Barry Rutter

 

LUCY Porter has inherited dodgy knees and global warming from her parents, but can she leave a better legacy for her children?

Find out in a new stand-up show from the comic who has appeared on QI, Room 101 and Live at the Apollo as well as News Quiz and The Now Show on Radio 4.

It’s called Lucy Porter, Pass It On and she’s bringing it to G Live, Guildford, on Thursday 21 February.

NOT content with being the biggest UK band of recent years, Gary Barlow, Mark Owen, Howard Donald and a certain Robbie Williams are now extremely proud theatre producers.

Joined by David Pugh and Dafydd Rogers, the boys from Take That are at the helm of a new musical called The Band that will be in Woking next week.

MATES – Producers of The Band are Howard Donald, Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Robbie Williams. Picture by Jay Brooks

“The key to its success is familiarity,” says Howard. “It strikes a chord with people’s lives by being a reflection for anyone who has ever been a fan or a supporter, or anyone who has had a group of friends and known love, friendship and loss.

“The only let down is that the music is crap,” he jokes, referring to the Take That hits that provide The Band’s soundtrack.

To be clear, the show is not about Take That. Instead The Band tells the story of a group of 16 year-old girls for whom in 1992, ‘the band’, a non-specified five-strong group, is everything. Twenty-five years on, the 40-something women reunite in an attempt to fulfill their dream of meeting their heroes.

Take That’s main songwriter Gary has his own idea why their show seems to chime with audiences. “I think that friendship really resonates with people,” he says, adding: “Friendship is at the heart of Take That. It has kept our work strong, we’ve been a gang.

The Band is about the relationships really, not the music. You don’t need to be an avid fan, but Tim [Firth, who wrote the show] has so cleverly woven our music into a parallel universe. Whenever I see it I leave happy.”

Mark agrees, adding: “It brought me back to when I was a teenager knocking about with my mates and the dreams that I had then. It made me contact old friends after I saw it.

“People slip from us as we get busy with life, but the show made me reminisce. It was like a pause button.”

As well as producing, the Take That boys were mentors to the young performers who collectively play the title role, AJ Bentley, Nick Carsberg, Curtis T Johns, Yazdan Qafouri and Sario Solomon.

Howard says: “I never envisaged being a pop star let alone a producer – I was on a YTS training scheme to be a vehicle painter and panel beater when I joined Take That, but luckily we had the right people behind us.

“The lads of The Band are really down to earth, which is how we formed our friendship, how we grew up as a group and how we can now regroup.”

Mark agrees, adding: “I’ve enjoyed the mentoring more than anything. You feel like a father to his son and we had sit-down talks about looking after each other and about going out into the world. It’s been a real pleasure. Their energy is really positive and so they inspire us. It really does work both ways.”

In the show, the older women look back at their younger selves and Gary doesn’t stop to think when asked what advice he’d give his 16-year-old self.

“I’d say grab it and enjoy this moment right now,” he says. “It sounds so corny but this young cast are at such an amazing time in their lives, but they may have some tough years ahead. It’s so important to enjoy the here and now.”

The Band will be at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, from Tuesday 19 February until Saturday 23 February.

AN ALL-STAR cast will bring Yasmina Reza’s award-winning comedy Art to the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford from Monday 18 February to Saturday 23 February.

Taking to the stage will be BAFTA-nominated Nigel Havers, Olivier Award-winning Denis Lawson and British Comedy Award-winning Stephen Tompkinson.

Art stars Stephen Tompkinson, Nigel Havers and Denis Lawson

Art tells the tale of Serge who spends an extortionate amount of money on an all-white modernist painting, leaving his close friends Marc and Yvan baffled. But do their violent reactions to this provocative canvas mirror more dangerous antagonisms towards each other?

Art opened in 1996 and took both the West End and Broadway by storm, winning every major theatre award including the Olivier, Tony and Molière.

There are not one but two comedy shows at G Live’s Bellerby Studio in Guildford next week.

BBC New Comedy Award winner Paul Foot brings his new show Image Conscious to the venue on Thursday (14 Feb), following Alfie Brown who will be performing his new show on Wednesday (13 Feb).

Foot, who has appeared on Never Mind The Buzzcocks, Would I Lie To You and Radio 4’s Infinite Monkey Cage, will be asking questions like ‘Have you ever considered the unique predicament of the soft-shell crab?’ and ‘What about the many, many problems that occur when organising a suburban orgy?’

Brown’s new show is about identity politics, trying to be a good father in a horrible world and being responsibly horny in the wake of wide-spread male sex crimes. He provides no answers, only questions.

ORIGINAL members of David Bowie’s band will aim to bring back the magic of the legendary performer in Holy Holy this month, with one of the greatest synth pop front men of the ’80s carrying out vocal duties.

Woody Woodmansey, Tony Visconti and Glenn Gregory will bring the show to G Live, Guildford, on Tuesday 19 February.

Woodmansey was Bowie’s drummer during his Spiders from Mars period while producer Visconti worked on many of Bowie’s albums and played bass on The Man Who Sold The World. They will be joined on vocals by Heaven 17s singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Gregory. The Bowie fan and friend performed alongside Bowie on the original Band Aid single in 1984.

The group will perform Bowie hits from 1969 to 1973.

IN 1980 The Chords were leading lights of the British mod scene, hitting the Top 50 with a string of hit singles and touring the world, but they burnt out after just one Top 30 album, So Far Away.

Now the man who wrote songs like Now It’s Gone, Maybe Tomorrow and Something’s Missing is back with a new version of the band, The Chords UK, a clutch of new songs and a new attitude.

Chris Pope says the band fell out of favour because he refused to stick to the mod straitjacket, but the emergence of internet has allowed his music to gain a new lease of life.

The Chords UK

“The first album, So Far Away, was kind of crash bang wallop and it did really well, put us on the map, but do you just want to repeat that?” he asks.

“People didn’t accept the way I wanted to go with it, but by mid-1981 I wanted to move on and do other stuff. People weren’t listening because they thought we were of a certain genre and should stick with it. For me, it was first and foremost about the music, not fashion.

“In any case, fashion-wise things moved on to new romantic scene and I didn’t fancy that.”

The Chords limped on for a while with former Vibrators frontman Kip Herring replacing original singer Billy Hassett, but success eluded them and there was no second album.

Chris formed a band called Agent Orange but any fledgeling promise was killed off when it had to change the name because it was the same as that of an existing American band. By the 1990s he had to get “a proper job” but saw his chance to get back to what he loved via the internet after the turn of the millennium.

“Thirty years ago it was all corporate and without a major label you just couldn’t do it,” Chris explains. “But now you can get music out there without a record company, which is great for me.

“In the 1980s, if you made a demo, it just sat in your drawer because once you’d sent it to the major record companies there was nowhere else to go. It’s healthier now – it doesn’t sell like it used to and it’s a struggle and frustrating when people just stream it, but you can get it out there for people to hear.

“I’d love to still be in the NME and on Top of the Pops but things have moved on.”

The Chords UK now play around 40 gigs a year, mixing and matching Chords originals with Chris’ newer songs which feature on recent albums like Take On Life and last year’s Nowhere Land.

“The Chords did seven singles in 18 months and I still like playing them because people want to hear them and I wrote them, but I love playing the new stuff too.

“It’s quite weird playing stuff you wrote 40 years ago alongside something you wrote three minutes ago but I like it all. I’m not really tempted to just go down the purely nostalgic route like so many others do these days. I’d rather do what I do, making new music.

“Instead of selling 10,000 albums, people just download it or stream it but I’m still able to go out and play and enjoy it.”

The Chords UK will headline the 12-hour Punk Valentine event at the Fiery Bird in Woking, which kicks off at lunchtime on Saturday 16 February. Also on the bill will be Finn Panton’s Seeds of 77, Phoenix Chroi, Stone Heroes, Jellly, Kilter, Holy Faction, The Anoraks, The Glorias, Plague UK, Rage DC, Nancy Boy and Broken Idols.

A NEW adaptation of Arthur Conan Doyle’s second Sherlock Holmes novel, The Sign of Four, comes to the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford from Tuesday 5 February to Saturday 9 February.

When Mary Morstan arrives at 221B Baker Street to request help following the mysterious disappearance of her father, Sherlock Holmes and his companion Dr Watson are plunged into a murky world of deception and trickery, as they attempt to unravel a complex plot involving murder, corruption and stolen jewels.

Luke Barton stars as Holmes with Joseph Derrington as Dr John Watson and they will be joined by Zach Lee as Jonathan Small, Stephanie Rutherford as Mary Morstan, Christopher Glover as Dost Akbar and Ru Hamilton as Thaddeus Sholto.

Director Nick Lane says: “I don’t think I know anyone over the age of ten who doesn’t know at least the name Sherlock Holmes. He is part of the literary fabric of this country, hugely popular and hugely adaptable, and his cases with Watson are a blueprint for so many crime novels, films, TV shows and theatre.

“We have approached this adaptation in a stylised way which will appeal to avid fans of the novel as well as those who simply want to come to the theatre and enjoy a rattling good crime story.”

WHITNEY – Queen of the Night, a celebration of the music and life of one of the greatest singers of our time, comes to the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, on Sunday 17 February.

Alisha Paul-Moses will take on the role of Whitney Houston and the hits will include I Wanna Dance With Somebody, One Moment In Time, I’m Every Woman, My Love is Your Love, So Emotional Baby, Run to You, Saving All My Love and of course, I Will Always Love You.

THE Olivier and Pulitzer prize-winning play, Glengarry Glen Ross, is kicking off its UK tour in Woking on Thursday 14 February at the New Victoria Theatre.

After “sealing the deal” with critics and audiences alike during its West End run, the play’s first UK tour has a cast headed by two actors well-known for TV roles.

STARRING ROLES – Nigel Harman, centre, and Mark Benton, second right

Shelley “The Machine” Levene will be played by Mark Benton (Waterloo Road, As You Like It, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Hobson’s Choice). Olivier award-winning Nigel Harman (EastEnders, A Chorus of Disapproval, Shrek the Musical) will be the ruthless Ricky Roma.

Set in an office of cut-throat Chicago salesmen, Glengarry Glen Ross tells the story of four desperate employees pitched in a high-stakes competition against each other. They’ll do anything, legal or otherwise, to sell the most real estate.

As time and luck start to run out, the mantra is simple: close the deal and you’ve won a Cadillac; blow the lead and you’re finished. The performances at the New Victoria Theatre will run until Saturday 16 February.

GHOST – The Musical returns to the UK this year, following an international tour in Dubai, Istanbul and Trieste, arriving at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, on Tuesday 5 February until Saturday 9 February.

The double Oscar-winning movie Ghost starring the late Patrick Swayze alongside Demi Moore, Tony Goldwyn and Whoopi Goldberg is the inspiration behind this stage musical version, which includes the film’s famous potter’s wheel scene performed to The Righteous Brother’s Unchained Melody.

The story starts with Sam’s murder as he’s walking back with girlfriend Molly to their apartment. She is left alone and in despair but with the help of Oda Mae Brown, a phony storefront psychic, Sam, trapped between this world and the next tries to communicate with Molly in the hope of saving her from grave danger.

Writer Bruce Joel Rubin says: “This is a show with such a strong emotional and musical life that it can mould to many visions and interpretations. It can be performed on any scale, and its vibrant heart will still captivate an audience and allows the imagination to flourish. It is purely theatrical in the greatest sense.”

The stage version will star Rebekah Lowings (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar) as Molly, alongside Niall Sheehy (Titanic The Musical, Miss Saigon, Les Miserables, Wicked) as Sam with Jacqui Dubois as Oda Mae.