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Tuesday 22 August 2023

Death Note the Musical in Concert at the London Palladium Review: An Ambitious and Engaging Evening

a testament to the creative team's dedication to translating the essence of Death Note to the stage"

Death Note the Musical (Concert) 
London Palladium

In its first ever English language performance Death Note the Musical in Concert provides an engaging experience, that beautifully combines a concert style show with the allure of a full-fledged production, including captivating staging, meticulously designed costumes, and expertly executed choreography. Drawing inspiration from the iconic Death Note franchise, which originated as a manga series written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata, this musical adaptation pays homage to the rich history and context of the source material.

The exceptional cast, which include remarkable talents such as Frances Mayli McCann as Misa Amane, Dean John Wilson as L, Aimie Atkinson as Rem and Adam Pascal as Ryuk, deliver performances that breathe life into the characters. Their portrayal of the characters showcasing both their impressive vocal prowess and their deep understanding of the emotional complexities within the story which questions morality, justice and power.

While the storyline can be a bit challenging to follow, particularly for those not acquainted with the original Manga, the production's sleek execution manages to pack in a lot without feeling overwhelming. The adaptation skilfully navigates the intricate plot points, a testament to the creative team's dedication to translating the essence of Death Note to the stage.

The translation of various elements from the manga to the stage is nothing short of impressive in this truly ambitious concert debut. The show's director, Nick Winston, and the rest of the creative team, including choreographer Alexzandra Sarmiento and costume designer Will Skeet, deserve commendation for their remarkable work in seamlessly integrating these elements into the live performance. The audience's palpable elation is a testament to the success of this collaborative creative endeavour.

The pre and post-show buzz, along with the audience's enthusiastic reactions, clearly indicate that Death Note the Musical has found its niche. Wonderfully, it manages to attract those who might not typically be drawn to musicals, thanks to its connection to the established Death Note franchise and the efforts of the cast and creatives. This broad appeal speaks volumes about the production's ability to engage and captivate diverse audiences.

Admittedly, the sound balance did exhibit some issues on opening night, which can be expected with such an ambitious score. While it occasionally detracted from the overall experience, it's understandable for a complex production. Once the sound balance is finely tuned, there's no doubt that this show will achieve the impactful resonance it aims for.

Death Note the Musical in Concert at the London Palladium showcases the successful fusion of storytelling, outstanding performances, and production design. By highlighting the talents of the cast, and thanks to the creative vision, the musical celebrates the legacy of the Death Note franchise while crafting a unique and captivating theatrical experience. The show's potential to become an unforgettable sensation is evident, and with further refinements, it's poised to leave a lasting mark on the world of musical theatre and is a must see for fans of the source manga.

Reviewed on Monday 21st August 2023 by Olivia Mitchell
Photo Credit: Mark Senior

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

Friday 17 February 2023

The King and I (Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

The King and I (Tour)
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday 16th February 2022 

A gem of classic musical theatre, The King and I is in top form as it embarks on a sparkling UK tour. brimming with humour and character growth, Bartlett Sher's production is a less menacing version of the show which still provides all you could ask for in a night out at the theatre.

Rodgers and Hammerstein's score is the beating heart of the musical and truly stands the test of time; with stunning overtures and a whole array of musical treats, it’s wonderful to hear such a full and charging score played so well, especially for a touring production with only 11 musicians. Under Christopher Mundy’s musical direction, there’s not a moment of the score which lacks. At times there is a slight lack of balance between the physical instruments and the vocals but this is a minor flaw in a majorly good musical experience.

As English school teacher, Helen George is brilliantly charming, making it clear why the kingdom fall so in love with her. There are moments where her vocals lack oomph and words are occasionally lost but overall her portrayal of Mrs Anna is sugary sweet. To balance, Darren Lee is commanding as the King of Siam and frequently borders the line between scary and kind, but never quite shows a really terrifying wrath. What works well is the excellent chemistry between Lee and George, who from their very first interaction create a frisson of energy which flows throughout the whole piece. The pair bounce off one another so well and have an incredibly natural banter which is really great to watch.

Marnienella Phillips is a complete standout as Tuptim. Her vocal performance is so well supported and her evident classical training really fits the piece. Phillips also nails the emotional aspect when trying to escape with her forbidden love (the vocal powerhouse Dean John-Wilson). Cezarah Bonner is well rounded as Lady Thiang and Caleb Lagayan has some dynamic moments as Prince Chulalongkorn.

This touring version isn't quite as grand as its West End counterpart which is to be expected, but it still manages to boast some great set (Michael Yeargan) pieces which help to bring the sprawling Siam palace Catherine Zuber's costumes are very reminiscent of the time period and really move well on stage. For example in the iconic Shall We Dance number, Mrs Anna's dress shines in the light (Donald Holder) and looks almost magical.

As touring productions go, The King and I really is the cream of the crop. It's pretty long but not a moment drags and it really is all that's good about old school musical theatre. Entertaining and enchanting, this show is well-worth seeing!

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