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Ghost (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

Ghost (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

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Ghost (UK Tour)
New Victoria Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 27th February 2017 by Valerie Field
★★

Despite all the drama and speculation that has been surrounding this show, I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it very moving and well acted. I have never seen the film but know of the story and have heard all about the iconic scene at the potters wheel so I was a bit surprised that more wasn't made of that scene on stage. The fact that this is my only major criticism shows how much I enjoyed the show.

The scenery was great and scene changes were smooth and convincing with each set feeling exactly like the place it was portraying and the characters fit into it perfectly. The special effects were brilliant and really added to the show, although sometimes they did feel a little unnecessary, altogether they added a very nice layer to the performance.

The acting, dancing and songs were great and very entertaining, memorable and enjoyable. Carolyn Maitland was wonderful as Molly and has fabulous chemistry with Andy Moss as Sam. Both their voices are strong and they are convincing as the characters.

Jacqui Dubois as Oda Mae was a definite stand out and was fantastic on stage, stealing the show at points and really showing off her star power. Garry Lee Netley as the Subway Ghost deserves a special mention as he was a great presence on stage and suited the character wonderfully.




My only other criticism is that I did feel sometimes the orchestra was a bit too loud when the solos were being sung as it seem to drown the singer's voices slightly. This was probably just an issue that night. 


Apart from that the show was great and I enjoyed it immensely and will definitely recommend it. The cast are strong and well rounded. The sets, costumes and effects fit the show precisely and overall it was a great night out seeing a much loved musical. All in all I think the whole show came together really well and was a very entertaining evening.

Ghost runs at the New Victoria theatre until March 4th and then continues on it's UK tour.

Photo credit: Matt Martin

Lizzie, Greenwich Theatre | Review

Lizzie, Greenwich Theatre | Review

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Lizzie
Greenwich Theatre
Reviewed on Friday 24th February 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★

I've been finding it very hard to write this review because I honestly don't know what I thought of Lizzie. There were parts I loved and parts I didn't but overall I was kind of confused. 

I suppose that could be seen as a good thing though. The show seems to get more disjointed as Lizzie's own mind gets more confused and crazy so it seems natural that after a well told story I, as an audience member, should leave feeling affected by the characters. So maybe confusion is a good thing?

Funny story, when I first saw this advertised quite a few months ago, I thought it was my wildest dreams coming true with Lizzie, meaning Lizzie McGuire... I was very wrong! The aforementioned Lizzie is in fact Elizabeth Andrew Borden who allegedly killed her father and stepmother with an axe in 1892. Whilst it's not the obvious choice of storyline, it works well with the rock music and insane lighting. 

The show has recently finished a run in Denmark and has now made the transition to the Greenwich Theatre in London where it feels more like an arena concert than a stage show. There are minimal props so we are really able to focus on the story and impeccable voices of the four leads. The show opens with an eerie music-box tune which sets the dark, suspense filled show up perfectly. The powerhouse vocals are out of this world, with the ladies belting higher and higher with perfect technique throughout. The lyrics by Steven Cheslik-Demeyer and Tim Maner are cleverly tweaked and shaped depending on what's happening in the scene or in Lizzie's mind.

The cast are sublime with each woman holding her own and commanding the space. Bjorg Gamst as Lizzie Borden is impeccable, switching from innocence and sweetness to sheer and utter madness. Her eyes portray a thousand emotions and every movement she makes shows her transition to the manic killer who is truly revealed in act 2. Her sister, played by musical theatre royalty, Eden Espinosa, really comes into her own in act 2 and shows off her superb voice wonderfully. I previously saw Jodie Jacobs in 27: The Musical and was blown away by her killer voice. As Bridget Sullivan she gets to show off that voice again but also provides humour in this otherwise dark drama, often indirectly telling Lizzie to kill her parents in witty ways. Although it is unclear what her motivation for this is, she does it very well. Alice Russell, Lizzie's friend is played greatly by Bleu Woodward who again has a stunning voice and works very well with the other ladies. Her performance is tasteful and delicate and often provides a nice contrast to the loud, rage filled numbers in the show.

The lighting fit well with the erratic feeling but I felt at points it was too much with the lights and smoke covering up a lack of plot and coherence. My opinion is that with some developments and tweaks this could be a wonderful production. The cast are there, the songs are there and the basic ideas are there but it need to be refined to make it really flow. Again, the roughness does fit with with the story but to me it felt more like a piece of performance art than a show to come and just sit in your seat watching. If it's going to be performed like this then it would be good to somehow incorporate more audience interation, like at a rock concert.

However, Lizzie is a fun show and its wonderful to see a performance led solely by women. With a few tweaks this could be something incredible. I would still go and see it if you can because I guarantee it'll be like nothing you've ever seen before, and the vocals will blow you away!

Lizzie runs at the Greenwich theatre until March 12th 2017

photo credit: Soren Malmose

The Girls, Phoenix Theatre | Review

The Girls, Phoenix Theatre | Review

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The Girls is heartwarming, sweet, lovely, joyous and everything you could ask for in a new British musical


The Girls
Phoenix Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 22nd February 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★★★


I'm going to start off by saying that this musical has flaws but they can be easily overlooked to enjoy this beautifully sweet and touching musical.

The story of The Girls was previously on the West End as a play but this new revival with music by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth, has brought new life to it and really given it star treatment. The score is sweet and full of storytelling, although some parts are a little over the top and very "la la la, I'm going to sing a very literal song about my life now" they all work together to produce a lovely piece of theatre. You are sure to leave feeling inspired, joyous and full of laughter.

This show sums up Britishness. There are fetes, tea drinking, fish and chips and of course the typified version of green Yorkshire. The set is cleverly designed by Robert Jones with a mountain of kitchen cupboards creating the vast hills of England's countryside.

Personally I found the first half of the show dragged just a little as I was waiting for the calendar plan to appear which doesn't in fact happen until act two but the initial setting up of the storyline and many relationships is gracefully and tastefully done. Act two is full of laughs and moves at a much quicker pace with us finally seeing the iconic calendar shoot which is done hilariously!

This story is friendship is truly beautiful and is something that is universally relatable. The cast are all equally talented and their performances are refreshing and genuine throughout. The relationship between Annie (Joanna Riding) and Chris (Claire Moore) is especially touching and makes you value and appreciate your friends even more. The whole cast have wonderful chemistry with one another and really seem to enjoy their time performing.

The whole production is filled with light and positivity as well as showing the trials and hardships of life. In a time when it can often seem like women are always bringing each other down, it's lovely to see a show which restores your faith in friendship and sees such a strong group of women holding each other up and working together to create something beautiful. This is a lovely, reflective, heart-warming production which reminds us that there's always light even when we feel as though we're surrounded by darkness.

The Girls is currently playing at the Phoenix Theatre until July 15th 2017

Photo credit: Matt Crockett

Aida (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

Aida (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

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Aida
New Victoria Theatre
Reviewed: Wednesday 22nd February 2017 by Melanie Mitchell
★★★

Being a relatively inexperienced Opera goer, I wondered how an opera this grand and majestic could be brought to life on the relatively small stage of the New Victoria theatre. My concerns were soon banished. Ellen Kent’s touring production of Aida comes to life with the spectacle, majesty and grandeur the opera was intended for.

The Triumphal March with a cascade of golden confetti and fire is particularly spectacular. One of the main highlights is the appearance of Houdini the Black stallion as the war horse of Radames which was a magical moment to see.

The cast were truly magnificent as was the Orchestra of the National Opera and Ballet Theatre of Moldova, conducted by Vasyl Vasylenko, both playing and singing the extremely difficult score with ease and agility.

All the male performers were strong and powerful, however the Spanish tenor, Giorgi Meladze playing the part of Radames is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful, and powerful tenors I have heard. His voice soared effortlessly and the intense emotion of the piece could be heard in every note.

The female leads both gave accomplished and spirited performances. The mezzo-soprano Zarui Vardanean has a beautiful voice and gave a real air of jealousy and malice to the role of Amneris Princess of Egypt.

French Soprano, Olga Perrier as Aida was absolutely amazing, she captivated the audience from the first note and kept them there. Her haunting performance was for me the highlight of the show, full of emotion, passion and vulnerability.

Aida is touring the UK and Ireland until May 10th 2017.


Review written by Melanie Mitchell

The Wild Party, The Other Palace | Review

The Wild Party, The Other Palace | Review

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The Wild Party
 The Other Palace
 Reviewed on Tuesday 21st February 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
 ★★★★

Having only been familiar with the Lippa version of The Wild Party, I was not really sure what I was getting myself into with this one. I was ready for a crazy, wild, dramatic experience and that's certainly what I got!

The Other Palace, formerly the St James Theatre has certainly chosen the right piece to mark it's relaunch. This wild, wild party is sure to make anyone want to return! The Wild Party is based on Joseph Moncure March's racy 1928 poem and is so energetic and frenzied from the start that you can't help but love it and be drawn into the raving, crazy world LaChiusa has created.

 The show tells the story of Queenie, a Broadway wannabe who's instead become a pained woman with a huge hole in her life, and her comic lover, Burrs, who throw a berserk party to escape from the boredom of their everyday life. We meet their friends and enemies who each have a story to tell and get way too mixed up in the ever-growing craziness of the wild, wild party.

Frances Ruffelle is completely and utterly brilliant as Queenie. With rawness and vulnerability mixed in with sex and vivaciousness creating a fantastic, larger than life character. It's truly an honour seeing this legend of the stage perform.  Frances works alongside another legend: John Owen-Jones who shines and really shows off his incredible voice as the dark, scary Burrs.

 For me, it's Victoria Hamilton-Barritt who steals the show as Queenie's frenemy, Kate. Her sultry, soaring voice is stunning and so unique that she just steals every moment she's in. Not only that, but she never stops acting, every facial expression and movement is well thought out and perfect for her character- she's truly a star.

Ako Mitchell and Lizzy Connolly as Eddie and Mae are wonderful. Having recently seen them both in other shows, Ragtime and Vanities respectively, I knew their voices and performances would be special but they completely blew me away and were incredible.

 Other stand outs were Dex Lee  as Jackie and Melanie Bright as Sally. Dex's voice is stunning and he soars over every note so easily and his performance as the slimy character is fantastic to see. Melanie's beautiful soprano voice rings out and she creates magical moments on stage. Finally, Gloria Obiango and Genesis Lynea are outstanding as the brothers, seeming almost like a 20s Greek chorus! Their synchronicity is flawless and they're just great.

Drew McOnie's choreography and Richard Howell's lighting create the sinful, frenzied, drunken, 20s  mood perfectly and create something so magical that you can't bear to tear your eyes away! 

Overall this is a truly glistening production and if you want a raunchy, sexy, debaucherous night that is still full of glitz and glamour then this is the show for you!

Bitter Harvest (Film) | Review

Bitter Harvest (Film) | Review

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Bitter Harvest tells the harrowing tale of  the Holodomor, a man-made famine which occurred in Ukraine in 1932-33, killing an estimated 2.5-7 million people. I, like many people had never even heard of this catastrophe and feel ashamed of that fact, so it was truly shocking to see the atrocities play out on screen.


Bitter Harvest sheds light on this widely overlooked tragedy in such a way that it is both provoking and shocking but at the same time brings warmth through the love story of Yuri (Max Irons) and Natalka (Samantha Barks). The whole story is told through the eyes of these young lovers as they struggle through imprisonment, famine and torture; battling to reunite with one another and to fight for a free country.

The film is visually stunning and quite literally sheds light on this devastating chapter of modern history. Douglas Milsome has added a whole layer to the story just through the lighting and has created a truly cinematic experience. We first see the warm lights and sky which quickly become dark and bleak. Particularly effective was the contrast of the bright Kiev when Yuri first got there to the muted grey of Yuri and Natalka's village. Truly striking.

The authenticity is so clear in this film, through not only the fact that it was filmed in true to life locations, but through the way the stellar cast play their roles so truthfully. Both Barks and Irons show the deep and dark complexities of their characters incredibly well, with their chemistry shining through to emphasise the reality of pain and loss throughout. Each moment is heart-wrenching and the whole film is beautifully shocking. The cast also includes Tamer Hassan, Barry Pepper and Terence Stamp, all of whom play their roles honestly and perfectly.

George Mendeluk has directed a visually striking film which is sure to educate people and get discussions going. There are parallels happening right now in Ukraine so this film has come at the perfect time to get people talking and to educate people so that nothing like this ever happens again. Although the love story is somewhat cliched, it works well in this film to provide a root for the story rather than being overpowering at every moment. The script is well written to make the actual event of the Holodomor the main focal point with the romance more of a reference point. The love story is beautiful and played out so well but it doesn't detract at all from the pain and suffering that was really happening. 

The story of this devastating famine is hard to watch but knowing and seeing the truth is necessary and Bitter Harvest is rightfully bringing this overlooked Ukrainian tragedy to the forefront of media in a way it never was at the time. I already am and will continue to recommend this film to everyone I see because it's honestly incredible. Truthful, painful, beautiful and powerful. The cinematography, story, acting and honesty make Bitter Harvest a must see. ★★★★

Watch my vlog of the premiere: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=We9bFF1mCBs


Bitter Harvest is released in the UK on February 24th.

Part of this review was used on the cover of the UK DVD so keep an eye out for it!

Review by Olivia Mitchell

Reasons You Should Go And See RENT

Reasons You Should Go And See RENT

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So last night I saw the 20th aniversary production of Rent for the third time and it had the exact same impact on me, I was happy, sad, moved and just completely blown away. It truly is an impeccable production.


I reviewed the show when it was on at the St James (which you can read here) and other than small tweaks and the show of course being performed in a larger stage, not much has changed with the transfer so instead of writing another review I thought I would just do a post of me fangirling about the show and why you should go and see it!!

Firstly, THE CAST. This show wouldn't be a quarter of what it is without the incredibly talented cast. Every single member is powerful, committed and strong in their roles, there's a true feeling of community and it really feels as though you're watching real life play out on stage. Philippa Stefani is the true standout for me, her performance is just raw and heartbreaking and so well constructed that it's physically painful to watch. I can't help but watch Philippa every time she is on stage and it's just a joy to see her talent, passion and grit shine through on stage. Philippa's performance as Mimi is worth the ticket price alone! Billy Cullum is everything Mark should be, he's dorky but passionate and absolutely the perfect person to play the role. His voice is fantastic as well as his acting and its just brilliant. Lucie Jones and Shanay Holmes  are perfect as lovers Joanne and Maureen; both having stand out solo moments and working harmoniously as a pair, again its perfect casting. Ryan O Gorman has such a soulful voice and is insane as Collins. Last night is had the pleasure of seeing Harrison Clark as Angel and he was great! He's stepped into the role wonderfully and pulls of the role with ease and grace. After seeing this cast I can't imagine anyone else playing the roles!

Another reason you should see this show is of course because of THE MUSIC. Jonathan Larson's score is as stunning and moving now as it ever has been and will leave you with tingles, tears and love. Each harmony is stunning and every note feels in place, nothing seems forced or over performed. The music truly does stand on it's own but along with the wonderful cast it is just a dream.

Lee Proud's CHOREOGRAPHY adds a whole new layer to the show, the movements are quick and seem spontaneously natural. They are precise and inventive but not at all intrusive to the storytelling.

There's a billion more things I could say about this production but honestly you just need to experience it for yourself. It's really like nothing I've experienced before and it's hard to put this perfection into words so just get a ticket, immerse yourself in the show, soak every moment in and experience it for yourself.

Rent is playing at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley before touring much more of the country. For information about the show and to buy tickets, visit www.rentonstage.co.uk

To read my full review of Rent, visit: http://www.rewritethisstory.com/2016/...

To see my vlog of Rent, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4WYv1d7h9Q


To see what a Rent obsession looks like, watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cu1G2n8EQFM




In Conversation With... Cleve September | Interview

In Conversation With... Cleve September | Interview

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Cleve September is a rising star of the West End. He recently starred in Annie Get Your Gun and In The Heights to much acclaim and has just been cast as Laurens/Philip in the upcoming West End production of Hamilton so it safe to say he's destined for stardom! 


Was being a performer what you always dreamt of or did you have a different career path in mind when you were younger?

I've been singing since I can remember but only started dancing about 6, nearly 7 years ago. Before that I was really into my sports.. I played a lot of basketball and rugby. And I also love 100m and 200m sprints. So I was quite athletic because I got into musical theatre. And the dream back then was to be in the Olympics.


You just finished playing Sonny in In The Heights to much acclaim. It just seems like the funnest show and cast to be a part of. Can you sum up that experience?

Really there are no words to describe how incredible the experience was! In The Heights will always have a place in my heart, as will the cast! They were all such incredible human beings! And they really made my first professional job so amazing.


Did you feel any extra pressure joining so many original Southwark Playhouse cast members when you joined the show at the Kings Cross Theatre? How did you put your own spin on the role?

Not at all because everyone was so welcoming and everyone was so supportive! And I wasn't expected to do the things that Damian can do or did in the show so I could do a bit of creating and figuring out how my body wanted to move in terms of the dance routines. And we just found new things.


You definitely became a fan favourite at Heights; did you expect to gain so many fans in your first role after training?

I didn't know that I was a fan favourite... I had no idea what to expect but I am so thankful for the fans because their love and constant support was amazing throughout the run.


The Kings Cross theatre is super intimate. Are you excited to perform in the Crucible and other larger venues in the future? Do you prefer more intimate or bigger venues?

I'm yet to experience a bigger venue... so I'll let you know!


Annie Get Your Gun is such a Classic musical. Did it get a modern twist in your recent production or did it stick to its original roots?

Nope there was no modern twist to it, we very much stuck to the roots and played it truthfully! The choreography was stunning and it was such an honour and a pleasure working for the team of creatives behind that show!


Can you explain a little about Annie Get Your Gun and how your character Tommy fits into it?

AGYG is about a woman called Annie who is an incredible shooter. She falls in love with a 'swollen headed stiff' named Frank Butler and their story of how they fell in love through the circumstances that they were put through. My character had his own little love story going on with a character called Winnie Tate, who's older sister Dolly, forbids them to be together.


What was your biggest challenge with taking on this role?

I had more than one big challenge haha. The style of Choreo and also singing in a legit style were the two biggest challenges for me as they were both very new to me. However once I managed to kinda wrap my head around it I had the most incredible time! 


If you had a magic wand, which show would you do next? 

Hamilton 👀👀


You have a five minute break during rehearsal, what do you spend that time doing?

If there is food near my I'm eating, or trying to wrap my head around something that may have confused me or I might have done wrong..


You studied at Mountview, what was the best piece of advice your were told during your time there?

To be a sponge and soak everything up that works for me!


It's just been announced you're going to be playing Laurens/Philip in Hamilton; how did you find out you'd got the part, what was your reaction and who did you tell first?

I was out with the cast of Annie Get Your Gun for a drink to end the first week of rehearsals in Sheffield... so it was quite late, and I got a call from my agent. I answered and she asked me if I was alone and I said nope I'm out with the cast. She told me to go somewhere quiet. So I walked outside, she then told me to keep walking and find a place further away so that I was completely out of sight, so I did! And she told me that an offer had come through for John Laurens/Philip Hamilton. And I froze. I completely dropped to the ground and started crying! I was shaking and just couldn't believe it. I was told that I was the first one to find out and that I had to keep it a secret. Only my agent knew at the time so she had had to wait for everyone in the office to go home before she could call me. I had to keep it a secret from everyone!


What are you most nervous about with taking on such a huge role? 

Right now I'm not too nervous about anything... I'm so incredibly excited that I don't really have any space in my mind for any other feelings.. it still doesn't feel real! I guess I could say that I'm almost nervous that I'm going to wake up one day and it was all a big dream. But I'm so thankful to be in the position I am in right now and I can't believe that I get to say to people now that I will be playing John Laurens/Philip Hamilton in the Original West End Cast of Hamilton! It's the most amazing feeling!

Thank you so much to Cleve for taking the time to answer these questions. Make sure you go see Cleve in Hamilton and any other shows he does- you'll love him!

Follow Cleve on twitter here

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