Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Charlie Stemp. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Charlie Stemp. Sort by date Show all posts

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Half a Sixpence, Noel Coward Theatre: Behind The Scenes

Half a Sixpence got the number 9 spot in my Top 10 Shows of 2016 and a glowing 4 star review back when I saw it on press night so I was extremely excited when I was invited to a special bloggers event to see it again.

The event was held at the Noel Coward Theatre for a number of bloggers, vloggers and stagey people. I saw some familiar faces as well as meeting some new people and it was a really lovely opportunity to spread the theatre love. We started off by having a talk from the charming, witty, supremely talented and just generally lovely Charlie Stemp who told us all about his audition process for the role of Arthur Kipps, the transfer from Chichester to London, his journey learning to play his banjo Babs and all about his new rockery!

After that we were taken up onto the stage where we were taught a section of the "Flash Bang Wallop" dance by dance captain, Jaye Juliette Elster. The section we learnt was only ten seconds long but we all had an absolute laugh prancing around pretending we were in the show. I for one will be using the choreography as my party trick from now on!

Once our little boogie was over, we went for another Q&A/chat with some more of the cast: Charlie Stemp, Emma Williams, Bethany Huckle, Sam O'Rourke and Jaye Juliette Elster. They are all such lovely warm people and it's evident from hearing them speak, how much they love the show and being a part of it. Particularly funny were the anecdotes of onstage mishaps such as when the revolves broke in Chichester and when the bike got stuck on stage in the finale and the cast had to cleverly force it off whilst still smiling and waving as if nothing was wrong! The cast are so warm and genuine and it was just lovely seeing them laughing and loving what they do and it certainly shows on stage with spades of enjoyment and energy flying around from start to finish.

We then left the cast to warm up for the show and made our way to the bar for some pre-show drinks and Instagram selfies (here's my stagey insta!) The show was wonderfully joyous and uplifting and even better than I remembered it. My views are pretty the same as before so I won't bore you with another review where I repeat but you can see my original one here. To sum up the show I would say that it's full of life, heart and love and provides a perfect treat to leave you feeling content and warm inside.

When the show was finished and we were all on a stagey high, we were given a backstage tour which was wonderful and a very exciting opportunity to see the props and sets close up. I filmed some clips of the stage and dressing room which will all be in my vlog which will be posted on: It was incredibly interesting to see everything close up and see how much work goes in backstage to  create such a flawless performance for the audiences night after night.

We all parted ways feeling like we could jump for joy and sing all the way home!

If you haven't seen Half a Sixpence already I really implore you to hop down to the Noel Coward Theatre and see it in all its glory! It's currently booking until 2 September 2017 with tickets available at

Friday, 18 November 2016

Half a Sixpence, Noel Coward Theatre | Review

Half A Sixpence is just what the West End needs

Half a Sixpence is an oh so British musical which really packs a punch. 

Half a Sixpence
Noel Coward Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday 17th
 November 2016 by Olivia Mitchell

Whilst this production, opening for the first time in 50 years, is technically described as a revival, I would say its more of a reinvention. With 80% new material including a new score by Stiles and Drewe and a new book by Julian Fellowes, the show is brought into the 21st century in a refreshing and exciting way.

We follow the story of Arthur Kipps who mysteriously inherits a large sum of money and suddenly finds himself flung into a world of garden parties and riches, a far cry from his childhood days in the countryside with his best girl Ann. Caught in between two worlds and two women, Arthur must decide whether he wants half a sixpence or a fortune.

The plot is somewhat simplistic and predictable which is beautiful but annoying at the same time. Of course simplicity is lovely because it makes it easy to follow and really puts the emphasis on the music and choreography but there were some moments which I would have liked to delve deeper into; such as the mysterious uncle, but overall its a sweet story full of joy and humour.

The set is very simple, with a revolving stage supplemented with decorative additions and projections throughout which work wonderfully to move seamlessly between the changing scenes of the show, from bar, to beach, to garden party and more! This simple staging allows Andrew Wright's choreography to be a focal point of the show. The energetic dances create absolute elation throughout and every fresh faced member of the 24 strong  cast put their all into every step, creating a truly mesmorising sight. Of course the show favourite "Flash, Bang, Wallop" was a standout, with a standing ovation and smattering of applause beginning as soon as the last note was sung.

The entire cast are sublime and completely faultless. Ian Bartholomew is hilarious as the larger than life Mr Chitterlow, bringing out some of the biggest laughs of the night, especially through "The Joy of the Theatre" which felt like a big wink to all us press members sat in the audience! Bethany Huckle is fabulous as the sweet but strong-minded Flo who has fabulous chemistry with each character she interacts with. Helen Walshingham is vulnerable, graceful and tiny bit malicious but Emma Williams manages to make us understand why she makes every decision through her clear and well thought out portrayal.

Obviously the ultimate stand out of the show is the exceptional Charlie Stemp who must have a Best Actor in a Musical award waiting for him in the near future. From the moment we witness his charming, boyish grin, we fall in love with Arthur Kipps. Charlie is a true triple threat star, and its a joy to see him shine on stage in moments of humour and love as well as more serious times. Charlie's voice is beautiful, his dancing is effortless and he is just charming. He makes each move quirky and charismatic and absolutely fantastic. Keep your eye on this man because he is going to be a star for a long time!

Half a Sixpence is exciting, infectious, joyful, glistening and a billion other things. Its most definitely a show you should go and see and a production worth far more than half a sixpence! Experience the joy of the theatre and book tickets for this show which is running at the Noel Coward theatre.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Mary Poppins, Prince Edward Theatre | Review

Mary Poppins
Prince Edward Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 5th November 2019 by Olivia Mitchell

Since she landed umbrella in hand, the mystical nanny Mary Poppins has been a much loved character. From the hit Disney film to a number of revivals and performances around the world, there's something universally adored about the feel-good story of the Banks family, so it's no surprise that the musical is once again gracing the West End. It's a musical full of sparkle, magic and wow factors but at times feels as though it's on just for the sake of being on.

In this musical, co-created by Cameron Mackintosh, with additional songs by Stiles and Drewe and a book by Julian Fellowes, the moral aspect of the story is strongly highlighted, as are the darker sides of the original book. The story of Mr Banks' redemption and the importance of making the correct moral choices for those around you remains ever relevant but much of the secondary plot feels somewhat dated and not relevant for a modern audience. Of course this isn't the making of a show, and with something like Mary Poppins it's mostly about the nostalgia and feel-good-factor but for a show that runs almost three hours long, some tweaks to make it more engaging wouldn't have gone amiss. 

However, this is a show about compassion and the cast do a joyous job of bringing the story to life with energy, wonder and colour. Thanks in part to Bob Crowley's sets and costumes which are structured, colourful and all around excellence. The house which opens like the pages of a pop-up book is magnificent each time it's seen; and the plain park which becomes a psychedelic garden of amusement is completely brilliant. Sparkly costumes and beautifully tailored coats adorn the stage and evoke the joy from both the book and film well.

Stiles and Drewe's songs are much darker and sharper than those we've grown up with, with 'Playing the Game' bringing toys to life as the stuff nightmares are made of. Elsewhere scenes are taken from book to stage effectively and interestingly. Overall the musical is a whole lot of sugar with a little bit of spice thrown in for good measure... just how Mary Poppins would like it I assume!

Richard Eyre has directed a show for adults and children which brims with surprise but at times lacks sufficient pace. However, the choreography by Matthew Bourne and Stephen Mear is sophisticated, sharp, witty and utterly first-rate. 'Step in Time' is a complete highlight as the stage comes to life with sweepers and leading man Charlie Stemp literally walks on the ceiling. 

Stemp's entire performance is a masterclass in stage presence. His continually fresh characterisation completely draws the audience in as he moves and speaks with a natural grace and charms everyone who witnesses him. Additionally his rapport with Strallen's Mary is genuine and engaging. Zizi Strallen makes the famous nanny her own as she floats around the stage with a whimsical but grounded air and takes on the leading role excellently. Elsewhere Amy Griffiths is touching and vocally excellent as Mrs Banks and the entire ensemble give top notch performances.

Yes, this show is lacking at times but much of the time it's a feast for the eyes and ears and is sure to be enjoyed by many so why not take a trip to see magical Mary float in on her brolly right in front of your eyes.

Mary Poppins is currently booking at the Prince Edward Theatre until 31st May 2020, tickets are available at

photo credit: Johan Persson

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Olivia's Top 10 Shows of 2016

Without repeats, I saw 59 different shows this year so compiling this list has been difficult to say the least! This has been a brilliant year for theatre and through this website I really feel that I've become a part of the theatre community. 2016 has seen some brilliant big budget shows as well as smaller fringe ones, many of which have thrilled me. This list is of the shows that stuck with me long after I'd seen them and that I feel are very resonant in our 2016 world. This will probably be a bit of a long post, I have a whole year to fit in after all, so grab yourself a cuppa and some biscuits and enjoy!

This list is in reverse order, cause we all need that extra bit of excitement in our lives.

One of Paul Taylor-Mills' incredible productions of 2016. The music was performed beautifully and the touching and heartbreaking story of conjoined twins Daisy and Violet was told sincerely and gracefully by Laura Pitt-Pulford and Louise Dearman.

Did anyone not like this show? All I heard were incredible reviews and rightly so. An exciting and refreshing revival of a much loved Classic which ticked all the boxes of a hit musical. Charlie Stemp is talent on another level. I'm sure we'll be hearing plenty more good things about the show and cast in 2017!

This was my first visit to The Union Theatre and wow was it a good first. I absolutely adored this show. I was completely unfamiliar with the music and was just blown away by it. The cast were sublime and the story telling was impeccable. I'm sure this would be a huge hit if more people got to see it. 

27 must have been one of the most hyped musicals of 2016 and I could certainly see why when I saw it. It's a musical like I've never seen before, so fresh and different to what's currently on the West End stages. The plot twist at the end had me physically breathless, a stunning piece of artistry.

This was another small show but it definitely packed more than a small punch. It was sweet, pink, sassy and sumptuous. One of those shows which really made you think and reflect on your life. Lauren Samuels gave a standout performance!

I saw this show alone so the minute I stepped out of the theatre I called my friend to fangirl about it like a mad woman. I was completely awestruck by the whole performance. It was moving, funny, relevant and thought-provoking. The use of songs was done smoothly and effectively and it was overall just an A* worthy production.

This was the perfect treat to see just before Christmas. Although the story is slightly dated and everything is a little over the top, it's a fantastic production full of sweetness, heartbreak and love. Scarlett Strallen's performance was absolutely impeccable and nothing short of perfection. With the amount of people I've told to see this, I wouldn't be surprised if it gets a West End transfer in the near future. 

I've grown up with Rent so finally seeing it on stage was a very special experience for me. Each cast member is fully immersed into their roles and the whole production is raw, gritty and believable. Philippa Stefani gives the performance of a superstar and had me in floods of tears. The production will continue to tour next year and I'll certainly be seeing it again so don't be surprised if it features in my top 10 of 2017 too!

The St James theatre was on fire this year! The Last Five Years is another one which I've wanted to see on stage for years. Jason Robert Brown's story is heart-warming and heart-breaking at the same time. It's always a joy to see Samantha Barks on stage and seeing her shine as Cathy was even more wonderful because of how incredibly she showed off her effortless belt and sincere acting. The wonderful mix of simplistic staging, the stellar duo of Barks and Bailey and Jason's beautiful music, rightfully earn The Last Five Years my number two spot!

1. Dreamgirls: Savoy Theatre

If you haven't heard about Dreamgirls' triumphant return to the West End then you must have been living in a cave. This was the 2nd to last show I saw and I couldn't be happier that I could end the year on such a fantastic note. This has got to be the theatrical spectacle of the year, the sets, costumes, choreography and cast are all exquisite and I cried a bucket load of happy tears, which I never do! Go see Dreamgirls in 2017, I guarantee you'll leave singing it's praises!

So there's my top 10 shows, of course there's other brilliant ones and I'm sure your list varies but this has been a brilliant year for theatre and I can't wait to see what 2017 brings *cough* Hamilton *cough* 

But wait, where's that other show that I've been posting and tweeting about like crazy and have seen 32 times!? I haven't forgotten it, I just wanted to give it a special mention because its such a special show. So my "The Show Which Changed My Life: 2016" award goes to IN THE HEIGHTS at the Kings Cross Theatre! I've done a billion posts on it (just search it on the homepage) so I don't need to write any more soppy words but this show has seriously been my everything this year. I've met incredible people from it, both fans and cast members and I'm so incredibly grateful for that. Unfortunately I won't be at the last show as I'm in Australia (boo hoo, woe is me, right?) but I'm so sad its closing, and I'm sending all my thoughts and positive vibes to the theatre gods that they will bring it back because I will never be ready for the lights to go down on Washington Heights! Thank you In The Heights for being there and helping me and I'm sure many others, through tough times and making us feel at home in the theatre. Even if you had no idea how you were helping, I guarantee you made some tough days just that much easier. No pare sigue sigue!

I hope you had a brilliantly theatrical year too and I'd love to hear your favourites so drop me a comment on here or tweet me @OliviaMitche or @RewriteThisWeb 

Au Revoir 2016! Stay Stagey, 2017!