georginabutler

My work as a writer and dance/theatre reviewer

Posts Tagged ‘Milton Keynes Theatre

REVIEW: Stage Experience ‘Bugsy Malone’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, August 2017

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The youngsters in this year’s Stage Experience production at Milton Keynes Theatre are having a blast with the speakeasy sass, splurge guns and silliness of Bugsy Malone.

As expected, summer youth musical theatre project Stage Experience is tackling the tongue-in-cheek musical comedy with its usual verve. This is the sixth production the Creative Learning team has delivered since the scheme began in 2011 and, happily, the spectacular annual event looks set to continue. It’s a huge undertaking for Milton Keynes Theatre but it provides a wonderful opportunity for young people to perform in a professional setting. Indeed, it is not only an experience for the participants themselves, it is also a novelty for the parents, siblings, extended family members and friends who support the cast from their seats in the vast auditorium.

Hundreds of local wannabe performers aged 10 to 21 were whittled down to a company of one hundred over two days of auditions during the Easter holidays. Rehearsals then started in earnest at the end of July, with cast members and creatives working tirelessly to create a full-scale production in just twelve days.

 

 

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Written by Georgina Butler

August 5, 2017 at 2:30 pm

REVIEW: ‘Wonderland’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, July 2017

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Madcap musical Wonderland is currently whisking visitors to Milton Keynes Theatre off on a magical adventure. Now, call me mad, but this contemporary creation – which reflects aspects of modern day life while cleverly capturing the peculiar charm of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass – managed to speak to both the girl I used to be and the woman I hope to become.

We all have days when thoughts of escaping the practicalities of living in the real world for a while consume us. We imagine how wonderful it would be to flee our humdrum existence, abandon our responsibilities and free ourselves from the shackles of expectation… Still, we don’t all cope with days like this by following a random rabbit and ending up in a kooky kingdom. Of course, as we all know, Alice does follow that rabbit. She follows him when he slips down a rabbit hole and finds herself visiting a realm which is home to the strangely talkative White Rabbit and a host of curious characters including the Mad Hatter, Caterpillar, Cheshire Cat, March Hare and the pompous Queen of Hearts.

An entertaining experience from the start, Wonderland irrefutably illustrates that every adventure requires a first step and insists we are all capable of taking that step – no matter who we are or how grown up we may consider ourselves to be. Starring West End sensation Kerry Ellis, it’s essentially a loud and proud exploration of who we are and who we want to be.

 

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Written by Georgina Butler

July 19, 2017 at 3:59 pm

REVIEW: ‘Billy Elliot the Musical’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, June 2017

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Billy Elliot the Musical is a moving and inspiring production that is about so much more than ballet dancing. Currently engaged in a three-week run at Milton Keynes Theatre, it enthusiastically establishes that “boys can do ballet too” while simultaneously championing offbeat individuality and highlighting the profound importance of family and community.

Based on the 2000 film, the show is set in a northern mining town against the animosity of the 1984-1985 miners’ strike. Billy, the eleven-year-old son of a widowed miner, is not really suited to the boxing ring. Nonetheless, he dutifully attends the lessons that his dad scrapes together the money for. One day, after yet another hapless training session, Billy unwittingly finds himself participating in a ballet class. Encouraged by dance teacher Mrs Wilkinson, he secretly swaps his boxing gloves for ballet shoes and a toe-tapping journey of self-discovery begins. As Billy starts to shine, Mrs Wilkinson suggests he seize an opportunity to audition for the prestigious Royal Ballet School. Up against a fiercely macho culture and facing a rather dismal future, is Billy’s passion for dance enough to change his life and motivate those around him to re-evaluate their uncompromising mindsets?

This touring edition of Billy Elliot the Musical follows eleven years of phenomenal success in the West End. Naturally, the show boasts top-notch singing. Moreover, the drama provides both madcap moments that are guaranteed to have you laughing and touching scenes that will likely make you well up. Ultimately, though, the dancing proves the main attraction. Tutus feature heavily throughout but ballet is by no means the only way to boogie and choreographer Peter Darling’s brilliant routines cleverly capture the unbridled joy of dancing. Dazzling displays of ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, acro and aerial choreography drive the narrative, convey characters’ deepest emotions and unquestionably convince audience members that the whole cast are truly dancing their hearts out.

 

 

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Written by Georgina Butler

June 2, 2017 at 1:06 pm

REVIEW: Northern Ballet’s ‘Casanova’ – Milton Keynes Theatre, April 2017

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The art of seduction is all about knowing what is alluring to your intended, appealing to their desires and successfully winning them over. Northern Ballet appreciates that its audiences yearn to be engrossed in narrative works and brings these to the stage through energetic and expressive choreography. With Casanova, the Company has raised the barre (ballet pun intended) to deliver what may well be its most impressive production to date.

Based on a scenario created by Giacomo Casanova’s biographer Ian Kelly and choreographer Kenneth Tindall, the ballet unmasks the legendary lothario to reveal the man behind all those hedonistic sexual conquests. The plot provides a fascinating glimpse into Casanova’s sensational experiences in decadent 18th Century Venice and Paris. Exhilarating episodes blend together in cinematic style to divulge how the women – and men – Casanova encountered encouraged him to experience the pleasures of life through countless sexual adventures.

Choreographer Kenneth Tindall was a premier dancer with Northern Ballet from 2003 until 2015. Artistic Director David Nixon nurtured his transition into dancemaking. Casanova is the first ever full-length ballet Tindall has devised so it is fitting that he has embarked on this major undertaking with Northern Ballet. His vision, combined with the dramatic expertise of the Company’s dancers, means Casanova boasts both stunning physicality and absorbing storytelling.

 

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Written by Georgina Butler

April 21, 2017 at 4:45 pm

FEATURE: Unmasking Giuliano Contadini, the leading soloist currently starring in Northern Ballet’s ‘Casanova’ – April 2017

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Dancer Giuliano Contadini takes on the role of history’s most notorious playboy in Northern Ballet’s latest production, Casanova.

Giacomo Casanova is remembered for his luck with the ladies but this biographical ballet, choreographed by former Northern Ballet premier dancer Kenneth Tindall, promises to reveal the complex man behind all those hedonistic conquests.

Undoubtedly a great seducer, Casanova was also a gifted scholar with big ideas, a moral conscience and depressive tendencies. This Italian adventurer lived life passionately and recorded the highs and lows of his existence in vivid detail in his memoirs. It was these memoirs that inspired Tindall to embark on his first ever full-length work and informed his realisation of Casanova as a fully-rounded character.

Leading soloist Giuliano Contadini is the dancer Kenneth Tindall chose to create the role of Casanova on. Like Casanova, Giuliano is Italian. He also has the same initials as the legendary lothario!

 

 

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Written by Georgina Butler

April 17, 2017 at 10:17 am

NEWS: Northern Ballet’s ‘Goldilocks & the Three Bears’ will be just right for young visitors – Milton Keynes Theatre, April 2017

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Little ones are sure to love Northern Ballet’s Goldilocks & the Three Bears.  

The classic story is the latest offering in the Company’s award-winning Short Ballets for Small People series. It follows the hugely successful tours of Ugly Duckling, Three Little Pigs, Elves & the Shoemaker and Tortoise & the Hare – all of which have been adapted for television by CBeebies.

With a running time of approximately forty minutes, these productions are especially created to introduce children and young families to the magic of live dance, music and theatre.

 

 

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Written by Georgina Butler

April 16, 2017 at 10:15 am

NEWS: Northern Ballet’s ‘Casanova’ prepares to lead audience members into temptation – Milton Keynes Theatre, April 2017

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Dance fans will be seduced by the world’s greatest lover when Northern Ballet brings its sensual new production to Milton Keynes Theatre.

The much-anticipated Casanova is award-winning choreographer Kenneth Tindall’s first ever full-length ballet. Now hot property as a dancemaker, Tindall was a premier dancer with Northern Ballet for twelve years before he retired from performing in 2015. This means he completely understands the internationally-acclaimed company’s ambition to tell stories that audiences can immerse themselves in and connect with.

Giacomo Casanova’s story is so sensational that it is hard to believe it is true. History’s most notorious playboy lived a life full of sexual conquests, scandal and adventure – and he wrote about it all in vivid detail in his memoirs.

Tindall, in collaboration with Casanova’s biographer Ian Kelly, has devised a scenario for his two-act ballet that will unmask the 18th Century Italian stallion and expose Casanova’s humanity. Between them, they have condensed twelve volumes of Casanova’s memoirs into 100 minutes of narrative-driven dance theatre.

 

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Written by Georgina Butler

April 7, 2017 at 7:56 pm