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Showing posts with label simon lipkin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label simon lipkin. Show all posts

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

Honeymoon in Vegas, London Palladium | Review

Honeymoon in Vegas, London Palladium | Review

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Honeymoon in Vegas
London Palladium
Reviewed on Sunday 12th March 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★★★

Founded in June 2015, the London Musical Theatre Orchestra (LMTO) prides itself on giving beautiful music a place to be heard and showcasing lesser known talent and works. On March 12th 2016 the orchestra accompanied a stellar cast who performed Jason Robert Brown's short lived 2015 Broadway musical, Honeymoon in Vegas

Samantha Barks and Arthur Darvill led the cast as the engaged Betsy and Jack who are on their way to finally getting married. They've been a couple for five years but Jack is afraid to commit to marriage as he believes he's under a curse from his dead mother. Her dying wish was for him never to marry and he's taking any measure he can to ensure this is kept, despite this, he suggests an elopement to Vegas. Once again he gets cold feet and makes his way to a poker game organised by Tommy Korman. Unbeknownst to him, Korman wants Betsy (a dead ringer for his late wife) for himself and is ready to offer Jack an ultimatum.

The story is bizarre but that's what makes it exciting. The absurdity allows all kinds of craziness to take place on stage and makes the production truly hilarious and impressive. The LMTO's musical director, Freddie Tapner introduced the performance, stating that the music and score would be telling the story and that it was up to the audience to imagine dances, costumes, set changes and a herd of parachuting Elvis'! This worked wonderfully and it was surprising how little was lost by this being a concert rather than a full blown glitz and glam production.  

BWW Review: HONEYMOON IN VEGAS, London Palladium
Each member of the cast, chorus and orchestra worked harmoniously together to pull of an effortless performance. Simon Lipkin is a brilliant performer and he stole the show each time he appeared on stage, leaving us all laughing and feeling thoroughly entertained. Maisey Bawden was hilarious as the Hawaiian Mahi and had the audience in the palm or her hand as she caused everyone to laugh out loud.


Samantha Barks and Arthur Darvill's chemistry was evident throughout and they seemed to really enjoy performing together, bringing the loved-up couple to life charmingly. Barks' voice seems to get better and better and after her success in The Last Five Years it was an absolute joy to see her perform another of Jason's scores which suit her voice so perfectly.  She gave a truly stellar performance. Darvill's voice was a surprise to me, it's effortlessly smooth and fits the easy swing feel of Honeymoon in Vegas to a tee, he gave a brilliant heartfelt and comedic performance.

If the outstanding performances weren't enough, this production was made even better by the fact that it was conducted by Jason Robert Brown himself as the LMTO's first ever guest conductor. Brown is funny, witty and animated and brought a wonderful sense of style to the whole performance. He even stepped down from his podium and played the ukulele at one point which was a real treat.  

The various standing ovations were a sign of how well done this production was and how much the audience loved this rarely performed piece. I don't think anyone would be complaining if it made a return to the West End stage and I hope we can keep Brown and his brilliant writing on this side of the pond!
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