Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Stephen Schwartz. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Stephen Schwartz. Sort by date Show all posts

Monday, 23 November 2020

Thespie Present Streamed Concert Series with Dozens of UK Stage Stars

Theatre discovery platform Thespie today announces the Reunited Series, bringing together more than two dozen of the UK’s top musical theatre artists for a series of filmed concerts premiering throughout December. Developed by Aimie Atkinson, Thespie’s Creative Producer and the Olivier nominated star of Pretty Woman and SIX), each concert presents ensemble music performances (filmed in COVID-secure London venues), and ranges from musical theatre hits, to pop music, to favourite Christmas songs. The program of each concert has been developed by the artists involved and will also include intimate interview footage.


The concerts are designed to inspire global theatre audiences, by bringing the UK’s best musical theatre talent directly to their homes this holiday season. The artists collectively represent over two and a half centuries of experience on UK stages; their recent credits include The Prince of Egypt, Pretty Woman, SIX, & Juliet, Come From Away, Wicked, The Phantom of the Opera, Les Misérables, and Kinky Boots.


Thespie Creative Producer Aimie Atkinson commented, “We’re thrilled to be bringing you our first shows—high-energy, joyful concerts with great production values and astonishing vocal performances. I am so in awe of the level of talent working with us to make these December shows incredibly special. You are in for a treat.”


The series begins with the premiere of Unlimited: The Songs of Stephen Schwartz on 3 Dec at 8pm GMT, a celebration of the famed composer’s works including WickedPippinGodspellChildren of Eden, and The Prince of Egypt, Schwartz’s newest musical. The nine artists in the concert (Nikki Bentley, Sophie Evans, Alice Fearn, Alexia Khadime, Melanie La Barrie, Carl Man, Dianne Pilkington, Liam Tamne, Oliver Tompsett) all starred in Wicked during its first 14 years in London, and two (Khadime, Tamne) are in the current cast of The Prince of Egypt. Schwartz himself will make a special appearance in the program, with further details to be announced.


Oops!... I Streamed It Again... premieres 10 Dec at 8pm GMT and is a high-energy concert of favourite classic pop, rock, and musical theatre songs. The concert is performed by five artists who met as part of the original company of the UK musical & Juliet: Jordan Luke Gage, Tim Mahendran, Grace Mouat, Oliver Tompsett, and 2020 Olivier Award Winner Cassidy Janson.


Next up is the return of the artists from The Reunion, with an empowering concert of songs by famous girl bands through the decades: Girl Power premieres 17 Dec at 8pm GMT. Expect the tight harmonies and true sisterhood vibes that these artists have come to be known for since they first met as the original West End queens of the musical SIXGirl Power stars Aimie Atkinson, Alexia McIntosh, Grace Mouat, Millie O’Connell, Natalie Paris, Maiya Quansah-Breed and Jarneia Richard-Noel.


Finally, the fourth instalment of the Reunited Series arrives on the 21 Dec at 8pm GMT. All I Want For Christmas Is Theatre is a love letter to the tradition of seeing theatre with those you love during the holiday season. More than three dozen top UK theatre artists are lending their talents to this special concert, featuring classic Christmas songs of all styles. Performers from UnlimitedOops!... I Streamed It Again, and Girl Power will all be featured, alongside more than a dozen more, to be announced in the coming weeks.


Streaming tickets for a single concert are £12.50 ($15) if booked early (by 30 Nov), or £15 ($18) if purchased in December. (10 other currencies available.) Purchasers of the first three concerts will have 72 hours to watch, and purchasers of All I Want For Christmas Is Theatre will have 7 days to watch with their households. An Extended-Access bundle (£37.50/$45 in Nov; £45/$54 in Dec) gives purchasers access to all four concerts from their premiere through 31 December, and provides a 25% discount over booking the concerts separately. All concerts and the bundle can also be purchased after their premiere, with the same window of access (72 hours, 7 days, or through 31 Dec.)


The Reunited Series and Thespie’s original content initiative support its work to foster the connection between artists and audiences on its theatre discovery platform. Thespie’s first original production, The Reunion, was one of the bestselling paid theatre streaming events in the UK, selling tickets to 3600 households across 65 countries; and employed 35 live entertainment workers who received over £30k in income from the event.


Thespie founder Tyler Stoops said, “Watching our first concert, The Reunion, revived my spirits, and hundreds of viewers told us how meaningful it was, how inspired they were, and how much fun they had. So I’m thrilled we can deliver four more concerts for audiences at home around the world, just in time for Christmas. I think all of us are ready for some joy and excitement.


Thespie offers listings for theatre streaming, theatre music & audio, theatre eBooks, educational resources, live London theatre, theatre news, and more. Audiences can use Thespie to stream the Reunited Series and more than 400 other shows, or to discover over 1000 more shows available on other popular platforms and services, such as Disney+, Amazon Prime, and Audible.

Thursday, 27 February 2020

The Prince of Egypt, Dominion Theatre | Review

The Prince of Egypt
Dominion Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 27th February 2020 by Olivia Mitchell

In 1998, The Prince of Egypt became an animated sensation, bagging an Oscar and much critical acclaim. Since then it's been on a long journey to the London stage. Originally beginning in California in 2017, many changes have been made across the world to bring this current, reimagined production to life.

The plot is made up of the Exodus story, following the child of a Hebrew slave, Moses, who is found in the river and adopted by Pharaoh's family. All grown up, Moses discovers his real heritage and flees the palace to discover his true purpose in life. It's in the vast desert that a case of divine visitation via a burning bush, shows Moses his true mission to free the enslaved Hebrews and take them to the promised land. 

Musically Stephen Schwartz's score is beautiful, with sweeping melodies and evocative patterns, but frequently, the lyrics don't match up in terms of power; often just pointing out the action, rather than developing it. However, it's the choral moments which really soar, with Deliver Us providing so much power. Almost operatic at times the ensemble do an outstanding job of coming together to perform tight harmonies that fill the cavernous Dominion Theatre.

It's the 'telling' aspect of this musical which makes it fall somewhat flat. Philip LaZebnik's dialogue is cumbersome, with very little character or narrative development. There are many moments, which although wonderfully performed, do not develop the plot or characters and feel unnecessary, and whilst some moments are over explained by the dialogue or music, others feel undeveloped. Namely the plagues which are projected in rapid succession but are unclear.

It's safe to say subtlety does not feature in this show and the first act especially feels considerably pantomimic, with the one liners from the film not transferring to stage as effectively. There are also pacing issues, which are resolved a little in act two but do make the musical drag.

However, aside from these issues, there's no denying that this is a spectacularly well performed musical. Amongst the main plot, there's a huge focus on the rivalry of Moses and Pharaoh's birth son, Ramses, which is brought to life excellently by Luke Brady and Liam Tamne. Both actors give their everything to the limited dialogue and create characters which we feel for and are both vocal powerhouses. Christine Allado and Alexia Khadime are accomplished in their performances and perform the Oscar winning song When You Believe brilliantly. With Allado giving a particularly strong performance as the headstrong Tzipporah; it's wonderful to see a woman on stage motivated not only by the man in her life.

As Jethro, Gary Wilmot is underused but excellent in the time he's given. Credit must also be given to Debbie Kurup, Mercedesz Csampai, Simbi Akande and Jessica Lee who stand out throughout. Mia Lakha is also brilliant in her various young roles and is certainly an up and coming star of stage.

Visually this show is a treat. Kevin Depinet's hanging set wraps around the auditorium and cleverly makes the vast space feels more enclosed and welcoming. The simplistic design makes use of many projections by Jon Driscoll which are effective at transforming the space feeling grand, lavish and imposing despite not physically being there. The money moments, such as the parting of the red sea and the building of the pyramids are extremely well done.

It's Sean Cheesman's choreography which is the real star of The Prince of Egypt. Sharp and so so energetic it's amazing to watch. The ensemble come together to create various scenes, materials and emotions which tire you out just watching. Even in tableau moments, the precision is clear to see and this has got to be one of the strongest and most energetic ensembles around.

For spectacle and energy, The Prince of Egypt is worth a visit. It's not going to change your life but it'll provide a fun few hours of superfluous theatricality that looks and sounds very pretty.

The Prince of Egypt is currently booking at the Dominion Theatre until 31 October 2020

photo credit: Tristram Kenton

Saturday, 19 September 2020

Pippin, Garden Theatre | Review

Garden Theatre, Vauxhall
Reviewed on Friday 18th September 2020 by Olivia Mitchell 

After six months of a world with no in person theatre, it feels almost foreign to see a stage in front of you with real life performers, performing real life music, but ever so slowly it's becoming the norm again. Well, the new, socially distanced norm.

The Garden Theatre in Vauxhall are paving the way for the reopening and reconfiguring of venues as one of the first to put on productions in this post-lockdown world. The latest in their programme being Stephen Schwartz's Pippin; the tale of a boy trying to prove he's extraordinary as he finds his place in the world. A show which often excels by involving the audience could be a strange option given the regulations, but the cast do an outstanding job of making you feels as though you're getting a personal performance and that you're part of the story, without being too close. The team of "players" who are often shown as circus performers, are in this production, a hippie tribe who are telling the tale of young Pippin. Together they weave a story of drama and excitement which feels truly uplifting and joyous during these unpredictable times. 

Thanks to Steven Dexter's Direction, this is a production which highlights all the wonderful parts of fringe theatre and Nick Winston's choreography is overwhelming in all the best ways. Bursting from all nooks and crannies every movement feels both precise and free and it's amazing how much power has been fit into such a small space. Plus, the way so many dance styles (including wonderful homages to Bob Fosse) flow into one another, is truly sensational to experience.

The title role is taken on expertly by Ryan Anderson who relentlessly showcases his brilliant vocals and outstanding dance ability, whilst making Pippin a multi-faceted, endearing, earnest and infuriating character. His renditions of Corner of The Sky and the motif versions which are consequently peppered throughout are beautiful and controlled oh so well.

Pippin's glamourous, manipulative "normal" step-mother is played excellently by Joanne Clifton who also takes on the role of the sweet and sassy Grandmother, Berthe. Each moment of Clifton's stage time is completely electrifying. Whether she's ad-libbing hilariously or leading the audience in a singalong she finds a way to completely draw the audience in.

It would be shameful to not mention the rest of the cast who bubble with energy throughout. Harry Francis is playfully enjoyable as the self-obsessed bother Lewis and sweet Theo who longs for a father figure and also provides vocals which stand out due to their exceptional power and mastery. As Charlemagne Dan Krikler is dominant and impressive and his Gilbert and Sullivan-esque solo is a right treat; he leaves you wanting more from him once his individual moments end . Tsemaye-Bob Egbeis takes on the role of the Leading Player with ease and freedom. Her vocals soaring above the sounds of passing busses and her movement around the stage oozing authority. Completing the cast, Tanisha-Mae Brown thrives in the intimate moments of the show and is in beautiful contrast to the more high-octane, over the top moments of the story.

The only downside to this production is the sometimes questionable approach to social distancing. While the staff are brilliant and it appears lots of measures have been put in place such as temperature checks, table service, copious amounts of hand sanitizer and social distancing before the show, the actual auditorium is somewhat cramped. Seats are very close together which it does feel strange when everything else is so organised. Whilst the audience does only seat 50, it would perhaps be better to have even fewer seats for the moment.

Despite this, the terrific cast of triple threats make this bittersweet, upbeat and consistently enjoyable musical a must see (covid permitting, of course). There's magic to do and the Garden Theatre are certainly doing the most they can in these crazy circumstances to do it.

Photos by Bonnie Britain Photography

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Pippin, Southwark Playhouse | Review

Southwark Playhouse
Reviewed on Wednesday 28th February 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 

Based on the real-life story of Prince Pepin and his father, King Charlemagne, Pippin tells the story of a young prince who longs to find adventure, fulfilment and passion in his life. To prove himself to his distracted father, Pippin goes to war. He finds no fulfilment there so when the Leading Player convinces him to fight tyranny, Pippins kills his father and takes over the throne. 

With music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, book by Roger O Hirson and original direction by Bob Fosse, Pippin brings spectacle, comedy and whimsy to the transformed Southwark Playhouse. Maeve Black's set complete with a false proscenium and footlight bulbs around the tongue of the stage, has transformed The Large into a magical, slightly decrepit playground of mystery.

Braving the snow, I enjoyed this production despite feeling it took a little while to get into. The story is fast paced and full of intricacies but the varying styles and scenes are a bit too much of a mish-mash to be fully cohesive.

However, the performances are stellar across the board. Genevieve Nicholas is absolutely outstanding as the Leading Player. Poised to pounce and vocally faultless she commands the stage every second she's on it. She is very dynamic alongside Jonathan Carlton in the title role who sings the role perfectly as well as having great comic timing and stage presence. The two bounce off one another and have a sort of unsettling relationship.

Mention must also go to Bradley Judge as Lewis, Pippin's brother, and Mairi Barclay as Fastrada and Berthe who both nailed the comedic side as well as providing some scene stealing vocal moments. As director, Jonathan O'Boyle has done a wonderful job of bringing the small cast together to create something electric and well as showcasing individual talents.

Choreographer William Whelton has stuck to the shows iconic past, with Bob Fosse's choreography central to the action but has brought a somewhat modern twist with some sharp, almost frantic movements at times.

Whilst the jumpiness of the book does let this show down at times, this production is like nothing else I've seen on a London stage recently and for that reason it must be applauded. The cast do an outstanding job and the razzle-dazzle of the costumes and in-your-face lights by Aaron J. Dootson do a wonderful job of wowing the audience.

For a magical, mystical, whimsical show that will surprise, make sure you get along to the Southwark Playhouse for the limited run of Pippin.

photo credit: Pamela Raith

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Children of Eden, Union Theatre | Review

Children of Eden
Union Theatre
Reviewed on Friday 12th August 2016 by Olivia Mitchell

Inspired by the Book of Genesis, Children of Eden tells the timeless and beautiful story of bringing a child into the world and becoming a parent. It features stunning music and lyrics by acclaimed composer Stephen Schwartz,  who is perhaps most well known for Wicked which continues to play all over the world, and a book by the fantastic John Caird who along with Trevor Nunn, adapted and directed Les Miserables.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Rags, Park Theatre | Review

Park Theatre 
Reviewed on Wednesday 15th January 2020 by Olivia Mitchell 

Originally developed by Fiddler on the Roof writer, Joseph Stein as somewhat of a sequel, Rags has been reworked many times since the original Broadway production closed after only four performances. Lucky for us, the Hope Mill Theatre production was rather more a success and has transferred to London's Park Theatre. 

David Thompson's rewrites have made this a sleek production that ebbs and flows well, whilst retaining an gitty side. With four onstage musicians and wonderful performances from the cast, Rags is certainly successful in its ambition.

Opening with a solitary violinist who is extremely reminiscent of Fiddler, the musical follows two Jewish girls as they make port in New York and try to create a new life for themselves and their families. There are various subplots about worker's rights, the Jewish contribution to art and culture, conformity and of course, romance. Most of the time the musical is paced well but there are still times which feel a little slow, or confusing as too much is happening at once.

However, overall this musical isn't about the plot, but rather the human experience and genuine struggles faced by people trying to live the American Dream that was promised to them. Its a clear window to the vile anti-semitic views held and the trials which are unfortunately still faced today. It's quite shocking that a musical written in the eighties, still has so much relevance today. 

Whilst the songs (music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Stephen Schwartz) are not individually particularly memorable, the overall moods created are very moving and do the job to tell the story, even if you won't leave the theatre humming the tunes. Nick Barstow's arrangements are beautiful and the cast give exceptional performances.

Carolyn Maitland gives a sensational performance as Rebecca. Her solo moments are complete vocal treats and she leads the show with a delightful nuance. Alex Gibson-Giorgio is instantly likeable and vocally exemplary as the Italian immigrant, Sal. As bright eyed Bella, Martha Kirby is an absolute vocal star who brings the youth and vulnerability of the character to life excellently, and is certainly one to watch! Oisin Nolan-Power as Ben and Rachel Izen as Rachel also give stand out performances.

Bronagh Lagan's production has heart in spades and provides a real impact through the thoughtful way its themes are tackled. It's a life-affirming show which will make you want to hug those close to you a little tighter.

photo credit: Pamela Raith