Posts with the label London Coliseum
Showing posts with label London Coliseum. Show all posts
Showing posts with label London Coliseum. Show all posts

Friday, 20 May 2022

My Fair Lady, London Coliseum | Review


My Fair Lady
London Coliseum
Reviewed on Thursday 19th May 2022 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

On the eve of Eliza Doolittle day, the London Coliseum was packed to the rafters and buzzing to see the long awaited West End transfer of Lerner and Lowe's My Fair Lady. Bartlett Sher's joyous production had a highly acclaimed run on Broadway and has now opened here, with the glorious Amara Okereke in the leading role. A role that seems made for her.

As Eliza, Amara is astounding in her versatility. From loud, brash and boisterous, she can flip to a calmer, softer side in an instant and is a joy to watch, whatever side she is showing. Taking on the role of Henry Higgins, the phonetics professor who bets that he can transform a cockney flower girl into a Duchess, is Harry Hadden-Paton who is engaging, witty and kind of manic. His relationship with Eliza is interesting and feisty. They are combative throughout but there's also a simmering slow-burn relationship happening that is so enjoyable to watch.

In supporting roles, there are some gems. Malcolm Sinclair is hilarious as Colonel Pickering and Vanessa Redgrave is charming as Higgins' mum. Stephen K Amos also gives a comedic performance as Eliza's dad, Alfred. His vocals are quite as strong as you'd expect but his performance is spirited and exciting.

This really is a sumptuous production, with absolutely beautiful costumes by Catherine Zuber which reference the film nicely but aren't direct copies. The iconic Ascot scene is particularly impressive. In terms of the stage design there are peaks and troughs. Michael Yeargan has crafted a meticulously detailed Edwardian house, which spins on a revolve to to reveal the various rooms. However, the other sets aside from this are somewhat lacklustre and fail to provide the wow factor you'd expect with a production like this. Everything works and effectively tells the story but there's a final sparkle missing that keeps it from being a five star production. There's also the unavoidable issue that Higgins' patronising reaction to Eliza has not aged well at all and his flaws make it hard to really root for him. The open ended closing of the show does help to ease this uneasiness but there's still a lingering awkwardness.

Despite these faults, it really is a lovely production which is chockablock with humour. And whilst is does show its age at times, much of the show feels fresh and Amara gives a starring performance that is worth the ticket price alone. 

My Fair Lady, London Coliseum | Review

Friday, 20 May 2022

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Hannah Waddingham on Bringing a Queen to Life in The Pirate Queen | Interview


Based on the real-life story of history’s Grace O’Malley – an Irish Chieftain and notorious pirate, The Pirate Queen is an adventure chronicling the compelling, inspiring heroine who led an extraordinary life as a rogue, lover and mother in 16th-century Ireland. To protect her people and save her one true love, O’Malley must confront the one woman more powerful than her— her fierce rival, Queen Elizabeth I of England.

From the writers of Les Misérables and Miss Saigon, the show combines classic storytelling and a sweeping score, with the powerful, vibrant traditions of Irish dance and song, to create a modern musical event that is both historic romance and a timeless epic.

Playing Queen Elizabeth I in this one night only extravaganza is Hannah Waddingham, who told us what we can expect from the musical, what other historical figure she'd like to play and what her favourite moment of the musical is...



Tell us about The Pirate Queen, what can we expect?
Audiences can definitely expect an absolutely glorious wall of sound to hit them from the get go. Just sitting in on rehearsals the last few days I can’t quite believe what the ensemble have already achieved, quite irritatingly quickly really! It’s the most beautiful, expansive, atmospheric  piece and I can’t wait for us to unleash it on the London Coliseum. 


You're playing Queen Elizabeth, what's it like brining a royal to life?
What’s struck me most about trying to mould myself into Queen Elizabeth I is the sense of responsibility and how information received by her from her court must be firstly processed as Queen, not as a woman. 


What's your current favourite moment of the show?
My current favourite moment of the show is when she and Grace (Rachel Tucker) are in their own heads ruminating about the “other woman” in the duet She Who Has All. 

It’s that beautiful construct of the audience seeing and hearing their insecurities in life and about the other person before they see it in each other in the flesh. 


If you could star in a musical about any other historical figure, who would you choose?
If I were to take on the role of any other historical figure it would have to be a biblical one! Nothing touches Judas Iscariot for me. Both vocally and emotionally there could be no more satisfying a role for me than that. 


Why should people come and see The Pirate Queen?
People should come and see The Pirate Queen because it deserves to be heard in the beautiful, epic setting of The London Coliseum. They are such fitting bed fellows. 


The score is Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg at their atmospheric best, and what greater cause could there be than for the Leukaemia Uk charity. The evening will be a great privilege for everyone to be part of, both on stage and off. 


The Pirate Queen plays at the London Coliseum on 23 February, 7pm

photo credit: Danny Kaan

Hannah Waddingham on Bringing a Queen to Life in The Pirate Queen | Interview

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Rachel Tucker on Starring in The Pirate Queen | Interview

Based on the real-life story of history’s Grace O’Malley – an Irish Chieftain and notorious pirate, The Pirate Queen is an adventure chronicling the compelling, inspiring heroine who led an extraordinary life as a rogue, lover and mother in 16th-century Ireland. 

From the writers of Les Misérables and Miss Saigon, the show combines classic storytelling and a sweeping score, with the powerful, vibrant traditions of Irish dance and song, to create a modern musical event that is both historic romance and a timeless epic.

Rachel Tucker is taking on the role of Grace O'Malley in the one night only London premiere of the musical. Rachel told us all about the show, her favourite moments and what it's like to bring real life characters to life on stage...


Tell us about The Pirate Queen, what can we expect?
The Pirate Queen is a very old, true Irish story about how the daughter of the O’Mally clan became the first woman Queen of in Ireland in 16th century. She was known for her fearlessness not just as a woman but as a leader and was known for her ruthlessness in political negotiations with Queen Elizabeth I and trying to get her peoples land back no matter what it took.

Today in rehearsals I sang two very powerful duets with Hannah Waddingham who plays Queen Elizabeth and we were both struck at how amazing it is that these two women back in the 1500s were the leaders of each of their own lands and negotiated with each other not just as chieftain & queen but woman to woman. 

Their dialogue together is fascinating, the lyrics are so graceful yet explosive! It’s been a long time since I’ve listened and sang through an known score with so much excitement! 


You're currently playing Beverley Bass and are now taking on Grace O'Malley for one night only. What's it like bringing real life people to life on stage? 
Well as a job, it’s blooming great! I love bringing my own take and as much as Rachel to each role. I am constantly looking to bring only truth to every line and character I get to play, whether it be a comedic, tragic or heroic role. What ever the room, I love to tell the truth. 


What's your current favourite moment of the show?
Can I say all of it?! Well today has been a first day rehearsals so my favourite moment of the day was hearing Queen Elizabeth sung like only Hannah could sing it! Just jaw dropping! 


Why should people come and see The Pirate Queen?
I think this is a piece of musical theatre that should be seen and heard in this day and age. It almost feels more relevant now than it was when it first was first conceived. 

You do not want to miss hearing the stunning choral ensemble of around 40 members and the orchestrations by Julian Kelly are going to transcend you to another level! The event of 2020 if you ask me!!! 


The Pirate Queen plays at the London Coliseum on 23 February, 7pm

photo credit: Danny Kaan

Rachel Tucker on Starring in The Pirate Queen | Interview

Thursday, 27 June 2019

On Your Feet!, London Coliseum | Review


On Your Feet
London Coliseum
Reviewed on Wednesday 26th July 2019 by Lucy Jardine
★★★★

Last night at the Coliseum, on a glorious evening, On You Feet, brought some Cuba/Miami sound and spectacle to London.

Mostly, it was a triumph. Christie Prades was a delight as Gloria. It was a treat to hear the authentic American and Latino accents without them being massacred. Her voice, whilst not quite on Gloria's epic scale, carried us along with her. Madalena Alberto was probably the star of the show though - such a strong voice and utterly convincing as the mother who had been forced to give up her dreams and therefore resented her daughter wanting to follow hers. And Karen Mann as Consuela, Gloria's grandmother, although some of her dialogue and mannerisms were a little cliched, brought many a chuckle to the audience.

The ensemble treated us to some fast-paced, foot-tapping, booty-shimmying sets and at the end, yes, we were all on our feet, clapping and dancing along with the excellent band that transported us to the hot steamy nights of Miami. Sergio Trujillo's choreography was solid; the staging, through the use of large moving cloth panels and the projection of images, from clubs in Miami to original photos of the terrible traffic accident that Gloria was in, was well crafted.

The one significant disappointment was George Ioannides in the role of Emilio Estefan. Again, his accent was authentic and his acting good but, unfortunately, his voice could not carry the songs and a couple of the duets with Christie were, frankly, a little uncomfortable. This didn't seem to matter to the audience though. After a rousing encore, we all left with our hearts a little lighter and our smiles a little brighter. Not a bad thing in today's world.

Tickets for On Your Feet are available at LondonBoxOffice.co.uk

photo credit: Johan Persson

On Your Feet!, London Coliseum | Review

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Man of La Mancha, London Coliseum | Review


Man of la Mancha
London Coliseum 
Reviewed on Friday 20th October 2017 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★

Man of La Mancha is considered a 'rare' revival and from this production it's pretty clear why. The story is highly dated and it's evidently a very hard piece to stage. Whilst the cast do as much as they can with what they've been given, the production feels un-engaging and insufficiently developed.

The structure of 'a show within a show' does little other than make the piece feel static. No context is given for the prison setting and the transition from the damp cell to the dreamlike play is jarring at times. The switches feel bulky and instead of moving on what little story there is, add an unnecessary layer which isn't resolved in any way.

The thin plot follows author Cervantes (Kelsey Grammer) who has been thrown into the prison. In an attempt to save his manuscript of Don Quixote and his worldly possessions, he acts out the novel and allows the other captives to take part. Grammer is good in his roles most of the time but feels unsteady, especially during the fight scenes, and doesn't bring the show's hit song 'The Impossible Dream' to life with much bravado. In general the cast are strong but there are moments of weakness, mostly due to the book itself.


Nicholas Lyndhurst plays both the sinister Governor and boozy innkeeper and is highly entertaining. The story may be strange but Lyndhurst amuses and brings his unsophisticated characters to life. 

Soprano Danielle de Niese plays Aldonza, the local prostitute who Quixote sees as his princess and damsel in distress, Dulcinea. De Niese is vocally strong and brings an entertaining feistiness to the stage, but her incredibly dated role which features a brutal rape scene, again feels discordant. There seems to be a lack of balance between comedy and drama, with whimsical moments suddenly being taken over by shocking social commentaries, that do little to resonate with a modern audience.

There are brief sparkles of greatness in this production: David Seadon-Young stands out among the ensemble, Peter Polycarpou is engaging and whimsical and the gypsy dance is well choreographed. However overall Man of La Mancha feels like a show which cannot be made relevant for a contemporary audience. The bizzare characters are too far removed from anything the audience can sympathise with which makes the whole production feel empty.

If Fotini Dimou's beautifully detailed costumes and David White's superbly virtuosic orchestra are enough for you to fork out the the ticket money then by all means go to this show, but don't expect much more.

For more information and tickets, visit https://www.londonboxoffice.co.uk

photo credit: Manuel Harlan

Man of La Mancha, London Coliseum | Review

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Kiss Me, Kate, London Coliseum | Review


Kiss Me, Kate
London Coliseum
Reviewed on Wednesday 20th June 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★

Kiss Me Kate is Cole Porter's 1949 musical play in two acts which interweaves a production of The Taming of the Shrew with a number of dramatic backstage battles. After touring for a while, Opera North's production has slipped into the London Coliseum for a short run which showcases it's glorious score and stellar cast.

The book is certainly at the core of this show. We see the actors putting on a revised musical version of the Taming of the Shrew in addition to focussing on the battle between actors and ex-partners, Fred Graham and Lilli Vanessi who can't seem to budge one another. At times, especially in Act 2, the show does drag; at three hours long you certainly need to grab a coffee beforehand but there's also enough variation to keep you somewhat on your toes.


The plot is helped along by the smooth set transitions that come from Colin Richmond's minimalistic backdrop featuring painted drops and revolving slides. These cleverly transport us from on stage, to backstage, but the whole production does feel a bit small for the vast space of the Coliseum. Much of the front stage is not used which makes the show feel distanced and somewhat unwelcoming as things get lost whilst being performed at the rear of the stage. Richmond's costumes are beautiful and bring an almost modern twist to the show whilst maintaining it's traditional  Shakespearean roots.

The classic orchestrations are played in all their original glory which is truly magnificent to hear. From the jazzy Too Darn Hot to Olde English melodies, the orchestra of Opera North, led by David Greed do an outstanding job of making everything buoyant and virtuosic.

You couldn't ask for a better cast to perform this monstrous show; drawn from both the opera world and the musical theatre world, they combine to create some magical moments. Baritone Quirijn De Lang and soprano Stephanie Corley are musically outstanding as Fred and Lilli. Two fiery characters, they give boisterous performances which bite and claw, with a loving undertone throughout. Corley's I Hate Men is a true powerhouse moment.


Zoë Rainey sings as if her life depends on it and completely steals the show in act two with her vast rendition of Always True To You In My Fashion. The multiple repetitions in this song and others do become somewhat draining but Rainey's performance is worth the ticket price alone as she performs with energy and vocal brilliance.

Act two provides spellbinding moment after spellbinding moment with Alan Burkitt's tap number completely dancing everyone off the stage. He gives a magnetic, faultless performance which could be watched over and over.

A the two gunmen, John Savournin and Joseph Shovelton steal the scenes they're a part of and give humourous performances throughout.


The ensemble do a wonderful job of bulking out the show but at times do feel underdeveloped, especially in terms of choreography. There could have been some really powerful group choreographic moments but unfortunately these were left out.

Kiss Me Kate has comedy, innuendos, a beautiful score and a stellar cast. It's a long show that could definitely be chopped here and there but there's no denying that it's a marvellous piece of theatre. Despite some issues, the gems of performances that are spotted around do make it a Wunderbar production.

Kiss Me Kate runs until June 30th at the London Coliseum

For tickets and information about the show, visit https://www.londonboxoffice.co.uk

photo credit: Tristram Kenton

Kiss Me, Kate, London Coliseum | Review

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Chess, London Coliseum | Review


Chess
London Coliseum
Reviewed on Tuesday 1st May 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★

Benny and Björn’s musical Chess is somewhat of a hidden gem in my mind. There are a number of ‘famous’ songs but other than that the show flies fairly under the radar in the grand scheme of musical theatre. Since seeing the 2008 concert version at the Albert Hall, I have been somewhat obsessively championing this musical so was thrilled to hear it was returning to the West End in the glorious London Coliseum. 

The production values of this show are outstanding. Matt Kinley's set design is minimalistic but striking, with simple set movements creating a whole change in mood and atmosphere. Patrick Woodroffe's lighting is suitably 80s-music-video-chic and Terry Scruby's video design and use of screens either side of the stage adds a unique element as well as a way for those further back in the massive Coliseum to feel a part of the action. However, the screens at times do feel overwhelming  and draw away from the drama rather than highlighting it. All technical aspects of the show work wonderfully though and tie the story and music together to create a cohesive mood. It's the cast which unfortunately lets the show down.

Michael Ball as the Russian, Anatoly, is vocally great but it feels as though he's coasting through and just singing the music note by note rather than bringing out the passion within it. Act 2 is certainly more convincing but there's a lack of compassion with the character and overall his performance is unfortunately underwhelming. 


Tim Howar growls his way through the show and at times is overly aggressive, even for the character. But his rendition of Pity the Child #2 is absolutely, breathtakingly brilliant and worth the ticket price alone. Cedric Neal as The Arbiter is shamefully underused as his smooth, riff-filled vocals are a highlight of the show. He's a sleek, expressive performer who deserves more stage time.

On the female side, the two leads work well together in their duet of I Know Him So Well and their love/resentment towards Anatoly is well acted but one is clearly better than the other. Alexandra Burke is strong at times but her varying accent and tendency to sing the songs as though she's performing in a pop concert take away from the heart-breaking story of Svetlana. Someone Else's Story falls flat for me but He is a Man, He is a Child was a look into what an emotive role this could be. I look forward to hopefully visiting the show again to see how Alexandra settles into the role and makes it her own. 

Cassidy Janson delivers a touching performance, especially during the finale and really works with what she's been given. Some moments seem as though Cassidy is toning down her vocals to fit with others which is a shame, but again something which will hopefully be remedied in future performances.

The ensemble are a tight knit, well-oiled machine who do a wonderful job of transporting us to various locations and do justice to the fantastically diverse score which includes operatic, rock, musical theatre styles and more. 


Despite the star names attached with Chess, it's really the music that steals the show. Benny and Björn's virtuosic score soars and stoops in the most stunning, moving way. The outstanding orchestra are faultless- you’d be hard pressed to hear the music played better than by the glorious musicians in the vast space of the Coliseum. 

There have been a number of cuts and changes to the show, most of which are welcome, however I particularly missed Commie Newspapers which sets up the political conflict between Anatoly and Freddie and provides a clear plot line for those unfamiliar with the show to follow. The character of Walter DeCourcey of Global Television is also noticeably absent which leads to the final confrontation between him and Florence never happening. The dialogue between the two where it’s revealed Florence’s father may not be alive after all and she decides she’s done with Chess, and games in life is particularly moving and just proves that truly Nobody is on Nobody’s Side. It’s a shame to see this cut and for me the new ending falls short. 

Some of the lyric changes also feel a little unnecessary. The change from “haven’t you noticed we are a protagonist short?” to “haven’t you noticed we are a lead short?” for example seems as though those adapting felt the audiences would be too silly to understand the original text. Of course this is a small thing and those unfamiliar with the show wouldn't even notice but as a fan of Chess, it feels like there have been needless changes just for the sake of it. 

Despite this review being somewhat negative, I genuinely did enjoy Chess. Perhaps it's because the first and only other production I've seen was of such a high standard that this current reincarnation falls flat. If you've never seen Chess before then I think you'll love it. I urge you to see the show regardless of its faults as it's got a beautiful score and a moving story that you can't help but fall in love with. 

Chess runs at the London Coliseum until June 2nd.

photo credit: Brinkhoff Mögenberg

Chess, London Coliseum | Review

Wednesday, 2 May 2018