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Welcome to Rewrite This Story, here you'll find all things Theatre, Arts and Culture! Created and curated by Olivia Mitchell, we share the latest stagey news, reviews, interviews and more!
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Prima Facie, Harold Pinter Theatre | Review

Saturday, 14 May 2022


Prima Facie
Harold Pinter Theatre
Reviewed on Friday 13th May 2022 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★★

Anyone who's seen Jodie Comer in her multifaceted performance in Killing Eve understands why she is such a well loved and in demand actor. In her one-woman West End debut in Prima Facie, Comer lives up to every expectation and delivers a performance that astounds and stays with you long after the curtain comes down.

What's so impressive with Comer is not only how she brings interesting and enticing vocal intonations to the script, but how she physically embodies every moment. The high-voltage emotions which run through the piece are literally carried by Comer and she imbues every moment with intensity and expressiveness. You can just tell how much work has gone into crafting such an intelligent and wonderful portrayal, even from small details such as becoming slightly posher when she's presenting in court compared to talking to her mother. Comer never flags for a second of the 95 minute show and whether she's shattering you with heart-breaking moments, or having you laugh out loud with her witty performance, she has you wrapped around her finger in a phenomenal way.

Of course this performance wouldn't exist without Suzie Miller's script which is so expertly crafted and focusses on the heartbreaking realities of sexual assault and how difficult it is for women to get closure via successful prosecutions in a court which is based on archaic rules written by men and does very little to support or empathise with victims.

Comer's character Tessa is a barrister who rose from being the underdog at university to being one of the top defence lawyers for men accused of sexual assault. The play opens with her revelling at being great in court and later on contrasts this by showing flashbacks to her younger self full of doubt as to whether she could succeed when surrounded by all the private school classmates who she cannot relate to. Her excitement and razor sharp cross examination skills show how she can sew the seed of doubt that the victim may have in fact given consent and that the man was doing what he believed she wanted. The way she talks about it almost gets you on her side until she herself is raped by a colleague and realises how messed up the whole system and court process is.

Natasha Chiver's lighting design and Justin Martin's direction really hammer this message home, with folders creating a blank canvas for the action but also becoming part of the story at times. Gradual lighting changes bring further gravitas to the mood changes and the clever closing monologue which breaks the fourth wall is so well done. As a whole this production is a sleek treat which discusses a dark matter but has you feeling uplifting by the talent and skill displayed on stage and behind the scenes.

In a stunningly moving performance, Jodie Comer shows her emotional range and magnetic stage presence which makes her the wondrous performer she is and makes this an unmissable piece of theatre. Beg, borrow, or steal a ticket if you can find one, or book to see Prime Facie in cinemas!

Jeremy Jordan to Perform Live in London

Thursday, 12 May 2022


Fourth Wall Live is thrilled to announce that Broadway star Jeremy Jordan will be performing a solo show live in London at Theatre Royal Drury Lane on Monday 29 August 2022. Pre-sale sign up is open now. www.fw-live.com/jeremy
 
This marks Jeremy’s fourth solo engagement in London after three previous sold-out runs as well as the sold-out Bonnie and Clyde in Concert at Theatre Royal Drury Lane in January of this year. The show is an opportunity for Jeremy to celebrate the some of music he is most loved for performing as well as personal favourites both old and new. 
 
Jeremy Jordan is a Broadway performer who is best known for Newsies (Tony, Grammy, Drama Desk nominations), Bonnie and Clyde (Theatre World Award), American Son, Little Shop of Horrors, West Side Story, Waitress and Rock of Ages. On television he has appeared as a series regular on Supergirl, Smash, and Disney's Tangled. His film credits include The Last 5 Years, Joyful Noise, American Son, Newsies. He will soon star as the tenacious record industry giant, Neil Bogart, in the upcoming feature film, Spinning Gold. Jeremy is also a singer-songwriter whose concerts and cabaret shows have won awards and acclaim worldwide. 


Benjamin Rauhala is one of the Broadway community's most trusted music directors and collaborators. He is the Music Supervisor and co-creator of Disney Princess - The Concert, touring over 90 cities in North America throughout 2022. He was named Best Musical Director at the 2020 Broadway World Cabaret Awards. He has toured the world as the music director for Jeremy Jordan, the Tony-nominated star of Broadway's Newsies and The CW's Supergirl. He is also the music director for Academy Award Winner Ariana DeBose, Halston star Krysta Rodriguez, Tony nominees Derek Klena, Jennifer Damiano, Kathryn Gallagher, Nashville star Kyle Dean Massey, and Frozen stars Caroline Bowman and Austin Colby. He was the Associate Music Director for the world premiere of The Secret Life of Bees at the Atlantic Theater, directed by Sam Gold, with music by Duncan Sheik. He worked on the music team for both Bartlett Sher's Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof and the Broadway production of Duncan Sheik's American Psycho simultaneously during the 2016 season. His Off-Broadway credits include David Byrne’s Joan of Arc: Into The Fire at The Public Theater and The Marvelous Wonderettes at Theater Row. He previously served as music director for Hit List, the meta-musical from the NBC television show SMASH and is an Original Programming Producer at Feinstein's/54 Below, where he has created dozens of sold-out concerts, including the Broadway Loves Series, that has famously honoured Britney Spears, Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, Celine Dion and many more beloved pop icons.

 

Fourth Wall Live (FWL) is a live entertainment company that produces events, concerts and on-stage shows. This January FWL presented Bonnie & Clyde the musical in concert for two nights to a sold-out audience at Theatre Royal Drury Lane starring Broadway favourite Jeremy Jordan. This concert broke Drury Lane box office records selling out a 2-night run in less than 6 minutes.

 

FWL regularly brings Broadway artists to the UK, previous concerts include Broadway and TV regulars Chita Rivera, Keala Settle, Laura Benanti, Sierra Boggess, Kelli O’Hara, Laura Michelle Kelly, Megan Hilty, Tituss Burgess, Jeremy Jordan, Matthew Morrison, Erich Bergen, Eden Espinosa, Julia Murney and Cynthia Erivo. Other concerts include West End and UK Stars solo concerts including Michael Ball, Matt Cardle, Kerry Ellis, Oliver Tompsett, Hannah Waddingham, Sharon D Clarke, Bonnie Langford and Jenna Russell. 

 

Tori Amos’s musical The Light Princess was presented to critical acclaim, as a special one-off concert in the summer of 2018. Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella and Zorro The Musical were presented with musical-all-star-casts in 2019 and 2020 respectively to sold out audiences.

 

Fourth Wall Live also regularly partners with the Hippodrome Casino, in November-December 2020 they produced 25 nights of socially distanced entertainment, proudly being the first live concert event post lockdown in the UK.  Season two at the Hippodrome concerts ran from September 2021 to December 2021 and featured 20 nights of musical entertainment from the world of musical theatre and pop cross over.

Bat Out of Hell Returns to the West End

Thursday, 5 May 2022


The producers of Jim Steinman’s Bat Out of Hell – The Musical, featuring Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf’s greatest hits, are delighted to announce the musical’s return to London in 2023. The show, which is currently touring the UK and Ireland, will play a limited season at the Peacock Theatre with performances from 17 February, ending on 1 April 2023.

Bat Out of Hell – The Musical will also have a residency at Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino from 27 September 2022.

Casting for both productions to be announced.

Bat Out of Hell – The Musical wowed critics and public alike when it played limited seasons at Manchester Opera House, London Coliseum and London’s Dominion Theatre from 2017 to 2019. The musical also ran successfully in Canada, Germany and at New York’s City Centre in 2019. The current UK and Ireland tour began performances at Manchester Opera House on 11 September 2021 and has been playing to sold out houses and great critical acclaim.

Bat Out of Hell – The Musical won the Radio 2 Audience Award for Best Musical at the Evening Standard Awards and was nominated for 8 WhatsOnStage Awards, including Best New Musical. Bat Out of Hell became one of the best-selling albums in history, selling over 60 million copies worldwide. 16 years later, Steinman scored again with Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell, which contained the massive hit I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That).

For the stage musical, the legendary and award-winning Jim Steinman incorporated iconic songs from the Bat Out of Hell albums, including You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night), Bat Out of Hell, I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That) and Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad, as well as two previously unreleased songs, What Part of My Body Hurts the Most and Not Allowed to Love.

The electrifying rock songs of Mr Steinman propel an epic story of rebellious youth and passion as Strat, the immortal leader of The Lost, has fallen in love with Raven, the beautiful daughter of the tyrannical ruler Falco.

The UK & Ireland Tour of Bat Out of Hell - The Musical has book, music and lyrics by Jim Steinman, direction by Jay Scheib, choreography adapted by Xena Gusthart, with musical supervision and additional arrangements by Michael Reed, set and costume design by Jon Bausor, original costume designs by Meentje Nielsen, original wig designs by Linda McKnight, video design by Finn Ross, lighting design by Patrick Woodroffe, sound design by Gareth Owen, orchestration by Steve Sidwell, original casting by David Grindrod CDG and UK Tour casting by Anne Vosser.

Bat Out of Hell – The Musical is produced by David Sonenberg, Michael Cohl & Tony Smith, with executive producer Julian Stoneman.

This tour is dedicated to the memory of Jim Steinman, who sadly passed away on 19 April 2021, and Meat Loaf, who passed away on 20 January 2022.

Twitter, Facebook & Instagram: @BatTheMusical

photo credit: Chris Davis Studio

The Cher Show (Tour), Leicester Curve | Review

Thursday, 21 April 2022


The Cher Show (Tour)
Leicester Curve
Reviewed on Friday 15th April 2022 by Hope Priddle
★★★★★

After a brief run on Broadway, the beat goes on for The Cher Show as a new reimagined version, directed by Arlene Phillips, opened at the Leicester Curve this week. Spanning an astounding six decades and featuring iconic hits such as Believe and Strong Enough, The Cher Show charts the early life of Cherilyn Sarkissian and her spectacular rise to fame. In this uplifting girl-powered production, join Cher as she fights to take charge of her career in a man’s world, leaving a legacy as a trailblazing feminist icon.

This is not an ordinary jukebox bio-musical – there is not just one Cher, but three; Baby, Lady and Star. Though the book (Rick Elice) relies heavily on exposition and is not always successful in divorcing itself entirely from a tired format, it is sharp and quick-witted. By introducing us to three protagonists who interrupt each other with sassy asides and sage advice, an otherwise linear narrative suddenly feels reactive and full of endless possibilities. The Chers reclaim, retell and revise their own story.

The cast is led by a powerhouse trio of women in the role of Cher. Millie O’Connell (Baby) Danielle Steers (Lady) and Debbie Kurup (Star) give natural and nuanced performances as the legendary diva. Cher has become so mythologised into the annals of pop history, it is easy to forget she is a real person. Not once however do our leading ladies stray into the territory of camp or hammy caricature.

As the eldest Cher, Debbie Kurup grounds the trio with her wisdom and worldliness. Kurup’s vocals are truly outstanding, but it is in her ability to reveal the vulnerability, resilience and tenderness behind the icon, that her true power lies. Danielle Steers plays Lady, tasked with negotiating Cher’s fraught personal and professional relationship with husband Sonny Bono. Steers is infamous for her rich contralto vocals and as such, unapologetically devours the score. Steers’ commanding rendition of Bang Bang is a total showstopper, proving that Cher was a role she was born to play. Millie O’Connell is a delight as lovestruck dreamer Baby and is a comedic genius to boot – her repartee with Lucas Rush (Sonny) during The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour is a complete joy to watch.


It would be easy to assume that Baby and Lady take a secondary role to Star, that they perhaps function as her warm-up act. However, they shine brightly on their own. Baby and Lady are no less accomplished, no less complete than Star. What is so wonderful about The Cher Show is that although their shared story is a linear one, the Chers exist in parallel timelines, supporting rather than replacing one another along their journey.

Lucas Rush gives a tremendous performance as Cher’s first husband and lifelong artistic partner, Sonny Bono. Not only does Rush masterfully imitate Sonny’s nasally vocal inflections, they skilfully embrace his smarmy unlikability and genuine charisma. Though Sonny exhibits exploitative and explosive behaviour at the height of their career, he remains an enduring confidante and champion. We are also introduced to a host of influential characters – Cher’s Mother (Tori Scott), Bob Mackie (Jake Mitchell), and her subsequent husbands Gregg Allman (Sam Ferriday) and Robert Camilleti (Ferriday) - all of whom are treated with affection and goodwill. The ensemble are strong and deliver Oti Mabuse’s dynamic choreography with pizazz.

Tom Roger’s set design is simple yet highly effective, transporting the audience backstage by flanking the wings with monochrome rails and wig-laden shelves. The costumes retain all the glamour of Bob Mackie’s original wardrobe, but his departure from the creative team has clearly allowed designer Gabriella Slade the freedom to take a more inspired approach. Slade’s gladiatorial designs fully embody the fierce spirit of Cher and transform our leading ladies into goddess warrior queens.

The Cher Show is a universally uplifting story of a woman’s fight for independence in an industry driven by men. While it unashamedly embraces all the flair and flamboyance that fans will most certainly expect, as a respectful homage to a much-loved icon, it retains real heart. If I could turn back time, I would watch it all over again.

photo credit: Pamela Raith