This weekend was the wonderful theatre club – one of the highlights in the day every six months.
It was my turn to book the show. Always a joy, but sometimes I put a little bit too much pressure on myself – worrying about if the seats are okay, and if we will both enjoy the show. However, this time I was pretty sure that my choice was going to be a sure-fire success. I had heard great reviews of the show and, having watched the most recent trailer, thought it looked like a lot of fun.
So, on a surprisingly sunny afternoon in February, we arrived at the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue to see ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’. I was excited , as I had seen Layton Williams had taken on the role of Jamie (and my Mum had muttered something about Shane Ritchie being in the cast).
So, the show is based on the true story of Jamie Campbell who has the ambition of becoming a drag queen and a star. He was also the subject of ‘Jamie: Drag Queen at 16’, a 2011 BBC Three documentary.
The show follows the story of Jamie New wanting to come out as a drag queen. We see Jamie start his journey to create his persona, wanting to attend his school prom in a dress and the struggles if not always being accepted for who you are. This is a show with all the emotions – you laugh and you will cry, and really reflect on the society that we live in. A lady spoke to us at the end (she was with her son) to say that seeing it as a mother had her in tears.
Jamie (Layton Williams) is clearly the star of the show, but it is a real ensemble piece. Every single person on the stage brings every second of the musical to life. The songs are wonderful – dare you not to cry through a couple – the script is full of laughs, and all the choreography and music are marvellous. This is standing ovations stuff and, by the end, it is simply one giant party.
‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ is a musical that everyone should go and see; it really is a five star production!
September 22nd 2018 was the day that Theatre Club returned. It had a little break while a lot of exciting events took place but now it was back and as awesome as ever.
We shook it up a little this time, deciding one of us would organise food and the other the show. This way there was a surprise for both of us. After all, who does not enjoy a surprise?
So, for me, the surprise was brunch at ‘100 Wardour Street’ – and what a brunch (slightly alcoholic) it was. It was a three course food sensation – with a cocktail. And it was simply delicious. For me (and Mrs M) it was a starter of streaky bacon, duck eggs and tomato foccacia, followed by wild mushroom risotto (Mrs M had the Seabass), and concluded for us with waffles, berries and the most delicious Chantilly cream. It was perfectly accompanied by a ‘Cloud No 9’ cocktail, which was just a dreamy combination of gin, blueberries and lemon juice (there may have been other things but those were the best). We both absolutely loved the chance to sit down and put the world to rights – and it was a perfect place to do so.
After, it was my chance to spring the surprise, which was ‘School of Rock’. This was a show that had been on my radar for a while and was recommended by so many. It was a great choice! As soon as the lights went down, there was an excited vibe in the theatre. (As I would guess many of the audience had seen the film). The joy of this show is that it is full of humour for all, adults and children alike. The songs are catchy from the word go and you are filled with instant happiness. The talent shown by every child on the stage is extraordinary, singing, dancing, playing instruments and making people laugh. I also, as a teacher, loved the little life lesson about what a difference an inspirational adult can make, even if they are not the role model you would expect.
By the end of the show, you are encouraged to quite literally dance in the aisles. After all, you are witnessing a rock concert – so what else should you be doing other than having a great time?
For me, this really was a five-star show and a five-star day out with an awesome friend. I absolutely can not wait to start planning for our next Theatre Club, because making memories is one of the most precious things you can do.
It is that time of year again, another reason why I love Autumn, the second Theatre Club of the year. This time it is my turn to be surprised and it was the best surprise – in fact it was the exact show I was hoping for – the glitzy and glamorous ’42nd Street’.
Now, I really admit that I did not have a clue what the musical was about, but I could just tell that it was going to be a smashing musical. We were in the gallery of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane (a theatre we already love as we saw ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ there on another Theatre Club trip) and the view was perfect.
The show starts as it means to go on, with a beautifully choreographed tap routine. The tale is one of a young, talented potential star wanting to take on Broadway, as another ‘older’ star could be ready to give up the stage for the man she loves, as the company tries to get the show ready for the stage. Throughout the production, the performances were stunning. The singing was fabulous and all the dance routines were jaw dropping. I was certainly ready to put my dancing shoes on by the end of the show.
CJ Johnson was fabulous in the role of the established star Dorothy Brock and Clare Halse was absolutely stunning as Peggy Sawyer; he dance skills were mesmerising from start to finish. However, as always the whole cast, ensemble and orchestra made the show the memorable performance it was.
I can guarantee that if you take the opportunity to see this West End gem, you will come out tapping your feet and humming all the tunes.
So, the big question is, what to see for the next Theatre Club – any recommendations?
It can finally be revealed that the first ‘Theatre Club’ trip of 2017 was to see…‘Half A Sixpence’ at the Noel Coward Theatre.
The choice was made simply on the suggestion of my mum. We were on one of our jaunts to the big smoke and she spotted it and made it very clear that I would be a fan. To be honest when she told me that the film was Tommy Steele with a banjo, I was intrigued and the decision was made there and then that this would have to be the first adventure of 2017.
So, on a rather cold, grey London day, my friend and I met for our traditional catch up and theatre date. We started with a stroll around Covent Garden and lunch at one of our favourites, ‘The Palm Court Brasserie’. We discovered this lovely little restaurant on one of our other ‘Theatre Club’ dates and it offers a great pre-theatre set menu. The service is always excellent and the staff are very friendly. We passed a good couple of hours enjoying good food and good company, before leaving fully prepared for our afternoon in the theatre.
It is a simple stroll to the Noel Coward Theatre, which is beautifully showing off that it is home to ‘Half A Sixpence’. Even the atmosphere as you enter the theatre is electric. We had balcony seats (with a warning of a restricted view) and they were some of the most comfortable seats with leg room that we have ever had. The safety rail does not obstruct the view too much as the whole stage is used and it certainly did not impact on our enjoyment of the show.
From the moment ‘Half A Sixpence’began, the audience were hooked, and it appeared that the cast were having a lot of fun too. Their energy is infectious and you are swept away with the story. You can not help but like Arthur Kipps (played in the matinee on February 11th by Sam O’Rourke) as he goes from rags to riches to rags to riches on a journey of self-discovery. The songs are catchy throughout and when ‘Flash Bang Wallop’ is performed, it’s like a party on the stage and in the aisles. (The ladies next to me had clearly been waiting for that very moment). The appreciation from the audience was amazing and the cheers were non-stop, especially for Arthur and Ann (Sam O’Rourke and Devon-Elsie Johnson).
We both really enjoyed the production and will no doubt have the tunes in our heads for days to come, especially…‘Flash Bang Wallop’!