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Wednesday, 12 April 2023

REVIEW: The Ocean At The End Of The Lane at The New Wimbledon Theatre

On an ocean of possibilities hidden inside a duck pond, a world of possibilities hidden inside the seemingly impossible. A boy (Keir Ogilvy) revisits the very pond where he and his old friend Lettie Hempstock (Millie Hikasa) many years ago discovered the seemingly impossible and the wonders and horrors it possessed. Based on Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name, the National Theatre production is brought to life once again. 

Set designer Fly Davis immediately captures the audience's attention with an incredibly detailed garden/forest backdrop. Bedecked with trees and vines the scene is immediately set and we expect to find ourselves transported through a magical and enchanted story. 

Thursday, 2 February 2023

REVIEW: The Cher Show at the New Wimbledon Theatre

There are a few four-letter words that we truly know well and have experienced, to name few they are love, hate and … Cher. With an impressive and illustrious career spanning decades. The Cher Show brings to life that career in glamorous and dazzling fashion. 

The story is told through three versions of Cher, Babe (Millie O’Connell), Lady (Danielle Steers) and Star (Debbie Kurup). The trio each tells various parts spanning from the 50s through to the 90s. 

Immediately, we have to mention the glorious set design by Tom Rogers. The backstage stage setting draped from top to bottom with rows of the iconic Cher wigs on display on mannequin heads for all to gaze upon and admire. Another clever design is the props used within the show to show the progressive timeline whilst also being integrated into the story. 

Thursday, 25 August 2022

REVIEW: The Osmonds at the New Wimbledon Theatre

Having been born in the late eighties and with scarce knowledge of the sights and sounds of the 1970s music scene, I was enormously intrigued by the illustrious family of singers whose journey has effectively been brought to life on stage in a full-on, exuberant, and brightly coloured musical tribute to their lives!

I was slightly apprehensive about what to expect from the touring production of The Osmonds, A new musical about one of the most successful family singing groups in America, and not forgetting their colossal worldwide celebrity and recognition over the decades. However pre-musical jitters are somewhat healthy as fear of the unknown usually turns into pure delight, especially when a great story accompanies equally celebrated musical numbers. These so call ‘numbers’ are a nostalgic flashback to an era that produced some of the greatest groups and performers we know today, and we can thank The Osmonds for contributing to some of the most recognizable songs of all time. 

Friday, 1 July 2022

REVIEW: Singin’ in the Rain at the New Wimbledon Theatre

With the current trend of reviving golden-age musicals, we are being blessed with classic and wholesome shows gracing stages across the UK; and Singin’ in the Rain is no exception. This timeless musical movie to theatre musical ticks all the boxes and encapsulates all the elements of ageless, crowd-pleasing theatre that thrills every time. This production is a feast of gorgeous storytelling and impressive musical numbers.

Based on the 1952 Gene Kelly film of the same title, Singin’ in the Rain tells the story of famous silent movie stars Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont, on-screen lovers who in reality couldn’t be further from romance, despite Lamont’s deluded, starry-eyed fantasies. As Hollywood progresses with technology, the new and innovative ‘talking picture’ takes off, using devices which sync music and dialogue with the motion picture. This causes a slight problem for Monumental Studios as their leading lady Lamont cannot act, sing and has the voice of a whiny strangled cat. To the rescue come Kathy Selden, the bright-eyed leading lady with beautiful vocals and personality to match, as she dubs her voice over Lamont’s. The plot is light-hearted and simple but kept the audience engaged throughout, the spectators rooting for the romantic leads Don and Kathy, played by Sam Lips and Charlotte Gooch.

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

REVIEW: Everybody's Talking About Jamie at the New Wimbledon Theatre

When Jamie first came to the West End in 2017 there seemed to be an element of scepticism and unknown. A TV documentary turned musical seemed a bold move. Fast forward over four years later and the show has grown from strength to strength. With multiple tours, a lengthy West End residence and now even a major motion picture, it seems everybody is talking about Jamie. 

For tonight’s performance, Jamie New was to be played by alternate Jamie, Adam Taylor. It has to be said initially where Taylor seemed to not be giving his all he grew into his role and delivered a standout performance as Jamie, though his predecessors made much more of the role through their mannerisms and subsequently made the role their own, Taylor most definitely stepped up and filled those heels putting his stamp on Jamie.

Wednesday, 9 February 2022

REVIEW: Blood Brothers at the New Wimbledon Theatre

Bill Kenwright’s famously celebrated and award-winning production of the international hit, Blood Brothers, has been entertaining audiences since 1981 but has been re-emerging since the 14th of January 2022 in its UK tour. Despite touring the UK constantly, few musicals have been received with such acclaim and it still remains to be a box-office success; selling out in large theatres across the country and receiving jubilant standing ovations every night.  

Blood Brothers tells the enchanting and moving story of a pair of twins who were separated at birth. Though they grew up apart and in different social worlds, they reunite later on in their lives but in devastating circumstances. Mrs Johnson, a young single mother, is abandoned by her husband, therefore, leaving her as a single mother to her seven children. Though she can find her feet and work a job to provide for her children, she is shocked to discover that she has fallen pregnant again, only this time with a pair of twins. Through her desperation to provide a better life for her children, she creates a secret pact with her boss’s wife, Mrs Lyons, with financial hope for the future.

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

REVIEW: Heathers at the New Wimbledon Theatre

Your school years are said to be the best years of your life, but are you living your best life if you're not befriending the popular people (The Heathers - Maddison Firth, Lizzy Parker, Merryl Ansah), getting caught up in boyfriend Drama (JD - Simon Gordon) and killing off your classmates… Sounds like a day in the life of Veronica Sawyer (Rebecca Wickes). 

With the touring cast overcoming the challenges of recent cast illnesses and having to reshape a show with understudies in previous performances, It’s a reassuring sight to see everyone back to their best. That said some members of the cast began very tamely but eventually grew into their role, whereas other members of the cast instantly hit the ground running.

Wickes’ and Gordon’s relationship was enjoyable to watch, they both complimented each other, allowing the pair to create a relationship that helped to showcase their chemistry through their acting abilities. Though they both appeared to hold back through their first few songs (Gordon’s ‘Freeze Your Brain’ still a soft and easy on the ears joy to listen to and Wickes’ ‘Dead Girl Walking’ a gritty and vocally tremendous well performed and acted number). They both grew into the roles and by the end, each showed just how talented they both are. 

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

REVIEW: 9 to 5 - the Musical at the New Wimbledon Theatre

"Dreams and plans are in the making, success is out there for the taking…wish it was as simple as it sounds”, a lyric from the musical’s opening song that launches this story of ambition against adversity. '9 to 5' is Dolly Parton’s musical version of the legendary film she starred in alongside Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in 1979. The movie became an iconic snapshot of office life and inequality as three women face patronising and degrading treatment from a chauvinistic boss. The popularity and lasting legacy of the movie seems the perfect recipe for a musical adaptation and Dolly is the perfect person to make it happen. 

Originally premiering on Broadway in 2009, '9 to 5' has since enjoyed success on tour and most recently had its London premiere at The Savoy Theatre. This October the latest tour hits the road starting at The New Wimbledon Theatre. After passing across the red carpet I was given a complimentary programme and drinks were served in a “Cup of Ambition” in a nod to the title song of the show. 

It would be rare to be at a wedding disco or a karaoke night without hearing Dolly’s iconic Oscar-nominated song '9 to 5', so as the orchestra strikes up the opening chords the audience are immediately transported back to the 1980s. Dolly famously used the sound of her fingernails to replicate the tapping of a typewriter as an introduction to the tune. As a huge treat to her many fans in the audience, Dolly herself appears on screen to introduce the show and characters. Dolly gives a wink and signature giggle when she introduces Doralee, the character she played herself in the film. 

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

REVIEW: Club Tropicana at the New Wimbledon Theatre

This new musical makes its premier on tour around the UK, and its not often we get a new show like this. 

The show follows a couple, Olly and Lorraine, who break up on their wedding day. To cheer them up, their best friends take them on Holiday however all end up in the same hotel. 

At its heart, this is just a fun show. Is it changing the world? No. But it is making it slightly easier to live in when we can shows like this to escape to. This is Mamma Mia for the new ages, packed full with some of the classic tunes that everyone will know with a fresh take on them. 

The show, set in the 80’s, had a fresh and slick feel to it. The writing fitted the genre perfectly but managed to still create full and lovable characters. With the direction and choreography alongside a talented cast the show manages to tick all the boxes that you want when you go to a show like this. 

Sunday, 31 March 2019

REVIEW: Hair at the New Wimbledon Theatre

Hair has had a long history both on Broadway and in the West End, with the original productions opening in 1968 and major revivals happening in 2009 and 2010. A revival opened at the Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester in 2016 with a transfer to the Vaults in 2017 and now the show heads out on tour around the UK in its 50th Anniversary. 

The piece opened with the introduction of Trump being announced as the new president of the United States, an attempt to try and make the connection between then and now with the shows themes and context. However this didn’t really work, the world is so alien to us nowadays that its hard to make the connection between how we protest political and social problems to how it is featured in the show. Although so many of the events are repeating, its hard to relate to because it is just so different from how we lead our lives as a society today.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

REVIEW: Aladdin at the New Wimbledon Theatre

As the main pantomime season draws to a close for 2018/19 season, two shows hit the news headlines with leading artistes illnesses causing them to drop out mid run. The wonderful Jimmy Osmond was unable to continue and has been replaced for the rest of the run as Hook by Darren Day in Birmingham in a wave of sympathy and concern. Down in the New Theatre Wimbledon, Lee Ryan reportedly left the show at the interval during one performance and has been replaced by  Chris Durtnal with a programme insert being given out to the subsequent audiences. These changes must be very disruptive to cast and crew requiring additional rehearsals to be fitted in to the already hectic two shows a day, six days a week schedule. 

Durtnal makes a solid substitute in his leading role debut as Aladdin opposite Lauren Chia as Princess Jasmine. They combine well in a comedy song routine sat on a wall with Wishy Washy which is featured in many of the Qdos shows this year but when it comes to the big final fight with Abanazar (Adam Pearce) it is Jasmine who takes centre stage to defeat him in the sword fight while Aladdin lies unconscious. 

Thursday, 26 July 2018

REVIEW: Madagascar at the New Wimbledon Theatre

Selladoor and Hartshorn-Hook Productions brings Madagascar to the stage in a new musical production, touring the UK until next year. 

The show as a whole is very close to the film, which is wonderful for the children who are in love with it, but this also means nothing was fresh or different. The use of puppetry was good, the actual design of the puppets could have used a little more flexibility because the movement wasn’t really animal like, but it was very well directed and executed by the cast

For a children’s show, it was good quality. For a musical, it did not achieve what you expect. The music was good, not particularly catchy but OK for what it was. The high point of the show was the choreography by Fabian Aloise; high energy, slick and very contagious! We all wanted to join in with them. 

Thursday, 5 October 2017

REVIEW: Flashdance at the New Wimbledon Theatre

Based on the 1983 film, Flashdance first made its way onto our local stages back in 2008 with a UK tour of the show, starring musical theatre legend Victoria Hamilton-Barritt and the late Bernie Nolan. It transferred into London’s West End in 2010, again featuring Ms Hamilton-Barritt, at the Shaftesbury Theatre before closing after 16 weeks. Since then we have seen a US tour production and many international ones, this time Sell-a-Door production have brought it back to the UK. I wish they hadn't. 

This show lacked any style or vision, nothing was interesting or different. A boring concept which I’m sure anyone with the amateur rights to the show will do exactly the same. Possibly to a higher standard. 

The choreography of the show, which is meant to be the highlight, was instead predictable and uninspiring. Just because you add in lots of girls doing splits in different positions, doesn’t mean I’m going to be interested. In fact, it means the total opposite. 
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