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

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Seussical, Southwark Playhouse | Review


Seussical
Southwark Playhouse
Reviewed on Tuesday 27th November 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

Seussical is a colourful whirlwind of a musical which takes the works of  Dr. Suess and winds them into a magical, heartfelt story of acceptance and love. We follow JoJo, a Who with a larger than life imagination who, along with the rest of the Whos, live on a tiny speck of dust which is found by Horton the elephant. Horton vows to protest this speck with all his might which leads to a story of ups and downs and a whole host of characters.

Aesthetically this is a beautiful production. The pops of colour both in the set (Justin Williams and Jonny Rust) and the costumes (Rachel Cartlidge) really emphasise the story book feel and bring this wacky world to life in an over the top but never tacky, way. The costumes cleverly differentiate the characters without becoming cliched or predictable.

Marc Pickering leads the cast sublimely as the Cat in the Hat. Absolutely commanding every inch of the stage he touches and demanding the audiences attention with every brow raise and smirk; he is utterly hysterical and clearly born to be seen. Amy Perry is sincere and relatable as Gertrude, Anna Barnes is suitably energetic as JoJo and Adam Dawson and Daisy Steere are outstanding as Mr and Mrs Mayor and they totter around the stage with humourous aplomb. 


Scott Paige is endearing and vocally faultless as the lovable Horton and it's great to see him helming a show after standing out in Eugenius and The Addams Family. Paige brings a heart and warmth to this story that makes it the perfect show for a cold winter evening. The entire cast are enthusiastic and full of life from the get go; with tasteful audience interaction, energetic, sharp and fitting choreography (Chris Whittaker) and a boatload of originality, they make the production sleek and engaging.

Captivating and innovative, Seussical is a musical for all the family that is sure to delight and enthral from start to finish. Presenting an over the top look at some crucial and relevant social issues, it's a show for everyone, that is extremely well thought out and will leave you feeling warm inside, with a smile so wide.

Seussical runs at the Southwark Playhouse until 29th December 2018

photo credit: Adam Trigg

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Fiver, Southwark Playhouse | Review


Fiver
Southwark Playhouse
Reviewed on Friday 5th July 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★★

New British musical by Alex James Ellison and Tom Lees, Fiver follows a humble five pound note as it passes through the hands and pockets of various people in London. Rarely noticed by the person, we see that the fiver is often present in significant life moments. The show is constructed through a series of diverse musical vignettes which explore relationships, struggles, life, love and money.

Watching Fiver is like watching a rom-com, drama, thriller, romance unfurl live in front of your eyes. The intricately woven story is cinematic but intimate at once and really enthrals from start to finish and shows just how the value of a fiver can considerably change under the circumstances it's either given or received in. 

Alex James Ellison and Tom Lees have constructed a musically lush score which is not only highly entertaining, but superbly detailed and sophisticated. Featuring a variety of musical influences, each piece is utterly entertaining and engaging. The diverse characters are explored through the twenty-four assorted musical numbers. Each and every song is fantastically composed and the lyrical and musical mastery of Alex and Tom is clear throughout.

This pure delight of a musical is made all the more wonderful by its top notch cast. All playing a number of characters, the five (!) strong cast give masterclasses in characterisation and versatility. Luke Bayer gives poignant and vocally strong performances throughout. Whilst, Dan Buckley shines in both quieter and more booming moments, giving a particularly touching performance during the sweet proposal scene. 


Aoife Clesham gives a star is born performance as she leads a number of songs and is especially brilliant during the "surprise" party scene where she brings a whole host of characters to life, and also in Press Hash To Rerecord which is a hugely humourous situation that I'm sure many audience members can relate to (though perhaps not quite to Aoife's level). Multi-talented Alex James Ellison acts as a somewhat omnipresent narrator who oversees proceedings as the busker who puts the fiver into circulation. His fast diction, cheeky personality and dynamic stage presence bring the show to life and put a smile on your face.

Hiba Elchikhe's beautifully toned voice soars in her electric performance and her adaptability is ever clear through her many characters and emotions. Through their solo moments, duets, trios, quartets and quintets, this cast bring every second of Fiver to life and create a truthful, resonant and truly admirable show.

With Justin Williams' simple but effective set which features a magical cupboard that adapts for each scene, Alex Musgrave's homely, atmospheric lighting and the fantastic band led by Tom Lees, Fiver really provides everything you could wish for in a new, British, contemporary, relevant musical.

A two hour delight, I predict that this Fiver’s Destiny is huge success and an incredible future of magnificent story telling. Go see this show, tell all your friends to see it and make Fiver the hit it deserves to be!

Fiver runs at the Southwark Playhouse until 20th July 2019

photo credit: Danny Kaan 

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

It's Only Life, Union Theatre | Review


It's Only Life
Union Theatre 
Reviewed on Saturday 16th June 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

American lyricist and composer John Bucchino isn't very well known in the UK but this sweet revue certainly makes me want me to delve into his backlog and discover his other gems. 

John Bucchino and Daisy Prince's musical, It's Only Life features songs which wittily face the struggles of modern life, especially in terms of romance. Although the songs link together somewhat, they are more individual pieces which come together to form a narrative of people as a whole, rather than separate stories. The song cycle therefore feels universal and there's certainly an emotion, lyric or feeling for everyone to relate to.

The five person strong cast are vocally wonderful, working well both individually and when they join for glorious ensemble moments. Jordan Shaw gives vocal perfection throughout, especially with his smooth rendition of If I Ever Say I'm Over You which is a definite stand out. Recent graduates, Will Carey and Sammy Graham  show off their vocals as well as comedic timing. Will's cheeky performance of On My Bedside Table is brilliant and Sammy's diction and technique are faultless from start to end. Jennifer Harding feels right at home with the music and gives a very truthful performance. Noel Sullivan shows off his strong belt whilst retaining a vulnerability and sweetness, something which is in fact embodied by the entire cast who always keep the heart of the story at the centre rather than trying to out-sing one another. 


Justin Williams' set design is intriguing from the first time we lay eyes on it. A simple white background is cleverly highlighted with pastel pinks, oranges, greens and blues which allows us to move from location to location without any flashiness or clumsiness. The props that are used are used well and again, don't detract from the core of the show- the songs. Tania Azevedo has done a wonderful job of bringing the stories to life with simplicity.

It's Only Life represents both the diversity of Britain as well as the ways we're all connected. With great vocals, memorably moving songs and a fantastic cast, there's no reason not to love this show. This is an intimate piece of theatre which flows with an intensity that keeps you invested throughout.

It's Only Life runs at the Union Theatre until 7th July

photo credit: Pamela Raith

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Brooklyn the Musical, Greenwich Theatre | Review


Brooklyn the Musical
Greenwich Theatre 
Reviewed on Monday 30th September 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

Brooklyn The Musical is a pretty obscure show which opened on Broadway in 2004. It's realtively unknown but features a number of fantastically catchy songs. The musical's European premiere at the Greenwich theatre showcases fantastic talent and reminds us of how magical music can be. Strong direction by Adam Haigh and consistently impressive performances by the cast bring the show to life with vitality and vocal prowess, and make it one to tick off the list.

Set in New York City, a group of street performers perform a "sidewalk fairytale" about a love story and what came of it. We follow a singer from Paris called Brooklyn who is on a quest to find her father and make good of the world she's in. The story itself is minimal and the book is pretty wacky, but the show's spectacular score breathes life into it and shares the characters motivations wonderfully.

The book, music and lyrics are by Mark Schoenfield and Barri McPherson who have adapted the show for various productions including Broadway and a US tour. As a whole, this production really is a grungy, ensemble led, song-fest which features one of the strongest and most vocally tight ensembles in London right now. The sharp harmonies and electric interactions with one another really engage the audience.


It's ideal that Hiba Elchikhe leads the cast as Brooklyn, because she absolutely has one of the best voices ever. The tone, the emotion, the power. Just. So. Good. Her demeanour is charming as she tries to find her father and the audience are instantly able to warm to her beaming personality. It's absolutely worth making a trip to Greenwich just to hear Once Upon a Time sung live by Hiba. Emily Mae gives an equally earth quaking vocal performance as the "aging" Diva, Paradice. Raven is a  particular stand out moment, but Emily captures the audience in the palm of her hand throughout. Smooth and mysterious, Andrew Patrick-Walker makes the Street Singer someone to remember as he acts as a musically enchanting, overseer of the show. Sabrina Aloueche and John Addison add further depth to  the show and the whole cast work exceptionally well together to evoke the feeling of being in New York and searching for a dream. If the Greenwich Theatre were powered by riffs, it would be shining bright thanks to the cast of Brooklyn and Andrew Johnson's sound design which showcases them.

Justin Williams' set design transforms the Greenwich theatre into "a ravaged street corner in Brooklyn, New York" and presents a visual treat for the audience as Brooklyn's story is told. With ladders that are slid around, fairy lights, falling snow and an ever present guitar case, the set, complemented by Jack Weir's lighting manages to invoke both the fairy tale vibes and the gritty feel of NYC. 

A masterful blending of talents allows this production to shine. It's not a masterpiece of theatrical writing but it is a really fun night out and a chance to see a rarely performed show done at a very high standard. Who knows, you might find your miracle too.

photo credit: Pamela Raith