new victoria theatre

Grease is the word…and you can join in when Sing-a-long-a Grease comes to the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, on Tuesday (28 May).

Basically a screening of the classic film starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton John, the show aims to get the audience up and singing along to all the hits that made it one of the most successful movie musicals of all time.

The evening will begin with the host leading a vocal warm-up before the movie – and fancy dress is very much encouraged…

RUSSELL Kane has added an extra run of dates to his new tour The Fast and the Curious, which is good news for comedy fans in Woking as he’s now heading to the New Victoria Theatre on Thursday 30 May.

The award-winning comic, presenter, actor, social media star, author and scriptwriter’s most recent appearances include his hit TV show BBC Three’s Stupid Man, Smart Phone, BBC podcast Evil Genius, JOE podcast Boys Don’t Cry (which returned for a second series in February), BBC Two’s Live At The Apollo and BBC One’s Michael McIntyre’s Big Show.

ACTION MAN – Russell Kane will be in Woking for an evening of high-energy comedy

Russell also recently took part in the return of Celebrity Apprentice for Comic Relief, which was broadcast on BBC One in March in the run up to Red Nose Day.

He is also well known for his viral Facebook Kaneing videos, which have garnered hundreds of thousands of views.

A POP star and a soap star will join forces for Rock of Ages, which visits the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, from Tuesday 21 May until Saturday 25 May.

Antony Costa, who rose to fame in the noughties as a member of the boyband Blue, will play Stacee Jaxx, while Kevin Kennedy, best known for his portrayal of Curly Watts in Coronation Street, will play Dennis.

LETTING RIP – Rock of Ages brings a lively slice of LA life to the New Victoria Theatre

Rock of Ages, which has also been made into a Hollywood movie, is a hilarious LA love story featuring rock ‘n’ roll debauchery – as well as 25 classic rock anthems including We Built This City, The Final Countdown and I Want To Know What Love Is.

The show will also feature Zoe Birkett, the highest-placed female contestant in ITV’s Pop Idol in 2002.

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.

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.

MICHAEL O’Reilly and Kira Malou will take on the roles made famous by Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey when Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage returns to the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, from Monday 18 March until Saturday 23 March.

Michael is making his professional debut as Johnny Castle in the show after graduating in dance and musical theatre from Bird College, while Kira has played the idealistic Frances “Baby” Houseman on previous tours.

Kira Malou and Michael O’Reilly, centre, with members of the Company. Picture by Alastair Muir

Set in the summer of 1963, the story revolves around 17-year-old Baby about to learn some major lessons in life as well as a thing or two about dancing when she stumbles across an all-night dance party at the staff quarters of her holiday resort.

Mesmerised by the raunchy dance moves and the pounding rhythms, Baby can’t wait to be part of the scene, especially when she catches sight of Johnny, the resort dance instructor.

The show features the hit songs Hungry Eyes, Hey! Baby, Do You Love Me? and of course (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.

X Factor winner Matt Terry will star as Alex the Lion when Madagascar – The Musical arrives in Woking next week.

The show has transferred from the big screen as one of DreamWorks Pictures best-loved films to a colourful hit adventure on stage and will be at the New Victoria Theatre from Tuesday (12 March) until Saturday 16 March.

It’s a big change for Matt who has been recording music all over the world including Miami, LA and Scandinavia, teaming up with the likes of Ed Sheeran, Enrique Iglesias and Sean Paul.

Picture by Scott Rylander

But he’s loving his stage role and says: “The show brings together everything you’ll know and love from the Dreamworks film with an immense score and amazing sets, costumes and puppets.”

Madagascar – The Musical follows all the animal friends as they escape from their home in New York’s Central Park Zoo and find themselves on an unexpected journey to the madcap world of King Julien’s Madagascar.

Alex the lion is the king of the urban jungle, the mane(!) attraction at New York’s Central Park Zoo. He and his best friends – Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe and Gloria the hippo – have spent their whole lives in blissful captivity before an admiring public and with regular meals provided for them. Not content to leave well enough alone, Marty lets his curiosity get the better of him and makes his escape – with the help of some prodigious penguins – to explore the world.

WHEN Dom Joly was first offered a role in The Rocky Horror Show he turned it down flat.

The comic behind Trigger Happy TV says: “Musical theatre is not a good fit for me… in fact it’s my biggest anxiety. I said no it’s not my area but they explained a bit more and I thought actually playing the Narrator sounds made for me.”

Dom Joly as the Narrator. Picture by David Freeman

Of course it’s not the first time Dom has faced a terrifying prospect and survived. Following his success at creating comedy with a hidden camera, he has indulged his passion for travel by making TV programmes and writing books about visiting the sort of places most people avoid – like totalitarian North Korea, nuclear-ravaged Chernobyl and war-torn Syria.

He insists: “Generally the world is less dangerous than people say. I’ll come back from, say, Iran, and people will say ‘Oh you’re brave’ and I say ‘What are you talking about? I went skiing and everyone was lovely’. Normally, people are so chuffed that someone has ignored all the advice that they really welcome you.

“I’ve had pretty much good experiences everywhere, except maybe in the Congo. That was pretty terrible. For my book, Scary Monsters and Super Creeps, I went there looking for a lake monster called mokele mbembe and I kayaked down a river on my own, got to a village near the lake and negotiated a guide. But then everything went crazy, the whole village got drunk – absolutely hammered – a spear came through my tent, the guide was tied to a tree and people were waving machetes around.

“I was in real trouble, I was three days from the nearest town, on my own. I got out during the night, just got in my canoe and slipped away. I never got anywhere near the monster lake but I got out alive.

“The thing is when things go wrong, there’s part of you thinking this is amazing, if I get out it’s going to be a great part of the book.”

It might seem a surprising attitude – until you realise that Dom was born in Beirut and grew up in war-torn Lebanon.

“I alternated between living in a war zone and a posh boarding school in England,” he explains. “Because the war was going on in Lebanon you couldn’t really go out and explore whereas at school there were less people shooting at me…

“Lebanon is the most amazing country on Earth. It’s so small but you can go skiing within an hour or to the beach in an hour. Growing up, there were periods when it was fine and then periods where you’re in the basement because you’re being shelled.

“That’s war I suppose…but my ‘what I did in the holidays’ essay was usually the most interesting.”

He’s visited 95 countries (“not that I’m counting”) and is heading to Yemen soon as part of his job as ambassador for Save The Children, having recently returned from the frontline in Eastern Ukraine.

In the meantime he has to face the fancy dress and audience participation of The Rocky Horror Show, which tells the story of a newly engaged couple getting caught in a storm and coming to the home of a mad transvestite scientist, Dr Frank-N-Furter, unveiling his new Frankenstein-style creation – an artificially made, fully grown, physically perfect muscle man named Rocky Horror.

Dom says, although he shied away from the show initially he’s loving it. “It’s like going into a casino for the first time and hitting the jackpot,” he says. “I’m loving it but I’m hooked for life now and yet I know it won’t get to be this good again.

“The cast are on stage, the audience are shouting and singing along and I’m in the middle trying to keep it all going. I’ve done the show 50 times and I still couldn’t tell you what the story’s about. It’s mad but everyone has a fantastic time.”

The Rocky Horror Show will be at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, from Monday (4 March) until Saturday 9 March.

The iconic character of Beverley Moss in Abigail’s Party is a classic. The party host, she is a monster who inflicts her ‘sophisticated’ tastes onto all the guests while trying to score points against her equally grim estate agent husband.

Created on stage and on TV by Alison Steadman, she’s the main reason Mike Leigh’s satire on the 1970s middle classes is still remembered both fondly and with horror – and she’s impossible to change.

Jodie Prenger – winner of the Beeb’s I’d Do Anything – is the latest actress to get her teeth into the role and says she’ll be staying very much in the character Steadman made so famous.

LET’S PARTY – Jodie Prenger, as Beverly, with Rose Keegan (Susan), Dan Casey (Lawrence), Vicky Binns (Angela) and Calum Callaghan (Tony)
Picture by Manuel Harlan

“That role is just so iconic in the way it was performed and created,” she explains. “So much came out of improvisation. It’s hard to deliver it in a totally different way. It wouldn’t make sense to change it –you’d look like a wally.”

Director Sarah Esdaile agrees, saying: “The fundamental challenge for me is, in a way, escaping from the voice of Alison Steadman, who everyone has in their heads as Beverly.

“I met Alison and she told me ‘I was part of the process of creating that character, so I’m intrinsically in it. There’s no point trying to escape me.’ That was so liberating, to realise you don’t have to run away from that.”

The play is intrinsically of its time – it premiered in 1977 – with the music of Demis Roussos and Tom Jones, ice and lemon and Beaujolais all cropping up at regular intervals.

It’s based on a party when three sets of neighbours come together for a pleasant evening which turns into the complete opposite because they’ve all got so much going on individually that they’re not dealing with privately.

“It’s uncomfortable and deliciously dark,” says Jodie. “It’s full of that thing where you don’t really want to watch, but you can’t look away.

“It’s about all the primary things that we’re worried about and will always be worried about until the end of time – aspiration and hunger and thirst and confinement and hope. It’s full of these wonderful sayings and it’s very accessible.

“It’s quite extraordinary that it’s got this power that has just been going for decades, isn’t it?”

Sarah says it’s still relevant because the themes are universal, explaining: “It takes place, socially and politically, at a really interesting turning point in the history of this country. It’s just before Margaret Thatcher came into power and there was rise in people’s obsession with consumerism, belongings and position. It deals with aspiration and disappointment.”

Leigh’s original was created using lots of improvisation by the actors and, although there’s now a set script, Sarah was keen to maintain the tradition.

“It’s about using improvisation in the right circumstances,” she says. “We set up scenarios that will really enrich the work that the actors bring to the stage.

“Often improvisation can be slightly naval gazing and ultimately there’s no evidence of the work. In this case, the subtle dynamics, the differences and the shifts that that work achieves, you’ll be able to smell it on stage.”

Being on stage is important, according to Jodie, even though most people remember Abigail’s Party as a TV classic.

“There is something magical about going to the theatre,” she says. “You’re sat amongst hundreds of people and you never know what’s going to happen. Switching on the TV, you know what you’re going to get. With theatre anything can happen.” Abigail’s Party will be at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, from Monday (25 Feb) until Saturday 2 March.

WHY would audiences flock to hear 1970s cheesy classics like YMCA, Blame It On The Boogie, We Are Family and Don’t Go Breaking My Heart?

Because those old hits were the soundtrack to their lives, according to a legend from the era and now a star of stage show Boogie Nights – ‘Little’ Jimmy Osmond.

“Why is there such an appeal for the music?” he asks. “When you go on your first date or whatever, all those experiences are set to music, so it takes us back to earlier parts of our life.”

BLAME IT ON THE BOOGIE – Andy Abraham, Gareth Gates, Louisa Lytton, Chico, Shane Richie Junior and Jimmy Osmond (inset)

BLAME IT ON THE BOOGIE – Andy Abraham, Gareth Gates, Louisa Lytton, Chico, Shane Richie Junior and Jimmy Osmond (inset)

And don’t get the idea that it’s just women who like to re-live their musical youth.

“A lot of them bring their guys along and they look disgruntled at first,” says Jimmy laughing.

“They sit there with folded arms making out ‘the women dragged us here’, but at the end they’re rocking out and singing along – and that makes me so happy. It makes me feel like I’ve had a good experience.

“You also see sons and daughters come along because they have experienced the music with their families.”

Boogie Nights is also a family affair for Jimmy. As well as Gareth Gates and X Factor stars Andy Abrahams, Laura White and Chico, the show includes his brothers Merrill and Jay.

“When my brothers come out we play ourselves and do a medley mix that includes Love Me For A Reason and Crazy Horses and we might throw in a few lesser known ones,” he reveals.

“But it has all the music we all love. It’s fun for us to perform other people’s hits as well.

“I did Boogie Nights years ago and I had such a blast, so I was keen to come back and do it again.Then, at the end of last year’s Osmonds tour, Jay and Merrill said ‘Hey we fancy that’.

“The producers had already hired Gareth Gates and Andy Abrahams but I said ‘Do you mind if my brothers come and join in?’ and they were over the moon.”

Jimmy was too young to be part of The Osmonds originally but he is keen to point out: “I was the first one of my family to record. I had the first hit in the family, I was this little kid singing and had a hit in Japan – the song was called My Little Darling.

“And I’d had four or five hits prior to Long Haired Lover (his first big UK hit in 1972). My first show was with Frank Sinatra and Nancy Sinatra when I was three.”

He has always been very much part of the family and has toured with his brothers in recent years.

“Anybody who has lasted has had to reinvent themselves and put themselves forward for different projects. That’s why my brothers and sisters have lasted,” says Jimmy.

“We’ve kept going because we’ve always been open to new things and never been so precious about who we are, or take ourselves too seriously.

“Every one of our personalities is different and we look at things differently, and we have learned to agree to differ. It’s a tough business but we still get along. So many families fall apart because of the narcissism of it.

“It helps that our dad always taught us there’s something bigger than us, which is a relationship with your family and a belief system, and that helps to get you through.

“Sometimes one of us will go off and try something else but they always come back, and we all have our roles to play. I don’t really have any expertise but I guess I’m the clean-up guy. I’ve always loved the business side and represented other artists as well as my brothers and sisters.

“But the most fun is to be part of the team. It can’t be just about me. It comes in things like Boogie Nights where you’re one of the cast, or on tour with The Osmonds where you’re one of the family. Those projects are such fun and it uses all your skills.”

Jimmy Osmond (along with Jay and Merrill) stars in Boogie Nights which will be at G Live in Guildford on Sunday, February 3 and at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, on Friday, March 1.