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Showing posts with label union theatre. Show all posts
Showing posts with label union theatre. Show all posts

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:

Out There, Union Theatre | Review

Out There, Union Theatre | Review

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Out There
Union Theatre
Reviewed on Friday 23rd September 2016 by Olivia Mitchell

When I was younger I was a self-confessed Busted fangirl. I remember hearing the news of their breakup on the radio absolutely, heartbroken that I wouldn't have a new song and video to obsess over anymore so when I heard about ex Busted frontman James Bourne's new production of Out There I was intrigued to say the least! James has partnered with Elliot Davis to create this wholesome story about space, family and love.

In Conversation With... Natasha O'Brien | Interview

In Conversation With... Natasha O'Brien | Interview

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Last week I had the pleasure of sitting down and chatting with Natasha O'Brien who is currently starring as Eve/Mama Noah in Children of Eden at the Union Theatre (which I reviewed here.) Natasha is an incredible performer and I got to pick her brains about all things stagey, see what we discussed below:

For anyone that doesn’t know, can you explain a little what Children of Eden is about?

So Children of Eden is, its a show in two parts, its almost like, each act, they're very closely related but they’re almost like two separate shows. The first act is the story of Adam and Eve and Father, the creation and act two is the story of Noah, and the Ark, and all the animals. But ultimately Christian Durham the director wanted to stray away from the tendency to get too religious with the show and he wanted to make the show about family and parenthood and what it means to create something and to raise something and ultimately the difficulty of letting it go to become its own thing.

Have there been any challenges with bringing this script to life?

I think trying to make this show palatable for a wide audience can be a challenge sometimes, especially nowadays the show has a tendency to be picked up a lot of religious amateur groups and it really lends itself well to those kinds of theatre groups but to take it into a broader arena maybe with a more professional cast and crew can be a challenge. I think Christian’s done a really good job making the themes very universal and just making the material watchable.

Are Eve and Mama Noah anything like you?

Yeah totally, we all bring elements of ourselves to our characters, you have nothing else to go on than your own experience. Mama Noah, she’s definitely very no-drama , she’s very chilled out, very grounded and i elected to make her that way because thats what I  immediately took from her and I mean that was just sort of my first impression and I branched from that to create her. With Eve I think her precociousness and her, I don’t wanna say petulance but just a little  bit of cheekiness, I really identified with that. More so in my younger years, I think that there’s a sense of wonder there that I just admire and love about that character, the way she's written and hows she's so flawed. I mean for all intents and purposes she is sort of the antagonist in the first act. You know, if she didn’t  eat that apple… there would be no show, but at the same time you love her for it  and you see the humanity of it and she is the embodiment of humanity and their flaws and how we have to learn how to love ourselves in spite of it all. 

What will the audience be thinking about in the car as they drive home after this show?

I think the show really goes out with a bang, from my experience, what I’ve witnessed and what people have said to me is that from ‘Ain’t it Good’ onwards you can tell that we’re rapping up the show and there are two really big, beautiful vocal numbers. You know, ‘Ain’t it Good’ is such a big piece, for me personally but just for the whole cast, energetically its really joyous and then ‘In The Beginning’ is just really vocally beautiful, the harmonies are so rich and we really get a chance to showcase the true chemistry and  love and fun that we are all having together as a company and that seems to really  resonate with audience members. I think vocals and the score are something people remember, they leave the theatre and they’re really happy and singing. At least I hope so!

Can you sum it up in 5 words?

Sum up the show in 5 words?! What! I just got so nervous, I just got so anxious! Okay, Family. Love. Encouragement. Belief. Trust. They’re off the top of my head without thinking too much about it which I shouldn’t anyway!

Have you found any differences between Canadian audiences and UK audiences so far?

Yeah! When I think about it the average theatre goer in Canada is  much much older and we don’t have as thriving a theatre scene in one city. In London theatre is so engrained in the culture and so much indie theatre is supported by so many age groups and people from different backgrounds, there’s theatre being produced that is really so marketable, like on the West End you’ve got the massive tourist attractions but on the smaller scale, the local community with come to smaller venues like Children of Eden at the Union Theatre and we just have a much more young, excitable and supportive theatre community here in London. Its incredible and its what helps to keep the theatre industry alive. Its struggling in Canada which is one of the reasons I left, we have such a small populations spread over such a huge land mass and in order to work in Canada you have to travel all across the country, which I did. I worked everywhere from Alberta to Montreal and everywhere in between. Whereas in London you can kind of keep it, if not London based then UK based and have an actual career because there are always interesting projects coming up. There’s an actual scene here. And without an audience there’s no industry, so the audience members are younger, more enthusiastic, more supportive, more critical as well. They’re just more seasoned.

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

Yeah. I did my first musical when I was 6 and I just kind of always did musical theatre and have always known that was it for me. There was a brief moment in my life where I had a dalliance with the idea of maybe becoming a lawyer just because I liked the sound of my own voice and I considered quite strongly becoming a paramedic. I think its like that seeking of  thriving under pressure and drama, but ultimately I chose musical theatre. But it was definitely what I’ve wanted to do my whole life and something that I’ve always had as a part of my life. I’ve always done shows, I’ve always had music and performance in any form like speech competitions or saxophone exams, just always some kind of performance.

What’s the last thing you do before you step out on stage?

You know what, I always look at myself in the mirror. Not like, “how am I looking?” but I spend a moment, have a sip of water and just focus. Its more to tune out everything around me, sometimes backstage before a show can be quite frenetic, the energy can be quite crazy and especially with this show the energy is so high and everyone is having such a good time and we’re all very much in love with each other but I need to make sure that I’m really focussed because the first act of this show goes by in like 10 minutes for me. I never stop so I just sort of stare and myself in the mirror for a few minutes and zone out, almost like an open eyed meditation in a way. Have a sip of water, make sure I pee and I’m good to go!

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

Oh my god, if I had a magic wand! I would love to be in Wicked, oh god I would love it! When it first came out I was just starting drama school so it was just a part of a really magical, exciting time so my feelings attached to the music and everything, its visceral. And I mean, come on, its Wicked! It’d be amazing although part of me gets scared at the concept of that cause its like ‘oh god, every night!’ its a lot!

Alternatively I’d love to do Into The Woods, I mean any role, obviously I’m too old  and too tall to play little red now but I think the bakers wife and one day I would love to play the witch. I would love to do Into the Woods and I really love Urinetown! Its so clever and good and the music just takes the piss out of every musical ever written. I would love to be in Les Mis; speaking of musicals it takes the piss out of, it just rips into Les Mis and I would just love to do it because its just a classic and to play Fantine- have a Wicked first act and then boom done!

Whats your best piece of advice for an aspiring performer?

I will share a piece of advice that Nancy Sullivan and David Thaxton shared with me back in February. There’s this amazing company called W1 workshops who I heard about from my friend Carrie O’Dowd who's also a performer and they run these incredible intensive workshops that are super affordable and always in a centrally located area and Nancy and David are both incredible, well respected established performers.  

Anyway, the piece of advice that they gave and this resonated so strongly with me, they said: change your environment, surround yourself with people who are doing what you want to do and join in. Do it. Do the workshops. Take the coachings. Go to the classes. If you want to be in this industry, put yourself in the thick of it and surround yourself with  people who are doing what you wanna do. 

Its really easy to shy away and get overwhelmed and to let our ego and jealousy kind of cloud us but the most important thing you can do is surround yourself with people doing what you want. Its inspiring, it kicks you in the ass, it gives you an idea of whats going on and from a very practical perspective, you’re networking which is so important. I think networking gets such a gross name but networking is really just talking to people, being a normal, interesting human being with something to say and if I can’t have a conversation with someone and  make them feel comfortable then I do not belong on a stage! If I can’t talk and make you feel comfortable, I am not an actor! 

So I think that is probably the best piece of advice and it is exactly what has  afforded me this opportunity. I mean, I’m brand new to this city, I knew no one in this industry when I moved here and it was just about throwing myself into these workshops, finding them online, going in, shaking hands, getting up with your rep and saying, “Hey Danielle Torento, we’ve never met but I’m gonna sing this song for you now” and you know, follow up emails and just do it! 

Change your environment. It might  be one thing you do differently a day, just one thing at a time and as you change your environment you start to develop this foundation and confidence in yourself that you are in fact, doing it.  Because being an actor isn’t just being on stage, its really hard  to explain that to people who aren’t in the industry. I don’t just show up somewhere 9 to 5 and have people tell me what to do, its all offstage. That [the performance] is the holiday, thats the treat, the bulk of the work is an unbelievable amount of groundwork, so, change your environment. That would be the advice… and its not even mine, I’m just passing it along because I think its a golden nugget of wisdom.

A huge thank you to Natasha for a wonderful chat! 

Children of Eden at the Union Theatre is booking until September 10th, make sure you book to see this fantastic show! Tickets are available here.

Read my review of the show here.

Children of Eden, Union Theatre | Review

Children of Eden, Union Theatre | Review

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Children of Eden
Union Theatre
Reviewed on Friday 12th August 2016 by Olivia Mitchell

Inspired by the Book of Genesis, Children of Eden tells the timeless and beautiful story of bringing a child into the world and becoming a parent. It features stunning music and lyrics by acclaimed composer Stephen Schwartz,  who is perhaps most well known for Wicked which continues to play all over the world, and a book by the fantastic John Caird who along with Trevor Nunn, adapted and directed Les Miserables.
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