Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Romeo and Juliet. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Romeo and Juliet. Sort by date Show all posts

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Romeo and Juliet, Royal Opera House | Review


Romeo and Juliet
Royal Opera House 
Reviewed on Tuesday 26th March 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★

Romeo and Juliet is arguably Shakespeare's most well known play and a regular feature in the Royal Opera House programming, having been performed by The Royal Ballet more than 400 times since its Covent Garden premiere in 1965. This season beautifully revives Kenneth MacMillan's dramatic monument in a smooth and moving way, with a number of Company debuts making it feel fresh even after all these years. 

In the title roles, Matthew Ball and Lauren Cuthbertson are a match made in heaven as they bounce off of one another, in their sweetly romantic choreography which showcases young love (and obsession) especially well. The tension as they build to their first kiss is palpable. Romeo lifts his Juliet onto pointe as they kiss and creates a very calm and heartwarming moment before the fast paced drama of the next two acts. Ball and Cuthbertson are masters of their craft and give performances which completely justify their successes. 

Act One drags a little but the pageantry from the offset is marvellous. The sword fights are choreographed memorably and sharply and stand out against Nicholas Georgiadis' set as they fill the vast stage. The contrast between the intimate pas de duex and large scale ensemble numbers does well to bring variety and allows moments of extreme action as opposed to storytelling alone. A particular stand out is certainly  Marcelino Sambe who leads the mandolin dance perfectly and creates a buzz as the audience are drawn in by his fantastic technique and performance skills. Itziar Mendizabal also shines as she brings brief moments of humour and light to the three harlots who appear throughout. 


The melodrama is prevalent, with Mercutio's death (Valentino Zucchetti) and Lady Capulet's break down providing emotionally impactful moments. Mime is used perfectly by the pair as well as by Cuthbertson who acts beautifully throughout. 

Brief moments where dancers fell out of time are noticeable but do little to detract from the story and flow. Whilst MacMillan's choreography does everything it should, there are times when it feels too much is being done in too little time, and there isn't a second to really appreciate the intricacies of the basics. The musicality of movements feels undervalued in comparison with storytelling.  

MacMillan's telling really puts Juliet at the heart of the story which brings a fragility and power that makes it so special. A wonderfully danced and highly luxurious production, Romeo and Juliet is sure to delight audiences.

Romeo and Juliet runs at the Royal Opera House until 11th June 2019 and will also be screened at cinemas on the 11th.

photo credit: Helen Maybanks

Monday, 21 February 2022

New Cast Announced for & Juliet


Tom Francis is to play Romeo in & Juliet, as the award-winning show today announces new cast. Tom, who starred in the recent acclaimed production of Rent, will join the company next month, in the joyous musical which won 3 Olivier Awards and 6 Whatsonstage Awards.

Julius D’Silva will also join the cast as amorous Frenchman Lance, opposite Keala Settle as Nurse. Keala - internationally renowned for her starring role in the global smash hit movie The Greatest Showman in which she performed the iconic song “This Is Me” – will be making her West End debut.

They will all join the production from Tuesday 29 March 2022 at the Shaftesbury Theatre, where the show recently extended its booking period through until Saturday 24 September 2022.

Miriam-Teak Lee – who was awarded the Olivier Award for Best Actress in 2020 for her performance as Juliet – leads a cast including Cassidy Janson, who also won an Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Anne Hathaway, Oliver Tompsett as William Shakespeare, Tim Mahendran as Francois and Alex Thomas-Smith as May.

David Bedella continues his Olivier Award-winning performance as Lance until Saturday 26 March, as does Jordan Luke Gage as Romeo and Melanie La Barrie as Nurse.

The new ensemble includes Ebony Clarke, Bessy Ewa, Collette Guitart, Cassandra Lee, Nathan Louis-Fernand, Zara MacIntosh, Carl Man, Christian Maynard, Rachel Moran, Owen Saward, Aaron Shales, Benjamin Terry and Suki Wong, who join Ivan De Freitas, Rhian Duncan, Alex Tranter, Sophie Usher and Rhys Wilkinson who continue with the show.

Romeo who?! With her bags packed and ready to escape Verona, Juliet recovers from heartbreak in the best way possible… by dancing the night away with her best friends by her side! But when the sparkle fades, the confetti falls and reality catches up, it’s clear that Juliet needs to face her past in order to find her future. Can she reclaim a story that has been written in the stars? Is there really life after Romeo… or could he be worth one more try?

Come along for the ride as the original Anne Hathaway takes on her husband William Shakespeare to remix his legendary play. As comedy meets tragedy, will Juliet get the ending she truly deserves? And most importantly, can their love survive this battle of wills?

Fabulously fresh and riotously funny, & Juliet explodes with dozens of pop anthems by legendary songwriter Max Martin, including … Baby One More Time, Since U Been Gone, Roar, It’s My Life, I Want It That Way, and Can’t Stop the Feeling! The show also includes the brand new song One More Try, written especially for the show by Max.

Brought to life by an award-winning creative team, this vibrant, colourful and timely musical is directed by Luke Sheppard (In the Heights, Rent and What’s New Pussycat?) with a story by David West Read (Netflix’s Schitt’s Creek), electrifying choreography from Jennifer Weber and stunning set design from Soutra Gilmour.

Max Martin and Tim Headington present & Juliet, which is produced by Martin Dodd, Tim Headington, Max Martin, Jenny Petersson and Theresa Steele Page.

Thursday, 21 November 2019

&Juliet, Shaftesbury Theatre | Review


&Juliet
Shaftesbury Theatre 
Reviewed on Wednesday 20th November 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★

What if Juliet didn't die? And what if the story of reclaiming her life was told through the music of Max Martin, aka the writer and producer of some of the most iconic pop music of the last two decades. Well that's &Juliet, a wild, sparkling, energetic piece of musical theatre which has burst onto the scene at the Shaftesbury Theatre.

When the cast come in with 'Larger Than Life' and 'I Want It That Way', there's certainly a moment of unsettled bafflement, but soon the numbers become part of the story and you forget Shakespeare wasn't really bopping along to 90s pop songs whilst writing his iconic tragedies. That being said, there are times where the songs feel added in for the sake of being added and don't flow particularly well but most of the time it doesn't matter because they are performed with a vigour that engages. 

David West Read's book is smartly self-aware and knows exactly when to hold back and acknowledge the pop-culture craziness that's occurring. The meta-theatrical plot works well, with us first meeting William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway as they bicker about the ending of Will's latest play, Romeo and Juliet.  Anne persuades her husband to let her do a rewrite and from here we are taken to Verona where Juliet begins her journey of self discovery and goes on an adventure to Paris with her besties. Full of puns, panto lines and pageantry, the show does teeter on the edge of being too childish at times but David's book and Max's songs marry up well with Luke Sheppard's direction to create a musical which doesn't take itself or its content too seriously. 

As the leading lady Miriam-Teak Lee brings sass in spades. Her vocals are mostly strong and she really does embody the confidence that this reimagined Juliet is full of; but whether due to the lack of character writing or limited acting in the pop-concert atmosphere, Juliet is just a bit distant. I personally didn't warm to her as a character and whilst I appreciate all this modern lady stands for, there is a distinct lack of sincerity in how she's written. However, this is not so true when Juliet and her best friend May are together. It's in these brief moments that compassion flies and we see a more realistic character in front of us. Arun Blair-Mangat is sweet and enticing as May, who discovers love and friendship. 


Oliver Tompsett is the boy-band Shakespeare of dreams, who hilariously bigs himself up and brings an instant charm to the stage. As his steely, compassionate and fizzy wife, Cassidy Janson gives a fantastic performance. Her stage presence is magnetic and I found myself wanting a spin-off purely focussed on (the only) Anne Hathaway. Jordan Luke Gage is suitably self-absorbed from the moment of his bombastic entrance and gives a great vocal performance as Romeo.

The ensemble of players are top notch, adding interest and motion throughout. Jocasta Almgill gives a stand out performance and Lady Capulet, with Dillon Scott-Lewis, Grace Mouat and Antoine Murray-Straughan really shining from the ensemble.

The whole show is exemplary of production value and there's no denying that the energy on stage could power all the theatres on Shaftesbury Avenue. Bill Sherman's lighting is concert goals; Soutra Gilmour's set is a dreamland and Andrzej Goulding's projections bring each scene to life creatively and effectively. The female empowerment, LGBT representation and romantic moments are all enjoyable and important to be seen on stage, but a significant lack of character development means you feel little empathy for the characters and at the end just don't really care. 

This is definitely a show which will be enjoyed after a prosecco or two and it doesn't try to be anything else than a fun night out. If you want theatrical integrity and a moving storyline then this isn't for you, but if you want an explicitly queer, feminist musical that's funny, entertaining and scored by songs that you grew up listening then go see it. If music be the food of love, &Juliet provides a feast that will satisfy anyone looking for a bit of fun.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Bat Out of Hell, Dominion Theatre | Review


Bat Out of Hell
Dominion Theatre
Reviewed on Thursday 4th October 2018 by Becca Cromwell
★★★★★

All Revved Up with somewhere to go, I was excited as I made my way to the Dominion Theatre to see one of my favourite musicals, Bat Out of Hell.

Bat Out of Hell is a jukebox musical based on the music made famous by the beloved Meatloaf, written by Jim Steinman. Featuring hits such as Two Out of Three Ain't Bad, Paradise by the Dashboard Light and its namesake Bat Out of Hell, it's a larger than life extravaganza, perfect for fans of Steinman/Meatloaf.

The electric Bat Out of Hell burst onto the theatre scene in early 2017 when it opened in Manchester. Since then it has been through a number of iterations, making its West End debut at the London Coliseum last summer, performing a run in Toronto and returning to London at its current home, the Dominion Theatre. The show is also set to take off on a US tour as well as other productions worldwide.

The story (or lack of) is set in Obsidian; a post-apocalyptic version of Manhattan, which has been ravaged by chemical wars. These caused a group of teens (the Lost) to become frozen at the age of 18. The main story focuses on Strat, the leader of the Lost and Raven, the daughter of Falco, the tyrannical leader of the city. The two fall in love a la Romeo and Juliet, and the rest is history. 

The plot is based on both Romeo and Juliet and Peter Pan, but the whole thing is very thin. If you go to this show wanting a proper story, you will be let down, but if you go into it for the spectacular aspects of amazing performances and unreal special effects then you'll love it.



Christina Bennington leads the stellar cast as the rebellious teen Raven, alongside Jordan Luke Gage who recently took over the role of the blond haired, blue eyed, black hearted, Strat. Both give wonderful performances and have great chemistry with one another. Like the entire company, Jordan and Christina both have exceptional vocal skill. On this particular performance, Zahara was played by Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky, who was astounding, and Ledoux was played by Sam Toland, who gave a fantastic performance. As Raven’s parents Falco and Sloane are Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton, who both give outstanding performances, and add comedic elements which are highly entertaining.

The ensemble really bring the show together with pitch perfect harmonies and notes to die for. My personal favourite part of the show is Objects In The Rearview Mirror, where the ensemble bring me to tears with their heartfelt performances.

During this performance there appeared to be some microphone issues but these were only minor and did not distract much from the fantastic performances.

From start to finish this show is a hit. The vocals are flawless and Emma Portner's choreography (as wacky as some of it is) is phenomenal. Each and every person in this show is a superstar. The lack of story is certainly made up for by the intensity and emotion with which the full cast perform.

With the show remaining in London until January 2019, and a major US tour about to begin, I thoroughly recommend Bat Out of Hell for an entertaining night out.

For tickets and information about the show, visit https://www.londonboxoffice.co.uk

photo credit: Specular


Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Bat Out of Hell, London Coliseum | Review


Bat Out of Hell
London Coliseum
Reviewed Tuesday 20th June 2017 by Olivia Mitchell

★★★

Let's make one thing clear: this show is epically crazy. Jim Steinman's rock musical is like nothing else currently on any West End stage. It feels like a rollercoaster ride where things are constantly being thrown at you from every direction: the great, the good, the bad and the ugly sides of rock music are all thrown together to create a show like no other.

The new show based on the music of Jim Steinman tells a Romeo and Juliet-esque tale mixed with Peter Pan themes and a whole lot of randomness. If you don't like out there shows then this definitely isn't for you but if you're up for a wild ride then stick around. The songs have very little relevance to the storyline and it kind of feels like an excuse to put on a massive budget concert every night but somehow they kind of fit and work in the context. Each one is performed so much energy and excitement that you can forgive them for not technically fitting in. Each song works as it's own performance instead of fitting perfectly into an overall narrative.

Bat Out of Hell is set in a sort of dystopian world where a man named Falco rules a derelict, broken city where 'The Lost', a bunch of genetic mutants who don't age past 18, live in their underground lair known as 'The Deep End'. The leader of this mutant group is  Strat who despite barely knowing her, is head over heels in love with Falco's daughter, Raven who longs to escape her boring life. One fateful night Strat visits her room and from there on we fall down the rabbit hole of craziness and things get even more mental. I did say it was crazy! Overall I would describe it as a rock retelling of Peter Pan through the eyes of someone who's had a few too many!

Whilst the writing of the show isn't stellar and there are faults with it, the cast are a talented bunch indeed, with voices that raise the roof. Andrew Polec as Strat and Christina Bennington as Raven have great chemistry, although it is particularly cheesy at times they work well together and their booming voices compliment one another very nicely. The pairs voices are stunning and goosebump inducing. Another cast member who will give you chills is Danielle Steers (Zahara) who received a gasp from the audience when she sung her first solo notes. Danielle's voice is strong and sexy and when she joins with Dom Hartley-Harris (Jagwire), especially in Act 2, they really create a magical vocal moment. 

As Raven's parents who have fallen out of love and are trying to regain their spark, Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton (Sloane) are outstanding. They are witty and suitably mental with their performance of "Paradise By The Dashboard Light" becoming it's own mini show within the show. Both their voices have the right amount of attitude and drama to command the stage and ring out above the ensemble.

Jon Bausor's set is mental, with fire balls, motorbikes and so many more surprises to always keep you on your toes. The use of screens is extremely clever, not only mimicking the screens you get at a concert but also acting as a kind of cctv camera, showing us close up action which we wouldn't normally see- it really reminded me of Robert Icke's Hamlet.

The pyrotechnics are intense but not so overdone that they become gimmicky. Emma Portner's choreography fits the weird world of the show but is a somewhat weird mix of things, conjuring up Michael Jackson "Thriller" vibes mixed with Maddie Ziegler's iconic dances for Sia. It's sharp and popping and fills the vast stage of the London Coliseum well. Patrick Woodroffee's lighting is eccentric and blinding, the exact lighting you expect from a rock concert. But as the Coliseum is smaller than an arena, the bright lights are exemplified and add to the psychedelic experience.

Now this definitely isn't a masterpiece of musical theatre but it is a jaw-dropping spectacle that really has to be seen to be believed. There are more than just moments of gold and flashes of light- it's an extravangaza for the eyes and ears which will definitely leave you feeling something?!

Bat Out of Hell runs at the London Coliseum until 22nd August 2017.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Bat Out of Hell, Dominion Theatre | Review


Bat Out of Hell
Dominion Theatre 
Reviewed on Thursday 19th April 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★★

Bat is well and truly back and at home in its new space: The Dominion Theatre. When I first saw this show back at it's press night at the Coliseum I wasn't the biggest fan. The performances were outstanding but the book itself really let it down. This time however, I knew what to expect so was ready for a carefree night of relaxed, rocking fun. Obviously the story is still the same (although this time around did feel less cheesy) but if you can overlook its short-fallings you are destined to have an electric night. The show has matured a lot and it's evident that work is continually being done to make it the best show it can be. 

Jim Steinman's rock musical is an electrifying roller-coaster of drama, lights, confetti, and so much more. Everything is thrown together to create a show that's refreshing and really like nothing else currently in the West End. This show is a Romeo and Juliet-esque retelling of Peter Pan. With Strat, the leader of The Lost who's frozen at aged 18, falling in love with Raven, the girl whose dad is the tyrannical ruler of Obsidian and doesn't want her leaving the house, let alone mixing with The Lost. Bat Out of Hell is a wild ride from the opening moment to the final bows.

It's not a stretch to say that the cast of this show are potentially the most talented currently on the West End. There is not a weak link throughout, with every member not only committing themselves fully to the show and looking as though they're truly loving it, but showcasing their outstanding vocals and performing with enough vigour to make us feel as though we're at a rock concert. 

A search call might need to be put out for the roof of the Dominion because Andrew Polec and Christina Bennington's voices completely blew it off last night. The two bounce off each other as if they're electrical currents and their ridiculously powerful voices compliment each other beautifully. Whilst their characters are very archetypal of rebelling teens, they also showcase needs and desires of being a young adult. Raven comes across as an aggressively whiney/needy character which although somewhat grating, is also a wonderful portrayal of what being an 18 year old is like. The constant desire to rebel but remain loved is something which we can all relate to growing up. Strat is larger than life and crazy but completely draws you into his world. The pair are receiving high praise for Bat Out of Hell and I doubt it's the only show they'll be applauded for in the future- they're definitely ones to watch!


Also vocally outstanding is Danielle Steers who once again received an audible gasp from the audience when she sung her first notes of Two Out of Three Ain't Bad. Her voice is sexy, strong and oh-so-powerful; when she joins forces with Wayne Robinson (Jagwire) they create vocal bliss as well as working with each other wonderfully.

As Raven's parents who are fighting to regain their spark, Sharon Sexton (Sloane) and Rob Fowler (Falco) are fantastic. Again they have voices to die for and are suitably wacky in their roles. The duets are stellar and they work fantastically as a pair to complement each other rather than over powering one another. Each of the leads truly command the stage but the ensemble also get a chance to shine, especially during Objects in the Rearview Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are. Mention must go to Giovanni Spano, Jonathan Cordin, Emily Benjamin and Charlotte Anne Steen who really caught my eye throughout. 

If you were to search for the definition of Energetic,  I wouldn't be surprised if the cast of Bat Out of Hell popped up. Every ensemble moment is full-out and it's amazing how many intricate details are woven in. This is one of those shows that you need to see several times just to pick up every detail; there's action on every inch of space. The innovative use of live-camerawork throughout the show helps pick up these details very cleverly. The screens on either side of the stage and the use of vast projections allows the large space of the Dominion theatre to feel intimate whilst also adding to the futuristic, always being watched, vibe of the show. Jon Bausor has done a wonderful job creating this set and all the surprises included in it. 


Patrick Woodroffee's lighting is blinding and is just what you'd expect and need in a show like this, whilst Emma Portner's choreography is suitably strange and futuristic, with the sharp movements adding to the frenetic energy on stage. 

Everything about Bat Out of Hell is extra and excessive but that's the charm and appeal of it. The story isn't the focus; instead, we get to hear Jim Steinman's rousing music and see it performed with a vigour and drive that seems unattainable for 8 shows a week. What's special is that the cast do attain it and give 110% every show. If you like energetic, fast paced shows then For Crying Out Loud go and see Bat Out of Hell. Below all the lights and drama this is a show about love. From the audience reaction and instantaneous standing ovation when the last note was played, it's clear that a lot of people love this show. I am definitely a Bat convert and thoroughly recommend you see and EXPERIENCE this show for yourself.

Bat Out of Hell runs at the Dominion Theatre until 27th October 2018

photo credit: Specular

Thursday, 22 August 2019

West Side Story, Sydney Opera House | Review


West Side Story 
Sydney Opera House 
Reviewed on Tuesday 20th August 2019 by Jamie & Emily 
★★★★★

West Side Story- an explosion of colour and culture clashes and immerses all your senses as one of the most iconic musicals takes over the iconic Sydney Opera House. This heart wrenching tale of lovers from two sides is a rollercoaster journey, taking its audience through every emotion. 

Director Joey McKneely has created an enthralling show. A set (Paul Gallis) you would think impossible with three moveable tiers, takes you around New York and you are truly immersed and transported.The choreography (Joey McKneely) is on point as it whisks and whirls around the stage; complimented by the fabulous costumes, and fantastically virtuosic playing from the Opera Australia Orchestra, a winning combination is created. Plus, what more could you ask for when listening to Bernstein's glorious score, than the brilliant acoustics of the Sydney Opera House?!

Maria and Tony take you on an emotional journey as the Romeo and Juliet story is transported to New York. The suspense of the rumble between the Jets and the Sharks keeps you on the edge of your seat with the first act leaving the audience in a state of shock, yet wanting more. The scene is set for the darker second act. 


Tony (Daniel Assetta) is a particular stand out, his powerful tenor voice blows the audience away with each, perfectly controlled note and emotion portrayed. Just when you think the performance can’t get any better the duets between Tony and Maria (Sophie Salvesani) and the harmony they achieve blows you away. Their talent is like no other as the complement each other and soar together faultlessly.

All round, this production of West Side Story is full of multi talented individuals singing and moving around the stage with ease and power in this enthralling stage production.

The uniformly strong cast give impeccable and energetic performances with vibrant dancing, fantastic vocals and a dramatic plot.  You'll leave the Opera House singing every song, and certainly won't forget this theatrical experience. What a great alternative to the usual evening of Netflix!

West Side Story runs at the Sydney Opera House until 6th October 2019

photo credit: Jeff Busby

Thursday, 12 April 2018

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

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



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

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


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



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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

Interview by Editor, Olivia Mitchell

photo credit: Matt Crockett



Monday, 4 May 2020

Theatre You Can Stream For FREE

With no end in sight to this lockdown, the boredom may be setting in for a lot of people so I thought I'd make a little round up of some FREE theatre you can watch from your home. Now some of these do rely on you having a Netflix, Disney+ and/or Amazon Prime account but I assume most people do! There are also some no subscription shows at the end. If you have a show you'd like to be included in this list, feel free to email rewritethisstory@outlook.com


Netflix has a whole host of binge-worthy films and series, with a great selection of musicals including:

The Wizard of Oz: A young farm girl Dorothy (Judy Garland) and her dog Toto are whisked away from their Kansas home in a tornado to the magical land of Oz. A complete classic, with whimsy to take you away and a load of tunes to sing along to.

Burlesque: Ali (Christina Aguilera) is a singer who moves to LA in hopes of achieving her dreams. After getting a job at a burlesque lounge, Ali performs there nightly and helps the lounge's owner (Cher) restore the club to its original glory. It's a film of absolute boppage with two musical queens.

La La Land: While navigating their careers in Los Angeles, a pianist (Ryan Gosling) and an actress (Emma Stone) fall in love. As they start to experience professional success, they struggle in their relationship and have to decide between love and doing what they love.

Opening Night: A failed Broadway singer who now works as a production manager must save opening night on his new production by wrangling his eccentric cast and crew. Starring Lesli Margherita and Taye Diggs.


West Side StoryRomeo and Juliet told through the street gangs of New York City — The Sharks and The Jets. When Tony (Richard Beymer), a Jet, falls in love with Maria (Natalie Wood), a Shark, drama ensues as the gangs fight one another and Tony and Maria fight for their love.

Crazy Ex Girlfriend: Rebecca Bunch, a New York City real-estate lawyer abandons her job and her life in an attempt to find happiness in the unlikely locale of West Covina, California. It's hilarious and heart-warming and the music (by Rachel Bloom) is completely genius.


Disney+ there are of course all the live action movies on here as well as the classic Disney films such as Annie, The Sound of Music, Frozen etc... but here are a few other things you may have missed/not gotten round to yet:

High School Musical: The Musical: The Series: If you haven't watched this, you'll probably think it's rubbish but it's actually really entertaining and has some great songs. The main plot point is that the school where the HSM  movie was filmed are putting on their own production of the musical, but amongst that there's teen romance, rivalries and over the top musical numbers.

Newsies: Based on the real-life Newsboy Strike of 1899, this musical tells the story of Jack Kelly (Jeremy Jordan), a rebellious newsboy who dreams of a life as an artist away from the big city. After publishing giant Joseph Pulitzer raises newspaper prices at the newsboys' expense, Kelly and his fellow newsies take action. The dancing, the choreo, the cast- it's all exceptional and worth a watch purely just for Jezza singing Santa Fe!

Encore!: Hosted by Kristen Bell, this series takes adults back to high school to revive the musicals they were a part of in their youth. There's a great selection of musicals included from Godspell to The Sound of Music and it's lovely to see theatre kids who have all taken different directions in life reunite through a shared love.


Amazon Prime has a few more rogue theatrical selections as well as some great documentaries; some of my favourites are:

Once 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 Last Five Years: This show chronicles the lives of a struggling actress (Anna Kendrick) and a successful writer (Jeremy Jordan) as they journey through their ultimately doomed relationship. Told from two perspectives, this is just a beautiful piece of theatre.



Wild Rose: Fresh out of prison, a Scottish woman  (Jessie Buckley) juggles her job and two children while pursuing her dream of becoming a country music star. She soon gets her chance when she travels to Nashville, on a life-changing journey to discover her true voice. Featuring both original music and covers, this is a lovely, lovely film.

Jesus Christ Superstar: Based on Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice's musical, JCS recounts the last days of Jesus Christ (Ted Neeley) from the perspective of Judas Iscariot (Carl Anderson), his betrayer.

Hamilton: One Shot to Broadway: If you're a Hamilton fan this is a must watch. It looks at how the hit musical came to be and features snippets of the show as well as interviews and archive footage.


Aside from what's available on these regular streaming platforms, the brilliant creatives from the world of theatre have put together some amazing online resources:

National Theatre at Home: Each week the National Theatre are streaming plays from their archives on YouTube. Each show stays up for 7 days and there's a whole variety of genres. This week's stream is Frankenstein with Anthony and Cleopatra going live on Thursday and more to be announced. Check out the channel here

Ghost Quartet: If you missed the recent revival of Dave Malloy's show at the Boulevard Theatre, you can now watch the original production here

Signal: A series that presents new artist driven musical theatre has released a complete playlist of songs presented over the past two years. Available here

The Show Must Go Online: Each Friday Andrew Lloyd Webber is sharing one of his musicals, available here

21 Chump Street: Lin Manuel Miranda's lovely 15 minute musical is available to stream now. Telling the true story of an agent who went undercover in a school to reveal students who were dealing drugs. For a short musical, this fits so much in and the performances from Anthony Ramos and Lindsay Mendez are outstanding.


Cirque Du Soleil 60-Minute Specials: The iconic troupe are releasing regular hour long special's of their spectacular shows which can be viewed here

Southwark Playhouse have introduced the Southwark Stayhouse with three of their previous productions, including the tale of the Bronte sisters, Wasted. Find them all here

The Royal Opera House #FromOurHouseToYourHouse: The Royal Opera House are releasing lots of their archive shows, including La Traviata. Find them all here

The Shows Must Go On!: Weekly readings of Shakespeare's plays, performed by stellar actors take place on YouTube

Only The Brave: Telling the story of a group of soldiers in the run up to the D-Day landings, the hit musical starring Caroline Sheen and David Thaxton is available to view here



Myth: The Rise and Fall of Orpheus: Filmed live at The Other Palace in March 2018, this belt-fest of a musical is available to watch here

Eugenius! Towards the start of lockdown, team Eugenius! released their show which was filmed during its run at The Other Palace and the show is still available to stream now.