Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Ben Platt. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Ben Platt. Sort by date Show all posts

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Ben Platt: Sing To Me Instead, Eventim Apollo | Review

Ben Platt: Sing To Me Instead
Eventim Apollo
Reviewed on Saturday 15th June 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 

In his premiere London concert, Ben Platt performed his Sing To Me Instead tour to thunderous applause, and proved that sublime vocal skill and authentic connection are the perfect combination for a magical night. 

Opening the evening was James TW. A British singer-songwriter, James instantly got the audience on his side through his earnest songs and impressive vocals which set the tone for the intimate evening ahead. His stripped down version of Hey Ya! was particularly entertaining, especially as the audience sang back in a wonderful moment of synchronicity. Personally the most moving song was When You Love Someone which was performed with absolute candor, and highlighted why James is succeeding in his career so far.

After a brief interval, headliner Ben Platt took to the stage to almighty applause as he sung out his first instantly recognisable phrase. From the opening moment we were transferred to a vibrant jam session which was energetic and magnetic throughout. The opening song Bad Habit paved the way for the signature vibrato, laid back vibe and insanely well performed concert we were about to experience. With a set list almost exclusively featuring songs from Ben's debut album, this was a wonderful chance to see and hear Ben outside the restraints of playing a character. Whilst yet to perform in a West End musical, it was clear from the many people sporting Dear Evan Hansen merchandise, that a lot of his fans are from his theatre work. What was wonderful about this concert, is that despite not featuring any musical theatre numbers, it felt just as emotive and transformative as sitting through a plot filled musical and will entertain both stageys and non-stageys alike. If the album is not enough to assure you of Platt's vocal prowess, seeing him live will absolutely seal the deal.

Ben animatedly chatted between songs as he found ways to open himself up and connect to the audience. Short anecdotes about each piece added a depth which seemed to resonate with everyone there. In a night of perfectly performed songs it's hard to label standouts, but Honest Man and Share Your Address were particular favourites as they radiated energy thanks to Ben and his outstanding band and backup singers. Throughout the concert Platt used his smooth riffs and a soaring range to share the various life lessons he's learned and seemed to truly be loving every minute of it. 

Aside from Ben's own music, he also put his spin on some other artists. Brandi Carlile's The Joke was goosebump inducing, whilst Stevie Wonder's Overjoyed transported us to a bopping bar and the melody of Elton Jonh's Take Me To The Pilot was emphasised and enthusiastically performed. 

The intimate feel of the Sing To Me Instead album was perfectly reflected in the stage layout which was dotted with cushions and family photos. Every beat of each song was matched faultlessly through the lighting design of the tour. Superbly theatrical, warm and awe-inspiring, it was truly the most well lit concert I've ever experienced and made the night not only aurally pleasing, but visually stunning.

Ben closed the night with Older and Run Away; two beautifully controlled pieces which solidified him as performer in his own right, outside of playing a character. As audience members, we were welcomed into Ben's world and he did not shy away from letting us in on his triumphs and flaws. This connection was truly magical and I have absolutely no doubt that Ben will continue to beguile and inspire audiences around the world. 

photo credit: Olivia Mitchell

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Flashdance (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Flashdance (UK Tour)
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 3rd October 2017 by Olivia Mitchell 

Based on the 1983 film (which I've never seen), Flashdance is the story of Alex Owens, a welder who dreams of being a dancer but has had no formal training. She plucks up the courage to apply to the prestigious Shipley Dance Academy and also meets a new love interest on the way who just so happens to be the boss' son. 

There are a number of side plots, like the mechanics facing jobs losses, Gloria being drawn into a seedy drug filled world and her boyfriend Jimmy attempting to make it as a comedian in New York but these feel a little unnecessary. They're obviously added in to pad out the show but I felt it would have flowed better without them as they're not explored enough to add much. 

But lets be honest, people don't go to Flashdance for the plot. They're there for the big money numbers and nostalgia for the classics they remember, something which the show certainly provides. The instantly recognisable 'Maniac', 'What a Feeling' and 'Gloria' have the audience excited and invested whilst most of the other songs are not particularly memorable. That's not to say that the vocal performances aren't brilliant though. Ben Adams gives a strong performance as the misguided, rich boy, Nick Hurley. His popstar vocals are not those typically heard in musical theatre but they work well in the show and his his rendition of 'Enough' was especially good.

Joanne Clifton is outstanding as Alex. Obviously she's known for her dance skills but seeing them life and with so much energy is spectacular to see on stage. Vocally she is also strong and her acting stood up well within the cast and she is a very solid lead. I was particularly impressed by Hollie-Ann Lowe who showed a number of sides to Gloria as well as some lovely vocal moments. A special mention must go to Colin Kiyani (Jimmy) who's voice is beautiful and I got major Ben Platt vibes during 'Where We Belong'.

Matt Cole's choreography is definitely the highlight of the production; tight and sleek throughout it provides some wow moments of impact. One thing I didn't like was the use of click tracks during some of the ensemble dance numbers such as 'I Love Rock and Roll'. I completely understand how demanding it is to do the energetic choreography at the same time as singing but it just felt a little obvious to me and could have been covered up more. However, the performances were still great.

This is definitely a feel good musical, whilst it does look at some darker themes, they are definitely not what you focus on. It's more of a drama with music but the energetic and sharp performances are enough to draw you in and will certainly leave you tapping your feet!

Flashdance runs at the New Wimbledon Theatre until October 7th

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Flashdance (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

Flashdance (UK Tour)
New Victoria Theatre 
Reviewed on Monday 19th February 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 

If you want some ab-inspiration then Flashdance is the show for you. I saw the show in Wimbledon back in October and wasn't the biggest fan, however, knowing what to expect I was pleasantly surprised. Everyone seems a lot more settled into their roles and there was much more of a flow throughout. 

Flashdance centres around the story of Alex, a welder who dreams of being a dancer and attending the distinguished Shipley Academy. On her journey she meets a dapper love interest who also happens to be the boss' son. Aside from this there are some other side plots such as Jimmy who wants to make it big as a comedian, his girlfriend Gloria being pulled into a seedy drug filled world at a rival club and the imminent job cuts for all the apprentices. With regards to these I feel the same as previously that they're not really explored enough to be of that much importance but I totally get that they have to be in there to pad out the show.

But Flashdance is all about the classic, big money numbers which are delivered with spades of energy and commitment. Hits such as 'Gloria', 'What A Feeling' and 'Manic' are instantly recognisable and work brilliantly to hype the audience up and draw them into the Flashdance world.

A lot of the other songs are a little unmemorable but they vigour they are performed with makes up for it. Joanne Clifton is exceptional as Alex. From Strictly fame she's of course known for her dance but seeing her on stage performing Matt Cole's choreography is extra special. She's magnetic and draws you in even when performing a group number. Her vocals are strong although at times I found her diction lacking but she is certainly cut out for the role and I can see why she has abs of steel from being that full out every night! As her rich-boy boyfriend, Ben Adams is equally as strong. Whilst his pop vocals are not commonplace in the musical theatre world, they are strong and fit with the character. The pair have a lovely chemistry and really draw you into the story.

I have to mention Colin Kiyani as Jimmy who again gave me Ben Platt vibrato vibes and Hollie-Ann Lowe who was versatile and vulnerable as his girlfriend, Gloria. Again, the two have a sweet chemistry. Sasha Latoya is vocally breathtaking and equally humourous whilst Sia Dauda and Demmileigh Foster (who is literally Victoria Hamilton-Barritt reincarnated) were full out in their high octane numbers as Kiki and Tess.

There were a few technical issues such as mics being too quiet and the irony wasn't missed when one of the girls' top wouldn't stay done up when singing about keeping her clothes on! Totally no ones fault though and a very small detail in a big production. I'm also not a big fan of megamixes at the end of shows but there's no denying that it got everyone up on their feet and in a good mood as they left the theatre. 

Flashdance isn't the most astounding piece of theatre but it's high energy from start to finish with some memorable songs that'll definitely get stuck in your head. For a fun night out that'll leave you smiling and in my case, dancing round the house, then be sure to pay a visit to this 80s classic on stage.

Flashdance runs at the New Victoria Theatre until February 24th before continuing it's UK Tour.

Sunday, 3 May 2020

The Return of the Movie Musical

During the Golden Age of Hollywood, movie musicals were abundant and arguably the most popular genre. However, with the move towards pop culture in the 1960s, their popularity dwindled and gave way to a more rebellious style and tone, which meant the all-singing, all-dancing, wholesome stories fell to the side.

Since then, aside from animated films, there have been a handful of live action musicals, with a few big hits such as Hairspray, Chicago and Mamma Mia!, but these have been largely hard to come by and a rare feature at the cinema. However, it seems that things are changing and we are in the midst of musicals coming back into the mainstream!

In some ways, the huge success of La La Land in 2016, a film which combined Old Hollywood with contemporary vibes, marked the return of movie musicals, with A Star is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman following in its footsteps and taking the box offices by storm. Disney's live action adaptations have also proved massive hits with Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King making huge profits. Of course there's also been the occasional flop... Cats.... (which I actually enjoyed) but on the whole, each release has highlighted the demand and appreciation for musical theatre.  

It seems that Hollywood are finally taking note of the power of theatre people and are giving us the sweet, sweet, high quality films we deserve. There are a whole host of movie musicals in the works which are hugely exciting. Some that I'm most looking forward to are:

In The Heights: This is my all time favourite musical and I just can't wait for the summer vibes, incredible music and general wonder of Heights to be played out on the big screen. The film was originally set for release next month but thanks to Miss Rona it's been pushed back to June 2021.

Everybody's Talking About Jamie: This brilliantly British musical is set for release in October and is sure to thrill as it tells the real-life story of Jamie New, the 17 year old drag queen who wants to go against the norm and be true to himself. We'll also get the chance to see wonderful Max Harwood take on the lead role which will be a real treat.

West Side Story: In what's sure to be another 'Star is Born' performance, Rachel Zegler will be starring as Maria in this Stephen Spielberg adaptation. The production photos that have been released so far look amazing and I cannot wait to see this sumptuous film.

The Prom: I saw this show on Broadway so it'll be wonderful and interesting to see a film version. I think this will transfer brilliantly; plus, Meryl Streep is set to star in it so it's already a win in my eyes.

Matilda: The original Matilda film is a complete classic that will always be a heartwarming treat and the musical evokes the same magical and wondrous vibes. Tim Minchin's music is so clever and will no doubt get us all tapping our feet in the cinema!

Merrily We Roll Along: Ben Platt. Beanie Feldstein. Filmed over 20 years. Okay so this isn't going to be out in the near future but I just can't wait to eventually see this movie. The whole concept sounds so exciting and the cast are absolutely stellar.

As well as these there are more live action adaptations in the works as well as a number of current Broadway musicals being transferred from stage to screen. These include Dear Evan Hansen, Tick, Tick... Boom! and Come From Away. All in all, it seems that we can expect a whole lot more musicals in the mainstream and I cannot wait! What upcoming movie musical are you excited to see?

Post by Olivia Mitchell

Friday, 17 August 2018

Spring Awakening, Stockwell Playhouse | Review

Spring Awakening
Stockwell Playhouse
Reviewed on Thursday 16th August 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 

I would hazard a guess that there aren't many musical theatre fans of my age that didn't go through a Spring Awakening phase. For me it went a little like this: watched the Glee pilot episode, became obsessed with Lea Michele, watched everything related to her entire career, found the bootleg of Spring Awakening, watched said bootleg obsessively, downloaded the cast recording, sung Mama Who Bore Me on an endless loop and never looked back. For someone who went through the phase hard, it's surprising that  despite a number of revivals in the past few years, I'd never seen an actual production of the show so when the opportunity arose to see the British Theatre Academy's (BTA) production, I couldn't resist.

The show follows a group of German teens as they find themselves and their sexuality and discover how tough growing up really is. The BTA have done an absolutely outstanding job of bringing this Tony Award winning show to life in the confined space of the Stockwell Playhouse. For a production that is only running for three days, it's truly impeccable how well staged, polished and rounded it is.

In the lead roles of Wendla and Melchior we have Charlotte Coe and Max Harwood who give truthful performances, both individually and in unison. Charlotte brings Wendla's childlike innocence to life whilst Max as the 'educated' Melchior portrays a perfect combination of knowledge and youthfulness, that's especially effective throughout the arc of his story. With Ben Platt-esque subtle riffs and fantastically subtle acting choices, it's hard to take your eyes off Max and I'm certain he has a bright acting career ahead of him.

As Moritz, James Knudsen is exceptional. His nervous energy and frenzied eyes are perfect for the character who is struggling with school, family and sexuality. Ginnie Thompson is great as Ilse, providing an almost angelic vibe which is especially effective towards the end.

This truly is an ensemble show and what's so special is that the cast seem to have genuinely created a community feel in a very short space of time. The way they move as a whole and in waves is remarkable to watch and creates a constant sense of movement and discovery. Mention must go to Dafydd Lansley as Georg/Rupert who draws the eye throughout ad he commits fully to his role with his nuanced twitches and movements throughout. James Dodd and James Heward as Ernst and Hanschen also give wonderfully subtle performances that make the characters feel real and easily relatable for anyone facing the same struggles.

Matt Nicholson's choreography is minimalistic but effective throughout. The dance in The Dark I Know Well is especially moving and well performed. Dean Johnson has done a wonderful job of directing Spring Awakening so it has a perfect balance of humour and sadness and enough subtlety to be emotive without being over dramatic. The vocals in this production are all you could wish for, Jordan Li-Smith has done a brilliant job alongside the five-piece band who accompany the action with faultless music.

With tears still filling my eyes, I left the Stockwell Playhouse feeling moved, inspired and overjoyed at the talent of this amazing production. Whether you're a Spring Awakening fan or just someone who's curious about the show, I'd throughly recommend seeing this production.

Spring Awakening runs at the Stockwell Playhouse until August 18th

photo credit: Eliza Wilmot

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

In Conversation With... Oliver Ormson | The Addams Family | Interview

Oliver Ormson is currently playing the role of Lucas in the first ever UK Tour of The Addams Family. He was kind enough to chat all things Addams, career and Harry Potter with me...

Have you always wanted to be a performer or did you have a different dream when you were younger?

I think when I was really young I wasn’t too bothered, I think the first ever thing I wanted to be when I was really young was a policeman. But I was interested in football from a young age cause of my dad so probably a footballer really… But my mum was interested in amateur dramatics so I went that way when I was older. About the age of 16/17 I decided I wanted to be an actor.

Can you explain a little about The Addams Family and how your character Lucas fits into it?

The Addams Family is the classic everyone knows but it’s ten years on and in this story Wednesday (Carrie Hope Fletcher) is all grown up and she’s fallen in love with an American boy from a normal background and I’m that American boy! 

So the Addams invite the Bieneke's round for dinner because Wednesday’s got a little secret and it’s a secret she’s kept from her parents. So the main premise is inviting a ‘normal’ family into the Addams family mansion where there’s all sort of ghouls and ghosts going on. 

Lucas Beineke is that all-American boy but he likes the darkness and he’s intrigued by it. He’s come from a normal family and the first time he meets Wednesday she shoots a pigeon with an arrow and it lands by his feet in central park and he just falls in love with her straight away cause she’s so different from the background he grew up with.

So Lucas looks all clean cut but he does have a hint of the darkness as well!

Are you anything like Lucas and what drew you to the role?

It was more the project that drew me in. It’s the first time it’s been done in the UK by a professional company. It’s very rare these days that you get the opportunity to create your own role. So I am the first professional Lucas in the UK arnd Ireland so it’s really wow because I get to create and make things which doesn’t happen a lot. Especially on a tour which has been done time and time again; they tell you where to stay on a straight line but I had the chance to play with it which was amazing.

Probably the thing that I’d say that is the Oliver Ormson in Lucas is that I’ve tried to make him a bit  dorky. Just a bit silly in that embarrassing phase where you go round to your partner’s house for the first time as a teenager and you’re sort of tripping over your words cause you’re trying to impress so it’s that sort of dorkiness. He just reacts to situations and doesn’t really think about it; he’s trying to be cool so he’s a bit dorky!

Who else besides yourself would you like to see play Lucas?

Oh wow, that’s really hard! I think it would have to be, and I know it’s cliched cause he’s massive at the moment, but it’d have to be Ben Platt. You know, he’s a fellow Hufflepuff as well! He tweeted saying that Evan Hansen is a Hufflepuff and I tweeted saying so is Lucas Beineke so I think we have the same sort of taste. I think he has that character cause he’s done it everyday like that twerpiness and he would sing it like an absolute dream! Unfortunately he’d probably be much better than me but as long as I’m gone and out the picture he can happily have it! 

You’ll have to switch and be Evan while he’s Lucas! 

Yes! Please make it happen, I’ll get you tickets to the opening night if you can make it happen!

Who in the show would you say is most like their character?

I would say Cameron Blakely who plays Gomez Addams cause he is crazy. He’s full of voices and full of character and he has a little daughter himself, a beautiful little daughter who’s three or four and you can see he has that protective side that Gomez has in the show over Wednesday. But he’s also that embarrassing dad so I’d definitely go with Cameron as Gomez.

If you were one of the ancestors, what would your crazy cause of death be?

This is really cool… erm maybe something silly when I was drunk or something? Yeah something silly like falling in a lake and my ancestors prop would be a can of lager or a pint!

What is your favourite thing to do when you’re not on stage?

This sounds quite cliched but I like to keep fit cause you never know when this jobs gonna end. I do a lot of dancing, not so much in this show but I’ve danced in other shows so I try and keep that up. I don’t wanna  relax too much to think I just have to sing and act cause the next job you might wanna do could have a a tap number in it or something like that. 

Yeah just try and keep fit really, go to the gym and I’m quite a boyish boy so watch Netflix or football or play games like video games so very cliched unfortunately!

I know you’re a big Harry Potter fan, so if you could bring anyone or anything from the Potter world into our, what or who would you bring?

I would just like a wand. You know, just the elder wand would be fine, the casual elder wand! That’s what I’d bring because I was thinking about the invisibility cloak and stuff but I think after a while that might get a bit boring!

And if you have the wand you can get other stuff with it!

Exactly, like with the wand you can do crazy spells!

Well that’s a lovely segue as my next question is: what show would you wish to do if you had a magic wand?!

As I mentioned I love Dear Evan Hansen but I’ve always wanted to play Fiyero in Wicked. I watched it and thought it was really magical and cool and people always say to me “you could play Fiyero, you can do that!” so if I actually do it I can shut those people up… in a nice way 

If you could go back to any era, when would you go to any why?

I love the 80s. I was born in the 80’s, well only just by like 2 months in ’89 so I always claim that I’m an 80s child but to properly go and experience it and to actually live in that time I'd love. And I’ll see my mum and dad in their 20s which would be so weird!

Finally, what is your number one piece of advice for an aspiring performer?

There’s this amazing Bryan Cranston philosophy and he says to just act, just get yourself out there and act. Even if it’s just a local drama group, just hone your skills. Even if you’re doing an amateur production of Fiddler on the Roof you’re gonna learn things from that, you’re gonna be with people that have maybe done professional work before. So I’d say just act and be proactive and productive cause then you learn.

As professional actors we have stories of how we once did am dram and how that helped. So everyone starts somewhere. I think some people think that you come out of college and you go straight into the West End and all of a sudden you’re just a professional actor but you learn a lot of things before that. So just be creative and play and try things out, you’ll always learn things.

Do that and make sure it’s what you want to do and then pursue college or drama school which is an important route in my opinion but you can still do it without that. So go and learn, go and be proactive and just hone you’re skills.

Thank you so much to Oliver for taking the time to chat to me. The Addams Family runs at the New Victoria Theatre until the 30th September before continuing on it's tour.

Interview by Olivia Mitchell, Editor

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Mythic, Charing Cross Theatre | Review

Charing Cross Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 10th October 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 

I have to start this review by saying that I need a Mythic cast recording right this moment! The entire show is super catchy and you can bet that if/when a recording is released, it's all I will be listening to. 

Mythic is a 90 minute, humourous, dynamic and all round brilliant show which looks at the Greek Gods in a way they've not been seen before. In this reinvention, we follow Young Persephone who is trying to find herself and her talent, whilst her mother (and Mother Earth herself) Demeter, is struggling to let her little girl grow and flourish in the way she allows her plants to.

Marcus Stevens and Oran Eldor's upbeat pop/rock score is catchy beyond belief, and features song after song that will keep you entertained and on your toes. From the moment the show opens the tone is set: we are in for a 90 minute comedic show that's fully self-aware and able to subtly look at some deeper subjects.

There's no denying that this show is cheesy but that's what makes it so great; from the use of props (shrubs which are tossed around the stage) to the joke filled lyrics, Mythic manages to balance humour and integrity well. The show could easily become a mess but instead it is sleek, and emphasises its cliches to make them thoroughly entertaining rather than draining.

The re-imagined Olympia certainly feels like party central, with the music creating the perfect soundtrack for a night out. The variations in moods are also achieved well, with highly uplifting numbers, as well as darker numbers and moving ballads. For the entirety of the show, Mythic manages to remain well-connected to the myths, whilst making the entire thing feel fresh and contemporary. 

The characters are highly stereotypical, with a sleazy father (Zeus), a daughter who feels trapped (Persephone), a typical bad-boy (Hades), an overprotective mother (Demeter) and an attention-deprived daughter (Aphrodite). However, they are more than they appear on the surface and are all well-rounded enough to make us really root for them and become invested in their struggles throughout the 90 minutes.

Mythic's five principles do a wonderful job of motoring the story along whilst providing well thought out performances. Daniella Bowen is suitably hippie and genuine as protective mother, Demeter. Her performance of What Mothers Have To Do shows her power as a performer and the whole role really showcases her versatility. As her daughter Persephone, Georgie Westall is a strong female lead; perfectly embodying the headstrong aspect of the character, without making her unlikable. Vocally she is super strong, with Irreversible providing a stand out moment and showing that Georgie is sure to be a name on the London theatre scene for the foreseeable future. 

Michael Mather does a brilliant job as the leather clad bad-boy Hades. Again showing versatility through his portrayal which is both fiery and vulnerable. His killer voice and great stage presence make Michael perfect for the role and his great chemistry with Georgie make them a perfect pair to play out this crazy love story.

Genevieve McCarthy is part Regina George, part Karen Smith in her portrayal of the wannabe daddy's girl, Aphrodite. Alongside Tim Oxbrow as Zeus, the father who's focussed on power rather than his daughter (well, one of them), there is great comedic timing and the duo work well together; especially towards the end when the dynamics change. The ensemble are supremely strong, supplying us with killer vocals and witty one liners throughout. Mentions go to Eloise Davies and Ben Welch who catch the eye in their various roles and, to the fantastic diction of the overall ensemble. For a show that is almost entirely sung through, we do not miss a word due to the fantastically sharp delivery from everyone.

Everything in this show works in precise union, with Lee Newby's costumes and sets not only matching the world of the God's but also highlighting and literally being highlighted by Jamie Platt's lighting design which is precise and not at all overbearing. Sarah O'Gleby has done a fabulous job with choreography and direction and whole piece just feels like a step in the right direction for theatre in the West End. For a godlike way to spend 90 minutes, don't look any further than the Charing Cross Theatre and Mythic.

Mythic runs at the Charing Cross theatre until 24th November

photo credit: Marc Brenner