Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Denise Welch. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Denise Welch. Sort by date Show all posts

Friday, 30 June 2017

The Wind in the Willows, London Palladium | Review


The Wind in the Willows
London Palladium
Reviewed on Thursday June 29th 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★★★

The Wind in the Willows is a perfectly fun, family show. It's not a theatrical masterpiece but it's a cute, heartwarming fable that's sweet enough for both children and adults to enjoy.

Adapted by Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey) with music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe (Half a Sixpence), The Wind in the Willows is an old school tale given a modern twist. We follow Ratty and his new friend Mole as they venture around the countryside trying to hide from the evil of the Wild Wood and help their friend Mr. Toad curve his need for speed. It's a show which is quintessentially British:lazing by the river, watching the swallows returning home for summer, seeing animals foraging in the woods, each scene conjures up the good old English countryside.

The pastoral feel of the production is guided by the sets and costumes by Peter McKintosh, with each area and animal having its own unique "style" and each set piece combining perfectly to create the world of human-like animals which is both distinctive and mystical. Each animal is instantly recognisable without being too in your face animal. The set also strikes a good balance between being enough of a spectacle whilst still leaving enough room for your imagination to roam a little wild. 



Simon Lipkin's Ratty is suitably funny and stern and despite not being a huge belting role, he really shows off his voice and beautiful tone. Craig Mather has wonderful chemistry with Lipkin as Ratty's partner in crime, Mole. He is the perfect mix of innocence and strength and is pretty perfect in the role. Another sweet and funny character is Mrs Otter played by Denise Welch although we never do find out what happened to her husband! Thankfully some contrast to the sweetness is brought with the baddie of the show, Chief Weasel played by Neill McDermott who is very reminiscent of Rooster in Annie. The Weasel scenes are my personal favourites and add a nice sharpness to the otherwise same level show. The ensemble are tight and bring a lot to the show. An audience favourite seemed to be the adorable hedgehog family who sing a lovely little ditty about the trouble of crossing the road. 

Aletta Collins' choreography fits exactly, adding not only dimension but humour to the show. Especially so with the tap dancing horse!

Of course I have to mention Mr Toad played by Rufus Hound who is great in the role. He is over the top and dramatic but actually very good. I was surprised at how good his voice is and really do think he's the perfect choice for the role.

The Wind in the Willows is good family fun which is certain to leave a smile on your face and at least one song in your head. It's simple, charming and exactly what it says on the tin, what more could you ask for for a family theatre trip? 

The Wind in the Willows runs at the London Palladium until September 9th

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Calendar Girls (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review


Calendar Girls (UK Tour)
New Victoria Theatre 
Reviewed on Tuesday 26th March 2019 by Melanie Mitchell 
★★★★★

Calendar Girls the Musical is based on the true story of a close-knit Yorkshire village. In 1998, Ladies of the local Women's Institute, rally to help one of their members when her beloved husband suddenly dies. They decide to raise money in his memory for the Leukaemia Research Fund by posing naked in a Pirelli style calendar and selling copies.

The story was subsequently made into a film in 2003 and then a stage play in 2008, both written by Tim Firth. Tim spent 5 years in collaboration with Gary Barlow to produce this brilliant musical. The story has been changed quite a lot from the original, but the basic premise remains the same. The musical looks at the whole gamut of human relationships and emotions with fantastic humour, pathos and poignancy, accompanied by an excellent musical score.

The characters are perfectly cast with amazingly strong performances by all. Anna-Jane Casey who plays Annie and Rebecca Storm as Chris are outstanding, both having superb voices. Fern Britten is fabulous as Marie the leader of the WI, desperate to stick to the old traditional values whilst being a terrible snob and social climber. Denise Welch is perfect as Celia, the brash, brassy and blousy ex air hostess trying to button up to fit in with the community. The show contains some of the funniest laugh out loud one liners I have ever heard, many delivered with perfect comedic timing by Karen Dunbar as Cora. Sara Crowe is hilarious as the ever helpful, slightly tragic Ruth. The younger actors, Isabel Caswell, Tyler Dobbs and Danny Howker add another dimension, which brings freshness and fun to the production.

Robert Jones' set and costume design are both fairly simple but completely in keeping with the themes and characters. In the first scene you are totally transported to the Yorkshire dales and subsequently to the village hall and green.

This is a heart-warming, totally British feel-good show, uplifting (in more ways than one), and something that almost everybody can relate to in some way or another.

For a really positive feel good evening at the theatre, suitable for all ages, I urge everyone to go and see this wonderful production.

Calendar Girls runs at the New Victoria Theatre until 29th march 2019