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The Wind in the Willows, London Palladium | Review

The Wind in the Willows, London Palladium | Review

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The Wind in the Willows
London Palladium
Reviewed on Thursday June 29th 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★★★

The Wind in the Willows is a perfectly fun, family show. It's not a theatrical masterpiece but it's a cute, heartwarming fable that's sweet enough for both children and adults to enjoy.

Adapted by Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey) with music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe (Half a Sixpence), The Wind in the Willows is an old school tale given a modern twist. We follow Ratty and his new friend Mole as they venture around the countryside trying to hide from the evil of the Wild Wood and help their friend Mr. Toad curve his need for speed. It's a show which is quintessentially British:lazing by the river, watching the swallows returning home for summer, seeing animals foraging in the woods, each scene conjures up the good old English countryside.

The pastoral feel of the production is guided by the sets and costumes by Peter McKintosh, with each area and animal having its own unique "style" and each set piece combining perfectly to create the world of human-like animals which is both distinctive and mystical. Each animal is instantly recognisable without being too in your face animal. The set also strikes a good balance between being enough of a spectacle whilst still leaving enough room for your imagination to roam a little wild. 



Simon Lipkin's Ratty is suitably funny and stern and despite not being a huge belting role, he really shows off his voice and beautiful tone. Craig Mather has wonderful chemistry with Lipkin as Ratty's partner in crime, Mole. He is the perfect mix of innocence and strength and is pretty perfect in the role. Another sweet and funny character is Mrs Otter played by Denise Welch although we never do find out what happened to her husband! Thankfully some contrast to the sweetness is brought with the baddie of the show, Chief Weasel played by Neill McDermott who is very reminiscent of Rooster in Annie. The Weasel scenes are my personal favourites and add a nice sharpness to the otherwise same level show. The ensemble are tight and bring a lot to the show. An audience favourite seemed to be the adorable hedgehog family who sing a lovely little ditty about the trouble of crossing the road. 

Aletta Collins' choreography fits exactly, adding not only dimension but humour to the show. Especially so with the tap dancing horse!

Of course I have to mention Mr Toad played by Rufus Hound who is great in the role. He is over the top and dramatic but actually very good. I was surprised at how good his voice is and really do think he's the perfect choice for the role.

The Wind in the Willows is good family fun which is certain to leave a smile on your face and at least one song in your head. It's simple, charming and exactly what it says on the tin, what more could you ask for for a family theatre trip? 

The Wind in the Willows runs at the London Palladium until September 9th

Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, Wyndhams Theatre | Review

Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill, Wyndhams Theatre | Review

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Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill
Wyndhams Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday June 28th 2017 by Olivia Mitchell

Honestly, I don't know how to start this review because I'm still in shock and awe of what I saw last night. Seeing a six time Tony award winner up close on stage is already a spectacle but seeing her transform into Billie Holiday and embody a heartbreaking character was just another level of incredible. The queen of Broadway, star of screen and most recently the wardrobe in the Beauty and the Beast remake, Audra McDonald is the embodiment of talent and to see her perform on stage is an honour.

Lady Day was originally meant to make its, and Audra's, West End debut almost a year ago exactly but with a surprise pregnancy turning things around, the opening of the show was cancelled.  Whilst this was a huge disappointment at the time, the extended wait for Miss McDonald to perform our side of the pond just built up the excitement and made her debut even more triumphant. 

Originally premiering in 1986 at the Alliance Theatre, Atlanta, the play by Lanie Robertson tells a version of a concert performed by Billie in a dive bar with a tiny audience just a few months before her death. Visibly drunk and high its a story about a star falling so low in her last moments.  Robertson described it as "a monologue; a continuation of her thought process." Whilst the plot of the play may sound boring- starting before Holiday enters the stage and concluding 90 minutes later with her final song- it doesn't drag at all and is so affecting and powerful that you could keep watching and listening forever.


Audra McDonald is without a doubt the reason this play is so brilliant, can we give her every award going right now!?  However, when I first heard she would be playing Billie I was a little skeptical, as I learned, was Audra when she was first approached with the role. But from the moment the first note came out of her mouth, there was an audible gasp from the audience and we were wrapped round McDonald's finger. Audra transforms her voice to present Lady Day's elusive phrasing and raw timbre perfectly. This transformation is even more impressive when you know Audra's natural singing voice as a soaring, powerful, high soprano. She is so real in her performance, not only performing Billie but living and breathing her with every fibre of her being. She's truly in a league of her own. 

Of course the music of Billie Holiday would be a fraction of itself without the fantastic band supporting it. The trio of musicians- Neville Malcolm on bass, Frankie Tontoh on drums and Shelton Becton on piano and playing the role of Jimmy Powers- are wonderful and show off jazz music in a stunning way. 

A one woman show, set in a single dive bar is unusual and could become stagnant but Lonny Price's direction allows a flow and movement throughout, which along with little audience interactions creates a truly stunning piece of theatre. This is helped by the wonderful set and lighting by Christopher Oram and Mark Henderson which combined, create not only a wonderful set to look at but, but immerse you into the world and allow you to feel a part of the magic happening on stage.

Billie Holiday is brought back to life on the stage of the Wyndham's theatre as Audra McDonald gives a masterless in acting and musicianship in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and GrillAudra's performance is completely faultless and you know she's a star when even the adorable pup Pepi can't steal her moment! This is certainly a highlight of this theatrical season and I will be shouting from the rooftops for everyone to go and see this masterpiece on stage. 

Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill runs at the Wyndhams Theatre until September 9th.

Scott Alan, Hippodrome Casino | Review

Scott Alan, Hippodrome Casino | Review

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Scott Alan
The Hippodrome Casino
Reviewed on Sunday June 25th 2017 by Olivia Mitchell

The Hippodrome Casino is fast becoming one of my favourite venues as I see more and more brilliant performances. Scott Alan's concert was no exception, with gorgeous music, brilliant singers and a hilarious commentary throughout, it was a perfect night. After spending the weekend covering West End Live for Stage Faves then heading to The Theatre Cafe to see Rachel Tucker and Marisha Wallace, I hot-footed it over to the casino for a night of music from one of my favourite musical theatre composers.

I have adored Scott's music for as long as I can remember, I don't recall exactly how I found it but it's been with me for most of my childhood and I've been scouring youtube for every version of each song for a long time and have fallen in love with every single one. Although Scott has performed in London a number of times, I have never been able to attend so when I reached out to Scott on twitter and he was kind enough to offer me a ticket, my stagey heart was ready to burst and I was ecstatic that I would finally hear his songs performed live by a host of incredible performers.

Both acts were a celebration of Scott's career with the stars taking the stage to perform theirs and Scott's favourite compositions.  Scott joked how each song he writes is depressing, even his happy songs are emotive ballads which is extremely true and for me, someone who thrives on emotional, depressing music (I have playlist just for it) it was all I couldv'e asked for.

My personal favourites of the night were the stunning Lucie Jones, who dashed straight from West End Live to perform 'Never Neverland' and 'Home' both of which were devastatingly gorgeous.  Jodie Jacobs who I've been lucky enough to see in 27 and Lizzie performed 'Stay' which showed off her epic voice and Kieron Brown gave a heart-wrenching, powerful performance of one of my favourites, 'Again'. 

Another favourite section of the concert was when Scott introduced three competition winners who were each going to perform. He encouraged the audience to be extremely supportive of them both in the concert and generally in the performing industry and explained how he loves showcasing new talent. Erin Caldwell was the first of the three winners, performing 'Always' so beautifully. Her tone, clarity and control was just beautiful and you could've heard a pin drop. Secondly we had Sabrina Basile with 'And There It Is', Sabrina's acting throughout the song was impeccable, her voice is effortless and beautiful but her overall interpretation of the song really made it something special. The final of the three, Bill Harvey was introduced with a candid chat from Scott about depression and how it affected him, saying that he'd felt like he was the "only person to wake up heavy" and how dark things got for him but that we can all make our way out of the darkness and heaviness. Bill performed the beautiful and emotional 'Anything Worth Holding Onto' with a sincerity which shone through and drew the audience in. 

Scott's personality is just infectious and he carries the whole concert with his own unique brand of crass inappropriateness and self-deprecating humour. There were laugh out loud moments from start to finish and the entire concert, which of course overran it's anticipated hour and a half run time by almost an hour, flew by. Scott is candid and honest and whilst he is humorous and shocking, he quickly slips into his own world when performing himself and you can see how much music means to him. I especially loved 'Simpler' which was heartfelt and touching.

As I said before, each and every performance was absolutely brilliant and I could say fabulous things about all of them but that would mean we'd be here all day! Scott's music is touching and truthful and it's crazy that the whole world don't know about it and him. If you get the chance to see Scott or any of the performers in concert then take the opportunity up and you're guaranteed a fantastic night!

A Judgement in Stone, New Victoria Theatre | Review

A Judgement in Stone, New Victoria Theatre | Review

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A Judgement in Stone
New Victoria Theatre
Reviewed Monday 27th June 2017 by Melanie Mitchell★★★

A Judgement in Stone is a classic thriller adapted from the novel by celebrated crime write, Ruth Rendell. The play is set in the 1970s and focuses on the barriers and social structures of the English class system.  The social obsessions and tensions this system brings are bought starkly to life.  

The play highlights the differences and positions between the middle/upper classes and the much less educated lower working class when the meek, mild mannered Eunice Parchman (played by Sophie Ward) becomes housekeeper for the Coverdales at their country house. Sophie is excellent as Miss Parchman, it took me a while to know is was her as she is so unrecognisable. She portrayed the character perfectly, suitably subservient, fragile, insecure, down trodden and ever so slightly simple treating her employers like royalty but with a hidden depth and secrecy to the character.

Mark Wynter and Rosie Thompson play the Coverdales extremely well; complete snobs, pretentious, exuberant social climbers who see themselves in the upper echelons of society but with his position as a factory owner could easily be described as upper working class- god forbid!

Jennifer Sims as Melinda Coverdale is the perfect spoilt brat, a daddy's girl without a worry in the world. Her step-brother, Giles, played by Joshua Price is a typical foppish, alternative rich boy. The detectives played by Andrew Lancel and Ben Nealon both give believable performances. I was pleasantly surprised by Anthony Costa (formally a member of boyband, Blue) who plays Rodger Meadows and I have to say: the boy can act!

Deborah Grant as the maniacal Joan Smith is perfect for this part, very watchable with the right amount of of madness and humour. Shirley Anne Field plays the Coverdales cleaning lady Eva Baalham, who's timing and overall performance are excellent however, I felt that the part was extremely small and somewhat insignificant for such a great actress.

The whole play centres around one set, the Coverdales dining/sitting room with various doors leading off of it. However, due to the clever production, staging and lighting, the backdrop does not become boring. 

All in all, A Judgement in Stone provides a great evening full of atmospheric suspension and tension.

Bat Out of Hell, London Coliseum | Review

Bat Out of Hell, London Coliseum | Review

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Bat Out of Hell
London Coliseum
Reviewed Tuesday 20th June 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★★


Let's make one thing clear: this show is epically crazy. Jim Steinman's rock musical is like nothing else currently on any West End stage. It feels like a rollercoaster ride where things are constantly being thrown at you from every direction: the great, the good, the bad and the ugly sides of rock music are all thrown together to create a show like no other.

The new show based on the music of Jim Steinman tells a Romeo and Juliet-esque tale mixed with Peter Pan themes and a whole lot of randomness. If you don't like out there shows then this definitely isn't for you but if you're up for a wild ride then stick around. The songs have very little relevance to the storyline and it kind of feels like an excuse to put on a massive budget concert every night but somehow they kind of fit and work in the context. Each one is performed so much energy and excitement that you can forgive them for not technically fitting in. Each song works as it's own performance instead of fitting perfectly into an overall narrative.

Bat Out of Hell is set in a sort of dystopian world where a man named Falco rules a derelict, broken city where 'The Lost', a bunch of genetic mutants who don't age past 18, live in their underground lair known as 'The Deep End'. The leader of this mutant group is  Strat who despite barely knowing her, is head over heels in love with Falco's daughter, Raven who longs to escape her boring life. One fateful night Strat visits her room and from there on we fall down the rabbit hole of craziness and things get even more mental. I did say it was crazy! Overall I would describe it as a rock retelling of Peter Pan through the eyes of someone who's had a few too many!

Whilst the writing of the show isn't stellar and there are faults with it, the cast are a talented bunch indeed, with voices that raise the roof. Andrew Polec as Strat and Christina Bennington as Raven have great chemistry, although it is particularly cheesy at times they work well together and their booming voices compliment one another very nicely. The pairs voices are stunning and goosebump inducing. Another cast member who will give you chills is Danielle Steers (Zahara) who received a gasp from the audience when she sung her first solo notes. Danielle's voice is strong and sexy and when she joins with Dom Hartley-Harris (Jagwire), especially in Act 2, they really create a magical vocal moment. 

As Raven's parents who have fallen out of love and are trying to regain their spark, Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton (Sloane) are outstanding. They are witty and suitably mental with their performance of "Paradise By The Dashboard Light" becoming it's own mini show within the show. Both their voices have the right amount of attitude and drama to command the stage and ring out above the ensemble.

Jon Bausor's set is mental, with fire balls, motorbikes and so many more surprises to always keep you on your toes. The use of screens is extremely clever, not only mimicking the screens you get at a concert but also acting as a kind of cctv camera, showing us close up action which we wouldn't normally see- it really reminded me of Robert Icke's Hamlet.

The pyrotechnics are intense but not so overdone that they become gimmicky. Emma Portner's choreography fits the weird world of the show but is a somewhat weird mix of things, conjuring up Michael Jackson "Thriller" vibes mixed with Maddie Ziegler's iconic dances for Sia. It's sharp and popping and fills the vast stage of the London Coliseum well. Patrick Woodroffee's lighting is eccentric and blinding, the exact lighting you expect from a rock concert. But as the Coliseum is smaller than an arena, the bright lights are exemplified and add to the psychedelic experience.

Now this definitely isn't a masterpiece of musical theatre but it is a jaw-dropping spectacle that really has to be seen to be believed. There are more than just moments of gold and flashes of light- it's an extravangaza for the eyes and ears which will definitely leave you feeling something?!

Bat Out of Hell runs at the London Coliseum until 22nd August 2017.

West End Live Lounge: Icons and Legends, Union Theatre | Review

West End Live Lounge: Icons and Legends, Union Theatre | Review

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West End Live Lounge
Union Theatre
Reviewed Sunday 11th June 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★

When I went to the first West End Live Lounge back in March, I didn't think it could get any better. I was wrong! Every single performance was absolutely outstanding and I was in awe of each and every performer, it was honestly one of the best concerts I've ever seen, full of so much incredible talent and just a wonderful night for a wonderful cause.

I could honestly talk in depth about every single performer because they all deserve a huge amount of praise but I fear that it could be the longest review in the history of reviews so I won't talk about everyone in depth but I will talk quite a lot so you might want to settle down and grab a cuppa!

The concert opened with a lovely performance of the Amy Winehouse classic "Valerie"by Katie Paine, which started the night on an upbeat, joyous note. Leigh Lothian (who created the concert series along with Shaun McCourt) and George Jennings then took us through the history of James Bond with a glorious medley of the hit Bond songs. 

I have seen a lot of Sapphire Soul recently, both at the previous Live Lounge and as special guests and the Dreamgirls Unplugged concert and am a massive fan of their unique arrangements and brilliant voices and was very glad that they were a part of this concert. The glamourous girls sung a delightful version of "Over The Rainbow" and closed the show with a joyous Aretha Franklin medley which left everyone on a high. Ashford Campbell sung one of my favourite songs "Human Nature" and made me love it and his voice even more! 

Now if Brady Isaacs Pearce doesn't become a West End star, I will personally knock on Cameron Mackintosh's door and demand he puts her in a show. At only 17 years old, her voice is insanely good and her overall stage presence is of someone vastly experienced. Brady sung a mash up of songs by the queen of stage Barbra Streisand and filled her huge shoes perfectly, giving the audience chills.

Cleve September has such a likeable personality which came across when he stepped on stage and explained he had only decided what to perform on the morning of the concert; going out and purchasing a loop pedal and kind of winging his way through. However, if we hadn't known this, we wouldn't have noticed. Cleve's performance of "Feeling Good" was unique and so fun to watch and he certainly seemed like an experienced loop pedlar (??) to me!

The first act flew by with stellar performance after stellar performance. Hannah Ducharme superbly performed "Hallelujah", Alexis Gerred absolutely owned "Come Together" and Sejal Kashwala gave an astonishing performance of "How Comes You Don't Call Me" which had me in awe of her voice. To end the first act, Kelly Agbowu sung the hell out of "The Show Must Go On" and completely blew the roof off the intimate venue which her effortless and faultless performance.

Act two included a few duets where the performers got to have fun signing with one another. Andrew Bateup and Marcus Ayton sung the Stevie Wonder favourite, "Signed, Sealed, Delivered", Matthew Seadon-Young and Leigh Lothian performed "Careless Whisper" and Carolyn Maitland and Lauren Ingram sung a Billie Jean mash up. All three duets were fantastic and it's just a joy to get double the talent per song!

Perhaps my favourite part of the night was when two Whitney Houston classics were performed back to back with Ruth Brown singing "I Will Always Love You" and Emma Lindars singing "I Have Nothing". Both performances were completely awe-inspiring and just breathtaking. The talent of these ladies is just unbelievable and it's crazy that they're not international stars!

Oliver Savile channel his inner Frank Sinatra with "Let's Face The Music" and I'm sure made many of the ladies in the room swoon with his suave performance. Laura Mansell's Celine Dion mash up was so sensational and it was glorious to hear my favourite Celine song "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" performed so well.

Liam Doyle gave an upbeat rendition of "I'm Still Standing" before Natalie Green gave the penultimate performance of the night with Prince's "Purple Rain". I'm a massive fan of Natalie's voice and adored her performance so much, as it seemed did the entire audience. 

Although an absolutely fantastic night of entertainment showing off some of the best the West End has to offer, the main reason for the concerts series is to raise money and awareness for charity. This concert was raising money for Mind which supports people suffering from mental health issues, a cause close to so many of our hearts and it's great to see so many people coming together for such a great cause.

If you couldn't tell from that very long review, I completely loved West End Live Lounge and know I will love all the future concerts. If you can get along to the next one then please do because you will definitely enjoy it. What's better that West End stars blessing your ears on a Sunday evening?!

Check out West End Live Lounge on Twitter for details of future concerts: https://twitter.com/WElivelounge17

Idina Menzel, Royal Albert Hall | Review

Idina Menzel, Royal Albert Hall | Review

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Idina Menzel
Royal Albert Hall
Reviewed on Thursday June 15th 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★

If you're a theatre fan then I'm sure you've heard of Idina Menzel. The last time she played the glorious Royal Albert Hall, she was known among the theatre community for creating the roles of Maureen in Rent and Elphaba in Wicked but since then has reached a stratospheric level of fame. Thanks in part to John Travolta mangling her name, but mostly for her role as the Queen herself, Elsa in Disney's hit movie, Frozen.

Compared to previous concerts, Menzel sung less of the classics and throughout her almost two hour concert, pulled a lot from her eponymous fifth studio album which was released last September. She came out with a power strut, and after a couple of mic issues started playing her drum and swinging along to the upbeat "Queen of Swords", gradually transitioning to the sweeter "Small World" then to the audience favourite "Season's of Love" from Rent. The fans cheered and joined in as Menzel cracked a smile, obviously enjoying her performance at the iconic venue already.

Idina is clearly very comfortable on stage; her personality and self-deprecating humour flowing easily and filling time between songs along with little anecdotes and witty comments to the audience. Aside from the humour, she was also unafraid to get personal. Before bursting into the upbeat "Cake", Idina explained that she wrote it after a conversation she had with her fiancé Aaron Lohr.

"I said to him 'Are you sure you wanna marry me because I have a lot of issues?'" she shared and explained why his response made her love him even more and inspired this song. "he said 'I can handle you, honey. It's  all good, you're cake'" And so we heard Idina tackle the song with vigour and excitement before moving into a wonderful cover of Led Zepplin's "Black Dog".

Another of Menzel's recent achievements was starring in the remake of Beaches alongside Nia Long so it was only fitting that she included her beautiful rendition of "The Wind Beneath My Wings" which smoothly transitioned into the mighty "Defying Gravity" earning Idina her first standing ovation of the night.

A wonderful moment during the concert was when each of the band members got a little solo/improv moment to show off how talented they all are, especially Idina's back up singer who was outstanding in the cover of Aretha Franklin's "Rock Steady" and stole the stage with her huge voice.

The moment soon came which delighted many of the younger audience members as well as most of the older ones, when Menzel performed a wonderfully arranged mash up of the The Beatles' "Dear Prudence" and the Frozen hit "Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?". The almost a cappella "For Good" was another lovely moment which achieved a second standing ovation.

As the last piece before the encore of "I See You", Idina asked all the little children in the arena to come to the stage to help her perform "Let it Go" which was extremely adorable and hilarious as most of them looked terrified the minute the mic was near them! Menzel made sure none of the children were scarred for life and let them repeat the song as many times as it took for them to feel comfortable.

I found it to be somewhat more sombre and reflective than her previous concerts but I guess that comes with having to adapt to younger audiences and it was nice to see a different side to Idina. This was a memorable night for sure and I'm sure a treat for Menzel as well as her fans!


See my concert vlog here:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KY8m8Em9Wnk

photo credit: Steve

Life of Galileo, The Young Vic | Review

Life of Galileo, The Young Vic | Review

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Life of Galileo
The Young Vic
Reviewed on Thursday June 8th 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
½

Part planetarium and part theatre-in-the-round, Life of Galileo invites us to look to the stars in an inspiring look at a revolutionary time for science. Some of the audience are able to sit (or lay) in the centre of the round with cushions and gaze up at the galaxy filled ceiling as it moves in a beautiful and magical way.

Brecht reminds us throughout that this is a play, using dance and song to make the play more surreal and to distance us from reality. Particularly entertaining is when Cowell announces the scene numbers throughout and the clever use of puppetry which explains what's to come in each scene.

The actors spend their time before the show and during the interval moving around the stage and chatting with the audience which makes the play feel extremely immersive. The ensemble work very well, integrating with the people sat in the centre and cleverly moving into the action and switching between roles. The whole cast work like a seamless machine.

Life of Galileo looks at the momentous change in scientific exploration as well as Galileo's personal sacrifice and the resistance he faced. Returning to the Young Vic after his performance in Yerma, Brendan Cowell takes on the role of the inspiring Galileo robustly and cleverly. He distinguishes the different sides of the man well. With clear divides between Galileo the father and Galileo the scientist and he is particularly cold and harsh to his daughter, Virginia (Anjana Vasan).

The play is lengthy and intense but with music by Tom Rowlands and extremely impressive projections, it's exciting and forward-thinking. It's vast and enlightening  and a unique theatrical experience. Life of Galileo never takes itself too seriously but manages to make a number of scientific and political comments which remain relevant today.


Life of Galileo runs at the Young Vic theatre until July 1st.

TodayTix are offering rush tickets of £20 for Life of Galileo as well as brilliant deals on tickets for a number of shows. Book tickets for Life of Galileo or any other show with TodayTix and receive £10 off with my code: https://www.todaytix.com/refer/TFKMJ/ 

La Strada, The Other Palace | Review

La Strada, The Other Palace | Review

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La Strada
The Other Palace
Reviewed on Thursday June 1st 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★

La Strada is definitely the musical which I have been most pleasantly surprised by so far this year. I am a fan of going into shows without looking them up first and I went into The Other Palace with no idea what to expect; thinking I was going to see a cabaret, vaudeville like circus show but that was absolutely not the case. Based on Federico Fellini's 1957 Oscar winning performance,  La Strada tells the story of the young and naive Gelsomina who is sold by her mother to become the assistant to the touring gypsy, Zampanò: the "Strong Man". Her sister previously went to work for Zampanò and never returned so Gelsomina is struck with fear but fights and stays strong so she can send money back to her mother. This is ultimately the story of a young girl being taken advantage of purely because she doesn't know any better and because her circumstances don't allow her to escape.

The musicians play onstage in this piece and really bring it to life. A particular favourite moment was when everyone started clicking their fingers until the sound became overpowering and turned into raindrops. Each dramatic moment is heightened and an extremely visceral performance is created. This is helped along by Cameron Carver's brilliant movement which is extremely tight but looks natural and free. Flowing beautifully through moments and embodying each element that's being shown.

With credits including the National Theatre's Peter Pan, director Sally Cookson is know for her innovative, unique storytelling and has captured the themes and harshness of this story in a brilliantly imaginative way.

Finding herself trapped in Zampanò's world, wanting to escape but needing to make her mother proud we see the external and internal struggles of Gelsomina who is played so beautifully by Audrey Brisson. Capturing both her innocence and playfulness through the witty dialogue and  wide-eyed movements, Gelsomina becomes a character the audience grow to love and become extremely attached to. This is a wonderful contrast to the cruel, harsh portrayal of Zampanò by Stuart Goodwin. Although we see moments of kindness, these are rare and it is the overall menacing anger which fills the stage whenever the strong man is around.

Part way through, they meet, Il Matto (The Fool) played by Bart Soroczynski who acts as a friend and guide for Gelsomina who heartbreakingly confides in him that there isn't any point her being alive because she is good for nothing. Il Matto brings light and warmth to the story, with a carefree attitude and light movement, he is played wonderfully by Soroczynski.

La Strada is a masterclass in storytelling and Cookson has created a faultless production which draws the audience in and takes them along the road which Gelsomina and Zampanò travel along. The piece is fresh and engaging and the constant movement makes it feel alive, it's truly compelling to watch and I would highly urge you to see it.

La Strada runs at The Other Palace until July 8th.

Book tickets for La Strada or any other show with TodayTix and receive £10 off with my code: https://www.todaytix.com/refer/TFKMJ/

Rachel Tucker, Live at Zedel | Review

Rachel Tucker, Live at Zedel | Review

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Rachel Tucker
Crazy Coqs, Zedel
Reviewed on Tuesday June 6th 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★

Rachel Tucker is a superstar of the stage and is currently on a long awaited tour around the UK before heading to New York for a stint at the iconic, 54 Below. Now I knew Rachel's voice was good from the I'd Do Anything days, videos online and of course from seeing her in Wicked but I was completely blown away when I saw her solo performance last night. Rachel's voice is powerful, emotive, beautiful and her overall stage presence is that of a true star.

Rachel's set consisted of a number of upbeat songs to more balladic slow pieces with the flow from jubilation to tears completely smooth and seamless. The whole concert seemed so well put together and like a huge amount of thought had gone into each song and placement, it was really a night of everything. Opening the show with "Miss Otis Regrets", Rachel immediately created a bond with the audience and won over the room with her huge presence and personality.

Moving wonderfully into a rendition of "Candyman", Rachel kept the atmosphere bright and warm and set the stage for an evening of glorious entertainment. The segway into each song was done flawlessly, a sign of Rachel's stage training from a young age. The transition from "Waving Through a Window" (beautiful) to "Climbing Uphill" was particularly entertaining with Rachel reenacting a bad audition before giving a hilarious performance of the Jason Robert Brown classic.

As her special guest for the night, Rachel introduced Samantha Barks (who we all know I love) at the end of act one for a rendition of "Nowadays/All That Jazz" from Chicago. This was a particular treat for us Londoners who didn't get to see Samantha as Velma Kelly in Chicago at the Hollywood Bowl and it was a marvellous end to the first half.

The second half of the concert was just as seamless and brilliant as the first, with little anecdotes sprinkled throughout and an absolutely hilarious tribute to Tina Turner which Rachel explained was her unique selling point when she used to perform with her dad.  Needless to say, the audience loved the ridiculously fantastic and energetic performance of "Proud Mary/River Deep Mountain High".

Samantha and Rachel joined forces again with a beautiful, heartfelt rendition of Wicked's "For Good" which was lovely to hear and joyous to see the two friends performing such a beautiful song in the intimate setting of the Crazy Coqs, Zedel.

Not only is Rachel's singing top notch, but her acting and interpretation of music is outstanding. Able to go from elation to heartbreaking sincerity in a matter of bars. Act two saw Rachel perform "The Man That Got Away" which was just phenomenal and left the audience in pin-drop silent awe. Rachel closed the show with "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and the Ed Sheeran favourite, "Castle on a Hill" which really summed up the evening and gave the audience the whole spectrum of emotions once again and gave Rachel her third and final standing ovation of the evening.

Rachel is just a sensational performer and last nights concert was completely faultless. I honestly couldn't have asked for anything more from Rachel or Samantha except for them to sing more and serenade me for the rest of my life! Rachel is truly remarkable, a joy to watch and a brilliant inspiration for anyone wanting to perform. If you get the chance to see Rachel in concert, or in any other show then 100000% take the opportunity as you do not want to miss the chance to be blessed be her performance of dreams and pipes from heaven!

Read my interview with Rachel here: https://goo.gl/FyfrTy
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