Legally Blonde Jnr Comes to Devizes

You got into Harvard Law?

What? Like, it’s hard?

Hey, get your flaxen Barnett around this; Legally Blonde, rom-com, chick-flick adaptation of Amanda Brown’s novel of the same name is eighteen years old. Yeah, like, I know right. Two years later they made the sequel; although a smash at the box office, it never raised a reviewer’s eyebrow, banally crashing the blonde versus brunette joke which Archie Comics carried for over seventy years.

Yet the initial movie stands the test of time, I like it and chick-flick generally isn’t my thing; lack of spaceships blowing things up, see?! The foreseeable gags enhanced by Reese Witherspoon’s amusing characteristics, at a time when The Spice Girls’ run of “girl power” was fading. Challenging the blonde stereotype with comical narrative was a peg in female equality and certainly the break for Reese; ummm, Reese Witherspoon…… where was I? Oh yes, female equality.

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Like many trailblazing films, it received a theatrical reworking by 2007. Premiered on Broadway, Legally Blonde had an efficacious three-year-run at London’s Savoy and picked up many awards. Now, directed by Oliver Phipps and Hayley Baxter with musical direction from Naomi Ibbetson, it has found its way, least a “Jnr” version, to our own Wharf Theatre.

Legally Blonde Jr. The Musical opens at the Wharf Wednesday 24th July, runs until Saturday 27th (7.30pm each evening with a 2.30pm Saturday Matinee) and promises to be pink: “The Musical is a fun and sassy journey of self-empowerment and expanding horizons, with instantly recognizable songs, this show will leave cast members and audiences alike seeing pink!”

Plot being, if the film passed you by: The Delta Nu sorority president, Elle Woods, seems to have it all; good looks, a relationship with the campus catch and a great taste in clothes. However, her life is turned upside down when her boyfriend, Warner, dumps her to attend Harvard Law School. Determined not to lose him Elle uses hard work and a fair degree of charm to get a place there herself so that she can prove she is serious and win him back. Whilst there she tackles stereotypes, snobbery and scandal but she also makes some great new friends along the way and gradually discovers how her new found knowledge of the law can really help others.

With music and lyrics by Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin, again it’s a rousing and prevalent choice for the delightfully quaint Wharf Theatre. Tickets, £12 with under 16s £10, can be purchased from Ticketsource, at the Devizes Community Hub and Library on Sheep Street, or by ringing 03336 663 366. To find out what else is on at the Wharf pick up a Spring/Summer brochure which is available from the Community Hub and Library and many other outlets around Devizes.

 

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PREVIEW – White Horse Opera sing Gilbert & Sullivan’s “The Mikado” – Saturday 15th June @ St Mary’s Church, Devizes

A Bit of Nanki-Poo in The Vize

By Andy Fawthrop

 

Do you like opera? What about “light” opera? With rather a lot of comedy thrown in? Good – because you’re really going to love this!

Last night I was privileged to attend the full dress rehearsal for “The Mikado” by the splendid White Horse Opera company. I was expecting something perhaps still a little rough round the edges, maybe the odd fluffed line, the occasional note or cue to be missed, but there was really none of that. The company had been rehearsing for months, had chosen their principals carefully, and were absolutely up for it.

Yet again – another gem in the entertainment crown of Devizes – we are so lucky to have these people doing this stuff!

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This particular bit of nonsense, a “comic opera” in two acts, with music by Arthur Sullivan and words by W.S. Gilbert, their ninth of fourteen operatic collaboration, opened in March 1885, in London, where it ran at the Savoy Theatre for 672 performances, the second-longest run for any work of musical theatre, and one of the longest runs of any theatre piece up to that time. Since then it’s been translated into numerous languages, and is one of the most frequently played musical theatre pieces in history. The setting is Japan, an exotic locale far away from Britain, which allowed Gilbert to satirise British politics and institutions more freely by disguising them as Japanese. And the company has done an excellent job of the now-traditional exercise in updating the lyrics of some songs to reflect politics Britain in 2019. Particularly pointed was Ko-Ko’s (The Lord High Executioner’s) song about who he’d like to execute (“I’ve got a little list, and they’ll none of them be missed”).

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It’s always difficult, and sometimes a little invidious, to pick out individual performances but I think it’s worth mentioning particularly Graham Billing, who delivered a hilariously nervous and dithering Ko-Ko, Charles Leeming as a wonderfully pompous and self-important Pooh-Bar (Lord High Everything Else), Lisa House as Yum-Yum, and the resilient Ian Diddams, playing The Mikado splendidly as a power-crazed modern dictator. But there were strong performances all round, from every member of the cast. It was so obvious that they were thoroughly enjoying what they do, delivering a top-notch production.

I’m not going to give the plot away, nor would I even attempt to summarise the complicated ins and outs leading to the hilarious denouement – suffice to say that the story is stuffed with disguises, mistaken identities, the fickleness of emotions, and the usual human drivers of fear and greed. The main characters ham it up splendidly, and deliver the songs with confidence and panache, squeezing every last drop of comedy out of the script.

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Given that it’s performed in modern dress, sung in English, and is a laugh-a-minute, it’s completely accessible and enjoyable. So, even if you thought that you didn’t like “opera”, I can assure you that you are going to love this. Thoroughly entertaining stuff!

It’s going to be performed on Saturday 15th June at St Mary’s church at 7.30pm. Tickets are an absolute bargain at only a tenner, and are available via Ticketsource or the company’s website at
https://whitehorseopera.co.uk/

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Future productions by WHO include:

• Wednesday 30th Oct to Saturday 2nd November @ Lavington School – Bizet’s “Carmen”
• Tuesday 17th December – venue TBA – Christmas Concert
• Friday 20th March 2020 – venue TBA – Spring Concert

And if you’re interested in getting involved yourself, whether singing, playing or behind the scenes, just head over to their website. You can also support them by becoming a “Friend” of the company for £20 p.a. Remember – they are an amateur company, supported by volunteer efforts and by voluntary contributions from their supporters.

 

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What a May Day! Things to do This Month; Part 2

Hark, the darling buds of May. Already looking quite blossomy isn’t it? Well, blossoming too is stuff to do in and around our local neighbourhood, and a few weeks ago I presented you with a lengthy look at what’s on during the first fortnight; see here.

Now though, sit down and brace yourself for some shocking news. I have, actually produced the second part of the monthly preview, and here it is! Though promised with previous months, I tend to side-track, or just plain scatter-brain and not carried it through. Not so this time, you don’t have to thank me, unless you have a choc n nut Cornetto.

Week 3: Mon 13th – Sunday 19th May

Regular sing-a-long at Devizes Folk Club in the Lamb, Devizes on Monday, similar on Tuesday if your go to the Bradford Folk Club, 8pm in the Cellar Bar of the Swan Hotel. Meanwhile, St James Wine Vaults in Bath where Radical Westie Productions presents Daisy, Television Villain, Ravetank and Devizine favourites Nerve Endings; £3 door tax.

Wednesday 15th, and Peter Vaughan does pasta at Vaughan’s Kitchen Cookery School, later don’t forget the acoustic jam at The Southgate, Devizes.

There’s Bach Suites by Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment: Young Artists Anima Fidis Quartet at the Wiltshire Music Centre Bradford on Avon.

Thursday’s is acoustic night at The Royal Oak, Corsham. Hannah Rose Platt and Black Sheep Apprentice at The Tuppenny, Swindon or tribute night with The Quo Experience at The Cheese & Grain, Frome.

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There’s a barn dance on Friday 17th at the West Lavington Hall. Usually wouldn’t make a song and dance out of such, but all proceeds go to the wonderful charity Arts Together; read about my visit, and the great work they do, here. Please support Arts Together, they’ve music, buffet, bar and raffle, see the poster for details. Future Devizine Presents nights will also like to donate to Arts Together.

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Sheer Music is back in Devizes, the Cellar Bar has Smokin’ Donuts; one-part Carter USM and t’other festival cult hero, Doozer McDooze. Brilliant indie-pop Talk In Code and the talented Jezilyn Martyn support. £7 advance from Sheer Music, a tenner on the door.

But if you thought Devizes was a one-gig Friday town, you’d be very much mistaken. There’s Johnny 2 Bad, an eight-piece boasting to be the UK’s number one UB40 tribute at The Cavalier Community Hall. Except the reggae train-spotter in me upheaves that Johnny Too Bad is actually by The Slickers and only covered by UB40, eh? Bit of reggae in the Vizes, though; never going to knock it. £10 in advance and should be great night.

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It’s rather retrospective in the Southgate too, with sixties garage and Mod band, Absolute Beginners at The Southgate playing a debut in the town. Three-piece playing covers of songs by The Who, The Small Faces, The Kinks, The Eyes, The Creation, The Jam, Secret Affair, Squire, and The Purple Hearts.

Without a cinema, the Assembly Hall in Melksham shows movies, The Favourite is on Friday. Break Cover are at The Talbot, Calne. An Open Mic at The Pump, Trowbridge. Comedy Night at the Boat House, Bradford on Avon. Tensheds live at the Rolly in Swindon and amusingly named Antarctic Monkeys at the Cheese & Grain, Frome.

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Back on reggae for Saturday, although other events are available, it’s Devzine’s second gig of the month, a reggae and ska night at the Cellar Bar with Knati P and Razah and I’ll be warming up for them with a ska show live. Look, again I’m asking you to come along, listing door damage as a fiver but as long as you give us what you can, that’s good enough. For all the proceeds go to homeless charity, Devizes Opendoors. For want of a quieter evening Opendoors also have a Quiz Night from 7pm at Nursteed Community Centre.

Those Truzzy Boys play the Conservative Club in Devizes, £3 on the door, Drew Bryant at The Southgate, and Sound Affects support the Dusk Brothers at the Cavalier’s Ameripolitan Music Club. Meanwhile, The Wharf Theatre welcome back Hancock clone, James Hurn, with new scripts.

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Brother from Another at the Woodbridge Inn, Pewsey, and Woodborough Social Club has Humdinger. Blues Bros & The Commitments at Melksham Assembly Hall. Còig at the Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon while the Neeld Chippenham has medium Derek Acorah.

Fresh from Montreal LG Breton and drummer Marco Dionne joins Phil Cooper for his Vise-Versa tour, closet to us is Saturday at the Village Pump, Trowbridge, other dates here: http://phil-cooper.co.uk/tour-dates

Sunday 19th sees the Chippenham Soap Box Derby and John Etheridge’s Sweet Chorus is at the Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon.

Week 4: 20th -26th May

 

Devizes Folk Club down The Lamb on Monday, An Evening with Graham Gooch at the Neeld, Chippenham on Tuesday. Acoustic Jam at The Southgate, The Royal Ballet’s Mixed Triple Bill at Wiltshire Music Centre, and The Waterboys @ Bath Forum on Wednesday.

Thursday is Acoustic Oak night at The Royal Oak, Corsham. Boxing Day and All Better play Level III in Swindon, and Carus Thompson is at The Beehive. But if you ever doubted summer is on its way, the bank holiday truly kicks off festival season, with Bearded Theory’s Spring Gathering in W. Midlands, or most fruitfully funky and stunningly popular dance fest, Shindig starts in Bruton. Shindig Festival is a glorious mash up of a gig, a house party, circus show, comedy night, a wellbeing retreat and kid’s party. No main stages, just an arrangement of stretch marquees, so you can be in amongst it, or chill on the grass. Kids can learn to DJ, breakdance and urban art.

This crazy weekend sees Chippenham Folk Festival starting Friday, as does Lechlade Festival. With Salisbury Live beginning, and Frome’s R&B festival with Frankie Miller’s Full House at the Cheese & Grain, you’re spoiled for choice.

Back in Devizes, Friday 24th, Bob Drury pays tribute to Neil Diamond at The Wharf Theatre. Adriano Adewele, Gwilym Simcock and Jason Rebello are at the Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon. While in Swindon, the Wyvern Theatre presents The Rolling Stones Story, Sheer Music has Press To Meco at Level III and there’s a Ska’mageddon at the Vic with SN Dubstation and King’s Alias @ The Vic, but for real roots adventurers, try RDK Hi-Fi meets Roots Inspiration @ Black Swan, Bristol. I’m steering clear of Bristol as there’s too much to list, but that one will go off.

Saturday then, the 25th. Long Street Blues Club celebrate the music of one of rock’s best-loved icons Paul Kossoff, with May Kossoff the band. A chilled but robust night is promised at the Southgate, with Nick Tann’s British folk take on Americana heartland traditions.

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It’s also time for Bromham to host the second combined cider and music extravaganza, OwlFest at the Owl, obviously. Did this last year, loved this last year, although I’ve no line-up info for you, you can bet your Bromham dollar this’ll be great. Another to watch is Marland’s showpiece, Gladstonebury at the Gladstone Arms, Chippenham, expect Steve Morano, the Sweet Swing Trio, The Chicken Teddys and Burbank.
Loud soulful, happy vibes will come from The Pilot, Melksham where Big Mama’s Banned play. The Gimme Gimme Gimmes and Devizine favs, The One Chord Wonders are at St James Wine Vaults, Bath, Frome’s R&B Festival continues at the Cheese & Grain with Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band.

The old English spelling of Savernake Forest, Safernoc inspires an intriguing event in Marlborough on Saturday too; “violin, voice and banjo music from the 16th century to the present day, world premiere of Paul Elwood’s Safernoc; a series of compositions for mezzo soprano Alice Simmons and violinist Tam Coates by composer Paul Elwood. Both Simmons and Coates live near the forest and both have found inspiration in the shadows of that ecosystem. The text by the composer is a play on trees and an imagined impression of Savernake taken from Dante, Bernini’s sculpture of Daphne transforming into a tree, and Mexican painter (Sister) Juana Beatriz de la Fuente’s, “The Tree of Life.” Admission £10, email contactamitytrio@gmail.com for tickets.

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Alex Roberts Live at The Southgate on Sunday 26th, the wonderful Sugar Motown returns to the Three Crowns. While Dr Feelgood plays the Frome R&B Festival at the Cheese & Grain.

End of May, Mon 27th – Friday 31st

Proper West Country, it’s the Coopers Hill Cheese Roll at Brockworth on Monday, Frome’s R&B Festival has Nick Lowe & Los Straightjackets.

With Bandeoke at Chippenham’s Neeld and Jackie & Felix Byrne at the Bradford Folk Club, that makes up Tuesday, while Wednesday it’s the World Music Club at The Beehive in Swindon, and of course, an acoustic jam at The Southgate, Devizes.

You can Meet the Gruffalo at Hillworth Park in Devizes on Thursday 30th, for his 20th birthday, Devizes Books bring the books, with a trail around the park, a prize draw and guest appearances, should be fun for kids of all ages.

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Acoustic Oak at The Royal Oak, Corsham and Jonathan James is Discovering Music at the Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon, while tribute The Commitments Experience are at the Neeld, Chippenham and Gaz Coombes is at the Cheese @ Grain.

That’s the month of May done, Friday 31st the Brodsky Quartet are at the Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon and Salisbury Live continues. Other than this, seems like a quiet Friday, save for the fact it’s time for the opening of the Devizes Arts Festival, I think it’s the best line-up yet, starting with An Audience with John Simpson at Corn Exchange. Check our preview of the festival here, and I will be highlighting some of the separate events as the month goes on.

More details of all events here are on our event calendar which makes up Devizine’s busy home page, but bear in mind this is not a exhaustive list, the calendar is updated (nearly) every day, so keep checking for updates; too much of it to continuously post to Facebook, you need to check in every now and then, or you might miss something you need tickets for.

Have a grand and blossoming May, it’s building up to a great summer ahead!

 

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Jemma’s Thoughts (well, some of them) on Things I Know to be True @ The Wharf Theatre

As big chief of the Invitation Theatre Company and partner of Anthony, conductor of The Full Tone Orchestra, you cannot deny, Jemma Brown knows a thing or two about performing arts, so I’ve pinched her words of praise after watching Things I Know to be True at the Wharf Theatre…….

Jemma Brown – 26.4.19

I don’t think I have ever heard so many people, prior to me going to see something, telling me how incredible it is. So, it was with a gently raised eyebrow, that I went to see Andrew Bovell’s Things I Know to be True – directed by a friend, with good friends in it, on a stage that has an awful lot of personal connection, I girded my loins. Now before I launch into what I thought of it all, one must know that I am horribly critical, an awful theatre goer, and the fact that I know the performers and director, my thoughts must not be deemed as bias. Because I would tell you how it is.

It was totally and utterly beautiful. Beautiful.

It made me think about every single possible aspect of life. The love, the pain, the happiness, the sadness, the euphoria, the devastation. And, what’s important.

The set – simple, sensual, unfussy – was the perfect setting for what lay ahead. Six breathtakingly superb performers, performing a piece that is so brilliantly written meant I was hooked from the second it started. The lighting, and the setting was sublime. I loved the fact simple accents were used, because it meant each cast member could grasp the text and tell the story and it made them all the more relatable.

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The use of film, laying out a relationship of a family, was an inspired and delicate way to set everything out. We knew from it, that we were going to be meeting a family who loved each other. It drew me in, and it made me gently weep. And how it made me feel at the end…. not everything you see is how it is. The things you know, they change, and they grow.

Interspersed throughout was the most wonderful physical theatre, to the most brilliantly chosen music that enveloped you. The dance elements fell into place like a comfortable shoe, as though it was the most natural thing in the world. And they made me brim with tears. The interconnections between the family was brought to life by this touch and made all the more powerful by the tenderness as it was steered by the cast. A glass of wine that passed from one to another at one point, like it floated. The brother and sister connection that playfully danced.

The coming together of all of them to support and move and just be there, in gentle, significant movements was just stunning. The scene at the end was quite simply one of the most powerful and beautifully executed pieces of theatre I have ever seen. I couldn’t get out of the theatre quick enough at the end so I could get to my car and howl. And I sobbed. I sobbed because of the story, but I sobbed because those six people, the director and the technical team had created something so beautiful, it was all I could do. When I got home, I couldn’t explain what I had just seen, I sobbed and I jumbled a sobbing garble to my husband about what I had just seen. I held my daughter so tight and just could not tell her deeply enough how much I loved her. The effect the whole production had on me was profound. And I really am not the only one. This play has deeply touched everyone who has seen it.

The four children were played by four exceptional actors, each of whom played their roles with such excellence, I found myself wondering why they aren’t all on the professional stage. I forgot I was at The Wharf and that they all have normal lives. They handled their characters with such care and maturity – real kudos to Freddie Underwood and her exemplary direction. I just knew that rehearsal process had been special, that what they had undertaken was a passion for the text and for their director. Because it showed.

Jessica Whiley as Rosie was enchanting. Her storytelling and perfect diction had me feeling and believing and imagining every single thing she was telling us. I felt the love she felt, I felt the passion she had had and I wanted to go home and share a bowl of cereal with the love of MY life. She captured the sense of travelling but wanting to be at home just perfectly. Her performance throughout was captivating. She broke my heart at the end of the play, her gentle voice and the beautiful but devastating words that came tumbling out of her mouth made me want to bawl. Her performance was outstanding.

Lou Cox, a stalwart of theatre, surpassed my expectations as Pip. Her characterisation of the role drew you in and you felt every feeling that she had. Her brilliant usage of inflections and the light and shade of her expertly executed use of the stage and the script meant that you knew who she was, her relationship with her mother and her siblings. Her relationship with every other character on stage was real and unmistakable. Lou’s handling of the character meant you knew exactly who Pip was, it was a striking and beautiful performance. I felt the pull she felt and that earth-shattering realisation that you need to follow your heart.

Fraser Normington as Ben – I loved him. His flexibility within the character was excellent. He caught the busyness of his life perfectly. He looked good, he sounded good and when he royally messed up, his manic panic was caught so brilliantly, I thought I was going to have a panic attack.

Karl Montgomery-Williams played the role of Mark magnificently. We knew something was wrong, he brought something to the stage when we first met him that we could just feel there wasn’t something right. As it unfolded, his storytelling was exquisite. His sensitivity to the subject, his relationship with Rosie and the response to his parents, was heartbreakingly brilliant. Again, you just felt every emotion, every word. His performance was remarkable.

Debby Wilkinson and Paul Butler as Fran and Bob. Well what can I say. I have seen these two perform and have been lucky enough to be on stage with both of them. They blew me away. Paul was bimbling and kind, and his parenting was just what every child needs; calm, gentle, principled. You yet again, felt who he was and felt every inch of his loyalty to his wife and the life they had made together and that he had always done what he thought was right. His aversion to swearing and how he reacted to it made you never want to swear again – yet his ‘F*CK YOU’ was one of the highlights for me. Because it came from Paul as Bob in such a way at the direction towards his son, the disappointment and pure and innate despair, was palpable. It hung in the air, it bounced around the theatre, we felt it. But his relationship with his wife was beautiful was what I loved the most – he broke my heart, his performance when he broke was simply heartbreakingly beautiful – his collapsing on his beloved roses made me want to howl, holding that in was near on impossible, but he captured absolute, all-encompassing pain, gut wrenchingly perfectly.

In response to his portrayal of Bob, Debby played the part of Fran with extraordinary professionalism and realism. She was quite truly excellent. Her connections with the words, the emotion, her relationship with each of her children was breathtakingly intense. She made me feel like I didn’t know who she was – I thought I had her, then she changed. A friend of mine hated her character, describing her as a bitch – I didn’t see her as a bitch, I just saw her and felt her as someone who just didn’t quite know how to ‘be’, her children were all different and the one who was the most like her was the one who she loathed.

So, was she self-loathing? Was that what the problem was? I just did not know, and that was down to how to she was directed, but also how she interpreted such a great and complex piece of writing that captured so many issues and feeling and life experiences. Her handling of the character, the script, the stunning, stunning movement that was incorporated and then her explosion at one of her sons that simply took my breath away, made me weep – her brilliance made me weep.

The production was better than clever. There is just so much in it to talk about. The characterisations of each character left me totally unable to explain what I had just seen. The lighting and music made me want to tap on the lighting box door and tell them how excellently they had handled it all (a real rarity), but the whole vision from the director that had spilled out onto the stage and in her performers, was exemplary. The pure emotion that had been poured into every single aspect was truly on a professional level. It did, quite frankly, blow me away. Even when I sensed there might have been a few line struggles, it just didn’t matter. It was slick, it was calm, and you felt them all working together to make the whole thing ‘happen’.

One thing I know to be true, was that it was, quite frankly, one of the best pieces of live theatre I have ever seen.
And not just because it is an incredible script, but because of who directed it, her tech team and who she had cast to be in it.

 

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What a May Day! Things to do Next Month; Part 1

Now your Easter eggs are nothing but screwed up tin foil it’s time to look towards May, and what’s in store for us during this early summer month. Part one, let’s get the first fortnight over and done with.

 

Week 1: Wednesday 1st May – Sunday 5th

 

First day of the month is a Wednesday, so it’s the regular acoustic jam down the Southgate, Devizes, an open Mic at The New Inn, Semington or a live stream of the The Royal Opera: Faust at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon.

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Thursday 2nd jabs at your funny bone, when the Moonrakers Comedy Night sets into the Cellar Bar, Devizes. Ed Pownall presents headliner Sol Bernstein, returning after twenty-five years of semi-retirement, only playing nursing homes. He’s performed all over the world at venues including The London Palladium, New York’s Carnegie Hall, The Paris Olympia, Caesars Palace Las Vegas, and Scunthorpe Baths, but it’s at night clubs where Sol really comes to life. With opener, Craig Deeley, a finalist in Jongleurs Last Laugh competition, and an additional special guest, tickets are £10, available form: The Bear Hotel, Devizes Books, The British Lion, The Southgate Inn, The Vaults, and on-line at “We Got Tickets.”

Along with a Charity Quiz Night for the British Heart Foundation at The Owl, Bromham, Swindon’s masters of downbeat, slack indie and wobbly pop, the Flour Babies bring an acoustic set to The Tuppenny with support by Callum McLean. Meanwhile, Chapel Arts in Bath has Will Lawton & Weasel Howlett (feat Buddy Fonzarelli) with support by our favourite, Tamsin Quin; Devizine is the #officialtamsinquinfanclub

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The second ale, cider and sausage festival, Hopdog, at the Woodbridge, Pewsey, kicks off Friday 3rd. Three days of family mayhem for a £10 advanced ticket, £3 for 12+ and children under 12 free. You can camp, for £7, space is limited so please book early via email: woodbridgeinnpewsey@gmail.com Friday sees Grizzly & The Grasshoppers. Saturday: Bob Bowles, Brian Stone, Jazz Wrann & The Ruby Welts and Sunday, firm Devizine favourites, the Larkin boys will be with Fly Yeti Fly and Kit Trigg.

Another festival in Blandford starts, the Teddy Rocks, in aid of Children’s Cancer, with a tribute-based line-up: details here: https://teddyrocks.co.uk/

Over in Devizes, the family club has Hariana, the UK’s number 1 tribute to Ariana Grande, and rumour has it, Vinyl Realm will host another fantastic Drum n Bass night at the Lamb, unconfirmed as of yet. Melksham Assembly Hall boasts Jethro’s The Count of Cornwall tour, while the Neeld have Queen II, and Bradford’s Wiltshire Music Centre hosts the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. But if you like it raw, the Back-Wood Redeemers are at The Royal Oak, Bath.

Star Wars Day, oh yeah, bank hols too, Saturday 4th May, it’s over to Urchfont, for the Scarecrow Festival; always a lovely family day, starts at 9:30 through to Monday.

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Saturday night in Devizes is about rum and reggae at the Wyvern Club, where Michelle and Stuart Field’s Muck and Dunder rum bar hosts Swindon’s finest SN Dubstation while you dip into forty types of rum, ah-ha me hearties, tenner a ticket from https://www.muckanddunder.co.uk/ or failing that, dependable The Southgate has the great Sunset Service, free as always.

Out and about, you only need to get as far as Seend for beer, yep, it’s that time again for the Seend Beer Fest, their 19th, they know what they’re doing; gawd blimey, Train to Skaville will be there; love them. Certainly, reggae filled weekend though, with The Bob Marley Revival headlining Melksham Townfest at the football club, with Falling Fish, The Decibelles and whaaaa???? Train to Skaville will be there too??; must be an express train. The Ultimate Stone Roses are at the Assembly Hall, over in Bradford on Avon the NYJO Ambassadors and Mark Armstrong are at the Wiltshire Music Centre.

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Swindon has “kids for a quid” at the Swindon & Cricklade Railway, PinkMac at The Waiting Room and some groovy Disco Voodoo, with DJ Ashley Beedle at Baila Coffee & Vinyl.

Spring in the Park is a family fun-day in Warminster on Sunday 5th, or round up the weekend at The Southgate, with a band I’ve heard only good things about, The Astral Ponies. Swindon has the cool indie-sixties mod band, Six O’clock Circus at The Woodlands Edge, and Bath has Pigstock at The Pig and Fiddle; two stages, with Falling Fish, Pompadour, Cut Throat Francis, The White Lakes, Luna Lake, Jamie Watson, Eilis Tucker, and our own favourite, Mr George Wilding.


Week 2: Monday 6th May – Sunday 12th

 

Bank holiday innt? Those Devizes Lions have the May Day Fair in the Market Place, and Corn Exchange from 9am- 4pm. On similar lines as previous years, but in addition to trades and charities, a new class of stall is being introduced, for artisans who produce goods for direct sale to the public.

Sound Knowledge Marlborough are celebrating the holiday with a bang, with Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes from midday in Club Thirty8, for a wristbands-only short set, after which they’ll be in the shop signing copies of new album ‘End of Suffering’.

Wednesday is acoustic jam at the Southgate. Thursday is regular Kinks tribute, Kast off Kinks  at the Assembly Hall, Melksham, but if you think there’s too many broken hearts in the world, head for the Cheese & Grain, yeah, yeah, I know; Jason Donovan.

Friday 10th sees Tom C Walker at the Long Street Blues Club, Teddy White Band returning to The Southgate, and legendary punk poet, Dr John Cooper Clarke at The Corn Exchange. English comedian and writer, Mark Steel gives contemporary rants with his Every Little Thing’s Gonna Be Alright show at Melksham Assembly Hall.

Sam Sweeney’s The Unfinished Violin at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon and Sharron Shannon Band & Seckou Keita at the Cheese & Grain, Frome.

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Saturday 11th start the day browsing the Stert Car Boot Sale, it’s Devizes Cancer Research’s grandest event, supported by Grist, please come and help make a difference to this invaluable charity.

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In all actual fact, it’s a very charitable day in Devizes; yep, we’ve our first Devizine Presents gig at the Cellar Bar. If you like Larkin, then it’s a double-whammy, because while Fin and Sam will be there, it’ll be possibly the only place to see them both, separately, Sam with a newly formed band and Fin with cousin Harvey as the Truzzy Boys. If that’s not enough for you, The Hound on the Mountain, the incredible Jordan Whatley will also be showing off his new songs and Gail Foster I will be in charge of intervals with her spellbinding and, possibly, rude poems. It’s a fiver or whatever you can donate, in aid of Devizes Opendoor; so please come down.

Opps, UPDATE ALERT! Please see the poster above for a change in schedule, unfortunately Sam had to pull out, but every clown has a silver lifeboat, hurrah for sixties mod-rock covers band, The Roughcut Rebels, who’ve stepped in to save the day and will be sure to add an extra dimension to the festivities.

If my thing ain’t your thing, I might just forgive you, especially if you try the Devizes Town Band’s concert, “Greatest Love Themes,” which will be raising funds for Alzheimer’s Support at 7:30pm, The Corn Exchange. In a change from the traditional black, band members will be wearing some other colours to make the concert more dementia friendly. I can identify with this; my nan suffered this terrible ailment.

Some people living with dementia see a black mat or flooring as a bottomless black hole, which is understandably very scary. They can also see people wearing black as floating heads, because they cannot identify black clothes.

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Babs Harris, CEO of Alzheimer’s Support said: “People’s perceptions can change when they have dementia and it is fascinating to hear from some of them how they now see colours. It is so heartening that Devizes Town Band have taken this on board for their concert and taken this extra step to make their performance truly inclusive and dementia-friendly. It promises to be a wonderful evening of music and the bright colours will only add to the celebratory atmosphere.” Tickets are £7.50 and you can get them from Devizes Books, or online via www.devizestownband.com

 
Alternatively, Hip Route are live at The Southgate, and the brilliant Indecision at The Owl, Bromham.

 
In Marlborough The Skandals are at The Lamb and Room 101 are at The Bear. The Blue Rose Band at The Pilot, Melksham. London Mozart Players at Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon, Operation 77 at The Woodlands Edge, Swindon. Martin Kemp’s Back to the 80’s at Cheese & Grain, Frome; take your own Rubix Cube.

 
For want a peaceful Sunday on the 12th the Marlborough and District Lions Club welcomes you to drive through the glorious bluebells at Westwoods, enjoy the Bluebells and help support your local Lions Club. This repeats again next Sunday.
Time travelling magicians Morgan & West present a jaw dropping, heart stopping, brain busting, opinion adjusting, death defying, mind frying, spirit lifting, paradigm shifting, outlook changing, furniture rearranging magic extravaganza at the Neeld in Chippenham Sunday afternoon, promising to be fun for ages 5 to 105.

 
That’s about it for the first two weeks of May, if you think it’s jam-packed you need to see the finale part of May’s what’s on article, which I’m working on now, okay – cut me some slack! But before I go, remember to check devizine.com regularly, as it’s updated, like, nearly every day, and you might well miss something.

 
Also, please shed my workload by letting me know about your event, or news stories; there’s only so much scrolling and clicking I can do. You can email your info to devizine@hotmail.com Tweet, message the Facebook page, or I now have a Facebook group called The Devizine Communications Group, to make it super easy to make me aware of your events and gigs and news and stuff, so use it, don’t abuse it, love it and get some free publicity for your efforts.

 
Most of all though, don’t whinge at me for omitting something if you haven’t actually told me about it, sounds bleeding obvious I know but you’d be surprised by that amount of people who do!

 

Hey, hey, hey; I have actually followed this article up, click the image to go to the rest of the month’s preview!

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Made in Dagenham, Showy at Dauntsey’s

Under the circumstances perhaps the most thought-provoking character in the musical Made in Dagenham is wife of Ford Dagenham’s boss, Lisa Hopkins; through her own reservations about her plush lifestyle, the career-aspiring housewife convinces the female factory worker’s spokesperson, Rita O’Grady, that the campaign is one of sexual equality rather than a class struggle. When while the real Ford sewing machinists strike of 1968 did indeed trigger the passing of the Equal Pay act, the issue is quite clearly rooted in worker’s liberty too.

 
So, I bite the bullet and go against my principals, arriving at the prestigious independent school, Dauntsey’s, to watch The Devizes Musical Theatre’s production of Made in Dagenham on their opening night, yesterday. A private school who brazenly parades its charity status, aids a local primary school, does a few sports coaching sessions at others and then sails around the world on its private yacht. Yet the irony of a play with the theme of working-class struggle staged in this tax-avoiding loophole abiding school, which Theresa May pledged against in her 2017 Conservative manifesto, but soon after quietly dropped, seemed to soar clear over the heads of the audience.

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And hey, who’d flunked it, the theatre there is rather luxurious in comparison to a comprehensive school hall. It served its purpose for this, rather splendidly arranged musical, which though received critical response, ending its run at the West End promptly, I enjoyed. Intrigue drew me to the performance, how one can produce a musical from this principled, true story based social-message film of the same name. That and the fact my upbringing lies in Essex, with roots from the East End, to the point of jaded memories of an aunt chasing me with a spoon of wobbling jellied eels.

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Yet it seems any movie is game for a musical adaption these days and for all that’s worth Made in Dagenham stages some apt, witty and intelligently written songs for the pivotal cast. The musical introduced some characters not in the film, of which the audacious bigot, cowboy Ford director was the most excruciatingly farcical, waving an electric guitar around like Peter Capaldi’s Dr Who car crash moment.

 
Though the script’s characters and content felt patchy at times, I loved the comical depiction of Harold Wilson, played brilliantly by Matthew Dauncey. It was almost pantomime-esque against the stern portrayal of Barbara Castle, acted equally radiantly by Laura Deacon. Yet the fourth wall remained bricked at all times. The moral as serious as the trade union’s dissolvement.

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Giving credit for its humorous components, my favourite by far was Rachel Ibbetson’s representation of factory worker clown, Claire; I guess it had to devote somewhat to the Essex girl stereotype. But mostly it remains ethically witty, rather than lambast a weak county pigeonhole. Though I felt the acting ability was varied, the aforementioned, plus lead roles of Lucy Burgess, Chrissie Higgs as Connie and Jon Paget were all fantastic in their acting and singing solos. A further credit must go to the children, Ivan Barter and Emily Noad, for their thoroughly convincing despair when the chips were down.

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I did enter with intensions to jokily knock attempts at the Essex accent, and indeed many actors did purvey more West London pronunciation, yet trivial elements aside, I came out satisfied at a job well done. Particularly poignant was the orchestra, who played marvellously, if not overpowering on-stage dialogue at times. To nit-pick further, the production could have been tighter. The lighting felt limited, microphone moments of lapse, and severe feedback at times, we must overlook; this was presented as amateur dramatics at its best, and the motivation and love of the arts clearly shone through, to demonstrate a dedicated and worthy production. Yeah, box ticked my love, I’m off shopping in Chigwell, rightly portrayed as the San Francisco of Essex!

 
Made in Dagenham only runs at until Saturday, so I’d advise you drop into Devizes Books and hope they’ve still got tickets. Shows start at 7:30 with a 2:30pm Saturday matinee.

 

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April Showers with Stuff to Do….

Birds singing, the blossom on the trees, and that first cut of the lawn (groan!) Spring is here and it’s time to venture out and about, without snood and snowshoes. This summer sees some great events and gigs, but what’s on offer this early? Let’s take a look at what’s to be doing this April.

It’s always worthwhile heading to the Southgate in Devizes on a Wednesday if you like acoustic music, you’ll discover regular acoustic jam sessions, where any of our great local musicians may just turn up and improv.

But this Wednesday 3rd, there’s also open mic at New Inn Semington, or the Lamb in Devizes hold their fourth vinyl listening night with Pete from Vinyl Realm. From 7:30-9:30pm you can join this social gathering with a log fire and nibbles. Take your favourite album along to play and natter about all-things music with other vinyl lovers. It’s free, nibbles too, and they’ve a raffle.

If you take your kids anywhere this weekend, Horrible Histories is touring and at The Wyvern from Wednesday to Sunday 7th, with Terrible Tudors / Awful Egyptians.

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For a fiver a pop, the weekend kicks off on Friday with Sheer Music back down the Cellar Bar for the second in a series dubbed Subterranean. Young indie band Falling Fish and Devizine favourites Larkin support Clock Radio. Meanwhile there’s raw roots blues with the king of cigar box guitar, Howlin Matt down the Southgate. But if you want to get dancing, it’s good to hear house music returns to town, it’s Funky Sensation’s launch at the Exchange with DJ’s George G-Force, Nina LoVe and Stach; preview here.

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It’s also good to see People Like Us returning to their former place of residency, The Waterfront in Pewsey, while George Michael fans need to head for the Assembly Rooms in Melksham for Fast Love and lovers of a golden era of music from the 1920s and 1930s need check out the Pasadena Roof Orchestra at the Neeld, Chippenham.

But most eyes focus on Swindon, ska fans in particular, with The Erin Bradwell Collective at the Castle and Ska-Bucks at the Vic, but also, their Fringe Festival begins. Running from Friday 5th to Sunday 14th, there’s a truckload of variety across Swindon’s finest venues, from the Groovy Pig Festival, and our friends at The Ocelot with their regularly hosted comedy nights at The Vic, to bizarre theatrical performances at the Artsite, The Olive Tree Café, and nerdy night of action figure archive show, After Dusk: An Improvised Twilight Zone at The Incredible Comic Shop. Check out the website, too much to list here!

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Saturday night is owned by Devizes, with the Billy Walton Band at the ever-popular Long Street Blues Club, The Duskers live at The Southgate and of course, The Full Tone Orchestra are at St Johns being Big, Bold & Russian. That said, I’m cannot wait for I’ll be at Asa Murphy’s Buddy Holly Lives show at the Corn Exchange, in honour of Bruce Hopkins, oh boy, this’ll be a knockout; preview. (Apologies, terrible pun, could’ve at least pre-warned you!)

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But rock n rollers are spoiled for choice Saturday as Melksham Rock n Roll Club brings us The Hurricanes at the Spencer Sports & Social Club from 7pm. while Local Heroes Inc at The Jenny Wren in Calne, and Port Erin at The Lamb, Marlborough also come recommended, rum n reggae fans need to head for Wotton Bassett, where Razah-I-Fi and Knati P are blasting some sound system culture at the Cross Keys.

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Sunday is Devizes Half Marathon and Fun Run, I’m certain “fun-run” is an oxymoron, but c’est la vie! Be Well, a Holistic Wellbeing & Spiritual Event is at Corn Exchange, but I’d consider PSG Choirs for Alzheimer’s Support @ The Neeld, Chippenham.


 

April’s Second week sees the highly-anticipated production of Made in Dagenham by The Devizes Musical Theatre at Daunstey’s. Running from Wednesday 10th to 13th, this uplifting British musical comedy about friendship, love and the importance of fighting for what is right is inspired by a true story and based on the hit movie, Made in Dagenham. Book a Ticket here.

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Friday 12th is all about Sheer Music’s favourite American, Olivia Awbrey down the Cellar Bar of the Bear, Devizes. To be honest, Saturday looks rather quiet, so far, Fret ‘n’ Keyz are at The Southgate while country fans will enjoy Zenne and Shooting the Crow at the Cavalier.

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Meanwhile Marlborough’s Sound Knowledge celebrates Record Store Day. This year’s list is available online: https://recordstoreday.co.uk/releases/rsd-2019/ They’ll be open from 8am with hundreds of titles from the list. Get in touch with Sound Knowledge and let them know what you’ll be hoping to pick up on the day, they cannot reserve anything, but it insures correct ordering. The fun continues on Sunday, with an amazing live music roster from midday, including The Leisure Society, LION, Tom Speight, Little Geneva, and Wilding. It’s free entry, and has a Bar and barbeque.

Melksham’s newest pub, The Hiding Place hosts song-writing and touring legend, Henry Priestman, a founder member of punk band Yachts in the 70s, and The Christians in the 80s. This is at The Rachel Fowler Centre in Melksham, the venue is so beautiful and yet few people even know it’s there. £10 per ticket, can be bought at the bar in The Hiding Place or over the phone. Eighties soft metal fans meanwhile could take in Bon Jovi Forever at the Assembly Hall.

Swindon also has a metal tribute on Saturday, with Whole Lotta DC at The Vic. But if you’re over that way, I cannot recommend the Boot Hill All Stars enough, they’ll be with Monkey Bizzle at The Rolleston Arms. But if you want to take your kids raving, you know, show them how you did it, Raver Tots return to Meca with Nicky Blackmarket.

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If you’d rather not thrust your bad habits at your children, grab a £10 ticket to the Neeld in Chippenham on Sunday, when it’s Pongo’s birthday party! A colourful farmyard is the setting for these loveable puppet characters; Pongo’s Party is a family show particularly suitable for 2 – 7-year olds, and includes a special guest appearance by the Easter Bunny!

If that all seems a tad too much, adults could try cross-border folk multi-instrumentalists and festival favourites, The Shee at the Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford-on-Avon. An exceptional all-female band boasting powerful and emotional vocal performances and instrumental prowess.


The third week of April sees another Devizes Books Presents event on Wednesday 17th. The theme is Shopping! Women are supposed to love it, men to hate it. Both have written about it. Hear India Knight on its joys, G.K Chesterton on how much he hates grocers, and Sophie Hannah on what she got up to in bookshops. Much more, including Dalgit Nagra, Bill Bryson, Fanny Burney, Evelyn Waugh, Radcliffe Hall plus a guest appearance by a local poet, (that our man, Andy?) 7 for 7.30 Tickets £6 to include a drink and nibbles. Over in Swindon, the Wyvern have a Celebration of eighties soul idol, Luther Vandross.

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Thursday 18th rock fans could try The Sultans of Swingers @ The Bear Hotel, Chippenham, while space rock fans head to The Bell by The Green, Devizes for Pink Floyd Tribute, All Floyd; it’s a fiver on the door. BUT -If you missed Little Geneva’s album launch at the Cellar Bar in March, or you’re just in Marlborough and thinking, I want some raw, passionate blues, Little Geneva are at Club Thirty8, tickets are a fiver too, and you get the incredible George Wilding supporting.

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Ska fans point your boots and braces in the direction of Swindon, where the Erin Bardwell Collective play to their home fans at Beehive before heading for the London Ska Festival. That or, Vic Fest 2019 at, The Vic, where else?! Mod and scooterist fun continues on Friday when the Exit 17 Scooter Club do an Easter egg run, with local sixties garage band, Absolute Beginners at the Consti Club afterwards.

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In Devizes town Honeytrap return To the Southgate, and Vinyl Realm Presents their second drum & bass come house bash at The Fold in the Lamb, with Harry B (Gyro Records) James Threlfall (Mini Rig) and Rappo (b2b/Retrospect.) These nights are quite exclusive, with 50 fiver tickets for each event, 30 spaces on door, but fear not, for Saturday they’re doing it again with a house/trance night with DJ’s Rappo, Morgosis and Shaun Ashley of Rapture recordings.

You haven’t got to go raving though, people of Devizes; Sam and Finley are back together as Larkin Live at the Southgate, or Katy Ellis is at the Devizes Family Club in the Cavalier donning two tributes, Katy Perry and Taylor Swift.

Easter Sunday book your kid into the Hillworth Park Easter Egg Hunt quick, as it’s limited, and at £3 at pop, going to be popular. Adults hide away in the Three Crowns with People Like Us. If contemporary reggae is your thing, try Reggae Wiltshire’s Easter Sunday Reggae night at The Skybar Melksham Football Club; Reggae, RNB, Soul & Ragga mixed by Reggae Wiltshire’s exclusive DJ Mister M.

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Of course, Easter will flow over to Monday, and where better than the Southgate, Devizes where Nuages Gypsy Jazz play some, well, gypsy jazz I’m guessing! It is also the opening night of Andrew Bovell and Freddie Underwood’s Things I Know to be True at The Wharf Theatre, running until Saturday 27th April.


All is rather quiet while we digest our chocolate eggs or else spew them up on mum’s fluffy white stair-carpet. Friday 26th April then, Devizes has King Louie at The Southgate, while The Cavalier have Abba tribute, Abba’s Angels, and its Open Night at the Pump in Trowbridge.

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Renowned Sculptor Fernando P Saenz exhibits at Wine St. Gallery, Devizes from Saturday, and the quiet period crashes down. George Wilding down The Owl in Bromham, the incredible Nerve Endings blast out down The Southgate, and All That Soul returns to the Devizes Scooter Club, after a sell-out show this time last year.
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Out of town, The Delray Rockets are at the Melksham Rock n Roll Club, it’s Buckfest at The Roebuck, Marlborough, the Chippenham CAMRA Beer and Cider Festival at The Olympiad Leisure Centre and the Long Arms Music, Cider & Beer Festival near Steeple Ashton. Dylan & Igor @ Wiltshire Music Centre in Bradford on Avon and Swindon has Shepard’s Pie at The Vic and Complete Madness at Level III.

There’s a tribute to Alfie Boe and The Musicals at Devizes Family Club in the Cavalier on Sunday 28th, and wind down the month at The Vaults with a Tapas Night on Monday, or April Lightgarden at Bradford Folk Club on Tuesday 30th.

Before you’ll know what’s what it’ll be May, with the Devizes Lion’s May Fair, Hopdog Fest at the Woodbridge, Urchfont Scarecrow Festival, Born to Rum at the Wyvern Club Devizes, The Seend Beer Festival with Train to Skaville, Melksham TownFest, All Roads Lead to Frome at Cheese & Grain, Chippenham Soap Box Derby, Shindig Festival, Chippenham Folk Festival, Lechlade Festival, OwlFest, and loads more from the Coopers Hill Cheese Roll to Jason Donovan, yes, Jason Donovan at the Cheese & Grain, and when you’re done with that, it’s Devizes Arts Festival. Keep one step ahead with Devizine, continue to scroll the home page where events are added, like, nearly all the time!

 

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