Sunday, 28 February 2016

Latest catch up on my reviewing and theatre writing.

I am aware now that I haven't been as hot on keeping a record on here of my theatre activities since December so this listing may be a bit link by link. The link to my @EM_Theatre Twitter account for my website, next to this blog post will hopefully help to keep readers informed too.

Here goes: in order of writing here are a list of my recent website posts for

Derby Theatre's Cinderella production.

East Midlands and #culturematters

Jason Donovan to reprise role in Priscilla Queen of the Dessert.

Derby Theatre highlights of 2015.

Nottingham Playhouse. What's On Live.

Theatre talk for Club Encore news.

Brian Weaver Fellowship Offer to young actor.

War Horse goes on tour. Nottingham Theatre Royal.

Leicester Curve promotion. Jan/Feb 2016

Promotion for Anything Goes at Nottingham Arts Theatre

Oddsocks promotion. Family First.

#culturematters for the older generation.

Great opportunity to learn more about Greek Theatre.

Cats the musical returns in Summer of 2016 to Nottingham Royal Concert Hall.

Review: Priscilla Queen of the Dessert. Nottingham Royal Concert Hall.

Review: Cats at Loughborough Town Hall by Christchurch Theatre Club.

Review: The Snowman. Nottingham Theatre Royal.

The Great Gatsby. Coming to Derby Theatre. 

Writing for Sardines magazine. Professional writing.

Review: Hetty Feather at Nottingham Theatre Royal.

Twisted Dame Theatre Company writing opportunities. 

Piece on old time music hall event.

Review: Anything Goes. Musicality. Nottingham Arts Theatre.

Review: Any Means Necessary. Nottingham Playhouse.

Review: A Girl is a Half Formed Thing. Leicester Curve.

Promotion: Hetty Feather comes to Curve.

Review: Blood Brothers at Nottingham Theatre Royal.

Interview: Look Back in Anger interviews at Derby Theatre.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Round up on a month of reviewing across the East Midlands.

As you might imagine November and December have been rather hectic in terms of theatre and festive show reviewing as well as promoting events through In early January 2016 I have been invited to Nottingham Playhouse to do an hour long talk to the Encore over 50s group about my theatre reviewing and theatre writing experiences. I am looking forward to that.

Here is a rough roundup of the reviews I have written since early November to the present date. I have also written an interview with actress Rebecca Little for Sardines magazine about her continuing presence in the annual Playhouse Pantomime. This will be published in the January edition.

Other relevant theatre promotion material features between the reviews on

An Inspector Calls the National Theatre touring show of Priestley's famous work. Theatre Royal Nottingham.

A View From The Bridge. Nottingham New Theatre production at Nottingham University.

Beryl touring production about Beryl Burton acclaimed yet forgotten cyclist. Nottingham Playhouse.

Pam Ann - acerbic comedienne at Nottingham Playhouse.

Celtic Woman - Gaelic concert at Nottingham Royal Concert Hall.

Mack and Mabel. Touring musical starring Michael Ball and Rebecca LaChance.

The Diary of Anne Frank. Nottingham New Theatre at Nottingham University.

Dick Whittington. Panto at Nottingham Playhouse.

Oliver. Curve Leicester. Main house show.

The Great Gatsby. Nottingham New Theatre at Nottingham University.

Cinderella. Christmas show at Derby Theatre.

Neverland. Christmas show for children at Lakeside Nottingham.

Plus One. Helping under-privileged children and teens have access to the arts. Derby Theatre.

Hare and Tortoise. Neville Studio. Nottingham Playhouse.

The Witches. Curve Leicester. Studio show.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Update. Things getting very busy at East Midlands Theatre.

As you can see from the side bar and @EM_Theatre  live twitter feed things have been very busy for me chez East Midlands Theatre! My original intention in the last blog post on this blog was simply to copy my reviews on to here. However, I have decided it would make much more sense, rather than duplicate, to feature the reviews through links and to add in some content about my great news items.

With one exception here are the reviews I have written and posted in the last few weeks.

A Streetcar Named Desire Leicester Curve Studio.

All The Little Lights - new play by Jane Upton at Neville Studio Nottingham Playhouse.

Hairspray - Nottingham Operatic Society at Theatre Royal Nottingham.

The Trocks Ballet - Royal Concert Hall Nottingham. Guest reviewer Alan Taygoe.

Pornography - The Nottingham New Theatre. Nottingham University.

The Duchess of Malfi- Nottingham Playhouse.

My East Midlands Theatre news items have covered various theatre based workshops open to the public, an interview with actress Rebecca Little and promotions for various small and big scale shows.

Don't forget to follow me at @EM_Theatre and @PhilLowe7

The theatrical calendar is looking so full in the next couple of months that I have even invested in a wall chart to track my activities!

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Brand new regional theatre website for the East Midlands.

I have some great news in that I have recently put together a brand new website using Wordpress dedicated to professional theatre in the East Midlands. Presently that would cover places I can get to on public transport and those include Derby, Nottingham and Leicester.

The purpose of the website is for sharing news, reviews and interviews from across the East Midlands all in one place East Midlands Theatre. All of my reviews will be copied to this blog so that my regular readers (and it seems there are quite a lot of you at over 3500 hits a month!) can still get their theatre reviewing fix.

Connected with this website is a new Twitter account @EM_Theatre. Do feel free to follow it and spread the word. Many thanks, Phil Lowe.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Review: The Bodyguard -musical at The Royal Centre Nottingham

Visually impressive and vocally astounding the award winning show The Bodyguard - the musical hits Nottingham's Royal Concert Hall stage with a bang and never lets go even in its quieter moments. A unanimous standing ovation from this full to capacity Nottingham Concert Hall (Royal Centre) audience says it all!!!

Alexandra Burke as Rachel Marron makes her ballads and songs seem totally effortless winning the audience's huge admiration from the powerful opening number 'Queen of the Night' to the utterly stunning final rendition of 'I Will Always Love You' and many in-between.

The show boasts sixteen heart stopping and heart wrenching musical numbers such as 'All At Once', 'I'm Every Woman', 'One Moment In Time', 'Run To You', 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody' and 'Greatest Love Of All'. The live orchestra is note sharp under the confident command of Musical Director Tom Gearing. Orchestration and additional music is by Chris Egan.

Director Thea Sharrock keeps the gripping story of the bodyguard Frank Farmer (Stuart Reid) and his new assignment protecting  singing superstar Rachel Marron (Burke) from a dangerous stalker (Mike Denman) very tight and exciting. The impressive sets, (Tim Hatley - Set and Costume Design) adjusted to deal with a nationwide tour, take us to each new location with impressive ease. The lighting (Mark Henderson)  multimedia (Duncan McLean) and clear as a bell sound (Richard Brooker) do the rest to make for a truly magical show.

The stage musical version differs slightly from the film bringing in an extra love interest other than that of the originally reluctant affair between Rachel Marron and Frank Farmer. Here we have a sister character to Rachel Marron in Nikki Marron played in this production by Melissa James. James has a sweetness, natural beauty and spine-tingling voice not so far removed from that of Whitney Houston in her young prime. Both she and Burke are outstanding and a very believable pair of sisters. As Rachel Marron's young son Fletcher, Daniel Deszek-Green steals the audience' hearts and impresses with his dancing during the rehearsal scene.

The afore-mentioned Stuart Reid as Frank Farmer is spot on as the bodyguard. Tough without being macho, very believable in the tender moments and refreshingly funny in his attempts to sing a karaoke song in a cheap nightclub joint.

The expression 'he is a man of very little words' comes to mind when watching Mike Denman as 'the stalker'. Denman hardly has any dialogue and certainly no always wanted to play a stalker songs yet he puts his utterly devious and cleverly dangerous character across perfectly and gains many a shudder from the audience and amusingly deep boos in his curtain call.

Overall this is a stunner of a show with a hard working and convincing ensemble, superb visually and outstandingly good vocally and choreographically. If you can possibly get a ticket (it is a packed first night) do so. You won't regret One Moment In Time of a trip to see The Bodyguard - the musical.

Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall Nottingham.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Review: The Ugly Duckllng.

The Ugly Duckling at The Neville Studio (Nottingham Playhouse) may be a short and sweet production but the results for the children performing may have positive effects lasting for their whole lives.

In collaboration with Combat Bullying and Nottingham Playhouse this production brings together a fifteen strong group of 6-14 year olds (many of whom have never been on a stage) who have suffered from bullying. Directed by Nikki Disney the piece takes Hans Christian Anderson's classic tale of the new born ugly looking bird that is constantly picked on and practically left for dead on occasion. The children bring the story to life through dance and movement and each child gets an opportunity to assist Hans (Bradley Price) put together his story surrounded by a set of gigantic children's story books. The bird struggles on with its sad existence and cruel taunts from the other birds. The children are cleverly costumed in black clothes with white text from The Ugly Duckling as the patterning. Their ordinary school clothes are also worn by some to bring home the contemporary nature of the story's relevance.

Eventually the duckling (played by various children) grows up and sees a flock of beautiful swans. Sensing the same potential in itself  it wants to be near to them. As it sits on the water it is suddenly aware of its own beautiful and strong self through reflection. It is no longer a picked on duckling but a beautiful strong bird – a majestic swan.

With a packed and supportive audience on its opening night it is important not to underestimate the value of the creative and emotionally strengthening experience for these children. As little Hugo Waring (Duckling) aged 6 confidently says in the programme “I can't wait for my school to come and see it.”

This reviewer can do no better than to finish off with another quote from one of the participants Sophie Basra aged 13 - “Hopefully, our production of The Ugly Duckling at the Playhouse will make people realise how harmful and hurtful bullying can be.”

The Ugly Ducking runs at The Neville Studio until Saturday 10th October.

Combat Bullying "One in 10 children bullied at school have attempted to commit suicide, a further 30% go on to self-harm."

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Review The Rubenstein Kiss. Nottingham Playhouse

Ten years on from its original London run staring Samantha Bond and Gary Kemp, playwright James Phillips' play The Rubenstein Kiss makes its Nottingham début at Nottingham Playhouse for their Conspiracy Season.

The Nottingham Playhouse publicity for the play states 'The story is set in 1950s America and in the Cold War period when the McCarthy anti- Communist trials were at their height. The Rubenstein Kiss is inspired by a real life Jewish couple – Ethel and Julius Rosenberg who went to the electric chair for allegedly passing on US atomic secrets to the Soviet Union. They protested their innocence until the very last. James Phillips' play explores what happens when truth and ideologies collide to reveal the anguish of a family and its quest for atonement.'

Director Zoë Waterman has returned to Nottingham Playhouse to direct this fascinating play and the finished result is compelling, stylish, stark but not without rays of humour and superbly acted by all of the cast.

Jacob Rubenstein and Esther Rubenstein are the play's protagonists who idealise Communism. As the quiet married couple actors Joe Coen and Katherine Manners completely encapsulate the characters of this period. These are just two human beings who have to make a life changing decisions that will not only affect them but could ultimately impact on the world in the future. The choices they are faced with are telling 'the truth' betraying their Soviet friends and receiving a long term prison sentence or having to die in the electric chair and suffer eternal public shame.

The themes in the play are about miscarriages of justice, compassion and the power of state control. The Rubenstein Kiss however, is not all doom and gloom. In fact it is mostly an uplifting experience and at its core there is a feeling of hope. It is about people doing the best they can in extra-ordinary circumstances and placing their family at the top of their concerns.
The 1940s/50s story of the Rubensteins, David Girshfield and Rachel Liebermann (Mark Field and Ellie Burrow) is told in flash back through two young people in their twenties who happen to meet at an art gallery showing iconic photographic images of  that period. Simon Haines is extra-ordinary in his role of son Matthew and researcher of law and past cases. Equally, Gillian Saker is utterly believable and sympathetic as Anna. A late comer into the play's action is Cornell S John as FBI agent Paul Cramner. John plays his role with a very human touch -strict as the police investigator but seen years later as someone who harbours a great degree of empathy towards the remaining families living with the legacy of the 'case of the century'.

The 'The Rubenstein Kiss' play is a moving portrayal of human dilemmas questioning the nature of loyalty towards family and country and ultimately the big question 'what would one be prepared to die for?' Another superb production at Nottingham Playhouse.

Runs until Saturday 17th October 2015.