Posts with the label chicago
Showing posts with label chicago. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chicago. Show all posts

Sunday, 15 July 2018

A Stagey Guide To Singing... Josefina Gabrielle | Chicago | Stagey Sunday

Welcome back to Stagey Sunday! I hope you're all well and not too saddened by the football... although if you're reading this, the chances are that you were at the theatre instead of in front of a TV! Anyway, this weeks guide to singing is brought to you by the female lead of Chicago the musical, Josefina Gabrielle who plays Velma. Josefina started her career as a dancer before transitioning into the world of singing so it's really interesting to hear how she built up her voice and stamina to be able to perform such a demanding role...


Can you tell me a bit about your vocal journey? 
Well I went to a theatre school, Arts Educational school, from about the age of 10 so we had an all round performing arts education. It incorporated singing, ballet, jazz, modern, tap, drama, you name it! So I had that in my life for as long as I can remember. 

Then I specialised in Classical ballet, so I danced only for quite a few years and, I worked abroad. When I came home to London after about 8 years, I joined Carousel the musical which was being done at the National Theatre. They needed strong ballet dancers so there was this perfect break from one world into the next so then I was surrounded by singing again and kind of got back on the saddle with that. 

I had been a soprano and hadn’t really experimented with the musical theatre sound, mixing or belting or anything like that so I learnt a lot about that during my time at Carousel. I learnt a lot about different voice types as I joined different companies and slowly developed a belt voice which was quite daunting at first because it’s quite muscular, you know you can push the wrong way and make yourself hoarse. So that was quite an interesting journey and I think having a typical dancer mentality I pushed it quite a lot which made it strong but compromised it’s flexibility. So that’s been my journey into different sounds! 

I went to a singing teacher for a little while who gave me all the knowledge on how to belt but it felt painful, so I shied away from it. But as I came to acquire, note by note slowly, I was able to process what she’d told me to do. But at the time it felt scary. It’s like doing push-ups! Twang and tilt are also an important part of that- I’ve learnt all the terms along the way! 


Was there anyone or anything that got you into music in the first place? 
I’ve always enjoyed music, my primary school before I went to ArtsEd- my mum has since told me cause you don’t think about these things as a child- focussed a lot on the arts so we did have a lot of musical appreciation. I remember playing all the percussion stuff and recorder and clarinet and things. So I’d already started that journey at my primary school so I think it's always been a part of my life. 

And then in the classical ballet world you dance to so much music. I feel like I’ve got quite a nice, wide variety of music that I appreciate and it’s quite wonderful to identify and recognise composers easily because I’ve acquired it as opposed to studied it. Rodgers and Hammerstein are a musical duo that I absolutely adore and Stephen Sondheim as well because there’s so much research and such an education while you're performing and learning the subjects and your journey. It's fascinating. And the structure of the way they write just does it for you really. 

I think maybe because I’ve come through dance, I’ve been a little gung-ho with my singing and sometimes I've not thought “well this is as good as it gets”; I've dared to be a bit rough on my voice and sort of thought, well, I’ll just face the consequences… I don't find that pure singing comes easily to me so I focus very much on telling the story through song and that seems to find my voice; so there’s always the thing of juggling the X and the Y, the technique and the emotion and I think I focus more on the emotion and hope the technique will follow! 

Josefina Gabrielle and Hugh Jackman as Laurey and Curly in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel

You've had a long career with Chicago now so you must know a lot of it like the back of your hand but are there any moments you still find hard or have to put extra focus on? 
I do find every every show that I do, I play my voice in, I’m not a person that can just pick something up and sing it beautifully. I need to almost dig a trench in my voice so once it’s played in I can do it. I’ve found that if I just treat it with respect but don’t get too fixated on it, it will find it’s way. I find a lot of that is once the breathing becomes choreography, you automatically prepare in the right way and you know when to hold, when to let go and when to not step on the gas. That just comes with repetition. I think that the moment my breathing has sorted out it’s choreography then I’m in safe hands. I also feel that I'm very much a voice that works with a mic. So the mic informs how I’m going to hold back or let go. 


You've recently had Mazz Murray join the cast of Chicago as Mama who your character Velma is very close to; what’s your process like when you work with someone new in terms of figuring out how to blend and balance one another? 
Again that comes with time, we’re early on so we’re still blending. But she's a wonderful musician and has one of my favourite voices. You know you're in fantastic hands and you just you feel and you listen and that’s how you come together, just like any orchestra would really. 


What are your tips for maintaining good vocal health? 
Drink a lot of water, the usual. Sleep, always get a decent amount of sleep. I have to be careful with acid reflux so I try not to eat too late at night. If I do eat too late at night or am feeling full or even just in case, I’m never far from Gaviscon Advance. Until you know about acid reflux, you may not even know you have it; it’s basically where the acid comes up your oesophagus and can sit on your cords and swell them. I didn’t realise but I’d often wake up coughing at night and I now know it’s because of the acid so now I'm very aware of that as it got me a lot of trouble in the past. 

I have an excellent warm up tape from by singing teacher Mark Meylan which I do religiously before every show and even when I'm not working, I’ll try and do that warm up regularly because my singing muscle needs to be looked after regularly. I’m not a person that can just sing, I need warming up well for flexibility. 


Who would your dream duet partner be? 
I’ve never really though about that! Well I just had the most amazing time singing with Ruthie Henshall; that felt wonderfully organic and I enjoyed it enormously. I'm now having a wonderful time working with Mazz and we're on a new journey. I even put this in Mazz Murray’s card on opening night that I have a laminated wish list of leading ladies I'd like to work with and two of them have come along at once! 


Could you tell me your top piece of advice for aspiring performers in terms of finding and maintaining their voice? 
Well I’ve kind of already blended those answers into my others but I’d say, don’t get upset because the emotions really affect your voice, they’re both in the same place so it can hinder performance. Breathing is terribly important and don’t push something they doesn’t want to go there- coax it gently and it will come!


A huge thank you to Josefina for taking the time to give her stories and advice on singing. You can catch her in Chicago at the Phoenix Theatre until 5th January 2019.

See you next Sunday for the final instalment of our singing guides!

A Stagey Guide To Singing... Josefina Gabrielle | Chicago | Stagey Sunday

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Chicago, Phoenix Theatre | Review


Chicago
Phoenix Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 17th April 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★

Everyone knows Chicago so it has a lot to live up to. For me personally it holds a special place as it was one of the first West End shows I saw and really fell in love with. I also saw the 2016 UK Tour which I loved so I was extremely excited to see what the current production at the Phoenix Theatre has to offer. Unfortunately, I left feeling a little deflated and let down.

This show isn't bad but it definitely doesn't have the energy and pizazz that's expected with a show as big, bold and sexy as Chicago. The production is almost identical to the 2016 tour, with basic staging and a focus on the choreography and singing but it seems that over two years it's gotten a little tired. It's almost as if the creatives decided Chicago is now in it's finest form and needs no edits. Of course the choreography is still sleek and the stage with the band in the forefront works well but instead of being an energetic extravaganza, its a bit... old.

Taking the leads as Roxie and Velma are Sarah Soetaert and Josefina Gabrielle who do a stellar job. Vocally Sarah is great but it's her facial expressions which steal the show. Channeling Kristin Chenoweth at times, she is funny and light-hearted but also calculating.  Josefina is suitably sexy and vivacious as Velma. When the ladies combine forces such as in My Own Best Friend, they compliment each other wonderfully and create moments of magic.


Other than the name and legacy of Chicago itself, there's no denying (especially from audiences cries) that Hollywood star, Cuba Gooding Jr. is selling seats and drawing people in. It's a shame that Cuba falls flat. Gooding has charisma and stage presence when speaking and acting but his singing feels somewhat strained and is underwhelming especially in his money-number: Razzle Dazzle.

Chicago veteran Ruthie Henshall is vocally great as Mama Morton but looks like more of a sister and unfortunately seems too much of a 'walk-on' role. I saw Ruthie play Roxie in 2009 when I was thirteen and she has definitely been one of my musical theatre inspirations since then, so I was looking forward to seeing her take on her third role in this classic. Therefore it was a shame that she was a little underused and under-developed. 


A D Richardson gives a convincing performance as Mary Sunshine and Paul Rider is suitably pathetic but loyal as he gains the audience's sympathy through his performance as Amos. The ensemble do a fantastic job of keeping the action moving, with my eye continually being drawn to Frances Dee as she moved around the stage with ease and drama.

The lack of changes or focus on quality make this production feel a bit like a money making machine instead of an stunning piece of theatre. It's clear that Chicago and certain names will draw a crowd  which is clearly what's wanted, so the show has lost some of it's magic. Although Chicago is still a fun night out that's sure to please and delight many loyal fans and people who just want a chilled theatrical experience, for me it felt too flat in its current form.

photo credit: Tristram Kenton

Chicago, Phoenix Theatre | Review

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Rachel Tucker, Live at Zedel | Review


Rachel Tucker (concert)
Crazy Coqs, Zedel
Reviewed on Tuesday June 6th 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★

Rachel Tucker is a superstar of the stage and is currently on a long awaited tour around the UK before heading to New York for a stint at the iconic, 54 Below. Now I knew Rachel's voice was good from the I'd Do Anything days, videos online and of course from seeing her in Wicked but I was completely blown away when I saw her solo performance last night. Rachel's voice is powerful, emotive, beautiful and her overall stage presence is that of a true star.

Rachel's set consisted of a number of upbeat songs to more balladic slow pieces with the flow from jubilation to tears completely smooth and seamless. The whole concert seemed so well put together and like a huge amount of thought had gone into each song and placement, it was really a night of everything. Opening the show with "Miss Otis Regrets", Rachel immediately created a bond with the audience and won over the room with her huge presence and personality.

Moving wonderfully into a rendition of "Candyman", Rachel kept the atmosphere bright and warm and set the stage for an evening of glorious entertainment. The segway into each song was done flawlessly, a sign of Rachel's stage training from a young age. The transition from "Waving Through a Window" (beautiful) to "Climbing Uphill" was particularly entertaining with Rachel reenacting a bad audition before giving a hilarious performance of the Jason Robert Brown classic.

As her special guest for the night, Rachel introduced Samantha Barks (who we all know I love) at the end of act one for a rendition of "Nowadays/All That Jazz" from Chicago. This was a particular treat for us Londoners who didn't get to see Samantha as Velma Kelly in Chicago at the Hollywood Bowl and it was a marvellous end to the first half.

The second half of the concert was just as seamless and brilliant as the first, with little anecdotes sprinkled throughout and an absolutely hilarious tribute to Tina Turner which Rachel explained was her unique selling point when she used to perform with her dad.  Needless to say, the audience loved the ridiculously fantastic and energetic performance of "Proud Mary/River Deep Mountain High".

Samantha and Rachel joined forces again with a beautiful, heartfelt rendition of Wicked's "For Good" which was lovely to hear and joyous to see the two friends performing such a beautiful song in the intimate setting of the Crazy Coqs, Zedel.

Not only is Rachel's singing top notch, but her acting and interpretation of music is outstanding. Able to go from elation to heartbreaking sincerity in a matter of bars. Act two saw Rachel perform "The Man That Got Away" which was just phenomenal and left the audience in pin-drop silent awe. Rachel closed the show with "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and the Ed Sheeran favourite, "Castle on a Hill" which really summed up the evening and gave the audience the whole spectrum of emotions once again and gave Rachel her third and final standing ovation of the evening.

Rachel is just a sensational performer and last nights concert was completely faultless. I honestly couldn't have asked for anything more from Rachel or Samantha except for them to sing more and serenade me for the rest of my life! Rachel is truly remarkable, a joy to watch and a brilliant inspiration for anyone wanting to perform. If you get the chance to see Rachel in concert, or in any other show then 100000% take the opportunity as you do not want to miss the chance to be blessed be her performance of dreams and pipes from heaven!

Read my interview with Rachel here: https://goo.gl/FyfrTy

Rachel Tucker, Live at Zedel | Review

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Chicago (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review


Chicago (UK Tour)
New Victoria Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 17th October 2016 by Melanie Mitchell
★★★★

On Monday the 16th of October I was fortunate to be invited to see Chicago at Woking theatre. The show is based on the play by Maurine Dallas Watkins and the original stage production, directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse.


The show remains true to the original with all the familiar songs and routines, performed with enthusiasm and gusto by all cast members. The dancers both male and female are all amazing, lithe, slick and extremely flexible; performing complexly choreographed routines on a fairly small stage.
The reason for the lack of space is that the Orchestra share the stage with the performers, playing a pivotal role in the production, making it a lot of fun to watch, keep your eye on the conductor.

Roxy Hart is played by Hayley Tamaddon of Emmerdale fame. She makes the role her own with a combination of cuteness and humour accompanied by a lovely singing voice. A very talented and accomplished performance with excellent comedic touches, perhaps lacking somewhat in sex appeal
Jessie Wallace, is perfectly suited to the role of Matron ‘Mama’ Morton, she played the role extremely convincingly. I was completely surprised by her amazing voice, strong, clear and powerful. I completely forgot her as Eastenders Kat Slater.




John Partridge also an ex Eastender takes the role of Billy Flynn, he is suave and sophisticated and suitably cold in the role. Again I was surprised at his singing voice, very good projection although I felt that diction could be improved at times. He holds the longest, in tune note I have ever heard in a stage production, amazing.

A D Richardson gives a convincing performance as Mary Sunshine! You’ll see what I mean if you go to the show. Neil Ditt as Amos is suitably pathetic, downtrodden and loyal gaining sympathy and support from the audience, his rendition of Mr Cellophane is heartfelt. Sophie Carmen – Jones takes the role of Velma Kelly and in my opinion steals the show. Amazing singer and dancer a vivacious performance that oozes sex appeal. Sophie is definitely one to watch.

The staging of the whole show is very cleverly done for a fairly small stage, my only criticism would be that when some of the performers are caught in the ‘green lighting’ it makes them look rather ill. That might have been to do with the angle of my seat though.

Chicago is on at Woking New Victoria Theatre until Saturday 22nd of October, I would urge you to get a ticket for a most enjoyable, fun, feel good show.

Chicago (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Chicago (UK Tour), Churchill Theatre | Review

Chicago (UK Tour)
Churchill Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 10th October 2016 by Olivia Mitchell
★★★★

Chicago is one of those classic musicals that everyone knows. It was one of the first ones I ever saw and it certainly holds a special place in my heart so I was thrilled when I heard about its UK tour. The overall production is fantastic and its one of the few shows I've given a five star rating!

The Churchill Theatre, Bromley provided a wonderful setting for this over the top, fabulous show. The music is of course fantastic and having the band on stage and involved in the action was wonderful and engaging. The staging is classic, elegant and sexy just like the show; with a simple tiered setting, a few extra chairs and two ladders coming in and out from the wings of the stage. Along with the faded mood lighting, the overall effect is simple but perfectly fitting for the show.

The whole cast is fantastic. Sophie Carmen-Jones embodies Velma Kelly to a T, giving a sultry, dramatic and slick portrayal and really shining in the production. Hayley Tamaddon gives Miss Roxie Hart a cheeky edge and truly manages to capture Roxie's development to a scheming seductress desperate for fame. I felt she really settled into the character as the show progressed and was extremely confident in her singing, dancing and acting- an all round great performance! John Partridge plays the sleazy Billy Flynn extremely well and you could tell from the audience reaction how engaged they were with his performance. Jessie Wallace also demonstrates her vocal abilities which I certainly didn't know she had and Mama Morton was wonderfully suited to her.

The 1920s setting of Chicago gives it a vintage feel which you can't help but feel attracted to. The swinging jazz numbers have you tapping your feet and make you feel as though you've been pulled into to a secretive speak-easy like environment. Chicago must be one of the sexiest shows around so if you're looking for inspiration to go to the gym just look at this cast! Everything about them is enviable, including the killer leg kicks and ridiculous figures!

I adore this show and if the full house was anything to go by then I think a lot of people do. If you can manage to snap up a ticket for the tour then you are guaranteed a sublime, sexy, sultry and sparkling night out!

Chicago (UK Tour), Churchill Theatre | Review

Thursday, 13 October 2016