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

Friday, 20 May 2022

My Fair Lady, London Coliseum | Review


My Fair Lady
London Coliseum
Reviewed on Thursday 19th May 2022 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

On the eve of Eliza Doolittle day, the London Coliseum was packed to the rafters and buzzing to see the long awaited West End transfer of Lerner and Lowe's My Fair Lady. Bartlett Sher's joyous production had a highly acclaimed run on Broadway and has now opened here, with the glorious Amara Okereke in the leading role. A role that seems made for her.

As Eliza, Amara is astounding in her versatility. From loud, brash and boisterous, she can flip to a calmer, softer side in an instant and is a joy to watch, whatever side she is showing. Taking on the role of Henry Higgins, the phonetics professor who bets that he can transform a cockney flower girl into a Duchess, is Harry Hadden-Paton who is engaging, witty and kind of manic. His relationship with Eliza is interesting and feisty. They are combative throughout but there's also a simmering slow-burn relationship happening that is so enjoyable to watch.

In supporting roles, there are some gems. Malcolm Sinclair is hilarious as Colonel Pickering and Vanessa Redgrave is charming as Higgins' mum. Stephen K Amos also gives a comedic performance as Eliza's dad, Alfred. His vocals are quite as strong as you'd expect but his performance is spirited and exciting.

This really is a sumptuous production, with absolutely beautiful costumes by Catherine Zuber which reference the film nicely but aren't direct copies. The iconic Ascot scene is particularly impressive. In terms of the stage design there are peaks and troughs. Michael Yeargan has crafted a meticulously detailed Edwardian house, which spins on a revolve to to reveal the various rooms. However, the other sets aside from this are somewhat lacklustre and fail to provide the wow factor you'd expect with a production like this. Everything works and effectively tells the story but there's a final sparkle missing that keeps it from being a five star production. There's also the unavoidable issue that Higgins' patronising reaction to Eliza has not aged well at all and his flaws make it hard to really root for him. The open ended closing of the show does help to ease this uneasiness but there's still a lingering awkwardness.

Despite these faults, it really is a lovely production which is chockablock with humour. And whilst is does show its age at times, much of the show feels fresh and Amara gives a starring performance that is worth the ticket price alone. 

My Fair Lady, London Coliseum | Review

Friday, 20 May 2022

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Lift, Southwark Playhouse | Review


Lift 
Southwark Playhouse 
Reviewed on Wednesday 18th May 2022
★★★

Produced by Gartland Productions, Lift has returned to London after premiering in 2013. Set in a Covent Garden lift (if you've attempted the steps, you know how crucial this particular lift is) it looks at eight of the characters on the same under a minute journey. 

Played by Luke Friend, the busker (like many of us do while laying by the pool on holiday) imagines what his fellow lift-mates' stories and connections may be and the plot goes from there. Opening the musical alone on stage with a guitar, he is good at leading the show and seems at ease throughout. Sometimes his words get lost but his super strong vocals are great and he especially shines in the more angsty moments.

The rest of the cast share the names Sarah, Kate and Gabriel and you never quite know whether their stories are really happening or whether they're in the buskers head. Due to this the plot is somewhat confusing and hard to follow, and in fact it may have been better just to focus on one or two individual characters. Each character's story is interesting and intriguing but due to the structure you never truly get to delve into them so are left feeling a little short changed.

However, it's the first-rate performances that really bring this show to life. Hiba Elchikhe is a certified star in her role as the secretary; giving dreamy vocals and making the absolute most of all she's given to work with. Alongside her, Marco Titus gives a nice performance and the pair bounce off of one another very well. Kayleigh McKnight completely wows with her rendition of Lost in Translations which is a vocal marathon and Cameron Collins shows versatility in his various personas. Tamara Morgan is endearing and witty in her performance as well as working with Collins and McKnight well. Jordan Broatch and Chrissie Bhima are excellent together, bringing their virtual avatar characters together so impressively and entertainingly. 

As a whole, the cast are incredibly strong and it's in the ensemble, deeply harmonic moments where the musical really comes to life. It's also when the narratives intersect that things become interesting. The audience start to spot connections and are  forced to work out what's really true and linked. As well, the plot provides an interesting study on grief that has moments of revelation which are well approached.

Andrew Exeter's steel rig set is good at emphasising certain parts of the story and is a solid way of transforming the space to the various locations. The bright lighting is engaging and adds to Lift's fantastical, dreamlike setting. There's not a huge amount of diversity between Craig Adams' songs but each one does well to bring some story to each character, even if it is fairly surface level. 

Overall, Lift is a well-paced show which lacks real depth and cohesion but is carried exceptionally well by the eight person cast. As a cult favourite, it's worth catching it just for the powerhouse voices and strong visuals.

photo credit: Mark Senior

Lift, Southwark Playhouse | Review

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Bonnie and Clyde, Arts Theatre | Review


Bonnie and Clyde
Arts Theatre 
Reviewed on Wednesday 18th May 2022 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

After over a decade of waiting, Frank Wildhorn, Don Black and Ivan Menchell's Bonnie and Clyde has finally entered the West End and has done so with a bang. Telling the story of the eponymous duo who became outlaws before being killed together, the romanticised musical is exciting and features some of the strongest performances seen in a long time.

Based on the semi-true story, we follow Bonnie and Clyde from their childhood dreams (her to be a movie star like Clara Bow, and he to be an outlaw like Billy the Kid) to their first flukey meeting, their following life of crime and eventually their downfall and death. Running in parallel to this story is an unrequited love plot as well as some glimpses into the economic depression of the time which highlight why turning to crime was in some ways, necessary, at least for the Barrow Brothers.

At times the book is a little jumbled and some things are over explained, whilst others lack a little development. However, it is equally brilliant in its comedy, especially in the snarky exchanges between Blanche and Bonnie. Aside from the few issues, this is a really wonderful production that is spirited and exudes intensity. As the leading characters, Frances Mayli McCann and Jordan Luke Gage completely own the stage. McCann is a certified star and she brings her clear as glass vocals to life in ballads such as Dyin' Ain't So Bad and she also gives a brilliantly dynamic portrayal as Bonnie. Gage is charming and terrifying in equal measure and vocally her fires on all cylinders. Raise A Little Hell is a complete roof raiser that is powerful, thrilling and aggressive. Together the pair balance one another well and are realistic in their juvenile, all encompassing love story. The sizzling chemistry grows from their first meeting and remains so until the very last second.


The entirety of the small cast are equally strong, with Natalie McQueen giving the most hilarious performance as God-fearing Blanche Barrow. You're Goin' Back To Jail is absolutely hilarious and she imbues every moment with wit, even down to her out of time clapping which is brief but wonderful. Alongside her comedy masterclass, she also brings a more mellow moment in the duet You Love Who You Love which is outstanding. As with much of the show, it's the tight harmonies which really bring the house down and have the audience enraptured. George Maguire is also strong as Buck Barrow and Cleve September nicely balances the hostility of Clyde with his smooth and calmer vocals. 

As well as the performances, the set by Philip Witcomb takes on a life of its own and makes the Arts feel so much bigger than it is. The set is ambitious and impressive and coupled with great projections bu Nina Dunn and sound design by Tom Marshall make the whole show a real spectacle.

Nick Winston has done an outstanding job with this production and it's so wonderful that it's finally getting the run it deserves. How bout' you dance your way to the Arts Theatre and grab yourself a ticket for this theatrical jewel.

photo credit: Richard Davenport

Bonnie and Clyde, Arts Theatre | Review

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Grease The Musical, Dominion Theatre | Review


Grease The Musical
Dominion Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 17th May 2022 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★

It’s a cult classic that’s got the word, got the groove, it’s got meaning, and in its current West End run at the Dominion Theatre, Grease provides a high energy, fun night out that’ll have you feeling good and tapping your toes.

The production which previously toured the UK features all the iconic moments and songs from the film, but shuffles them around and combines them with their original stage versions. For example The T Birds are now back to their og name of the Burger Palace Boys. These small tweaks allow the audience to be more engaged as they don’t quite know what’s coming. However, other attempts to somewhat modernise the book fall a little flat. You would assume that ending the show with the punchline of the girl changing herself so the boy likes her, could’ve been switched up a little but it remains the same as the movie and certainly feels dated. This version of Grease does give Sandy's character more of a backbone but it would be nice to see just a bit of dialogue added to give her a bit more autonomy at the end.

The West End cast is chockablock with strong performers who bring the array of characters to life incredibly well. As the leading lady, Olivia Moore is a delight as Sandy. Her powerhouse voice soars every time she opens her mouth and she gives a dynamic and endearing performance. Leader of the Burger Palace Boys, Danny Zuko is played well by Dan Partridge who really comes into his own in the angsty number How Big I'm Gonna Be and also provides great humour and vocals in Stranded at the Drive In.

Other standout performers include Jocasta Almgill, who’s rendition of There Are Worse Things I Could Do, is heart-wrenching and transforms the song to be heard in a new light. Mary Moore is also a gem as Jan and Eloise Davies is wonderfully witty and whimsical as the Beauty School Dropout, Frenchie. Paul French’s Kenickie is rough and brooding but sometimes lets his softer side show and is a delight to watch. 

If you’ve seen the adverts for this show, you’ll have probably seen Peter Andre who is starring as Vince Fontaine and Teen Idol. Whilst only appearing briefly in act one, in act two he comes to life and is highly entertaining and will certainly please audience members who are fans!

There are a few moments in the show where the energy lulls or jokes fall a bit flat but it’s the full ensemble sections that really bring it back up and make it soar. The Hand Jive and We Go Together are especially good moments that ooze energy and almost create electricity in the auditorium. This is in a big way thanks to Arlene Phillips' outstanding choreography that is fresh and exciting but completely in keeping with what we know and love as typically Grease

As a whole the cast are top notch and work really well together. It's great to see how much characterisation work has gone into each role, so that no matter who you're looking at one stage, you can always see a story or relationship developing with them.

Despite a few shortcomings, the musical is a real laugh and a nice, hand jiving escape from reality. It's not groundbreaking but Grease The Musical does what it says on the tin and delivers iconic scenes and songs that fans of the film will love. So, all you crazy cats better get booking!

Grease The Musical, Dominion Theatre | Review

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Saturday, 14 May 2022

Prima Facie, Harold Pinter Theatre | Review


Prima Facie
Harold Pinter Theatre
Reviewed on Friday 13th May 2022 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★★

Anyone who's seen Jodie Comer in her multifaceted performance in Killing Eve understands why she is such a well loved and in demand actor. In her one-woman West End debut in Prima Facie, Comer lives up to every expectation and delivers a performance that astounds and stays with you long after the curtain comes down.

What's so impressive with Comer is not only how she brings interesting and enticing vocal intonations to the script, but how she physically embodies every moment. The high-voltage emotions which run through the piece are literally carried by Comer and she imbues every moment with intensity and expressiveness. You can just tell how much work has gone into crafting such an intelligent and wonderful portrayal, even from small details such as becoming slightly posher when she's presenting in court compared to talking to her mother. Comer never flags for a second of the 95 minute show and whether she's shattering you with heart-breaking moments, or having you laugh out loud with her witty performance, she has you wrapped around her finger in a phenomenal way.

Of course this performance wouldn't exist without Suzie Miller's script which is so expertly crafted and focusses on the heartbreaking realities of sexual assault and how difficult it is for women to get closure via successful prosecutions in a court which is based on archaic rules written by men and does very little to support or empathise with victims.

Comer's character Tessa is a barrister who rose from being the underdog at university to being one of the top defence lawyers for men accused of sexual assault. The play opens with her revelling at being great in court and later on contrasts this by showing flashbacks to her younger self full of doubt as to whether she could succeed when surrounded by all the private school classmates who she cannot relate to. Her excitement and razor sharp cross examination skills show how she can sew the seed of doubt that the victim may have in fact given consent and that the man was doing what he believed she wanted. The way she talks about it almost gets you on her side until she herself is raped by a colleague and realises how messed up the whole system and court process is.

Natasha Chiver's lighting design and Justin Martin's direction really hammer this message home, with folders creating a blank canvas for the action but also becoming part of the story at times. Gradual lighting changes bring further gravitas to the mood changes and the clever closing monologue which breaks the fourth wall is so well done. As a whole this production is a sleek treat which discusses a dark matter but has you feeling uplifted by the talent and skill displayed on stage and behind the scenes.

In a stunningly moving performance, Jodie Comer shows her emotional range and magnetic stage presence which makes her the wondrous performer she is and makes this an unmissable piece of theatre. Beg, borrow, or steal a ticket if you can find one, or book to see Prime Facie in cinemas!

Prima Facie, Harold Pinter Theatre | Review

Saturday, 14 May 2022