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

Tuesday 25 February 2020

On Your Feet! (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

On Your Feet (UK Tour)
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 24th February 2020 by Olivia Mitchell 

Currently embarking on a UK tour after a summer stint at the London Coliseum, On Your Feet! is a celebration of Gloria Estefan continually thriving in the face of adversity. The musical has a flawed book, but there's heart in spades, glorious music and a real life story of endurance that is enough to warm your heart.

Transporting us from Gloria's childhood in Cuba, to her recording career and near fatal accident, it's truly inspiring to see how she rebuilt herself after physical trauma as well as always remaining true to what she believes in, even under the pressures of the music industry. The fairly small cast do an excellent job of filling every inch of the stage and perform with the energy and enthusiasm you could expect to see on the streets of Cuba. Consistently full out and precise in their movements, the cast are very impressive in their performance of Sergio Trujillo's intense choreography. 

It's the pacing of this musical that is the biggest downfall. Of course it's based on real life events, but Alexander Dinelaris' book often lacks development and therefore depth. The main focus is on the lighthearted moments, meaning the more intense scenes are sometimes glossed over quickly. Act two packs much more of a punch in terms of emotional impact, with Gloria's scenes with her mother proving particularly moving. Again, this is a musical which reminds up to stick up for our values and beliefs. This idea is woven throughout but is especially effective in the scenes where the Estefans are at odds with their record producer (played excellently and humourously by Robert Oliver).

As the Miami diva herself, Philippa Stefani excels, bringing Gloria to life with a truthful performance. She engages the audience and never falters in energy or performance. Stefani's transition from shy teenager to commanding performer is masterful to watch and really showcases her as an actress. More so than anyone, Stefani uses the limited book hugely to her advantage and performs as though she really is on a huge, sell-out headline tour.

Stefani's chemistry with George Ioannides as Emilio Estefan is believable and romantic. Since seeing the show at the Coliseum, it seems George has really grown into the role as he gives a suave, vocally assured performance. Vocal powerhouse and legend of the stage, Madalena Alberto gives an exceptionally strong performance as she simmers ready to bubble over in anger or despair at any time. Vocally she is fantastic and her interactions which every character, especially her daughter, are truly enjoyable to watch. 

The set design by David Rockwell is effective as it allows the action to transition from Cuba, to the USA and from kitchen to tourbus in a very simplistic but effective way. Quite a lot is left up to the imagination which, alongside having the band visible on stage, allows the true focus to be on the music. Like the ensemble, the band are full of an energy which fills the theatre and transmits amongst the audience. Kenneth Posner's bold lighting and Emilio Soso's bright costumes bring a carnival feel to the whole production which engages and entertains.

There are flaws to this musical for sure, but it's an uplifting piece of theatre which brings a little bit of Cuban sunshine to the streets of Wimbledon. For fans of Gloria Estefan this is a must-see, and for everyone else, it's a chance to tap your feet and imagine you're basking in the Miami sun. For a celebration of music, life and heritage, get On Your Feet and conga your way to see this tour.

On Your Feet! plays at the New Wimbledon theatre until 29 February and then continues its tour

Saturday 29 June 2019

On Your Feet!, London Coliseum | Review

On Your Feet
London Coliseum
Reviewed on Thursday 27th July 2019 by Olivia Mitchell

The long summer nights are here and it's the perfect time for a fun, high energy musical that will have you tapping your toes and feeling good. Thankfully On Your Feet! is here to provide just that. Despite a flimsy plot, there's fun to be had, lights to dazzle and latin sounds to ensure you leave the theatre smiling.

Taking us from her childhood in Cuba, through her recording career and her near fatal accident, On Your Feet! is a real celebration of Gloria Estefan's career and determination, and is a real reminder to always stand up for what we believe in. The cast are as enthusiastic and sharp as you would hope, and provide some highly exciting moments, especially when dancing Sergio Trujillo's fiery choreography. Particularly impressive is the sandal tap dance which really wows and creates a rousing wall of sound that is fantastic to see and hear.

The main downfall of the musical is certainly Alexander Dinelaris' book which lacks much depth or emotional drama. Many of the more intense emotional scenes are quickly brushed over and it's not until act two that we really become absorbed in the story. Of course this is real life and it's the music of Gloria Estefan that we are celebrating, but there are several moments where the pacing feels too slow and too little happens. However, the scenes where Gloria and her mother are at odds with one another and when there is conflict between the Estefans and their record producer, are great at highlighting Gloria and Emilio's grit and the limited book is all performed well.

The direction by Jerry Mitchell does feel basic at times and sometimes highlights the flaws in the book, but he rightly places the wonderful music of Gloria and Miami Sound Machine at the heart of the musical. The high energy songs, including the Conga and On Your Feet make the audience feel uplifted and energised. It's hard not to feel swept up by the glorious Latin rhythms that make you want to grab a cocktail and swirl around.

Leading lady Christie Prades is confident and engaging in her performance. She delivers a performance which never waivers in energy or commitment; and vocals which wow and engage. Prades' chemistry with George Ioannides as Emilio Estefan is wonderfully nuanced and believable. George also provides strong vocals, which falter at times but mostly maintain the suave Latin feel. Karen Mann as Conseulo is delightfully entertaining as she pushes Gloria to achieve her dreams in any way she can, even if that includes bribing a club owner with Empanadas! Meanwhile, Madalena Alberto is sharp (and a vocal powerhouse) as she portrays Gloria's mother who begrudges her daughter, but of course, loves her regardless. Ensemble standouts include Dawnita Smith and Francesca Lara Gordon who catch the eye as they perform each moment with power and perfection. Little Gloria Emily Perra is also fantastic, with a magnetic stage presence and beautiful vocals.

The onstage band bring every song to life with an enthusiasm which radiates off the stage. Emilio Soso's floaty, colourful costumes just add to the party feel of the piece, as does Kenneth Posner's bold, bright lighting. Both aspects are equally strong when they dim themselves to fit the more emotive, atmospheric moments.

Overall On Your Feet! is an entertaining delight of a show. The book is hugely lacking but for fans of Gloria Estefan it's a perfect portrayal of her life and music. Transport yourself to the Miami sun and take a journey through the lives of Gloria and Emilio.

On Your Feet! is booking at the London Coliseum until August 31st

photo credit: Johan Persson

Tuesday 28 November 2023

Pretty Woman on Tour at the New Victoria Theatre Review: A Perfect Night Out

Pretty Woman (Tour) 
New Victoria Theatre 

A night of laughter; this sexy, fun and wonderfully performed musical grabs attention from the off! 

Based on the famous 1990 film, the show tells the story of Vivian, a prostitute falling on hard times in Beverly Hills. By pure chance, she catches the attention of a Billionaire, Edward. Their instant connection prompts Edward to offer residence to Vivian, in exchange for her services for one week whilst he stays at the famously opulent Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Both are certain that no feelings could grow during this business deal. It seems they are both to be proved wrong…

The leading role of Vivian Ward was of course made famous by Julia Roberts. Needless to say, this iconic role is a hard one to fill. Amber Davies, who gained public attention with her 2017 Love Island win plays the role with brilliance and proves she's much more than a reality star. Her acting, singing and dancing is on point, a true triple threat! Whilst delivering iconic lines from the movie, Amber makes the role her own and creates a charming character who the audience root for. 

Oliver Savile portrays the role of Edward Lewis excellently, which is no surprise considering his extensive theatre experience! Edward’s closed-off attitude and need to hold everyone at arms length, slowly wavers as Vivian wins his affection. The strong chemistry between Amber and Oliver is more than apparent, especially in the few raunchy moments throughout the show. It's a pleasure to see them act together. 

Natalie Paris, who plays Vivian’s best friend Kit De Luca is a true standout with the most incredible vocal range! A continual scene stealer, her ‘Rock and Roll’ style is effortless, and she brings the witty character to life superbly.  The rest of the killer ensemble do a fantastic job of keeping energy high with their multiple dance numbers and general presence. 

With music Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance, a book by Garry Marshall and the film’s screenwriter J.F. Lawton and direction and choreography Jerry Mitchell, the magic of the show is there from the start, and stays throughout. Pretty Woman on tour is a fantastic screen to stage adaptation that has all the moments the audience know and love from the smash hit film, with extra theatrical additions to make it an utterly engaging experience.

The overall design of the show fits the era and flavour of the musical well. The use of bright background lighting (Kenneth Posner and Philip S. Rosenberg) during song and dance numbers keep the overall feeling of the show light and fun. Equally Tom Rodgers's costume design really represents the story well; of course the iconic red ballgown from the movie makes its appearance alongside a number of other fun costumes. David Rockwell's set is simple but effective- one minute you are looking at dingy Hollywood street corner, the next you are in the Penthouse suite of the Beverly Wilshire! 

Overall, the lightheartedness of the story and the fantastic talent onstage makes for a  perfect, adult-only night out. I highly recommend a trip to Hollywood via Woking! 

Reviewed on Monday 27th November 2023 by Grace Dickinson
Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan

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