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18 hours ago

Choice Radio Worcester

As is usual at The Alexandra at Christmas, there are no sleigh bells or men in white beards and red costumes - they leave that to virtually every other theatre - instead treating us to a glorious touring version of the Lincoln Center Theater's production of Rogers & Hammerstein's The King and I, based on Margaret Landon's 1944 semi-fictionalized biographical novel Anna and the King.

Featuring the undoubted vocal talents of Annalene Beechey (from the West End show) and Jose Llana direct from the Broadway version (this week only - subsequent shows will have Kok-Hwa Lie in the role) and a host of other singers, including of course a group of utterly adorable children, we are quickly transported to another age and location as a huge ship moves across the stage, transporting Anna and her son Louis on the last stage of a journey in the early 1860's from Singapore to Bangkok (in what was then the tiny nation of Siam) to take up an English teaching post.

Cultural differences abound as the English woman tries to stand her ground in a society where women are basically expected to serve, grovel and provide the King with his many heirs and must never stand taller than the King himself. She is having none of it, a position which the trying-hard-to-be-modernist King simply cannot comprehend until he slowly comes around - a little bit at least - to her way of thinking.

The distance between them provides much of the comedic content of the show - "You are difficult woman!" he protests in frustration at one point - and the women are also bemused by the billowing dress that Anna wears (and which they also subsequently have to create and wear themselves). In this respect, Llana is wonderful at portraying the King's anger but more so his obvious playfulness and cheekiness with his facial expressions and language as he is determined to show the wider world that he is not the barbarian he is thought to be by other rulers.

There is a side story in this too, as a gift from the King of Burma is a girl, Tuptim, who has been sent to serve him - effectively a slave - but who wants out and to leave with her boyfriend with disastrous results.

A significant part of Act Two is given over to the rest of the cast whilst the main actors watch as they present, under Tuptim's narration, "The Small House Of Uncle Thomas" (their version of the classic Uncle Tom's Cabin, which has certain parallels with what is happening in Siam... This set piece allows the large cast to present a beautifully choreographed and colourful story, involving imagery which we easily associate with Asian cultures as well as the gorgeous costumes - definitely one of the highlights of the entire show. Throughout the production, there are songs which we all know well too, like "I whistle a happy tune", "Hello, Young Lovers" and the one which finally gets the two disparate cultures together, albeit briefly, Anna and the King's showpiece "Shall We Dance?"

The ever-changing and well-designed sets - it was not just the ship which was massive but the golden Buddha too - and the accompaniment of a (hidden) 14 piece orchestra give the show a definite air of extravagance not often seen in touring shows which the audience certainly appreciated, giving it the standing ovation it well deserved.

The show runs until January 4th and is a wonderfully sumptuous and entertaining evening from the golden age of musicals celebrating two contrasting imperialist cultures. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera!

And next year? Deamgirls!
... See MoreSee Less

As is usual at The Alexandra at Christmas, there are no sleigh bells or men in white beards and red costumes - they leave that to virtually every other theatre - instead treating us to a glorious touring version of the Lincoln Center Theater's production of Rogers & Hammerstein's The King and I, based on Margaret Landon's 1944 semi-fictionalized biographical novel Anna and the King.

Featuring the undoubted vocal talents of Annalene Beechey (from the West End show) and Jose Llana direct from the Broadway version (this week only - subsequent shows will have Kok-Hwa Lie in the role) and a host of other singers, including of course a group of utterly adorable children, we are quickly transported to another age and location as a huge ship moves across the stage, transporting Anna and her son Louis on the last stage of a journey in the early 1860's from Singapore to Bangkok (in what was then the tiny nation of Siam) to take up an English teaching post.

Cultural differences abound as the English woman tries to stand her ground in a society where women are basically expected to serve, grovel and provide the King with his many heirs and must never stand taller than the King himself. She is having none of it, a position which the trying-hard-to-be-modernist King simply cannot comprehend until he slowly comes around - a little bit at least - to her way of thinking.

The distance between them provides much of the comedic content of the show - "You are difficult woman!" he protests in frustration at one point - and the women are also bemused by the billowing dress that Anna wears (and which they also subsequently have to create and wear themselves). In this respect, Llana is wonderful at portraying the King's anger but more so his obvious playfulness and cheekiness with his facial expressions and language as he is determined to show the wider world that he is not the barbarian he is thought to be by other rulers.

There is a side story in this too, as a gift from the King of Burma is a girl, Tuptim, who has been sent to serve him - effectively a slave - but who wants out and to leave with her boyfriend with disastrous results.

A significant part of Act Two is given over to the rest of the cast whilst the main actors watch as they present, under Tuptim's narration, "The Small House Of Uncle Thomas" (their version of the classic Uncle Tom's Cabin, which has certain parallels with what is happening in Siam... This set piece allows the large cast to present a beautifully choreographed and colourful story, involving imagery which we easily associate with Asian cultures as well as the gorgeous costumes - definitely one of the highlights of the entire show. Throughout the production, there are songs which we all know well too, like "I whistle a happy tune", "Hello, Young Lovers" and the one which finally gets the two disparate cultures together, albeit briefly, Anna and the King's showpiece "Shall We Dance?"

The ever-changing and well-designed sets - it was not just the ship which was massive but the golden Buddha too - and the accompaniment of a (hidden) 14 piece orchestra give the show a definite air of extravagance not often seen in touring shows which the audience certainly appreciated, giving it the standing ovation it well deserved.

The show runs until January 4th and is a wonderfully sumptuous and entertaining evening from the golden age of musicals celebrating two contrasting imperialist cultures. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera!

And next year? Deamgirls!
... See MoreSee Less

As is usual at The Alexandra at Christmas, there are no sleigh bells or men in white beards and red costumes - they leave that to virtually every other theatre - instead treating us to a glorious touring version of the Lincoln Center Theater's production of Rogers & Hammerstein's The King and I, based on Margaret Landon's 1944 semi-fictionalized biographical novel Anna and the King.

Featuring the undoubted vocal talents of Annalene Beechey (from the West End show) and Jose Llana direct from the Broadway version (this week only - subsequent shows will have Kok-Hwa Lie in the role) and a host of other singers, including of course a group of utterly adorable children, we are quickly transported to another age and location as a huge ship moves across the stage, transporting Anna and her son Louis on the last stage of a journey in the early 1860's from Singapore to Bangkok (in what was then the tiny nation of Siam) to take up an English teaching post.

Cultural differences abound as the English woman tries to stand her ground in a society where women are basically expected to serve, grovel and provide the King with his many heirs and must never stand taller than the King himself. She is having none of it, a position which the trying-hard-to-be-modernist King simply cannot comprehend until he slowly comes around - a little bit at least - to her way of thinking.

The distance between them provides much of the comedic content of the show - "You are difficult woman!" he protests in frustration at one point - and the women are also bemused by the billowing dress that Anna wears (and which they also subsequently have to create and wear themselves). In this respect, Llana is wonderful at portraying the King's anger but more so his obvious playfulness and cheekiness with his facial expressions and language as he is determined to show the wider world that he is not the barbarian he is thought to be by other rulers.

There is a side story in this too, as a gift from the King of Burma is a girl, Tuptim, who has been sent to serve him - effectively a slave - but who wants out and to leave with her boyfriend with disastrous results.

A significant part of Act Two is given over to the rest of the cast whilst the main actors watch as they present, under Tuptim's narration, "The Small House Of Uncle Thomas" (their version of the classic Uncle Tom's Cabin, which has certain parallels with what is happening in Siam... This set piece allows the large cast to present a beautifully choreographed and colourful story, involving imagery which we easily associate with Asian cultures as well as the gorgeous costumes - definitely one of the highlights of the entire show. Throughout the production, there are songs which we all know well too, like "I whistle a happy tune", "Hello, Young Lovers" and the one which finally gets the two disparate cultures together, albeit briefly, Anna and the King's showpiece "Shall We Dance?"

The ever-changing and well-designed sets - it was not just the ship which was massive but the golden Buddha too - and the accompaniment of a (hidden) 14 piece orchestra give the show a definite air of extravagance not often seen in touring shows which the audience certainly appreciated, giving it the standing ovation it well deserved.

The show runs until January 4th and is a wonderfully sumptuous and entertaining evening from the golden age of musicals celebrating two contrasting imperialist cultures. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera!

And next year? Deamgirls!
... See MoreSee Less

Tuesday December 10th 4pm til 6pm join me on Choice radio, for the Worcestershire Royal Hospital. We are online and on the Hospedia bedside units.
I have music from the Beatles, Rod Stewart and Lindisfarne plus loads more.I will also have news of our Christmas Eve programming, then around 4.30 I have The missing link, a fun game to guess the link with clues.
2 hours of fun , great music.and your requests.
TO LISTEN online or on your phone search for Choice Radio, Worcestershire Royal Hospital,,
Click on it and scroll down to listen live. Click and listen.
Phone in your requests on 01905 760820, or via the hospedia bedside phone....
I look forward to your company 🙂
... See MoreSee Less

Tuesday December 10th  4pm til 6pm join me on Choice radio,  for the Worcestershire Royal Hospital. We are online and on the Hospedia bedside units.
I have music from the Beatles, Rod Stewart and Lindisfarne  plus loads more.I will also have news of our Christmas Eve programming, then around 4.30 I have The missing link, a fun game to guess the link with clues. 
2 hours of fun , great music.and your requests. 
TO LISTEN online or on your phone search for Choice Radio, Worcestershire Royal Hospital,,
Click on it and scroll down to listen live. Click and listen.
Phone in your requests on 01905 760820, or via the hospedia bedside phone....
I look forward to your company  :)

1 week ago

Choice Radio Worcester

A very British play with an Italian element is Daphne du Maurier's My Cousin Rachel, taking place as it does on an estate in the depths of forbidding stormy Cornwall.

The young and somewhat naive Philip Ashley (Jack Holden) has suddenly come into the inheritance of his uncle, though there is little he can do about it until his 25th birthday in a few months' time. Overseen by his godfather Nicholas Kendall (Simon Shepherd), who has to tread a fine line between being loyal/compassionate and suspicious/doubtful and whose daughter Louise (Aruhan Galieva) may or may not be a potential wife for the young lad, Philip is affronted by the arrival of his uncle's undoubtedly exotic Italian wife Rachel Coryn Ashley (Call The Midwife's Helen George). In part, this is someone who, he believes from letters he has been given, showed little compassion for his uncle during his final weeks. Above all, Philip needs to teach Rachel the norms of living in the Cornish countryside and how to show reciprocal respect to the tenants on the estate following the death of the ultimate landowner. That is, if she intends to stay…

So begins a tale of love and guilt down on the coast, both inextricably linked with money and property, leaving the audience to wonder if the visiting twice-widowed "Countess Sangalletti" has ulterior motives herself or whether her visit is just to meet her cousin. Did she in fact murder her husband with one of her many "brews" which she concocts for different circumstances. And is the chance arrival of her Italian lawyer "friend" more than it seems? Does she have huge debts to pay off and is subtly manipulative in order to do so? So many questions that you begin to doubt your own judgement at times.

The set, which is raised up off the main stage for reasons which become clear part way through the first act, is split between a room in the large estate house where Philip lives, along with his servant John Seecombe (Sean Murray) and his aide Thomas Connor (John Lumsden) and the view over the sea, where coastal walks are there for the taking. Regardless of which area is being represented, the mood is gloomy, dark and cold reflecting both the storyline and the surroundings for Gothic is the intention here and it represents it well, which is not always easy within the confines of a theatre stage. Amidst the claustrophobic atmosphere, there are a few lines which make the audience laugh, mainly concerning now out-dated views on women in society, particularly in reference to the lunar cycle.

Initially you may have little sympathy for poor Philip but that certainly changes as the story progresses and he creates a rod for his own back, as whilst he cannot see what the impact of his actions will be, the rest of us begin to until the final calamitous scene confirms it.

Well-acted by the cast, this new production from Theatre Royal Bath is a great example of the power of women over men in ways which are subtle enough to go unnoticed and yet which can nonetheless lead to their downfall.
... See MoreSee Less

1 week ago

Choice Radio Worcester

Christmas is well and truly with us down at the Swan Theatre with the Worcester Repertory Company's annual month-long show which this year is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. And this being the first week, it's a great time to judge the response of the audience as the first shows are given over largely to school parties. For many of these youngsters, it will be their first visit to a professional show and so they are often quite quiet. To start with. Once they get the hang of how it all works, helped by John-Robert Partridge's wickedly naughty and dark Queen Grizelda's encouragement to boo, there's no stopping them! Add to this the fact that it's not their parents who are there but their teachers and it's definitely a chance for them to enjoy themselves at their expense. Or more specifically in this performance, a chance to take it out on Mr Shepherd from Tenbury school - the "chosen one" as far as Ben Humphrey was concerned (Ben is back in the role after a year's sabbatical - the lure of the dame's flamboyant dresses obviously being too much to ignore!).

It's panto so, of course the story is what everyone is expecting, with some great sets, dance routines and colourful costumes - Dame Ginny doesn't manage to keep them all to herself! The show starts with what must be the earliest ever opportunity for a "behind you" response as Fairy Fabulous (Heidi Gowthorpe) recounts the events of the previous decade and a half and then continues to spread her magic dust over the wish by Snow White (Geneviève Lowe) to get her intended beau Harry the Huntsman (with the horn) to at least acknowledge that they are more than just "best friends". Harry is played by Tom Riddell who last year was also the love interest as Robin Hood and has also been Prince Valiant - obviously he's considered the Rep's eye candy! Although there's always Dame Ginny...not!

The first of a number of songs in the show is a rousing rendition of Hold My Hand (the Jess Glynne hit which featured on those Jet2 ads) which instantly gets the kids excited and singing along.

Completing the cast are the two funnymen in the show - Charlie Ryan as Herman the Henchman and Oliver Brooks as Muddles - with Wilf Williams as Prince Edmund whose sole aim is to get a woman (given current events, that could easily have been a differently-named Prince...). Even award-winning actress and Swan Patron (and soon to play the Queen in The Crown) Imelda Staunton made a welcome appearance as the Magic Mirror's voice, heard but never seen.

Back, though, to Mr Shepherd who was greeted by loud cheers of "Shep! Shep! Shep!" when the kids realised that he would be on stage performing Old Macdonald Had A Farm in front of them and, oh the embarrassment, Dame Ginny told them to video it on their cameras! By now, it's probably already gone viral…

After last year's successful extended 70s disco sequence, the big musical finale this time is a great selection of Abba hits which went down a storm - proving that even songs which were hits well before these kids (and some of the cast!) were born can still hit the spot and had the entire cast, including the adult and junior dancers (the latter from Academy Theatre Arts) strutting their stuff in a series of well-choreographed routines.

Snow White runs until January 5th January - the hard-working cast having hardly a break with three performances on Christmas Eve alone! The show is definitely a must for families to spend time together, enjoying a true and very British part of the traditional Christmas celebrations.

Next year's show has already been announced as Beauty And The Beast, running from November 26th to January 3rd. If, however, you fancy something a little more "adult", then the very funny (and naughty) Adult Panto - Peter Panties from the Market Theatre Company is on Saturday February 22nd. You have been warned!

After the show, Pete Phillips had a chat with leading ladies Heidi and Geneviève about the show

You can hear the interview here:
1drv.ms/u/s!ApvQQHoOrsTJgTiQhX_e1bpmTscf?e=ekoUwN

Images by Beth Martyn Smith
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1 week ago

Choice Radio Worcester

A timely arrival this week at the Alexandra is Dr Seuss' much-loved How The Grinch Stole Christmas! Remembered by many from their childhood reading of the book or the film version starring Jim Carrey (or maybe even the older version with Boris Karloff!), this UK première of the hit Broadway version takes the very sensible step of retaining the cartoon-like features of the book without trying to make anything look too realistic. Using bright colours throughout, the green of the Grinch is in wonderful stark contrast to the residents of Whoville in their candy-coloured pink, white and red attire.

Starting with a brief reading of the story with some kids from the audience on stage, the full story is then told by old Max (Steve Fortune) looking back on his younger days as the pet of the Grinch (Edward Baker-Duly). Matt Terry plays the young Max, not for the first time taking on the role of an animal as he was also in the recent touring production of Madagascar. Here he can show off not just his singing skills (as did Fortune who was in fine voice) but also a few gymnastic moves and the ability to catch - successfully! - the presents which are thrown at him by the Grinch. Baker-Duly is excellent as the grimacing creature with long fingers who is determined to stop Christmas entirely, eventually being converted to the joys of the season by little Cindy Lou Who (played on opening night by the adorable Isla Gie) and in doing so getting all the kids in the audience on his side too. They probably even overlooked the fact that the presents which the Grinch gave to the Whos were the ones which he had stolen from them in the first place!

Benefitting from not just a large cast (24 performers) but also an impressive 12-strong orchestra hidden away under the stage, the show hits the spot nicely as a thoroughly enjoyable pre-Christmas treat for kids - and there were hundreds there loving it - and adults alike.

Given that the stories were written by a man who did not have any children himself (Theodore Seuss Geisel would say "You have 'em, I'll entertain 'em"), he certainly wrote some very entertaining tales and this musical stage version does this particular one justice - a perfect colourful and lively fun start to the season of goodwill!
... See MoreSee Less

Tuesday December 3rd 4pm til 6pm join me on Choice radio, for the Worcestershire Royal Hospital. We are online and on the Hospedia bedside units.
I have music from Squeeze, the Beatles, Rod Stewart and Supertramp plus loads more. At around 4.30 I have The missing link, a fun game to guess the link with clues.
2 hours of fun , great music.and your requests.
TO LISTEN online or on your phone search for Choice Radio, Worcestershire Royal Hospital,,
Click on it and scroll down to listen live. Click and listen.
Phone in your requests on 01905760820, or via the hospedia bedside phone....
I look forward to your company 🙂
... See MoreSee Less

Tuesday December 3rd  4pm til 6pm join me on Choice radio,  for the Worcestershire Royal Hospital. We are online and on the Hospedia bedside units.
I have music from Squeeze, the Beatles, Rod Stewart and Supertramp plus loads more. At around 4.30 I have The missing link, a fun game to guess the link with clues. 
2 hours of fun , great music.and your requests. 
TO LISTEN online or on your phone search for Choice Radio, Worcestershire Royal Hospital,,
Click on it and scroll down to listen live. Click and listen.
Phone in your requests on 01905760820, or via the hospedia bedside phone....
I look forward to your company  :)

Remember "Can't Smile Without You" - the huge hit in 1978 for Barry Manilow? Well, David Martin wrote that - as well as writing for Elvis, Cliff Richard, Dusty Springfield and Billy Fury!. He is still writing and will be releasing his seasonal song My Love For Christmas, performed by Simon Goodall, on December 13th.

Pete Phillips chatted to David about how both songs came about and what he did in between

You can hear the chat with Pete - and the new song - here:
1drv.ms/u/s!ApvQQHoOrsTJgTZRqGb3iGhYKW7w?e=MCqdAG

And there's more about David here:
www.facebook.com/DavidMartinSingerSongwriter
... See MoreSee Less

Remember Cant Smile Without You - the huge hit in 1978 for Barry Manilow? Well, David Martin wrote that - as well as writing for Elvis, Cliff Richard, Dusty Springfield and Billy Fury!. He is still writing and will be releasing his seasonal song My Love For Christmas, performed by Simon Goodall, on December 13th.

Pete Phillips chatted to David about how both songs came about and what he did in between

You can hear the chat with Pete - and the new song - here:
https://1drv.ms/u/s!ApvQQHoOrsTJgTZRqGb3iGhYKW7w?e=MCqdAG

And theres more about David here:
www.facebook.com/DavidMartinSingerSongwriterImage attachmentImage attachment

The Sunday Supplement on Sunday (obviously!) from 9am with Pete Phillips

An hour of classic 70's tracks from 9 till 10am

New music after 10am from:
- Celtic Woman - Sleigh Ride.
- Derek Buckham - As I write this Christmas card.
- Evon Rose - Something More.
- Katy Hurt - Unfinished Business.
- Stephanie McCourt – The Christmas Song.
- Tanille - Santa don't pass me by.
- The Lockerz - Say a Prayer for Christmas.
- The Planet Rock All Stars - You're The Voice.
- Wayne Jacobs - Father Daughter Dance.

Then, at 11.30am, I'll be chatting to David Martin, who wrote the Number One smash hit, Can't Smile Without You. He's back with a song sung by Simon Goodall - My Love For Christmas

It's definitely beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

All that, plus a whole mix of music, reviews and What's Ons

Tune in live from 9 on Sunday…
streaming.broadcastradio.com:8590/worcesterhr
... See MoreSee Less

The Sunday Supplement on Sunday (obviously!) from 9am with Pete Phillips

An hour of classic 70s tracks from 9 till 10am

New music after 10am from:
- Celtic Woman - Sleigh Ride.
- Derek Buckham - As I write this Christmas card.
- Evon Rose - Something More.
- Katy Hurt - Unfinished Business.
- Stephanie McCourt – The Christmas Song.
- Tanille - Santa dont pass me by. 
- The Lockerz - Say a Prayer for Christmas.
- The Planet Rock All Stars - Youre The Voice.
- Wayne Jacobs - Father Daughter Dance.

Then, at 11.30am, Ill be chatting to David Martin, who wrote the Number One smash hit, Cant Smile Without You. Hes back with a song sung by Simon Goodall - My Love For Christmas

Its definitely beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

All that, plus a whole mix of music, reviews and Whats Ons 

Tune in live from 9 on Sunday…
http://streaming.broadcastradio.com:8590/worcesterhr
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