Ducktastic!

Previewed 11 October 2005, Opened 19 October 2005, Closed 19 November 2005 at the Albery Theatre (now Noel Coward Theatre)

Hamish McColl and Sean Foley present their new comedy Ducktastic! in London directed by Kenneth Branagh

Las Vegas Comes to London! Christophe Ursula Sassoon is in the last chance saloon of his career - all his hopes for a return to Las Vegas ride on his show Ducktastic! at London's All Berry (!) Theatre (this theatre was previously called 'The Albery Theatre'). Roy de la Rue, who is in fact Roy Street, a pet shop owner from Portsmouth, volunteers to help Sassoon out with a trick... but is there real magic in the air tonight... and can Daphne the duck save the day?...

This new comedy takes as its inspiration the world famous Las Vegas based magic act Siegfried and Roy who where noted for using white Siberian tigers in their act. Ducktastic! uses white ducks instead!

The cast features Hamish McColl as 'Christopher Ursula Sasoon', and Sean Foley as 'Roy de La Rue (AKA Roy Street), with Liz Crowther, Clive Hayward, Alex Kelly, Ruby Snape, and Daphne the Duck.

Directed by Kenneth Branagh, with choreography by Michael Rooney, designs by Alice Power, magic by Simon Drake, lighting by Patrick Woodroffe, music by Steve Parry, and sound by Simon Baker.

Prior to London's West End this production, with the same cast, was presented at the Newcastle Theatre Royal - previewed from 2 September 2005, opened on 8 September 2005, and closed on 17 September 2005.

Written by Hamish McColl and Sean Foley and directed by Kenneth Branagh, this comedy is staged by the same team that staged the smash hit, guest star studded show, The Play What I Wrote which enjoyed two sell-out season at the Wyndham's Theatre in 2001 and 2002 totalling a run of eight months. Hamish McColl and Sean Foley's London theatre credits also include Do You Come Here Often? at the Hammersmith Lyric Studio in 1997, and transfer to the West End's Vaudeville Theatre in 1998.

"The show centres on second-rate showman Sassoon and a volunteer assistant from the audience, Roy. They are a sendup of the Las Vegas double-act Siegfried and Roy, who did conjuring tricks with tigers until one of their pets conjured its teeth into Roy's throat. In the Ducktastic version. Daphne reads minds, disappears in a puff of smoke and, in a magical touch provided by director Kenneth Branagh, scoots around the stage, apparently to order... The show takes the mickey out of magic by exposing the illusions while also doing some nifty jiggerypokery of its own - usually when you have been distracted by Daphne. This could be seen as the actors having their duck and eating it too. One of the best illusions is that you never know if the ad-libs, such as when Daphne goes of script, are planned. Original and deliciously cheesy, this hugely entertaining show is about as much fun as you can have with a stage, actors, some costumes and a duck. You would be quackers to miss it." The Daily Express

"It has wobbly chorus girls, fake boobs, one fake willy, double-entendres and a man being shot out of a canon. The spirit of Frankie Howerd combines with some skilful conjuring tricks and if you are sufficiently childish, as I am, or if you go with a few gins down your gullet you'll enjoy it... The first half is frequently funny... The second half is often slightly boring, although it does contain an intriguing illusion when a girl is cut in two. I puzzled and puzzled and simply couldn't work out how they did it. By the time the two hours is up one has had enough. This show, directed by Kenneth Branagh, will be perfect for hen and stag parties and for teenagers. Young children may be slightly puzzled by it all, or at least one hopes so." The Daily Mail

"This is Hamish McColl and Sean Foley's spoof on the Siegfried and Roy spectaculars in Las Vegas. For comic effect a duck is used instead of a Bengal tiger, and while this is a good joke it is not enough to save this largely unfunny shamble through a thin plot, some smoke-and-mirrors illusions that don't always come off, silly word play and a mixed bag of jokes... Daphne, the star duck, apparently escaped just before the opening and had to be played by an understudy. Having seen the production I can see why the main bird flew." The Sunday Telegraph

The technical principles of stage illusion and magic have remained almost unchanged for the last 160 or so years. It is the 'glorious wrapping', the stories that turn those inventive techniques into magic, that has moved with the times. And no wrapping was more glorious than that devised by the sensational Las Vegas magic act Siegfried and Roy. Their combination of live white tigers, mind-boggling illusions and beautifully judged camp showbiz excess put them at the top of American showbusiness for over a decade. Ducktastic owes its inspiration to their amazing entertainment. But with one crucial difference - they had 20 Bengal tigers, Ducktastic has a white duck. Also unlike Siegfried and Ray, the magicians in Ducktastic - Christopher Ursula Sassoon and Ray de le Rue - get lost in their own show, their 'magic' seemingly out of control. To be sure, like the magicians of old, they have dressed up their illusions with stories that they hope will touch the audience's hearts end reveal the Mysteries of Nature; unfortunately for them, their duck-themed extravaganza bites, or rather quacks, back at them.

Ducktastic! in London at the Albery Theatre previewed from 11 October 2005, opened on 19 October 2005, and closed on 19 November 2005.