The Mill at Sonning
0118 969 8000
Sonning Eye, Reading, RG4 6TY.
A Belly Full, 2nd May to 15th June
When Marnie drags her much put-upon bestie Jane to a belly dancing class they are swept into a shimmying circle of sometimes endearing, sometimes outrageous women. Their friendship is tested through the demands of their spouses, babies, work lives and the arrival of some unexpected roommates. But through all the belly aches, dilemmas, betrayals and some very 'special' cakes, the two friends learn to face life's challenges as they prepare for a special charity night at their local Turkish restaurant. You are guaranteed to leave The Mill with full hearts and dancing bellies - or is that full bellies and dancing hearts?
Private Lives, 20th June to 3rd August
1930, Deauville, France. After a tumultuous and fiery marriage, divorced couple Elyot and Amanda find themselves in adjacent suites while honeymooning with their new partners - Sybil and Victor. The view from their adjoining balconies is shimmering sea and moonlight. So romantic! And when Amanda overhears a familiar voice singing Some Day I'll Find You, old passions reignite and the estranged lovers run away together to Paris to flirt and fight before being tracked down by their jilted spouses - with explosive and hilarious consequences!
Towards Zero, 8th August to 20th September
"When you read the account of a murder, real or imagined, you usually begin with the murder itself," said the big Inspector Battle. "That's all wrong. The murder belongs a long time beforehand. A murder is the culmination of a lot of different circumstances all converging at a given time at a given point. It's Zero Hour." Five puzzled faces turned to him. There had been a murder - a brutal murder - of an invalid matriarch as she lay in bed. There had apparently been no premeditation on the part of her family and friends who had gathered at her home for their regular yearly visit. No one seemed to have had any reason for killing her, nor did anyone gain by her death. Inspector Battle paused. "It's Zero Hour now," he snapped. What then happens brings about the conclusion of the most amazing detective story of Agatha Christie's many mysteries. Full of suspense, brooding atmosphere and outrageous twists and turns.
Run For Your Wife, 3rd October to 23rd November
John Smith is a happy London taxi driver, working shifts. But he has one little problem. He is married. Twice! He has one wife, Mary, in Wimbledon. And another wife, Barbara, in Streatham. John keeps to a rigorous schedule so that never the twain shall meet. Everyone is blissfully happy - especially John Smith! One day, gallantly intervening in a mugging, he is taken to hospital with concussion. The police become involved. John panics and enlists the help of neigbour Stanley. Bad choice! Stanley is shambolic, disorganised and when it comes to conniving - clueless! The hapless duo embark on a series of wildly implausible explanations. The more they lie, the deeper the hole they dig, and the more the situation all starts to go horribly but riotously wrong. Ray Cooney at his absolute best.
Singin' in the Rain, 30th November to 8th February
So here we go again. Our next Christmas musical. This time the Greatest Movie Musical of All Time… Singin' in the Rain.
Reviews of Guys and Dolls
23rd November 2018 to 23rd February 2019
Review from the Newbury Weekly News.
Gangsters, gamblers and grime – the musical of New York
Guys and Dolls, at The Mill at Sonning, until January 26
This show was a big success on Broadway in 1950 and an even bigger one with the 1955 film, helped considerably by a cast that included Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra and Jean Simmons. Based on short stories by Damon Runyon, it is one of the few musicals where even the most colourful costumes and scenery are outshone by the colourful characters.
Runyon's low life gamblers in the grimy back streets of New York in the 1920s received an unexpected and unlikely shot of glamour with this musical.
The plot lines concern Nathan Detroit, played as a likeable hustler and rogue by Stephane Anelli and his long-suffering fiancée of 14 years, Adelaide, with a broad New York accent which she maintained throughout by Natalie Hope. Natalie was particularly impressive with her Lament 'A poysun can develop a cold'.
Richard Carson did well as Sky Masterson, the smooth, super gambler who is transformed by his love of Sister Sarah, the Salvation Army girl, given a lively and many-faceted reading by Victoria Serra. Can Masterson accept a bet from Detroit that he can't persuade Sarah to go on a date in Havana with him? You bet he can – pardon the expression – and he does… and he wins.
And then there are the minor characters – Daniel Fletcher as a suitably lumbering, tongue-tied Big Jule, Oliver Jacobson, amusing as Nicely-Nicely Johnson and Jonathan Tweedie as Harry the Horse. Jacobson had his big moment near the end with his gospel flavoured big number Sit Down You're Rocking the Boat. And the way he put the song over and the movement in unison of all the faces of the gamblers was a highpoint in the choreography.
One of the outstanding features of this holiday season spectacular was the crisp, clear-cut dance routines. Michelle Andrews, Felipe Bejarano, Katie Bradley, Rebecca Bernice Amissah, Alex Christian, Ben Irish and Jeremie Rose had small parts, but almost all of them had dancing roles. Credit there goes to Joseph Pitcher who functioned as director and choreographer, a mammoth task, extremely well-executed.
Diego Pitarch's seedy New York street set was spot on. And last, but by no means least, a slap on the back for Charlie Ingles, who was pianist and conductor of the five-piece band.
So there you have it, a bright and colourful musical, all revolving round 'The biggest floating crap game in New York'.
Review from The Times.
This effervescent small-scale staging of a classic is razzle-dazzling and pungently seedy
With its drop-dead dames and street-talking wise guys, this is a tough show to resist. And for this effervescent revival, the director and choreographer Joseph Pitcher recreates a teeming, scheming slice of old Broadway right under our noses, in an intimate production that’s razzle-dazzling and pungently seedy.
The denizens of Damon Runyon’s vivid New York tales, on which Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows’s book is based, strut and preen even when they’re down to their last couple of cents. Their lives are precarious, which gives the musical’s illicit crap shoots, romances and happy ending a vitality that Pitcher ramps up. Above all, Frank Loesser’s score, rendered here with blast and brio by a five-piece band, is a golden glory.
Diego Pitarch’s sidewalk set puts the emphasis on urban grime as much as glamour and Stephane Anelli’s Nathan Detroit, a fly-by-night gambling game fixer, is a wiry, weaselly proposition, with his darting eyes and spivvy little moustache. Yet he still has enough warmth and wit to make us believe in the attraction he holds for Natalie Hope’s Adelaide, the nightclub chanteuse who has been his frustrated fiancée for 14 years. Meanwhile, Richard Carson’s smoothie high-roller Sky Masterson meets his unlikely match in devout Sarah Brown (Victoria Serra), a tub-thumping Christian soldier of the Save a Soul Mission.
Serra and Hope are outstanding, making these dolls living, breathing women with brains and hearts. Hope’s Adelaide revels in her sexiness while longing for a respectable domesticity that would probably bore her senseless — but she’s mistress of a sharp-turned phrase and her despair at Nathan’s repeated betrayals is poignant. Serra has a gorgeous, crystalline voice and on her trip to Havana with Sky she comes hilariously emotionally unbuttoned, tumbling dizzyingly from barroom tables before delivering a woozy, boozy If I Were a Bell that is sheer, abandoned, lovestruck joy.
That euphoria is matched by some electrifying choreography, whether it’s lust-fuelled Cuban couples entwined in a tango, eager crap-shooters flinging themselves athletically through the air amid the dice-rattling tension of Luck Be a Lady, or the barnstorming, foot-stomping, arms-in-the-air exuberance of Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat. Adelaide’s Hot Box club routines, too, are deft and sassy, a clever mix of the comic and the burlesque.
Some of the singing needs fine-tuning and the intricacy of Loesser’s lyrics is occasionally lost, but this is a small-scale staging of a classic that wins big.
There are reviews from The Stage ("rambunctious boutique production of a Broadway classic bursting with energy and invention" - 4 stars), Broadway World ("there is no weak link in this cast... no deficit of talent, energy, spirit - or luck" - 4 stars).
For more details
see the Mill's web site at www.millatsonning.com.
Reviews in the Archive
A Night in Provence (September 2018)
Ten Times Table (August 2018)
The Unexpected Guest (June 2018)
Move Over, Mrs Markham (April 2018)
The Hound of the Baskervilles (February 2018)
My Fair Lady (November 2017)
Perfect Wedding (September 2017)
Spider's Web (July 2017)
Improbable Fiction (March 2017)
Dead Simple (January 2017)
High Society (November 2016)
The Hollow (July 2016)
Last of the Red Hot Lovers (March 2016)
The Perfect Murder (January 2016)
Stepping Out (November 2015)
Round and Round the Garden (October 2015)
Love, Loss, and What I Wore (August 2015)
Killjoy (May 2015)
Educating Rita (January 2015)
Last Confessions of a Scallywag (July 2014)