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Showing posts with label wicked. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wicked. Show all posts

A West End Guide To Singing: Kerry Ellis

A West End Guide To Singing: Kerry Ellis

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If you've ever wanted singing tips from a West End star, then this series of posts is the one for you! This post is courtesy of the wonderful Kerry Ellis who will soon be starring as Eve in the tour of the new show, Heaven on Earth...


When did you realise you could sing? Did you have singing lessons?
I always sung from an early age I knew I loved it and that was enough for me to want to pursue a career it wasn't really about whether I was good enough or not. I've had lessons with various people along the way but nothing consistent. I don't know if that's a good thing or not.

Have you always been able to belt? If not, when did you start belting?
I think so yes I grew up listening to Bernadette Peters, Elaine Paige, Barbra Streisand Celine Dion and other incredible female vocalists. Liza Minnelli too and I'd just try to sing along with them so I guess it was all from a natural place. 

What's the best exercise to get your voice ready for belt/twang?
I wouldn't like to give advice on how to sing to other people because I'm not a qualified teacher, I think there are some amazing teachers out there that can teach technique and how to sing safely.

What vowels do you find easiest to belt? Do you modify words to make them easier to sing?
I think you have to sing the lyrics of the song regardless whether it easy or not but a good teacher would help you work your way through the song without forcing or causing any damage.

What tips do you have for singing and dancing at the same time?
Breathe and go for it and have fun!



How do you keep your voice healthy, do you have any rituals before shows?
Depends on the day I think the best advice somebody gave to me was use the voice you have that day, which means you mustn't give yourself a hard time if your voice doesn't feel the same every day just sing with the best of your ability and give yourself a break. Lots of water lots of rest and don't abuse your voice.

Rest is so underrated you have to take care of your voice like any other part of your body it's precious and needs care and attention and respect!

Overall, what's your number one piece of advice for finding and developing your singing voice?
Trust yourself and enjoy it!


See Gabriela Garcia's guide to singing: http://www.rewritethisstory.com/2017/01/a-west-end-guide-to-singing-gabriela.html

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

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

In Conversation With... Rachel Tucker | Interview

In Conversation With... Rachel Tucker | Interview

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Rachel Tucker is basically theatrical royalty, with a an impressive resume, an incredible voice and an extremely dedicated following. Currently touring the UK and about to start her second stint at the Zedel in London, Rachel was lovely enough to discuss what we can expect in her concerts, how she stays motivated, her dream role and much more... 


What are some of your career highlights so far?

Wicked on Broadway, it was my absolute dream. The I'd Do Anything programme was a highlight, I loved it, it was great. Oh Wicked 10 is definitely the most recent highlight, it was amazing and a great night.


What keeps you motivated to keep working even when you're knocked down?

I guess the belief in myself, I know I can do it. I think people get confused with not getting the job, they think that it's a personal thing and 99% of the time it's not. It's just you're not right for them or at that particular time or moment for whatever their reasons are. But it's about remembering that it's not me, it's them. I mean not them, but their choice, not because I'm bad but because they don't want me.


Elphaba is obviously a very iconic role. How do you add your own spin on such well known songs and characters?

I try and approach it with a fresh look at it and as close to Rachel as I can because I think it's important to not copy and not be what everybody else thinks you should be and also because it's boring to do it the way someone else has done it when you're not being true to yourself. I'm a very honest person and I think it's very important to be honest with everything you think and how you approach the music and songs and interpret it as close to yourself as you possibly can.


You have a lot of repertoire, so what can people expect when they come and see you perform your solo concerts?

I like an eclectic collection of songs. I've grown up with old school musicals and entertainers and also love very current stuff like Ed Sheeran and I love standards, like some jazz standards. I also love modern musical theatre as well as the old stuff. So yeah, a real mixed bag. A real collection... and a few surprises thrown in for good measure!


If you could bring any guest star on stage with you, dead or alive, who would you pick?

Sammy Davis Jr, Bette Midler and Sting. Oh and probably Beyonce!


You've performed in a variety of venues both in shows and on tour. Do you prefer the bigger, elaborate ones or the smaller, more intimate ones?

They're all different, each of them brings a different thing. The intimate ones I think will be good to start out for me because they're more informal and I love that. You know, I'm not a formal girl, I love being casual and being able to see people and their reactions so that'll be nice. But I also love the big theatres where you have to look up to the balcony and get people joining in and singing along. So I like both.


You're taking this tour to Broadway with 54 Below, but would you ever consider touring it over there?

I think maybe in time, I mean it's taken ten years for me to be able to realistically tour the UK and these things I think take time so I think it'll be a little while longer before doing anything like that in America.


What's one talent you wish you could have?

I wish I could read music or play an instrument. Specifically the piano!


What are some funny moments you had either on stage or off stage?

Oh wow.... funny moments. I'm trying to think what ones I can tell you!  At one point when I first did Wicked, I came back from holiday and I completely left out the whole bit of why Elphaba snatches the green bottle before 'Popular'. I literally couldn't remember a word of it and poor Gina Beck had to prompt me and say "was it because your mum was.....?" and she had to literally recite the whole paragraph and I just agreed with her. It was very scary!


Have you ever sneezed or got the hiccups in a performance?

Oh yeah completely. When I did The Wizard of Oz in Belfast, someone sneezed to me and I couldn't finish my lines cause I was laughing so hard. So absolutely, yes.


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

Ohhh which show would I do next? I'd probably do a new show, a brand new show to originate and create a new role, yeah.


If you could go back to any era, when would you go to?

I think I'd go back to the 60s or actually probably the Hollywood MGM era like 20s or 30s


What is your go to karaoke song?

I recently went with my friend and I did 'Simply The Best' by Tina Turner!


What's the best piece of advice you've received or would like to give to someone hoping to get into the performing industry?

You've got to absolutely know your worth, know how good you are and be realistic with yourself and whether you can hack this industry. And think seriously if there's something else you could do then you probably should go and do it because you know, there was nothing else I could do and I think you've got to be very dedicated and very driven and passionate and care a lot about it. And have patience, it takes years and years to get anywhere. It doesn't just happen over night!


A huge thank you to Rachel for taking the time to talk to me. All of Rachel's shows at the Zedel are currently sold out but you may be lucky and get a return! All information about her upcoming dates can be seen here.

Samantha Barks, Mayflower Theatre | Review

Samantha Barks, Mayflower Theatre | Review

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Samantha Barks with Kerry Ellis
Mayflower Theatre
Reviewed on Saturday May 20th 2017 by Mary Schofield
★★

The Mayflower is a fantastic venue located in the heart of Southampton, I have visited it frequently over the past two years that I have been at University and it's brilliant that such a wonderful theatre is on my doorstep. The venue is often visited by West End shows on their UK tours and seats a capacity of 2,300 people.

Despite the large capacity of the theatre the performance itself felt intimate as Samantha Barks (first discovered on I'd Do Anything and known for her recent appearances in: Les Miserables, The Last Five Years, Oliver and most recently her films Bitter Harvest and Interlude in Prague) took us on a nostalgic journey down memory lane. She sung a collection of songs from her new album including: “When He Loved Me” and “If I Die Young” as well as a gorgeous cover of "Blackbird" by The Beatles. Sam also shared with us a spectacular performance from The Last Five Years, “I Can Do Better Than That” which she wrapped in the St James Theatre (now The Other Palace) last December. Unfortunately I wasn’t lucky enough to see this in the theatre but the film version will have to help ease my new musical obsession!
Samantha's special guest for this one off concert event was the wonderful Kerry Ellis (known for her appearances in Wicked and currently on tour with the production Wonderland). Her set consisted of performances from both Wonderland and We Will Rock You. Ellis really showed off her unique, rocky voice and was a perfect complement to Barks.
The highlight of the evening was definitely when both ladies joined together for a wonderful duet of "For Good" from Wicked. Samantha went on to explain that this performance was one that she previously had on her bucket list, making the occasion even more special. You truly missed a magical moment if you weren't there! The evening was rounded up with a throwback to Les Mis with “On My Own”, bringing tears to every member of the audience and showing the power of Samantha's stage presence.

The only thing that upset me about the event was the timings; I would have been more than happy to listen to Barks sing for another 3 hours! This was a fantastic concert with two powerhouses of musical theatre joining together for a fabulous evening of entertainment. Hopefully this isn't the last of the pairing we see and I can't wait to see Samantha perform again- fingers crossed for another stint on a West End stage! 

In Conversation With... Shoshana Bean | Interview

In Conversation With... Shoshana Bean | Interview

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Firstly I want to apologise for how late this interview is. I interviewed Shoshana back in September but unfortunately my phone glitched and I couldn't retrieve the interview so it had to be put off. Thankfully I got it back so you lovely, stagey people can finally read it! So I hope you enjoy this late, but still very interesting and relevant interview from the wonderful Shoshana Bean!



Shoshana is a Broadway veteran who's starred in Wicked, Funny Girl, Hairspray and Beaches to name a few. She's released 3 solo albums, done countless solo concerts as well as those with the Postmodern Jukebox AND she sung back-up vocals for Michael Jackson! There's really nothing this lady can't do!...  
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