Posts with the label Will Young
Showing posts with label Will Young. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Will Young. Show all posts

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Strictly Ballroom, Piccadilly Theatre | Review


Strictly Ballroom
Piccadilly Theatre 
Reviewed on Wednesday 23rd May 2018 by Nicola Louise
★★★★

Every now and then a show fly's into theatres that involves more sequins and glitter that you can shake a stick at... this is DEFINITELY one of those shows!

Set in Australia, in the crazy world of ballroom dancing competition, the show focuses on Scott Hastings (Jonny Labey), a young boy wanting to break out of the norm. There's no denying Labey's skill on the dance floor but it's his ability to adapt to different to the various dance styles with ease and grace that make him really stand out. When joined by Fran (Zizi Strallen), you're blown away by the chemistry of the two. Strallen's character has the perfect edge of adorableness and elegance. When dancing, this elegance shines through and even as the dance and drama become more intense, she retains her somewhat geeky side.

Will Young stars as the host of the Ballroom competition and the shows narrator, Wally Strand. Young has the comedic timing down like the best of them, however, I felt his voice let him down. Although a great singer, it's clear that Young's voice still has more of a pop sound than a traditionally musical theatre one and at points I felt his voice was not as strong as needed.


Strictly Ballroom is very predictable but this doesn't take away from it. I was still awe struck by the amount of talent each dancer has on stage; "Watching this makes me want to learn how to Ballroom dance" said a friend of mine, and I was right behind her on that, you'll be mesmerised my the swift movements and sparkles.

I wasn't a huge fan of Anna Francolini, playing Scott's mother Shirley Hastings. Although clearly a very funny actress, I couldn't help cringe a little at her over the top interpretation which at times felt a bit panto. (Think Kath and Kim do Panto!)

Although this show focused on the dancing, it is classed as a musical and maybe I'm wrong but I would expect more than one person singing. Young sings the whole show with the main characters singing one or two lines at the very end. It would be nice to have more variety of voices, especially as I didn't feel Young's voice was strong enough to carry a whole show by himself.


This show is perfect for all the family and anyone who loves ballroom dancing, the comedy is perfectly timed and the direction by Drew McOnie is perfect. 

There was a full theatre standing at the end cheering and clapping, something which I assume happens every night after this up-beat, joyful musical.

Strictly Ballroom runs at the Piccadilly Theatre until October 20th 2018

photo credit: Johan Persson

Strictly Ballroom, Piccadilly Theatre | Review

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Strictly Ballroom, Piccadilly Theatre | Review


Strictly Ballroom 
Piccadilly Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 24th April 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

Strictly Ballroom is a chilled out, glittering celebration of dance and a refreshing show to add to the list of ones to cheer us up in these dreary times. 

Based on  Baz Luhrman's 1992 film, Strictly Ballroom tells the story of Scott Hastings, a young Australian man who’s been dancing and winning awards for almost his entire life. He longs to break free of what moves are ‘expected’ and 'strictly ballroom' and pave his own way in the dance world. Enter Fran, just Fran, the overlooked dancer who wants a life of love, passion and to dance with Scott. When Scott starts improvising at a dance competition again, his partner  Liz leaves him and he and Fran become secret dance partners.

This show is cheesy beyond belief but it’s also extremely self-aware. The over exaggeration and somewhat cringy humour works because it doesn’t try to be anything other than fun. The characters are larger than life but work to create an embellished version of life as a competitive dancer.


This show is of course, all about the dance and Drew McOnie has done an outstanding job choreographing his West End debut. The moves are sharp, sleek and a real joy to watch. When attending this show, I wasn't aware that it's not a typical musical. In fact, I would describe it more as a play with songs. Will Young takes on the role of Wally Strand who acts as the compere, narrator and singer. His voice is beautiful and he does a fabulous job of performing Marius De Vries' arrangements of hit songs such as Dancing With Myself, Love is in The Air, I Wanna Dance with Somebody and more. This set up doesn't take away from the show at all but it would be nice to see the rest of the company getting a chance to show off their vocals. However, it's the dance that's the star of the show. Taking  the place of big vocal numbers, it's stunning to see such colourful, glitzy routines on the stage. The act 2 close of the Paso Doble and Habañera is especially powerful, with Fernando Mira's flamenco routine wowing the audience and proving how emotive dance is.

There’s a running joke that the west end isn’t the west end unless a Strallen sister is in a show. Seeing Zizi Strallen perform you can understand how their talent has made them a crucial part of the London theatre scene. Zizi’s performance is dorky and heartfelt and her character arc throughout is beautiful to watch. It’s truly joyous to watch her perform and you can't help but keep your eyes on her every second she's on stage. I am definitely going to have to bring my apricot face scrub out of the cupboard if it'll make me look like Zizi! Ms Strallen's footwork is also sublime and she works in perfect synchronicity with Jonny Labey who is is dazzling on stage and clearly the perfect choice for the role. The pair of actors are a winning combo.


Anna Francolini is suitably hilarious as Scott's mother who lives vicariously through him- her comedic timing is outstanding. Eve Polycarpou is sweet and endearing as Fran's Abeula and her latin vocals really stand out amongst the rousing music. The ensemble of Strictly Ballroom are great, all with clear personalities in their dancing duos. Gabriela Garcia and Liam Marcellino really stand out as Vanessa and Wayne. The entire cast work brilliantly together to create a polished show.

It's a lovely feature to have the band live on stage and it's amazing how they become part of the action rather than being overshadowing at all. Catherine Martin's costumes are as sparkly and over the top as you could want and Soutra Gilmour's set is simplistic but emotive. This production is well thought out and it's clear to see how much care and love has gone into it from the entire cast, crew and company.

It's time to escape the grey for the colour filled dance hall of Strictly BallroomBogo Pogo your way to the Piccadilly theatre for a spectacularly sparkly experience, and a fun, chilled out night that'll make you want to get out of your seat and dance. 

Strictly Ballroom runs at the Piccadilly Theatre until October 20th 2018

photo credit: Johan Persson

Strictly Ballroom, Piccadilly Theatre | Review

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Cabaret (UK Tour), Edinburgh Playhouse | Review


Cabaret (UK Tour)
Edinburgh Playhouse 
Reviewed on Tuesday 14th November 2017 by Liv Ancell
★★★★★

With the two headliners of this show – Will Young and Louise Redknapp - being bona-fide British primetime celebrities and regular tabloid fodder, its no wonder that Edinburgh turned out in force to see Cabaret, director Rufus Norris’ latest show.


While Louise and Will may have been the initial draw for some, they will have no doubt left the theatre feeling utterly bowled over by the timeless storyline, endearing characters, and unbeatable music of Cabaret.


What a test of stamina this show is for all involved! The frantically pulsating and contorting cast whirl around the stage at an alarming rate. The choreography was a level above anything else I’ve seen in recent times – the cast members pulled off gruelling moves which were positively acrobatic and perfectly timed.


Belting out Cabaret’s signature songs must be a challenging task; this musical feat was made even more impressive while simultaneously cartwheeling, gyrating, prancing and frolicking. Such sophisticated choreography from Javier du Frutos – especially in Wilkommen and The Money Song – really reinforced this show’s status as world-class.



Louise Redknapp gave everything to this performance, and the volumes to her voice will be sure to silence anybody who may have been skeptical about whether her popstar voice would survive a stage performance. From charming to sultry, to showgirl and seductive, her singing was a complete triumph. Charles Hagerty played Clifford Bradshaw wonderfully; embodying the morally righteous and somewhat naïve American author. His acting was second to none and he subtly conveyed an impressive range of emotions on stage.


This being said, Will Young is just in a class of his own. He wears the garb of the inimitable Emcee with utter brilliance. With incredible expression and by masterful voice control, Will gave the ultimate portrayal of the quirky and coquettish clown of the Berlin cabaret scene. His Emcee was equal parts playful and dark, and his German accent and sing-song voice was perfectly measured.


The raciness and nudity in the show was perfectly balanced by a more despairing and serious storyline. Nazi undercurrents perfectly underpinned the storyline, with the rising prejudice of the time tastefully portrayed and immortalised in this production. The ever endearing Herr Shultz – our patient and adorable Jewish man – was a stand-out character, and Linal Haft gave a commendable performance in this crucial role. His companion, Fraulein Kost (Basienka Blake) was equally commanding, and she too gave a convincing performance, not breaking her accent even during song.


The final scene – which I won’t give away – was sad and beautiful. The high tempo energy of Cabaret couldn’t keep going forever, and it left viewers with a lesson in history to remember. This show is incredible; it will invoke all sorts of emotions, including wonder, amazement and awe. I’d highly recommend going along if it comes to a theatre near you next; it’s absolutely unmissable!

Cabaret is at the Edinburgh Playhouse until November 18th before continuing its tour.

Photo credit: Pamela Raith

Cabaret (UK Tour), Edinburgh Playhouse | Review

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Cabaret (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review


Cabaret (UK Tour)
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Friday September 22nd 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★

After Germany's defeat in World War 1, the treaty of Versaille was set out to totally humiliate the nation; inflation rocketed and the economy flew into a downward spiral. This was eventually stabilised but people had seen themselves and those around them lose everything so the idea of 'seizing the day' was adopted and Berlin became a heaving Bohemian world where you lived to enjoy the here and now. This is when we are thrown into the world of Cabaret. It's 1930 New Years Eve, a young American writer, Clifford Bradshaw has just arrived in Berlin and is ready to see what the city has to offer.

The show is a full on combination of things with dance, drink and drugs taking the lead as people relished in the decadent, censorship free lifestyle. The set by Katrina Lindsay manages to be bright and dark at the same time. There are moments of intense glitz and glam with flashing lights and moving sets but also moments of dim, dark spaces which imply what's to come as the golden age passes. The rise of fascism is extremely prevalent in Rufus Norris' production especially during the chilling final scene of act 1 when the Emcee turns into a puppet master, holding overgrown children at the end of strings as he sings the Aryan folk song Tomorrow Belongs To Me.

As the Emcee, Will Young is outstanding, suitably wacky but all-knowing at once. His comedic timing is wonderful as he soars through the notes with a sinister hint always shining through. Young is certainly the star of this show and it's clear why he was asked back to be part of the tour and his balloon clad rendition of Money was the stand out performance of the production for me. 

Louise Redknapp takes on the iconic role of Sally Bowles, the British showgirl who has lost her way. Unfortunately Redknapp's performance fell flat at times; instead of showing a crumbling, emotional girl she was decadent, bold and showed very minimal signs of her struggle. At times her voice was strong but fell flat on her big number, Maybe This Time. Sally Bowles was originally written to be a somewhat second rate performer which is why she has previously been cast as an actress who can sing and opposed to a singer who can act however, Louise kind of fell in between the two and I felt a little underwhelmed. 

Charles Hagerty is strong as Clifford, developing his various relationships well. His voice is incredibly strong and his performance of Why Should I Wake Up? is a stand out moment. A large part of the action has to do with Clifford's landlady Fräulein Schneider (Susan Penhaligon) and her relationship with the local Jewish fruit seller (Linal Schultz) as their normal lives begin to be put in jeopardy. The pair are great together and their affection for one another is very sweet to see.

This show is worth seeing for Young's performance and for the bold imaginative design and choreography but it needs more oomph overall.

Cabaret (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Saturday, 23 September 2017