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Friday, 19 April 2019

REVIEW: Tumulus at the Soho Theatre

Every now and again, there is a piece of theatre that comes about, rekindles that fire inside you as to why you love theatre, giving you tension, humour, raw unforced emotion, and giving you a full workout of all the senses. Christopher Adams’s ‘Tumulus’ is one of those exquisite rare breeds of a play, being one of the strongest three handers I’ve ever seen, with two of the three playing nearly 40 characters between them.

Tumulus is essentially the modern day murder mystery based on a true story, following Anthony as he tries to uncover the truth when a one night stand winds up dead on Hampstead Heath, presumed casualty of the London chem sex scene, whilst battling his own addictions. 

All I can really say is hats off to Christopher Adams - the writing is truly exceptional. The whole piece flows fantastically and whilst it is tackling a dark subject matter, it is still very funny with it. My most notable line was from Jack, stating ‘The sex was like being hit by a bus, a really happy bus’.

REVIEW: All You Need is Love at Cadogan Hall

Flying Entertainment, the producers of All you need is love , are building a portfolio of tribute shows building on the success of their West End hit, Thriller (now in its 10th year) and this latest addition combines the musical talents of some of the West End cast of Let it be with the National Philharmonic Concert Orchestra to produce the concert that never happened with the Beatles performing many songs that they never sang on stage together. In all they present nearly forty songs from the extensive and varied Beatles catalogue over the two hour show.

This is a celebration of the Beatles songs and the focus is on the music with the orchestra enhancing the sound of the Fab Four. In Cadogan Hall, the fifth show of the current ten venue tour, the set, animated graphics on the large screen and colour washes of moving lights were disappointing and well short of the publicity blurb description of a spectacular multi media concert. Only occasionally do the graphics add something as in the sixties street scene projected behind "the long and winding road'. But in the end it does not matter as the music is enough and when the full orchestra backs the boys it is a wonderful rich well balanced sound.

The performers present a passing resemblance to the original stars with the help of a variety of wigs, occasional moustaches and studied mannerisms but they capture the Liverpudlian roots of the the sound with each getting at least a couple of turns on lead vocals.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

REVIEW: Amelie at the Watermill Theatre, Newbury

Amelie UK premiere is at the intimate Watermill Newbury until the 18thMay before embarking on a long tour of venues in England, Scotland and Ireland including some large houses like Wimbledon New Theatre, Woking Victoria Theatre and the Manchester Opera House through to October. It will be worth catching it on the tour to see how it fares as it expands onto these large traditional proscenium arch stages. However here at the Watermill it is off to a very good start capturing the delightful quirky Frenchness of the original 2001 film with Audrey Tautou and reinventing itself by all accounts from its Broadway musical debut.

Its success is built around the petite French-Canadian actress Audrey Brisson who has a joyous expressive face, large sparkling eyes and a glorious voice that means you can’t take your eyes off her even with the rest of the ensemble cast towering around her. She is Amelie the awkward young girl, home schooled with a heart condition who lives in a garret above an Art Nouveau Paris metro station and spies on the odd collection of people passing through. Gradually she makes connections between them and almost invisibly brings lonely people together while still shying away from a relationship herself. The story takes us through delightful flights of fantasy and with an amazingly inventive staging that is amusing, engaging and keeps the pace up throughout most of the show.

REVIEW: HMS Pinafore at the Kings Head Theatre

The Gilbert and Sullivan comic operas were composed between 1871 and 1896 and for much of the 20th Century were a staple of the annual theatre calendar. They created some enduring characters who were scathing parodies of Victorian public figures. Whilst this clever wit has been largely lost now except for in the deepest programme notes , there have been in the last few decades some creative reimagining of the titles to breath fresh life for a 21st Century audience.

Charles Court Opera are to be applauded for continuing to keep the genre alive with a tenth production at the Kings Head theatre, this time HMS Pinafore. The set designed by Rachel Szmukler promises a fresh exciting reengineering of the title by setting it on a Yellow Submarine in the sixties (judging by Josephine's mini skirts and cape) but it becomes a constraining factor in the production. The turret ladder is not accessible due to the low King's Head roof and the cast either appear through an oval portal in the rear wall from the rest of the ship or through the audience from I assume a more accessible porthole to the outside world. The narrow strip of stage between the three bunk beds and the periscope constrains the movement to a single line facing the audience. The effect is that the action is rather static and unexciting.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Beyond Broadway: 6 Unexpected Cities for Musical Theatre Fans to Visit

A study from online ticket software company TicketSource has raised the curtain on the most popular musicals and where these productions have travelled to across the globe. 

When you think of theatre your mind probably jumps straight to Broadway and the West End, but it's not just New York and London that these productions are travelling to. 

From South America to the Far East, the study revealed some surprising destinations for musical theatre fans to add to their travel bucket list!
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