Entertainment

IT may have been flat racing season, but singer Jess Glynne had Sandown Park jumping – and swaying, bouncing, and singing along to her catalogue of platinum-selling hits.

The award-winning songstress was the climax to a special racing and music evening at the Esher racecourse, which saw the Grandstand packed out with hardcore fans and racegoers looking to party.

Singer songwriter Jess Glynne and backing singers on stage at Sandown

Surrounded by her band and backing singers – all clad in white outfits which served to emphasise her on-stage presence, a vision of long ginger hair, sparkly bra top and black trousers – she produced an engaging performance, by turns energetic, soulful, upbeat and emotive.

She knew how to work her audience. “Did you win some money?” she asked, getting some cheers in reply. “Are you going to have some fun with me and my band?” she said, receiving louder cheers. “Have you had something to drink?” she added, provoking a huge roar from the crowd, many waving empty Pimms jugs towards the stage.

As the sun set upon the racecourse, the giant open-air stage had lit up with a burst of lights, pulsing drums leading into the opening bars of Hold My Hand.

From there, it was one hit after another, Jess coaxing plenty of audience participation out of the crowd who sung back to her non-stop through These Days. The singer looked happy, and was keen to thank people for the support.

“I wouldn’t be able to stand here if you weren’t standing there, and I really appreciate you for coming on this journey with me,” she said. “Thank you.”

An energised crowd flock to see Jess perform (Picture by Andy Tatt)

In a crowd that ranged in age from seven to seventy, she took a moment to warn against the perils of social media undermining your sense of self-worth – “Do you, be you, be free and be happy. How’s that?” – but mainly the gig was one long party.

Even a light sprinkling of rain towards the end couldn’t dampen the open-air festival atmosphere, culminating in a crowd-pleasing I’ll Be There to send everyone home happy.

Jess Glynne’s summer gig was the third racing and music event at Sandown this year, following other evening gigs with Madness and Pete Tong.

“We were pleased to welcome three of the best names in music for another great season of racing and music at Sandown Park Racecourse and were thrilled to be blessed with amazing weather for all three events,” said Saf Chowdhury, director of concerts & marketing for The Jockey Club Live. “Thank you to everyone that came down and made the events so special – roll on 2020!”

Mark Miseldine

FOLLOWING sell-out performances of Cats last year, the dynamic Biz Theatre School returns to Woking next week with Chicago (High School Edition).

The Biz Theatre School returns with ol’ razzle dazzle

It is a specially adapted version of the classic musical that maintains the plot, score and Fosse-styled choreography, but makes it more appropriate for both young and old audience members to enjoy.

Set in the 1920s and telling the stories of vaudevillians Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, both charged with murder, it takes the audience to night clubs and to prison and the merry murderesses to celebrity and ultimately freedom.

Songs include All That Jazz, Cell Block Tango, When You’re Good To Mama, Mr Cellophane, and of course, Razzle Dazzle. Once again, the Biz summer school production will be raising money for children’s hospice charity Shooting Star Chase, and Chicago comes to the Rhoda McGaw Theatre on Friday 16 August and Saturday 17 August.

Contact the box office on 0844 871 7645 or visit www.thebizgroup.co.uk

IT’S BEEN almost 60 years since the iconic record label Motown was founded in Detroit by Berry Gordy – launching the careers of Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and the Jackson 5 along with many others.

Now the story of the record label’s success is told in West End show Motown The Musical, which arrives in Woking this month on tour.

The show was created after getting first-hand advice from Michael Lovesmith, who worked alongside Mr Gordy at Motown for years, coached the Jackson 5, produced the likes of The Temptations and The Supremes, and performed himself. As creative consultant, he worked alongside director Charles Randolph-Wright.


The Supremes tribute, with Karis Anderson as Diana Ross, in Motown The Musical

“I was basically born and raised in music,” says Michael. “I was on the road as a child, singing in churches as a trio with my brothers. Then at the age of 11 I was introduced to Holland-Dozier-Holland, who signed me to a song-writing contract, and I wrote my first song for them, to be performed by Dionne Warwick.”

“It was the opportunity of a lifetime, and it was a good thing I had a good song! I met Mr Gordy at age 17, and by that time I had produced about 12 artists. 

“Motown wanted me to work with the Jackson 5. I was their age, so I could relate to them in a way that not everybody could. They were so used to working with older people who didn’t quite understand their energy! 

“I ended up becoming Berry Gordy’s protégé, and started producing and vocal coaching Michael and his brothers. Then soon after that I started recording with The Supremes and The Temptations. That’s pretty much how I got started.”

Motown The Musical tells the story of Mr Gordy’s life and the development of Motown Records in Detroit, which soon became known as Hitsville USA.

Michael explains: “The funny thing about Motown is, I think Motown could have been anywhere, and in a sense it was.”

“Every city had a girl group, a guy group, a kids’ group and a lead singer but the unique thing that Detroit had was Berry Gordy. He was this beacon of light, showing you what you can do and what you could be. There were musicians and singers all over the country, but Detroit had Berry Gordy, so it became a magnet for them.”

With such an iconic sound that audiences have loved for almost six decades, how do you begin the process of faithfully recreating that on stage? Michael says: “We searched high and low for someone who understands the need for the show to sound like Motown.

“One person came to meet us and gave us his idea of how he would find a Stevie Wonder, a Michael Jackson, a Smokey Robinson, which we didn’t think was possible, and that person was Charles Randolph-Wright.

“Charles walked into the room and knew what Motown is, who Motown is and what Motown looks and feels like. He grew up on this music.”

Charles adds: “Motown is all we ever really listened to growing up.” But he did find directing the show tough. “Oh yes, I felt pressure,” he explains. “It was so important to me because Mr Gordy is one of my idols, so I wanted to create the show that he wanted to see.

“I approached it the way that Berry Gordy approached it – I needed to find artists that would evoke a certain thing. What I never wanted to do was find people who would just impersonate those performers, I wanted them to make me feel the way Diana Ross made me feel, an actress that would actually make me put my hands up and sing Reach Out and Touch.

“It’s finding that energy, sometimes it’s such raw performers and sometimes it’s people who have been in 10 shows. It’s an instinctive thing – they’re Motown. Working closely with Mr Gordy and Michael I’ve been able to ask, what is that thing that Stevie Wonder has, what is that specific thing that Smokey has? We find that in someone that is authentic in them, rather than make them pretend to be that.”

Motown The Musical will be at Woking’s New Victoria Theatre from Tuesday 20 August until Saturday 24 August.

ENJOY a special evening of music and racing on Thursday, as Jess Glynne headlines Sandown Park Racecourse with her spectacular summer show.

Singer and songwriter Jess Glynne

The action begins at 5.40pm with the first of the Flat racing card at the Esher racecourse. Then, shortly after the last race of the day, the award-winning songstress will appear on the open-air stage in front of the Grandstand, performing her catalogue of hits, a unique blend of pop, soul, R&B and house music.

“It’s exciting to be welcoming an internationally renowned artist to Esher and we’re set to enjoy a great evening of racing followed by top live music,” said Phil White, regional director of Jockey Club Racecourses.

Other evening racing and music events have already seen Madness and Pete Tong perform live to eager fans at Sandown, and organisers expect Jess Glynne’s show to be just as special.

Tickets for the racing and live concert are £49.50 – visit http://www.thejockeyclublive.co.uk to order or for more details.

KEY TIMINGS:

Gates open: 4:00pm

First race: 5:40pm

Last race: 8:15pm

Last admission: 9:15pm

Concert: 8:30pm (approx)

This is the Kit is singer songwriter Kate Stables – often with the assistance of bassist Rozi Plain, guitarist Neil Smith and drummer Jamie Whitby-Coles.

The musical project has taken Kate from Winchester to Bristol to Paris, where she has now lived for 10 years, as well as tours, festivals and the adoration of people like Guy Garvey, The National and Sharon van Etten.

Kate Stables and friends are lined up for the Boileroom

Ten years and four albums after setting out, This Is The Kit is a name to be reckoned with and you can check out what all the fuss is about when she/they play at the Boileroom, Guildford, on Sunday 11 August.

More than a dozen acts have been lined up for the first Surrey Americana Festival, which will take place at the Fiery Bird in Woking over the weekend of 21-22 September.

Local, national and touring US Americana bands will all feature including Surrey’s own Dustbowl Sinners, UK blues singer and harmonica player Katie Bradley and Hampshire’s finest roots trio the Mantic Muddlers.

LOCAL TALENT – The Dustbowl Sinners are taking part in the first Surrey Americana Festival

Also confirmed on the bill are the Will Purdue Band, Phil Coleman, Dave Lambert, Rebecca Jayne, Andy Twyman, J Lee & the Hoodoo Skulls, David Skinner, Downtown Roundabout, Beth Keeping and The Homing.

Another Fiery Bird date for your diaries is Saturday 12 October when this year’s Wake Up Woking will take place, featuring The Small Fakers.

Dancer Richard Winsor spent 10 years with Matthew Bourne’s production company performing in shows like Edward Scissorhands, Dorian Grey, and the second generation of Swan Lake – but now he’s returning to his first love, Saturday Night Fever.

Richard Winsor, as Tony Manero, dances with Kate Parr, playing Stephanie in the stage version of Saturday Night Fever

“John Travolta’s performance in the film Saturday Night Fever was what got me dancing as a kid,” says the star of the new stage show of the classic nightclub tale. “The disco scenes, his solo, his very masculine energy, it inspired me. 

“I remembered all the incredible moments from the film and all its themes, and thought ‘If we get that clear and honest for a new stage version, it could be really amazing’.

“And we are taking it back to that dark atmospheric setting. We’re not shying away from that. It is still going to be a stage dance show, but we really are finding the realism in it.”

The film and its iconic Bee Gees soundtrack tell the story of Tony Manero – loser by day but disco dancing star at night.

“He’s a young, enigmatic guy who hasn’t had much opportunity in his life,” explains Richard. “He’s from a hard-working, down on their luck, Brooklyn family, and works in a paint store for minimal wages. But when he goes to the 2001: Odyssey nightclub, he is the king on the dance floor. 

“He’s a different person there. He loves the attention, the sweat, the heat, the women. When the club announces a dance competition with a prize of $1,000 and the chance to dance in the discos of Manhattan, it’s a big deal for him. It offers him that chance to escape.”

The movie has endured since its 1977 release and Richard, also known to TV audiences as Caleb Knight in the BBC hospital drama Casualty, says the themes are still relevant.

“That’s the thing,” he says. “With Trump threatening to build a wall to keep the Mexicans out and people with split families striving for a better life, it’s interesting to look at it and think ‘How far have we come?’  40 years on, and similar families are talking about not being employed and trying to break free. It’s all still there.”

The music has also survived the test of time with songs like Night Fever, Stayin’ Alive, Jive Talkin’ and the rest still proving popular.

“We wanted to keep the music close to the brilliant original soundtrack,” says Richard of the new stage production. “The music supporting the drama and the tragedies as they unfold. We have an electric band guiding us along and the Bee Gees singing the hits, which all adds to the story. Hearing the music played live is amazing.”

As for following in Travolta’s dance steps, he says: “It’s a challenge. I want to draw from him, not imitate him. I’ve got so much to play off – the ways of standing, walking and dancing. But I have to play my own reality, otherwise it becomes contrived imitation.”

Richard Winsor will star as Tony in Saturday Night Fever at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, from Tuesday (6 Aug) until Saturday 10 August.

INNOVATIVE new dance-musical Extinction is heading for Woking’s Rhoda McGaw Theatre next week.

Budding young performers from the British Youth Music Theatre (BYMT) will take part in the new show, which explores the world’s apocalyptic future at the threshold of environmental cataclysm. They will pose the essential question – can we change before it’s too late?

Artwork publicising the dance musical Extinction, being staged at the Rhoda McGaw Theatre

Composer Nicola Chang (Six the Musical, Stomp) and choreographer and director Rachel Birch-Lawson (Garsington Opera, Cahoots NI, and Tangled Feet) have created the musical which combines improvisation with contemporary movement to emphasise the key message – our time is running out!

“This subject is more relevant and urgent than ever,” says Rachel. “I’m excited to tackle this with a wonderful BYMT cast of talented and committed young people.”

Extinction will be at the Rhoda McGaw Theatre on Friday and Saturday, 9-10 August.

For the full story get tomorrow’s 1 August edition of the News & Mail

THE Barricade Boys will bring the songs of the West End to Surrey tomorrow night (Friday) – as they lower the curtain on this year’s Guildford Fringe Festival.

Named after their starring roles in Les Miserables, the current line-up is Scott Garnham (Nativity! The Musical, Billy Elliot The Musical, Made in Dagenham), Simon Schofield (title role in Oliver! London Palladium, Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Sound of Music, Doctor Doolitle), Dougie Carter (Sunset Boulevard, La Cage aux Folles) and Kieran Brown (Wicked, Love Never Dies).

CREATING THEIR OWN FUN – The Barricade Boys are the final act in the 2019 Guildford Fringe Festival

The Barricade Boys also promise powerful ballads and operatic arias plus pop, rock and swing – all given a different twist.

“Well naturally we sing all the classic Les Misérablessongs which everyone loves and enjoys but we do them slightly differently, with our unique four-part arrangements,” explains Scott.

“However, we don’t only perform Les Misérablesand musical theatre songs – we actually have a lot of variety in the show. We sing songs from all genres from rock ’n’ roll to pop. We’ve tried to create a really fun show with a special atmosphere – so if you feel like singing or dancing in the aisles you can, or you can just sit back and enjoy.

“It’s not every night that you can watch a show which goes from Bohemian Rhapsody to Frankie Valli plus our unique arrangements of those Les Mis classics.”

You can sure the foursome have the ability to pull off this feat.

“We’ve appeared in the West End to 2,000 people, we’ve appeared at The Other Palace to 200 people and we’ve appeared at West End LIVE to 20,000 people so we’re pretty good at always adapting and creating a version of our show that can be enjoyed no matter where you see it,” he adds. “Guildford will be a very special night as we’ve got a live band on stage with us and a local choir.”

Scott formed The Barricade Boys with Simon three years ago and the show was a success from the start.

“The themes and songs from Les Misérablesare timeless and they certainly unite us all as a group but I think ultimately the key to the success of the group has been the fact we’ve always produced a show we’d want to watch,” he explains.

“We perform songs we like singing, we have a lot of fun, we don’t take ourselves too seriously but make sure the sound we create is truly magical. That seems to come across in the audience and as long as people keep coming to see us perform, we’ll keep performing the show we love.”

And he says coming to Surrey is always special – even after the West End and Broadways.

“We closed Guildford Fringe Festival last year and the atmosphere was electric,” says Scott. “When they asked to do it again this year we absolutely jumped at the chance. This has been an exciting year for us with a 34-date UK tour and a tour of the US but we can honestly say this is a show we’re really excited about.”

The Barricade Boys perform at G Live, Guildford, Friday 26th July 2019

WHEN Hot Chip and Scritti Politti collaborator Rob Smoughton wanted an outlet for his own music, he put together Black Peaches.

The band this year followed up their acclaimed 2016 debut with new album Fire in The Hole and are now our on the road to promote it.

MUSIC FROM THE HEART – Black Peaches play a combination of all the music loved by founder Rob Smoughton

“Black Peaches existed inside me before I was aware of it,” says Rob. “It’s the culmination and continuation of the music I love. I started to notice how Brazilian rhythm, funk, soul, classic country and pop were all combining in the music I was writing, and I looked for other band members to join me to bring it alive.”

And he found them in Susumu Mukai, Charlie Michael, Nick Roberts and Thomas Greene. Together they released 2016’s acclaimed Get Down You Dirty Rascals.

The band – managed by Knaphill resident James Tapp – now return on a tour which brings them to Guildford’s Star Inn on Wednesday next week (31 July).