Tag Archives: Theatre

Signed, Sealed, Delivered: A Tribute To Stevie Wonder

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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

Neighbourhood Watch at The Caxton Theatre

If you like your comedy a little dark and with some political edge then the Caxton Players have just the thing for you this week as they present Alan Ayckbourn’s 2011 work Neighbourhood Watch.

It’s not quite satire, because the targets are too far down the political food chain, but it is an indictment of the quotidian prejudices and false assumptions that blight contemporary society. The Caxtons have been particularly prescient to put the production on during an election campaign in which the levels of so called ‘fake news’ have never been higher. The moral of the play is that if you tell people what they want to hear, which is mostly confirmations of what they already believe, (correctly or more usually incorrectly) then you won’t go far wrong.

On an upmarket estate whose back gardens offer a view down the hill to the local council estate (a place of dread for the characters in the play, filled with nameless horrors and working class people) a newly arrived brother and sister hold a sparsely attended housewarming. Here they meet a terrifying cross section of their new neighbours, including monomaniacal retired security consultant Rod (brilliantly played by Chris Dempsey), bewildered Welsh cuckold Gareth ( a terrific performance from Bruce Forster and the ill matched couple next door Luther and Magda (Kieron James and Tessa King who manage to be both disturbing and disturbed by turns).

The event culminates in a nasty case of mistaken identity, an assault and the theft of a clarinet (you didn’t see that coming), and the end result is increasing discontent on the hill, leading to the setting up of the titular neighbourhood watch.

So far so gentle but it’s here that the piece takes a surprising turn as the watch soon develops into a fascistic local policing system complete with road blocks, stocks and a public morality code. There’s a lot of sexual tension threatening to boil over too, particularly in the growing romance between Liz Drury’s sirenic Amy and Dean Wright’s Martin but there are other undercurrents too that don’t reveal themselves until later. It’s a bit like Neighbours meets 1984 with hints of Abigail’s Party in the mix for good measure and if it sounds like it’s all going to end in tears, well by Jesus it does.

All the cast are excellent and Debra West’s direction keeps the pace running just nicely so it doesn’t become too confusing and it’s certainly never dull. There aren’t many jokes as such but you’ll be hard pressed to find a more ironic and knowing piece of comedy on offer anywhere. Definitely worth a visit.

Dirty Dusting At The Caxtons

There’s an evening full of laughter for theatregoers this week as Dirty Dusting, from the pens of Geordie comedy writing team Ed Waugh and Trevor Wood and directed by John Solley, comes to the Caxton Theatre.

The play concerns the exploits of three office cleaners; the apparently worldly Elsie, (played with lashings of sauce by Geraldine Godwin), former girl guide leader Olive (whose secret sadnesses are subtly revealed by Christine Cornthwaite) and Diane Grimshaw’s leek widow Gladys, outwardly shy and naive but capable of some serious wardrobe climbing when the mood takes her (which it does with increasing vigour as the play progresses).

When their boss, the loathsome Dave, (played with hissable villainy by Jack Scott), announces that they are all to lose there jobs in a few days time there’s only one course open to them and that is to start a telephone sex line using the office phones.

It’s packed full with more jokes than you can shake a suggestively shaped stick at, some new, (not too many), some old, (quite a lot), some moderately clean, (a minority) and some unmitigatedly vulgar (quite a lot of that). In fact, not to put too fine a point on it, (ooh er madam), it’s a smutfest, a blend of the best bits of Benny Hill, Donald McgGill, On The Buses, the Carry Ons and lots of other performers and shows in a Great British tradition that stretches from Max Miller to Chubby Brown.

There are jokes about seamen, jokes about hamsters, jokes about a cockatoo and the show builds to a huge and juddering climax involving some terrifying electro mechanical frottage, a song and dance routine and a pair of Union Jack underpants.

What more could you ask?

It’s great fun and features four performances that make the most of the humour while still allowing the more nuanced elements of the characters to shine through, but it’s not for the easily offended and it’s probably not a good idea to take your kids, although depending on the age of the kids it may be the case that they’ll be the ones who are uncomfortable about being there with their parents.

All in all an excellent night of ribald laughter and long may its feather dusters tickle.

Dirty Dusting runs from April 22nd-29th. Visit www.caxtontheatre.com for further details.

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

Wonderland at Grimsby Auditorium

Alice isn’t a little girl any more. In fact it’s her fortieth birthday and it’s not going well. Her car has been stolen from outside her desolate tower block, she’s been fired from her job, there’s nothing in for tea and she has fallen out with her own daughter. Oh yes and her ex-husnad, with whom she is secretly still in love, is getting remarried.

Sounds like a cue for a song.

At least it does if you’re ready to be transported to Wonderland – but it’s not the old fashioned pastel hued Tenniel Wonderland we’re talking about here. It’s not Disney either and it’s definitely not Tim Burton.

This is a new, urban, technicolour Wonderland inhabited by a delightfully frenzied Cheshire Cat, a soulful caterpillar with some very chic detachable legs, a Mad Hatter with ideas above her station, a narcoleptic Dormouse, and a cunning White Rabbit who used to be a judge. There’s also a torch singing Queen of Hearts played by Wendy Peters (that’s Cilla from Corrie to you and me, and she’s in the image below) who steals the show with her off with their heads routine.

It’s full of great music too, (by Frank Wildhorn with lyrics by Jack Murphy), more pop than traditional stage musical, with a boy band number here, a power ballad there and a tea table that doubles as a disco floor. But with some of the best sets and costumes you’ll ever see this is a show that looks great and sounds great and it’s definitely well worth a visit to the Auditorium.

Wonderland runs at Grimsby Auditorium until Saturday 4th March. Tickets are available from the Auditorium website – www.grimsbyauditorium.org.uk

Animal Farm At The Caxtons

Down on the farm the animals are revolting. Mr Jones has been evicted and now spends in evenings in the Red Lion telling anyone who’ll listen that it’s not right. The pigs and sheep and cows and horses (especially the sheep) are singing as they work. Everything in the world is good.

But of course this is Animal Farm, as adapted by Sir Peter Hall from the novel by George Orwell. We all know that it’s going to go pear shaped.

It’s a brave endeavour, taking on a text so beloved by the great British public but under the direction of Gemma Dodds the Caxtons carry it off in style in this excellent new production.
Are there any other books that are held so high in popular esteem as Animal Farm? To Kill A Mockingbird perhaps and it’s no coincidence that both are stalwarts of the schools literature syllabus. For some of us these books represent our last tentative dabble in the margins of proper grown up fiction before we reached adulthood and discovered Harry Potter.

Remember sitting around discussing which of the animals represented particular individuals from the Russian Revolution? But just how much relevance to the world of today can an allegorical dissection of the failings of early twentirth century Russian communism still have?

The answer is much more than you might think. A sudden populist uprising. A leader whose appeal is based on his apparent lack of subtlety and anti-intellectualism. Established truths which change when you back is turned. As Marx himself once said “Who are you going to believe? Me or your eyes?”

Napoleon, leader of the pigs knows the power of fake news and bluster all too well. Give that pig a blonde wig and unusually small trotters and we could be on the Washington Mall for his inauguration while his fellow animals work themselves almost beyond endurance as they wait for Napoleon to make the farm so great again.

It’s a very strong production, with many of the parts taken by members of the Caxton Youth Theatre and all involved acquit themselves admirably. The three pigs are excellent; Shalei Cook’s Napoleon exudes real menace while Alice Gibbett as Squealer has the newspeak down to a tee. Stewart Dodds is a fine Boxer, imbued with the naive enthusiasm of Stakhanov and Denny from Please Sir and Mike Wilson, playing a variety of villagers, creates a series of memorable cameos without overshadowing the younger members of the cast.

The best moments of the evening come from the relationship between Clover the goat and Muriel the horse. I apologise for referring to them after the show as the cows. It was dark.Clever enough to see that things are going wrong but insufficiently strong to challenge the ascendancy of the pigs, their despair and sense of betrayal is ours too and Grace Halton and Lisa February bring exactly the right blend of anger and uncertainty to their parts, giving the play it’s moral centre.

Animal Farm is at the Caxton Theatre until Saturday 28th January and it’s well worth an evening’s worth of your time.

ALL ABOARD FOR ANYTHING GOES AT THE MEMORIAL HALL

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It’s 1934 and SS American is about to sail from New York to England with a passenger list containing assorted aristocrats, clergymen, Wall Street magnates and showgirls. Cameras flash. The band plays. But not everyone is all that they seem.

Welcome to Anything Goes – the classic Cole Porter musical currently being presented at the Memorial Hall by Curtain Up Productions under the direction of David Wrightam.

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It’s one of Porter’s greatest shows, much revived and revised over the years, but still possessing the cool art deco shine of the era of the great ocean going liners and packed with sly wit, occasional smut, terrific dancing and of course some of the greatest songs ever written. In its present form it features not only the title number but also You’re The Top, It’s Delovely, Friendship and Let’s Misbehave. You’ll go a long time before you hear this many showstoppers in one night.

The first thing you notice about Curtain Up’s production is how great it looks – both set and costumes have that 1930s glamour down to a tee – and the show is staged with considerable ingenuity, allowing transitions from the deck to cabin interiors with the minimum of fuss and maximum style.

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All the cast are in fine voice, the choreography is a sharp as you could wish and the orchestra, under Keith Weston, approach their task enthusiastically but with enough subtlety to allow the vocals and lyrics to shine through.

As Reno Sweeney, notorious torch singer and femme fatale, Hayley Wrightam almost steals the show and the fact that she doesn’t do so is testament to the fine performances by the cast as a whole with special congratulations going to Andrew Bailey as Moonface Martin – Public Enemy Number 13 and Scott Smith as Sir Evelyn Oakleigh, whose duet with Reno to Let’s Misbehave is one of the highlights of the night. Sarah Hagerup as Bonnie is another standout – as mollish a moll as any gangster could ever wish.

Altogether this show is a must see for anyone who loves musicals. Highly recommended.

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Anything Goes is at The Memorial Hall from Wednesday 16th – Saturday 19th November at 7.30pm daily and with a Saturday matinee at 2.15pm. Tickets available from Cleethorpes Tourist Information at Cleethorpes Library or by phone on 01472 323111.

Same Time Next Year

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.