American Idiot

24th March 2016

American Idiot Review
Curve Studio

Our rating: *****

Music by Green Day
Lyrics by Billie Joe Armstrong
Director and Choreographer Racky Plews

Fifteen years ago I was watching Billy Joe Armstrong and his punk band Green Day performing live at The Reading Festival. I have been loving their music ever since. The audience in Curve Studio theatre tonight also loved it; they gave the performers a standing ovation at the end of the show. It was one of the best musical events I have seen at Curve, or anywhere else for that matter.

So many things stood out for me in this show: all the cast members danced, sang and acted and played guitars; in fact in one scene they are all on stage playing guitars – en masse. You won’t see that again in a musical in a long time. The cast were very ably supported by a live band; some of the band guitarists were on stage, on a platform above the main performance area. The three principals sang songs accompanying themselves on guitars.

Green Day's American Idiot runs at Curve from 19th March. Picture from 2015 London production. Photo: Darren Bell.
Green Day’s American Idiot runs at Curve from 19th March.
Picture from 2015 London production.
Photo: Darren Bell.

The moment that stole the show for me was Matt Thorpe singing Boulevard Of Broken Dreams; the Green Day song that has a special resonance for me; I quoted from the lyrics in my novel The Trench, were its sentiments epitomised what rock bands often seem to feel about working in live music. Not what the song is about but hey it seemed to fit anyway.

I walk a lonely road
The only one that I have ever known
Don’t know where it goes
But it’s home to me and I walk alone

American Idiot is a punk rock opera; its roots could be said to lie in the rich soil of Tommy, The Rocky Horror Show, West Side Story, Jesus Christ Superstar and various other productions that have broken the mould of musical theatre over the past few decades. Green Day’s album of the same name was released in 2004, the musical being premiered in 2009 at The Berkeley Repertory Theatre prior to the show moving on to Broadway.

Tonight’s show at Curve’s Studio was absolutely marvellous. The standing ovation given by the audience at the final curtain was well deserved. The singing was fantastic, the dance was massively good, the acting amazing and the whole show a complete sensation.

American Idiot was exciting, colourful, dramatic, engrossing, poignant, enjoyable… no shortage of adjectives to describe how good it was. The show opens with the cast singing and dancing to American Idiot, the hit title song Green Day’s album of 2004. A number that fizzed with unbridled vitality.

Well maybe I’m the faggot America.
I’m not a part of a redneck agenda.
Now everybody do the propaganda.
And sing along to the age of paranoia.

Everyone in the cast was good but Matt Thorpe (who played Johnny) was pretty amazing; Tunny (played by Alexis Gerred) was electric and Amelia Lily (as Whatsername) wonderful, Steve Rushton as Will, superb. The performance of the cast sizzled with energy. These guys really rocked out bringing it all to life on the stage.

We did not see the drummer Alex Marchisone until he came on stage for the curtain call right at the end. But the guitarists were visible for most of the show which was great because seeing them playing live gave the whole thing an extra resonance.

The show tells the story of three friends from a suburban area, following different journeys in search of their true selves. Through the songs they express their love, their rage and their struggles. The theme of the show includes a preoccupation with TV and a screen is lowered over the stage from time to time. The story line revolves around the lives of Johnny, Will and Tunny. Will’s girlfriend Heather becomes pregnant. Johnny wanders through the city streets pining for a woman he saw in a window. Tunny enlists for the army. Johnny starts to shoot heroin. Will feels trapped in life as a father with a baby and Tunny is shot while on active service.

American Idiot. Amelia Lily as Whatsername. From the 2015 London Production. Photo: Darren Bell.
American Idiot. Amelia Lily as Whatsername. From the 2015 London Production. Photo: Darren Bell.

Well there is a lot more to the story and I don’t want to spoil it for you; I just want you to see it. American Idiot is one of the best productions I have seen at Curve – and there have been a few of them. The show’s eight day run in Leicester is a great shame, for its brevity,   but it’s on tour and many other audiences in many other towns will want to see it. The show is moving on to several other cities in the UK between now and July.

Find out more about the show on the American Idiot website

American Idiot. Amelia Lily as Whatsername. From the 2015 London Production. Photo: Darren Bell.
American Idiot. Amelia Lily as Whatsername. From the 2015 London Production. Photo: Darren Bell.

See also:

Our coverage of Rent, the musical

Blood Brothers review

Rocky Horror Show review

LordofTheFlies at Curve

Lord Of The Flies – review

Curve, main theatre
Lord of The Flies runs from 8th February to 13th February

A play adapted for the stage by Nigel Williams from the novel by William Golding.
Directed by Timothy Sheader
Our rating: ****

Reviewed by Trevor Locke

A gripping and imaginative production.

Lord of the Flies. Ralph and Piggy. Photo: Johan Persson.
Lord of the Flies. Ralph and Piggy.
Photo: Johan Persson.

Reading the programme notes for tonight’s play was almost as entertaining as the show itself. In The nature of being human, Professor Tanya Byron takes ‘a deeper look at what this story tells us us about the nature of being human.’ The said academic is a consultant in child and adolescent mental health, writer and presenter on TV shows. Her piece, in the programme, was absorbing. It got me thinking about the plays, books and films that have portrayed teenage violence since William Golding’s novel was published in 1954 and Peter Brook’s film of the book came out in 1963. I would not want to suggest that this play is about teenage violence – it portrays much more than that – but several films came to mind as I read Byron’s contribution. I remembered attending a conference of youth justice workers at which SCUM was screened. Alan Clarke’s dark portrayal of life in a British borstal, released in 1983, was a seminal moment for me, at that time, as well as for the 200 or so social workers and probation officers with whom I watched the film. What stuck in my mind was the scene in which the Borstal inmates riot in the dining hall breaking up the furniture in a collective frenzy of teenage violence. Bear in mind that the old Borstals were based on English public schools and their regimes of character-building and devotion to rules and discipline.

LORD OF THE FLIES by Golding, , Author - William Golding, Director - Timothy Sheader, Co-Director - Liam Steel, Designer - Jon Bausor, Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, 2011, Credit: Johan Persson/
LORD OF THE FLIES by Golding, , Author – William Golding, Director – Timothy Sheader, Co-Director – Liam Steel, Designer – Jon Bausor, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, 2011, Credit: Johan Persson/

As I continued to read, other films came into my mind: Lindsay Anderson’s IF which satirised the life of English public schools, Brighton Rock by Graham Green, a story of teenage sociopaths, hoodlums and the battles brought by Rockers against Mods, The Outsiders, Francis Ford Coppola’s 1983 classic about tough working class teens and their rivals from the wealthier side of town. In fact, I even saw parallels with West Side Story, Romeo and Juliet and Rebel Without a Cause.

LORD OF THE FLIES by Golding, , Author - William Golding, Director - Timothy Sheader, Co-Director - Liam Steel, Designer - Jon Bausor, Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, 2011, Credit: Johan Persson/
LORD OF THE FLIES by Golding, , Author – William Golding, Director – Timothy Sheader, Co-Director – Liam Steel, Designer – Jon Bausor, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, 2011, Credit: Johan Persson/

Many art forms since the 50s and 60s have dwelt on the nature of young male behaviour and seen it in dark terms of violence and aggression. To Professor Byron, tonight’s play is about ‘human nature’ despite the fact that the characters are all male and all young (in the book they are preadolescent, 6 to 12) and there are no female characters in the play. Tonight’s cast was made up of actors who looked to be in their late teens or early 20s with the exception of Perceval ( a role played tonight by David Evans). Ever since the Brixton Riots of the 1980s, teenagers and young adults have been demonised in the news and popular culture, which might explain why Golding’s 1954 novel has such an enduring appeal.

Ralph in Lord of The Flies. Photo: Johan Persson.
Ralph in Lord of The Flies.
Photo: Johan Persson.

Like a lot of very successful books and dramas, Lord of the Flies can be interpreted in a number of ways and certainly its plot operates on many levels. It is ostensibly about a group of English public school boys who are marooned on a desert island after their air-plane crashes. It shows how the thin veneer of their upper class upbringing and civilisation is destroyed as they resort to savagery, tribalism, murder and bloodsports. In and beneath that, the plot is about leadership, morality and power, portraying the tense dialectic of group dynamics with individuality. You might see the plot as a struggle for survival, and yes it does show that, or what happens to well brought-up boys when the reins of adult supervision are removed.

LORD OF THE FLIES by Golding, , Author - William Golding, Director - Timothy Sheader, Co-Director - Liam Steel, Designer - Jon Bausor, Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, 2011, Credit: Johan Persson/
LORD OF THE FLIES by Golding, , Author – William Golding, Director – Timothy Sheader, Co-Director – Liam Steel, Designer – Jon Bausor, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, 2011, Credit: Johan Persson/

Tonight’s production at Curve was dominated by the set design of Jon Bausor. The plot takes place on a desert island sometimes on the beach (near to the remains of the crashed aircraft), sometimes on the top of a hill (Castle Rock) and at times in a forest. Putting all that on to a small stage was bound to be a challenge. As with many recent productions, the same set remains in place throughout the two acts. The action – of which there is plenty – takes place around, in and on the various parts of the fuselage of the tail of the crashed plane. It is a set which requires the audience to use its imagination.

The cast of young male actors imbued the production with plenty of energy and when not acting their roles were choreographed into a series of dance-like moves, moments when some of them were frozen while the dialogue took place elsewhere and the kind of running, jumping, climbing and leaping about that only a young athletic ensemble could achieve. Nigel Williams’s adaptation of the Golding novel tells the story and unravels the plot (however you want to interpret it) whilst grappling with the logistics of life in a forested desert island with a beach and a hill. Reading Nick Smurthwaite’s programme note ‘Trouble in Paradise‘, I particularly valued his paragraph:

My experience showed me that the only falsification in Golding’s fable is the length of time the descent into savagery takes. His action takes about three months. I believe that if the cork of continued adult presence were removed from the bottle, complete catastrophe could occur within one long weekend.

He is quoting the words of Peter Brook, the director or the 1963 film, in which he took a group of untrained young actors to make the film on an island in Puerto Rico. When Golding sent his book to the publishers, the plot began with an atomic explosion which brought down the boys’ plane and led to the long the long delay to their rescue.

In that respect, Lord of the Flies is an allegory of the shallowness of civilisation generally and of mankind’s descent into savagery when law and order are removed; if that is how you want to see it, then both the book, the film and the play deserve a place alongside Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story.

A production from Regent’s Park Theatre Ltd.

See also:

Our review of King Charles III.

Feature: Food in the twentyfirst century.

arts and disability

Tuesday 17th November 2015

The Attenborough Arts Centre

Art, Life, Activism

The exhibition runs from 18th November to 17th January 2016

Tony Heaton. Great Britain from a wheelchair. 1994. Photograph courtesy of Tony Heaton.
Tony Heaton. Great Britain from a wheelchair. 1994. Photograph courtesy of Tony Heaton.

A series of galleries exhibiting the art reflecting disability politics. Disability activism has seen a revival in recent years, caught up in controvertial issues such as the Bedroom Tax, Work Capability Assessments and the measures flowing from the Government’s insistence on austerity as an economic measure. All these have hit hard people struggling to cope with disadvantage. These policies came after the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995 which was meant to give people equal treatment and access on a par with the rest of society.

Tony Heaton. Gold Lamé. 2014. Photograph by John Barraclough
Tony Heaton. Gold Lamé. 2014. Photograph by John Barraclough

Today’s launch brought together acclaimed artists whose work reflects and is inspired by the politics of disability; through sculpture, performance, film, drawing and photography. The day featured a visit by Sir Peter Bazalgette, Chair of the Arts Council of England and Michael Attenborough CBE, son of the late Richard Attenborough whose name is given to the centre.

Sir Peter Bazalgette in 2013, being interviewed by Trevor Locke (left) and Tim Parker of Radio Leicester. Photo © Kieran Pattni
Sir Peter Bazalgette in 2013, being interviewed by Trevor Locke (left) and Tim Parker of Radio Leicester.
Photo © Kieran Pattni

Sir Peter Bazalgette has been in Leicester before; he visited Leicester on 8th November 2013 to see some of the exciting projects of the city’s arts and culture scene. He told Arts in Leicester during his previous visit “I have had a really inspiring morning and early afternoon. I have been to Curve, Phoenix, a presentation from The Mighty Creatives, I am now here at Soft Touch, and what I have seen is a city gearing up for its City of Culture bid – for which I wish it the very best of luck. The results will be available very soon. It’s all about ambition and it’s all about what arts and culture can do for a city – in terms of its pride, it’s sense of place, it’s tourist offer, it’s institutions and it’s education.”

Bobby Baker. Day444. 1997 - 2008. Photograph by Daily Life Ltd
Bobby Baker. Day444. 1997 – 2008. Photograph by Daily Life Ltd

The exhibition brings together the work of many artists who have contributed to the politics of disability. There are many names but a few of them include Tony Heaton, Noëmi Lakmaier, Bobby Baker, Simon Raven, Aaron Williamson, Adam Reynolds, Liz Crow, Ann Whitehurst, David Heney and others.

Aaron Williamson. Gold Hearing Trumpet. 2010. Photograph by Joe Maxwell
Aaron Williamson. Gold Hearing Trumpet. 2010. Photograph by Joe Maxwell

The Attenborough Arts centre is looking forward to the official opening of its new £1.5 million gallery in January 2016. The new gallery has been constructed next door to the existing building.

Aaron Williamson. Decorated Skull. 2010. Photograph by Joe Maxwell
Aaron Williamson. Decorated Skull. 2010. Photograph by Joe Maxwell

Opened in 1997 by the Late Princess Diana as The Richard Attenborough Centre for Disability and the Arts, the centre bears the name of its patron. Tony Heaton, artist, curator and Chief Executive of Shape Arts, said “Art, Life and Activism raises questions about the relationship between art and politics and invites us to consider the complex, social, economic and cultural forces characterising disability and its representation in mainstream culture.” Shape Arts is a disability-led arts organisation, established, 40 years ago, on the principle that all disabled people should have the opportunity to participate fully in arts and culture and work with the vision of creating an inspiring and inclusive arts sector.

Visit the Attenborough Arts Centre website

See also:

Our review of A Streetcar Named Desire

Our feature article on Arts Education in Leicester

 

BlackHistory 2015

Black History Month Leicester

Throughout October 2015

Black History Month (BHM) returns to Leicester, celebrating the heritage, history and achievements of African and African Caribbean communities with a full programme of events, from arts to education.

BHM runs throughout October, and this year’s theme acknowledges jazz icon Billie Holiday in what is the centenary year of her birth. In fitting homage, the festival launches on Friday 25 September with Strange Fruit: A Tribute to Billie Holiday, showcasing a selection of talented locally based singers and musicians.

Included in the line-up is Carol Leeming, renowned as a hugely versatile artist with a very powerful and distinct vocal style; innately skilled, innovative performer of song, spoken word, jazz vocalese and scat, Mellow Baku; established jazz vocalist Dee Joseph; and emerging talents Lydia Unsudimi and Ili Sanchea, alongside musical accompaniment from saxophonist Marcus Joseph, double bass player Mark Trounson and drummer Paul Whistler, under the musical direction of Neil Hunter. Those attending the event are encouraged to embrace the 40s and 50s jazz club scene by dressing up in their best cocktail dresses and dinner suits, in what will be a unique event at Leicester’s City Hall.

Black History Month is organised by local diversity-led arts charity, Serendipity, on behalf of Leicester City Council, which provides funding.

Numerous events will be taking place across the city during October, including workshops, lectures and book talks, music events, comedy and theatre. Upstairs at the Western pub, in Western Road, host Michelle Inniss will present her thought-provoking new play She Called Me Mother, which stars esteemed actor Cathy Tyson, and the witty Doc Brown makes an appearance at The Y with The Weird Way Round. Doc has gained fame on Russell Howard’s Good News and YouTube.

In partnership with Serendipity, the Phoenix will be screening a series of films from biopics and documentaries to ground-breaking Hollywood classics Jazz on a Summer’s Day and Stormy Weather.
Visitors to Leicester Libraries will be able to hear some Somali Lullabies, while the city’s museums service will be presenting a talk highlighting the contribution of The West Indian Regiment in the Great War.

This year also sees the introduction of a new initiative by 2Funky Arts. BHM Radio 2Funky will empower local young people to present and produce radio shows, providing further information about the BHM programme alongside music, news and documentary features.

Pawlet Brookes, artistic director at Serendipity said: “This year’s Black History Month programme is a fantastic opportunity for people in Leicester to come together, with a range of events celebrating the cultural contributions of the African and African Caribbean community historically, and also providing platforms for emerging talent to showcase their work.
“It is a privilege to oversee Black History Month in Leicester. There is something for everyone, and we hope that people across the city will make the most of the opportunity to attend some of the exciting events BHM 2015 has to offer.”

Cllr Piara Singh Clair, assistant city mayor responsible for culture, leisure, heritage and sport, said: “Black History Month is once again offering a fantastic range of events that showcase the talent, history and rich culture of the black community.
“Black History Month is a chance for everyone in Leicester to celebrate the important contribution the black community has made to our city and beyond. I hope that lots of people will take this opportunity to get involved.”

To find out more about Black History Month, including full listings of the events planned, pick up a leaflet at city museums, libraries and other council buildings, call 0116 257 7316 or see the visit Leicester website or got to www.serendipity-uk.com

Follow Black History Month News on:
Twitter: @SerendipityInfo or @leicesterfest #BHM2015
Facebook: serendipity.ltd or leicesterfestivals

Published 18th September 2015

see also:

Reginald D Hunter in Leicester

CosmopolitanCarnival2015

3rd August 2015

Cosmopolitan Carnival

Saturday 29th August 2015

The Cosmopolitan Carnival in Leicester takes place as part of the City Festival.

Read about last year’s City Festival

There will be a workshop for bands, musicians and singers (see below)

Cosmopolitan Festival, Leicester, 2015
Cosmopolitan Festival, Leicester, 2015

Live Music

There will be a live music stage in the gardens of Leicester Cathedral, with the following programme of performances:

2pm – Xiao Tan and Shaomin Zhang, musicians from the Confucius Institute at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)

2:45pm – Billy and Jody’s acoustic experience

3:40pm – Ian Hall Comedy

4:20pm – Kainé Mass Choir Gospel

5pm – Hari Trivedi

5:40pm – Jonezy

6pm – Ayolah Hanley (Leicester, UK) Angelica Baylor (Atlanta, USA)

6:40pm – Afrobeats Paulo Carnoth

If you miss Jonezy at 5:40, he will be performing again at The Shed, later in the evening.

Workshop for bands

As part of the Cosmopolitan festival there will be a free workshop aimed at bands, musicians and singers.

Worshkop about music 2015
Workshop about music 2015

This workshop is for music artists, including bands, and will present important findings from promoters, venue managers and festival organisers.

The focus will be on how bands and artists present themselves when seeking bookings.  This will also relate to profiles, biographies and marketing.

The main concern of the workshop to help performing artists and bands to improve the way they present themselves when asking for bookings.

Various speakers will give their views, based on their experiences, and there will be plenty to time for participants to ask questions and make comments.

The workshop will be led by Elisabeth Barker-Carley of Dreaming In Colour Productions and Trevor Locke of Arts in Leicester.

It takes place in the BBC Radio Leicester building (opposite the main stage in Jubilee Square at the top of the High Street)

and starts at 3:30pm

There is no need to book; just turn up and it’s free to get in.

Find out more about the Cosmopolitan Festival on Facebook

Find out more about the City Festival on the Visit Leicester website

Cosmopolitan Festival, Leicester, 2015
Cosmopolitan Festival, Leicester, 2015

See also:

What’s on in Leicester

News about the 2016 Cosmopolitan festival

 

Spoken Word

Word in July

11th June 2015

This July Word! is excited to be launching another new season – and kicking off with one of our ‘pay what you think it’s worth’ specials. Complete with another of our all new workshops, the afternoon and evening will take poetry and animation as it’s inspiration…
Pay what you think it’s worth WORD!
Illustrated Special with Lawrence Mathias.
Tuesday July 7th. 7pm performers. 8pm start.
The Y Theatre, East Street, Leicester, LE1 6EY.
Featuring:

The polymathic, Lawrence Mathias.

Brightsparks’ Illustrated Words Showcase.

The Big WORD! Raffle – back again, with a selection of quality prizes…

Professional photography from Nathan Human.

'God's last acre' by William Mathias
‘God’s last acre’ by William Mathias

Lawrence Mathias is a north London based artist who likes to work across a range of media. He uses drawing, painting, film, music, models and words in much of his artwork, with poetry often the starting point for visuals. His artwork frequently has a social or political edge to its content, though not always. He values the community and collaborative opportunities which art projects can offer. In his own words ‘Poetry is one of the best creative ways of bringing people together, and can be combined in all kinds of exciting ways with other art forms’.

Workshop with Lawrence before the night, 4-6pm – to book your FREE place email, secretagentartist@hotmail.com.

Poetry in Motion WORD!shop

Join Lawrence Mathias for this illustration, animation and poetry focused workshop. Using a combination of poems and words written at the workshop, as well as pre-written material, we will illustrate and create simple, interesting films, using a combination of live film and images. An opportunity to create a soundtrack, using words and performance, will round the session off, and a short film featuring as much of the workshop material as possible will subsequently be made. Participants will be encouraged throughout to record their work and also make films.

See also:

Our review of Bromance at Curve

Our review of Beautiful Thing at Curve

Beautiful Thing

18th May 2015

CURVE’S CO-PRODUCTION OF JONATHAN HARVEY’S

BEAUTIFUL THING COMES TO LEICESTER

Beautiful Thing - Thomas Law, Sam Jackson Phot0: Anton Belmonte
Beautiful Thing – Thomas Law, Sam Jackson
Phot0: Anton Belmonte

Nikolai Foster’s celebrated anniversary production of Jonathan Harvey’s Beautiful Thing will run at Leicester’s Curve theatre from Mon 25 – Sat 30 May.

Beautiful Thing is a glorious urban love story between two young men set on an inner city housing estate. It tells the story of teenager Jamie’s relationship with classmate and neighbour, Ste. Together the two boys find comedy, warmth and the music of Mama Cass through their loud-mouthed next door neighbour Leah. Jonathan Harvey combines comedy with drama in his critically acclaimed award winning play. Beautiful Thing truly captures what it is to be a teenager and to fall in love.

Multi-award winning actor Charlie Brooks, best known for her role as Janine Butcher in EastEnders, will lead the cast as Sandra. Other notable credits include Jenny in Bleak House, winner of Strictly Come Dancing, I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!, and a critically acclaimed stage performance in Our Country’s Good (Liverpool Playhouse). Thomas Law, whose role include Peter Beale in EastEnders, Matt Haddon in Casualty and most recently as a young Simon Pegg in blockbuster film The World’s End will star as Ste. Sam Jackson, whose roles include Alex Henley in Skins (E4), Jack in Drifters (E4) and a critically acclaimed performance as Billy Casper in Kes (Derby Theatre), will star as Jamie.

Beautiful Thing - Sam Jackson, Charlie Brooks Photo: Anton Belmonte
Beautiful Thing – Sam Jackson, Charlie Brooks
Photo: Anton Belmonte

Best known as series regular Kris Fisher in Channel 4’s Hollyoaks, most recently seen on screen in BBC 2’s The Fall, and on Netflix’ epic Titanic: Blood and Steel, Gerard McCarthy will star as Tony. Other theatrical credits include The Merry Wives of Windsor at the Globe, and Blue/Orange for ATG. Vanessa Babirye, recently seen on screen in BBC 2’s Our Girl, and at the National Theatre in Romeo and Juliet will star as Leah. Also joining the company will be Rob Ellis and Natalie Law.

Nikolai Foster, Artistic Director at Curve and Director of Beautiful Thing said: “Beautiful Thing empowers everybody who sees it. It’s a hugely entertaining play, filled with big laughs, loads of drama and a big heart, performed beautifully by an incredible cast. I am proud Beautiful Thing is part of my first season here in Leicester, where I know it will make a positive difference to many lives.”

Beautiful Thing is a co-production between Nottingham Playhouse Theatre Company, Curve Theatre Leicester and QNQ.

ON-SALE INFORMATION
Venue: Curve, Leicester
Dates: Mon 25 – Sat 30 May
Performance times: Mon – Sat 7.45pm, Thu & Sat 2.30pm
Tickets: £26* – £16* with discounted tickets available
Ticket office: 0116 242 3595
www.curveonline.co.uk

See also:

Our page What’s On in Leicester?

I miss our life

16th March 2015

Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾ – The Musical.

Curve

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole. Photo Pamela Raith Photography
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole.
Photo Pamela Raith Photography

Curve told us:

We are delighted to share with you the second song from Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ The Musical, which runs at Leicester’s Curve until Sat 4 Apr. This world premiere production opened at Curve this weekend (Sat 7 Mar), and we’d love it if you could share this heartfelt number from the show, I Miss Our Life!  The video for the track can be found on our YouTube page.

Curve have released another song from Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾ – The Musical. Entitled I Miss Our Life, the music video gives viewers another exciting opportunity to listen to the score from this world premiere production, which is now previewing at the theatre.

With book and lyrics by Jake Brunger and music and lyrics by Pippa Cleary, this new musical of Sue Townsend’s best seller is directed by Luke Sheppard, and runs until 4 April.

Set in 1980s Leicester, Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ – The Musical, follows the daily dramas and misadventures of Adrian’s adolescent life. With dysfunctional parents, ungrateful elders, a growing debt to school bully Barry Kent and an unruly pimple on his chin, life is hard for a misunderstood intellectual who is only 13 ¾…

To top it off, when new girl Pandora captures his heart, his best friend Nigel steals hers. Can Adrian win back her love and escape his chaotic family life?

With an infectious original score, this brand new adaptation rediscovers this much-loved novel and bring Adrian’s story to life once more.

See also:

Our feature article on Adrian Mole the show

TheSoundOfMusic

3rd December 2014

The Sound of Music

Reviewed by Trevor Locke and Jonathan Jones.

Curve’s production of Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s classic musical is on now, from Friday 28th November to Saturday 17th January.

ArtsIn was there to see the show and we thought it was marvellous.

Rating: *****

Music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, Book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, suggested by The Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp.
Director: Paul Kerryson, Choreographer Drew McOnie, Musical Director Ben Atkinson, Set Designer Al Parkinson, Costume Designer Takis.

The Sound of Music Pamela Raith Photography
The Sound of Music
Pamela Raith Photography

The story behind The Sound Of Music is a true one. There really was a Trapp family; the matriarch of the family was Maria Augusta von Trapp (1905 – 1987), they lived in Austria at the time of the Nazi invasion.

The book, from which the musical was devised, fictionalises several facts about the family and what they did, although the core of the story remains roughly the same. In the musical, Maria leaves the Abbey to become the governess to a wealthy Salzburg family with seven children. Maria falls in love  with the children and teaches them to sing. Father of the family, Captain Georg von Trapp falls in love with Maria. They marry. In 1938 the German Third Reich annexed Austria and the family is forced to flee their homeland to escape the Nazis. In the storyline of the musical, the Trapp family forms a singing group that performs at a music festival in Salzburg.  They escape the Nazis by crossing the mountains into Switzerland.

The Sound of Music - Lucy Schaufer and Laura Pitt Pulford Pamela Raith Photography
The Sound of Music – Lucy Schaufer and Laura Pitt Pulford
Pamela Raith Photography

Perhaps I had a wicked childhood,
Perhaps I had a miserable youth,
But somewhere in my wicked,
miserable past,
There must have been a moment of truth

When the film version of the musical was released in 1965 I was 14 going on 15 and went to see the film when it first came out in the UK. I was totally entranced by it. It spoke to me. I imagine that many of those in tonight’s audience could tell similar stories. We know that some people have gone to see the film dozens of times. Tonight was the first time that I had seen the musical in a live production. We have seen several productions of musicals at Curve, such as The Water Babies and The King and I.

Director Paul Kerryson has caught all the feeling and flavour of the show and made it work on stage as much as it works in the film. This was Kerryson’s last music production as Artistic Director Curve, before Nokolai Foster takes over.

Laura Pitt Pulford and Michael French in The Sound of Music at Curve. Pamela Raith Photography
Laura Pitt Pulford and Michael French in The Sound of Music at Curve. Pamela Raith Photography

Certain things stood out in this production, the singing from the lead roles – Maria (Laura Pitt-Pulford), Mother Abbess (Lucy Schaufer) and the seven children. The singing, the dancing, the live band playing for two hours and twenty minutes – it all added up to a superbly enjoyable show. The audience enjoyed this production and there is no doubt that many of them will see it more than once.

Laura Pitt Pulford and Michael French. Pamela Raith Photography
Laura Pitt Pulford and Michael French.
Pamela Raith Photography

There was little to detract from the production – apart from Al Parkinson’s set design which we thought was a bit clunky and various aspects of which failed to work, such as the depiction of the Von Trapp’s villa, which was far from convincing. Having said that, the scenes in the Abbey worked well and the wedding scene was imposing.

Emma Harrold and Jack Wilcox. The Sound of Music. Pamela Raith Photography.
Emma Harrold and Jack Wilcox.
The Sound of Music. Pamela Raith Photography.

The show had some stand-out moments: particularly the singing by Lucy Schaufer (as the Mother Abbess) and Laura Pitt-Pulford‘s singing and acting (as Maria Rainer.) She caught the role beautifully, and the children (drawn from Curve’s community company) gave a suitably entrancing performing, both in singing and dancing. Michael French (as Captain von Trapp) put in a creditable performance (despite being a tad wooden at times.)
The Sound of Music provides top-class entertainment for Christmas and nothing could be better than taking the family out to see a live show – the perfect antidote to TV’s rather insipid programming this year.

It’s a fine production, a hugely good story and hearing those highly memorable songs once more adds up to a not-to-be-missed piece of live theatre.

The Sound of Music at Curve. Pamela Raith Photography.
The Sound of Music at Curve.
Pamela Raith Photography.

First edition

See also:

Details of the show and bookings from Curve website
See our What’s on page for the introductory notes on this show
From our archives we have re-published our reviews of The Water Babies (musical)  and Abigail’s Party (the play by Mike Leigh.)

TheSoundOfMusic

2nd December 2014

The Sound of Music comes to Curve.

Read our review of The Sound Of Music at Curve – it is up now.

Here are some pictures from the show:

The Sound of Music Pamela Raith Photography
The Sound of Music
Pamela Raith Photography
Laura Pitt Pulford and Michael French. Pamela Raith Photography
Laura Pitt Pulford and Michael French.
Pamela Raith Photography
Emma Harrold and Jack Wilcox. The Sound of Music. Pamela Raith Photography.
Emma Harrold and Jack Wilcox.
The Sound of Music. Pamela Raith Photography.
The Sound of Music at Curve. Pamela Raith Photography.
The Sound of Music at Curve.
Pamela Raith Photography.

See also:

What’s On In Leicester, for details of this and other arts events