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

Friday 21 April 2023

Ain't Too Proud at the Prince Edward Theatre review: A tumultuous tale told through stellar performances

Ain't Too Proud
Prince Edward Theatre

A hit on Broadway, Ain't Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations, has finally opened in the West End and is a thoroughly entertaining, charismatic and soulful journey. The musical, with a book by Dominique Morisseau is a breathtaking celebration of the legendary Motown group, The Temptations, and their iconic music. Taking you on a journey through the highs and lows of stardom, it showcases how some of the most famous music was created and provides a really really fun night out.

The heart and soul of this musical are the performances which are unanimously nothing short of spectacular. The cast deliver powerhouse vocals that charm and mesmerise throughout and there are so many standout moments. The whole cast are spectacularly strong but mention must go to Cameron Bernard Jones, Tosh Wanogho-Maud, Ryan Carter and Michael James Stewart who really shine in their solo and ensemble moments. Each member who becomes part of The Temptations, does so with a real sense of nuance and the varying personalities and talents are showcased throughout; really capturing the essence and ethos of the original group.

Above all this is an ensemble piece, with some of the strongest moments coming when the cast unite both vocally and choreographically. Sergio Trujillo's choreography is some of the best in the West End right now, the sheer slickness and precision is a wonder to behold and the energy created on stage is supremely infectious. Featuring iconic hits like My Girl, Papa Was a Rolling Stone, and Ain't Too Proud to Beg, the show is a top-tapping fest of gusto and spirit.

The storytelling is mostly compelling, and the narrative (led by Sifiso Mazibuko) is engaging from the start. Spanning the long and tumultuous history of The Temptations, from their humble beginnings to their rise to stardom the show has a lot to fit in, and especially in the first act it feels a bit too much. Whilst every performance is engaging, it does feel a little too long and seems to keep going even when there's a natural break point. However, the story is a poignant and emotional one that delves into the personal struggles, triumphs, and dynamics of the group and includes some powerful messages. Alongside the musical elements, the show touches on themes of friendship and brotherhood, as well as shedding light on the social and political challenges faced by The Temptations and African American artists during that era. A poignant reminder of their impact on American music history and the enduring legacy they left behind, Ain't Too Proud is a strong celebration of The Temptations.

Ain't Too Proud is a wonderful addition to the West End that features dazzling production value, and timeless music. A celebration of The Temptations and their impact on Motown, it will leave you humming their hits long after the curtain falls. 

Reviewed on Wednesday 19th April 2023 by Olivia Mitchell
photo credit: Johan Persson

{AD PR Invite- tickets gifted in exchange for honest review}

Wednesday 14 August 2019

Refresh (Concert), Spiegeltent | Review

Refresh (Concert)
Reviewed on Tuesday 13th July 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 

Refresh is a fantastically exciting cabaret series created by Ryan Carter. The idea is that a cast of talented, fresh west end performers, bring a set list to life that features re-worked versions of many well know musical songs.The concerts are designed to celebrate musical theatre and entertain fans of the genre, but also to provide a gateway experience for those less knowledgable or invested in it. After a selection of concerts, Refresh is taking a short residency at the Underbelly festival to captivate audiences in the intimate Spiegeltent setting.

The set features an eclectic and wholly enjoyable series of songs. From the beautifully haunting Kiss The Air by Scott Alan, to the Hamilton classic You'll Be Back, there's certainly something for everyone. The joy of Refresh is that even if a song is not your favourite originally, the inventive re-imaginings will have you seeing and hearing it in a new way. Highlights of Jo Noel-Hartley and Ryan Carter's arranging, include It Won't Be Long Now, My Favourite Things and the thrilling Rewind mash-up of the history of musical theatre.

The cast is made up of vocal powerhouses: Sam Carlyle, Kayla Carter, LinnĂ©a Didrick, Ben Farrall, Adam Gillian, Abbi Hodgson, Charlotte Miranda Smith, Baker Mukasa and William Lloyd. Each performer brings something beautiful to the stage and even more magic is created when the team come together for their group pieces. The rapport between the cast is highly entertaining and it's clear that everyone's hearts are really into making Refresh as sleek and absorbing as it is. Stand out performances include the quartet rendition of Kiss The Air, Abbi Hodgson's There Once Was a Man, and the rousing opening Do You Hear The People Sing? The musicality and versatility of each performer is evident and it's fantastic to hear vocalists in a raw but professional and high quality performance. 

Mention must go to the brilliant lighting design which continually adds to the varying moods of the songs, as well as providing visual treats on its own, and making the experience more visceral. Ryan Carter's design of the graphics and videos which accompany must equally be applauded as they are lively, vibrant and entertaining, and also embody the ethos of Refresh as a whole.

For a night of musical theatre that is different to what you'd expect, pay a visit to see the Refresh gang. Not only are the performers fantastic, but the whole philosophy of the group is something which should be applauded and championed. It should also be noted that following Papa Can You Hear Me? my mum whispered "Babs would be proud" which is high praise indeed and a definite reason to experience these outstanding revitalised performances.

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.