Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Cedric Neal. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Cedric Neal. 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, 24 July 2019

The View Upstairs, Soho Theatre | Review


The View Upstairs 
Soho Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 23rd July by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

Whilst victories in the LGBTQ+ community are rising, and social attitudes and actions are, for the most part, much more positive, there's still much to fight for, as Max Vernon's musical highlights.

In its European premiere at the Soho Theatre, The View Upstairs cleverly creates a conversation between the past and present by visiting the UpStairs Lounge, a New Orleans gay bar which was the subject of an arson attack in 1973 which killed 32 people. The tragic story is one which has often been wiped out from history and was even minimised by news outlets at the time, so it's an honour to see it brought to life so thoughtfully. 

The story follows Wes, the 2019 "influencer" and fashion designer who is buying the dilapidated bar in the modern day. His estate agent leaves, and in a somewhat mystical, drug-filled flurry of curtains, he is transported back to the bar as it was on the day of the fire. Who we are then introduced to are the various people, decked out in bell bottoms, who find solace and friendship in the safe space the UpStairs provides. Wes' eyes are gradually opened to he struggles of being gay in the 70s and he questions how he leads his life in the modern day. 

Wes is a smartphone-addicted go-getter who often veers into a caricature of a Gen Y person, but is  still intensely entertaining and relatable. As a whole the book features a lot of stereotypes which are not always believable enough, but there are hilarious one-liners throughout, as well as many thought-provoking moments. 


What the script lacks is made up for in spades by the utterly phenomenal cast. Tyrone Huntley is effervescent in his performance and provides vocals which need to be heard; Huntley also manages to create a fantastic balance between impudence and vulnerability, which really makes the audience root for him. The chemistry between the entire cast is second to none, with Wes and Patrick (Andy Mientus) providing especially well thought out interactions. Mientus draws the eye thanks to his incredibly subtle but highly calculated movements which make him seem as though he isn't acting at all.

The uniformly thrilling cast bring vocals that will cause involuntary whoops and goosebumps in equal measure. Among a team of stars, Carly Mercedes Dyer and Cedric Neal stand out because of their powerhouse voices which ring out with sincerity as well as power. Victoria Hamilton-Barritt is magnetic as the caring, religious mother Inez; whilst Garry Lee provides vocals and sass and her drag queen son Freddy. John Partridge and Declan Bennett are well rounded and striking in their performances and Joseph Prouse and Derek Hagen give memorable, if brief performances. This is a fantastic ensemble piece which has momentum and catchy tunes, but more importantly, heart.

Fabian Aloise and Ruthie Stevens's choreography is slick and feels part of the characters own movements. Lee Newby's set is basic but evocative as is Nic Farman's lighting which expertly matches the moods of the show, although at times felt just a bit too dark.

Jonathan O'Boyle has directed a moving production which feels like an homage to those fighting for gay rights in the past, those fighting now and those who are yet to realise they need to fight. 

photo credit: Darren Bell

Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Kinky Boots the Musical in Concert, Theatre Royal Drury Lane | Review


Kinky Boots the Musical in Concert
Theatre Royal Drury Lane 
Reviewed on Monday 8th August 2022 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

After the success of last week's Chess in Concert, the Theatre Royal Drury Lane have once again opened their doors, this time for concert versions of the acclaimed Kinky Boots, starring an all-star cast. When deciding on musicals to transform into concert editions, Kinky Boots may not be the most obvious choice but the pop score lends itself wonderfully to the setting and really strips everything back to highlight the heartwarming and empowering messages which the show gives out in spades. Plus, the LMTO orchestra, conducted by Freddie Tapner help to showcase all the best parts of Cyndi Lauper's musical score.

Returning to the concert scene after his star turn as Freddie in Chess is Joel Harper-Jackson who once again shows off his vocal chops and wonderfully dynamic acting. As Charlie Price, the son who inherits his father's failing shoe factory, Joel is utterly endearing. He embodies the role and you can physically see his transformation from an unsure man to a strong, sure of himself leader. 

As his co-star, Cedric Neal is vocal perfection as Lola/Simon. His portrayal of Lola feels deeply thought through, with some extremely poignant moments; hopefully we'll get another chance to see him shine in the role in the future.

In one of the most wonderfully witty stage performances, Courtney Bowman is outstanding as Lauren. The comedic role is given extra oomph and feels completely fresh under Courtney's command. Other standouts include Kayleigh McKnight and Nikki Bentley who give stellar vocal moments. This is a really solid cast who have done a great job of putting on such a well rounded production in such a short time.

Whilst billed as a concert, there is some staging and choreography throughout and under Omar F. Okai's direction there's a great balance between subtlety and grand moments which really elevate the concert. Ben Cracknell's lighting is a star in its own right, providing a visual treat which is all things bold and absolutely brilliantly backs up the onstage action.

This is a fantastic showcase of the great cast as well as the heartwarming story that works surprisingly well in concert form. I can only imagine how great this ensemble would be in a fully staged production with all the glitz and glam the show deserves.

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

Monday, 23 November 2020

The Digi Creative release Theatrical Coffee Table Book


The Digi Creative release Dear Audience, a theatrical coffee table book filled with over 140 pages showcasing the Arts industry. With exclusive imagery, personalised letters to the Audiences, and more, this book is a celebration of Theatre and everyone who works in it.  

Featuring Lucie Jones, Carrie Hope Fletcher, Cedric Neal, Lambert Jackson Productions,  Layton Williams, Alice Fearn, Nicole Raquel Dennis, Rachel Tucker, Carl Man, Paul Taylor-Mills, Sejal Keshwala, Frances Ruffelle and so many more. 

15% of profits will be donated to Applause For Thought a triple award-winning organisation that facilitates lower-cost Mental Health; support, talks, accredited courses, and bespoke Mental Health and Well-being Consultancy for all those working within the Arts and Entertainment Industry.


Digi Creative co-founder, Sophie Ross says: “We hope that this coffee table book will bring joy in a time when the Arts industry needs to be celebrated the most. Theatre is made up of so many people, (this being just a small percentage) and it’s important to showcase that at every given opportunity. I’m so proud of Danny and I for creating something that is an homage to this year and something we can look back on in years to come. Super grateful for everyone who gave up their time to be involved and can’t wait to share the book with everyone.”

 

Digi Creative co-founder, Danny Kaan says: I’ve always wanted to make a coffee table book but making it in 2020 feels even more special. The number of people that were willing to be involved was overwhelming and shows how supportive this industry is and how passionate we all are for the Arts. Combining Photography and my love for this industry has been a joy and I’ve honestly had the best time. Seeing so many faces in a time where human contact has been so limited has been heartwarming and wonderful”.

 

Pre-order the book here: www.dearaudiencebook.com (Christmas guarantee)

General on-sale Wednesday 25th November 10am (second batch delivery)

Pricing £35 with worldwide shipping available

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Back To The Future To Release Original Cast Recording


Happy Back To The Future Day!

Masterworks Broadway is delighted to announce that in early Summer 2021, it will release the Original Cast Recording of Back To The Future The Musical.

The musical is scheduled to open in early Summer 2021 at the Adelphi Theatre in London’s West End and features new music by multi-Grammy winners Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard alongside classic songs from the movie.

As a special treat for audiences eager to connect with Back to the Future and to the exciting musical adventure awaiting them, Back to the Future Day on 21st October 2020 sees the release of the single ‘Back in Time’ featuring Olly Dobson.

Mark Cavell, President of Sony Masterworks notes: “I am thrilled beyond all measure that Sony Music Masterworks will be bringing you the fantastic music from this great show, featuring a host of new songs from the combined talents of Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard together with firm favourites from the movie”.

Behind this eagerly-anticipated stage show are Producer Colin Ingram (Ghost – The Musical) and Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, the creators of the Back To The Future film trilogy. The show moves to the West End following an out-of-town opening in March 2020 at the Manchester Opera House where it was enthusiastically received by critics and public alike. Roger Bart and Olly Dobson will reprise the roles of ‘Dr Emmett Brown’ and ‘Marty McFly’ respectively. Also returning are Hugh Coles as ‘George McFly’, Rosanna Hyland as ‘Lorraine Baines’, Cedric Neal as ‘Goldie Wilson’, Aidan Cutler as ‘Biff Tannen’ and Courtney-Mae Briggs as ‘Jennifer Parker’.

Based on the Universal Pictures/Amblin Entertainment film, the musical has a book by Bob Gale and new music and lyrics by Emmy and Grammy Award-winning Alan Silvestri and six-time Grammy Award-winning Glen Ballard, with additional songs from the film including The Power of Love and Johnny B. Goode.

Back To The Future The Musical is directed by Tony Award-winning director John Rando (Urinetown, On The Town), alongside the multi Tony and Olivier Award-winning design team of Tim Hatley (set and costume design), lighting design by Tim Lutkin, lighting consultant Hugh Vanstone, Gareth Owen (sound) and Finn Ross (video), with choreography by Chris Bailey, musical supervision and arrangements by Nick Finlow and Illusions by Chris Fisher. Orchestrations are by Ethan Popp and Bryan Crook, with dance arrangements by David Chase. Casting is by David Grindrod Associates.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

A Christmas Carol (LMTO), Lyceum Theatre | Review


A Christmas Carol (LMTO) 
Lyceum Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 10th December 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★★

The London Musical Theatre Orchestra are fast becoming a staple part of my Christmas tradition, with their glorious performances of A Christmas Carol really bringing the joy and festivity of the season to life, and of course, providing a wonderful night of top quality musical theatre.

Based on the classic novel by Charles Dickens and with music by Alan Menken and Lynn Ahrens and a book by Mike Ockrent, A Christmas Carol tells the tale of Ebeneezer Scrooge as he's visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future and is forced to evaluate the way he lives his life. 

Under the expert hand of Freddie Tapner the LMTO bring out all the best parts of this beautifully virtuosic score. Alan Menken's music brings a Disney-esque vibe to the story which actually broaches some dark subjects such as homelessness and poverty, and manages to evoke a whole range of emotions. 


Griff Rhys Jones brings the miserable but endearing Scrooge to life with a wonderful and fresh portrayal. His performance is supremely entertaining and he manages to enthral, even in this semi-staged concert production.

As the hilarious Mr and Mrs Fezziwig (among other characters) Nicolas Colicos and Rosemary Ashe have the audience in the palms of their hands whilst they give supremely humourous and vocally powerful performances. 

The vocal delights on offer in this concert are second to none, with Cedric Neal providing smooth riffs and a delicate but powerful tone that's to die for and Jeremy Secomb bringing the ultimate scrooge to life in a menacing but humourous rendition of Link By Link, in which he shows off his booming voice.  David Hunter is charming as Bob Cratchit alongside the fantastic Caroline Sheen as his wife and Jon Tarcy gives a memorable performance as Young Scrooge.


I'd like to be visited by the three ghosts just to be serenaded by them. Miriam-Teak Lee is sass embodied as the brings the Ghost of Christmas Past to life. Her vocals are super strong and she really brings magic to the stage with her performance. Lucie Jones' voice continually astounds; her clear as can be vocals and stellar diction bring Emily and The Blind Old Hag to the forefront of the show and equally, as the ghost of Christmas Future who never utters a word, Lucie still magnetises the audience and gives a subtle performance that you can't be drawn away from.

The young cast are great, as are the LMTO Chorus who are perhaps the strongest chorus at an LMTO concert yet. Completely in sync throughout their humourous numbers and close harmony pieces, they ground the piece and bring a magnificent Christmas choral feel to the show.

The true festive kindness was shown when two young girls in front of us beamed from start to finish and shared a single sweet between them during the final song. Cheer and love enveloped the theatre throughout this magically festive, and brilliantly performed evening. Get yourself to the Lyceum Theatre next Monday for a jubilant night of theatre. 

A Christmas Carol is on at the Lyceum theatre on Monday 17th December at 4pm and 7.30pm

photo credit: Nick Rutter

Friday, 11 March 2022

Back to the Future Announces Extension and Cast Recording

Due to overwhelming demand, lead producer Colin Ingram together with Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, the creators of the Back To The Future film trilogy, are delighted to announce that Back To The Future The Musical’s performances at the Adelphi Theatre in London’s West End will extend to 23 October 2022. Tickets on sale now. The critically acclaimed Olivier Award-nominated and WhatsOnStage Award-winning Best New Musical had its opening night in London on Monday 13 September 2021.  

 

The much anticipated Original Cast Recording released on Sony Music’s Masterworks Broadway label is out today, exactly two years since the world premiere opening night performance of the musical at Manchester Opera House, featuring the new music by multi-Grammy Award-winners Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard alongside classic songs from the movie including The Power of Love and Johnny B. Goode.  

 

Last month, Back To The Future The Musical won four WhatsOnStage Awards, including the coveted award for Best New Musical. Other awards included Best Supporting Performer in a Male Identifying Role in a Musical for Hugh Coles, Best Lighting for Tim Lutkin and Best Sound for Gareth Owen. This week, the musical received seven Olivier Award nominations, making it the most nominated new musical this year, including Best New Musical, Best Actor in a Musical for Olly Dobson, Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical for Hugh Coles and Best Original Score or New Orchestrations for Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard; Orchestrations: Ethan Popp and Bryan Crook.

 

Producer Colin Ingram said, “I’m so delighted to announce the release of our fantastic cast album today, which has been produced by multi-Grammy Award-winners Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard together with Nick Finlow in partnership with Sony Music’s Masterworks Broadway label.  As we break box office records at the Adelphi Theatre and celebrate 7 Olivier nominations along with winning Best New Musical at the WhatsOnStage Awards, I look forward to announcing other productions throughout the world soon.”

 

Back To The Future The Musical stars Roger Bart and Olly Dobson as ‘Dr Emmett Brown’ and ‘Marty McFly’ respectively, with Hugh Coles as ‘George McFly’, Rosanna Hyland as ‘Lorraine Baines’, Cedric Neal as ‘Goldie Wilson’, Aidan Cutler as ‘Biff Tannen’, Courtney-Mae Briggs as ‘Jennifer Parker’, Will Haswell as ‘Dave McFly’, Emma Lloyd as ‘Linda McFly’ and Mark Oxtoby as ‘Strickland’.  Also in the cast are Rhianne Alleyne, Amy Barker, Matthew Barrow, Joshua Clemetson, Jamal Kane Crawford, Morgan Gregory, Sam Harvey, Ryan Heenan, Cameron McAllister, Alessia McDermott, Laura Mullowney, Nic Myers, Shane O’Riordan, Katharine Pearson, Justin Thomas, Oliver Roll, Melissa Rose, Charlotte Scott and Tavio Wright. 

 

Based on the Universal Pictures/Amblin Entertainment film, Back To The Future The Musical has a book by Bob Gale and new music and lyrics by Emmy and Grammy Award-winning Alan Silvestri and six-time Grammy Award-winning Glen Ballard, with additional songs from the film including The Power of Love and Johnny B. Goode

 

Marty McFly is a rock ‘n’ roll teenager who is accidentally transported back to 1955 in a time-travelling DeLorean invented by his friend, Dr Emmett Brown.  But before he can return to 1985, Marty must make sure his high school-aged parents fall in love in order to save his own existence.

 

Back To The Future The Musical is directed by Tony Award-winning director John Rando (UrinetownOn The Town), alongside the multi Tony and Olivier Award-winning design team of Tim Hatley (set and costume design), Tim Lutkin (lighting), Hugh Vanstone (lighting consultant), Gareth Owen (sound) and Finn Ross (video), with choreography by Chris Bailey, musical supervision and arrangements by Nick Finlow and Illusions by Chris Fisher. Orchestrations are by Ethan Popp and Bryan Crook, with dance arrangements by David Chase. Casting is by David Grindrod Associates.

 

Back to the Future the movie was released in 1985, starring Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly and Christopher Lloyd as Dr Emmett Brown. The film grossed $360.6 million (£279 million) at the box office worldwide and the total box office for all three films in the Back to the Future franchise was $936.6 million (over $1.8 billion in today’s money).

 

Back To The Future The Musical is produced by Colin Ingram, Donovan Mannato, Frankel/Viertel/Baruch/Routh Group, Hunter Arnold, Gavin Kalin Productions, Playing Field, Crush Music, CJ ENM, Teresa Tsai, Ivy Herman/Hallee Adelman, Robert L. Hutt, Universal Theatrical Group, Ricardo Marques, Augury, Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale, in association with Kimberly Magarro, Stage Entertainment, Glass Half Full Productions/ Neil Gooding Productions.