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

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Sunset Boulevard (UK Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

Sunset Boulevard (UK Tour) 
New Victoria Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 22nd January 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 

The recent trend in my life seems to be watching things about the golden age of Hollywood and actresses who can't face the loss of fame. If you watched Ryan Murphy's recent television series, Feud, you'll notice the strong similarities between the life of fictional Norma Desmond and film royalty Joan Crawford. Both women were stars of the silent film era and the embodiment of Hollywood glamour, however as they grew older and their fame and fans disappear, they fall into a draining game of always trying to appear young and live as though their glory days aren't over. 

In Andrew Lloyd Webber's adaptation of Billy Wilder's 1951 film, Sunset Boulevard, we meet a reclusive Norma who's in a dark phase of her life as she's trying to get back into the film world. Enter Joe Gillis the struggling screenwriter desperate to get his lucky break who somehow ends up in Norma's sprawling mansion. 

Dreaming of making her comeback, Norma recruits Joe to edit and finish her screenplay. However, their relationship slowly spirals into it's own film of drama and tension as Norma becomes obsessive and possessive over Joe- threatening suicide if he leaves.

The staging is slick and perfectly evocative of the 40s/50s, helped hugely by Douglas O'Connell's spectacular video and projections which not only add to each scene and song but make the whole thing cinematic and help to blur the line between reality and film which Norma struggles to deal with.

The show, like it's characters, is full of melodrama and power. Ria Jones takes on the role of the narcissistic, fading Norma Desmond with masterful skill. Her performance is truly remarkable and she embodies the role with every fibre of her being. Commanding the stage and audience with her every word and whacking Andrew Lloyd Webber's huge numbers out of the park. Jones puts in everything the has to earn her extensive standing ovation at the end.

As the handsome, aspiring screenwriter Joe, Dougie Carter is outstanding and versatile. From fairly innocent at the start to dark and tortured. He is absolutely faultless, with his rendition of Sunset Boulevard gripping the audience at the start of Act 2 along with is sharp, engaging chemistry with Ria Jones.

Special mention must go to Adam Pearce who deftly plays the Phantom-esque role of Max Von Myerling and superbly balances his endearing and chilling sides whilst delivering some top class vocals that almost steal the show.

This production is a musical theatre masterclass that perfectly charts a story of obsession, drama, age and lust. It's a must see for any musical theatre fan, with Ria Jones' performance worth the ticket price alone.

Sunset Boulevard runs at the New Victoria theatre until January 27th before continuing it's tour.

Wednesday 11 April 2018

Sunset Boulevard (UK Tour), New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Sunset Boulevard (UK Tour)
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 10th April 2018 by Glenys Balchin

Sunset Boulevard is wonderful musical with great music, amazing performers, awesome staging and lighting and superb costumes and makeup. The atmosphere on opening night was electric and the New Wimbledon theatre provided an iconic setting for this fabulous musical. 

I had my trepidation’s about whether I was going to enjoy Sunset Boulevard. I had seen the film telling the dark tale of the fading Hollywood silent screen goddess trying to make a comeback who gets intwined in a dark world with her young screenwriter and lover; but I doubted how it would work as a musical. How wrong was I to doubt this wonderful operatic music of Andrew Lloyd Webber alongside the brilliant writing and lyrics of Christopher Hampton and Don BlackThe melodramatic film-framework is embellished to bring Sunset Boulevard up to the heights of a Grand Opera.

The entire cast must be congratulated on their performance but in particular Ria Jones who is sensational. Her character interpretation is phenomenal as she becomes Norma Desmond. She engages with the audience immediately as we're drawn into her world of despair and the larger than life dramatisation of sorrow grief of yesteryear. 

To go with that outstanding acting performance is Ria's fantastic voice- how does that voice come from such a diminutive frame!? I have to say I was wondering how Ria would compare with the voraciousness of Gloria Swanson in the 50’s movie, well she did! What’s more-she is every inch a frightening diva; as Norma tumbles into madness in the final scene - “Mr DeMille Lights Cameras” Ria Jones herself has reached the realms of a superstar and I can’t wait to see her in another production.

Moving on to Ria ‘s co-star, Danny Mac, the Strictly Come Dancing finalist really holds his  own against the formidable singing voices of Ria Jones and Adam Pearce. As Danny’s ex strictly judge would say “I didn’t like it I LOVED it” his performance is excellent, enjoyable, energetic, easy on the eye and his rendition of Sunset Boulevard is extraordinary.

Special mention of the fabulous Max, Norma's butler played by Adam Pearce who's voice is astounding and Molly Lynch who gives a mesmerising performance playing sweet Betty.

The scenery is particularly atmospheric. On the top it's fairly simplistic but once you look closer there's a level of complexity which is intrinsic to the whole plot developing. The use of lighting and old films gives you shivers down the spine, as if you are a prisoner in that oppressive mansion yourself.

The costumes capture the Hollywood era perfectly, bringing glitz and glamour. Norma’s flamboyant, elegant and surreal costumes, life and personality really make her one of the most iconic of characters.

Last but not least, praise must go to the orchestra who provide the heartbeat of the musical playing the opulent and lavish musical scores of Andrew Lloyd Webber, which are resounding in my head from last night. The songs provided magical moments bringing the whole show together as the cast performed them pitch perfectly.

I cannot praise this show enough, it was a wonderful experience to watch this truly brilliant cast transfer me to a world of “make believe”. The thing I love about theatre is it's escapism, the world of suspense from reality and when I see a show like this it makes me to want to go more and more. So, if there's one theatre trip you have to do this year, make it Sunset Boulevard!

Sunset Boulevard runs at the New Wimbledon Theatre until April 14th before continuing it's UK Tour. 

photo credit: Manuel Harlan

Friday 31 August 2018

There is Nothing Like a Dame, Cadogan Hall | Review

There is Nothing Like a Dame (Concert) 
Cadogan Hall
Reviewed on Thursday 30th August 2018 by Olivia Mitchell

Combine four of the most talented female performers to have ever graced the West End stages and a celebration of 100 years of Women in musical theatre and you have a stellar debut show from Lambert Jackson.

West End superstars Rachel Tucker, Louise Dearman, Ria Jones and Alexia Khadime joined forces to showcase some of the most iconic female roles of the last 100 years and highlight the positive changes that are happening for women in the industry. Every song seemed to top the last and it was a truly uplifting night at Cadogan Hall.

The concert opened with all four ladies floating onto the stage accompanied by rapturous applause to perform Anything Goes which set the benchmark for the night extremely high and began our journey through a number of beautiful solo's, duets, trios and quartets.

The ladies gave all round stellar performances, with highlights including a great medley of Rodgers and Hammerstein songs; Rachel Tucker sung a hilariously drawly version of I Can't Say No, Alexia Khadime a playful I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Out Outa My Hair, Ria Jones a graceful Shall We Dance and Louise Dearman a pin-drop perfect, You'll Never Walk Alone.

Since seeing Louise Dearman in her solo concert earlier this year, I have been continually surprised by her versatility as a performer and she once again showcased her ability to transform both her vocals and mannerisms to fit any style. Louise is truly a musical theatre chameleon; her performance of I Dreamed a Dream was certainly a stand out.

Other highlights included Ria Jones' With One Look from Sunset Boulevard which brought the audience to their feet, Alexia Khadime's heartfelt, Home from The Wiz and a lovely rendition of In His Eyes from Jekyll and Hyde from Rachel Tucker and Louise Dearman. Mention must also go to the wonderful duet from the three former Elphaba's, Louise Dearman, Alexia Khadime and Rachel Tucker who put a fresh spin on The Wizard and I.

The audience were also treated to a peek at the future of the West End with a great and powerful performance of Don't Rain on my Parade from Daisy Greenwood who won a competition to perform at the concert. Aged only 17, she commanded the stage and is sure to be seen again among the great performers.

It must also be pointed out how fantastic all four ladies looked, donning two glamourous gowns each and embodying the superstar vibes. Also joyous to watch, was the way all the women supported one another and watched each other as if in awe. Women supporting women is just as important now than it's ever been and it's wonderful to see women who could so easily see each other as competition, admire each other and celebrate talent. 

If the next 100 years of musical theatre is filled with performances like the ones this night provided then it will be truly wonderful!

Photo credit: Danny Kaan

Wednesday 4 October 2017

Sunset Boulevard (UK Tour), Edinburgh Playhouse | Review

Sunset Boulevard (UK Tour)
Edinburgh Playhouse
Reviewed on Tuesday 3rd October 2017 by Andrew Cowan 

Sunset Boulevard is a thrilling ride through the film industry of mid-century America, filled with the song, dance and cultural ephemera of the era. It’s an intoxicating spectacle that is both entrancing and, in parts, exhausting.

The production takes place in Hollywood on the cusp of the 1940s and 1950s. The show’s intermission pointedly falls at a New Year’s party in 1949 in a manner symbolic of the story’s main theme of the passing of one era to the next.

The time period and location is a particularly rich seam for the set design which, especially in the opening moments, is a flurry of transitions. The audience is taken from the gates of Paramount studio to production lots, writer’s rooms and soundstages in the space of a matter of minutes. Furthermore, artifacts of film production are woven intelligently into the set throughout. One driving scene in particular employed footage of busy Los Angeles streets projected behind the protagonist’s vehicle while shadowed cameramen revolved around him in a way that recalls the early special effects of the time. It could easily have been confusing, the fact that it wasn’t is testament to the care with which each aspect of the set had been considered.

As one might expect given the story, the music throughout the show was constantly evocative of the period and brilliantly performed by the band. One aspect to note is that your enjoyment of the show may in part depend on how you feel about Andrew Lloyd Webber, who supplies the music in the production and isn’t always for everyone.

Danny Mac as protagonist Joe Gillis was well cast and particularly excelled at both the breezy 50s dialog exchanged with members of the supporting cast and his rendition of the title song ‘Sunset Boulevard’. Predictably a cheer went up around the hall as the actor, who appeared on Strictly Come Dancing, danced a tango. His interaction with romantic interest Molly Lynch as Betty Schaefer was a touch lacking, but this relationship is not really the centrepiece of the story and as such both the songs and dialog were a little perfunctory. Special mention should be given to both the singing and acting of Adam Pearce as Max Von Meyerling, who deflty straddled the line between chilling and endearing and very nearly stole the show. However Ria Jones as the needy and demented Norma Desmond was superb throughout, delivering a deeply poignant performance.