Elton John working with Andrew Lloyd-Webber on new Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat film

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Sirs Elton John and Andrew Lloyd Webber have revealed they are teaming up for an animated film adaptation of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

The announcement was made at CinemaCon in Las Vegas by American producers STF Entertainment. The Hollywood Reporter says that Tim Rice is also signed on to work on the project, which will be produced by STX and John’s production company Rocket Pictures, in association with Really Useful Group.

Lloyd Webber and Rice will also be penning new songs for the film.

The title role has been played on stage most notably by Jason Donovan, Joe McElderry and Phillip Schofield. Lloyd-Webber recently revealed that he was eyeing up Liam Payne to play the part.

Tyneside Cinema puts climate change, migration and the refugee crisis on the agenda

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We’re no stranger to a beautiful picture house here in Newcastle. The city’s Tyneside Cinema celebrates turning 80 years old this year; a landmark achievement for any cultural venue. However, it is much more than just a cinema. Tyneside is now using it’s platform to engage audiences with the most pressing societal issues that we see ourselves confronted with.

In the first of its anniversary series of cultural events, the cinema has created a programme that is set to explore human migration and the refugee crisis through the lens of climate change, during a diverse series of powerful feature films, documentaries, artworks, talks and workshops from Thursday 16 – Sunday 19 March.

The programme, titled Gimme Shelter: Climate Change, Migration and the Refugee Crisis will see filmmakers joined by leading experts to discuss the connection between climate change, natural disasters and migration. The programme is presented in partnership with Climate Outreach and The Climate and Migration Coalition, and with support from Newcastle University Institute for Creative Arts Practice and Northumbrian Water.

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The Age of Consequences

In the next 50 years, climate change is predicted to have even more of a catastrophic effect on the planet. Millions are set to be displaced by shoreline erosion, coastal flooding as well as intensifying drought and further agricultural disruption.

Tyneside Cinema aims to inform and spark discussion through a curated programme focusing on the urgency of action on climate change as well as its very real connection to the current refugee crisis. The programme will help contextualise these issues and cultivate a better understanding of the reasons behind human displacement.

Gimme Shelter will include talks from notable guest speakers including Lord David Puttnam, director George Kurian and Dr Susan Crate who will address the situations in some of the most severely affected locations.

Lord David Puttnam will lead proceedings at the launch on Thursday 16 March, drawing on his thirty years as an independent producer of award-winning films, such as The Killing Fields, Chariots of Fire and Bugsy Malone, and his work in public policy relating to education, the environment, and the creative and communications industries.

(Quvenzhzé Wallis)

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Alongside a unique schedule of films including The Anthropologist, A Syrian Love Story, The Crossing and the regional premiere of The Age of Consequences, visual artist Lucy Wood will unveil the new chapter of her ongoing project Distant Neighbours.

Filmed on location in Al Zaatari refugee camp, Amman Jordan, Wood’s work reflects on the link between climate change and migration with the final installation to be shown at Tyneside Cinema from Friday 17 March – 18 May 2017.

Thomas Peutz, Chief Executive of Tyneside Cinema said: “Film has the power to connect with people and engender compassion, playing an important role in reversing perceptions of ‘the other’ – something which is particularly relevant in today’s political climate. ‘Gimme Shelter’ will shine a light on the epochal changes taking place in our world and tell the stories behind it.”

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Thomas Peutz – Chief Executive of Tyneside Cinema

Thomas added: “The role of the severe three year drought in creating the crisis in Syria cannot be ignored. It made life in many rural areas increasingly difficult and led to many rural Syrians being moved to cities. This increased their population by 30% over three years, creating an influx of newcomers that they were unable to manage. Poverty and widespread discontent were easily exploited to divide people and mobilise them for civil war. Now that we have come to recognise climate change as an important contributing factor and accelerant to instability, not only in Syria but in many conflicts of the world, it is becoming more and more clear that not tackling climate change is negligence on an unfathomable scale.

“The role of humanity in causing climate change is now clear. At the same time, unprecedented movements of people across Europe have forced the issue of migration even further up the political agenda. We invite you to explore the important questions – who will be affected and when? What are the experiences of people forced to move? Who, ultimately, is responsible and what should be done?”

Full listings of all events and tickets can be found here

REVIEW: Dirty Dancing, Theatre Royal Newcastle – “All the ingredients to give you the Time of Your Life”

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It’s been called “the biggest live theatre sensation of all time” and judging by the reaction from the audience in Newcastle last night – that wouldn’t be such an outrageous statement.

Based on, of course, the iconic 1987 film starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, this stage adaptation has been a hit throughout Europe, North America and Australia. The year is 1963: America is still innocent, JFK has yet to be assassinated and Martin Luther King Jr. is preparing to deliver his landmark “I have a dream” speech. The plot here follows Frances “Baby” Houseman on vacation with her family at Kellerman’s resort up in the Catskills, as she falls for Johnny Castle, the sexy dance teacher, who teaches her how to move and pair up with him for the big end of summer dance show.

The film is not a musical – so here, the plot is interspersed with songs from it’s legendary soundtrack. Tunes like Be My Baby, Hungry Eyes, She’s Like the Wind and Do You Love Me? are chock full of nostalgia and save the show from becoming your run-of-the-mill jukebox musical. They are performed primarily by supporting players Tito Suarez, Daniela Pobega and Michael Kent, although it would have been nice to see the main cast in vocal action. Some songs aren’t performed at all, but rather just played as they were in the film, which again is something I wasn’t expecting and didn’t necessarily want. Kent gives a touching rendition of In the Still of the Night, though.

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Where another Swayze film-to-musical, Ghost, uses ultra-modern technology and contemporary music to tell its story, this production uses good old-fashioned nostalgia and a hark back to simpler times with great success. It’s quaint set turns and twirls, from dance hall to cabin to the lake, like it could be one the dancers who hoof across it. The K emblazoned on it could as easily stood for ‘kitsch’ as it does for Kellerman’s.

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Lewis Griffiths plays Johnny with pure sex appeal. He has the majority-female audience eating out of his hand right from his entrance and gives great Swayze swagger as he seduces Baby, stands up to Robbie and faces off against Mr Houseman in his daughter’s honour. One scene in particular, where Griffiths rises from bed in barely-there underwear caused genuine squeals from women old enough to know better. He’s a force to be reckoned with, whether on the dance floor teaching Baby the Mambo or comforting Penny off.

Katie Hartland – in one of her first major theatre roles – shines as Baby. She blossoms from awkward beginner to bona-fide dancing queen in front of our eyes and takes us on a touching journey of growth with her. Baby’s sister Lisa’s hula number in the talent contest is performed with great gusto and comedic flair by Lizzie Otley, who gradually becomes more of a scene-stealer throughout.

Carlie Milner’s Penny is, for me, the star of the piece. Not only is the statuesque siren a phenomenal dancer, best shown in the early scenes of hers and Johnny’s fierce partnership, but her truly heartbreaking portrayal of a woman in tearful torment, left with an unplanned pregnancy by a man who doesn’t care was unexpectedly searing, but more than appreciated.

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One of the (many) perks of a show with an ending that the audience is expecting and so passionately wants, is that when it finally arrives, it makes quite an impact. The infamous closing number, (I’ve had) The Time of my Life ends the show on a dizzying high, the film’s iconic choreography matched step by step here and that lift executed flawlessly.

I wasn’t expecting to love it quite as much as I did but there’s something to be said for a show that can reduce a grown woman to teenage pandemonium and a grown man to goosebumps, within the same number. The time of your life? Without a doubt.

Dirty Dancing is at the Theatre Royal Newcastle until Saturday January 28. For more information and for tickets, call the box office on 08448 11 21 21 or click here

Photos: Wizard Productions

WATCH: Gal Gadot slays in new Wonder Woman trailer

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The word fierce has never applied so much than it does to the latest trailer for upcoming superhero flick, Wonder Woman.

In the clip, released yesterday, Amazonian warrior Diana Prince (played by Israeli actress Gal Gadot) is shown defending her homeland against attackers. It doesn’t give too much away about the film’s plot but it looks pretty stunning. It opens with our heroine saying, “I used to want to save the world. This beautiful place. But the closer you get, the more you see the great darkness within.” All the feels.

Wonder Woman is the latest D.C comics adaptation to hit the big screen. The film, also starring Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright and David Thewlis, is out next year.

REVIEW: Bridget Jones’ Baby has the formula for success – without milking it

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Seeing Bridget Jones, news journalist, independent woman and “wanton sex goddess”, again is like greeting an old friend; exciting, hilarious, warm and emotional. The third film in the series, Bridget Jones’ Baby (guess what it’s about!) provides all of these feelings in abundance in what is a fantastic, feel-good romp.

Bridget (Renee Zellwegger back in my favourite of her roles) is doing very well these days; a top news producer gig, she’s finally reached that pesky goal weight and she’s found some exciting new friends, since the last lot have all become wives and mothers. There’s one thing she is missing, however: a shag. So, enter Patrick Dempsey (excuse the pun) as Jack Qwant, a dashing American millionaire mogul with whom Bridget enjoys a night of passion with at a music festival. More familiarly, she also knocks boots with old flame Mr Darcy (Colin Firth) and finds herself with child.

What could have been a run-of-the-mill romantic comedy is made engaging by a hilarious script by Helen Fielding, Dan Mazer and actress Emma Thompson, who also stars as a scene-stealing gynecologist. It’s helped along by the return of almost all of the original cast (sans Hugh Grant – you’ll quickly find out what happened to Cleaver). Sally Phillips. Shirley Henderson, Celia Imrie and Jim Broadbent all appear.

When Zellwegger resurfaced last year after a (voluntary) hiatus from Hollywood, the press pack went IN. Reports she had had cosmetic surgery, the usual ageist remarks from the catty crew and of course, everyone asked just why she had been away so long. With this cloud engulfind the actress, it would be easy to forget that she is just that. An actress – and a fine one at that. This return (don’t call it a comeback) to comedy is a triumph. Everything we loved about Bridget the first time round becomes apparent immediately in the opening scene, as she listend to All By Myself as she had done so famously before. The accent is again en pointe and the audience is genuinely gripped by the ‘who’s the daddy?’ drama right up until a teary-eyed finale. Dempsey and Firth are excellent in their parts; Firth delivering his usual, but warm, stick-up-the-arse Briton as Mark and Dempsey proving just why he earned the nickname Dr McDreamy in Grey’s Anatomy (cue swoons). My star of the whole shabang was Sarah Solemani as Bridget’s co-worker Miranda. Best known for Bad Education, this could be Solemani’s ticket to Hollywood. She, along with Thompson, commands attention in every scene she’s in and she and Zellwegger prove a mighty fine double act.

Bridget Jones’ Baby has the formula for success down. Not as good as the first, way better than the second and leaves the door open for a fourth. With this though, they have delivered one of the best comedies of the year – without milking it.

Watch the trailer here.

Bridget Jones’ Baby is in cinemas now

Photo: All Star/Universal

Thelma & Louise: The legendary film is 25 years old today

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As Thelma & Louise celebrates 25 years of being, we look at the ultimate female road trip film and see just how, and why, it has stood the test of time.

Directed by South Shields’ own (!) Ridley Scott, the film’s plot centres around the aftermath of an attempted rape: Whilst on a girls’ fishing trip, a nasty fella in the parking lot of a bar gets a little too heavy-handed with Thelma (Geena Davis), which leads to Louise (Susan Sarandon) shooting him dead. The pair then goes on the run from police in a chase that takes them from Arkansas to the Grand Canyon, and to one of the greatest, and most-debated, endings to a movie there ever was. SPOILER ALERT: Thelma and Louise drive their Ford Thunderbird, hand-in-hand, right off a cliff into the Canyon, the frame freezing as the car flies into oblivion.

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It is widely looked at now as an iconic piece of feminist art work but lest we forget, the motion picture landscape was very different 25 years ago. At the time, whilst acclaimed by many, the film also had critics a plenty. It was accused of promoting casual sex and casual misandry, amongst other despicable things. However, whilst the world has moved on ever so slightly, it could be argued that the feminist movement, like our protagonists’ fleeing from the police, is a long road to be travelled. Just look at Jennifer Lawrence, and her article last year questioning the pair gap between male and female actors.

The film constantly raises the question: Why would the police believe them? They’re women. A question that is sadly still raised now and has as bleak an answer as it did back then. As Callie Khouri, writer of the film’s Oscar-winning screenplay, explained of the final scene: “They flew away, out of this world and into the mass unconscious. Women who are completely free from all the shackles that restrain them have no place in this world. The world is not big enough to support them.”

Geena Davis has been vocal about the fact that, whilst now iconic, the film actually changed nothing for women in film. “After Thelma & Louise, which was pretty noticed and potent and significant, [people were saying] ‘This changes everything! There’s going to be so many female buddy movies!’ and nothing changed,” she told The Guardian last year.

“And then the next movie I did was A League of Their Own, which was a huge hit, and all the talk was, ‘Well now, beyond a doubt, women’s sports movies, we’re going to see a wave of them because this was so successful.’ That’s balls. It took 10 years until Bend It Like Beckham came out. So, there was no trend whatsoever.”

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The film is also notable for the introduction of a young Brad Pitt as JD (a handsome stranger and not the aforementioned nasty man) Pitt, then a blue-eyed young lad, beat out George Clooney for the role. However, his character, JD, a con artist, serves as much more than eye candy. He gives Thelma a sexual awakening. He makes her feel like she has some worth, unlike her controlling husband Darryl (Christopher McDonald). This flip of the woman in sexual control adds an interesting dynamic to the usually-male stereotype.

Thelma & Louise is so many things. Aside from fantastic performances from its leading ladies and breathtaking cinematography, it is a revenge story, a cowboy (or girl) film, and road trip adventure – all held together by two fierce female characters. Whether or not the ending is sad or tragic is not the point, really. The point is that it is a glorious piece of work, one that celebrates the strength of female friendship and one that we should be grateful was ever made.

25 years on, you’d be lucky if it was even made today.

EXCLUSIVE LISTEN: Sister Act’s new Delores, Alexandra Burke, singing Fabulous Baby

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After a phenomenally successful run in the West End and on tour as Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard, Alexandra Burke is returning to the stage in a new production of Sister Act. And praise Hallelujah, because a snippet of what to expect from her performance has been released.

The X Factor winner will take on the role of Delores Van Cartier in the show, a role made famous by Whoopi Goldberg in the 1992 film and it’s 1993 sequel. Patina Miller originated the role in the musical in it’s West End production in 2009.

The musical, directed and choreographed by Craig Revel-Horwood, will be playing at the Sunderland Empire from Monday September 5 to Saturday September 10 and to whet your appetite, here’s an exclusive recording of the star singing Fabulous Baby, one of the show’s biggest numbers.

To listen to the song, click here.

Sister Act will begin touring Monday August 29. For Sunderland Empire tickets click here.

WATCH: Patsy and Eddy are Absolutely Fabulous in trailer for long-awaited film

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Sweetie darling! Pass the Stoli because London’s most fashionable groupies are back. And we can’t contain our excitement.

The long-awaited Absolutely Fabulous film is FINISHED and to prove it, the first trailer for the likely-to-become-a-classic has been released. In it, it is hilariously announced that “Kate Moss is changing her PR!” which sets Patsy and Eddy off on their frantic race to be hired by the supermodel. However, Moss’ body ends up in a river and our heroines go on the run in the south of France. A possible fashion fatality? You have our attention.

With cameos from Jon Hamm, Rebel Wilson, Emma Bunton, Joan Collins and Cara Delevigne, the film promises to be a star-studded event from start to finish. Original cast members Julia Sawalha, June Horrocks and June Whitfield are also returning. Whether it ignites the box office on fire will be seen in time, but for fans of the TV show, a full-length film version has been a long time coming.

Watch the trailer below:

WATCH: McAvoy, Fassbender and Lawrence return in X-Men: Apocalypse trailer

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Theyyyyy’re baaaaaack!

Following the critically acclaimed global smash hit X-Men: Days of Future Past, everyones favourite mutants return in the new trailer for Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Apocalypse.

Apocalypse is the first and most powerful mutant from Marvel’s X-Men universe. He amassed the powers of many other mutants, becoming immortal and invincible.

Upon awakening after thousands of years, he is disillusioned with the world as he finds it and recruits a team of powerful mutants, including a disheartened Magneto (Michael Fassbender), to cleanse mankind and create a new world order, over which he will reign.

As the fate of the Earth hangs in the balance, Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) with the help of Professor X (James McAvoy) must lead a team of young X-Men to stop their greatest nemesis and save mankind from complete destruction.

The trailer features jaw-dropping shots like the Sydney Opera House being blown to smithereens and a host of new characters, so to say we’re excited would be the understatement of the year.

X-Men: Apocalypse is released May 18

This is so fetch! Tina Fey says Mean Girls musical is definitely ON

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Get excited! Mean Girls and 30 Rock funny woman Tina Fey has revealed that she will spend this summer writing the long-awaited musical version of the teen classic.

Speaking during the Tribeca Film Festival, Fey – who wrote the film in 2004 – said: “We’re working on the musical adaptation, and thanks to Ellie Kemper’s pregnancy, we have this whole summer to work on it.” Ellie Kemper is the star of Fey’s other writing baby, Netflix TV show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which recently premiered its second season. Kemper, who also starred in Bridesmaids, announced recently that she was expecting her first child with screenwriter husband Michael Koman.

Speaking back in 2007 about the possibility of a musical version of the film, Fey said: “I thought the movie in some ways mostly appealed to young girls and gay men, and I feel like that could be a recipe for success on Broadway.”

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Mean Girls tells an age-old tale of high school politics, where home-schooled Cady arrives at an American high school from Africa, where she is befriended by me Janis Ian and “too gay to function” Damian. Together, they infiltrate the inner circle of The Plastics: Regina, Gretchen and Karen, the queen bees of the school, and attempt to take them down. The film became a noughties classic and made stars of it’s leading actresses Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams and Amanda Seyfried (above with Lacey Chabert).

Seasons one and two of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt are available on Netflix now