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Thursday 10 November 2016

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a heartwarming, beautiful and triumphant tour full of joy.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (UK Tour)
New Victoria Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 9th
 November 2016 by Olivia Mitchell

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is one of those musicals you feel like you've always known about. You could ask anyone and they'll be able to rattle off the title song without a moments thought. There's just something magical about it that can transport to back to your childhood in a moment. James Brining's production adapted for the stage by Jeremy Sams is delightful, enjoyable and exciting to watch. Based on the film of the same name Chitty Chitty Bang Bang tells the story of the struggling inventor Caractacus Potts who is carried away on a magical adventure with his children Jemima and Jeremy.

The production is a very beautiful one indeed, with very clever use of video designed by Simon Wainwright which alongside Simon Higlett's well constructed set design creates a melancholy sort of atmosphere whilst easily transition from scene to scene.
Jason Manford is charming and sweet as Caractacus Potts, bringing his own twist to Dick Van Dyke's iconic character. His voice shines throughout, especially in his heartfelt performance of 'Hushabye Mountain'. Charlotte Wakefield works alongside Mansfield as the beautiful Truly Scrumptious. Their chemistry is extremely natural and Charlotte's performance is sincere and heartfelt all the way through.

Jos Vantyler's childcatcher is suitably chilling, adding moments of darkness to the otherwise upbeat musical. Boris and Goran played by Sam Harrison and Scott Paige are absolutely fabulous, adding humour and lots of fun throughout- especially through their rendition of 'Act English'. They really hold the show together, interjecting with just the right amount of exaggeration and innuendo for the duration of the show.

This is a charming production which evokes childhood memories and joy whilst having you tapping your feet and singing the songs all the way home. It's Truly Scrumptious indeed and a must see for a sugary sweet night out!

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is on at the New Victoria Theatre until November 19th, after which it will continue on its tour round the county. To book tickets visit ATG tickets.

Photographs by Alastair Muir

Monday 12 February 2024

Initial Casting Announced for Spring Awakening Reunion Concert

Producers Jack Maple and Evelyn Hoskins are thrilled to unveil the initial cast for the 15th Anniversary concert of the groundbreaking West End production of Spring Awakening, the acclaimed musical by Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik, based on Frank Wedekind’s iconic play.

This special event, marking the 15th year since the original London production, will reunite many of the beloved original cast members for a one-night-only celebration on Sunday, June 2, 2024, at the Victoria Palace Theatre. Tickets are available for purchase now.

Returning to the stage from the original West End production are Lucy May Barker as Ilse, Natasha Barnes as Anna, Harry McEntire as Ernst, Hayley Gallivan as Martha, Evelyn Hoskins as Thea, Edward Judge as Otto, Jamie Muscato as Melchior, Jos Slovick as Georg, and Charlotte Wakefield as Wendla. Additionally, Chris Barton, Natalie Garner, Mona Goodwin, Gemma O’Duffy, and Richard Southgate will reprise their roles.

The original London band, including Huw Davies, Don Richardson, Matthew Senior, Vicky Matthews, Charlie Brown, and Rachel Robson under the musical direction of Nigel Lilley, will accompany the cast.

Spring Awakening chronicles the tale of adolescent rebellion against societal constraints, set to a captivating score that has enthralled audiences worldwide.

Originally premiering on Broadway in 2006 and subsequently transferring to London in 2009, Spring Awakening has garnered critical acclaim and numerous awards, including Tony and Olivier accolades.

Duncan Sheik expressed his excitement about the anniversary concert, reminiscing about the joyous memories of the original London production. Steven Sater shared his gratitude for the opportunity to bring back the beloved show for this special occasion.

In addition to celebrating the musical's legacy, this concert will serve as a fundraiser for Imogen Kinchin, a pivotal figure in the original production, who is battling Stage IV Bowel Cancer. The company of Spring Awakening has generously decided to donate the proceeds from the concert to Imogen's Fund.

Directed by Jamie Armitage and featuring musical direction by Nigel Lilley, Spring Awakening promises to be a poignant and unforgettable event, honouring both the musical's impact and the resilience of its community.

Tuesday 7 March 2023

The Great British Bake Off Musical, Noel Coward Theatre | Review

The Great British Bake Off Musical
Noel Coward Theatre

A British institution, Bake Off may not seem like the most likely source for a musical but thankfully, it's musical adaptation works incredibly well and is an easily digestible, heart-warming show and a love letter to the series so many love.

Surprisingly sincere, the musical with book and lyrics by Jake Brunger and music and lyrics by Pippa Cleary is legitimately earnest in its portrayal of the characters and their stories but also includes excellent humour and always manages to stay on the right side of being a parody or caricature of itself. Moments that could be overplayed are often reigned in and you're always laughing with the show rather than at it. That's not to say there aren't some cringe moments and the odd line that doesn't quite hit correctly but none of them take away from the pure joy and sweetness of this musical and it really is a delight of a show.

Pacing wise, it's pretty perfect. It never feels like it drags and really you could do with a second helping of the brilliance on stage because it's just so lovely. It's quite surprisingly just how well everything works. From colour coded bowl choreography (Georgina Lamb) to the incredibly effective set by Alice Power there's not much to fault. Of course you could nitpick, but for the sheer sentimentality and wholesomeness, this musical is a showstopper.

The cast are incredibly strong and there's so much connection between them that shines on stage. As the presenters Zoe Birkett (Kim) and Scott Paige (Jim) are wondrously witty and have excellent chemistry, as if they've been genuine presenters for years. Taking on the job of the judges, Haydn Gwynne and John Owen-Jones are dynamic and somehow retain their individuality whilst bringing the iconic double act to life (in the show Prue Leith becomes Pam Lee and Phil Hollywood becomes Phil Hollinghurst). All of the contestants have stand out moments and are so solid in their portrayals. Charlotte Wakefield especially has some touching scenes and provides some of the top vocals of the show. Grace Mouat's character is also incredibly engaging and is a great contrast to the rest of the bakers. Michael Cahill, Claire Moore, Damian Humbley, Aharon Rayner, Jay Saighal, Aanya Shah and Cat Sandison all bring such humanity to their roles and are so wonderful to watch.

Every aspect of Bake Off makes the cut to the musical, from the challenges to the general structure and joke format. Like the tv show, there are innuendos galore and more baking puns than you could fit in the oven, but above that, it really encapsulates the warmth and community feeling that The Great British Bake Off provides. The contestants each get a bit of development and there's even a romance and some social commentary; all elements feel well thought out and it's really just a well structured, well oiled (greased?) musical. You couldn't really ask for a more genuinely touching show. It truly has all the ingredients to be a hit and is so worth seeing!

Reviewed on Friday 3rd March 2023 by Olivia Mitchell
photo credit: Manuel Harlan

{AD PR Invite- tickets gifted in exchange for honest review}