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By midlandsmovies, Jan 21 2020 12:39PM



The Woman in Black at Curve Leicester


The Woman in Black is a 1983 horror novel by Susan Hill, written in the style of a traditional Gothic novel and made into a 2012 supernatural horror film starring Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe with great support from Ciarán Hinds, Janet McTeer and Liz White.


Yet although it was a commercial success, the original book was adapted into a more famous stage play by Stephen Mallatratt that is now the second longest-running play in the West End.


The plot of all adaptations follows a young lawyer who travels to a remote village where he discovers that the vengeful ghost of a scorned woman is terrorising the locals.


And Curve Leicester now has a further adaptation directed by Robin Herford. It again seeks to tell the story of solicitor Arthur Kipps who attends the funeral of a client and subsequently discovers the dreaded secret of the Woman in Black.


In contrast to the film and book however, this stage version adds a layer of interesting complexity as it delivers a play within a play.


Kipps is first embodied by Robert Goodale, as an old man hoping to turn his story into a stage play for friends and family. He is assisted by a professional actor (Daniel Easton as “The Actor”) who wants to help shape and deliver a successful story.


Both actors do well and before long, and after reading excerpts from Kipps’ diaries, The Actor ends up playing the younger incarnation of Kipps and the whole production takes a more conventional form.


The sparse stage layout first evokes a small theatre but as it moves into the recreation of the "real" story then it becomes more elaborate. We see dusty sheets on old furniture and spy mysterious shapes through the haze of a semi-translucent curtain.


This opens up the play to a larger location and larger themes about loneliness and remembrance. It does dip back into the fact that the story is being recollected and acted out from the pages of the diary. However, although this is somewhat clever this also hinders the audience as it “snaps” you out of the dark atmosphere of the narrative itself.


Both actors do well intertwining their different roles as needed and playing off a surprising amount of comedy. This is thrown in the script and performed well by the double-act from the very start. The suspension of disbelief is an allegorical and on-stage physical trait of the play, especially when they play multiple roles throughout.


The scares come from what isn’t seen – a bang on a door here, a creaking rocking chair there – but after hearing anecdotes from others about the horrific nature of the play I can’t but express some disappointment. At no point was I genuinely frightened and as the play ratcheted up tension, it was a shame that scenes came to a rather abrupt end quite often.


All the audience tension in a near-silent auditorium was lost as we jumped back to the “play” rehearsals or a pinch of comedy was thrown in which undercut the well set-up horror.


In the end, the construction of the play was its most intriguing aspect and the second half’s stage lighting, furniture and props were scene-setting delights. However, if you happen to have a strong disposition, don’t go into The Woman in Black ready to be spooked as the less-than-average scares are too few and far between.


Mike Sales


The Woman in Black at Curve


Tue 21 Jan — Sat 25 Jan


Age Recommendation: 12+


Running time: 2 hour 5 minutes including a 15 minute interval


Please note this performance contains loud noises and smoke.


Tickets

£35 – £10

DISCOUNTS*

£15 Under 16s

£15 Under 18s school groups

£18 16 – 26 yrs (with a FREE 16 – 26 Membership)

£4 off for Groups 10+

15% off for Members or 241 tickets on Mon 20 Jan


*Discounts are subject to terms and conditions, availability and are only valid on certain performances.




By midlandsmovies, Jan 13 2020 11:34PM



Midlands Spotlight - Film shows coming to Curve in 2020


With the announcement in January 2020 that this year will see new adaptations of both Roman Holiday and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof coming to Curve in Leicester, it joins a whole host of film-related shows already scheduled.


From drama to comedy via musicals both past and present, Curve has an amazing 2020 planned with details of the above soon to be published alongside a season of fantastic film and fan favourites.


Check out the current season details below:



The Woman in Black - Mon 20 Jan — Sat 25 Jan

A lawyer obsessed with a curse that he believes has been cast over him and his family by the spectre of a Woman in Black engages a sceptical young actor to help him tell his terrifying story. Continuing its record-breaking run in London’s West End, The Woman in Black embarks on a major UK Tour Susan Hill’s acclaimed ghost story comes dramatically alive in Stephen Mallatratt’s ingenious stage adaptation. In 2012 a film adaptation was released starring Daniel Radcliffe in the role of Arthur Kipps and directed by James Watkins (Eden Lake) and develops a storyline quite different from that of the source material.




The Phantom of The Opera - Sat 22 Feb — Sat 21 Mar

The brilliant original production of Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s The Phantom of the Opera is embarking on a major UK and Ireland tour. Now in its 34th year in the West End, The Phantom of the Opera is widely considered one of the most beautiful and spectacular productions in history. Produced by Cameron Mackintosh and The Really Useful Group Ltd, The Phantom of the Opera will open at Curve this February. The romantic, haunting and soaring score includes Music of the Night, All I Ask of You, Masquerade and the iconic title song. Adapted for film many times, one of the most recent was the 2004 British–American musical drama adaptation directed by Joel Schumacher starring Gerard Butler in the title role, Emmy Rossum, Patrick Wilson, Miranda Richardson, Minnie Driver and Jennifer Ellison.




Cry Baby – Thu 26 Mar — Sat 28 Mar

With songs by David Javerbaum & Adam Schlesinger, this new play is based on the Universal Pictures film written and directed by John Waters. Adapted for the stage by the same team behind Hairspray, CYC Musicals 16+ bring Cry Baby to the stage as part of the CYC Season. Wade ‘Cry-Baby’ Walker is the coolest kid in town, a bad boy with a good heart. When he falls for the good girl who wants to be bad, their two worlds collide as the king of the delinquents and queen of the squares fight, flirt and dance their way through 1950s rock ‘n’ roll America. Originally Cry-Baby was a 1990 American musical from Waters and was the only film of Waters' over which studios were in a bidding war, coming off the heels of Hairspray. The film stars Johnny Depp as 1950s teen rebel "Cry-Baby" Wade Walker and also features a large ensemble cast that includes Amy Locane, Polly Bergen, Susan Tyrrell, Iggy Pop, Ricki Lake and Traci Lords.




Sister Act - Tue 21 Apr — Sat 2 May

The Broadway and UK smash-hit musical Sister Act is coming to Curve immediately prior to its record-breaking London run, reimagined for the 21st century and starring Brenda Edwards (Hairspray, Chicago, Loose Women) in the specially rewritten role of Deloris Van Cartier. Now set in 2020, this sparkling tribute to the universal power of friendship, sisterhood and music tells the hilarious story of the disco diva whose life takes a surprising turn when she witnesses a murder. It features original music by Tony® and 8-time Oscar® winner Alan Menken (Disney’s Aladdin, Enchanted) and songs inspired by Motown, soul and disco. The 1992 American musical comedy film version was directed by Emile Ardolino and written by Joseph Howard, and originally starred Whoopi Goldberg as a lounge singer forced to join a convent after being placed in a witness protection program.


Sing-a-long-a The Greatest Showman - Sun 3 May 2:15pm

Cheer on Hugh Jackman, lust after Zac Efron and hiss at Rebecca Ferguson (…or maybe not) as you experience The Greatest Showman in the greatest way possible – with lyrics on the screen so you can join in as loud and proud as you want.


Sing-a-long-a Bohemian Rhapsody - Sun 3 May 7.00pm

Celebrate Queen, their music, and their extraordinary lead singer Freddie Mercury. Sit back and sing along with the on-screen lyrics to Bohemian Rhapsody, Under Pressure and Somebody to Love not forgetting YOU the audience becoming part of their famous Live Aid concert.



Dial M for Murder - Mon 4 May - Sat 9 May

Made famous by Alfred Hitchcock’s world-renowned 1950 film, the iconic Dial M for Murder is coming to Curve in 2020. Tony Wendice is a jaded ex-professional tennis player who has given it all up for his wife Margot. But Tony’s mind soon turns to revenge as he discovers his wife has been unfaithful. Aiming to commit ‘the perfect crime’ Tony becomes tangled in the web of his own making. TV and stage favourite Tom Chambers (Top Hat and Strictly Come Dancing) stars in this spine-chilling drama. The 1954 American crime mystery film starred Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, Robert Cummings, and John Williams and both the screenplay and the successful stage play on which it was based were written by English playwright Frederick Knott.




A Monster Calls - Tue 26 May — Sat 30 May

Patrick Ness’s piercing novel A Monster Calls is brought vividly to life in the Olivier award winning production by visionary director Sally Cookson. Thirteen-year-old Conor and his mum have managed just fine since his dad moved away. But now his mum is sick and not getting any better. His grandmother won’t stop interfering and the kids at school won’t look him in the eye. Then, one night, Conor is woken by something at his window. A monster has come walking. A Monster Calls was made into a 2016 dark fantasy film directed by J. A. Bayona and stars Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Toby Kebbell and Liam Neeson.




Once - Mon 15 Jun — Sat 20 Jun

Once may not be enough for you to see this multi award-winning Broadway and West End hit musical. Based on the critically acclaimed and much-loved film, you will meet (and never forget) two lost souls – a Dublin street busker and a Czech musician – who find each other unexpectedly and fall in love. You will fall in love, too, with this brilliant and beautiful musical, filled with live music, from lush ballads to barnstorming reels. The 2007 Irish romantic musical drama film was written and directed by John Carney and starred Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová. Once spent years in development with the Irish Film Board and was made for a budget of €112,000. It was a commercial success, earning substantial per-screen box office averages in the United States. It received awards including the 2007 Independent Spirit Award for Best Foreign Film. Hansard and Irglová's song "Falling Slowly" won the 2008 Academy Award for Best Original Song, and the soundtrack received a Grammy Award nomination.


All shows, tickets, dates, times and details over at Curve official website https://www.curveonline.co.uk


By midlandsmovies, Sep 27 2019 07:44AM



Review - My Beautiful Laundrette at Curve Leicester


My Beautiful Launderette won an Oscar nomination for Hanif Kureshi for Best Original Screenplay back in 1987. Adapted for the stage by the writer and featuring an original score by the Pet Shop Boys, the stage adaptation remains true to its roots and plunges the audience straight into 1980s Britain.


Set to the backdrop of a dingy launderette, My Beautiful Launderette tells the story of Omar, a young British Pakistani who has lost his way after a family tragedy. Played with gentle charm dashed with an edge of cunning, Omar Malik’s Omar has the audience in the palm of his hand from the outset. When he confronts a fascist gang after recognising his school friend Johnny amongst them, we are rooting for the pair to make a success out of the launderette that they decide to renovate between them, and later for their love story to have a happy ending.


Whilst the entire ensemble are to be commended for their achievements in bringing this story to life (the majority play multiple roles), it’s Jonny Fines who deserves every accolade for his portrayal of the initially moody and mysterious Johnny. His focus and embodiment of the character needs to be seen to be believed; every action, reaction and facial expression draws the audience in and it was his enthralling performance that had me joining the standing ovation at the end.


Praise should also be heaped upon Grace Smart for her set design; she has created a clever, multi-purpose set that reflects both the grim back story with its industrial lines and neon graffiti, to happier times with the giant (albeit skewed) glitter ball and the ever-present ‘Back to the Future’ poster! The clever lighting design deserves recognition too, from the flashing POWDERS sign to the illumination of a moody, sexy Johnny enveloped in smoke on top of scaffolding.


The play is not without its faults. At times the narrative was confusing to follow as the audience focus was pulled where it wasn’t supposed to be; I missed the first part of an important scene between Johnny and Omar as I was watching two other actors writhe in knee high boots and top hats on another part of the stage! There were also scenes played out on the floor that I struggled to see, despite being only four rows back from the stage.


Despite its minor flaws, My Beautiful Launderette is well worth a visit for anybody who loves the ‘80s (the costume design alone will have you salivating) and anybody who loves tales of star-crossed lovers or is a champion of the underdog. The final fight scene had me wincing, the stage combat was so effective and the curtain call was accompanied by a surprise that had the audience enthralled…we’ll let you see what that is when you visit!


My Beautiful Launderette plays at Curve Theatre, Leicester from Friday 27th September to Saturday 5th October.


Karen Stevens


£22 – £10

PREVIEWS

Fri 20 – Wed 25 Sep – £10


241 Tickets on Thu 26 Sep 7.15pm & Mon 30 Sep 7.15pm


ACCESS PERFORMANCES

Captioned: Thu 3 Oct, 7.15pm

Audio-Described: Sat 5 Oct, 2.30pm (with Touch Tour starting 90mins prior)




By midlandsmovies, Sep 19 2019 10:39AM



War Horse at Curve is a thrilling tale of emotion and intensity


War Horse at Curve - Wed 18 Sep to Sat 12 Oct


War Horse is a play based on the book of the same name by writer Michael Morpurgo, adapted for stage by Nick Stafford. And now after an 8 record-record breaking years in London’s West End and having played in 11 countries around the world to over 7 million people, the National Theatre’s acclaimed play came to Curve last night.


If you don’t already know one of the main draws to the various productions are the amazing life-size horse puppets by the Handspring Puppet Company and unlike the novel, whose story is told through the horse's viewpoint, the narrative follows a young boy’s efforts to be reunited with his beloved horse from his childhood.


Movie-wise of course it was adapted again, this time for film by the legendary director Steven Spielberg. With influences from both the novel and the stage play, the 2011 movie was nominated for 6 Academy Awards and starred Jeremy Irvine (in his film acting debut), Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Tom Huddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Marsan & many more in an amazing group cast. The film also has a small Midlands connection with parts being filmed on location at Castle Combe in Wiltshire.


Set around the First World War, War Horse tells of the journey of a horse (Joey) who is raised by British teenager Albert and after being bought by the Army, leads him to encounter numerous individuals and owners throughout Europe whilst the tragedies of war happen around him.


In this version we gallop headlong into events as Joey is bought at auction and forms a bond with young Albert (played with gusto by Scott Miller). And it’s here where the fantastic stage show comes to life by the extraordinary puppeteers. With two actors in the body and one for the head, the masterful demonstration of the art brought real life to the horses on stage. And when the amazing lighting was just right, you’d swear that were real. They were simply that good.


As the horse grows and is eventually sold under Albert’s nose into the military by his debt-ridden father, the stage becomes a brooding playground of war-time imagery. Smoke billows, searchlights cross no-man’s land and a fantastic understated score permeates scenes throughout the show and gives the play a movie-like feel.


A flash of an old photo camera pauses the action like a cinematic freeze-frame and a cavalry charge before the interval had unbelievable slow-motion explosions and horses stopping mid-air. Gunshots too had the audience bolting from their seats in fear, whist clever use of lighting and props were used like movie editing transitions to keep the story flowing.


As well as the emotional impact of the terrible consequences of war on humans and animals, there are moments of lightness. A puppet goose steals the show early-on with its amusing honk and comical conversations in the trench about the “girls back home” are clichéd but were touching and done with a real honesty.


The characterisation in general is quite broad but this allows space for you to enjoy and attach yourself emotionally to the animals – especially later on as an audible gasp was heard from the audience as one of the horses was whipped by an angry German soldier.


As we cantered our way to the show’s conclusion, the emotional intensity increases whilst reining in the sentimentality. And the horrors of war, cruelty, friendship and the relationship between humans and animals are all explored in an expressive, and impressive, final few scenes.


So strap yourself in the saddle, the touching tale of War Horse harnesses an emotional intensity that makes it simply the best touring production around right now and demands to be seen.


Michael Sales


War Horse at Curve - Wed 18 Sep to Sat 12 Oct

The show contains loud sound effects, gunfire, flashing lights and strobe lighting.

Running time: 2hrs 40mins incl. 20 min interval

Age Recommendation: 10+

Tickets £57 – £10


ACCESS PERFORMANCES

Captioned: Sat 28 Sep, 2.15pm

Signed: Tue 1 Oct, 7.30pm

Audio–Described: Fri 4 Oct, 7.30pm

Touch Tour: Fri 4 Oct, 5.30pm


AFTERSHOW DISCUSSION

Thu 26 Sep, 7.30pm


Credits

Book by Michael Morpurgo

Adapted by Nick Stafford

In association with Handspring Puppet Company

Directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris


By midlandsmovies, Mar 5 2019 09:18AM



The Girl on the Train hits the buffers


Adapted from the 2016 film of the same name, which in turn was based on Paula Hawkin’s 2015 debut novel, Curve Leicester presents a new stage production of mystery thriller The Girl on the Train.


Replacing Emily Blunt from the movie version is a fantastic Samantha Womack (Game On, Eastenders) as Rachel Watson, an alcoholic whose life is torn apart by her bouts of frequent memory loss owing to her drinking disorder. As she travels to the city on a train, she envies a local woman she sees each day but when that girl goes missing, she becomes embroiled in a mysterious whodunnit.


Lonely and isolated and with her ex-husband now with a new family, the investigation turns to Rachel as she tries to fill in the blanks of the case, and her own memory.


The play opens on a small apartment and the production tries to instil a sense of seclusion as Rachel’s small flat is strewn with empty alcohol bottles that sees her ostracised from her previous life owing to her wayward behaviour.


Her ex-husband Tom (Adam Jackson-Smith) and his new wife Anna (Lowenna Melrose) employed an au pair (Kirsty Oswald as Megan) and it is she who goes missing. Possible blame points at the girl’s ex-partner Scott (Coronation Street’s Oliver Farnworth) or her therapist but we follow Rachel’s own rambling inquiries into the woman she envied from afar.


The film was a fast-paced thriller (see our review here) but something has sadly got lost in translation here. The excellent lighting - denoting which day of the week it was and a brilliant “black hole” metaphor – was unfortunately undercut by slow pacing and stilted and protracted conversations.


Womack holds her own though by appearing in every single scene of the play but the unreliable narrator, dream sequences and flashbacks from both the novel and the film were hard to translate. The show did its best with windows, balconies, smoke and mirrors to convey these different time periods but unfortunately if you didn’t know the work already you would struggle to follow the convoluted story threads.


Maybe some films (and books) are simply constructed too differently to work on stage. My previous review of The Shawshank Redemption (a book-turned-film then turned-theatre production as this was) had similar concerns about adaptation problems.


A strange sprinkling of dark humour helped lighten the mood at times but it sometimes grated against the more serious themes and undercut the tension as accusations were flying from all sides, including the police.


Womack however kept the whole thing from falling apart but the overall show felt like a missed opportunity. The final violent and intense scene showcased a brilliant three-way interplay between the main leads and demonstrated a spark and passion that seemed missing from the previous hour.


Alas, it was a little too late. With strong performances The Girl on the Train certainly didn’t lack a committed cast giving it their all but with everything else coming in as just “average”, this show was an admirable thriller but with far too few thrills.


★★1/2


Michael Sales


Catch The Girl on the Train at Curve Leicester from Monday 4th March to Saturday 9th March


Box Office 0116 242 3595


£32.50 – £10

DISCOUNTS*

£15 Under 16s

£18 16 – 26 yrs (with a free

16-26 Membership)

£15 Under 18 school groups

£2.50 off for over 60s and registered unemployed

15% off for Members

£4 off for Groups 10+




By midlandsmovies, Jan 30 2019 08:22PM



Ghost the Musical at Curve Leicester


Based upon the 1990 American romantic fantasy thriller film Ghost, this new musical version of the massive box office success heads to Curve Leicester as it starts a UK-wide run.


Taking its cue from the movie’s plot, this stage adaptation again centres on a young woman, Molly, who ends up in peril after her partner, Sam, is killed in a supposed mugging gone wrong.


As Sam’s ghost gets stuck between worlds he contacts a psychic who reluctantly agrees to help him to discover the dark secrets surrounding his death and to protect Molly from the dangers she’s facing.


Molly is played by Rebekah Lowlings and Sam by Niall Sheehy, and whilst they are no Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze, their voices more than make up for a little lack of chemistry at times. Note perfect renditions of big stage tunes, group harmonies and sad solos were certainly delivered impeccably.


The film is stolen by Whoopi Goldberg’s Oscar-winning turn as Oda Mae Brown and the same happens here as Jacqui Dubois channels a similar performance but gives it her own twist as the oddball psychic. However, although Goldberg didn’t provide any singing Dubois’ fantastic Aretha Franklin style soul vocals added amazing flavour to the proceedings.


In fact, the show suffers slightly from showtune fatigue where the earnest but slightly bland moody melodies between the lonely protagonists, whilst pitch-perfect, were shown up by the edgier songs interspersed throughout.


In order to help Molly, Sam meets a ghost on a subway train and Lovonne Richards tribal drum rapping was a welcome addition as was Oda Mae’s gospel infused “Are You A Believer?” with excellent support from Jochebel Ohene MacCarthy and Sadie-Jean Shirley.


Also of note was the jazzy “You Gotta Let Go Now” from James Earl Adair and of course, we can’t not mention the legendary tune Unchained Melody. Aspects of the song are littered throughout – from the background score to an impromptu jaunty acoustic version – but the leads did themselves proud late on in the show when they delivered the full rendition.


And at that point the coughing began. A touch of flu in the crowd perhaps? Definitely not. The lumps in the throat were clearly growing and by the show’s poignant goodbye conclusion, there were certainly some sobs from the crowd.


A great rendition of a classic movie, the film’s main beats are recreated using good choreography and Mark Bailey’s superb stage design along with solid performances across the board. Although a few tracks fell flat, stick around to enjoy the quirkier songs and plenty of funny moments during a show which delivers plenty of spirit.


Michael Sales


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