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

Monday 13 March 2023

The Phase, The Vaults | Review

The Phase
The Vaults

A new, British musical, The Phase follows four best friends and bandmates, Aziza, Rowan, Sage and Ava as they take on their Catholic school's oppressive rules which restrict them from expressing their queerness. The coming-of age musical tackles a number of issues in a short time and is a well written exploration of teenage life and identity.

The Vault Festival is a great event for shows to form and find audiences but the space, budget and time constraints don't always allow for much development. The team behind The Phase have done a great job working with these limitations and have created a musical that feels pretty well rounded and has design interest as well as great performances. The set comprises of large drawn out items such as rulers and pens that are transformed into various other things, and the band dressed as crayons complete the pencil case assortment and give the show a unique look and feel.

Led by musical director Amy Hsu, the band do a great job of leading the piece and accompanying the cast who provide consistently strong vocals. With Jocasta Almgill as Aziza, Ashley Goh as Rowan, Holly Ryan as Sage and Gracie McGonigal as Ava, the quad create a wholesome group who really support one another and give each other room to grow and be who they want to be. All four have well defined characteristics, and in a different setting there would certainly be room to flesh them out further. The occasional mic issue did mean some moments were lost at this performance but this is something that can be easily ironed out.

The Phase is a show which knows its identity and retains it throughout. Every moment is cohesive and feels quite genuinely like a school drama. There is a lot of angst and a whole host of personal struggles from anxiety to friendship, and although at times it feels a little too much, there is a sincerity sewn through which makes it a lovely piece.

Zoe Morris and Meg McGrady have created a great piece of musical theatre, that under Izzy Rabey's direction really gets to soar. It's lovely to see queer stories told that are not surrounded by trauma, and this show does a great job at highlighting the joy and community found, even when individuals are struggling. From body dysmorphia to relationship boundaries, there is so much packed into the hour long show. At times it comes across a little too dramatic, but at the same time it is very evocative of school life.

Mention must also go to how accessible the team have made the show. With sensory items available as well as chill out spaces, the whole experience embodies inclusivity and is certainly paving the way for others.

The show has just finished its run at the the Vault Festival, but there's sure to be a future life for The Phase and it will continue to spread joy via a touching storyline and absolutely killer vocals.

Reviewed on Sunday 12th March 2023 by Olivia Mitchell

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

Tuesday 17 May 2022

Grease The Musical, Dominion Theatre | Review

Grease The Musical
Dominion Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 17th May 2022 by Olivia Mitchell 

It’s a cult classic that’s got the word, got the groove, it’s got meaning, and in its current West End run at the Dominion Theatre, Grease provides a high energy, fun night out that’ll have you feeling good and tapping your toes.

The production which previously toured the UK features all the iconic moments and songs from the film, but shuffles them around and combines them with their original stage versions. For example The T Birds are now back to their og name of the Burger Palace Boys. These small tweaks allow the audience to be more engaged as they don’t quite know what’s coming. However, other attempts to somewhat modernise the book fall a little flat. You would assume that ending the show with the punchline of the girl changing herself so the boy likes her, could’ve been switched up a little but it remains the same as the movie and certainly feels dated. This version of Grease does give Sandy's character more of a backbone but it would be nice to see just a bit of dialogue added to give her a bit more autonomy at the end.

The West End cast is chockablock with strong performers who bring the array of characters to life incredibly well. As the leading lady, Olivia Moore is a delight as Sandy. Her powerhouse voice soars every time she opens her mouth and she gives a dynamic and endearing performance. Leader of the Burger Palace Boys, Danny Zuko is played well by Dan Partridge who really comes into his own in the angsty number How Big I'm Gonna Be and also provides great humour and vocals in Stranded at the Drive In.

Other standout performers include Jocasta Almgill, who’s rendition of There Are Worse Things I Could Do, is heart-wrenching and transforms the song to be heard in a new light. Mary Moore is also a gem as Jan and Eloise Davies is wonderfully witty and whimsical as the Beauty School Dropout, Frenchie. Paul French’s Kenickie is rough and brooding but sometimes lets his softer side show and is a delight to watch. 

If you’ve seen the adverts for this show, you’ll have probably seen Peter Andre who is starring as Vince Fontaine and Teen Idol. Whilst only appearing briefly in act one, in act two he comes to life and is highly entertaining and will certainly please audience members who are fans!

There are a few moments in the show where the energy lulls or jokes fall a bit flat but it’s the full ensemble sections that really bring it back up and make it soar. The Hand Jive and We Go Together are especially good moments that ooze energy and almost create electricity in the auditorium. This is in a big way thanks to Arlene Phillips' outstanding choreography that is fresh and exciting but completely in keeping with what we know and love as typically Grease

As a whole the cast are top notch and work really well together. It's great to see how much characterisation work has gone into each role, so that no matter who you're looking at one stage, you can always see a story or relationship developing with them.

Despite a few shortcomings, the musical is a real laugh and a nice, hand jiving escape from reality. It's not groundbreaking but Grease The Musical does what it says on the tin and delivers iconic scenes and songs that fans of the film will love. So, all you crazy cats better get booking!

Thursday 3 February 2022

Peter Andre to play Vince Fontaine in Grease at the Dominion Theatre

Peter Andre will make his West End debut playing the role of Vince Fontaine at certain performances in a new production of Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey’s iconic musical GREASE opening at the Dominion Theatre on Tuesday 17 May 2022, with previews from Tuesday 3 May 2022. GREASE is directed by Nikolai Foster and choreographed by Arlene Phillips. 


Dan Partridge (Link Larkin in Hairspray UK tour & Pepper in MAMMA MIA! West End) and Olivia Moore (Waitress at the Adelphi Theatre & Heathers at Theatre Royal Haymarket) will star as Danny and Sandy respectively, with Jocasta Almgill (& Juliet at Shaftesbury Theatre) as Rizzo, Paul French (GreaseUK tour) as Kenickie, Mary Moore (Little Women at Park Theatre) as Jan, Jake Reynolds (professional debut) as Doody, Lizzy-Rose Esin-Kelly (A Chorus Line at Curve) as Marty, Damon Gould (Pretty Woman: The Musical at Savoy Theatre) as Sonny, Eloise Davies (Be More Chill at The Other Palace) as Frenchie, Jessica Croll (Hairspray UK tour) as Patty Simcox, Katie Lee (Matilda The Musical at Cambridge Theatre) as Cha Cha, Ronan Burns (West Side Story at Curve) as Johnny Casino and Corinna Powlesland (An Officer and A Gentleman at Regents Park Open Air Theatre as Miss Lynch. Darren Bennett (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the Savoy Theatre) will play Officer Mailie and Vince Fontaine at certain performances. 


They are joined by Jack Harrison-Cooper, Pearce Barron, Rishard-Kyro Nelson, Ellie Kingdon, Remi Ferdinand, Kalisha Johnson, Imogen Bailey, Kevin O’Dwyer and Carly Miles. Further casting is to be announced.


Peter Andre said “I'm beyond excited to be making my West End debut playing Vince Fontaine in Grease at the beautiful Dominion Theatre. Grease is such an iconic musical and we can guarantee audiences will have the most wonderful evening listening to songs we all know and love. We can't wait to see you there!"


GREASE originally opened in Chicago in 1971, followed by a move to Broadway in 1972, where it received seven Tony Award nominations, including one for Best Musical. During the show's eight-year run at the time, little known actors including Peter Gallagher, Patrick Swayze and John Travolta all appeared in the production, with Richard Gere understudying many roles before going on to star as Danny Zuko in the 1973 London premiere. GREASE was first performed at the Dominion Theatre in 1993 before transferring to the Cambridge Theatre in 1996. It returned to the West End, opening at the Piccadilly Theatre in 2007. 


The 1978 film adaptation starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John is the fourth highest-grossing live action musical of all time. The musical features beloved songs, including Summer NightsGreased Lightnin’Hopelessly Devoted To Youand You’re The One That I Want.


GREASE has designs by Colin Richmond, orchestrations and musical supervision by Sarah Travis, lighting design by Ben Cracknell, sound design by Tom Marshall and Richard Brooker, video and projection design by Douglas O’Connell and casting by David Grindrod CDG.


This production of GREASE is produced by Colin Ingram for InTheatre Productions, Donovan Mannato, Playing Field, Gavin Kalin, and Curve.

Thursday 21 November 2019

&Juliet, Shaftesbury Theatre | Review

Shaftesbury Theatre 
Reviewed on Wednesday 20th November 2019

What if Juliet didn't die? And what if the story of reclaiming her life was told through the music of Max Martin, aka the writer and producer of some of the most iconic pop music of the last two decades. Well that's &Juliet, a wild, sparkling, energetic piece of musical theatre which has burst onto the scene at the Shaftesbury Theatre.

When the cast come in with 'Larger Than Life' and 'I Want It That Way', there's certainly a moment of unsettled bafflement, but soon the numbers become part of the story and you forget Shakespeare wasn't really bopping along to 90s pop songs whilst writing his iconic tragedies. That being said, there are times where the songs feel added in for the sake of being added and don't flow particularly well but most of the time it doesn't matter because they are performed with a vigour that engages. 

David West Read's book is smartly self-aware and knows exactly when to hold back and acknowledge the pop-culture craziness that's occurring. The meta-theatrical plot works well, with us first meeting William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway as they bicker about the ending of Will's latest play, Romeo and Juliet.  Anne persuades her husband to let her do a rewrite and from here we are taken to Verona where Juliet begins her journey of self discovery and goes on an adventure to Paris with her besties. Full of puns, panto lines and pageantry, the show does teeter on the edge of being too childish at times but David's book and Max's songs marry up well with Luke Sheppard's direction to create a musical which doesn't take itself or its content too seriously. 

As the leading lady Miriam-Teak Lee brings sass in spades. Her vocals are mostly strong and she really does embody the confidence that this reimagined Juliet is full of; but whether due to the lack of character writing or limited acting in the pop-concert atmosphere, Juliet is just a bit distant. I personally didn't warm to her as a character and whilst I appreciate all this modern lady stands for, there is a distinct lack of sincerity in how she's written. However, this is not so true when Juliet and her best friend May are together. It's in these brief moments that compassion flies and we see a more realistic character in front of us. Arun Blair-Mangat is sweet and enticing as May, who discovers love and friendship. 

Oliver Tompsett is the boy-band Shakespeare of dreams, who hilariously bigs himself up and brings an instant charm to the stage. As his steely, compassionate and fizzy wife, Cassidy Janson gives a fantastic performance. Her stage presence is magnetic and I found myself wanting a spin-off purely focussed on (the only) Anne Hathaway. Jordan Luke Gage is suitably self-absorbed from the moment of his bombastic entrance and gives a great vocal performance as Romeo.

The ensemble of players are top notch, adding interest and motion throughout. Jocasta Almgill gives a stand out performance and Lady Capulet, with Dillon Scott-Lewis, Grace Mouat and Antoine Murray-Straughan really shining from the ensemble.

The whole show is exemplary of production value and there's no denying that the energy on stage could power all the theatres on Shaftesbury Avenue. Bill Sherman's lighting is concert goals; Soutra Gilmour's set is a dreamland and Andrzej Goulding's projections bring each scene to life creatively and effectively. The female empowerment, LGBT representation and romantic moments are all enjoyable and important to be seen on stage, but a significant lack of character development means you feel little empathy for the characters and at the end just don't really care. 

This is definitely a show which will be enjoyed after a prosecco or two and it doesn't try to be anything else than a fun night out. If you want theatrical integrity and a moving storyline then this isn't for you, but if you want an explicitly queer, feminist musical that's funny, entertaining and scored by songs that you grew up listening then go see it. If music be the food of love, &Juliet provides a feast that will satisfy anyone looking for a bit of fun.

Monday 13 August 2018

West Side Story (Prom 39), Royal Albert Hall | Review

Prom 39: West Side Story (BBC Proms) 
Royal Albert Hall 
Reviewed on Saturday 11th August 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 

At 61 years old, West Side Story remains one of the most well-loved and socially relevant musicals. Following the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks and a forbidden love between Maria and Tony, it's a beautiful and heartbreaking story about the strength of love. The score was performed by a wonderful cast and the outstanding John Wilson Orchestra, but the omission of the majority of the text did dim the impact slightly. Following the narrative was a little difficult and some of the key characters were sidelined without their text but it was still a stunning performance.

The concert provided a reminder of the phenomenal way Bernstein contrasts musical styles and completely makes his own rules as he combines classical and contemporary music with exceptional effect. Tricky time signatures, scotch-snap rhythms, syncopation and chromatic notes are just some aspects which were played so wonderfully by the John Wilson Orchestra which Wilson conducted himself. The intensity and passion which they played with transferred to the audience and created some magical moments.

Our leads, Tony and Maria were played by the exceptionally talented Ross Lekites and Mikaela Bennett. Mikaela portrayed Maria's excited, fresh love with humour and warmth before bringing her heartbreak to life with honest pain. She was also vocally stunning with her pure operatic sound providing power which drew you to the character and worked wonderfully alongside Lekites' smooth, strong voice that flowed with flawless abandon.

Louise Alder performed Somewhere in a hauntingly beautiful way and was a certain highlight of the night. Eden Espinosa was vocally and physically fiery as Anita and gave a truly memorable performance of America alongside the vocally stunning Emma Kingston. Leo Roberts' Riff was notably strong, especially during his performance of Cool.  

The ensemble brought the two gangs to life, with Alistair Brammer, Jocasta Almgill and Michael Coulbourne standing out. The ArtsEd ensemble and Mountview choir added extra oomph, especially during their brief interactions with the performers on stage.

From the rapturous applause it was clear that Bernstein's score, performed by a stellar cast is a surefire way to entertain an audience. West Side Story is a beauty and it was truly glorious to see it performed in this well-rounded Proms version. 

The BBC Proms continue until 8th September 2018

photo credit: Chris Christodolou

Monday 30 May 2016

10 Reasons You Should See In The Heights

Shock horror! Another post about In The Heights! In case you still haven't seen the show, here are ten reasons why you should definitely take a trip down to the barrio!

If you want some background information on the show check out my review here and if you fancy reading a cast interview, there's one here.