A new West End production of black comedy The Ladykillers starring Ralf Little and Simon Day has raised a laugh among U.K. theatre critics after opening in the British capital this week (beg08Jul13). The Royle Family star Little, Gregory's Girl actor John Gordon Sinclair and Shakespeare in Love's Day are among the ensemble cast in the new show which also includes theatre veterans Con O'Neill, Chris McCalphy and Angela Thorne.
The play, about a group of criminals who pose as amateur musicians to take a room in the house of an eccentric old lady, opened at London's Vaudeville Theatre on Tuesday (09Jul13) and it convinced even the toughest critics to crack a smile.
Charles Spencer of Britain's Daily Telegraph insists the new production, adapted for the stage by Father Ted writer Graham Linehan, is "even funnier" than the original 1955 movie on which it is based.
He writes, "The great thing about the film is that it is at times genuinely chilling as well as hilarious... (This) hugely enjoyable stage production... never quite matches the creepiness of the original. I would venture to suggest, however, that it is even funnier than the movie."
The Guardian's Michael Billington praises the show's move into "slapstick" comedy, while Mark Shenton of industry publication The Stage describes the production as a "giddy summer delight that provides plenty of good reasons for theatregoers to go indoors again" and he also praises the "stellar cast" and "infinite skills" of the actors.
The opening night audience was packed full of famous faces including actress Sheridan Smith and Spooks star Rupert Penry-Jones, who turned out to support his mother Angela Thorne, as well as comedienne Victoria Wood and Simon Day's The Fast Show co-star Paul Whitehouse.
The Lord of the Rings star was on hand to congratulate students from Bellshill Academy's Learning Centre in Scotland after their film Backfire took the top honour at the ceremony, which recognises filmmakers between the ages of five and 19.
Actors Bill Nighy and Nick Frost gave the Best Comedy statue to members of the Worthing Youth Theatre for their clip Happy Cloud, while Nicholas Hoult and Ralf Little presented the Best Drama award to members of a community video organisation in Bath, England, for their film Broken Circle.
First Light chair Barbara Broccoli, the producer of James Bond films including GoldenEye, says, "The quality of this year's nominations is impressive and highlights the enormous amount of young talent within this country. Through First Light young people are given an opportunity to have their voices heard by telling their stories through film."
Cambridge-educated Tony Wilson is a young but established TV journalist in Manchester who is fed up with his silly assignments be they hang-gliding adventures or an interview with a midget who cares for elephants. When one evening he catches an unknown band called the Sex Pistols at a poorly attended show he becomes a believer in what is the new and rebellious punk movement. Taking a chance he opens a club to give new punk bands exposure becoming a major promoter of the punk movement. But hardly the exemplary capitalist he's motivated by gut feelings and passion and his belief in Manchester as the epicenter of new music. Wilson does discover several bands that go on to varying degrees of success and notoriety including Joy Division/New Order and the Happy Mondays but punk values and the lifestyle take their toll. There are the premature deaths marital breakups including Wilson's first marriage and drug lords who wield too much influence in Wilson's club. His own loosey-goosey ways with his record business and artist contracts leads to his label's demise. Through it all Wilson keeps his day job as TV personality and never lets go his allegiance to his beloved Manchester flag.
Thanks to 24 Hour Party People Steve Coogan as Tony Wilson may well become a star in Yank country. Known to TV audiences in the U.K. Wilson with a background in comedy is a brilliant and compelling presence as the film's drolly ironic and obviously learned hero. All supporting roles here are superb including Andy Serkis as doomed and messed up producer Martin Hannett Rob Brydon as Ryan Letts and Shirley Henderson as Wilson's first wife Shirley.
Michael Winterbottom who so brilliantly directed Welcome to Sarajevo but disappointed with The Claim again triumphs here. Employing an arsenal of special effects and using DV Winterbottom perfectly captures an era a rock movement a place and the authentic spirit of a hugely intelligent and appealing maverick entrepreneur whose field of vision extended well above the bottom line.
Ryan (Freddie Prinze Jr.) and Jennifer (Claire Forlani) first met on a plane when they were 12. He’s terrified of planes she promptly tells him about her first period so it’s granted that they don’t exactly click. Fast-forward to high school where they bump into each other again. Now he’s the school mascot she’s the homecoming queen. No sparks. Fast forward to college where he’s the geeky engineering major (yes you read correctly) and she’s the free-spirited rocker-dating Latin student. Finally here they become friends help each other with their love issues and despite their opposing viewpoints … well take a guess.
Prinze the BMOC in "She’s All That " is supposed to be an anal-retentive doofus. And while the pageboy cut (split down the middle) and glasses do little to mask his good looks he plays against type surprisingly well doing his best to rise above the cliché-filled script. Forlani who was calm and luminous in the sluggish "Meet Joe Black " still has "proper British upbringing" written all over her so she’s not really believable as an outrageous one-night-stander (she also looks too old for Prinze). Heather Donahue (showing a promising comedy career post-"Blair Witch") and Amanda Detmer make a great supporting cast but the show is stolen by an underused Jason Biggs. As Ryan’s woman-chasing roommate Biggs also gets the single funniest scene in the film which you’ll miss if you walk about before the credits roll.
"She’s All That" director Robert Iscove is back and using the same traits again. First we have the you-are-there flashback narration ("So I was watching him play with his band " a character might reflect in her dorm room and suddenly she’s sitting at the concert still in her pajamas). Then there’s the choreographed dance number. Disguised as a scene to show Ryan trying to loosen up at a "foam club" (like a car wash soapy water douses the dancers) it’s really an excuse to show off Iscove’s choreography background by having all patrons wiggle simultaneously to Apollo Four Forty’s "Stop the Rock." It’s cute and all but the biggest faux pas Iscove makes is having Ryan and Jennifer take a "walk" from Berkeley … and miraculously wind up at the Golden Gate bridge.