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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


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.

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