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

Sunday, 2 April 2023

For Black Boys..., Apollo Theatre | Review


For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Hue Gets Too Heavy
Apollo Theatre
★★★★

For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Hue Gets Too Heavy is powerful and thought-provoking production which offers a unique perspective on the challenges faced by young black men in today's society. The exceptionally strong play tackles heavy topics such as mental health, racism, and police profiling, all with a skilful blend of humour and heart that keeps the audience engaged from start to finish. For Black Boys... is a must see in its limited run.

The performances from the cast, made up of Mark Akintimehin, Emmanuel Akwafo, Nnabiko Ejimofor, Darragh Hand Aruna Jalloh and Kaine Lawrence are universally strong, with each actor bringing a unique and enticing angle to their role. Ryan Calais Cameron's writing is equally impressive, with sharp dialogue and powerful monologues that strike you whilst watching and also stay with you long after the play has ended. What's so effective is how the show flawlessly integrates spoken word, music, and dance to create an immersive and multifaceted experience. The whole thing is utterly seamless and flows with such a strong balance of urgency and intimacy.

The set design (Anna Reid) and lighting (Rory Beaton) add to the immersive experience, transporting the audience to the therapy room, without feeling basic; and the use of multimedia elements and striking choreography (Theophilus O. Bailey) add extra layers of depth to the production. As a whole it feels incredibly modern, relevant and powerful; a stunning representation of why new British Theatre is so necessary.

The show tackles important and sometimes taboo topics surrounding mental health, masculinity, and the experiences of young Black men and it's often incredibly moving; but what works so well is how these important social issues are balanced with humour and light. The authenticity which runs through the piece makes it feel so personal, and the audience really go through the journey with the performers.

For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Hue Gets Too Heavy is a deeply moving and important work of art that, is a must-see for those interested in social justice, mental health, and ultimately, the power of storytelling. When the ensemble come together, they create some of the most powerful theatre seen in the West End in a long time.

Reviewed on Saturday 1st April 2023
photo credit: Ali Wright

For Black Boys..., Apollo Theatre | Review

Sunday, 2 April 2023

Thursday, 23 March 2023

Eugenius!, Turbine Theatre | Review


Eugenius!
Turbine Theatre
★★★ 

After a London Palladium concert and subsequent runs at The Other Palace, the comic book tale of Eugenius! has been on the radar of many theatre lovers, and fans were thrilled to hear of the show's reworked return at the Turbine Theatre. The sweet characters and over the top tale are back like before, but somewhere along the way, the musical has lost some of the sparkle and infectious joy that previously made it such a charming production.

Eugenius! tells the story of Eugene, a self proclaimed geek who creates a comic book and gets thrown into a world of Hollywood movies and space dramas. Alongside him are his best friends Janey and Feris who are all trying to make it through school and retain their identities and friendship. With a number of witty side plots and caricature characters, there's lots to be enjoyed, but compared to previous versions of the show, there's not as much of a wholesome, uplifting vibe.

The small Turbine space which works so well for other shows, feels like a hinderance for Eugenius. There's not enough space for the show to reach its soaring potential and some of the bigger moments are squashed. This is through no fault of Andrew Exeter's set design which effectively brings the comic book world to life, as does Andy Walton's excellent video design which is wonderfully aesthetic and in keeping with the show; but nothing fully takes away from the feeling of the show longing for a larger space. Mention must also go to the really well thought out design of the foyer and entrance to the theatre which is adorned in every space with Tough Man posters, as well as comic book memorabilia and neon lights, all of which help to create an immersive experience and are a treat to explore.

Cast wise, the production is bursting with talent. Elliot Evans is endearing as Eugene, and brings a really lovely sense of vulnerability to the role whilst also providing stunning vocals, which especially soar in act two. As his partner in crime (who feels firmly in the friend zone) Jaina Brock-Patel gives a humourous performance and really leans into the comedy which is fun to watch. Equally humourous is James Hameed as Feris who is a funny character for the most part, but sometimes a bit one dimensional. The trio are strong and there are some touching moments. Their chemistry isn't bursting off the stage but they certainly do a good job and really come into their own towards the end of the show.

Dominic Andersen is fabulous in all his roles, especially as the movie star Gerhard who has some of the most laugh out loud moments in the show. As Super Hot Lady, Maddison Firth is great and her solo number is very high octane, although it's somewhat overpowered by so much happening on stage, so she doesn't truly get a chance to shine. There are also some sound issues which plague the show and mean a fair bit of dialogue is lost. The show as a whole is loud, perhaps too much so at points, but the vocals are often too quiet so we miss the talent of the cast.

The 80s-esque music that has references to lots of iconic songs, is really wonderful and you can't help but bop along to the self-aware, hilariously literal tunes. Ben Adams and Chris Wilkins have written some incredibly catchy pieces that continue to shine in this rendition of the show. They also have some sneaky cameos on bedroom posters and music videos which are a nice touch. 

It's definitely nostalgic and energetic but this isn't the best Eugenius! has been. There are some great moments but the musical never evokes the same feelings of feel good empowerment and unity that it did previously. Hopefully there will be future iterations of the show where are the stars can align to create the ultimate version.

Reviewed on Wednesday 22nd March 2023
photo credit: Pamela Raith


Eugenius!, Turbine Theatre | Review

Thursday, 23 March 2023

Wednesday, 8 March 2023

Five Reasons to see Heathers the Musical on Tour


Since making its London debut in 2018, Heathers the Musical has gained a massive cult following and has gone on to do a number of London runs and touring productions. This current version takes the iconic show around the UK and features a fantastic cast who absolutely nail the roles. If you're still debating whether you should catch the show on tour, here are five reasons why we think you should...

The Soundtrack is Super Catchy
Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe’s book, music and lyrics have so many witty moments where you'll be laughing out loud and there are also some genuinely touching moments. The music is engaging and camp with so much 80s realness woven throughout. If you're remotely stagey, you've probably heard some of the songs, most likely Candy Store which is a definite stand out of the show. Aside from the humourous songs there are some very heartfelt moments like Kindergarten Boyfriend, a beautiful soliloquy performed by Martha aka Kingsley Morton, and some definite earworms such as Seventeen and Shine a Light.

The Cast are SO Talented
This touring cast are one of the strongest I've seen in Heathers with a number of standout performances and some great ensemble work. As Veronica Sawyer, Jenna Innes gives a really well developed performance and feels vocally strong throughout. Her chemistry with the brooding serial killer JD (Jacob Fowler) is pretty strong and the duo really shine in their moments together, especially when the drama really gets going. The Heathers themselves bring all the farce and sass you'd expect. Elise Zavou is enjoyable as Duke, Verity Thompson is hilarious and vocally dreamy as Chandler and Billie Bowman really highlights the reluctance of McNamara to go along with her 'friends' and gives a surprisingly nuanced and emotive performance, not always seen in Heathers.

The Production Value is Really Strong
This is a show which transfers so effectively to touring, David Shields' 80s design is bright and engaging whilst Ben Cracknell's lighting is super effective, especially when highlighting the cast in their signature colours. The fairly simple set is elevated by a number of special effects and costume quick changes, all of which really feel at home on a touring stage. The slow mo fight scene and clever sound effects (Dan Samson) for the croquet game work really well too, and the ensemble do so much to really embellish all the scenes, with individual characteristics and storylines shining through and adding a lot of interest.

It's Melodrama at its Finest
Whilst Heathers touches on some really sensitive topics, it does so in a way that is hilariously over the top. It's camp and angsty at the same time. With deep moments suddenly balanced with a gag; the more times I see this show, the more effective I think it is. Kurt Kelly (Alex Woodward) and Ram Sweeney (Morgan Jackson) are peak hilarity in their portrayals and really lean into the teen humour of the piece. The whole shebang, with the ott choreography and character entrances make the whole thing so dramatic you cant help but enjoy it. Once you get over the slight cringe of it all, it's a really fun night out!

The Audience Atmosphere Needs to be Experienced
Heathers is an absolute crowd pleaser that has made and retained so many fans over its time and the way these fans love and support the show is truly lovely to experience. Cheering and whooping as if their family members are on stage, the audience appreciation is so real and makes for a really warm feeling theatrical experience.


Heathers The Musical plays at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking until 11th March 2023 and then continues its tour

photo credit: Pamela Raith

Five Reasons to see Heathers the Musical on Tour

Wednesday, 8 March 2023

Tuesday, 7 March 2023

The Bodyguard the Musical (Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review


The Bodyguard the Musical (Tour)
New Wimbledon Theatre
★★★★ 

Literally opening with a bang, The Bodyguard the Musical takes you on an exciting and exhilarating journey of glorious music and a sweet romance, which will have you engaged throughout.

Based on the 1992 movie of the same name, the show tells the story of a Secret Service bodyguard hired to protect a world famous singer/actress from a threatening stalker. When released the movie became one of the highest grossing of all time and this stage adaptation includes all the memorable moments as well as retaining the original 90s vibes which so many love.

The leading role of Rachel Marron was made famous by Whitney Houston and is a huge role to fill. Taking the cup and stepping into the glitzy boots for this production is Melody Thornton of The Pussycat Dolls. Melody absolutely nails the role and provides some killer vocals throughout, really coming into her own and becoming the star in act two. Thornton performs the iconic songs incredibly well, keeping close enough to the originals that the audience are satisfied but also putting her own small twist on them. 

As her love interest and bodyguard Frank Farmer, Ayden Callaghan is an imposing but charming character, easily gaining empathy from the audience through his serious and stern but sensitive portrayal. The chemistry between the pair is pretty strong with some touching moments, especially when the drama really amps up. They're sure to become even more comfortable with each other throughout the tour!

A stand out performance comes from Emily-Mae as Rachel's sister, Nicki. Not only does she portray her unrequited love and upset at constantly being overshadowed extremely well. But her vocal moments are some of the most memorable in the show.

Reneo Kusi-Appauh is equally delightful as Rachel's son Fletcher, especially during act two and the bows when he shows off some killer vocals. Definitely a performer to keep an eye on!

The second act is where things really get going, including the audience getting to see more of the ensemble who are absolutely fantastic. They don't get a massive amount of stage time but when they do, they are outstanding; full of energy they really elevate the show.

The set and costume design by Tim Hatley fit the vibe of the musical well and for a touring production are very effective but at times the space does feel underused and there could certainly be some more wow factor added throughout.

The overly dramatic sound effects and scene transformations are very telenovela/soap opera-esque and the intense thriller aspect doesn't quite transfer, but mostly the show is effective and is a faithful screen to stage adaptation.

The story is well paced and you can't help but revel in the brilliance of Whitney Houston's music from start to finish. The Bodyguard is a well performed show that works well on tour. Run To You-r closest touring venue to see this sparkling production for yourself.

Reviewed on Monday 6th March 2023
photo credit: Paul Coltas

The Bodyguard the Musical (Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Tuesday, 7 March 2023

Friday, 3 March 2023

Fisherman's Friends The Musical (Tour), Richmond Theatre | Review


Fisherman's Friends The Musical (Tour)
Richmond Theatre
★★★★ 

When a group of Cornish fisherman got together to sing for fun, little did they know they'd become successful professional musicians, or that they'd be the subject of a film and now a musical. Fisherman's Friends The Musical is based on the lives of the people in that group, and the community around them in Port Isaac. It's a story about friendship, family, the sea and those who spend their lives working on it.

When former record company employer Danny (Jason Langley) visits the village and hears the men's singing, he makes it his mission to get them a record label, and restore his own reputation in the music industry. Aside from a few minor plots, that's really all the show is about and as it's pretty predictable at times it can drag. However, in lulled moments there's always a rousing sea shanty round the corner to buoy you back up.

Whilst the show is definitely more song than script, under the direction of James Grieve the cast do a fabulous job of conveying the emotions and bringing the Cornish community to life. James Gaddas takes the wheel as the un-appointed boss and voice of reason; often interacting with witty one liners and providing a path for the story to take.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, Jason Langley is the cheeky chappy full of swagger and is so entertaining as well as endearing. As his love interest Alwyn, Parisa Shahmir is a vocal siren. Her voice is hauntingly melodic and she has the nuanced acting chops to match it.

Lucy Osborne's dockside set with Johanna Town's atmospheric lighting perfectly brings to life the seaside town, seamlessly transforming into the inside of the pub and later. The rocking sea feels completely realistic and there are some very impressive moments when the men are out fishing.

Fisherman's Friends the Musical is not the most exciting piece of theatre but it's got heart in heaps and is a very wholesome way to spend a couple of hours. A story about community and friendship, the whole piece is really down to earth and is a real feel good show.

Reviewed on Thursday 2nd March 2023
photo credit: Pamela Raith

Fisherman's Friends The Musical (Tour), Richmond Theatre | Review

Friday, 3 March 2023

Tuesday, 21 February 2023

Sister Act (Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review


Sister Act (Tour)
New Victoria Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 20th February 2023 
★★★★

If you're looking for a great night out, look no further than Sister Act. It's a heat-warming show that doesn't take itself particularly seriously, while also boasting a wonderfully talented cast and songs that'll have you dancing in your seat. The musical has got something for everybody and certainly feels like bang for your buck.

Based on the iconic Whoopi Goldberg film, Sister Act tells the story of wannabe singer Deloris Van Cartier (Sandra Marvin) as she's hidden away for protection in a nunnery by Mother Superior (Lesley Joseph) after witnessing her gangster boyfriend (Jeremy Secomb) kill someone. It's a riotously funny show which thrives on excellent characterisation and really cohesive staging.

Leading the show, Sandra Marvin has star quality and seems to get more and more comfortable in the role as the show progresses. Vocally she is really strong and does brilliantly at developing her character throughout and clearly has the magnetism needed in a role like this. Lizzie Bea really does the character of Sister Mary Robert justice and gives and incredibly sweet performance, which of course is vocally outstanding. There's a not much emotional development throughout the show so Lizzie never truly gets to connect with the audience but her performance is still a touching one. As the policeman Steady Eddie, Clive Rowe is lovely to watch and has some moments which border on emotional, if never quite peaking. His solo number is vocally perfect and a real standout of the show. However, there is a slight lack of nuance to his whole characterisation which means the audience never get a chance to truly root for him.

That being said, this is a still a completely enjoyable show and the cast perform Alan Menken's disco score with great energy. The individual personalities of each nun really shine and there are some proper laugh out loud moments.

Morgan Large's set literally frames the show perfectly and Tim Mitchell's lighting transforms the space into a party within moments. It's an incredibly cohesive show which is so sleek that it allows you to bask in the joy its feel-good fabulousness throughout.

Sister Act is an utterly crowd-pleasing musical which often ascends the superficial and has some thoroughly pleasing moments. There could be some more heart and a little more development of character motives to give everything a touch more impetus, but as a whole it's a Nun-derful treat of a night out that's worth a late bedtime.

photo credit: Manuel Harlan

Sister Act (Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

Tuesday, 21 February 2023

Monday, 20 February 2023

No Limits, Turbine Theatre | Review


No Limits
Turbine Theatre
Reviewed on Friday Friday 17th February 2023
★★★

Currently playing at the Turbine Theatre, No Limits, a song cycle by Sam Thomas is a number of vignettes of millennial/gen z life which are uniformly well performed but sometimes lack enough depth to really make them pop.

That’s not to say the show is bad at all, but there are a few songs which don’t quite pack a punch and you’re left wanting just a bit more. As a song cycle, cohesion isn’t necessarily expected but I do think this piece could be elevated by having a bit of a through line to hold it all together and guide its journey so it’s a bit less of a mish-mash of individual stories.

However, as performances go, you truly couldn’t ask for more than those that this cast provide. The five strong ensemble give impeccable vocals.

Hannah Lowther (#Catfish) is masterful in her nuanced facial expressions, which convey so much emotion through the tiniest movements. She’s a vocal athlete who sounds completely in control at all times and is an absolute dream to watch and hear. Playing the #Fighter Michael Mather has some fantastically strong vocal moments, especially when bringing his rockstar dreams to life. As #Dreamer Natalie Paris is the embodiment of a star. With a tone that is buttery and riffs for days, her vocals are enough to rival anyone in the top 40 and she provides some of the most moving performances of the evening. Mary Moore (#Funemployed) really gets a chance to shine in this show and it’s a treat to see. She not only gives a brilliant vocal performance but is also incredibly witty and they also have excellent chemistry with all the other performers. Owen Clayton as #Romantic is the perfect compliment to the cast and is sweetly endearing in their performance and once again serves killer vocals throughout.

It's particularly impressive how well the five person cast use the small space of the Turbine stage. Thanks to Justin Williams' sleek set and Rhys Wilkinson's great movement direction, it never feels like they're on top of one another (except when necessary!) and the whole thing flows very well. 

Alex Musgraves' lighting helps to elevate each song, for example transforming the space into a comedy club vibe for one number, and Richard Carter's sound design makes the piece feel intimate and personal.

No Limits is sickly sweet at times but overall its an ode to positivity and the importance of your own stories. It's not groundbreaking but it's a really good night out with an absolutely wonderful cast.

photo credit: Danny Kaan

No Limits, Turbine Theatre | Review

Monday, 20 February 2023

Thursday, 19 January 2023

Allegiance, Charing Cross Theatre | Review


Allegiance
Charing Cross Theatre 
Reviewed on Wednesday 18th January 2023 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

The Charing Cross Theatre is one of the best venues for showcasing a variety of interesting musicals, and thankfully it’s currently playing house to George Takei’s brilliant show, Allegiance. Having last visited the venue to see From Here To Eternity, which chronicles the lead up to the Pearl Harbour attacks, this moving musical felt like a very fitting follow on.

Inspired by Takei's life, Allegiance tells the story of over 120,000 Japanese Americans who were thrown into internment camps following the attacks on Pearl Harbour in 1941. The musical is a timely one indeed and really highlights an awful part of history. A "legacy project" for Takei, it's clear that a lot of time and love went into making it as sweet as it is.

Now this is by no means a flawless musical but it is full of emotion and drama that keeps you invested throughout. Marc Acito, Jay Kuo and Lorenzo Thione have written a book which is multi layered, taking into account history, family drama, romance, humour and heartbreak, and is well paced with a good amount of build up and tension. At times it gets a little bit confusing but is continually an easy show to watch.

Kuo's music is not particularly memorable but has some lovely moments as you're watching. Given the subject matter it's surprisingly upbeat, and despite not having any ear-worms, it is suitably stirring and enjoyable to listen to. Group numbers are especially effective and there's also a nice mix of styles and vocal inflections. Andrew Hilton and Charlie Ingles' orchestrations highlight the intense emotions well.

It's always a treat to see how the Charing Cross theatre is transformed and Tara Overfield Wilkinson's staging is extremely well done.  The stage becomes a variety of settings, from a moving train to a battlefield and each setting feels completely realistic. The continual motion of the set pieces and the actors throughout makes the whole thing flow so seamlessly and it's very impressive how large the stage feels.

Cast wise this show has a uniformly strong group of performers who completely give themselves over to the story and create some splendidly magical moments. Earning applause when he enters the stage Takei is an endearing and commanding stage presence who brings different shades to the characters he plays and does a stellar job of taking us through the family saga. As Takei's younger self (Sam) Telly Leung brings such warmth and charm. It's a treat to see him on a London stage and especially to hear his wonderful voice fill the arches of Charing Cross. 

Megan Gardiner showcases equally beautiful vocals as the nurse for the camp and there are also excellent performances by Aynrand Ferrer and Masashi Fujimoto who both bring great depth to their characters. Ferrer's voice is particularly stunning as she performs her solo moments with impeccable clarity.

Whilst this is a show about the atrocities which happened in 1941, it's surprisingly uplifting and often celebrates love and community. There are some tear-jerking moments at the end but overall this is a really heart-warming piece of theatre that deserves to be seen.

photo credit: Danny Kaan

Allegiance, Charing Cross Theatre | Review

Thursday, 19 January 2023

Monday, 12 December 2022

Rebecca to get its English Language Premiere


Following 12 hugely successful foreign language productions, critically acclaimed musical Rebecca by Michael Kunze and Sylvester Levay is to get its English language premiere in a new production at London’s Charing Cross Theatre in an English translation by Christopher Hampton
The hugely successful musical production by the Austrian musical producer VBW (Vereinigte B├╝hnen Wien) based on Daphne Du Maurier’s 1938 novel ‘Rebecca’ that has captivated more than 2 million people worldwide in 12 countries and 10 languages is to get its English language premiere in a new production at London’s Charing Cross Theatre.

Rebecca, by Michael Kunze and Sylvester Levay, two of the most successful German-language musical theatre composers, had its world premiere at the VBW-theatre Raimund Theater in Vienna, Austria, in September 2006, where it went on to play to sold-out houses in three seasons, and where it is currently enjoying a successful revival.

Rebecca will run at Charing Cross Theatre from 4 September - 18 November, 2023.

Press night is Monday 18 September, 2023 at 7.30pm.

Rebecca, with an orchestra of 18, will be directed by Alejandro Bonatto (director of the critically acclaimed production of Donizetti’s ‘Rita’ and the upcoming production of Francis Poulanc and Jean Cocteau’s ‘The Human Voice’ at Charing Cross Theatre later this month).

It has a new English translation by Christopher Hampton (two-time Tony Award winner Best Score & Best Book for ‘Sunset Boulevard’ and Oscar winner for Best Adapted Screenplay ‘Dangerous Liaisons’ & ‘The Father’) and Michael Kunze.

Cast to be announced.

Rebecca to get its English Language Premiere

Monday, 12 December 2022