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

Thursday 24 January 2019

Vision of You: Live with Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton, The Space at Studio 88 | Review

Vision of You: Live 
The Space at Studio 88
Reviewed on Thursday 24th January 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 

After releasing their album Vision of You, back in December, Rob Fowler and Sharon Sexton have taken their exploration of the backstories of Falco and Sloane (the pair's characters in Bat Out of Hell) to new levels with a series of concerts about how the duo came to be.

Featuring a mixture of the Vision of You album and additional songs, the evening is an entertaining and dramatic look at two well loved Bat characters and is certainly a fitting antidote for the fans still mourning the loss of the show at the Dominion Theatre. Starting from when Falco and Sloane meet with 'Falling Slowly' and ending with a bittersweet duet about the couple's life and romance, 'Always Remember Us This Way', Rob and Sharon do a brilliant job of storytelling and taking the audience on a journey. 

Of course, both Rob and Sharon are vocal powerhouses and they don't fail to deliver top notch performances that are gritty but controlled. Combined with Steve Corley's magical, musical skills and the intimate but booming Space at Studio 88, the couple are able to show various sides of their voices and complement each other remarkably. 

The ups and downs of the Falco Family relationship are brought to life further by Erin Ong's beautiful artwork which is projected between songs to fill in the story gaps. There are a number of aspects of the artwork, staging, lyrics and costumes that directly mirror Bat Out of Hell, and avid fans will have a great time picking out the subtle references to the show.  Fans will also hear some familiar people accompanying the artwork, with Georgia Carling, Katherine Hare, Jordan Luke Gage and Patrick Sullivan lending their voices to dramatic points in the plot and bringing their Bat characters to the screen. 

The love Sharon and Rob have for the characters they have created is evident through their album and live performances, and the work they have put into these concerts is so visible. It's clearly a labour of love for the duo and it's only right that all three performances at The Space have sold out. Bat fans will love this character development, but even if you're not a fan of the show, there's no way you'd be underwhelmed by the incredible talent and dedication the pair exude. 

If you want vocal gymnastics, raw performances, drama, angst and romance, then Vision of You, both live in concert and recorded is for you. 

Follow Sharon and Rob for updates on future performances during their #FindingTheFalcos journey

photo credit: Specular and Olivia Mitchell

Sunday 16 June 2019

Ben Platt: Sing To Me Instead, Eventim Apollo | Review

Ben Platt: Sing To Me Instead
Eventim Apollo
Reviewed on Saturday 15th June 2019 by Olivia Mitchell 

In his premiere London concert, Ben Platt performed his Sing To Me Instead tour to thunderous applause, and proved that sublime vocal skill and authentic connection are the perfect combination for a magical night. 

Opening the evening was James TW. A British singer-songwriter, James instantly got the audience on his side through his earnest songs and impressive vocals which set the tone for the intimate evening ahead. His stripped down version of Hey Ya! was particularly entertaining, especially as the audience sang back in a wonderful moment of synchronicity. Personally the most moving song was When You Love Someone which was performed with absolute candor, and highlighted why James is succeeding in his career so far.

After a brief interval, headliner Ben Platt took to the stage to almighty applause as he sung out his first instantly recognisable phrase. From the opening moment we were transferred to a vibrant jam session which was energetic and magnetic throughout. The opening song Bad Habit paved the way for the signature vibrato, laid back vibe and insanely well performed concert we were about to experience. With a set list almost exclusively featuring songs from Ben's debut album, this was a wonderful chance to see and hear Ben outside the restraints of playing a character. Whilst yet to perform in a West End musical, it was clear from the many people sporting Dear Evan Hansen merchandise, that a lot of his fans are from his theatre work. What was wonderful about this concert, is that despite not featuring any musical theatre numbers, it felt just as emotive and transformative as sitting through a plot filled musical and will entertain both stageys and non-stageys alike. If the album is not enough to assure you of Platt's vocal prowess, seeing him live will absolutely seal the deal.

Ben animatedly chatted between songs as he found ways to open himself up and connect to the audience. Short anecdotes about each piece added a depth which seemed to resonate with everyone there. In a night of perfectly performed songs it's hard to label standouts, but Honest Man and Share Your Address were particular favourites as they radiated energy thanks to Ben and his outstanding band and backup singers. Throughout the concert Platt used his smooth riffs and a soaring range to share the various life lessons he's learned and seemed to truly be loving every minute of it. 

Aside from Ben's own music, he also put his spin on some other artists. Brandi Carlile's The Joke was goosebump inducing, whilst Stevie Wonder's Overjoyed transported us to a bopping bar and the melody of Elton Jonh's Take Me To The Pilot was emphasised and enthusiastically performed. 

The intimate feel of the Sing To Me Instead album was perfectly reflected in the stage layout which was dotted with cushions and family photos. Every beat of each song was matched faultlessly through the lighting design of the tour. Superbly theatrical, warm and awe-inspiring, it was truly the most well lit concert I've ever experienced and made the night not only aurally pleasing, but visually stunning.

Ben closed the night with Older and Run Away; two beautifully controlled pieces which solidified him as performer in his own right, outside of playing a character. As audience members, we were welcomed into Ben's world and he did not shy away from letting us in on his triumphs and flaws. This connection was truly magical and I have absolutely no doubt that Ben will continue to beguile and inspire audiences around the world. 

photo credit: Olivia Mitchell

Friday 12 October 2018

Lucie Jones, Live at Zedel | Review

Lucie Jones (Concert) 
Crazy Coqs, Zedel
Reviewed on Friday 12th October 2017 by Olivia Mitchell 

One of my first ever reviews on Rewrite This Story, was of Lucie Jones' cabaret at Waterloo East where I completely fell in love with her insane voice and magnetic personality. In the two years since that concert, Lucie has  starred as Elle Woods in the UK tour of Legally Blonde, wowed as Maureen in Rent and was the UK's entry in the Eurovision contest... I guess you could say it's been a pretty quiet time for her?! I have been lucky enough to see Lucie in her various roles, but there's always something special about a solo concert.

The Zedel consistently provides the perfect atmosphere for a cosy, intimate night and allows the sole focus to be on the outstanding vocals of whoever is performing, so seeing such a talented vocalist take the stage there was a real treat. From the get-go Lucie commands the space and welcomes us into, what feels like, the inner circle. Her bouncy humour and infectious personality puts us completely in the palm of her hand and allows us to experience a carefree night of laughs and joy, whilst our attention never wavers. In my experience of musical theatre cabarets, there are only a number of performers who are able to capture a crowd so effortlessly and remain natural and unforced throughout, Lucie has truly mastered this and it's clear why she has so many loyal fans.

Despite only having about 24 hours to put this concert together, the entire thing felt sleek and polished. MD for the concert was the outstandingly wonderful, Sarah Travis who looked and sounded as if she was born to play the piano. The banter between the pair is hilarious and they work together so well, that even moments which go slightly wrong, almost feel as if they're scripted.

I would talk about each song on the set list, but every single one was a highlight. From the opening The Winner Takes it All to the closing Eurovision song, Never Give Up On You, Lucie showcased her incredibly well supported vocals  and ability to act through song. Particularly impressive, is the control in Lucie's voice; her well-honed technique is evident through her smooth mix of straight tone and vibrato, as well as her effortless mix and belt. A stand out moment for me was the mesmerising If I Loved You, where we got to see a more nuanced, gentler side to Lucie. She truly is a masterful performer and the hard work she puts into her craft is clear in every second she is on stage.

Although every song was outstanding, I will fangirl a bit more and mention a few of my other favourites... As a huge Anastasia fan, I adored the lyrical, Disney-esque rendition of Journey To The Past; the intensely beautiful, Nothing Stops Another Day pulled at my heart and That's Life is made for Lucie's voice. Alongside stellar vocals, Lucie provides some cracking anecdotes and ad libs which could be a comedy show of their own!

We were also treated to two special guests: Danny Mac and Rebecca Stenhouse. Rebecca Joined Lucie as they channeled Cady and Janis in the Mean Girls jam, Apex Predator, before Rebecca performed a fantastic version of Hopelessly Devoted To You, which she made feel contemporary with some added riffs and option ups. Danny took on the role of Dr. Pomatter in a sickly sweet performance of It Only Takes a Taste from Waitress and brought a beautiful stillness to the Zedel with his performance of It All Fades Away.

I could rave about Lucie's voice for approximately the next 400 hours but I'll wrap it up here and say that if you turn down the chance to see Lucie in any future performances, you are missing out big time. If you want to see a truthful artist who is so giving in her performance and able to magnetise a crowd toward her, then go and witness the star that is, Lucie Jones.

photo credit: Olivia Mitchell

Monday 21 May 2018

Divalution: The Re-Launch, The Other Palace | Review

Divalution: The Re-Launch (Concert) 
The Other Palace 
Reviewed on Sunday 20th May 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 

What a night. Divalution took over The Other Palace for a Sunday night of flawless vocals, spades of personality and a whole load of fun. I was made aware of Divalution (previously Sapphire Soul) when I saw them perform at West End Live Lounge. From the first time I heard their killer voices I was obsessed. These ladies are class, sass, fire and vocal prowess combined to create a perfect group who deserve to been seen and heard everywhere.

Made up of friends Laura Tebbutt, Sejal Keshwala and Lisa-Marie Holmes, Divalution come together to belt out new songs and classics which are beautifully arranged and showcase the ladies' brilliant technique. It's clear from their polished performance that many hours of hard work have gone into creating a perfectly oiled machine and their passion, determination, dedication and love really shine through.

The ladies opened the show as they meant to go on, with a fiery rendition of Survivor by Destiny's Child and the song of the moment, This is Me from The Greatest Showman. We were then introduced to their fab personalities, with each including jokes and anecdotes throughout. Every song was wonderful but standouts included Over The Rainbow, their 23 song 90's Medley, Defying Gravity and All I Ask/When We Were Young.

As well as hearing the delightful group sound of Divalution, we were also treated to solo performances. Laura Tebbutt put her own spin on Elbow's One Day Like This which included to my delight, some audience participation. Laura, known as the belter of the group has vocals and facial expressions for days and I fully want to be her when I grow up (still fooling myself that 21 isn't grown up.) Laura's vocals are honestly some of the best I've ever heard; just when you think she can't belt any higher she takes it up a billion octaves and sounds impeccable doing it. I don't understand how she hasn't been Elphaba yet, or why she's not in every single show in the West End. Honestly outstanding.

Lisa Marie-Holmes' solo was a haunting version of Snow Patrol/Leona Lewis' Run which showed off her powerful voice, stellar belt and lyrical soprano range. Again, this lady needs more recognition in the world because she is AMAZING!

Completing the trio is Sejal Keshwala who's performance of Dangerous Woman blew the roof of The Other Palace off and had most of the audience on their feet- truly mesmerising.

As well as Divalution themselves, we also got to hear special guests Rob Houchen who perfectly sung I'm Not the Only One and Marisha Wallace who blessed the audience with her Whitney Houston medley. Marisha has taken the West End by storm since appearing as Effie White in Dreamgirls and by god does this lady know how to work a crowd. The audience were putty in her hand as they stood up, sung along and absorbed themselves in her insanely good vocals and stage presence.

Due to the fact that the ladies of Divalution also have solo careers, they have a couple of stand ins who replace them if all three can't make a gig. We were introduced to Nicola and Katie when the five ladies joined together for the rousing act one closing number, Power. West Finchley is very lucky to have so many talented vocalists residing there!

Mention must also go to the outstanding band, led by Robert Eckland and made up of Doug Harper on drums, Richard Coughlan on bass, Jeff Leach on keys and Adam Goldsmith on guitar. They kept the night going and provided fantastic accompaniments throughout with Adam completely wowing me with his insane playing. My only negative of the night was that the mics were a little too loud at the start but this was quickly remedied and didn't diminish my enjoyment of the evening at all.

Every song was so full out that my larynx hurt for Divalution when leaving the theatre and as a  classical soprano who can't belt to save her life, I can only dream of being able to hit the notes they do. It's concerts like this that get me riled up because these ladies are so so SO talented but don't get half the recognition they deserve. With so many 'famous' artists nowadays being auto-tuned beyond belief, it sucks that naturally talented people such as Divalution are not at the stratospheric levels of fame they deserve to be at. Of course it's not about fame and it's clear from the three ladies that they do what they do for a love of singing and music but tell all your friends, families, acquaintances and people you meet on the street to listen to Divalution so they can keep wowing people. Spread the Divalution word and be inspired not only by their vocals but their strength and conviction as women.

Keep up to date with Divalution via their twitter and instagram.

photo credit: West End Video & Olivia Mitchell

Saturday 13 July 2024

Unforgettable Moments at BST Hyde Park: Stevie Nicks and Harry Styles Live

Stevie Nicks
Hyde Park

To put it lightly, last night at BST Hyde Park was nothing short of magical. Like many, seeing Stevie Nicks perform was a bucket list event for me, so finally getting to see her was a dream come true and the night was a true testament to the enduring power and charisma of the legendary performer. The atmosphere was electric, filled with a sense of history and excitement that only intensified as the evening progressed. The fully female lineup for the day added an extra layer of significance and empowerment to the event which will go down in the memory of so many.

The day kicked off for me with the vibrant Catty on the Rainbow Stage. Her energy was infectious, and her vocals were stunningly strong. Each note she sang was filled with emotion, showcasing her undeniable talent. It's clear that this is just the beginning of an incredible career for her. I feel lucky to have witnessed her early steps and can't wait to see where she goes next.

Nina Nesbitt followed with a lovely set that provided a beautiful contrast to some of the other artists. Her performance showcased her as a talented singer-songwriter with a unique voice. Her heartfelt lyrics and soothing melodies were a delight to watch, and her songs added a perfect touch to the day's lineup.

As a longtime fan of Brandi Carlile, seeing her on the Great Oak Stage was another dream come true. I have to admit, I shed a tear. Her performance was nothing short of astounding, making her the perfect opener for Stevie. Hearing 'The Joke' and 'The Story' live was everything I hoped for and more. Her raspy, powerful vocals and brilliant audience interaction were captivating. Closing her set with 'We Are the Champions' in honour of the upcoming Euros final was a wonderful choice that had the audience fully on her side. From what I could hear around me, Brandi gained a lot of new fans through her performance!

And then, the moment we had all been waiting for: Stevie Nicks. From the moment she stepped on stage, the crowd was enraptured. Surrounded by fans united by their love for Stevie, there was an overwhelming sense of community and shared joy. Many, myself included, had made the effort to emulate Stevie's iconic style, with flowing shawls and layered jewellry. The lady next to me even had a ribbon-laden tambourine, a tribute to Stevie's signature accessory. As Stevie took the stage, the crowd was filled with sniffles and tears, a testament to the profound impact she has had on all of us. This was more than just a concert; it was a momentous event that celebrated the enduring magic of Stevie Nicks. The joy of music and the connection we all felt to her and to each other made it a night to remember, filled with heartfelt emotion and a sense of belonging.

Her setlist was a perfect mix of classics and deeper cuts, taking us on a journey through her incredible career. Starting with 'Outside the Rain', she immediately set the tone for an unforgettable night. 'Dreams' and 'If Anyone Falls' followed, showcasing her timeless voice that remains as strong and evocative as ever.

'Gypsy' and 'The Edge of Seventeen' were delivered with the kind of passion that only Stevie can bring. As she performed 'Bella Donna' and 'Gold Dust Woman,' the graphics on the screen behind her added a hypnotic visual element to the show, perfectly complementing the music and enhancing the overall experience.

Stevie's anecdotes between songs were like little gifts to the audience. Her Joan Didion-esque meandering Hollywood stories were fascinating; I could have listened to her regale us for hours. The way she spoke about her various shawls was delightful, adding a charming personal touch to the performance. It was evident she was thoroughly enjoying playing Hyde Park, and her joy was contagious.

A special highlight was when her vocal coach, Steve Real joined her for a song. It added an intimate and unique touch to the performance, showcasing Stevie's generosity and appreciation for her team. As she moved into 'Rhiannon,' the crowd sang along, united in their love for the music and the moment.

The night reached an unforgettable climax when Harry Styles joined Stevie on stage for the final two songs. As a huge Harry fan, I'd heard rumours he might be there, but nothing could prepare me for the sheer emotion of the moment when he appeared to sing 'Stop Draggin' My Heart Around.' Seeing him perform with Stevie on what would have been Christine McVie's 81st birthday was surreal; their rendition of 'Landslide,' accompanied by a beautiful slideshow of photos, was moving beyond words.

This concert was everything you could ask for and more. Stevie's voice is still incredibly strong, and her stage presence is unmatched. The graphics and visuals throughout the show were stunning, adding an extra layer of magic to the performance. I'm honoured to have witnessed such an icon perform in such an iconic setting. The memories of this night, especially that magical moment with Harry Styles, will stay with me forever. If you ever get the chance to see Stevie Nicks live, don't hesitate. It's an experience you'll treasure for a lifetime.

Reviewed on Friday 12th July 2024 by Olivia Mitchell
Photo Credit: Anthony Pham & Olivia Mitchell

Saturday 9 March 2024

Reneé Rapp 'Snow Hard Feelings' Tour in London and Intimate Acoustic Show REVIEW

Reneé Rapp's Snow Hard Feelings Tour
Eventim Apollo, Camden Roundhouse and Banquet Records

Having followed Reneé Rapp since 2018 and attending her debut London show last year, I snapped up tickets for her London residency in an instant and waited with extreme levels of excitement to see her perform again. It's funny having watched someone for so long, you feel a strange sense of pride without even knowing them personally. Perhaps with Reneé it's even stronger because of her connection to us fans that makes her feel almost like a friend, even on the other side of the Atlantic. So, going into the weekend I knew it was going to be special, but it turned out to be so much more than that.

From her breakout role as Regina George in Mean Girls on Broadway and then the recent film adaptation, to her portrayal of Leighton in the charmingly relevant The Sex Lives of College Girls series, to her acclaimed debut album, Rapp has grown from strength to strength, gaining an adoring fanbase along the way, and always staying true to her values of honesty and integrity. Last year her first full length album was released to much critical acclaim (snubbed by the Grammy's, but we move) and this tour was a testament to her evolution as an artist, and a celebration of her impressive musical intuition and writing skills. I won't go into depth because we'd be here forever but for me it's a no skip album that perfectly blends elements of pop, rock, and theatre to create a spellbinding journey. Lyrically it hits hard and musically it offers variety and so much melodic interest whilst still retaining a very Reneé feel.

Watching last year's concert, with music from Rapp's EP 'Everything to Everyone' it was hard to imagine it could get better but with time, it seems Renee has grown in confidence and truly proves to be born for the stage. Two of the shows I saw (Hammersmith Apollo and Camden Roundhouse) were part of the Snow Hard Feelings Tour, which included a mixture of songs from both releases. During these full production concerts, Rapp commanded attention with her dynamic vocals and infectious energy, delivering unforgettable performances, supported by her brilliant band and excellent lighting and video design. 

But it was Rapp's acoustic performance at Banquet Records that truly showcased her vocal prowess and artistry. Stripped of elaborate production, Rapp delivered soul-stirring renditions of her songs, allowing her powerhouse vocals to take centre stage. With each note, she demonstrated remarkable control and nuance, effortlessly navigating through intricate melodies and emotive lyrics. Her performance was a masterclass in vocal performance, with faultless transitions between delicate falsetto and powerful belting.

I've always been in awe of Reneé's vocal technique, from her rounded vowels, to her impeccable breath control, phrasing and healthy belt, so getting a chance to witness it close up felt really special. Vocally she shone in all three shows, but there's really something magical about an acoustic show, with only a few hundred people all living in the moment and experiencing someone's innate talent. This show's version of 'Snow Angel' will go down as one of my favourite live vocals I've ever heard. 

Throughout the shows, Rapp's authenticity and vulnerability were palpable. Whether sharing personal stories or engaging in playful banter with the crowd, she created an intimate connection that made everyone feel like old friends. Despite the occasional interruptions caused by fainting fans, Rapp handled each moment with grace and humour, turning potential disruptions into endearing anecdotes. Plus, her ability to convey emotion through her vocals and infuse each lyric with depth and sincerity, creates an intimate connection with her audience. Part comedy show, part concert, you're sure to be laughing out loud and probably crying during a Reneé Rapp concert.

Music is such a community former, and these shows were testament to that. From standing in the queues to waiting in the venue for the concert to start, I got chatting to so many people and felt like I was in a room of likeminded people who just wanted to have a good time. The ethos of acceptance and friendship which Reneé fosters, trickles down to her fans, allowing the creation of a brilliantly welcoming environment. There are also a number of excellent audience chants which when screamed out, really unite the crowd, and I must say, as a Brit I feel like we really excel at these, thanks to our years of assemblies and pantomimes. The signs held up by fans added to the sense of community, but unfortunately there were many which veered into objectification. Sign culture and boundaries is a whole topic of it's own but Reneé navigated these situations with poise, reminding fans of the importance of respect; let's just hope people chill out for her next performances.

The support acts, Towa Bird and Sekou, brought their own energy to the stage, setting the perfect tone for Rapp's captivating performances. Towa Bird, with their soulful melodies and infectious energy, warmed up the crowd with their genre-bending sound, seamlessly blending elements of indie-pop and R&B. Their dynamic performance left a lasting impression, showcasing their undeniable charisma and artistry. Meanwhile, Sekou captivated audiences with his powerful vocals and heartfelt lyrics, delivering an electrifying performance. At only 19 years old, he's sure to go from strength to strength and I can't wait to see him flourish in the music industry.

As the final notes of 'Snow Angel' echoed through the venues and confetti rained down, it was clear that Rapp's London shows had left an indelible mark on all who were lucky enough to witness them. With her unparalleled talent, genuine connection to her fans, and unwavering authenticity, Reneé Rapp has proven once again why she is a force to be reckoned with. And as London basks in the afterglow of her triumphant performances, one thing is certain: the star of Reneé Rapp is only just beginning to rise. Bring on the Reneésance.

Reviewed on 1st, 2nd, 3rd March by Olivia Mitchell
Photo Credit: Olivia Mitchell

Thursday 15 November 2018

Hadestown, National Theatre | Review

Olivier Theatre, National Theatre
Reviewed on Wednesday 14th November 2018 by Olivia Mitchell 

Folky, emotive, excellently performed and ever relevant, the National Theatre's production of Hadestown is a grand triumph. The folk opera by Anaïs Mitchell started life in 2006 as a small concert which then became an album and gained a cult following. A fully formed, off-Broadway production came from the genius team of Mitchell and Rachel Chavkin who have continued their partnership for this new production which they are taking to Broadway after its run at the National.

Despite a number of iterations, the story has always remained the same and the music, scarily relevant. We follow the story of Orpheus who could charm anyone with his music and Eurydice, the woman who falls in love with him, but whom he loses as he tries to lead her out of the underworld. 

This show is wonderfully smart and sharp in the way it twists the original stories to feel current whilst still maintaining their mythic feel. Orpheus and Eurydice aren't magical spirits but a young boy and girl facing famine and the trials of life in a failing world. Hades, ruler of the underworld also rules the mines and offers his people "freedom" by giving them jobs but also imprisoning them behind a wall. Why We Build The Wall must be one of the most topical numbers of the show and it's hard to believe it wasn't written more recently. The parallels with the state of the USA are undeniable.

The sleek but intricate set of Rachel Hauck, takes the tale to a Depression-era bar, where André De Shields as Hermes, narrates the show and introduces us to the meaning's behind what's to come whilst accompanied by a live, bluesy band who are dotted around the stage. His rich voice transports the audience to another world.

The operatic nature comes from the recitatives which pepper the show and provide lyrical pauses from the sometimes repetitive songs. The cast do an absolutely outstanding job of performing the beautiful music, providing spades of emotion. The pureness of the show and performances within it moved me to tears several times and the man next to me must have exclaimed "wow" after at least 90% of songs, so they certainly pack an emotional punch. 

Reeve Carney has a soft-rock vibe to his Orpheus, with his spiked hair and calming voice showing why Eurydice would have been drawn to him. Eva Noblezada is on another vocal level with her performance; her voice is supremely clear and the effortless way she delivers every line is truly magical to behold. Every word that leaves her mouth is infused with feeling and the way she idly carries herself round the stage makes her the perfect counterpart to the equally cool, Orpheus. Their sweet duet, All I've Ever Known is a mystical moment.

Reminiscent of The Huger Games' President Snow and the USA's President Trump, Hades is played menacingly by Patrick Page. The weight of his words and performance cut close to home and his growling bass voice enchants everyone who hears it. What's most scary is the way he also reveals a tender side which is mesmerising and terrifying at once. Hey Little Songbird is an example of the way he can wrap someone around his finger; he seduces Eurydice before telling his wife later that the girl means nothing to him. As his half-drunk, half-lonely wife Persephone, Amber Gray gives a masterclass performance. Her high energy moments are contrasted perfectly with moments of sadness which seep out of her and cover the audience in waves.

Chavkin has worked with every performer, set piece, musician and lighting moment to create a show which has us lingering between despair and hope. The sharp choreography from David Neumann works fantastically with the revolve of the Oliver stage and bring an equally frenetic and still mood to the piece.

This is a production all about balance and the entire cast, crew and creative team have done an astounding job of highlighting the pain and beauty which inhabits our world. Mention goes to the Fates (Rosie Fletcher, Carly Mercedes Dyer, Gloria Onitiri) and Jordan Shaw who all caught the eye throughout with their supremely grounded performances.

Hadestown is painfully relevant and beautifully moving. It's a production which will surely be remembered by all who see it, and should be seen by all.

Hadestown runs at the National Theatre until January 26th 2019
photo credit: Helen Maybanks

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

Thursday 13 September 2018

Heathers, Theatre Royal Haymarket | Review

Theatre Royal Haymarket
Reviewed on Monday 10th September 2018 by Olivia Mitchell

Every so often a show comes around which receives an exceptional amount of hype and has the West End buzzing. Heathers is currently that show and the good news is that it truly lives up to it. Based on the 1989 film starring Winona Ryder, this musical adaptation is full of energy and humour as it balances the line between political correctness and incorrectness. We find ourselves drawn towards the darkness but also cringing at the atrocities that go on.

Laurence O'Keefe had huge success with his adaptation of Legally Blonde and has applied his winning formula once again to bring this show to life with a camp, sassy and at times melancholic score. The plot follows Veronica Sawyer, a girl who is 'different' to the others at her school and longs for unity between all cliques and social standings. However, in order to make it through High School, she befriends the rulers of the school, the "lipstick gustapo" made up of three girls named Heather. Our protagonist then meets a brooding new boy, Jason J.D Dean who turns out to be a kill happy psychopath. From there on there are deaths, parties, funerals and a whole lot of destruction.

When the movie came out in 1989 it became an instant hit and then received a cultish following when it opened off-Broadway in 2014. The show's transition to the West End has been no different as teens and young adults flood to the theatre with scrunchies in hair and  pleated skirts on to see this wildly fun but disturbing musical brought to life.

The entire cast bring this show to life with vivacious passion and immense talent. Leading the gang, Carrie Hope Fletcher is a powerhouse as she battles between what's right and wrong and what she wants to do to boost her social standing/love life. Carrie steps  on stage to well deserved cheers and blows the roof of with her entire performance, especially her new song 'I Say No' which gives her a backbone and the rough 'Dead Girl Walking Reprise'. Veronica's moments of strength are certainly where Carrie shines but she is also humourous and likeable as she swoons over JD.

Under Andy Fickman's direction, Jamie Muscato plays the mysteriously murderous JD with an intensity that you can't help but be drawn to. Whilst it's not wise to partner up with a murderer, we all love a bad boy and the combination of JD's smooth talking and Jamie's perfectly rough voice make us feel for him a little bit, even though he becomes a monster before our eyes. Muscato's frenetic energy in 'Meant To Be Yours' is certainly a theatrical highlight of the year.

The three Heathers waltz around the stage as one but have quirky personality traits which are owned and embodied by each. As leader of the pack, Heather Chandler who "floats above it all", Jodie Steele is brilliant. Her permanent scowl, sharp movements, sublime vocals and stellar comedic timing make her perfect for the role. Sophie Isaacs brings an innocence to Heather McNamara which is interesting to play out. Whilst she is part of the mean girl group, it's clear from the outset that she is merely following the pack and wishes to break away. Isaacs' rendition of Lifeboat is a pin-drop silence moment which stands out in the show. As the final Heather, Duke, T'Shan Williams is feisty and aggressive, with her solo Never Shut Up Again earning her laughs and cheers from the audience. 

Stand outs of the cast also include Jenny O'Leary who gives a moving performance of Kindergarten Boyfriend, Rebecca Lock who brings the entire theatre to life with her fiery, belt-tastic Shine a Light and Christopher Chung and Dominic Andersen who are humour embodied as the jocks who combine to create Kram. Ensemble members Lauren Drew and Olivia Moore also catch the eye throughout.

Gary Lloyd's choreography is especially effective with the Heathers, namely during the iconic Candy Store which sees them sashaying round the stage but in true Heathers style, being in complete control the entire time and never stepping out of sync with one another.

Mention must go to Ben Cracknell's lighting, which like the music, intensifies every emotion on stage. Particularly effective are the varying tones of light between the characters. The Heathers are of course lit in their iconic colours (brought to life vibrantly through David Shields' costumes) but whats most striking are the moments when Veronica is lit in warm spotlights whilst JD is basked in stark, almost grey tones. This highlights the contrast between the true evil and the kind-of-forced-into-evil in a clever way.

Most of the subject matter of this show is uncomfortable but sadly ever present: bullying, suicide, murder, depression. Heathers does a good job of satirising the sensationalism of them and shines a light (pun intended) on the fact that unity and kindness are always the way forward.

Whilst this isn't a light hearted show in content, the songs are crazily catchy, the talent level is ridiculously high and it's just a really good night out. For Big Fun, get down to the Theatre Royal Haymarket!

Heathers runs at the Theatre Royal Haymarket until 24th November

photo credit: Pamela Raith

Friday 5 July 2024

Morgan Wallen Lights Up BST Hyde Park: A Night of Country Magic | REVIEW

Morgan Wallen
BST Hyde Park

If there’s one thing that Morgan Wallen's concert at BST Hyde Park proved, it's that live music has a magical way of bringing people together. Having only dabbled in a few of Wallen's songs before attending, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. But by the end of the night, I was a converted fan, swept up in the collective joy and energy that only live music can create.

BST Hyde Park has a strict 10:30 pm curfew, which means performers have to make a tough choice: play as many songs as possible or spend time interacting with the crowd. Wallen masterfully did both. He packed his setlist with as many songs as he could, yet managed to sprinkle in some genuinely touching moments of interaction. Each brief pause felt intentional and heartfelt, winning over the audience every time.

One of the standout moments was when Wallen moved to a B-stage at the back of the golden circle. He explained he wanted to make eye contact with as many fans as possible, bringing an intimate feel to such a large-scale event. It was these little touches that made the evening feel special and sincere.

The music was a perfect mix of high-energy anthems and soulful ballads. Songs like 'Whiskey Glasses,' 'Last Night,' and '7 Summers' had the crowd singing along with infectious enthusiasm. Each track showcased Wallen's versatility, and it was clear that he poured his heart into every performance. It was a true celebration of country music, and the crowd couldn't get enough.

Visually, the show was a feast for the eyes. The lighting was spectacular, with lasers and wave-like smoke effects adding to the overall atmosphere. The graphics, while a bit random at times, used vibrant colour palettes that kept things interesting. The American-themed videos, featuring Wallen with a fish, a gun, and a golf club, added a fun and fitting touch, especially for a 4th of July performance, even if they were somewhat rogue choices.

Despite my initial unfamiliarity with his music, the sheer amount of joy I felt throughout the evening is a testament to Wallen's talent and the unifying power of live, communal music. The concert was not just a performance but a shared experience that brought people together, celebrating the joy of country music and live events.

Morgan Wallen's debut at BST Hyde Park was certainly a night to remember. His ability to blend energetic hits with heartfelt moments, combined with his genuine connection to the audience, made for an unforgettable experience. The quirky graphics and dazzling lighting only added to the charm. If you ever get the chance to see Morgan Wallen live, don’t hesitate – it’s an experience that will leave you with a smile on your face and a song in your heart.

Reviewed on Thursday 4th July 2024 by Olivia
Photo Credit: Olivia Mitchell

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

Tuesday 17 May 2022

Grease The Musical, Dominion Theatre | Review

Grease The Musical
Dominion Theatre
Reviewed on Tuesday 17th May 2022 by Olivia Mitchell 

It’s a cult classic that’s got the word, got the groove, it’s got meaning, and in its current West End run at the Dominion Theatre, Grease provides a high energy, fun night out that’ll have you feeling good and tapping your toes.

The production which previously toured the UK features all the iconic moments and songs from the film, but shuffles them around and combines them with their original stage versions. For example The T Birds are now back to their og name of the Burger Palace Boys. These small tweaks allow the audience to be more engaged as they don’t quite know what’s coming. However, other attempts to somewhat modernise the book fall a little flat. You would assume that ending the show with the punchline of the girl changing herself so the boy likes her, could’ve been switched up a little but it remains the same as the movie and certainly feels dated. This version of Grease does give Sandy's character more of a backbone but it would be nice to see just a bit of dialogue added to give her a bit more autonomy at the end.

The West End cast is chockablock with strong performers who bring the array of characters to life incredibly well. As the leading lady, Olivia Moore is a delight as Sandy. Her powerhouse voice soars every time she opens her mouth and she gives a dynamic and endearing performance. Leader of the Burger Palace Boys, Danny Zuko is played well by Dan Partridge who really comes into his own in the angsty number How Big I'm Gonna Be and also provides great humour and vocals in Stranded at the Drive In.

Other standout performers include Jocasta Almgill, who’s rendition of There Are Worse Things I Could Do, is heart-wrenching and transforms the song to be heard in a new light. Mary Moore is also a gem as Jan and Eloise Davies is wonderfully witty and whimsical as the Beauty School Dropout, Frenchie. Paul French’s Kenickie is rough and brooding but sometimes lets his softer side show and is a delight to watch. 

If you’ve seen the adverts for this show, you’ll have probably seen Peter Andre who is starring as Vince Fontaine and Teen Idol. Whilst only appearing briefly in act one, in act two he comes to life and is highly entertaining and will certainly please audience members who are fans!

There are a few moments in the show where the energy lulls or jokes fall a bit flat but it’s the full ensemble sections that really bring it back up and make it soar. The Hand Jive and We Go Together are especially good moments that ooze energy and almost create electricity in the auditorium. This is in a big way thanks to Arlene Phillips' outstanding choreography that is fresh and exciting but completely in keeping with what we know and love as typically Grease

As a whole the cast are top notch and work really well together. It's great to see how much characterisation work has gone into each role, so that no matter who you're looking at one stage, you can always see a story or relationship developing with them.

Despite a few shortcomings, the musical is a real laugh and a nice, hand jiving escape from reality. It's not groundbreaking but Grease The Musical does what it says on the tin and delivers iconic scenes and songs that fans of the film will love. So, all you crazy cats better get booking!

Thursday 22 February 2024

Hadestown at the Lyric Theatre REVIEW: A Soul-Stirring Journey to the Depths of Hell

Lyric Theatre

There are musicals that touch your soul and for me that’s Hadestown. I first saw the show in 2018, where I went in completely blind and came out gob smacked and awed. Tonight after the official West End opening night, I feel equally awed as well as inspired, moved, astounded, heartbroken and overjoyed. There really aren’t adjectives to describe how heartfelt and special this show is. Not only is it a piece of fantastic quality theatre but it’s also a poem, a concert, a celebration of life and humanity, an ode to music and above all, a love story.

Hadestown tells the tale of young Orpheus and Eurydice as their tales intertwine. It's a musical retelling of the ancient Greek myth of the duo and follows the journey of Orpheus as he descends into the underworld, determined to rescue his beloved Eurydice from the clutches of the charismatic but menacing Hades. Despite the various iterations and productions this musical has gone through, one constant is how scarily relevant the themes it explores feel in our modern world. Hades, ruler of the underworld and the mines, ostensibly grants "freedom" through employment while simultaneously confining his subjects behind a barrier. Why We Build The Wall is certainly one of the most pertinent songs of the production, its relevance hits all too close to home in the current world.

The musical borders the line between acting as "the world we live in, and the one we dream about", in thanks part to Rachel Hauck's set. Scaled down slightly from the National Theatre production, it still evokes Depression-era vibes and cleverly frames the story. Bradley King's lighting literally highlights some of the most astounding moments of the show, especially during Hades' peak moments, as well as casting shadows to create an almost cinematic feel; overall it's just an incredibly cohesive show that has a vibe and aesthetic that matches it so well.

This undefined world is perhaps best showcased by Anaïs Mitchell's incredible score which combines so many styles a creates such special storytelling. The intricate lyrics allow layers upon layers of emotions to form as Anaïs weaves a musical tapestry that is charming and delightful at times, but gritty and painful at others. Mitchell has truly crafted a musical masterpiece that transcends time and genre and creates a theatrical experience like no other.

Director Rachel Chavkin has meticulously pored over each performer, set element, musician, and lighting effect to craft a production that leaves us suspended between despair and hope. This version of the show also feels perfectly tweaked for the West End, with the use of the performer’s natural accents making the whole thing feel very real and grounded, an inspired change! David Neumann's precise choreography fits seamlessly with the revolving stage, continually moving between frenetic energy and poignant stillness that works so well. This is a piece which is so reliant on balance, the balance between good and bad, love and hate, light and dark, loud and quiet, beauty and pain, among others, and the entire cast and creative team have perfectly understood and managed this balance to form a musical that leaves you not quite sure what emotion you're experiencing, but 100% sure you experienced something special.

At it's core this is a story about people, and the people who lead it are wonderful. As the headstrong Eurydice, Grace Hodgett Young is everything you could ask for in a leading lady, her calm is as strong as her passion and she fills every moment with charisma. There’s often mention of “stage presence” but it’s rare you see the phrase as outwardly displayed as with Grace who commands even the smallest of moments. Of course she’s also vocally dreamy, showcasing all layers of her voice and perfectly bringing the vocal grit that’s so necessary for the role. Her easy swagger and playfulness is a perfect balance to Orepheus' more nervous persona. Taking on the role of this heartstrong counterpart, Donal Finn is delightfully whimsical and charming. Donal's Orpheus truly comes into his own during act two when his passion for his partner and also his music are on full display and his voice becomes a beacon of hope cutting through the darkness of despair. It's utterly heartbreaking when we reach the expected conclusion, a testament to the emotion the cast pour out to get us to that point.

As the enigmatic Hermes, Melanie La Barrie is all parts wonderful, her presence commanding the stage with every word and gesture and bringing humour and gravitas in equal measure. Her performance weaves together the threads of myth and legend with an all knowing wisdom that seems to transcend time, she truly gives everything on stage and is a marvel to behold.

Hadestown is more than a musical—it's an experience, a testament to the enduring power of art to touch the very depths of our souls. It's a rare gem that shines brightly in the landscape of contemporary theatre, a reminder that sometimes, even in the darkest of times, there is still beauty to be found.

In the hallowed halls of the Lyric Theatre, you can bear witness to something truly extraordinary. Hadestown is a triumph in every sense of the word and it needs to be seen.

Reviewed on Wednesday 21st February 2024 by Olivia Mitchell
Photo Credit: Marc Brenner

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

Friday 7 December 2018

In Conversation With... Sophie Isaacs | Cinderella | Interview

Fresh from starring in the hit musical, Heathers, Sophie Isaac's is getting festive and tackling Panto with Cinderella which opens tonight in Woking  at the New Victoria Theatre. Olivia sat down with Sophie for a festive chat...

You've just finished playing Heather McNamara in Heathers, tell us a bit about that...

It was possibly the best experience I've ever had. Seeing a job from workshops, then to a sold out run at The Other Palace and then transferring to the West End; to see a show develop from the start like that has been incredible and also, it's such a special show that I just adore it. 

Heathers has obviously already been on, but you basically created this version of Heather Mc yourself, so what was the hardest part?

Probably just getting to grips with the character and her journey because she starts off being a Heather, with the not nice aspect of that but her journey means her character changes throughout the show and her interactions with different people affect her. Especially with Veronica (Carrie Hope Fletcher) and that friendship, which really develops. So getting that journey is the most important in terms of making sure she had heart at the beginning, even though it was a little hidden, and gradually bringing that out. 

Did you get a lot of say in the changes in your production of Heathers?
Yeah, we were really lucky. The creative team were unbelievable; so gracious and open to us saying "it doesn't feel natural" but honestly, generally they knew what was right and what was best. They've been with the show for ten years but they were absolutely open to discussion and seeing what works and what doesn't.

Heathers audiences were very different in terms of their live reactions compared to other musical audiences, what was that experience like and do you think it prepped you for the interactive aspect of Panto?
Yes, Heathers was like a rock concert and it's nice because I now won't be put off by people suddenly shouting at me or cheering or being very very involved. We always said that the Heather's audience was the fifth Beatle and pantomime has the fifth Beatle as well, so it was very good prep. 

We didn't know how Heathers would land going from 300 seats at The Other Palace to the much bigger, Haymarket but it was bigger and better which was amazing.

So, Cinderella the Panto- are you excited?
Yes! I put the dress on today and I just cannot wait. The shoes are just stunning, jewelled everywhere, with a monster jewel on the front. I am possibly the biggest Christmas fan on the planet so any opportunity to get festive, I love!

What are your favourite parts of Christmas, do you have any traditions?
Of course the whole, advent calendar and chocolate for breakfast everyday thing. My favourite things are generally food related! Mulled wine, piggies in blankets, I love a buffet.... oh and love a mince pie! Just all of it! 

I was out of the country last year for Christmas and it was awful, I was just so sad cause I wanted to be here with my family so I thought to myself, "what's the most Christmassy thing I can do next year?" and here we are... Panto!

Are you a big Panto fan?
Yeah I love it, absolutely love it. I haven't been in one for years and years and years but the last one I saw was Cinderella. It was in Swindon and my friend was playing Cinderella so it's nice to be doing this now.

So why should people come and see Cinderella in Woking?
You should come to the Panto because it's an amazing night out, it's a time to have a lot of fun with your family; it's festive; there are jokes that mums and dads will get, and jokes that the children will get, so it's fun for all and I think it's going to be incredible!

Cinderella runs at the New Victoria Theatre until January 6th 2019

Interview by Editor, Olivia Mitchell

photo credit: Grahame Larter