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

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Five Reasons To See Once the Musical

A beautiful, heartfelt story of an unlikely friendship between a Dublin busker and a Czech musician,  we present five reasons why you should see Once on it's current UK tour...


The Pre-Show
Before the show even begins, Once offers a unique experience and welcoming atmosphere as the audience enter the theatre. The fantastic cast made up of actor-musos (more on that later) are performing a number of joyous Irish songs as if in a local Dublin pub. I particularly enjoy The Auld Triangle which Susannah van den Berg leads wonderfully. Also worth mentioning is the seamless transition from the lively pre-show tunes, to the haunting opener Leave, which settles the audience and paves the way for the journey of Once.


It's Surprisingly Funny
When I first saw this show, I didn't expect to laugh as much as I did. From the start there is a warm humour that feels (mostly) natural and realistic. Little giggles between the cast as they bounce off one another are enjoyable to watch, as are the jokes between Guy and Girl. From their first interaction, the pair (Daniel Healy and Emma Lucia) have an engaging relationship full of banter, sarcasm and honesty that's endearing to watch and brings light to the sometimes deep emotional moments.


Emma Lucia's Accent
Yes, this is an unconventional reason to see a show, but I was so impressed by Emma Lucia's excellent accent that I had to mention it! The combination of Czech with twangs of Dublin mixed in is so excellent. Emma is a magnetic performer, who we instantly warm to. The character of Girl is so optimistic that you can't help but root for her, and Emma brings this gleeful optimism to life fantastically.

The Power of Ensemble
Once is one of the most wonderfully ensemble fuelled pieces I've ever seen. Often the cast move like one entity, all invested in each others stories. These group transitions bring a motion to moments which could otherwise run the risk of falling flat. The reprise of Gold is a truly exceptional moment in musical theatre, as the entire cast come together as if using one breath to sing.


The Musicality
Of course you can't talk about Once without mentioning the music and those that perform it. The folk/rock score is what put the original film firmly on the map, with Falling Slowly becoming a staple on any musical theatre playlist. Not only is Once a love story in terms of romance, but it's also a love letter to music, with every song carefully thought out and performed. It's amazing to hear the folky, Irish, guitar led music, and it's even more impressive to watch it performed live by a cast of actor-musicians. Every cast member is an incredibly talented musician and it's sensational how they are able to tell a story and really engage the audience through music.



Once is currently playing at the New Victoria Theatre until 15 February and then continues its tour

Friday, 10 January 2020

Once (UK Tour), Fairfield Halls | Review


Once (UK Tour)
Fairfield Halls
Reviewed on Thursday 9th January 2020 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★★

Embarking on a UK tour, Once tells the story of Girl meeting Guy. He, is a Dublin busker on the brink of walking away from music after having his heart broken and feeling unheard in a bustling world; whilst, she is a force for change who exudes positivity from the moment their worlds collide. In the space of a few days, their lives become beautifully connected and changed forever. The musical is an evocative piece, which slowly creeps up on you to warm, break and soothe your heart in equal measures. It's a love letter to music and identity that deserves to be seen and heard.

Emma Lucia is a certified star as Girl, as she gives an assured performance, filled with warmth, vulnerability, encouragement and love. Girl is married to an unseen man who walked out on her, and has a daughter who has her heart. Lucia's incredibly truthful performance is outstanding from start to finish, as are her vocals which ring out with a clarity and strength that utterly absorbs the audience. Alongside her, Daniel Healy is perfect as Guy. His angst fuelled performance of Leave opens the show with the grit, intensity and honesty which courses through it until the end. Healy's musical performances are highly impressive as he shows exceptional vocal control.

The music is just beautiful, with so many breathtaking moments. Much of Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová's music does not in fact move the plot along, but each piece perfectly evokes the feelings and emotions of the Dublin setting and the characters living there. The musical synchronicity between the entire cast is second to none, with every member completely connecting to one another as they tell a story about music and humanity. The exceptional ensemble work is showcased throughout, but is especially striking during the reprisal of Gold, where every breath, pause and inflection feels as though they're coming from a single body as opposed to a group of individuals. This is just one of many magical moments which make this musical so special and affecting.



Libby Watson
's set almost looks like a painting when we first see it. Staying as a pub throughout, small items are brought on to signal when the action changes location. A tool desk for the hoover shop, a microphone for the recording studio and a bed for the bedroom are just some of these details. The whole thing feels cosy, like a tale that's been handed down through generations is being told over a drink- a real hug of a show. It's really incredible how Peter Rowe has directed a production that feels so intimate despite the size of the theatre it's housed in.

Amongst the vast deep moments of the plot, there are also some extremely humourous aspects which evoke the highs and lows of everyday life excellently. Girl and Guy's friends scatter the story with moments of reality. There's Reza, confidently played by Ellen Chivers: trouser ripping Svec, (Lloyd Gorman) who is hilarious; Andrej who is the embodiment of optimism accompanied by the divine voice of James William-Pattison; and Dan Bottomley as the music shop owner who longs to feel needed. The supporting characters bring some of the most profound moments through their reactions to Guy and Girl's music. Both the bank manager (Samuel Martin) and recording engineer Eamon (Matthew Burns) start out nonchalant but are so transformed by what they hear that they completely change their views and become wholly invested. The power of music is obviously evident in every fibre of Once and it's joyous to see.

The audience can't hep but be attentive throughout as Once has the magical ability to completely wrap them up and take them on a journey that is pure and delicate. Of course this a show about music, but what's even more magical is how spectacularly the entire team make the most out of silence. Each pause feels completely natural but intentional at once as an atmosphere like no other is formed. This is a complete delight of a musical that must be experienced. It's not jazz hands and drama, but instead, is melancholic, unashamedly romantic and wholeheartedly wonderful.

Details about the Once Tour can be found here

photo credit: Mark Senior

Monday, 10 February 2020

Emma Lucia talks life on tour in Once The Musical | Interview

Beginning life as a low budget feature film, Once, the story of a Dublin street busker and a Czech musician who bond over their love of music, has enthralled audiences since it was released. Audiences are now getting the chance to see it live on a UK tour.

Emma Lucia plays Girl, in this simplistically beautiful production. We chatted to her about her role, life as an actor-muso, her tour essentials and much more...



Give us the lowdown on Once, what can audiences expect? 
Once is such a tricky show to explain because it’s really unique, but it’s essentially a play about an Irish guy and a Czech girl who meet in Dublin and form a really special friendship based on their love for music. The show is packed with Irish/folk music and each song is played by the 16 actors on stage - there are about 30 instruments in total so the sound is really something! Anyone watching the show for the first time can expect to laugh (a lot), cry (a bit) and leave feeling really uplifted.


You play Girl, what’s she like as a character? Are you alike in any ways?
Girl is SUCH a fun character to play. She’s ridiculously optimistic, hilariously blunt and incredibly kind which is quite inspiring because they’re all qualities that I love in a person. I think I’m quite a positive person (or at least I try to be… I sometimes struggle on Mondays…) so I guess we have that in common!


The cast is made up of amazing actor-muso’s, what’s it like being surrounded by music all the time both on and offstage?
Oh it’s amazing - these guys are sooo talented! It’s so inspiring to share a stage with such incredible musicians and they’re all so lovely which makes it even better. Everyone’s constantly practising or working on new material for the pre-show jam - there is literally no peace and quiet but I love it!


If your life was going to be made into a folk musical, who would you want to play you?
I love this question. Mmm probably Jessie Buckley because she has the most beautiful voice and she seems like an equally beautiful person! And she has fabulous hair. I’m aiming high here.


This is an ensemble led piece, with every cast member invested in every moment. What was the rehearsal process like to create such a tight-knit group?
We actually gelled really quickly in rehearsals. A lot of people had worked together before so most people already knew each other, and I remember sitting on our lunch break on day one and thinking that we’re going to have a lot of fun on this tour. I also think it helps that it’s such an ensemble-led piece because it means there’s a constant feeling of it being a team effort - no one actor is more important than another and that keeps us all really grounded and connected.


What's your favourite moment in the show?
It has to be When Your Mind’s Made Up in Act 2. It’s my favourite song in the whole show and it’s so fun to play! I really struggle to describe why I love it so much but there’s a point where the lyrics stop and the whole cast just hold their notes, and I remember hearing that moment for the first time when I watched the show in the West End and understanding exactly what they were all feeling - even though they weren’t actually saying any words. It’s bizarre how music can make you feel connected in a way that words sometimes can’t.


What are your tour essentials?
Hmmm… I have a sleep mask which is an absolute life-saver - it means I can nap just about anywhere! I also like to have lots of pictures/positive quotes to put up in my dressing room and an unlimited supply of rescue remedy for when I feel particularly nervous. Oh and berocca. Lots of berocca.


Other than the beautiful music, what do you think makes Once such a special and enduring piece of theatre? 
I think it’s because it’s such a simple and realistic story - the characters (aptly named Guy and Girl) could literally be anyone. Falling in love is wonderful but it doesn’t always work out the way you want it to - life sometimes gets in the way and I think a lot of people can relate to this. Once isn’t hugely romanticised and I think that’s what people love about it. 


What’s your top piece of advice for aspiring performers? 
Without a doubt: have confidence in yourself. There’s so much criticism and rejection in this industry - it’s all part of the job, so you have to make sure that you believe in yourself otherwise you’ll never be able to enjoy it! Even if you have to fake it for a while, it’s so important that you compliment and congratulate yourself for achieving the tiniest of goals or even just for being brave enough to have a go! I think most actors go through phases of having imposter syndrome, where they don’t think they’re “good enough”, and I really struggle to take my own advice sometimes… but it really is the most powerful thing - if you believe in yourself, nine times out of ten so will everybody else.


Once next plays at the New Victoria Theatre and then continues it's UK tour

Interview by Editor, Olivia Mitchell

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Once on This Island, Southwark Playhouse | Review


Once On This Island 
Stockwell Playhouse 
Reviewed on Wednesday 14th August 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

The British Theatre Academy's production of the Caribbean-inspired Little Mermaid adaptation, Once On This Island is an enchanting show with dynamic, heart-wrenching performances, energy in spades and a glorious uptempo score. Through beautiful harmonies and high-intensity choreography, the young cast bring sunlight to rainy London and infuse a gust of tropical warmth into the magical story and score by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty.

Once On This Island tells the legend of Ti Moune, a young orphaned peasant girl raised by Tonton and Euralie, who falls in love with a boy from a wealthy family on the other side of the island, Daniel. Guided by four Gods, Ti Moune rescues Daniel from a life threatening car crash and nurtures him back to health. However, though they may be divided by only a few miles, they are worlds apart and after promises made to the Gods, Ti Moune must see whether love can conquer all, including death. 

At the heart of it, Once On This Island is a much needed delivery of the message of the need for inclusion for people from all walks of life. In a world doused in prejudice, where literal walls are being built and we are continually bombarded with stories of segregation, it's crucial that we speak loudly and take a stand to highlight the necessity for equality. The diverse BTA cast do an outstanding job of this and deliver the heart-warming but emotionally raw tale with grace and cohesiveness you would expect to see from older, full-time West End performers.


The BTA team have done an outstanding job of bringing the Tony Award Winning show to life in the pretty intimate space of the Southwark Playhouse. An ever versatile venue, it's fantastic to see it transformed to house a traverse stage where the performers integrate themselves into the audience, and interact as though they are locals wandering the streets. Lee Proud and Harrison Clark's dynamic choreography fills the space and works with the Calypso sounds and rhythms to create an upbeat party feel, as well as highlighting the more deeply emotive parts of the story. Thanks to the ensemble, there isn't a moment that feels under-energised and it's both enthralling and authentic to watch.

In the role of Ti Moune, eighteen year old Chrissie Bhima is otherworldly. Maintaining a poise and depth of someone much older, whilst imbuing the character with an innocence that draws the audience to her; she is a certain star in our midst. Bhima's killer vocals earn rapturous applause after her first solo and set the tone for the nuanced but electric performance she continues to give throughout. 

Aviva Tulley as Erzulie is clearly born to perform and she brings the ethereal Goddess of Love to life with a vocal and physical warmth that calms the room. On the other hand, Jonathan Chen is the embodiment of energy as he brings Asaka to life. As the other gods, Kyle Birch (Agwe) and Martin Cush (Papa Ge) embody their elements well.  


Sam Tutty is charismatic and sincere as Daniel, who shows genuine heartbreak as the pair struggle through their relationship, whilst, Marie-Anna Caufour oozes affection alongside divine vocals as Ti Moune's adopted mother Euralie. Special notice must go to Elliot Gooch who plays Armand among a variety of ensemble characters and stands out throughout thanks to his energy, facial expressions and witty interactions with both the cast and the audience. At the core, this is really a piece about community so it's a winning factor that the ensemble are so strong. The tight knit group work incredibly hard throughout and are consistently strong. Mention goes to Ella Biddlecombe and Grace Venus who draw the eye throughout.

Despite a few technical issues at the start with sound, the cast's energised portrayal of this provoking, mystical piece keeps the audience in the palms of their hands, and Simon Wells' simplistic but detailed set transports us to an island where magic really happens. The sweet story directed with a winning touch by Lee Proud, alongside vast vocal talent and and an authenticity that courses through, is a must see show this summer.

photo credit: Eliza Wilmot

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Once on This Island, Circle in the Square | Review


Once on This Island
Circle In The Square
Reviewed on Tuesday 18th September 2018 by Olivia Mitchell
★★★★

Once on this Island is basically the show version a huge hug; filled with a heartwarming story, spectacular talent and amazing use of theatrical devices it's a truly brilliant piece of theatre.

The Circle in the Square theatre provides the perfect, semi-immersive space for this show which follows the story of Ti Moune, a young peasant girl, who with the help of the Gods, sets on a journey to unite with the boy who has captured her heart. The story itself is pretty random and far-fetched: Ti Moune falls head over heels with this boy she has only glimpsed at for a second (very Little Mermaid-esque) and decides she must dedicate herself to saving him. However, the way the story is told is truly beautiful.

Michael Arden has directed a feast for the eyes which is magical, moving and heartfelt in equal measure. The simplicity of the show is what makes it so special. The use of debris and fragments of clothes/products immerses us in the world and transports us subtly to a place ravaged by a natural disaster which has to piece itself together the best it can. Clint Ramos has done an outstanding job of bringing pieces together without making anything look tacky of lacklustre.



With musical gems such as Mama Will Provide, Waiting For Life and Why We Tell The Story, it's no surprise that this show is a hit. The Caribbean-infused musical theatre songs are catchy and supremely well performed. Despite premiering in 1990, the entire production feels fresh  and enticing and is undeniably a show to be loved by any audience members. 

The cast perform Ahrens and Flaherty's music with life and joy, Alex Newell's Mama Will Provide is a sure stand out, whilst Tamyra Gray brings an Angels in America vibe to the death God, Papa Ge who flicks around the stage with a menacing presence, especially in Forever Yours. Other stand outs include Quentin Earl Darrington who's booming voice fills the intimate space, Kenita R. Miller who draws the eye from the moment the audience enters the theatre and Isaac Powell who is vocally strong as Ti Moune's love interest, Daniel.

Whilst this is truly an ensemble piece, with the cast filling the space with sounds and movements whilst every 'solo' piece takes place, the heart is definitely Hailey Kilgore as the young Ti-Moune. Her voice and performance is compelling and heart-wrenching whilst remaining vulnerable and full hearted. There's no doubt that Hailey will be a staple on Broadway stages from years to come as she performs free from constraint  and provides one of the most moving and nuanced performances I have ever witnessed.

photo credit: Joan Marcus

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Club Tropicana (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review


Club Tropicana
New Victoria Theatre 
Reviewed on Monday 1st April 2019 by Glenys Balchin
★★★

Apprehension was in the air when I entered Woking New Victoria theatre, I knew that I would know the songs but I was not sure it would take me back to those fun fuelled Disco electric days of the 80’s... well it did sort of! 

I'm not quite sure why the musical is called Club Tropicana, as apart from the name and a mention of “free cocktails”, there was not a sniff of the fabulous George and Andrew songs of the incredible WHAM. However, I am a lady of a certain age and remember those days whilst a millennium baby would not, so, does that matter? 

The musical has been said to parallel hit TV show Love Island, which it does not! In the 80’s it was all about the music and dancing, not about drinking, talking about relationships and texting, (which would have proved difficult with a mobile brick!) 


The story line is simplistic. Girl jilts her beaux on their wedding day, and they each go on a friend holiday to Spain to get over what has happened. They all stay at “The Club Tropicana Hotel”. Hotel Proprietors are waiting for an hotel inspection in order to a win hotelier prize but are sabotaged by a rival hotel owner. During the course of the story line, Boy and Girl participate in a Blind Date competition  where they choose each other and realise they may have made a mistake...


The cast do an admirable job of taking me almost back to the electric 80s but it is not quite the 80’s as I remember, but again does that really matter? 

I think that the script dictated the songs that were chosen, that’s why there is no Wham, Duran Duran, New Order, Tears for Fear, Human league, Whitney Houston, Madonna etc... because their songs did not tie into the story line. However, the musical depicts so many other things from the 80’s, the costumes for one: Ra Ra skirts, leggings, shorts, dungarees, “statement tee shirts” are a plenty on stage! The hair is big and huge mobile phones make a few appearances.

Club Tropicana is a feel-good night of entertainment, delivered by a vibrant, fun, high-energy cast who sing and dance as if their lives depend on it. I was not keen on some of the jokes which are  not particularly PC nor the insulting references which border on sexist and homophobic, but I suppose that sums up the 80’s in a way.


Once Joe McElderry comes onto the stage the show comes along and takes the cast and audience into a flurry of singalong & dance routines– if only I could have got on stage for 'Oops Upside your Head'. Joe has to be applauded for an energetic exuberant performance and for not waning once. He really leads the show and uplifts the rest of the cast. 

The same can be said, for the formidable and extremely talented Kate Robbins playing Consuela, who magically plays the part. Her comic timing and characterisation are hilarious and her great voice brings a real belly laugh and applause from the audience. Emily Tierney must be complimented for delivering a strong comic performance with a great voice, as the double-crossing hotelier Christine. The voices of Cellen Chugg Jones and Karina Hind the young couple, singing to 'I Could Be So Good For You' are a highlight. There must be mention of Tara Verloop, Rebecca Mendoza and Kane Verrall who all performwonderfully; with Kane working especially well with McElderry as his love interest.

Club Tropicana will bring a big smile to your face, give you the feel-good-factor and make you feel young once again. Its not an award worthy musical but is certainly good fun and like a summer pantomime for adults.

photo credit: Darren Bell

Sunday, 15 July 2018

A Stagey Guide To Singing... Josefina Gabrielle | Chicago | Stagey Sunday

Welcome back to Stagey Sunday! I hope you're all well and not too saddened by the football... although if you're reading this, the chances are that you were at the theatre instead of in front of a TV! Anyway, this weeks guide to singing is brought to you by the female lead of Chicago the musical, Josefina Gabrielle who plays Velma. Josefina started her career as a dancer before transitioning into the world of singing so it's really interesting to hear how she built up her voice and stamina to be able to perform such a demanding role...


Can you tell me a bit about your vocal journey? 
Well I went to a theatre school, Arts Educational school, from about the age of 10 so we had an all round performing arts education. It incorporated singing, ballet, jazz, modern, tap, drama, you name it! So I had that in my life for as long as I can remember. 

Then I specialised in Classical ballet, so I danced only for quite a few years and, I worked abroad. When I came home to London after about 8 years, I joined Carousel the musical which was being done at the National Theatre. They needed strong ballet dancers so there was this perfect break from one world into the next so then I was surrounded by singing again and kind of got back on the saddle with that. 

I had been a soprano and hadn’t really experimented with the musical theatre sound, mixing or belting or anything like that so I learnt a lot about that during my time at Carousel. I learnt a lot about different voice types as I joined different companies and slowly developed a belt voice which was quite daunting at first because it’s quite muscular, you know you can push the wrong way and make yourself hoarse. So that was quite an interesting journey and I think having a typical dancer mentality I pushed it quite a lot which made it strong but compromised it’s flexibility. So that’s been my journey into different sounds! 

I went to a singing teacher for a little while who gave me all the knowledge on how to belt but it felt painful, so I shied away from it. But as I came to acquire, note by note slowly, I was able to process what she’d told me to do. But at the time it felt scary. It’s like doing push-ups! Twang and tilt are also an important part of that- I’ve learnt all the terms along the way! 


Was there anyone or anything that got you into music in the first place? 
I’ve always enjoyed music, my primary school before I went to ArtsEd- my mum has since told me cause you don’t think about these things as a child- focussed a lot on the arts so we did have a lot of musical appreciation. I remember playing all the percussion stuff and recorder and clarinet and things. So I’d already started that journey at my primary school so I think it's always been a part of my life. 

And then in the classical ballet world you dance to so much music. I feel like I’ve got quite a nice, wide variety of music that I appreciate and it’s quite wonderful to identify and recognise composers easily because I’ve acquired it as opposed to studied it. Rodgers and Hammerstein are a musical duo that I absolutely adore and Stephen Sondheim as well because there’s so much research and such an education while you're performing and learning the subjects and your journey. It's fascinating. And the structure of the way they write just does it for you really. 

I think maybe because I’ve come through dance, I’ve been a little gung-ho with my singing and sometimes I've not thought “well this is as good as it gets”; I've dared to be a bit rough on my voice and sort of thought, well, I’ll just face the consequences… I don't find that pure singing comes easily to me so I focus very much on telling the story through song and that seems to find my voice; so there’s always the thing of juggling the X and the Y, the technique and the emotion and I think I focus more on the emotion and hope the technique will follow! 

Josefina Gabrielle and Hugh Jackman as Laurey and Curly in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel

You've had a long career with Chicago now so you must know a lot of it like the back of your hand but are there any moments you still find hard or have to put extra focus on? 
I do find every every show that I do, I play my voice in, I’m not a person that can just pick something up and sing it beautifully. I need to almost dig a trench in my voice so once it’s played in I can do it. I’ve found that if I just treat it with respect but don’t get too fixated on it, it will find it’s way. I find a lot of that is once the breathing becomes choreography, you automatically prepare in the right way and you know when to hold, when to let go and when to not step on the gas. That just comes with repetition. I think that the moment my breathing has sorted out it’s choreography then I’m in safe hands. I also feel that I'm very much a voice that works with a mic. So the mic informs how I’m going to hold back or let go. 


You've recently had Mazz Murray join the cast of Chicago as Mama who your character Velma is very close to; what’s your process like when you work with someone new in terms of figuring out how to blend and balance one another? 
Again that comes with time, we’re early on so we’re still blending. But she's a wonderful musician and has one of my favourite voices. You know you're in fantastic hands and you just you feel and you listen and that’s how you come together, just like any orchestra would really. 


What are your tips for maintaining good vocal health? 
Drink a lot of water, the usual. Sleep, always get a decent amount of sleep. I have to be careful with acid reflux so I try not to eat too late at night. If I do eat too late at night or am feeling full or even just in case, I’m never far from Gaviscon Advance. Until you know about acid reflux, you may not even know you have it; it’s basically where the acid comes up your oesophagus and can sit on your cords and swell them. I didn’t realise but I’d often wake up coughing at night and I now know it’s because of the acid so now I'm very aware of that as it got me a lot of trouble in the past. 

I have an excellent warm up tape from by singing teacher Mark Meylan which I do religiously before every show and even when I'm not working, I’ll try and do that warm up regularly because my singing muscle needs to be looked after regularly. I’m not a person that can just sing, I need warming up well for flexibility. 


Who would your dream duet partner be? 
I’ve never really though about that! Well I just had the most amazing time singing with Ruthie Henshall; that felt wonderfully organic and I enjoyed it enormously. I'm now having a wonderful time working with Mazz and we're on a new journey. I even put this in Mazz Murray’s card on opening night that I have a laminated wish list of leading ladies I'd like to work with and two of them have come along at once! 


Could you tell me your top piece of advice for aspiring performers in terms of finding and maintaining their voice? 
Well I’ve kind of already blended those answers into my others but I’d say, don’t get upset because the emotions really affect your voice, they’re both in the same place so it can hinder performance. Breathing is terribly important and don’t push something they doesn’t want to go there- coax it gently and it will come!


A huge thank you to Josefina for taking the time to give her stories and advice on singing. You can catch her in Chicago at the Phoenix Theatre until 5th January 2019.

See you next Sunday for the final instalment of our singing guides!

Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Kinky Boots the Musical in Concert, Theatre Royal Drury Lane | Review


Kinky Boots the Musical in Concert
Theatre Royal Drury Lane 
Reviewed on Monday 8th August 2022 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

After the success of last week's Chess in Concert, the Theatre Royal Drury Lane have once again opened their doors, this time for concert versions of the acclaimed Kinky Boots, starring an all-star cast. When deciding on musicals to transform into concert editions, Kinky Boots may not be the most obvious choice but the pop score lends itself wonderfully to the setting and really strips everything back to highlight the heartwarming and empowering messages which the show gives out in spades. Plus, the LMTO orchestra, conducted by Freddie Tapner help to showcase all the best parts of Cyndi Lauper's musical score.

Returning to the concert scene after his star turn as Freddie in Chess is Joel Harper-Jackson who once again shows off his vocal chops and wonderfully dynamic acting. As Charlie Price, the son who inherits his father's failing shoe factory, Joel is utterly endearing. He embodies the role and you can physically see his transformation from an unsure man to a strong, sure of himself leader. 

As his co-star, Cedric Neal is vocal perfection as Lola/Simon. His portrayal of Lola feels deeply thought through, with some extremely poignant moments; hopefully we'll get another chance to see him shine in the role in the future.

In one of the most wonderfully witty stage performances, Courtney Bowman is outstanding as Lauren. The comedic role is given extra oomph and feels completely fresh under Courtney's command. Other standouts include Kayleigh McKnight and Nikki Bentley who give stellar vocal moments. This is a really solid cast who have done a great job of putting on such a well rounded production in such a short time.

Whilst billed as a concert, there is some staging and choreography throughout and under Omar F. Okai's direction there's a great balance between subtlety and grand moments which really elevate the concert. Ben Cracknell's lighting is a star in its own right, providing a visual treat which is all things bold and absolutely brilliantly backs up the onstage action.

This is a fantastic showcase of the great cast as well as the heartwarming story that works surprisingly well in concert form. I can only imagine how great this ensemble would be in a fully staged production with all the glitz and glam the show deserves.

Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Cast Announced for World Premiere of The Time Traveller’s Wife: The Musical



David Hunter will star as Henry and Joanna Woodward as Clare and in the world premiere of The Time Traveller’s Wife: The Musical, based on the best-selling novel by Audrey Niffenegger and the New Line Cinema film screenplay by Bruce Joel Rubin. The new musical will premiere at Storyhouse in Chester from 30 September to 15 October 2022. The two-week season will precede a West End transfer, to be announced at a later date.

David Hunter's theatre credits include: Waitress (Adelphi and UK Tour); Kinky Boots (Adelphi); Once (Phoenix); One Man, Two Guvnors (National Theatre, Adelphi, UK Tour); Songs for a New World (Palladium); Tommy (Prince Edward); Seussical (Arts); The Hired Man (Leicester Curve and Colchester Mercury); Pub and Spinach (the Royal Exchange); The Mayor of Zalamea (Liverpool Everyman). His film and TV credits include: Nativity 3; Holby City and Doctors (BBC); Superstar (ITV). David’s pop/rock band Reemer had support slots, playing alongside The Feeling, Scouting for Girls and McFly on their full UK Arena Tour.

Joanna Woodward most recently understudied and played Vivian Ward in Pretty Woman: The Musical (Piccadilly Theatre & Savoy Theatre). Her other theatre credits include: Emily in Zombies: The Musical and Eulpha Miziam in Confessions (The Other Palace); Mary in The Life (Southwark Playhouse); understudied and played Carole King in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (Aldwych Theatre); Margaret in Fings Ain't Wot They Used T'Be (Theatre Royal Stratford East); understudied Beth/Meg/KT in Merrily We Roll Along (Menier Chocolate Factory and Harold Pinter Theatre); Tinker Bell in Lost Boy (Finborough Theatre and Charing Cross Theatre); Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors (Kilworth House Theatre).

Also in the cast will be Aisha Davis (UK theatre debut, with previous theatre work in Kingston, Jamaica) as Dr Kendrick, Ross Dawes (Dennis Dupree in the UK Tour of Rock of Ages) as Henry’s Dad, Hiba Elchikhe (Pritti Pasha in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie in West End and Los Angeles) as Charisse, Stevie Hutchinson (UK and Chinese Tour of Ghost: The Musical and UK Tour of Oliver!) as Clare’s Dad, Tim Mahendran (Spring Awakening at Hope Mill Theatre) as Gomez, Sorelle Marsh (Vicky Monroe in Stand Up at the Floral Pavilion, Wirral, and Tessie in White Christmas at the Lowry Theatre) as Henry’s Mum, Benjamin Purkiss (Zorro in Zorro the Musical at Charing Cross Theatre and Hope Mill Theatre and Alternate Strat in Bat Out of Hell at the London Coliseum/International Tour/Manchester Opera House) as Jason / Mark and Alwyne Taylor (won the Manchester Evening News Best Actress Award for Once in a Lifetime, Company, Sweet Charity and Accrington Pals at the Library Theatre and was nominated for Manchester Evening News Best Actress Award for her role as Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit at the Oldham Coliseum) as Old Clare. The actresses playing Young Clare will be announced shortly.

Henry and Clare’s love story is like no other and yet like all others; they meet, flirt, fight, love, marry... but all out of order. Henry is often and uncontrollably ripped out of time, because he suffers from a rare condition where his genetic clock periodically resets, pulling him into his past or future, vanishing before one’s eyes, never knowing where or when he’s going next. Except he knows he’ll always come back to Clare, at some point in time, dreaming of her time-travelling husband.

The Time Traveller’s Wife: The Musical weaves a heart-breaking and soaring original musical score by multi Grammy Award-winning composers Joss Stone and Dave Stewart with one of the most beloved novels of the last 50 years. All couples ask how to truly know one another, to trust, to commit, to build a family, to work at something bigger than ourselves. Not all of us are time travellers. How do you love across time?

With a book by Lauren Gunderson, original music and lyrics by Joss Stone and Dave Stewart, additional music by Nick Finlow and additional lyrics by Kait Kerrigan, the production will be directed by Bill Buckhurst and designed by Anna Fleischle, with choreography by Shelley Maxwell, lighting design by Lucy Carter, illusions by Chris Fisher, video design by Andrzej Goulding, sound design by Richard Brooker, musical supervision & arrangement by Nick Finlow and orchestrations by Bryan Crook. Casting will be by Grindrod Burton Casting. It will be produced by Colin Ingram for InTheatre Productions, Gavin Kalin Productions, Teresa Tsai and Crossroads Live, by special arrangement with Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

A West End Guide To Singing | Gabriela Garcia

I am one of those people who is obsessed with hearing other peoples stories and tips and tricks of how they do what they do. So when I see any show I instantly want to pick the brains of the cast about how they sing as well as they do. I'm sure I'm not alone in this so I'm starting a series called 'A Stagey Guide To Singing' where West End stars will answer a series of questions about singing! I hope you find it interesting. Let me know if you have any specific questions or people you'd like answers from!



So for our first instalment we have all of Gabriela Garcia's singing secrets! Gaby is currently starring as Nina in In The Heights and her voice is blowing away people every night so without any more rabble, here we go...

When did you realise you could sing? Did you have singing lessons?
I always liked singing since I can remember but I have videos of me being totally tone deaf all the way up to when I was 16! I started taking singing lessons at 16.


How do you keep your voice healthy, do you have any rituals before shows?
I go to singing lessons regularly (once a month maybe once every 2 months) and I do a short vocal warm up - I concentrate more on my breath warming up rather than my voice. I have to sing through 'BREATHE' before every show on my own just to make sure everything is in place lol


Have you always been able to belt? If not, when did you start belting?
hmmm belting...I guess I was always able to belt as I thought belting was just shouting...during my time at drama school my teachers started to teach me a safer way to 'belt' by mixing and making the sound a bit 'smaller' this is to be able to sing 8 shows a week safely.


What vowels do you find easiest to belt? Do you modify words to make them easier to sing?
Yes, its all about the vowel modification - keeping the vowels as narrow as possible work for me.


What tips do you have for singing and dancing at the same time?
hmm I'm still learning how to merge the two as the breathing is so different! I guess identifying the breathing moments in the choreography and being conscious of not 'pushing'


What's the best exercise to get your voice ready for belt/twang?
I just do witchy and baby sounds which works for me


Overall, what's your number one piece of advice for finding and developing your singing voice?
You never stop learning and you are always developing your technique I guess being open to different teachers advice and being able to identify what works for you and what doesn't.

Interview by Olivia Mitchell, Editor

Tuesday, 29 March 2022

Tom Felton, Mandip Gill, Beatriz Romilly and Sam Swainsbury to Join Cast of 2:22 A Ghost Story


Producer Runaway Entertainment is delighted to announce casting news for the transfer of Danny Robins’ edge-of-your-seat, supernatural thriller 2:22 - A Ghost Story for a third season to the Criterion Theatre. The run at the Criterion follows two record breaking runs at the Noel Coward and Gielgud Theatres and three Olivier Nominations including Best New Play as well as winning the Best New Play category in the Whatsonstage awards.
 
Tom Felton will play the role of Sam. Having made his breakthrough as ‘Draco Malfoy’ in the Harry Potter series of films, Tom has gone on to star in award winning films The Rise of the Planet of the ApesA United Kingdom, and Belle, television series The Flash, Netflix filmThe Forgotten Battle and was most recently seen on screen in SKY’s Save the Cinema. Coming up, he will star in Independent Film Burial.
Tom Felton said:I’m incredibly excited about getting to play in 2:22. I first started acting age 6 in a local theatre group and I haven’t trodden the boards since. I love the play, I’ve taken all my family to see it & everyone leaves with a smile. I’m thrilled to be part of this summers cast and will have a lot of fun with it.”
Mandip Gill will play Jenny. Mandip played companion Yasmin Khan in series 11, 12 and 13 of Doctor Who opposite Jodie Whittaker. She also played Phoebe McQueen in Hollyoaks and has appeared in CuckooDoctorsThe Good Karma Hospital and Casualty.
 
Mandip Gill said: “I am thrilled to be making my West End debut as part of the new cast of an already successful show. I am equally scared of ghosts so this should be fun” 
 
Beatriz Romilly will play the role of Lauren. Beatriz was born in Spain. She is best known for her work in Assassin's Creed ValhallaFinal Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringersand War of the Worlds. She has also appeared on stage at Chichester Festival Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe and The Bush Theatre.
 
Beatriz Romilly said: "I’m delighted to be returning to London and joining the new 2:22 company. I feel very lucky to be working with Matthew Dunster again, and getting a chance to dive into Danny Robins nail biting script with such a wonderful creative team and cast.”
 
Sam Swainsbury will play Ben. Sam is known best for his roles as Jason in the BBC sitcom Mum and Rowan in the 2019 film Fisherman's Friends. In 2015, Swainsbury featured in the film Thor: The Dark World, In 2017, Swainsbury appeared on Fearless, In 2019, he appeared in Victoria as Dr John Snow.
 
Sam Swainsbury said:It's such a privilege to be joining the 2:22 company! I was really drawn to the script. It's engaging, funny, exciting and poignant, but… there was something else. Something I can’t put my finger on. Drawing me to it. Almost like… like a voice. From another place. That’s normal, right?!
 
Matthew Dunster said: Planning our 3rd iteration of 2:22has been just as exciting as the first two; working with Danny and my Co-Director, Isabel Mar, and our brilliant casting directors to re-imagine the characters once more. It’s such a privilege to do that and to know audiences are excited about ‘who’s next?’  We have a wonderful cast that once again is loaded with surprise, excitement and West End Debuts. People love watching this show and we love making it.”
 
After breaking all box office records for a new play at the Noel Coward Theatre; described as the theatre event of the year and the hottest ticket in the West End; and after weeks of sell-out performances, the show transferred for another record breaking run at the Gielgud Theatre. The run there ended in February and a third season, this time to the Criterion Theatre, was immediately announced. 
 
2.22 - A Ghost Story is written by award-winning writer Danny Robins, creator of the hit BBC podcast The Battersea Poltergeist and it is directed by Matthew Dunster. Intriguing, funny and scary, it takes audiences into one adrenaline fueled night where secrets will emerge and ghosts may appear….What do you believe? And do you dare to discover the truth?
 
“There’s something in our house. I hear it every night, at the same time.”
 
Jenny believes her new home is haunted, but her husband Sam isn’t having any of it. They argue with their first dinner guests, old friend Lauren and her new partner Ben. Can the dead really walk again? Belief and scepticism clash, but something feels strange and frightening, and that something is getting closer, so they are going to stay up… until 2.22am… and then they will know.
 
Danny Robins said "I'm overjoyed to have a cast of this outrageously exciting calibre for our new season. Tom and Mandip are stellar talents who I have admired for years, Sam is awesome and will be known and loved by comedy fans and Beatriz is someone I know is bursting with ability and on the cusp of stardom. Each new cast unlocks new surprises and thrills for me as a writer, each actor bringing their own distinctive take to the play. If you haven't seen 2:22 before, there's never been a better reason to come, if you have seen it, come back and see it again with this exciting line-up!” 
 
2:22 - A Ghost Story features set design by Anna Fleischle, costume design by Cindy Lin, lighting design by Lucy Carter, sound by Ian Dickinson for Autograph Sound, co-direction by Isabel Marr, casting by Jessica Ronane CDG and illusions by Chris Fisher.
 
2:22 - A Ghost Story is produced by Tristan Baker and Charlie Parsons for Runaway Entertainment, Isobel David and Kater Gordon. 
 

Monday, 4 June 2018

When The Curtain Falls (Book), Carrie Hope Fletcher | Review


The latest edition in Carrie Hope Fletcher's book empire, When The Curtain Falls (the same title as her debut album) is all about theatre and romance, aka, my dream. The book follows two young lovers, Oscar Bright and Olive Green as they meet backstage whilst performing in a revival of a show in which tragedy struck 50 years earlier. Through a series of flashbacks and memories, we discover what happened to the original lovers, Fawn Burrows and Walter Brown, and whether tragedy is set to strike again. With heartache, tragedy, theatre and a little bit of magic, When The Curtain Falls is the perfect read to wrap you up and transport you to the glittering lights of the West End.

Carrie's writing is lyrical but easy to read. Reading her books feel as though you're listening to a friend talk; When The Curtain Falls especially, has a relaxed feel about it. 

In a previous review of All That She Can See I wrote that Carrie's writing has a theatrical feel, this is obviously even more evident in this story which is all about the stage, performing and backstage antics. There are a whole host of stagey references which any avid theatre fan will love spotting. I especially loved the fact that the first musical Olive saw was Beauty and the Beast, which was my first too and that she lives in Turnham Green- West London represent! 


The section at the start where Olive is talking about being in the 'theatre world' and the 'real world' is just one very interesting and relatable moment. When you go to shows a lot and are part of the theatre scene it feels like it's the only thing that exists and that everyone knows everyone, but once you go back to the 'real world' very few people have the same connections. It’s the same with theatre stars, at their theatre they are famous, signing autographs and standing for photos but once they turn the corner they blend into the crowd and normal people wouldn't bat an eyelid seeing them. This ramble has very little relevance to this review, other than saying that it's very clever how Carrie has worked tidbits of the musical theatre world into the story without making it overbearing or factual. The entire story flows with the ease of watching a really good show.

The romance between the lead couple is extremely sweet, if at times cringey. You can almost see the way the pair look at one another and at times it feels like we're invading a private moment whilst we read. The mirrors between the 1952 relationship and the current one are well written and interesting to see. All the characters are well developed and I couldn't help but wonder if anyone, especially Tamara, is based on anyone Carrie has come across in her career! With Moulin Rouge vibes, I can so see this story as a swooping romance film.


When The Curtain Falls is a theatre fans dream. With stagy references, a beautiful romance and some unexpected plot twists, there's not much more you could ask for in a book. This is certainly my favourite of Carrie's novels and I hope she continues to include theatre in her work. I also hope that the magic of this book will welcome new people to the theatre so they can experience whatbthe stars of the story do (perhaps with less drama though!) 

It's clear how much passion and love Carrie has for the stage and it really comes across in her heartfelt writing. I urge you to pick up When The Curtain Falls and to escape into a beautiful world for a few hours.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

When The Curtain Falls is released July 12th by Little Brown

If you enjoyed this book review, be sure to check out Olivia's other book reviews at www.TheOliviaEdition.com

Review by Editor, Olivia Mitchell

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Olivia's Top Shows of 2019



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



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



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



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



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



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



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


The Cher Show | Neil Simon Theatre

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


The Jungle | St Ann's Warehouse

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



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



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