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Friday, 23 August 2019

INTERVIEW: Vivienne de Vil, who is about to bring her one woman show to the Underbelly on the Southbank

Vivienne de Vil, Broadway veteran and confidant to the stars, is bringing her one woman show to the Underbelly at the Southbank this summer. In the show she celebrates some of the most iconic women of Musical Theatre; From Streisand to Minnelli, Paige to LuPone. With One Look is an intimate evening of untold stories and the songs these women made famous featuring live musicians, read our ★★★★ star review here. We managed to catch her for a brief few minutes to chat to her about this wonderful show. 

Tell us a bit about your solo show at the Underbelly at the Southbank

It’s a celebration of some of the most iconic women of Musical Theatre, with little known stories from their careers, and the music they made famous. It’s also my big return to showbiz after a nasty divorce!

What inspired you to put together this show?

I’ve written and performed several solo shows throughout my career, but this show is much more intimate, and gives the audience a chance to get to know me better. And, being such a close friend of so many stars means that I’ve got a lot of stories about their lives that you won’t find in the history books.

Did you get any tips from any of your famous friends in the creation?

It was actually Julie Andrews who convinced me to write the show in the first place! I’d been away from the biz for a while and was nervous at the thought of treading the boards again, and Jules suggested I invite a small crowd of friends to dip my toe back into the water!

REVIEW: National Youth Music Theatre's Anything Goes at the Other Palace

National Youth Music Theatre (NYMT) have hit London with their revival of the 1934 musical Anything Goes. Set onboard the S.S American during a voyage from New York to London, this musical ticks all the boxes for great songs, dances, love stories and drama. The performers range in age from 12 (shout out to a brilliant performance from Milo Hallett as Elisha J. Whitney) to 21. Each cast member performed with the utmost professionalism and created an impressive show.

Alex Sutton’s direction drew the strong personalities out of the characters and led them to perfect comedic timing. A little overly-slapstick at times, the overall performance was slick and boasted the abilities of the cast as natural entertainers. Cole Porter’s music and lyrics were brought to life by leading lady, Reno Sweeney (Olivia Hallett) and her killer vocals. Her rendition of Blow, Gabriel, Blow in Act 2 gave me hope I would be seeing her in the West End one day.

REVIEW: Macbeth at the Temple Church

At the Edinburgh Fringe Festival Clive Anderson in his show "Macbeth and Me" asserted that it was the greatest of all Shakespeare's plays in terms of language and plot. The problem with that is that it is frequently done by professional companies and that inevitably invites comparison. Kenneth Branagh's traverse production in the Manchester International Festival a few years ago is my benchmark and this exciting production by Antic Disposition in the glorious setting of Temple Church matches up very well.

However it is the women who steal the show. The three "weird sisters" presence is elevated and when they are absent you miss them. Directors Ben Horslen and John Risebero double them up as servants in the Macbeth household and they frequently appear heads cast down, hands twisted as if in mid spell and observe, almost haunt, the action. When Duncan is murdered they collect the bloodied bed sheets and are later seen washing them in the famous " toil and trouble" scene . It is brilliant and you have a real sense of the Macbeth's being under some dreadful curse from the three witches (Louise Templeton, Bryony Tebbutt and Robyn Holdaway). They act in unison and magically lift a table as they cast their spells.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

REVIEW: Dogfight at the Southwark Playhouse

Dogfight an early musical from the powerhouse duo Pasek and Paul, written just before Dear Evan Hansen. Having previously played at the Southwark Playhouse for the Off West-End debut in 2014, five years later it returns to be performed by the British Theatre Academy. With a five piece band accompanying this intimate, no-interval performance, this show certainly takes you on a journey.

The show is set in 1963 on the eve of three young Marines being deployed to Vietnam. However, when Corporal Eddie Birdlace meets Rose and enlists her to win a cruel bet with his fellow recruits, she opens his eyes to the power of love and compassion and rewrites the game for him.

Dogfight in itself has a lot going for it as a musical – the score is absolutely gorgeous, and a great story - but for me writing wise there are flaws. Ultimately it feels as a show about twenty minutes too short (there are characters I’d have loved to have got to know more about before the abrupt end), although obviously this is not anything that can be added, but I also think it could have done with an interval – there wasn’t enough constant tension in the script to make me feel like a no-interval decision added anything.

REVIEW: The Weatherman at the Park Theatre

The Weatherman is the debut play by Eugene O'Hare and the Park 200 presents this dark depressing insight into an unpleasant seedy subculture of Britain without holding back. The dilapidated, barely habitable one bed flat in a block of flats in London is the current "home" of Archie and Beezer.

Archie played with a controlled intensity by Alec Newman is the more dominant male but harbours dark secrets that spill out in a long soliloquy in Act 2. It is a painful admission of mental health problems and failed relationships that goes some way to explain his anger and his behaviour. 

Beezer, The Weatherman, played by Mark Hadfield, is his drunk companion who he shares a bed with for convenience but not sexual gratification. They are two lost souls drifting through life without purpose or meaning. 

At times there is a Pinteresque feel to the relationship between Beezer and Archie although the humour is more muted and the pauses shorter but it is reminiscent of Aston and Davies in a modern day Caretaker.
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