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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

By midlandsmovies, Jan 23 2019 02:22PM

90s classic GHOST resurrects at CURVE Leicester

A new touring theatre production comes to Leicester’s CURVE this month as the successful 90s movie Ghost gets a re-imagining for the stage.

Ghost is a 1990 American romantic fantasy thriller film directed by Jerry Zucker and stars Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore as a couple who suffer tragedy . Their lovers in limbo tale is complimented by an Oscar-winning performance from Whoopi Goldberg as a psychic.

The new stage show will feature the familiar story as the couple walk back to their apartment late one night and a tragic encounter sees Sam murdered and his beloved girlfriend Molly alone.

But with the help of a phoney psychic, Sam – trapped between this world and the next – tries to communicate with Molly in the hope of saving her from grave danger.

The movie Ghost has proven to be one of cinema’s biggest all-time hits. The film grossed over $505.7 million at the box office on a budget of just $22 million.

Goldberg received acclaim from critics for her performance as Oda Mae Brown and Ghost was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Score and Best Film Editing.

It won the awards for Best Supporting Actress for Goldberg and Best Original Screenplay for Bruce Joel Rubin whilst Swayze and Moore both received Golden Globe Award nominations for their performances.

The movie and the musical features The Righteous Brothers’ Unchained Melody – made famous by the well-known pottery scene – and will be featured alongside many more terrific songs co-written by Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart.

This production contains gunshots, smoke, loud bangs and strobe lighting so is suitable for over 12s and tickets range from £45–£10 with discounts available.

Performance times:

Tue 29 Jan 7:30pm

Wed 30 Jan 2:15pm

Wed 30 Jan 7:30pm

Thu 31 Jan 2:15pm

Thu 31 Jan 7:30pm

Fri 1 Feb 7:30pm

Sat 2 Feb 2:15pm

Sat 2 Feb 7:30pm

Book Tickets via the box office here:


By midlandsmovies, Apr 21 2018 08:52AM

An Officer and a Gentleman at Curve Leicester

An Officer and a Gentleman starring Richard Gere and Debra Winger was a huge critical and commercial success when released in 1982 grossing $130 million and winning an Oscar for Louis Gossett Jr. for Best Supporting Actor.

This new Curve production from Nikolai Foster takes the same premise but infuses it with an 80s-flavoured soundtrack of well-known hits from the decade. Telling the story of Zack Mayo and his Navy training in Florida, the protagonist falls in love with local girl Paula whilst conflicting with a tough Sergeant during his classes.

With successes in theatre productions of big movie hits (see our reviews of Sunset Blvd. and Grease), Foster doubles down on the music to carry this production and it mostly works. Mostly.

The film opens with an adaptation of In the Army Now (most famously recorded in the UK by soft-rock icons Status Quo) but here changed to “navy” and we see the cast work well together like combat ready marines themselves.

The soft-rock continues as the story develops as we are introduced to Zack (Jonny Fines) who signs up to the Navy and forms a friendship with Sid (Ian McIntosh). Quickly they get to know girls off the barracks Paula (Emma Williams) and Lynette (Jessica Daley). The ladies’ blue collar toughness shines through as they faithfully deliver renditions of It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World and the perennial retro classic Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. Their broad interpretations delivered the songs with gusto but sadly character development and drama was unfortunately side-lined for the high-energy tunes.

More fleshed out was Keisha Atwell’s Casey Seegar who channels her beautiful voice with a rough and ready performance as the sole female in the outfit. Her strong vocals even came through in the group performances as well as her solo stints.

As a member of a rock band myself, one niggle was the “power” of the cover songs themselves. Although this changed for the second act – I think the soundman found the bass, kick drum and guitar volume faders and cranked them up – part one lacked the explosiveness of the songs themselves – making them a bit bland.

The vocals were top notch throughout but the heavy Marshall-stack guitar solos, the uber-reverb and over-produced drums were nowhere to be seen. The excessive 80s were known for their “hugeness” (see the end of Foreigner’s I Want to Know What Love is) but this was sadly missing.

That said, Act 2 began with a bang and the increased production levels (and volume) of the bass on Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer was a welcomed wake-up call after the interval. Versions of Kids in America, St. Elmo’s Fire and Toy Soldiers all hit the mark whilst Madonna’s Material Girl (again, another song of excess that was expressed in its overblown music video) was a bit lacklustre.

My nit-picking of the music covers shouldn’t take away from some huge successes though. The choreography by Kate Prince is fantastic. The best being a seated sequence where the cadets mime out hand moves in front of imaginary computers. Their hard ‘logical’ movements measuring out straight lines with their arms are a mix of intensity and concentration. But soon their chaotic actions harmonize in an amazing physical representation of the de-humanizing effect on the individual in the armed forces. Amazing!

Also, despite the film’s infamous tension between the stars of the film, there is strong on-stage chemistry between Fines and Williams as well as the rest of the cast. One standout performance was Ian McIntosh’s tragic Sid and his slowed version of Hall & Oates’ Family Man was the highlight of the night, coming as it did with great neon-lit stage production of silhouettes and smoke.

In conclusion, Leicester’s Curve delivers another welcome film adaptation that gives a well-known romance a new twist with the inclusion of pop hits. Audiences will witness all hard work all the cast have put in during their rehearsals (maybe they had their own drill instructor) which means ‘Officer’ will lift your spirits up with its mix of famous tracks and a fun, if slightly workman-like, delivery.

Midlands Movies Mike

Grab tickets from the Box Office on 0116 242 3595

By midlandsmovies, Oct 4 2016 08:41AM

On the 22nd anniversary of the nation’s favourite movie comes this new stage adaptation of the classic film The Shawshank Redemption at the Curve Theatre in Leicester, itself a re-working of Stephen King’s novella.

This new production uses the 1994 movie, which has been often voted Britain’s favourite ever movie, as a jumping off point to look at themes of optimism, friendship and trust.

The original film starred Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman and was nominated for seven Oscars and this version takes some of the ideas from the film (Red not being an Irishman) but mixes in much more from the short story too.

Ex-Eastender Paul Nicholls plays Andy Dufresne who despite protests of his innocence, is convicted of the brutal murder of his wife and her lover. Nichols takes the character in a different direction to the understated style of Robbins by infusing Andy with a simmering rage. In this version I really believed that Andy could have even been the murderer. It was an interesting twist but may upset those in love with the original movie.

Incarcerated at the notorious Shawshank facility, Andy quickly learns however that no one can survive on their own and forms a friendship with Ellis ‘Red’ Redding played brilliantly by Ben Onwukwe. Again, influenced but not bound by Freeman’s iconic take, the actor gives a more sarcastic tone to his performance which contrasted with Nichols’ role.

However, the overall tone throughout was unfortunately one of the weaker parts. With the movie loved the world over, there’s a general upbeat glow on screen (despite the some of the prison horrors) whereas this interpretation went to the extremes – with much more violence and swearing but also an increase in comedy. This would be fine in certain sections but stuck out in others. A scene where librarian Brooksie cannot face life on the outside and threatens to set fire to himself had unfortunate lines of awkward dialogue to ‘lighten’ the mood but felt misplaced and lessened the drama.

That said, this production by producer Bill Kenwright had spectacular stage design with spotlights, flashlights and subtle colour changes in scenes to show the heightened emotions of the inmates and their fractured relationships with the guards and each other.

Special mention should also go to Jack Ellis’ pitch perfect Warden Stammas who, for a film fan like myself, channelled the cinematic version flawlessly. As the character exploits Andy’s accountancy skills, Ellis’ nasty evangelist torments the prisoners with bible passages and remonstrations. Ellis snakes his way through a superb performance of unpleasantness in a classic villain role he’s echoed from the film.

This stage adaptation is by Owen O’Neill and Dave Johns and directed by David Esbjornson and together they have produced a show that’s overall more surprising than striking. Fans of both the book and film will find good things in the adaptation but if you prefer one over the other then the criss-crossing of styles may irk the respective audiences.

However, this is a new interpretation and being “faithful” to another media is not equal to quality and with a cast of dramatic actors bringing new things to a well-worn tale, the stage production gives fresh life to the story. The Shawshank Redemption then is an impressive show which has enough of the old and the new that you won’t want to escape the auditorium during its marvellous set pieces and exciting reworking of hope in the face of adversity.

Midlands Movies Mike

The Shawshank Redemption is on at The Curve in Leicester from Monday 3rd October to Saturday 8th October as well as further dates around the UK.

Performance times:

Mon 3 Oct 7:30pm

Tue 4 Oct 7:30pm

Wed 5 Oct 2:15pm & 7:30pm

Thu 6 Oct 7:30pm

Fri 7 Oct 7:30pm

Sat 8 Oct 2:15pm & 7:30pm

£32.50 – £14.50 - Book tickets: http://www.curveonline.co.uk/whats-on/shows/shawshank-redemption

By midlandsmovies, Jul 5 2016 10:51AM

Cult horror picture show is glorious and rocking

Heading down to Leicester’s Curve Theatre on a subdued Monday evening the promotional blurb for The Rocky Horror Picture Show warned tonight’s audience that “this show has rude parts” and there certainly were lots of nods to “parts”.

For the uninitiated like myself, The Rocky Horror Picture Show was a 1973 musical stage production that subsequently became a cult phenomenon when it was translated to film in 1975. Created by Crystal-Mazer Richard O'Brien, the film parodies science fiction and B-movie horrors with a huge splash of campy (and vampy!) sex in the mix. Other than a few cursory watches of the film and drunkenly attempting one of the film’s signature songs “The Time Warp” at many a wedding, I came with little knowledge of the production as a whole.

The rock ‘n’ roll musical started with a bang as a young couple, Janet and Brad (played by X-Factorer Diana Vickers and the impressive Richard Meek) break down in their car and head to a strange castle to seek help. Discovering mad scientist/alien transvestite Frank N. Furter, the couple get embroiled in an experiment to create a muscle-man in a laboratory before being seduced separately and eventually released.

Infamously, the film gained notoriety with re-showings in New York as fans rediscovered its unconventional charms by interacting with dialogue and attending screenings dressed as characters. This showing proved that legacy was still going strong as the large foyer of theatre contained a throng of made-up audience members. It’s been said the film’s costumes directly impacted the development of punk music fashion trends such as ripped fishnets and dyed hair and there were plenty of both in the stalls tonight.

This new 2016 tour has already smashed records across the UK and is anchored by a flamboyant and gaudy performance by Liam Tamne (from BBC’s The Voice) as Frank N. Furter. Channelling the film’s eccentric version honed by Tim Curry plus a whole lot more, his extravagant singing and dancing was a glitzy highlight. This theatrical production also allowed much more than just quoting along with the lines too. As fans shouted out responses to dialogue, the actors responded back with newly created and semi-improvised quips. The master of these was Norman Pace (of Hale & Pace fame) who played the narrator with gusto and kept things from going (too far) off the rails. Although by the end (spoiler) even he was wearing fishnets and suspenders!

The flashy stage visuals complimented the madness of the crazy characters with colourful neon and Day-Glo lighting plus plenty of added smoke to the seedy proceedings. The up-tempo music hits (such as Sweet Transvestite and Dammit Janet) were especially well-played by the production’s band and at the same time a chorus of supporting actors (including S Club 7’s Paul Cattermole) had equally perfect roles and sublime timing. The naughty content may be a bit crude for those with a prudish disposition but the outrageousness is definitely part of the show’s lurid appeal.

From the costumes (or lack of) to the pelvic thrusting, a particular highlight for me was the seduction of Janet and Brad by Frank N. Furter. With an upright bed prop forming a kitsch Punch-and-Judy-esque “booth”, the coarse humour reached its comical climax in more ways than one with under-the-sheets fondling and appropriate oral sound effects delivered by various actors’ mouths.

Historically, the famous film is full of fun, filth and flesh and this performance maintained that zaniness and then some. Ending with a full theatre dancing to the Time Warp (for a second time) the show is immensely entertaining and my smiles matched the actors as they gave their bows at the end. With endless naughty pleasures throughout, I’d recommend the stupendous show in all its garish glory.

Midlands Movies Mike

Catch the show from July 4th to July 9th and for further tour info check the official site: http://rockyhorror.co.uk/cast

Tickets: http://www.curveonline.co.uk/whats-on/shows/the-rocky-horror-show/

By midlandsmovies, Jun 8 2016 11:27AM

The 39 Steps – a funny film farce at The Curve Leicester

Adapted from the novel The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915) by John Buchan, this Olivier-Award-winning smash hit comedy originated from London’s West End and arrived in Leicester this week on its 10th anniversary tour.

The story of Richard Hannay, a British everyman who gets embroiled in a mysterious plot where spies attempt to steal military secrets, the show is a unique performance which has just four (!) very brave actors playing 139 (!) roles in a 100-minute stage play.

The show is bookended by Hannay’s character at his (rented) London flat and actor Richard Ede in the central role gives a performance that holds the whole narrative together. From monologues, speeches and comedy escapes, his verbal and physical performance is complimented by Olivia Greene who plays 3 female roles. By far my favourite was Pamela – in which a fair portion of her stage time is spent “tethered” to Hannay in calamitous handcuff scenes.

However, a lot of praise should go to Rob Witcomb & Andrew Hodges as Man 1 and Man 2 who play over 100 parts between them. A dance of costume changes, hat swaps and dual roles in the same scene were an animated delight and the kinetic pace was maintained throughout. Hilarious material was bolstered by entertaining scenes of action where characters pirouetted their bodies around the stage for a slew of horsing around and knowing jokes.

Thus leading to my enjoyment of the play’s subtle (and not so subtle) breaking of the fourth wall. Drawing attention to its own construction, the self-referential gags about the play’s four actors were excellent. From reminding an actor to change their hats after a boisterous scene of character swapping to encouraging phones to ring when they should, the show was as much about its construction as its story.

The entertainment continued as the stars moved props around the stage and drawing attention to this actually happening was a joy to watch. Enough praise cannot be heaped upon the cavorting gymnastics of all four actors. Hannay’s running on the spot failed to get Ede out of breath, Olivia Greene made the most of her reserved characters strange mannerisms and Witcomb & Hodges scrambled and cavorted whilst embodying a range of oddball personalities – even at one time “playing” a stream.

Most famously, The 39 Steps was adapted to film by the master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock in 1935 and in 1999 was ranked 4th Best British film of the 20th Century by the BFI. In hindsight, this “man-on-the-run” thriller was a perfect foil for the auteur who used the plot to explore his favourite themes such as a man who is forced to go on the run, the appearance of an archetypical ‘Hitchcock Blonde’ in star Madeleine Carroll and his signature cameo.

The play doesn’t shy from this movie connection and uses dialogue (“I can’t go up there, I have VERTIGO”) and sound (liberal use of the Psycho score) to cement the link whilst another great joke contains a nod to the infamous shower scene.

I thoroughly recommend the show as its exceptional production was enhanced by actors delivering outstanding performances in an inspired take on the renowned show. Moving the thriller to a comedy was a marvellous swap by writer Patrick Barlow, who hails from Leicester, and should be congratulated for an inimitable approach to the material.

The show continues its run at The Curve for a week and the theatre itself is situated in Leicester’s Cultural Quarter and was officially opened by the Queen in 2008 with a curved façade made from 46000m2 of glass. The theatre has an amazing 2016 run of events with many of them having a movie-themed background...

Film-inspired Finding Neverland came to The Curve back in 2012 and later this year Midlanders can see a host of shows including Sister Act, an adaptation of the Whoopi Goldberg comedy and now starring X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke and 9 to 5 – inspired by the cult 1980 movie starring Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton and Jane Fonda.

In addition, further shows like Alan Parker’s Bugsy Malone, Footloose and even The Shawshank Redemption are heading to the city for fans of film and theatre alike.

For more information and tickets please visit the official website here: www.curveonline.co.uk

Midlands Movies Mike

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