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We are so delighted to tell you our very own Sheila Elsdon has won Best Actress in an Amateur Musical for 'Sunset Boulevard' at the WOW 24/7 Awards at the Kings Theatre last night.

Congratulations to all the nominees and a huge well done to all the cast, creatives and crew on 'Sunset Boulevard' here's to next year!  
Steve Bradbury accepting the News Guide Award for 'Best Musical 2013' for 'Little Shop of Horrors'
Paul Clements & Emma Wilson accepting the News Guide Award for 'Best Musical 2012' for Disney's 'Beauty & the Beast'


The portsmouth news review - 15th October 2014

It might have been a week day but I decided to pop on my Sunday best and visit the newly-transformed Kings Theatre nunnery for the evening and raise a joyful noise to The Portsmouth Players and their version of the 1992 hit musical film Sister Act that originally starred Whoopi Goldberg.  It’s a dramatic tale.  Nightclub singer Deloris Van Cartier witnesses a murder and goes into hiding in a convent and enlivens the place and the nuns by injecting fun into the usually sedate choir, unfortunately blowing her cover by doing so.  The show rises and falls on the irrepressible Deloris, played by Simone Denby who oozes charisma and brings much mirth to this divinely delirious musical.  The choreography is slick and finely detailed, yet rehearsals must have been arduous as the cumbersome habit impedes movement somewhat.  The set is very impressive as is the orchestra.  Sheila Elsdon plays an uptight delight of a long-suffering mother superior while the bad guys are a tour de force,their musical numbers are pure comedy.  It would be a sin to miss this heavenly ensemble production and the swell thing is you don’t even have to go to confession afterwards

Ashley Harley

PORTSMOUTH ON-LINE - 15th October 2014

The Portsmouth Players kept up their reputation of high calibre productions by bringing their take of the successful West End show, Sister Act, to Kings Theatre.  The majestic setting of the wonderful theatre was a perfect place for a performance that was just as good as any professional production you're likely to see.  Exceptional singing and acting, backed up with some great choreography and foot-tapping music, were the vehicle to carry the story of the 1992 film classic of the same name, starring Whoopi Goldberg and Maggie Smith.  It has been a while since I've seen the film but for me, it was a far more entertaining spectacle on the Southsea stage than it was on the big screen.  For those that don't quite know or recall the story, the action starts in Philadelphia, with Mother Superior asking for a way to save her floundering church which is running out of money. At the same time, small-time club singer with big ambitions, Deloris Van Cartier - "as in the watches" - witnesses her gangster boyfriend murder an informant. After seeking the help of her school friend cop, Sweaty Eddie, she's sent to stay in the the seemingly safe sanctuary of the nuns at the Queen of Angels church, run by the formidable Mother Superior. We are then treated to a delightful mix of 70s disco and catholic pomp.  Mother Superior and Deloris continue to clash in comic fashion as gospel and non-conformity are brought to the convent, rivalling the tradition that has long lived in the church before the arrival of the smoking and drinking singer who pushes the boundaries. You can imagine the rest which, includes a visit from a very special Vatican resident.  The role of Deloris was played by Simone Denby-Cooper who didn't fail to impress in her first lead role for The Players. Her accent didn't falter and her singing was divine. I even heard someone utter the words "heavenly soulful" at the interval, something not far from the truth.  She was supported by the redoubtable talent of another Portsmouth Sheila. Not Hancock, who starred in the West End version, but Elsdon, who brought her wealth of experience to the character of Mother Superior, again with a voice which held the highest of notes.  But what really made it for me, was the colour and life of the show from minute one. There wasn't a mundane moment with lively performances in every scene. The music and lyrics of Alan Menken were taken to a level well beyond any amateur production I've seen before. Okay, the accents weren't always up to scratch and the singing not completely flawless but every cast member held their own.  And it wasn't just the nuns stealing the show, as the baddies of Curtis' gang gave a pleasurable and hilarious rendition of ‘The Lady In The Long Black Dress', midway through the second act.  The musical was brought to a resounding close with a glittering and dazzling company performance of ‘Spread The Love Around' which was witnessed by the pope himself.  Unfortunately, the UK West End tour omitted Portsmouth for Southampton's Mayflower a couple years back but you'll have a chance to see something arguably just as good right on your doorstep.  Father of the church, Monsignor O'Hara, utters the line "God has answered your prayers, you just don't like the answers" but if you want to see a fantastic show which is a bargain for the high quality you'll view on stage, then God really has answered your prayers with Sister Act. 

This show is not to be missed.

Marc Forster-Pert

Grease - definitely the word!!!

The Portsmouth News Review - Tuesday 11th February 2014

‘GREASE’ - The Portsmouth Players, Kings Theatre, Southsea

I was just a little bit too grown up, or so I thought at 14 going on 25, when Grease hit the screens in 1978. The characters are corny and the songs often forgettable, but Grease has a timeless appeal that stands out from other shows So I was interested to see this Portsmouth Players production, directed by West End performer Jack Edwards.  The classic American high school love story centres around a summer fling between Sandy Dumbrowski and bad boy Danny Zuko.  Jenny Edwards is sweet as Sandy, but it’s her transformation from ingénue to sexy siren that really shines through and James Bradbury performs well as Danny.  A real stand-out is feisty Rizzo (Charlene Hammer). Her There Are Worse Things You Could Do is a vocal delight, while Kimberley Salter’s portrayal of silly cheerleader Patty Simcox really made me laugh.
With its colourful set, Grease is a lively show that will have audiences bopping. Until Saturday.

Ashley Harley

Southampton Echo Review - Friday 14th February 2014

‘GREASE’ - The Portsmouth Players, Kings Theatre Southsea

One of the great feel-good musicals, this boy-meets-girl, loses girl, but gets her in the end story is jam-packed with wonderful songs, all of which were delivered with style by a talented cast. James Bradbury grew impressively into his role as Danny Zuko, alongside whom Jenny Edwards was well-cast as shy Sandy Dumbrowski, although her lovely, if soft, delivery would have benefited from a little boost from the sound-mixing desk. Every scene was stolen, though, by the magnetic Charlene Hammer (Betty Rizzo), a very professional-looking amateur. The ensemble sang and danced most impressively with some excellent performances from Chris Murray (Kenickie), Dario Recchia (Doody), Alex Hillman (Roger) and, leading a tremendous finale, Stuart Warner as Teen Angel. A driving guitar-band (Musical Director Robert Douglas), top-class choreography (Jacqueline Willis), set and costumes, all contributed to a quality Valentines’ evening that ended with the cast dancing in the aisles with the audience.

Alan Johns 

Portsmouth on-line - Friday 14th February 2014

‘GREASE’ - The Portsmouth Players, Kings Theatre Southsea

When you're almost a lifelong fan of the film Grease, seen it a million times and know nearly every line by heart, there is bound to be some comparison when watching a stage production.  Of course, we all know that the best bits are the songs and thankfully they were all there in last night's opening night at the Kings Theatre. They may not have been in the same order or in the same setting as the film but we were all able to enjoy a good sing-a-long in what was a lively and colourful performance by the Portsmouth Players.  Some people don't know that the Grease film was based on a musical but a lot of us are too young to have seen that and the film is our only reference. It's hard to let go of that at first.  The show had a great start with plenty of lines from the film delivered excellently by the cast. Some of the characters were instantly recognisable and the voices too. Amanda Gardner, who plays Frenchy, sounds like she has put a lot of effort into getting the dulcit tones of everyone's favourite drop-out to perfection. Kimberley Salter's Patty Simcox was uncannily like the film version and Charlene Hammer's take on Rizzo was excellent. I particularly enjoyed her performance of Sandra D.  The biggest highlight of the show, apart from the fantastic finale, is the performance of Frenchy's Teen Angel of Beauty School Dropout. Played by Stuart Warner, there were definitely a few Elvis-like moves and adoration from the dancers.  Jenny Edwards and James Bradbury played the leading roles of Danny and Sandy. Their One That I Want  was very enjoyable as was the whole cast's performance of "We Go Together".  What was good about this version was that some of the songs that are in the background in the film were brought to the fore so it felt we were getting a few extra treats. The set was also very impressive as was the excellent live band.  Last night's performance was packed so I suggest booking tickets if you want to see the show which is on until Saturday.  With an imaginative set, a great cast and a little poetic licence, the Portsmouth Players have brought Grease to Southsea with a wop bop a loo bop and definitely a wap bam boom! 

Haley Storey