Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Eve Polycarpou. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Eve Polycarpou. Sort by date Show all posts

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Strictly Ballroom, Piccadilly Theatre | Review


Strictly Ballroom 
Piccadilly Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 24th April 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

Strictly Ballroom is a chilled out, glittering celebration of dance and a refreshing show to add to the list of ones to cheer us up in these dreary times. 

Based on  Baz Luhrman's 1992 film, Strictly Ballroom tells the story of Scott Hastings, a young Australian man who’s been dancing and winning awards for almost his entire life. He longs to break free of what moves are ‘expected’ and 'strictly ballroom' and pave his own way in the dance world. Enter Fran, just Fran, the overlooked dancer who wants a life of love, passion and to dance with Scott. When Scott starts improvising at a dance competition again, his partner  Liz leaves him and he and Fran become secret dance partners.

This show is cheesy beyond belief but it’s also extremely self-aware. The over exaggeration and somewhat cringy humour works because it doesn’t try to be anything other than fun. The characters are larger than life but work to create an embellished version of life as a competitive dancer.


This show is of course, all about the dance and Drew McOnie has done an outstanding job choreographing his West End debut. The moves are sharp, sleek and a real joy to watch. When attending this show, I wasn't aware that it's not a typical musical. In fact, I would describe it more as a play with songs. Will Young takes on the role of Wally Strand who acts as the compere, narrator and singer. His voice is beautiful and he does a fabulous job of performing Marius De Vries' arrangements of hit songs such as Dancing With Myself, Love is in The Air, I Wanna Dance with Somebody and more. This set up doesn't take away from the show at all but it would be nice to see the rest of the company getting a chance to show off their vocals. However, it's the dance that's the star of the show. Taking  the place of big vocal numbers, it's stunning to see such colourful, glitzy routines on the stage. The act 2 close of the Paso Doble and Habañera is especially powerful, with Fernando Mira's flamenco routine wowing the audience and proving how emotive dance is.

There’s a running joke that the west end isn’t the west end unless a Strallen sister is in a show. Seeing Zizi Strallen perform you can understand how their talent has made them a crucial part of the London theatre scene. Zizi’s performance is dorky and heartfelt and her character arc throughout is beautiful to watch. It’s truly joyous to watch her perform and you can't help but keep your eyes on her every second she's on stage. I am definitely going to have to bring my apricot face scrub out of the cupboard if it'll make me look like Zizi! Ms Strallen's footwork is also sublime and she works in perfect synchronicity with Jonny Labey who is is dazzling on stage and clearly the perfect choice for the role. The pair of actors are a winning combo.


Anna Francolini is suitably hilarious as Scott's mother who lives vicariously through him- her comedic timing is outstanding. Eve Polycarpou is sweet and endearing as Fran's Abeula and her latin vocals really stand out amongst the rousing music. The ensemble of Strictly Ballroom are great, all with clear personalities in their dancing duos. Gabriela Garcia and Liam Marcellino really stand out as Vanessa and Wayne. The entire cast work brilliantly together to create a polished show.

It's a lovely feature to have the band live on stage and it's amazing how they become part of the action rather than being overshadowing at all. Catherine Martin's costumes are as sparkly and over the top as you could want and Soutra Gilmour's set is simplistic but emotive. This production is well thought out and it's clear to see how much care and love has gone into it from the entire cast, crew and company.

It's time to escape the grey for the colour filled dance hall of Strictly BallroomBogo Pogo your way to the Piccadilly theatre for a spectacularly sparkly experience, and a fun, chilled out night that'll make you want to get out of your seat and dance. 

Strictly Ballroom runs at the Piccadilly Theatre until October 20th 2018

photo credit: Johan Persson

Thursday, 10 November 2022

From Here To Eternity, Charing Cross Theatre | Review


From Here To Eternity
Charing Cross Theatre 
Reviewed on Wednesday 9th November 2022
★★★

Based on the novel by James Jones and the classic film adaptation, From Here to Eternity follows the soldiers of G Company in the days leading up to the Pearl Harbour attack. There are dramas, romance and social commentary galore, and this production at the Charing Cross Theatre showcases it all with stunning performances, but a mishmashmed plot. 

There have been a number of musical changes from the previous London production with songs being cut and some new additions made; the first act is very plot heavy and almost feels like a play with songs as opposed to a full blown musical. However, the score (lyrics by Tim Rice, music by Stuart Brayson) definitely has some stand out moments and the consistently strong cast give their all and provide absolutely divine harmonic moments throughout.

As Prewitt the leading man, Jonathon Bentley is astounding. In a vocally and physically demanding role, he completely excels and exudes star power. As Maggio, Jonny Aimes is incredibly enjoyable to watch, showcasing his versatility, beginning as the cheeky comedian before becoming beaten down by army life and what it entails. The entire male cast are strong and this is certainly a show which thrives in its ensemble moments where everything comes together in harmony and synchronicity. The female cast is small but mighty. Desmonda Cathabel as Lorene, Eve Polycarpou as Mrs Kipfer and Carley Stenson as Karen are uniformly formidable and give some great solo and trio moments. However, as with most of the characters there's limited development to their storylines so it's difficult to really root for them. Also, most of their action is just in reaction to the men and they aren't given much agency of their own which is a shame.

This is a show which pack a lot in but it's not all successful. With such a vast number of stories going on throughout and not enough time for their background exposition, there's a distinct lack of connection which means the drama never fully hits. That being said, this is a real powerhouse of a show vocally and is worth seeing for the sheer talent on display.

Another great aspect is the combination of Adam King's lighting and Stewart J Charlesworth's set design which work in unison to create  a very cinematic feeling production. There are some visually striking moments and the small space of the theatre is used to its full potential. Cressida Carré's choreography also fits well and is perfectly sharp and clean.

From Here to Eternity has some faults but is ultimately a show which delivers oomph thanks to its completely committed cast. The story is a bit all over the place but the moments which hit, really do so well and it's great to see a much loved British musical back on stage.

photo credit: Mark Senior