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

Monday 10 July 2017

Yank! The Musical, Charing Cross Theatre | Review

Charing Cross Theatre
Reviewed on Monday July 10th 2017 by Olivia Mitchell

Tonight marked the West End premiere of the 2010 off-Broadway musical, Yank! which tells the true story of two men who fell in love during World War II. Since making its UK premiere at the Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester, Yank! has been a highly anticipated transfer as people were eager to hear the story that didn't make the history books and last night it opened to staggering applause and a standing ovation.

Set during the time when homosexuality was frowned upon and defined by the development of modern psychiatry to treat the 'illness', this is an extremely important story to be told. It's so powerful that whilst fighting for their country and lives, men were also fighting for their right to love. Particularly poignant just after the celebration of love seen with London Pride and also during a time when American politics seems to be repressing 'non-traditional' men and women, it's thought-provoking to see these issues played out on stage.

The story is told through the eye's of the young Stu (Scott Hunter) who journaled his whole journey through the war. He feels that he is not a proper man and feels ashamed to not be as strong as the other men in his squad. He finds comfort in his journal which narrates the show in a truthful, emotional way and allows the audience to connect of a much more personal level. Stu becomes friends with, and eventually starts a rocky relationship with fellow soldier, Mitch (Andy Coxon) who constantly fights back that he is not a 'fairy'. Struggling with this denial, Stu leaves the army squad and becomes a reporter for Yank! magazine.

The story is told in the style of an MGM musical, with the tradition and romanticism of Rodgers and Hammerstein. There is a stunning mix of dance and a rich, emotive score. Particularly entertaining is when Stu meets photographer, Artie (Chris Kiely) who he discovers through a glorious tap number 'Click' is also gay as he explains the ways to identify other gay men during war. Sarah Louise-Young is fantastic as the many female fantasy characters who lead the MGM style.

Chris Cuming's choreography works alongside and also contrasts the beautiful solos and duets of the score perfectly, with each piece impressively and smoothly choreographed. This balance makes the piece truly engaging and adds a level of humour which is welcomed so as not to make the piece too heavy and draining.  There is a perfect balance between seriousness and sweet sincerity. Especially heart-wrenching was the interrogation scene in act two, which coupled with the heat of the theatre, had everyone on the edge of their seats, sweating in tension. 

Scott Hunter is faultless as Stu; rarely off stage he gives his all and touchingly shows his immense character development throughout. Starting as the weakest of the squad and eventually becoming the strongest for fighting not only the war but for his love till the very end.  He is charged with emotion and it's touching to see his journey play out in front of our eyes. As his love interest, Andy Coxon is tough and charismatic whilst still showing a vulnerable side. Both actors bounce off of each other and have a beautiful chemistry on stage. It's so lovely to see a male led company who work together faultlessly and create a harmonious feeling. 

Yank! is touching, honest, genuine, fluid and overall a heart-wrenching look at love and tragedy.

Yank! runs at the Charing Cross theatre until August 19th.

Saturday 30 December 2017

Olivia's Top 10 Shows of 2017

This year I saw 105 shows so picking my top 10 was pretty tricky! I know everyone does these posts but it's always interesting to see what peaked everyones interests so without further ado, here are the shows I loved in 2017. Grab a mince pie and settle in!

PS. They're in reverse order as always to bring that extra bit of drama!

10. Yank | Charing Cross Theatre

I saw the West End premiere of this show and completely fell in love. The storyline was gripping, the acting was outstanding and it was a highlight of my summer. Scott Hunter was a particular stand out and I can't wait to see what 2018 brings for him.

9. Follies | National Theatre

This was one of my most anticipated shows of the year and it certainly wasn't a let down. The glorious staging was spectacular and I adored hearing Sondheim's music live as well as seeing queen Imelda Staunton on stage again.

8. Mack and Mabel (LMTO) | Hackney Empire

This was such a surprising show for me. Of course I expected good things from the LMTO but I was so blown away by every performance in Mack and Mabel. Natasha J Barnes singing 'Time Heals Everything' was definitely my stand out vocal moment of the year.

7. Funny Girl | New Victoria Theatre

Natasha also gave an amazing performance as Fanny Brice in the UK Tour of Funny Girl. To date this is the best touring production I have ever seen!

6. Hamlet | Alemida Theatre

Andrew Scott was just spectacular. That's all.

5. Fiddler on the Roof | Chichester Festival Theatre

I must admit, I don't travel outside of London for theatre very often but I am so glad I made the trip to Chichester to see this production which completely blew me away. This show needs a West End transfer and I'm praying its life isn't over.

4. Angels in the America | National Theatre

How could I not mention this?! A marathon show but packed with drama, talent and grit at every moment. Truly a theatrical masterpiece- Broadway get ready!

3. Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill | National Theatre

Audra is just a queen. I was mesmerised by every single moment of this show. I first saw it on press night and then went back with my parents, both times were breathtaking and it was such an honour to see a Broadway superstar on stage.

2. Romantics Anonymous | Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

My lovely friend Hayley took me to see this for my birthday and for some reason I never got round to reviewing it (hopefully I'll do it soon!) But it was honestly just brilliant. Both literally and metaphorically sweet it was the perfect way to spend an afternoon. If you want a heartwarming tale, this is the one for you!

1. Hamilton | Victoria Palace Theatre

I know this is the most typical answer and so not a surprise but Hamilton just blew me away. I still can't believe that it exceeded my expectations and if you can get a ticket, you HAVE to see it!!

I also want to give a special mention to  a couple of other outstanding shows which I mentioned in last years wrap up: Rent and Dreamgirls, both of which amazed me again this year! I have a couple of concert shout outs too- Rachel Tucker, Kristin Chenoweth and Lea Michele. I saw Rachel perform 5 times and was completely astounded by her voice and stage presence every time. Kristin had me bawling from start to finish. Her concert was definitely the most memorable I've ever been too. Finally, Lea was a bucket list concert for me and I'm so honoured to have seen (and met) her this year!

So there we have my top shows of 2017! I can't wait to see what 2018 brings- let me know what your top shows of the year were.

Au revoir 2017! Stay Stagey, 2018!

Top 10 by editor, Olivia Mitchell

Thursday 12 October 2017

Hair, The Vaults | Review

The Vaults
Reviewed on Wednesday 11th October 2017 by Olivia Mitchell 

First premiering on Broadway in 1967, Hair is about hippies, the anti-war movement, LGBTQ+ rights, Black Lives Matter, women’s equality and so much more; themes which sadly still resonate with us 50 years later.

Although I’d never seen a production of Hair, many of the songs were familiar to me and I felt as if I’d almost been born knowing them! Whilst I wasn’t part of the ‘Hair Generation’ (I wasn’t born for another 30 years) I feel that this production has reinvented it and definitely made it perfect for my generation as well as those younger than me. The setting is historical but it’s been cleverly entwined with the modern world and the parallels to the youth of today to make it extremely pertinent.

The Vaults at Waterloo have been transformed into a colourful, relaxed, hippy den which provides the perfect vibe and atmosphere for the performance and certainly puts everyone in the right mind set for what they're about to experience. It feels immersive but not over the top.

Hair is musically brilliant, it's songs have been performed by some huge artists and it's become a source of inspiration for many composers. The rhythmic music pairs with the story wonderfully and manages to be funny, powerful and clever all at once. These feelings are of course exemplified by the outstanding performances from the cast, especially during the finale: 'Let The Sun Shine In' which becomes a sort of battle cry and is really very moving.

Leading the plot we have Robert Metson as Claude who's been enlisted into the army. His vocals are strong, he gives a heartfelt performance and shows his transition from the free life to the life he lives for his country extremely well. Fresh from his stint in Yank!, Andy Coxon takes on the role of the carefree, larger than life Berger with grace and ease and is especially funny during his moments of audience interaction. Laura Johnson brings an innocence to Sheila which is touching to see and really draws you into her character and her rendition of 'Easy To Be  Hard' was particularly memorable.

A special mention must go to Natalie Green (Cassie/Mom) who's solo and ensemble vocal moments are completely out of this world. Her clear, powerful voice both when belting and  singing in a more classical style is faultless, her natural performance draws the eye at various points and she's a joy to watch on stage. The entire cast are great and work seamlessly together to create the idyllic and harmonious feeling.

Hair is more than a show, its an experience. This production is fresh and striking and certain to be loved by audiences during its run. So let the sun shine into your life and go see this show for a night of youthful, uninhibited freedom, expression and love. After all, the world could do with a little more love these days!

Hair runs at The Vaults until 3rd December 2017

photo credit: Claire Bilyard