Review: Together Again

Featuring the marvellous Sophie Isaacs, Jodie Steele and T’Shan Williams, Together Again might Thespie’s best Reunited gig yet

“Good times we’ll share again”

For whatever reason, the musical adaptation of Heathers held no attraction for me so I never actually got around to going to see it. The quality and appeal of its cast was never in doubt though, so I was interested to what the title trio of Sophie Isaacs, Jodie Steele and T’Shan Williams would get up to in Together Again, their concert for Thespie’s Reunited series.

There’s an easy informality about this trio, who clearly get on like a house on fire, that elevates this concert to the best kind of cabaret. Full of chat, in-jokes and genuine admiration inbetween songs, the three of them conjure up the type of atmosphere that fully engages you and keeps you hanging off every note they sing. Continue reading “Review: Together Again”

TV Review: Doctor Who – Revolution of the Daleks

Teed up as the big farewell for two companions, Revolution of the Daleks was still a treat as Doctor Who returned to the festive schedule

“Sometimes we get a bit scared cos new can be a bit scary, right?”

Just a quickie for this perennial favourite. Doctor Who was quite lucky in that they got their Christmas episode in the can in good time pre-pandemic, it was actually filmed back in 2019 when Covid was but a Chinese whisper. And the way of these things as they are these days, we already knew that Revolution of the Daleks would mark the end of the TARDIS journeys for two of her current companions – would we get an Adric-style death to take us into 2021?

Spoiler alert, of course not. Ryan and Graham got to go back to Sheffield no problem, complete with psychic paper mementos, and even Sharon D Clarke’s Grace came back to welcome them home, well her ghost did at least. Dramatically it might not have been the punchiest way to go but in the end, it felt like the right thing to do , reflecting the relative normality of the ‘fam’ and their inter-relationships. Continue reading “TV Review: Doctor Who – Revolution of the Daleks”

TV Review: Black Narcissus

A quality cast including Gemma Arterton and Dame Diana Rigg can’t save Black Narcissus for me

“Better honey than vinegar”

A funny one this, particularly for the captive audience of the inbuilt lethargy of the Twixmas period. In the absence of Sarah Phelps’ brilliant reinventions of Agatha Christie, Black Narcissus was the BBC’s big drama punt on the festive schedule but I’m not entirely sure if it was the right choice.

Based on the Rumer Godden novel and famously filmed in 1947 by Powell and Pressburger with Deborah Kerr, the story follows a band of Anglican nuns as they try to establish a new mission in the Himalayan mountains. Their chosen base is a former palace with erotic paintings on the bricks, a troubled history seeping from the mortar and a swarthily handsome agent who keeps popping by – Sister Act this ain’t. Continue reading “TV Review: Black Narcissus”

Review: All I Want For Christmas Is Theatre

If you’re feeling festive and missing musical theatre, then All I Want For Christmas Is Theatre is the place to be

“But it’s not like Christmas at all
I remember when you were here”

Thespie’s Reunited series has been a fun way of getting your musicals fix over the past few weeks and in a rather clever move, they’ve managed to put together a Christmas special featuring the companies already featured, plus some brand new special guests. So All I Want For Christmas Is Theatre so we get to see Team Schwartz and Team Girl Power again and my personal faves, Team Juliet as they tackle a range of festive classics.

For me though, it was the promise of concerts to come that proved most exciting. The tight harmonies of Heathers alumni Sophie Isaacs, Jodie Steele and T’Shan Williams were a particular delight on both ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ and ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)’ and the women of Pretty Woman are in wonderfully high spirits on both ‘Last Christmas’ and ‘Santa Baby’ so consider my appetite whetted for their forthcoming gigs. Continue reading “Review: All I Want For Christmas Is Theatre”

Charity singles galore

A trio of charity singles supporting some great causes over Christmas

Martin Dickinson is releasing a cover of ‘You Raise Me Up’  as a charity single for Shooting Star Children’s Hospice. The track is released on Friday 11th December and features an introduction from the marvellous Brenda Edwards and a choir featuring Kimberley Ensor, Charlotte O’Rourke, Louise Young, Jordan Lee Davies and Danny Whitehead.

Two versions of the single will be available – a full version/radio edit and a music video will arrive on streaming platforms including iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.


West End star Alice Fearn, Britain’s Got Talent winner Jai McDowell, performers and musicians from London’s musical theatre scene have come together to release a Christmas Charity single to generate awareness of heart failure, along with raising funds for the Pumping Marvellous Foundation, the UK’s only patient-led heart failure charity.

‘Music will live in our Hearts’ was written by award-winning musical theatre composer and songwriter Pippa Cleary (The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾), lyrics by Mark Nathan, and a choir of West End performersand musicians who donated their time to appear on the single, including Flora Spencer-Longhurst, Laura Barnard, Lee Van Geeleen, Adam Hepworth, Sam Oladeinde, Stephenson Ardern-Sodje, Meesha Turner, Natalie Dunne, Nick Lautman and Ellie Ann Lowe.

You can find at the links below: Amazon Music – https://amzn.to/36PppGi; iTunes – https://apple.co/39MiLT3; Spotify – https://spoti.fi/39JviGZ; and YouTube – https://youtu.be/bFOzpn1LqKk.


And last but by no means least, ‘Christmas Again’ is a new song written by Anna Hale, Joe McNeice and Matthew Spalding and from which all profits will go to Theatre Support Fund+ and will then be distributed to Acting For Others, The Fleabag Support Fund and the NHS COVID-19 Urgent Appeal.

The track features, Mark Anderson, Marc Antolin, Luke Bayer, Tracie Bennett, Norman Bowman, Alex Cardall, Oscar Conlon-Morrey, Matthew Croke, Adam Davidson, Janie Dee, Alice Fearn, Tyrone Huntley, Rachel John, Ryan Kopel, Rebecca Lock, Jack Loxton, Robert Madge, Rebecca McKinnis, Claire Moore, Martha Pothen, Joanna Riding, Clive Rowe, Savannah Stevenson, Noah Thomas, Harriet Thorpe, Sally Ann Triplett and Lauren Ward.

You can buy the song via Apple Music and iTunes, and stream it via Spotify.

Christmas album reviews: If The Fates Allow: A Hadestown Holiday Album / Leslie Odom Jr – The Christmas Album / Michael Ball & Alfie Boe – Together at Christmas

A trio of festive album reviews with If The Fates Allow: A Hadestown Holiday Album, Leslie Odom Jr – The Christmas Album and Michael Ball & Alfie Boe – Together at Christmas

“Oh, my love, we live in troubled days”

No word of a lie, since starting to play Christmas music last week, I’ve listened to If The Fates Allow: A Hadestown Holiday Album everyday, it truly is that joyous. It’s a brilliant twist on the Christmas album that takes a slightly left-field approach to its festive track selection and then thoroughly imbues it all with the irrepressible spirit and way down musicality of Anaïs Mitchell’s soul-raising Hadestown. Led by the gorgeous voices of Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer, Kay Trinidad and Jewelle Blackman, aka The Fates, and featuring the rest of the cast of the show’s Broadway production, the album features original songs from Mitchell, Gonzalez-Nacer and the show’s MD Liam Robinson alongside festive staples and some Marvin Gaye, Leonard Cohen and Sara Bareilles for good measure.

What really makes If The Fates Allow… sing is the way in which the sound of Hadestown is folded into the record – never mind the Ghost of Christmas Past, this collection is haunted by the spirits of Christmas Ancients. Musical motifs from the show shimmer beautifully in unexpected places and it is just spine-tinglingly effective; so too the iconic brass sounds that pepper ‘Thank God It’s Christmas’, an ingenious way of reinterpreting familiar songs through an inimitable musical identity. A cynic might demur at such an exercise in brand extension but they would just be wrong. Just listen to Patrick Page’s profundo on Cohen’s profound ‘Come Healing’ with its harmonious backing, or the ragtime-influenced take on ‘Sleigh Ride’, or the hushed splendour and lyrical incisiveness of Mitchell original ‘Song of the Magi’. Surely destined to become a perennial festive favourite whether you’re way down underground or livin’ it up on top. Continue reading “Christmas album reviews: If The Fates Allow: A Hadestown Holiday Album / Leslie Odom Jr – The Christmas Album / Michael Ball & Alfie Boe – Together at Christmas”

TV Review: The Undoing

Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant may have been the headliners but the real star of The Undoing was Noma Dumezweni saying the word ‘muck’

“People hire me to create muck”

Created by David E Kelley and directed by Susanne Bier for HBO Max, The Undoing was sold on its prestige merits but in the end, proved to be watchable hokum. And heaven knows in these times, that was what we kinda needed. Traditional scheduling of one episode a week heightened the buzz with some good old-fashioning theorising going on between episodes and if it didn’t quite live up to expectations in the end, well we’ve only ourselves to blame.

Set up as a whodunnit in the higher echelons of Manhattan society, we followed Nicole Kidman’s Grace and Hugh Grant’s Jonathan as their gilded lives are torn asunder when he is arrested for the murder of Matilda De Angelis’ Elena, who we soon find out is his lover. He couldn’t have done it, could he? Over six episodes, an inordinate amount of red herrings and a titanic court battle, the result might not have that surprising but I found the journey highly entertaining. Continue reading “TV Review: The Undoing”

Album Review: Joel Harper-Jackson – So What Happens Now? / Makerman – Grove Hill / Rob Houchen

An album review of Joel Harper-Jackson’s So What Happens Now? and inspired by Marry Me A Little last night, I explore Makerman and Rob Houchen

“I don’t care if it hurts
I wanna have control”

Released just as the second lockdown kicked in, Joel Harper-Hackson’s debut album has ended up with a painfully apposite title – So What Happens Now?. I first spotted Harper-Jackson a few years as a standout in a middling new musical and have enjoyed following his career since then, not least in the Hope Mill’s gorgeous production of Little Women. Interestingly, this album largely eschews the world of musical theatre for the world of popular music, albeit reimagined through the wonderfully moody arrangements of Greg Morton.

Piano, guitar and cello thus come to the fore to underscore mournful takes on ‘Jolene’ and ‘The Man That Got Away’, the quavering vocal at the beginning of ‘Another Suitcade in Another Hall’ really refocuses the song’s emotion, and the shivering sparseness of ‘Wicked Game’ hits harder than usual, especially once the dramatic stakes are raised. Unexpectedly effective though is the duet on ‘Tragedy’ with Jodie Steele which utterly reinterprets the rueful acceptance of the song in a way which makes complete sense. ‘Creep’ with Lauren Byrne is pretty damn good too. If ever there was an album to cry-listen to whilst looking through a rainy November window and eating a packet of biscuits, this is that album and this is that moment. Highly recommended. Continue reading “Album Review: Joel Harper-Jackson – So What Happens Now? / Makerman – Grove Hill / Rob Houchen”