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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Catherine Martin. Sort by date Show all posts

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Strictly Ballroom, Piccadilly Theatre | Review


Strictly Ballroom 
Piccadilly Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 24th April 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

Strictly Ballroom is a chilled out, glittering celebration of dance and a refreshing show to add to the list of ones to cheer us up in these dreary times. 

Based on  Baz Luhrman's 1992 film, Strictly Ballroom tells the story of Scott Hastings, a young Australian man who’s been dancing and winning awards for almost his entire life. He longs to break free of what moves are ‘expected’ and 'strictly ballroom' and pave his own way in the dance world. Enter Fran, just Fran, the overlooked dancer who wants a life of love, passion and to dance with Scott. When Scott starts improvising at a dance competition again, his partner  Liz leaves him and he and Fran become secret dance partners.

This show is cheesy beyond belief but it’s also extremely self-aware. The over exaggeration and somewhat cringy humour works because it doesn’t try to be anything other than fun. The characters are larger than life but work to create an embellished version of life as a competitive dancer.


This show is of course, all about the dance and Drew McOnie has done an outstanding job choreographing his West End debut. The moves are sharp, sleek and a real joy to watch. When attending this show, I wasn't aware that it's not a typical musical. In fact, I would describe it more as a play with songs. Will Young takes on the role of Wally Strand who acts as the compere, narrator and singer. His voice is beautiful and he does a fabulous job of performing Marius De Vries' arrangements of hit songs such as Dancing With Myself, Love is in The Air, I Wanna Dance with Somebody and more. This set up doesn't take away from the show at all but it would be nice to see the rest of the company getting a chance to show off their vocals. However, it's the dance that's the star of the show. Taking  the place of big vocal numbers, it's stunning to see such colourful, glitzy routines on the stage. The act 2 close of the Paso Doble and Habañera is especially powerful, with Fernando Mira's flamenco routine wowing the audience and proving how emotive dance is.

There’s a running joke that the west end isn’t the west end unless a Strallen sister is in a show. Seeing Zizi Strallen perform you can understand how their talent has made them a crucial part of the London theatre scene. Zizi’s performance is dorky and heartfelt and her character arc throughout is beautiful to watch. It’s truly joyous to watch her perform and you can't help but keep your eyes on her every second she's on stage. I am definitely going to have to bring my apricot face scrub out of the cupboard if it'll make me look like Zizi! Ms Strallen's footwork is also sublime and she works in perfect synchronicity with Jonny Labey who is is dazzling on stage and clearly the perfect choice for the role. The pair of actors are a winning combo.


Anna Francolini is suitably hilarious as Scott's mother who lives vicariously through him- her comedic timing is outstanding. Eve Polycarpou is sweet and endearing as Fran's Abeula and her latin vocals really stand out amongst the rousing music. The ensemble of Strictly Ballroom are great, all with clear personalities in their dancing duos. Gabriela Garcia and Liam Marcellino really stand out as Vanessa and Wayne. The entire cast work brilliantly together to create a polished show.

It's a lovely feature to have the band live on stage and it's amazing how they become part of the action rather than being overshadowing at all. Catherine Martin's costumes are as sparkly and over the top as you could want and Soutra Gilmour's set is simplistic but emotive. This production is well thought out and it's clear to see how much care and love has gone into it from the entire cast, crew and company.

It's time to escape the grey for the colour filled dance hall of Strictly BallroomBogo Pogo your way to the Piccadilly theatre for a spectacularly sparkly experience, and a fun, chilled out night that'll make you want to get out of your seat and dance. 

Strictly Ballroom runs at the Piccadilly Theatre until October 20th 2018

photo credit: Johan Persson

Monday, 23 May 2022

Over 2000 Attend Mamma Mia! Open Auditions


With queues circling the Aldwych, over 2,000 young persons attended today’s open auditions for the global smash hit musical Mamma Mia! at London’s Novello Theatre.  Video here.

Mamma Mia! recently celebrated its 23rd birthday in London and extended its booking period to Saturday 4 March 2023.

The London cast currently stars Mazz Murray as Donna, Josie Benson as Tanya, Gemma Goggin as Rosie, Richard Trinder as Sam, Neil Moors as Harry, Stephen Beckett as Bill, Emma Mullen as Sophie, Jack Danson as Sky, Tegan Bannister as Ali, Sophie Matthew as Lisa, Michael Nelson as Eddie and Alexandros Beshonges as Pepper, with Natalie Langston playing the role of Donna at certain performances.

Also in the cast are Natasha Agnew, Chloe Ames, Gemma Atkins, Chloe-Jo Byrnes, Nicole Carlisle, Angus Good, Natalie Jayne Hall, Lauren Hampton, James Humpleman, Morgan Jackson, Frankie Jones, Grace Moorhouse, Jodie Nolan, Dan O’Brien, George Olney, Michael Storrs, Kyle Turner, Michael Tyler, Simon Willmont and Alex Woodward.  

Since premiering in London in 1999, the irresistible feelgood musical has captured the hearts of millions around the globe.  The sunny, funny tale of a mother, a daughter and three possible dads on a Greek island idyll, all unfolding to the magic of ABBA’s timeless pop masterpieces, has now been seen live on stage by 65 million people across the world and turned into two record-breaking movies – MAMMA MIA! The Movie and MAMMA MIA! Here We Go Again.

To date, Mamma Mia! has been seen in 50 productions in 16 different languages grossing more than $4 billion at the box office.  In 2011, it became the first Western musical ever to be staged in Mandarin in the People’s Republic of China.   

Mamma Mia! originally opened in London at the Prince Edward Theatre on 6 April 1999, before transferring to the Prince of Wales Theatre in 2004, and then to the Novello Theatre in 2012.  The London production of Mamma Mia! has been seen by over 10 million people, played over 9,000 performances and has broken box office records in all three of its London homes.  

Produced by Judy Craymer, Mamma Mia! The Movie became the highest grossing live action musical film of all time upon its release in 2008.  A second film, MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN, opened in July 2018 and is the most successful live musical movie sequel of all time.

With music & lyrics by Benny Andersson & Björn Ulvaeus, Mamma Mia! is written by Catherine Johnson, directed by Phyllida Lloyd and choreographed by Anthony Van Laast. The production is designed by Mark Thompson, with lighting design by Howard Harrison, sound design by Andrew Bruce & Bobby Aitken, and musical supervision, additional material & arrangements by Martin Koch.

Mamma Mia! is produced by Judy Craymer, Richard East & Björn Ulvaeus for Littlestar in association with Universal.