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

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

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

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

Friday, 21 January 2022

Moulin Rouge! the Musical, Piccadilly Theatre | Review


Moulin Rouge!
Piccadilly Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday 20th January 2022 
★★★

The West End premiere of Baz Luhrmann's 2001 musical Moulin Rouge has been a long-awaited adaptation. After a number of delays it has finally opened and is certainly a spectacle to behold. There's razzle-dazzle, glitz and glam and hugely sumptuous chorus numbers, but often it's a case of style over substance, with some moments falling flat.

There is a lot to love with the production; the energy is next level throughout, the variety of performers is wonderful to see and the classic songs from the movies are excellent. Unfortunately, a lot of the new musical additions feel chaotic and detract from the action. Some additions work well such as the updated Elephant Love Medley which combines the old and new incredibly deftly and is joyous as it's performed amongst a starlit backdrop. Adele's Rolling in the Deep combined with Gnarls Barkley's Crazy also sums up the angst and anger in act 2 well and is one of the strongest performances of the show. Many of the other songs are jarring and actually drag us out of the story, making the show feel more like a cabaret presentation or pantomime.

As a visual piece of art, this musical truly is like no other. Derek McLane's set is utterly jaw-dropping from the moment you enter the auditorium. Luscious velvet and fabric drapes the walls and the ceiling, a life size elephant watches over the auditorium and the swirling windmill of the Moulin Rouge gets the motion going from the start.  Glitter and pyrotechnics are also a mile a minute and Catherine Zuber's costumes are a show in themselves. 


The cast mostly do a great job at bringing the iconic cabaret to life. Liisi LaFontaine is beautiful as Satine, especially when she can really let her vocals soar in solo moments. As the young composer Christian, Jamie Bogyo is suitably awkward and charming but occasionally feels like he's holding back vocally. The pair are sweet, but there's something lacking in the chemistry and both characters feels quite underdeveloped. Instead of showing any real emotion, they're used for humour and it's not until the end that we get to see them make any decisions themselves. The only character who really gets to show his emotion is Tolulouse-Lautrec played expertly by Jason Pennycook.

It's in the large group numbers that the musical really excels and gets the audience invested. Sonya Tayeh's choreography is spirited and enticing, especially so in the Tango Roxanne, where Sophie Carmen-Jones and  Elia Lo Tauro command the stage and give outstanding performances. The opening Lady Marmalade number and the closing mega-mix of all the best parts are also stunning showcases for the ensemble who lift the whole show up. The can-can is also particularly impressive and enjoyable to watch.

Whilst the show is lacking in places, it's certainly a spectacle and if you want to be immersed into a wild world then Moulin Rouge is certainly worth a visit. 

photo credit: Matt Crockett

Moulin Rouge! the Musical, Piccadilly Theatre | Review

Friday, 21 January 2022

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Bat Out of Hell (Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review


Bat Out Of Hell (Tour)
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 18th January 2022 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★★

There aren’t many touring shows where fire, confetti and belts that melt your faces off are the key selling points, but that’s what makes Bat Out of Hell such a unique and refreshing addition to the touring circuit.

The jukebox musical, with book, music and lyrics by Jim Steinman has had various incarnations since it originally opened in Manchester in 2017. From London to Germany to New York, it’s now entertaining audiences across the country with its larger than life performances.

This certainly isn’t a show that relies on its book which is sometimes hard to follow and all in all is very bare and ridiculous. Instead it is helmed by the stellar effects and outstanding solo and ensemble performances that make it such a high octane and enjoyable show.

Choreography adapted by Xena Gusthart is snappy and incredibly tight as well as being very fitting for the apocalyptic-place-like-no-other Obsidian where the musical is set. This is further helped and developed by Jon Bausor’s grungy set and Patrick Woodroffe‘s lighting which both shocks the audience into watching as well as literally highlighting more tender moments on stage.

Of course over the various productions there have been a number of changes. Perhaps most noticeable with this current iteration, is the smaller cast and cut down set. Despite being somewhat noticeable if you’ve seen the show before, these cuts don’t mean there’s any less oomph or energy and in fact, a Tuesday night performance in Wimbledon, felt like a Saturday show (complete with some audience members who wanted their own solos!) In many ways, it’s a show which thrives off of its audience, with many loyal fans supporting it in every possible way. And despite it sometimes detracting from the performers on stage, it’s quite nice to see and hear people so engaged and uplifted by a performance after so long not having live theatre. It's really a show which encourages community and enjoyment, two things we could all use a little more of.



Bat Out of Hell is very much cast led and excels due to its incomparably talented performers who are full out in every moment. As the caged daughter Raven, Martha Kirby is excellent, showing both a tempestuous side and a softer, head over heels in love side. Alongside this her vocals are extraordinary, with a number of stand out moments including Heaven Can Wait and All Coming Back to Me Now. Matha's stage presence is magnetic and it's just a 10/10 performance all round. Alongside her as the male lead is Glenn Adamson who is bold and boisterous with his performance. He brings a kind of frenzied side to Strat and is utterly engaging, as well as giving vocals that soar and shine.

Another change from past London productions is the reworked  placement and character of Valkyrie who becomes one of the main trio of The Lost. As Valkyrie, Kellie Gnauck is a complete powerhouse who steals the show several times and adds a lovely new dimension to many songs thanks to her fine tuned harmonies. Bat Out of Hell veterans Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton continue to triumph and delight as Raven's parents, Falco and Sloane. Their comedic timing is marvellous, as are their vocals and ability to switch moods on a dime. It's a joy to watch them perform together and with the other cast members. What Part of My Body Hurts The Most is a real high point of the show.

Everything is brought together by the ensemble who are electric and so in sync with one another. What's also great about this show is how you can watch various mini plot lines unfurl throughout and the ensemble especially do a great job of highlighting anxieties, relationships etc... within the group. 

If it's a sophisticated narrative you're after, this categorically isn't the show for you, but if you want to escape reality, hear top notch vocals and have an evening that's truly like no other, then fly down to see Bat Out of Hell on tour.

Bat Out Of Hell plays at the New Wimbledon Theatre until 29th January before continuing its tour

photo credit: Chris Davis Studio

Bat Out of Hell (Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Friday, 19 November 2021

Little Women, Park Theatre | Review



Little Women 
Park Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday 18th November 2021 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

Louisa May Alcott's timeless 1886 classic has earned praise and adoration, especially after the recent adaptation starring Florence Pugh and Timothée Chalamet, therefore there's a lot of excitement surrounding  the London premiere of the Little Women Musical.

Thankfully, this production, adapted by Allan Knee and directed by Bronagh Lagan is a completely wholesome treat which is full of youthful energy and is brilliantly loyal to the novel. It's a tale of life and love, with dramatic ebbs and flows that fit perfectly with musical moments.

The story follows the March sisters, with Jo, the outspoken writer taking us on a whirlwind journey through her life with her other sisters and the people they meet along the way. Everything about the story is intimate and familial and the sleek two level set and general feeling of the theatre fits it exactly.  Particularly enjoyable are the moments when Jo brings her stories to life, at times cleverly mimicking the actions of various performers and later on with projections.

Whilst most of the music adds emotional depth, there are quite a few songs and at times the dynamic feels somewhat one level. They're performed admirably but several songs are a bit samey. However, that's no reflection on the female string quartet who are vivacious from start to finish, nor the cast who are stellar.

Leading the charge is Lydia White as Jo who is entirely excellent. Her voice is clear as ice and her emotional variety and intensity is a dream to watch; she exudes star power from start to finish. As the other sisters Hana Ichijo (Meg),  Anastasia Martin (Beth) and Mary Moore (Amy) complement one another as well as having super strong solo moments. Savannah Stevenson's voice is stunning as she plays the role of the matriarch Marmee. Stevenson's vocal technique shinea through as she gives a nuanced and throughly endearing performance.  Ryan Bennett as Professor Bhaer is charming as is Sev Keoshgerian who makes Laurie a bumbling, loveable and humourous character. Mention must also go to Lejaun Sheppard who is brilliant as John Brooke. 

As a whole this is a wholesome musical that will have you laughing and tearing up. A number of shining performances and a story which highlights the importance of both unity and independence make it a thoroughly enjoyable time. Little Women is a little show with a big heart and hopefully a big future ahead of it!

photo credit: Pamela Raith

Little Women, Park Theatre | Review

Friday, 19 November 2021

Wednesday, 17 November 2021

My Name is Not Wigs, Angela Cobbin (Book) | Review



My Name is Not Wigs! | Angela Cobbin
Published: 11th November 2021 by Brown Dog Books
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

If you're a theatre fan (which I'd assume you are if you're reading this) then I would urge you to pick up My Name is Not Wigs! by Angela Cobbin. It's not just a look at theatre but it provides a deep dive into what goes on behind the scenes, and a look at all the hard work which goes into learning and perfecting a craft.

The book is an enticing and enthralling journey through theatre, fashion and history as Angela goes from a hairdresser/manicurist in the 1960s, to a wig maker for massive West End and Broadway shows. What's lovely about this book is that it feels like chatting to an old friend. Angela's writing is witty and natural from page one, with the whole thing reading like a very entertaining and humourous train of thought.

Angela expertly makes us feel part of her backstage adventures without being excessive or including gossip to make things seem extra dramatic. As far as stagey memoirs go, this is up there with the most entertaining and certainly broaches an aspect which is not often written about. Angela's career is super interesting, with so many exciting moments combined with hard graft. The beautiful imagery included in the book adds another element and takes you through the various locations Angela mentions. I particularly loved the photo of Angela's work place Nathans at the start which was so evocative of the time- I felt like I could breathe in the photo and would absolutely love to watch a film set purely in that work room!

My Name is Not Wigs is a fascinatingly beautiful insight into what goes on behind the scenes at theatres as well as a celebration of a theatrical aspect which is so important to shows but often goes unsung. My Name is Not Wigs! is a perfect addition to a theatre fan's bookshelf and you'll never watch a show without paying special attention to the hair on the characters heads after reading it!

My Name is Not Wigs! is available for purchase now

*This book was sent to me for review purposes. All views and opinions are my own*

My Name is Not Wigs, Angela Cobbin (Book) | Review

Wednesday, 17 November 2021