Swindon Wyvern, Aladdin Pantomime

One of my earliest and happiest memories of my childhood, was going as a family to the pantomime. This is one tradition that I have tried to carried over with my own family. I think Christmas in one of the main times for traditions. These could be from your childhood or why not start a new tradition. 

Pantomimes are perfect for all the family, no matter what age. It is a chance to take time out from hectic Christmas preparations and enjoying time together as a family, with friends or as a night out to the theatre.  The feel good songs, lovable characters and of course the booing of the baddies. I love hearing all of the children getting excited screaming ‘he’s behind you’. Pantomimes indeed make me feel festive and ready for the Christmas build up. 

The Wyvern Theatre in Swindon, kindly invited us to attend press night and see the production of this years pantomime….Aladdin. Starring Eastenders longest cast member, Ian Beale. Otherwise known as the talented Adam Woodyatt playing the evil baddie Abanazar (commence the booing). This actually is Adam’s 12th pantomime. Last year Adam actually squirted my husband Antony in the face…..much to my amusement.

Adam Woodyatt, Aladdin, Swindon

Josie originally was thinking of the Disney classic Aladdin. This is of course the pantomime version but there are similarities such as the lamp, genie and magic carpets and of course Aladdin.

This pantomime version of Aladdin brings in many characters such as Aladdin (Adam Bailey), Princess Jasmine (Rosanna Harris), Genie (Richard J Hunt),  Widow Twankey (Neil Bromley), Wishee Washee (Gary Jerry), The Emperor (David McKechnie) and Spirit of The Ring (Crischaela Vallender).

The production is brought together by the brilliant Ensemble who brings the scenes even more to life.  A great fact I found out was the dancers are part of a Juvenile Chorus and attend local schools and colleges. This is such a great touch for getting youngsters involved and a theatre production experience.

There are many feel good songs including a couple from mine and Josie’s favourite film of 2018… The Greatest Showman. Also including a sing-a-long of Baby Shark with Wishee Washee. You can’t help but join in with the actions, mainly as the song tends to stick in your head.

Aladdin, Adam Bailey

One part of the pantomime that was magical was the scene with Aladdin soaring through the sky on the magic flying carpet. Josie’s face was an absolute picture as she couldn’t work out how Aladdin was flying. For a pantomime you expect the normal special effects like the strategically placed smoke when Abanazar appeared on stage. The flying carpet really made the pantomime shine. 

The whole cast put on an amazing production. Adam Woodyatt again was brilliant, there was a hysterical scene with Wishee Washee, Abanazar and Widow Twankey in her laundrette, which had me crying with laughter.

Wishee Washee played by Gary Jerry was one of my favourite characters. Gary encouraged the audience to join in and had everyone clapping along. I also loved the sass of The Genie, Richard who was completely suited to the roll.

This was another fantastic pantomime put on by The Wyvern in Swindon. The Aladdin pantomime production is on until 6th January 2019. Next year is Sleeping Beauty which we will be booking and hopefully be taking Rowan to his first pantomime. 

*** These tickets were gifted by The Wyvern Theatre during Press Night. All words are honest and my own thoughts. 

*** Photo Credit | Anthony Hunt Photography

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If you love Roald Dahl style books (seriously who doesn’t?!) then you will certainly enjoy reading books by Britains Got Talent judge…David Walliams. One of his many books that David has wrote is Awful Auntie and rather than making the story into a TV Production most of David’s other books, this story was instead turned into a theatrical production.

Awful Auntie is currently on a UK tour and produced by The Birmingham Stage Company. We went along to press night at the Wyvern Theatre in Swindon to watch the show. We haven’t got round to reading Awful Auntie yet, so my review is only about the show and not in comparison to the books storyline.

The production of Awful Auntie is based on the best selling children’s book (2014) by comedian and best selling author David Walliams, and is actually David’s seventh book. We have enjoyed his other books and especially the TV adaptions. Other titles include Gangsta Granny, Mr Stink, Ratburger and recently Bad Dad. The style of David Walliams is very similar to Roald Dahl, keeping children entertained ….the more gruesome the better.

Awful Auntie is set in December 1933 and starts with Stella Saxby waking up bandaged from her neck down. Recently awoken from her coma to find both of her wealthy parents have died in a horrific car crash, the newly orphaned character wakes to find her Aunt Alberta has become her guardian. You can guess by the title Awful Auntie, Aunt Alberta is not going to be a pleasant character and is solely after Stella’s inheritance to Saxby Hall.

The character of Aunt Alberta played by Richard James, reminded me of the eccentric Count Olaf from Lemony Snickett. Straight away you notice all of the characters spitting image resemblance to the books illustrations by Tony Ross.

Alberta’s faithful feathered friend, Bavarian Owl Wagner is identical to the books illustration. Wagner was brought to life with the puppetry skills of Roberta Bellekom. The giant owl was Josie’s favourite character, which she is now aspiring to be a puppeteer.

The set helps the production become real, with self rotating pillars to create different rooms. One second you are in the coal room and the next moment you are watching the characters climb over the rooftops. The set which was designed by Jacqueline Trousdale was spectacular to see how something so simple looking, can be so effective.

I personally preferred the second half of Awful Auntie, but Josie throughly enjoyed all of the performance. The first half is more of the introduction of characters and revelation of Aunt Alberta being a possible murderer. The second half is full of adventure as Stella (played by Georgina Leonidas) and cockney ghost Soot (played by Ashley Cousins) try to save Saxby Hall.

You see how masterful the set design is during the second half of the production. Every moments sound effects was all executed at correct timings. There was a lovely moment towards the end which shows a really lovely message that I personally found meaningful.

Awful Auntie Live is on at The Wyvern until Saturday 24th November 2018. The tour continues to The Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham, then off to Theatre Royal in Plymouth. Finally, over Christmas the show is available to see for a few weeks at London’s Bloomsbury Theatre. Tickets for the rest of the tour can be found online here.

Birmingham Stage Company are back at The Wyvern Theatre in April 2019 showing Horrible Histories. One we are really looking forward to is in November 2019 they are bringing Tom Gates Live On Stage. Josie-Ann has read most of the Tom Gates books and is a huge fan

(Photo Credit: Mark Douet)

Overall we really enjoyed the performance 

✰✰✰✰✰

Simply Stacey, Awful Auntie Live Swindon Wyvern

*** Gifted tickets to the production are in return for our honest review. All words are honest and our own.
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Back in 1997…. the classic film The Full Monty soon become one of the most popular film releases of that year. The thongs are back out from the closet, and The Full Monty cast and crew are back for a pants dropping UK Tour.

The Full Monty Live UK Tour 2018

The tour is currently at The Wyvern Theatre, Swindon from Monday 29th October – Saturday 3rd November. I was invited to the Press Night to review the performance, which was a sell out and packed to the rafters. The Full Monty Tour is winner of Best Touring Production Theatre Award.

“I NEED HOT STUFF”

The Full Monty UK Tour is based on the 90’s film and was wrote by Simon Beaufoy and directed by Rupert Hill. I did wonder how the film would be portrayed on the stage for a theatrical performance, I have been to musicals mainly in the past that had minimal staging to incorporate scene changes, but throughout the play the scene changes and set design had been carefully thought out and designed. The staging couldn’t have worked any better and helped the show come alive.

The all-star casting is impressive, and superbly cast for each character…..

Gary Lucy (Gaz) | Gary’s professional credits are impressive and main ones you may have seen him in is Hollyoaks, Footballers Wives, Eastenders and The Bill to name a few. Gary played the main lovable cocky character who is trying to earn some cash to keep seeing his son, brilliantly. The character originally played by Robert Carlyle in the movie, was brought to life by Gary. Being a super talented actor really helped go from funny to serious scenes and the performance was well acted throughout.

Andrew Dunn (Gerald) | Credits include Dinner Ladies, Coronation Street, Dalziel and Pascoe. I actually preferred the way Andrew played the part. I found the character was more amusing than in the film and I actually preferred the way this came across in the theatre production.

Louis Emerick (Horse) | I was trying to find the picture of this but couldn’t. I met Louis years and years ago (I was still at School) at a LFC Football Game. Louis is well known from his Brookside days and more recently Coronation Street. Again another well played character and blimey Louis has some moves on his scene of auditioning to join the lads.

Joe Gill (Lomper) | Best known for playing Finn Barton in Emmerdale, who I adored and was gutted he was killed off. I didn’t recognise him when I first seen the production was coming to Swindon, but when I found out it was Joe, I was excited to see how he would portray the part and Joe did not disappoint. There was one serious scene when you first meet the character that shocked me, but was amazingly well done and really showed the extent of making the production come alive.

Kai Owen (Dave) | I loved how Kai made the character as lovable and funny as the original character from the film. The bromance chemistry between Dave and Gaz was believable and both Gary and Kai really made the characters work together well. TV credits include Waterloo Road, Torchwood and Hollyoaks.

James Redmond (Guy) | You may recognise James from Holby City, Emmerdale, Coronation Street and another Hollyoaks cast member. James reminded me of his Hollyoaks character and was another well played performance. When Guy shows his talents, I was crying. Either was a stage mishap or it was meant to happen but either way this part was absolutely brilliant just before the interval.

Fraser Kelly (Nathan) | I love the fact that Fraser’s character seemed more involved than in the film version. Fraser was on the original UK Tour in 2014 and is back this year. Fraser gave a faultless performance as the character Nathan, and again the scenes with the rest of the cast was well acted.

Even though the theatre production of The Full Monty is only based on the film, the cast all made the character their own. Each cast member and scene did remind me of the film (which I totally feel I need to watch again), one brilliant scene was the waiting in line at the job club and dancing when the music came on. You knew as soon as you spotted the line what was coming and the laughs soon started from the uncontrollable dance moves to the groove. The attention to detail was brilliant too, from black and white TV’s, records and even a Natwest piggybank (I had some of these in my childhood days). These details really make you feel back to that era.

“YOU CAN LEAVE YOUR HAT ON”

Then was the moment everyone was waiting for! As watching you were wanting the group of friends to pull of a performance of a lifetime (as well as their clothes). I loved the staging just before the performance which was superbly well thought of. When the main performance scene came, it was made that you are the audience and really worked well with the whole feel of the show.


I wont lie….I was wolf whistling, and mum was clapping away to the well know track awaiting for the hats not to be left on. I can confirm they DID the Full Monty! The final performance was the perfect end to the production. Just as Gerald’s problem in the show….there was a standing ovation and everyone was cheering.

The show is on tour for the rest of 2018 and part of 2019, so there are plenty of dates to choose from…..dates can be found Wyvern Theatre. Hats off for all of the cast, the whole production was bloody hilarious and is well worth a watch.

Also incase you were wondering, I did not see any knickers thrown, apart from the thongs off the lads 🙂

*** Press pass tickets was provided in return of my review. All wording is my own words and completely honest.
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I was invited Press Night to see this years Wyvern Theatre Summer Youth Project production of the Charles Dickens classic musical…Oliver

Oliver Summer Youth Project Wyvern Theatre Swindon

The Summer Youth Project is a youth project based Swindon. During the summer holidays, The Wyvern Theatre gives up to 200 youngsters aged 9-21 the chance for an experience of working in a professional theatre. Not only for the chance of being on stage in front of the audience, but also providing a youth technical team and many are behind the scenes working on the production.

The most amazing fact about productions from the Summer Youth Project is the whole project is executed in just two weeks…..yes I haven’t made a typo, the whole annual Summer Youth Project family produce a spectacular production in just under a fortnight, this is from the start of the project to the finished five performances. In able to achieve the mammoth task of a full scale musical in an unbelievable amount of time, the Summer Youth Project are provided with a highly skilled creative team to assist and guide the team.

Wyvern Theatre’s Theatre Director Derek Aldridge gave a speech before the show to us in the pre-show hospitality room about the project and the Wyvern Foundation. Derek stated about the hard work gone into the performance and I like the fact even the staff at The Wyvern are all so proud of the cast on and off stage. Everyone across the board was getting involved in the excitement, we even were given smudges upon arrival which Josie thought was brilliant.

 

Consider Yourself One Of Us!

The Summer Youth Project have produced many productions over the past 24 years, and this year was the turn of the classic Oliver directed by Maggie Rawlinson. I used to love the film Oliver, and for some reason is one film we haven’t got round to watching as a family. Watching the production made me remember how much I loved the film. I brought Josie-Ann along to watch this performance of Oliver, Josie loves films, musicals and theatre so she was my perfect companion for this show.

Oliver Summer Youth Project Swindon Wyvern Theatre

Upon taking our seats at The Wyvern Theatre, straight away the set looked outstanding. I wasn’t expecting a fully designed set to the level this was. Straight away you feel like you are watching a professional production. As the lights drop and the stage lighting commences, suddenly swarms of youngsters started appearing using the aisles and stage and all singing beautifully. I loved how the production used all areas of the theatre. This means the large Summer Youth Project can show off each person, even the performers who haven’t got principle roles were still all given their moments to shine. I thought this was a lovely effect and really shows everyone gets their opportunity to be on the stage.

The whole set worked all the way through the production, slightly changing depending on the current scene in play. Each set change was swiftly changed and again all looked professional. from the high numbers from the start of the production appearing and all in the correct places, each person knowing exactly their position and the delivery of the first song I could now get out of my head all of this has been done in under two weeks.

Oliver Summer Youth Project Wyvern Theatre Simply Stacey

Casting was indeed superbly chosen. The performers who was chosen to star for the principles roles were perfect at their roles. Oliver (Cory White) was uncanny to Oliver in the film, and was perfectly portrayed. All of the roles were so outstanding and seriously I would struggle to pick out performers that shone as each and every performer put in over 100% into their roles and each performer was simply outstanding. Nancy (Rhea Thorpe) was excellent with the accent, her singing was perfect. The way Rhea brought the character to life was superb along with her sidekick Bet (Imogen Timms). One character that I disliked in the film but absolutely loved on the Summer Youth Project performance was Mr Bumble (Toby Kearney), he was brilliantly showcased and I much preferred the way Toby portrayed the character.

Oliver Summer Youth Project Swindon Wyvern Theatre Simply Stacey

One of the most known characters, The Artful Dodger (Michael Kerr) again was just like the film showcasing the likeable cheeky charm of the lovable character. One character that I did think I wonder how they portray was Fagin (Archie Fisher). Archie was actually nothing short of amazing. The way he performed and executed the character, showing the style of Fagin was out of this world. Watching Archie perform you totally forgot he is only a 16 year old lad, you completely get drawn in to believing he is actually Fagin. The way Archie portrayed his character was unbelievable, the solo song Archie performance of ‘Rewriting The Situation’ was amazing, not just because of the singing but also the acting of the musical number.

Oliver Summer Youth Project Wyvern

I don’t know any of the cast personally, but you can’t help feeling so proud of them all watching the performance. Each performer shone in their own right. The high quality performances the performers brought to the stage shows with the dedication and commitment they have shown with the incredible time of producing Oliver that the cast of the Summer Youth Project are destined for amazing careers. I must also state again, even the technical side was flawless and the backstage crew get easily forgotten about, but you can see how much work they also have put in to the show.

The performance was so high quality that you honestly felt like you was watching a West End production. One of the many highlights watching the production was how much the enjoyment shone through the performers. Each member of the Summer Youth Project was in there element performing. The big musical numbers was one of my personal favourites throughout the performance. The flawless choreography and musical numbers were spectacular and of West End quality. I absolutely loved  after the outstanding finale performance of ‘Food Glorious Food, Consider Yourself, I’d Do Anything’ (Reprise) the audience applauded and the cast received standing ovations for their extraordinary performance. The part I noticed is how much all  of the cast members faces shown at this moment. Each and every performers faces were beaming which I am sure this makes the extreme hard work totally worth it. They all also look like they have made some great friends which is another bonus from attending the project.

Thank you to the Wyvern Theatre for inviting us and a huge thank you to the Summer Youth Project for a spectacular performance. If you would like to find out more about the Summer Youth Project then click here for details. Josie was absolutely blown away with the show (and turned 9 this week) is desperate to join the project in 2019 for their performance of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  At the time of writing this the last show of Oliver is tonight, but you can buy tickets online at Swindon Wyvern Theatre for each of the performances the Summer Youth Project show.

See the lastest shows on at The Wyvern Theatre here.


Simply Stacey,

*** The Wyvern Theatre invited us to review the show and exchanged us tickets in return. All comments and thoughts are my own words and completely honest. Photo credits to Vicki Blatchley.
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The theatre production of The Play That Goes Wrong is guaranteed to give you plenty of full on, laugh out loud moments

Play That Goes Wrong

 

Currently the production of The Play That Goes Wrong is on UK Tour and I was lucky enough to go along to the press night at our local theatre at The Wyvern in Swindon. The play is on in Swindon from Monday 11th June – Saturday 16th June and was sold out on the opening night that we attended.

The show is a Mischief Theatre production and is currently also showing in London at The Duchess Theatre, the play is in it’s 4th year of production. For a full listing of further shows of the UK Tour please see here.

The show has won an Olivier Award and Whats On Stage Award for Best New Comedy and if you are lucky enough to go and see the production, you can see why the show has won these prestigious awards.

The show is a play within a play, a show produced by the fictional Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society. Straight away during everyone seating the cast was involving the audience, looking for a missing dog and Trevor the Lights and Sounds Technician had lost his Duran Duran CD Box Set. This was amusing to watch when new audience members was turning up and hadn’t a clue what the cast was coming up to ask them. They even got one man on stage before the show started to help hold up parts of the staging which looked like it had been built by my DIY-shy husband.

You get the feeling of a show on show immediately as Trevor starts talking on his ear piece for everyone to take places, then the director of the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society appears to explain about failed past productions such as Snow White and The Tall Broad Gentleman. This nationwide production of The Murder at Haversham Manor is set out to be one of their most successful productions, or that is what they are hoping as long as nothing goes wrong….which you know by the title this won’t be the case.

The Murder at Haversham Manor is a live Cluedo style story crossed with Faulty Towers style humour, set in the 1920’s. Charles Haversham the owner of Haversham Manor is murdered at his engagement party, and then comes the story of who murdered Charles, along with a series of unfortunate moments which brings the humour and laughter rolling in at every available moment.

Straight from the word go, the mishaps start appearing and each one getting more funnier as the show goes on. The way the cast perform the mistakes is nothing short of hilarious and the acting was so well thought out and you really get the feeling you are watching a small dramatic society play that is going horribly wrong.

Everyone wants their moment to shine but fate is not going the way they had planned. One hilarious actor was Bobby Hirston who plays Max Bennett who was playing Cecil Haversham, during the performance he kept smiling and bowing to the audience as though this is his first ever show and the fact he was immensely proud of himself and found himself funny in the process.

The show was so sleek from one hilarious moment to the next. Each funny line or action seamlessly ran into the next punchline. I am a silent laugher, I very rarely laugh out loud. I of course find things funny and the show completely kept me amused at all times, even to the fact moments made me proper laugh out loud at moments, I even was crying with laughter a few times.

The set design was also well designed and all of the set worked well with the show, and again thought of extremely well to make use of every space on the stage. The stage and set also helps to aid to the experience of the failing performance of the aspiring amateur dramatic performers.

All of the actors involved in The Play That Goes Wrong  acted and played their parts superbly. You really get to know their own characters, who are playing characters for the production. Another favourite of mine was Kazeem Tosin Amore who played Robert acting as Thomas Colleymore, in the second half there is a tummy aching, getting a stitch as you laugh at the mishap himself and the director of the production get into with the set. I won’t give anything away, but this was one of my favourite scenes.

Play Goes Wrong

As with when I publish product reviews and trying a new product fo the first time, this play and experience has left us wanting to see more shows that we wouldn’t have thought of normally. We tend to go to the pantomime each year and shows for the kids, but we haven’t made an evening of it and go to watch a show together which is something we want to try and do more.

Myself and my husband Antony thoroughly enjoyed laughing our way through the catastrophic production so much, that we booked tickets to take Josie to go and watch as this is suitable for all ages from 8+, I know she will find this extremely funny.

Overall I didn’t expect to enjoy The Play That goes Wrong as much as I did and I would urge you to make sure you catch this show in a town near you. I can’t imagine anyone would not find this hilarious, and would not enjoy the production. Everything has been completely well rehearsed and thought out to bring a flawless performance, each joke runs straight into another one. One thing I admired was, the show also wasn’t predictable. Yes you know something is going to go wrong on more than one occasion, that is most certain just from the title. But the majority of the gags and mishaps I wasn’t expecting and this really does keep the audience glued to the performance.

I certainly would give the show 5 stars. The amount of passion the actors and actresses put into the performance really shines and this concludes to an excellent viewing experience for the audience. I challenge you to go and see the show and not laugh within the first 5 minutes of the curtain opening.

Have you been to see The Play That Goes Wrong? I would love to know your thoughts and comments of your experiance of watching the show.

 

 

 

 

 

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