Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Lea Michele. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Lea Michele. Sort by date Show all posts

Saturday 22 April 2017

An Intimate Evening with Lea Michele, Shoreditch Town Hall | Review

An Intimate Evening with Lea Michele
Shoreditch Town Hall
Reviewed on Friday April 21st 2017 by Olivia Mitchell

I, like so many others, went through a huge, and I mean huge Glee phase. I had all the merchandise, all the dvds, cds, posters, the lot! Seeing my Facebook 'on this day' I think it was all I ever thought about. Every day a status memory pops up saying something along the lines of "watching Glee... love it so much! Rachel woo! xx" so I was pretty deep in the obsession, and yes, I used to put kisses after my status'!

Anyway, Glee was my life so in turn, Lea Michele was too. Lea as Rachel Berry was everything I wanted to be, yes she was over the top and a demanding diva but beneath it all she was a hardworking talented individual who knew what she wanted. She motivated me to work and improve myself and added even more to my musical theatre obsession. Needless to say when last week Lea announced she would be coming to the UK to do a London concert, my 13 year old self came right back. My excitement levels were through the roof and I booked to see her at the Shoreditch Town Hall straight away!

So there's my little background story, now lets get on to the review of the actual concert. Honestly, Lea could have sung the phone book and I would have been happy but she did so much more than that and created a really beautiful night and performance. One of the key factors in the concert being so warm and welcoming was the fact that you knew everyone in the room was feeling the same. We were all (I'm assuming) Glee fans back in the day and were shocked and excited to finally see Lea over in the UK so a lovely, excited, contented buzz filled the room from the get go.

The concert included a taster of the upcoming album Places which is released on Friday April 28th as well as some songs from Michele's first album Louder and a medley of songs from Glee. Each number seemed well thought out and there were lovely introductions given to each one about what the song means to Lea or a little anecdote about the writing process.

Lea has a grace and elegance that makes everything look so effortless. She is sophisticated and simple whilst being rough and vulnerable at the same time. For me personally, Lea has always been such an icon that I never really thought of as a real person. I know it sounds crazy but I'm sure (at least I hope) some of you know what I mean! Lea has always been this idol of talent, beauty and creativity that I never imagined I'd see in real life, so seeing her close up, in the flesh on stage was kind of weird and didn't feel real. I also found it hilarious every time she swore not only because it accompanied a funny story but because it made her seem so normal and genuine. 

Each song was performed wonderfully along with the fabulous band who were impeccable and sleek with Misty Boyce providing the main back up vocals effortlessly and wonderfully. Particular stand-out tracks for me were 'My Man' and 'Battlefield' which are two of my favourite songs anyway but they were done so well I even felt emotional listening.

The tracks from Lea's upcoming album Places were exciting and beautiful and I'm sure the whole album will be exquisite. Lea has such a stunning tone to her voice that soars easily and adds warmth to every note which comes out of her mouth. At just over an hour, I would have liked  the concert to be a bit longer but with only a weeks notice and I'm assuming a lot of jet lag, it was understandable that it wasn't overly long. 

The Shoreditch Town Hall was the perfect venue for this intimate concert, creating an impressive setting whilst still feeling warm and personal. Overall it was a radiant night and I only hope that Lea will come back to the UK soon to do further performances and show off more of her impressive vocal talents and stage presence.

Lea Michele's album PLACES is released April 28th 2017

Photo credit: Andrew Timms

Friday 5 May 2017

Places, Lea Michele | Album Review

Lea Michele
Reviewed by Olivia Mitchell

Lea Michele's second solo album, Places was released on April 28th and flew to the top of the US pop charts, reaching number one almost as soon as it came out. It features a number of emotional ballads as well as some more upbeat songs which all flow together and scream emotion at every moment. In a recent interview Lea said that this album is more her true sound with both pop and musical theatre influences mixed in, it's not an album where she tries to fit a mould or sell to a certain market, it's just her.

Places is very slow-ballad heavy which could be a problem for some people but I thrive on those sorts of songs and honestly can't think of anything better than an all-out, belt for your life, dramatic album so I love it! The lyrics are theatrical and every song really plays to Lea's strengths as a singer, hitting each note with enough power and force to match Barbra and Celine.

This album flows very well indeed, each song holding its own and nothing is there just to fill space. Places is the perfect album for so many occasions, be it getting ready to go out, driving with the windows down, hiking or just while you're in the house living your best life. There's a song for everything and it's so personal and intimate that it feels like the exact album to accompany life and all its goings on.

The intimacy is what really makes Places special. Lea is baring her soul and showing us all her ups and downs through these songs. I want to tell you my favourite song but honestly it changes every five minutes so I can't but at the moment I am loving 'Run To You', 'Heavy Love' and 'Sentimental Memories'. The theme throughout the album is one of empowerment and pushing through whatever life throws at you. There is motivation beyond belief with 'Anything's Possible' especially, making you feel like you can conquer the world!

The amazing thing about Lea's voice is how it manages to be so strong but raw at the same time. She shows off her wide range well and moves between voice parts so smoothly it's just joyous to hear. Lea has always been an idol of mine and hearing this elegant piece of work made me even more inspired by her. 

Places refers to the call before starting a show where you're called to your place for the beginners call. The title seems very apt as it marks the start of a new chapter for Lea but to me I see the title as the sign to take my place, listen to this album, feel strong and motivated as hell and then to run at life full speed and live each moment to the fullest. So if you want to be inspired by both brilliant songs and flawless vocals then this is definitely an album you need in your collection. Lea really comes into her own and it's evident how much love and time has gone in to making this the best album it can be. Bravo!

Sunday 2 December 2018

Lea Michele and Darren Criss (Concert), Vicar Street, Dublin | Review

Lea Michele and Darren Criss (Concert) 

Vicar Street, Dublin 
Reviewed on Thursday 29th November 2018 by Damien Murray

It is not often that you get not only one, but TWO Broadway and former Glee stars sharing a concert stage together in Ireland.

However, so good a time was had by both in Dublin on the last Glee tour that – ahead of their LM/DC concert tour dates in the UK – Lea Michele and Darren Criss (aka Glee’s Rachel Berry and Blaine Anderson) decided to open their latest joint tour in the Irish capital. 

Although the venue was a relatively intimate one for such a popular attraction, it proved to be a perfect choice for this talented twosome to display the wide-ranging vocal ability that they each possess and – being a rock venue (a ‘first’ for Michele!) as opposed to the more theatrical surroundings that they are used to – it was a totally less formal affair for an opening night and made for a more relaxed and fun-filled atmosphere for both the audience and performers alike. 

While Gleeks and musical theatre fans turned out in force from all corners of Europe to enjoy this ‘Glee-ful’ trip down memory lane, there was so much more to this concert than the Glee and musical theatre input, with the inclusion of a selection of rock and pop songs representing either songs they performed in the iconic television series or those they wished they had performed … and either songs they had written or those they wished they had written. 

Backed by a tight 4-piece band, the dynamic duo did not disappoint in this eclectic night of music, with around 2 dozen songs during the 2-hour performance. 

The relaxed mood also allowed for lots of stage banter from the pair (although I was surprised at some of the colourful language being used) and their individual personalities shone every bit as much as their singing skills with jokes about the tour being called the Nick Jonas and Idina Menzel Show because of their similarity in looks to these stars. 

Neither could conceal their obvious excitement at being back in Ireland again and, during her solo set, Michele became openly emotional at one point and surprised many by revealing some secrets about herself, including that she is very nervous during shows and that she needs a wide range of liquids on stage to aid her vocals … and that she, too, is a Gleek! 

Opening with soaring vocals in two classic Broadway duets - Sondheim’s Broadway Baby and Suddenly Seymour- the duo’s softer harmonies came into play and were perfectly suited to their third choice, Falling Slowly (The Swell Season’s Once); a popular choice for a Dublin audience as it is a story set in the city and written by local singer/songwriter, Glen Hansard. 

Lea's solo set was very entertaining with pop songs like Cannonball and Lady Gaga’s Poker Face/Edge Of Glory alongside a show-stopping trio of musical theatre classics, including belters like Don't Rain On My Parade and Maybe This Time, and, while it may have been a rock venue, you could have heard a pin drop during her beautiful vocals in an Eva Cassidy style rendition of Over the Rainbow.

Accurately describing the show as ‘a celebration of all types of music’ during his solo set, Criss, who often accompanied himself on guitar and piano, was really at home in a rock venue and, in addition to some of his own compositions (of which Going Nowhere was an undoubted highlight), offered some surprises in re-imagined and improbable versions of musical evergreens, Hopelessly Devoted To You, and I Dreamed A Dream.

Keeping the set list fresh and, to a degree, unpredictable, Criss has made a point since the tour began in May of throwing in a new song each performance that is appropriate in some way to the gig location on any given night. 

With so many great songs having emerged from Dublin over the years, he had a difficult job deciding which one to perform … So, he ended up giving a musical nod to the city with a short rendition of a Thin Lizzy hit and a full version of U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. 

The duo reunited on stage for the finale, which featured the last song that Rachel performed in Glee, This Time (written for her by Criss), and one of the earliest songs from the series, The Human League’s international chart-topper, Don't You Want Me. 

The encore also proved to be a highlight, and a surprising choice, with a totally acoustic and unamplified version of Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love as a final little love note to the fans. 

Overall, peppered with interesting little anecdotes from their past, this was a fun-filled night full of surprises, musical and otherwise, and a chance to hear two incredible and quite different young stars doing what they love so perfectly. 

Saturday 30 December 2017

Olivia's Top 10 Shows of 2017

This year I saw 105 shows so picking my top 10 was pretty tricky! I know everyone does these posts but it's always interesting to see what peaked everyones interests so without further ado, here are the shows I loved in 2017. Grab a mince pie and settle in!

PS. They're in reverse order as always to bring that extra bit of drama!

10. Yank | Charing Cross Theatre

I saw the West End premiere of this show and completely fell in love. The storyline was gripping, the acting was outstanding and it was a highlight of my summer. Scott Hunter was a particular stand out and I can't wait to see what 2018 brings for him.

9. Follies | National Theatre

This was one of my most anticipated shows of the year and it certainly wasn't a let down. The glorious staging was spectacular and I adored hearing Sondheim's music live as well as seeing queen Imelda Staunton on stage again.

8. Mack and Mabel (LMTO) | Hackney Empire

This was such a surprising show for me. Of course I expected good things from the LMTO but I was so blown away by every performance in Mack and Mabel. Natasha J Barnes singing 'Time Heals Everything' was definitely my stand out vocal moment of the year.

7. Funny Girl | New Victoria Theatre

Natasha also gave an amazing performance as Fanny Brice in the UK Tour of Funny Girl. To date this is the best touring production I have ever seen!

6. Hamlet | Alemida Theatre

Andrew Scott was just spectacular. That's all.

5. Fiddler on the Roof | Chichester Festival Theatre

I must admit, I don't travel outside of London for theatre very often but I am so glad I made the trip to Chichester to see this production which completely blew me away. This show needs a West End transfer and I'm praying its life isn't over.

4. Angels in the America | National Theatre

How could I not mention this?! A marathon show but packed with drama, talent and grit at every moment. Truly a theatrical masterpiece- Broadway get ready!

3. Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill | National Theatre

Audra is just a queen. I was mesmerised by every single moment of this show. I first saw it on press night and then went back with my parents, both times were breathtaking and it was such an honour to see a Broadway superstar on stage.

2. Romantics Anonymous | Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

My lovely friend Hayley took me to see this for my birthday and for some reason I never got round to reviewing it (hopefully I'll do it soon!) But it was honestly just brilliant. Both literally and metaphorically sweet it was the perfect way to spend an afternoon. If you want a heartwarming tale, this is the one for you!

1. Hamilton | Victoria Palace Theatre

I know this is the most typical answer and so not a surprise but Hamilton just blew me away. I still can't believe that it exceeded my expectations and if you can get a ticket, you HAVE to see it!!

I also want to give a special mention to  a couple of other outstanding shows which I mentioned in last years wrap up: Rent and Dreamgirls, both of which amazed me again this year! I have a couple of concert shout outs too- Rachel Tucker, Kristin Chenoweth and Lea Michele. I saw Rachel perform 5 times and was completely astounded by her voice and stage presence every time. Kristin had me bawling from start to finish. Her concert was definitely the most memorable I've ever been too. Finally, Lea was a bucket list concert for me and I'm so honoured to have seen (and met) her this year!

So there we have my top shows of 2017! I can't wait to see what 2018 brings- let me know what your top shows of the year were.

Au revoir 2017! Stay Stagey, 2018!

Top 10 by editor, Olivia Mitchell

Friday 17 August 2018

Spring Awakening, Stockwell Playhouse | Review

Spring Awakening
Stockwell Playhouse
Reviewed on Thursday 16th August 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 

I would hazard a guess that there aren't many musical theatre fans of my age that didn't go through a Spring Awakening phase. For me it went a little like this: watched the Glee pilot episode, became obsessed with Lea Michele, watched everything related to her entire career, found the bootleg of Spring Awakening, watched said bootleg obsessively, downloaded the cast recording, sung Mama Who Bore Me on an endless loop and never looked back. For someone who went through the phase hard, it's surprising that  despite a number of revivals in the past few years, I'd never seen an actual production of the show so when the opportunity arose to see the British Theatre Academy's (BTA) production, I couldn't resist.

The show follows a group of German teens as they find themselves and their sexuality and discover how tough growing up really is. The BTA have done an absolutely outstanding job of bringing this Tony Award winning show to life in the confined space of the Stockwell Playhouse. For a production that is only running for three days, it's truly impeccable how well staged, polished and rounded it is.

In the lead roles of Wendla and Melchior we have Charlotte Coe and Max Harwood who give truthful performances, both individually and in unison. Charlotte brings Wendla's childlike innocence to life whilst Max as the 'educated' Melchior portrays a perfect combination of knowledge and youthfulness, that's especially effective throughout the arc of his story. With Ben Platt-esque subtle riffs and fantastically subtle acting choices, it's hard to take your eyes off Max and I'm certain he has a bright acting career ahead of him.

As Moritz, James Knudsen is exceptional. His nervous energy and frenzied eyes are perfect for the character who is struggling with school, family and sexuality. Ginnie Thompson is great as Ilse, providing an almost angelic vibe which is especially effective towards the end.

This truly is an ensemble show and what's so special is that the cast seem to have genuinely created a community feel in a very short space of time. The way they move as a whole and in waves is remarkable to watch and creates a constant sense of movement and discovery. Mention must go to Dafydd Lansley as Georg/Rupert who draws the eye throughout ad he commits fully to his role with his nuanced twitches and movements throughout. James Dodd and James Heward as Ernst and Hanschen also give wonderfully subtle performances that make the characters feel real and easily relatable for anyone facing the same struggles.

Matt Nicholson's choreography is minimalistic but effective throughout. The dance in The Dark I Know Well is especially moving and well performed. Dean Johnson has done a wonderful job of directing Spring Awakening so it has a perfect balance of humour and sadness and enough subtlety to be emotive without being over dramatic. The vocals in this production are all you could wish for, Jordan Li-Smith has done a brilliant job alongside the five-piece band who accompany the action with faultless music.

With tears still filling my eyes, I left the Stockwell Playhouse feeling moved, inspired and overjoyed at the talent of this amazing production. Whether you're a Spring Awakening fan or just someone who's curious about the show, I'd throughly recommend seeing this production.

Spring Awakening runs at the Stockwell Playhouse until August 18th

photo credit: Eliza Wilmot