Madagascar The Musical Review from Hull New Theatre


One of Dreamwork’s biggest film franchises, Madagascar, has been converted into a stage musical and performed it’s opening show at Hull New Theatre last night.

Nevaeh, my 6-year-old daughter, and I decided to have a Daddy-Daughter date, so went along to see it. It’s been a while since I’ve watched the film, but I remember it being one the more enjoyable kids films for parents so I was happy to give it a try.

Like the film, the show follows the story of Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Gloria the Hippo and Melman, the hypochondriac Giraffe, all confined to New York Zoo. The animals are comfortable and happy with life, except for Marty the Zebra who decides one day that he wants to explore the outside world.

After a comedic escape with some help from the penguins, they end up ship-wrecked on the island of Madagascar where friendships are tested through Alex’s hunger and desperation for a juicy steak.

The mischievous penguins were operated by supporting cast.

I’d seen the trailer before hand so I knew how the costumes and puppetry were set up to re-create the animated story on the stage. I expected it to be a high-quality production and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

The costumes were cleverly thought-out and helped you get into the story without thinking too much about the individual actors. The stage set up was well planned out and high quality as you’d expect from a tour of this calibre. Stage surrounds were constructed that were made to look like shipping crates, but with various openings to allow the change from New York mode, to the Madagascan Jungle.

Like the movie, there was a touch of humour; most coming in the second act from King Julian XIII, who was brilliant played Jo Parsons and was equally as good as Sacha Baron Cohen’s original portrayal in the movie.

Jo Parsons played King Julien XIII

Unlike the film though, the show was a musical so it featured some brilliant catchy renditions that had been written just for this production. The main theme song of “I like to move it, move it” from the animated film, made it into the show and was brilliant fun; especially at the end where the kids couldn’t help but get up and dance.

Related: See what’s on at Hull New Theatre

Antoine Murray-Straughan and Timmika Ramsey were outstanding as Marty and Gloria. They were absolute sound-a-likes of Chris Rock and Jada Pinkett-Smith from the film and the energy of their performances made it very entertaining.

Former X-Factor winner, Matt Terry, who played Alex the Lion, is well-known for his singing voice and he didn’t disappoint in the show’s musical numbers.

Overall, Madagascar is an excellent family show and it’s a great opportunity to see it in Hull this week while it’s here. It’s only an hour and half long with an interval in the middle so it’s not too long for the kids. Nevaeh was completely bought into the show and loved every minute and I doubt there’s a child out there who won’t love it too!

The show is only in Hull until this Saturday so you’ll have to be quick. Some tickets are still available for just £19 from but are very limited.

More: What’s on for kids in Hull & East Yorkshire


The Hired Man: a Triumph of British Musical Theatre


Last month I visited Hull Truck for a press night with my girlfriend who loves theatre; I watched her point up at a banner and exclaim the words ‘The Hired Man’. I knew that this was a show I had to see when May rolled around. And alas May did roll around and I did see The Hired Man; last night to be exact. And my, oh my I was correct to trust her recommendation.

Set in turn-of-the-20th-century Cumbria, The Hired Man is a serious musical about ordinary people; as made believable by the show’s small cast. Whilst the story is set between a wicked love triangle between John (Oliver Hembrough), Emily (Lauryn Redding) and Jackson (Lloyd Gorman), the supporting cast were far from behind the spotlight. Met by a band dressed in 20th century clothing as we walked into the theatre, we were immediately immersed in the era.

The first act was set in 1898, as we watch John as he tries to become… hired. Of course, he does; and what follows is the aftermath of a man who becomes obsessive in his work. Hembrough played John sublimely as he quickly deteriorates into a man who is obsessed with his working life. The use of the rotating thrust stage helped with concept of moving time, as we see John sludge through his work only to be stuck in the same spot; expressing how he is untimely going nowhere. Whilst this is happening, Gorman’s Jackson is trying to get closer to John’s wife Emily. Redding was definitely a standout actor; her performance of Emily was breath-taking and really sold the struggle between these two men. The second act sees a time jump of around 16 years which was set up wonderfully by an exchange between May (Lara Lewis) and Jackson. The time jump seemed natural following this scene and made for a progressive plotline post-interval.

Related: What’s on at Hull Truck Theatre

The use of the instruments was mind blowing. Not only did the actor/musos carry their instruments across the stage whilst playing them (the carrying of the double bass was extra impressive), they also managed to remember the whole score alongside singing and acting; the cast are a real triumph of musical theatre and were such a joy to watch. The cast, in all, were brilliant musicians, wearing their instruments confidently and playing them with flair.

There was a very funny scene in which Seth (TJ Holmes) drags the cello across the stage pretending it’s a whippet. The audience got a real kick out of the rest of the cast stroking the cello, telling it that it’s a good boy.

The instruments also doubled up as diegetic sound. For example, in the second act the cast scratched the strings of the double bass and guitar creating the sound effects of a mining shaft collapsing. Not only did this make the scene insanely intense, but it truly showed pure creativity of the cast whole production team.

The Hired Man is running until the 15th of June at Hull Truck Theatre. It’s a brilliant way to see West End quality theatre in the comfort of your own city. The production is gripping, funny, dramatic, and full of heart. The cast are truly a marvel to behold from their convincing acting, to their incredible voices, to their aptitude of playing instruments.


James Arthur to visit the Bonus Arena, Hull


James Arthur will visit the Bonus Arena, Hull later this year.

The former X factor winner will perform an all-seated gig on Friday, 11 October.

Tickets go on sale at 10am this Friday with prices starting at £32.50 each plus booking fee.

James Arthur won the ninth series of The X Factor in 2012 and his debut single Impossible shot to number one in the UK singles chart. It is the most successful winner’s single in the show’s history.

Having sold more than 25 million records, achieving over 3 billion streams worldwide and numerous award nominations; James Arthur has announced a very special Up Close and Personal Tour for October 2019. James’ success shows no sign of slowing down. Following his sold out UK arena tour in 2017, James has spent over 43 weeks in the singles charts, collaborated with the likes of Rudimental, Marshmello and Anne-Marie on their smash hit Rewrite The Stars and performed all over the world. He also performed at BBC’s Big Weekend in Middlesbrough this weekend.

Now, James returns with a brand new tour.  Starting on October 6th, You – Up Close and
Personal heads across the UK for 16 dates including a show at the legendary Eventim Apollo, London.

Tickets for James Arthur’s show at the Bonus Arena go on general sale at 10am this Friday from Alternatively call 0844 8440444. Calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.


Top class wrestling and comedians come to Hull City Hall


In the coming months Hull City Hall will see flying clotheslines, advice on eyebrow etiquette and some comedic greatest hits as part of its eclectic programme.

The laundry-based moves will be provided by the superstars and high-flyers from New Generation Wrestling – Europe’s biggest and best family-friendly wrestling show on 14 September.

Making a welcome return to the venue will be TV stars such as ‘Superhuman’ Justin Sysum, Rampage Brown, Nathan Cruz and the masked marvel Robbie X. If that wasn’t enough a special appearance from former Love Island star Adam Maxted will provide another jaw-dropping live experience.

The entertainment continues in the Mortimer Suite with two top class comedians. Scottish comedy award winner and viral sensation Gary Miekle asks why women all over the world have ditched the classic ‘Does my bum look big in this?’ or ‘Do you like my eyebrows?’ in his new show on 3 October.

After racking up over 100 million views with a rant about his daughters’ eyebrows, Miekle explores eyebrow etiquette, logic and laws and how it’s changed his life and how he feels about being known forevermore as the iBrow guy. Expect the unexpected from this playfully dark rising star.

For more laugh out loud comedy join Geordie comedian Carl Hutchinson on 22 November as he hits the stage after two consecutive sell-out years on tour. The Unplanned show includes a melody of greatest hits, new stories, audience interaction, requests and even a question and answer session. Always a fun night, this is a chance to join Carl for a truly unmissable evening of comedy.

Tickets for all of these events go on sale from 10am on Friday 24 May 2019 available via the Hull City Hall box office, call 01482 300 306 or visit to book online.


Why you should see The Comedy About A Bank Robbery


I had this production on my ‘to see’ list for the West End so was thrilled to see it tour, and even better to pay a visit to Hull New Theatre this week. So off I went to the opening night and I had a fantastic evening. This is why I think you should go along and see this production.

The play is about a bank robbery, which as the title suggests, goes wrong. This was a very entertaining evening of slapstick humour at its finest. From the moment the play commenced, the audience were belly laughing at the fast paced gags being played out on stage.

The play opens in a prison cell where Mitch Ruscitti is planning his escape and subsequent robbery of a half million dollar diamond from the bank, aided in his escape by the prison warder. The speed of delivery in this scene was phenomenal. It was fast, funny and entertaining in the best tradition of slapstick humour.
I am not going to go into the entire plot other than a bank robbery is planned. The scenes are set at the bank, at Caprice’s (Ruscitti’s girlfriend) apartment, and on the roads of the city (all with scenery cleverly and strongly moved by the cast).
At times characters reminded me of Frank Spencer; especially when Sam Monaghan (Sean Carey) was hiding in a cupboard in Caprice’s flat when her boyfriend returned from prison. The comic timing was perfect when he somersaulted over the curtain rail, almost landing on Ruscitti. He had us all belly laughing all night. I was also reminded of that great Two Ronnies sketch about Fork Handles when they were talking about the bank manager, Robin Freeboys (played by understudy Eddy Westbury), and robbing three boys in the bank.
One particular impressive scene was in the second half when Freeboys is in his office with Warren Slax, his 67 year old ‘intern’. This was a multi-dimensional scene and at first I thought this was one of those scenes reflected in a mirror so that the audience could see. I quickly realised and gasped when I worked out that the characters were suspended half way up the slanted scenery with ropes and were traversing the office furniture with jaw dropping skill. When Warren was pouring coffee and trying to get documents out of a filing cabinet it was hysterical watching the water cascade and documents fall to the floor (ceiling). This scene has to be seen to be appreciated and must have been such good fun to play.
I was particularly impressed by Jon Trenchard playing Warren Slax in this production. He is a comedy genius, short, multi talented and has perfect timing (not to mention a very thick skull).
This is a cast of nine plus understudies and I have to say despite Trenchard standing out for me, everyone else played multiple parts in the play with such skill. They are a very talented bunch and I ached after watching them all evening. It has a surprise ending and is thoroughly enjoyable.
This play runs at Hull New Theatre this week and if I had to give it a star rating, it would be 5 stars. It’s great comedy theatre, brilliant farce and non stop laughter all the way through. The writers have ensured and the actors delivered a fast paced farce which is not to be missed. Go and see it, you will not be disappointed.

Hull to exclusively host free Royal Opera House live screening

Photographed by Ruairi Watson

Hull has been named as the only city in Yorkshire to host a screening of the Royal Ballet’s adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, live from the Royal Opera House.

On Tuesday 11 June at 7pm, Trinity Square will be filled with 600 seats and people are being invited to come along for free with a picnic and watch Kenneth MacMillan’s celebrated ballet Romeo and Juliet, alongside a live audience at Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House and other screenings across the country.

Credit: Mark Douet / Royal Opera House / ArenaPAL

This fantastic night of culture is part of the Royal Opera House’s ‘BP Big Screens’ programme which returns with live screenings of ballet and opera beamed across the UK at outdoor locations over the summer.

Councillor Dave Craker, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Tourism said:

“I am delighted to be working with the Royal Opera House to bring this fantastic free event to our residents. To be the only city in Yorkshire to be hosting Romeo and Juliet is a real coup and testament to our time as UK City of Culture in 2017. During the year we proved there is a massive appetite for these events and I’m confident we’ll see Trinity Square packed with people on 11 June.”

Photographed by Ruairi Watson


Alex Beard, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House, commented:

“The BP Big Screens are a much-loved highlight of the summer calendar across the UK, and I am delighted that we once again beam the best the Royal Opera House has to offer to an ever-wider audience. Over the years, our collaboration with BP has enabled more than half a million people to experience ballet and opera – many for the first time – and together we bring this summer highlight to people all over the UK.”

Photographed by Alice Pennefather

Des Violaris, Director – UK Arts and Culture at BP said:

“Each summer we look forward to the BP Big Screens and taking free culture to people all over the country. This year we screen live world-class opera and ballet from Aberdeen to the Isle of Wight and build on over 30 years of partnership work between BP and the Royal Opera House”

Gok Wan, who will present the BP Big Screens in July said:

“As a huge opera and ballet fan, I love the BP Big Screens. As a child I would have loved watching for free with my friends! It’s fantastic that 24 sites across the UK become opera houses or ballet stages for the night and share in the magical performances live from London’s Covent Garden. Outdoor cinema is now one of the nation’s favourite summer pastimes and each summer the Royal Opera House BP Big Screens give everyone access to free culture on their doorstep, a great experience for free!”

Photograph by Sim Canetty-Clarke

Trinity Market will be open throughout the event and seats at the screening will be on a first come first serve basis. Booking is not required.


Trixie Mattel and Magic of Motown latest names to confirm for Hull’s Bonus Arena


RuPaul’s Drag Race star Trixie Mattel and the smash hit show Magic of Motown are the
latest names to confirm visits to the Bonus Arena in Hull.

Trixie Mattel will be heading to the Bonus Arena, Hull on 13th May 2020 as part of her UK

Mattel is known for being the winner of the third season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, and for placing sixth on the seventh season of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Mattel co-hosts the web series  UNHhhh  and its  Viceland  follow-up The Trixie & Katya Show alongside Katya Zamolodchikova. Her first studio album, Two Birds, was released in 2017, followed by her second album, One Stone, in 2018.

Expect some music and surrealist comedy that only Trixie Mattel could hot glue together.

Magic Of Motown is heading to the Bonus Arena, Hull on 19th June 2020.

Get ready for all the hits, glittering costumes, dazzling dance routines and outstanding
musicianship in this breath-taking live concert spectacular.

You will be going Loco down in Acapulco as we take you back down memory lane with all the Motown classics from artists such as Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, The Supremes, The Four Tops, Martha Reeves, The Jackson 5, Smokey Robinson and many, many more.

Celebrate the sound of a generation and ‘Reach Out’ for The Magic of Motown!

Tickets for both shows go on general sale on Friday at 10am from or call 0844 8440444. Calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.

Related: See what’s on at Bonus Arena


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