Wow, Beverley Knight’s vocals. One of Britain’s greatest soul singers, Beverley has conquered the charts with several top 10 albums, performed with Prince and now made a home for herself in musical theatre. After a successful run in The Bodyguard, she is now belting out numbers as Felicia in the new West End production of hit Broadway musical Memphis at the Shaftesbury Theatre. Memphis, which has an award-winning original score by Bon Jovi founding member David Bryan, is inspired by true events from the underground dance clubs of 1950s Memphis, Tennessee.
The story follows the fame and forbidden love of radio DJ Huey Calhoun (played by Killian Donnelly) who wants to change an industry where ‘black’ and ‘white’ music should never meet. Felicia, a phenomenally talented club singer with an overbearing brother, falls for Huey and dreams of making it big – but is the industry ready for her? It’s a gripping story full of loveable characters, despair and prejudice, all peppered with soulful song and dance. If you’re anything like me, there’ll be tears before the interval… [Words: Victoria Purcell]
Now showing at the Shaftesbury Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue WC2H 8DP. Tickets £20-£67.50. Booking until 31 October 2015 on 020 7379 5399 / memphisthemusical.com
Theatre: Shakespeare in Love
When Shakespeare in Love opened in the West End in the summer, it was to intrigued audiences, keen to see if the humour, magic and warm-hearted loveliness of the original film version could be recreated on stage. Happily, both critics and theatregoers agreed that the theatre version – adapted for stage by Lee Hall – is a (bodice) rip-roaring success.
Tom Bateman takes on the role of Will (Shakespeare, played in the film by Joseph Fiennes), the infamous playwright who is suffering from a crippling case of writer’s block. His easy manor, natural humour and dashing good looks make him the perfect leading man to Lucy Briggs-Owen’s playful, beautiful and dramatic Viola, Will’s love interest, muse and undercover actor in his new play Romeo & Juliet or, as it’s first dubbed, Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter. Watch the drama, love and laughs unfold in a set that’s designed to look like a Tudor playhouse, and expect to get lost in a farcical, beautiful and, at some points, genuinely moving production. Special mention also must go to Barney, the heroic Irish Woolfhound who steals the show. [Words: Vicky Smith]
Now showing at the Noel Coward Theatre. Tickets from £25. To book see noelcowardtheatre.co.uk
Family fun: Jump
I saw the words ‘martial arts’ and ‘jaw-dropping acrobatics’ and I was there. Had I seen the word ‘slapstick’, however, I might have given it a miss… Since its inception in 2003, Jump, the internationally acclaimed show by Ye Gam Theatre, has achieved sell-out shows and loyal fans. In 2008, it was awarded the prize for The Best Performing Arts of Korea by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Korea. Trouble is, I can’t bear slapstick, and the first 10 minutes are slow and painful for those of my persuasion, but the younger audience members loved it, and give the show 20 minutes and giggles abound. LOLS, even.
Described as Jackie Chan meets Charlie Chaplin, the show tells the tale of a family of marital arts experts whose chaotic home is disturbed by burglars. The burglars, however, are soon subjected to a martial arts showdown that combines impeccable timing, comedy and acrobatics. The show culminates in a fantastic crescendo of leaps and tumbling that’ll have you in rapturous applause. The kids will love it. [Words: Victoria Purcell]
Now showing at the Peacock Theatre, part of Saddlers Wells. Closes 15 November. Tickets £15-£38. To book call 0844 412 4322 or see sadlerswells.com