Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Mean Girls. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Mean Girls. Sort by date Show all posts

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Mean Girls, August Wilson Theatre | Review

Mean Girls
August Wilson Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 19th September by Olivia Mitchell

It lives up to the hype. It truly lives up to the hype.

Mean Girls follows Cady Heron, who moves from the wilds of Africa to the wilds of suburban America, where instead of facing lions, malnutrition and loneliness, she faces boy drama, social issues and the struggle to stay true to herself. Shortly after joining North Shore High School, Cady is shown the various cliques that inhibit the halls. When the most popular girls at school, The Plastics, invite her to join their group, her real friends see it as a perfect way for her to go undercover and infiltrate the cool kids who rule the school.

The musical is based on the 2004 movie of the same name, written by Tina Fey who adapted her own work from screen to stage. The music is by composer of various television songs and Tina's husband, Jeff Richmond, lyrics are by Nell Benjamin who also wrote for other hit screen to stage musical, Legally Blonde. This is a super high energy musical which is perfect for all audience types (although perhaps a little mature younger children).

There are mixtures of sounds and styles which makes this musical feel very fresh in the current theatre climate. There's pop, contemporary musical theatre, soft-rock, classic musical theatre and so much more which brings the show right up to date and keeps the audience on their toes. Each character has it's own musical feel which fits perfectly; Regina for example has slow, drawn out music which keeps us all in her web of power, whilst Gretchen has to sing everything quickly so as not to be cut off by Regina and Cady's songs are all very Disney-esque and flouncy. The songs of Mean Girls are sure to become regulars in rep folders, karaoke essentials and just earworms in general. 

Ashley Park as Gretchen Wieners is so solid and provides a masterclass in committing to your character and putting the work in to make you believe every moment. She is hilarious and vocally stunning as Gretchen but the way she embodies the character is truly what makes the performance special. Kate Rockwell is dippy to perfection as the iconic Karen Smith and she really shines during Sexy which has the audience howling. Jennifer Simard is hilarious and versatile as Mrs Heron/Ms Norbury/Mrs George. Her voice is outstanding and she again brings the memorable moments of the film to life but puts her own spin on them. 

At this performance, Cady Heron was played by understudy, Becca Petersen who is wonderful in the role both vocally and acting wise. Compared to the film, I felt much more sympathy for Cady and due to her kindness and innocence, found her a much more likeable character. Her being drawn to the allure of popularity feels natural although we still see the awful way she abandons her true friends.

Barrett Wilbert Weed as Janis is outstanding. From the first moment of Cautionary Tale she is completely natural in the role and it feels as though the real Janis has been plucked out of Illinois and placed on the August Wilson stage. Her best friend, partner is crime, Damien is played superbly by Grey Henson who is comedy on feet and it feels as though it was written in the stars that he would play the role.

The stand out of the show has to be Taylor Louderman who is everything and more as the head Plastic, Regina George. Her voice soars so effortlessly that it's like she's being auto-tuned in front of our eyes. Again, the way Taylor embodies Regina is mesmerising to watch and she is so spot on with every aspect of her performance. Someone Gets Hurt and World Burn are two of the best theatrical moments I've ever experienced.

Technically this show is sensational. The sets by Scott Pask are super simplistic but work well in a jenga-like way to transport us to the few locations of the show; with the screens not only bringing the show into the digital age, but providing constant stimulation for the audience. Modernity is also brought through Gregg Barnes' costumes which are intimately thought out. The Plastics of course, are dressed like they're constantly at an afternoon tea but the rest of the cast look like real, current students. So often with shows set in High Schools, the costumes are unrealistic or even outdated; the playbill states the the show takes place in "The Present" so it will be interesting to see whether the costumes change over time to fit with trends or whether the show becomes synonymous with 2018. Small details such as  the theatre 'geeks' wearing actual show merch and Janis letting her hair grow out (perhaps symbolising her desire to avoid conformity), make the show feel truthful and grounded.

Tina Fey's book brings all our favourite moments from the Mean Girls film to life but the addition of new witty one liners and more character development means nothing feels recycled. Mean Girls is fresh and funny as well as having a strong moral heart which highlights bullying and acceptance. If you want a grool night out, get yourself along to the August Wilson theatre... and for us in the UK, lets start a stagey prayer circle for a West End transfer!

photo credit: Joan Marcus

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Christina Bennington, Live at Zedel | Review

Christina Bennington (Concert) 
Crazy Coqs, Zedel 
Reviewed on Monday 7th January 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 

The wounds are still fresh for Bat Out of Hell fans, who had to wave goodbye to their beloved show at the Dominion Theatre just two days ago; but the Bat love was still strong as Christina Bennington took to the stage in a one night only couple of concerts. As usual, the Zedel provided a cosy and relaxed backdrop for a night of pure vocal entertainment and we felt welcomed into the songbook of Christina's life and career.

After performing Jim Steinman's huge musical numbers for the last couple of years, it was enthralling and refreshing to hear Christina show off the other shades of her voice, with her lilting soprano contrasted wonderfully against her powerful belt and buoyant performance. Some stand out numbers included Green Finch and Linnet Bird, I'm With You and Salley Gardens which each showed a different aspect to the vast range Ms Bennington beholds. Act One closer, Raven was another highlight as Christina's voice soared over the audience and enchanted us all through the power of a beautiful song. 

Alongside sweet anecdotes we also heard from two guest performers: Danielle Steers and Dan Buckley. Good Girls Go To Heaven performed by Danielle and Christina was met with elation from the audience who were wrapped around the performers fingers, whilst, Happy Days Are Here Again/Get Happy illustrated the friendship between the duo and how their voices complement each other so well. Daniel played the Disney Princes in the pairs mini Disney mash-up and reminded us of just how much talent is on offer in the West End with his beautiful rendition of You Matter To Me from Waitress; it's lovely to see two friends really seeming to have fun on stage.

Superbly talented Musical Director Noam Galperin took charge of the nights musical proceedings, leading his outstanding band with musical fluidity and providing some unique and interesting arrangements of well known songs. 

It's interesting to see Christina outside of the rock musical format not only as a showcase of her versatile vocals but also her depth as a performer. Christina's comedic choices, especially during Stupid With Love from Mean Girls were highly entertaining. Equally her performance of Princess was immensely moving. The way Christina physically embodies a song is truly wonderful to see and it's clear why they say "the eyes are the key to the soul" as she conveys a single emotion or thought with a mere twitch of her eyes. 

Closing the show with Heaven Can Wait and All Coming Back to Me Now was a wonderful way of rounding off, what must have been a whirlwind few years for Christina, and felt like a fitting way to put Raven away for now, and open doors for new ventures.

If you want to witness a master of acting through song and a beautiful songbird, don't miss Christina Bennington's future performances as she is sure to shine and astound.

photo credit: Joseph Sinclair

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

A Little Princess, Southbank Centre | Review

A Little Princess
Southbank Centre 
Reviewed on Monday 28th May 2018 by Olivia Mitchell

After the recent success in the UK of Big Fish and The Addams Family, Andrew Lippa's lesser-known show A Little Princess was brought to the west end for it's UK Premiere at the Southbank Centre. Telling the story of Sara Crewe, a girl sent from Africa to a boarding school in London where she meets mean girls and a strict headmistress, this is a sweet story, with melodically beautiful songs and a heartwarming moral. 

As Miss Minchin, the headmistress who's a melange of Miss Trunchbull, Mrs Lovett, Mdme. Thenadier and others, Amanda Abbington was good. In her musical theatre debut she did well to convey the tiredness of the character but lacked menace. Vocally she was a little lacking and tended to speak-sing but still gave a pretty solid performance and I look forward to seeing her tackle future theatrical roles.

Danny Mac was dashing as ever as Captain Crewe, with wonderful vocals alongside a sweet connection with the children of the cast. The pacing of the show itself is funny and means that all the characters are a little under-developed. We got to see a lot of Captain Crewe at the start but as the show went on (especially in Act 2) everything felt rushed. With some rewrites this could be a lovely show and it would be great to see Danny having a bit more time to shine. Mention must go to his stellar performance in the pattersong-esque, Timbuktu.

Equally deserving of more time to shine was the stunning Rebecca Trehearn who always manages to steal her scenes. As Miss Amelia, the ditsy sister of Miss Minchin, Rebecca gave a wonderfully humourous performance and shone in her solo, Once Upon a Time.

Alexia Khadime and Adam J Bernard as Aljana and Pasko gave vocally stunning performances despite being a little overpowered by the orchestra at times. 

This was the first production which had actual children playing the children and it was them who stole the show. All the young cast did a great job of owning their roles, with Jasmine Nituan giving a heartfelt, funny performance as Sara's best friend and maid, Becky.

Jasmine Sakyiama is truly a star in the making. Her performance as Sara Crewe was 100 miles a minute from the start with her vocals and emotive facial expressions never failing. Of all the children, Jasmine also had the strongest diction which made her stand out even further. Keep an eye on this girl because she's going to go far!

Nic Farman's lighting added a mystical, magical vibe to the story which was lovely and took the show from a simple concert to an emotive production.

Despite enjoying this production, it does need some edits. I'm no one to say what these edits should be, but Act 2 felt extremely rushed and there were a number of moments that felt unnecessary/over-extended. However, the cast were great and I hope this isn't the last we see of this sweet show in the UK. 

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Lucie Jones, Live at Zedel | Review

Lucie Jones (Concert) 
Crazy Coqs, Zedel
Reviewed on Friday 12th October 2017 by Olivia Mitchell 

One of my first ever reviews on Rewrite This Story, was of Lucie Jones' cabaret at Waterloo East where I completely fell in love with her insane voice and magnetic personality. In the two years since that concert, Lucie has  starred as Elle Woods in the UK tour of Legally Blonde, wowed as Maureen in Rent and was the UK's entry in the Eurovision contest... I guess you could say it's been a pretty quiet time for her?! I have been lucky enough to see Lucie in her various roles, but there's always something special about a solo concert.

The Zedel consistently provides the perfect atmosphere for a cosy, intimate night and allows the sole focus to be on the outstanding vocals of whoever is performing, so seeing such a talented vocalist take the stage there was a real treat. From the get-go Lucie commands the space and welcomes us into, what feels like, the inner circle. Her bouncy humour and infectious personality puts us completely in the palm of her hand and allows us to experience a carefree night of laughs and joy, whilst our attention never wavers. In my experience of musical theatre cabarets, there are only a number of performers who are able to capture a crowd so effortlessly and remain natural and unforced throughout, Lucie has truly mastered this and it's clear why she has so many loyal fans.

Despite only having about 24 hours to put this concert together, the entire thing felt sleek and polished. MD for the concert was the outstandingly wonderful, Sarah Travis who looked and sounded as if she was born to play the piano. The banter between the pair is hilarious and they work together so well, that even moments which go slightly wrong, almost feel as if they're scripted.

I would talk about each song on the set list, but every single one was a highlight. From the opening The Winner Takes it All to the closing Eurovision song, Never Give Up On You, Lucie showcased her incredibly well supported vocals  and ability to act through song. Particularly impressive, is the control in Lucie's voice; her well-honed technique is evident through her smooth mix of straight tone and vibrato, as well as her effortless mix and belt. A stand out moment for me was the mesmerising If I Loved You, where we got to see a more nuanced, gentler side to Lucie. She truly is a masterful performer and the hard work she puts into her craft is clear in every second she is on stage.

Although every song was outstanding, I will fangirl a bit more and mention a few of my other favourites... As a huge Anastasia fan, I adored the lyrical, Disney-esque rendition of Journey To The Past; the intensely beautiful, Nothing Stops Another Day pulled at my heart and That's Life is made for Lucie's voice. Alongside stellar vocals, Lucie provides some cracking anecdotes and ad libs which could be a comedy show of their own!

We were also treated to two special guests: Danny Mac and Rebecca Stenhouse. Rebecca Joined Lucie as they channeled Cady and Janis in the Mean Girls jam, Apex Predator, before Rebecca performed a fantastic version of Hopelessly Devoted To You, which she made feel contemporary with some added riffs and option ups. Danny took on the role of Dr. Pomatter in a sickly sweet performance of It Only Takes a Taste from Waitress and brought a beautiful stillness to the Zedel with his performance of It All Fades Away.

I could rave about Lucie's voice for approximately the next 400 hours but I'll wrap it up here and say that if you turn down the chance to see Lucie in any future performances, you are missing out big time. If you want to see a truthful artist who is so giving in her performance and able to magnetise a crowd toward her, then go and witness the star that is, Lucie Jones.

photo credit: Olivia Mitchell

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Wasted, Southwark Playhouse | Review

Southwark Playhouse 
Reviewed on Wednesday 12th 2018 by Olivia Mitchell

With a cast of just four, Wasted tells the story of the Brontë siblings and their journeys to success, and questions (to an extent) what makes a legacy and how fulfilment is achieved. Whilst there are some catchy songs and the cast do a good job conveying the struggles of 18th century women, Wasted is drawn out and somewhat uninformative.

The entire show has a tonne of potential and with tweaks could certainly be a coherent, enjoyable show. However, in it’s current state it feels somewhat self indulgent and the basic story (the girls struggle, eventually get published but feel they have Wasted their lives) is stretched unnecessarily to fill almost three hours. 

The cast are helmed by West End superstar, Natasha Barnes who has made a triumphant return to the stage after giving birth to a beautiful baby earlier this year. Working with Christopher Ash's demanding score, Natasha leads the show with faultless vocals and outstanding commitment to the level-headed, dreamer Charlotte Brontë.

As her brother who aims to be famous, Matthew Jacobs Morgan is suitably humourous but troubled. As her sisters, Emily and Anne, Siobhan Athwal and Molly Lynch give strong performances although at times it is hard to understand what is being said. This may be due to mics but does mean that it takes real attention to keep up with the story. 

Another issue is the amount of repetition. The first act especially feels like we hear the same thing over and over again; after the first 10 minutes it was clear the girls “need to work” but we were told several more times which instead of reinforcing something important, felt unnecessary and added to the length of the show dramatically. 

Wasted could easily have been performed as two separate shows. Both act one and act two have good starting and finishing points which would make for solid 90 minute straight-through shows but together just felt too much.

Despite it's flaws, it is wonderful to see such an experimental, new, British musical and the cast do an outstanding job of bringing a mischievous, fresh view of the Brontës.

Wasted runs at the Southwark Playhouse until 6th October

photo credit: Helen Maybanks

Thursday, 12 April 2018

In Conversation With... Rachel Lumberg | The Band | Interview

Rachel Lumberg is an award winning actress who has been in a whole host of shows from The Full Monty to Romeo and Juliet. She's currently starring as Rachel in the UK tour of The Band. She sat down with me to discuss everything about the show! It's a fairly long but super interesting interview so grab a cuppa and settle down...

Have you always wanted to be a performer? Did you have any random childhood ambitions?

I did have random dreams- I wanted to be a nurse! You know so many of us had those dress up nurses outfits when we were little.

I also went into fashion at school when we took our options but it just didn't appeal to me. I'd always loved drama but didn't really know what area to be involved in. So I started the fashion course and it wasn't really working for me so I went to our head of year and said I'd like to do drama, and she let me change. So ever since then ( I would've been 14) I've been doing this.

It was actually the film-maker, John Hughes -who made the likes of Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club- who I was a huge fan of growing up- who got me very interested in film. Then when I changed to the drama option at school and we started going to the theatre a lot I discovered that this is my love.

Could you explain a little about The Band and how your character Rachel fits into it?
Rachel is the driving force in bringing the girls back together again. She is the protagonist of the story really. She opens the show with a memory.. She begins by telling the audience how she grew up with a boy band and then ‘Boom’ we’re immediately transported back to my bedroom, my younger self (played utterly superbly by Faye Christall) and the incredible tunes of a certain boy band of 1993. It’s a double denim feast for your eyes!! 

You then meet all of Rachel’s friends. Each as loyal to each other and to the band as the next one.. They get to see the boys ‘live in concert’ and then on the way home from the gig, tradgedy strikes which changes the girls’ lives dramatically.

Fast forward 25yrs and here we see Rachel again pretty much living the life she dreamt off... or is she? She hasn’t seen her school friends for over 25yrs.. yet she enters and wins a competition to go and see the boys live again on their reunion tour.. is this the time to maybe have a reunion of her own?? Well-you’ll have to come and see the show to find that out.. 

Tim Firth has written a beautiful story of friendship and the love and influences that come with that..add to that the stunning music of Take That and how could you not want to come and see it?  

What attracted you to show? Other than your name, are you and Rachel alike in any way?
I've known Tim [Firth] for a very long time, almost 10 years, as well as David [Pugh] and Dafydd [Rogers], this is my second show with all of them and they're absolutely wonderful.

Rachel and I are alike. Our producers David and Dafydd always said that she's called Rachel for a reason which is incredibly flattering. Rachel has comedy and is very caring and fiercely loyal. Simple things, the love of her family and friends and their happiness are of utmost importance to her.. so there are definitely similarities between her and myself. 

More so I think with lovely Faye [Christall] who plays 16 year old me; it's weird seeing someone play you! We spent a lot of time together watching each other and watching out for the little habits we all have to make sure it seems truthful that we're the same person.

My mum came to see the show on press night and she said "that is her, that's Rachel at that age"... It's quite frightening! So I think both Faye and I are quite similar to each other and to Rachel.

The show focusses on how music influences our lives. Which musicians have inspired you?
I'm a bit of an all-rounder really. I'm one of those people that if I like a song, I like it! I was a fan of Take That, I wasn't necessarily hardened but I was a fan of them. I'm a big fan of Duran Duran, and Spandau Ballet- they were more my era 'cause I'm a little bit older than Rachel.

My huge influence growing up was more 60s because of my mum and dad. It was the likes of Gerry and the Pacemakers, Fats Domino all of that kind of music that my parents had on in the background.

On my wall were actors mainly, not musicians. There was James Dean, of course; it was mainly theatre and film actors that influenced my teenage years. Then when I got older, and absolutely when Take That reformed, I really, really enjoyed their music and I went to see them before I was ever involved in this!

Besides yourself, which actor in the production is going to blow people away?
You know I think most people that come, leave thinking "I was not expecting that" so it's the show that blows people away. A lot of people of course, are expecting the story of Take That but it isn't that, and that is absolutely not what they wanted. This show is a thank you to their fans for 25 years of loyalty. They were trying to find a way to do that, they always wanted Tim [Firth] to do it and they managed to.

The boys are phenomenal. There's always been the "oh they got them off a telly show", but they absolutely blow you away. The young girls are phenomenal, the older women, you know, everybody stands out in this. 

It would be unfair to say one person because it's very much an ensemble piece and we all bring something incredibly special to the table. Lets also not forget our crew who are unbelievable in how they put the show together and we have a live band who are so unbelievable. So it's absolutely a team effort! The work and skill and talent of each cast, crew member, band member and creative departments blows me away.. This is an ensemble piece of theatre. It wouldn’t work without each other.

What have people been saying as they leave the theatre?
What we've found is: "wow","wasn't expecting that", "you've relived my youth for me", "I've laughed, I've cried, I've danced, I've clapped", "I want to see it again". I've never really been in a show where we've had people see it more than once. We've got people on their 14th and 15th time, it's incredible how they come back.

As an actor you play to your crowd but it's also important that the audience listen and I've found that they really listen with this show. You can absolutely hear the listening. Some theatres are a little bit rowdier than others, especially on a Friday and Saturday but it's one of those shows that people are coming out of and booking more tickets straight away. So that's a huge compliment to us. 

Also, the majority of the audience are in their forties because they grew up with Take That but they're bringing their children and their partners and their mums and dads so it's lovely. The other day there was a lady in the grand circle in her seventies who came out of her seat and she had her arms in the air like everybody else and that's exactly what it's about! Older women have also contacted us to say that we're telling their story, we didn't expect that and the contact we've had from them has been incredible and very heartwarming.

I would love to watch our show (with me in) to see and realise truly the effect it has.

If you had a magic wand, which show would you do next?
It would be one that I've already done and left actually, one of Tim's other shows and hopefully timing will let me do it again and that's This Is My FamilyI do still have many roles i’d love to play that remain un-ticked on my bucket list. Some I am now too old to play and therefore will have to remain on the list, and some I’m (surprisingly) still too young to play.. so I live in hope!! 

My casting bracket and skill set allows for  character roles and I adore these. Complex characters that come with comedy and pathos that an audience member can relate wholeheartedly to... more characters similar to Rachel in The Band, I suppose. But above all, I just want to continue to work at the what I simply adore doing, and that is being out there, on stage, for you guys, 8 shows a week, for as long as I can and as long as audiences want to see me... I truly love my job!

If you could travel back to any era, when would you go to and why?
ohhhhh interesting! I would go back... to the 40s and 50s. Mainly for the beautiful costumes! And the incredible music! There's a tv series called A Place to Call Home that's set in the 50s, it's so beautifully designed and the costumes and cars are so fabulous. I'm just like "yes please, I would like that!"

Finally, what’s your best piece of advice for aspiring performers?
Always put money away for tax! Always take a percentage of your salary each week and put it into an account you can't touch and then you won't be hit with anything you're not prepared for!

I wholly believe that if your heart says you want to do it then do it. It's not an easy career, I mean, for me to be in this envious position of having a role written with me in mind to play it, has taken 28 years, so I can only say to anyone: stick at it and always follow your dreams. If you don’t follow them, someone else will!!  

Keep at it, you'll get there; there might be different routes you have to take but don't ever take it personally. When you get a no, just move on, it's rarely personal. It's very rarely to do with your own skill and talent, it's just that you're not right.

But if you have a dream, follow it, do your best and put money aside for tax!

A massive thank you to Rachel for taking the time to do this interview. The Band is country touring round the country, tour dates and ticket information can be found here.

Interview by Editor, Olivia Mitchell

photo credit: Matt Crockett

Friday, 14 September 2018

Heathers, Theatre Royal Haymarket | Review

Theatre Royal Haymarket
Reviewed on Monday 10th September 2018 by Olivia Mitchell

Every so often a show comes around which receives an exceptional amount of hype and has the West End buzzing. Heathers is currently that show and the good news is that it truly lives up to it. Based on the 1989 film starring Winona Ryder, this musical adaptation is full of energy and humour as it balances the line between political correctness and incorrectness. We find ourselves drawn towards the darkness but also cringing at the atrocities that go on.

Laurence O'Keefe had huge success with his adaptation of Legally Blonde and has applied his winning formula once again to bring this show to life with a camp, sassy and at times melancholic score. The plot follows Veronica Sawyer, a girl who is 'different' to the others at her school and longs for unity between all cliques and social standings. However, in order to make it through High School, she befriends the rulers of the school, the "lipstick gustapo" made up of three girls named Heather. Our protagonist then meets a brooding new boy, Jason J.D Dean who turns out to be a kill happy psychopath. From there on there are deaths, parties, funerals and a whole lot of destruction.

When the movie came out in 1989 it became an instant hit and then received a cultish following when it opened off-Broadway in 2014. The show's transition to the West End has been no different as teens and young adults flood to the theatre with scrunchies in hair and  pleated skirts on to see this wildly fun but disturbing musical brought to life.

The entire cast bring this show to life with vivacious passion and immense talent. Leading the gang, Carrie Hope Fletcher is a powerhouse as she battles between what's right and wrong and what she wants to do to boost her social standing/love life. Carrie steps  on stage to well deserved cheers and blows the roof of with her entire performance, especially her new song 'I Say No' which gives her a backbone and the rough 'Dead Girl Walking Reprise'. Veronica's moments of strength are certainly where Carrie shines but she is also humourous and likeable as she swoons over JD.

Under Andy Fickman's direction, Jamie Muscato plays the mysteriously murderous JD with an intensity that you can't help but be drawn to. Whilst it's not wise to partner up with a murderer, we all love a bad boy and the combination of JD's smooth talking and Jamie's perfectly rough voice make us feel for him a little bit, even though he becomes a monster before our eyes. Muscato's frenetic energy in 'Meant To Be Yours' is certainly a theatrical highlight of the year.

The three Heathers waltz around the stage as one but have quirky personality traits which are owned and embodied by each. As leader of the pack, Heather Chandler who "floats above it all", Jodie Steele is brilliant. Her permanent scowl, sharp movements, sublime vocals and stellar comedic timing make her perfect for the role. Sophie Isaacs brings an innocence to Heather McNamara which is interesting to play out. Whilst she is part of the mean girl group, it's clear from the outset that she is merely following the pack and wishes to break away. Isaacs' rendition of Lifeboat is a pin-drop silence moment which stands out in the show. As the final Heather, Duke, T'Shan Williams is feisty and aggressive, with her solo Never Shut Up Again earning her laughs and cheers from the audience. 

Stand outs of the cast also include Jenny O'Leary who gives a moving performance of Kindergarten Boyfriend, Rebecca Lock who brings the entire theatre to life with her fiery, belt-tastic Shine a Light and Christopher Chung and Dominic Andersen who are humour embodied as the jocks who combine to create Kram. Ensemble members Lauren Drew and Olivia Moore also catch the eye throughout.

Gary Lloyd's choreography is especially effective with the Heathers, namely during the iconic Candy Store which sees them sashaying round the stage but in true Heathers style, being in complete control the entire time and never stepping out of sync with one another.

Mention must go to Ben Cracknell's lighting, which like the music, intensifies every emotion on stage. Particularly effective are the varying tones of light between the characters. The Heathers are of course lit in their iconic colours (brought to life vibrantly through David Shields' costumes) but whats most striking are the moments when Veronica is lit in warm spotlights whilst JD is basked in stark, almost grey tones. This highlights the contrast between the true evil and the kind-of-forced-into-evil in a clever way.

Most of the subject matter of this show is uncomfortable but sadly ever present: bullying, suicide, murder, depression. Heathers does a good job of satirising the sensationalism of them and shines a light (pun intended) on the fact that unity and kindness are always the way forward.

Whilst this isn't a light hearted show in content, the songs are crazily catchy, the talent level is ridiculously high and it's just a really good night out. For Big Fun, get down to the Theatre Royal Haymarket!

Heathers runs at the Theatre Royal Haymarket until 24th November

photo credit: Pamela Raith

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

The Osmonds, A New Musical (Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

The Osmonds, A New Musical (Tour)
New Victoria Theatre 
Reviewed on Tuesday 1st March 2022 

It has been over 50 years since the wholesome, handsome brothers from Utah, The Osmonds, began their career. They started as a barbershop quartet, performing for locals whilst fundraising and eventually became one of the biggest bands ever, dominating the charts for weeks on end and earning the hearts of girls all over the world. In 2022 their story has been brought to stage in a production written by Jay Osmond himself.

The autobiographical tale begins with the boys-Donny (Joseph Peacock), Jay (Alex Lodge), Merrill (Ryan Anderson), Alan (Jamie Chatterton) and Wayne (Danny Nattrass)- growing up and starting their professional career on the Andy Williams (performed excellently by Alex Cardall) show right until their world domination and consequent fiftieth anniversary reunion. The musical looks at some of the mental challenges the group faced throughout their lives but is mostly a celebration of the music and the fans who loved (and still love) it.

Throughout the show, the audience are introduced to a fan from Manchester called Wendy through the letters which she writes to Jay. This cleverly captures how much celebrities can mean to people, specifically the impact and support The Osmond family unit provided to many. It also acknowledges how the fans and those who showed up for the band helped them get to, and stay at the top of the charts.

The whole cast give excellent performances, with the main Osmonds giving solid vocal and acting portrayals which shine on stage. Georgia Lennon is especially brilliant as Marie Osmond and Charlie Allen and Nicola Bryan give strong performances as the Osmond parents. The young cast portray the boys' desperation to obey and please their father extremely well and are incredibly talented.

As you would expect, it's the music which carries this show, with the big hits Puppy Love, Crazy Horses and Love Me For a Reason providing highlights. The megamix at the end also proved an audience favourite and had pretty much all of the New Victoria Theatre on their feet.

The music and story are clearly very important to a lot of people and obviously seemed to resonate with many of the audience members who are long time fans. However, for anyone new visiting the show, it doesn't quite draw you in and if you don't have the nostalgia for the songs, it is somewhat lacking. If the full house is anything to go by though, there's nothing wrong with that. It seems the musical doesn't need to welcome a new audience of fans but compared to other jukebox musicals, it doesn't do as strong a job of appealing to a wider audience.

That being said, it's certainly a nostalgia fest and a must see for OG Osmond's fans who will enjoy every musical minute.

The Osmonds, A New Musical is at the New Victoria Theatre until 5th March and then continues its tour.

photo credit: Pamela Raith

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Zog (UK Tour), Rose Theatre | Review

Rose Theatre 
Reviewed on Tuesday 19th February 2019 by Olivia Mitchell

Based on the book by Julia Donaldson with illustrations by Axel Scheffler, Zog, in an adaptation by Mike Shepherd with Freckle Productions has made its World Premiere in a superbly fun, colourful and heartwarming way that will entertain adults and children alike. Zog and his friends are growing up and learning how to become the best dragons they can be; on this mission, they attend Madam Dragon's school where they try their hardest to win a golden star. Whilst they struggle and succeed, Princess Pearl is there to help them along and give them the courage they need.

Theatre does an amazing job of subtly giving children the curiosity and creativity they need to understand our world. The characters on stage mirror our world and teach us how to understand emotions and empathise with one another. Towards the end of Zog, there is a particular scene where the dragons have to decide whether they continue for their own personal gain, or, help their friend Pearl. The young girl I took to the show turned to me and said "that's not fair, they're being mean", which may seem like a passing comment but there's no doubt that theatre opens up pathways for conversations about what it means to be good. As a production, Zog brilliantly paves the way for these conversations and brings out the importance of having self-belief whilst helping others. 

The small but mighty Zog cast have done a marvellous job of creating a bright world where rabbits bark and dragons roam theatres. Not only do they give greatly emotive and energetic performances but their musicality is outstanding. With all live music, the team work as one to play various instruments and make use of a loop pedal to provide a score (composed by Johnny Flynn) which bubbles and keeps the piece going. The on-stage instrument changes are just another way the little audience are inspired and its exceptionally entertaining to watch the performers work so seamlessly in this peak of children's theatre.

As title dragon, Elliot MacKenzie is mischievous and caring, whilst Euan Wilson as Madame Dragon is harsh but humourous and feels like the dragon equivalent of Miss Trunchbull! Emily Benjamin gives a heartwarming performance as Princess Pearl, both vocally and acting wise, and shows how strong girls are. The message that you can achieve anything in life as long as you put your mind to it is ever necessary and Emily puts it across in an empowering and lovely way. Robert Ginty as Sir Gadabout the Great is especially humourous as he gets the audience involved in his search for the Knight and Dixie McDevitt, brings the ensemble characters (including the adorable rabbits) to life in a fantastic way.

The simple set of scaffolding and stars, designed by Katie Sykes works well to allow the story to move locations but also leaves room for the imagination to roam wild. Props such as fire streamers, add an extra element of excitement and alongside Lyndie Wright's stunningly crafted puppets, the show feels very well put together. The cast transition from being the dragons themselves, to controlling the puppet dragons superbly and manage to maintain the magic throughout. 

As an adult, there's something wonderful about hearing children be inspired. The excitable gasps of wonder that pepper the audience, the beaming smiles on faces and the buzz of enthusiasm makes us happy in return and shows just how important theatre is as a tool to teach. Team Zog have created a piece of theatre which will captivate and influence the audience in the most wonderful way. 

Zog runs at the Rose Theatre until 23rd February before starting it's UK tour

photo credit: Helen Maybanks

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Funny Girl, Savoy Theatre | Review

I didn't properly comprehend that I was seeing Funny Girl until I was sat in the theatre. Funny Girl is such a pinnacle of Musical Theatre for me, I grew up watching Barbra Streisand perform the iconic role my whole childhood so it felt like a dream finally seeing Mr Arnstein, Fanny and the Ziegfeld girls in real life... well real life on stage but you know what I mean!