REVIEW: ‘Les Misérables’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, May 2019

 

The soul-stirring lyrics in musical phenomenon Les Misérables ask “do you hear the people sing?”. Without a doubt, appreciative audiences at Milton Keynes Theatre will be responding with an exhilarated ‘yes’ and a standing ovation for the entire four-week run of the tremendous touring production.

Theatregoers storm the barricades for tickets to this show. I dreamed a dream that I would be invited to join the revolution and found myself in my own castle on a cloud at Milton Keynes Theatre’s gala press night. The theatre is celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year and boasts a team of staff who are justifiably thrilled to have secured such a lengthy visit from Les Misérables – everyone in the building seems to be in awe of this stage sensation.

As one of the lucky revolutionaries invited for bubbles before the show, I was fizzing in anticipation well before the drinks were poured. Les Misérables is the longest-running musical in the West End and is consistently named as a global favourite alongside Cats and The Phantom of the Opera. Although I’m familiar with Victor Hugo’s epic nineteenth-century novel, the blockbuster films, the classic soundtrack and amateur theatre interpretations, I have never seen the London production (it opened back in 1985, long before I was even a twinkle in my father’s eye!).

Having now seen the show performed on tour in all its glory, I can fully appreciate the scale of its success. But what can I possibly say that has not already been said over the last thirty-four years? At the end of the day, Les Misérables is musical theatre perfection.

 

Les Misérables

 

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REVIEW: Northern Ballet’s ‘Victoria’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, May 2019

 

Northern Ballet’s Victoria is an enthralling epic that intelligently and emotively chronicles Queen Victoria’s life as a monarch and mother.

Created to celebrate this year’s 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birth, the ambitious two-act ballet is the impressive handiwork of acclaimed British choreographer Cathy Marston. Her spirited exploration of Victoria as a passionate woman, emblematic queen, working mother and stricken widow inventively depicts some of the most significant events in this remarkable Royal’s life.

Working alongside dramaturg Uzma Hameed, Marston has managed to condense Victoria’s lengthy reign (she spent 63 of her 81 years on the throne) into two hours of absorbing dance.

 

Northern Ballet's 'Victoria'.

 

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NEWS: Happy International Dance Day, 29th April 2019

 

The theme for International Dance Day 2019 is “Dance and Spirituality”.

When I am dancing, I am meditating. I am living in the moment: body, mind and soul uniting to make me “me”.

I have always used dance classes as an opportunity to escape day-to-day concerns and realign myself. My fondness for being productive means that I am inclined to treat myself like a machine, diligently getting things done – but no one can be industrious all the time. Dancing is the equivalent of pressing pause, switching myself off and rebooting in safe mode!

 

Georgina Butler. International Dance Day 2019. Dance and Spirituality.

 

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NEWS: Northern Ballet returns with ‘Victoria’, a new dance production fit for a queen – Milton Keynes Theatre, April 2019

 

Revel in a royal visit when Northern Ballet brings its latest ambitious narrative ballet, Victoria, to Milton Keynes Theatre next week.

The title character is, of course, Queen Victoria and the production’s inaugural year in Northern Ballet’s repertoire coincides with the 200th anniversary of her birth.

Britain’s second-longest reigning monarch (her record was broken in 2015 by her great-great-granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II) was famously “not amused”. Ironically, Victoria remains a figure of fascination and inspiration to the people who produce our entertainment today.

 

Northern Ballet dancers Abigail Prudames and Joseph Taylor as Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in Victoria. Photo by Guy Farrow.

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REVIEW: ‘The House on Cold Hill’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, April 2019

 

Being scared has never been quite as much fun as it is in the stage adaptation of bestselling author Peter James’ supernatural thriller, The House on Cold Hill.

A distinct chill is discernible in the air at Milton Keynes Theatre thanks to the arrival of this entertaining play, which is described by the cast and creatives as a “modern day ghost story”.

All things considered; the production neatly fulfils its brief. The action occurs in a sprawling country house where things go bump in the night. The cast includes a geeky ghost hunter, a madcap medium, and a sceptical but likeable family. The everyday gadgets that we all now rely on are heavily featured and, at times, seem to be controlled by the spirit world.

This production is not so scary that it will send shivers down your spine, but the twists and turns will keep you gripped and there are moments that will tickle your funny bone. Expect to be intrigued rather than intimidated, amused rather than alarmed and somewhat spooked rather than totally terrified…

 

The House on Cold Hill - Charlie Clements, Tricia Deighton, Rita Simons, Persephone Swales-Dawson and Joe McFadden (photo by Helen Maybanks)

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