Posts with the label Samuel Pope
Showing posts with label Samuel Pope. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Samuel Pope. Show all posts

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

American Idiot (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

American Idiot (UK Tour) 
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 14th May 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 

Taking Wimbledon by storm, American Idiot is a maelstrom of epic performances, high intensity choreography, a killer score and fantastic acting. Taking the music of Greenday and combining it with a story about three men facing darkness and pain on their journeys to finding something they can believe in; it is a very well constructed show which packs all the right punches.

Sara Perks' design is simplistic but does complete justice to the theme and aesthetic of the show. Screens are cleverly used to show various emotions and flashbacks and to emphasise certain scenes. These also allow original American Idiot cast member Lucas Rush to be cleverly worked into the show as the Rock 'n' Roll Boyfriend, these little details make the show stand out and no doubt are a factor in keeping loyal fans returning time after time.

Tim Deiling's lighting is suitably in your face, but equally precise and emotive in the higher intensity moments of the show. Chris Whybrow also achieves good balance between creating blast-your-ears-off numbers and more acoustic sounding pieces. For a show which on the surface may seem a bit of a mish-mash, it's very well conceived and carried out.

The American Idiot cast are uniformly strong as they perform Racky Plews' choreography with bite and aggression, and give note-perfect vocal performances. Tom Milner is darkly captivating as Johnny who leads the show with spades of commitment. Milner's breakdown moment is act two is utterly superb. The audience can physically feel each others tension as Milner has mastered controlling a crowd with every breath. His well-acted and well-sung performance is impeccable. 

Sam Lavery is a vocal powerhouse who brings a sexiness and sadness to the show. He vocals are smooth and captivating. Luke Friend give a manic and electric performance with killer vocals and a performance which crackles and fizzles throughout; and Samuel Pope plays the troubled Will with sincerity and subtlety. As Tunny, Joshua Dowen gives a striking performance with a great character arc. 

Another stand out is Glenn Adamson who captures our attention whenever he's on stage and who provides particularly strong vocals in his solo moments. Alexandra Robinson, Shekinah McFarlane and Siobhan O'Driscoll are especially memorable throughout. 

Musical highlights include 21 Guns, Wake Me Up When September Ends, St Jimmy and Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life), but the whole score is performed superbly well.

Whether you've grown up with Greenday, or like me just know a few of the most popular songs, you'll certainly enjoy this raucous show. The storyline itself is pretty thin but thanks to the outstanding vocal performances and incredibly emotive and shocking scenes, American Idiot provides a fun, feisty night out. 

American Idiot runs at the New Wimbledon Theatre until 18th March 2019 before continuing its tour

photo credit: Mark Dawson Photography

American Idiot (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Friday, 30 March 2018

All or Nothing, Ambassadors Theatre | Review

All or Nothing
Ambassadors Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 28th March 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 

I must admit, this review has been hard for me to write. This show isn't bad and I had a good time but I definitely am not it's target audience and that had a big effect. My plus one for the night was my dad who grew up during the time Small Faces were on the charts so he remembered all the songs, knew all the characters and could relate to it. Whereas I, a 21 year old who has never been introduced to their music, felt a bit like an outsider looking in. 

The performances aren't bad, in fact they're pretty fantastic. Samuel Pope, especially, as Younger Steve Mariott is outstanding both in terms of vocals and acting as is Chris Simmons as older Steve. The cast give it their all and do their best to deliver stellar performances. The sets are pretty good, if fairly basic, and the lighting fits perfectly to create the concert vibe. The small space of the Ambassadors theatre also lends itself well to this and it feels as though we are a part of the action as well as just watching it.

As I said, nothing is wrong with this production... if you're the target audience. At first I thought to myself: well, that's fine, it's for the older generations and that's that. But as I think about it more I don't think that's correct. Of course the music and story is for an older audience because they know it already, but I believe the creatives should have worked to make it relatable for a younger audience as well. I could tell from audience reactions around me that the characters were spot on to their real-life counterparts and that the jokes about specific things and people fell right, but I just couldn't find a way in. 

Not being a writer I don't know how they could have drawn all ages in, perhaps by taking a note out of Beautiful's book and telling the story of the lives more that just assuming we're all aware. The fire at the end for example, felt like a complete gear change to me, as I didn't know that's how Steve died, it just seemed like a random, erratic scene. Of course I could have read up on their story first but that's not really something you should have to do when going to the theatre.

I really wanted to like this show and I'm glad that my dad and those around me did. If my dad was writing this review it would have been far more glowing and received one or two stars more but I can only say how it feels personally. I did still have fun regardless because of the wonderful performances, but I can't say I'll be rushing back or rushing to recommend it to people my age. However, if you're a fan of Small Faces then I definitely think you'll enjoy All or Nothing and will certainly feel the nostalgia and joy that their music evidently brings.

All or Nothing runs at the Ambassadors Theatre until May 12th.

All or Nothing, Ambassadors Theatre | Review

Friday, 30 March 2018

Thursday, 19 October 2017

All Or Nothing (UK Tour), Waterfront Hall | Review

All Or Nothing – The Mod Musical (Tour)
Waterfront Hall, Belfast
Reviewed on Wednesday October 18th by Damien Murray

Having missed its planned opening night due to cast travel problems caused by Storm Ophelia, the touring production of All Or Nothing – The Mod Musical blew into town for its Belfast debut a night later than expected.

Combining the story of a popular music-linked culture with the more personal, tragic and human story of one of its main bands, The Small Faces, who not only spear-headed the movement but also encapsulated its dress style, attitude and music, All Or Nothing is a jukebox musical … with a twist.

For, in the role of the ‘older’ Steve Marriott, Chris Simmons narrates what is essentially Marriott’s own story from beyond the grave as he guides us chronologically through the group’s history in flashback to give us a raw account of what being the front-man of this important British pop group was really like… warts and all.

Apart from Simmons’ believable performance as the ever-present ‘older’ Marriott and the show’s nostalgic and hit-filled score, the key to the success of this show is that it was written by Carol Harrison, who – as a friend of lead singer, Steve Marriott – had real insider knowledge of the man, the Small Faces as a group, their musical and business frustrations and of the Mod movement during its early days.

Named after the group’s biggest hit and only chart-topper (which knocked The Beatles off the chart’s top spot), All Or Nothing is a biographical piece of 60s nostalgia about a generation of free spirits.

Although the set was relatively basic, it was functional and the production not only boasted that most coveted of Mod essentials, a Vespa scooter, but also authentic costumes, hairstyles and dances, with some great choreography, incorporating the trademark 60s moves of the dancers in various television pop shows of the era.

However, this musical is not so much about the Mod movement as it is the disturbing story of a young pop group, covering its many non-glamorous moments from being mismanaged and vigorously exploited by the ‘Al Capone of pop’ – Don ‘I’ll exploit you for all your worth’ Arden – to the slow demise of the group and from Marriott being a trouble maker at school through to his tragic and untimely death.

We learn: how the group got its name; why they were the only group to be banned from performing on Top Of The Pops; why there was a change of style from Mod to Hippie; of Marriott’s relationship with P.P. Arnold; how his ego got too big; and how he got Rod Stewart’s girlfriend … while Stewart got his band.

Playing live and loud, the actor musicians playing the members of The Small Faces – Samuel Pope (young Marriott), Stanton Wright (Ronnie Laine), Alexander Gold (Ian McLagan) and Stefen Edwards (Kenny Jones) – were all exceptionally good, not only at recreating the group’s many hits, but for perfectly capturing the personality, physical appearance and even the individual playing/performance styles of their respective characters.

The show is peppered throughout with humour and references to and appearances by other celebrities from the era like Andrew Oldham, Robert Stigwood, Rod Stewart, David Jacobs, Cathy McGowan, Stanley Unwin and Tony Blackburn (and even including performances from such characters as Sonny and Cher, Dusty Springfield and P.P. Arnold), as the group appears on such iconic television pop shows as Thank Your Lucky Stars, Juke Box Jury, Ready Steady Go and Top Of The Pops.

Ahead of its transfer to the West End for a limited run, it is easy to see why this touring production has been building up quite a cult following. However, offering, perhaps, too much detail (particularly in early scenes), this show could benefit from some cuts and, with such basic sets and sound balance issues between the pre-recorded extracts and the live music, a higher degree of production values could easily make this cult piece the mainstream hit it deserves to be as a biographical/jukebox musical.

This raw, true and sad story has a moving and emotional ending with a heart-breaking solo acoustic extract from All Or Nothing by Chris Simmons before the mood changes in an up-beat hit-filled finale.

All Or Nothing runs at Waterfront Hall until October 19th

Photo credit: Phil Weedon

All Or Nothing (UK Tour), Waterfront Hall | Review

Thursday, 19 October 2017