Tuesday, 8 July 2014

As You Like It: The Stafford Reviews

We've had a fantastic response to As You Like It from audience members and critics since we opened on Sunday 29th June.

Here's the highlights of the reviews...

The Birmingham Mail: 5 stars: "Yet another stunning success...performed by a superb and extremely talented cast across the board" - Read the full review here.

The Sentinel: "The whole cast should be applauded for a first class performance. Georgina White was excellent as Rosalind" - Read the full review here.

The Burton Mail: "Comedy stalwart Eric Potts was incredible as Touchstone" - Read the full review here.

The Express and Star: "Mesmerising...Each year it simply gets better - but this year trumps all others" - Read the full review here.

Staffordshire Newsletter: "A resunding triumph...buy a ticket immediately!" - Read the fulll review here.

What's On Magazine: "The performers rose majestically to the challenge of making Shakespeare accessible, enjoyable and where appropriate, funny...Another excellent offering from the always value-for-money Stafford Shakespeare" Read the full review here.

Staffordshire Life: "Georgina White plays a great lead character, portraying Rosalind as a female full of fire" - Read the full review here.

As You Like It is on until Saturday 12th July at Stafford Castle.



Wednesday, 18 June 2014

As You Like It: New Reviews

We've had another great review courtesy of County Woman! Here's what they thought of As You Like It at Ludlow Castle...
"Shakespeare has plenty to say about love and women in his pastoral comedy As You Like It, and it is still laugh out loud funny after just over 400 years.

Presented in association with Stafford Gatehouse Theatre, the production takes place in the lovely setting of Ludlow Castle. The opening night saw music and merriment aplenty as we were transported back to the Swinging Sixties.

Its two big stars are John Challis (Only Fools and Horses) and Eric Potts (Coronation Street). Challis, as the melancholy Jacques, was a class act whose quiet presence and perfectly weighted delivery of lines were an acting masterclass. Likewise Potts, playing a very different character in the fool Touchstone, was perfectly cast and drew the eye whenever he was on stage.

All the acting from an impressively strong cast was first rate, with a pleasing chemistry between the love-struck Orlando (Tom Radford) and Rosalind (Georgina White), the latter excellent when her character was pretending to be a man. Jennifer Greenwood as Celia also lit up the stage.

This production is set amid the cultural wars of the late 60s, with the Cold War paranoia of the usurping duke constrasting with the hippy camp of the court in exile. Adding to the 60s vibe were the superb musicians, who not only played a part in the action but got us in the mood with songs before each half – The Times They Are A-Changing, Universal Soldier and so on.

A forerunner to the modern rom-com, As You Like It of course has a contrived and obvious happy ending that sees four couples married and everyone restored to their lands and fortunes. On a pleasantly mild and dry evening in Ludlow, the audience also went away smiling."

As You Like It returns to Stafford Castle from Sunday 29th June - Saturday 12th July.

As You Like It: New Reviews

We are thrilled with the latest reviews for our SFS production of As You Like It, currently on tour at Ludlow Castle. Here's what The Stage had to say about the show...

The Stage:

"The revamped, resurgent Ludlow Arts Festival’s invitation to Stafford’s Gateway Theatre to restore open-air Shakespeare to the castle is, on the evidence of this season’s As You Like It, an inspired move. 

Accessibility and enjoyment have long been the watchwords of Stafford Festival Shakespeare, to which any member of the first night audience might add vibrancy, commitment, clarity and coherence. The 1960s Woodstock flower power setting turns Arden into a countercultural world of rebellion against the austere, repressive authoritarianism of Duke Frederick’s court. Hip songs from the 1960s, Dylan et al, superbly harmonised and choreographed, have an enraptured audience foot-tapping down Nostalgia Boulevard.

Any As You Like It stands or falls on the quality of its Rosalind. Georgina White gives us an irresistibly nuanced performance - volatile, vulnerable and crackling with emotional and theatrical intelligence. Tom Radford’s compelling Orlando is her ideal foil in the play’s exploration of gender, politics and paradox. Jennifer Greenwood’s Celia deserves the status of definitive interpretation in its warmth, spirit, insight and sharpness of delivery - nothing here of the all too common simpering, watercolour confidante. 

John Challis’s brooding, sardonic Jacques redeems the role from tired cliche, reminding cast and audience that the 1960s spirit is doomed to disappointment. I have seldom seen a more persuasive and amusing Seven Ages, suggesting perceptively that this fool is playing almost consciously a self-appointed role. Eric Potts’ Touchstone is a masterclass in comic business and audience seduction, an earthy counterblast to the cerebral misanthropy of Jacques. A very fine production, whose conception is matched by its realisation"

As You Like It returns to Stafford Castle on Sunday 29th June until Saturday 12th July.

Monday, 16 June 2014

As You Like It: The First Reviews

We were extremely proud to open a Stafford Festival Shakespeare production on tour for the first time on Saturday at Ludlow Castle. The audience gave As You Like It a wonderful response and here's what the reviews have to say so far...

Virtual Shropshire hailed the production as "Shakespearean excellence" and praised Georgina White's performance as Rosalind, saying she "takes to the part as if Shakespeare had written it for her". Virutal Shropshire also highlighted Eric Potts' "marvellous" performance John Challis' iconic All The World's A Stage speech as a "lovely moment". You can read the full review here

The Hereford Times called it an "enchanting performance"  and were much impressed by the "strength of the entire ensemble"  of "brilliant actor musicians" adding it was "open air theatre at its absolute best". You can read the full review here.

The Shropshire Star had high praise for John Challis' "triumphant and majestic" performance, while Eric Potts was "a barrelful of laughs". The paper also noted Jennifer Greenwood as a stand out "putting in a performance of high quality". You can read the full review here.

As You Like It transfers to Stafford Castle on Sunday 29th June and will run until Saturday 12th July. You can book your tickets here



Wednesday, 18 December 2013

"The show is one of the best you'll see anywhere" - More reviews for Sleeping Beauty!

We have been overwhelmed by the fantastic reviews we have had so far for Sleeping Beauty the Rock 'n' Roll panto! Here are some of the highlights and links to the full reviews:

The Sentinel praised Andrew William's performance as Dame Taffeta Trott, saying he "had the audience hanging on his every word from his first entrance". Beth Peach-Robinson and Greg Barrowman were also described as "brilliant actors with excellent singing voices". You can read the full review here.

The Stage loved our "gorgeously glittery set"  and said "there is an abundance of talent on stage". You can read the full review here.

The Birmingham Mail said Sleeping Beauty is "sure to get all the family up and dancing". You can read the full review here.

What's On Magazine gave the show 5 stars, describing it as "fresh and lively" and praised our "first class" cast of actor musicians. You can read the full review here.

Have you seen the show and want to tell us what you think? You can email your review to ehogan@staffordbc.gov.uk and it may even get posted on our blog! 

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Sleeping Beauty the first review: "A flawless performance"

The Newsletter came to watch the first performance of Sleeping Beauty this morning and here is what they had to say:

"Stafford Gatehouse pantomime rocked into life today with the opening show of the festive season.
Classic tale Sleeping Beauty was staged with a rock and roll twist as the most talented group of actor musicians to grace the annual panto shook the house with storming versions of timeless hits driven by the powerhouse rhythms of drummer Tom Hassall.

Children from schools including St Andrew’s School and All Saints First School in Denstone roared their approval in time-honoured tradition of booing the baddies and shouting ‘he’s behind you’ in all the right places.

In his first panto in his own right, Greg Barrowman, the young performer who would love to play with Bruce Springsteen, proved he is no slouch himself as an axeman. He also provided the magic kiss to wake Princess Susie, played delightfully by Beth Peach Robinson, when she woke from her 100-year slumber to find herself in the swinging 1960s.

Noa Bodner gave a supreme performance as mean, moody and malevolent Morgana and cast a long shadow as she entered the auditorium to a chorus of boos from the kids.

Andrew Williams exploded onto the stage as Dame Taffeta Trott, coaxing and cajoling the kids and bringing howls of laughter from them by picking on their teacher throughout the show.

King Candlestick Camelot (Paul Matania) crowned a good day’s work with a right royal performance of James Brown’s Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.

The production crew, with Derrick Gask at the helm, director Paulette Randall and writer Peter Rowe have done it again. A flawless performance from all concerned and the kids raised the roof at the final curtain.

Wakey wakey – go and see Sleeping Beauty. It’s a slick, heartwarming and energetic production which is as classy a show as you will see anywhere. Top notch."

-Review by Gail Atkinson.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

A top review for Très Très Cabaret!

Très Très Cabaret
 The Cheadle and Tean Times came to see the show on Saturday 14th and here's what they had to say...
Très Très CabareTres Tres Cheeky at Opening of Refurbished MET
Très Très Cabaret

Très Très Cabaret

Très Très Cabaret
Très Très Cheeky at Opening of Refurbished MET

"The MET, the versatile studio space at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre had a terrific start for its opening show, following the grand refurbishment and new integral bar. Stage Door Johnny brought his burlesque/cabaret night to the theatre to be greeted with a rapturous response to the exotic dancing of Scarlett Daggers and Missy Malone with the highlight being the trapeze and innovative ping pong juggling ball act by Rod Laver and Alexandra Hofgartner – combining eroticism with comedy to great effect.

The whole amazing event was compered by Stage Door Johnny who has his own wonderful slant on comedy and songs, all along with hilarious audience participation. A tremendously enjoyable evening of adult entertainment. It is hoped Tres Tres Cabaret will be back for a Christmas special”

Review by Rick Lane.