Entertainment

SEXY, sassy and strong…Moll Flanders is an extraordinary woman with an extraordinary life and she’s about to be brought to life on stage by WAOS (Woking Amateur Operatic Society).

Based on Daniel Defoe’s novel, their production of Moll Flanders tells how she is taken away from her mother, is married five times, a baronet’s mistress, a plantation owner and a professional thief.


Woking Amateur Operatic Society turn their attention to the extraordinary life and times of Moll Flanders

Her adventures go from rags to riches, from Colchester to the USA, and back to England, via Bath, Liverpool and London, and a few prisons in between. And if this was not enough, there is a goodly selection of larger than life characters waiting to be brought to the stage.

Moll Flanders will be at the Rhoda McGaw Theatre, Woking, from Tuesday 7 May until Saturday 11 May. It will be directed by Martine Young, with musical direction by Ian Peters and choreography by Elizabeth Loveder.

BEING a blind comedian is tough, but being a blind father is possibly tougher. Just ask Chris McCausland, who’s done both.

“The most challenging parts of life as a comedian for me are all the logistical ones, travelling the country to different venues and even getting to and from the stage at a show,” he explained.

“Obviously, I’ve found solutions to these aspects of the job over the years. Once these issues have been overcome the actual on-stage, stand-up part of the job is the easy bit.”

FUNNY MAN – Comedian Chris McCausland is bringing his Speaky Blinder show to Guildford

Being a dad has raised a few more issues for Chris, who lost his sight as an adult.

“As my daughter has got older and more communicative, being a blind dad has got easier in lots of ways,” he said. “But there was a really difficult period when she was a one-year old, where she was mobile but silent, crawling about on the floor hardly making a peep!

“Looking back, maybe I should have put a bell on her, or a Bluetooth tracker so that I could ask Alexa to find her!

“Now she’s five though, the toughest thing is probably things like not being able to help her properly with her reading and her writing. How many other kids in her class have already got better handwriting than their daddy?”

Chris is now a Surrey resident, having moved to the county from Liverpool in 1996 to study at Kingston University. As a northerner married to a Brazilian, he says there’s often a culture clash – especially their different reactions to temperature.

“Whereas my wife will still require a winter coat in 22-degree sunshine, I struggle to function in anything warmer than about 26,” he said. “This obviously creates a great deal of conflict when the central heating comes into question.

“I talk about this in the show, but I think there is a good chance that one of us may one day be found dead in the hallway with one arm reaching out towards the thermostat, with the other one of us having skipped the country.”

Chris’s stand-up career started at a new-act night in Balham in 2003, but within a year he had won a string of awards and come third in Channel 4’s So You Think You’re Funny competition.

He’s since made many TV appearances and is a regular on the CBeebies series Me Too! But he said his career high point has been filming Live at the Apollo for the BBC.

“Not only was it the biggest career opportunity that I’ve had, but it was also the biggest actual gig that I had done, getting to play in front of 3,500 comedy fans at the Hammersmith Apollo,” Chris recalled.

“I’ve lived near London for over 20 years and have been to see lots of my music and comedy heroes perform on that stage, and so to get to do the same was a dream come true, really.”

Chris brings his Speaky Blinder show to the Bellerby Studio at Guildford’s G Live on Thursday 16 May as part of his later UK tour.

He added: “After this tour is over, I plan to write a book about my own experiences of losing my sight, being a comedian, and becoming a dad.

“They say that everybody has got a book in them, and I reckon I must have at least two. I also plan to become Prime Minister, destroy Facebook, and form the world’s most successful rock band…”

CANADIAN comedy legend Tom Stade is back with a new show. Welcome back to I Swear To…, picking up just where he left off as an hour simply wasn’t long enough.

Canadian Tom Stade

He will attempt to figure out exactly where he fits into this emerging new world of feelings and FaceTime. He’ll be asking questions like exactly when did he, and all his stuff become vintage – and why didn’t he see it coming?

Tom has been on Channel 4’s Comedy Gala, Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, The John Bishop Show and Live at the Apollo – and on Thursday 9 May he’ll be at G Live, Guildford.

IF YOU know who Igglepiggle, Upsy Daisy and Makka Pakka are, get set for a treat. The magical world of In The Night Garden will be live in Woking on its first ever tour of UK theatres.

The CBeebies stars will bring their show to the New Victoria Theatre on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 May.

Using full-size costumes, puppets with music and dancing, the show aims to be a favourite for young pre-schoolers – and their parents.

Director Will Tuckett says: “Children know these characters so well, much better than we ever might think. They see them as proper friends – when they appear on stage live they are seeing friends liberated from the television or tablet. They are there, waving at THEM.”

“It’s genuinely heart-warming, truly magical…and makes me love my job.”

FOR many people, heading out on a 40-date tour might look exhausting, but Reginald D Hunter says nothing beats the buzz of stand-up.

“It’s the only time of day that everyone I’m talking to is smiling,” says the American comic who has been based in the UK for more than 20 years. “It’s the only time of day that people are very happy to see me – I can’t even count on that from my own family!”

His new show is called Facing The Beast and the star of TV panel shows like Have I Got News for You, QI, 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown and Never Mind the Buzzcocks,  underscores just what he loves about live comedy, by saying: “I adore the interaction with the audience.


Reginald D Hunter


Picture by Kash Yusuf

“What I live for is that moment where something comes out of my mouth or an audience member’s mouth that completely surprises all of us. You can’t orchestrate that. That’s when you laugh till there are tears in your eyes.”

The presenter of the BBC2 documentary, Reginald D Hunter’s Songs of The South, which charted the growth of American popular song, explains: “There was one moment where I came on stage when I was lean and pretty.

“A woman in the audience shouted out ‘Show us your c**k!’ I immediately replied ‘I decline to do that, mam, because it ain’t that kind of party. Let me ask you, ‘Do you go to strip clubs and shout out, ‘Tell us a joke!’?’”

On another occasion, Reginald recalls: “I walked onstage at a club and asked, ‘How much were the tickets?’ Someone shouted out ‘£14’. ‘Relax,’ I replied, ‘here comes £9.74!’”

Although he hails originally from Albany, Georgia, Reginald particularly enjoys performing in this country and explains why he has such a tremendous rapport with British audiences by saying: “I love the fact that they will hear you out. I’m a black man from the South of the US. I was born in trouble, and I don’t expect no game to be 50-50. All I ask is that I know what the rules are going in.

“In the UK, the rules are simply these – you can talk about anything you want, no matter how graphic or goofy, as long as you’re funny. But if you talk about stuff that isn’t funny and isn’t going anywhere, you will be asking the Brits for your ass back.”

The current turbulent era in politics both here and in his native US can, perversely, be good for stand-up, according to the 50-year-old. He says: “It makes comedians tougher and sharper, if you can survive and you don’t let it shrink your nuts!”

These troubled times are provoking extremely angry debates, and in Facing The Beast Reginald will be addressing that. The comedian’s eminently sensible response to the prevailing air of fury is simple: civility. He reasons: “If I wanted to question your view, I’d say, ‘Sir, you say that, but could I ask you this?’”

He adds: “There’s no problem on earth can’t be solved between two people by 15 minutes of considered chat – that goes for marriage, Brexit, or the Middle East. These things are easily solvable, but the fact that we have talked about some of these things for 50 years tells me that the powerful prefer the issue to the solution. It’s a matter of divide and conquer.”

As well as Brexit, Reginald will also be talking about how the right wing has triumphed in this native US, saying: “They worked out that they could never beat us liberals on civil rights or morality. So wisely, they decided they didn’t want to engage with that. Sometimes you’ve got to tip your hat to the devil.

“So this has been their strategy over the last 10 years. Our lawyer will stand up and say, ‘Crop rotation is not just good for the soil and the crops, but also for the long-term good of the earth.’ The right-wing lawyer will then stand up and say, ‘I love mom, apple pie and yabba dabba-do,’ and the judge will declare, ‘Case dismissed’.

“The right wing has been whupping us over and over with that since George W. Bush. It has culminated in Trump. He responds to morality and facts with anger-inducing, divisive nonsense.

“He can’t get us in the arena of facts and morality, so he’s moved it to a bullsh*t circus where all the laws of gravity are suspended and context doesn’t mean anything. All that matters are feelings, and perspective is greater than reality.”

But ultimately he says: “There’s nothing new under the sun. The only new things in the world are mobile phones and the internet. Everything else is based, as it always has been, on money, power, land and sex.

“The people who read Shakespeare will recognise that!”

Reginald D Hunter’s Facing The Beast tour arrives at the Princes Hall, Aldershot on Friday 3 May.

A NEW work from Olivier Award-winning dancers of the Russell Maliphant Company is heading for G Live, Guildford, on Thursday 9 May.

Silent Lines will see the group working with video artist Panagiotis Tomaras in a co-production with Sadlers Wells to produce “explorations in dance and experiential anatomy using a unique mix of movement, animated video projection, and lighting”.

Russell Maliphant explains: “For this project, I’ve chosen to delve into the resource of studies and explorations I have made over the years in anatomy, biomechanics and in particular the body’s fascial system in relation to movement training and choreography.

“Allowing that to be the theme to inspire and effect the creation, Silent Lines investigates a range of poetic possibilities, using the visually rich and resonant connections between internal and external worlds, the microcosm and the macrocosm.

“Drawing on methodologies from a variety of movement disciplines and setting these within a world of animated light, this creation explores the endless web of connections we encompass and embody.”

WEIGHT gain, weight loss, mood swings, housework, homework, electrolysis, men, sex, working out, staying in, going out, celebrity gossip, and, er, a lot of chocolate.

If any or all of these appeal, you’re going to love Hormonal Housewives, a witty, topical, rude and funny sketch show where no subject is taboo.

TOPICAL, RUDE AND FUNNY – Vicky Michelle, centre, starts with Josephine Partridge and Julie Coombe in Hormonal Housewives at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking.
Picture by Darren Bell

It was the title which first attracted Emmerdale and ’Allo ’Allo! star Vicki Michelle to take part, and she explains: “I thought, this is different, I haven’t done anything like this before – this has got to be fun!

“The script is hilarious and it was immediately appealing to be involved in a show which has laugh-out-loud moments.”

The appeal to women (particularly those of a certain age) is perhaps obvious, but Vicki says she thinks there’s a male audience for Hormonal Housewives too.

“I think it’ll appeal to men as well,” says the 68-year-old. “Men want to know what makes us tick hormonally. If they don’t understand that one week out of the month we’re a bit cranky, then they might learn something and try to understand that it’s not them…well, not entirely!”

Vicki stars alongside Josephine Partridge (Top Girls) and co-writer Julie Coombe, and says their roles are based loosely on their real characters.

“I would hate to say everything’s true to life in case I get into trouble with my husband,” she laughs. “But Julie’s done an amazing job of basing each character on each of us as much as possible. For instance, my character and I both love a glass of fizz, we adore talking to our female friends and obviously a glass of wine or fizz makes the experience even more enjoyable!

“I also share some experiences with my character in terms of family, so it’s lovely to be able to bring some of myself to the stage.”

One of those experiences involves waxing, a subject which reduces her to giggles.

“The waxing scene is going to be hysterical!” she reveals. “Julie and I try to encourage Josephine to get back on the dating scene – she’s newly divorced and a bit hesitant. There’s a whole discussion about how much excess hair to wax – I don’t want to give too much away but I get to play the waxer…”

There’s loads more subjects covered in the show. Vicki says: “Marriage, emotions, relationships, families, guilt complexes, hormones for all ages and eating habits. You know how you reach for the chocolate when you feel tired or your energy is low…well, there’s a lot of that.”

HORMONAL  Housewives will be at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking for one night on Tuesday 16 April.

AS ANY Pink Floyd fan knows, 2019 marks the 40th anniversary of the band’s iconic album, The Wall. To celebrate, tribute act Think Floyd will play the compete album at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking on Thursday 11 April.

The band, who have over 20 years’ experience performing the sound of Pink Floyd, will also reproduce a range of tracks from The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and more.

The evening will also feature a laser light show in the style of real Floyd concerts.

FIERY Bird in Woking will host a late-night dance special on Friday 12 April when Flavors UK throw  a launch party at the venue. The event promises the best of the UK’s underground sound of DNB, bass house, dubplates, UKG, bassline and trap.

Serum & Bassman will top the bill, with support from Metta (Breeze), Kyst Cortez, Weston (UKG set), Paolo, Hyper-C (Sleaze), Lowlife, Fyre (Sound Street Radio) and Wacko Swami.

The night starts at 10pm and will run until 3am at the club in Church Street East.

FORMER Sugababe Amelle Berrabah might be used to performing in front of thousands of fans in arenas around the country but right now the 34-year-old is facing a brand new challenge.

Now a mum, Amelle is currently performing on her first musical theatre tour, making her acting debut in the feel-good celebration of the 1980s that is Club Tropicana The Musical.

“I’m so excited because it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, it was just never the right moment,” she says.


Amelle Berrabah, left, with fellow cast members Joe McElderry, Neil McDermott,  Emily Tierney and Kate Robbins. Picture by Darren Bell

The show takes audiences on a trip back to the electric ’80s, when hair was big, shoulders were padded, and mobiles weighed a tonne.

Set to a soundtrack of the chart-topping hits of the era, the story unfolds in the Club Tropicana Hotel. When a budding bride and groom get cold feet, they both decide to jet off to sunnier climes. Little do they realise they’ve checked into the same hotel… a hotel about to get a visit from the hotel inspectors. Can owners Robert and Serena rally their staff to save the day?

Amelle plays Serena and is joined by X Factor winner Joe McElderry, singer and actress Kate Robbins and ex-EastEndersbad boy Neil McDermott, who plays Robert.

“I love Serena because she is someone that everybody likes and she loves that everybody likes her,” she says. “She’s a very good person who would do anything for anyone and who has worked so hard to get the hotel to where it is.

“Basically, she has the best positive outlook ever; you never get to see her crack, even if she does nip away to the toilets to cry in a cubicle on her own occasionally. But then she’ll dust herself off and be there for whoever needs her, even if there never seems to be anyone there for her.”

Amelle is excited but nervous – after all, not everyone who has attempted the leap from pop star to actor has been successful.

“This is like a different chapter for me,” she says. “I almost shy away from saying it out loud to people because its only in the past couple of years that I’ve had the confidence to say ‘I want to do musical theatre’.

“I’ve got quite a big personality so I was told regularly ‘You’d be very good at theatre you know’. So when the opportunity came up I was thrilled.”

She also recalls: “I was obsessed with Whitney Houston when I was younger but my voice was very different to hers. It wasn’t that I had a husky voice, it was high pitched but quite breathy. When I was 11 I was embarrassed to sing because I sounded so much older. In fact, even before that, Husky was my nickname.

“So at school I did quite a lot of dance stuff instead of singing until one day I just thought ‘go for it’, and I did. Suddenly I started getting all these parts in school plays. I suppose at the back of mind I always knew I’d get to do something I loved doing one day. But it was never about the fame, I just wanted to perform. It makes me feel happy. I enjoy seeing people having a good time when I’m entertaining.”

Over the years, Amelle has certainly done that. She replaced Sugababes founding member Mutya Buena in 2005 and went on to become the only member of the group to have a non-Sugarbabes No 1, with Never Leave You, in collaboration with Tinchy Stryder in 2009.

She reflects: “Because everyone sees me as Sugababe Amelle, I’m kind of put in a box, a box that I’m very proud of, but this is a new start for me.”

Although just a child herself in the ’80s, Club Tropicanahas brought vivid memories of the decade flooding back.

“Big hair, great music, Walkmans,” she reflects. “I used to walk around like the Queen when I had my Walkman, and roller-skates as well for some reason. Also, lots and lots of eye shadow. The 80s were big and bold.”

Club Tropicana The Musical will be at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, from Monday 1 April until Saturday 6 April.