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Showing posts with label rent. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rent. Show all posts
Friday, 16 June 2017

Idina Menzel, Royal Albert Hall | Review

Idina Menzel, Royal Albert Hall | Review
Friday, 16 June 2017
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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
Sunday, 14 May 2017

Tick, Tick... Boom, Park Theatre | Review

Tick, Tick... Boom, Park Theatre | Review
Sunday, 14 May 2017
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Tick, Tick... Boom
Park Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday May 11th 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★
With the success of Bruce Guthrie's current production of Rent, one of the defining musicals of the 90s, it's not a surprise this revival of Tick, Tick... Boom! has come about. Originally written as a one man semi-autobiographical musical, Tick, Tick... Boom! portrays the years of struggle Jonathan Larson faced and acts as a bittersweet reminder of the triumphs he never got to see after his untimely and heartbreaking death on the eve of Rents opening off-Broadway.
Bronagh Lagan's production is nostalgic and intimate whilst providing a reflective look at the brooding and anxious story of Jonathan. The staging allows warmth and engagement throughout, with Chris Jenkins as the composer often making direct eye contact with the audience therefore allowing them to really feel part of the story and environment.
For any Rent fan this is a truly brilliant piece of theatre as there are so many parallels with Larson's life and the lives of those in Rent which are explored throughout. Namely where Jon and Michael are dreaming of escaping the life they're living. There are also musical moments which conjure up the same feelings as Rent and it's lovely to hear the roots of Larson's writing and what developed from this show. 
Larson's desire was to bring rock music into the world of musical theatre and this piece acts as a clear demonstration of that; providing moments of angsty drama as well as soaring glistening moments. The inner monologue is ever present but combined with moments of humour and sadness, the show has enough depth to keep the audience focussed and committed. Gareth Bretherton's band push the music along well and capture each side of the musical styles extremely well.
Joining Chris to make up the three piece cast are Jordan Shaw as the smooth toned best friend, Michael and Gillian Saker as the loving but conflicted girlfriend, Susan. All three have wonderful voices and fit the roles extremely well, seeming like true friends and giving very realistic performances. 
This is a lovely production which works well in the space and is overall very fun and entertaining. It's up close and personal, with some brilliant singing and performances which are worth a watch!
Tick, Tick... Boom! is on at the Park Theatre until 27th May 2017
Photo by: Claire Bilyard
Wednesday, 8 March 2017

In Conversation With... Billy Cullum | Interview

In Conversation With... Billy Cullum | Interview
Wednesday, 8 March 2017
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Billy Cullum, has already had an impressive and extensive career starring in shows such as Spring Awakening and Jesus Christ Superstar. He's currently taking on the role of Mark Cohen, the introverted film maker in the 20th Anniversary tour of Rent and wowing audiences across the country with his incredible performance. I saw Rent for the fifth time last night and was as moved as I was the first time. It's truly a brilliant production. 

Not only is Billy a wonderful performer but also a wonderful person and he was nice enough to answer these questions about all things Rent, performing and life in general!


For those that don't know, can you explain a little about your career and highlights so far?

I trained at the Arts Educational School of Musical Theatre and graduated in 2010. My first job was a small scale musical of Alice in Wonderland that toured all around Italy. It was hard work but getting paid to travel all around such a beautiful city made all the early mornings and get-ins worthwhile. I then went on to play Jesus in Godspell at the Union Theatre followed by one of my dream roles as Moritz in the UK Tour of Spring Awakening. I then performed in Hair, Merrily We Roll Along before my West End debut in the RSC’s Matilda at the Cambridge Theatre. Roald Dahl was becoming a running theme as I then joined the cast of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Being an Oompa Loompa was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do! After this I joined the cast of Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. It was an incredible piece to be a part of. I understudied and played the role of Jesus. Now I am lucky enough to be in one of my favourite musicals and playing one of my dream roles as Mark Cohen in Rent


Was being a performer what you always yearned for or did you have another career path in mind when you were younger?

Performing is the only thing I’ve ever really focused on from the age of 3. It wasn’t until I was about 16 though that I thought it could become a career. I’m a songwriter and a recording artist which is something I love to do as well. I’m just about to release the first single ‘Lost in You’ from my debut album which is released 03.03.17.


Rent is one of the most iconic musicals ever, do you feel a lot of pressure taking on such an important role?

When I got offered the job I was ecstatic. I was so excited. Then it hit me that this musical has such a strong following. It means so much to people. It really has a place in people’s hearts so the pressure slowly started to dawn on me. I then had to go into the rehearsal room on the first day and let all that pressure go and focus on my portrayal of Mark. I like to think I’ve made him my own and I have enjoyed exploring him. He’s very complex and intricate which I don’t think many people realise. 


The cast must be so close with this production, have there been any standout funny moments on or offstage between you all?

There have been MANY funny moments. My favourite though has to be when Layton Williams who plays Angel got his coat stuck in his wig as he was about to go full throttle into 'Today For You'. Somehow, he managed to sort out the issue whilst incorporating it into the song with humour and sass "My Wig! Help me out with my Wig!" It was pure genius! 


Has the show changed at all going from tour to the St James and then back on tour?

It naturally changes to fill different spaces. The St James was such an intimate setting which I loved. It was very intense. Performing in bigger venues such as Edinburgh Festival Theatre lets other moments thrive more. The show always has the same heart but it definitely feels adapts beautifully to each venue.


How are you enjoying touring life? What do you miss most being away from home?

I’m really enjoying it. I love seeing different places I wouldn't necessarily chose to go to. The thing I miss most about being away is my loved ones and my dogs. 


Can you sum up the show in 5 words?

Live and Love without fear.

If you could go back to any era, when would it be and why?

I’d wanna go back to the caveman era. I wanna know how I would survive!


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

Oooh. I think it would have to be Next to Normal


What's the best piece of advice you're ever received and what advice would you give to aspiring performers?

"Just Be You" is the best advice I’ve ever had. It really works. That’s the advice I’d give to any aspiring performers. Don’t try and fit a mould because someone told you to or because that’s how you get work. I like to think I’ve been employed because of my talent and character and I’ve done that by simply being me. To add to this I would also say never give up. Focus on your own path, it’s so dangerous to compare yourself to others. If you really want it don’t give up. Your time will come.


Thank you so much Billy for doing this interview; go see him in Rent and make sure you purchase all his new music!

Rent is playing at the New Victoria theatre, Woking until March 11th. Visit http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/rent-the-musical/new-victoria-theatre/  for tickets



Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Reasons You Should Go And See RENT

Reasons You Should Go And See RENT
Tuesday, 7 February 2017
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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




Saturday, 31 December 2016

My Top 10 Musicals of 2016

My Top 10 Musicals of 2016
Saturday, 31 December 2016
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Without repeats, I saw 59 different shows this year so compiling this list has been difficult to say the least! This has been a brilliant year for theatre and through this website I really feel that I've become a part of the theatre community. 2016 has seen some brilliant big budget shows as well as smaller fringe ones, many of which have thrilled me. This list is of the shows that stuck with me long after I'd seen them and that I feel are very resonant in our 2016 world. This will probably be a bit of a long post, I have a whole year to fit in after all, so grab yourself a cuppa and some biscuits and enjoy!



This list is in reverse order, cause we all need that extra bit of excitement in our lives.


One of Paul Taylor-Mills' incredible productions of 2016. The music was performed beautifully and the touching and heartbreaking story of conjoined twins Daisy and Violet was told sincerely and gracefully by Laura Pitt-Pulford and Louise Dearman.




Did anyone not like this show? All I heard were incredible reviews and rightly so. An exciting and refreshing revival of a much loved Classic which ticked all the boxes of a hit musical. Charlie Stemp is talent on another level. I'm sure we'll be hearing plenty more good things about the show and cast in 2017!




This was my first visit to The Union Theatre and wow was it a good first. I absolutely adored this show. I was completely unfamiliar with the music and was just blown away by it. The cast were sublime and the story telling was impeccable. I'm sure this would be a huge hit if more people got to see it. 




27 must have been one of the most hyped musicals of 2016 and I could certainly see why when I saw it. It's a musical like I've never seen before, so fresh and different to what's currently on the West End stages. The plot twist at the end had me physically breathless, a stunning piece of artistry.




This was another small show but it definitely packed more than a small punch. It was sweet, pink, sassy and sumptuous. One of those shows which really made you think and reflect on your life. Lauren Samuels gave a standout performance!




I saw this show alone so the minute I stepped out of the theatre I called my friend to fangirl about it like a mad woman. I was completely awestruck by the whole performance. It was moving, funny, relevant and thought-provoking. The use of songs was done smoothly and effectively and it was overall just an A* worthy production.




This was the perfect treat to see just before Christmas. Although the story is slightly dated and everything is a little over the top, it's a fantastic production full of sweetness, heartbreak and love. Scarlett Strallen's performance was absolutely impeccable and nothing short of perfection. With the amount of people I've told to see this, I wouldn't be surprised if it gets a West End transfer in the near future. 




I've grown up with Rent so finally seeing it on stage was a very special experience for me. Each cast member is fully immersed into their roles and the whole production is raw, gritty and believable. Philippa Stefani gives the performance of a superstar and had me in floods of tears. The production will continue to tour next year and I'll certainly be seeing it again so don't be surprised if it features in my top 10 of 2017 too!




The St James theatre was on fire this year! The Last Five Years is another one which I've wanted to see on stage for years. Jason Robert Brown's story is heart-warming and heart-breaking at the same time. It's always a joy to see Samantha Barks on stage and seeing her shine as Cathy was even more wonderful because of how incredibly she showed off her effortless belt and sincere acting. The wonderful mix of simplistic staging, the stellar duo of Barks and Bailey and Jason's beautiful music, rightfully earn The Last Five Years my number two spot!



1. Dreamgirls: Savoy Theatre

If you haven't heard about Dreamgirls' triumphant return to the West End then you must have been living in a cave. This was the 2nd to last show I saw and I couldn't be happier that I could end the year on such a fantastic note. This has got to be the theatrical spectacle of the year, the sets, costumes, choreography and cast are all exquisite and I cried a bucket load of happy tears, which I never do! Go see Dreamgirls in 2017, I guarantee you'll leave singing it's praises!



So there's my top 10 shows, of course there's other brilliant ones and I'm sure your list varies but this has been a brilliant year for theatre and I can't wait to see what 2017 brings *cough* Hamilton *cough* 

But wait, where's that other show that I've been posting and tweeting about like crazy and have seen 32 times!? I haven't forgotten it, I just wanted to give it a special mention because its such a special show. So my "The Show Which Changed My Life: 2016" award goes to IN THE HEIGHTS at the Kings Cross Theatre! I've done a billion posts on it (just search it on the homepage) so I don't need to write any more soppy words but this show has seriously been my everything this year. I've met incredible people from it, both fans and cast members and I'm so incredibly grateful for that. Unfortunately I won't be at the last show as I'm in Australia (boo hoo, woe is me, right?) but I'm so sad its closing, and I'm sending all my thoughts and positive vibes to the theatre gods that they will bring it back because I will never be ready for the lights to go down on Washington Heights! Thank you In The Heights for being there and helping me and I'm sure many others, through tough times and making us feel at home in the theatre. Even if you had no idea how you were helping, I guarantee you made some tough days just that much easier. No pare sigue sigue!



I hope you had a brilliantly theatrical year too and I'd love to hear your favourites so drop me a comment on here or tweet me @OliviaMitche or @RewriteThisWeb 

Au Revoir 2016! Stay Stagey, 2017!
Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Rent, St James Theatre | Review

Rent, St James Theatre | Review
Wednesday, 14 December 2016
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Measure your life in love and measure this musical in love. A brilliant revival of a much loved show which will remind you to live and love.


Rent
St James Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 13th December 2016 by Olivia Mitchell
★★★★★


Rent is one of those iconic musicals which shaped a generation; its melodies and storyline are so touching that the show became a cultural phenomenon when it premiered 20 years ago off-Broadway. It tells the story of a group of people living in a New York, East Village squat who are all affected by HIV, drugs and homelessness. The show's prevailing theme is that of living in the moment: there's truly "No Day But Today."

Bruce Guthrie's production is gritty and industrial, with metal scaffolding, Christmas lights and boxes covered in graffiti creating the dim abrasive world in which the story is set. Lee Proud's choreography is fabulous, especially in La Vie Boheme and Contact. The quick, sharp movements add to the frenzied feeling of the show and add a slightly more modern feel to the show compared to other productions I've seen.



The whole company is impeccable. I cannot fault anyone; every lead and every ensemble member is completely committed to their character and the stunning voices allow Jonathan Larson's melodies to soar and dip, whilst causing the joy and pain of all those watching. Billy Cullum and Ross Hunter shine as the impoverished roommates bouncing off each other wonderfully and their performances give the base and heart to this amazing musical. Philippa Stefani as the club dancing Mimi is rough but vulnerable; I was in complete tears by the end of her performance and was just in awe of how committed to her role she was and how it clearly affected her until the very end- a mesmerising performance to watch. Ryan O'Gorman as Tom Collins is perfect casting. Ryan's voice is off the charts goose-bump inducing and he is fully emotive on every single note. The acting performances all round are faultless especially with Lucie's Jones' over the top performance as the struggling artist Maureen Johnson. Shanay Holmes as Joanne has the most incredible chemistry with Lucie- 'Take Me Or Leave Me' is certainly a standout moment.  Angel played by Layton Williams is everything and more, I need sass lessons from this wonderfully talented man!  I could go on about every other character but lets just leave it at them all being completely and utterly exemplary. The whole company is a tight unit and its clear how special this piece is to all of them.


Rent has lived on for 20 years and as we can see from the 'house full' signs outside the St James that it is still a booming and resonant success. Jonathan Larson's musical is as poignant as engaging as it ever has been. Rent is heartbreaking beautiful and will inspire a whole new generation 20 years on from its original production.


The run at the St James Theatre has currently sold out but make sure to go and see the show whilst it continues to tour around the country.

Rent Official Website: www.rentonstage.co.uk






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