Reviews from Paul's pen

Reviews from Paul's pen


Tell me on a Sunday


Review by: Paul Towers, 12 October 2021

Tell Me On A Sunday by Andrew Lloyd Webber & Don Black

The Watermill Theatre production

Starring Jodie Prenger, directed by Paul Foster

At Curve: 12-16 October 2021

 “A girls loves found and lost in America”

 The original score for Tell Me was premiered, as so often with Lloyd Webber shows, at his Sydmonton Festival in 1979 starring Marti Webb. The positive reception was so good that it was filmed in a theatre and broadcast on the BBC. This led to the soundtrack album becoming a chart topper. The score , all songs and no dialogue, only ran for less than 60 minutes so Lloyd Webber, after advice from Cameron Mackintosh, decided to create a dance piece to create an Act 2. This went out as Song and Dance with a variety of singers and, starting with Wayne Sleep, a selection of dancers.

In 2003 5 extra songs were created and the story rewritten by Jackie Clune to enable the show to stand alone. In this format it has been touring off and on ever since. Jodie Prenger starred in the Watermill Theatre revival in 2016 and has been touring it bringing it to Curve for a week.

Emma, the girl of the story, is a naïve young woman from Muswell Hill who has moved to America in search of love. In New York she discovers her boyfriend has been tom- catting it around the city. Walking out on him she soon falls for Hollywood producer Sheldon Bloom and tries to change to become what he wants in a trophy girlfriend. But Sheldon is way too busy being in the film industry to give her the attention she deserves so once again she goes back to the Big Apple. One after another she hooks up with guys who only want one thing, only to have it rubbed in her face by her so called friends.

A series of conversations with various people and letters to her mother back in Blighty fill out her experiences.

Alone on a stage Jodie Prenger fills Curve’s studio space without amplification. Her full voice reaching the back stalls with ease. A As she acts out the various emotions it is immediately obvious what is going on. A minimum of props and several (very quick) costume changes show Emma’s criss crossing of America as she chases another possible Mr Right.

A band of 4 live musicians lurk behind a set depicting the New York skyline.

I remember seeing Marti Webb in this show and Jodie Prenger more than matches her performance and is well worth seeing

Tell Me On A Sunday is at Curve til Saturday 16th October.





Matthew Bourne's The Midnight Bell

Review by: Paul Towers, 11 October 2021

Matthew Bourne’s the Midnight Bell

A New Adventures production

At Curve: 11th to 16th October 2021

 “30’s Soho in all its shabbiness”

 Any Matthew Bourne production is something to be savoured but a brand new piece is to be hotly anticipated and embraced. The Midnight Bell does not disappoint.

This, Bourne’s latest dance show, centres around a shabby Soho pub in the 1930’s. With the Great War well and truly over it was thought hostilities were behind us. Little did we know what was lurking at the back end of the 30’s.

Inspired by Patrick Hamilton’s painfully personal stories of his experiences in the acutely observed world of Soho, The Midnight Bell is where an array of characters love, lose or fall apart. Each relationship tells a complete story, some successful, others not so. Often the stories overlap and this gives a realistic edge to the narrative.

As with many of Bourne’s works the cast are integral in the choreography process.

The set by long time collaborator Lez Brotherston is a masterful piece made of sections that place the action in various hotel rooms, cinemas, dance halls and squares. Lez’s costumes perfectly chime with that inter-war period when austerity was starting to drift away.

Lighting by Paule Constable, another regular artistic associate of New Adventures, highlights the action and provides focus on the characters as their stories unfold. The soundtrack by Paul Groothuis is especially inventive with, unusually, songs that characters mime to.

Of course none of this would work without the incredibly talented dancers, most of whom we regularly see in other Bourne productions. It is the actors who, staying in character, shift props and scenery. This further cements their characteristics.

The Midnight Bell is at Curve until Saturday 16th October and then continues on tour




Festive theatre this Christmas



We all missed a theatrical Christmas last year so Leicester’s theatres have really pushed the boat out for 2021

Curve has, as usual, programmed two festive shows for the holidays. First up is the hotly anticipated revival of a classic of musical theatre, A Chorus Line, starring Adam Cooper, Carly Mercedes Dyer (Shug in the recent Curve production of The Color Purple and Anita in West Side Story) and directed by Nikolai Foster with choreography by Ellen Kane. This runs from 3-31 December. Especially for the younger members of the community is The Smeds and The Smoos. Adapted from the book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler this is a nice bite sized 55 minutes running from 1-31 December. Full details

Over at DeMontfort Hall last year’s pantomime, Sleeping Beauty, has been rescheduled. If you had tickets from last year then they are valid for this year. Full details are on the website. The panto runs from 11 December to 3 January and stars Wendi Peters (Coronation Street), Martin Ballard, returning illusionists Matthew Pomeroy and Natasha Lamb and a whole host of Leicester favourites. For tickets and times

The Little Theatre also has its annual pantomime back this year. Devised and directed by John Bale the ever popular Cinderella will grace the stage in Dover Street from 10 December to 2 January. More info

Finally The Y Theatre, in amongst its usual bands and comedians, has a special family show, Santa’s Best Ever Christmas, on 10th & 11th December. Tickets at


Everybody's Talking Abut Jamie


Review by: Paul Towers, 20 September 2021

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie by Dan Gillespie Sell, Jonathan Butterell and Tom Macrae

A Sheffield Theatres Production

At Curve: 20 – 25th September 2021 and touring

 “the perfect uplifting, joyous musical we need to prove that theatre is back”

 I saw the original London production of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie back in 2018 and loved it. Last year I was really looking forward to seeing the touring production with Layton Williams and Shane Richie but Covid threw a spanner in the works. So I was thrilled to see it being one of the first touring shows to reopen Curve and I wasn’t disappointed. In fact it exceeded my expectations.

Layton Williams has been to Curve in all sorts of productions over the years but his Jamie New has made him the star he was always destined to be. Alongside him is Shane Richie giving a surprisingly good turn as ageing drag queen Hugo and his alter ego Loco Chanelle. Jamie’s best friend, Pritti Pasha, is played by Sharan Phull and is a welcome returning artiste. A vocal friend of Curve, Shobna Gulati, surprises everyone as the foul mouthed, say-it-as-it-is, surrogate Aunty to Jamie, Ray. While Amy Ellen Richardson as Margaret New, Jamie’s supportive mother Margaret, almost brings the house down with her rendition of  He’s My Boy. George Sampson, winner of Britain’s Got Talent in 2008, has fun playing Jamie’s nemesis, Dean Paxton, who finally sees the error of his ways.

The main cast are ably supported by an ensemble of teen-looking singer/dancers and a trio of drag queens

The story, based on the BBC3 documentary Jamie: Drag Queen at 16, is of a Sheffield schoolboy who all his life wants to be a drag queen. The first step towards this is to go to his school prom in a frock. Understandably there are bigoted people, including his own father,  who can’t accept  that he is different. But, with the support of most of his school friends, and his mother and Ray, his dream comes true. I loved that there were many jokey references to Covid.

The set is almost identical to the West End one and the production values are just as high. A hugely talented and energetic cast make this the perfect uplifting, joyous musical we need to prove that theatre is back.

While it was very obvious that Curve had put in all sorts of protocols to ensure audience members are as safe as possible it was very disappointing to see that a large number of the audience refused to wear masks despite the many reminders on screens and via audio announcements.



Cat on a hot tin roof

Review by: Paul Towers, 08 September 2021

Play by Tennessee Williams

Curve, English Touring Theatre & Liverpool Everyman  & Playhouse co-production

At Curve: 3 – 18 September 2021 and then touring

 “a toxic look at American Deep South sensibilities”

 Once again Curve is the launch pad for a new national touring production. This time it is the classic Tennessee Williams’ Cat On A Hot Tin Roof directed by RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award winner Anthony Almeida.

Following on from the success of Curve’s A Streetcar Named Desire, this is a similarly toxic look at American Deep South sensibilities in the 50’s.

Three couples within the same family are warring with each other. Brick (Oliver Johnstone) and Maggie (Sienna Kelly) are stuck in a childless, loveless marriage as Brick turns to drink to hide from truths. Maggie is in turn desperate and manipulative trying to get a reaction from her husband who is recovering from a broken ankle.

Eldest son of the family, Gooper (Sam Alexander), is browbeaten by his wife Mae (Shanaya Rafaat) who has born him 5 children with one on the way. In Gooper’s eyes this should make him top dog in the family but Brick is, despite his wayward ways, the chosen one.

Head of the family, Big Daddy (Peter Forbes), has been in hospital being tested for cancer. His wife, Big Mama (Teresa Banham), inveigles the entire family to lie to him and pretend he only has a spastic colon.

Thus the scene is set for all manner of  chicanery as the various couples manoeuvre to become the heirs to the family fortune. The various couples fight each other very like the protagonists in Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf, one minute tearing chunks out of each and the next wooing their partners. It makes for a whirlwind of emotions.

The cast is completed with Suzette Llewellyn as Dr Baugh and Minal Patel as Rev Tooker

Director Anthony Almeida makes great use of the various characters talking and shouting over each other to illustrate how none of the parties ever actually listen to each other.

Despite being written in 1955 Cat On A Hot Tin Roof  addresses questions about sexuality with Brick and others examining his relationship with his late best friend Skipper.

The set has been pared right back to a simple circular mosquito net enclosing a table. That’s it. But designer Rosanna Vize uses the curtains to suggest a whole house. The lighting helped enormously.

Cat On A Hot Tin Roof runs at Curve until 18th September and then tours to Liverpool, Canterbury, Ipswich and Southampton