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Sunday, 27 November 2022

REVIEW: The Wizard of Oz at the Curve, Leicester

The Wizard of Oz has had a strange relationship with the theatre. Of all the retellings of L. Frank Baum’s classic children’s novel, the 1939 MGM starring Judy Garland is undoubtedly the best-known and as such, all adaptations will be compared to it. Despite its seemingly large potential, the wondrous world of Oz has often felt stagnant in the theatre and versions have only managed short runs before being relegated to endless performances by schools and amateur dramatic societies.

Just in case the one person on the planet who does not know the plot is reading this...The Wizard of Oz follows a young Kanas farm girl called Dorothy who is whisked off to the magical land of Oz via a cyclone and must follow the yellow brick road to meet the wizard and return home. Along the way, she meets a scarecrow who wants a brain, a Tin Man who longs for a heart and a cowardly lion but also has to face the wrath of the Wicked Witch of the West, who is after her magical Ruby Slippers.

Thursday, 21 July 2022

REVIEW: Billy Elliot at the CURVE theatre, Leicester

Billy Elliot, based on Stephen Daldry’s acclaimed film from 2000 tells the story of community, acceptance and one boy chasing his dream against all the odds. After its many successful years in the West End, Billy Elliot finally makes a long-awaited return in a new re-imagined production from director Nikolai Foster and choreographer Lucy Hind at the Leicester Curve. 

What has and always works for Billy Elliot is how it’s one of the very few productions that manage to make the transition from screen to stage so well. It takes the memorable moments from the film and adds in an array of musical numbers (music from Elton John and Lyrics from Lee Hall). Combined it becomes a musically catchy and enlarged version of the beloved film. 

Once the curtains come up, an empty and stripped back stage appears, with just a few gates and some scaffold poles. It gives the audience an industrial setting reflecting the minor strike and creating a sense of realism. The focus as a result is spent on the actors and not the surroundings. A clever setting choice from designer Michael Taylor.

Thursday, 18 February 2021

REVIEW: The Color Purple at the Leicester Curve (Online)

After the success of the Curve's stream of Sunset Boulevard that successfully used the venue as the setting for the Hollywood studios-based story, I was excited to see how they adjusted their 2019 production of the Colour Purple in a socially distanced version for a streamed audience. Indeed, the production hit the headlines for the wrong reasons with an employment tribunal over one cast member which was rejected in the same week as the stream premiered.

Perhaps because I was less familiar with Alice Walker's 1983 book or the musical version of the story with music by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray or perhaps because of difficulties getting the stream to run smoothly from the start I found it hard to get into the show. However around two-thirds of the way through the first half, it suddenly burst into life and soared into a powerful uplifting and joyous second half and finale.  

It is a challenging story dealing with domestic violence, incest, racism and sexism in Tennessee over about forty years from 1920 to 1945 and turns the epistolary book into an episodic telling of Celie's life from abused child suffering at the hands of her father Alphonso and her husband Mr Albert to a successful businesswoman. Only one early song "Big Dog" with Mister and his field hands hints at the better songs to come with the rest being generally short snatches of songs that never get going.

Thursday, 24 December 2020

REVIEW: Sunset Boulevard in Concert - at Home by the Leicester Curve (Online)

There are no ushers to take me to my seat and no murmur of the audience as the house lights go down and the overture begins, yet, as I close my living room curtains, dim the lights and the title credits roll, I feel the same buzz I get sitting in a theatre while simultaneously being taken back to rainy weekends spent watching old movies with my family. Provoked by the novel restrictions placed on theatre at this time, Sunset Boulevard in Concert - at Home presented by Leicester’s Curve theatre have transformed a beloved musical into a hybrid cinema/stage experience like no other. You can’t keep this diva down!

Originally a film Noir masterpiece by Billy Wilder then adapted into the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Black & Hampton followed by a further adaptation of the musical onto film, Sunset Boulevard lends itself to both screen and stage with authority. Set in 1950’s Hollywood it tells the story of struggling screenwriter Joe Gillis (Danny Mac) who finds himself entangled in the manipulative and delusional world of ‘has been’ silent film star Norma Desmond (Ria Jones). Unable to come to terms with reality Norma dreams of returning to the screen. It is dark, melodramatic and all the old Hollywood romance one could want.

Monday, 7 July 2014

New musical adaptation of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ to premiere at the Leicester Curve

Leicester Curve has confirmed it will premiere a new musical adaptation of the late Sue Townsend's The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ next year.
Written by Jake Brunger and Pippa Cleary and directed by Luke Sheppard, the production will premiere on 17 March 2015 (previews from 7 March), running until 4 April.
Tickets go on sale on Thursday (10 July 2014).
Set in 1980s Leicester, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ follows the daily dramas and misadventures of Adrian's adolescent life. With dysfunctional parents, ungrateful elders, a growing debt to school bully Barry Kent and an unruly pimple on his chin, life is hard for a misunderstood intellectual who is only 13 ¾.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Nikolai Foster is to be the new artistic director of Leicester's Curve Theatre

Nikolai Foster has been appointed the new artistic director of Leicester's Curve Theatre, taking over from Paul Kerryson who has been in the post for 22 years.
Foster will take up the post in January 2015, putting an emphasis on musical theatre, developing drama audiences and engaging with the community.
He joins CEO Fiona Allan, newly appointed commercial director Alister de Ternant and a soon to be appointed chief operating officer, all with the aim of creating a sustainable business model.
Nikolai Foster's recent directing credits includeThe Memory of Water (Stephen Joseph Theatre/New Vic), The Good Person of Sichuan(Mercury Theatre), Beautiful Thing (Arts Theatre/Tour).

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

FIRST LOOK: Water Babies at the Leicester Curve Theatre

Directed by Ed Curtis, with music by Chris Egan, and book and lyrics by Ed Curtis and Guy Jones, this enthralling new musical, with landmark special effects, will open on 6 May, with previews from the 24 April, and run until 17 May. Cementing its reputation for staging major new musicals, Curve sets Water Babies on its journey.

Water Babies follows Tom, an orphan who is framed for a crime he didn't commit. As he attempts to get away, he jumps from the edge of a waterfall where he meets Mrs D and a whole new world of enchantment, danger and adventure.


Sunday, 1 December 2013

Louise Dearman stars in the World Première of Water Babies

Louise Dearman will lead the cast of the world première of a brand new musical inspired by Charles Kingsley’s classic novel, The Water Babies. The first actress to have played both Glinda and Elphaba in the global smash-hit musical Wicked, Dearman makes her Curve debut as Mrs D.

Directed by Ed Curtis, with music by Chris Egan, and book and lyrics by Ed Curtis and Guy Jones, this enthralling new musical, with landmark special effects, will open on 6 May, with previews from the 24 April, and run until 17 May. Cementing its reputation for staging major new musicals, Curve sets Water Babies on its journey.

Tom, our orphaned teenage hero, is framed for a crime he didn’t commit. In a desperate attempt to escape capture he is trapped on the edge of a waterfall. His only choice is to jump. Awakening in the depths of the ocean he encounters the mysterious Mrs D, and a whole new world of enchantment, danger and adventure. Desperate to get back to the girl he loves Tom must brave underwater challenges in a world beyond his wildest imagination. Together with the unlikeliest of friends he embarks on a quest to find a way back to land. However he soon finds it's not just his fate he holds in his hands, but also that of the mysterious and elusive gang of Water Babies. It's time for Tom to face his worst fears…it's time to believe in himself and that anything is possible.

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