Thursday, 10 March 2016

THE REVIEW: Impossible at The Regent Theatre

You know you’ve had a good night when it’s all you can talk about the next day. Well this was the case when I went along the Opening Night of Impossible at the Regent Theatre. I’m not the biggest magic fan but was really intrigued and quite excited to see this show as it seemed to have that good mix of different performers where the show is made up of several acts who each had their own style and brought a different approach to magic- it wasn’t all card tricks and never was a bunny pulled from a top hat!

Two and a half hours might sound like a lengthy amount of time for a magic show but I really enjoyed how the performance was broken up with lots of little acts (in time and quantity, certainly not quality) so you’re always on the edge of your seat as different acts perform.

There was the perfect mix and balance of dangerous stunts with all the accompanying lighting and moody music you’d expect and light humour with Chris Cox, the mind-reader-who-is-not-a-mind-reader, who was perhaps my favourite performer on the night. At parts we were laughing hysterically, others we were scratching our heads trying to decipher what we’d just seen and then there were those few moments where I swear nobody in the audience was breathing as we clung to our chests watching Jonathan Goodwin hang upside down and set alight on fire. No really, don.t try this at home!

Whether your taste in magic is to the old circusesque camaraderie or you’re into the more death-defying stunts with fire-breathing and disappearing assistants- there’s something for everyone in Impossible!

Impossible is playing at The Regent Theatre until Saturday 12th March. Tickets are available online or you can call the Box Office on 0844 871 7649.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016


Every time I am invited to the Regent Theatre to see a show I hotfoot it down there as I honestly can’t recall seeing a show I haven’t enjoyed there, and coming as no surprise to myself, the same has to be said for their most recent production, Annie.

‘Annie’ tells the tale of a New York orphanage where one little girl refuses to give up hope on her parents one day returning and being reunited with the family she so longs for. Annie is invited to spend Christmas with local billionaire, Oliver Warbucks as a charitable deed but orphanage owner, Miss Hannigan has other ideas and hatches a plan to get Annie back.

I went along to the opening night last night I must say that I was surprised to see some empty seats in the theatre which is really unlike the Regent Theatre’s usual crowds but this was in no way a reflection on the production. Every cast member could (naturally) sing and dance superbly and simply watching the Warbucks’ house staff prancing around the entranceway was mesmerising- oh to be able to high kick like that!

The stage set was one of the most impressive I’ve seen from the orphanage bedroom, the Warbucks residence, inside a ration station and even the streets of New York were brought to life. When Annie finds some old stockbrokers & bankers who took a hit in the financial crash of 33  and were down on their luck and living on the streets there was such attention to detail on the set with the steam coming off of a boiling pot of broth and and a smoky scent in the air. And not to forget, Sandy the dog- any dog on the stage is an added bonus in my eyes.

Naturally the star of the show was Annie (Madeleine Haynes) and all of the young girls who made up the girls at the orphanage. Their voices and having such a presence on stage was wonderful to see and I’m sure we’ll be seeing these girls go on to be young women on stages across the country.

I am a huge fan of the 1999 film with Victor Garber and Kathy Bates and was absolutely taken the stage’s version of Oliver Warbucks (Alex Bourne) who was just as charming as I remembered and could sing and dance all while looking very suave.

Lesley Joseph as Miss Hannigan for me was a little underwhelming if I am brutally honest, perhaps that’s because I watched Birds of a Feather all those years ago and couldn’t shake off Dorien Green. Jonny Fines as Rooster led a superb and sassy rendition of Easy Street and Holly Dale Spencer as Warbucks’ assistant, Grace has a voice I could listen to all day.

I really, really enjoyed this production and foudn myself singing along to N.Y.C, Hard Knock Life and of course, Tomorrow.

Like most shows I see at the theatre, it had me rushing home to watch the film and relive it all again and as I’m writing this I have Kathy Bates singing Little Girls in the background.

Annie: The Musical is on at The Regent Theatre until 6th February and you can buy your tickets here

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

The Christmas Panto: Peter Pan at The Regent Theatre

It's Christmas Panto season... Oh no it isn't, oh yes it is! (had to) I was invited along to the Press night of The Regent Theatre's production of Peter Pan, Peter Pan-to if you will... on Tuesday night and took along all the family for what has long been many families' tradition come Christmas time. 

This is Jonny Wilkes' 10th anniversary performing in Stoke at Christmas as he is as much as the tradition as the Potteries Panto itself so the crowd was delighted to see him back and on top form with the 'Christmas cracker' jokes and cheeky chappy persona. He plays Smee, Captain Hook's trusty companion (Christian Patterson) who made the perfect double act from witty banter back and forth to their impressive cabaret rendition of 'Me and My Shadow'. Also a special mention has to go to Wilkes' 'All I care about is Stoke' - the lyrics were genius. 

Peter Pan follows the fairytale story of Wendy, Neverland an The Lost Boys with a few tweaks here and there and plenty of Stokey references sprinkled throughout the dialogue to get the crowds whooping! Like any good Panto I've seen before there were ample cheeky tongue-in-cheek remarks for the grown ups and hilariously silly scenes that delighted the kids. 

My favourite scene has to be the song 'Rule The World' between Peter (Shannon Paul Lane) and Wendy (Yazmin Wood) as the stage setting was visually stunning with a sky full of stars as the pair glided through the air- it was truly magical and was one of those moments that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy; just what you want at Christmas time if you ask me. 

Tinkerbell had a fantastic voice and brought the house down with her closing song 'River Deep Mountain High' and equally as impressive rollerskating skills! And the Indians at Neverland offered some fantastic inspiration with 'Uptown Funk' and there were definitely some dance moves in there that I'll be borrowing for my work Christmas do. 

You can tell from the sets to the songs to the perfectly 'undone' scenes A LOT of work has gone into the production and I know the cast and crew will reap the rewards with the inevitable crowds of friends and families coming to the theatre over Christmas. 

Well, Jonny, Christian, The Regent team... You've done it again. You've cracked open Christmas for Stoke! 

Peter Pan is playing at The Regent Theatre from now until 3rd January 2016 and you can get tickets here-

Wednesday, 28 October 2015


Monday night was Ladies’ Night at The Regent theatre as the hit show, The Full Monty, had made its way to Stoke as a part of their UK tour. I took my mum along with me and before we’d even taken our seats we knew that tonight was going to be a good night! The crowd was huge and women packed into the theatre before calling time, hotly anticipating the arrival of men on the stage.

I had seen Simon Beaufoy’s film, of the same name and I was pleased to see that the show kept to it’s hilarious storyline and the characters were perfectly matched by the stage’s ensemble of Sheffield’s unemployed steel workers in the midst of an economic crash and more than a little desperate to earn an honest wage.

Gary Lucy was perfect; he seemed to embody the ‘Gaz’ we knew in the 1997 film who concocts the idea of forming a male stripper group for one night only. He was the cheeky chappy always up for the crack (excuse the pun!) and had excellent comical timing but in fact, some of this best scenes were with his on-stage son, Nathan, who is the main reason Gaz is so desperate with the threat of losing access to his son looming over him. He needs to pay his way in Child Support and getting his kit off might just be the way…

I couldn’t help but notice how spot on the characters Gaz (Gary Lucy) and Dave (Martin Miller) were to the 1997 film, and I mean this as a credit to them as actors, intentional or not. They nailed the mannerisms, body language and struck up the same friendship you see in the film between Robert Carlyle and Mark Addy which was so reminiscent of what we all saw in the film but they completely made the parts their own (though  I might wager Gary Lucy had the body for the part!)
The six leading men- Gary Lucy, Martin Miller, Bobby Schofield, Rupert Hill, Louis Emerick and Andrew Dunn- each do a fantastic job in telling their individual stories and keeping the humour (and naughtiness) afloat, even in the more serious of scenes. They tackle depression, sexuality, self-confidence and emotional turmoil all while wearing a red thong! And let me tell you, Guy (Rupert Hill) certainly brought the first half to a jaw-dropping (and pant dropping!) end.

For anyone who has seen the film, you know there are a few scenes you are just waiting to see unravel on the stage to see how it matches the movie (and we’re not just talking about THE scene) and for me, the one which really made me chuckle was when the six men, seemingly down on their luck and past the idea and allure of forming the stripper group, are queuing up, defeated, in the job centre when Donna Summer’s ‘Hot Stuff’ plays on the radio and a little wiggle of a hip confirmed that the boys were BACK!

Like many of the big shows we’ve been lucky enough to have come to The Regent Theatre in Stoke, notably Warhorse and The Bodyguard, The Full Monty too had me rushing home to watch the movie to rediscover what I’d just seen on stage.

Oh and in case you were wondering; yes, they do go all the way (with a little help from the bright stage lights to save a few blushes).

The Full Monty runs at The Regent Theatre in Stoke until Saturday 31st October. Tickets are available online or you can call the Box Office on 0844 871 7649. 

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Things That Should Exist By Now Yet Woefully Don't

I have never been a huge fan of Back to the Future, sure I've seen the film but nothing really grabbed me to ever give it a second thought but thanks to today being 21st October 2015 (the date which Marty McFly travelled forward in time to) and the torrent of media attention around this significant date, I felt inclined to take another look at the film. 

I noted that a lot of the developments were vehicular and hoverboards were the main thing as well as contactless payment (hello Apple Pay) but this didn't really excite me and I've pulled together my two cents on what really should have been developed and exist by now, yet woefully haven't.  

That gadget from Men In Black which wipes your memory. YES! If like me, you're a big Netflix fan (emphasis on the actual 'Netflix' and not the 'chill') then you're bound to have worked your way through the entirety of its library and sat stuck paying £6.95 /pm for re-runs of Suits and even perusing the Foreign Films category (thank you, subtitles). Seriously though, the memory rinsing mechanism would be an absolute joy to use and I would love to experience Friends again with new eyes. Imagine having to wait a whole SERIES to see what happened when Ross said Rachel's name at his wedding to Emily. Oh the thrill of it! Most underrated series cliffhanger, ever. 

Remember Barbie? I was a big Barbie fan when I was a little girl and what was my favourite doll you ask? Cut Hair Barbie. Sure you could only lob off her locks the once before pulling through the spare blonde locks tucked neatly inside her scalp (eurgh) where you're then restricted strictly to layers and going for an en Vogue 'lob' but I loved this doll. Sadly I never learnt that there wasn't a limitless amount of hair inside my doll so she sadly looked very G.I Jane but if this technology (I use this term very loosely) could be put into practise in the beauty industry I would be ever so grateful. Limitless hair growing from my head would be one of my wishes if I were to meet a Genie and sure we have hair extensions but how we have not been able to create some super duper hair growth serum yet that gives us endless possibilities with our hair? 

A hair dryer that is super speedy goddammit! Like a cycling helmet that you place on your head for one minute and hey presto your hair is perfectly coiffed. I know I'm not alone in my detest for blow-drying my hair. The aching arms, the cock-handedness of reaching around the back of your head, the feeling of defeat when you're 80% dry and you realise you've overdone it with the Moroccan Oil and you've got greasy roots. Can't a girl catch a break? 

Pretty push-up bras for DD+. Sitting somewhere above that cup size  and being 24 years old I can confidently say that what Britain is really lacking are good bras! As soon as you venture further past DD in the bra department the straps automatically become an inch wider, the back strap has an extra hook and the cups are almost always sheer. Why is it that lingerie companies assume that being bigger busted means we have no taste or want pretty, delicate bras? And further to that, why wouldn't you ever put a bit padding or still use molded cups with a DD+ bra? This is 2015!!! 

Now I'm aware of online streaming (I'm from the generation where Limewire downloads was a source of currency among MSN friends) so I know that we can watch practically anything online but I do wish that we had the option to go to the cinema, at home. I'm talking watching perfect quality films, no buffering, no dodgy hand-cam catching some bloke nipping to the loo from the front row and no sticky floors. Just seeing the film, on its release date, without having to leave home. I do love the experience of going to the cinema but more often than not I miss out on seeing films as I never find the time to travel to town and see a film before it's being rolled out for DVD release. I'd pay for this is Vue fancies rolling out this idea... And I'd supply my own pic'n'mix. 

Instant online shopping. Click and collect is not enough, I need click and magically-appear-in-my-wardrobe. ASOS are certainly doing their fair share of the work here to maybe make this a possibility one day as I've tried out their same day delivery option before in a time of desperation and a friend's birthday drinks looming but I need it faster. 

Speaking of online shopping and my subsequent spending, why the hell does it still take 3- 5 working days for money to return to our bank accounts after we've returned something? Yes banks 'hold' money and there is a transaction blah, blah, blah but in an age where we can send a selfie instead of an online password for a security check why can't I get my money back on an ill-advised dungaree purchase as swiftly as I return the damn things? 

What else can you add to my list? What do you wish was available and invented by now? Tweet me @racheljones_