Showing posts sorted by date for query Sheridan Smith. Sort by relevance Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by date for query Sheridan Smith. Sort by relevance Show all posts

Thursday 2 March 2023

Shirley Valentine, Duke of York's Theatre | Review

Shirley Valentine
Duke of York's Theatre

From the audience at the Duke of York's Theatre, it's clear that Shirley Valentine is a much loved story and after seeing Sheridan Smith's performance, I think it's only going to receive further love and praise. The one woman show follows disillusioned mother and wife Shirley as she reminisces on her "unused life" and wonders how she can really find herself and her happiness again. The show is a glorious manifesto on being a woman and is so incredibly moving in all the best ways. It celebrates the small things and highlights hardships so many people go through in such a seamless and engaging way. You truly couldn't ask for more.

Sheridan Smith has had many star turns in her career and is a hugely celebrated actress for good reason and this production completely hammers that home. Smith is completely born for this role, giving into it and making the audience feel like she's truly lived the life she talks about; and also making the audience feel like they've lived it with her. There's no way to not sound overly gushy, because Sheridan is just that good; her performance is an absolute dream and truly couldn't be better.

Watching this show, it's quite amazing to realise that, without being condescending, it was written by a man. Willy Russell has completely nailed the female spirit and the entire script feels incredibly natural. For a show written over thirty years ago, it remains as fresh and sadly relevant as ever.

Paul Wills' set is completely fitting for the story and allows the story to shine, almost becoming a character of its own, especially given the personification of the kitchen wall. The simplistic staging works perfectly as does the gorgeous lighting design from Lucy Carter. Understated lighting changes parallel the emotions Shirley is feeling and work well to really emphasise the most emotive moments.

What's so wonderful about this show, and I'm sure why it resonates with so many, is that it's all about a normal person. There's no larger than life drama or swooping romantic relationships, instead there's a genuine character discussing real life issues. In a way it's sad that so many can relate to Shirley's feelings but hopefully this show will help people realise that they are not alone and that your life, however small it may feel, is a glorious, stage worthy one too! 

Under Matthew Dunster's excellent direction, with Sheridan Smith at her absolute best, this is perhaps one of the most grounded and well performed productions in the West End and I just wish everyone could see it. Stunning, stunning work.

Photo Credit: John Wilson
Reviewed on Saturday 25th February 2023 by Olivia Mitchell

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

Friday 16 February 2018

Cilla (UK Tour), New Theatre Oxford | Review

Cilla: The Musical (UK Tour) 
New Theatre Oxford 
Reviewed on Tuesday February 13th 2018 by Donna Meredith

Having recently watching the TV miniseries, starring Sheridan Smith, that charted Cilla Black's epic rise to fame, beginning with her early job as a typist and continuing through key moments, including her friendship with The Beatles, I was intrigued to see how this rags to riches story would translate to the stage.

Arriving for the opening night at the New Theatre, Oxford I could not help but notice that most of the audience were of an age to have been fans of Cilla at the height of her musical career. My experience of this inimitable redhead was as a warm and natural TV presenter in the 80’s and 90’s of shows such as Blind Date and Surprise Surprise.

I need not have worried about being unfamiliar with Cilla’s music as from the opening number I was hooked on what I can only describe as a real soundtrack to the sixties. Music from The Beatles, The Mamas and the Papas and Gerry and the Pacemakers took us back to a time when music was changing the consciousness of young people. I found myself completely immersed in this spectacular showcase.  

Kara Lily Hayworth delivered a truly standout performance, particularly with her rendition of Anyone Who Had A Heart, which closed Act One in spectacular style, almost moving me almost to tears. Kara was discovered at an open audition where she queued for four hours to be seen and I for one am glad she did!

The show is built not just around the songs but also the personal life of Cilla, portraying her fiercely ambitious streak and her relationship with the man who inevitably married her and managed her career, Bobby Willis - played superbly by Carl Au. We get an insight into an enduring love story between Cilla and her Bobby which truly warms the heart. 

The religious divide of the time between protestant and Catholic faiths is dealt with sensitively whilst not shying away from the prejudices that were clearly apparent not least in Bobby’s estrangement from his father due to his inability to accept his relationship with Cilla.

Bobby’s struggle to come to terms with his own musical ambitions and his decision to eventually put his own aspirations on hold to support Cilla’s career are perhaps the truest insight into this story of ultimate true love.

Another notable performance is that of Andrew Lancel who plays the complex character of Brian Epstein. He sensitively portrays the underlying sadness of the character who whilst achieving unparalleled success battled demons that eventually consumed him.

A mention must also go to the stage sets and lighting which perfectly evoke the club scenes of the time, the recording studios and the Merseyside backdrop of this timeless tale.

This story of the girl next door who did good, against the backdrop of music that truly stands the test of time, will warm your heart, make you smile, and ultimately leave you sad that we have lost a real “one off” in Cilla. Just two years since her passing I was left feeling that she would be proud of this epic celebration of her life. 

Ta-ra Chuck !

photo credit: Matt Martin

Wednesday 20 April 2016

Funny Girl, Savoy Theatre | Review

I didn't properly comprehend that I was seeing Funny Girl until I was sat in the theatre. Funny Girl is such a pinnacle of Musical Theatre for me, I grew up watching Barbra Streisand perform the iconic role my whole childhood so it felt like a dream finally seeing Mr Arnstein, Fanny and the Ziegfeld girls in real life... well real life on stage but you know what I mean!