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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Clare Halse. Sort by date Show all posts

Tuesday 26 November 2019

White Christmas the Musical, Dominion Theatre | Review

White Christmas the Musical
Dominion Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 25th November 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 

Seen last Christmas at the Leicester Curve Theatre, Nikolai Foster's exceptionally staged and completely charismatic production of White Christmas has taken it's place in the West End for a Christmas of festivities and theatrical joy.

Based on the 1954 film starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen, the musical follows the stories of two former World War II American soldiers who became a famous musical duo. The pair use their fame to join forces with Judy and Betty to save a holiday inn from financial ruin and spread cheer all around.

The embodiment of glamour from start to finish, this musical whisks you away and takes you to a wintery wonderland where lullabies and tap dances reign supreme. The audience are enthralled thanks to the intimate feeling which is somehow created in the vast cavern of the Dominion Theatre. 

The story is nothing special and there's really very little of it but there's a level of characterisation which runs deep throughout and makes the audience really care about the action and people on stage and brings a contemporary feel to an otherwise un-relatable musical. For example, Martha, Judy and Betty sing 'Falling Out of Love Can Be Fun' which highlights their desire to not being completely reliant on men. In another vein, the vulnerability of Bob (Danny Mac) is shown thoughtfully and delicately. Whilst at first he appears distant and uncaring, it soon becomes clear that he is struggling to rejoin civilian life. These human characteristics are realistically brought to stage with great effect. 

The cast of all round triple threats provide enough energetic festive cheer to power all the Christmas lights in London. Clare Halse is a theatrical treasure as she draws the eye every moment she's on stage and is the epitome of Hollywood glamour. Her performance is faultless as she glides around and radiates excellence. Halse also gives a dazzling tap performance of 'I Love a Piano' alongside Dan Burton and the ensemble. Burton as Phil is equal measures charm and sleaze as well as giving top top top notch vocals and choreographic quality. Danny Mac once again gives a faultless performance and has a great love/hate chemistry with Danielle Hope as Betty. Their blossoming romance is lovely to watch just another level of sweetness in this candy-cane-sugary musical.

Michael Brandon is commanding but vulnerable as General Henry Waverly, whilst, Brenda Edwards is a compelling force of comedic nature as Martha and provides a real show stopping moment with 'Let Me Sing and I'm Happy'. The ensemble are unanimously joyous and captivating throughout, with Aimée Hodnett and Kayleigh Thadani giving stand out performances as the ditzy, amorous Rhoda and Rita.

This is a visually exquisite musical which is the embodiment of production value. Diego Pitarch's sumptuous costumes not only look beautiful on their own, but float and flow divinely as part of Stephen Mear's choreography which is elegance and style wrapped up with a bow. The post-war era is brought to life glitteringly, as is the music of Irving Berlin which soars and fills the Dominion.

It's not about the story and of course there are faults as with many classic films but this is an utterly lavish production which will fill even the Grinch's heart with Christmas cheer. 

photo credit: Johan Persson

Thursday 6 April 2017

42nd Street, Theatre Royal, Drury Lane | Review

42nd Street
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
Reviewed on Wednesday April 3rd 2017 by Olivia Mitchell

It seems that 2017 is the year of old Hollywood musicals coming back into fashion. The West End is getting a smattering of big budget, glitzy, over the top glamorous productions and I'm certainly not complaining about it!

42nd Street is a timeless, Classic, toe-tapping 'backstage-musical' which is sure to be a hit. Telling the story of struggling performers trying to get their big Broadway break we see their trials and tribulations and meet the young chorus girl Peggy Sawyer as she is thrown into the manic theatre world with the chance of getting her big break.

The choreography (by Randy Skinner) is key in this show so if you're not big on dance heavy performances then it's not for you. Personally though, there's not much that's more exhilarating than a beaming stage full of crystals, colours and thunderous feet pulling off steps with ease and grace.

The show runs seamlessly with smooth costume changes, especially when a seemingly unorganised array of dresses suddenly arrange themselves into a sensational rainbow.  Douglas W. Schmidt's set design is ambitious, exciting and magical and certainly creates a spectacle. The silhouette work is slick and spectacular and the moment when the mirror rises to show impeccable synchronised company work, there were audible gasps of awe from the audience. Every moment of this show is a complete extravaganza of brilliance and it's full of moments which will leave you open-mouthed.

The stars of the show are wonderfully cast, with Clare Halse portaying Peggy Sawyer's energy and vigour extremely well. Sheena Easton's vocals as the fading star Dorothy Brock are impeccable and Tom Lister as Julian Marsh is strong but charming and hits each note with dexterity.

Of course, this show would be nowhere as brilliant without its unblemished ensemble work. There are beaming smiles all round, faultless feet and enough energy to power the underground! The stage is filled with colour and life and each moment just works. The show is certainly one of the biggest and flashiest I've seen recently but everything fits and nothing feels too over the top. Everything has a place, nothing is there just for the flashiness, it all works to give the show drama whilst still remaining cohesive- utterly faultless.

42nd Street earned the royal seal of approval from the Duchess of Cambridge herself and I'm sure it will continue to be loved and praised by everyone who steps into the huge Theatre Royal. The stage is large, the cast is large and the whole thing is bigger and brighter than you can imagine. If you want to step back to the decades of glitz and glamour, be blown away by talent, have your ears tapped off and escape the real world for a few hours then 42nd Street is the show for you! Go see it and be prepared to tap all your way home!

Watch my 42nd Street vlog: