Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Christmas in New York: Theatre Review

Christmas in New York has been brought back by Speckulation Entertainment after a four year absence. This year Broadway Leading Lady, best known for her portrayal of Elphaba, Eden Espinosa headlines the event. Besides playing Elphaba in Wicked to extensive acclaim on Broadway, in LA and San Francisco, Espinosa's other credits include playing Maureen in the closing cast of RENT on Broadway and the title role in Brooklyn the musical. Joined by a West End line up including Tori Allen-Martin (RENT, Hair), Lucy May Barker (Sweeney Todd, Spring Awakening), Andy Coxon (Les Miserables, Rocky Horror Show), Scott Garnham (I Can’t Sing!, Les Miserables), Luke Kempner (Avenue Q, South Pacific) and Zoe Rainey (Wicked, Hairspray) with special guest Julie Atherton (Sister Act, Avenue Q). The show played the Palace Theatre in Manchester on the 7th December before returning to the West End, playing the Palace Theatre where The Commitments currently resides. 

The productions set out which included a black curtain backdrop with the band lining the back of the stage was a simple but effective, the main thing about this show was the singers and nothing outshone their vocals in this production. I just wish there was something a little Chirstmasy about the set up, not a Christmas decoration in sight. Unfortunately for me this meant that I didn’t get in the festive mood very much, yes most of the songs were Christmas songs but that was pretty much the only festive thing about it. 
The star of the night for me was Tori Allen-Matin, I haven’t seen her in anything before but her rendition of Miss You Most (at Christmas Time) was beautiful and incredibly performed. For me, this was the highlight of the night. Tori also duetted with Scott Garnham, reversing the roles in Baby It’s Cold Outside which was a really sweet and funny performance. Was nice to have something that seemed a little different. 
Zoe Rainey and Scott Garnham just ouse musical theatre, even when singing the Christmas songs they managed to create a beautiful story within them and gave the audience so much joy in their vocals. Beautifully crisp performances. Andy Coxon’s charisma onstage was electric, he really lifted the performance and his vocal ability is amazing. Lucy May Barker gave a perfect rendition of Santa Baby, a cute, mysterious and sexy version of the song was performed impeccably. 
Luke Kempner warmed the audience with his vocals, his It’s Beginning to look a lot like Christmas was wonderfully sung. Julie Atherton proves why she is Musical Theatre royalty in this, she commands the stage and fills the theatre with her unique and special voice. My Simple Christmas Wish was performed effortlessly by her, a natural comedic performer. 
Eden Espinosa headlined this event and I wish she featured more in the first act, only one appearance seemed a little strange and then in act 2 she seemed to be featured a little too much. I personally thought her performances should have been spread out. However she was the personality we needed, the show moved very quickly. The performers would come on, do the song and then leave. There was never really any introduction of any sort or any conversation between the singers. However Eden Espinosa really picked up the audience with her stories and chatter, I felt much more comfortable watching her than I did anyone else because of this. And of course, her vocals were astounding and effortless. 
Also, I wish the first year musical theatre students from The Musical Theatre Academy didn't look like they were al going to throw up on the stage in the finale, you're singing on a West End stage! At least look like you're enjoying it! 
The show as a whole was nice, I felt it could have flowed a lot better if they acknowledged the audience a little more. At times it felt like a conveyor belt of performances. However it was a sweet show with wonderful performances.  

Rating: *** 

Cast Includes: Eden Espinosa, Andy Coxon, Zoe Rainey, Julie Atherton, Scott Garnham, Tori Allen-Martin, Lucy May Barker, Luke Kempner, Ambra Caserotti, Sarah Goggin, Nathan Lodge and Sebastian Thomas. 

Christmas in New York played the Palace Theatre on the 9th December 2013

      Photos by Darren Bell 
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