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Welcome to Rewrite This Story, here you'll find all things Theatre, Music, Arts and Culture! Created and curated by Olivia Mitchell, we share the latest stagey news, reviews, interviews and more!
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Pretty Woman on Tour at the New Victoria Theatre Review: A Perfect Night Out

Tuesday 28 November 2023

Pretty Woman (Tour) 
New Victoria Theatre 

A night of laughter; this sexy, fun and wonderfully performed musical grabs attention from the off! 

Based on the famous 1990 film, the show tells the story of Vivian, a prostitute falling on hard times in Beverly Hills. By pure chance, she catches the attention of a Billionaire, Edward. Their instant connection prompts Edward to offer residence to Vivian, in exchange for her services for one week whilst he stays at the famously opulent Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Both are certain that no feelings could grow during this business deal. It seems they are both to be proved wrong…

The leading role of Vivian Ward was of course made famous by Julia Roberts. Needless to say, this iconic role is a hard one to fill. Amber Davies, who gained public attention with her 2017 Love Island win plays the role with brilliance and proves she's much more than a reality star. Her acting, singing and dancing is on point, a true triple threat! Whilst delivering iconic lines from the movie, Amber makes the role her own and creates a charming character who the audience root for. 

Oliver Savile portrays the role of Edward Lewis excellently, which is no surprise considering his extensive theatre experience! Edward’s closed-off attitude and need to hold everyone at arms length, slowly wavers as Vivian wins his affection. The strong chemistry between Amber and Oliver is more than apparent, especially in the few raunchy moments throughout the show. It's a pleasure to see them act together. 

Natalie Paris, who plays Vivian’s best friend Kit De Luca is a true standout with the most incredible vocal range! A continual scene stealer, her ‘Rock and Roll’ style is effortless, and she brings the witty character to life superbly.  The rest of the killer ensemble do a fantastic job of keeping energy high with their multiple dance numbers and general presence. 

With music Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance, a book by Garry Marshall and the film’s screenwriter J.F. Lawton and direction and choreography Jerry Mitchell, the magic of the show is there from the start, and stays throughout. Pretty Woman on tour is a fantastic screen to stage adaptation that has all the moments the audience know and love from the smash hit film, with extra theatrical additions to make it an utterly engaging experience.

The overall design of the show fits the era and flavour of the musical well. The use of bright background lighting (Kenneth Posner and Philip S. Rosenberg) during song and dance numbers keep the overall feeling of the show light and fun. Equally Tom Rodgers's costume design really represents the story well; of course the iconic red ballgown from the movie makes its appearance alongside a number of other fun costumes. David Rockwell's set is simple but effective- one minute you are looking at dingy Hollywood street corner, the next you are in the Penthouse suite of the Beverly Wilshire! 

Overall, the lightheartedness of the story and the fantastic talent onstage makes for a  perfect, adult-only night out. I highly recommend a trip to Hollywood via Woking! 

Reviewed on Monday 27th November 2023 by Grace Dickinson
Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan

{AD PR Invite- tickets gifted in exchange for honest review}

He Sang to Me by Casey Tyler book review: A Delightfully Cheesy Ode to Broadway Romance

He Sang to Me by Casey Tyler
Self Published: 3rd October 2023 by Truelove Publishing

Casey Tyler's debut novel, He Sang to Me is a book that unabashedly caters to the delulu girlies, and as a self-proclaimed member of that tribe, I found myself both cringing and grinning through its pages. This 320 page tale, is reminiscent of a sweet and charming fanfic; intertwining the enchanting worlds of Broadway and romance – two of this reader's, favourite things.

The narrative unfolds amidst the hustle and bustle of New York City, and the author's vivid descriptions and location name drops skilfully bring the city to life. As well as this the pages are dotted with stagey references that act like hidden treasures for theatre enthusiasts like myself. The book really evokes the frenetic energy of the theatre district and certainly sparked my desire to hop on a flight back to New York to explore every corner of the city.

He Sang to Me follows Sunday Truelove, an aspiring actress who moves to New York to pursue her dreams. Within moments she wins tickets to the hottest show on Broadway and whilst she's there has a magical encounter with the leading man and famous British actor, Tyler Axel. From here the two enter a fairytale romance and discover whether they're truly meant to be.

Honestly, it's as cheesy as it sounds and I kind of loved it. There are all the classic tropes, from being spotted by paparazzi to caring for the sick partner and in a way it's pretty iconic. On the other hand, it's pretty basic. The characters aren't particularly developed, Sunday has extreme 'not like other girls' energy which is a little grating and the book, at times, tips into self-indulgence and lacks a grounded narrative. Despite the characters being in their late twenties and thirties, their personalities and emotional journeys comes across quite immature and lean towards a younger audience. It's clear that a bit more editing and development could add a layer of realism to their characterisations. Some of the British aspects were also inaccurate and took me out of the world a little but these are definitely things that could be tweaked and edited for future prints. Nevertheless, the book shines in capturing the essence swooping romance and is a sweet stagey story, with some charming moments.

There are elements of the characters that I truly enjoyed such as Sunday's bright eyed optimism and Tyler's love for his family and his craft. I know I would fall for an ex-Fiyero with a killer voice, although in my experience they're never quite as unproblematic as Tyler! 

The rest of the characters, while somewhat idealised, form a found family that's lovely to discover. The friendships and relationships are sprinkled with relatable moments, creating a sense of nostalgia for those who have ever dreamt of having a dreamy friend group.

The musical theatre aspects of the story are really fun but I do think it would be interesting to include more of the backstage aspect of Broadway. With both of the leads being so heavily ingrained in the world, it would be easy to explore but a lot of the plot points surrounding it are quite surface level and because of the idealised world they are living in, the challenging realities of the Broadway business don't get a light shone on them. I definitely think this is a story that could benefit from a sprinkle of grit to elevate it to the next level.

Casey clearly has a love and talent for writing and whilst I found the initial chapters a bit heavy-handed with unnecessary descriptions, the writing blooms and improves throughout and it's quite wonderful that she's has taken the plunge to write and self publish the story, I'll certainly be keeping an eye our for future (hopefully stagey) treats.

In a nutshell, He Sang to Me offers a quick and enjoyable escape for fans of theatre, celebrity/normal dating dynamics, and the allure of found family tropes. While it may not be a polished piece of literature, its endearing charm, lively New York setting, and relatable theatrical moments make it a worthwhile indulgence for those in need of a cosy break from reality.

Reviewed by Olivia

Follow Casey to keep up with her writing journey

{AD PR product- book gifted by author}

My Neighbour Totoro at the Barbican Centre Review: Whimsical, Enchanting and Idealistic

My Neighbour Totoro
Barbican Centre

After a hugely applauded and successful run last year, My Neighbour Totoro has returned to the Barbican Centre and is as highly anticipated as ever. The 1988 Japanese animated fantasy film is much loved around the globe, but having never seen it personally I was intrigued how this stage adaptation would affect me. Thankfully I was blown away by the story and staging and can see why it's a tale so close to people's hearts.

Brought to the stage by producers Joe Hisaishi and the Royal Shakespeare Company, the show is a perfect combination of animation style moments and theatrical wonder. As a whole, it does a masterful job of capturing the essence of childhood wonder and innocence in a way that's relatable to adults and children alike. The colours are vibrant, the details meticulous, and the animation style timeless. From the moment the logo comes to life, the enchanting world of Totoro wakes up and takes the audience on a whimsical, wonderful journey.

The story, a heartfelt tale of two sisters, Satsuki and Mei, and their mischievous encounters with forest spirits, is simple but encompasses a range of emotions. The emotional depth and universal themes of family, friendship, and the magic of nature are portrayed with a subtlety and grace that I'm learning is very typically, Studio Ghibli. It's not the most intriguing of tales and is definitely more of a visual treat but the pacing is perfect, and allows the audience to savour every moment whilst keeping engaged throughout.

Tom Pye's ingenious design, paired with the creative direction of Phelim McDermott, has given life to an awe-inspiring and intricately detailed set, with hidden aspects and elements that come swooping in to create magical moments. The intricacy of this production's design serves as a testament to the limitless potential that the enchanting world of theatre can bring to life and even more special, is how throughout, it also manages to retain a sense of cosiness and intimacy.

The truly mesmerising part of My Neighbour Totoro is of course the astounding puppets crafted by Basil Twist. The production fearlessly showcases the puppeteers, adding a unique layer to the wonder and escapism of the performance. Far from diminishing the magic, the visible puppeteers become an integral part of the spectacle, stopping to bow during the show, often breaking the fourth wallk and culminating in a genius curtain call that is it's own whimsical show that's truly unexpected and brilliant.

The music in My Neighbour Totoro is the beating heart of the production, thanks to the enchanting vocals of Ai Ninomiya. Her performance provides a mesmerising soundtrack that weaves seamlessly with the unfolding events. The original film score by Joe Hisaishi, expertly re-orchestrated by Will Stuart, and the adapted lyrics by Tom Morton-Smith and Hilmi Jaidin which blend delicate Japanese and English verses, all add layersof depth to this beautifully intricate production. The perfect harmony between music and storytelling creates an immersive experience, and furthers the impact of the tale.

The amazing cast assembled feels like a tight-knit family on stage. Mei Mac and Ami Okumura Jones, portray the lively sisters Mei and Satsuki, effortlessly taking the audience on an emotional rollercoaster with their youthful energy and seamless chemistry. Dai Tabuchi and Emily Piggford give endearing performances as the caring parents, Tatsuo and Yasuko. What's truly remarkable is that, beyond their main roles, each cast member (bar Mei and Satsuki) also step into the role of puppeteer, showcasing the incredible versatility and talent that defines this consistently outstanding ensemble.

Whether you're a long-time Studio Ghibli fan or experiencing the magic for the first time, My Neighbour Totoro at the Barbican Centre is an absolute must-see. It's a theatrical gem that touches hearts and transports audiences to a world where imagination knows no bounds. Five stars simply don't do justice for this enchanting experience.

Reviewed on Monday 27th November 2023 by Olivia
Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan

Tickets for My Neighbour Totoro are available at London Box Office

{AD PR Invite- tickets gifted in exchange for honest review}

The Drifter's Girl on Tour at the New Victoria Theatre Review: Enchanting Performances

Thursday 23 November 2023

The Drifter's Girl (Tour)
New Victoria Theatre

Currently on tour after a West End stint, The Drifters Girl offers audiences a glimpse at an intriguing journey, accompanied by top tapping hits and universally great performances. Showered with acclaim at the 2022 Olivier Awards, the show follows the dramatic narrative of Faye Treadwell, the incredible force behind shaping The Drifters.

While grappling with some visually lacklustre sets, the production compensates with performances that pack a punch and a memorable soundtrack featuring timeless tunes like ‘Saturday Night At The Movies,’ ‘Save The Last Dance For Me,’ and ‘Stand By Me.’

Despite the occasional visual challenge posed by the set design, The Drifters Girl invites audiences to dive headfirst into the heart of the action with an immediate and dynamic narrative approach. This spirited start, while invigorating, might require a bit of time for the audience to acquaint themselves with the characters and their relationships. If you’re not familiar with the story you may be a little dazed, but thanks to the fast pace, you don’t really have time to think about it!

From the energetic get go, the performances are the true stars of the show. Under the compelling portrayal of Faye Treadwell by Carly Mercedes-Dyer, the cast deliver stellar performances that highlight the ambition, determination, and drive which drives the story. The group's seamless transitions, brought to life by Ashford Campbell, Daniel Haswell, Miles Anthony Daley, and Tarik Frimpong, showcase their artistry in navigating the dynamic changes within The Drifters. Vocally, each performer has some stand out moments however don’t often get the chance to really come into their own. Carly Mercedes Dyer perfectly performs the peak moments of the show, with vocals that simmer and then soar.

The musical's charm lies in its unforgettable songs, which act as both a soulful soundtrack and sturdy pillars supporting the narrative. The emotional depth conveyed through these musical moments significantly contributes to the overall impact, and has you rooting for the story. However, it does feel like something is missing, with the short acts skimming over a lot of drama and never quite packing a punch.

Whilst it’s not a life altering night at the theatre, The Drifters Girl has performances that feel authentic, a soundtrack that strikes a chord, and a narrative that unveils the essence of a key figure in music history. Despite the initial visual challenges and a swift plunge into the storyline, the production eventually finds its rhythm, offering an enjoyable experience for fans of The Drifters and musical theatre enthusiasts alike.

Reviewed on Wednesday 22nd November 2023 by Olivia
Photo Credit:

{AD PR Invite- tickets gifted in exchange for honest review}