Tag Archives: Lights Up!

Christine: The Musical

(reviewed at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester on 25 June)

It’s one of the defining photographs of the 1960s – the 20-year old Christine Keeler astride a black plywood chair. The whole murky tangle of high living and low morals, of drug-dealing, cold war espionage which n the end wrecked a Ministerial career and several lives is a familiar one, though books, stage shows and film.

There’s however something subtly different about Tony Franchi and Marion Wells’ musical take on the story. In 16 short scenes we are taken from the teenage Christine’s first foray into London nightlife to the luxury of the Cliveden estate and the traumas by the Old Bailey courtroom. Lindsay Lloyd’s direction uses projections, a minimum of furniture and some nifty choreography by Irene Lincoln to keep the story as lively as the events it unfolds for us.

What’s more, it has tunes. Real catchy tunes put over with aplomb by the 14-strong cast and six-piece stage band under John Chillingworth. “Pops” Murray’s introduction to the world of cabaret switches effortlessly between 3/4 and 2/4 time to notable effect. “Make love not war” is another near-show-stopper, as is “Vodka”, the pseudo-Russian number for Ivanov, the Soviet attaché.

Originally premièred at Colchester’s Headlong Theatre, these performances form part of the Lights Up! festival, the Mercury Theatre’s own new showcase for local dramatic and musical talent.

Lights Up! continues at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester until 12 July.

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Filed under Musicals, Reviews 2015

Two new arts festivals

East Anglia at times seems to be bubbling over with arts festivals. No sooner as Pulse subsided in Ipswich than along comes Lights Up! at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester between 17 June and 12 July.

This is designed to showcase new and developed work from drama and other students as well as some of the town’s established amateur companies.Come Fly With Us opens proceedings from 17 to 20 June and is succeeded on 25 and 26 June by Christine: The Musical, Tony Franchi and Marion Wells’ take on Christine Keeler’s story; this was successfully premièred by CTM Productions a couple of years ago at Headlong Theatre.

A mixture of poetry, choral singing and instrumental music presented by the Colchester branch of the Royal British Legion pays tribute to the dead of the First World War on 27 June – Emortuus – The Fallen. The next day a cast of over 70 children and teenagers from the Theatrical Performing Arts School offer Peter Pan in the musical version by Jimmy Jewell and Nick Stimson.

21 years of the Lorraine George School of Dancing & Performing Arts is celebrated between 3 and 5 July with Summer Showtime ’15. A Mercury Studio success from last year, Stage Write’s Living With Luke, is a powerful study of a father trying to cope with an autistic son; catch it on 8 July. 9 July offers an evening of contemporary folk and blues from Laburnum Bridge with Ramon Goose and Adrian Nation.

Senior students from Theatre Fun Academy perform the new musical Milenka on 11 July. It follows the adventures of two young friends with a travelling theatre and some not-quite-ordinary marionettes. The appropriately titled End of Year Show from Stagecoach Chelmsford brings Lights Up! to a close on 12 July. Ticket prices range from £10 to £15, with concessionary discounts available.

Imagine Watford and Watford Live have, up to now, been separate celebrations for the twon. Now they have combined as The Big Festival, which runs between 20 June and 5 July. It will mix Watford Live’s promotion of local people’s artistic talent (everything from guerilla knitting – no, I haven’t come across this before either – to live music) with Imagine Watford’s kaleidoscope of international street theatre.

The Watford Colosseum is presenting Listen from 2 to 4 July. This involves music machines, sound installations and some rather surprising performances. The public are invited to play and roam as well as listen; it’s the brain-child of Graeme Leak. Care {20-21, 23-28 June) from Tangled Feet is the first of Imagine Watford’s presentations; The Strange Travel of Senyor Tonet follows (25-30 June).

Look our also for the Watford Society circus workshop on 27 June, Circus Raj and Lucas Jet Circus – both on 2 July, the aerial crane piece K@osmos by Puja! on 2 July, Citizen Squid from Puppets With Guts (3 July) and The Monotone Man (3 and 4 July), a Human Zoo Company creation. The outdoor performances are held on The Parade and the vast majority are free to watch and enjoy.

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Filed under Reviews 2015