A Christmas Carol by The Blue Apple.

The Blue Apple theatre companies latest stage production adds another twist to the popular Charles Dickens novel, A Christmas Carol. With Katy Francis taking the lead role in what is to be believed the first female actress with downs to play the lead as Scrooge. She looks the part in her all-black period style dress with an accompanying bonnet. Her delivery is clear and performed with conviction.

An extremely well-dressed stage with lots of great features and details sets the scene perfectly. Some of which can be seen in the photographs accompanying the review. The four-poster bed and the kitchen hearth look especially authentic.

The haunting scene that has been filmed and projected in the scene of Marley’s ghost, played by Tommy Jessop is exceptional. The close up on his eyes bring to life his ghostly character to life through another dimension. The changes in his appearance could only have been captured by the recording. This style of pre cording projected scenes is becoming more widely used in Theatres and adds another depth to plays.

Above photo was taken from @BlueApplePlays

There are really interesting additions with the skeletal puppets appearing from within a coat. Along with a projected slide show using an old fashioned style projector, which introduces some of the next scenes visually. There is a mixture of comedy and sadness throughout plus a great twist on the traditional Pantomime Dame character, who can be seen in the photograph below.

The director Richard and his team have done a brilliant job in organising this production. However, it is the cast that deserves the majority of the credit. Overcoming difficulties to learn their lines and have the confidence to perform on the stage in the Theatre Royal is incredibly moving. They truly deserve to perform to sell-out auditoriums.

Above photo was taken from @BlueApplePlays.

One thing you can never fail to take away from watching one of their performances is the level of support and kindness they show to one another. It is an absolute privilege to be a small part of this very talented group.

The play is on from Friday 11th-Sunday 13th January 2019 7:30 pm at

The Theatre Royal,

Jewry Street,

Winchester,

Hampshire,

S023 2SB.

http://www.theatreroyalwinchester.co.uk

Tel 01962 840440

The Blue Apple Theatre Company

blueappletheatre.com

Email: admin@blueappletheatre.com

@BlueApplePlaysInstagram blueappletheatre

Other photos featured in this review were taken by the author.

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Blue Apple Theatre A Christmas Carol Rehearsal

The large cast pictured above who are performing in the 2019 production of Scrooge, all assembled for rehearsals at 10 am on 16th December a bright winter Sunday morning in the dance studio based at Winchester University. The excitement of Christmas was evident in the array of festive jumpers and the exchanging of Christmas cards.

It began with their normal warm-up routine of various physical activities and voice warm-ups. There was some laughter and grumbles as they settled into the morning’s activities. However, one thing is certain with this group and that is their pride and dedication they have in this great company. Watching them interact with one another and the way they support each other is heartwarming and they make sure that nobody gets left out. The closeness of this group is evident in the two photographs below.

The Blue Apple theatre company boast what they believe to be the first time that Scrooge has been played by a female actor with Downs Syndrome, Katie looked the part in her all-black dress which will be finished off with a bonnet for the live performance. The photo below gives you a sneak preview of what you can expect to see in the performance. She was so proud to be in costume and kept twirling in the wall long mirrors to see herself.

Richard seen leading the cast in the photo below and his team kept the cast focussed and enthusiastic throughout the three-hour-long rehearsal session. Some of the scenes were quite challenging for members of the cast, they worked so hard to remember their lines and various stage directions. It is an absolute pleasure to be able to share the experience with them.

The morning was the first time that some of the cast had worn their costumes. Members disappeared to be fitted out and returned looking very proud in them. It is going to be very effective once they are all dressed in costume and perform at the Theatre Royal in January. Watch out for the special guest puppets as modelled by the cast below who will make an appearance on the stage too.

The official photographer Mike Hall was capturing the entire morning’s work on camera. The great photos used in this review are all credit to his work.

I am looking forward to reviewing the finished production when they perform in January. Good luck with the rest of the rehearsals all of you and see you in 2019. Please come and show your support and enjoy what I am sure will be a really good night out.

The play will be performed on Friday 11th-Sunday 13th January 2019 7:30 pm at

The Theatre Royal,

Jewry Street,

Winchester,

Hampshire,

S023 2SB.

http://www.theatreroyalwinchester.co.uk

Tel 01962 840440

The Blue Apple Theatre Company

blueappletheatre.com

Email: admin@blueappletheatre.com

@BlueApplePlaysInstagram blueappletheatre

Photographer Mike Hall

Twitter @photograph247

The Night Before Christmas A musical by Glyn Kerslake and Gareth Machin

Salisbury Play house’s latest performance in the Salberg Theatre is the festive tale of The Night Before Christmas. The estimated one-hour long play is aimed at preschool-aged children. There was a very keen group present on the day who were getting into the spirit and whole heartedly joining in. Smiles all round too which is a very good sign.

The show has captured the true essence of Christmas and it’s true meaning. That spending time with loved ones and the simpler things are the important aspects. Not the over-commercialisation it has become.

No Christmas show would be complete without letters written to Santa as seen in the photo below. These are magically flown up up the chimney by a little bit of magic, helped on their way by the participation of the audience. We see a family of three preparing their home as they are excitedly anticipating the annual visit from Father Christmas.

The entertaining singing and dancing performance is captured in the two photos below. This kept their younger audience engaged throughout. During one scene there is an opportunity for two of the younger ones to join in the wrapping up with the man in the red suit.

Although it is aimed for the younger members it appealed to the older audience members too who were joining in with the singing and dancing. The stage is simply dressed as can be seen below and the unseen staircase is a clever addition which takes you by surprise.

This is a lovely way to start off your Christmas celebrations. This shorter length of the performance is a great way to introduce smaller children to what is possibly going to be their first theatre visit.

A well earned Four stars

Running from the 10th to 30th December.

Contact;

Wiltshire Creative,

Salisbury Playhouse,

Malthouse Lane,

Salisbury,

Wiltshire,

SP2 7RA.

Ticket sales 01722 320 333

Email info@wiltshirecreative.co.uk

http://www.wiltshirecreative.co.uk

Borderline by Lydia Vie

Photograph above courtesy of Juan Carlos Roa Perez.

Calima Productions presented Borderline for three nights in the fringe theatre venue Lion and Unicorn, Kentish Town. The smaller theatre provided an intimate setting for this production dealing with the mental health damage caused to women through various seemingly everyday situations.

The cast of five actresses told the nine featured stories in this production through dance, poetry, movement and dialogue. Lilian Tsang’s powerful portrayal of an alcoholic wife berating her long-suffering husband Victor moved the audience. On a couple of occasions, she locked eye contact with me while in character and the conviction in her body language was moving and I felt slightly uncomfortable. Achieving the desired effect of her role.

The stage was unusually dressed with the costumes worn throughout the play hung on various wall sections. The actresses putting the coloured clothes over the top of their black outfits once taking on their main roles. The outfits displayed can be seen in the above photo. These transitions flowed very well and did not interrupt the performance. As seen below the collage of torn out pages depict the jumbled thoughts inside the minds of their roles, adding another dimension to their performances.

Photograph courtesy of Elaine Chapman.

Esther Fernandez directing ability has created an interesting look into the minds of women whose mental health has been damaged and the extreme measures they will turn to. The aim of the company is to give a voice to women and unrepresented performers in the theatre industry.

The play was performed on 6th-8th December 2018 at 7.30pm.

The Lamb and Unicorn

42-44 Gaisford St,

London,

NW5 2ED.

http://www.lionandunicorntheatre.co.uk.

Calima Productions

@CalimaProducti1

Beauty and the Beast by Andrew Pollard

Salisbury Playhouse has delivered the perfect 2018 seasons Christmas pantomime of Beauty and the Beast in their 517 seater main theatre. All the finest ingredients you expect to see in a pantomime can be found in this brilliant production. From the devilish Villain Spite pictured above to the flamboyant charismatic Dame Betty Bon Bon, with an added twist in the form of Cupid who is pictured below. Plus all the familiar characters from Beauty and the Beast making an appearance along the way.

Dame Betty Bon Bon played by the talented Richard Ede pictured below, has a fantastic set of colourful sweet themed costumes. Look out for her great liquorice outfit. The costume department in this production has made an excellent collection of memorable and exuberant designs, the attention to details in all of these costumes is terrific. Add into the mix of her tongue twister sweet song, and this is one of those characters that are likely to remain in your memory.

The typical one-liners and tongue in cheek innuendos are all present and were delivered to a laughing audience. Added to that the brilliantly dressed stage with all the glitter, colour and exaggerated props you would expect to find. Some of these are pictured below during one of Betty Bon Bons singing scene. This entertaining production is exactly what is needed to cheer you up on a long cold and wet winters evening.

Two very tough critics accompanied me to this performance. In the form of my two teenage daughters both of whom thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Joining in during the “oh no he isn’t ” parts and laughing at the adult jokes. Both of them said it was “very entertaining ” and are really pleased they saw it. Very high praise indeed, as anyone with teenagers will know they are a hard audience.

The wonderful picture below captures the soul of the love story told taking place within this Pantomime. Due to the larger than life characters on stage, the Beasts character tends to take a back seat but this does not detract from the overall storyline and the perfect happy ever after that draws it all to an end, with the happy couple featured in the picture above. This fantastic production has been bought to the stage by the talented creative team of the writer Andrew Pollard, director Ryan McBryde and designer James Button.

All photos by Robert Workman.

4 stars.

Running from the 1st December 2018 to 13th January 2019.

Check out the website or call to book tickets.

Salisbury Playhouse

Maltings Lane

Salisbury

Wiltshire

SP2 7RA.

Tel 01722 320 333

http://www.wiltshirecreative.co.uk

Twitter @salisburyplay

A Christmas Carole, A Twist on the Classic Tale.

Newbury Dramatic Society is a long established group who have performed a new twist on this popular Christmas classic of a Christmas Carol featuring Mr Scrooge. The main male characters have all been rescripted to female roles. For example, you saw Mrs Scrooge with Mrs Crachit as her employee.

The three visiting ghosts take on the form of Miss Haversham, Mr Fagin and Marquise de Evrémonde all villains featuring in other Dickens novels. Adding a very well scripted new angle to this story.

The costumes were really impressive for a small production team. I especially liked the one wore by the ghost of Mrs Marley, the actress was really entertaining and used the chains to add a gruesome effect to her lead role.

The children in the play were very good and needed very little prompting with their lines. Well done all of you.

The main scene changing man really worked hard running from side to side with the chair scenes and tried very hard not to be seen.

The whole society looked like they were really enjoying themselves, which adds to the audience’s enjoyment.

The details about the Society and this show are all available on the flyer posted above.

Jeannie by Aimée Stuart

The Finborough Theatre is one of London’s small multi-award-winning 50 seater Theatre. It is situated on the second floor up the stairs through the bar area. It would be very easy to miss this little gem tucked away on Finborough Road in Kensington.

Jeannie is a superb play by Aimée Stuart. First performed in 1940, now returning to the stage for the first time after 80 years. Set in 1936 in a little town in Scotland, we are introduced to downtrodden Jeannie who is expected to take care of her Father and their home since the death of her mother. He has staunch ideas about a woman’s role within the house, nowadays this is viewed as sexist and controlling. However, very typical of attitudes from that day gone by era. The couple is featured in the photo above.

After his death, Jeannie decides to take her inheritance of £200 and enjoy a no expense spared holiday. After years of confinement and never being allowed to go anywhere, she wants to finally live and see what the world has to offer.

Her first encounter is the widowed businessman Stanley Smith, as seen above. He is an inventor and travelling on business to a Vienna fair to promote and sell his new washing machine. Despite a wandering eye, his intentions towards her are honourable.

Secondly, she is wooed by the unscrupulous penniless Count who is living off his title and smooth talks Jeannie into believing he loves her and wishes to make her his wife. While all the while spending her money on trips to the Opera and fine dining.

The scene changes are performed smoothly on the confined stage area. The array of props used in dressing the stage transform it from Scotland, Vienna and back again. The costumes have been chosen perfectly to define the status of each character. The red dress worn by Madeleine Hutchins as The Blonde is exceptional and can be seen in the picture below.

With a fantastic acting cast, the play takes Jeannie from rags to riches to rags and riches. A real credit to the director who has fitted a lot of details into this two-hour long production. However, it never feels rushed or unfinished. Concluding in a Cinderella-style ending as he proposes to her in the final scene, as pictured above.

Four stars

Photographs courtesy of Ali Wright.

Twitter @jeannierevival

Running from Tuesday 27th November to Saturday 22nd December.

Finborough Theatre

118 Finborough Road,

Kensington,

London,

SW10 9ED.

http://www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk

Twitter @finborough