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Posts filed under 'Arts'


Marika Visser at Chicago, Princess Theatre, Torquay

The danger with touring shows is that they won’t be as good as those in the West End. This production of Chicago at the Princess Theatre, Torquay, proved that theory wrong.

The story? Murderesses Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart find themselves on death row together and fight for the fame that will keep them from the gallows in 1920s Chicago with help from classy Billy Flynn, Matron Mama Morton (prison service) and the hopeless Amos Hart.

One of the main surprises came from Haley Flaherty. Her portrayal of quirky Roxie became adorable, and her comic timing was impeccable, especially when she interacted with the audience.

Ian Kelsey as womanising lawyer Billy Flynn was also a pleasant surprise. I was doubtful that a celebrity in a lead role would pull it off. However, he suited the part down to a T, oozed charm and could sing, as well as carrying out a few slick moves.

Other star performances came from Katy Selcombe (Matron Mama Morton) who belted those notes, and Andrew Cooper (understudy to Amos Hart) who, despite his youth, had a charisma that made the audience warm to him, especially during the moving Mr Cellophane.

Dawn Spence looked amazing as Velma (with a striking resemblance to Catherine Zeta Jones in the film version), and although she was a great dancer and actress, I didn’t warm to her vocals.

A nice touch was the way the orchestra, who under the more-than-capable baton-waving hands of Garth (great American accent) Hall, were incorporated into the show. One of the highlights was the Entracte at the beginning of Act 2. The production team, who only had one day to load the complex set, were amazing. The lighting and sound were first class.

Chicago plays at the Princess Theatre until October 13

October 5th, 2007

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You need hands (video)

October 5th, 2007

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Going for the burn

Regular readers of PRSD will remember podcast stars Nixon And The Burn and their rather fantastic angular rock.

Unfortunately, the band is no more (blub!), but fear not, viewers. Guitarist Adam Hughes has moved onto greener pastures as the programme controller of VITV. Oh yes!

What the heck is VITV? Well, it’s a music TV station responsible for several music channels on Sky TV, including Channel U and Fizz.

The good news for local combos is VITV will soon be launching an unsigned rock, indie and alternative channel called Lava and they’re looking for bands’ music videos to play.

Given VITV’s current channels have an average audience of one million people per week (almost as many as the PRSD readership) this offer is not exactly to be sniffed at.

If you’re interested (and why the heck wouldn’t you be?), bung an email to

But what about these ramshackle rocksters? Well, now we’re going to tiptoe into our dusty old back catalogue and bring the one and only the number one, the very first Melting Pot Session.

Melting Pot Session Number One: Nixon and the Burn

PRSD podcast

Much has changed since the first days of Melting Pot, not least that the wonderful venue has been turned into flats, and the band - Nixon and the Burn - has split up, but The People’s Republic of South Devon is still here and fighting the good fight. Listen to the even younger Niki take the airwaves by the scruff of its neck.

icon for podpress  The original Melting Pot on The People's Republic of South Devon: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

October 4th, 2007

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Financial arts

Deserving artists - pah, as if there is such a thing - can apply for financial assistance from the Oppenheim-John Downes Memorial Trust. You can be of any discipline and you don’t have to believe in life after death, but there are restrictions, check out the Oppenheim-John Downes Memorial Trust site for more.

Posted by Cptn

October 2nd, 2007

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Motionplymouth deadline

We all know that the (more middle-aged) navigators of the good ship PRSD love a little bit of disco pop. And it is for them that we point out the cheery little number that is on D+CFilm at the moment.

It is for the rest of us to take note that tomorrow is the closing date for your Motionplymouth film entry. You’ve no time to post that film, best get down there and shove it through the door, or email it to

The world would be a much worse place were it not for Kevin Jarvis’s intergalactic pop video Across The Universe. Get that entry in now.

Posted by Cptn

September 30th, 2007

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All that jazz

Here at the PRSD, we’re quite keen on turning human tragedy into entertainment - add singing, dancing and jazz hands and we’re sold. Our high-kicking, board-stepping reporter Marika Visser took a look at Chicago, coming to Torquay’s Princess Theatre next week. Here’s what she said:

‘A story of murder, greed, corruption, violence, exploitation, adultery and treachery - all those things we hold dear to our hearts’. These opening lines launched a phenomenon: Chicago.

Tabloid darling Velma Kelly is the desirable vaudeville star. Roxie Hart is the cute chorus girl, who dreams of fame on the Twenties stage, and both are murderesses vying for media attention from the Cook County Jail with the help from their shared lawyer, the suave Billy Flynn.

Chicago, the musical, was based on the 1926 play by Maurine Dallas Watkins and written by the team of Fred Ebb and Bob Fosse with the score composed by John Kander and the lyrics by Fred Ebb.

This UK tour is directed by Walter Bobbie and is choreographed by Ann Reinking, in the distinctive jazz-hands style of Bob Fosse.

Ian Kelsey stars as Billy Flynn, who has appeared in Casualty and Down to Earth (filmed in Dartmouth). The fame-craving Roxie Hart is played by Haley Flaherty (Saturday Night Fever, Thoroughly Modern Millie and Grease on the West End) and Velma Kelly is Dawn Spence, whose other musical roles include Smokey Joe’s Cafe, Cats and the UK tour of Anything Goes.

With loads of awards since it  first opened at the Adelphi Theatre in 1997, the film version picked up six Oscars, including Best Picture and even one for hoofer Catherine Zeta Jones - now that’s going some!

You can catch Chicago at the Princess Theatre Torquay in October 2 -13.

Posted by Marika Visser

September 28th, 2007

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Eyes have it

To tie in with last week’s opening of Tarantino’s Death Proof, Nucleus Films
has released Grindhouse Trailer Classics - a two-hour DVD compilation of cheesy, sleazy and violent movie promos and trailers from the golden age of exploitation cinema.

Flip over to D+CFilm to watch the trailer for They Call Her One Eye. That’s not very politically correct, is it, viewers? The movie should be named They Call Her Visually Impaired. That’s a lot nicer.

Posted by Thin White Duke

September 25th, 2007

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You may remember that last year the People’s Republic of South Devon was up for a Plymouth Media Partnership Innovation Award. You don’t? Well let’s not dwell on our past failure (the winner of our category was the stonking Plymouth Music Zone, who we would have lobbied for had we not been bigging ourselves up).

The organisers are looking for someone to design the trophy, which should have an emphasis on innovation, and the deadline’s looming. Check out the innovations catalogue, whoops, the Plymouth Media Partnership Media Innovations Award site for more details.

Just time to tell you about a special trophy for the Two Short Nights film festival at the Exeter Phoenix (sponsored by the Dr Jeckyll to our Mr Hyde, D+CFilm). It’s designed by the wonderful Helen Snell, and will be out for all to see at the awards ceremony, if not before…

Posted by Cptn

September 25th, 2007

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Keleher wins

Remember last year’s Art Farm Project? Sure you do – sour milk, piles of Wellies, et al. Well, one of those who was part of that show has gone on to win the Exeter Contemporary Open (eco). Anna Keleher’s Evolutionary Space images picked up the cash and the plaudits

Organised by the Exeter Phoenix, this show aims to raise the bar to contemporary art in the region through its world wide competition. In its first year Ione Rucquoi was catapulted into stardom, so let’s hope that winner Keleher will follow suit.

The Devon-based artist prize (now that’s a good idea) was won be Graham Clucas, the award for photography went to Mike Smallcombe, also from Devon. In all seven of the 15 finalists were from Devon.

Trundle through the Art in Devon site for more.

Posted by Cptn

September 24th, 2007

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Aaron Custance

We Lied, by Aaron Custance

Just one of the images by Aaron Custance in his show at Moretonhampstead.

‘I am drawing attention to the need for a ‘renaissance humain’ by painting the good, the bad and the ugly of our times. This includes themes like Venus, by Boticelli, 9/11, and local ‘good’ characters,’ he told us here at the PRSD.

Go along and find out what he means, ’cause we’re baffled as well as intrigued.
Email him at
Posted by Cptn

September 23rd, 2007

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Dear Citizen,

Welcome to the People's Republic of South Devon. Your subscription will begin with the next newsletter. Keep up to date by visiting the blog regularly and make sure your voice is heard. Many thanks, The People's Republic of South Devon.

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