Posts with the label andrew lloyd webber
Showing posts with label andrew lloyd webber. Show all posts
Showing posts with label andrew lloyd webber. Show all posts

Monday, 21 March 2022

School of Rock (Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review


School of Rock (Tour)
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 21st March 2022
★★★★

Many people know and love the hit 2003 film School of Rock. With Jack Black’s iconic comedy, incredibly catchy tunes and a true rock soul it became an instant classic. Fortunately, all of this translates brilliantly to the stage and to the current UK tour which is getting audiences up on their feet and releasing their inner rock god’s.


With music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, School of Rock provides a throughly entertaining night out.  The show follows Dewey Finn, a man who’s only goal is to live a life of music. One thing leads to another and he ends up taking the place of his best friend and pretending to be a supply teacher for the elite Horace Green school. There he discovers that he’s not the only one with music in his soul; he finds a classroom full of wonderful musicians who just want to be heard. Thus begins his mission to form a band and win the Battle of the Bands. The entire story is a comedic dream, with a cast of amazing talents and so many great songs.


There’s also astute observations on growing up and the pressures young people are under, as well as many witty and topical comments on the world as a whole.


Of course this show would not be half of what it is without the young performers who make up the class. There’s not a weak link, with utterly superb musicianship being displayed throughout. They all have enough energy to raise the roof off of the New Wimbledon Theatre and also do particularly well in the more moving moments of the show. Special mention must go to Souparnika Nair who shone supremely bright with her spectacularly controlled vocals as Tamika and Emerson Sutton who is a marvel on the drums. All the children are a joy to watch and there's also some exceptional hairography going on throughout!



As Dewey Finn, Jake Sharp carries the musical outstandingly. Not wavering a single moment he’s on stage (and that’s pretty much throughout). He’s hilarious, vocally virtuosic and brings enough of the iconic Jack Black attitude and swagger that we know and love but also adds his own flair and makes the role his own. 


Rebecca Lock as Rosalie Mullins the uptight headmistress who also longs to break free is utterly charming. Her vocals are spectacular with her operatic range shining in the Queen of the Night aria and her astounding belt providing a real highlight in Where Did The Rock Go.


You can’t have School of Rock without the music and aside from the formidable onstage musicians, the pit band are stellar. Natasha Katz's lighting is also especially effective and Anna Louizos’ set design works faultlessly to transport us from scene to scene.

This is an incredibly cohesive production that never falters in sleekness but still retains its spontaneous, high octane feel. Become part of the band and go see School of Rock on tour.


photo credit: Paul Coltas

School of Rock (Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Monday, 21 March 2022

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Jesus Christ Superstar, Barbican Theatre | Review


Jesus Christ Superstar
Barbican Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday 4th July 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

Back for its third triumphant year, the Regent's Park Open Air production of Jesus Christ Superstar is exciting, vibrant fresh and thrilling. Originally released as a concept album, Timothy Sheader's production strips Superstar back and puts on a glittering and compelling performance which lets every aspect of the show shine. 

Of course Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's rock score is the heart of this production, with huge belters from the two Js: Jesus and Judas, and more soothing, lighter numbers from Mary Magdalene. However, it's Drew McOnie's choreography that really elevates everything about this version of Superstar. Each riveting moment is sharp but free and grungy at once. The frenetic energy flits between excitement, fury, trance and sadness and creates a pulse which sizzles and entertains throughout. 

What's particularly striking about this show is the mob mentality of the followers and apostles of Jesus. Turning on a dime to support and then attack Jesus, there are very few loyalties when peer pressure gets overwhelming. Emphasised even further through Lee Curran's lighting, it's equal measures devastating and thrilling. 


Robert Tripolino's Jesus is charismatic and obviously troubled as he pours everything he has into his preaching, but is exhausted and alone as he privately questions his destiny on earth. His storming vocals are the perfect balance of sincere and shocking and his hugely dramatic death, manages, in a strange way, to resonate; and his heartbreakingly truthful performance of Gethsemane in act two enthrals the audience. Ricardo Afonso is a complete superstar as Judas, played with a ferocity which is electrifying. Again he shows off the versatility of his voice but is most vibrant in his bold, angry moments. A real masterclass performance. 

Matt Cardle comes to life in act two whilst Nathan Amzi and Cavin Cornwall provide entertaining vocals throughout. Samuel Buttery brings a comic relief which suddenly turns brutish in his excellent portrayal of King Herod. The ensemble are a body of their own as they pulse across the stage with an energy and intensity that jumps off the stage. Without a weak link, the performances are consistently full-out and electrifying. This team work as one throughout and give a continually flowing show.

This is a thrillingly furious, highly millennial production, in which miraculous performances are given and striking images resonate long after the curtain falls. 

photo credit: Johan Persson

Jesus Christ Superstar, Barbican Theatre | Review

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Friday, 3 August 2018

Evita (UK Tour), Grand Opera House, Belfast | Review


Evita (UK Tour)
Grand Opera House, Belfast 
Reviewed on Wednesday 1st August 2018 by Damien Murray 
★★★★

When the idea of a musical based on the life of Eva Peron was first suggested back in the 1970s, many people were dubious about its chances of success… fast forward to today and it has become a modern classic with major theatres like Belfast’s Grand Opera House playing host to an extended run of Bill Kenwright’s 40th Anniversary Touring production of the show. 

As last week marked the 66th anniversary of her untimely death from cancer at the age of 33, the show has not only been a success, but has already outlived the real Evita by quite a few years. 

A sung-through musical story of her short life, the show takes us from her humble beginnings through to a life of wealth and power, dubbed as the ‘spiritual chief of the nation’ by the Argentine people. 

From its dramatic opening with Eva’s funeral juxtaposed with Che’s angry and cynically mocking song, Oh What A Circus, and going full circle through her eventful life back to her lying in state, this must be one of Bill Kenwright’s best ever productions. 


Jointly directed by Kenwright and Bob Tomson, this excellent touring revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice’s relatively early musical about the former Argentine dictator’s wife – which, like Jesus Christ Superstar, originated as a concept album – may be slightly scaled down from the original… but, you would never realise it. 

For this was a classy staging boasting basic, practical, but opulent, settings in a well-dressed and extremely well-lit production, which also included some child performers for added realism. 

Strong tango rhythms encouraged fiery and passionate performances, especially in choreographed ensemble pieces like Buenos Aires as the hard-working ensemble brought the ideas of Choreographer, Bill Deamer – ranging from passion-filled tango to militaristic movement – to life. 

Thanks to Musical Director, Tim Whiting, and his 10-piece orchestra, Webber’s sung-through format threw up many memorable musical highlights, including: great vocal clarity from young Cristina Hoey as the teenage Mistress in Another Suitcase In Another Hall; and from Oscar Balmaseda as the nightclub tango singer, Magaldi, during On This Night Of A Thousand Stars, while the rousing chorus of A New Argentina also stood out, as did the young girl’s beautiful singing of Santa Evita; Che’s expressive interpretation of High Flying Adored and the ailing Eva’s heartfelt and moving rendition of You Must Love Me. 


Mike Sterling provided a commanding Peron, while Glenn Carter really impressed in the demanding role of the ever-present Che, the self-styled narrator of the story. 

Carter’s diction, clarity and, at times, almost patter-style of delivery were vital to this show, as – being sung-through – those new to the story or with any hearing difficulty needed such clarity to put everything in context, especially during songs like Oh What A Circus and High Flying Adored. 

In addition to her beautiful singing voice (particularly in the show-stopper, Don’t Cry For Me Argentina), The Voice finalist and musical theatre songstress, Lucy O’Byrne, turned in a very confident performance as the ambitious backstreet actress whose ascendancy was unstoppable, because she was so loved and adored by so many that she almost rose to the dizzy heights of sainthood. 

My only small criticism was that, as Eva Peron was enigmatic, manipulative and charismatic; I would have liked to have seen a little more charisma throughout, as it did take a little longer than usual to warm to the character of Eva. 


This may have been because O’Byrne was more operatic in style than some others I have come across in this role, although her display of humanity during You Must Love Me at a time of critical physical weakness was heart-breaking and probably the best and most moving ever, as was the touching death scene. 

All dressed and decorated in a rich tapestry of sumptuous sets, authentic costumes and wigs, and attractive, mood-inspiring lighting, this production was a visual treat with some beautiful theatrical pictures at the end of most songs. 

Forty years after its West-End premiere, this fast-moving production is a high standard revival of a passionate and powerful piece of musical theatre. 

Evita runs at the Grand Opera House, Belfast until 11th August before continuing it's tour.

photo credit: Keith Pattison

Evita (UK Tour), Grand Opera House, Belfast | Review

Friday, 3 August 2018

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Evita (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review


Evita (UK Tour)
New Victoria Theatre 
Reviewed on Tuesday 17th July 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

Classic musical, Evita has been thrilling audiences in the UK and around the world since it opened in 1978, winning the Olivier Award for Best Musical. Multiple re-incarnations have allowed various portrayals of the iconic characters and different takes on the tale of Eva Perón. Despite not having a huge amount to compare to, having only seen the 1996 movie and 2006 West End production, I don't hesitate saying that this current tour helmed by Lucy O'Byrne, Glenn Carter and Mike Sterling has created an almost perfect production and showcases the music and story of Evita wonderfully.

Not only was tonight Evita's opening night at the New Victoria Theatre but was also the opening night for the three leads who each do an outstanding job. Mike Sterling commands the role of Juan Perón with power and fight whilst also showing off a softer side with his wife. He is vocally wonderful and complements Lucy's voice well. As Che (in some productions based on Che Guevara, and others as working class Everyman base of Peronism) Glenn Carter is versatile. A strong voice and all-knowing-rock-god-vibe means he brings a unique but perfectly suitable strength to the role.

As the leading lady, Lucy O'Byrne grows and blazes as Eva Perón. Starting out as a 16 year old who knows what she wants to a dying politicians wife, O'Byrne's transition is breathtaking to watch. Stand out moments include Rainbow High and You Must Love Me which show the drastic differences between Eva's character. Lucy performs the role with passion and drive whilst maintaining brief innocent moments. Her vocals grow as the character does and her stellar diction means we don't miss a word of the fast-paced passages.


Bill Dreamer's choreography brings to life the world of Argentina and cleverly moves us from one moment of action to another, whilst, Matthew Wright's sets and costumes create a vibrant world which draws you in from the opening. The fairly simplistic sets echo the world of the Perón's and at times provide a stark contrast to the glamour of Eva. 

It's hard to pick fault with such a strong production but one thing in particular strikes me as odd: the decision to give the entire cast English accents. This doesn't take away from the performances at all but feels like a bit of a cop out, and makes us forget the show is set in Argentina at times. 

However, overall this production is well thought out and does a brilliant job of bringing Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's music and lyrics to life once more. This show is not glitz and glam happiness, but it is a raw and moving story which should certainly be seen. Stellar music is brought to life by a magnificent cast who make Evita a must see!

Evita runs at the New Victoria Theatre until July 21st before continuing it's tour.

photo credit: Keith pattison

Evita (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Sunset Boulevard (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review


Sunset Boulevard (UK Tour)
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 10th April 2018 by Glenys Balchin
★★★★★

Sunset Boulevard is wonderful musical with great music, amazing performers, awesome staging and lighting and superb costumes and makeup. The atmosphere on opening night was electric and the New Wimbledon theatre provided an iconic setting for this fabulous musical. 

I had my trepidation’s about whether I was going to enjoy Sunset Boulevard. I had seen the film telling the dark tale of the fading Hollywood silent screen goddess trying to make a comeback who gets intwined in a dark world with her young screenwriter and lover; but I doubted how it would work as a musical. How wrong was I to doubt this wonderful operatic music of Andrew Lloyd Webber alongside the brilliant writing and lyrics of Christopher Hampton and Don BlackThe melodramatic film-framework is embellished to bring Sunset Boulevard up to the heights of a Grand Opera.

The entire cast must be congratulated on their performance but in particular Ria Jones who is sensational. Her character interpretation is phenomenal as she becomes Norma Desmond. She engages with the audience immediately as we're drawn into her world of despair and the larger than life dramatisation of sorrow grief of yesteryear. 

To go with that outstanding acting performance is Ria's fantastic voice- how does that voice come from such a diminutive frame!? I have to say I was wondering how Ria would compare with the voraciousness of Gloria Swanson in the 50’s movie, well she did! What’s more-she is every inch a frightening diva; as Norma tumbles into madness in the final scene - “Mr DeMille Lights Cameras” Ria Jones herself has reached the realms of a superstar and I can’t wait to see her in another production.

Moving on to Ria ‘s co-star, Danny Mac, the Strictly Come Dancing finalist really holds his  own against the formidable singing voices of Ria Jones and Adam Pearce. As Danny’s ex strictly judge would say “I didn’t like it I LOVED it” his performance is excellent, enjoyable, energetic, easy on the eye and his rendition of Sunset Boulevard is extraordinary.

Special mention of the fabulous Max, Norma's butler played by Adam Pearce who's voice is astounding and Molly Lynch who gives a mesmerising performance playing sweet Betty.

The scenery is particularly atmospheric. On the top it's fairly simplistic but once you look closer there's a level of complexity which is intrinsic to the whole plot developing. The use of lighting and old films gives you shivers down the spine, as if you are a prisoner in that oppressive mansion yourself.

The costumes capture the Hollywood era perfectly, bringing glitz and glamour. Norma’s flamboyant, elegant and surreal costumes, life and personality really make her one of the most iconic of characters.

Last but not least, praise must go to the orchestra who provide the heartbeat of the musical playing the opulent and lavish musical scores of Andrew Lloyd Webber, which are resounding in my head from last night. The songs provided magical moments bringing the whole show together as the cast performed them pitch perfectly.

I cannot praise this show enough, it was a wonderful experience to watch this truly brilliant cast transfer me to a world of “make believe”. The thing I love about theatre is it's escapism, the world of suspense from reality and when I see a show like this it makes me to want to go more and more. So, if there's one theatre trip you have to do this year, make it Sunset Boulevard!

Sunset Boulevard runs at the New Wimbledon Theatre until April 14th before continuing it's UK Tour. 

photo credit: Manuel Harlan


Sunset Boulevard (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Sunset Boulevard (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review


Sunset Boulevard (UK Tour) 
New Victoria Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 22nd January 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★★

The recent trend in my life seems to be watching things about the golden age of Hollywood and actresses who can't face the loss of fame. If you watched Ryan Murphy's recent television series, Feud, you'll notice the strong similarities between the life of fictional Norma Desmond and film royalty Joan Crawford. Both women were stars of the silent film era and the embodiment of Hollywood glamour, however as they grew older and their fame and fans disappear, they fall into a draining game of always trying to appear young and live as though their glory days aren't over. 

In Andrew Lloyd Webber's adaptation of Billy Wilder's 1951 film, Sunset Boulevard, we meet a reclusive Norma who's in a dark phase of her life as she's trying to get back into the film world. Enter Joe Gillis the struggling screenwriter desperate to get his lucky break who somehow ends up in Norma's sprawling mansion. 

Dreaming of making her comeback, Norma recruits Joe to edit and finish her screenplay. However, their relationship slowly spirals into it's own film of drama and tension as Norma becomes obsessive and possessive over Joe- threatening suicide if he leaves.

The staging is slick and perfectly evocative of the 40s/50s, helped hugely by Douglas O'Connell's spectacular video and projections which not only add to each scene and song but make the whole thing cinematic and help to blur the line between reality and film which Norma struggles to deal with.


The show, like it's characters, is full of melodrama and power. Ria Jones takes on the role of the narcissistic, fading Norma Desmond with masterful skill. Her performance is truly remarkable and she embodies the role with every fibre of her being. Commanding the stage and audience with her every word and whacking Andrew Lloyd Webber's huge numbers out of the park. Jones puts in everything the has to earn her extensive standing ovation at the end.

As the handsome, aspiring screenwriter Joe, Dougie Carter is outstanding and versatile. From fairly innocent at the start to dark and tortured. He is absolutely faultless, with his rendition of Sunset Boulevard gripping the audience at the start of Act 2 along with is sharp, engaging chemistry with Ria Jones.

Special mention must go to Adam Pearce who deftly plays the Phantom-esque role of Max Von Myerling and superbly balances his endearing and chilling sides whilst delivering some top class vocals that almost steal the show.

This production is a musical theatre masterclass that perfectly charts a story of obsession, drama, age and lust. It's a must see for any musical theatre fan, with Ria Jones' performance worth the ticket price alone.

Sunset Boulevard runs at the New Victoria theatre until January 27th before continuing it's tour.

Sunset Boulevard (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Friday, 5 January 2018

The Wizard of Oz, Capitol Theatre | Review


The Wizard of Oz 
Capitol Theatre, Sydney
Reviewed on Thursday 4th January 2017 by Faiza Rahman
★★★★★

Andrew Lloyd Webber would have been over the rainbow with the Sydney premier of The Wizard of Oz. From the moment the stage curtains opened, the audience were captivated. Personally, just for a moment, I forgot whether I was watching a movie or a show because of the pure essence of the way that the stage was set and the way digital media was used to give the audience a feeling of inclusion in the story and world of Oz.

Samantha Dodemaide does a whimsical job of taking us into the land of fantasy (apart from Dorothy’s red shoe coming off her foot when it was supposed to be stuck!) This slip up was ignored with grace from Samantha as the audience giggled and quickly forgot, whilst she continued to perfectly capture the golden-age naivety. Lucy Durack as Glinda won me over with her witty one-liners and effervescent outfit. Eli Cooper’s Scarecrow act was certainly not spineless – his bendy limbs wrapped us in admiration; alongside John Xintavelonis’ Cowardly Lion’s witty and ‘scary’ roar and Tin Man’s (Alex Rathgeber) heartless love and robotic movements. The Wicked Witch of the West (Jemma Rix) – well, that laugh explains why she was the perfect person to embody her character, for not one moment did I not adore her evilness, as weird as that may sound- she was brilliant! 


The star of the show was the costume and set design by Robert Jones, supported by Jon Driscoll and Daniel Brodie’s engrossing video and projection work. Vorticist projections were used to evoke the Kansas cyclone that took Dorothy into the dreamworld and took us there too. The lighting and effects used on the walls of the theatre enhanced the experience and created an ethereal atmosphere that delved us straight onto the yellow brick road and at times I really felt like I was a part of the show. 

The costumes were visually appeasing – what particularly impressed the audience was when Dorothy’s dress changed colour as she conducted a twirl across the stage from her regular dress to a sparkly green version as she entered Emerald City. The screens used to create the feeling of depth were perfectly controlled and used well to create the feeling of distance to emerald city. My highlight was when Dorothy, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion & Scarecrow were put in the dome by the Wizard – it looked so 3D and realistic, everyone was astounded. 


I was taken back to my childhood through the music. Samantha Dodemaide’s voice projects an innocence yet heart wrenching power, like a force leading her back home to Kansas. Although since 1939, The Wizard of Oz has taken on many variations, this one stays grounded in the characters and echoes that there is no place like home, even with its modern twist.

The Wizard of Oz runs at the Capitol Theatre until 4th February 2018

photo credit: Jeff Busby

The Wizard of Oz, Capitol Theatre | Review

Friday, 5 January 2018

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Sunset Boulevard (UK Tour), Edinburgh Playhouse | Review


Sunset Boulevard (UK Tour)
Edinburgh Playhouse
Reviewed on Tuesday 3rd October 2017 by Andrew Cowan 

Sunset Boulevard is a thrilling ride through the film industry of mid-century America, filled with the song, dance and cultural ephemera of the era. It’s an intoxicating spectacle that is both entrancing and, in parts, exhausting.

The production takes place in Hollywood on the cusp of the 1940s and 1950s. The show’s intermission pointedly falls at a New Year’s party in 1949 in a manner symbolic of the story’s main theme of the passing of one era to the next.

The time period and location is a particularly rich seam for the set design which, especially in the opening moments, is a flurry of transitions. The audience is taken from the gates of Paramount studio to production lots, writer’s rooms and soundstages in the space of a matter of minutes. Furthermore, artifacts of film production are woven intelligently into the set throughout. One driving scene in particular employed footage of busy Los Angeles streets projected behind the protagonist’s vehicle while shadowed cameramen revolved around him in a way that recalls the early special effects of the time. It could easily have been confusing, the fact that it wasn’t is testament to the care with which each aspect of the set had been considered.

As one might expect given the story, the music throughout the show was constantly evocative of the period and brilliantly performed by the band. One aspect to note is that your enjoyment of the show may in part depend on how you feel about Andrew Lloyd Webber, who supplies the music in the production and isn’t always for everyone.


Danny Mac as protagonist Joe Gillis was well cast and particularly excelled at both the breezy 50s dialog exchanged with members of the supporting cast and his rendition of the title song ‘Sunset Boulevard’. Predictably a cheer went up around the hall as the actor, who appeared on Strictly Come Dancing, danced a tango. His interaction with romantic interest Molly Lynch as Betty Schaefer was a touch lacking, but this relationship is not really the centrepiece of the story and as such both the songs and dialog were a little perfunctory. Special mention should be given to both the singing and acting of Adam Pearce as Max Von Meyerling, who deflty straddled the line between chilling and endearing and very nearly stole the show. However Ria Jones as the needy and demented Norma Desmond was superb throughout, delivering a deeply poignant performance.

Sunset Boulevard (UK Tour), Edinburgh Playhouse | Review

Wednesday, 4 October 2017