Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Danielle Hope. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Danielle Hope. Sort by date Show all posts

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Grease (UK Tour), Edinburgh Playhouse | Review


Grease (UK Tour)
Edinburgh Playhouse
Reviewed on Monday 12th September 2017 by Liv Ancell

The turn of Grease at the Edinburgh Playhouse transformed the theatre into a lively hothouse of hand jiving, bomber jackets and 50s nostalgia. With hundreds of costume changes, multiple set changes and an enviable line-up of cast and crew, including Tom Parker of The Wanted fame, this production of Grease was far from an understated affair.


The first surprise in the production came when the curtain initially lifted to reveal an exposed upper mezzanine level to the stage, where the live band was on display for all to see. With charismatic showmanship, the flamboyant conductor introduced each of his band members with the flick of the wrist, while they in turn stood up and gestured to the audience to boast their musical prowess. As far as warm-up acts go, this one was pretty spectacular. 


Cut and the band are once again hidden from view (only to emerge later in a few choice scenes), with the show’s two star-crossed lovers emerging from opposite ends of the stage, raised on pedestals in a creative use of staging. Danielle Hope astounded the audience as Sandy from the very first note, captivating even the back seats with her commanding theatrical voice, with seemingly endless levels of range and depth. Tom Parker successfully portrayed the too-cool-for-school attitude of well-loved character Danny Zucko, but the powerful contrast at play between his boy-band tones and Danielle’s finely trained voice was at times, very clear to see. His “Sandy” solo was less than electrifying, whereas Danielle’s solo performances had the audience clinging onto every perfectly delivered note. 





The supporting cast in this musical raised the energy levels tenfold; hand-jiving, flipping and jesting their way into the audiences hearts. Jan (Rosanna Harris) and Roger (Oliver Jacobson) were transformed from sideline characters into firm audience favourites. Each couple’s voices were paired to perfection, making for some harmonious duets. Special mention goes out to Alessia McDermott, who was standing in for ChaCha on the evening we attended; she high-kicked and smouldered her way through the show, leaving the audience clueless as to why she was only an understudy in the first place! 


As far as performances go, this one was extremely physical, but the young cast kept pace the whole way through. It will come as no surprise to any viewer that the dance scenes were the brainchild of Strictly’s Arlene Phillips – the couple’s competition at the school dance featured more lifts and swings than you could shake a baton at. The razor-sharp choreography throughout was a real highlight of this performance, with not a single cast member slipping up during the lightning-speed handjiving sequences. 





In a nutshell, this show was both ambitious and energetic in equal measure. The flashes, bangs, fire and sparks during the Greased Lightning song resulted in a real show-stopping moment, while Danielle’s voice reached dimensions far beyond what Olivia Newton-John could deliver in the movie version. Whether it was down to delivery or acoustics, some of the snappy tongue-in-cheek comments were unfortunately difficult to hear, and many of these jokes were as a result missed by the audience. 


Overall, this was a very well-assembled production of an old school classic, delivered with such youthful energy and accompanied by great staging - viewers of any age or gender are guaranteed to get swept up by the excitement and extravagance of this show.


Grease runs at the Edinburgh Playhouse until  before continuing its tour.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

A Stagey Guide to Singing... Sharon Sexton, Danielle Steers, Christina Bennington | Bat Out of Hell | Stagey Sunday

Happy Stagey Sunday everyone! I hope you had a wonderful Pride yesterday and are enjoying the glorious weather. I'm actually on holiday in Corfu but that doesn't stop me from bringing you the newest instalment of this month's Stagey Guide to Singing! Bat Out of Hell month may be over but the Bat fun isn't over as this week we have stories, advice and information from the three leading ladies of the Steinman musical: Sharon Sexton, Christina Bennington and Danielle Steers...



What has your vocal journey been like?
Sharon Sexton (Sloane): I have been singing for as long as I can remember and was always told I had a "good voice" though no one in my family was a performer. I sang in school and my mum enrolled me in a youth music group when I was 5 and I lived for my weekly class. I learned all sorts of material and fell in love with musical theatre. I went to a couple of different local singing teachers and joined the school choir as a 1st soprano, though I always remember being jealous of the altos and wanting to learn their lines, because I thought their lines were more challenging and I found harmonies fascinating. 

There was nowhere in Ireland that taught the musical style I wanted to sing so I studied what video footage I could find of the greats like Bernadette Peters, Doris Day, Elaine Paige and Lea Salonga; studying their mouth shapes and imitating them. The same with Whitney and Mariah. I finessed all the riffs and set myself challenges in completing them. I ended up training classically in the Conservatory of Music in Dublin, which gave me a really solid foundation and understanding of my instrument, but all I wanted to do was sing contemporary musical theatre and belt. So I went through a host of singing teachers and robbed bits from everyone until I developed a technique that worked for me. 

My voice has definitely changed over time. I try and keep my top C soprano in check but like anything- when you don't use it that often, it gets rusty and I've accepted I shall probably now never be Christine in Phantom, I'm much more of a mezzo these days. 

Danielle Steers (Zahara): I've been singing for as long as I can remember. I went to an amateur dramatics group from around the age of 10 and still go back there now to help out and put on shows etc... My voice has definitely changed over the years. I couldn't belt until I went to college at 16 and only learnt how to twang and other techniques from my first few jobs. I have always had a low voice though, people always thought I was a lot older than my years due to the maturity of my voice. 

Christina Bennington (Raven): It’s been a long and exciting one. I began singing at school at the age of 7 and was in very high standard choirs for my entire school life at Methodist College Belfast. We rehearsed every day and it’s where I learnt the disciplines of sight singing, vocal maintenance and musicality. I took classical lessons and was convinced I wanted to be an opera singer until I fell in love with musical theatre. 

I started training in earnest at the Guildford School of Acting with Steven Luke Walker. Together we pushed my voice to extremes in every style so that I felt comfortable approaching anything. He’s a genuine wonder and I owe a lot of my jobs to his skill and teaching. I still see him when I have a new job or auditions because there’s always more to learn. 



What/who got you into music? 
Sharon: I can't ever say I remember my life without being completely obsessed with music. My dad had an amazing vinyl collection and I could sit for hours with headphones just getting lost in the music. 

Danielle: I actually have no idea, I didn't grow up in a particularly musical house. I just loved singing; it was how I expressed my emotions. I remember watching all the old MGM movies on TV and thinking how wonderful they were and wanting to be in them! 

Christina: My house was always filled with music and I still thank my Dad for a lot of my musical taste. He had carefully curated car CDs and amazing records he would play on his HiFi. My family are involved in amateur theatre in Northern Ireland so I got involved in pantomimes as a child. I’ve seen home videos of me imitating rockstars and opera singers from the age of two so I think it was always in me! 


Your voice is so smooth but strong at the same time. What are your tips for conveying the emotion of songs whilst maintaining power? 
Danielle: Why thank you, luckily the songs I sing in the show sit very well with an altos range, meaning I don't need to think too much about technique and I can just let rip with my emotions. 

I think power comes with emotion and even if you don't have the most powerful voice you can still make a song powerful by meaning every single word you sing and telling the story through the song. 


Bat Out Of Hell is a tough sing, during rehearsals how did you adapt to the vocal challenges it presents? 
Sharon: The tricky thing with Steinman's music is that it is so passionate and it reaches such great heights both musically and emotionally. The most difficult thing for me was finding a way to keep the passion and make the rock sound, but finding a technique to do it safely 8 shows a week, without losing that grit. I do a lot of belting and growling in the show, which I had to sing in to muscle memory and which I continuously have to keep in check. 

At the beginning of rehearsals the sing for Sloane seemed almost overwhelming, and I felt I was pushing myself to my limits, especially when we started moving keys up, but I was in rehearsals with Rob Fowler who is a vocal gymnast genius! And just when I felt I was getting to grips with my vocals, we would be working with the musical supervisor and Rob would ask "can I try something here?" and then sing and incredible riff and then go "Shazza could then sing that up a third no? or maybe you could octave that, or you could jump up and do a waaaaah there?" and I would clear my throat and go "uh uh, nope" and he said - "try it and if you can do it once, you'll find a way to do it 8 shows a week". I didn't know him very well at the time - but I was damned if I was going to be shown up! He pushed me to give so much vocally and believed in my ability to match him on stage, more than I ever did. All my numbers are duets with Rob so having that support and belief in a vocal partner on stage really gave me confidence to build the role vocally. And I think when you're on stage, yes technique is important but sometimes a lot of what comes out of your mouth, depends on the belief you have in your head. 


Do you have any personal/random techniques for maintaining vocal health? 
Christina: I’m afraid the secret for me isn’t very rock and roll! Sleep, hydration and avoiding too much stress and tension. Looking after myself is the best way to deliver a consistently strong 8-show week. It’s easy to be focused on that for a job that I love so much. My top tip is not to do a crazy vocal warm up. You don’t need to belt or push yourself there – it should be about activating the right things and setting up your voice for what the show requires – not a singing competition! 


Vocal health is obviously so important but do you have any coping techniques for the mental side of performing such as when you lose your voice or feel unmotivated? 
Danielle: I think a lot of the time when you "lose your voice" it can be a mental state. Sometimes if I know I have a big event coming up or new opening I "lose my voice" but it’s all in my head. You just have to trust that it will work, even maybe change your technique to get out certain notes. 

Steaming is a massive factor, drinking lots of water, I also like to keep my voice lubricated by having two Jakemans per show. When you feel unmotivated it's hard, especially with a show like Bat where you cannot give it any less that 100%! All I try to remember is why I'm doing what I'm doing, that people have paid good money to come see the show; the audiences reaction always helps us perform like it’s the first time every time. 


Steinman’s songs have some crazy belting so vowel modification must be important to make everything clear and safe to sing. Is that something you do naturally when learning music or do you change depending on the mood/style of the piece? 
Christina: Vowel modification is necessary to keep the sound safe and consistent the higher you sing. Steven has always taught me ways to make it subtle and to make the song work for my voice. It comes naturally now but it’s most useful if we have a week with lots of other vocal commitments outside the show. Technique is most useful when you’re tired. It enables you to modify safely and thin the sound down to help get back to full strength without compromising the sound of the show. 


Not only do you sing flawlessly in the show, but you’re also very humorous in the role, how do you bring that humour, comedic timing and lightness to your voice whilst still maintaining its power? 

Sharon: For me if I try and think "I have to be funny here" I will never make you laugh. I just commit 100% to the thought process of the character and believe in the truth of the moment. I find if you hunt for a laugh, you won't get it. So a lot of it is about storytelling and when I am in my head acting wise, the right noises just come out of my mouth... I hope... 


You dance as lot as well as singing in the show, what are your tips for doing both at once? 
Danielle: Gosh this is a hard one, this is something you go through every day at college. It's super hard especially if you're singing a different rhythm to what you're dancing, which happens a lot in Bat. The best thing to do is to sing along from the start of learning the choreography so you can get it into your head right from the go, then you can also work out where is best to breath. It's hard work! 


You’ve been doing the show for a while now so there must be a lot of muscle memory involved but are there any moments which are difficult or that you have to think about whilst performing? 

Sharon: My body is well oiled in the machine of the show now and my chords know what is expected of them, so yes it is actually getting easier to sing the role, the longer I play it, but on tired or ill days I do completely rely on my technique and have to step out of my character's head. ‘All Coming Back To Me’ can be tricky because of the blocking, I'm walking, in heels, on a raked stage, filled with track marks that like to eat my stiletto heels and it is highly emotional, so I have to play the feelings but I sometimes have to really concentrate on my breath and placement of that long "Now" note for 14 counts. I have to move the placement around to sustain it sometimes. There is no greater feeling that the days where my voice is on top form and I can just get lost in the emotion in that song. 

I also ironically find the last three lines of the show that I sing, really sneak up on me sometimes. It’s the very end of Anything For Love. Myself, Danielle (Zahara) and Christina (Raven) sing a little trio "I would do anything for love" to close the show and I have done a huge amount of belting and growling and crying and think it's all over and then go "oh gosh, this bit" and I have to take the high harmony in a very soft angelic voice which is very unlike any other part of the show for me, so I suddenly have to replace everything into my mix! 

Danielle: Sometimes you can go into auto pilot, it does happen, but I always have to be careful during "two out of three" it’s such an exposing song and everyone knows the words so I feel I really have to concentrate, also if you don't you end up not putting the emotion across. I also have to think about Tinks death scene, again, if you just go into auto pilot there’s no emotion there. ONE MORE.... DANCING DEAD RINGER IN THOSE HEELS!! Really have to concentrate in those haha! 

Christina: There’s definitely a degree of muscle memory but I’m never happy with what I’m doing. There’s always more to learn. I concentrate on different parts of the score for every week and explore making them bigger, stronger or smoothing transitions. The most difficult section for me is the ‘tuck jump chorus’ of For Crying Out Loud. Belting on almost one note as I jump with Andrew across the stage takes a lot of physical energy which needs to be balanced with not throwing too much breath at the sound. 


We know by now that I’m your breath control’s number one fan. Are there any particular exercises you do/have done to help with supporting? 
Christina: Haha thank you! You’re too kind. Breath control is an interesting one. I think a lot of people assume you need a big breath for a long phrase. As with a lot of singing, the rules aren’t one size fits all. In this style of music it’s often not the case. For a clear belt, I take a small high breath and support by resisting the breath in my rib cage. This can often lasts me many lines eg. the passage in Heaven Can Wait that I know you’re a fan of! 

For me, a lot of ‘breath control’ throughout the show is really about recovery breathing and fitness. I do as much interval sprinting and high intensity training as I can to ensure that I have the stamina for songs like ‘For Crying Out Loud’. If your body is strong and ready your voice will be too. 


Who would your dream duet partner be? 
Sharon: Male - I'm already singing with him 8 shows a week…. 

Female - Stevie Nicks 

Danielle: In terms of the show I’d have to say Rob Fowler, but in life Shirley Bassey 100% 

Christina: Andrew Polec of course! I’m beyond lucky to get to duet with him every night. Our voices fit well together. He is so resonant with so much weight in the sound which really gives me permission to use the full depth of mine. 

There are a lot of women I would love to duet with who I admire greatly. Hmmm. Amy Lee from Evanescence, Louise Dearman, Gina Beck, Laura Michelle Kelly, Rosalie Craig. I guess I’ve been inspired by all of them in different ways. Actually I did sing ‘At the Ballet’ in a concert with Louise so I suppose that’s sort of one already achieved!


What is your pre-show warm up like? 
Sharon: So important to me. I think it's important mentally and physically as when I start I can feel my brain sending all the signals to my voice going "ok, it’s that time of the day again" and it begins to anticipate what is expected of it. It's like starting the engine of a car before a long journey. I try not to use an awful lot of vocal energy during warm up. I keep it very light and subtle. A lot of closed mouth sirens, quiet humming, lip trills, slowly and focused so that I can just check in gently on every note. I'll also do a neck massage and loosen up my tongue muscles. I always do some amount of physical warm up but on days where my voice feels dry or tired I will really push myself with the dancers warm up, just to get my blood pumping in my muscles, which is so important to make my voice work. 

Danielle: We start with a physical warm up so I like to make sure my back and legs are super warm because of what is required of me, also the neck for head banging purposes! Then we do a vocal warm up which is super important as we sing loads! Then we do fight call which is so everyone can make sure their fights are all good and safe before the show. 

Christina: I love our full company physical with our dance captain Courtney. It gets my body woken up and prepped for the marathon that is Bat Out Of Hell. Then I take it easy in the company vocal. It depends what I need each day. 


What’s your top piece of advice for aspiring performers in terms of finding and maintaining your voice? 
Sharon: Know your limits. Accept them. 

Slowly and carefully continue to try work around them but remember your voice is unique, so embrace what you can do and let go of what you can't. 

If it hurts, stop. It should never be painful. 

Sometimes less is more - in terms of effort and support. A lot of people have the misconception that you must support and push and be tense on the big high belt notes when in fact the opposite can be so much more effective. 

Listen to your body when it's telling you that you need a rest. You only have one voice and if you are a performer - it is your life insurance, so never compromise it for anyone or anything or any production. It needs you to be smart to take care of it. When you need a show off, take it, because if you sing on a tired voice in a long run, it always, always catches up on you. Vocal massages are little gifts from heaven! Find a good therapist! 

Danielle: Always try new things, I didn't find my voice until I was about 18. Before then I had a very limited range and wouldn't have even dreamed of being able to sing the songs I can now. I still have a long way to go and I'm always trying to better my voice. It’s a case of playing around with different genres as well to see what fits well, rock, pop, jazz, musical theatre, legit? So much to choose from. Also.... don't smoke!!! 

Christina: I would say don’t compare your voice to anyone else. Yours is unique and wonderful! Absorb as much knowledge as you can and decide what works for you. Be disciplined in looking after your instrument and practise! 

Sending a massive thank you to Sharon, Christina and Danielle for giving us all their inside information of all things singing! Join us next Sunday for a tips from someone with All That Jazz

Bat Out of Hell is currently at the Dominion Theatre until 27th October 2018

Post by Editor, Olivia Mitchell


Photo credit: Specular, Christina Bennington, Danielle Steers

Thursday, 26 May 2022

Carrie Hope Fletcher, Danielle Steers & Laura Pitt-Pulford to star in The Witches of Eastwick in Concert


Producer Jack Maple, by arrangement with Cameron Mackintosh Ltd, is delighted to announce that West End stars Carrie Hope Fletcher, Danielle Steers and Laura Pitt-Pulford will star as Sukie, Alexandra and Jane respectively in a special one-off concert of THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK at the Sondheim Theatre on Monday 20 June 2022, directed by Olivier Award-winning Maria Friedman. They join the previously announced Olivier Award-winning actor Giles Terera as Darryl Van Horne.
 
THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK has a book and lyrics by John Dempsey and music by Dana P. Rowe, based on the novel by John Updike and the Warner Brothers motion picture. This will be the first time the musical has been seen in London since it originally played at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in 2000, transferring to the Prince of Wales Theatre in 2001.
 
Further casting is to be announced.
 
Carrie Hope Fletcher is currently starring as Cinderella in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cinderella until 12 June 2022. She has played both Eponine and Fantine in Les Miserables at the Queen’s/Sondheim Theatre and Gielgud Theatre in London’s West End and the Opera House in Dubai. In the UK, she originated the roles of Wednesday Addams in the UK tour of The Addams Family and Veronica Sawyer in Heathers at the Theatre Royal Haymarket which transferred from The Other Palace. Her other credits include Beth in the arena tour of The War of the Worlds, Emily in A Christmas Carol and Brenda Payne in The Christmasaurus Live at the Eventim Apollo. Carrie is also a Sunday Times Best Selling author.
 
Danielle Steers is currently starring as Cher in the UK and Ireland tour of The Cher Show. Her previous credits include Catherine Parr in Six The Musical (London), Zahara in the original cast of Bat out of Hell: The Musical (Manchester Opera House, London Coliseum, Ed Mirvish Theatre Toronto, Dominion Theatre, New York City Centre), Carmen in Sweet Charity (Donmar Warehouse), Lead Shirelle in the original London cast of Beautiful - The Carole King Musical (Aldwych Theatre), swing and cover Nikki Marron in The Bodyguard (Adelphi Theatre) and cover Killer Queen in We Will Rock You (International Arena Tour). Her debut album, The Future Ain't What It Used To Be, was released in 2021.
 
Laura Pitt-Pulford’s theatre credits include Louise in Gypsy in concert (Alexandra Palace), Marlene Dietrich in Piaf (Nottingham Playhouse/Leeds Playhouse), Falsettos (The Other Palace), Little Miss Sunshine (Arcola Theatre), Charity Hope Valentine in Sweet Charity (Pimlico Opera), Flowers for Mrs Harris (Chichester Festival Theatre & Sheffield Crucible), Nancy in Oliver (Curve), Milly Bradon in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), for which she received an Olivier Award nomination, and Maria in The Sound of Music (Curve).
 
The Witches of Eastwick tells the tale of the people of the little town of Eastwick. It is a town where everyone knows everything about everyone else, and it is presided over by the indomitable Felicia Gabriel. Bored with their small town lives, three women - Alexandra (Alex), Sukie, and Jane--share a desire for “all manner of man in one man” to provide excitement and variety. That man arrives, literally in a flash, in the devil-like form of Darryl Van Horne. Darryl seduces the women and teaches them powers, which they never knew they had. 
 
THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK has musical staging by Chrissie Cartwright, lighting design by Simon Sherriff, sound design by Adam Fisher and associate direction by Jack McCann.
 

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Grease (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review


Grease (UK Tour)
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Monday April 24th 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★

Grease was certainly the word last night at the opening night of the show at the New Wimbledon Theatre. The classic hits and story which are loved by many had brought a varied crowd who all seemed extremely excited for a carefree, upbeat night at the theatre. With an abundance of hair-gel and budding romances that's exactly what the production provides, it's not faultless but it's feel-good fun.

The onstage band open the show with a high energy performance of 'Grease is the Word' which created an electric atmosphere and introduced the powerful instrumental players and ensemble in a brilliant way. Leading the cast as the sweetly innocent Sandy is musical theatre favourite Danielle Hope who is marvellous in the role. Her voice is strong and she captures the character extremely skilfully. Danielle certainly shines in the role with her rendition of the 'Sandra Dee Reprise' being a particular standout of the whole production.

Her romantic counterpart Danny Zuko is played by The Wanted's Tom Parker who seemed slightly out of place and nervous but did come across well at points. As the show went on he seemed to settle into the role more but there's definitely some room for improvement in terms of overall performance. Similarly, the other celebrity name, Lousia Lytton as the fiesty Rizzo is lacking a certain something. Her energy is high and her sass comes across well but her vocals let her down at points.

The ensemble are absolutely outstanding though, with each one owning their quirky roles perfectly and showing off their boundless stage presence. Gabriella Williams is absolutely splendid as Patty Simcox, her dancing, acting and whole performance is stellar and she provides hilarious comical moments through her peppy, excitable, exaggerated performance. I also loved Michael Cortez who was extremely energetic and had some brilliant one liners which he delivered with great comedic timing. 

Arlene Phillips' choreography is retro and sleek and creates a great visual. The energy is the real key in this show and each move seems well thought out to provide optimum power and spirit. 

You can't fault the production values of this show and despite some lacking moments it ticks all the boxes for an infectious night out and will please anyone who is a fan of the iconic musical. 
Grease runs at the New Wimbledon Theatre until April 29th 2017 before continuing on it's UK Tour.

Friday, 25 February 2022

Millie O’Connell, Danielle Steers and Debbie Kurup to Play Cher in The Cher Show

“All of us invent ourselves.

Some of us just have more imagination than others.”CHER

The producers of the brand new production of The Cher Show are delighted to announce that the role of Cher will be played by Debbie KurupDanielle Steers and Millie O’Connell. The production features the actresses portraying Cher in three different ways throughout her iconic career, with Debbie as ‘Star’, Danielle as ‘Lady’ and Millie as ‘Babe’.  Further casting is to be announced.

 

With book by Tony and Olivier Award-winning Rick Elice (Jersey BoysThe Addams FamilyPeter and the Starcatcher), direction by Arlene Phillips (Saturday Night FeverStarlight ExpressGrease), choreography by Oti Mabuse (two-time Strictly Come Dancing champion) and costume design by Gabriella Slade (SixIn The HeightsSpice World 2019 Tour), the UK & Ireland Tour will open at Leicester’s Curve on 15 April 2022 and will continue through to 1 April 2023.

 

Debbie Kurup’s theatre credits include Bonnie & Clyde (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane), Queen Tuya in The Prince of Egypt (Dominion), Blues in the Night (Kiln), Sweet Charity (Donmar Warehouse), Mrs Neilsen in Girl From The North Country (Old Vic/ Noël Coward), The Threepenny Opera (NT), Anything Goes (Sheffield Crucible/UK Tour), Nikki Marron in The Bodyguard (Adelphi - Olivier Award nomination for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical), Velma Kelly in Chicago (Cambridge/Adelphi), Sister Act (London Palladium), East (Leicester Curve), West Side Story (Prince of Wales), Tonight’s The Night (Victoria Palace), Rent (Prince of Wales/UK Tour), Fame (UK Tour), Guys And Dolls (Sheffield Crucible), Pal Joey (Chichester) and Boogie Nights (Savoy).

 

Danielle Steers’s theatre credits include The Empress in Aladdin (Theatre Royal, Plymouth),  Catherine Parr in Six The Musical (London), Zahara in the original cast of Bat out of Hell: The Musical (Manchester Opera House, London Coliseum, Ed Mirvish Theatre, Toronto, Dominion Theatre, New York City Centre), Carmen in Sweet Charity (Donmar Warehouse), Lead Shirelle in the original London cast of Beautiful - The Carole King Musical (Aldwych Theatre), swing and cover Nikki Marron in The Bodyguard (Adelphi Theatre) and cover Killer Queen in We Will Rock You (International Arena Tour). Her debut album, The Future Ain't What It Used To Be, was released in 2021.

 

Millie O’Connell’s theatre credits include Maureen in Rent (Hope Mill Theatre - WOS Award Nomination), Jeanie in Hair (Turbine Theatre), Chloe Valentine in Be More Chill (Shaftesbury Theatre and The Other Palace), Anne Boleyn in SIXThe Musical (UK Tour and Arts Theatre, London - Olivier Award nominated), Ensemble/cover Millie in Thoroughly Modern Millie (UK Tour), Ensemble/Understudy Annie in 42nd Street (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane), Ensemble/Understudy Peggy Sawyer in 42nd Street (Theatre Du Chatelet).

 

From a young child with big dreams, the shy daughter of an Armenian American truck driver, to the dizzying heights of global stardom, The Cher Show tells the incredible story of Cher’s meteoric rise to fame.  Cher takes the audience by the hand and introduces them to the influential people in her life, from her mother and Sonny Bono, to fashion designer and costumier Bob Mackie.  It shows how she battled the men who underestimated her, fought the conventions and, above all, was a trailblazer for independence.  

 

The musical is packed with 35 of her biggest hits, including ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’, ‘I Got You Babe’, ‘Strong Enough’, ‘The Shoop Shoop Song’ and ‘Believe’.  

 

With over 100 million record sales, an Academy Award®, an Emmy®, a Grammy®, three Golden Globes® and an award from The Council of Fashion Designers of America, Cher has influenced popular culture more than most.  Her on-screen career started in 1971 with her weekly television show that attracted 30 million viewers a week, and went on to include starring roles in iconic films from Moonstruck, for which she won the Oscar for Best Actress, to Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!, which prompted the New York Magazine to realise “every single movie—no matter how flawless—would be infinitely better if it included Cher.”  Her ‘Farewell Tour’ became the highest grossing music tour in history – in true Cher fashion, she followed up her ‘Farewell Tour’ with two further sell-out, worldwide arena tours.  She is the only artist in history to have a number one hit in the Billboard chart for six consecutive decades; an achievement that caused Vogue to deem her “eternally relevant and the ruler of outré reinvention”.  She became known as the Queen of Reinvention. 

 

In the 1990s, she established The Cher Charitable Foundation to support causes around the world.  She has been a long-time donor and supporter of Habitat for Humanity, The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and Keep A Child Alive, an organisation that helps to combat the AIDs epidemic.  Most recently, she co-founded Free the Wild to help rescue Kaavan the Asian elephant from Islamabad zoo.

 

Written by Tony Award-winning Rick Elice, The Cher Show made its debut on Broadway in 2018 in a production that earned two Tony Awards and delighted fans from around the world.  This new production will be the European premiere.

 

The Cher Show UK & Ireland Tour will have set design by Tom Rogers, musical supervision by Rich Morris, lighting design by Ben Cracknell, sound design by Dan Samson, music production by Gary Hickeson, wigs, hair and make-up design by Sam Cox, associate direction by James Cousins, associate choreography by James Bennett and casting by Will Burton CDG.

 

The Cher Show UK & Ireland Tour is produced by ROYO with Fiery Angel, Cuffe & Taylor/LIVE NATION and Playing Field in association with Tilted, Aria Entertainment and JONES Theatrical Group.

 

Website: www.cheronstage.com

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram: @TheCherShowUK


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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