Posts with the label west end
Showing posts with label west end. Show all posts
Showing posts with label west end. Show all posts

Wednesday, 1 February 2023

My Son's a Queer (But what can you do?), Ambassadors Theatre | Review


My Son's a Queer (But what can you do?)
Ambassadors Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 1st February 2023 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★★

Let’s start off by saying that this show is the most joyous and heartfelt 75 minutes I’ve maybe ever experienced in the theatre. Rob Madge has taken the highs and lows of their childhood to create a show which celebrates individuality in the most spectacularly jubilant way.


During lockdown, Rob became an online sensation after sharing their childhood home videos of the shows they’d put on with the help of family, and now these performances have been brought to stage in a flawless way. The show is a manifesto on being authentically who you are, and really couldn't do a better job at highlighting the joy and freedom that the Arts can bring. 


There are a number of incredibly poignant parts to the show, especially when Rob discusses the harsh way they were treated growing up by both pupils and teachers. They showcase how incredible their family have been and put forth such a strong message of acceptance. Whilst not everyone may have such a positive experience, the show has the lovely message that found family can be even better than those related by blood and if we all support one another, the world will be a much brighter place.


The great writing (Pippa Cleary), outstanding comedic timing, brilliant direction from Luke Sheppard and insurmountable talent of Rob Madge mean there truly aren’t enough adjectives to describe how moving and entertaining My Son’s a Queer is. Not only is it narratively successful, it also includes some wonderful vocal moments, as well as a spectacular array of costumes by Ryan Dawson Laight and the whole package is faultless; every element just works.


Rob is a natural storyteller and entertainer who has the audience in the palm of their hand from the get go. They'll have your cheeks hurting from laughing and your nose running from crying and it’s all worth it to experience this gem in the crown of brilliant British theatre. My Son's a Queer (But what can you do?) is everything theatre should be.

My Son's a Queer (But what can you do?), Ambassadors Theatre | Review

Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Cast for Cake- The Marie Antoinette Playlist Announced


The brand-new musical, come gig, come ballet is from some of the most exciting figures in modern British Theatre, with an Olivier Award winning creative team including Olivier Winner’s Drew McOnie(In the Heights; Jesus Chris Superstar) and Morgan Lloyd Malcolm (Emilia - The Globe) 
 
Cake will be venturing on a UK tour from 18 March 2023, starting at the MAST Mayflower Studios, Southampton.  
 
Casting will include, fresh from her magical run as Mary Poppins on the West End, Zizi Strallen (she/her) stars as Marie Antoinette, with RenĂ©e Lamb (she/her), Catherine of Aragon from the original cast of SIX, starring as Jeanne.
 
The cast is completed by B Terry (they/them) as Nicole, Travis Ross (he/him) as Cardinal with Ope Sowande (he/him) and Megan Bryony Gibbs (she/her) as the ensemble and Lukas Hunt (he/him) and Amie Hibbert (she/her) as swings. 
 
Cake combines music with 18th century France to retell a story that sparked a revolution. When Marie Antoinette married King Louis, her reputation was already tarnished by gossip. But when she is implicated in a crime to defraud the crown jewellers of a diamond necklace, it is not just her reputation at stake, but the monarchy and France itself.

Originally commissioned by Paul Taylor-Mills (Heathers & In the Heights), Cake promises to re-define our expectations of what a musical can be.

Paul has said, “We are delighted to be partnering with 5 of the leading regional theatres to present a development production of this brilliant new show. I first commissioned this at The Other Palace five years ago and am delighted to be working with some of the best theatre makers in Drew McOnie, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, Tasha Taylor Johnson and Jack McManus. The show started life at our first MTFestUK and it’s great to see it come to production.”

Cake is written by Morgan Lloyd Malcom directed and choreographed by Drew McOnie with songs by Tasha Taylor Johnson and Jack McManus, casting by Will Burton CDG and based on an idea byPaul Taylor-Mills.

Cast for Cake- The Marie Antoinette Playlist Announced

Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Full cast announced for Winnie The Pooh The Musical

Rockefeller Productions, in partnership with ROYO and in association with Disney Theatrical Productions, are delighted to announce the full cast for Disney’s Winnie the Pooh.
 
The UK and Ireland premiere will begin performances at London’s Riverside Studios (Hammersmith) from 17 March, with an official opening on 26 March. The show will then tour the UK and Ireland until September 2023. Tickets for Riverside Studios and the UK & Ireland Tour are now on sale.
 
Sharing the role of Winnie the Pooh in London will be the previously announced Jake Bazel (who originated the role in New York) and Benjamin Durham (Young Frankenstein). Benjamin will play the title role on tour. The much-loved characters of Eeyore, Piglet, Rabbit, Owl, Kanga and Roo will be brought to life by an ensemble of performers, including  Laura Bacon (Britain’s Got Talent, Star Wars), Harry Boyd (The Play That Goes Wrong, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story), Alex Cardall (Evita, The Osmonds: A New Musical)Chloe Gentles (Mamma Mia!, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical), Lottie Grogan (Smurfs Save Spring: The Musical, The Lips for Puppets with Guys) and Robbie Noonan (Avenue Q UK Tour, Jack and the Beanstalk).
 
Deep in the Hundred Acre Wood, a new adventure is about to happen.  A.A. Milne’s beloved characters, Winnie the Pooh, Christopher Robin and their best friends Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, Rabbit and Owl (and Tigger too!), will all arrive on stage in a beautifully-crafted musical stage adaptation.
 
In a new story from the Hundred Acre Wood, this fresh stage adaptation is told with impressive life-size puppetry, exciting new stories and featuring characters that have played iconic roles in the lives of children for generations. Accompanying the modern narrative is an original score by Nate Edmondson, featuring some of the Grammy award-winning songs written by the Sherman Brothers for the original animated features, including Winnie the Pooh, The Blustery Day, The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers and Whoop-De-Dooper Bounce, plus A.A. Milne’s The More It Snows (featuring music by Carly Simon) and Sing Ho in a new arrangement.
 
Winnie the Pooh: The New Musical Adaptation is developed and presented by renowned family entertainment creator Jonathan Rockefeller (whose spectacular puppetry is omnipresent in the acclaimed productions of The Very Hungry Caterpillar ShowPaddington Gets in a Jam and Sesame Street the Musical).
 
Inspired by the beloved books by A. A. Milne and the classic Disney featurettes, the production was welcomed in New York in 2021, where it broke theatre box office records for the largest advance, with rave reviews where it was called “Enchanting!” (Time Out); “Winnie the Pooh: The New Musical Stage Adaptation is magical, sweet as honey, and full of humor. It's a wholesome, delightful, enchanting piece of theatre,” (BroadwayWorld); “A perfect reintroduction to live theater. It’s a captivating adventure with spectacular puppetry,” (Mommy Poppins); “Charming and whimsical stage show that Pooh surpasses every expectation I had for it,” (The Laughing Place); Winnie the Pooh is delightfully first-rate,” (Theatre Pizzazz); “Irresistible. ‘Winnie the Pooh’ is sweeter than honey,” (DC Metro Arts); “An hour of bountiful joy,” (New York Theatre Guide); “Mesmerizing and lifestyle puppets and original Sherman Brothers tunes, the beautiful new Winnie the Pooh musical is must-see,” (Theatrely); “The wonderful thing about musicals is that musicals are wonderful things. The New ‘Winnie the Pooh’ Musical Is Sweeter than Honey,” (Toy Insider).
 
 
Website: winniethepoohshow.co.uk
Facebook: @WinnieThePoohShowUK
Twitter: @WinnieShowUK
Instagram: @WinnieThePoohShowUK

Full cast announced for Winnie The Pooh The Musical

Friday, 27 January 2023

In Clay, The Vaults | Review


In Clay
The Vaults
Reviewed on Friday 27th January 2023 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

A sweet tale of a female artist, specifically a potter/clay creator, in 1930s France, In Clay follows our protagonist Marie-Berthe developing her love of creating as well as looking at a few of her relationships and ultimately, the way she strives for and eventually defines, success.


Rosalind Ford takes the helm of this one woman show and does so with glorious affect. Not only does Ford play Marie-Berthe, but also a number of side characters such as her best friend Henrietta and her teacher Jean-Charles, all of whom you truly feel have entered the stage. With the noise of next door's performance and the rattling trains overhead, your attention could easily wander but Rosalind does a stellar job of keeping you engaged throughout. Her vocals are also gorgeous and an absolute treat to listen to.


Aside from the performance, the star of this show is the lovely music that is typically and gloriously French. Jack Miles and Rebecca Simmonds's songs completely embody French-cafe, pre/post war vibes and are so fitting to the story, with an especially wonderful scat section that really mirrors the freedom of art. A couple of the songs feel abruptly/imperfectly ended and could do with a slight rework but overall they're very smooth and the clever lyrics are so witty and compelling.


It's also impressive that there's a live four-piece band on stage, a sight not regularly seen at the Vaults, but Matt Herbert on keyboard, Rhiannon Hopkins on bass, Daniel Kemshell on guitar and Auguste Janonyte on violin do a great job and add even more to the feeling of being in France in the throngs of the creative, artistic circles.

For a 60-minute show, Rebecca Simmonds' book is surprisingly detailed and sleek; telling Marie-Berthe's story in a pacey fashion that never loses momentum or lacks emotion. From love to the pain of loss, a whole spectrum of life is explored and there's a wonderful celebration of fragility and putting yourself back together after you fall. Grace Taylor's direction allows the story to be told in a way that still feels free and spacious given the confines of the Vaults and Sorcha Corcoran's set design adds visual interest as well as mirroring the emotional turmoil on display in the piece.


All in all In Clay is a short, sweet, well-moulded show that with a few more tweaks on the potters wheel could be perfect. A great opener to the 2023 Vault Festival, it will be a treat to see how this musical progresses.

In Clay, The Vaults | Review

Friday, 27 January 2023

Thursday, 19 January 2023

Allegiance, Charing Cross Theatre | Review


Allegiance
Charing Cross Theatre 
Reviewed on Wednesday 18th January 2023 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

The Charing Cross Theatre is one of the best venues for showcasing a variety of interesting musicals, and thankfully it’s currently playing house to George Takei’s brilliant show, Allegiance. Having last visited the venue to see From Here To Eternity, which chronicles the lead up to the Pearl Harbour attacks, this moving musical felt like a very fitting follow on.

Inspired by Takei's life, Allegiance tells the story of over 120,000 Japanese Americans who were thrown into internment camps following the attacks on Pearl Harbour in 1941. The musical is a timely one indeed and really highlights an awful part of history. A "legacy project" for Takei, it's clear that a lot of time and love went into making it as sweet as it is.

Now this is by no means a flawless musical but it is full of emotion and drama that keeps you invested throughout. Marc Acito, Jay Kuo and Lorenzo Thione have written a book which is multi layered, taking into account history, family drama, romance, humour and heartbreak, and is well paced with a good amount of build up and tension. At times it gets a little bit confusing but is continually an easy show to watch.

Kuo's music is not particularly memorable but has some lovely moments as you're watching. Given the subject matter it's surprisingly upbeat, and despite not having any ear-worms, it is suitably stirring and enjoyable to listen to. Group numbers are especially effective and there's also a nice mix of styles and vocal inflections. Andrew Hilton and Charlie Ingles' orchestrations highlight the intense emotions well.

It's always a treat to see how the Charing Cross theatre is transformed and Tara Overfield Wilkinson's staging is extremely well done.  The stage becomes a variety of settings, from a moving train to a battlefield and each setting feels completely realistic. The continual motion of the set pieces and the actors throughout makes the whole thing flow so seamlessly and it's very impressive how large the stage feels.

Cast wise this show has a uniformly strong group of performers who completely give themselves over to the story and create some splendidly magical moments. Earning applause when he enters the stage Takei is an endearing and commanding stage presence who brings different shades to the characters he plays and does a stellar job of taking us through the family saga. As Takei's younger self (Sam) Telly Leung brings such warmth and charm. It's a treat to see him on a London stage and especially to hear his wonderful voice fill the arches of Charing Cross. 

Megan Gardiner showcases equally beautiful vocals as the nurse for the camp and there are also excellent performances by Aynrand Ferrer and Masashi Fujimoto who both bring great depth to their characters. Ferrer's voice is particularly stunning as she performs her solo moments with impeccable clarity.

Whilst this is a show about the atrocities which happened in 1941, it's surprisingly uplifting and often celebrates love and community. There are some tear-jerking moments at the end but overall this is a really heart-warming piece of theatre that deserves to be seen.

photo credit: Danny Kaan

Allegiance, Charing Cross Theatre | Review

Thursday, 19 January 2023

Wednesday, 18 January 2023

Moulin Rouge! the Musical, Piccadilly Theatre | Review


Moulin Rouge the Musical 
The Piccadilly Theatre 
Reviewed on Tuesday 17th January 2023
★★★★

A tale of two halves, Moulin Rouge the Musical is both a spectacular spectacular and a chaotic conundrum. Based on the 2001 film of the same name, it tells the story of fated lovers Christian and Satine, who despite the hardships which surround them, just want to be free to love one another. This musical adaptation takes elements from the film but also puts an extreme jukebox spin on the whole thing.


The real issue with Moulin Rouge is the clunky, all over the place book, which, especially in act one, feels basic. Random lines of dialogue are interspersed with pop songs that come out of nowhere and elicit awkward laughter from the audience; and the show feels confused, as if it can’t decide whether to lean into the comedy or try to be a serious show. There are also a number of side character arcs woven in to further the plot, each of which feel too random and under-developed to really elevate the show in any way. The heart of the story is Christian and Satine love and it would be more effective if we only followed their story.


However, on the other side of the coin, the musical is a visual masterpiece which completely astounds. It's the epitome of razzle dazzle, and the set certainly the most spectacular in the West End right now. Derek McLane has created a sumptuous backdrop which has details hidden in every corner of the auditorium, from the elephant who towers over, to the mini Moulin Rouges embossed in the golden decadence of the facade. Paired with Catherine Zuber's divine costumes, you really couldn't ask for more in terms of aesthetics.

Also, after a pantomime-esque Act One, the musical really steps up a gear. In Act Two the stakes get higher, the performances get more intense and it really becomes the show you'd expect. As leading man Christian, Jamie Muscato is absolutely glorious, serving divine vocals throughout and also bringing a charming, comedic side to the role. Crazy Rolling is a superb stand out moment, as is El Tango de Roxanne, which includes both breathtakingly good vocals, and fantastic dancing by Amy Thornton and Elia Lo Tauro

Both Ben Richards and Matt Rixon as the Duke and Harold Zidler respectively, are good as the 'baddies' but do lack a darker level of menacing that would really add to their performances. As Satine, Melissa James has some great moments, especially her duet of Come What May, a moment where I felt things levelled up and I became much more invested in the story.

Perhaps the most effective part of the musical are the group numbers where the ensemble come together with upmost energy to perform Sonya Tayeh's abundant choreography. The opening Lady Marmalade number is particularly impressive and there's no denying how talented this cast are.

Overall, a three star act one, a five star set, and a four star act two make this a distinctly middle of the ground show and there's definitely elements of style over substance, but when it's good, it's really good and worth seeing for the Act Two opening number alone.

Moulin Rouge! the Musical, Piccadilly Theatre | Review

Wednesday, 18 January 2023

Thursday, 12 January 2023

The Commitments (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review


The Commitments (Tour
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 11th January 2023 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★

35 years after the publication of Roddy Doyle's popular novel The Commitments, the stage adaptation is making its way round the UK and Ireland to bring soul to the masses. Set in Dublin in the mid 1980s, it tells the story of a group of working class friends and acquaintances who are trying to start a soul band. Featuring classic songs from the 50s and 60s the musicals has got some real toe tapping moments but doesn't strike the right chord throughout.

The musical score is a mile a minute, with the likes of Tina Turner, The Beatles and Aretha Franklin filling it out, and whilst the performances are great, the structure and use of musical numbers leaves something to be desired. There's no variety; the songs are either performed as a rehearsal or performance and just fill a gap every so often. Instead of adding anything to the story, they are shoehorned in, therefore making the whole thing feel a bit clunky and surface level. The performances themselves are excellent and as a concert you'd be more than happy with what's on offer, but as a theatrical piece it doesn't flow in a particularly cohesive or captivating way. 

That being said, the highly talented cast do a great job of working with what they've been given. Namely, Ian McIntosh who's vocals are outstanding as Deco. He gives an arena worthy performance and is a joy to watch. The show especially excels in its ensemble moments, when the band come together to really show what they're made of.  Ciara Mackey showcases some lovely vocals as Imelda, Stuart Reid is fabulous as Joey, Connor Litten has some fantastic musical solos and Ronnie Yorke is hilariously over the top as Mickah.

Also impressive is Tim Blazdell's set, which reminiscent of Billy Elliot, uses various levels and moving elements to transform into multiple venues such as the bar and Jimmy's home, allowing some motion throughout and providing visual entertainment. Equally, Jason Taylor's lighting is extremely effective, especially towards the closing of the show.

Throughout the show there are moments that are really special but they are purely musical. Unfortunately the inconsistent and sort of abrupt script makes it very hard to connect to the characters and their plight in any way.  The stakes are never high enough and there's a distinct lack of fluidity throughout any of the plot line. There's some semi-romantic moments and some lowkey drama but nothing to really sink your teeth into and after an abrupt ending that seemingly comes out of nowhere, the show closes with a long encore that is one of the most enjoyable parts and makes a strong case for this to be purely a concert musical without bothering with a plot or script.

All in all, whilst it may not be everyones full cup of tea, there's absolutely an audience for this style of show and overall The Commitments is a feel-good celebration of soul that has you clapping along and feeling good. The strong performances make it worth a watch and whilst you won't be emotionally invested, it’s a harmless, musical way to wile away a few hours.

photo credit: Ellie Kurttz

The Commitments (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Thursday, 12 January 2023

Wednesday, 11 January 2023

Six the Musical, Vaudeville Theatre | Review


Six the Musical
Vaudeville Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 10th January 2022 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★★

Entering the Vaudeville theatre last night there was a bustling energy, not just because everyone was excited to see Six but because the cast of the highly addictive tv show, the Traitors were in the audience. Murmurs of “traitor” and “faithful” filled the air and the buzz was certainly something, who knew we’d all be so starstruck!? However, once the curtain was drawn it was all eyes on the Queens and a glorious 75 minutes followed.


Going into a new year it’s great to see that Six the Musical is as vibrant and wonderful as ever. The current queens of the castle do an outstanding job of keeping the energy of the show fresh and truly engaging so that both first time audiences audiences and longtime Six fans can feel like they’re experiencing something special. 


The cast, made up of Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky, Baylie Carson, Claudia Kariuki, Dionne Ward-Anderson, Koko Basigara and Roxanne Couch are a complete group of powerhouses who give stellar solo performances as well as backing up and complementing each other brilliantly. The camaraderie on stage is clear to see and really adds to the overall message of empowerment and support which is at the heart of the show. Special mention must go to Baylie Carson who is an absolute dream to watch as they bring something completely fresh and charming to the role of Anne Boleyn; I cannot wait to see all their future theatrical endeavours (Fangirls UK please!)


Having been playing at the Vaudeville theatre since 2021 the show feels completely settled and has perfectly upgraded from its first long term home, the Arts, to now filling the space on the Strand. The bigger space allows more to witness to wonder of the musical but the clever, cosy set design means none of the intimacy is lost. Emma Bailey's design is the ideal backdrop for this concert style musical. The simplistic framework really allows the performances to shine but there are also some really clever elements such as the throne which rises up grandly. Paired with Tim Deiling's lighting, you really do get the fully visceral concert experience.


A Tudor tale like no other Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss' show continues to get better and better and there's no end in sight for its reign of brilliance. Six the Musical will have you bowing down to the queens and then on your feet to dance along with them- go see this show.


photo credit: Pamela Raith

Six the Musical, Vaudeville Theatre | Review

Wednesday, 11 January 2023