Tuesday 9 May 2023

Operation Mincemeat at the Fortune Theatre a review: The must see musical of 2023

Operation Mincemeat
Fortune Theatre

If you're looking for a unique and intriguing musical, then look no further than Operation Mincemeat in its West End transfer to the Fortune Theatre. This production tells the incredible true story of a WWII deception operation, that although morally grey, helped Britain win the war and it does so with style, charm and heart in spades.

The star of this exciting musical is undoubtedly the music which manages to be both catchy and poignant, with some of the wittiest lyrics in the West End right now. The book, music and lyrics are expertly constructed by SpitLip founders David Cumming, Natasha Hodgson, ZoĆ« Roberts and Felix Hagan (four of whom also star) and the whole show is maelstrom of musical magic. You'll find yourself continually laughing out loud and then all of a sudden wiping tears from your eyes as this hug of a musical manages to wrap you around its theatrical finger.

Every performance from the talented cast -completed at this performance by Claire Marie Hall, Jak Malone and Geri Allen (in her cover debut)- is a standout one. The precision with which they perform is just astounding and thanks to the script, there's a perfect balance between humour, satire and drama.

Aesthetically, Operation Mincemeat is a sleek mission. Ben Stones' set and costumes are perfectly evocative of MI5 and wartime London, as well as having a healthy dose of camp dramatics. One scene in particular features costumes perfect for a bedazzled version of Sweeney Todd! Really clever direction by Robert Hastie and joyous choreography by Jenny Arnold both let the story and performances to soar and ideally balance the line between allowing the performances to be genuinely funny without being cringe inducing. Shoutout must also go to Publicity Designer Bob King Creative for the genius artwork which accompanies the show. Once you see it, you won't un-see it!

In summary, this show is the epitome of fun. Poking fun at everyone and everything it is a satirical, stupendous, stomper of a show that will have you entertained and inspired. The new must-see musical, it needs to be booked immediately!

Reviewed on Tuesday 2nd May 2023 by Olivia Mitchell

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

Thursday 4 May 2023

Pentatonix: The World Tour at the Eventim Apollo review: A shining celebration of musical talent

Pentatonix: The World Tour
Eventim Apollo

After having their concerts postponed in 2020, the Grammy Award winning group Pentatonix have finally made it to London with their world tour. Featuring the classics that made them popular such as Daft Punk and White Winter Hymnal, as well as soulful pieces from their most recent album, The Lucky Ones and some extra musical gems, the group proved that it was well worth the wait as they showcased their impressive range and versatility. As expected, their harmonies are spot-on and their ability to create complex sounds using only their voices continues to be astounding.

Having last seen them perform in 2016 what was immediately striking with this tour is just how amped up and emphasised the production value is; everything feels bolder and sleeker. This is in no small part thanks to the excellent lighting design by Damian Rogers which is so impeccably programmed to sync up with every beat and emotional inflection, it becomes a show all of its own. Equally the choreography perfectly complements each song and adds a real element of interest. The production team have done an incredible job of creating a concert experience that was not only musically impressive but also visually captivating.

What really makes the concert stand out is the energy and passion that Pentatonix bring to the procedings. The group have a palpable friendship and support network which shines from the stage and creates a really lovely atmosphere. Plus, they interact with the crowd, share stories and jokes, and make everyone feel like they are a part of the experience. It's clear that they genuinely love what they do and enjoy connecting with their fans.

Where before this could have been a 10/10 musical concert, now it’s a 10/10 musical spectacle. The bold elements don’t take away from the vocals, in fact they frame them perfectly and highlight just how tight and strong the vocal quintet are. It’s a matured and elevated experience and the talent and passion on stage make Pentatonix really shine. Hopefully it won't take seven years for the group to return to the UK because we need more!

Reviewed on Wednesday 3rd May 2023 by Olivia Mitchell
photo credit: Ben Hausdorff

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

Wednesday 26 April 2023

Toby Sebastian at Omeara review: A stellar first headline show

Toby Sebastian

Since originally releasing music in 2013, Toby Sebastian has been firmly carving his name in the music industry and this year has embarked on his first ever headline tour, which last night reached London's Omeara in a spectacular fashion.

A wonderful showcase of Toby's vocals and stellar song writing, the evening provided a mixture of fan favourite songs, as well as material from his upcoming album; all of which was received with warmth by the crowd who bopped along throughout. Also well received was a surprise appearance by Bridgerton star, Simone Ashley who got to showcase her hauntingly beautiful vocals in a duet of Rusty Snare. Fingers crossed we'll see the duo pair up again in future.

Striking throughout the evening was Sebastian's innate musicality which shone through as he poured his heart into the performance. His unique blend of indie and rock perfectly matches the raw, emotional sound of his voice, which particularly soars in his falsetto moments. These virtuosic sections were some of the best and most captivating of the set. In a bigger venue, with a slightly better sound system, one can only imagine how spectacular Toby would sound.

Equally, the evening had some really high octane moments, especially in the closing rendition of Train To Mexico which felt like a party and was certainly a fan fave. Sebastian really lets the music speak for itself and doesn't interact a huge amount with the audience which means sometimes there's a feeling of disconnect, however, his charisma still shines through and he really gives his all musically.

The three piece band work together like a well oiled machine and everyone seems like they're genuinely having fun on stage which is a real treat to see. 

Mention must also go to Louis Oliver who performed a super solid opening set and really charmed the audience through his raspy, incredibly powerful vocals. 

Overall a well-curated set list, and a solid and evident appreciation for music and performing made this a really special night. Whilst there's no release date yet for Toby's next album, the sneak peeks say it's going to be a really enjoyable listen; and the next tour which will hopefully accompany it will be so worth attending!

Reviewed on Tuesday 25th April 2023 by Olivia Mitchell
Photo credit: Mike Palmer

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

Thursday 20 April 2023

Ain't Too Proud at the Prince Edward Theatre review: A tumultuous tale told through stellar performances

Ain't Too Proud
Prince Edward Theatre

A hit on Broadway, Ain't Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations, has finally opened in the West End and is a thoroughly entertaining, charismatic and soulful journey. The musical, with a book by Dominique Morisseau is a breathtaking celebration of the legendary Motown group, The Temptations, and their iconic music. Taking you on a journey through the highs and lows of stardom, it showcases how some of the most famous music was created and provides a really really fun night out.

The heart and soul of this musical are the performances which are unanimously nothing short of spectacular. The cast deliver powerhouse vocals that charm and mesmerise throughout and there are so many standout moments. The whole cast are spectacularly strong but mention must go to Cameron Bernard Jones, Tosh Wanogho-Maud, Ryan Carter and Michael James Stewart who really shine in their solo and ensemble moments. Each member who becomes part of The Temptations, does so with a real sense of nuance and the varying personalities and talents are showcased throughout; really capturing the essence and ethos of the original group.

Above all this is an ensemble piece, with some of the strongest moments coming when the cast unite both vocally and choreographically. Sergio Trujillo's choreography is some of the best in the West End right now, the sheer slickness and precision is a wonder to behold and the energy created on stage is supremely infectious. Featuring iconic hits like My Girl, Papa Was a Rolling Stone, and Ain't Too Proud to Beg, the show is a top-tapping fest of gusto and spirit.

The storytelling is mostly compelling, and the narrative (led by Sifiso Mazibuko) is engaging from the start. Spanning the long and tumultuous history of The Temptations, from their humble beginnings to their rise to stardom the show has a lot to fit in, and especially in the first act it feels a bit too much. Whilst every performance is engaging, it does feel a little too long and seems to keep going even when there's a natural break point. However, the story is a poignant and emotional one that delves into the personal struggles, triumphs, and dynamics of the group and includes some powerful messages. Alongside the musical elements, the show touches on themes of friendship and brotherhood, as well as shedding light on the social and political challenges faced by The Temptations and African American artists during that era. A poignant reminder of their impact on American music history and the enduring legacy they left behind, Ain't Too Proud is a strong celebration of The Temptations.

Ain't Too Proud is a wonderful addition to the West End that features dazzling production value, and timeless music. A celebration of The Temptations and their impact on Motown, it will leave you humming their hits long after the curtain falls. 

Reviewed on Wednesday 19th April 2023 by Olivia Mitchell
photo credit: Johan Persson

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