REVIEW: ‘Billy Elliot the Musical’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, June 2017

 

Billy Elliot the Musical is a moving and inspiring production that is about so much more than ballet dancing. Currently engaged in a three-week run at Milton Keynes Theatre, it enthusiastically establishes that “boys can do ballet too” while simultaneously championing offbeat individuality and highlighting the profound importance of family and community.

Based on the 2000 film, the show is set in a northern mining town against the animosity of the 1984-1985 miners’ strike. Billy, the eleven-year-old son of a widowed miner, is not really suited to the boxing ring. Nonetheless, he dutifully attends the lessons that his dad scrapes together the money for. One day, after yet another hapless training session, Billy unwittingly finds himself participating in a ballet class. Encouraged by dance teacher Mrs Wilkinson, he secretly swaps his boxing gloves for ballet shoes and a toe-tapping journey of self-discovery begins. As Billy starts to shine, Mrs Wilkinson suggests he seize an opportunity to audition for the prestigious Royal Ballet School. Up against a fiercely macho culture and facing a rather dismal future, is Billy’s passion for dance enough to change his life and motivate those around him to re-evaluate their uncompromising mindsets?

This touring edition of Billy Elliot the Musical follows eleven years of phenomenal success in the West End. Naturally, the show boasts top-notch singing. Moreover, the drama provides both madcap moments that are guaranteed to have you laughing and touching scenes that will likely make you well up. Ultimately, though, the dancing proves the main attraction. Tutus feature heavily throughout but ballet is by no means the only way to boogie and choreographer Peter Darling’s brilliant routines cleverly capture the unbridled joy of dancing. Dazzling displays of ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, acro and aerial choreography drive the narrative, convey characters’ deepest emotions and unquestionably convince audience members that the whole cast are truly dancing their hearts out.

 

Billy Elliot. Emile Gooding as Billy Elliot. Photo by Alastair Muir.

 

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REVIEW: ‘Cats’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, October 2016

 

Captivating choreography and charming characterisation ensures memories of the fabulous felines in Cats stay with audiences long after the applause subsides.

Prowling through the auditorium at Milton Keynes Theatre all this week, the moggies in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s record-breaking musical offer us an intriguing insight into the inner world of cats. Known as the Jellicle Cats, the members of this kitty clan cavort around a junkyard playground under the moonlight. They stealthily slink past their human visitors before darting over the darkened landscape of rubbish. Wary and suspicious – but clearly curious too – the Jellicles proudly gather together to open our eyes to their customs.

The cats reveal that tonight is the night of the Jellicle Ball. This one special night of the year is when the tribe reunites to celebrate who they are. Mischievous or mysterious. Domesticated or defiant. Sensual or magical. Cheeky cat burglars; fat cats; ginger cats; tabby cats; tom cats; coquettish kittens – every cat counts. Granted a front row seat at the Jellicle Ball, we are introduced to each of the pussycats in turn.

 

Cats. The cast of Andrew Lloyd Webber's record-breaking musical, Cats.

 

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NEWS: Musical moggies on the prowl as beloved show ‘Cats’ arrives to charm audiences – Milton Keynes Theatre, October 2016

 

Feline focused smash hit musical Cats returns to Milton Keynes Theatre from Monday.

Back on tour after sell-out success at the London Palladium, the record-breaking show is the outstanding work of composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, director Trevor Nunn, designer John Napier and director-choreographer Gillian Lynne.

These talented creatives blew theatregoers away with their purr-fect combination of innovative dance, beautiful music and charming verse when the production made its West End debut in 1981.

 

Cats the musical is the outstanding work of composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, director Trevor Nunn, designer John Napier and director-choreographer Gillian Lynne.

 

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REVIEW: ‘Footloose’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, October 2016

 

Explosive rock and roll musical Footloose raises the roof with its infectious blend of iconic eighties hits and youthful teenage rebellion.

The lyrics of the show’s signature song urge audiences to kick off their Sunday shoes and cut loose so what better way to start the week than by spending Monday evening at Milton Keynes Theatre, dancing in my seat?

Based on the classic 1984 film, the narrative stars Chicago native Ren McCormack who is forced to move to the sleepy Southern town of Bomont with his mother, Ethel, after his father abandons them. Unfortunately, Bomont does not have much to offer in the way of fun since a bylaw banning dancing and rock music was pushed through by the town’s grieving Reverend five years ago.

 

Footloose. Footloose the musical.

 

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REVIEW: ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, September 2016

 

There are some sparkling performances in the production of Breakfast at Tiffany’s currently captivating audiences at Milton Keynes Theatre.

The classic tale of deliciously enigmatic New York good-time girl Holly Golightly, penned by Truman Capote in his 1958 novella and memorably portrayed by Audrey Hepburn in the iconic 1961 film, has been reinvented as a stylish stage play with music. American playwright Richard Greenberg returns to Capote’s original prose for this version, rather than basing his interpretation on the film’s script. Nonetheless, Moon River, the Oscar-winning theme from the movie, remains and provides the show’s most enchanting musical interlude.

Audrey’s name will forever be inextricably linked to Breakfast at Tiffany’s so it surely takes a brave performer to fully embrace the character of the troubled call-girl without inadequately imitating the film star. Georgia May Foote is making her theatrical debut in this touring production and in last night’s show – only the second performance so far of the nationwide tour – she proved herself to be suitably fearless. There is no doubt that Georgia is a plucky and polished leading lady.

 

Breakfast at Tiffany's. Georgia May Foote as Holly Golightly.

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