Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Cassidy Janson. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Cassidy Janson. Sort by date Show all posts

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Monday Night at the Apollo, Apollo Theatre | Review



Monday Night at the Apollo
Apollo Theatre 
Reviewed on Monday 24th May by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

Since my last trip to the theatre in December, I have been dreaming of starting my week enveloped in the stagey comfort of musical theatre and I am oh so happy that last night my dream came true. Created by Wild Mountain Productions and presented by Greg Barnett, a spectacular lineup were brought to the stage of the Apollo to take us through a night of vocal gymnastics, diversity, humour and just a bunch of fun in the first instalment of Monday Night at the Apollo.

You couldn't have gotten a much better bunch than the first five performers in the series: Aimie Atkinson, Cassidy Janson, Lucie Jones, Cedric Neal and Julian Ovenden. Every artist gave powerhouse performances, as well as bouncing off one another and highlighting the fantastic camaraderie and community that comes along with the world of theatre.

After a lockdown of creating content online, forming a girl band and most recently performing on This Morning, seeing Aimie Atkinson back on stage was a real treat. Don't Rain On My Parade felt very apt as we all hold our breath hoping theatres can remain open and Aimie's performance was top notch. Sparkles galore, being a complete professional during technical difficulties and serving sassy vocals were the best reminders of why Aimie is quickly becoming West End royalty.

If you search "riff legend", it should really show a whole host of pictures and videos of Cedric Neal who is the definition of control. His smooth, pin-sharp vocals are passionate and utterly mesmerising. It's also incredibly impressive to see and hear how versatile he is as a performer, with So You Wanted to see the Wizard and Hold Me in Your Heart showcasing contrasting vibes but both being completely absorbing and joys to watch.

As always, Lucie Jones provided not only the most stunningly dexterous, ice clear and faultless vocals, but also showed off her excellent humour and stage presence which create a perfect performance. At this point I think Lucie just needs to star in everything and sing everything! 

I also wouldn't complain if Julian Ovenden started singing everything, including phone books, instruction manuals, weather reports etc... His absolute dream of a voice carried so well throughout the night and I found myself in complete awe of the the technical ability he displays in every note. He really is a masterclass in the importance of support, diction and classical technique. All of his songs were honestly just joyous to hear.

Completing the line up, recent Olivier Award winner Cassidy Janson brought her usual magnetism and soulful vocals to the Apollo as she performed a variety of songs, with Nobody's on Nobody's Side proving a real highlight.

The evening absolutely wouldn't have been the musical success it was without the stellar band who both backed the singers and also shed light on the importance of live music. The synchronicity and musicality was evident throughout and it really seemed like everyone was thrilled to be back on stage. The simplistic stage adorned by rugs and bathed in warm light worked brilliantly to create a welcoming atmosphere.

Also streaming online via Thespie the future Monday Night at the Apollo events are sure to be complete treats and the perfect way to bring back the stageyness we've all been missing.

photo credit: Danny Kaan

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Chess, London Coliseum | Review


Chess
London Coliseum
Reviewed on Tuesday 1st May 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★

Benny and Björn’s musical Chess is somewhat of a hidden gem in my mind. There are a number of ‘famous’ songs but other than that the show flies fairly under the radar in the grand scheme of musical theatre. Since seeing the 2008 concert version at the Albert Hall, I have been somewhat obsessively championing this musical so was thrilled to hear it was returning to the West End in the glorious London Coliseum. 

The production values of this show are outstanding. Matt Kinley's set design is minimalistic but striking, with simple set movements creating a whole change in mood and atmosphere. Patrick Woodroffe's lighting is suitably 80s-music-video-chic and Terry Scruby's video design and use of screens either side of the stage adds a unique element as well as a way for those further back in the massive Coliseum to feel a part of the action. However, the screens at times do feel overwhelming  and draw away from the drama rather than highlighting it. All technical aspects of the show work wonderfully though and tie the story and music together to create a cohesive mood. It's the cast which unfortunately lets the show down.

Michael Ball as the Russian, Anatoly, is vocally great but it feels as though he's coasting through and just singing the music note by note rather than bringing out the passion within it. Act 2 is certainly more convincing but there's a lack of compassion with the character and overall his performance is unfortunately underwhelming. 


Tim Howar growls his way through the show and at times is overly aggressive, even for the character. But his rendition of Pity the Child #2 is absolutely, breathtakingly brilliant and worth the ticket price alone. Cedric Neal as The Arbiter is shamefully underused as his smooth, riff-filled vocals are a highlight of the show. He's a sleek, expressive performer who deserves more stage time.

On the female side, the two leads work well together in their duet of I Know Him So Well and their love/resentment towards Anatoly is well acted but one is clearly better than the other. Alexandra Burke is strong at times but her varying accent and tendency to sing the songs as though she's performing in a pop concert take away from the heart-breaking story of Svetlana. Someone Else's Story falls flat for me but He is a Man, He is a Child was a look into what an emotive role this could be. I look forward to hopefully visiting the show again to see how Alexandra settles into the role and makes it her own. 

Cassidy Janson delivers a touching performance, especially during the finale and really works with what she's been given. Some moments seem as though Cassidy is toning down her vocals to fit with others which is a shame, but again something which will hopefully be remedied in future performances.

The ensemble are a tight knit, well-oiled machine who do a wonderful job of transporting us to various locations and do justice to the fantastically diverse score which includes operatic, rock, musical theatre styles and more. 


Despite the star names attached with Chess, it's really the music that steals the show. Benny and Björn's virtuosic score soars and stoops in the most stunning, moving way. The outstanding orchestra are faultless- you’d be hard pressed to hear the music played better than by the glorious musicians in the vast space of the Coliseum. 

There have been a number of cuts and changes to the show, most of which are welcome, however I particularly missed Commie Newspapers which sets up the political conflict between Anatoly and Freddie and provides a clear plot line for those unfamiliar with the show to follow. The character of Walter DeCourcey of Global Television is also noticeably absent which leads to the final confrontation between him and Florence never happening. The dialogue between the two where it’s revealed Florence’s father may not be alive after all and she decides she’s done with Chess, and games in life is particularly moving and just proves that truly Nobody is on Nobody’s Side. It’s a shame to see this cut and for me the new ending falls short. 

Some of the lyric changes also feel a little unnecessary. The change from “haven’t you noticed we are a protagonist short?” to “haven’t you noticed we are a lead short?” for example seems as though those adapting felt the audiences would be too silly to understand the original text. Of course this is a small thing and those unfamiliar with the show wouldn't even notice but as a fan of Chess, it feels like there have been needless changes just for the sake of it. 

Despite this review being somewhat negative, I genuinely did enjoy Chess. Perhaps it's because the first and only other production I've seen was of such a high standard that this current reincarnation falls flat. If you've never seen Chess before then I think you'll love it. I urge you to see the show regardless of its faults as it's got a beautiful score and a moving story that you can't help but fall in love with. 

Chess runs at the London Coliseum until June 2nd.

photo credit: Brinkhoff Mögenberg

Thursday, 21 November 2019

&Juliet, Shaftesbury Theatre | Review


&Juliet
Shaftesbury Theatre 
Reviewed on Wednesday 20th November 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★

What if Juliet didn't die? And what if the story of reclaiming her life was told through the music of Max Martin, aka the writer and producer of some of the most iconic pop music of the last two decades. Well that's &Juliet, a wild, sparkling, energetic piece of musical theatre which has burst onto the scene at the Shaftesbury Theatre.

When the cast come in with 'Larger Than Life' and 'I Want It That Way', there's certainly a moment of unsettled bafflement, but soon the numbers become part of the story and you forget Shakespeare wasn't really bopping along to 90s pop songs whilst writing his iconic tragedies. That being said, there are times where the songs feel added in for the sake of being added and don't flow particularly well but most of the time it doesn't matter because they are performed with a vigour that engages. 

David West Read's book is smartly self-aware and knows exactly when to hold back and acknowledge the pop-culture craziness that's occurring. The meta-theatrical plot works well, with us first meeting William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway as they bicker about the ending of Will's latest play, Romeo and Juliet.  Anne persuades her husband to let her do a rewrite and from here we are taken to Verona where Juliet begins her journey of self discovery and goes on an adventure to Paris with her besties. Full of puns, panto lines and pageantry, the show does teeter on the edge of being too childish at times but David's book and Max's songs marry up well with Luke Sheppard's direction to create a musical which doesn't take itself or its content too seriously. 

As the leading lady Miriam-Teak Lee brings sass in spades. Her vocals are mostly strong and she really does embody the confidence that this reimagined Juliet is full of; but whether due to the lack of character writing or limited acting in the pop-concert atmosphere, Juliet is just a bit distant. I personally didn't warm to her as a character and whilst I appreciate all this modern lady stands for, there is a distinct lack of sincerity in how she's written. However, this is not so true when Juliet and her best friend May are together. It's in these brief moments that compassion flies and we see a more realistic character in front of us. Arun Blair-Mangat is sweet and enticing as May, who discovers love and friendship. 


Oliver Tompsett is the boy-band Shakespeare of dreams, who hilariously bigs himself up and brings an instant charm to the stage. As his steely, compassionate and fizzy wife, Cassidy Janson gives a fantastic performance. Her stage presence is magnetic and I found myself wanting a spin-off purely focussed on (the only) Anne Hathaway. Jordan Luke Gage is suitably self-absorbed from the moment of his bombastic entrance and gives a great vocal performance as Romeo.

The ensemble of players are top notch, adding interest and motion throughout. Jocasta Almgill gives a stand out performance and Lady Capulet, with Dillon Scott-Lewis, Grace Mouat and Antoine Murray-Straughan really shining from the ensemble.

The whole show is exemplary of production value and there's no denying that the energy on stage could power all the theatres on Shaftesbury Avenue. Bill Sherman's lighting is concert goals; Soutra Gilmour's set is a dreamland and Andrzej Goulding's projections bring each scene to life creatively and effectively. The female empowerment, LGBT representation and romantic moments are all enjoyable and important to be seen on stage, but a significant lack of character development means you feel little empathy for the characters and at the end just don't really care. 

This is definitely a show which will be enjoyed after a prosecco or two and it doesn't try to be anything else than a fun night out. If you want theatrical integrity and a moving storyline then this isn't for you, but if you want an explicitly queer, feminist musical that's funny, entertaining and scored by songs that you grew up listening then go see it. If music be the food of love, &Juliet provides a feast that will satisfy anyone looking for a bit of fun.

Monday, 21 February 2022

New Cast Announced for & Juliet


Tom Francis is to play Romeo in & Juliet, as the award-winning show today announces new cast. Tom, who starred in the recent acclaimed production of Rent, will join the company next month, in the joyous musical which won 3 Olivier Awards and 6 Whatsonstage Awards.

Julius D’Silva will also join the cast as amorous Frenchman Lance, opposite Keala Settle as Nurse. Keala - internationally renowned for her starring role in the global smash hit movie The Greatest Showman in which she performed the iconic song “This Is Me” – will be making her West End debut.

They will all join the production from Tuesday 29 March 2022 at the Shaftesbury Theatre, where the show recently extended its booking period through until Saturday 24 September 2022.

Miriam-Teak Lee – who was awarded the Olivier Award for Best Actress in 2020 for her performance as Juliet – leads a cast including Cassidy Janson, who also won an Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Anne Hathaway, Oliver Tompsett as William Shakespeare, Tim Mahendran as Francois and Alex Thomas-Smith as May.

David Bedella continues his Olivier Award-winning performance as Lance until Saturday 26 March, as does Jordan Luke Gage as Romeo and Melanie La Barrie as Nurse.

The new ensemble includes Ebony Clarke, Bessy Ewa, Collette Guitart, Cassandra Lee, Nathan Louis-Fernand, Zara MacIntosh, Carl Man, Christian Maynard, Rachel Moran, Owen Saward, Aaron Shales, Benjamin Terry and Suki Wong, who join Ivan De Freitas, Rhian Duncan, Alex Tranter, Sophie Usher and Rhys Wilkinson who continue with the show.

Romeo who?! With her bags packed and ready to escape Verona, Juliet recovers from heartbreak in the best way possible… by dancing the night away with her best friends by her side! But when the sparkle fades, the confetti falls and reality catches up, it’s clear that Juliet needs to face her past in order to find her future. Can she reclaim a story that has been written in the stars? Is there really life after Romeo… or could he be worth one more try?

Come along for the ride as the original Anne Hathaway takes on her husband William Shakespeare to remix his legendary play. As comedy meets tragedy, will Juliet get the ending she truly deserves? And most importantly, can their love survive this battle of wills?

Fabulously fresh and riotously funny, & Juliet explodes with dozens of pop anthems by legendary songwriter Max Martin, including … Baby One More Time, Since U Been Gone, Roar, It’s My Life, I Want It That Way, and Can’t Stop the Feeling! The show also includes the brand new song One More Try, written especially for the show by Max.

Brought to life by an award-winning creative team, this vibrant, colourful and timely musical is directed by Luke Sheppard (In the Heights, Rent and What’s New Pussycat?) with a story by David West Read (Netflix’s Schitt’s Creek), electrifying choreography from Jennifer Weber and stunning set design from Soutra Gilmour.

Max Martin and Tim Headington present & Juliet, which is produced by Martin Dodd, Tim Headington, Max Martin, Jenny Petersson and Theresa Steele Page.

Thursday, 10 February 2022

Full Main Stage Line Up Announced for the 2022 Gaiety Musical Theatre Festival


The Gaiety Musical Theatre Festival is pleased to announce the full main stage line up for this year’s festival at Ragley Hall, Warwickshire.
 
Britain’s Got Talent Winners Collabro, West End and Broadway star John Owen-Jones (Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera)direct from London’s West End Sophie Evans (Wicked, Wizard of Oz) and musical theatre star Lauren Samuels (Bend It Like Beckham, Grease).
 
They will join fellow headliners Kerry Ellis (We Will Rock You, Wicked, Oliver!), Lee Mead (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Wicked, Legally Blonde the Musical), Cassidy Janson (&Juliet, Beautiful: The Carol King Musical, Avenue Q) and Marisha Wallace (Dreamgirls, Hairspray, Waitress) at Gaiety Musical Theatre Festival on Sunday 1st May 2022.
 
Gaiety Musical Theatre Festival, which will take place in the beautiful grounds of Ragley Hall in Warwickshire and is set to become a new highlight of the theatrical calendar.
 
This brand-new musical theatre event is a must-see for any theatre fan, with ten hours of spectacular entertainment across several stages, family fun at the fairground, and a profusion of excellent food, drink and delights in the festival village.
 
The London Musical Theatre Orchestra will accompany the star-studded main stage line-up.
 
Further artists to be announced.
 

Monday, 23 November 2020

Thespie Present Streamed Concert Series with Dozens of UK Stage Stars


Theatre discovery platform Thespie today announces the Reunited Series, bringing together more than two dozen of the UK’s top musical theatre artists for a series of filmed concerts premiering throughout December. Developed by Aimie Atkinson, Thespie’s Creative Producer and the Olivier nominated star of Pretty Woman and SIX), each concert presents ensemble music performances (filmed in COVID-secure London venues), and ranges from musical theatre hits, to pop music, to favourite Christmas songs. The program of each concert has been developed by the artists involved and will also include intimate interview footage.

 

The concerts are designed to inspire global theatre audiences, by bringing the UK’s best musical theatre talent directly to their homes this holiday season. The artists collectively represent over two and a half centuries of experience on UK stages; their recent credits include The Prince of Egypt, Pretty Woman, SIX, & Juliet, Come From Away, Wicked, The Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables, and Kinky Boots.

 

Thespie Creative Producer Aimie Atkinson commented, “We’re thrilled to be bringing you our first shows—high-energy, joyful concerts with great production values and astonishing vocal performances. I am so in awe of the level of talent working with us to make these December shows incredibly special. You are in for a treat.”

 

The series begins with the premiere of Unlimited: The Songs of Stephen Schwartz on 3 Dec at 8pm GMT, a celebration of the famed composer’s works including WickedPippinGodspellChildren of Eden, and The Prince of Egypt, Schwartz’s newest musical. The nine artists in the concert (Nikki Bentley, Sophie Evans, Alice Fearn, Alexia Khadime, Melanie La Barrie, Carl Man, Dianne Pilkington, Liam Tamne, Oliver Tompsett) all starred in Wicked during its first 14 years in London, and two (Khadime, Tamne) are in the current cast of The Prince of Egypt. Schwartz himself will make a special appearance in the program, with further details to be announced.

 

Oops!... I Streamed It Again... premieres 10 Dec at 8pm GMT and is a high-energy concert of favourite classic pop, rock, and musical theatre songs. The concert is performed by five artists who met as part of the original company of the UK musical & Juliet: Jordan Luke Gage, Tim Mahendran, Grace Mouat, Oliver Tompsett, and 2020 Olivier Award Winner Cassidy Janson.

 

Next up is the return of the artists from The Reunion, with an empowering concert of songs by famous girl bands through the decades: Girl Power premieres 17 Dec at 8pm GMT. Expect the tight harmonies and true sisterhood vibes that these artists have come to be known for since they first met as the original West End queens of the musical SIXGirl Power stars Aimie Atkinson, Alexia McIntosh, Grace Mouat, Millie O’Connell, Natalie Paris, Maiya Quansah-Breed and Jarneia Richard-Noel.

 

Finally, the fourth instalment of the Reunited Series arrives on the 21 Dec at 8pm GMT. All I Want For Christmas Is Theatre is a love letter to the tradition of seeing theatre with those you love during the holiday season. More than three dozen top UK theatre artists are lending their talents to this special concert, featuring classic Christmas songs of all styles. Performers from UnlimitedOops!... I Streamed It Again, and Girl Power will all be featured, alongside more than a dozen more, to be announced in the coming weeks.

 

Streaming tickets for a single concert are £12.50 ($15) if booked early (by 30 Nov), or £15 ($18) if purchased in December. (10 other currencies available.) Purchasers of the first three concerts will have 72 hours to watch, and purchasers of All I Want For Christmas Is Theatre will have 7 days to watch with their households. An Extended-Access bundle (£37.50/$45 in Nov; £45/$54 in Dec) gives purchasers access to all four concerts from their premiere through 31 December, and provides a 25% discount over booking the concerts separately. All concerts and the bundle can also be purchased after their premiere, with the same window of access (72 hours, 7 days, or through 31 Dec.)

 

The Reunited Series and Thespie’s original content initiative support its work to foster the connection between artists and audiences on its theatre discovery platform. Thespie’s first original production, The Reunion, was one of the bestselling paid theatre streaming events in the UK, selling tickets to 3600 households across 65 countries; and employed 35 live entertainment workers who received over £30k in income from the event.

 

Thespie founder Tyler Stoops said, “Watching our first concert, The Reunion, revived my spirits, and hundreds of viewers told us how meaningful it was, how inspired they were, and how much fun they had. So I’m thrilled we can deliver four more concerts for audiences at home around the world, just in time for Christmas. I think all of us are ready for some joy and excitement.

 

Thespie offers listings for theatre streaming, theatre music & audio, theatre eBooks, educational resources, live London theatre, theatre news, and more. Audiences can use Thespie to stream the Reunited Series and more than 400 other shows, or to discover over 1000 more shows available on other popular platforms and services, such as Disney+, Amazon Prime, and Audible.