Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Marisha Wallace. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Marisha Wallace. Sort by date Show all posts

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Sunday Favourites: Marisha Wallace, The Other Palace | Review


Sunday Favourites: Marisha Wallace
The Other Palace 
Reviewed on Sunday 19th May 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

The Other Palace is playing host to a new series of intimate solo concerts, where the West End's finest get to perform their favourite songs in a laid back session called Sunday Favourites. Last Sunday Dreamgirls and Waitress superstar Marisha Wallace, took us on a soulful journey where she opened up about her life and showed off her golden pipes in a wonderful celebration of music. 

Featuring an eclectic selection including an Aretha Franklin medley, My Funny Valentine, Zero to Hero and How Deep is Your Love, Marisha provided something for everyone and vocal gem after  vocal gem.

As well as a fine solo repertoire, a number of guests also helped the proceedings. Nicole Raquel Dennis and Nathaniel Morrison brought some smooth, crazily tight backing vocals to a few songs, including a remixed version of Britney Spears' Lucky which was hauntingly brilliant. Jodie Steele also took to the stage for a lovely performance of the India Arie classic, Ready For Love; whilst Lucie Jones joined Marisha for a fiery rendition of Take Me or Leave Me. Both Jodie and Lucie complemented Marisha excellently and all three created a warm, natural environment that welcomed the audience in. It goes without saying that the vocals were super and it's great to know that all the performers are thriving on musical theatre stages where their talents can really shine. Competition winner Lashayah, also showed that the future of the West End is in very safe hands.


Despite having missed the concert version of The Colour Purple I was lucky enough to hear Marisha perform the powerful I'm Here at her 2017 Soul Holiday concert, and was absolutely thrilled to have another chance to hear her incredible rendition on Sunday. Marisha has a wonderful ability to word paint even the smallest of words to truly bring a piece of music to life. Her vocal skills are matched by her magnetic personality and witty rapport with the audience. 

Again, Marisha spoke candidly about her life, namely the ups and downs she has experienced throughout her career and more recently as she soared in Dreamgirls but struggled in her personal life. Hearing someone be so honest on stage is refreshing and works to unite the audience through common emotions.

It's evident from the new levels Marisha has consistently been reaching since she came to our side of the pond, that she's got a long career ahead of her and a loyal fanbase over here. It just goes to show that talent really is appreciated and alongside being a kind, genuine person, will get get you everywhere. Of course there are negatives and lows, but Marisha is proof that with perseverance, hard work and real skill, you can succeed.

photo credit: Danny Kaan

Monday, 4 December 2017

Marisha Wallace: Soul Holiday, Charing Cross Theatre | Review


Marisha Wallace: Soul Holiday (Concert) 
Charing Cross Theatre 
Reviewed on Sunday 3rd December 2017 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★★

There's no denying that Marisha Wallace is a powerhouse; in the short time she's been in London she's really made herself a feature of the West End and a must see star. Continuing her conquest of the West End theatre scene, Marisha recently released a Christmas album, Soul Holiday, full of festive treats to get us all in the Christmas spirit and yesterday performed these musical gems for us at the Charing Cross Theatre.

The concert included her jazzy Christmas re-imaginations, gospel songs and some musical theatre classics as well as her hilarious/motivational/all round brilliant interludes between songs. Her warm personality, outstanding vocals and ability to work a crowd had the audience in the palm of her hand within a matter of moments.

Personal highlights included 'O Come All Ye Faithful', the brilliantly upbeat 'Joyful, Joyful', and her heartfelt performance of 'I'll Be Home For Christmas' which she explained was particularly meaningful as she's been away from her family and friends for so long. 'He Chose Me' was vocally faultless and especially moving. Her stunning rendition of 'I'm Here' from The Colour Purple (she played Celie in the production at Cadogan Hall) was incredible and a testament to her vocal and acting skills.

Two fantastic guests joined the festive bliss with Tyrone Huntley showing off his smooth, glorious voice in 'Last Christmas' and 'What's Going On' and Rachel Tucker in the Christmas favourite, 'Winter Wonderland' and the hilarious, belt-tastic 'Take Me or Leave Me' from Rent. Both were great, their friendship with Marisha really shone through and contributed to the warm and cosy, festive feeling.

Marisha spoke candidly about a number of topics including her grandmother who inspired her to continue singing, food (a festive staple) and Jesus. Whilst she spoke a lot about her religion, it was not in a forceful way and she explained that "it doesn't matter who or what you believe in, just believe in you and that you can do anything". It was refreshing to hear such honesty and motivation.

Whilst the 5pm audience were not the most enthusiastic, everyone still seemed to enjoy the concert as they basked in the glory of Marisha's voice and talent.  The intimate setting with the four fantastic band members, three backup singers, two gorgeous gowns and one Marisha was all there needed to be to create an evening of festive magic. 

Marisha is charmismatic, charming, vocally outstanding and just a born performer. I have no doubt that Marisha's career will keep going up and up as she reaches wider audiences and shows people what a first-rate performer she is and I can't wait to see what's to come. To feel the festive vibes, be sure to grab your copy of Soul Holiday and get along to see Marisha whenever you can! 

Thursday, 11 May 2017

West End Unplugged feat. Dreamgirls, W Hotel | Review


West End Unplugged feat. Dreamgirls

The W Hotel
Reviewed on Monday May 8th 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★

West End Unplugged is a new series of concerts taking place at the W Hotel in Piccadilly Circus inspired by the concept at the W Times Square: Broadway at the W. The idea is to gather together a whole group of West End performers and see them showcase their skills with a variety of songs and performances in an intimate, relaxed environment and to just have a good time. The first concert included the cast of Motown and for the second we were treated to the cast of Dreamgirls performing their hearts out flawlessly, even though they'd just finished a show! 

Marisha Wallace carried us through the evening of powerhouse performers singing songs of their choosing, with a few special guests and a whole load of energy and love. Throughout the night, every single performer went all out and gave nothing but their best, with every single one owning the stage and holding the audience in the palm of their hand.


The relaxed, stripped back setting of the W Hotel bar was perfect for the concert. With drinks flowing and comfy sofas all around, there was enough space to feel intimate whilst not feeling closed in. The acoustic set worked wonderfully in the space with it being the perfect mix of stripped back and club, party vibes.


I have to talk about Amber Riley singing 1+1' as my ultimate performance of the night. I mean, I knew she was talented but the runs and effortless belt had me open mouthed in awe and adoration,-what a superstar. Special mentions must also go to Joe Aaron Reid's 'I Lived', Marisha Wallace's 'My Funny Valentine' and Liisi La Fontaine's 'One Last Time' as the other stand out performances of the night, but there were absolutely no weak links and every single performance was outstanding. Additionally I have to quickly mention Tyrone Huntley who blew me away again with his rendition of 'Rock With You' which I recently heard at the West End Live Lounge, his voice is just angelic and so so effortless. Also to Sapphire Soul who are harmonic perfection. I want to talk about every performer individually but I'm afraid that would be a ridiculously long post so just know that the cast of Dreamgirls are freaking talented and deserve every bit of love and praise they get!


Our host for the night was the hilarious, talented and just all round brilliant, Marisha Wallace who is the current alternate for Effie White. Marisha kept us entertained between performances with jokes and anecdotes about her life and the other performers as well as providing back up vocals for a number of the acts and belting her way through some songs. Her overwhelmingly fabulous stage presence kept the audience engaged and laughing all the way through and created a glorious night which showcased one of the most talented casts on the West End. 


I can't wait to see more of these acoustic sets and hopefully more of each and every Dreamgirls cast member! West End Unplugged is a unique opportunity to hear the stars of the stage outside of their usual confinements and a brilliant chance to just enjoy talent and music. For an absolutely fantastic night out, be sure to attend one of their concerts. Who said Monday's have to be boring!?


Keep an eye out here for upcoming West End Unplugged concerts, you won't regret attending!

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

West End Live Lounge: Woman, The Other Palace Studio | Review


West End Live Lounge: Woman
The Other Palace Studio
Reviewed on Sunday September 24th 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★★

If you're a frequent reader of Rewrite This Story (which I hope you are) then you will know that I have been to the previous two West End Live Lounges and raved about them to no end, so it's no surprise that last night's concert completely blew me away too. As always this will probably be a pretty long review because I want to praise as many people as I can, so go grab your drink of choice and get ready to relive an amazing night, or cry because you missed it!

Each West End Live Lounge raises money, with all proceeds from ticket sales and collections going to a specific charity, in last night's case, Women's Aid which helps women who are in/have been in abusive relationships; a cause which i'm sure we all agree is super important. So not only do you have an amazing night hearing some of the best the theatre world has to offer but you get to support a fantastic cause!

Last night's incredible line up was made up of: George Ure, Marcus Ayton, Brady Isaacs Pearce, Marisha Wallace, Liisi LaFontaine, Rob Houchen, Natalie Green, Matthew Harvey, Paul Wilkins, Rachel John, Kelly Agbowu, Sabrina Aloueche, Jodie Steele, Carolyn Maitland, Laura TebbuttMadalena Alberto, Emma Lindars, Lauren Ingram and Sapphire Soul.

Our compere for the evening was the ridiculously hilarious Samuel J Holmes who delivered gag after gag and was his own stand up act between performers.

Sapphire Soul were flawless as usual when they opened with a medley of classic Bond songs- the ladies, as their name suggests are full of soul and are just powerhouse vocalists which they proved again in act 2 with Bang Bang. From then on the energy was high and the first act flew by with some dazzling performances. Lauren Ingram's version of Crazy in Love was slowed down and sexy; Marcus Ayton's I Who Have Nothing was heart-wrenchingly beautiful as was Matthew Harvey's, Gravity.



Brady Isaacs Pearce was stunning as always with her emotive and heartfelt rendition of Jessie J's Big White Room; her clear, smooth voice is just so stunning to listen to and as I always say, she needs to be in a West End show NOW! Natalie Green as usual was fantastic, with her performance of If I Ain't Got You giving me chills!

The final trio of act one could not have been better; Rob Houchen had the whole audience in the palm of his hand with his insanely brilliant performance of I'd Rather Go Blind. I knew he could sing but man he's good! Kelly Agbowu then owned the belter One Moment in Time before Rachel John sent the whole audience to church with her Take My Hand/You've Got a Friend mash up. Needless to say, by the interval everyone was truly on a music induced high.

Act 2 was equally as good, if not better with banger and banger being delivered flawlessly by each and every person. Emma Lindars delivered Rolling in the Deep perfectly, with some added audience harmonies. Rachel John again wowed with My Kind of Love followed by Carolyn Maitland exquisitely performing Sia's Chandelier which could only have been made better if Maddie Ziegler was there to perform her iconic dance routine.

This act featured two impeccable duets; firstly Sabrina Aloueche and Matt Harvey with Girl Just Wanna Have Fun and secondly Paul Wilkins and Rob Houchen with Field of Gold. Both of which featured perfect harmonies and left me breathless. Kelly Agbowu's Chains was perfect and Jodie Steele's scarily relevant cover of Dear Mr President was beautifully, sincerely and emotively performed.


Liisi LaFontaine and Marisha Wallace are the definition of powerhouses, their vocals, stage presence and overall auras are just impeccable. Marisha along with her own back up singers brought the audience to their feet with her faultless Whitney Houston medley as she sang her heart out to the gods and slayed the entire audience. Liisi slayed equally with her stunning performance of Uninvited but it was their closing number, Listen which absolutely blew the roof off of The Other Palace Studio. Now I've heard Listen several times when I've seen Dreamgirls but this performance was just mind blowing and proved why these ladies are getting all the hype and praise they are at the moment. Absolutely sensational!

So yes, this was an incredible concert. Shaun McCourt is a saint for putting so much time and energy into this impeccable concert for a wonderful cause and I hope the West End Live Lounges continue for a long time to come. If you want a night of hilarity, fun and vocal perfection then get yourself along to the next one and help out some wonderful charities!


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

Vlog of West End Live Loungehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hClGUk1_Sxk

Previous West End Live Lounge reviews: http://www.rewritethisstory.com/search?q=West+End+Live+Lounge

Monday, 20 March 2017

West End Live Lounge, Union Theatre | Review


West End Live Lounge
Union Theatre
Reviewed Sunday 19th March 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★

When I say last night was a perfect Sunday evening, I am not exaggerating at all. With the amount of talent that was in the room it was hard not to have a brilliant time! The West End Live Lounge at the Union Theatre was the first of what I hope become many concerts created by Shaun McCourt and Leigh Lothian. The premise of the concerts is that as many West End stars as possible are brought together to perform incredible music with all proceeds going to charity. There are no musical theatre songs to be heard so all performers are able to step out of their usual boxes and really explore and show off their musicality.

The star studded line up included: Marisha Wallace, Gabriela Garcia, Arun Blair, Tyrone Huntley, Phoebe Street, Kelly Agbowu, Natalie Green, Leigh Lothian, Matthew-Seadon Young, Sejal Keshwala, Laura Tebbutt, Nicola Avino, Iain Mattley, Paul Wilkins, Laura Mansell, Brady Isaacs Pearce, Jamal Andreas, Jonny Howe, Katie Brayben, Marcus Ayton, Gary Wood, Lauren Ingram, Adam Bailey, Oliver Savile and Andrew Bateup.

There were a number of lovely duets and trios as well as fabulous solos and the performers also got to show off their other musical abilities such as piano playing which was very impressive. The intimate atmosphere of the Union Theatre in Southwark was the perfect setting for the evening with the whole evening having a warm, laid back, friendly feeling. The stage, complete with sofas and a table added to this vibe and the overall mood was perfect for a relaxed Sunday.

The overall quality of performances was extremely high and every member of the cast and ensemble were flawless with wonderful song choices and joyous performances. There were a number of particular standouts for me. Firstly, Gabriela Garcia and Arun Blair who did a lovely, sweet, and harmonious medley of Rihanna and Sam Smith with a cheeky bit of Into The Woods mixed in! Their chemistry was evident and their voices just work so well together that it's a joy to see and hear them perform. Tyrone Huntley and Marisha Wallace were other standouts and were a theme of my weekend having seen Dreamgirls on Saturday (review coming soon!)

Tyrone's dulcet tones were perfect for the Michael Jackson hit 'Rock With You' and Marisha brought the house down and earned a well deserved standing ovation with her insanely good rendition of 'Natural Woman'. Natalie Green sang Sam Smith's classic, 'Lay Me Down' which was truly stunning.

The whole night was full of joy, friendliness and sweet, sweet harmonies. It was so lovely to see so many people come together to perform and raise money for UNICEF and I really hope there will be many more West End Live Lounges to come! Make sure to keep and eye out on Twitter to make sure you don't miss the next event which is sure to be as incredible and inspiring as this one!

Check out West End Live Lounge on Twitter: https://twitter.com/WElivelounge17


Monday, 4 December 2017

Velma Celli's West End Christmas, Leicester Square | Review


Velma Celli's West End Christmas (Concert) 
Christmas in Leicester Square
Reviewed on Sunday 3rd December 2017 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★★

Yesterday evening I hot-footed it from the Charing Cross theatre seeing Marisha Wallace's Soul Holiday concert, to the Spiegeltent in Leicester Square to see Velma Celli in concert and it was so worth the dash. 

Velma Celli is the alter ego of West End performer, Ian Stroughair who's credits include Rent, Chicago and Cats; she is a fiery, shocking diva with the voice that dreams are made of! The first song set the tone for the concert with Velma entering from the back of the venue with a swooping, full of key changes version of 'Walking in the Air'. From then on it was joke after joke and belter after belter and was honestly one of the best and most entertaining concerts I've been to.

This alternative festive takeover was full of Christmas hit after Christmas hit and would have made even the coldest person feel festive. A personal highlight (although there were many) was Velma's rendition of 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas' which was heartfelt and a lovely moment.

The cabaret also featured two of the West End's finest: Liam Tamne and Rachel Tucker (who I'd already seen at Marisha's concert!) who gave some fantastic performances. Rachel and Velma's duet of 'Fairtytale of New York' was absolutely hilarious and reminded me of many drunken Christmas nights! Liam showed off his smooth voice and crystal clear riffs in 'Last Christmas' whilst Rachel gave a moving performance of Joni Mitchell's, 'River'.

Overall this was just a fantastic night; Velma Celli is a born performer with a voice and personality that instantly draws the audience in and keeps them until the very last moment. If you want a hilarious night full of incredible talent then get yourself along to any of Velma Celli's future shows and be sure to download her recently released, self titled album. 

Monday, 21 May 2018

Divalution: The Re-Launch, The Other Palace | Review


Divalution: The Re-Launch (Concert) 
The Other Palace 
Reviewed on Sunday 20th May 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★★

What a night. Divalution took over The Other Palace for a Sunday night of flawless vocals, spades of personality and a whole load of fun. I was made aware of Divalution (previously Sapphire Soul) when I saw them perform at West End Live Lounge. From the first time I heard their killer voices I was obsessed. These ladies are class, sass, fire and vocal prowess combined to create a perfect group who deserve to been seen and heard everywhere.

Made up of friends Laura Tebbutt, Sejal Keshwala and Lisa-Marie Holmes, Divalution come together to belt out new songs and classics which are beautifully arranged and showcase the ladies' brilliant technique. It's clear from their polished performance that many hours of hard work have gone into creating a perfectly oiled machine and their passion, determination, dedication and love really shine through.

The ladies opened the show as they meant to go on, with a fiery rendition of Survivor by Destiny's Child and the song of the moment, This is Me from The Greatest Showman. We were then introduced to their fab personalities, with each including jokes and anecdotes throughout. Every song was wonderful but standouts included Over The Rainbow, their 23 song 90's Medley, Defying Gravity and All I Ask/When We Were Young.


As well as hearing the delightful group sound of Divalution, we were also treated to solo performances. Laura Tebbutt put her own spin on Elbow's One Day Like This which included to my delight, some audience participation. Laura, known as the belter of the group has vocals and facial expressions for days and I fully want to be her when I grow up (still fooling myself that 21 isn't grown up.) Laura's vocals are honestly some of the best I've ever heard; just when you think she can't belt any higher she takes it up a billion octaves and sounds impeccable doing it. I don't understand how she hasn't been Elphaba yet, or why she's not in every single show in the West End. Honestly outstanding.

Lisa Marie-Holmes' solo was a haunting version of Snow Patrol/Leona Lewis' Run which showed off her powerful voice, stellar belt and lyrical soprano range. Again, this lady needs more recognition in the world because she is AMAZING!

Completing the trio is Sejal Keshwala who's performance of Dangerous Woman blew the roof of The Other Palace off and had most of the audience on their feet- truly mesmerising.

As well as Divalution themselves, we also got to hear special guests Rob Houchen who perfectly sung I'm Not the Only One and Marisha Wallace who blessed the audience with her Whitney Houston medley. Marisha has taken the West End by storm since appearing as Effie White in Dreamgirls and by god does this lady know how to work a crowd. The audience were putty in her hand as they stood up, sung along and absorbed themselves in her insanely good vocals and stage presence.


Due to the fact that the ladies of Divalution also have solo careers, they have a couple of stand ins who replace them if all three can't make a gig. We were introduced to Nicola and Katie when the five ladies joined together for the rousing act one closing number, Power. West Finchley is very lucky to have so many talented vocalists residing there!

Mention must also go to the outstanding band, led by Robert Eckland and made up of Doug Harper on drums, Richard Coughlan on bass, Jeff Leach on keys and Adam Goldsmith on guitar. They kept the night going and provided fantastic accompaniments throughout with Adam completely wowing me with his insane playing. My only negative of the night was that the mics were a little too loud at the start but this was quickly remedied and didn't diminish my enjoyment of the evening at all.

Every song was so full out that my larynx hurt for Divalution when leaving the theatre and as a  classical soprano who can't belt to save her life, I can only dream of being able to hit the notes they do. It's concerts like this that get me riled up because these ladies are so so SO talented but don't get half the recognition they deserve. With so many 'famous' artists nowadays being auto-tuned beyond belief, it sucks that naturally talented people such as Divalution are not at the stratospheric levels of fame they deserve to be at. Of course it's not about fame and it's clear from the three ladies that they do what they do for a love of singing and music but tell all your friends, families, acquaintances and people you meet on the street to listen to Divalution so they can keep wowing people. Spread the Divalution word and be inspired not only by their vocals but their strength and conviction as women.

Keep up to date with Divalution via their twitter and instagram.

photo credit: West End Video & Olivia Mitchell

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Scott Alan, Hippodrome Casino | Review


Scott Alan (Concert)
The Hippodrome Casino
Reviewed on Sunday June 25th 2017 by Olivia Mitchell

The Hippodrome Casino is fast becoming one of my favourite venues as I see more and more brilliant performances. Scott Alan's concert was no exception, with gorgeous music, brilliant singers and a hilarious commentary throughout, it was a perfect night. After spending the weekend covering West End Live for Stage Faves then heading to The Theatre Cafe to see Rachel Tucker and Marisha Wallace, I hot-footed it over to the casino for a night of music from one of my favourite musical theatre composers.

I have adored Scott's music for as long as I can remember, I don't recall exactly how I found it but it's been with me for most of my childhood and I've been scouring youtube for every version of each song for a long time and have fallen in love with every single one. Although Scott has performed in London a number of times, I have never been able to attend so when I reached out to Scott on twitter and he was kind enough to offer me a ticket, my stagey heart was ready to burst and I was ecstatic that I would finally hear his songs performed live by a host of incredible performers.

Both acts were a celebration of Scott's career with the stars taking the stage to perform theirs and Scott's favourite compositions.  Scott joked how each song he writes is depressing, even his happy songs are emotive ballads which is extremely true and for me, someone who thrives on emotional, depressing music (I have playlist just for it) it was all I couldv'e asked for.

My personal favourites of the night were the stunning Lucie Jones, who dashed straight from West End Live to perform 'Never Neverland' and 'Home' both of which were devastatingly gorgeous. Jodie Jacobs who I've been lucky enough to see in 27 and Lizzie performed 'Stay' which showed off her epic voice and Kieran Brown gave a heart-wrenching, powerful performance of one of my favourites, 'Again'. 

Another favourite section of the concert was when Scott introduced three competition winners who were each going to perform. He encouraged the audience to be extremely supportive of them both in the concert and generally in the performing industry and explained how he loves showcasing new talent. Erin Caldwell was the first of the three winners, performing 'Always' so beautifully. Her tone, clarity and control was just incredible and you could've heard a pin drop. A masterclass in graceful performance. Secondly we had Sabrina Basile with 'And There It Is', Sabrina's acting throughout the song was impeccable, her voice is effortless and beautiful but her overall interpretation of the song really made it something special. The final of the three, Bill Harvey was introduced with a candid chat from Scott about depression and how it affected him, saying that he'd felt like he was the "only person to wake up heavy" and how dark things got for him but that we can all make our way out of the darkness and heaviness. Bill performed the beautiful and emotional 'Anything Worth Holding Onto' with a sincerity which shone through and drew the audience in. 

Scott's personality is just infectious and he carries the whole concert with his own unique brand of crass inappropriateness and self-deprecating humour. There were laugh out loud moments from start to finish and the entire concert, which of course overran it's anticipated hour and a half run time by almost an hour, flew by. Scott is candid and honest and whilst he is humorous and shocking, he quickly slips into his own world when performing himself and you can see how much music means to him. I especially loved 'Simpler' which was heartfelt and touching.

As I said before, each and every performance was absolutely brilliant and I could say fabulous things about all of them but that would mean we'd be here all day! Scott's music is touching and truthful and it's crazy that the whole world don't know about it and him. If you get the chance to see Scott or any of the performers in concert then take the opportunity up and you're guaranteed a fantastic night!

Monday, 17 April 2017

The Musical Marathon, The Other Palace | Review


The Musical Marathon
The Other Palace
Reviewed on Sunday April 16th 2017 by Grace English 
★★

The Musical Marathon at The Other Palace was held in support of Orchid a cause close to the hearts of far too many of us; that of fighting male cancer. Even at its most light-hearted and celebratory points neither the performers nor the audience lost sight of what we were there for, and this is what marks it as a truly spectacular and important evening.

Paul Taylor-Mills and Caroline Flack carried us through a maelstrom of powerhouse performers singing songs of their choosing, most of which are in some way anthems of ambition and resilience. Nathan Amzi opened the show with a heartfelt rendition of 'Titanium', and from there, not a single performer gave anything less than their absolute best, each one truly holding the audience completely in the moment. A special mention has to go to Kim Criswell's 'Look to the Rainbow/Over the Rainbow', as well as Emma Kingston's 'Listen' and Marisha Wallace's heart-wrenching 'Stay With Me' as the standout performances of the night, even amongst a group with no weak links whatsoever. In addition, Aimie Atkinson, Genesis Lynea and Stephanie Rojas closing Act One with an energised rendition of 'Lady Marmalade' was a true testament to girl power and their boundless talents as individuals.

Between the performances, Paul Taylor-Mills and Caroline Flack kept us entertained with jokes and anecdotes from their time working with the performers, and even hosted a form of 'karaoke bingo' that resulted in a hilarious improvisation of 'Don't Stop Believing' in the style of Meatloaf and Britney Spears. This allowed the night to easily overcome an issue facing any concert-esque shows; that of failing to engage the audience and thus loosing their attention about an hour in. In overcoming this, we get a sometimes hilarious, sometimes emotional, and constantly enjoyable night showcasing some of the best talent on the West End.

In spite of the fun, it should be remembered that this night was held in the interest of raising money for a serious and important cause which you can learn more about here: https://orchid-cancer.org.uk/

Photo credit: Claire Bilyard

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Waitress, Adelphi Theatre | Review


Waitress
Adelphi Theatre 
Reviewed on Thursday 7th March 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

Based on the 2007 film of the same name, Waitress is a quirky, sweet, fun show by late comedic legend, Adrienne Shelly. Having taken Broadway by storm, it has now opened in London and is a pastry wrapped parcel of theatrical sweetness. 

With music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles, it's the score that's really the stand out factor of this show. The music is a magical combination of folk, pop, country and musical theatre, and gives the musical a really cinematic element. The contrast between high energy songs, calmer numbers and highly emotive pieces, cleverly matches the way the show emphasises the highs and lows of life. 

As we are welcomed into the Adelphi Theatre with the smell of pie permeating the air, we instantly feel a sense of relaxation and as if we really are visiting the small diner in rural America where most of the show is set. We're introduced to the characters as if they're friends and get to see the great cast at work. 


In Waitress, the ensemble act as though they are one. Of course they scatter the stage and have individual character moments (a particular stand out is Kelly Agbowu as the wonderfully sarcastic Nurse Norma as well as Charlotte Riby who is fantastic as Jenna's mum and really shines during her featured moments) but they really come into their own when they work as a team. Much of the choreography (Lorin Latarro) is ensemble based and features smooth movements as well as perfectly timed motions. The men and women combine at times to symbolise Jenna's internal thoughts, as well as keeping the show fluid and highlighting the connections between people on stage. Natural feeling movements are in reality, highly choreographed but the show still feels pretty free and spontaneous.

Whilst the show is cute and there are various witty moments, the book itself is not particularly strong as a whole. Leading lady Jenna, is pregnant with her abusive husband's child and falls in love with her gynaecologist Dr Pomatter, whilst her work colleagues also have romances of their own. 

The romantic encounters are charming but the consistent cheating which runs throughout the show, feels somewhat jarring. It's not the cheating itself which feels wrong- Jenna wants someone who loves her outside of her abusive relationship, whilst Becky's husband is unwell so she feels tied to him but wants something more- but the lack of resolution to these stories feels unfulfilling. The story is clearly meant to be about female empowerment, but it doesn't seem right that the men are allowed to act in any way they like (and motivate all decisions the women make). Ogie for example, doesn't think twice about hounding Dawn when she says no to seeing him again, whilst Dr Pomatter has no qualms with seducing a vulnerable patient. Of course these things are meant to make us root for them and see it as 'forbidden love' but unfortunately it leaves a bit of a sour taste.


However, the performances throughout are pretty uniformly wonderful and the cast do all that they can with the book they've been given. Katharine McPhee as Jenna, gives a graceful but vivacious performance, which at times feels a little too understated but truly delivers in her stand out moments such as She Used to be Mine and she leads to show with a delicacy that is enviable. David Hunter is suitably geeky and charming and brings a great vocal performance to Dr Pomatter, whilst Jack McBrayer is hilarious but lacks vocal strength and technique as Ogie. Marisha Wallace is sassy as Becky and Laura Baldwin gives a standout performance  both vocally and in terms of characterisation as timid, love-struck Dawn. 

Waitress is a show that takes you off the beaten track and provides a more intimate, less flashy show compared to those we usually see. This nuanced musical is a sweet treat that will warm your heart, purely thanks to it's quirkiness and affectionate score. 

Tickets for Waitress can be booked via www.londonboxoffice.co.uk

photo credit: Johan Persson

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Waitress, Adelphi Theatre | Review


Waitress
Adelphi Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 17th June 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

Sara Bareilles' cherry sweet musical follows Jenna as she bakes her feelings into pies. In an abusive relationship and expecting a child she is not excited about, we follow Jenna as she journeys through life and has some unexpected experiences.  

Three new cast members have joined the diner to form the second West End cast. They are Lucie Jones as Jenna, Ashley Roberts as Dawn and Blake Harrison as Ogie. Despite lacking vocal strength, breath control and diction at times, Ashley Roberts grew into the role of Dawn throughout the performance and as her limited run continues, she will surely relax more and bring the quirky character to life in a genuine, witty and entertaining way. Currently she feels somewhat as if she's overacting and is often flat or reaching for the notes in both her solo and group numbers and certainly lacks the finesse expected in the West End, but hopefully this will be rectified and she will prove a good star cast choice. Her partner, played by fellow newcomer Blake Harrison is supremely funny one hundred percent of the time. Again his vocals are ever so slightly lacking, but as the nerves fade, so will the faults. Harrison is a hugely entertaining performer and a pleasant surprise in this sweet show. 

As leading lady Jenna, Lucie Jones is second to none. Her impeccable interpretation of the character is charming, sincere, humourous and heartbreaking at once. Each small facial expression and movement is filled with a thousand words; and alongside Lucie's phenomenal, clear-as-glass voice, the performance is mesmerising. The vulnerability of Jenna is brought to life in a nuanced but completely effective way by Jones, with her rendition of She Used To Be Mine not only breaking hearts, but bringing the audience to their feet mid show. 

Michael Hamway (swing) embodies the erratic but charming Dr Pomatter admirably, as well as bringing some stellar vocals to the stage. You Matter To Me was performed with heartbreaking sincerity by Jones and Hamway. Marisha Wallace continues to bring sass, sass and more sass to the stage, as well as powerhouse vocals, lively one-liners and delicate moments with Jenna. Take it From an Old Man is a welcome moment of calm and simplicity performed by diner regular, Old Joe, played by Shaun Prendergast


The villain of the show, and highly flawed character Earl is played with menace by Peter Hannah. Whilst the moments of physical anger are jarring, it's the brief moments of emotional blackmail which really strike the audience. Hannah manages to capture both tormenting sides of Earl, in a spectacularly well-constructed and controlled way. The character is vile but Peter must be applauded for performing him so well and truthfully. 

Nurse Norma is a highly amusing character who pops up throughout the show to deliver brilliant one-liners. Brought to life by Kelly Agbowu she is an especially memorable character and manages to gain numerous laughs in the stage time she has. Charlotte Riby also puts a smaller character in the forefront of our minds with her honest performance as Jenna's mum who faced many similar struggles as well as teaching her daughter all she knows about baking. Jones and Riby have a chemistry which is visible even from their brief moments together and it's lovely to see.

Scott Pask's set and Lorin Latarro's choreography are particularly effective with the sets and ensemble often moving as one to create a fluidity throughout. Equally as impressive is the way the stage transforms to mirror the moods of leading lady Jenna. The home shared by Jenna and her abusive husband is surrounded by darkness and is much smaller than each of the other settings so physically emphasises how trapped Jenna feels, and is. When she begins to rediscover her spark, the space expands in a moment of relief and theatrical wonder. 


Whilst a lot of the morals and motivations in this musical are morally ambiguous and there is a lack of resolution, there's no denying that it's a sweet treat filled with musical delights and sugary performances. Sara Bareilles' score is a delightful listen and the mostly strong cast do a wonderful job of bringing it to life and showing that there is always light and support at the end of the tunnel.

Waitress is currently booking at the Adelphi Theatre until December 7th 2018, tickets can be booked at www.londonboxoffice.co.uk

photo credit: Johan Persson