May 12th, 2012

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Posh, Duke of Yorks

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I am rerunning this because it opened today. I have a ticket to see it in June and I cannot wait!

Posh, Duke of York's, Fri 11 May to Sat 4 Aug 2012
Written by Laura Wade
Directed by Lyndsey Turner

Cut and pasted from the Royal Court website:
In an oak-panelled room in Oxford, ten young bloods with cut-glass vowels and deep pockets are meeting, intent on restoring their right to rule. Members of an elite student dining society, the boys are bunkering down for a wild night of debauchery, decadence and bloody good wine. But this isn’t just a jolly: they’re planning a revolution. Welcome to the Riot Club.

Follow the link for all the details and to book tickets:

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Singin' In The Rain, Palace Theatre

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Cut and pasted from the Singin' In The Rain Website:

Following its critically acclaimed, sold-out run at Chichester Festival Theatre, Singin' in the Rain is now making a splash at London's Palace Theatre.

It’s the roaring ’20s and silent movie stars are the biggest names in the world. Don Lockwood has it all, a string of hit films and a studio-engineered romance with the most beautiful actress in town. But with the new phenomenon of the talking picture on the way and a chance meeting with a talented young chorus girl set to steal his heart, things are about to change for Don and for Hollywood forever.

With all the charm, romance, comedy and tinsel town glamour of one of the world’s best-loved films, Jonathan Church’s brand new production features a glorious score including the classics Good Morning, Make ‘em Laugh, Moses Supposes and the legendary Singin’ in the Rain.

Adam Cooper, Daniel Crossley and Scarlett Strallen are a joyous trio, dazzling in the roles made famous by Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds. They lead a multi-talented cast which also features Katherine Kingsley as the hilarious blonde bombshell Lina Lamont, Michael Brandon as the highly-strung studio boss trying to win Hollywood’s biggest prize, the first hit ‘talkie’ and Sandra Dickinson as gossip columnist Dora Bailey.

With stylish, soaring choreography from Andrew Wright and Simon Higlett’s sumptuous set design, Singin’ in the Rain will shower you with everything you could ever want in a hit West End musical!

For all the details on the production and to buy tickets follow the link:

Raks's Reaction

I went to see this tonight (Friday 11 May). I only went to see it because of Adam Cooper. I love Adam and I think his dancing is out of this world.

I have no familiarity with the film, except of course the iconic Singin' in the Rain dance sequence (although I have to be honest and admit I am more familiar with the Morecambe and Wise version than with the original! Shows what a true Brit I am!). So I came to the story fresh.

Overall, I would say that I was disappointed. There is nothing wrong with the production per se. But, for me, it lacked the "WOW" factor. There was nothing mindblowing or outstanding or memorable about it. Given that there are so many excellent musicals running in the West End at the moment, I would not choose to see this again.

Adam was wasted in this. I have seen Adam in a range of productions; his dancing is always genius. This was his weakest performance. That was not his fault; the choreography simply was not challenging enough and so he didn't ever reach the heights that he is capable of reaching.

I will give a shout out to Katherine Kingsley as Lina Lamont who, in my mind, completely stole the show with her performance. She was just brilliant.

Finally, the actual Singin' in the Rain dance number, and the finale, is worth seeing because it features copious amounts of water on stage, actors jumping around in said water, and totally and utterly drenching the front rows of the stalls to much audience and actor amusement. But a West End musical needs way more than that gimmick.

Sadly, I would not recommend this. I went in a cheap seat, I definitely would not pay for an expensive ticket, and I would not go again. Sorry Adam!

In fact, my recommendation is that you forget this and watch the Morecambe and Wise version of the iconic Singin' in the Rain number - catch it on youtube!

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The Custard Boys: Best fringe theatre production 2012 (in Raks's opinion!) closes today

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I am re-running this because The Custard Boys closes today. So if you want to see it, this is your last chance!

I have decided to blow out Collaborators at the National and go and see this instead for one last time.

Cut and pasted from the Tabard Theatre website:

Boys of the Empire Productions present the World Premiere of THE CUSTARD BOYS, Tabard Theatre
Based on the novel by John Rae
Adapted and directed by Glenn Chandler
10 April - 12 May 2012

The Custard Boys: A play about love, war and grown-up stuff

Five London schoolboys are evacuated to a Norfolk seaside village, far from Hitler's bombs. They want to fight for England but are too young to join up and too old to wait. They join the school army cadet force and learn to fire rifles, they form a gang and play at being soldiers. But it is not real war.

Sixteen year old John Curlew dreams of being a Spitfire pilot. Mark Stein is Jewish and a pacifist refugee who hates the war and longs for it to end. When these two boys are thrown together and form a romantic bond, their friendship splits the group and invites fear and prejudice. But it is a challenge to a rival gang which becomes the catalyst for a sinister train of events. While men die in their thousands overseas, in a small corner of rural England a group of schoolboys embark on a final war game which will lead ultimately to tragedy.

The Custard Boys was filmed in the 1960s as Reach for Glory and is a story of sexual awakening, loyalty and betrayal which was compared upon publication to Lord of the Flies.

Follow the link for more details, to view the two teaser trailers, and to book tickets:

Boys of the Empire Website is here:

Raks's Reaction

This is adapted from a novel and a film both of which I am unfamiliar with so, for me, this was a new play. It was genius - the story, the themes, the writing and, in this production, above all else, the acting.

In January I stuck my neck out and said that Haunted Child by Joe Penhall would be, without a shadow of a doubt, the best new play I would have the privilege of seeing live at the theatre this year. I stand by that.

Now, in early May, I am awarding the title of "Best Fringe Theatre Production" to The Custard Boys at the Tabard Theatre. I saw this on Tuesday 1 May. It was OUTSTANDING.

There is a young ensemble cast, but they owned and commanded the stage right from the off. All the young men are on stage about 15 mins before the production opens, hanging out and doing what young men do at school/college in their spare time eg playing cards, chatting, fighting. I loved this informal prologue to the play.

The subject matter of the play spoke to me as it covers the themes of race, religion, sexuality, war, and bullying. The themes of the play are universal and can speak to everyone. The play is very much Lord of the Flies but set in the Norfolk countryside, which makes the story even more shocking, as the events are taking place in the middle of the English countryside with adults present, not on an island in the middle of nowhere with no adults to maintain civilisation and society.

The production really brought that period (ie England during the Second World War) alive for me. That is what theatre should do. It should take you out of yourself, to a different world, and tell you a strong and powerful story that speaks to you. I got a real sense of what it must have been like living in England at the time, sent away a long way away from your parents and your home, and living with the fear that Germany is going to attack or invade at any minute. The first half ends with Norwich being bombed and with the war coming to England; to where the young men are living and being schooled.

A couple of the young actors play women during the course of the play; they play the mothers of the young men, so they are playing middle-aged women. This was excellent; they really captured the female gestures, and movement, the body language and the way of speaking. One of the young actors plays a strict and rigid Headmaster down to a tee, and another does a very good impersonation of Churchill. I thought the acting across the whole of the piece by all the young actors in the ensemble cast was excellent. All the actors were very confident and self-assured; as I said they owned and commanded the stage and that impressed me. It is impossible to give a shout out to one or two of the actors because ALL of the actors in the ensemble were excellent. The cast are here:

The play, for me anyway, explores the themes of bullying, race, religion, sexuality, war, gangs, truth vs lies, and the fact that thoughts and actions will have serious and grave consequences. The ending is truly shocking.
"The horror! The horror!" - Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness.

In a nutshell, without a shadow of a doubt, the BEST FRINGE THEATRE PRODUCTION I will have the privilege of seeing live this year. Well done to The Custard Boys!

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