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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:

https://www.curveonline.co.uk/whats-on/shows/ghost-the-musical/






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, Sep 29 2017 11:18AM


Lights! Camera! Action! With The Shawshank Redemption, The Graduate and Grease, Leicester’s Curve Theatre is already a regional hub for brilliantly realised stage versions of some of the world’s most classic films. And tonight was no exception as Andrew Lloyd Webber’s infamous 1993 musical Sunset Boulevard (itself based around Billy Wilder’s 1950 Oscar winning noir classic) debuted in Leicester.


The musical matches the film’s narrative closely where struggling Hollywood screenwriter Joe Gillis (Hollyoaks and Strictly Come Dancing star Danny Mac) escapes his debtors and winds up re-writing the atrocious script of faded silent-movie star Norma Desmond. Desmond is played by Welsh West End stage star Ria Jones and boy does she deserve her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


The show opens with a bang as a full chorus explodes onto the stage with "Let's Have Lunch" which immediately whisks us into the old glamour of a bygone movie era from The Paramount production company archway to sleazy journalists, loud-mouth directors and Hollywood hopefuls.


Mac is superb as the witty writer, doing what he has to do to survive and his American style delivery is boastful yet classic at once. However, much like Norma herself, the show centres around Ria Jones but unlike the deluded and self-absorbed house-bound harridan, this starlet shines bright every time she takes the stage.


The times she is not front and centre, the play still fully delivers with the wry clothes-swapping "The Lady's Paying" being a comedy delight whilst Molly Lynch as Betty Schaefer holds her own as the lovelorn film company script-reader. Her note perfect high-pitched duet on “Girl Meets Boy” played softly against the harsher dynamics of Joe and Norma’s tempestuous turns.


The technical playing of the musical’s tunes was the show’s biggest-kept secret accomplishment. Once the curtain fell an eager Leicester crowd gathered near the orchestral pit to give specific congratulations to the fantastic (and unsung) players of the night and fully deserved it was too with the sweeping score moving from bombastic to gentle without fault.


Director Nikolai Foster kept the play moving fast and choreographer Lee Proud mixed show tune flamboyancy with tiny touches (the movement of a wine bottle past almost unnoticed between three separate characters in seconds) and that level of detail is why the 2-hour plus performance flew by joyously.




With the amazing music and Jones’ impeccable delivery, the theatre was alight with talent and the props and their unique usage became key to understanding the show’s Los Angeles locations. The staircase in Desmond’s mansion became the focus of a power-dynamic with her dominating presence looming over Mac’s Joe Gillis. As she descends her ‘stairway to Hollywood heaven’, Desmond comes back to earth with the faintest glimpses of reality peeking in behind her foolish belief of a successful return to the screen.


But finally, with all the components working perfectly with each other, Jones delivered the film’s infamous “I’m ready for my close-up” line and along with her note-holding final song, the theatre erupted into a more than deserved standing ovation. Far from a silent success, this new take on Sunset Boulevard should be sung from the Hollywood hills with its beautiful gift of glamour and glitz.


Midlands Movies Mike

By midlandsmovies, Jun 1 2017 08:52AM

The Graduate (2017)


The Curve Theatre in Leicester


Adapted by Terry Johnson, this new stage production of the famous 1963 novel (and the infamous 1967 film) comes to Leicester’s Curve theatre on the movie’s 50th anniversary.


Charles Webb’s novel is used as the basis alongside the adapted screenplay by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry which is all the more amazing knowing it’s been organised by special arrangement with Studio Canal.


Catherine McCormack (Braveheart, The Land Girls, 28 Weeks Later) is the play’s iconic cougar Mrs. Robinson (made famous by Anne Bancroft in the movie) and she is supported by Jack Monaghan as Benjamin as he fills the shoes of Dustin Hoffman’s film incarnation.


Immediately the talented director Lucy Bailey plays up the dark humour with hilarious lines delivered in quick succession warming the audience to the protagonists. Chuckles turned into belly laughs later on as the cast showed an amazing comedic talent especially including a brief but memorable role by Tom Hodgkins as Benjamin’s father Mr Braddock.


The stage design from Mike Britton was fantastic as we moved from home settings and hotels to elevators and wedding chapels. Large projected back-lit screens have the feel of 1960’s Super-8 film but this also allowed the production to utilise these in dream-like sequences to penetrate into the mind of Benjamin. This ingenious use of adaptation from the novel got the audience far more emotionally involved and broke up the scenes into understandable narrative chunks.


The music was sparse and came in the form of a few acoustic tracks but the lack of the iconic Simon and Garfunkel tunes was disappointing but understandable given the copyright issues no doubt. However, these sounds of silence were overcome by an engaging atmosphere created by the actors themselves and the background noise effects.


The lighting especially was first rate as it created a space on the stage for the drama and comedy to play out. Finally, the crew should be applauded again for the simple, yet effective, use of curtains. As well as a symbol of privacy and hidden secrets, the half-drawn fabrics created rooms and windows as well as a hazy visions of the society Benjamin fights against.


With the stage illusions complete, the funny gags continued and we see Monaghan’s Benjamin create his own worst world with his infamous liaisons with Mrs Robinson before his self destructive nature homes in on her daughter – a delightful Emma Curtis as put-upon Elaine.


Some adult nudity and arguments are handled with sensitivity and the actors have such great chemistry you are certainly with them every step of the way. Emotions eventually climax as the disillusioned souls come together and the illicit relationships are laid bare. Richard Clothier’s natural talent should also be singled out as the confident, then broken, Mr. Robinson as he plays a husband shattered by the forbidden revelations.


Catherine McCormack’s drunken antics were a joy to watch throughout whilst she infused the role with an eroticism that any male would desire and Monaghan equally steps up his talent to match. His performance is one of great depth as he has to give Benjamin both tender and pathetic qualities yet does so with ease.


With so many parts working together there was an audible silence at the play’s conclusion, the likes of which I had never witnessed in a theatre and whilst it riffs on the film, the ending relies far more on the novel.


The Graduate is such a quality production that to pick minor faults would do such a high class show a disservice. With audience engagement at a high and with charming performances and the remarkable technical qualities so well executed this is one affair you won’t ever want to end.


Catch The Graduate at Curve Leicester from 1st to 10th June 2017.

This production has an age guidance of 14+ and contains some nudity.


Tickets can be purchased from the Official Ticket Office at 0116 242 3595 with discounts for under 16s, over 60s, under 18s school groups, members and more.

By midlandsmovies, Dec 13 2016 10:43AM



Grease at The Curve catches lightning in a bottle


Let’s put this straight out there – Grease is my favourite musical. The combination of catchy 50s-influenced pop hits together with a classic tale of boyfriend and girlfriend from opposite sides of the track is as fantastic now as it was when the film version was released in 1978.


In this version Nikolai Foster directs a new production of Warren Casey and Jim Jacobs' 1971 musical and takes many cues from the original version rather than the film adaptation. Here the T-Birds we know from the motion picture revert to the original Burger Boys gang, but the same saga of Summer Lovin’ returning to high school is still the story’s driving force.


This version also includes songs the movie omitted but film-fans shouldn’t be dismayed as solo performances of Grease’s unforgettable classics including “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee”, by the amazing Djalenga Scott as a raw Rizzo and "Hopelessly Devoted to You" from Jessica Paul as Sandy showed the talent of the cast and why the latter was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song.


The story remains mostly the same with popular gang rebel Danny Zuko (played with assured confidence by Dex Lee) meeting goodie two-shoes Sandy during summer only for them to be re-united once school reconvenes. The subsequent clash between their romantic liaison and friends’ peer pressure see the two try to rekindle their whirlwind romance at Rydell High.


Sitting alongside 1950s high school classics like American Graffiti (and even Back to the Future) the film delivered the showtunes by two of the most popular stars at the time; John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. But those big shoes are excellently filled by the two leads here as well as a high quality support cast who get equally as many funny lines and songs as the protagonists.


Faithful stage recreations of the hand-jive dance off, the burger joint and various school locations are brilliantly rendered with steps doubling up as tiered bleachers and household stairs whilst benches, pummel horses and gym equipment resonate from the period. Designer Colin Richmond should be commended on this innovative use of identifiable school symbols as well as descending Teen Angels, flying Grease Lightning cars and 50s neon signs that evoke the period and help showcase the talents of the cast.


Choreographer Nick Winston brings updated moves and sporty boogies to the athletic stage jiving and twists the audience’s knowledge of the film version’s style with brand new takes on Travolta’s hip shaking gyrations and the gang’s ‘wella-wella’ thrusts.


The music was spot-on with not a note misplaced and included some excellent guitar solos. Particular highlights included the extended (and reprised) ‘Born to Hand Jive’ and the frankly amazing acoustic rendition of ‘Those Magic Changes’. This version goes from chord structure to cast choir in a melodic minute of well-performed music and dialogue.


‘Beauty School Drop Out’ could have done with the crooner-style of Frankie Avalon rather than the modern Glee-ish delivery we were treated to but this was more of a personal preference. However, some mature experience was brought by Darren Bennett whose Vince Fontaine was a comedy cameo of such hilarious quality he nearly stole the show with a pantomime performance of high kicks and sweaty dance twirls.


The whole production of Grease uses its perfect technical and creative attributes alongside the already infamous songs to create an incredible stage show, Daddy-O. Either as a newcomer or Grease enthusiast, this new version at Leicester’s Curve encapsulates the joy of the film whilst music and cast go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong!


Midlands Movies Mike


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, Aug 26 2016 09:10AM

A splurge of talent comes to Leicester in gangster film musical Bugsy Malone


Released in the summer of 1976, Alan Parker’s Bugsy Malone is a musical gangster film set in New York in the 1920s with a cast of only child actors and this new Curve Community Production brings that Jazz age vibe to the Leicester theatre stage.


Directed and choreographed by Nick Winston, the show takes the music of songwriter Paul Williams and tells the story of washed up boxing promoter Bugsy Malone as he flirts with aspiring singer Blousey Brown amidst a backdrop of a city-wide gang rivalry between Fat Sam and newcomer Dandy Dan and his hoods.


The original 70’s film was Parker's feature-length directorial debut and introduced actor Scott Baio (later of Happy Days fame) as well as a 13-year old Jodie Foster as Tallulah. At the time of filming, all of the cast were under 17 years old.


For this local production, director Nick Winston has brought along his unique choreography previously used in other film-related shows such as Legally Blonde and Grease to design a fantastic piece which showcases Leicester’s brightest young talent. Taking on everything from “Fat Sam's Grand Slam" speakeasy showtune to upbeat "So You Wanna Be a Boxer?" the adolescent actors encapsulated the music and prohibition vibe in all its glory.


In a whirl of gangsters and guns - for the uninitiated, the splurge guns fire kid-friendly whipped cream – the community cast and orchestra undersold their talents as an ‘amateur’ company and delivered the goods in all the important areas. The modern Smooth Criminal-influenced speakeasy dance number complimented the Charleston bopping as showgirls danced on tables whilst the acting of Alfie Bright (Dandy Dan) and Joel Fossard-Jones as the hero Bugsy Malone were particular standouts.


The acting was top notch across the board though as Arlo Mulligan-Vassel (Fizzy) delivered a brilliant solo rendition of “Tomorrow Never Comes” early in the show whilst Harvey Thorpe encapsulated a superb sleazy (Fat) Sam and Amica Kuroda (Lena) almost stole the show as a diminutive but strong loudmouth singer at an audition.


Special note should go to the stage design. A series of elevated train lines (Chicago’s infamous ‘L’ track) alongside a huge skyscraper-like video board allowed the audience to be whisked away to different parts of the city – even at times becoming a visual printing press for the narrative’s news style. As well as these impressive visual designs, the display was a practical prop too with some ‘screens’ opening up as windows and doors adding physicality to the stage as well. At times the smoky silhouettes of the dark city streets were straight from a film noir further enhancing the play’s dazzling cinematic quality.


This show’s success mirrors the film’s achievements where it gained award nominations including Best Motion Picture, Best Score and Best Song at the Golden Globes and an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song Score. Alan Parker received the BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay, and a nomination for Best Direction too.


Back to the stage though, Bugsy Malone is a phenomenal success – it being one of my favourite musicals may have made me slightly biased – but the costumes, music and especially the delivery of song and dance numbers by the whole cast made this a magical and marvellous “Malone” night to remember. Check it out while you still can.


Midlands Movies Mike


Bugsy Malone can be caught at The Curve from Friday 19th August — Sunday 28th August



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