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Thursday, 20 January 2022

REVIEW: Moulin Rouge at the Piccadilly Theatre

Walking into the auditorium is a spectacular experience; you are immersed into the world of the Moulin Rouge. Not a single detail is spared in Derek Mclane’s set, with the iconic windmill stage right and the giant elephant head stage right, at eye level in the Royal Circle. The dancers circle around the stage, quite menacingly in slow motion, in anticipation of the show- head to toe in burlesque-themed sparkling outfits, designed by Catherine Zuber. Lady Marmalade starts the show with a bang, the ensembles’ energy uplifting and throws you into the drama of the Moulin Rouge. 

As the club is on the brink of shutting down, the owner Harold Zidler (Clive Carter) must do what it takes with his ‘diamond’ showgirl, Satine (Liisi Lafontaine) to gain investment from the Duke (Simon Bailey). Mistakenly identifying an American tourist named Christian (Jamie Bogyo) for the Duke, Satine spends the night being entertained by Christian and his fellow songwriters, Santiago (Elia Lo Tauro) and Toulous-Lautrec (Jason Pennycooke), who wish to bring their show to Moulin Rouge. When the Duke arrives for his time alone with Satine, he finds the three in a compromising position, of which they improvise their way out of and make an arrangement for the Duke to invest in the show and the venue. Being the seedy man he is, he also takes ‘ownership’ of Satine- who has quickly fallen in love with Christian- whom she has a secret affair with alongside being with the Duke. 

REVIEW: The 4th Country at Park Theatre

Any story told against the backdrop of Northern Ireland has an in-built drama; as the region lives with the past and ludicrous understatement known as The Troubles, it also deals with the present fallout replete with its social, economic and political consequences. This play written by Kate Reid comes direct from a successful run at the Vault Festival in 2020. The Plain Heroines Theatre Company specialise in funny plays about difficult subjects and has certainly hit the mark here. Playing upstairs at the always sleek and inviting Park Theatre, it has an intimate space perfectly suited to the subject matter.

The story begins within the confines of Stormont as Shona (Aoife Kennan) a stressed civil servant in the Department for Health begins another long day. The power vacuum in Northern Ireland has left them in charge of fighting various fires. Melanie (Kate Reid) is already in the office, eager to start her internship. A baptism of fire lies in wait as calls become increasingly frantic and Melanie is confronted with a familiar face from her native Derry. The bad stuff is about to hit the fan when Conor (Cormac Elliott) bursts in. He slips out of character and begs them to explore the back story. His sister Niamh (Rachael Rooney) emerges from the wings and supports his argument. The cast agrees and duly skip back five months as their characters are fleshed out.

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

REVIEW: Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story at the Jermyn Street Theatre

There’s nothing more gripping than a good murder mystery. On stage and screen, it’s kept a voracious public happy with tales of greed, ambition and revenge. Characters with a shady past and an even more suspect present keep us glued to the action. Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story has the added dimension of being a true story. Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb were two wealthy students at the University of Chicago. In 1924, they kidnapped and murdered 14-year-old Bobby Franks in Chicago. It was predictably dubbed the crime of the century as the so-called ‘thrill-killers’ believed they committed the perfect crime. On the face of it, not a great subject on which to base a musical; but Stephen Sondheim proved the macabre can be tuneful with the legendary Sweeney Todd. Similarly, Stephen Dolginoff has written this compact musical that gives the darker side of human nature a distinctly original spin.

Presented as part of The Outsiders Season, this production benefits from a close almost claustrophobic set design. A pianist perched in the corner provides the sole musical accompaniment as a sinister tale steadily unravels. It begins in 1958 as prisoner Nathan Leopold (Bart Lambert) faces his latest parole hearing. He is asked for mitigation to justify his petition. A change of jackets and subtle adjustment in lighting and we are back in 1924.

Monday, 17 January 2022

Cast announced for West End run of Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage

Return to Kellerman’s this spring, as the cast are announced for Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage in the West End. Coming to the Dominion Theatre for a limited run and exploding with heart-pounding music, breathtaking emotion and sensationally sexy dancing, the multitalented cast is led by Michael O’Reilly (West Side Story, Leicester Curve; Matthew Bourne’s Lord of the Flies, Theatre Royal Plymouth) and Kira Malou (Fame, Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre; Penny on Mars, Disney Plus), who return to the roles of Johnny and Baby. O’Reilly made his professional debut straight from drama school in the role of Johnny in the 2018 tour.

The 2022 cast will feature many of those from the touring cast, including Carlie Milner as Penny (Sleeping Beauty, Birmingham Royal Ballet), Lynden Edwards (A Little Night Music, Garrick Theatre) as Dr Jake Houseman, Lizzie Ottley as Lisa Houseman (Evita, Dominion Theatre and UK tour), Colin Charles (We Will Rock You, Dominion Theatre; Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, London Palladium) as Tito Suarez and also sees Lori Hayley Fox (Hairspray, London Palladium; Big, Dominion Theatre) return to the role of Mrs Houseman.

Friday, 14 January 2022

REVIEW: Cirque Du Soleil - ‘Luzia’ at The Royal Albert Hall

Recognised globally for its spectacular performances, Cirque Du Soleil is a phenomenon. Continuing to amaze and leave audiences in awe around the world year after year. In the newest entry in the Cirque Du Soleil catalogue, it’s Luzia, a celebration of Mexico and the vibrant and colourful culture the country is known for. 

Much like its predecessors, Luzia has its moments of spectacle and elements to captivate, amaze (The many rain scenes in particular highly impressive) and even shock (Referring of course to the world bendiest man, I can only imagine the faces pulled under peoples masks throughout his section). It manages to expertly cater to all ages, the older generations leaving thoroughly blown away and the younger generation no doubt a part of the show imprinted in their minds, something they’ll most definitely never forget. 
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