Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Joel Harper-Jackson. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Joel Harper-Jackson. Sort by date Show all posts

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Kinky Boots (UK Tour), Edinburgh Playhouse | Review


Kinky Boots (UK Tour)
Edinburgh Playhouse 
Reviewed on Tuesday 11th December 2018 by Liv Ancell
★★★★★

Audiences at the Edinburgh Playhouse are being transported straight to the Price & Sons Shoe Factory in Northampton this December, to a time and place where drag queens and shoemakers collide in spectacular fashion, in what is a truly unique and special tale.

Kinky Boots has boldly strutted into town and delighted the Edinburgh Playhouse’s audiences since opening night on 11th December. With original music & lyrics by Cyndi Lauper performed by a diverse cast eager to impress, it is impossible not to get swept up in the drama and excitement of this unique spectacle.

The promise of the show’s eponymous red kinky boots seems far off at first, as the curtain rises to reveal the gritty factory belonging to Price & Sons, practical shoemakers. Here we meet Charlie Price, who was portrayed brilliantly by the energetic and tone-perfect Joel Harper-Jackson.


Set design (by Tim McQuillen-Wright) convincingly transforms the stage between its main two states: a working shoe factory and an intimate drag club. This reinforces the contrast between the very different worlds of protagonists Charlie and Lola, as the story dips in and out of Charlie’s tough reality and the exciting world of the exotic drag queen, Lola.

Speaking of Lola, Kayi Ushe who played the show’s famous red-boot bearer on the night stole the show in spectacular fashion. With his perfectly placed sashays, sassy one liners and full range of emotions, Kayi Ushe put on a winning performance in what is undeniably an extremely demanding role. From booty drops to belting out ballads, deadpan put-downs and effortless switches between the character’s macho masculine and drag-queen personas - sometimes done in the very same breath - the audience was absolutely blown away by the level of talent and professionalism Kayi brought to the performance.

Another notable performance in the show was that of Coronation Street veteran Paula Lane, who stepped into the fun role of homegrown Northampton pocket rocket Lauren. Her rendition of The History of Wrong Guys - just one of the show’s long list of incredibly catchy tunes - was underpinned by well-delivered slapstick elements which caused hilarity among the audience.


Lola’s cast of utterly fabulous drag queens, a.k.a The Angels, proved that when drag and theatre cross-over, the result is electric. Played by the kick-ass combination of Connor Collins, John J. Dempsey, Damon Gould, Joshua Lovell, ChileshĂ© Mondelle, and Toyan Thomas-Browne, The Angels left the audience in utter wonderment with their sharply executed choreography. Their performance should almost come with a warning that mere mortals should not attempt their high-tempo sequences of squats, drops, jumps, sashays and moves at home. Not to mention the Angels’ costumes (costumes by Gregg Barnes) which would have put even Ru Paul’s Drag Race contestants to shame, with their dazzling glitter and unashamed flamboyance.

The story of Kinky Boots has its glorious ups, its poignant downs, and beautiful nuances of human emotion which eclipse the themes of loss, love, acceptance and even, the challenges of running a family business. The cast perfectly led us along the full spectrum of emotions, and put on a visual feast for the whole audience. A particular highlight for me in terms of staging was the boxing scene, where strobe lights helped to paint a particularly tense and dramatic scene.

I’ll leave the rest under wraps; this show is an absolute treasure box of surprises, laughs, and delights. The cast and production is of the highest standards and quality rarely seen outside of the West End or Broadway. If you’re looking for a little sparkle and escapism on a cold December evening in Edinburgh, there truly is no better place to be.


Kinky Boots runs at the Edinburgh Playhouse until January 5th 2019

photo credit: Helen Maybanks

Sunday, 25 February 2018

West End Live Lounge, The Other Palace | Review


West End Live Lounge (Concert) 
The Other Palace
Reviewed on Sunday 11th February 2018 by Olivia Mitchell
★★★★

If you're a regular reader of this site, you'll know that I am a huge West End Live Lounge fan, I've been going since they started and feel so proud watching them get bigger and better. The most recent concert was the biggest to date, taking over the main stage at The Other Palace; hosting a number of uber talented performers and providing a wonderful, chilled out, musical night. For anyone that doesn't know, West End Live Lounge is a concert every few months featuring some of the best the West End has to offer who perform a variety of non-musical theatre songs to entertain and raise money for a specific charity. This time, the musical theatre performers united to raise money for the charity Barnardo's. Our compère for the night was the fantastic Ian Stroughair (who wowed me before Christmas with his Velma Celli show) who opened the show with a bang and set the tone for the talent and joy to come.

As always every performance was top notch so I'm just going to mention a few stand outs instead of turning this into an essay! Firstly, the stunning Jodie Steele, fresh off her stint on BBC One's All Together Now,  performed 'Castle on the Hill' with ease and smooth riffs which left us all wanting more. Equally riff-tastic was Emma Kingston who joined the West End Live Lounge family during her brief break from touring with Evita, to wow us all with her performance of Lady Gaga's 'Edge of Glory'. The always hilarious Natalie McQueen brilliantly put her own twist on the classic 'Hot N Cold'.  All three ladies continually blow me away with their vocal performances.


Kayleigh McKnight was definitely an audience favourite with her breathtaking performance of 'Creep' which showed off her vocals perfectly and Cleve September brought back his signature loop pedal to create an eerie but stunning vocal performance of 'Spirits'.

Superstar Natalie Green gave a beautiful rendition of Adele's 'When We Were Young' whilst Brady Isaacs Pearce channeled Demi Lovato gloriously with her effortless performance of 'Skyscraper'. My final mention goes to Joel Harper-Jackson who's ridiculously long note in 'Wicked Game' should be put into the World Record books- glorious!


The West End Live Lounge concerts are truly joyous to be a part of because they not only celebrate the fantastic talent the West End has to offer but raise money for fantastic causes. I cannot wait to see what's in store for the next concert; my only hope is that the intimate feel can somehow be brought back. With the previous concerts there has been a very informal vibe but bringing the performance into a theatre did distance it somewhat and the audience stuck to the 'normal' theatre etiquette rules more. Obviously it's amazing to be able to fill a bigger space and allow more people to see and hear these outstanding performances but it's hard to strike a balance between having more space whilst still maintaining an intimate feel.

Regardless, this was a wonderful concert and I know the upcoming ones will be to so do yourself a favour and follow @WELiveLounge on twitter so you can snap up tickets as soon as they go on sale!


Monday, 14 May 2018

West End Live Lounge: Number 1, The Other Palace | Review


West End Live Lounge: One
The Other Palace
Reviewed on Sunday 13th May 2018 by Olivia Mitchell
★★★★★

The email telling me about an upcoming West End Live Lounge concert is one I look forward to with excitement and anticipation as the night always proves to be a joyous, talent-filled one. Last night's concert was exactly that, a celebration of Number 1 music, performed by a stellar line up, in aid of Centrepoint, a charity which supports homeless young people.

Opening the show with a gloriously haunting version of Sia's Titanium, were the ever stunning Kelly Agbowu and Natalie Green. Both performers have beautifully smooth vocals and they complement one another perfectly. 

From here on, act one of the concert raced by with vocal brilliance after vocal brilliance. Lisa Marie Holmes and Zoe Birkett gave heartfelt performances whilst, Jodie Jacobs gave an energetic performance of Jerry Lee Lewis' rock classic Great Balls of Fire. Rock numbers proved to be an audience favourite with Andrew Polec earning rapturous applause and cheers after his performance of Living on a Prayer.



Adam Bailey's haunting interpretation of Run was a sure stand out and Moya Angela closed act one with a spine-tingling, note perfect performance of Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You.

Hosting the night were the hilarious Vikki Stone and The Other Palace producer, Paul Taylor-Mills. The pair bounced off each other naturally with their wit and banter providing fantastic transitions between songs.

Vikki took a break from hosting to open act two with her comical, stripped back performance of Cotton Eyed Joe. The great thing about West End Live Lounge is that although it's for a serious cause and a celebration of immense talent, at it's heart it's about love and humour. The whole night is set out to be a joyous night of fun and that's exactly what it is. You can feel the love in the room and it's truly heartwarming to be a part of.



Act two was a maelstrom of talent with 1/3 of Divalution: Sejal Keshwala involving the audience in her spirited version of Aretha Franklin's Think. Joel Harper Jackson and Andrew Bateup both brought chills with their performances of Lay Me Down and Georgia on my Mind. Their voices are smooth as butter and they are mesmerising performers to watch.

Natalie and Kelly returned with the wonderful Impossible and Liisi LaFontaine, on her fleeting visit to London, treated us to a seamless performance of Grenade. The song selection of this concert was top notch, with song after song fulfilling my emotive ballad craving. Christina Modestou's performance of If I Were a Boy was vocally flawless as was Liam Tamne's rendition of Diamonds.



Musical director extraordinaire Sam Coates and his incredible band did an outstanding job of accompanying the performers and creating their own musical magic. American singer Stacey Francis brought gospel to The Other Palace, whilst Divalution (formerly Sapphire Soul) brought their usual sass and killer belt with an epic 23 song mash up.

Bat Out of Hell stars Andrew Polec and Christina Bennington concluded the night with an acrobatic, dynamic performance of Evanescence's hit, Bring Me To Life. The pair have enough sparks to power all the lights in The Other Palace and it's clear why audience's are loving them over at the Dominion theatre.

Although the performers were amazing, the real star of West End Live Lounge is Shaun McCourt who set up the concerts. Shaun puts so much work into them and it's clear that his passion and drive are infectious throughout the entire West End Live Lounge family. There's so much joy evident and each concert provides a perfect, musical night out. Don't miss the next one... you'll regret it!

photo credit: Nick Brittain