Why you should take the kids to Gangsta Granny in Hull this week


David Walliams’ Gangsta Granny is live on stage and my kids and I were so incredibly lucky to attend the opening night at the Hull New Theatre last night. This award-winning stage adaptation is not to be missed!

David Walliams is one of Britain’s most favourite writers and has become a global best seller. Gangsta Granny is his most popular book and I can totally see why.  The best part of this stage production is that you don’t need to read the book to enjoy it, but I can almost guarantee that you will leave the theatre wanting to buy it.

The Story

Poor Ben is a tortured soul. His parents leave him every Friday night at Granny’s so they can go to dance classes.  He dreads going to Granny’s where absolutely everything, even his pillow stinks of cabbages! What Ben doesn’t know is that Granny has a secret that will make Friday nights a whole lot more exciting. Soon Ben will be executing his marvellous plan, the ultimate heist with his very own Gangsta Granny!

The Cast

Tom Cawte is Ben. We LOVED Ben. He is funny, cheeky and totally endearing. His dancing is goofy, and the way he looks up at the audience to let us in on what he’s thinking and enthusiasm are infectious.  Tom Cawte’s theatre credits include: The Winter’s Tale, (Cheek by Jowl), The Lone Pine Club (Pentabus) and has appeared on Witless and Doctors on our tele screens.

Louise Bailey is Granny. Granny is absolutely hilarious. She is delightful as she rides her scooter around town at night dressed as a ninja and her delicate little ‘pumps’ are both gross and hysterical. Louise Bailey’s credits include: Hormonal Housewives UK Tour, Afterbirth, Watership Down to name a few and she’s also appeared on our television screens on programs such as EastEnders, Mae West and Just Write!

The Show

I asked the kids and we agreed that our favourite bits were the dream scene where Ben’s parents appear looking like giant cabbages and he’s attacked by a huge spoonful of cabbage soup. The scrabble game between Ben and Granny where he spelled words like, escape, help, and torture and the dance competition with the presenter, Flavio complete with audience participation in the best pantomime fashion. We could not help but get caught up in the dancing and clapping!

The show has some very clever scenery changes that involved some light dancing, and slapstick humour.  It’s not a musical and the dancing is not meant to be amazing but it is funny and silly and just perfectly executed mostly by Jenny Gayner (mum) and Jason Furnival (Dad/Mr Parker) along with the ensemble cast.

Gangsta Granny is glorious, the kids LOVED it and I recommend it wholeheartedly. We all had such a fabulous night with loads of big belly laughs.

If you haven’t bought tickets, do it! Gangsta Granny is a brilliantly fun show that will capture your heart and your imagination. It’s only showing at Hull New Theatre until Saturday so be quick! You can book online from just £15.

The Vamps Announce Hull Gig on UK Tour


One of Britain’s most successful pop bands is to visit Hull as part of their UK arena tour next Spring.

The Vamps will perform at the Bonus Arena on Wednesday, 15 May 2019. Tickets go on sale later this month.

The Vamps have picked up over 2 billion streams globally and have 8.4 million monthly listeners and 1.7 million followers on Spotify. They are also one of the most-watched artists on YouTube, with over 600 million video views.

Their most recent album Night & Day (Night Edition) scored the top spot on the Official Albums Chart and also stormed into the Top 10 on iTunes in over 20 countries including Argentina, Philippines, India and Australia.

As well as their phenomenal record sales, they also have a huge live following. The Vamps have done 4 European arena tours and have sold out the O2 Arena multiple times. Their most recent tour saw them sell over 100,000 tickets.

They are also a force to be reckoned with on social media, with over 6 million likes on their Facebook, over 4.2 million followers on Twitter, 2.3 million followers on Instagram.

The Vamps are Brad Simpson (Vocals, Guitar), James McVey (Guitar), Connor Ball (Bass) and Tristan Evans (Drums).

The Vamps will be joined on the tour by pop-rock trio New Hope Club.

The Bonus Arena is a state-of-the-art, music and events complex that will allow Hull to attract large corporate conferences, exhibitions and trade tours as well as major touring concerts, stand-up comedy, family shows and sporting events.

Gigs announced so far at the Arena include Van Morrison, George Ezra, Madness, Strictly Come Dancing: The Professionals, Jack White, Bill Bailey, Rick Astley, Boy George and Culture Club and The Harlem Globetrotters.

Tickets for The Vamps at the Bonus Arena go on general sale at 10am on Saturday, 28 July. They will be available via www.bonusarenahull.com

Why Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em is the show to watch in Hull this week


By Amanda Ward
Theatre Reviewer for What’s On Hub

Wow! What a great evening of entertainment I have just witnessed at Hull New Theatre. I was so lucky to be in the audience for the opening night of Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em.

Based on that hit series of the 70’s, which starred Michael Crawford and Michelle Dotrice, Hull witnessed their successors in Joe Pasquale and Sarah Earnshaw. The pair were superb as Frank and Betty Spencer and it was lovely to watch such entertainment in an age of crass, over exposed reality shows.

Joe Pasquale was the best choice to play this character I can’t imagine anyone else taking over from Crawford. He had the same comic timing and characteristics of the hapless Frank Spencer and added some of his own too. This guy’s comic timing and delivery are second to none. How he can recite his lines so quickly, cleanly and precisely I just don’t know. Several times he earned applause from the audience who were captivated from the start and in hysterics at his antics. Just as Crawford did his own stunts, so too does Pasquale. How he didn’t injure himself on several occasions is a mystery.

Sarah Earnshaw as Betty was wonderful. She too captured the characteristics from the 70’s portrayal by Michelle Dotrice, it was like watching her all over again, and I mean that as a compliment. She was fabulous. The chemistry between her and Pasquale was brilliant.

Betty’s mother was superbly played by Susie Blake (Coronation St). Her comedy timing was brilliant as were her stunts. She is a great comedy actress and the casting director has done a fabulous job with this production.

The play was based on the episode when Betty wants to tell Frank that she is expecting a baby. Of course, wires get crossed and poor Betty can’t get a word in to tell Frank her exciting news. He is too excited by the BBC coming to audition him at home for a show and of course, in true 70’s comedy, everything goes wrong. The furniture falls to pieces and Frank keeps adding jobs onto his ‘list’ of things to try and repair. As you would expect with this show, Frank was the last to find out about Betty’s pregnancy. It was touching to see his reaction to the news and I couldn’t help but remember the show when Frank makes the baby’s cot and the disaster that turns out to be.

The entire cast for this show worked really well together. How they kept straight faces I will never know. They had the audience eating out of their hands with non stop comedy and stunts. Their timing was immaculate and slick. It was a very appreciative audience of mixed ages. Family viewing as it was on tv. There are always the adult jokes which go over the children’s heads and I don’t see why children wouldn’t enjoy a visit to see this show.

I had a blast. At times I was crying with laughter as were most of the audience. It was a great visit back to the 70’s when comedy didn’t insult anyone and a great time was had by all.

I would highly recommend that you book and go and see this show. It’s a great, fun, light comedy with an superb cast.

The show runs from Tuesday to Saturday with tickets from £18. A great night’s entertainment which should not be missed.

Our score: ★★★★★

Is Ocean’s 8 the ideal reboot of the series?

© Warner Bros Entertainment

By Adam Brannon
Film Reviewer from Movie Metropolis for What’s On Hub

It’s a peculiar state of affairs, the film industry that is. While reboots, remakes, prequels and sequels seem to be garnering much disdain from the movie-going audience of late, studios still push ahead with them regardless.

I mean, look at poor Disney and the performance of Solo: A Star Wars Story if you need any indication of a tiring audience. Female-led reboots are all the rage now too with Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters being met with a dreadful run at the box office despite decent critical responses. Next up, we’ve got Ocean’s 8, a sequel no-one was really asking for but got anyway. Is it worth a watch?

© Warner Bros Entertainment

Five years, eight months, 12 days and counting – that’s how long Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) has been devising the biggest heist of her life. She knows what it’s going to take – a team of the best people in the field, starting with her partner-in-crime Lou Miller (Cate Blanchett). Together, they recruit a crew of specialists, including jeweller Amita, street con Constance, suburban mom Tammy (Sarah Paulson), hacker Nine Ball (Rihanna), and fashion designer Rose (Helena Bonham Carter). Their target: a necklace that’s worth more than $150 million.

Gary Ross, director of the first Hunger Games movie, takes over from Steven Soderbergh to helm a film that is perfectly passable popcorn fodder, but sadly nothing more. But, for the sake of this review, let’s start with the positives.

The cast is by far, the biggest selling point for this film. Filled to the brim with talent like Bullock, Blanchett and Paulson, it was always going to be a win-win situation pulling an ensemble like this together. Bullock is absolutely fabulous from the minute the film begins and Anne Hathaway is clearly having a ball playing an over-the-top version of herself. Helena Bonham Carter is surprisingly good as a failing Irish fashion designer and it’s always a joy seeing Sarah Paulson’s understated performances grace the big screen.

What’s not so good is the way the film treats its stars from different ethnicities however. Rihanna, Mindy Kaling (Amita) and Awkwafina (Constance) are sorely underused throughout. In fact, outside of Paulson, Awkwafina and Kaling provide the film with its most intriguing characters – but we learn very little about them apart from a few scenes studying their personal/professional lives.

It’s also best not to talk about James Corden and his hideously over-acted performance as fraud investigator John. Filled with cringeworthy dialogue, it’s a miracle his part is relatively short. Like a bad smell however, he lingers for much too long.

Then there’s the plot, or rather the script. In making these women the absolute best-of-the-best, there are no high stakes, no tension to be had or anything remotely resembling a narrow-escape. There’s the obligatory ‘oh no’ moment as something looks like it’s going to go wrong, but it’s rectified so suddenly that any joy in watching the heist unfold is completely lost. Where the previous Ocean’s movies were riddled with tension, Ocean’s 8 is devoid of it.

Thankfully, the plan is fun if a little uninspiring to behold, filled with bland cinematography very similar to what was seen in the first Hunger Games film way back in 2012. It’s all just very staid, like the studio was simply ticking boxes on a checklist to make sure they got a film that would make them money, but was lacking anything in the way of originality.

But perhaps the biggest sin that Ocean’s 8 commits is its complete lack of plausibility. Article upon article has already been created in which writers dissect the film’s heist plan and come up with the same conclusion: it can’t be done. You don’t need those articles though, because the plot holes are big enough for anyone to see and that’s a real shame. This becomes increasingly evident in the film’s final 10 minutes which makes a mockery of everything that came before.

Overall, Ocean’s 8 is your typical summer blockbuster. It’s light, breezy and like a big tub of cottage cheese, devoid of any personality whatsoever. It’s saving grace is the cast. Managing to pull together an ensemble this good takes a lot of effort, and for that, it deserves some praise – faint praise, but praise nonetheless.

Our score: ★★★☆☆

Watch if you liked: Ocean’s 11, Ocean’s 12 and Ocean’s 13.

Ocean’s 8 is showing now at Odeon Cinema, Hull

Check Cinema Times

Hull Venue to be Renamed After Major Sponsor


It’s only just opened it’s doors but Hull Venue has already been given a new name.

The Hull based Bonus group has today been announced as the naming rights sponsor of the city’s newest entertainment venue which is attracting major UK tours to the city.

The 3,500-capacity venue will now be known as the Bonus Arena, Hull.

Founded by Eric Boanas in 1962, Bonus has been a huge part of the Hull business community for more than five decades. Indeed their former city centre offices are just a stone’s throw away from the new arena.

Shaun Boanus, CEO for Bonus Group, said: “Having been involved with so many things ‘Hull’ over the years it seemed an obvious partnership from both sides – the location being literally where the Bonus Group started almost 60 years ago. That said, the scale of this partnership with SMG is huge for Bonus and to be involved from day one is a great honour. It will undoubtedly be a huge success for the city and the people of Hull.”

The new state-of-the-art arena is already attracting major touring concerts, stand-up comedy, family shows and sporting events; thanks to the appointment of global venue management company SMG who also manage 10 other entertainment venues around the country including Leeds’ First Direct Arena, and The Manchester Arena.

John Sharkey, Executive Vice President, European Operations at SMG Europe, said: “Following an incredible year with City of Culture, we are delighted to be operating the Bonus Arena in Hull. The arena is a huge legacy for the city and will do fantastic things for tourism, catapulting Hull on to the UK map in a big way as a destination experience.

“We are looking forward to welcoming people through the doors and to bring tens of thousands of people to the city each year.”

An artist impression of how the new logo will look.

Open days and test events will take place next month, with further details and announcements to follow on the opening programme.

Councillor Stephen Brady, Leader of Hull City Council, said: “The naming of the arena is a significant milestone in the ongoing journey of this fantastic build, and we look forward to witnessing some of the incredible talent this venue will attract.

“The Bonus Arena is absolutely essential to making Hull a top visitor destination and to secure a long-term legacy from our year as UK City of Culture, and will allow us to continue to attract events capable of delivering a big economic impact beyond that.

“2017 has been incredibly successful, but it is just the beginning for Hull.”

Why you should see the Legally Blonde Musical in Hull this week


It was the opening night of ‘Legally Blonde’ at Hull New Theatre last night and I was thrilled to be able to go see it.

Now I assumed because of the licensing rights this would have been a Broadway/West End show so when I found out Beverley Musical Theatre (BMT) had been given the exclusive rights to ‘Legally Blonde’ I was quite impressed and was eager to see the level of talent we have in the area.

I LOVED their performance It was great to see them in a professional setting such as Hull New Theatre and you could tell they loved every minute! I felt quite a sense of pride watching them knowing they have been studying and training in Hull and you could tell there were lots of their family and friends there cheering them on which just added to the atmosphere.

The Story….

For those who don’t know, Elle Woods was your typical American high school, sorority president, cheerleading girl who had big plans to get serious and marry her high school romance, Warner (played by Aidan Thompson). But Warner had other ideas and steams ahead to his Harvard Law School future, leaving Elle behind.

Determined to get her man back and prove she is worthy of him, Elle follows him into Harvard and unexpectedly finding her passion for Law and helping people. Along her journey she realises she deserves better and ditches Warner to become the Elle Woods she was always meant to be.

The cast

Zoe Kenington who played ‘Elle’ really was the star of the show. Her stage presence was remarkable and she had a fantastic voice. She is studying Drama and Theatre Practice at
The University Of Hull as well as working as a Singing Teacher and Drama Assistant. She has also starred in other fantastic shows such as ‘Fame the Musical’, ‘High School Musical’, and ‘Little shop of Horrors’ to name a few!

Zoe Kensington as Elle Woods with Bruiser the dog

Joshua Archibald who played ‘Emmett’ was another favourite of mine, He had a great voice and both him and Zoe were incredible on stage. Their friendship on stage was very believable and they worked really well together.

I loved Paulette, I loved her character! She was funny, believable, and sweet. She was like Elle’s University Mum and we all willed her to get her dream guy too.

And Kyle, well he WAS THAT GUY! He is your typical hunk covered in Tats with a skin tight delivery man outfit to top it off. Just something else to look forward to girls 😉

Songs, Music & Dancing…

The show had some amazingly catchy songs that I just couldn’t get out of my head on the way home; “Omigod you guys”, “Ireland”, “Whipped into shape” were a few of my Faves. The classic ‘Bend and snap’ was featured and my ultimate fave for lyrics, choreography and laughs was the “Gay or European” song… It was absolutely brilliant!

The whole show was done brilliantly and I was really impressed with the dancing.

Hats off to Chris Holmes for the Choreography. They had lots of energy bursting through on stage, and they seemed to do it effortlessly. It looked a lot of fun to say the least!

I am a fan of Legally Blonde and was excited to see it, but whether you’ve watched the film or not, you’ll absolutely love it! I did go with a friend who had no idea what Legally Blonde was about, she completely bought into the story and loved it too.

Sadly, opening night gremlins did affect the sound which was a little off-putting. I’m sure it was just teething problems as it was the first night and it certainly didn’t affect the Cast’s performance.

All in all, it was a fab night out! Loads of laughs and I would definitely go see another show produced by Beverley Musical Theatre. A massive well done to all of the Legally Blonde Cast, you did the region proud!

Legally Blonde is now on at Hull New Theatre, showing every day until this Saturday. Some tickets are still available ast just £11.50 so an absolute bargain! You can book online at hulltheatres.co.uk

We Will Rock You to Make Hull Debut


Worldwide hit musical ‘We Will Rock You’ will be coming to Hull for the first time as part of a new UK tour.

Written by Queen and Ben Elton, the multi-million pound show has wowed more than 16 million theatregoers in 19 counties since 2002, and will be performed at Hull New Theatre from 13th – 18th January 2020.

The stage musical features 24 of Queen’s biggest hits delivered with all the scale and spectacle of the band’s legendary live performances.

With hit after glorious hit, including Radio Ga Ga, I Want To Break Free, Somebody to Love, Killer Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody, Don’t Stop Me Know, Under Pressure, Another One Bites The Dust, We Are the Champions and We Will Rock You, this musical phenomenon is not to be missed!

We Will Rock You comes to Hull New Theatre from 13 -18 January, 2020. Tickets on sale now. Book at the Hull City Hall box office or call 01482 300 306. Visit our new website hulltheatres.co.uk to book online.

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