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

Wednesday, 7 June 2023

Frankie and Beausy, Crazy Coqs | Review


Frankie and Beausy
Crazy Coqs
★★★★

Last night the Crazy Coqs played home to Frankie and Beausy, a high-end, West End musical extravaganza that left me thoroughly impressed. The talented duo, comprised of the fantastic Frances Ruffelle and the dashing Norman Bowman, created and performed a show with some magical moments. Under the skilful direction of Paul Baker, they took us on a captivating journey that began 26 years ago on a train station platform in Scotland.

The stage came alive as Beausy donned a Scottish tartan kilt and sporran, while Frankie exuded charm in her tartan bodice and platform shoes. Their outfits added a touch of punkish cheeky glamour to the already punchy and fun atmosphere of the show. With musical arrangements by David Barber, they delivered a medley of musical favourites, seamlessly transitioning from Brigadoon to Broadway, and from the Highlands to Hollywood. Their harmonies were beautifully blended, and they even treated us to a stunning rendition of Luther Vandross's 'A House is Not a Home'.

The grand finale was nothing short of spectacular, as they belted out The Proclaimers' iconic hit, 'I'm Gonna Be (500) Miles'. The backing trio, led by the talented Ryan McKenzie, also had their moment to shine with individual solos that had the entire audience clapping, tapping, and singing along. It was an electrifying experience that left everyone on a high.

I must say, I was blown away by the quality of this cabaret show. It was a must-see performance that exceeded my expectations. If you're lucky enough to secure a ticket, don't miss out on this gem. Otherwise, mark your calendars for their upcoming shows at 54 Below in New York this November. Frankie and Beausy are a true musical powerhouses, and their concert will provide an absolute delight for any theatre enthusiast.

Reviewed on Tuesday 6th June by Justin Woodgate
photo credit: Debbi Clark

Frankie and Beausy, Crazy Coqs | Review

Wednesday, 7 June 2023

Tuesday, 6 June 2023

Greatest Days, New Victoria Theatre (Tour) | Review


Greatest Days (Tour)
New Victoria Theatre 
★★★

The Official Take That Musical: Greatest Days (formerly The Band) written by Tim Firth with music by Take That, offers a heartwarming story that will resonate with those who have been part of a fandom and experienced the highs and lows of a friendship with so much history. The plot's utilisation of a double timeline is effective, and the show is likely a trip down memory lane for some but overall it falls short of delivering a fully impactful emotional punch.

Made up of Kalifa BurtonJamie CornerArchie DurrantRegan Gascoigne and Alexanda O'Reilly, The Band's presence in the musical, acting as a Greek chorus supporting the girls, is a clever concept. They contribute to the story through well-placed songs, although there are instances where songs do feel a bit forced. While the band's performances are good, they don't exude world domination star quality, and although each band member has their shining second, they lack standout, memorable moments considering their significant role in the show.

Greatest Days has the potential to be a great show, but it falls slightly short of achieving that status. It taps into 90s nostalgia and Take That references, making it a must-see for fans of the era. However, the overall energy of the production could use a boost. The choreography by Aaron Renfree captures the boyband aesthetic and has its impressive moments, but there is a lack of precision and unity among the cast at times which leaves things feeling flat.

The lighting design by Rob Casey stands out as a strong element, effectively evoking the feeling of being at a concert. On the other hand, while Lucy Osborne's set design works well with the show and offers adequate levels for mirroring, it doesn't offer much to visually engage the audience beyond the surface.

The chemistry between the girls, both the younger (Emilie Cunliffee, Kitty Harris, Hannah Brown, Mari McGinlay and Mary Moore) and older versions (Kym Marsh, Rachel Marwood, Holly Ashton and Jamie-Rose Monk), is commendable. Their well-defined personalities contribute to the plot, creating a strong through line which has some heart-wrenching moments. However, there are some of jokes and lines which feel outdated and unnecessary, and detract from the overall experience.

Despite its flaws, Greatest Days manages to provide some humorous moments and an ending that will have you on your feet. It caters to its target audience who will undoubtedly appreciate the 90s nostalgia and Take That references. As a fun night out, it delivers an enjoyable experience, but it doesn't leave a lasting impression worthy of raving about.


Reviewed on Monday 5th June 2023
photo credit: Alastair Muir

Greatest Days, New Victoria Theatre (Tour) | Review

Tuesday, 6 June 2023

Wednesday, 31 May 2023

2:22 A Ghost Story, Apollo Theatre | Review


2:22 A Ghost Story
Apollo Theatre 
★★★★

2:22 A Ghost Story is quickly carving its name out in the UK theatre scene. Having played a number of runs at various West End theatres to much acclaim and with a touring version coming up, it's certainly a show which knows how to spook and entertain audiences.

Based on experiences had by the play's writer, Danny Robbins, this haunting production takes you on a thrilling journey into the supernatural, exploring themes of love, loss, and the unbreakable bonds that transcend time. The storyline is quite masterfully crafted, keeping you on the edge of your seat but equally including lots of humour which really works well and in fact makes the whole thing feel even more realistic. The pacing is solid, with suspense building at the right moments, and unexpected twists that keep you guessing. Sometimes the sound effects are a bit over obvious and aren't particularly scary but as a whole this is a really solid production.

Set at a dinner party, with minimal set or moving pieces, this really is a character driven piece and the cast do well at creating a truthful atmosphere that perfectly portrays a boozy evening. Sophia Bush's performance as Lauren is a really wonderful one; she is effortlessly sarky and charming and also has some tender moments that bring layers of complexity to the role. Ricky Champ plays her partner, Ben and is absolutely fantastic, his comedic timing is perfect and his intriguing character is so enjoyable to watch and try to work out. Taking on the role of Jenny, the tormented protagonist, Jamie Winstone brings depth and vulnerability and comes across quite genuinely terrified, with Clifford Samuel as her husband Sam the pair showcase an interesting dynamic which really takes you on a journey and shows you that families aren't always what they seem on the outside. 

Whats great with this show is that it's more than a surface level thriller; it also comments on social and economic issues, as well as beliefs and science vs supernatural. There are times when the commentary comes across as a bit forced and out of left field but for the most part, topics are broached well and really elevate the production to be more socially nuanced and topical. The chemistry among the whole cast is palpable, adding an extra layer of realism to the relationships portrayed on stage.

Anna Fleischle's set design leaves space for lots of spooky moments but is also perfectly mundane and fitting for the setting of the show. The Apollo Theatre really looks like it's had an open plan kitchen dropped into it and the attention to detail really captures the essence of a family home. Combined with atmospheric lighting by Lucy Carter, the ghostly tale has a perfect backdrop.

If you're a fan of thought-provoking theatre 2:22 A Ghost Story is a definite must-see. From the superb performances to the captivating storyline, this play transports you to a realm where the lines between the living and the dead blur, and where love and loss intertwine in ways you never thought possible. Running for two hours which fly by, this is theatrical experience that will linger in your mind like a persistent ghost long after the final curtain falls.

Reviewed on Tuesday 30th May 2023
photo credit: Helen Murray

2:22 A Ghost Story, Apollo Theatre | Review

Wednesday, 31 May 2023

Tuesday, 9 May 2023

Operation Mincemeat, Fortune Theatre | Review


Operation Mincemeat
Fortune Theatre
★★★★

If you're looking for a unique and intriguing musical, then look no further than Operation Mincemeat in its West End transfer to the Fortune Theatre. This production tells the incredible true story of a WWII deception operation, that although morally grey, helped Britain win the war and it does so with style, charm and heart in spades.

The star of this exciting musical is undoubtedly the music which manages to be both catchy and poignant, with some of the wittiest lyrics in the West End right now. The book, music and lyrics are expertly constructed by SpitLip founders David Cumming, Natasha Hodgson, ZoĆ« Roberts and Felix Hagan (four of whom also star) and the whole show is maelstrom of musical magic. You'll find yourself continually laughing out loud and then all of a sudden wiping tears from your eyes as this hug of a musical manages to wrap you around its theatrical finger.

Every performance from the talented cast -completed at this performance by Claire Marie Hall, Jak Malone and Geri Allen (in her cover debut)- is a standout one. The precision with which they perform is just astounding and thanks to the script, there's a perfect balance between humour, satire and drama.

Aesthetically, Operation Mincemeat is a sleek mission. Ben Stones' set and costumes are perfectly evocative of MI5 and wartime London, as well as having a healthy dose of camp dramatics. One scene in particular features costumes perfect for a bedazzled version of Sweeney Todd! Really clever direction by Robert Hastie and joyous choreography by Jenny Arnold both let the story and performances to soar and ideally balance the line between allowing the performances to be genuinely funny without being cringe inducing. Shoutout must also go to Publicity Designer Bob King Creative for the genius artwork which accompanies the show. Once you see it, you won't un-see it!

In summary, this show is the epitome of fun. Poking fun at everyone and everything it is a satirical, stupendous, stomper of a show that will have you entertained and inspired. The new must-see musical, it needs to be booked immediately!

Reviewed on Tuesday 2nd May 2023

Operation Mincemeat, Fortune Theatre | Review

Tuesday, 9 May 2023

Thursday, 4 May 2023

Pentatonix: The World Tour, Eventim Apollo | Review


Pentatonix: The World Tour
Eventim Apollo

After having their concerts postponed in 2020, the Grammy Award winning group Pentatonix have finally made it to London with their world tour. Featuring the classics that made them popular such as Daft Punk and White Winter Hymnal, as well as soulful pieces from their most recent album, The Lucky Ones and some extra musical gems, the group proved that it was well worth the wait as they showcased their impressive range and versatility. As expected, their harmonies are spot-on and their ability to create complex sounds using only their voices continues to be astounding.

Having last seen them perform in 2016 what was immediately striking with this tour is just how amped up and emphasised the production value is; everything feels bolder and sleeker. This is in no small part thanks to the excellent lighting design by Damian Rogers which is so impeccably programmed to sync up with every beat and emotional inflection, it becomes a show all of its own. Equally the choreography perfectly complements each song and adds a real element of interest. The production team have done an incredible job of creating a concert experience that was not only musically impressive but also visually captivating.

What really makes the concert stand out is the energy and passion that Pentatonix bring to the procedings. The group have a palpable friendship and support network which shines from the stage and creates a really lovely atmosphere. Plus, they interact with the crowd, share stories and jokes, and make everyone feel like they are a part of the experience. It's clear that they genuinely love what they do and enjoy connecting with their fans.

Where before this could have been a 10/10 musical concert, now it’s a 10/10 musical spectacle. The bold elements don’t take away from the vocals, in fact they frame them perfectly and highlight just how tight and strong the vocal quintet are. It’s a matured and elevated experience and the talent and passion on stage make Pentatonix really shine. Hopefully it won't take seven years for the group to return to the UK because we need more!

★★★★
Reviewed on Wednesday 3rd May 2023
photo credit: Ben Hausdorff

Pentatonix: The World Tour, Eventim Apollo | Review

Thursday, 4 May 2023

Wednesday, 26 April 2023

Toby Sebastian, Omeara | Review


Toby Sebastian
Omeara 
★★★★

Since originally releasing music in 2013, Toby Sebastian has been firmly carving his name in the music industry and this year has embarked on his first ever headline tour, which last night reached London's Omeara in a spectacular fashion.

A wonderful showcase of Toby's vocals and stellar song writing, the evening provided a mixture of fan favourite songs, as well as material from his upcoming album; all of which was received with warmth by the crowd who bopped along throughout. Also well received was a surprise appearance by Bridgerton star, Simone Ashley who got to showcase her hauntingly beautiful vocals in a duet of Rusty Snare. Fingers crossed we'll see the duo pair up again in future.

Striking throughout the evening was Sebastian's innate musicality which shone through as he poured his heart into the performance. His unique blend of indie and rock perfectly matches the raw, emotional sound of his voice, which particularly soars in his falsetto moments. These virtuosic sections were some of the best and most captivating of the set. In a bigger venue, with a slightly better sound system, one can only imagine how spectacular Toby would sound.

Equally, the evening had some really high octane moments, especially in the closing rendition of Train To Mexico which felt like a party and was certainly a fan fave. Sebastian really lets the music speak for itself and doesn't interact a huge amount with the audience which means sometimes there's a feeling of disconnect, however, his charisma still shines through and he really gives his all musically.

The three piece band work together like a well oiled machine and everyone seems like they're genuinely having fun on stage which is a real treat to see. 

Mention must also go to Louis Oliver who performed a super solid opening set and really charmed the audience through his raspy, incredibly powerful vocals. 

Overall a well-curated set list, and a solid and evident appreciation for music and performing made this a really special night. Whilst there's no release date yet for Toby's next album, the sneak peeks say it's going to be a really enjoyable listen; and the next tour which will hopefully accompany it will be so worth attending!

Reviewed on Tuesday 25th April 2023
Photo credit: Mike Palmer

Toby Sebastian, Omeara | Review

Wednesday, 26 April 2023

Friday, 21 April 2023

Ain't Too Proud, Prince Edward Theatre | Review


Ain't Too Proud
Prince Edward Theatre
★★★★

A hit on Broadway, Ain't Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations, has finally opened in the West End and is a thoroughly entertaining, charismatic and soulful journey. The musical, with a book by Dominique Morisseau is a breathtaking celebration of the legendary Motown group, The Temptations, and their iconic music. Taking you on a journey through the highs and lows of stardom, it showcases how some of the most famous music was created and provides a really really fun night out.

The heart and soul of this musical are the performances which are unanimously nothing short of spectacular. The cast deliver powerhouse vocals that charm and mesmerise throughout and there are so many standout moments. The whole cast are spectacularly strong but mention must go to Cameron Bernard Jones, Tosh Wanogho-Maud, Ryan Carter and Michael James Stewart who really shine in their solo and ensemble moments. Each member who becomes part of The Temptations, does so with a real sense of nuance and the varying personalities and talents are showcased throughout; really capturing the essence and ethos of the original group.

Above all this is an ensemble piece, with some of the strongest moments coming when the cast unite both vocally and choreographically. Sergio Trujillo's choreography is some of the best in the West End right now, the sheer slickness and precision is a wonder to behold and the energy created on stage is supremely infectious. Featuring iconic hits like My Girl, Papa Was a Rolling Stone, and Ain't Too Proud to Beg, the show is a top-tapping fest of gusto and spirit.

The storytelling is mostly compelling, and the narrative (led by Sifiso Mazibuko) is engaging from the start. Spanning the long and tumultuous history of The Temptations, from their humble beginnings to their rise to stardom the show has a lot to fit in, and especially in the first act it feels a bit too much. Whilst every performance is engaging, it does feel a little too long and seems to keep going even when there's a natural break point. However, the story is a poignant and emotional one that delves into the personal struggles, triumphs, and dynamics of the group and includes some powerful messages. Alongside the musical elements, the show touches on themes of friendship and brotherhood, as well as shedding light on the social and political challenges faced by The Temptations and African American artists during that era. A poignant reminder of their impact on American music history and the enduring legacy they left behind, Ain't Too Proud is a strong celebration of The Temptations.

Ain't Too Proud is a wonderful addition to the West End that features dazzling production value, and timeless music. A celebration of The Temptations and their impact on Motown, it will leave you humming their hits long after the curtain falls. 

Reviewed on Wednesday 19th April 2023
photo credit: Johan Persson

Ain't Too Proud, Prince Edward Theatre | Review

Friday, 21 April 2023

Wednesday, 12 April 2023

The Mousetrap (Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review


The Mousetrap (Tour) 
New Victoria Theatre 
★★★★ 

“The World’s longest running play”, The Mousetrap is a classic whodunit play that has been running for 70 years in London’s West End and is now embarking on a UK tour. Seeing this touring iteration, it's easy to see why it has stood the test of time and continues to charm audiences.

The play is well-written and tightly plotted, with plenty of twists and turns to keep the audience guessing until the very end; Agatha Christie proves again why she continues to be one of the most lauded and loved mystery writers. The characters are interesting, and the performances by the cast are generally strong. Todd Carty as Major Metcalf and Kieran Brown as Mr Paravicini give especially strong performances and really engage the audience.

One of the things that impressed me about The Mousetrap is how it manages to keep you engaged and guessing throughout the entire performance. The play does an excellent job of setting up the mystery and then slowly unraveling it, with each new revelation leading to more questions and intrigue. Not only this, but sprinkled amongst the mystery of it all, are some really humorous moments which go down very well and make the pacing really work.

The set design and staging of the play are simple yet effective, and the use of lighting and sound helped to create a suitably ominous atmosphere, without being gimmicky or over the top.

Overall, The Mousetrap is a fantastic play that is definitely worth seeing for two hours of escapism. Whether you're a fan of murder-mysteries or just enjoy a good story, this play will not disappoint. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a thrilling and entertaining night out at the theatre. Find out for yourself Whodunit at your local touring theatre!

Reviewed on Tuesday 11th April 2023 by Valerie Field

The Mousetrap (Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

Wednesday, 12 April 2023

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