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

Sunday, 20 January 2019

The Prom, Longacre Theatre | Review

The Prom
Longacre Theatre
Reviewed on Friday 11th January 2019 by Olivia Mitchell

Directed and choreographed by Casey Nicholaw, The Prom provides pure elation mixed with comedy so expertly that you can't fail to leave with a beaming smile on your face. The uniformly excellent cast excel at bringing their individual storylines to life but never fail to lose the heartwarming core of the show.

Creative team Chad Beguelin (book, lyrics), Bob Martin (book) and Matthew Skylar (music) have created a new, fresh musical which pokes fun at everyone equally and tackles issues which are so relevant for a lot of people. What makes it so entertaining is that fact that it's every theatre fans dream (or at least mine); problems are solved with songs and dances as a group of Broadway stars are there to safe the day, fight homophobia and bring love to all.

As the girls banned from going to the school prom together, Caitlin Kinnunen (Emma) and Isabelle McCalla (Alyssa) give warm and youthful performances which make you root for the pair and for their love to flourish. Christopher Sieber as Trent Oliver, Brooks Ashmanskas as Barry Glickman, Beth Leavel as Dee Dee Allen and Angie Schworer as Angie are refreshingly funny and spirited enough to be better and do better for themselves but more importantly, those around them. The fearless four are bold and brilliant, with performances that will be remembered forever and are surely set to be highly recognised in the awards circle. Josh Lamon and Michael Potts also give exceptionally strong and well grounded performances as Sheldon and Mr. Hawkins.

Scott Pask's scenic design is sleek and colourful and feels extremely realistic as it brings small town Indiana to life. Emma's room, full of posters and trinkets looks like a real teen's room ad helps to ground this larger than life piece of theatre. Despite sometimes feeling a little tacky and weirdly placed in time, Ann Roth and Matthew Pachtman's costumes fit well with the vibe of the show.

It's amazing to see a show on a mainstream Broadway stage that is so important for such a large group of people and really feels like a celebration of everyone that feels remotely 'different'. The Longacre Theatre has become a hub of joy, with every song providing a surplus of equality and elation. The Prom inspires us to thrive to be better and shows how small actions can have a lasting, positive effect on the world. Go see it. 

photo credit: Dori Berinstein

Thursday, 9 September 2021

Waitress, New Wimbledon Theatre | Review

Waitress (UK Tour) 
New Wimbledon Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 7th September by Hope Priddle

On the menu at Wimbledon Theatre this week, Waitress the Musical follows Jenna Hunterson (Lucie Jones)an aspiring baker who, with the support of her colleagues and dreamy gynecologist, imagines an escape from her provincial life and unhappy marriage. Based on the 2007 film by the late Adrienne Shelly, Waitress is a bittersweet story of friendship, love and finding yourselfwith (nearly) all the ingredients for a tasty theatrical treat.


Music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles add flavour and spice to this quaint story; her playful, folk-pop score is full of frolicking motifs, followed by some gorgeous reflective numbers. They accompany book by Jessie Nelson which is delightfully witty and whimsical throughout, but sometimes suffers from its more casual tone. 


We are introduced to a collective of characters who are wholly endearing yet undeniably flawed, and it is refreshing to spend time with such imperfect and compromised characters. However, their poor choices often lack consequence and the stakes never quite feel high enough. Likewise, the shows treatment of domestic violence is lacking. Her abusive marriage to tip-stealing husband Earl - played by Tamlyn Hendersonwho nonetheless deftly balances the fine line between comedic stock villain and insidious manipulator - is explored in a just a few short scenes which are uncomfortably inserted into the narrative. Though pitched as a feminist drama, any moral message is half baked.


Jones steals our heart as weary waitress Jenna, giving a sensitive and nuanced performance which perfectly reflects the heartache, anguish and disappointment of our begrudgingly pregnant protagonist. Her buttery vocals are rich and controlled; her control and clarity unsurpassed. Jones’ soaring rendition of She Used To Be Mine across a silent auditorium scored a well-deserved mid-show ovation.


Jenna’s colleagues are equally well cast. Evelyn Hoskins is totally loveable as the adorably anxious Dawn, whose slow burning affection and excitement for new beau Ogie, brought to life with a welcome touch of innocence and youthfulness by George Crawford, is joyous to watch. Sandra Marvin similarly packs a punch as the feisty, lively yet loyal Becky. 


The duo provides comfort and advice to the expectant mother as she cautiously begins to imagine a new life for herself and her baby. Waitress offers such a lovely, intimate insight into female friendship, and it is in these quieter moments that the show really lands. As Dr Pomatter, Jenna’s forbidden love interest, Matt Willis proves himself to be a highly capable actor, capturing the character’s goofy and bumbling demeanour with ease. It is just a shame that his slightly nasally vocals are lost in his duets with Jones.


Lorin Latarro’s choreography is inspired, with instructive and empathetic gesturing by the ensemble used to cleverly mirror the movements of the lead characters. As Jenna goes into labour during Contraction Balletfemale quartet pulsate and swell perfectly in time. The ensemble is so in sync throughout and are truly mesmerising to watch.


Latarro’s routines are complemented by tastefully restrained lighting design (Ken Billington) that features but a series of coloured spotlights. Likewise, both set (Scott Pask) and costume (Suttirat Anne Larlarbare simplistic, if not a tad twee, but offer a sense of familiarity and warmth which gives the show heart. final special mention must go to on-stage band that seamlessly integrate themselves into the diner landscape – you wonder if their music is meant to be diegetic given how often we see into Jenna’s mind as she creates her fantastical pies.  


Waitress isn’t perfect, but it most certainly serves the audience with a little slice of happiness pie. Surely they’ll be coming back for second helpings?

Photo credit: Johan Persson

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Mean Girls, August Wilson Theatre | Review

Mean Girls
August Wilson Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 19th September by Olivia Mitchell

It lives up to the hype. It truly lives up to the hype.

Mean Girls follows Cady Heron, who moves from the wilds of Africa to the wilds of suburban America, where instead of facing lions, malnutrition and loneliness, she faces boy drama, social issues and the struggle to stay true to herself. Shortly after joining North Shore High School, Cady is shown the various cliques that inhibit the halls. When the most popular girls at school, The Plastics, invite her to join their group, her real friends see it as a perfect way for her to go undercover and infiltrate the cool kids who rule the school.

The musical is based on the 2004 movie of the same name, written by Tina Fey who adapted her own work from screen to stage. The music is by composer of various television songs and Tina's husband, Jeff Richmond, lyrics are by Nell Benjamin who also wrote for other hit screen to stage musical, Legally Blonde. This is a super high energy musical which is perfect for all audience types (although perhaps a little mature younger children).

There are mixtures of sounds and styles which makes this musical feel very fresh in the current theatre climate. There's pop, contemporary musical theatre, soft-rock, classic musical theatre and so much more which brings the show right up to date and keeps the audience on their toes. Each character has it's own musical feel which fits perfectly; Regina for example has slow, drawn out music which keeps us all in her web of power, whilst Gretchen has to sing everything quickly so as not to be cut off by Regina and Cady's songs are all very Disney-esque and flouncy. The songs of Mean Girls are sure to become regulars in rep folders, karaoke essentials and just earworms in general. 

Ashley Park as Gretchen Wieners is so solid and provides a masterclass in committing to your character and putting the work in to make you believe every moment. She is hilarious and vocally stunning as Gretchen but the way she embodies the character is truly what makes the performance special. Kate Rockwell is dippy to perfection as the iconic Karen Smith and she really shines during Sexy which has the audience howling. Jennifer Simard is hilarious and versatile as Mrs Heron/Ms Norbury/Mrs George. Her voice is outstanding and she again brings the memorable moments of the film to life but puts her own spin on them. 

At this performance, Cady Heron was played by understudy, Becca Petersen who is wonderful in the role both vocally and acting wise. Compared to the film, I felt much more sympathy for Cady and due to her kindness and innocence, found her a much more likeable character. Her being drawn to the allure of popularity feels natural although we still see the awful way she abandons her true friends.

Barrett Wilbert Weed as Janis is outstanding. From the first moment of Cautionary Tale she is completely natural in the role and it feels as though the real Janis has been plucked out of Illinois and placed on the August Wilson stage. Her best friend, partner is crime, Damien is played superbly by Grey Henson who is comedy on feet and it feels as though it was written in the stars that he would play the role.

The stand out of the show has to be Taylor Louderman who is everything and more as the head Plastic, Regina George. Her voice soars so effortlessly that it's like she's being auto-tuned in front of our eyes. Again, the way Taylor embodies Regina is mesmerising to watch and she is so spot on with every aspect of her performance. Someone Gets Hurt and World Burn are two of the best theatrical moments I've ever experienced.

Technically this show is sensational. The sets by Scott Pask are super simplistic but work well in a jenga-like way to transport us to the few locations of the show; with the screens not only bringing the show into the digital age, but providing constant stimulation for the audience. Modernity is also brought through Gregg Barnes' costumes which are intimately thought out. The Plastics of course, are dressed like they're constantly at an afternoon tea but the rest of the cast look like real, current students. So often with shows set in High Schools, the costumes are unrealistic or even outdated; the playbill states the the show takes place in "The Present" so it will be interesting to see whether the costumes change over time to fit with trends or whether the show becomes synonymous with 2018. Small details such as  the theatre 'geeks' wearing actual show merch and Janis letting her hair grow out (perhaps symbolising her desire to avoid conformity), make the show feel truthful and grounded.

Tina Fey's book brings all our favourite moments from the Mean Girls film to life but the addition of new witty one liners and more character development means nothing feels recycled. Mean Girls is fresh and funny as well as having a strong moral heart which highlights bullying and acceptance. If you want a grool night out, get yourself along to the August Wilson theatre... and for us in the UK, lets start a stagey prayer circle for a West End transfer!

photo credit: Joan Marcus

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Waitress, Adelphi Theatre | Review

Adelphi Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 17th June 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 

Sara Bareilles' cherry sweet musical follows Jenna as she bakes her feelings into pies. In an abusive relationship and expecting a child she is not excited about, we follow Jenna as she journeys through life and has some unexpected experiences.  

Three new cast members have joined the diner to form the second West End cast. They are Lucie Jones as Jenna, Ashley Roberts as Dawn and Blake Harrison as Ogie. Despite lacking vocal strength, breath control and diction at times, Ashley Roberts grew into the role of Dawn throughout the performance and as her limited run continues, she will surely relax more and bring the quirky character to life in a genuine, witty and entertaining way. Currently she feels somewhat as if she's overacting and is often flat or reaching for the notes in both her solo and group numbers and certainly lacks the finesse expected in the West End, but hopefully this will be rectified and she will prove a good star cast choice. Her partner, played by fellow newcomer Blake Harrison is supremely funny one hundred percent of the time. Again his vocals are ever so slightly lacking, but as the nerves fade, so will the faults. Harrison is a hugely entertaining performer and a pleasant surprise in this sweet show. 

As leading lady Jenna, Lucie Jones is second to none. Her impeccable interpretation of the character is charming, sincere, humourous and heartbreaking at once. Each small facial expression and movement is filled with a thousand words; and alongside Lucie's phenomenal, clear-as-glass voice, the performance is mesmerising. The vulnerability of Jenna is brought to life in a nuanced but completely effective way by Jones, with her rendition of She Used To Be Mine not only breaking hearts, but bringing the audience to their feet mid show. 

Michael Hamway (swing) embodies the erratic but charming Dr Pomatter admirably, as well as bringing some stellar vocals to the stage. You Matter To Me was performed with heartbreaking sincerity by Jones and Hamway. Marisha Wallace continues to bring sass, sass and more sass to the stage, as well as powerhouse vocals, lively one-liners and delicate moments with Jenna. Take it From an Old Man is a welcome moment of calm and simplicity performed by diner regular, Old Joe, played by Shaun Prendergast

The villain of the show, and highly flawed character Earl is played with menace by Peter Hannah. Whilst the moments of physical anger are jarring, it's the brief moments of emotional blackmail which really strike the audience. Hannah manages to capture both tormenting sides of Earl, in a spectacularly well-constructed and controlled way. The character is vile but Peter must be applauded for performing him so well and truthfully. 

Nurse Norma is a highly amusing character who pops up throughout the show to deliver brilliant one-liners. Brought to life by Kelly Agbowu she is an especially memorable character and manages to gain numerous laughs in the stage time she has. Charlotte Riby also puts a smaller character in the forefront of our minds with her honest performance as Jenna's mum who faced many similar struggles as well as teaching her daughter all she knows about baking. Jones and Riby have a chemistry which is visible even from their brief moments together and it's lovely to see.

Scott Pask's set and Lorin Latarro's choreography are particularly effective with the sets and ensemble often moving as one to create a fluidity throughout. Equally as impressive is the way the stage transforms to mirror the moods of leading lady Jenna. The home shared by Jenna and her abusive husband is surrounded by darkness and is much smaller than each of the other settings so physically emphasises how trapped Jenna feels, and is. When she begins to rediscover her spark, the space expands in a moment of relief and theatrical wonder. 

Whilst a lot of the morals and motivations in this musical are morally ambiguous and there is a lack of resolution, there's no denying that it's a sweet treat filled with musical delights and sugary performances. Sara Bareilles' score is a delightful listen and the mostly strong cast do a wonderful job of bringing it to life and showing that there is always light and support at the end of the tunnel.

Waitress is currently booking at the Adelphi Theatre until December 7th 2018, tickets can be booked at

photo credit: Johan Persson

Monday, 14 February 2022

Waitress (Tour), New Victoria Theatre | Review

Waitress (Tour)
New Victoria Theatre
Reviewed on Monday 14th February 2022

The dish of the day at the New Victoria Theatre this Valentines day is Waitress the Musical which follows Jenna Hunterson (Chelsea Halfpenny) an aspiring baker who wants nothing more than to escape her life and unhappy marriage. With the help of her colleagues and new gynaecologist, her dreams start to become possible as she bakes herself a new life. It's a heartwarming tale of romantic and platonic love, that is a sweet treat indeed.

Based on the film of the same name written by Adrienne Shelly, the stage version adds the extra ingredient of Sara Bareilles' score. Memorable, folky songs are a joy to watch and feature a number of gorgeous motifs which appear throughout. There is a great mixture of humourous numbers, as well as more emotional, reflective ones. The book by Jessie Nelson is dotted with wit and whimsy but occasionally feels a little underdeveloped with some moral ambiguity that is never resolved.

As leading lady, Chelsea Halfpenny is an utter delight in the role of Jenna. Vocally she is faultless and gives a beautifully nuanced performance full of charm and warmth. Her comedic timing is wonderful and she also brings Jenna's vulnerable side to life truthfully. 

As her friends, Becky and Dawn, Sandra Marvin and Evelyn Hoskins are marvellous. Evelyn is completely adorable as Dawn, bringing the house down with her laughs and her completely frenetic performance that oozes humour. As her partner in crime, Ogie, George Crawford is completely stellar. His comedy chops completely shine and are matched by his great vocals.

As Dr Pomatter, Jenna's gynaecologist and love interest, Nathanael Landskroner is brilliantly bumbling. His chemistry with Chelsea is glorious to watch and he also matches her perfectly in terms of vocals and they really complement one another. The ensemble also work together like a well-oiled machine.

Just like the ensemble, Scott Pask's set and Lorin Latarro's fine-tuned choreography work seamlessly together. They are not only incredibly in sync with the whole show but are also greatly reflective of the story and emotions; with the set literally coming to life and expanding as Jenna finds herself. 

Waitress is an intimate show which transfers wonderfully for touring venues. Despite its faults, it's almost baked to perfection. Excellent performances and major whimsy make it a stagey slice of sweetness that's well worth seeing. 

Waitress plays at the New Victoria Theatre until 19th February 2022 and then continues its tour

photo credit: Johan Persson