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

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

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


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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

Thursday, 20 June 2019

The Light in the Piazza, Royal Festival Hall | Review


The Light in the Piazza
Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre 
Reviewed on Wednesday 19th June 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★★

The Light in the Piazza is a contemporary musical which invokes all the feelings of the golden age and is a sumptuous treat for the eyes and ears. The marvellously swooping score by Adam Guettel whisks you away from the opening moment and enthrals you in the beauty and magic of this delicate Italian love story.

Margaret Johnson (Fleming) is a well to do Southern lady who brings her fragile daughter Clara (Cameron) to Florence for a holiday. When Clara falls for a young Italian, Fabrizio (Houchen), Margaret is understandably protective and sceptical. Other than that, very little happens book wise but thanks to the glorious performances and production values, this is a divine musical.

As Clara, Dove Cameron is a marvel. A perfect combination of charm, innocence, an unruly heart and a headstrong mind, she lights up the stage every second she's on it (which is most of the show). Equally, the more intensely dramatic moments of the musical are performed with a candor and aggression which strikes and moves the audience. Cameron is a true star with vocals to match her captivating performance.


Rob Houchen has a way of surprising audiences with each role he takes on. This time it's the Italian leading man, Fabrizio, who is swoon-worthy, humourous and charismatic. As always Rob's acting performance is strong, with the comedic moments especially landing well; but it's Houchen's vocal performance which solidifies him as the dream casting choice for this role. The swooping vocals seem to pour out of thin air as Rob captures every moment with ease and control. Alongside Cameron, the pair create a chemistry which fizzles around the Festival Hall and creates a fuzzy feeling from start to end. 

Taking the role of the protective mother, Renée Fleming soars. Her deep operatic voice fills the festival hall but still manages to capture the intimate vulnerability she feels throughout. Mention must go to Mick Potter who has designed the sound of this show excellently. With the mix of operatic and musical theatre performers, there is always a risk of one overpowering the other, especially with opera performers usually being unmiced but this is not the case at all and the two styles meld and compliment each other fantastically.

Celinde Schoenmaker oozes sass as she struts across the stage in a smooth two piece and provides some of the musicals conflict during her marvellously performed The Joy You Feel. Liam Tamne is light relief as her husband Guiseppe Naccarelli. Alex Jennings also gives a memorably suave performance as patriarch Signor Naccarelli.


Brigette Reiffenstuel's 'frocks' are completely divine and indulgent, with floating fabrics and tailored Italian suits covering the stage. Backed by Robert Jones' simplistic but intuitive set, Dove Cameron seems almost doll like as she twirls around Italy in her magnificent pastel coloured clothing.

Sure, the story is lacking, but this is a show about love and you can't help but feel overcome by warmth as you watch it all play out. There are many a predictable moment, but thanks to Daniel Evans' direction, they're all carried out so well that they feel fresh and unexpected, regardless.

The Light in the Piazza runs at the Royal Festival Hall until 5th July 2019

photo credit: Tristram Kenton

Friday, 3 August 2018

Broken Wings, Theatre Royal Haymarket | Review


Broken Wings
Theatre Royal Haymarket
Reviewed on Thursday 2nd August 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★

Broken Wings, the new musical based on Kahlil Gibran's bestselling poetic novel has taken over the Theatre Royal Haymarket for a limited run. It provides a swooping romance, combines Middle Eastern melodies with musical theatre influences and showcases some of the finest voices in the West End.

After a stunning orchestral prologue, the audience are thrown into the life of writer, Kahlil Gibran and his fated romance with kind hearted and beautiful Selma Karamy. The story is touching, if  fairly cliched. We know from the start that the couple aren't going to have a happy ending but we still feel the emotion as they are consistently dragged apart from one another as Selma, a woman with very few rights, is destined to marry the bishop's nephew.

Personally, Joe Davison's orchestration is the star of the show. The beautifully flowing, virtuosic music evokes feelings of hot summer nights and all-encompassing romance and brings the emotion to life. 



Unfortunately, I didn't feel that the lyrics had the same effect; over-dramatic phrases and simile's used on mass feel cheesy and somewhat simplistic. Instead of highlighting something which may not have been clear to the audience, they simply highlight the clear thoughts and emotions so didn't add to the intensity of the story. Of course, they are based on the original poetry the transition has not been fully successful. 

The cast performing the songs however are outstanding both acting wise and vocally. As our narrator and older Khalil, Nadim Naaman is suitably brooding, whilst his younger counterpart, Rob Houchen shows a stunning transition from childish glee and positivity to a heartbroken man. Nikita Johal is vulnerable but strong as Selma and provides some moments of vocal brilliance, especially in act 2. Another stand out is Soophia Foroughi as Mother; Soophia brings a rich, emotion filled vocal to the show and leads the rousing closing number with skill and power. Nadeem Crowe also gives a humourous and memorable performance as Khalil's best friend, Karim Bawwab.

There's definitely an audience for Broken Wings and I certainly believe that after some lyrical changes it could have a much longer life in the West End. For stellar performances and outstanding orchestrations, get yourself along to the Theatre Royal Haymarket... if you can get a ticket!

photo credit: Marc Brenner

Monday, 20 July 2020

Concept album of new British musical Mascherato released on all streaming platforms


In the heart of 18th century Venice we meet Luca and Elena, and follow as they fall in love against the backdrop of the thriving carnival. However, the pair are torn apart as Venice sinks into war against the Ottoman Empire. When the conflict finally ends, and the empire proves victorious, the two lovers must fight against fate to be reunited. 

With music, lyrics, and original story by Michael Elderkin, and book by James Willett, this sweeping epic is ready to be experienced. Originally conceived by Elderkin in 2015, and following a successful workshop in 2017, the show has proven to be hugely popular. 

As such, and wanting to reach as wide an audience as possible, the show has been transformed into a concept album. Recorded with a stellar West End cast (including Rob Houchen, Katy Treharne, Jeremy Secomb, and Nathaniel Parker), a chorus of twelve, and a 22- piece orchestra in Abbey Road Studios – this lush and colourful score will take you on a journey through the mystery and magic that resides within the twisted labyrinth of Venice. 

A new British musical, Mascherato is now available on all music streaming services (iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, etc). 

Mascherato is a story of hope – of belief in something greater than ourselves and the importance of having faith that all will be well in the end. A message that the world as whole really needs right now.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Girlfriends, Bishopsgate Institute (LMTO) | Review


Girlfriends
Bishopsgate Institute
Reviewed on Friday 2nd November 2018 by Olivia Mitchell
★★★

The London Musical Theatre Orchestra are taking a short residency at the Bishopsgate Institute whilst they perform a concert version of Howard Goodall's Girlfriends which follows a group of women as they join the Women's Auxiliary Airforce during World War Two.

Complete with new orchestrations specifically for the LMTO, Girlfriends has some beautiful virtuosic moments which are wonderfully showcased by the orchestra, led by Freddie Tapner. As always, the orchestra give a sleek performance, however, compared to previous concerts where the LMTO have had solo showcase moments playing musical interludes such as the police scene in Mack and Mabel, there weren't any moments where we could purely appreciate the orchestra. These concerts always tend to provide a platform to appreciate stripped back music which of course we could still do, but this particular production lacked some of the "wow" orchestral moments previously experienced.

Whilst the orchestrations are lovely, a lot of the music feels similar and there are a lot of songs which are repetitive. Many of the melodies are catchy but when heard time are time again, become ineffective in conveying the mood/drama they intend to and I believe the whole piece would be much more moving emotionally and technically sleek if it was cut down and smoothed out. That's not to say that there weren't some outstanding moments, especially when the women join together for tight choral moments of chromatic harmony which effectively push the pain and confusion felt by everyone during the war.


The cast are the best of the best who work well as a team and individually. As best friends leaving their "ordinary" lives to join the WAAF, Lucie Jones and Lauren Samuels show off their divine vocals and natural chemistry with effortless talent. Natasha Barnes is vocally stunning, whilst Vikki Stone gives both a humourous and heartbreaking performance and Bronté Barbé gives a memorable performance of The Chances Are. Rob Houchen and Chris McGuigan both give strong performances which showcase their talents whilst perfectly framing the women, as they should in a show focussed on female strength.  

Despite the dramatic content, the show itself never reaches a boiling point and somewhat lacks intensity. During act one, I couldn't help but think the show was romanticising war with the various love affairs that formed; however, a moment of text in act two changed that view and brought the stark reality of war back to the heart. Victoria Gosling MBE explains that she was born in a free world and grew up hearing "All You Need is Love" whilst for her grandparents, "All They Had is Love". This reminds us the importance of relationships both romantic and non-romantic as well as how lucky we all are to be able to watch this show without having experienced the pain and turmoil that accompanied the women featured.

Despite this not being my favourite production form the LMTO, there is no denying that the wealth of talent on offer gave remarkable performances. The melodic, complex music does provide moments of power and if anything, this show serves as a fantastic celebration of women and the crucial roles they had in the Second World War. 

photo credit: Nick Rutter

Monday, 21 May 2018

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

photo credit: West End Video & Olivia Mitchell

Thursday, 5 November 2020

Hiba Elchikhe Brings Together West End Performers For A New Musical Theatre Series


In collaboration with Nimax and The Theatre Café, West End performer Hiba Elchikhe is thrilled to announce a brand-new musical theatre based web series: Out Of The Darkness, Into The Spotlight.


Bringing a little bit of glitter to the grey, this three-episode series hopes to not only entertain, but shine a light on the performers who are keeping the West End alive, even during lockdown.


Hiba, who is currently starring in the West End hit Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, and who has created the series says “In a time of such uncertainty I am so excited to be able to bring together a spectacular group of freelance artists, that are representative of the UK.”  


Featuring a line up of stellar creatives, each episode shines a “spotlight” on something different: Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Musical Theatre and Christmas. The first episode is set to premiere on November 18th, with the next two going live on November 25th and December 9th. Each episode will feature a different line-up of star performers, running at approximately 45 minutes and including a mixture of songs. Performers include: Danny Becker (Prince of Egypt, Aladdin), Courtney Bowman (Six, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie), Danielle Steers (Six, Bat Out of Hell), Hiba Elchikhe (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, Brooklyn), Carrie Hope Fletcher (Les Misérables, Heathers), Sejal Keshwala (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie), Tim Mahendran (& Juliet, Spring Awakening), Grace Mouat (& Juliet, Six), Trevor Dion Nicholas (Hamilton, Aladdin), Liam Tamne (Prince of Egypt) and Noah Thomas (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie).


As well as Maisey Bawden, Paul Bradshaw, Rhiane Drummond, James Gillan, Shanay Holmes, Rob Houchen, Melissa Jacques, Emma Kingston, Carl Man, Frances McCann, Scott Paige, Sharun PhullAmy Trigg and Andrew Patrick Walker, with more to be announced.


Tickets are available from: https://www.thetheatrecafe.co.uk/2020/11/news-out-of-the-darkness-into-the-spotlight/


#IntoTheSpotlightConcert


Friday, 7 September 2018

Five Reasons to see Eugenius



I've been lucky enough to see Eugenius throughout it's journey, from it's first public concert at the London Palladium, to its first stay at The Other Palace and now at its triumphant return. It's wonderful to see such a fun British show become an audience favourite and a cult classic. At risk of full on repeating myself, instead of reviewing the show again, I bring you a list of reasons why should see it...

It's the Definition of Catchy- If you're a fan of upbeat, 80s inspired music and heartfelt ballads then this show is for you. If you don't find yourself humming "go Eugenius" or "Don't shoot for the stars, shoot higher" basically all the time after seeing the show, then you are very good at escaping musical earworms! (It's in my head even just from writing those words)

The Cast are Superstars- The talent on the stage of The Other Palace is unreal. Rob Houchen perfectly embodies the geeky Eugene who loves comics more than life and dreams of a brighter future where he will "inherit the earth". Laura Baldwin's voice is complete perfection as she balances angst, humour and joy with ease. Dan Buckley is the ultimate musical theatre comedian and Scott Paige brings the ideal level of sass to The Other Palace. Basically, this cast are astronomical and deserve to be seen.




It Allows us all to be G.E.E.K Geeks- However hardcore we try and be, deep down (or not deep down in my case) we're all geeks. This show allows us to embody this whilst living our best 80s lives. The message of the show is all about acceptance and inspiring us to strive for more, which is pretty great indeed.

The Whole Show is Pure Fun- Eugenius is one of the most self-aware shows I've ever seen. There are so many parts that are ridiculous and super cheesy and it does have it's faults but it knows that and doesn't try to be anything more than it is, which is a pure fun-fest. For a light-hearted, truly joyous night, get yourself along to Eugenius.




The Fans Are the Best- It's my belief that the fans can make or break a show. Regardless of what critics/reviewers say, a shows fanbase can spread the love and word quicker than wildfire. Sitting in row G I had a wonderful view of the fantastic fans who took up much of the first two rows and who were giving as much to the cast as the cast were giving to the audiences. Their beaming smiles, instant applause, knowledge of every word and action in the show and love on social media is heartwarming to watch. Go see Eugenius purely to see what the fans are raving about!

Eugenius runs at The Other Palace until October 21st 2018 

Post by Editor, Olivia Mitchell

photo credit: Scott Rylander