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

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review


Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
New Victoria Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 3rd August 2022 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★★

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is a staple and rite of passage for many musical theatre fans so when a production is mounted there's always a ready and willing audience to view it. Thankfully for current audiences, the Palladium production which is touring the country is absolutely top notch and a dream night out.

Laurence Connor's version of Joseph is a reinvigorated, large scale, glitzy production that feels like it's been plucked straight from the West End and dropped into Woking. The excellent sets by Morgan Large look luxurious but there's also a lovely element of simplicity which is reminiscent of the hugely popular film version. The entire set design is sleek and perfectly embodies the joy and energy which this show provides.

If you're looking for a killer cast, you need to look no further than Joseph. Every single cast member fires on all cylinders and the power and joy which pours out from the stage is just a treat to experience. In the lead role Jac Yarrow is star quality embodied. His Close Every Door To Me is absolutely excellent and he brings a lovely cheeky quality which draws you to Joseph and makes you root for him even more.

Yarrow is joined by Linzi Hately who is wonderfully witty as The Narrator as well as Bobby Windebank who gives a brilliant portrayal of the Elvis-esque Pharaoh. Mention must also go to Matt Gibson as Rueben and Will Hawsworth as Simeon, both of whom are real standouts vocally in their solo moments. The child performers are a joy to watch as they take on various roles and exude happiness.

This is also a choreography heavy production which further elevates it. There are tap numbers alongside a string of high intensity ensemble moments. Joann M. Hunter has done an outstanding job of providing an array of styles and making every number engaging.

For a show which could easily become pantomimic, there is a real level of intensity which upgrades it and makes it a two hour treat that you'd have to be a scrooge not to enjoy.  The outstanding band led by the joyous musical director John Rigby, alongside the super strong ensemble and superbly adapted show, mean and you can't help but leave the theatre smiling from ear to ear. 

photo credit: Tritram Kenton

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Chess the Musical in Concert, Theatre Royal Drury Lane | Review


Chess the Musical in Concert
Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Reviewed on Tuesday 2nd August 2022 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

After the success earlier in the year of Bonnie and Clyde in Concert, the bar has been set rather high for what concert productions at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane can provide, and this most recent one certainly hits the mark.

Chess, last seen in London in 2018 at the Coliseum, is set in the 1970s/80s amid the Cold War. Two chess masters meet in Bangkok to fight it out for the world championship title, but also end up in political and romantic competitions. 

By Tim Rice's own admission in the programme notes, the music is the heart of this show, with many finding fault with the book that is sometimes all over the place. Thankfully in this production everything is fairly sleek and issues with the book can be overlooked thanks to the sumptuous cast, choir and orchestra.

Director Nick Winston put on the show in a previous iteration in Japan and has superbly brought it to the London stage with a version that puts the focus strongly on storytelling, both through the music and the buoyant choreography by Alexzandra Sarmiento and Tara Young

This is further helped in no small way by the outstanding LMTO Orchestra, directed expertly by Freddie Tapner. The sumptuous, melodically complex, beautifully syncopated score is showcased to the highest degree. There's a sensitivity given to the more pared back moments whilst the rousing, dramatic pieces of score are stretched to their full extent to provide real wow moments. The LMTO Chorus also bring add excellent power and oomph to the proceedings.

There were some songs which were cut from the show, namely the song Talking Chess between Anatoly and Freddie and Commie Newspapers which I think would have helped the plot be a bit clearer, especially for those seeing the show for the first time. But of course given the short turnaround and runtime for the concerts, I can certainly understand why some pieces had to be cut and shifted and what was still included was excellent. Any plot issues really fly under the radar when you have such a wonderful team on stage and offstage making everything else so enjoyable.

This onstage team is made up of some musical theatre heavyweights and there are standout performances throughout. Samantha Barks' rendition of Nobody's Side and the Anthem Reprise are definitely at the top. Joel Harper-Jackson's Pity The Child, Hadley Fraser's Anthem also bring the house down, and Frances Mayli McCann and Barks also compliment one another beautifully in the classic I Know Him So Well.

Having first seen Chess in concert version at the Royal Albert Hall in 2008 and falling in love with it at age 10, seeing this production of equal strength was an absolute treat to witness. Here's hoping we see more of this outstanding adaptation and the stellar cast who brought it to life!

photo credit: Mark Senior

Chess the Musical in Concert, Theatre Royal Drury Lane | Review

Saturday, 16 July 2022

Millennials, The Other Palace | Review


Millennials
The Other Palace Studio
Reviewed on Thursday 14th July 2022 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

With the recent announcements of many West End shows closing, it certainly feels like the perfect time to inject something new onto the scene and Elliot Clay's Millennials certainly does just that. Entering the completely transformed studio space at The Other Palace you are greeted by pink cellophane walls, slinkies suspended from the ceiling, inflatable flamingos, ball pits and so much more. Andrew Exeter's design makes it a feast for the eyes from the moment you enter and at just over an hour, the song cycle continues to provide a brilliant way to spend an evening.

The six strong cast who make up the show are all forces to be reckoned with, as they bring individuality to the piece whilst also being a gloriously well-blended ensemble. Opening the show, Luke Bayer starts contemplative and later brings energy in spades; always providing  super strong vocals. Hiba Elchikhe is star power embodied as she belts and riffs for her life in 21st Century Girl before showing her versatility with an emotionally intense performance near the show's closing.

Rob Madge is everything you could with for in a comedic role. Their performance makes the most of every second of the music and imbues perfect humour alongside great vocals- a real stand out! Luke Latchman's rendition of Priceless is also wonderfully humourous. Taking on one of the most beautiful songs in the show, Hannah Lowther is lovely. Her vocal talent really shines as does her acting as she really welcomes the audience to feel the song and experience it alongside her. Completing the cast is Georgina Onuorah who's voice is heavenly in her solo number Remember the Feeling. It would be hard to find such a strong cast elsewhere and the entire six are are a credit to musical theatre.

Millennials is everything you could want in a fun show but there are some elements that don't quite work. Mainly the fact that it isn't really millennial, instead it's a look at growing up. Which is fine and entertaining but with the insistence of the millennial theme, it just feels like it's missing something. The show would do well with being slightly more specific in its lyrics to really fit the millennial theme, however there's certainly something to be said for how universally relatable the lyrics and feelings are, no matter the generation. Of course this is a song-cycle not a fully fledged musical but it would also be good to have a bit more of a through line between the songs.

There may be a little final sprinkle of fairy dust missing but Millennials is one of the funnest shows about and it'll be brilliant to see where it progresses. Hurray for new British writing and hurray for Millennials!

photo credit: Mark Senior

Millennials, The Other Palace | Review

Saturday, 16 July 2022

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

We Will Rock You (Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review


We Will Rock You (Tour)
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 30th May 2022
★★★

Back for its 2022 tour, We Will Rock You is set in a dystopian future where "real" music has been outlawed and replaced with manufactured pop. Society is lived online and it's up to a group of Bohemians to travel across the Seven Seas of Rye, declare themselves the champions and bring back rock and roll and freedom for all.

This truly is a show about the music so you can somewhat overlook book issues but in terms of pacing it's a little clunky. The first act is chockablock with world-building including long winded character and plot introductions; and act two is a game of musical tetris where all the popular tunes we haven't already heard, are fired one after the other. In this production the book also has some modern updates thrown in here and there (some of which fall flat), but the rest of the set and staging doesn't match up and it certainly feels like it missed a chance to be revamped for 2022. There's an element of the outdated screens that does feel fitting but coupled with the budget wigs and costumes, it lacks the sparkle you expect with a tour of this scale.

The heart of We Will Rock You is certainly the cast and the show would be equally as good if it was just a concert of Queen's greatest hits performed by the superstars on stage. As leading man and hero Galileo, Ian McIntosh is wonderful. His vocals soar with so much power behind them and he really embodies the spirit of Queen. Alongside him, Elena Skye as Scaramouche is a dream. Giving major Kerry Ellis vibes, albeit in a different role, Elena's voice is outstanding and she really works with the limited script to make it funny and engaging.

As Killer Queen, Jenny O'Leary is a vocal powerhouse. Her command of the stage is enthralling to watch and she rightfully earns some of the biggest applause of the show. Michael McKell, David Michael Johnson and Martina Ciabatti Mennell also give strong performances. The rest of the cast and ensemble are also very good vocally but there is at times a lack of tight synchronicity that detracts from the clone message which is being put across.

The performances are absolutely top notch but the production itself gives more 'high-school final show' as opposed to 'big-buck tour' and for a show with such bold songs and ideas, there's no continuity or backup given through the sets or costumes, and they feel lacklustre in comparison to the score. 

Faults aside, if you want face melting vocals and all your favourite Queen songs, absolutely take a trip, but for a show that feels luxe and finessed, you'll need to look elsewhere.

photo credit: Johan Persson

We Will Rock You (Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

Thursday, 21 April 2022

The Cher Show (Tour), Leicester Curve | Review


The Cher Show (Tour)
Leicester Curve
Reviewed on Friday 15th April 2022 by Hope Priddle
★★★★★

After a brief run on Broadway, the beat goes on for The Cher Show as a new reimagined version, directed by Arlene Phillips, opened at the Leicester Curve this week. Spanning an astounding six decades and featuring iconic hits such as Believe and Strong Enough, The Cher Show charts the early life of Cherilyn Sarkissian and her spectacular rise to fame. In this uplifting girl-powered production, join Cher as she fights to take charge of her career in a man’s world, leaving a legacy as a trailblazing feminist icon.

This is not an ordinary jukebox bio-musical – there is not just one Cher, but three; Baby, Lady and Star. Though the book (Rick Elice) relies heavily on exposition and is not always successful in divorcing itself entirely from a tired format, it is sharp and quick-witted. By introducing us to three protagonists who interrupt each other with sassy asides and sage advice, an otherwise linear narrative suddenly feels reactive and full of endless possibilities. The Chers reclaim, retell and revise their own story.

The cast is led by a powerhouse trio of women in the role of Cher. Millie O’Connell (Baby) Danielle Steers (Lady) and Debbie Kurup (Star) give natural and nuanced performances as the legendary diva. Cher has become so mythologised into the annals of pop history, it is easy to forget she is a real person. Not once however do our leading ladies stray into the territory of camp or hammy caricature.

As the eldest Cher, Debbie Kurup grounds the trio with her wisdom and worldliness. Kurup’s vocals are truly outstanding, but it is in her ability to reveal the vulnerability, resilience and tenderness behind the icon, that her true power lies. Danielle Steers plays Lady, tasked with negotiating Cher’s fraught personal and professional relationship with husband Sonny Bono. Steers is infamous for her rich contralto vocals and as such, unapologetically devours the score. Steers’ commanding rendition of Bang Bang is a total showstopper, proving that Cher was a role she was born to play. Millie O’Connell is a delight as lovestruck dreamer Baby and is a comedic genius to boot – her repartee with Lucas Rush (Sonny) during The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour is a complete joy to watch.


It would be easy to assume that Baby and Lady take a secondary role to Star, that they perhaps function as her warm-up act. However, they shine brightly on their own. Baby and Lady are no less accomplished, no less complete than Star. What is so wonderful about The Cher Show is that although their shared story is a linear one, the Chers exist in parallel timelines, supporting rather than replacing one another along their journey.

Lucas Rush gives a tremendous performance as Cher’s first husband and lifelong artistic partner, Sonny Bono. Not only does Rush masterfully imitate Sonny’s nasally vocal inflections, they skilfully embrace his smarmy unlikability and genuine charisma. Though Sonny exhibits exploitative and explosive behaviour at the height of their career, he remains an enduring confidante and champion. We are also introduced to a host of influential characters – Cher’s Mother (Tori Scott), Bob Mackie (Jake Mitchell), and her subsequent husbands Gregg Allman (Sam Ferriday) and Robert Camilleti (Ferriday) - all of whom are treated with affection and goodwill. The ensemble are strong and deliver Oti Mabuse’s dynamic choreography with pizazz.

Tom Roger’s set design is simple yet highly effective, transporting the audience backstage by flanking the wings with monochrome rails and wig-laden shelves. The costumes retain all the glamour of Bob Mackie’s original wardrobe, but his departure from the creative team has clearly allowed designer Gabriella Slade the freedom to take a more inspired approach. Slade’s gladiatorial designs fully embody the fierce spirit of Cher and transform our leading ladies into goddess warrior queens.

The Cher Show is a universally uplifting story of a woman’s fight for independence in an industry driven by men. While it unashamedly embraces all the flair and flamboyance that fans will most certainly expect, as a respectful homage to a much-loved icon, it retains real heart. If I could turn back time, I would watch it all over again.

photo credit: Pamela Raith

The Cher Show (Tour), Leicester Curve | Review

Thursday, 21 April 2022

Wednesday, 20 April 2022

Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker (Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review


Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker
New Victoria Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 19th April 2022 by Angie Creagh-Brown
★★★★

The Nutcracker Suite is an old and much beloved family Christmas favourite. Matthew Bourne's version, however is a somewhat different take on the classic.

What can I say about it? Well it was just wonderful!!! The New Victoria Theatre is a large, modern and inviting building, which at this performance welcomed an audience of all ages; there were some young children (well-behaved) and the ambience was happy and inviting, a taste of the sweet treat evening to come.

Bourne takes the original story of a well to do family celebrating Christmas Eve with friends and family and turns it completely round; his version starts in an orphanage, the cast are dressed in grey, the scenery is grey - no light, no joy. The teenage children are preparing to 'enjoy' their meagre Christmas Eve and are joined by the owner, Dr Dross, danced by Danny Reubens, his wife the Matron, Daisy May Kemp, son Fritz, Dominic North and their very spoilt daughter Sugar, Ashley Shaw.

The children manage to find a Nutcracker, which had been locked away in a cupboard, and they escape to a wondrous scene of falling snow, ice-skating and snowballs. To add to their excitement the Nutcracker miraculously changes from a toy to a handsome, well-muscled and talented young man, (Harrison Dowzellto the delight of the children and the leading lady.

The ensemble dancing was lovely, there were comic moments, surprises and hints of jealousies to come. The dancers were performing with large smiles on their faces, which in turn put joy onto the faces of the audience.

Act Two opens with a kaleidoscope of colour which is The Road to Sweetieland. Clara, beautifully danced by Cordelia Braithwaite, is desperately trying to gain entrance to Sweetieland aided by the The Cupids, wonderfully portrayed by Enrique Ngbokota and Shoko Ito. She is still dressed in her undergarments and they find a pretty dress for her, but it does not compare in any way to that worn by her nemesis, Sugar.

There is a lot of humour in this act. Superbly bright costumes and a plethora of well-known sweets dancing wonderfully. It's a visual treat like no other.

The cast is very diverse, which would mirror the children in an orphanage. The story has been re-written in a modern way. This means it would possibly not be suitable for very young children on whom the innuendoes would be lost, but in terms of aesthetics it's sure to appeal to all ages.

The staging, set design, lighting and costumes all added wonderfully to the most enjoyable evening which finished with a standing ovation and joy abounded both on the stage and in the auditorium.

The Nutcracker plays at the New Victoria Theatre until 23rd April

photo credit: Johan Persson

Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker (Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

Wednesday, 20 April 2022

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Zorro, Charing Cross Theatre | Review


Zorro
Charing Cross Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 12th April 2022 by Hope Priddle
★★★★

Last seen in London in 2008, Zorro is back and ready to bring a taste of Spain to the Charing Cross Theatre! Set to a legendary soundtrack by the Gipsy Kings, this sizzling show follows the mysterious masked vigilante El Zorro in his efforts to defend the Pueblo of Los Angeles from a ruthless autocratic leader. Written by Stephen Clarke and Helen Edmundson, the book is pacey and exhilarating. Whilst drama and action undeniably motivate this production, it really shines in the quiet moments of passion and pathos between our central lovers.

Ben Purkiss is perfectly cast in the titular role. He is utterly endearing as the charismatic and courageous Diego, but he transforms into the suave crusader with ease. Alex Gibson-Giorgio gives an accomplished performance as the tormented tyrant, and Diego’s estranged brother, Ramon. Gibson-Giorgio masterfully conveys Ramon’s internal conflict, inviting sympathy despite his character’s irredeemable actions. Special mention must go to Marc Pickering as Garcia, who is tremendous as our comedic antagonist. Not only does he play the fool, but his character has real heart and displays a truly rewarding arc.

Despite its name, this production is all about its women. Phoebe Panaretos is a complete tour-de-force as the sensual, strong-willed Gyspy queen Inez. Her voice is rich and full-bodied, stealing the showing on more than one occasion. Panaretos leads a rousing rendition of Bamboleo at the end of Act One, captivating her audience in every way possible. Paige Fenlon is similarly exquisite as Diego’s childhood friend Louisa. Louisa may appear innocent on first introduction, but a fire quickly ignites inside of her as she leads the Pueblo uprising. Fenlon’s heavenly vocals soar as her character finds her voice.

Panaretos and Fenlon are supported by a searing female ensemble who truly are the lifeblood of this production. Their vital choreography and visceral harmonious drive the action forward. During Libertad, the ensemble cries sympathetically as one, moving as a single pulsating body under sanguine lighting designed by Matthew Haskins.

Creative elements work in harmony to create a production which is immersive and evocative. The traverse staging, admittedly typical of productions at this venue, works to enclose the Pueblo and create a homely, intimate feel. Set and Costume Designer Rosa Maggiora does a tremendous job of world building. A multi-levelled set elevates the action, whilst aisles and doorways are used effectively for either flamboyant or stealthy entrances and exits. An actor-muso approach greatly compliments this production. Talented ensemble members play classical guitar and trumpets, recreating the sounds of 19th Century California. Moreover, the very stage itself becomes an instrument, integral as brass or string. As the cast stamp and stomp across the floor, they ‘play’ the boards and percussive sound fills the rafters.

With thrilling stage combat (Renny Krupinski) and impactful flamenco routines (Cressida Carre) led by the commanding Ajjaz Awad, this dynamic production is packed full of colour, texture and noise. It fully embraces its audience, sweeping them up into the spirited world of Spanish Gypsies and swashbuckling heroes.

photo credit: Pamela Raith

Zorro, Charing Cross Theatre | Review

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Friday, 8 April 2022

Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear | Victoria and Albert Museum | Review


Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear
Victoria and Albert Museum
Reviewed on Thursday 7th April 2022 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

In its current exhibition, the Victoria and Albert Museum celebrates the growth and evolution of male aesthetics with Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear. A vast collection of outfits from throughout history and interspersed with paintings, photographs, sculptures and video clips  to offer up a look at how masculine fashion has changed and moved with the times. It looks at the times when the 'traditional' or 'accepted' view of masculinity has been challenged and how these deviations have paved the way for move fluidity and freedom in fashion.

The exhibition is displayed in a fairly structure free way, allowing you to make your own path and experience it however you wish. The loose structure is organised by trends and themes, much like the fashion industry itself. Of course we know that trends repeat themselves but it's interesting to see it laid out physically before you. As you enter you are greeted with naked bodies, specifically those of Apollo and Hercules, the original male ideals of beauty. The section points out how anatomical research and a desire to look a certain way, led to the understanding of wearing more tightly fitting or tailored pieces to showcase the body. 

As mentioned, the showcased cyclical nature of fashion is key to this exhibition with almost every style returning in some way, at some point. It's interesting how the original, puffy shirt worn during the regency era has yet to make a comeback despite corsets coming back with a vengeance; perhaps the new season of Bridgerton will take us back to those roots! 


It's also great to see how small changes and reinterpretations to a classic outfit can have such a huge impact. For example: the suit. A staple in wardrobes for most people, the way in which celebrities have elevated it is well showcased. The addition of leather trousers may seems simple but when you see it in the context of Fashioning Masculinities it's quite amazing how it set off a domino for development and freedom.

The main aspect of the exhibition is how men's fashion is evolving so much now in terms of gender fluidity, with some of the most eye-catching outfits being those from the brilliant designer Harris Reed as well as those at the very end:  Billy Porter's tuxedo dress worn at the 2019 Oscars and the iconic blue Gucci dress worn by Harry Styles on the cover of US Vogue. Both these outfits sparked many conversations, even for those who don't follow either the stars or the fashion.

Sponsored by Gucci, a lot of the exhibition is indulgent and luxurious but it's a real eye opener on how high street fashion keeps up with trends and how deviations in the norm can have effects which reach all of us eventually without us even realising. Fashioning Masculinities is by no means an exhaustive exploration but it certainly whets your appetite to find out more and shines light on how diversity and uniqueness can be captured through male clothing. 

Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear runs at the V&A Museum until 6th November 2022

Fashioning Masculinities: The Art of Menswear | Victoria and Albert Museum | Review

Friday, 8 April 2022

Monday, 4 April 2022

La Traviata, Royal Opera House | Review


La Traviata
Royal Opera House
Reviewed on Saturday 2nd April 2022 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★★

Richard Eyre's production of Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata is certainly a landmark one, having stood the test of time and remaining a timeless version in its 28th season since 1994. The opera encompasses all the swooping storylines you'd expect, with grandeur, passion, sex, family, betrayal, romance and tragedy sewn into every moment. Of course there's also the key element: Verdi's stunning melodies. Even if you haven't listened to the opera before you'll surely recognise a few pieces and as operatic works go, it's very accessible for opera newcomers. This is evident in the audience attracted, with a variety of ages filling the auditorium at the Saturday morning performance.

It's quite clear why this is such a well-loved production. The entire thing is completely opulent and so visually impressive. Gloriously detailed period costumes transport the audience to a 19th-century Paris which feels worlds away from Covent Garden. Despite the grandeur, there's also a subtlety that comes alongside the proceedings. Whilst yes, it is dramatic and luxurious, Bob Crowley's set is also cosy and makes the Royal Opera House's auditorium feel small and inviting. This is also helped by the cast, namely leading lady Violetta, played by Pretty Yende who grabs the attention of all and wraps you up in her tragic story from the moment she steps on stage.

La Traviata tells the tale of a famed Parisian courtesan Violetta Valéry. Seemingly carefree, she is secretly struggling with tuberculosis so when she meets and falls in love with Alfredo, she believes she gets a new chance to live and be happy. They run away together and life off of her money and sale of her property. However one day Alfredo's father Giorgio Germont appears and begs her to leave his son as he is disgracing his family. Due to her strong love, she agrees and from there further drama and pain ensues.

As Violetta, Pretty Yende is a perfect fit. A fantastic soprano, she embodies the role fully and completely shines both vocally and as an accomplished actress. Yende's technique is faultless and she soars throughout with beautifully spun lines, breath control that grasps the audience and complete accuracy on every note.  She is completely in command throughout and is especially wonderful in Addio del passato in the final act.

Partnered with Stephen Costello as her suitor, the pair work together nicely. Costello at times is overpowered but really comes into his own towards the end when he shows more outward intensity that is mirrored in his vocal performance and really captures the romantic majesty.

Giacomo Sagripanti conducts the orchestra with the perfect amount of sensitivity and creates an atmosphere like no other.

This is a version of La Traviata that will surely run for another 28 seasons and is a must see for opera lovers and opera newbies.

photo credit: Tristram Kenton

La Traviata, Royal Opera House | Review

Monday, 4 April 2022

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

Singin' in the Rain (Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review


Singing in the Rain 
New Victoria Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 29th March 2022 
★★★★

It's been 10 years since Jonathan Church's stage version of Singin' in the Rain was brought to life at the Chichester Festival theatre, showering the front rows during the title number and delighting audiences with its sheer spectacle. The show is a fast-footed feast which is full of charm and keeps its wow factor after all these years.

This UK tour which opened with a run at Sadler's Wells closely mirrors the original film in which Gene Kelly created some iconic moments, including his joyful tap dancing through puddles. This scene and many others are performed brilliantly by Adam Cooper as the lead Don Lockwood. A former Royal Ballet dancer, Adam has been with the show since the start and is enthralling in the role of the silent movie star making the transition to 'talkies'.

His famous counterpart, Lina Lamont (played hilariously by Faye Tozer) doesn't make the move quite so seamlessly, with her poor singing voice and harsh, shrill speaking voice not quite delighting audiences. So, at the suggestion of Cosmo Brown, Don's real life love interest Kathy Selden is drafted in to dub the voice and vocals.

Alastair Crosswell plays the highly energetic Cosmo Brown in the most engaging and entertaining way. His incredibly hard working performance provides great slapstick moments alongside stellar dancing. As Kathy Selden, Charlotte Gooch is a sleek, stunning, star. Her magnetic aura is a delight to watch and she never falters for even a second.

What's so impressive about this touring production is the sheer scale of it. It's amazing how such a detailed and technical show can go on such a quick turnaround tour- major props to all the backstage team! Simon Higlett's set is brimming with art deco features and feels like it goes on far beyond the stage of the New Victoria Theatre; and the costumes are utter treats.

This is a complete spectacle of a show that feels sleek and refreshed. Comedic moments including the re-creations of stilted silent films contrast beautifully with Andrew Wright's larger than life choreography which floats and fills the stage with the elegance you dream of. This is a decadent production that really stands the test of time and provides a treat for all the senses.

Singing in the Rain plays at the New Victoria Theatre until 2nd April and then continues its tour

Singin' in the Rain (Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

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

Wednesday, 16 March 2022

Everybody's Talking About Jamie (Tour), New Victoria Theatre Theatre | Review


Everybody's Talking About Jamie (Tour)
New Victoria Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 15th March 2022
★★★★

Everybody's Talking About Jamie is fast becoming a staple piece of theatre in the UK and indeed across the world. Having had various iterations in many countries including Japan and Italy, as well as the hit film which was released last year; the musical retains its Britishness, strong heart and morals and continues to be an inspiring and entertaining experience.

Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae's show tells the story of an extroverted 15 year old who dreams of being a drag queen. Despite being sure of himself and his abilities, young Jamie New faces a number of hurdles and people who try to dull his sparkle. So, he works to overcome these and to show the close-minded people around him that being true to yourself can get you far. It's a show which delights and inspires in equal measure, and is sure to keep its spot in theatre lover's hearts for a long time.

As the title character, Layton Williams is a treat to watch. He brings Jamie to life truthfully and so glamourously. From the opening of 'And You Don't Even Know It', Layton completely owns the character and shows us the light and shade enveloped in it. At times his vocals get lost but he makes up for this with his incredible wit and larger than life personality that soars on stage.

Playing Jamie's kind and strong mum is Amy Ellen Richardson who's vocal performance is outstanding. 'He's My Boy' is an absolute highlight of the show and her vulnerable performance is incredibly moving. Her chemistry with Layton is great and she also works incredibly well with her best friend Ray (played brilliantly at this performance by Lisa-Marie Holmes).

Another lovely friendship is that of Jamie and Pritti. The pair are both misunderstood and confined in their own ways and it's so sweet to see them discuss this and to support each other without any toxicity. Sharan Phull is endearing and moving as Pritti, especially in her solo moments and fantastic monologue at the end of the show.

Shane Richie as Hugo/Loco Chanelle is fantastically entertaining, giving a really strong vocal performance and also showcasing fabulous comedic timing. Other stand out performances come from George Samson as Dean Paxton and Gary Lee in various roles including Laika Virgin at this performance.

Everybody's Talking About Jamie is a musical which inspires us all to own what makes us 'different' and is a really heartwarming portrayal of family, friendship and acceptance. It's contemporary and over the top and so much fun. Let's talk about Jamie a bit longer! Go see the show on tour!

Everybody's Talking About Jamie plays at the New Victoria Theatre until 19th March 2022 and then continues its tour

Everybody's Talking About Jamie (Tour), New Victoria Theatre Theatre | Review

Wednesday, 16 March 2022

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

Mimma (Concert), Cadogan Hall | Review


Mimma (Concert)
Cadogan Hall
Reviewed on Monday 28th February by Holly Inch
★★★★★

Ron Siemiginowski and Giles Watson’s Mimma tells the story of two women who form an unlikely friendship in the midst of World War 2: Sarah, an aspiring jazz singer, and Mimma, a young Italian girl sent to live with her uncle in London’s Soho. Through the growing fear in London, her brother’s arrest, and the tension between Italy and England, Mimma’s danger grows evermore, and she could lose everything- apart from the only person that she can trust: Sarah.
Mimma’s one night performance was not something to be missed and showcased the best of what theatre has to offer. The musical concert took place at Cadogan Hall and included a cast of seventeen alongside the BBC Concert Orchestra. The stage didn’t include much set, however the cast brought the story to life with the props, tables, and chairs that they had (I must note, there were also projections on the back wall that helped differentiate from scene to scene). All of the cast members were fitted with beautiful 1940’s outfits that only added to the world of Mimma and looked amazing on stage together.

The show’s cast were phenomenal. Led by Sir David Suchet as Alredo Frassati, Celinde Schoenmaker as Mimma, and Louise Dearman as Sarah, all of whom brought Mimma’s story to life through the score and the phenomenal 40s style choreography, brilliantly choreographed Chris Whittaker. Celinde Schoenmaker was outstanding as Mimma, bringing her powerful soprano voice into the. Her portrayal of the hardships that Mimma goes through was unparalleled, her acting beautifully natural, and her higher register something to marvel. As her on stage friend, Louise Dearman was a standout role. Dearman brought such range to the role of Sarah that you found it hard to believe that she hadn’t gone through the experiences that she portrayed on stage. Aside from that, her singing was utterly beautiful and captivating to listen, combining jazz and opera styles into a wonderful blend that was heavenly to hear. Her performance of 'The Folds of Time' (a beautifully emotional song about Sarah and her fiancé, who is in the navy) was so sweetly sung and incorporated such truth tied into it.


John Owen-Jones as Lorenzo- though we didn’t see this part as much as some others- was brilliantly played and sung and was exactly what you would expect from the amazing Owen-Jones. A beautiful moment in the show came when Ashley Riches- playing Aldo Marini, Mimma’s brother- and Elena Xanthoudakis- playing Ada Marini, Mimma’s mother- sang together in the song 'Aria Pieta'. The two’s voices blended well together, and they had a beautiful dynamic as mother and son. Riches specifically had an incredible range on him and portrayed the hardships experienced by Aldo in a way that had me almost in tears. Riches and Xanthoudakis joined Schoenmaker in an out-of-this-world group number called 'Aria Piemontese' which left my jaw on the floor. 

Steve Serlin as Jacob Katz was another stand out performance because his comedy timing was impeccable and brought the comedic relief that left the audience with smiles on their faces. The ensemble just made the show. They constantly were acting, singing, dancing, and just all together brought their moments to life. The dancing was to an amazingly high-standard, and their vocals added a wonderful layer to the song.

With a wonderful composition, an absolutely phenomenal cast with insane vocal, Mimma was a fantastic musical and spoke on issues faced during World War 2 in a respectful and truthful light. I only hope that this is the start of a bright future for this musical.

photo credit: Danny Kaan

Mimma (Concert), Cadogan Hall | Review

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

The Osmonds, A New Musical (Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review


The Osmonds, A New Musical (Tour)
New Victoria Theatre 
Reviewed on Tuesday 1st March 2022 
★★★

It has been over 50 years since the wholesome, handsome brothers from Utah, The Osmonds, began their career. They started as a barbershop quartet, performing for locals whilst fundraising and eventually became one of the biggest bands ever, dominating the charts for weeks on end and earning the hearts of girls all over the world. In 2022 their story has been brought to stage in a production written by Jay Osmond himself.

The autobiographical tale begins with the boys-Donny (Joseph Peacock), Jay (Alex Lodge), Merrill (Ryan Anderson), Alan (Jamie Chatterton) and Wayne (Danny Nattrass)- growing up and starting their professional career on the Andy Williams (performed excellently by Alex Cardall) show right until their world domination and consequent fiftieth anniversary reunion. The musical looks at some of the mental challenges the group faced throughout their lives but is mostly a celebration of the music and the fans who loved (and still love) it.

Throughout the show, the audience are introduced to a fan from Manchester called Wendy through the letters which she writes to Jay. This cleverly captures how much celebrities can mean to people, specifically the impact and support The Osmond family unit provided to many. It also acknowledges how the fans and those who showed up for the band helped them get to, and stay at the top of the charts.

The whole cast give excellent performances, with the main Osmonds giving solid vocal and acting portrayals which shine on stage. Georgia Lennon is especially brilliant as Marie Osmond and Charlie Allen and Nicola Bryan give strong performances as the Osmond parents. The young cast portray the boys' desperation to obey and please their father extremely well and are incredibly talented.

As you would expect, it's the music which carries this show, with the big hits Puppy Love, Crazy Horses and Love Me For a Reason providing highlights. The megamix at the end also proved an audience favourite and had pretty much all of the New Victoria Theatre on their feet.

The music and story are clearly very important to a lot of people and obviously seemed to resonate with many of the audience members who are long time fans. However, for anyone new visiting the show, it doesn't quite draw you in and if you don't have the nostalgia for the songs, it is somewhat lacking. If the full house is anything to go by though, there's nothing wrong with that. It seems the musical doesn't need to welcome a new audience of fans but compared to other jukebox musicals, it doesn't do as strong a job of appealing to a wider audience.

That being said, it's certainly a nostalgia fest and a must see for OG Osmond's fans who will enjoy every musical minute.

The Osmonds, A New Musical is at the New Victoria Theatre until 5th March and then continues its tour.

photo credit: Pamela Raith

The Osmonds, A New Musical (Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

Monday, 14 February 2022

Waitress (Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review


Waitress (Tour)
New Victoria Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 14th February 2022
★★★★

The dish of the day at the New Victoria Theatre this Valentines day is Waitress the Musical which follows Jenna Hunterson (Chelsea Halfpenny) an aspiring baker who wants nothing more than to escape her life and unhappy marriage. With the help of her colleagues and new gynaecologist, her dreams start to become possible as she bakes herself a new life. It's a heartwarming tale of romantic and platonic love, that is a sweet treat indeed.

Based on the film of the same name written by Adrienne Shelly, the stage version adds the extra ingredient of Sara Bareilles' score. Memorable, folky songs are a joy to watch and feature a number of gorgeous motifs which appear throughout. There is a great mixture of humourous numbers, as well as more emotional, reflective ones. The book by Jessie Nelson is dotted with wit and whimsy but occasionally feels a little underdeveloped with some moral ambiguity that is never resolved.

As leading lady, Chelsea Halfpenny is an utter delight in the role of Jenna. Vocally she is faultless and gives a beautifully nuanced performance full of charm and warmth. Her comedic timing is wonderful and she also brings Jenna's vulnerable side to life truthfully. 

As her friends, Becky and Dawn, Sandra Marvin and Evelyn Hoskins are marvellous. Evelyn is completely adorable as Dawn, bringing the house down with her laughs and her completely frenetic performance that oozes humour. As her partner in crime, Ogie, George Crawford is completely stellar. His comedy chops completely shine and are matched by his great vocals.

As Dr Pomatter, Jenna's gynaecologist and love interest, Nathanael Landskroner is brilliantly bumbling. His chemistry with Chelsea is glorious to watch and he also matches her perfectly in terms of vocals and they really complement one another. The ensemble also work together like a well-oiled machine.

Just like the ensemble, Scott Pask's set and Lorin Latarro's fine-tuned choreography work seamlessly together. They are not only incredibly in sync with the whole show but are also greatly reflective of the story and emotions; with the set literally coming to life and expanding as Jenna finds herself. 

Waitress is an intimate show which transfers wonderfully for touring venues. Despite its faults, it's almost baked to perfection. Excellent performances and major whimsy make it a stagey slice of sweetness that's well worth seeing. 

Waitress plays at the New Victoria Theatre until 19th February 2022 and then continues its tour

photo credit: Johan Persson

Waitress (Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

Monday, 14 February 2022

Friday, 11 February 2022

Instructions For a Teenage Armageddon, Southwark Playhouse | Review


Instructions For a Teenage Armageddon
Southwark Playhouse
Reviewed on Thursday 10th February 2022
★★★★

Currently playing in The Little at the Southwark Playhouse, Instructions For a Teenage Armageddon is a solo show performed expertly by Rosie Day who also wrote the script (and the book on which it's based). With direction by Georgie Staight, it's an incredibly well written and performed social satire which broaches and discusses some incredibly emotional topics. 

At 75 minutes long it's quite impressive how much Day is able to fit into this painful coming-of-age story and it really is an intense rollercoaster. The show is a series of monologues from a witty, introspective teenager who is trying to cope with the death of her sister as well as teen betrayal, manipulation, isolation and trauma. What is a very deeply dark show is made lighter by looking at it all through the main characters eyes as she frames each section with gaining a new scout badge.

The entire show uses quick, clever prose and black humour which consistently walks the line of being too much, but always adds to the story and characterisation of the leading lady. What's particularly striking about the show is that you're seeing real trauma of a child brought to life; and aside from the more intense topics broached, many aspects are, unfortunately, hugely relatable for girls and women everywhere. The idea of altering who you are to fit in to societal norms and hiding pain behind humour is something many people grow up doing, and the pressures on girls to look and act a certain way never seems to change no matter how many developments are made. At the end of the day Instructions For a Teenage Armageddon acts as a fable or a cautionary tale on why we need to support one another and have open and honest conversations about mental health amongst other things.

Instructions For a Teenage Armageddon is incredibly engaging throughout, with Rosie Day bringing every story to life brilliantly and giving an outstanding performance. The use of projections also adds another element and make it feel more well rounded. Isabella Pappas' on screen performance is particularly memorable. This is an extremely timely, intense show that is expertly performed.

photo credit: Mark Senior

Instructions For a Teenage Armageddon, Southwark Playhouse | Review

Friday, 11 February 2022

Thursday, 10 February 2022

Blood Brothers (Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review


Blood Brothers (Tour)
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 9th February 2022
★★★★

Willy Russell's award winning musical Blood Brothers has been wowing audiences around the world for forty years and is also one of the few shows to have run for over 10,000 performances in the West End. It's a regular feature of the theatre touring circuit and 2022 is no exception as it once again hosts Bill Kenwright's brilliant production.

The emotive and dramatic show tells the story of Mrs Johnstone, a single mother in Liverpool who is bringing up a large family alone and has just found out she'll have more mouths to feed as she's expecting twins. She really can't afford this, so in a snap decision she gives away one son to a wealthy lady who cannot have children of her own. They make a deal that the brothers will never know of one another and won't be part of each others lives. But when the two boys meet accidentally aged seven, they form an instant connection becoming 'Blood Brothers'. The story follows them across the years as we see how economic background and nature vs nurture affects the pair; and how it leads to their eventual tragic demise which opens the show.

I think what makes this such an enduring show is a mixture of both its observations on human nature/privilege and the way it swings effortlessly from comedy to tragedy and takes you along on the journey so well. At times it can be melodramatic but it's balanced so well with deep genuine pain that you can see past it.


The show's cast are exceptional, with the core performers showing depth and growth and the rest of the cast nimbly juggling a variety of roles and supporting the action brilliantly. As the son Mrs Johnstone keeps, Sean Jones is outstanding as Mickey. His character development is masterful as he goes from a cheeky seven year old, to a teen learning to love (and dance), all the way to an adult struggling with addiction. Every second is believable and engaging and he's just fantastic. As the other brother, Eddie, Joel Benedict is charming and sweet. His character isn't as multi-layered as Mickey but he does a great job with what he's given and the pair bounce off of one another like real childhood friends. Carly Burns also gives a touching performance as the final addition to the friendship trio. Her portrayal as Linda is nicely nuanced and it's heartbreaking to see her role in the tragedy.

As Mrs Johnstone, the boys' birth mother, Niki Evans is unparalleled. Her portrayal is the definition of honest and the vocals which accompany it are magnificent. Her acting is incredibly natural and you don't doubt for a second that she's really experiencing the highs and extreme lows of her life. Niki's performance of Tell Me It's Not True is astoundingly moving and has the audience raring to give their final standing ovation.

The show is dated in parts but it kind of adds to the charm and history of it all. It's an exhausting journey of a musical but well worth a watch. Pack some tissues and get yourself along to your local theatre to witness the magic and misery that is Blood Brothers.

Blood Brothers plays at the New Wimbledon Theatre until 12th February 2022 and then continues its tour

Blood Brothers (Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Thursday, 10 February 2022

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

Dirty Dancing, Dominion Theatre | Review


Dirty Dancing
Dominion Theatre 
Reviewed on Tuesday 8th February 2022
★★★½

Dirty Dancing is one of the cult classic films that's beloved by many generations and continually stands the test of time, so a stage version has a built in audience. The show is a faithful adaptation of the film, following the story of 'Baby' Houseman as she spends a family holiday discovering love, relationships, sex and inequality.

There's also a number of subplots including an illegal abortion and the civil rights movement which doesn't quite land and feels somewhat shoehorned in but is a nice attempt at making an otherwise surface level show have some depth. Parts of the plot are lacklustre but overall it's a fun revival that doesn't take itself too seriously.

Filling Patrick Swayze's shoes as leading man Johnny Castle is definitely a tough job but Michael O'Reilly does so excellently and has the audience in the palm of his hand from the moment he enters in a Disney prince fashion. His dancing is skilful and he uses the minimal dialogue to command the stage and draw attention throughout, as well as showing a more vulnerable side to the character in the second act.

Kira Malou is wonderful as Baby, showcasing her character growth and dancing ability brilliantly. As a character Baby can be annoying at moments but Kira does a great job of making her seem real and brings her concerns and values to life in a way that feels genuine without being over the top or too whiney.


As her sister Lisa, Lizzie Ottley is delightful, bringing her comedic timing to the role and being a step behind just at the right time. Carlie Milner is a complete stand out as Penny, providing energy, legginess and such precision in her dancing, she's an absolute dream to watch and also gives a touching acting performance.

Aside from the dancing this is really a show about the music, which is so iconic. Whilst all the classic tunes are included in the show, I do wish there was more singing as opposed to some of the instrumental or extremely brief moments of song. Some vocal treats however, are provided by Mimi Rodrigues Alves who is fab. Additionally the Kellerman's band are first-rate as they become part of the on stage action.

Despite its shortcomings, Dirty Dancing is a lovely, feel-good tribute to the film. There's iconic moments aplenty, sleek lifts, sweet romance, a big dose of nostalgia and all in all it's a lot of fun. Did I have the time of my life? Not quite. But was it an enjoyable, carefree night out at the theatre? Absolutely!

Dirty Dancing plays at the Dominion Theatre until 16th April 2022

photo credit: Mark Senior

Dirty Dancing, Dominion Theatre | Review

Wednesday, 9 February 2022