Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Lee Curran. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Lee Curran. Sort by date Show all posts

Tuesday 31 December 2019

Olivia's Top Shows of 2019

This year I saw 150 shows, from glitzy West End productions to smaller fringe pieces and many UK tours. Before we step into the new decade, I want to feature some of my favourite pieces of the year and those which have stuck with me in some way.

Dolly Parton has been a family favourite growing up so this musical ticks all the boxes for me. 9 to 5 is a catchy, colourful celebration of girl power. With another tour planned for next year, this show is sure to delight audiences in 2020 and beyond.

Six featured in last year's Top 10 list, but having seen it a few times this year, I thought it warranted a place once again. The fantastically, feminist musical is pure joy on stage and a complete treat. Enthralling audiences around the world with its pop/musical theatre crossover sound and the heart which is retained in all its incarnations, Six's world domination is only just beginning. 

I mentioned the Broadway production of Come From Away last year, but 2019 saw the triumphant West End transfer of this show which is completely spectacular and special beyond compare. Telling the heartfelt story of the unity formed in a small village in Canada during the traumas of 9/11, the Celtic sounds and complete ensemble feel of the piece make it effective and oh so powerful.

Performed by members of the British Theatre Academy (BTA), the young cast transported audiences on a mystical journey of love and magic. Lee Proud and Harrison Clark created a production worthy of much acclaim and showcased some of the future stars of UK theatre.

Having missed the Open Air production of Jesus Christ Superstar, I was thrilled to get the chance to see it at the Barbican and it did not disappoint. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's score soared thanks to the ingenious staging which made the space feel as though it was outside, and Lee Curran's lighting which made the atmosphere both electric and intimate. Amazing performances all round made this a production not to be forgotten.

Not only was it a treat to see this enchanting song cycle by Dave Malloy brought to life by such talented actor-musos, but getting to experience the new space of the Boulevard Theatre was a delight in itself. The whole space feels fresh, welcoming, modern and all in all a wonderful addition to the London theatre scene. Ghost Quartet was a wacky mish-mash, but there's something about it that was truly enchanting.

The Cher Show | Neil Simon Theatre

If you'd told me at the beginning of the year that The Cher Show would be in my top shows, not just of 2019 but ever, I doubt I would've believed you. The cast were amazing but as someone unfamiliar with Cher's music and kind of bewildered by the whole idea, I didn't expect to come out beaming after one of the best night's ever at the theatre. The biopic musical tells the story of the superstar's rise to fame via three Cher's representing different times in her life. The performances are other worldly and the humour hits all the right spots. This is the embodiment of a grand musical and I can only hope it comes to the West End sometime soon!

The Jungle | St Ann's Warehouse

This is another show I missed in London but was lucky enough to catch in New York at the incredible setting of St Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn. This is the most striking piece of theatre I have ever witnessed, and I can't even explain how spectacular the entire production was. The community feel that was created within moments of entering the theatre is like nothing I've ever experienced and every element of theatricality was so perfectly used to highlight the stories of those on stage.

The Adam Guettal musical was on my 'To See' bucket list, so it was a complete joy to experience the sumptuous score performed by such a stellar cast this year. The story about young Clara falling in love with Fabrizio on a trip to Italy is beautiful and made me want to go to and have my own romantic holiday accompanied by a beautiful classical soundtrack.

Fiver played a brief run at the Southwark Playhouse and earned itself much praise and many fans. With a fantastic score by Alex James Ellison, the musical follows the story of a £5 note and how it's value changes in the hands of various people. This was a completely unexpected treat of a show which completely enraptured me and left me feeling joyous, thanks to the wonderful mix of musical styles and fantastic array of stories involved. The superb cast of five gave everything and made it a real gem of a piece. A delightful musical, lets hope we see more of Fiver in the future.

Wednesday 15 July 2020

Regent's Park Open Air Theatre to present Jesus Christ Superstar: The Concert

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is the first London theatre to welcome back audiences with 70 live performances in August and September, with venue capacity reduced to 390 seats, 30% of its usual capacity, together with new safety protocols

From 14 August, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre will produce a special concert staging of their production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar.

William Village, Executive Director said: “Following the government’s announcement last week that outdoor theatres may re-open, we have been working around the clock to find a way to open in August and September this year. With social distancing, seating capacity has been dramatically reduced to 390 seats (down from 1,256). This makes producing any large-scale show economically extremely challenging, particularly as we are an unfunded organisation. Nevertheless, both for us as a venue, and the industry as a whole, we believe it is incumbent upon us to do everything possible to re-open this year, and we’re delighted to announce this special concert staging of our award-winning production of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Of course, the safety of our audience, performers and staff remains of paramount importance to us. We will follow government guidance meticulously; measures to be introduced at the entirely open air venue include: reduced capacity, distanced performers, enhanced cleaning, one-way systems, mandatory face coverings, temperature checks, paperless and cashless systems and multiple hand sanitiser stations. All information will be set out clearly on our website and communicated with audiences in advance of their arrival.”

Running for six weeks from Friday 14 August until Sunday 27 September 2020, the concert will run for 90 minutes with no interval.

The creative team is: Will Burton CDG and David Grindrod CDG (casting); Lee Curran (lighting design); Tom Deering (musical supervisor); Barbara Houseman (associate director, voice and text); Drew McOnie (choreography); Nick Lidster for Autograph (sound design); Tom Scutt (design); Timothy Sheader (director); Kate Waters (fight director) and Denzel Westley-Sanderson (co-director). Full casting information will be announced in due course.

A series of one-off MOREoutdoor Mondays will also play throughout the run with comedy from Rob Beckett, Russell Brand, Jimmy Carr, Kerry Godliman, Judi Love and Russell Kane. 

Timothy Sheader, Artistic Director said: “It has been, and continues to be, an incredibly challenging time for everyone working in the theatre industry. Whilst the arts sector awaits details of how the government’s support package will be disseminated, I’m heartened that we have been able to start work again with a number of our colleagues and to employ over 140 people including 70 performers and freelancers, at least for a brief period this summer.

However, a clear and specific timeframe for the re-opening of the rest of our industry, together with the complete and safe removal of social distancing measures in all venues, remains critical to secure the future of the arts in the UK.”

Public Booking for Jesus Christ Superstar: The Concert, opens 11am, Tuesday 21 July 2020; Public booking for MOREoutdoor Mondays opens 11am, Thursday 23 July 2020

Thursday 27 June 2024

Next to Normal at Wyndham's Theatre: A Resonant Masterpiece 15 Years in the Making | REVIEW

Next to Normal
Wyndham's Theatre

London’s theatre scene is abuzz at the moment, with fan favourites returning, completely new works opening, and highly anticipated Broadway transfers finally making their way over. In Next to Normal’s case, "finally" is the operative word as it’s taken 15 years. Since debuting on Broadway in 2009 to critical and audience acclaim, fans have been eagerly awaiting its opening across the pond. After a brief stint at the Donmar Warehouse, it’s now officially open at the Wyndham’s Theatre in the heart of London’s West End. But was it worth the wait?

To put you out of your misery quickly, the answer is a resounding yes. This musical, which tells the story of a struggling family, is a poignant and punchy exploration of grief, drug therapies, and heartbreak. It doesn’t sound uplifting and for the most part, it isn’t, but it’s the trauma and intense emotions that make it such a special piece of theatre. The musical faces harsh realities with unflinching honesty that makes it genuinely affecting and truthful. Alongside this, there are moments of genuine humour, and like real life, there are highs and lows, mixed with dark humour to compensate for grief.

If you’re looking for the healthiest belting in the West End, you’ll find it with every member of the stellar five-person cast of Next to Normal. There’s not a note that doesn’t ring with clarity, support, and power. There are so many standout vocal moments that it’s impossible to pick favourites, and what’s brilliant is that not all of them are the big, loud, dramatic moments. Instead, the musical often thrives in its quieter moments. The belting is highly impressive and impactful, but frequently the smaller, supported moments are the most moving.

To put it lightly, Caissie Levy is a marvel. Her portrayal of Diana, the troubled mother at the centre of the story, is both heart-wrenching and electrifying. Levy’s vocal prowess is matched by her deep emotional delivery, making her performance one of the most memorable in recent West End history. Jamie Parker as Dan brings a grounded, heartfelt presence to the role of Diana’s supportive yet struggling husband. His performance is both tender and raw, capturing the complexities of a man trying to hold his family together.

Eleanor Worthington-Cox shines as Natalie, their overachieving yet deeply affected daughter. Her portrayal is layered and nuanced, capturing the teenage angst and longing for normalcy amidst chaos. Jack Wolfe as Gabe delivers a haunting performance with vocals that soar effortlessly, adding an ethereal quality to his character. Trevor Dion Nicholas as Dr. Madden/Dr. Fine brings a mix of authority and empathy to his roles as Diana’s doctors, his voice resonating powerfully through the theatre. Jack Ofrecio as Henry, Natalie's boyfriend, adds a touch of sweetness and earnestness, providing a much-needed sense of hope and grounding amidst the turmoil.

Thanks to the direction by Michael Longhurst, the cast is able to carry huge emotions throughout scenes, even when they're not at the forefront. The character work is clear, and you could watch this show ten times and notice a different intention or a new heartbreaking expression from any of the cast. Longhurst’s direction allows each actor to shine in their own right while maintaining a cohesive and emotionally charged ensemble performance.

The staging is both intimate and dynamic, perfectly capturing the fluctuating emotions of the characters. The set design by Chloe Lamford, lighting design by Lee Curran and video design by Tal Rosner create a visually stunning backdrop that enhances the storytelling without overwhelming it.

I don’t think this is a show for everyone. Aside from any triggers throughout, it’s a tough show to watch. In many ways, it feels more like a play with music because of the intensity and that’s personally why I enjoyed it so much. However, I can certainly see that it may not be quite as well-received by those who like more positive, “classically musical” musicals. Comparatively, it’s more on the wavelength of the Bridge Theatre revival of Oklahoma, rather than say, Six. Of course, that’s somewhat like comparing oranges and brussels sprouts; they are inherently different, but in a world where theatre is an expensive, occasional treat for many people, I think it’s important to know whether a show will be your vibe or not. And of course, all art is subjective so even if you’re hesitant, you may still love it.

All in all, just to say, Next to Normal isn’t like other shows in the West End. But it is a painful, beautiful, and impeccably performed show which many will love. So, if you’re ready for an emotional rollercoaster with stellar performances and thought-provoking themes, don’t miss Next to Normal at Wyndham’s Theatre. It’s a theatrical experience worth every moment of the 15-year wait.

Reviewed on Wednesday 26th June 2024 by Olivia
Photo Credit: Marc Brenner

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

Wednesday 5 June 2024

Jesus Christ Superstar on Tour is an Electrifying Experience | New Victoria Theatre Woking | Review

Jesus Christ Superstar (Tour)
New Victoria Theatre

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the current UK tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, and it was a nearly perfect theatrical experience. From the moment the curtain rose, I could tell this production was something special. Having seen it previously at the Barbican Centre, I knew what to expect but I was really pleasantly surprised with how well the production has translated for touring.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's show, a rock-opera-musical has one of the most intricate and powerful scores I've personally experienced in the theatre. The vocal demands from every performer, whether the high as mountains soprano tracks or the booming bass of Caiaphas, every role requires strength, integrity and control which this cast deliver in spades. Alternate in the role, Charlie McCullagh's portrayal of Jesus is astounding. Taking on the role with the quiet swagger of a popstar, it's evident why he'd garner a following and his kind, charismatic persona, makes his eventual crucifixion incredibly moving and powerful. Vocally, you cannot fault his performance, (his Gethsemane is firmly in my top performances of 2024) every single note is supported and intentionally performed and the emotion imbued into each moment is magnetic to watch. Shem Omari James' Judas is equally compelling, delivering a nuanced and passionate performance that adds layers to the character and leave you questioning his motives long after the curtain goes down. The chemistry between the two leads is palpable, making their dynamic and relationship both riveting and heartbreaking. Hannah Richardson completes the trio perfectly, bringing a tenderness to Mary almost acting as a mediator throughout. Her voice is soulful and she really made the iconic songs feel new and refreshed.

Musically, the production is outstanding. The orchestra deliver Andrew Lloyd Webber's iconic score with vibrant intensity. The contemporary rock-infused arrangements breathe new life into the familiar tunes while still honouring the original spirit of the musical. This is an incredibly well-oiled machine of a show that seems to have paid meticulous attention to making every single moment hit with astounding intensity.

Visually, the show is a feast for the eyes. Tom Scutt's set design is innovative, using modern elements to create a versatile and dynamic stage, without the need for any huge set changes. Equally, his costumes, blending traditional and modern styles, are simplistically striking and allow for some really interesting moments, especially towards the end when some characters literally get Jesus' blood on their hands and bodies. One of my favourite elements of the musical is Lee Curran's lighting which is continually awe inspiring as it enhances dramatic moments and add a layer of symbolism that beautifully complements the narrative. Whilst I don't always understand the meaning of Drew McOnie's choreography, I find it incredibly arresting and love the frenetic energy that it brings to the stage.

The only minor drawback for me, is the occasionally overpowering sound mix. At times, the balance between the orchestra and the vocalists is off, making it difficult to catch all of Tim Rice's intense and often witty lyrics. However, this was a small blemish on an otherwise stellar production.

In my opinion, this touring version of the classic show is a must-see. It’s a masterful revival that pays homage to the original while bringing a fresh and contemporary twist. Whether you're a long-time fan of the musical or experiencing it for the first time, this production is sure to leave a lasting impression. Impeccably performed, it's one of the most moving and powerful shows I've seen this year and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

Reviewed on Tuesday 4th June 2024 by Olivia
Photo Credit: Paul Coltas

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

Tuesday 9 July 2019

Jesus Christ Superstar, Barbican Theatre | Review

Jesus Christ Superstar
Barbican Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday 4th July 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 

Back for its third triumphant year, the Regent's Park Open Air production of Jesus Christ Superstar is exciting, vibrant fresh and thrilling. Originally released as a concept album, Timothy Sheader's production strips Superstar back and puts on a glittering and compelling performance which lets every aspect of the show shine. 

Of course Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's rock score is the heart of this production, with huge belters from the two Js: Jesus and Judas, and more soothing, lighter numbers from Mary Magdalene. However, it's Drew McOnie's choreography that really elevates everything about this version of Superstar. Each riveting moment is sharp but free and grungy at once. The frenetic energy flits between excitement, fury, trance and sadness and creates a pulse which sizzles and entertains throughout. 

What's particularly striking about this show is the mob mentality of the followers and apostles of Jesus. Turning on a dime to support and then attack Jesus, there are very few loyalties when peer pressure gets overwhelming. Emphasised even further through Lee Curran's lighting, it's equal measures devastating and thrilling. 

Robert Tripolino's Jesus is charismatic and obviously troubled as he pours everything he has into his preaching, but is exhausted and alone as he privately questions his destiny on earth. His storming vocals are the perfect balance of sincere and shocking and his hugely dramatic death, manages, in a strange way, to resonate; and his heartbreakingly truthful performance of Gethsemane in act two enthrals the audience. Ricardo Afonso is a complete superstar as Judas, played with a ferocity which is electrifying. Again he shows off the versatility of his voice but is most vibrant in his bold, angry moments. A real masterclass performance. 

Matt Cardle comes to life in act two whilst Nathan Amzi and Cavin Cornwall provide entertaining vocals throughout. Samuel Buttery brings a comic relief which suddenly turns brutish in his excellent portrayal of King Herod. The ensemble are a body of their own as they pulse across the stage with an energy and intensity that jumps off the stage. Without a weak link, the performances are consistently full-out and electrifying. This team work as one throughout and give a continually flowing show.

This is a thrillingly furious, highly millennial production, in which miraculous performances are given and striking images resonate long after the curtain falls. 

photo credit: Johan Persson