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

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