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

Friday 8 September 2017

Follies, National Theatre | Review

Olivier Theatre, National Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday 7th September 2017 by Olivia Mitchell 

It's been 30 years since a fully staged production of Follies has been seen on a London stage so there's been a huge buzz surrounding the current production at the National Theatre, which boasts a stellar cast.  The production is largely sold out but don't fret if you didn't manage to snap up tickets as it is set to be broadcast to cinemas through NT Live on November 16th.

Mr Weismann's iconic theatre is closing so to commemorate he invites all his old Follies to dance and reminisce about their time in the company. Being back in the places of their youth, many characters start being pulled back to the past and we watch as the past and present become intwined. Childhood best friends with a past, Sally and Phyllis and their husbands Buddy and Ben reopen a chapter of their lives which they all thought closed.  Both couples are experiencing problems in their marriages and despite time having passed, they can't help but relive old feelings. 

Follies was originally written as a straight-through piece with no interval; whilst some productions have included intervals, the National Theatre's doesn't. Speaking to others about the show it seemed that people were wary of having to sit for that long without a break and whilst it is the same as watching a film, I suppose there's more freedom and less embarrassment to have a loo break during a film. This needn't be a worry at all though as the show flows wonderfully and really builds up momentum throughout, meaning that stepping out doesn't cross your mind as the show flies by.

The entire cast are absolutely stellar, keeping up the energy from the get go to the end. I particularly enjoy Di Botcher's rendition of 'Broadway Baby' which is completely hilarious and gorgeously sung and Tracie Bennett's 'I'm Still Here' which is gritty and powerful. Her nuanced performance is one of the best I've ever seen on stage. The younger selves of the two main ladies, played by Zizi Strallen and Alex Young are extremely well performed. The mirroring of the young and old girls is spectacular and extremely moving. Alex's transition from the giddy girl into the obsessed girl is striking.

This obsession continues with the adult Sally, played by the ever brilliant, Imelda Staunton. Sally has not really changed throughout the years and comes onto the stage just as giddy as a child when we first see her. Her fragility begins to show little by little, coming to a head in her stunning rendition of the classic, 'Losing My Mind'. Sally's partner in crime, Phyllis is played by the equally brilliant, Janie Dee who is strong and sassy from start to end. 

Dominic Cooke's direction creates a flow of movement and an ease throughout which is joyful to watch. Bill Dreamer's choreography works hand in hand with is and showcases the best of the Follies era. Along with the National's revolve, the choreography swims along and is faultless. A particular stand-out moment is the tap number 'Who's That Woman?'... I'm a sucker for tap and this was pulled off perfectly as the older Follies girls join their younger selves to create a thing of beauty.

Vicki Mortimer's set design cleverly shows hints of the former glory of the grand Weismann theatre as it crumbles in current day. The costumes are stunning not only with the gorgeous glitz and glam of the Follies but with how well they show off the character of each individual lady in the current day.

Overall this is an absolutely wonderful production which has everything you could wish for in a musical. There's glitz, glam, grit and emotion, which along with a perfect cast create an absolutely wonderful production of Sondheim's classic musical. 

Follies runs at the National Theatre until January 3rd. 

Friday 22 February 2019

Follies, National Theatre | Review

National Theatre, Olivier Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday 21st February 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 

After its sold out run in 2017, Follies is back in true glamourous style as it follows a group of dancers reminiscing and reliving their youth. Mr Weismann's iconic theatre is being turned into a car park, so he's invited his past Follies dancers back to say one last farewell to the space. The walls of the theatre bring back memories and as we see childhood friends Phyllis and Sally reopen chapters they thought were closed, we are taken on a journey where past and present collide.

Dominic Cooke has once again directed a visceral and intense production. At 2 hours 15 minutes with no interval, the piece steadily flows and retains ferocity throughout. Vicki Mortimer's set and costumes are a spectacle in themselves; the crumbling theatre is periodically brought back to life by a subtle change and cleverly used to signify mental changes and journeys as well as the physical flashbacks. The costumes are elaborate and unique to each girl, with the delicate smatterings of jewels and sparkles, shining and flowing as they move around the stage.

Bill Dreamer's choreography brings the best of the Follies era to life  as the girls move around the stage gracefully, as if every movement is strategically planned for attention. Of course, the stand out choreographic moment is 'Who's That Woman' where the young and old combine to create a magical tap routine. Also, particularly striking is the way the young and old follies dancers, reflect themselves across the stage.

In terms of cast, you can't get much better than this one. Tracie Bennett's 'I'm Still Here' is a chill inducing, nuanced filled performance; whilst,  Claire Moore is hilarious throughout, no more so than in her gloriously sung, 'Broadway Baby'. Fellow The Girls alum, Joanna Riding is utterly outstanding as Sally. The transition from excitable girl, to fragile woman is perfectly performed, with 'Losing My Mind' providing a complete masterclass is acting through song and maintaining vocal technique even in moments of peak emotional earnestness. This intensity is mirrored by Gemma Sutton as Young Sally who is perfectly cast, alongside Christine Tucker as Young Phyllis, to show how we change, and how we remain the same.

Janie Dee is striking as Phyllis, whilst husbands, Buddy and Ben have great characterisation and development thanks to Peter Forbes and Alexander Hanson.

Whilst Follies is an outstanding piece of theatre, personally I feel a little far removed from the story; most likely because I lack the life experiences to relate on an emotional level. However, there's not denying that this is one of the most glitzy shows around, with one of Sondheim's finest scores and it's worth a visit to see how theatre should be done. Regardless of being able to relate, this is a marvellous piece of theatre. 

photo credit: Johann Persson

Wednesday 26 April 2017

Funny Girl (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

Funny Girl (UK Tour)

New Victoria Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday April 25th 2017 by Olivia Mitchell

Funny Girl is one of my absolute favourite musicals  and was one of the first reviews I ever wrote (which you can read here.) I saw the show when it was in previews at the Savoy Theatre and never had the chance to go back so I was very excited to see it again on it's UK tour to see if it still lived up to my initial praise. I am very pleased to say that it did and even exceeded it!

Funny Girl tells the story of the young Jewish girl, Fanny Brice who longs to be a star and is not going to take no for an answer. Whilst many people in the industry brand her as "not pretty enough", her comedic talent, natural stage presence, strong voice and sheer determination allow her her big break as she becomes a star with the Ziegfeld Follies. Along the way she meets the mysterious Nick Arnstein and we follow the ups and downs of their rollercoaster relationship. 

The simplistic but beautiful set and staging takes the audience to 1920s New York perfectly with the precise amount of extravagance and spectacle to add to the show and story without detracting from it at all. Most of the scenes take place on the created stage and backstage where Fanny is performing and the use of other theatrical elements is very cleverly used such as spotlights, curtains and mirrors. 

The entire cast are sublime with the versatile, energetic ensemble completely bringing the ornate dance scenes to life. Especially impressive was the dance which included pointe shoes with taps on them. The choreography is spectacularly sharp and show-stopping and executed faultlessly.

Natasha J Barnes as Fanny Brice is completely and utterly mesmerising. Her stage presence is outstanding and she absorbs the audience into the world of Miss Brice flawlessly. Her portrayal is warm and witty, with sensational vocals and sublime comedic timing. It's not only her high energy moments which are impeccable though but the quiet moments of vulnerability where we really see what a brilliant actress she is. Music That Makes Me Dance was a particular stand out moment for me as the entire audience was not only silent but seemed as if they were so enraptured in the moment that they were holding their breath. It was a truly magical theatrical moment. I was thoroughly blown away by Barnes and can't wait to see her continue to become a star of the stage and the blazing supernova she deserves to be. 

Fanny's charismatic love interest is played by Darius Campbell who takes on the role very well. He is engaging and his strong voice carries well and pairs flawlessly with Barnes' especially in Who Are You Now which is touching and emotive. He has just the right mix of charm, wit, mystery and darkness to fully show the multiple layers of the problematic Nick Arnstein.

I am so impressed by this entire production and it is absolutely the best touring production I have seen. The calibre of every moment is top notch and I was mesmerised throughout. Funny Girl has every element necessary and ticks all the boxes needed for a wonderful theatrical experience. Natasha Barnes steals the show with her astonishing performance; she is truly the greatest star and a complete inspiration.

Funny Girl runs at the New Victoria Theatre until April 29th 2017 before continuing on it's UK tour.

Tuesday 7 June 2022

Full Cast and Creative Team Announced for Billy Elliot the Musical

Curve has announced the cast and creative team for its upcoming Made at Curve production of Billy Elliot the Musical.

The first new UK production is directed by Nikolai Foster (A Chorus Line, Sunset Boulevard – At Home, West Side Story) and will run at the Leicester theatre for six weeks only from Thursday 7 July to Sunday 14 August. Press night will take place on Thursday 14 July.

The titular role of Billy Elliot, the miner’s son with a passion for ballet, will be performed by Leo Hollingsworth from Nottinghamshire, Alfie Napolitano from Northamptonshire, Samuel Newby from Hertfordshire and Jaden Shentall-Lee, whose family live in Leicestershire.

Billy’s dance teacher Mrs. Wilkinson will be played by West End and Broadway legend Sally Ann Triplett, whose iconic roles include Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes (National Theatre and Theatre Royal Drury Lane) and Young Phyllis in Follies (Shaftesbury Theatre), as well as Martha in the recent Made at Curve UK tour of White Christmas.

Michael, Billy’s best friend will be performed by Bobby Donald, Lucas Haywood, Ethan Shimwell and Leicester’s Prem Masani, who will make his stage debut in the production.

All hailing from the East Midlands, Pearl Ball, Caitlin Cole, Lola Johnstone and Ellie Copping – who returns to Curve’s stage having previously appeared as Susan Waverly in the 2018 Made at Curve production of White Christmas - will share the role of Debbie, Mrs. Wilkinson’s daughter.

Joe Caffrey, who previously performed in the West End production of Billy Elliot the Musical, will join the cast as Billy’s Dad Jackie, while Broadway and West End sensation Rachel Izen will play Billy’s Grandma Edna. Luke Baker (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, the Made at Curve UK tour of Grease) will play Billy’s older brother Tony and Jessica Daley (recently seen in Made at Curve productions of White Christmas and The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber) will play Billy’s Mum.

The adult company will be completed by Craig Armstrong as George, Minal Patel as Big Davey, Cameron Johnson as Mr. Braithwaite, Micky Cochrane as Scab, Robin Paley Yorke as Lesley, Christopher Wright as Mr. Wilkinson, Michael Lin as Pit Supervisor, Jonathan Dryden Taylor as Posh Dad, William Atkinson as Older Billy and ensemble, and Steph Asamoah, Tori McDougall, Anna Rossa and Louie Wood as members of the ensemble.

The young company of ballet dancers and boxers, most of which are Midlands-based or have local family connections, will feature Willow Adamson, Maddie Seren Ashley, Oliver Back, Aneeka Kaur Bains, Ella-Rose Blackburn Price, Harvey Clarridge, Lily Corkill, Miley Dalton, Matisse Didier, Isabelle Francis, Ethan Galeotti, Rahul Gandabhai, Isla Granville, Uzziah Gray, Orlaith Rae Hunt, Ava Rose Johnson, Ava Mia Komisarczuk, Kyrelle Lammy, Lienna-Jean Langdon, Tahlia Maddox, Lorcan Murphy, Nesisa Mhindu, Sophia Pirie, Hayden Polanco, Gopal Thacker and Mirabelle Varakantam.

The Made at Curve production of Billy Elliot the Musical will by choreographed by Lucy Hind, with Musical Supervisor and Musical Director George Dyer. The set will be designed by Michael Taylor with costumes designed by Edd Lindley. Also joining the creative team are Lighting Designer and Curve Associate Ben Cracknell, Sound Designer Adam Fisher, Props Supervisor Lizzie Frankl, RYTDS Resident Assistant Director Lilac Yosiphon, Birkbeck Trainee Director Thyrza Abrahams, Associate Choreographer James Berkery, Dialect Coach Elspeth Morrison, Fight Director Kev McCurdy and Head Chaperone Helen ‘H’ Mclaren-Frost.

Children’s casting is managed by Jo Hawes, with adult casting led by Curve Associate Kay Magson CDG.

Curve’s Chief Executive Chris Stafford and Artistic Director Nikolai Foster said:

“We are beyond excited to share our extraordinary cast for Lee Hall and Elton John’s astonishing musical Billy Elliot, ensuring this summer in Leicester is truly memorable.
“Billy Elliot is a musical filled with incredible characters, epic ideas and at its heart, the story of a young boy who has the passion and courage to dance down a different path from the one prescribed for him. We are thrilled to be working with our four Billys - Alfie, Leo, Jaden and Sam - and the entire young company - all hugely talented, brimming with energy and representing the very best young talent in the UK today.
“And leading the entire company, theatre legend Sally Ann Triplett takes on the role of the inspirational teacher we all need in our lives, Mrs. Wilkinson. Joining Sally, we are proud to welcome a first-class company to Curve, totally 55 performers! This is by far the most ambitious show we have staged at Curve and there is no better time to present this musical which recognises the value of culture in our society, the importance of expressing your truest self and gives a voice to the courageous working-class communities who are depicted in Lee Hall’s astonishing play. All beautifully framed by Elton John’s electrifying score.”

Based on Stephen Daldry’s BAFTA-winning 2000 film starring Jamie Bell and Julie WaltersBilly Elliot the Musical features music from Elton John and book and lyrics by Lee Hall. The musical first premiered at London’s Victoria Palace Theatre in 2005 and went on to win a host of international awards, including four Olivier Awards and ten Tony Awards.

Tickets for Billy Elliot the Musical at Curve be purchased on Curve’s website, over the phone by calling 0116 242 3595 or in-person at Curve’s Box Office.

photo credit: Marc Brenner

Saturday 30 December 2017

Olivia's Top 10 Shows of 2017

This year I saw 105 shows so picking my top 10 was pretty tricky! I know everyone does these posts but it's always interesting to see what peaked everyones interests so without further ado, here are the shows I loved in 2017. Grab a mince pie and settle in!

PS. They're in reverse order as always to bring that extra bit of drama!

10. Yank | Charing Cross Theatre

I saw the West End premiere of this show and completely fell in love. The storyline was gripping, the acting was outstanding and it was a highlight of my summer. Scott Hunter was a particular stand out and I can't wait to see what 2018 brings for him.

9. Follies | National Theatre

This was one of my most anticipated shows of the year and it certainly wasn't a let down. The glorious staging was spectacular and I adored hearing Sondheim's music live as well as seeing queen Imelda Staunton on stage again.

8. Mack and Mabel (LMTO) | Hackney Empire

This was such a surprising show for me. Of course I expected good things from the LMTO but I was so blown away by every performance in Mack and Mabel. Natasha J Barnes singing 'Time Heals Everything' was definitely my stand out vocal moment of the year.

7. Funny Girl | New Victoria Theatre

Natasha also gave an amazing performance as Fanny Brice in the UK Tour of Funny Girl. To date this is the best touring production I have ever seen!

6. Hamlet | Alemida Theatre

Andrew Scott was just spectacular. That's all.

5. Fiddler on the Roof | Chichester Festival Theatre

I must admit, I don't travel outside of London for theatre very often but I am so glad I made the trip to Chichester to see this production which completely blew me away. This show needs a West End transfer and I'm praying its life isn't over.

4. Angels in the America | National Theatre

How could I not mention this?! A marathon show but packed with drama, talent and grit at every moment. Truly a theatrical masterpiece- Broadway get ready!

3. Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill | National Theatre

Audra is just a queen. I was mesmerised by every single moment of this show. I first saw it on press night and then went back with my parents, both times were breathtaking and it was such an honour to see a Broadway superstar on stage.

2. Romantics Anonymous | Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

My lovely friend Hayley took me to see this for my birthday and for some reason I never got round to reviewing it (hopefully I'll do it soon!) But it was honestly just brilliant. Both literally and metaphorically sweet it was the perfect way to spend an afternoon. If you want a heartwarming tale, this is the one for you!

1. Hamilton | Victoria Palace Theatre

I know this is the most typical answer and so not a surprise but Hamilton just blew me away. I still can't believe that it exceeded my expectations and if you can get a ticket, you HAVE to see it!!

I also want to give a special mention to  a couple of other outstanding shows which I mentioned in last years wrap up: Rent and Dreamgirls, both of which amazed me again this year! I have a couple of concert shout outs too- Rachel Tucker, Kristin Chenoweth and Lea Michele. I saw Rachel perform 5 times and was completely astounded by her voice and stage presence every time. Kristin had me bawling from start to finish. Her concert was definitely the most memorable I've ever been too. Finally, Lea was a bucket list concert for me and I'm so honoured to have seen (and met) her this year!

So there we have my top shows of 2017! I can't wait to see what 2018 brings- let me know what your top shows of the year were.

Au revoir 2017! Stay Stagey, 2018!

Top 10 by editor, Olivia Mitchell