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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Liam Doyle. Sort by date Show all posts

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

Heathers The Musical (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review


Heathers The Musical (UK Tour)
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 2nd November 2021 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

Westerberg High School is back open and this time it's touring the UK, currently playing at the New Wimbledon Theatre. The show's popularity is evident from acclaimed Off-West End and West End runs in 2018, followed by another West End engagement this summer and a newly announced run at The Other Palace. The touring production embodies the same energy and will continue to provide Big Fun until the end of the year.

What works so well about this musical is that it doesn't take itself too seriously; the whole thing is melodramatic and larger than life, focussing on high school stereotypes that are highly stylised and humourous. Alongside this, Heathers does focus on some extremely dark issues such as suicide, sexual assault and bullying, and it does so pretty well, although at times it feels somewhat sloppily handled and it would be great if there were some sort of trigger warnings before the show or placed around the theatre to prepare people for some jarring moments.

However, Andy Fickman does a great job at directing this fast-paced black comedy, which alongside Kevin Murphy and Laurence O’Keefe’s book, music and lyrics provides an energetic and enjoyable night out. Ben Cracknell's lighting does an excellent job of packing the stage with colour and cleverly draws your eye to crucial moments as well as literally highlighting the Heathers in their signature colours and often bathing JD in a cool, eerie shade. David Shields' design effectively transfers us to each plot setting, whilst maintaining the school vibes which course throughout; and the split levels utilise the space as well as working to emphasise the hierarchies of the characters.



Phil Cornwell leads the band to bring the rock soundtrack to life vigorously, Dan Samson's sound design really shines and Gary Lloyd's choreography ties it all together, with some excellent work by the mile a minute ensemble.

As our protagonist Veronica Sawyer, Rebecca Wickes is a powerhouse force. Her vocals are sensational and she maintains her energy and intelligence from start to finish. Barely leaving the stage Rebecca is a joy to watch as she brings a wide array of emotion and has a self-awareness that is magnetic. Simon Gordon as the brooding bad boy JD has equal pull as he sweeps Veronica and the audience up with his suave mystique, only to reveal his true self as the show moves on. Simon's voice is perfectly matched to the role and the pair work brilliantly together.

The three Heathers are played boldly by Maddison Firth (Chandler), Merryl Ansah (Duke), and Lizzy Parker (McNamara). Liam Doyle and Rory Phelan as Kurt and Ram give stand out performances and have a fantastically humourous chemistry with one another. As Martha Dunnstock, Mhairi Angus is heartwarming and vocally outstanding, providing a real starring moment and some calm in an otherwise crazy show.

Overall Heathers is a musical which clearly delights audiences and is top-notch for a modern musical. It ticks the boxes of humour, angst, drama and generally being over the top and is well worth visiting as it tours the country.

photo credit: Pamela Raith

Friday, 22 September 2017

Legally Blonde (UK Tour), Churchill Theatre | Review


Legally Blonde (UK Tour)
Churchill Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday September 21st 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★★

Pink, energetic and a whole load of fun, the current tour of Legally Blonde is a joyous way to spend a carefree few hours at the theatre. It tells the story of Elle Woods, a sorority girl who hatches a plan to get into Harvard Law School to win back her ex-boyfriend Warner who would rather marry someone “serious”. Once there Elle realises she’s more than just the dumb blonde she’s been brought up to be and, joined by her Greek chorus and adorable dog Bruiser, she turns the world of law upside down.

Lucie Jones is a complete triumph as Elle. Having seen her in Les Mis, a solo concert and Rent, I was looking forward to seeing how she'd take on the role of Elle and she just does it wonderfully. Her comedic timing is completely perfect, bringing laughs in left, right and centre with her various one liners, squeals and movements. Lucie’s voice is as clear as a bell, her beautiful tone rings out on every word and she is just outstanding from start to end. 


Alongside Lucie is David Barrett as the hard-working, slightly dowdy, Emmett. They have a wonderful chemistry and bounce off each other to create a believable blooming relationship. David has a lovely voice and he perfectly balances his calm and collected self with Elle's hyperactivity. Liam Doyle and Laura Harrison take on the roles of Warner and Vivienne well, both with lovely voices and good characterisation to show their development throughout. The audience were drawn Rita Simons as Paulette as she poured her heart out at her first meeting with Elle; she radiated warmth and nailed the comedic role although her singing could've been slightly more powerful at times.



The ensemble are great and full of energy, especially during Whipped into Shape and There! Right There! both of which were stand outs of the show with the UV skipping ropes in Whipped being particularly effective. I do feel that the Greek chorus could have been developed a little more with extra emphasis on the personality of each member, but their vocals were spot on  and I loved their costumes, especially their Heathers-esque court room attire.

The choreography worked well with the piece and was energetic and fun enough to keep the momentum up throughout. The movement in There! Right There! was especially enjoyable to watch and the build throughout the piece was fab. The cheer section in What You Want could definitely be developed more to actually include cheer moves and give it more power but it was by no means unenjoyable.

I have a few reservations with the costumes purely from a picky point of view, such as Vivienne's heels being too high to fit with the frumpy look she is supposed to have and Elle's final court room suit just not having enough oomph and again being a little old-fashioned. Some of the costumes could have been updated to make them look less dated but I did enjoy the various changes and the various shades of pink!



The megamix at the end was over the top and quite unnecessary as, in my opinion it somewhat cheapens the production but it did work well to get everyone clapping along and smiling their way out of the auditorium and I certainly left feeling  warm and joyful...
though I would've anyway without the mix!!

Overall this is a really enjoyable production. It's the perfect mix of lightheartedness and a little drama, it doesn't claim to be anything it's not and it's the ideal show for a girls night out. Charming and funny it reminds us that being yourself is the most important thing and will definitely leave you wanting to channel your inner Elle... I'm finding pink, sparkly clothes this minute!

Sunday, 18 June 2017

West End Live Lounge: Icons and Legends, Union Theatre | Review


West End Live Lounge
Union Theatre
Reviewed Sunday 11th June 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★

When I went to the first West End Live Lounge back in March, I didn't think it could get any better. I was wrong! Every single performance was absolutely outstanding and I was in awe of each and every performer, it was honestly one of the best concerts I've ever seen, full of so much incredible talent and just a wonderful night for a wonderful cause.

I could honestly talk in depth about every single performer because they all deserve a huge amount of praise but I fear that it could be the longest review in the history of reviews so I won't talk about everyone in depth but I will talk quite a lot so you might want to settle down and grab a cuppa!

The concert opened with a lovely performance of the Amy Winehouse classic "Valerie"by Katie Paine, which started the night on an upbeat, joyous note. Leigh Lothian (who created the concert series along with Shaun McCourt) and George Jennings then took us through the history of James Bond with a glorious medley of the hit Bond songs. 

I have seen a lot of Sapphire Soul recently, both at the previous Live Lounge and as special guests and the Dreamgirls Unplugged concert and am a massive fan of their unique arrangements and brilliant voices and was very glad that they were a part of this concert. The glamourous girls sung a delightful version of "Over The Rainbow" and closed the show with a joyous Aretha Franklin medley which left everyone on a high. Ashford Campbell sung one of my favourite songs "Human Nature" and made me love it and his voice even more! 

Now if Brady Isaacs Pearce doesn't become a West End star, I will personally knock on Cameron Mackintosh's door and demand he puts her in a show. At only 17 years old, her voice is insanely good and her overall stage presence is of someone vastly experienced. Brady sung a mash up of songs by the queen of stage Barbra Streisand and filled her huge shoes perfectly, giving the audience chills.

Cleve September has such a likeable personality which came across when he stepped on stage and explained he had only decided what to perform on the morning of the concert; going out and purchasing a loop pedal and kind of winging his way through. However, if we hadn't known this, we wouldn't have noticed. Cleve's performance of "Feeling Good" was unique and so fun to watch and he certainly seemed like an experienced loop pedlar (??) to me!

The first act flew by with stellar performance after stellar performance. Hannah Ducharme superbly performed "Hallelujah", Alexis Gerred absolutely owned "Come Together" and Sejal Kashwala gave an astonishing performance of "How Comes You Don't Call Me" which had me in awe of her voice. To end the first act, Kelly Agbowu sung the hell out of "The Show Must Go On" and completely blew the roof off the intimate venue which her effortless and faultless performance.

Act two included a few duets where the performers got to have fun signing with one another. Andrew Bateup and Marcus Ayton sung the Stevie Wonder favourite, "Signed, Sealed, Delivered", Matthew Seadon-Young and Leigh Lothian performed "Careless Whisper" and Carolyn Maitland and Lauren Ingram sung a Billie Jean mash up. All three duets were fantastic and it's just a joy to get double the talent per song!

Perhaps my favourite part of the night was when two Whitney Houston classics were performed back to back with Ruth Brown singing "I Will Always Love You" and Emma Lindars singing "I Have Nothing". Both performances were completely awe-inspiring and just breathtaking. The talent of these ladies is just unbelievable and it's crazy that they're not international stars!

Oliver Savile channel his inner Frank Sinatra with "Let's Face The Music" and I'm sure made many of the ladies in the room swoon with his suave performance. Laura Mansell's Celine Dion mash up was so sensational and it was glorious to hear my favourite Celine song "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" performed so well.

Liam Doyle gave an upbeat rendition of "I'm Still Standing" before Natalie Green gave the penultimate performance of the night with Prince's "Purple Rain". I'm a massive fan of Natalie's voice and adored her performance so much, as it seemed did the entire audience. 

Although an absolutely fantastic night of entertainment showing off some of the best the West End has to offer, the main reason for the concerts series is to raise money and awareness for charity. This concert was raising money for Mind which supports people suffering from mental health issues, a cause close to so many of our hearts and it's great to see so many people coming together for such a great cause.

If you couldn't tell from that very long review, I completely loved West End Live Lounge and know I will love all the future concerts. If you can get along to the next one then please do because you will definitely enjoy it. What's better that West End stars blessing your ears on a Sunday evening?!

Check out West End Live Lounge on Twitter for details of future concerts: https://twitter.com/WElivelounge17