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

Wednesday, 16 March 2022

Everybody's Talking About Jamie (Tour), New Victoria Theatre Theatre | Review


Everybody's Talking About Jamie (Tour)
New Victoria Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 15th March 2022
★★★★

Everybody's Talking About Jamie is fast becoming a staple piece of theatre in the UK and indeed across the world. Having had various iterations in many countries including Japan and Italy, as well as the hit film which was released last year; the musical retains its Britishness, strong heart and morals and continues to be an inspiring and entertaining experience.

Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae's show tells the story of an extroverted 15 year old who dreams of being a drag queen. Despite being sure of himself and his abilities, young Jamie New faces a number of hurdles and people who try to dull his sparkle. So, he works to overcome these and to show the close-minded people around him that being true to yourself can get you far. It's a show which delights and inspires in equal measure, and is sure to keep its spot in theatre lover's hearts for a long time.

As the title character, Layton Williams is a treat to watch. He brings Jamie to life truthfully and so glamourously. From the opening of 'And You Don't Even Know It', Layton completely owns the character and shows us the light and shade enveloped in it. At times his vocals get lost but he makes up for this with his incredible wit and larger than life personality that soars on stage.

Playing Jamie's kind and strong mum is Amy Ellen Richardson who's vocal performance is outstanding. 'He's My Boy' is an absolute highlight of the show and her vulnerable performance is incredibly moving. Her chemistry with Layton is great and she also works incredibly well with her best friend Ray (played brilliantly at this performance by Lisa-Marie Holmes).

Another lovely friendship is that of Jamie and Pritti. The pair are both misunderstood and confined in their own ways and it's so sweet to see them discuss this and to support each other without any toxicity. Sharan Phull is endearing and moving as Pritti, especially in her solo moments and fantastic monologue at the end of the show.

Shane Richie as Hugo/Loco Chanelle is fantastically entertaining, giving a really strong vocal performance and also showcasing fabulous comedic timing. Other stand out performances come from George Samson as Dean Paxton and Gary Lee in various roles including Laika Virgin at this performance.

Everybody's Talking About Jamie is a musical which inspires us all to own what makes us 'different' and is a really heartwarming portrayal of family, friendship and acceptance. It's contemporary and over the top and so much fun. Let's talk about Jamie a bit longer! Go see the show on tour!

Everybody's Talking About Jamie plays at the New Victoria Theatre until 19th March 2022 and then continues its tour

Friday, 11 June 2021

West End Musical Celebration, Palace Theatre | Review



West End Musical Celebration (Concert) 
Palace Theatre 
Reviewed on Thursday10th June 2021 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★★

As two pioneers in making theatre accessible, diverse and welcoming, Shanay Holmes and Chris Steward have continually pushed through all of the setbacks of the last year to provide high quality, delightful entertainment. Most recently through their West End Musical Drive In’s and now through their West End Debut which was a full, flamboyant and fabulous celebration of, and return to theatre.


As hostess with the mostess, Shanay took us through the night with grace and passion. Like all the performers, it was really evident just how much theatre and the theatrical community means to her and the love throughout the auditorium was frenetic.


Joining Shanay were some of the West End's best: Sophie Evans, Alice Fearn, Ben Forster, Rachel John, Trevor Dion Nicholas and Layton Williams. It's unfair to pick favourite moments when every performance was a complete treat and the song selection was outstanding. From Defying Gravity, to a bluesy version of Don't Rain on My Parade and a sweetly sentimental rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow there was something for absolutely everyone. If that wasn't enough, the pre-show/interval playlist was also a stagey delight. 


As well as this, the night featured a fantastic band, wonderful backing singers and excellently sleek dancers. Several standing ovations and plenty of chair dancing highlighted that the audience were completely on the performers side and were just as much a part of the show as those on stage, albeit with considerably vocal ability. Overall the whole evening felt like a high quality, well-oiled, musical theatre sensation.


Alongside the mile a minute song selection, the night also included the sparkling wardrobe of dreams. The sheer glitz, glam and spectacle of the whole night's proceedings felt so special to be a part of. 


The night closed with a series of high octane numbers, including Don't Stop Believing, How Will I Know and One Night Only, which had everyone on their feet and proved that we really can have a good time, even under covid restrictions. 


As the final chorus of The Greatest Showman’s From Now On rang out “and we will come back home”, I was reminded that the theatre really is home and if last night's concert is what it's like then never want to leave.



West End Musical Celebration runs at the Palace Theatre until Sunday 13th June 2021


Photos by Bonnie Britain

Monday, 23 November 2020

The Digi Creative release Theatrical Coffee Table Book


The Digi Creative release Dear Audience, a theatrical coffee table book filled with over 140 pages showcasing the Arts industry. With exclusive imagery, personalised letters to the Audiences, and more, this book is a celebration of Theatre and everyone who works in it.  

Featuring Lucie Jones, Carrie Hope Fletcher, Cedric Neal, Lambert Jackson Productions,  Layton Williams, Alice Fearn, Nicole Raquel Dennis, Rachel Tucker, Carl Man, Paul Taylor-Mills, Sejal Keshwala, Frances Ruffelle and so many more. 

15% of profits will be donated to Applause For Thought a triple award-winning organisation that facilitates lower-cost Mental Health; support, talks, accredited courses, and bespoke Mental Health and Well-being Consultancy for all those working within the Arts and Entertainment Industry.


Digi Creative co-founder, Sophie Ross says: “We hope that this coffee table book will bring joy in a time when the Arts industry needs to be celebrated the most. Theatre is made up of so many people, (this being just a small percentage) and it’s important to showcase that at every given opportunity. I’m so proud of Danny and I for creating something that is an homage to this year and something we can look back on in years to come. Super grateful for everyone who gave up their time to be involved and can’t wait to share the book with everyone.”

 

Digi Creative co-founder, Danny Kaan says: I’ve always wanted to make a coffee table book but making it in 2020 feels even more special. The number of people that were willing to be involved was overwhelming and shows how supportive this industry is and how passionate we all are for the Arts. Combining Photography and my love for this industry has been a joy and I’ve honestly had the best time. Seeing so many faces in a time where human contact has been so limited has been heartwarming and wonderful”.

 

Pre-order the book here: www.dearaudiencebook.com (Christmas guarantee)

General on-sale Wednesday 25th November 10am (second batch delivery)

Pricing £35 with worldwide shipping available

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Keep Up Your Craft in Lockdown | Online Theatre Classes

We may be confined to our homes but thankfully the theatre community are coming together to create an abundance of online resources and classes to keep us entertained, fit and ready for our return to the real world... whenever that may be.

I've complied a list of some of these classes and activities which may peak your interest…


Musical Theatre

West End Bootcamp are providing Monday masterclasses at 7pm. These include choreographed routines, vocal classes performing arts masterclasses. Classes are £7.50 for 75 minutes and can be booked by emailing theteam@westendbookcamps.com (Insta: @westendbootcamp)

Pros From The Shows, directed by Layton Williams, are giving daily 30 minute workshops with 15 minute Q&As at the end. The workshops are run on a pay-what-you-can basis and have so far featured Marisha Wallace, Lucie Jones, Liam Mower and many more. To book, email info@prosfromtheshows.com (Insta: @prosfromtheshows)

London Singer Studio have free classes at 11am each day, focussing on all aspects of singing and vocal health. (Insta: @londonsingerstudio)

Kreate Academy are providing dance classes, challenges, live q and a’s and so much more. All their classes are free and there’s a whole variety to choose from. (Insta: @kreateacademyofperformingarts)

The Sing Space have a mixture of paid and free regular classes with industry professionals. These include breathing workshops and West End Fit classes. They also have free daily singing warm ups with West End vocal coach, Rachel Lynes, each morning at 10.30. Many of the classes take place on Zoom or Facebook at The Sing Space Singer’s Hub (Insta: @thesingspace)

MT Livestreamers is a group of musical theatre students who are teaching a variety of Instagram live classes, from tap to relaxation, MT and Bollywood. (Insta: @mt_livestreamers)

Live Stream Arts Fitness are providing a vast timetable of fitness and MT classes which are all free. Most take place on Instagram live, with some on YouTube, Facebook and Zoom. (Insta: @livestreamartsfitness)

Lockdown Live London hosts a daily 6pm workout with a West End star; these have include the Queens of Six, Kelly Mathieson, Sarah O Connor and Jonathan Bailey. They take place on instagram live and stay up for 24 hours. (@lockdownlivelondon)

Broadway Weekends at Home is a hub for all things MT and all the classes are free. All classes are taught by Broadway and West End Performers and there are ones for all ages. (Facebook: Broadway Weekends at Home)


Dance

Magnetic Movement are offering a whole timetable of weekly classes from industry professionals. From beginners tap to pilates and advanced jazz there's something for everyone. The classes take part live on Facebook and Instagram and there are also tutorials on the Instagram page. (Insta: @mageneticmovement_1)

LaDuca Shoes have a host of classes and Q&As, including musical theatre jazz, contemporary and ballet. (Insta: @laducashoesuk)

Sharpe Academy have daily instagram live routines, fitness classes and audition workshops with industry professionals. These have included a Six routine with Vicki Manser and a ballet barre masterclass with Bradley Shelver. (Insta: @sharpeacademy)

MXM have dance classes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday night and some children’s morning classes. They are 1 hour technique and routine classes which take place on instagram. (Insta: @mxmasterclass)

CLI Studios have regular live class events with renowned choreographers. Most classes are Intermediate/Advanced and are mainly Hip-Hop and contemporary. For any fans of The Ellen Show, this Sunday (19th) features a class with Twitch! (Insta: @clistudios)

Debbie Allen (Fame, Greys Anatomy) is holding weekly dance classes on Wednesdays and Saturdays (Insta: @therealdebbieallen) as well as offering Zoom classes through her dance academy, more information is available on www.debbieallendanceacademy.com

Capezio are offering a big timetable of instagram classes, with Body Conditioning, Locking and Tapping and Commercial just some of what’s available. (Insta: @capezio)


Ballet Specific

Tierney Heap is a current member of the Royal Ballet and a Bloch influencer, she is holding Instagram live classes on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 10.30. (Insta: @tierneyheap)

Sander Blommaert is a former Royal Ballet dancer and is holding classes at 11am each morning on Instagram live. (Insta: @sanderblommaert)

Charise Logan (Renouf) is running barre focussed classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at 10.30. (Insta: @charise_renouf_)

Sarah Du-Feu is running a whopping 18 Instagram live classes a week suitable for all ages with a mixture of basic and intermediate classes. (Insta: @theballetcoach)

Russian Pointe Brand are running classes for all levels on their instagram, including flexibility and pilates classes. (Insta: @russianpointebrand)


Q&As/Masterclasses

Beyond the Boards is a new theatre podcast which is holding weekly Q&As with performers about their advice for thriving and surviving during lockdown. Previous guests have included Arun Blair-Mangat, Richard Carson and Genesis Lynea. (Insta: @beyondtheboardspod)

SingEasy have launched the SingEasy Diaries where they chats to special guests each Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8pm. Guests include Jodie Steele, Amy Hart and Jai McDowall. (Insta: @singeasywestend)

London Theatre Direct are hosting Q&As, takeovers, bake-alongs and more, with stars of the West End in their Stagey Lockdown. (Instagram: @londontheatredirect)

The Showbiz Clinic run by dancer and choreographer Xena Gusthart is currently doing a series called Pivot Through a Pandemic which is £5 a session and takes place Monday's at 10am. There are also free one to one's available as well as live instagram Q&As. (Insta: @theshowbizclinic)

Stage One have begun a series on online webinars with industry professionals. They take place on Zoom and participants have the chance to ask questions as well as hear stories and advice. (Insta: @stageonenewprod)


There are so many more classes than this but these are just some of the ones on my radar. If you know of anymore, please let me know and I’ll keep this list as updated and comprehensive as possible.

Stay safe and stay stagey!




Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Hairspray (UK Tour), Edinburgh Playhouse | Review


Hairspray (UK Tour)
Edinburgh Playhouse
Reviewed on Monday 12th March 2018 by Michèle Duck & Viv Conway
★★★★★


The funny, daring and radical story of Hairspray truly dances to its own beat. After the last curtain fell at the Edinburgh Playhouse, the residue of hope of change was left in the air. Mark Goucher, Matthew Gale and Laurence Myers present the story of Hairspray with an exceptional cast and orchestra, based on the New Line Cinema film by John Waters. 

The musical tells the story of racial segregation in America and the fight for racial equality. From mentions of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, the audience are reminded of a struggle that although portrayed as historic, is still relevant today all over the world. The story of bravery, friendship and ‘doing what is right’, is told in a charming and compelling manner through the lyrics of Scott Whittman and Marc Shaiman. The story is told through the bright, naïve  eyes of Tracy Turnblad and her passion for dancing. As Tracy’s understanding of herself and world widens, her ambition grows into a galvanising desire for change. 


It is hard to know where to start with such a talented and energetic cast. Every cast member brought life and vitality to the performance and executed the complex choreography with vigour, precision and enjoyment in equal measure. 

A particularly captivating and poignant performance from Motormough Maybelle (Brenda Edwards) in I Know Where I’ve Been, caused the audience to tangibly hold a collective breath. Her words wove a story of segregation which although targeted to the 1960s, still rings true in the current global climate. This song tells a heartfelt story of loss and struggle and the promise of a better life. One wonders when we may truly get to the ‘Promised Land’ that Martin Luther King described in his speech the day before he was assassinated. 

Edna and Wilbur Turnblad (Matt Rixton and Norman Pace) were a down to earth, honest and side-splitting double act, which really brought life and humour to the show. Whether forgetting their lines was intentional or not, their realistic and relaxed roles bounced (literally) off each other in a light-hearted and warm rendition of You’re Timeless to Me. 


Annalise Liard-Bailey brilliantly executed her goofy portrayal of the ‘best-friend’, Penny Pingleton with perfect mix of humour, talent and relatableness. Laird-Bailey is one to watch.

However, the stand out performance of the show came from Seaweed (Layton Williams). Williams brought his character to life, and before the audience knew it, Seaweed became the leading man. Between his back flips, his energetic and sensual rendition of Run and Tell That, William’s raw talent and clear love of musical theatre shone though, infecting the audience with his energy. This leading role take-over was very appropriate considering the shows storyline of the journey to equality.  

Overall, the 2018 cast of Hairspray tells a family friendly and warm hearted story. Through its upbeat songs (who doesn’t love a singalong encore), the audience are left with the important underlying message of standing up for what you believe is right, no matter your size. After all, all that really matters is the size of your heart.

Hairspray runs at the Edinburgh Playhouse until March 17th before continuing it's tour.

photo credit: Darren Bell

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Hairspray (UK Tour), Bristol Hippodrome | Review


Hairspray (UK Tour) 
Bristol Hippodrome 
Reviewed on Monday 5th March 2018 by Calvin Welsford  
★★★★


Hairspray has always been a show I’ve been dying to see live. I fell in love with the 2007 movie and then most recently with NBC’s tv special, Hairspray Live!  starring Kristin Chenoweth, Jennifer Hudson and Dove Cameron, to name a few!

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have high expectations of the show, because I did. Thankfully the show lived up to these; it was so amazing and a lot funnier than I’d anticipated.

I think my expectations were so high as previous cast members have been very strong and unique, such as Ariana Grande, Matthew Morrison, Harvey Fierstein and Queen Latifah. But the UK tour cast did a phenomenal job of bringing the characters to the stage and evoked the same emotions I’d previously felt and hoped for. 

Max Rixton & Norman Price completely stole the show with their version of ‘You’re Timeless To Me’. A unscripted innuendo ‘I can feel your bells’ managed to have the audience and the cast laughing for several minutes. It was clear that the two actors on stage had a good connection as there were non stop innuendos and comebacks during the whole scene. 


Rebecca Mendoza made an impressive professional debut as the larger-than-life, Tracy whilst Layton Williams and Edward Chitticks were fabulous as Seaweed and Link.

Although the show overall was incredible, the only thing which I personally think could be improved would be the set. During certain scenes the background is projected on a screen rather than being an actual set piece. This felt a little lacking and made the show feel slightly amateur.

However, I can’t knock the performances of the cast or the direction- everything else was 10/10. Mention must go to Drew McOnie’s choreography which perfectly fits the vibe of the show and is energetic throughout.

If you like musical theatre and especially Hairspray, I’d 100% recommend seeing the current UK Tour!

Hairspray is at the Bristol Hippodrome until 10th March, before continuing its tour.

photo credit: Darren Bell

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Hairspray (UK Tour), Bord Gais Energy Theatre | Review


Hairspray (Tour)
Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Dublin
Reviewed on Monday 11th September 2017 by Damien Murray 
★★

Despite highlighting serious issues such as prejudice and intolerance, this show remains a popular, light-hearted and fun night of musical theatre and this latest touring production – courtesy of Mark Goucher, Matthew Gale and Laurence Myers – certainly kept it in this now famous ‘feel-good’ vibe.

Set in Baltimore in 1962, against a backdrop of racial segregation, the simple scenario of wanting teenagers of all colours to be able to dance together on a local TV dance programme with a campaign for integration on the show reflects the wider problem of racial segregation and to a welcomed social change at that time.

Opening with a look down at teenage Tracy in bed before hitting hard with one of the show’s most popular songs, 'Good Morning Baltimore', this production got off to a bright up-tempo start in a busy street scene with the dancers quickly establishing the two main communities of the piece, and – under Paul Kerryson’s direction – this theme was reinforced throughout (e.g. there was the telling line that “the TV is black and white” and the costumes in the jail scene were all black and white for the protesters as opposed to the colourful costumes that were used in the rest of the show).




Staged with a practical and realistic brick house set at either side, this production used mobile trucks and effective projected scenery throughout to keep its fast-moving pace in place, while Philip Gladwell’s bright and colourful lighting plot brought a lot to the show and I loved, at the start of each Act, how the audience was flooded in moving coloured lights to create a fun atmosphere.

As a dance-orientated show, Drew McOnie’s choreography and movement was always slick, lively, entertaining and of its time and it was a brave decision to do a routine at one stage with several basketballs being thrown about on a crowded stage.

While the costumes were overly bright (probably for staging purposes to increase the fun and escapism elements of the production), they – like the hairstyles – were authentic for the era.

The mostly up-tempo score was varied with 60s Pop, Rhythm & Blues, Doo-Wop and Gospel influences, and Musical Director, Ben Atkinson, and his 7-piece on-stage band did well in keeping things moving at a lively pace and with such a full-on sound, despite this show being written for a much larger instrumentation line-up.




While the comic duet, 'You’re Timeless To Me', proved popular with audiences, songs like 'Mama, I’m A Big Girl Now' and 'I Can Hear The Bells' were well staged; the latter having a particular magical feel to it.

However, the big production numbers that really stood out were: 'Welcome To The 60s', complete with the female vocal trio’s sparkling dresses and the floor gobos and wallpaper displaying a popular pattern of the era; the glorious piece of Gospel, 'I Know Where I’ve Been', which almost lifted the roof; and the all-singing, all-dancing finale, 'You Can’t Stop The Beat', with its totally infectious feel-good factor.

Sometimes there is something about the way a particular show is written, or cast, that is simply annoying and, for me, it is why there is a tradition of playing Tracy’s mother, Edna, as a ‘drag-role (i.e. always played by a man), as the character is not a drag queen, but was first played by one).
I feel it adds nothing to the show and is unnecessary … maybe it is just me and I am missing something obvious, but I just don’t get it.

However, that said, this is certainly no reflection on the talents of Matt Rixon, who played the role of the large, kind and shy Edna superbly in what could best be described as a towering performance, especially against the physically smaller, Norman Pace, as her ever-joking but loving husband, Wilbur (maybe that is the reason for the ‘drag-role’?).




Brenda Edwards’ super soulful vocals made her perfect for the part of the sassy and determined Motormouth Maybelle, while the experienced performance by Gina Murray, as the producer and controlling mother, Velma, was a show-stealer here and this scheming villainess must surely be the most glamorous ‘baddie’ of them all.

If Velma was the baddie, then young Rebecca Mendoza was a real ‘goodie’ here, making an impressive professional debut as the big-hearted and teenage Tracy.

All were well supported by the lively ensemble and others like Jon Tsouras’ self-loving Corney, Layton Williams’ energetic and popular, Seaweed, Edward Chitticks’ heart-throb pop star, Link, Aimee Moore’s not so talented and selfish wannabe, Amber, and Annalise Liard-Bailey – another recent theatre graduate – as the dim but beautiful, Penny.

Hairspray is at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre until September 16th before continuing on its tour.

Photo Credit: Darren Bell

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

In Conversation With... Billy Cullum | Rent | Interview


Billy Cullum, has already had an impressive and extensive career starring in shows such as Spring Awakening and Jesus Christ Superstar. He's currently taking on the role of Mark Cohen, the introverted film maker in the 20th Anniversary tour of Rent and wowing audiences across the country with his incredible performance. I saw Rent for the fifth time last night and was as moved as I was the first time. It's truly a brilliant production. 

Not only is Billy a wonderful performer but also a wonderful person and he was nice enough to answer these questions about all things Rent, performing and life in general!


For those that don't know, can you explain a little about your career and highlights so far?
I trained at the Arts Educational School of Musical Theatre and graduated in 2010. My first job was a small scale musical of Alice in Wonderland that toured all around Italy. It was hard work but getting paid to travel all around such a beautiful city made all the early mornings and get-ins worthwhile. I then went on to play Jesus in Godspell at the Union Theatre followed by one of my dream roles as Moritz in the UK Tour of Spring Awakening. I then performed in Hair, Merrily We Roll Along before my West End debut in the RSC’s Matilda at the Cambridge Theatre. Roald Dahl was becoming a running theme as I then joined the cast of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Being an Oompa Loompa was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do! After this I joined the cast of Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. It was an incredible piece to be a part of. I understudied and played the role of Jesus. Now I am lucky enough to be in one of my favourite musicals and playing one of my dream roles as Mark Cohen in Rent



Was being a performer what you always yearned for or did you have another career path in mind when you were younger?
Performing is the only thing I’ve ever really focused on from the age of 3. It wasn’t until I was about 16 though that I thought it could become a career. I’m a songwriter and a recording artist which is something I love to do as well. I’m just about to release the first single ‘Lost in You’ from my debut album which is released 03.03.17.


Rent is one of the most iconic musicals ever, do you feel a lot of pressure taking on such an important role?
When I got offered the job I was ecstatic. I was so excited. Then it hit me that this musical has such a strong following. It means so much to people. It really has a place in people’s hearts so the pressure slowly started to dawn on me. I then had to go into the rehearsal room on the first day and let all that pressure go and focus on my portrayal of Mark. I like to think I’ve made him my own and I have enjoyed exploring him. He’s very complex and intricate which I don’t think many people realise. 


The cast must be so close with this production, have there been any standout funny moments on or offstage between you all?
There have been MANY funny moments. My favourite though has to be when Layton Williams who plays Angel got his coat stuck in his wig as he was about to go full throttle into 'Today For You'. Somehow, he managed to sort out the issue whilst incorporating it into the song with humour and sass "My Wig! Help me out with my Wig!" It was pure genius! 


Has the show changed at all going from tour to the St James and then back on tour?
It naturally changes to fill different spaces. The St James was such an intimate setting which I loved. It was very intense. Performing in bigger venues such as Edinburgh Festival Theatre lets other moments thrive more. The show always has the same heart but it definitely feels adapts beautifully to each venue.


How are you enjoying touring life? What do you miss most being away from home?
I’m really enjoying it. I love seeing different places I wouldn't necessarily chose to go to. The thing I miss most about being away is my loved ones and my dogs. 


Can you sum up the show in 5 words?
Live and Love without fear.


If you could go back to any era, when would it be and why?
I’d wanna go back to the caveman era. I wanna know how I would survive!


If you had a magic wand, which show would you do next?
Oooh. I think it would have to be Next to Normal


What's the best piece of advice you're ever received and what advice would you give to aspiring performers?
"Just Be You" is the best advice I’ve ever had. It really works. That’s the advice I’d give to any aspiring performers. Don’t try and fit a mould because someone told you to or because that’s how you get work. I like to think I’ve been employed because of my talent and character and I’ve done that by simply being me. To add to this I would also say never give up. Focus on your own path, it’s so dangerous to compare yourself to others. If you really want it don’t give up. Your time will come.


Thank you so much Billy for doing this interview; go see him in Rent and make sure you purchase all his new music!

Rent is playing at the New Victoria theatre, Woking until March 11th. Visit http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/rent-the-musical/new-victoria-theatre/  for tickets




Interview by Olivia Mitchell, Editor

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Rent, St James Theatre | Review

Measure your life in love and measure this musical in love. A brilliant revival of a much loved show which will remind you to live and love.


Rent
St James Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 13th December 2016 by Olivia Mitchell
★★★★★


Rent is one of those iconic musicals which shaped a generation; its melodies and storyline are so touching that the show became a cultural phenomenon when it premiered 20 years ago off-Broadway. It tells the story of a group of people living in a New York, East Village squat who are all affected by HIV, drugs and homelessness. The show's prevailing theme is that of living in the moment: there's truly "No Day But Today."

Bruce Guthrie's production is gritty and industrial, with metal scaffolding, Christmas lights and boxes covered in graffiti creating the dim abrasive world in which the story is set. Lee Proud's choreography is fabulous, especially in La Vie Boheme and Contact. The quick, sharp movements add to the frenzied feeling of the show and add a slightly more modern feel to the show compared to other productions I've seen.



The whole company is impeccable. I cannot fault anyone; every lead and every ensemble member is completely committed to their character and the stunning voices allow Jonathan Larson's melodies to soar and dip, whilst causing the joy and pain of all those watching. Billy Cullum and Ross Hunter shine as the impoverished roommates bouncing off each other wonderfully and their performances give the base and heart to this amazing musical. Philippa Stefani as the club dancing Mimi is rough but vulnerable; I was in complete tears by the end of her performance and was just in awe of how committed to her role she was and how it clearly affected her until the very end- a mesmerising performance to watch. Ryan O'Gorman as Tom Collins is perfect casting. Ryan's voice is off the charts goose-bump inducing and he is fully emotive on every single note. The acting performances all round are faultless especially with Lucie's Jones' over the top performance as the struggling artist Maureen Johnson. Shanay Holmes as Joanne has the most incredible chemistry with Lucie- 'Take Me Or Leave Me' is certainly a standout moment.  Angel played by Layton Williams is everything and more, I need sass lessons from this wonderfully talented man!  I could go on about every other character but lets just leave it at them all being completely and utterly exemplary. The whole company is a tight unit and its clear how special this piece is to all of them.


Rent has lived on for 20 years and as we can see from the 'house full' signs outside the St James that it is still a booming and resonant success. Jonathan Larson's musical is as poignant as engaging as it ever has been. Rent is heartbreaking beautiful and will inspire a whole new generation 20 years on from its original production.


The run at the St James Theatre has currently sold out but make sure to go and see the show whilst it continues to tour around the country.

Rent Official Website: www.rentonstage.co.uk