Posts with the label drew mconie
Showing posts with label drew mconie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label drew mconie. Show all posts

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

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 HabaƱera 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, 7 March 2018

Hairspray (UK Tour), Bristol Hippodrome | Review


Hairspray (UK Tour) 
Bristol Hippodrome 
Reviewed on Monday 5th March 2018 by Calvin Welsford  
★★★★


Hairspray has always been a show I’ve been dying to see live. I fell in love with the 2007 movie and then most recently with NBC’s tv special, Hairspray Live!  starring Kristin Chenoweth, Jennifer Hudson and Dove Cameron, to name a few!

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have high expectations of the show, because I did. Thankfully the show lived up to these; it was so amazing and a lot funnier than I’d anticipated.

I think my expectations were so high as previous cast members have been very strong and unique, such as Ariana Grande, Matthew Morrison, Harvey Fierstein and Queen Latifah. But the UK tour cast did a phenomenal job of bringing the characters to the stage and evoked the same emotions I’d previously felt and hoped for. 

Max Rixton & Norman Price completely stole the show with their version of ‘You’re Timeless To Me’. A unscripted innuendo ‘I can feel your bells’ managed to have the audience and the cast laughing for several minutes. It was clear that the two actors on stage had a good connection as there were non stop innuendos and comebacks during the whole scene. 


Rebecca Mendoza made an impressive professional debut as the larger-than-life, Tracy whilst Layton Williams and Edward Chitticks were fabulous as Seaweed and Link.

Although the show overall was incredible, the only thing which I personally think could be improved would be the set. During certain scenes the background is projected on a screen rather than being an actual set piece. This felt a little lacking and made the show feel slightly amateur.

However, I can’t knock the performances of the cast or the direction- everything else was 10/10. Mention must go to Drew McOnie’s choreography which perfectly fits the vibe of the show and is energetic throughout.

If you like musical theatre and especially Hairspray, I’d 100% recommend seeing the current UK Tour!

Hairspray is at the Bristol Hippodrome until 10th March, before continuing its tour.

photo credit: Darren Bell

Hairspray (UK Tour), Bristol Hippodrome | Review

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Hairspray (UK Tour), Bord Gais Energy Theatre | Review


Hairspray (Tour)
Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Dublin
Reviewed on Monday 11th September 2017 by Damien Murray 
★★

Despite highlighting serious issues such as prejudice and intolerance, this show remains a popular, light-hearted and fun night of musical theatre and this latest touring production – courtesy of Mark Goucher, Matthew Gale and Laurence Myers – certainly kept it in this now famous ‘feel-good’ vibe.

Set in Baltimore in 1962, against a backdrop of racial segregation, the simple scenario of wanting teenagers of all colours to be able to dance together on a local TV dance programme with a campaign for integration on the show reflects the wider problem of racial segregation and to a welcomed social change at that time.

Opening with a look down at teenage Tracy in bed before hitting hard with one of the show’s most popular songs, 'Good Morning Baltimore', this production got off to a bright up-tempo start in a busy street scene with the dancers quickly establishing the two main communities of the piece, and – under Paul Kerryson’s direction – this theme was reinforced throughout (e.g. there was the telling line that “the TV is black and white” and the costumes in the jail scene were all black and white for the protesters as opposed to the colourful costumes that were used in the rest of the show).




Staged with a practical and realistic brick house set at either side, this production used mobile trucks and effective projected scenery throughout to keep its fast-moving pace in place, while Philip Gladwell’s bright and colourful lighting plot brought a lot to the show and I loved, at the start of each Act, how the audience was flooded in moving coloured lights to create a fun atmosphere.

As a dance-orientated show, Drew McOnie’s choreography and movement was always slick, lively, entertaining and of its time and it was a brave decision to do a routine at one stage with several basketballs being thrown about on a crowded stage.

While the costumes were overly bright (probably for staging purposes to increase the fun and escapism elements of the production), they – like the hairstyles – were authentic for the era.

The mostly up-tempo score was varied with 60s Pop, Rhythm & Blues, Doo-Wop and Gospel influences, and Musical Director, Ben Atkinson, and his 7-piece on-stage band did well in keeping things moving at a lively pace and with such a full-on sound, despite this show being written for a much larger instrumentation line-up.




While the comic duet, 'You’re Timeless To Me', proved popular with audiences, songs like 'Mama, I’m A Big Girl Now' and 'I Can Hear The Bells' were well staged; the latter having a particular magical feel to it.

However, the big production numbers that really stood out were: 'Welcome To The 60s', complete with the female vocal trio’s sparkling dresses and the floor gobos and wallpaper displaying a popular pattern of the era; the glorious piece of Gospel, 'I Know Where I’ve Been', which almost lifted the roof; and the all-singing, all-dancing finale, 'You Can’t Stop The Beat', with its totally infectious feel-good factor.

Sometimes there is something about the way a particular show is written, or cast, that is simply annoying and, for me, it is why there is a tradition of playing Tracy’s mother, Edna, as a ‘drag-role (i.e. always played by a man), as the character is not a drag queen, but was first played by one).
I feel it adds nothing to the show and is unnecessary … maybe it is just me and I am missing something obvious, but I just don’t get it.

However, that said, this is certainly no reflection on the talents of Matt Rixon, who played the role of the large, kind and shy Edna superbly in what could best be described as a towering performance, especially against the physically smaller, Norman Pace, as her ever-joking but loving husband, Wilbur (maybe that is the reason for the ‘drag-role’?).




Brenda Edwards’ super soulful vocals made her perfect for the part of the sassy and determined Motormouth Maybelle, while the experienced performance by Gina Murray, as the producer and controlling mother, Velma, was a show-stealer here and this scheming villainess must surely be the most glamorous ‘baddie’ of them all.

If Velma was the baddie, then young Rebecca Mendoza was a real ‘goodie’ here, making an impressive professional debut as the big-hearted and teenage Tracy.

All were well supported by the lively ensemble and others like Jon Tsouras’ self-loving Corney, Layton Williams’ energetic and popular, Seaweed, Edward Chitticks’ heart-throb pop star, Link, Aimee Moore’s not so talented and selfish wannabe, Amber, and Annalise Liard-Bailey – another recent theatre graduate – as the dim but beautiful, Penny.

Hairspray is at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre until September 16th before continuing on its tour.

Photo Credit: Darren Bell

Hairspray (UK Tour), Bord Gais Energy Theatre | Review

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The Wild Party, The Other Palace | Review


The Wild Party
 The Other Palace
 Reviewed on Tuesday 21st February 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
 ★★★★

Having only been familiar with the Lippa version of The Wild Party, I was not really sure what I was getting myself into with this one. I was ready for a crazy, wild, dramatic experience and that's certainly what I got!

The Other Palace, formerly the St James Theatre has certainly chosen the right piece to mark it's relaunch. This wild, wild party is sure to make anyone want to return! The Wild Party is based on Joseph Moncure March's racy 1928 poem and is so energetic and frenzied from the start that you can't help but love it and be drawn into the raving, crazy world LaChiusa has created.

 The show tells the story of Queenie, a Broadway wannabe who's instead become a pained woman with a huge hole in her life, and her comic lover, Burrs, who throw a berserk party to escape from the boredom of their everyday life. We meet their friends and enemies who each have a story to tell and get way too mixed up in the ever-growing craziness of the wild, wild party.

Frances Ruffelle is completely and utterly brilliant as Queenie. With rawness and vulnerability mixed in with sex and vivaciousness creating a fantastic, larger than life character. It's truly an honour seeing this legend of the stage perform.  Frances works alongside another legend: John Owen-Jones who shines and really shows off his incredible voice as the dark, scary Burrs.

 For me, it's Victoria Hamilton-Barritt who steals the show as Queenie's frenemy, Kate. Her sultry, soaring voice is stunning and so unique that she just steals every moment she's in. Not only that, but she never stops acting, every facial expression and movement is well thought out and perfect for her character- she's truly a star.


Ako Mitchell and Lizzy Connolly as Eddie and Mae are wonderful. Having recently seen them both in other shows, Ragtime and Vanities respectively, I knew their voices and performances would be special but they completely blew me away and were incredible.


 Other stand outs were Dex Lee  as Jackie and Melanie Bright as Sally. Dex's voice is stunning and he soars over every note so easily and his performance as the slimy character is fantastic to see. Melanie's beautiful soprano voice rings out and she creates magical moments on stage. Finally, Gloria Obiango and Genesis Lynea are outstanding as the brothers, seeming almost like a 20s Greek chorus! Their synchronicity is flawless and they're just great.

Drew McOnie's choreography and Richard Howell's lighting create the sinful, frenzied, drunken, 20s  mood perfectly and create something so magical that you can't bear to tear your eyes away! 

Overall this is a truly glistening production and if you want a raunchy, sexy, debaucherous night that is still full of glitz and glamour then this is the show for you!

The Wild Party, The Other Palace | Review

Wednesday, 22 February 2017