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

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (UK Tour), Grand Opera House, Belfast | Review


Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (UK Tour)
Grand Opera House, Belfast
Reviewed on Tuesday 24th October 2017 by Damien Murray
★★★★

The major appeal of this extremely popular biographical musical is that its subject, Carole King, really is a cross-generational artist, performer, singer, songwriter … and her eventful – but not always successful or happy - life provided a human story that connects to many of its audience every bit as much as her commercial and popular songs.

As a jukebox musical, this show can’t fail to impress with a score composed of classic hit after classic hit from all periods of King’s phenomenal career as both a writer/co-writer and, eventually, as a performer.

While the bulk of the hits are from her younger days, this show is a particular crowd-pleaser for anyone born in the late 40s and early 60s, but – so commercial are the songs – it also manages to successfully cross the generations to engage even with the youth of today who may be hearing them for the first time.

However, there is a bit more depth to this musical than just the songs, as King’s story is that of a young and ambitious teenage girl, who never set out to be a singer and who was as surprised as everyone else by her own success.

According to music impresario, Donnie Kirshner – perfectly played by Adam Howden as a no-nonsense boss who knew the business and who demanded results– the key to her success as a writer was that she was a teen who wrote songs for teens and she was a girl who wrote songs for girls… and it was teen girls who were buying most records at that time.


Like a typical Brooklyn teen with no fear, King – played so well by understudy, Leigh Lothian, in the absence of BrontĂ© BarbĂ© (due to a family bereavement) – jumped head first into the competitive music game as a staff writer for Kirshner’s songwriting business, 1650 Broadway, where she met her perfect husband and co-writer, Gerry Goffin, plus life-long friends and fellow song-writing team, Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, with each providing friendly rivalry measured in ‘hit’ scoring over one another. This, of course, was a great excuse to also feature many of this duo’s hit successes, too, including You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling, Walking In The Rain and We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place.

In the lead role, Leigh Lothian, captured all of King’s emotions, moods, weaknesses and strengths, from being an ambitious and fearless teen, to coping with a teenage pregnancy, an unfaithful husband, her husband’s nervous breakdown and the eventual breakdown of her marriage, displaying strength, patience, forgiveness and loss of confidence before re-inventing herself as one of the world’s most successful female singers. 

Kane Oliver Parry, as Gerry Goffin, didn’t quite convince me that he was so troubled by his domestic and work pressures that they drove him into the arms of other women, but he displayed the kind of charm that the character must have had to keep King by his side for so long after his first affair and to be able to initiate so many affairs in the first place. I loved the chemistry between Amy Ellen Richardson’s pushy, confident and patient Cynthia Weil and Matthew Gonsalves’ Barry Mann; the impatient and always ailing hypochondriac.


This was a well-dressed production with authentic fashions of the day stretching right down to the girls sporting ‘Alice Bands’ on their heads, while the well-used, dual-level set helped to keep the pace fast with slick and quick scene changes.

The performance of the actual songs throws up some interesting observations – firstly, some are just parts of songs, and, due to the nature of the story about songwriters (as opposed to performers), some are raw or early rough examples of the finished and more polished hits that we have grown up to love.

So, although you will enjoy the story, don't expect to hear the songs as you would know them from the records as they are often performed ‘in context’ and do not always sound like the hits – I feel if you are pre-warned about this, then you won't be disappointed!

However, one small criticism/observation about this show was the overly exaggerated choreographic moves that could best be described as ‘dodgy dancing’ by ‘the Drifters’ These were greeted with laughter leaving me confused as to whether this was a comical send-up of the ‘dancing’ of the male vocal groups of the era or simply questionable choreography that didn’t get the desired result.

It was genius to stage a bio musical of this chart-topping music legend who penned material for the likes of Aretha Franklin, The Monkees, The Drifters and The Shirelles as this totally hit-filled show features many of those songs, including Take Good Care Of My Baby, You’ve Got A Friend, So Far Away, It Might As Well Rain Until September, Up On The Roof and The Locomotion with ‘character’ performances by The Drifters, The Shirelles, Little Eva, The Righteous Brothers and even a Neil Sedaka cameo appearance.


It is true, Carole King wrote songs that girls, and women, can relate to and the final two in this show – (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman and Beautiful – proved to be popular and inspirational anthems for the mostly female audience.

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical runs at the Grand Opera House until October 28th before continuing its tour.

Monday, 20 March 2017

West End Live Lounge, Union Theatre | Review


West End Live Lounge
Union Theatre
Reviewed Sunday 19th March 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★

When I say last night was a perfect Sunday evening, I am not exaggerating at all. With the amount of talent that was in the room it was hard not to have a brilliant time! The West End Live Lounge at the Union Theatre was the first of what I hope become many concerts created by Shaun McCourt and Leigh Lothian. The premise of the concerts is that as many West End stars as possible are brought together to perform incredible music with all proceeds going to charity. There are no musical theatre songs to be heard so all performers are able to step out of their usual boxes and really explore and show off their musicality.

The star studded line up included: Marisha Wallace, Gabriela Garcia, Arun Blair, Tyrone Huntley, Phoebe Street, Kelly Agbowu, Natalie Green, Leigh Lothian, Matthew-Seadon Young, Sejal Keshwala, Laura Tebbutt, Nicola Avino, Iain Mattley, Paul Wilkins, Laura Mansell, Brady Isaacs Pearce, Jamal Andreas, Jonny Howe, Katie Brayben, Marcus Ayton, Gary Wood, Lauren Ingram, Adam Bailey, Oliver Savile and Andrew Bateup.

There were a number of lovely duets and trios as well as fabulous solos and the performers also got to show off their other musical abilities such as piano playing which was very impressive. The intimate atmosphere of the Union Theatre in Southwark was the perfect setting for the evening with the whole evening having a warm, laid back, friendly feeling. The stage, complete with sofas and a table added to this vibe and the overall mood was perfect for a relaxed Sunday.

The overall quality of performances was extremely high and every member of the cast and ensemble were flawless with wonderful song choices and joyous performances. There were a number of particular standouts for me. Firstly, Gabriela Garcia and Arun Blair who did a lovely, sweet, and harmonious medley of Rihanna and Sam Smith with a cheeky bit of Into The Woods mixed in! Their chemistry was evident and their voices just work so well together that it's a joy to see and hear them perform. Tyrone Huntley and Marisha Wallace were other standouts and were a theme of my weekend having seen Dreamgirls on Saturday (review coming soon!)

Tyrone's dulcet tones were perfect for the Michael Jackson hit 'Rock With You' and Marisha brought the house down and earned a well deserved standing ovation with her insanely good rendition of 'Natural Woman'. Natalie Green sang Sam Smith's classic, 'Lay Me Down' which was truly stunning.

The whole night was full of joy, friendliness and sweet, sweet harmonies. It was so lovely to see so many people come together to perform and raise money for UNICEF and I really hope there will be many more West End Live Lounges to come! Make sure to keep and eye out on Twitter to make sure you don't miss the next event which is sure to be as incredible and inspiring as this one!

Check out West End Live Lounge on Twitter: https://twitter.com/WElivelounge17


Sunday, 18 June 2017

West End Live Lounge: Icons and Legends, Union Theatre | Review


West End Live Lounge
Union Theatre
Reviewed Sunday 11th June 2017 by Olivia Mitchell
★★

When I went to the first West End Live Lounge back in March, I didn't think it could get any better. I was wrong! Every single performance was absolutely outstanding and I was in awe of each and every performer, it was honestly one of the best concerts I've ever seen, full of so much incredible talent and just a wonderful night for a wonderful cause.

I could honestly talk in depth about every single performer because they all deserve a huge amount of praise but I fear that it could be the longest review in the history of reviews so I won't talk about everyone in depth but I will talk quite a lot so you might want to settle down and grab a cuppa!

The concert opened with a lovely performance of the Amy Winehouse classic "Valerie"by Katie Paine, which started the night on an upbeat, joyous note. Leigh Lothian (who created the concert series along with Shaun McCourt) and George Jennings then took us through the history of James Bond with a glorious medley of the hit Bond songs. 

I have seen a lot of Sapphire Soul recently, both at the previous Live Lounge and as special guests and the Dreamgirls Unplugged concert and am a massive fan of their unique arrangements and brilliant voices and was very glad that they were a part of this concert. The glamourous girls sung a delightful version of "Over The Rainbow" and closed the show with a joyous Aretha Franklin medley which left everyone on a high. Ashford Campbell sung one of my favourite songs "Human Nature" and made me love it and his voice even more! 

Now if Brady Isaacs Pearce doesn't become a West End star, I will personally knock on Cameron Mackintosh's door and demand he puts her in a show. At only 17 years old, her voice is insanely good and her overall stage presence is of someone vastly experienced. Brady sung a mash up of songs by the queen of stage Barbra Streisand and filled her huge shoes perfectly, giving the audience chills.

Cleve September has such a likeable personality which came across when he stepped on stage and explained he had only decided what to perform on the morning of the concert; going out and purchasing a loop pedal and kind of winging his way through. However, if we hadn't known this, we wouldn't have noticed. Cleve's performance of "Feeling Good" was unique and so fun to watch and he certainly seemed like an experienced loop pedlar (??) to me!

The first act flew by with stellar performance after stellar performance. Hannah Ducharme superbly performed "Hallelujah", Alexis Gerred absolutely owned "Come Together" and Sejal Kashwala gave an astonishing performance of "How Comes You Don't Call Me" which had me in awe of her voice. To end the first act, Kelly Agbowu sung the hell out of "The Show Must Go On" and completely blew the roof off the intimate venue which her effortless and faultless performance.

Act two included a few duets where the performers got to have fun signing with one another. Andrew Bateup and Marcus Ayton sung the Stevie Wonder favourite, "Signed, Sealed, Delivered", Matthew Seadon-Young and Leigh Lothian performed "Careless Whisper" and Carolyn Maitland and Lauren Ingram sung a Billie Jean mash up. All three duets were fantastic and it's just a joy to get double the talent per song!

Perhaps my favourite part of the night was when two Whitney Houston classics were performed back to back with Ruth Brown singing "I Will Always Love You" and Emma Lindars singing "I Have Nothing". Both performances were completely awe-inspiring and just breathtaking. The talent of these ladies is just unbelievable and it's crazy that they're not international stars!

Oliver Savile channel his inner Frank Sinatra with "Let's Face The Music" and I'm sure made many of the ladies in the room swoon with his suave performance. Laura Mansell's Celine Dion mash up was so sensational and it was glorious to hear my favourite Celine song "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" performed so well.

Liam Doyle gave an upbeat rendition of "I'm Still Standing" before Natalie Green gave the penultimate performance of the night with Prince's "Purple Rain". I'm a massive fan of Natalie's voice and adored her performance so much, as it seemed did the entire audience. 

Although an absolutely fantastic night of entertainment showing off some of the best the West End has to offer, the main reason for the concerts series is to raise money and awareness for charity. This concert was raising money for Mind which supports people suffering from mental health issues, a cause close to so many of our hearts and it's great to see so many people coming together for such a great cause.

If you couldn't tell from that very long review, I completely loved West End Live Lounge and know I will love all the future concerts. If you can get along to the next one then please do because you will definitely enjoy it. What's better that West End stars blessing your ears on a Sunday evening?!

Check out West End Live Lounge on Twitter for details of future concerts: https://twitter.com/WElivelounge17

Friday, 23 November 2018

West End Live Lounge, The Other Palace | Review


West End Live Lounge
The Other Palace 
Reviewed on Sunday 18th November 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 
★★★★★

We all know by now that West End Live Lounge concerts are in my top ways to spend a Sunday, and last weeks 90s extravaganza was no different! A host of the West End and theatre in generals finest, took to the stage at The Other Palace to perform some remixed and refreshed versions of 90s classic hits as well as some less remembered tunes.

Ever humourous and energetic, Vikki Stone and Paul Taylor Mills presented the night, which raises funds for a different charity each month, with banter and bounce. Opening the show, Matthew Harvey treated us to a laid back version of the secondary school music class classic, Wonderwall which perfectly set the tone for the night of nostalgia. 


A string of vocally flawless performances followed with Sam Coates' arrangements doing justice to the performers, venue, musicians and audience. As always he breathes fresh life into music and manages to balance warmth and energy in everything he touches. Particular stand outs included Lauren Drew's spine tingling rendition of I'm Your Baby Tonight, Sharon Sexton's All About Soul which had the entire audience bopping along, and Brady Isaacs Pearce's Hallelujah which brought Carrie Manolakos vibes and a whole lot of heart and power. 

The buzz was clear during the interval, from the beaming faces, to bopping heads and general chipper vibes, the anticipation for act two grew and we all knew we were in for another series of musical treats.


Vocal powerhouse and sultry queen Danielle Steers gave ballad realness with Don't Speak whilst Divalution brought their usual sass with their epic 90s mash up. All the ladies have not only voices for days, but for months. Some icy vibes were given to the evening by Jordan Luke Gage's dark and vocally incredible performance of You Oughta Know. 

Sophie Isaacs also performed a lovely mash up, whilst, accompanied by gasps from the audience, Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton joined forces to perform the well loved song which was cut from Bat Out of Hell: It Just Won't Quit. Every single performance of the night had something special and it's really magical to experience such diversity come together to celebrate music and talent.

As always, if you weren't at this West End Live Lounge, you missed a whole lot of brilliance but don't fret because there will be future concerts and it's clear from the Union Theatre to now, that the only way is up for Shaun McCourt and West End Live Lounge!

Keep up to date with West End Live Lounge on twitter

photo credit: Leigh Lothian