Our pick of what's on in and around Milton Keynes
From striking art to much-loved songs, there's plenty to enjoy...
1 GALLERY OPENING
MK Gallery, Midsummer Blvd
MK9 3QA, Saturday March 16
The new MK Gallery opens its doors to the public on Saturday, following a major expansion designed by 6a Architects. The new building will provide major new gallery spaces, the Sky Room – an independent cinema/performance space – workshops, education spaces, an outdoor art garden, café and bookshop.
To celebrate the opening on Saturday, there will be free activities and performances throughout the day, including dance and street performances, a tea party at 3pm in the new café/bar, music from 4pm in the Sky Room auditorium and free badge making, bag printing and face painting in the Learning Studio.
The museum’s opening exhibition, The Lie of the Land, charts how British landscape was radically transformed by changes in free time and leisure activities since hunting and shooting, the recreations of the aristocracy, were enjoyed on the rolling hills of their private estates. In part tracing a line between Capability Brown’s aristocratic gardens at Stowe and the social, urban experiment at neighbouring Milton Keynes, the exhibition teases out the aspirations that underpin our built environments.
It features work by 85 artists spread across all five galleries, including Thomas Gainsborough, Rachel Whiteread, JMW Turner, Yinka Shonibare MBE, Jeremy Deller and Bridget Riley, with new commissions including a 60-channel sonic portrait of Milton Keynes by sound artist and composer Caroline Devine, a new film commission working with the community by Ed Webb-Ingall and an immersive installation by Project Art Works.
Lennon Retrospective, MK11, Kiln Farm, Saturday March 16, 8pm
John Lennon Tribute UK’s show aims to take the audience on a journey through John Lennon’s best-loved songs starting with his solo work and culminating in the early Beatles classics.
John Lennon UK aims to faithfully recreate John’s soulful vocals, his passionate guitar playing, his simplistic but beautiful piano work, his look, his mannerisms, his accent and his caustic wit.
Lennon Retrospective is a two-hour, fully-costumed show. The band is fronted by Gaz Keenan, who featured
in ITV reality show The Big Audition to win through as the best John Lennon, screened in October 2018.
Mark Thomas: Check Up, The Stables, Thursday March 21, 8pm
Following a ground-breaking tour of his last show Showtime From the Frontline, in which he and two Palestinian comics re-enacted their time setting up a comedy club in Jenin, Mark Thomas turns his attention to our very own National Health Service.
Selling out his Fringe run once again last year to great critical acclaim, Mark’s unique style of theatre, comedy, investigative journalism and reportage won him yet another prestigious Scotsman Fringe First Award in August and he went on to perform the show for a two-week sell-out run at London’s Arcola Theatre.
Mark is 54, the NHS is 70, and the UK national average life expectancy is 84. If Mark makes it to 84, the NHS will be 100. What will they both look like?
Ninebarow, Stowe School, Thursday March 21, 8pm
After their explosion onto the national folk roots scene over the past two years, duo
Ninebarrow are coming to Stowe School as part of their extensive national tour.
In a few short years, the Dorset-based duo have carved themselves a distinctive niche on
the folk roots scene for their outstanding harmonies, delicate instrumentation and engaging songs.
In 2017, they were nominated in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in the Horizon category for Best Emerging Artist.
It was only a few months prior to this that Jon Whitley and Jay LaBouchardiere gave up their jobs as a teacher and
a GP in favour of a full-time music career.
Named after Nine Barrow Down in the Purbeck hills, their first release, While the
Blackthorn Burns, was voted FATEA Magazine’s Best Debut Album of 2014, while their 2016 album Releasing the Leaves saw a volley of critical acclaim, including five-star reviews in Maverick and EDS Magazine as well as Best Duo nominations in the FATEA and Folking.com Awards.
Ninebarrow’s new record, The Waters and the Wild, was awarded five stars in both The Morning Star and the English Folk Dance & Song Society’s EDS Magazine.
The album has been described by folk luminary Mike Harding as ‘absolutely monumental’.
www.artsatstowe.co.uk or 01280 825710
Margaret Atwood : Live,
Live broadcast from The Roxy, Stowe School, Tuesday September 10, 7.30pm
This live broadcast celebrates the long-awaited release of The Testaments, Margaret Atwood’s highly anticipated sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, on September 10.
The publication of The Handmaid’s Tale in 1985 and the current Emmy Award-winning TV series have created a cultural phenomenon, as handmaids have become a symbol of women’s rights and a protest against misogyny and oppression.
Live from the London stage, Atwood will be interviewed by broadcaster and author Samira Ahmed in a conversation spanning the length of Atwood’s remarkable career, her diverse range of works and why she has returned to her seminal handmaid story 34 years later.
www.artsatstowe.co.uk 6 GILBERT & SULLIVAN
HMS Pinafore with Trial By Jury, Royal & Derngate, March 18 to 23
Northampton Gilbert & Sullivan Group returns to Northampton’s Royal auditorium with
its 65th anniversary production. HMS Pinafore with Trial By Jury tells the tale of Captain Corcoran and his lovestruck daughter Josephine. Captain Corcoran is awaiting the arrival of Sir Joseph Porter KCB, and hopes that love will blossom between the two. Unfortunately, Josephine only has eyes for a member of her father’s crew, Ralph Rackstraw. To impress Sir Joseph, the crew perform their version of Trial by Jury.
Combining the wit and satire of Gilbert, and some of Sullivan’s best-loved and memorable music, director Leon Berger brings his unique vision to this anniversary production, carefully uniting both shows on stage.
www.royalandderngate.co.uk7 CURRY AND MUSIC
Elvis tribute at Calcutta Brasserie, Thursday March 21
Stony Stratford’s award-winning Indian restaurant, Calcutta Brasserie welcomes an award-winning performer to recreate the magic of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Mark Goddard is officially Great Britain’s Best Elvis Tribute and has appeared on TV countless times.
Diners will be able to enjoy outstanding live music and a three-course curry banquet for £27.95, as part of a series of live music events which will also include tributes to Michael Buble in May, plus Frank Sinatra and modern icons in coming months.
The restaurant recently won the Best Asian Restaurant award at the prestigious MK Food and Leisure Awards and celebrated its 10th birthday.
To reserve a table, call 01908 566577 calcuttabrasserie.co.uk8 FOLK CLUB
Alden, Patterson and Dashwood, The Song Loft, Stony Stratford, Friday March 15, 8pm
Norwich-based folk trio Alden, Patterson and Dashwood weave rich vocal harmonies, fiddle, dobro, guitar and mandolin around beautifully written original songs and melodies. Their music takes influence from folk traditions from both sides of the Atlantic with uplifting instrumentals and self-penned songs depicting tales of young travellers, sleepy seas and their affection for home.
www.thesongloft.co.uk9 CHARITY CAR BOOT SALE
Queens Avenue Car Park, Newport Pagnell, Sunday March 17, 9.30am to noon
Willen Hospice is set to host its first ever car boot sale on Sunday. Sellers and buyers alike are invited to the event, which will raise money for the local hospice.
Traders can sell their pre-loved items for just £10 a stall. Buyers’ entry £2.
www.willen-hospice.org.uk/carboot 10 MUSIC
Chantel McGregor & Erja Lyytinen, The Stables, Wednesday March 20, 8pm
A female guitar prodigy, Chantel McGregor was told by a major label that she had a “great voice, but girls don’t play guitar like that”. Wisely ignoring their comments, she enrolled at the Leeds College of Music and became the first student in the college’s history to achieve a 100 per cent pass mark at BTEC, with 18 distinctions.
Chantel is currently writing for her third album.
“Finnish slide goddess” (The Blues Magazine) Erja Lyytinen is a singer, slide guitarist and songwriter who plays more than 100 shows a year. In 2017 Erja won the European Blues Award for Best Guitarist and was voted the seventh best blues guitarist in a poll of The MusicRadar. In June 2018 she opened for Santana at their show in Helsinki’s Kaisaniemi Park.