Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Nic Farman. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Nic Farman. Sort by date Show all posts

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

The View Upstairs, Soho Theatre | Review


The View Upstairs 
Soho Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 23rd July by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

Whilst victories in the LGBTQ+ community are rising, and social attitudes and actions are, for the most part, much more positive, there's still much to fight for, as Max Vernon's musical highlights.

In its European premiere at the Soho Theatre, The View Upstairs cleverly creates a conversation between the past and present by visiting the UpStairs Lounge, a New Orleans gay bar which was the subject of an arson attack in 1973 which killed 32 people. The tragic story is one which has often been wiped out from history and was even minimised by news outlets at the time, so it's an honour to see it brought to life so thoughtfully. 

The story follows Wes, the 2019 "influencer" and fashion designer who is buying the dilapidated bar in the modern day. His estate agent leaves, and in a somewhat mystical, drug-filled flurry of curtains, he is transported back to the bar as it was on the day of the fire. Who we are then introduced to are the various people, decked out in bell bottoms, who find solace and friendship in the safe space the UpStairs provides. Wes' eyes are gradually opened to he struggles of being gay in the 70s and he questions how he leads his life in the modern day. 

Wes is a smartphone-addicted go-getter who often veers into a caricature of a Gen Y person, but is  still intensely entertaining and relatable. As a whole the book features a lot of stereotypes which are not always believable enough, but there are hilarious one-liners throughout, as well as many thought-provoking moments. 


What the script lacks is made up for in spades by the utterly phenomenal cast. Tyrone Huntley is effervescent in his performance and provides vocals which need to be heard; Huntley also manages to create a fantastic balance between impudence and vulnerability, which really makes the audience root for him. The chemistry between the entire cast is second to none, with Wes and Patrick (Andy Mientus) providing especially well thought out interactions. Mientus draws the eye thanks to his incredibly subtle but highly calculated movements which make him seem as though he isn't acting at all.

The uniformly thrilling cast bring vocals that will cause involuntary whoops and goosebumps in equal measure. Among a team of stars, Carly Mercedes Dyer and Cedric Neal stand out because of their powerhouse voices which ring out with sincerity as well as power. Victoria Hamilton-Barritt is magnetic as the caring, religious mother Inez; whilst Garry Lee provides vocals and sass and her drag queen son Freddy. John Partridge and Declan Bennett are well rounded and striking in their performances and Joseph Prouse and Derek Hagen give memorable, if brief performances. This is a fantastic ensemble piece which has momentum and catchy tunes, but more importantly, heart.

Fabian Aloise and Ruthie Stevens's choreography is slick and feels part of the characters own movements. Lee Newby's set is basic but evocative as is Nic Farman's lighting which expertly matches the moods of the show, although at times felt just a bit too dark.

Jonathan O'Boyle has directed a moving production which feels like an homage to those fighting for gay rights in the past, those fighting now and those who are yet to realise they need to fight. 

photo credit: Darren Bell

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Falsettos, The Other Palace | Review

 
Falsettos
The Other Palace 
Reviewed on Thursday 5th September 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★
 
Despite feeling a little too long and being shrouded in recent drama, the current production of Falsettos at The Other Palace makes it clear why this musical was nominated for five Tony Awards in 2017. 
 
The musical in its current form is based on three one-act musicals which have been fused together by James Finn and William Lapine. It began in 1979 with In Trousers, followed by March of the Falsettos in 1981, and Falsettoland in 1990. In 1992 these were combined to create the show which played on Broadway for over a year and is currently making its UK premiere.
Falsettos begins with the hilarious 'Four Jews in a Room Bitching' where we are introduced, as the name suggests, to four Jews and "one half-jew". Throughout the show we learn about a family as they crumble and put themselves back together. Family patriarch Marvin (Daniel Boys) is falling in love with a charming man, Whizzer (Oliver Savile) and is ready to leave his wife Trina (Laura Pitt-Pulford) and son Jason (Albert Atack). Meanwhile Trina gets closer to her therapist, (Joel Montague).
PJ McEvoy's set of blocks which are moved around to form the various locations, are highly effective and just simplistic enough to provide interest without taking away from the emotional songs. Bright, evocative lighting by Nic Farman is equally entertaining.
Although this show does feel a tad too long, with a lot of songs crammed in and not a whole lot of story, there's no denying that it's fabulously staged and features an absolutely stellar cast. Laura Pitt-Pulford brings the audience to rapturous applause with her stellar rendition of 'I'm Breaking Down'. In fact, this is a cast made up of crystal clear singers with perhaps some of the best placement on the West End. Natasha Barnes and Gemma Knight-Jones brings lightness and power both vocally and physically as the "lesbians next door", and Oliver Savile also provides many stand out vocal moments. The entire team act through song fantastically and truly bring out the best of the work, whilst, Chris Whybrow's sound design highlights the strong vocal techniques which course through the cast.
The show is pretty much sung through, with a variety of rhythms, colours and musical feels. There's humour and heartbreak and a warm sense of conversation throughout. Intricate but not in-your-face Falsettos is a must-see reminder of human love; and a great example of how moving music can be.
photo credit: The Standout Company

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.