Review – 42nd Street – Curtain Up Productions



This glitzy, glamorous production has wowed audiences around the world, including Broadway and the West End and has now come to the Memorial Hall, Cleethorpes for a very limited 5 night run.  The story is set in Broadway, and based on auditions and rehearsals for a musical, Pretty Lady.


Caroline Wright in the programme says:

“With love entwined throughout, the story may be a little dated but it’s aged to perfection and the fabulous musical numbers will leave you tapping your toes with a smile on your face and a song in your heart.  Musicals just don’t get any better than this!”

She’s not wrong, I had a smile on my face throughout the whole show and if I had time this week I’d certainly be going again and urge you all to get to the coast and have a fabulous night out this week!


I was persuaded to see 42nd Street in the West End during early 2017 for the first time and I was completely bowled over by the choreography and the whole showbiz style of this massive hit musical. So when I was invited to come to dress rehearsal and take some photographs I was really excited to see how the team that performed the brilliant ‘Anything Goes’ back in November 2016 could bring such a big, spectacular show, with some great dance numbers and well known songs to a relatively small stage in comparison to when I saw it previously in London.


The tap and other dance routines (choreographed wonderfully by Hayley Wrightam) really showed the talent and skills of all the dancers in the group as they performed together with style and elegance.  The musical numbers (under the musical direction of Keith Weston), including the live band, were exceptional; some of the vocal solo numbers were truly outstanding.


I was really impressed with the sets, props and lighting and although seemingly simple, the sets were clever and used to good effect with very quick and smooth transitions.


Scott Smith, as well as playing Billy Lawlor, had sole responsibility for the costumes. They absolutely made the show; I couldn’t believe how many costume changes there were; they were sumptuous, extravagant and definitely brought a lot of sparkling glamour!


Ruth Blanchard played Peggy Sawyer; she acted and danced with flair and poise and a level of sophistication beyond her 16 years, truly exceptional for a first lead role and I look forward to seeing more of her in future productions.



All the cast performed brilliantly together under the direction of David Wrightam

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There were some stand out performances and vocals from Barb Dowell (playing Dorothy Brock) in her first principle role with Curtain Up Productions.


Kirsty Channon (Ann Riley) had some great moments with her personality shining through her characters in this her second time playing ‘Anytime Annie’ in 42nd Street.


Jeannine Ridha has played the role of Maggie Jones five times now during this, her 50th year performing in musical theatre, starting with Curtain Up Productions (was GCAOS) in 1967 at the Cleethorpes ABC Theatre. Jeannine’s characterisations, facial expressions and vocals were sensational!


Full cast following dress rehearsal

If you get the opportunity to get a ticket for one of the last few shows, I would highly recommend it; the tap, comedy and glitz make for a show not to be missed.

To buy your tickets for Cleethorpes Memorial Hall follow the link here or directly via Box Office on tel: 01472 323111

Adult Tickets £12, Children 16 and under £9

More information on this and previous/up coming shows from the Curtain Up Production website



Review – Dick Whittingon – Louth Playgoers


It was at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton in 1987 that I last saw a Pantomime;  it was ‘Babes in the Wood’ and starred Les Dawson and John Nettles… I don’t have any memories of the show but whatever I thought of it, it has taken until last night for me to see another Panto, ‘Dick Whittington’ in Louth at the Riverhead theatre by Louth Playgoers; and what a fabulous night it was!



The show was produced and directed by the talented Jamie Harris, with Frances Brindle his very able assistant, who between them choreographed the dances in the show, apart from the Studio 2000 dances with choreographer Nicky Wright.  with Joel Browne Musical Director and ran from 6th to 14th January 2017.  At this moment in time, there are  a very limited number of tickets available for Tonight – Thursday 12th January, all other shows are fully booked, and I’m not surprised.


The first thing that struck me when the live band started and the curtains opened was the delightful set and scenery depicting London Town, both up close with the shop fronts, including a little tongue in cheek reference to Bake Off and in the distance the London skyline;  all designed and constructed under the direction of Bob Booth, with both new and older set pieces brought back to life for this production.  His team of set builders and backstage crew did a wonderful job and with 8 scene changes throughout the show, each one very different and beautifully crafted, including a ship with moving wheel and brilliant side panels which changed as the ship fared the storm.  I was both delighted and surprised during Act 2 after the storm, to be transported to an under sea world, where fish, dolphins, turtles and other sea creatures sparkled in the near complete darkness with UV light, highlighting a brilliant spectrum of colours and shapes; what a spectacular display with wonderful music accompaniment.  Just awesome and breathtaking!


We were introduced early on to Alice Fitzwarren played by Sophie Grundy, and her father, Alderman Fitzwarren, Chris Leeworthy.  Both played their characters extremely convincingly, Alice the demure girl, quiet and friendly to everyone, with Alderman a force to be reckoned with.  He came into his own especially in the later scenes where he’s trying to show the deck hands how to mop the deck with very little success, ending in a mass of mops being thrown around the stage! Despite the hilarity, he kept his poker face throughout!


If a character wanted to make an entrance in this Panto then King Rat played by Ruairidh Greig did that every time he entered the stage.  The special effects team did a fantastic job, with sparks, flashes, smoke and bangs which all added to the dark and exciting side of this character.   The audience got right into the booing and hissing and King Rat’s make up was as brilliantly scary, nasty and mean looking as his perfectly matched characterisation, including the voice (how he learnt so many words I don’t know!!) (photo above not depicting the make-up from the actual production)

At this point I’d like to make special mention to the wardrobe team, – Elizabeth Rodger, Shirley Berry and Mandy Barker and also those responsible for the make-up – what an exceptional range of costumes and designs they came up with – from rats, cats, Captains, Sultan and of course the fabulous Dame, who had more costume and hair changes than anybody.

Dame Dolly, Richard Precious, was for me, one of the funniest characters in the whole show;  how he maintained his act and with so much going is a wonder;  I don’t think I’ve laughed so much for a long time.  The sewer scene with King Rat was probably the highlight for me, most likely for all the wrong reasons; starting with discussing a furniture store bringing in recycled stools and ratchet screwdrivers, those near me (and you know who you are J and E), despite some of us not ‘getting it’ immediately, couldn’t stop ourselves from completely losing it from laughing so much; in fact my cheeks still hurt until I’d driven home to Lincoln several hours later!  What with ‘Hooting Hooters’, ‘He’s behind you’ and ‘Oh No He Didn’t’ moments, and general bawdy humour suitable for both children and adults, it was a never ending fast paced feast for the eyes and ears.


Another favourite scene was in Act 2, in the Galley, where Dame Dolly and her son, Idle Jack played perfectly by Jack Lovett, were cooking for the crew.  The typical ‘slapstick’ routine was hilarious, with ‘soggy bottoms’ a plenty.  The comic timing was impeccable and had the whole audience, including a group of very special young people, joining in with gusto!  Jack showed himself as a very versatile actor, despite most of his stage presence requiring a lot of comedy, he played the fool, the simpleton, the clever son dodging out of work and he did all those with aplomb; a delight on the stage!


I loved the pairing of Captain Cuttlefish, Derek Maher and Scupper, Darren Melton; they were a great comic combination and bounced off each other throughout all the scenes they were in, especially on the ‘poop’ deck – or was it a deck, or even just ‘poop’?


Dick Whittington himself was played by James Burgess; I loved the parts where he showed his ability to act the part, as if he couldn’t act; genius, well done James! I couldn’t possibly mention Dick (yes Dame Dolly, we’re talking about Dick again…!) without mentioning Tom the Cat played by Molly Carter; her feline characteristics and mannerisms were purrrfect!

One of the final scenes of the show took place in Morocco, where we saw the Sultan, played by Neil Le Sueur and his many ‘ladies’.  Neil played a powerful character, and held centre stage showing off his formidable strength in front of his ‘harem’; including the fabulous Dame Dolly who he took a shine to!


I couldn’t end this review without mentioning Fairy Bowbells, played by Laura Kelly.  She narrated sections of the Panto and lead the audience through the scenes, and ended Act 1 with a gorgeous rendition of ‘Hero’…

Along with the Louth Playgoers cast, the dancers from Studio 2000, both junior and senior dancers took a leading role throughout the Panto.  The dancers appeared in many scenes, performing various creative routines, all in different, but spectacular costumes to suit the set and scene.  The junior dancers performed the ‘Hornpipe’ routine, and completely stole the hearts of the audience, they were all fabulous!

The live band carried the whole production together with the cast singing along in lovely harmonies with a number of solos to a vast array of well known and loved melodies including:

Good Morning London Town
Man I Feel Like A Woman
I Would Walk 500 Miles
At The Shop
Consider Yourself
Live and Let Die
Sea Cruise
If I Were Not Upon The Sea
My Heart Will Go On
Proud Mary
Jaws Theme
Hot Hot Hot
Everlasting Love
Happy Days
Good Morning London Town Reprise

From start to finish, my friends and I were enthralled, and engrossed, and although it was sometimes difficult to pick up some of the dialogue,  overall it was a fabulous show, and well deserved of it’s near sell – out run.

Well done to the live band, the technical and creative team, and all the other set builders and backstage crew.  You should be proud.

Thank you to Darren Hobson for use of the photographs.

Now for an insight into the ‘people’ behind the character!

Dame Dolly – Richard Precious

How long have you been involved in theatre?

Started with ‘WAP’ at the Caxton theatre in Grimsby so nearly 34 years!

What has been your favourite show that you’ve been part of?

Bouncers by John Godber – been in it twice, directed it once at university

What, for you, makes a great performance?

Thorough preparation with a thorough knowledge of the script so you know others lines too should you need to get out of a ‘mind blank’ moment

What do you do to prepare yourself for your performance and to get into character?

Keep quiet. Isolate myself and focus on what’s ahead

What is your favourite part/song from this show?

The Deck scene with Captain Scupper, Jack and Alderman. Visually funny and great to be a part of

If you could work with any actor or actress, from past or present, who would it be and why?

Sir Anthony Hopkins, a great, fantastic all round actor

What is the one theatrical character you’d love to play

I’ve just done it… The Dame!!

Why is community drama/theatre important?

Which Leads to a focused, confident and relaxing performance


Idle Jack – Jack Lovett

How long have you been involved in theatre?

3 years, starting with the Playgoers production of Sleeping Beauty in December 2013

What has been your favourite show that you’ve been part of?

Beauty and the Beast – the Playgoers 2015 pantomime. It was an excellent team, a fun script, and my first stab at a principle role

What, for you, makes a great performance?

As an audience member, a great performance is one that draws you into the story and genre, inspires you, and touches your heart. As a cast member, it is one that portrays the story and characters as you, the writer, and the director envisioned; it gets a good audience reaction, draws the cast and crew together as a team, and is fun.

What do you do to prepare yourself for your performance and to get into character?

I generally try to start taking on my character in the wings before going on stage, and I go through what the character must be thinking or feeling in the coming scene. There is also no shortage of pacing and stopping in the bathroom, especially on opening night!

What is your favourite part/song from this show?

My favourite part of this show would have to be the scene in which the Alderman is shouting commands at us on deck, and we are making mistakes and getting everything wrong, and throwing mops all around the stage. My favourite song is definitely ‘Consider Yourself’.

If you could work with any actor or actress, from past or present, who would it be and why?

I would love to work with Tom Hanks – his ability to excel in portraying both comedic and dramatic roles is a tremendous inspiration to me.

What is the one theatrical character you’d love to play

I would love to ply Cosmo Brown from ‘Singing in the Rain’, especially having seen Donald O’Connor performing ‘Make ‘em Laugh’ on Screen.

Why is community drama/theatre important?

Community drama/theatre is important because it allows you to meet new people, make connections, and build lasting friendships. It teaches you talents that go beyond performance, such as working as part of a team and relating to people. It is also an excellent way to temporarily escape from life and have a laugh.


Fairy Bowbells – Laura Kelly

How long have you been involved in theatre?

I have been involved in the theatre since I was 15 years old. My first show was Cinderella panto in January 2010

What has been your favourite show that you’ve been part of?

Definitely ‘Sister Act’, it was such an amazing show to be part of and I love the songs in the show. Sister Act was such a ‘feel good’ show and I would love to do it again!

What is your favourite part/song from this show?

My favourite song from the show is definitely ‘Hero’. I think it is such an iconic song, and is definitely a challenge for me! I also love the lighting and special effects during the song, particularly the smoke and the lights on the dancers costumes.

If you could work with any actor or actress, from past or present, who would it be and why?

I would love to work with Tom Hanks! He is my favourite actor and I’ve heard he’s a very nice person! I would also love to work with Meryl Streep as she is a very diverse actor and I’m sure I could learn a lot from her!

What is the one theatrical character you’d love to play

I am next auditioning for the role of mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar. I love the show as it has some very powerful moments, and also because Mary is an alto singing part which is perfect for me!


Tom the Cat – Molly Canter

What, for you, makes a great performance?

Staying in Character

What is your favourite part/song from this show?

500 Miles

If you could work with any actor or actress, from past or present, who would it be and why?

Mara Wilson because my favourite film is ‘Matilda’

What is the one theatrical character you’d love to play



King Rat – Ruairidh Greig

How long have you been involved in theatre?

Five Years

What has been your favourite show that you’ve been part of?

‘Ladykillers’ – I played Professor Marcus and General Gordon (the parrot)

What, for you, makes a great performance?

The script reminds me of the character I’ve worked on for months

What is your favourite part/song from this show?

Good Morning London Town

If you could work with any actor or actress, from past or present, who would it be and why?

Patrick Stewart because of his hair style, Audrey Hepburn because she is… Audrey Hepburn

What is the one theatrical character you’d love to play

Fagin in Oliver

Why is community drama/theatre important?

Keeping creative drama real not just disembodied on TV screen

Thanks Team, looks like Tom Hanks needs a visit to Louth!

Review ‘White Christmas’ -BOS Musical Theatre Group


Local performers from the BOS Musical Theatre Group are performing “White Christmas” by Irving Berlin between Saturday 19th to Saturday 26th November at 7.30pm, including a matinee performance on Saturday 26th at 2pm .  The musical is based on the well-known film, and features some of Berlin’s best known songs including “Blue Skies”, “Snow”, “Count your Blessings” and of course “White Christmas”.  Without giving too much away, if you’re not familiar with the story, it is set in 1944 just behind the lines where the American troops are waiting to go into battle. They are being entertained by one of the Captains, and it’s nearly Christmas.  The years roll on, there’s love for some, and not so much love for others, but in the end, in true Hollywood style, everything works out beautifully, just in time for a ‘White Christmas’.

I attended the opening night performance on Saturday 19th November with a couple of friends; we’ve seen another production by the BOS group previously (‘9 to 5’ back in April 2016) so were eagerly anticipating the music and fun the evening was going to bring.  One of the performers, Christian Slingsby (playing Phil Davis), is a good friend of ours, having performed with my 2 friends and I in the Lincoln Cathedral production of Jesus Christ Superstar back in 2015.  We were expecting great things having seen him play Franklin Hart Jnr in ‘9-5’ earlier this year and once again we weren’t disappointed, especially the uniform (and lack of it at certain moments!)


There were stand-out performances from some of the cast, in particular 10 year old Alice Parkin (playing Susan Waverly), who thrilled the audience from the moment she came on stage.


Her comedic timing, from someone so young was impeccable, and that, added to her American accent, her singing voice in ‘Let me sing and I’m happy’ and her dancing ability certainly gives us all a name to look out for in the future; definitely a star in the making!


Rob Callaby (playing Bob Wallace) had a beautiful voice following in the footsteps of the legend, Bing Crosby, and Andrea Townshend (playing Betty Haynes) really made the audience sit up and take notice of the beautiful ‘Love you didn’t do right by me’ in which she duetted with Rob at the same time singing ‘How deep is the ocean’.



Despite it being a Saturday night (and me missing my weekly fix of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing), we were entertained with a variety of dancing;  the cast mixed it up with tap and several different ballroom styles with a very intricate routine from Christian and Lucy Allen (who played Judy Haynes).


I have to mention 2 other cast members that were memorable for completely different and individual reasons.   I could have easily mistaken Ray Featherby (playing General Henry Waverly) as an American, rather than an Englishman playing an American, his accent was astounding (I read in the programme that he’d tested out his American accent on his sister who has lived in the USA for 40 years, she too was impressed!)


And Kim Sands (playing Martha Watson); I’d seen her previously in ‘9 to 5’ and she impressed me then, but in this show, the part of Martha was perfectly suited to Kim’s comedy style and personality.


Thank you to Stuart Bull, Director, Katy Tabor and John Sabberton, both Assistant Co-Director/Producers, Anthony E Grunwell, Musical Director and Abi Kingsley-Parker, Choreographer for their hard work in bringing this production to the Blackfriars Theatre, as well as everyone else involved, backstage, lighting, crew and musicians.

Prior to coming to see the show, I got in touch with Rob Barclay, Chairman and Director of BOS Musical Theatre Group to ask for his help in finding out a bit more about the cast of White Christmas;  here’s what I found out:

Andrea Townshend tells us about playing Betty Haynes and her previous experiences in theatre:


  1. How long have you been involved in theatre and how did you get started? 

I started dancing at 4 years old with local dance school Allen School of Dance and I had my first onstage leading role in one of their shows when I was about 8 years old. At the age of 16 I went to The Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in London and got a 3 year performing arts degree. I returned to Boston and took part in several shows in the 1990’s including the lead role of Sally Bowles in Cabaret. I then emigrated to New Zealand where I performed as Rumpleteaser in CATS at the Civic Theatre in Auckland. Since returning to the UK and having children I have taken on numerous roles both in the chorus and as a lead with BOS. 

  1. What has been the show that you’ve most enjoyed being part of?

My favorite BOS role of recent times has to be Calamity Jane. Although Sally Bowles was also an amazing role, as was Charity Hope Valentine in Sweet Charity. 

  1. What is your favourite part/song from this show?

I have several favourites songs in this show – if I had to pick just one it would be ‘Love you didn’t do right by me’. My children would probably choose ‘Count your Blessings instead of Sheep’ which is their current favourite bedtime song.

  1. If you could work with any actor or actress, from past or present, who would it be and why?

Barbara Streisand – she has been my inspiration for many years. 

  1. What is the one theatrical character you’d love to play and why?

Fanny Brice in Funny Girl, I have always loved the movie and recently saw Sheridan Smith play the part at the Savoy Theatre in London….. Amazing! 

Rob Callaby tells us a bit more about himself and his views on theatre, and this production in particular:



  1. How long have you been involved in theatre and how did you get started?

I really started doing shows in my last year of college after a friend encouraged me to get involved so that makes it about 18 years now. 

  1. What has been the show that you’ve most enjoyed being part of?

I have done a lot of amazing shows over the years but I can probably narrow it down to 3.   The Edinburgh Fringe was my first show with the Cambridge colleges called ‘Closer than Ever’ which was an amazing experience. The other two are more recent playing Seymour in ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ in Spalding and around the same time I had the great pleasure of playing Judas in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ in Boston with BOS MTG.

  1. What, for you, makes a great performance?

Obviously as a performer you want to nail every part of your performance but from my point of view it’s a great performance if the audience enjoy the show and leave with a buzz

  1. What do you do to prepare yourself for your performance and to get into character?

I personally try to arrive at the theatre early so everything is organised and in place which gives me time to relax and focus in on my character. I think if you can get a good feel for the motivations and emotions of your character and relate that to your own experiences that really helps.

  1. What is your favourite part/song from this show?

I feel really lucky to have some beautiful songs in the show but I would say that the song ‘How deep is the Ocean’ which is intertwined with Betty singing ‘Love You didn’t do right by me’ is stunningly beautiful and emotional

  1. If you could work with any actor or actress, from past or present, who would it be and why?

There are lots of actors and actresses I admire and would love to work with, however from a Musical Theatre point of view I would have to say Frank Sinatra. I just loved his style and how effortless everything he did looked

  1. What is the one theatrical character you’d love to play and why?

My absolute favourite musical is ‘Rent’ which is a very modern musical, and I would love to play Roger. The music is more rocky where my roots tend to lie and Roger goes on such an emotional journey I would love to explore that.

Christian Slingsby now tells us about himself and his acting experience:



  1. How long have you been involved in theatre and how did you get started?

I got started back at school in the 80’s but really got the bug when I was about 20.  I went along to my then local theatre and did my first show Romeo & Juliet where I was given the job of running the lighting board for the whole show.  Been involved with theatre one way or another ever since.

  1. What has been the show that you’ve most enjoyed being part of?

That’s a difficult question because they all have their special moments.  The show that will always be special to me as I had the most memorable moment within a show would be Return to the Forbidden Planet where I played Ariel the Robot.  My first ever standing ovation

  1. What, for you, makes a great performance?

Seeing and hearing that the Audience has enjoyed themselves.  Hopefully along the way we all have a great time and enjoy ourselves BUT it’s the audience that makes a great performance

  1. What do you do to prepare yourself for your performance and to get into character?

I always like to get to the theatre about 90 minutes before a performance starts.  I like to check my props and costumes are all there and in place ready and then I like to turn off to the outside world.  There’s then time to sit and relax with your fellow actors before the real routine starts like doing a vocal warm up, getting into makeup, opening costumes and just running through the show in my mind to prepare for the nights performance.

  1. What is your favourite part/song from this show?

There’s 2 I’m afraid.  SNOW and White Christmas because with so many of us on the stage and all being involved it feels like a big Christmas Family.  Cheesy I know 😀

  1. What is the one theatrical character you’d love to play and why?

Tom Collins from RENT.  I was lucky enough to see this show on Broadway and fell in love with the show.  It’s hard to describe how the show makes me feel with the whole emotional rollercoaster that takes place between the characters during the show but the story and the way it’s told with the music and lyrics just seems to hit a soft spot with me and it is by far THE ONE show that I would love to be a part of.  Saying that I do also have quite a few others on the list that I would one day like to be in.

You might like to take a look at the BOS Musical Theatre Group’s ‘Mannequin Challenge’ by clicking here

Thank you to Neil Watson Photography for use of his photographs in this blog post.


About BOS Musical Theatre Group:

BOS Musical Theatre Group is based in the town of Boston in Lincolnshire, England. Founded in 1964 (as Boston Operatic Society), we have gained an enviable reputation for the high quality musical productions which we stage twice yearly at Blackfriars Arts Centre, Spain Lane, Boston. All productions are entirely produced, cast and staged using local people, and we are always keen to meet anyone who would like to become involved with us, whether backstage or treading the boards.