Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Clark James. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Clark James. Sort by date Show all posts

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Bring It On, Southwark Playhouse | Review


Bring It On 
Southwark Playhouse 
Reviewed on Tuesday 7th August 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

If like me, you're constantly in a state of missing In The Heights then the British Theatre Academy's production of Bring It On is just the energetic, humourous, heart-felt fix you need. Based on the 2000 hit film, Bring It On follows follows cheer-royalty Campbell who's  future is looking bright. She's just been named cheer captain for her senior year and is hoping to lead her team to National's glory. However, a sudden redistricting means she has to transfer to neighbouring Jackson High School where everything she knows is turned upside down...

With music by Tom Kitt and Lin-Manuel Miranda it's no surprise that the score is incredibly catchy and fast-paced; hip-hop influences are seamlessly intwined with classic musical theatre tunes. Whilst the plot line is nothing new it is suitably modern and has the overarching messages of teamwork and empowerment which are always welcome.

Once Campbell is thrown into her new school world, things really get going. Former cheer mascot Bridget finds a new lease of life and an acceptance that she's never previously experienced, whilst, Campbell begins to realise that social conformity isn't all it's cracked up to be.


The young, vibrant cast do an outstanding job of bringing the school halls and cheer routines to life. Robyn McIntyre is wonderfully emotive and vocally stellar as the front-woman who drives the story onwards. Alongside her, Kristine Kruse provides not only comic relief, but great vocals and brings the message of unity to life. Isabella Pappas is brilliantly and brutally expressive as the token mean girl Skylar, also providing some shining vocal moments. 

Other standouts include Clark James, Mary Celeste and Haroun Al-Jeddal who all draw the eye throughout and add a mountain of energy to an already highly spirited production. 


Ewan Jones' choreography is sharp and works well in the small space of the Southwark Playhouse, providing enough movement to keep both the audience and the cast always on their toes and with enough cheer movements to keep the theme without it becoming tacky. Tom Paris' set alongside Ben Jacobs' lighting add even more fun and brightness to the show. 

Of course this isn't a groundbreaking story but performed in such a vigourous and dynamic way, you can't help but love it. The entire cast give phenomenal performances and Bring It On is the high-kicking, fun-for-all show to put a smile on your face and a pep in your step.

Bring It On runs at the Southwark Playhouse until September 1st.

photo credit: Eliza Wilmot

Saturday, 3 November 2018

The Funeral Director, Southwark Playhouse | Review


The Funeral Director 
Southwark Playhouse
Reviewed on Friday 2nd November 2018 by Shaun Dicks
★★★★★

“We all need to be brave, otherwise nothing will change.” 

The illustrious Papatango writing prize is now in its excellent ninth year. It’s brought to light some wonderful pieces of work like Tomcat by James Rushbrook and Trestle by Stewart Pringle. This year it is The Funeral Director by Iman Qureshi

Here we follow the story of Ayesha, a Muslim funeral director who gets a client that forces her to confront a secret she wasn’t ready to face, one she was ready to take to the grave. Here we confront Gender, Religion and Sexuality. Hotbeds of discussion and dissection. Here we need to be brave together. 

Iman Qureshi's script is pitch perfect. The dialogue is slick, tight and meaningful. There is a wonderful balance of humour, poignancy and seriousness. The humour is a highlight, as it is all culturally relevant and well thought out. The direction by Hannah Hauer-King is perfection. Also, the set, lighting and sound design by Amy Jane Cook, Jack Weir and Max Pappenheim is flawless and compliments one another. 


The best part of the show though is the people that bring it to life. Every actor, Aryana Ramkhalawon (Ayesha), Maanuv Thiara (Zeyd), Tom Morley (Tom) and Jessica Clark (Janey) present such well thought out and multi-dimensional characters. They each play their part in a very affecting story. But the star of the show is Clark as Janey. Clark is an absolute force. Her freedom on stage is refreshing. Her comedic timing is just brilliant, but her skill shown when having to present tender moments is astounding. 

The crowning glory of this show is the story. It’s poignant, affecting and necessary. The crossing of gender, religion and sexuality is a very hot topic in modern times. When tackling them it is hard to pitch it right. The Funeral Director pitches it perfectly. There are a few scenes that just hit you. They strike you with a message and emotion. They are worth the ticket price alone. Everything else is just a bonus. 

The Funeral Director runs at the Southwark Playhouse until 24th November 2018

photo credit: The Other Richard

Friday, 1 July 2022

Come From Away to Play Final Performance in West End on 7 January 2023

The multi award-winning London production of global hit musical Come From Away will extend in the West End from September until the end of the year before holding its final performance at the Phoenix Theatre on Saturday 7 January 2023.

By the time the West End company take their final bow, this critically acclaimed production will have played 1048 performances in London, 47 performances in Dublin and won many major UK theatre Awards including the Olivier, Critics’ Circle and What’s On Stage Awards for ‘Best Musical’.

The current London cast of Come From Away includes Jenna Boyd (Beulah and others), James Doherty (Claude and others), Mark Dugdale (Kevin T/Garth and others), Alice Fearn (Beverley/Annette and others), Kate Graham (Diane and others), Robert Hands (Nick/Doug and others), Jonathan Andrew Hume (Kevin J/Ali and others), Gemma Knight Jones (Hannah and others), Kirsty Malpass (Bonnie and others), Harry Morrison (Oz and others), Emma Salvo (Janice and others), Lejaun Sheppard (Bob and others), with Chiara Baronti, Ricardo Castro, Stuart Hickey, Alexander McMorran, Sarah MorrisonLucy ParkJennifer Tierney and Matthew Whennell-Clark.

The Come From Away band includes Alan Berry (Musical Director/UK Musical Supervisor), Matt Bashford (Whistles/Irish Flute/Uillean Pipes), Aoife Mairead Ní Bhriain (Fiddle), Oli Briant (Electric/Acoustic Guitar), Justin Quinn (Acoustic Guitars/Mandolins/Bouzouki), Joey Grant (Electric and Acoustic Bass),  Ray Fean (Bodhrán/Percussion), Ian Whitehead (Drums/Percussion), Huw Evans (Associate Musical Director), Andrew Barrett for Lionella Music, LLC (Electronic Music Design), Phij Adams (Associate Keyboard Programmer), Ryan Driscoll (Music Preparation), and David Gallagher (Orchestral Management).

Come From Away shares the incredible real-life story of the 7,000 air passengers from all over the world who were grounded in Canada during the wake of 9/11, and the small Newfoundland community that invited these ‘come from aways’ into their lives.

Experience the joy, heartache and soaring music as the spirited locals and global passengers overcome their fears and a world of cultural differences to come together and forge friendships that will stay with them forever. The first female American Airlines captain, the quick-thinking town mayor, the mother of a New York firefighter and the eager local news reporter are among the many real characters caught at the start of the moment that changed the course of history, and whose stories became a true celebration of hope, humanity and unity.

The international hit musical has celebrated sold-out, record-breaking engagements on Broadway, in Canada, throughout Australia, and on a 60-city North American Tour.

The Come From Away creative team includes Irene Sankoff and David Hein (Book, Music and Lyrics), Christopher Ashley (Director), Kelly Devine (Musical Staging), Ian Eisendrath (Music Supervision and Arrangements), Beowulf Boritt (Scenic Design), Toni-Leslie James (Costume Design), Howell Binkley (Lighting Design), Gareth Owen (Sound Design), David Brian Brown (Hair Design), August Eriksmoen (Orchestrations), Pippa Ailion CDG and Natalie Gallacher CDG (Casting), Joel Goldes (Dialect Coach), Michael Rubinoff (Creative Consultant), Bob Hallett (Newfoundland Music Consultant),  Shirley Fishman (Dramaturg) and Tara Overfield (Associate Director and Choreographer UK).

Come From Away is produced in the UK by Junkyard Dog Productions and Smith & Brant Theatricals. The European premiere of Come From Away was co-produced with the Abbey Theatre, Ireland’s National Theatre.

Tickets for Come From Away at the Phoenix Theatre are available via comefromawaylondon.co.uk.

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Olivia's Top Shows of 2019



This year I saw 150 shows, from glitzy West End productions to smaller fringe pieces and many UK tours. Before we step into the new decade, I want to feature some of my favourite pieces of the year and those which have stuck with me in some way.



Dolly Parton has been a family favourite growing up so this musical ticks all the boxes for me. 9 to 5 is a catchy, colourful celebration of girl power. With another tour planned for next year, this show is sure to delight audiences in 2020 and beyond.



Six featured in last year's Top 10 list, but having seen it a few times this year, I thought it warranted a place once again. The fantastically, feminist musical is pure joy on stage and a complete treat. Enthralling audiences around the world with its pop/musical theatre crossover sound and the heart which is retained in all its incarnations, Six's world domination is only just beginning. 



I mentioned the Broadway production of Come From Away last year, but 2019 saw the triumphant West End transfer of this show which is completely spectacular and special beyond compare. Telling the heartfelt story of the unity formed in a small village in Canada during the traumas of 9/11, the Celtic sounds and complete ensemble feel of the piece make it effective and oh so powerful.



Performed by members of the British Theatre Academy (BTA), the young cast transported audiences on a mystical journey of love and magic. Lee Proud and Harrison Clark created a production worthy of much acclaim and showcased some of the future stars of UK theatre.



Having missed the Open Air production of Jesus Christ Superstar, I was thrilled to get the chance to see it at the Barbican and it did not disappoint. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's score soared thanks to the ingenious staging which made the space feel as though it was outside, and Lee Curran's lighting which made the atmosphere both electric and intimate. Amazing performances all round made this a production not to be forgotten.



Not only was it a treat to see this enchanting song cycle by Dave Malloy brought to life by such talented actor-musos, but getting to experience the new space of the Boulevard Theatre was a delight in itself. The whole space feels fresh, welcoming, modern and all in all a wonderful addition to the London theatre scene. Ghost Quartet was a wacky mish-mash, but there's something about it that was truly enchanting.


The Cher Show | Neil Simon Theatre

If you'd told me at the beginning of the year that The Cher Show would be in my top shows, not just of 2019 but ever, I doubt I would've believed you. The cast were amazing but as someone unfamiliar with Cher's music and kind of bewildered by the whole idea, I didn't expect to come out beaming after one of the best night's ever at the theatre. The biopic musical tells the story of the superstar's rise to fame via three Cher's representing different times in her life. The performances are other worldly and the humour hits all the right spots. This is the embodiment of a grand musical and I can only hope it comes to the West End sometime soon!


The Jungle | St Ann's Warehouse

This is another show I missed in London but was lucky enough to catch in New York at the incredible setting of St Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn. This is the most striking piece of theatre I have ever witnessed, and I can't even explain how spectacular the entire production was. The community feel that was created within moments of entering the theatre is like nothing I've ever experienced and every element of theatricality was so perfectly used to highlight the stories of those on stage.



The Adam Guettal musical was on my 'To See' bucket list, so it was a complete joy to experience the sumptuous score performed by such a stellar cast this year. The story about young Clara falling in love with Fabrizio on a trip to Italy is beautiful and made me want to go to and have my own romantic holiday accompanied by a beautiful classical soundtrack.



Fiver played a brief run at the Southwark Playhouse and earned itself much praise and many fans. With a fantastic score by Alex James Ellison, the musical follows the story of a £5 note and how it's value changes in the hands of various people. This was a completely unexpected treat of a show which completely enraptured me and left me feeling joyous, thanks to the wonderful mix of musical styles and fantastic array of stories involved. The superb cast of five gave everything and made it a real gem of a piece. A delightful musical, lets hope we see more of Fiver in the future.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Reasons You Should Go And See RENT

So last night I saw the 20th aniversary production of Rent for the third time and it had the exact same impact on me, I was happy, sad, moved and just completely blown away. It truly is an impeccable production.


I reviewed the show when it was on at the St James (which you can read here) and other than small tweaks and the show of course being performed in a larger stage, not much has changed with the transfer so instead of writing another review I thought I would just do a post of me fangirling about the show and why you should go and see it!!

Firstly, THE CAST. This show wouldn't be a quarter of what it is without the incredibly talented cast. Every single member is powerful, committed and strong in their roles, there's a true feeling of community and it really feels as though you're watching real life play out on stage. Philippa Stefani is the true standout for me, her performance is just raw and heartbreaking and so well constructed that it's physically painful to watch. I can't help but watch Philippa every time she is on stage and it's just a joy to see her talent, passion and grit shine through on stage. Philippa's performance as Mimi is worth the ticket price alone! Billy Cullum is everything Mark should be, he's dorky but passionate and absolutely the perfect person to play the role. His voice is fantastic as well as his acting and its just brilliant. Lucie Jones and Shanay Holmes  are perfect as lovers Joanne and Maureen; both having stand out solo moments and working harmoniously as a pair, again its perfect casting. Ryan O Gorman has such a soulful voice and is insane as Collins. Last night is had the pleasure of seeing Harrison Clark as Angel and he was great! He's stepped into the role wonderfully and pulls of the role with ease and grace. After seeing this cast I can't imagine anyone else playing the roles!

Another reason you should see this show is of course because of THE MUSIC. Jonathan Larson's score is as stunning and moving now as it ever has been and will leave you with tingles, tears and love. Each harmony is stunning and every note feels in place, nothing seems forced or over performed. The music truly does stand on it's own but along with the wonderful cast it is just a dream.

Lee Proud's CHOREOGRAPHY adds a whole new layer to the show, the movements are quick and seem spontaneously natural. They are precise and inventive but not at all intrusive to the storytelling.

There's a billion more things I could say about this production but honestly you just need to experience it for yourself. It's really like nothing I've experienced before and it's hard to put this perfection into words so just get a ticket, immerse yourself in the show, soak every moment in and experience it for yourself.

Rent is playing at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley before touring much more of the country. For information about the show and to buy tickets, visit www.rentonstage.co.uk

To read my full review of Rent, visit: http://www.rewritethisstory.com/2016/...

To see my vlog of Rent, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4WYv1d7h9Q


To see what a Rent obsession looks like, watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cu1G2n8EQFM