 film and chases dark clouds away.

You will enjoy a glorious feeling of escapism and discover a weatherproof sense of optimism. You might even want to sing and dance the whole night through. Or, at the very least, stay up late talking about the show.

 

Broadway Melody from Singin' in the Rain. Performers in brightly coloured outfits jump energetically. Above them, neon signs in the shape of arrows point down towards the stage. The arrows are labelled with words and phrases including: 'Broadway', Gotta dance' and 'Gotta sing'.

 

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REVIEW: Matthew Bourne’s ‘Nutcracker!’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, February 2022

 

Life is sweeter when dance takes centre stage and the sugar rush from Matthew Bourne’s Nutcracker! certainly leaves audience members on a delicious high.

Bourne devised his dance-theatre interpretation of the fantasy ballet in 1992. It was his first full-length work and became the first big hit for his company, New Adventures. Now, almost a decade since it was last performed, Nutcracker! is back for its thirtieth anniversary. This makes the current production a revival and a celebration – sweet!

In the ballet, Clara falls asleep after her family’s Christmas Eve party and is transported on a dreamy journey to faraway lands. She helps good triumph over evil and is entertained by sweets from around the world. The story is about the magic of childhood, the power of dreams and awakening an appetite for grown-up experiences.

In Nutcracker! Bourne adds fizz and flavour for a refreshing twist. He retains the sense of innocence and wonder from the classical version but shakes up the scenario to depict the nightmarish reality and hedonistic dreams of an orphan named Clara. When a nutcracker doll comes to life and helps her escape from the orphanage, she follows him to Sweetieland and is caught in a love triangle. Will Clara find more than a momentary taste of happiness with her sweetheart?

 

Nutcracker! Matthew Bourne's New Adventures dancers as Clara and two angelic Cupids. The trio are dancing in front of a sign that has arrows pointing in two directions. One arrow indicates the way to the Frozen Pond, the other indicates the way to Sweetieland.

 

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REVIEW: ‘Dreamgirls’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, January 2022

 

Dreamgirls loudly and proudly delivers spectacular vocals, a reminder to let your soul sing and enough sparkle to brighten up the dreariest of days.

This glittering, award-winning musical uses gutsy performances from its stars to neatly depict what marginalised artists with showbiz aspirations dared to dream of in 1960s America. The characters pursue personal happiness, professional success and public recognition of injustices caused by racism and gender inequality.

Friends Effie White, Deena Jones and Lorrell Robinson are a trio of young black female singers who enter talent shows together as “The Dreamettes”. Music means everything to them so they have high hopes that their distinctive harmonies will bring fame and fortune. Unfortunately, the white-oriented music industry is resistant to R&B and soul – pop reigns supreme.

After arriving late for a performance, the girls attract the attention of Curtis Taylor Jr, a conniving used-car salesman who manipulates events so that he can charm his way into becoming their manager. Curtis is keen to broaden the group’s appeal and ensure “The Dreams” (yes, he renames the act) cross over to the mainstream charts. Will his changes really be the best thing for Effie, Deena and Lorrell though?

 

Dreamgirls UK Tour. Three black women, wearing silver dresses, stand side by side, facing the viewer. They are posing with their arms up as if to announce their arrival.

 

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