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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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Elf The Musical, Dominion Theatre | Review

Friday, 25 November 2022

Elf The Musical
Dominion Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday 24th November 2022 by Olivia Mitchell 

If you're looking for some festive magic this year, look no further than the Dominion Theatre for their gloriously Christmassy, sparkly production of Elf The Musical. Based on the cult classic film, it tells the story of Buddy the Elf who finds out he's really a human, so makes the journey from the North Pole to New York City to meet his biological father and experience the world. This musical adaptation has all the most iconic parts of the film plus a heap of theatrical magic that makes it the perfect festive treat.

This version of the show does a superb job of being laugh out loud funny and completely joyous without overstepping into pantomime territory; it's entertaining for all the family but not in a way that has you cringing at the jokes. Of course it's saccharine and over the top but isn't that what Christmas is all about?! At the heart of the story and its success is Simon Lipkin as Buddy, who takes on the role with complete joy and authenticity. Having previously given a starring performance in Nativity The Musical,  Lipkin clearly has the Christmas magic which makes him such a dream to watch.  From shredding paper to create snow to joyfully rollerskating, Buddy is an exuberant and endearing character who you can't help but love. 

Alongside the humour, Lipkin also plays Buddy with a lovely vulnerability which comes across at various points, especially during his encounters with Jovie (played brilliantly by Georgina Castle) when he is completely overwhelmed by her "miraculous" self. His naivety comes across in an authentic and touching way, that doesn't stray into slapstick and gives a real depth to the plot. 

The rest of the cast are incredibly strong throughout. Rebecca Lock is treat as Buddy's step-mum who's heart is slowly opened to Christmas; her duet in Act Two with Buddy's brother (Logan Clark) is absolutely outstanding. Tom Chambers is good as the businessman, absent father whilst Kim Ismay has some really witty moments as his secretary and the pair are great together. Another stand out performance comes from Dermot Canavan who is hilariously entertaining as the Macy's Manager. The ensemble give a really punchy performance, especially when performing Liam Steel's choreography. There's great variety in the show from jaded Santa's giving an impassioned, Newsies-esque display to a full company tap number which is marvellous.

Philip WM. McKinley's direction brings abundant joy to the stage as well as a healthy dose of magic. Tim Goodchild's set is suitably whimsical and there are some certified wow moments through a recreation of the Rockefeller Centre ice rink and some real life snow.

As a whole Elf The Musical is a perfectly packaged Christmas show, which has commercial elements to appeal to the masses as well as some theatrical gems for regular theatre goers. It's a wonderfully enjoyable show that's well worth a visit. Take a trip to the Dominion Theatre, have your elf a very Merry Christmas and feel the festive spirit from your head to your mistletoes!

photo credit: Mark Senior

Girl From The North Country (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

Wednesday, 23 November 2022

Girl From The North Country (UK Tour)
New Victoria Theatre 
Reviewed on Tuesday 22nd November 2022 by Olivia Mitchell 

The UK theatre scene is no stranger to jukebox musicals, but Girl From The North Country which features Bob Dylan's backlog, is a completely different and outstanding take on the genre. Dylan's work is the definition of storytelling, with each song creating a mood and narrative to follow so it really lends itself well to being interspersed into a show. 

Writer and Director Connor McPherson has taken the songs and set them in Minnesota (Bob Dylan's birthplace) against the backdrop of the depression; this leads to a dark show but it's surprisingly filled with a lot of light and humour and ultimately manages to be uplifting. McPherson's writing is truly wonderful, his rich, multi layered plot sweeps you up and takes you on a hugely moving but also intimate journey. Although at times things can be a little confusing you can't help but be drawn into the world of the characters and the story manages, much like life, to be both simplistic and chaotic at once.

The setting is an old boarding house run by Nick Laine, who is struggling to look after his wife Elizabeth who has dementia. Also struggling to make ends meet we see him try to stay afloat alongside the various others who come through his doors. Frances McNamee is breathtaking as Elizabeth, giving vocals that are so superbly soulful and smooth you're completely enamoured. Her performance is also amazingly witty and mischievous, often proving hilarious one liners and always keeping you on the edge of your seat; it's a real masterclass performance. Alongside her Colin Connor gives a really strong performance as the husband who is trying to hold everything together without falling apart himself.

Marianne (Justina Kehinde) was taken in by the Laines as a baby and now helps out in the guesthouse but is facing her own hardships as she is pregnant. Her father therefore is desperate to marry her off to alleviate some of the financial and social burden. Whilst his biological son (Gregor Milne) is an alcoholic wannabe writer who is completely stuck in a rut. It's really a portrait of a family who are struggling, which feels very relevant given the huge struggles today with the cost of living crisis and recession. Despite this, the musical (although its more a play with songs) isn't particularly maudlin, instead it's almost a celebration of resilience and relationships. 

Without giving too much away, there are also a number of other romantic and friendship relationships showcased, all of which are well rounded and beautifully nuanced. One of which is that of Gene Laine and Katherine Draper (Eve Norris) which is a small part of the show but one of the standout moments with their performance of I Want You being a vocal delight.

As a whole the performances are incredibly strong. Justina Kehinde conveys Marianne's youth and vulnerability in a brilliantly natural way. Joshua C Jackson is mysterious and imposing but also tender as Joe Scott and Owen Lloyd is wonderful as bible seller Elias Burke. The ensemble performances make this show as moving as it is, with every song being performed in perfect conversation with the script. Like A Rolling Stone is a definite stand out, as are the moments of silence. The cast are so in sync that rests feel like a communal breath and it's magical to experience.

Girl From The North Country is raw and poetic show which quietly sneaks up on you and leaves you pondering the important things in life. It's intimate, energetic, entirely engaging and a really great theatrical experience.

Mrs Doubtfire to Open in the West End in May 2023

Tuesday, 15 November 2022

Producers Kevin McCollum and Jamie Wilson are thrilled to announce that new comedy musical Mrs. Doubtfire, based on the iconic movie, will open in the West End next Summer.

Having thrilled audiences at its UK premiere in Manchester earlier this year, the London production will begin performances at the newly refurbished Shaftesbury Theatre from Friday 12 May 2023, with a Press Night on Thursday 22 June. Tickets go on-sale today via www.mrsdoubtfiremusical.co.uk

A hilarious and heartfelt story about holding onto your loved ones against all odds, Mrs. Doubtfire is the musical comedy we need right now.

Out-of-work actor Daniel will do anything for his kids. After losing custody in a messy divorce, he creates the ​alter ego of Scottish nanny Euphegenia Doubtfire in a desperate attempt to stay in their lives. As his new character takes on a life of its own, Mrs. Doubtfire teaches Daniel more than he bargained for about how to be a father.

Mrs. Doubtfire will introduce Gabriel Vick (Avenue Q) as Daniel Hillard.

Gabriel will be joined in the principal cast by Carla Dixon-Hernandez (Matilda the Musical) as Lydia Hillard, Cameron Blakely (The Addams Family) as Frank Hillard, Marcus Collins (Kinky Boots) as Andre, and Ian Talbot OBE (Hairspray, and Director of The Mousetrap) as Mr. Jolly.

Further cast include Joshua Dever, Samuel Wilson-Freeman, Maria Garrett, Kiera Haynes, Adam Lyons, Lisa Mathieson, Ellie Mitchell, Matt Overfield, Tom Scanlon, Vicki Lee Taylor and Rebecca Donnelly, Amy Everett and Paulo Teixeira.

The roles of Miranda Hillard, Stuart Dunmire, Janet Lundy, Wanda Sellner and the full cast are to be announced at a later date.

For cast & creative team information, please see www.mrsdoubtfiremusical.co.uk

Mrs. Doubtfire has been created by a transatlantic team of award-winning artists, with Original Music and Lyrics by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick, (the Tony Award-nominated team behind Something Rotten!, along with O’Farrell), a Book by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell, Direction by 4-time Tony winner Jerry Zaks (Hello, Dolly!), Choreography by Lorin Latarro (Waitress), and Music Supervision, Arrangements & Orchestrations by Ethan Popp (Tina: The Tina Turner Musical). Scenic design is by David Korins (Hamilton), Costume Design by Catherine Zuber (Moulin Rouge! The Musical), Lighting Design by Philip S. Rosenberg (Pretty Woman The Musical), Sound Design by Brian Ronan (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical), Hair Design by David Brian Brown (Frozen), Makeup & Prosthetics Design by Tommy Kurzman (The King and I), Casting by Stuart Burt (Cabaret) and Children’s Casting Director is Verity Naughton.

Mrs. Doubtfire is produced by Kevin McCollum and Jamie Wilson and is presented by special arrangement with Buena Vista Theatrical.

The Nutcracker, (Northern Ballet Tour) New Victoria Theatre | Review

Friday, 11 November 2022

The Nutcracker (UK Tour)
New Victoria Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday 10th November 2022 by Olivia Mitchell 

Returning to the New Victoria Theatre, Woking after its triumphant run in 2018, Northern Ballet's The Nutcracker is just as magical as ever and a must see this festive season. This enchantingly magical show is brought to life by a stunningly talented cast and completely embodies joy and magic.

David Nixon's choreography makes this a spectacle of a show that fits perfectly on a touring stage whilst still providing a wow factor. Whilst it's not quite as intricate or dark as other productions, it's a real sweet treat that's perfect for all ages and thanks to the talented dancers every step is performed to perfection.

Not a moment of Tchaikovsky's glorious score is wasted in this show, from the overture we are introduced to a number of characters who scurry around the front of the stage preparing the grand house for its Christmas party. Small details are a real feature of this production, especially during Act One when there are multiple engagements and mini plot lines going on between characters. This attention to detail makes it really engaging and makes the whole Christmas party feel incredibly realistic- there's even Grandpa (Wesley Branch) drunkenly falling over!

We're soon introduced to Clara who is played wonderfully by Rachael Gillespie, who's beaming smile and childlike wonder exude from the stage and make the audience share in her joy.  As her Nutcracker Prince, Harris Beattie is dashing to watch and he sparkles on stage like the glitter he was created with. The duo's Pax de Deux against the snowy backdrop is truly magical.

It in Act Two when a lot of the real magic happens, with a number of absolutely breathtaking moments. Perhaps the most magical being the Sugar Plum Fairy (Saeka Shirai) solo and Pax de Deux with her Cavalier (Jonathan Hanks), both of which are completely mesmerising. Despite the stage being filled with opulent sets, the audience can't help but watch only the dancers, and Saeka's solo especially, is a true showcase of ballet at its finest.

As Drosselmeyer Gavin McCaig is mystical and a dream to watch as his magical, glittering cape flows around him. Bruno Serraclara is witty as the Mouse King and each and every soloist is wonderful.

Aside from the dancing, this is a visually and aurally pleasing show. The Northern Ballet Sinfonia do complete justice to the glorious music, and under the baton of Jonathan Lo they sound utterly virtuosic. Charles Cusick Smith's set alongside Mark Jonathan's lighting are a design match made in heaven; perfectly balancing magic and spectacle, whilst also allowing dance to be the star of the show.

The Northern Ballet's production of The Nutcracker is everything you could want in the lead up to Christmas. Enchantment paired with stellar dancing means you'll have a captivating time, whether you're an adult or child.

photo credit: Emma Kauldhar