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A History of Heavy Metal – mac, Birmingham

Reviewer: John Kennedy Andrew O’Neill, with support band Reprisal, performs and illustrates an encyclopaedically referenced and evergreen celebratory love-letter (albeit written in blood-red crayon) to the origins and mutations of this never-say-tie-dye genre. Those familiar with Art-Lab, Jazz-fusion band Soft Machine might appreciate the dichotomy of emergent styles here. Around the same time as the counter-culture road movie Easy Rider featured ...

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Shrek the Musical – New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham

Book and Lyrics: David Lindsay-Abaire Music: Jeanine Tesori Director: Nigel Harman Reviewer: Clare White It’s a fairytale, but not as we know it. Based on the hugely popular 2001 DreamWorks film, Shrek the Musical is a larger-than-life comedy spectacle which, amidst the fun and flatulence, challenges preconceived ideals of beauty and goodness – while thoroughly entertaining an audience of all ...

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The Last Five Years – Old Joint Stock, Birmingham

Book, Music and Lyrics: Jason Robert Brown Director: Karl Steele Reviewer: Selwyn Knight The Last Five Years has now been around almost twenty years since its première in Chicago in 2001. Moving off-Broadway, it garnered numerous awards. While the story it tells is a path relatively well-trod, its methodology isn’t. Jamie is an aspiring novelist; Cathy aspires to be an actress. They ...

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Wonderland – Nottingham Playhouse

Writer: Beth Steel Director: Adam Penford Reviewer: Dave Smith There’s no escaping the fact that how you view the events and politics of the 1983/84 miners’ strike is going to have a serious impact on how you view Beth Steel’s homage to the camaraderie and courage of Britain’s now all but disappeared mining communities. As the daughter of a Nottinghamshire ...

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The Sleeping Beauty – Birmingham Hippodrome

Music: Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky Choreographer: Marius Petipa/Peter Wright Reviewer: John Kennedy Shamelessly romantic, this Sleeping Beauty awakens the senses through a seduction of somnambulant stealth. Firmly in the classical repertoire’s treasure-chest marked Opulent Baroque: Excess In All Arenas, tonight’s extravagant costume-drama from the wardrobe of Mount Olympus blushes not a jot at its OTT self-indulgence. Philip Prowse’s design, an opulent neo-classical Renaissance ...

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Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella – Milton Keynes Theatre

Director and Choreographer: Matthew Bourne Music: Sergei Prokofiev Reviewer: Maggie Constable Always popular at Milton Keynes theatre, Matthew Bourne and his New Adventures company make their annual visit this week with the revisioned Cinderella, first seen on U.K stages just over 20 years ago. For those who have not seen Bourne’s Cinderella, this is not the classic fairytale, even if ...

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Nina: A Story About Me and Nina Simone – Curve, Leicester

Concept: Josette Bushell-Mingo Director: Dritëro Kasapi Reviewer: James Garrington When she was 12 years old, Nina Simone was asked to perform her first recital at a church meeting. Her proud parents were there in the front pew – but when they were moved to the back of the church to make way for white people at the front, the young ...

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Ahir Shah: Control – The STUDIO, Birmingham REP

Reviewer: John Kennedy There’s been much-impassioned talk of taking back control, to reclaim sovereignty over the endangered institutions that are allegedly the bedrock of British freedom - unless those holding office in those institutions run out of control and their heterodoxies render them ‘Traitors’ and ‘Mutineers’. Clearly, self-control, like the Devil that is currently poking his red-hot pitch-fork into all ...

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