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Tuesday, 26 November 2019

REVIEW: White Christmas at The Dominion Theatre

Based on the 1954 movie of the same title, White Christmas has just opened at The Dominion Theatre and we at Pocketsize Theatre were lucky enough to attend the gala night amongst a plethora of Love Islanders, Loose Women and many more stars and press. 

Upon entering the theatre - there were a trio of insanely talented ladies singing Christmas songs in gorgeous three part harmonies. Something that set the tone for the show and encouraged festive cheer. Whether this happens every night, I’m not sure, but for the sakes of both the audience and those three ladies - I sure hope so! 

White Christmas stars Danny Mac & Dan Burton as Bob Wallace & Phil Davis. This gorgeous duo work really well together and bring out the best in each other. Both giving flawless vocals, choreography and acting beats, they really put you at ease. Clare Halse also performs beautifully throughout and is a true example of a triple threat. The rather large ensemble perform the choreography exquisitely and make it look so easy - a true testament to their talents. 

Saturday, 23 November 2019

REVIEW: & Juliet at The Shaftesbury Theatre

After an extremely successful run at Manchester Opera House, ‘& Juliet’ has finally found a new home at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London. 

‘& Juliet is the hilarious and fun-loving new West End musical that asks: what if Juliet’s famous ending was really just her beginning? What if she decided to choose her own fate? Soaring with pop anthems including ...Baby One More Time, Everybody (Backstreet's Back), Love Me Like You Do and Can’t Feel My Face, & Juliet is a riotous blast of fun and glorious music that proves when it comes to love, there’s always life after Romeo.’

I saw the show on Thursday 21st of November, the night after press night. The press night is really worth mentioning here as it wasn’t your typical press night. It was full to the brim with A List celebrities, including Simon Cowell, Jessie J and the writer of the music and lyrics, Max Martin. Apart from the one original song written for this production, the show is packed with iconic pop songs from my generation, all written by Max Martin. 

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

REVIEW: Afterglow at Waterloo East Theatre

After a successful run earlier this year at Southwark Playhouse, Afterglow has returned to London, this time with a new cast and new venue - Waterloo East theatre. It is worth noting that this play was running off Broadway and kept extending and extending due to popular demand and ended up grossing over $1m despite being in a 69 seat venue. A production that I also saw and loved. 

Afterglow is the story of a gay couple living in New York who have a somewhat open relationship. After they invite a third party in for a threesome and one of them begins to get feelings for him, things become very complicated. Whilst marketing as a show about gay sex, I completely disagree with this. I think it’s a show about relationships, love, trust, breaking trust, maturity, modern reality and ultimately, sacrifice. 

After seeing both the off Broadway production and the Southwark Playhouse production I think it has remained largely the same in terms of direction and design. 

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

REVIEW: tick, tick... BOOM! at The Bridge House Theatre

Before there was ‘RENT’, there was ‘tick tick... BOOM!’. Jonathan Larson, the genius writer who changed the shape of the modern musical, wrote ‘tick tick... BOOM’ created this autobiographical musical about an aspiring composer, aptly named Jon, in 1990, living in New York and struggling with his career choice. It was originally performed by Jonathan as a solo piece of work. It wasn’t until after his death in 1996, when it was revamped by playwright David Auburn and turned into the three hander that is currently on display at The Bridgehouse Theatre. 

Directed by Guy Retallack and lead by Alex Lodge, this musical is a 90 minute, no-interval, whirlwind that will please your ears and your eyes but leave your bum a little numb when it’s done. The venue is small and slightly uncomfortable but nonetheless a great stage for a musical such as this. It’s limited set allowed the actors more space to work and gave the appropriate ‘New York apartment in the 90’s’ feel. It was complimented by a beautiful lighting design, flawlessly executed by Richard Williamson. It’s rare that you see such slick transitions in venues outside of the West End. The sound design by Phil Lee was minimal yet impressive. However, in a venue that doesn’t require the actors to wear microphones, I feel the levels of the bad were slightly too tentative. In this case, unnecessarily, as all three actors voices could easily soar over the top of a louder backing. 

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

REVIEW: The View UpStairs at The Soho Theatre

The View UpStairs by Max Vernon has just opened at The Soho Theatre on Dean Street. From the moment that casting was announced, I was desperate to see it, despite not having a clue what it was about or even what it was.

The show is an ‘interpretive account of a true event of a notoriously unsolved arson fire that took place at a gay bar called the UpStairs Lounge in New Orleans on June 24th 1973.’ The first thing that should be said is the poignancy of this piece of theatre. Recently, there has been a massive increase in the production of ‘gay plays’ but the writing, from Max Vernon, in this particular piece, cleverly puts a spotlight on the lives of LGBTQ+ people in 1973 and 2019 , literally next to each other on stage. It also poses a serious, yet frightening question; is life as a minority these days that much better than it was back then? Yes, things have changed and evolved, but there is still such a safety concern for our community and lives being lost every day due to social media bullying and hate crime attacks amongst many other scary realities. 

Whilst the show has dark subject matter, it’s not depressing from beginning to end. In fact, it takes you on a bit of an emotional journey. A journey with lots of laughter. The majority of the laughter and joy comes from Henri, played by Carly Mercedes Dyer. A character with big hair, a big voice and a big attitude. Dyer nails both her comic timing and vocals throughout and leaves you wanting to know more about her story - her character being one of the least explored in this production. 

Saturday, 6 July 2019

REVIEW: Fiver at Southwark Playhouse

It’s so important to support new writing where you can as the Musical Theatre industry gets harder and harder to break in to and the west end becomes more and more commercial. 

Hence, we jumped at the chance to see Fiver at Southwark Playhouse. This new musical written by Tom Lees and Alex James Ellison follows the story of a humble five pound note as it passes through the hands and pockets of people in London. Often unnoticed and obviously unaware, the fiver is present for significant moments in each person’s life – whether it be an appreciation of their skills as a street performer; the start or end of a relationship; or the simple realisation that they can afford a bed for the night.

Admittedly, I went into the, extremely hot, venue with reservations about the show based purely on the storyline. Now, I can’t say my initially thoughts were entirely wrong or untrue as the book definitely needs some work, as does the number of ballads in the show. However, I was definitely pleasantly surprised. 

Friday, 28 June 2019

REVIEW: On Your Feet at the London Coliseum

On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan is in London for a limited season at one of the most beautiful venues - The London Coliseum. 

For those who grew up listening to Gloria Estefan music - this is absolutely the show for you to see. I’m sure tourists would love the show too but it’s certainly not for everybody. Bursting with energetic dance routines from Sergio Trujillo and an impressive lighting design by Kenneth Posner, the show certainly is visually stunning. The ensemble dancers give it 110% from beginning to end but don’t even break a sweat; a testament to the obvious hard work and dedication they have put into their craft. 

Leading the cast as Gloria Estefan was Christie Prades and George Ioannides as Emilio. Prades gave an energetic, honest and innocent performance as Gloria and this was complimented by the smooth performance given by Ionnides. From the moment Ionnides entered in those white shorts - I think he had everyone on side. Whilst slightly pitchy in parts, his characterisation made up for it. 

Thursday, 27 June 2019

REVIEW: Bare: A Pop Opera at The Vaults Theatre

Bare: A Pop Opera then Bare: A Rock Musical then Bare: The Musical has been rewritten and reimagined many times in its underexposed and underrated life. However - Bare: A Pop Opera is back in London after a run at The Union Theatre and then The Greenwich Theatre a few years back. This time, it’s chosen The Vaults as its home with Julie Atherton at the reins, directing. With book and lyrics by Jon Hartmere, and book and music by Damon Intrabartolo, Bare: A Pop Opera follows the students of St Cecilia’s as they explore sex, drugs, queer identity, and prepare to bare their souls.

Before talking about the show, I would like to comment on the event itself. Obviously, being a reviewer, I have attended many press nights but this one seemed pretty terribly organised. Upon arriving to the, not so easy to find, venue, the staff didn’t really seem to know what was going on which wasn’t the best start to a theatre experience. The doors opened at 7pm to the bar and the ticket collection was unclear. Cast members were walking back and forth through the bar chatting to friends and there were no toilets available until the house was open at around 7.15pm. The seating was unreserved but divided into coloured sections for different price points. This caused a lot of drama and confusion among patrons. The show went up twenty minutes late and finished at 10.20pm - much later than expected.

Saying that though, the venue was quirky and interesting but not great for being able to see the stage and action.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

REVIEW: 9 to 5 at the Savoy theatre

After a mildly successful UK Tour a few years ago, 9 to 5 The Musical has hit the West End and moved into the Savoy Theatre.

Since opening in February, ticket sales have soared and the show has become a hotspot for hen parties and ‘ladies nights out’ - something which has been great for the producers; yet, painfully infuriating for regular theatre goers.

Since the UK Tour, there have been a lot of changes to the design of the show which sometimes works well and sometimes not so much. The show is set in 80’s and the set reflects this but the costumes toward the end of the show give much more of a 60’s feel. The use of screens around the stage and at the back of the stage really compliment the basic, moveable set and scene changes are slick and effective.
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