Monday, 9 August 2010

Maidenhead Advertiser Review

Dreamboats and Petticoats - Theatre Royal Windsor

5:31pm Wed 4th Aug 10:: written by Siobhan Newman

The needle moves on the Dansette record player, there's a swish of sugar-stiffened skirts and we're off transported back to 1961.

It's the heady days when teenagers were just invented and St Mungo's youth club in an Essex town is a hotbed of hormones, rock'n'roll and Tizer-fuelled posturing.

Bobby wants to join the band but confident Norman pips him to it. Both want sexy Sue's attention and Bobby's so busy trying to get noticed he can't see how his pal's little sister Laura is falling in love with him.

Written by Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran (of Birds of a Feather fame), the show is much more than an excuse to string some rockin' hits together.

There are rich characters, ripe one-liners and a cracking bit of slapstick that whips into There Goes My Baby with spot-on timing. But, like the Sixties, you had to be there.

The references are fun: jubblies, Formica, milkshakes costing one and six... It's amazing how the words Vauxhall Velux can elicit a belly laugh.

The live band playing all the music is great too. Runaround Sue, Shaking All Over, Let's Twist Again, Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen had the Baby Boomers and their big brothers, sisters and descendants dancing in the aisles.

Daniella Bowen (Laura), Josh Capper (Bobby) and Jonathan Bremner (Norman) were all smash hits in the lead roles but Francesca Jackson stole the show as Sue.

The time trip of your life...

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Dreamboats and Petticoats Autumn Tour

Best wishes to all the touring cast including Fran as tonight kicks off the New Autumn Tour in Windsor. Anyone going be sure to send us your pictures, and thoughts on the shows in the various locations.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Fran's Adverts......

Fran has been busy recording the following adverts which are currently showing on Sky's Dave and Dave Ja Vu on Fridays Between 9pm - 11:40pm an 10pm and 12:40pm respectively.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Article from The Denbigh Visitor

Dreamboats and Petticoats comes to Rhyl
Jul 28 2010 by Ian Hughes, Denbigh Visitor

AS auditions go, there are some that will open up a few more doors than others. TV show I’d Do Anything falls among these.

“It was definitely a very good decision,” says former contestant Francesca Jackson.

Since leaving the show she has spent two years in the employment of musical theatre impresario Bill Kenwright.

“It was the first call I received after I left,” she remembers. “I went for an audition, sat with him at his piano and it went on from there.”

Francesca is now appearing in a UK-wide tour of the hit musical Dreamboats and Petticoats. It shows at Rhyl Pavilion September 13-18.

Being inundated with job offers after a stint on TV is far from out of the ordinary.

She explains: “The musical theatre TV talent shows act as a talent pool. The only ones I know from the show not working in theatre are the ones that decided to go into training.”

The success rate when compared to X-Factor or Pop Idol is unprecedented but, according to Francesca, not that unusual.

“On X-Factor you’re chasing a recording contract, for I’d Do Anything you’re just after the chance to be part of musical theatre.

“It’s not about being a celebrity it’s just about wanting to be part of it.”

She adds: “I had worked in theatre before in Tonight’s the Night and Rent and decided that it’s definitely what I wanted to do. People enter pop TV shows almost on a whim, I suppose.”

Prior to appearing on the show, Francesca already had friends in high places.

It was the winner of 2006’s How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?, Connie Fisher, who introduced her to the idea. While appearing in Rent, cast member Denise Van Outen also pointed her in the direction of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s TV talent academy which according to Francesca is “the biggest and best audition you can possibly do”.

Dreamboats and Petticoats was inspired by the million selling album of the same name.

“The album was used to create a very funny script.

“It’s set in the 50s and follows four kids at a youth club as they enter a singing competition.”

Francesca adds: “There are two new songs and the rest are classics – the storyline is entwined with the music.

“I didn’t realise how many of them I knew but the old numbers definitely get an audience reaction – sometimes they sing louder than we do! I like that because you know they’re enjoying it.”

She jokes: “It’s very lively compared to other stuff I’ve done – it’s been a good way to lose weight!”

Dreamboats and Petticoats is at Rhyl Pavilion September 13-18. Call 01745 330 000 for more information.

Sunday, 25 July 2010


Well I knew it wouldn't be long before our favourite performer had some news for us. Fran is to take her role as the feisty Sue back on the Autumn tour of Dreamboats and Petticoats.

For those who have not yet managed to see this show it is a real must and for anyone going please forward your reviews/thoughts on the shows and any pictures.

Congratulations to Fran for this latest work we will all be looking forward to your performances as and where we get to see them.

She will be reunited with Jonathan Bremner as Norman, Josh Capper as Bobby and Wayne Smith as Ray.

Thanks must go to David Preece the No Sound Engineer for the most up to date cast list.

David Preece - Dreamboats Cast List

The tour kicks off in Windsor on 3rd August.

New Autumn Tour Dates 2010
2 August - 14 August Theatre Royal Windsor (Two Weeks)
16 August - 21 August Orchard Theatre Dartford
23 August - 4 Sept Opera House Belfast (Two Weeks)
6 Sept - 11 Sept Everyman Theater Cheltenham
13 Sept - 18 Sept Pavilion Theatre Rhyl
20 Sept - 25 Sept New Theatre Hull
27 Sept - 2 Oct Charter Theatre Preston
4 Oct - 9 Oct Congress Theatre Eastbourne
11 Oct - 16 Oct Cliffs Pavilion Southend
18 Oct - 23 Oct Princess Theatre Torquay
25 Oct - 30 Oct Severn Theatre Shrewsbury
1 Nov - 6 Nov TBC
8 Nov - 13 Nov Grand Opera House York
15 Nov - 20 Nov Alhambra Theatre Bradford
22 Nov - 27 Nov Derngate Theater Northampton

Some of the Autumn dates are not currently showing up on theatre websites...

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Current West End Dreamboats & Petticoats Say Goodbye

Sorry it's been a while but as they say sometimes no news is good news...... and While Fran has been busy on the West End I have been busy myself so busy that Last night was the first chance I had to go and See Fran perform.

I had booked the tickets for last night a month or so ago knowing that it was potentially the last night as Fran had told me that was the date that her original contract ran to. I had seen her briefly 2 weeks ago and she was still unsure as to whether or not this would be her last night so it was a night of real anticipation.

After a very hectic day having been up since 5am due to my own Charity fundraising commitments taking place in Royal Victoria Docks that morning I eventually arrived at the theatre very tired and very hot.....with only 10 mins before the start of the show, with family and friends in tow.

We had amazing seats row G smack bang in the centre of the stage, and the show was incredible all the cast were amazing Daisy Wood-Davis who has been Playing Laura from the original tour was sensational as was Fran of course, to be honest you couldn't single out a bad performance from anyone, especially not one of the saxaphone players who managed to sit play the sax be aware of everything going on around her and still play her game of solitaire all at the same time (no joke I swear).

By the end of the show nearly all the theatre were up and dancing along and by this point I new Fran had seen me from a look she gave me which was great as it would mean I would be sure to see her after the show.

Was able to get out the side door and be at stage door within a few minutes of the show ending and waited to see Fran. In doing so discovered that it had been the last night for several of the cast members so was all the more eager to talk to Fran and find out what was going on.

Fran eventually came out and was as lovely as ever and confirmed that it was the last night for all the main roles bar 2 including herself. So we were both pleased that I had finally made it to see the show on the West End.

The Show itself will continue but without the amazing talents that have been performing those roles for 18month in the case of most of the cast which is a real shame but I am sure that they will all have plenty of new offers flooding in and will be filling other theatres before long.

As for what Fran will be up to next we will have to wait and see but I'm sure we will not be left wanting for long even though she is in line for a well deserved break having been working non-stop since she took on the role of the feisty Sue in the tour of Dreamboats and Petticoats last July.

All that remains now is to wish all of the departing cast the best of luck for whatever comes next and to say that if any of the following stars Daisy Wood-Davis, Scott Bruton, or Ben Freeman happen to appear in anything in a theatre near you be sure to go and see it as they will not dissapoint, and stay tuned for further Fran updates as they arrive.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Dreamboats & Petticoats - West End

Further to recent articles in Formby Times I would just like to confirm that Fran is definitely appreaing on the West End at Not In Liverpool next week.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Dreamboats & Petticoats - West End

When Fran finished A Little Night Music on Saturday we also discussed when she started in Dreamboats and Petticoats on The West End.

Fran being the busy lady she is and not wanting to waste any time, travelled back on Sunday hit rehearsals on Monday and today and opens tomorrow (Wednesday 24th) as Sue.

The production is currently booking until the end of May and Fran will be appearing for the rest of the run.

Below are a few clips to wet your appetites for this show again, and we all wish her the best of luck for tomorrow night and the whole run where she deserves to be on the West End Stage.

Shakin' All Over

Sweet Nothings

You Don't Know

Frans Backstage Pics From Paris

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Frans Main Costume of the Night

Frans Weekend in The Country Outfit

The Wonderful Dresses from the Production

Frans Final Costume of the Night

Fran Ready to Go on Stage

Fran And Leon Prepare to Dance

Paris - Final Thoughts

Well, as you can probably guess I was unable to resist the opportunity of a weekend in Paris myself when I found out Fran was going to be performing, so I finally got to see the show on Saturday night.

Prior to the show I managed to have a chat with Frans parents Mel and Steve as they came into the theatre right behind us they were really nice as you would expect. They had been there all week and after having seen the show the first night they went back every night. Hearing this made me even more excited to see the show, as they were so enthusiastic about it.
The show was something else, the costumes were fabulous and although some o
f the singing wasn't the strongest this did not detract from the overall production, Fran on the other hand was absolutely incredible and it was noticeable at the final bow as there was a real cheer when she came on, and the cast received a well deserved standing ovation and the longest curtain call I have ever witnessed.

After the show I saw Fran's parents again, and Fran came down to say hello and was a delight as always, and we had a nice chat and she obliged with a some photos. Fran was sad that the production had come to an end as she had had an amazing time and the weeks run had just flown past.
I'm so glad I didn't miss the opportunity to go and see this show, and if Fran ever gets the chance to reprise this role and you get the opportunity to go and see it it's a real must she really does steal the show with her solo of which you can see clips of on the Culture Box link a couple of posts below.

I apologise mainly to Fran and her family for the quality of the following photo, but as they are aware my Mum had her distance lenses in and couldn't see what she was doing with the camera.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Broadway World Review of A Little Night Music

Ok so the show ended on Saturday and below is the review for Robert Gould who was at closing night.

Review: A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, Theatre du Chatelet, Paris, February 20, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010; Posted: 05:02 PM - by Robert Gould

It is not often that a production of a vintage piece of musical theatre overshadows the original production but that is precisely what happened during a magical new staging of the Stephen Sondheim/Hugh Wheeler musical A Little Night Music at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris last week. The musical was originally directed on Broadway in 1973 by the legendary Hal Prince and has been frequently staged at venues all over the world since then (most recently at the Menier Chocolate Factory, the Garrick Theatre and now on Broadway, directed by Trevor Nunn). But this incarnation, directed by Lee Blakely, is the most beautiful and stunning version of the show I have ever seen.

The plot of the show (set in Sweden at the turn of the 20th century) concerns lawyer Fredeik Egerman, who - frustrated in his marriage to a 17-year-old bride, still a virgin after 11 months of marriage - seeks out his old flame, actress Desiree Armfeldt, who is in the throes of a complicated relationship with a womanising Dragoon, Count Carl-Magnus, who is himself married to the long-suffering Charlotte. Other characters, including Fredrik's son, Desiree's daughter and Anne's maid, Petra, are woven into the fabric of this clever tapestry of lovers and fools. And the proceedings are insightfully observed by Desiree's mother, Madame Armfeldt, who explains that the night will smile three times - for the young, for the fools and for the old.

Full of some of Sondheim's wittiest and most poignant lyrics, which sit on top of the Grand Master of musical theatre's most ravishing score, A Little Night Music has always been one of his most crowd-pleasing and successful musicals. But this Parisian outing allowed the piece to shine brighter than ever. Lee Blakely masterfully orchestrated his actors and scenery to create a perfectly seamless progression of dramatic action, which - aided by Andrew George's choreography, Jo van Schuppen's beautiful costumes and Jenny Cane's stunning lighting - exploded into a magnificent spectacle that delighted both the eyes and ears of the audience.

And the cast were simply magnificent, singing quite beautifully throughout. In particular, Deanne Meek delivered Countess Charlotte's barbed one-liners with great comic timing, Greta Scacchi glistened with class as Desiree and performed the show's iconic song (Send In The Clowns) with the perfect balance of subtlety and pathos - while Leslie Caron's Madame Armfeldt owned the stage for every second she was on it. But, even in this great company, Francesca Jackson - whose performance as Petra was a sheer delight throughout - came close to stealing the show with her sensational rendition of the penultimate musical number, The Miller's Son.

A Little Night Music is based on the Ingmar Bergman classic film, Smiles Of A Summer Night. The smiles were particularly broad in Paris last week.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Further Reviews From Paris

Here are three further reviews of A Little Night Music, I have pulled out some small sections from each of the reviews and pasted the link to the full review is below each one if you wish to read the full review.

Rebecca Bottone quicksilver, stunning Francesca Jackson, Nicholas Garrett, Deane Meek, Leon Lopez, David Curry as they are all amazing singers like run-of Lebeslieder Quintet.

Webthea Review

Francesca Jackson stops the show with one of Sondheim’s greatest numbers, the maid Petra’s The Miller’s Son,

Telegraph Review

Special mention to Francesca Jackson (Petra, the maid of Egerman) and Nicholas Garrett (Count Malcolm, until some ridiculous elements of the uniform) for their vocal prowess. With the complicity of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Radio France, Jonathan Stockhammer reveals the great beauties of this "Little Night Music."
Philippe Venturini, Les Echos

Les Echos Review

Kulturkompasset Review

Well the reviews for this production are coming in from everywhere here's another one for you to enjoy.....

Kluturkompasset Review

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

France Today's Review

Here is another review yet again Fran has received some well deserved praise....

France Today

the rest of the cast is equally up to par, notably Nicolas Garret as Desirée's pompous lover, Deanne Meek as his long-suffering wife and Francesca Jackson-a true Broadway belter-as the effervescent maid Petra.

Paris Vlog The Final Installment

Here is Leon's final instalment from behind the scenes featuring Fran rehearsing her solo.

Also is a tv clip of the show again featuring Fran and her superb solo.

Further Reviews From Paris

Here are another couple of reviews from Paris.

Fran has been praised again for her performance as Petra by the Financial Times.

(From Left; Rebecca Bottone, Lambert Wilson and Francesca Jacson)

It is not all plain sailing with the cast, where some sing better than they can act and vice versa, highlighted here by Nicholas Garrett's Carl-Magnus and Deanne Meek's Charlotte, who can do both, magnificently. Francesca Jackson belts out a barnstorming performance as Petra the maid and David Curry copes well with Henrik's pole-vaulting tessitura.

For the full articles please see attached links;

FT.Com Review

Press Associtation Review

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Review from Opening Night

The following is a translated version of a review from Last nights Opening night written by Manuel Atreus

Le journal du Beau & du Bien-être

Fran has been singled out for her talented portrail in this production.

Last night at the Chatelet theater is playing the French premiere of the classic musical comedy in the USA: A Little Night Music by Stephen Sondheim. Virtually unknown in France, this piece, created from the Ingmar Bergman film, Smiles of a Summer Night, is one of the masterpieces of the genre across the Atlantic.

The story is somewhat complex, intersecting paths and amorous desires of 6 characters. Fredrik Egerman and Anne are married but have a significant age difference, Fredrik having a son, Henrik, age of his wife. Fredrik was once the lover of a stage actress, Desiree Armfeldt, which is now the mistress of an officer of dragoons, Carl-Magnus Malcolm, himself married to Charlotte.

What you want, simplicity is the enemy of banter, too much light often affects the parallel love affairs or cross! Around this small circle revolves 4 other characters: Petra (the right of Anne and Fredrik), Frid, butler's daughter, Desiree, Fredrika (!) And finally the mother of Desiree, an old lady who was at the believe, a life full of joy, adventure and lovers prestigious and wealthy who have inherited both the physical means to an honorable life, comfortable and rich, tender and sometimes burning memories. Memories that will used to reveal the games of love and sex to her little girl, taking at the role of guiding part in explaining a beautiful Scandinavian summer night smiles three times: once for the youth, once for fools once and for old age.

To be brief, say that none of our 6 main characters is happy in her love life and sex and all are in search of the Other, the one with which the harmony and pleasure are finally meeting you. Throughout the musical, couples will make or break, tear, reconciliation, and finally pair. Provided that with such a plot, the work is rather risky, for the creator, director and performers. A Little Night Music is a fragile flower to be beautiful, must avoid the pitfalls of vulgarity or excessive prudishness. Stephen Sondheim, who was the lyricist L. Bernstein West Side Story, created the music and dialogues full of finesse, depth and richness, a work of rare and delicate balance, and yet with great strength.

The phenomenal success he has met since its inception in 1973 has welcomed this performance. The staging of this production at the Chatelet is no less happy, Lee Blakeley was able to leverage the work of fine art director Rae Smith, light and rich scholarly Jenny Cane and elegant costumes by Jo van Schuppen. Andrew George sign the choreography that punctuate the piece dances outdated evoking the golden age. All this together creates a happy, served by the brilliant performance of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Radio France conducted by Jonathan Stockhammer.

Remained in place in this beautiful setting, the acting. And the poster is attractive, see: Greta Scacchi, Lambert Wilson and Leslie Caron headlining, supported by real opera singers or music hall, beautiful voice rich and deep. Everyone kept their roles brilliantly, Francesca Jackson standing out of the lot for her interpretation of air from the good (the Miller's son) that we probably all back on Broadway so her song was the perfect example of these voice and the dynamic signing the American musical.

The three headliners are, themselves, not professionals for the year. And answered with a blessing sometimes uneven. Leslie Caron has not always managed to slip into the role of Madame Armfeldt, even with a hole in his text. This is particularly unfortunate that this great lady, with her unique course, did not need that to stay in the firmament of great. His final still caught a lot and I would not tap this great lady who deserves my respect. Lambert Wilson it is much better out. It is very good actor, has a fine powerful baritone voice. He has already played the same work in London.

However, there is no opera singer and has suffered somewhat last night, comparison with Nicholas Garrett (excellent Carl-Magnus!) In the duet "It would have been wonderful." It has some limits in the early part, probably due to nerves. However, he camped a beautiful Fredrik, inhabiting the character and playing the man, nostalgic for his foolish youth gives way to the end to pick up the thread of his life and finally find happiness.

Greta Scacchi ... that mean? Madam, I do not want to offend you and if you're reading this, do not take my remarks as criticism, this is not one. Not sure sing! You do not have a lyric voice, and I do not know if you've just always sung yesterday. And yet, despite this very big handicap, you have camped a great Desiree. Your game, your interpretation was perfect for me. Desiree you were a woman in the twilight of his youth, who sees his illusions were shattered in the room, leaving her injured, lost, disillusioned but still saved, finding happiness with the man she loves without telling him (and without to say!) for so many years. Yes, it's true, you have not sung this beautifully fresh air that is "Send in the Clowns". But you just sang. You were playing fair. I do not know exactly how, but I like the idea that you're leaning on that weakness voice into a force to be a core on which you've built your interpretation. Ms. Scacchi, you were brilliant last night and I hope you feel how the audience (me at least!) Had been touched by your work. Because that's what I love, in the artistic work on stage.

This risk taking. This acceptance of his own limitations. The work of the artist who will rely on both the strengths but also its shortcomings to climb, perhaps with pain or fear, to a level of play that makes a room is just a game, but the fact that a song is just a piece of music but the cry of the heart. I always have great admiration for those artists who can rely on the humanity with what she has beauty and weakness to tell us the world and life. A Little Night Music is a great work, beautiful and fragile as a whisper that the slightest cry extinguish. Yesterday evening, however, the murmur has covered the clamor of our daily vanity to take us, a few hours in a happy and a little magical about the intersection of Mozart and Shakespeare. Thanks to the genius of Stephen Sondheim and smile so beautiful and human Greta Scacchi. Hats off to the artists!

Monday, 15 February 2010

A Little Night Music Paris

Well tonights the night A Little Night Music opens in Paris tonight and runs until Saturday.

The following links show some press shots for the production along with a radio show featuring several numbers for the show.

Unfortunately I can not translate for you as I'm no good at French.

Finally I'm sure you'll all join me in wishing Fran and the rest of the cast the best of luck for tonight and the rest of this week.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

A Little Night Music Rehersals Part 2

Here is the follow up Vlog from Paris with a behind the scenes look at rehersals for A Little Night Music.

Thanks go to all the cast for the insight and especially to Leon for his hard work in putting this together for us to all enjoy.

The show will be on in just over a week From Monday 15th to Saturday 20th February.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Fran & Leon in Paris Part 1

Ok guys heres a little treat from Fran and Leon. The video shows the start of there Journey for A Little Night Music in Paris.

Leon Lopez Adventures In Paris "A Little Night Music"

They are having lots of fun so far and the show sounds as if it will be absolutely amazing.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Welcome to 2010 - And What a Start to The Year

Well welcome to the New Year everyone, and what A year 2010 is shaping up to be already for Fran.

To see the new year in She has been performing with the legendary Darren Hayes at his intimate New Years Eve Party at Londons Club Colosseum, Below is a short clip from rehearsals.

Fran will be jetting off to Paris next week (Jan 6th) to rehearsals for A Little Night Music, which will be on at the Theatre du Chatelet 15th - 20th February the show will also feature Leon Lopez, Lambert Wilson, Leslie Caron and Greta Scacchi who replaces the injured Kristin Scott Thomas.

Following on from that Fran will be rushing back to reprise her role as the flirtatious Sue in Dreamboats and Petticoats on the West End.... Exact start date to be confirmed.

Lets hope that the year continues as well as it starts and we have lots more to report as the year goes on.