Category Archives: Theatre

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: A Tribute To Stevie Wonder

a>

Grimsby Auditorium plays host to an evening of the music of the legendary Stevie Wonder.

Stevie Wonder is one of the most successful performers of the century, selling over 100 million records worldwide in a career that has spanned nearly sixty years.
If you love the man and his music then you’ll love Signed, Sealed delivered – A Tribute To Stevie Wonder.
Featuring back to back number ones including the Grammy award winning Signed, Sealed, Delivered as well as Superstition, Higher Ground, Master Blaster, Sir Duke, Part Time Lover, Isn’t She Lovely, and the biggest international hit of all time – I just Called To Say I Love You, plus many, many more!
To ensure audiences are dancing in the aisles the show features American singing superstar Lejaune André who will be joined on stage by a fabulous seven piece band, outstanding backing vocalists and top dancers.

So get ready for the wonder that is Signed, Sealed, Delivered.

To book tickets call
Box Office: 0300 300 0035
Book on line www.grimsbyauditorium.org.uk
Or book in person at the Grimsby Auditorium pay cash for no booking or transaction fees
Or call into the Cleethorpes TIC
*Booking/transaction fee may apply
Restoration levy included

Something Tells Me Something’s Gonna Happen …

If you’re a fan of 60s hits or 80s TV or if you just love fantastic music and a great show then you should take a look at Cilla And The Shades Of The Sixties which visits Grimsby Auditorium on Friday 24th March.

It’s a hugely entertaining stage show for families and pop fans of all ages, a fabulous musical tribute to the songs of Cilla Black and the many artists and songwriters who changed the world of popular entertainment during the 1960s.

The show is fronted by the effervescent Liverpudlian singer and actress Victoria Jones who, along with the Shades Trio, will take audiences on a musical journey through Cilla’s life and some of the biggest chart hits of the era.

Classic hit songs such as Alfie, Anyone Who Had A Heart, Step Inside Love and many more will also celebrate the great songwriting partnerships of the time including Lennon/McCartney, Bacharach/David, Lamont/Dozier/Holland, and Greenaway/Cook.

Victoria Jones will also take the audience down memory lane reliving some of the most popular aspects of Cilla’s stellar career such as Blind Date – which ran for a record breaking 18 years – and her own hit TV show.

It sounds like it’ll be a great show and you can see Victoria talking about what it’s like to play a scouse icon here.

Tickets are on sale now and are available from the Auditorium Box Office on 0300 300 0035. There’s more information and online booking at www.grimsbyauditorium.org.uk

The Flint Street Nativity at The Caxtons

flint-street

Blue Remembered Christmas

The Flint Street Nativity
Caxton Theatre
November 25th – December 3rd

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas and down at the Caxton Theatre the crowds gathered last night for a seasonal show full of laughter, joy and a little sadness as the Caxton Players performed Tim Firth’s Flint Street Nativity.

Many of us will have fond memories of this drama from the original 1999 TV play featuring the likes of Frank Skinner, Stephen Tompkinson and Jane Horrocks but whatever you do, don’t let that put you off going to see this production, because this is a show that benefits immensely from live performance and you’ll have to wait a long time to see anything this funny and telling in town.

img_7073

As adults playing children the cast lead the audience through the excitement and terror of a primary school nativity play, complete with classroom rivalries, distraught teachers, and the parents who remain unseen until the end of the show but are still ever present thanks to the influence, benign or otherwise (mostly otherwise), that they exert over their children’s lives.

There are plenty of laughs along the way – including some great slapstick and some of the most inspired vulgarity you’ll hear in a while. Anybody who thinks bad language is neither clever nor funny hasn’t seen this show. Comedy highlights include the arrival of twin Messiahs (and the accidental decapitation of one of them), the escape and recapture of the school newt, a foul mouthed donkey and the children’s encounter with the contents of their teacher’s handbag.

img_7063

The key to the play’s success is that it allows us to see the adult world through the prism of childhood but it’s not all laughs and ‘Oh my, the things they say”. There is also a pervading sense of compromised nostalgia and of innocence in the process of being lost as the youngsters’ conversations reveal how much of the adult world they have witnessed, how much of their parents’ lives they have misunderstood and more tellingly how much they have understood at least as well as, and probably better than, their elders. These are not children enjoying the blissful ignorance of youth that we might wish upon them. I’m not allowed to quote Larkin’s This Be The Verse in these pages but I can at least reference Crosby, Stills and Nash’s words about teaching your parents well which seem equally relevant. The parents in the play seem remarkably unwilling to learn however. Ain’t that the way of the world.

img_7070

It’s a real ensemble piece and with all the cast working so hard for each other it seems wrong to single people out for special praise so I’ll just say that George Mansfield is astonishingly funny as Herod/Joseph, Helen Riley excels as an archangel who wants to be Mary, Ian Hammond has exactly the right air of bewildered naivety as the narrator and Gary Fox, as the severely damaged Frankincense, has a compelling air of vulnerability and neglect.

It would be remiss not to add that Phil Whitfield as The Ass makes the absolute most of his swearing song. Special praise must also go to director Nadine Bennett-Wood for drawing so many disparate narrative strands together into a coherent whole.

So if you’re looking for some festive theatre that isn’t a panto (oh no it isn’t) then we highly recommend The Flint Street Nativity at the Caxtons.

Miss. Miss. I’ve finished, Miss.

~

To book tickets visit www.caxtontheatre.com
Or call into the Grimsby or Cleethorpes TIC
Or contact them by phone on 01472 323111

Same Time Next Year

caxtons

February 17th 1951. East coast liberal accountant George and high school dropout Doris wake up together in a chalet at the Sea Shadows Inn beneath the all seeing and mildly disconcerting eye of a portrait of Harry Truman. On the wall is a Californian flag which refuses to hang straight. Somewhat awkwardly the two exchange life stories and gradually come to realise that they are falling in love. The only problem is that they are both happily married to other people who they have no wish to hurt and are parents of three children each.

So they agree to meet up once a year to spend the weekend together, sharing stories good and bad about their spouses and families and bringing each other up to date on family news. Over the course of the next twenty five years we see them grow and change as Doris goes back to school and becomes a successful business woman and George turns Republican.

Each year there is news to share, some good, some less so and as the world changes around them, leaving George in particular uncomprehending and resentful, and as Truman gives way to Eisenhower et al the couple find solace, friendship and the comfort of carnality in each other’s company.

Some things remain the same however and that flag never does hang straight.

img_4730

Canadian playwright Bernard Slade may not be a household name these days but a new production of his best known work, Same Time Next Year, at The Caxton Theatre, opening on Saturday October 15th offers a terrific evening of bitter sweet comedy handled deftly by director Steve Labourne and the cast of John Ferguson as George and Hayley Browne as Doris.

Together they bring the characters to life with compassion, joy and keen ears for the nuances of dialogue which make the play more than just a series of conversations. They also have the happy knack of varying the pace just enough that the action, (essentially just two people talking in a room), never seems to drag, but at the same time does not fall into the trap of histrionics or sentimentality.

Along the way there are plenty of laughs – mostly of the laconically ironic school – but there’s some excellent physical comedy as well, particularly when Doris arrives heavily pregnant (in the late 1960s I think) and if you’re looking for an excellent evening’s entertainment then this is definitely as show not to be missed.

~

Same Time Next Year is at The Caxton Theatre from October 15th – October 22nd

To book tickets
Visit www.caxtontheatre.com
Or call into the Grimsby or Cleethorpes TIC
Or contact them by phone on 01472 323111

Alexandra Rex at Fusion Creative

alexandra

Uneasy Lies The Pretty Little Head That Wears A Crown

King Robert is dead. Storm clouds gather in the North. The only legitimate heir to the throne is exiled across the eastern sea. But this is not Westeros. This is Lincolnshire, albeit a mythical, mediaeval Lincolnshire created by playwright Josie Moon for her new play, Alexandra Rex, which was premiered last night, (Saturday October 1st) at St Martin’s Church by members of the Fusion Creative adult theatre group.

The play centres on an attempt by the Lords of Lincolnshire, led by the ruthless but conflicted Ashby, to bring Princess Alexandra back from Rotterdam to act as titular ruler of the Kingdom while the aristocracy carve up the wealth of the territory for themselves. Unfortunately for their lordships the young queen/king is not the pushover they had anticipated. Regular visitors to Fusion Creative may recall a recent evening with poet Helen Mort at which she dealt at length with this kind of issue and the possibility of claiming compensation.

img_4632

Aided by a quirk of Lincolnshire law the new queen decides to do things her own way and, influenced by the stories she is told by a group of refugee fisherwomen from the Yorkshire Coast, she begins by declaring a new capital offence of rape, sticking to her guns even when it means plunging the kingdom into war. Even when it comes to getting blood on her own hands, this is a princess who does not back down.

img_4645

The production showcases the growing confidence of the Fusion team and the deepening darkness and subtlety of Josie’s writing. It features fine performances by the whole cast, but especially from Charli Parkin as Alexandra, Matty Gray as Ashby and Emma Middleton as the leader of the refugee women, and it is to be hoped that this will just be the first of many performances.

img_4634

There are plenty of exciting events on the way at Fusion Creative including a visit from acclaimed poet Hollie McNish on Saturday 12th November and you can find out all about their other events and regular clubs by going to www.fusioncreative.org.uk or by visiting their Facebook page.

The Ladykillers At The Caxton Theatre

DSCF9781

The year is 1956. The place, a dilapidated old house on a bridge at the rear of King’s Cross Station. A friendly local bobby is patrolling his beat and he drops in on an elderly widow with regard to a report she has made that a local newsagent is a former high ranking Nazi in disguise. It turns out to be a false alarm but later that day the same old lady is visited by the debonair Professor Marcus who wishes to rent a room in which to stage rehearsals for his string quartet.

Those familiar with the classic Ealing comedy of the same name will be aware by now that we are in Ladykillers territory and the so called musicians are in fact bank robbers planning a cash raid on the station just up the road. You may perhaps be thinking that it’s a brave company that dares to take on one of the best loved comedies in British film history, especially one that boasts classic performances by Alec Guiness, Peter Sellers and Herbert Lom, (we’ll pass quietly over the 2004 Coen brothers/Tom Hanks remake) but in their new production the Caxton Players succeed admirably in making the play their own and treating the audience to an evening full of laughter.

LADYKILLERS POSTER BLUEVERSION4

This version is not a straight crib from the film but a 2011 West End adaptation by Graham Linehan (of Father Ted fame) which brings back all the much loved characters and gives the company enough laugh lines and set pieces for the whole cast to show off their comedy talents while keeping the pace rattling along.

At the centre of the action are Geraldine Godwin, excellent as Mrs Wilberforce, frequently bewildered but also given to flashes of insight which eventually bring the criminals to informal justice, and Professor Marcus, played with great panache and charm by Byron Young, a very different take on the role from the Alec Guiness benchmark and all the better for that. The whole cast is on fine form, from Steve Skipworth as the scene stealing One Round and George Mansfield’s couture obsessed Major Courtney to Sam Brierley as young gun Harry Robinson and Chris Dempsey as the gerontophobic mafioso Louis Harvey. Rod Chapman’s Constable McDonald, who bookends the piece, is nicely judged and very funny.

Director Rob Till and all the technical team pull out the stops to deal with the challenges of staging a play which necessitates simultaneous action on two floors and features a geoseismic son et lumiere whenever a train passes beneath the house and the result is a triumph. It’s a play with plenty of highlights but the sequence in which the criminals dazzle a group of visiting pensioners with their avant garde playing has the style of a renaissance crowd scene and the humour of the best of Benny Hill.

The Ladykillers is running at the Caxton Theatre from Saturday 3rd to Saturday 10th September andf there are still tickets available through www.caxtontheatre.com or from Cleethorpes Tourist Information Centre on 01472 323111.

A Whiz Of A Wiz (If Ever A Wiz There Was)

Wizard of Oz 45x45

There was a fantastic night of singing and dancing last night as the Grimsby Auditorium and Lincs Inspire Summer Youth Musical – The Wizard Of Oz – took to the stage. It’s the thirteenth year of the Musical and this year’s effort was a great success despite the full cast having been together for only ten days of rehearsals.

Based on the John Kane adaptation for the RSC of Arlen and Yarburg’s film score the show is a chance to revisit all your favourite moments from the film, and to revisit some of cinema’s best loved characters including Dorothy, Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man.

It was also a rare chance to see some less well known moments that were cut from the film including the Tin Man’s back story and the Jitterbug sequence in which the Wicked Witch of The East releases weaponised dance insects (yes really) on the travellers to tire them out and make them easier to capture.

The result is nothing short of a triumph with excellent performances from the principals, a chorus that’s bursting with enthusiasm and energy, a top class orchestra in the pit and terrific sets and costumes creating a spectacle that was great fun for audience and performers alike.

The Wizard Of Oz is on for two more performances today (Saturday 8th August) at 2pm and 7pm. Tickets are available on the Auditorium website or on the door or by clicking the heels of your ruby slippers together and saying there’s no place like home.

An Exciting Autumn Season In Store At The Caxton Theatre

IMG_6588-2

We’ve been lucky enough to enjoy some excellent productions at The Caxtons over the past couple of months and we’re looking forward to many more as their Autumn season approaches. Highlights include The Ladykillers in September (Saturday 3rd to Saturday 10th) and in October there’s Same Time Next Year which runs from Saturday 15th to Saturday 22nd.

The Caxtons were founded in 1940 to provide some light relief from the depression of wartime and over 75 years later they’re still going strong, offering eight varied productions a year in their own 180 seat theatre and running an extremely successful Youth Theatre group.

titania and fairies

They hold a regular once a month get together – called Keep In Touch Thursdays (or KITT nights for short). New members are always welcome and KITT nights can be a great way to find out if Caxtons is for you. Check the website or social media for further details.

Caxtons Youth Theatre meets twice a week for drama games, improvisation, confidence building, scripted work and behind the scenes training. CYT works towards at least one performance a year (this year it’s Seven Deadly Sins, from Friday 23rd to Saturday 24th September) in which all youth members take part, whether on the stage or behind it. A fantastic introduction to the wonderful world of theatre!

LADYKILLERS POSTER BLUEVERSION4

For information go to www.caxtontheatre.com Tickets can be purchased via the website or from NELC Tourist Information Centres on 01472 323111

Caxtons: The Collector – review

PP I43 Web Ed

The Collector
Caxton Theatre
June 30th-July 2nd

There’s something a little out of the ordinary on offer for theatre goers this weekend when The Caxton Players present The Collector, adapted by Mark Healy from the John Fowles novel of the same name.

It’s the dark and unsettling story of Frederick, socially inept and full of resentment, who kidnaps the girl of his dreams and holds her captive in the cellar of his country house (bought with the proceeds of a lottery win). As a collector of butterflies he is familiar with the joy of reducing beautiful things into captivity and preparing them for display, but whereas in the past his subjects have not fought back all that much, he is unprepared for the fact that his latest captive is not prepared to resign herself meekly to her fate.

In a post Fritzl world in which we have witnessed the release of many domestic captives who have been held for periods of months or years the idea behind the novel seems all too possible, but the motivation of the captor here is by no means easy to ascertain.

IMG_8749

Part victim, all monster, he’s a Caliban in a maroon tank top with a penchant for supratabular onanism, unable to control the emotional spasms which govern his behaviour. Part prude, part wannabe libertine, capable of moments of exaggerated kindness and acts of frenzied self pity, sometimes aware of his own monstrosity, sometimes seeming to believe that the situation that he has created is one that can be resolved with an outbreak of love and forgiveness.

His captive is no simple character either – vain, priggish and condescending, in this version of the story she seems to bear less responsibility for her own situation than the novel might suggest, but she’s also resourceful and resilient and it’s these qualities that enable her to survive her captivity and sometimes make life awkward for her captor.

IMG_8773

The play traces the shifting emotional politics of a situation in which neither character is able to establish psychological control over the other, as the captive Miranda seeks to confuse and undermine the guilt stricken Frederick.

It could be a tricky proposition to stage effectively but director Nigel Stolworthy makes the most of the intimacy of the Novartis Suite to bring the audience uneasily close to the action. People often talk about breaking the fourth wall, but here the audience are actually made to feel that they are the fourth wall, part of the prison in which the characters find themselves. It’s not a comfortable feeling.

Kieron Rogers as Frederick and Chloey Rose as Miranda make the most of the opportunity to deliver restrained and intelligent performances, their relationship shifting between contempt and sympathy, from anger to something which is almost friendship and back again in a moment.

IMG_8753

Or possibly it isn’t that at all, because at any moment there is always the possibility that one or both characters is dissembling in order to gain a physical or emotional advantage, and because this isn’t a whodunnit style thriller, there’s no big reveal at the end, so you get to make your own mind up.

Highly recommended but leave the kids at home. Either they won’t understand it and you’ll be embarrassed or they will understand it and you’ll be embarrassed.

~

The Collector is at the Caxton Theatre Novartis Suite from June 30th until July 2nd.

Visit www.caxtontheatre.com for further details.

Murder Most Agreeable At The Caxtons

Caxtons

Dead Man’s Hand
Caxton Theatre
4th-11th June 2016

In an elegant and isolated villa in 1950s Italy people are dying. Thrown together apparently by chance, a group of strangers soon come to realise that their presence is in fact the result of the machinations of the mysterious and unseen Mr Konarkis.

His motives are unclear but a bloodstained note, (which arrives special delivery attached to a disembowelled fox), urges them to repent and confess their sins in order to save themselves.
Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one. We’re in Agatha Christie territory surely? With a little JB Priestley for good measure. Maybe so, but there’s a twist. Or rather there are several twists. And then some more.

IMG_6591

In fact this new production at the Caxton Theatre, directed by Debra West, has more twists than a bag of eels and nothing is ever what it seems. It’s a knowing and ever so slightly post modern take on a genre that has been a staple of the British stage for decades. The classic tropes of the stage thriller arrive and are dispatched as quickly as the proverbial strangers in a country villa and as the body count rises so does the tension.

Who will be next? More importantly, who will be last?

IMG_6592

Since it’s such an ensemble piece and because I’m terrified of inadvertently giving things away, I’m going to take the coward’s way out and simply say that the whole cast is excellent and that Dead Man’s Hand is a splendidly enjoyable evening for anyone who loves a great thriller delivered with panache and just the right mix of thrills and suspension of disbelief.

This is a play that will keep you guessing right to the end and it’s huge fun and very stylish too.

Highly recommended.

~

Dead Man’s Hand runs from 4th-11th June at 7.30pm.
For tickets or further information go to www.caxtontheatre.com