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Wednesday, 17 May 2023

REVIEW: Once On This Island at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park

Once on this Island has a really special and important message for us in 2023. With crimes being committed every day against non-white communities and with the current backlash the trans community are facing, this is a story that could teach our society a lot. The consequences that segregation can cause are brutal and this really lifts a mirror to the world we’re living in today. 

Beautifully told by the cast and creatives, this is a simple production that utilises the narrative and writing to do most of the work, and luckily it’s brilliant, so it just emphasises the work that Lynn Ahrens (Book and Lyrics) and Stephen Flaherty (Music) have created.

Sunday, 7 May 2023

REVIEW: Eurovision: Your Decision at Wonderville

It's almost that time of year, Eurovision! And this year it's being held on home turf, so what better way than to celebrate with a camp and fun live theatrical experience?! Well, ‘Eurovision: Your Decision’ is just that. 

A parody of all things Eurovision, this show takes us through some of the most iconic numbers we’ve seen over the decades, with accompanying VTs, two hosts, an audience vote and a mockery of the International vote givers, this really is just a bundle of laughs. 

A cast of four perform all of this and believe it or not, they pull it off! It is very clear that the show's budget is certainly reflected in the costumes and the wigs but it all fits in with the style of this show and is all part of the charm. Whilst it takes perhaps 10 minutes to get into it and understand where the humour is coming from, past the second number they had the audience on their side completely. 

Thursday, 20 April 2023

REVIEW: Ain't Too Proud at the Prince Edward Theatre

Ain’t Too Proud opens at the Prince Edward Theatre after a hugely successful run on Broadway and across America, the story follows the “life and times of the Temptations”, a band that you most definitely know the music of. The show swept up in the 2019 Tony Awards nominations with a very impressive 12 nods however only took home one award for Sergio Trujillo’s choreography.  

The show is brought to us by the creators of Jersey Boys, the Juke-Box musical hit that’s been playing to packed crowds up and down the country pretty consistently since 2008. It’s very clear that the success of that stage adaptation has tried to be replicated in this production; whilst it ultimately is a very different journey involving different themes the basis of the musical is a carbon copy. So whilst I was excited to see this on stage I was left slightly disappointed because I felt like I’d seen all of it before. 

Monday, 6 March 2023

REVIEW: The Great British Bake Off Musical at the Noel Coward Theatre

The Great British Bake Off - the hit TV show that’s taken audiences all over the world by storm. Also, the musical nobody asked for, and maybe there’s good reason. 

If you’ve seen the TV show you’ll be very familiar with the basis of this musical. Eight bakers, two presenters and two judges. Through the musical, we lightly explore these eight aspiring bakers guided by our two presenters with the occasional appearance of our two very well-loved presenters. Other than that, there’s not much basis for this show. 

With a very loose storyline that appears clunky and drawn out, we never actually reach below the surface of each baker. And as for the judges and presenters, the material lacks and we struggle to find the difference between parody and authenticity. 

Tuesday, 28 February 2023

REVIEW: Rogers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! at the Wyndham's Theatre


Every musical theatre fan is going to want to slap me silly when I say that I've never actually seen Rogers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! I didn’t grow up watching those classic musicals but now as an adult, I make an effort to go and see them to make up for lost time. What I didn’t expect, was for this production to have such an emotional effect on me.   

Oklahoma! is a Rogers and Hammerstein staple, first performed in 1943 on Broadway this piece has certainly stood the test of time as it remains to be one of the most famous musical classics. This production, which is currently playing at the Wyndham's Theatre, has transferred from a fantastic run at the Young Vic and prior to this, a stellar run on Broadway. 

Wednesday, 11 January 2023

REVIEW: Six the Musical at the Vaudeville Theatre

Since its first full mounting in 2017, SIX has taken over the world. The Queens are now all across the globe, from the West End to Australia and even at sea! The Musical, By Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow, has changed the face of musical theatre and has brought a new, young audience to our theatres across the globe. There is no doubt as to why that is, this fresh show remains as relevant and sassy as it did 5 years ago. 

Now playing in London’s Vaudeville Theatre, the show has found its forever home. And I’m pretty sure we can expect this one to run for a while! The show tells the story of Henry VIII’s wives through their eyes in a contemporary and modern way through the use of songs based on modern-day icons. Whilst the storyline may be pulled together with a book thinner than a piece raw spaghetti, that doesn’t matter because what drives this is the score. 

Friday, 9 December 2022

REVIEW: Disney's Newsies at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre

The moment UK theatre fans have waited for, the London transfer of the hit Broadway musical Newsies! This much anticipated new production of the Disney 1992 film premiered on Broadway 10 years ago and after 10 long years of waiting, London audiences finally have a chance to experience this show in the flesh. 

Sold as an immersive and in-the-round production, I can't say it really does either. In the original press releases, it was stated that it would be performed in the round but it's actually in thrust with the majority of the audience sitting in the traditional proscenium arch layout. Immersive is a word that's thrown around a lot in modern theatre but I question if it's lost all meaning. There was an effort to create an immersive show, but within the performance, there were no immersive elements. Just because performers enter and exit through the audience, doesn't make something immersive. 

Wednesday, 7 September 2022

REVIEW: The Cher Show at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking

The Cher Show tells the life story of the music legend and icon, Cher. Premiering on Broadway in 2018 the production closed in August 2019 but did pick up a few Tony Awards for Best Leading Actress (Stephanie J Block) and Best Costume Design (Bob Mackie). A new production was announced to tour the UK with direction from Arlene Phillips and Choreography by Oti Mabuse starring West End stars Debbie Kurup, Danielle Steers and Millie O’Connell. Playing at the New Victoria theatre in Woking this week, the show is pretty much midway through its run. 

Debbie Kurup, Danielle Steers and Millie O’Connell are an absolute sensation. The iconic woman that is Cher is a character most of us are familiar with, whether that is from her lengthy career or just through impressions through Drag Race. Her mannerisms are iconic and completely individual and each one of these ladies brings everything and more, the challenge with playing a character like this is that it can get very mimicry and flat but theses actors manage to make her a real life, living, breathing, 3D person. Which of course she is, but to take the story and breath believable life into it is not be an easy job! 

Thursday, 18 August 2022

REVIEW: Cruise at the Apollo Theatre

AIDs and HIV were labelled ‘the gay disease’ and in our modern world we’ve now encountered monkeypox, another virus only being reported in members of the LGBTQ+ community. The attitude towards both these viruses, both in the 80s and the current day, are being mirrored. In a time where HIV rates are higher in heterosexual identifying people, we are still facing prejudice and are being targeted as a community. 

Cruise is based on a true story of Michael Spencer’s “last night on earth”. Told alongside the story of a young gay man working for Switchboard, crafted with intelligence, comedy, a rollercoaster of emotions and unique design elements, this play is an absolute hit. 

Wednesday, 27 July 2022

REVIEW: 101 Dalmatians at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

Coming straight from a triumph run of Legally Blonde, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre bring us their second musical of the 2022 season with a new adaptation of 101 Dalmatians. The show was previously set for the 2020 season, was postponed until 2021 and finally makes its premiere this summer.  

The story has been updated to current times with Cruella becoming a modern-day influencer, sometimes with modernisations, it can be a little ‘in your face’ but with this, it didn’t seem that way. Although there were many plot holes around the changes in the story, including the reason why Cruella has a fascination with the puppies, it wasn’t so vital that we got answers from it but it did lack in the character's development. And I’ll say this, Dominic and Danielle really need to invest in a new lock on their front door. 

Friday, 1 July 2022

REVIEW: Beauty and the Beast at the London Palladium

The musical that started Disney’s screen to stage path, Beauty and the Beast returns to the West End after touring the UK in a new production at London’s famous Palladium. This 1991 animated classic is a staple for any Disney fan and is a perfect film for a stage adaptation, the West End hasn’t seen this show since 1999 so its return is very much welcome! 

In this new production, directed and choreographed by Matt West, the Disney magic fails to translate onto the stage. That classic spectacle we expect from a huge Disney production is still there but lacks drama and power, for example, the wolf chase scenes are done with projections and whilst the design and illusions are impressive they feel empty and too reliant on the projected images to do the work. The same goes for the big group numbers, whilst ‘Gaston’ was absolutely brilliant, the big show-stopper ‘Be Our Guest’ fails to really give us the punch we want. The cast works very hard but the overall design of this number doesn’t enter us into the world of Beauty and the Beast and the everyday objects who breathe life, instead we have people in top hats and tails in a tap number. 

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

REVIEW: Legally Blonde at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

Any musical theatre fan holds Legally Blonde in the elite category of shows, based on the 2001 film this piece is a cult classic and perfect for hardcore musical theatre fans as well as the average theatregoer. 

Directed by SIX the musical co-director, Lucy Moss, this production of Legally Blonde, unfortunately, highlights her inexperience. Regent’s Park is a huge space and this product just doesn’t fill it, not only does the cast not seem big enough to fill the stage but there are choices made that just don’t work. This along with the absolute horrendous set design, the show just seems a bit messy and 2D. 

The thing about Legally Blonde and why we all love it is because the characters are loveable and real within a bit of a ridiculous storyline, what Lucy Moss has done is taken out the realness and replaced it with 2D characters and slapstick comedy which strips back the truth within the story. 

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

REVIEW: Grease at the Dominion Theatre

Everybody knows Grease; we all know the story, we all know the songs and we all know the film. But what you may not be familiar with is this version. This revival of Grease, in one of its old London homes, the Dominion Theatre, takes the beloved show back to its original form. The original production has been brought back to life and the piece benefits from it massively.

This production originated back at the Leicester Curve theatre and after doing a few rounds of the UK on tour, it's finally hit back into the West End, and it comes back with a bang. 

What you get out of this production is a much more fleshed out storyline with more grit and drama centred around the characters. Yes, all the loved moments and numbers are all still there but what we end up with is actually a much better production. At times the story did drag a little in Act 1 but this is me being very picky, on the whole, the show benefits from this in such a huge way. Meaning the show goes from being your classic crowd-pleaser to a proper engrossing musical with depth. 

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

REVIEW: Roles We'll Never Play at the Lyric Theatre

Roles We’ll Never Play is probably one of the best-known cabaret shows around at the moment, and rightly so. Full of performers singing songs from roles they may not traditionally be the right casting for, it's a night full of talent and will make any musical theatre fan gag in their seat. Starting in the small Union Theatre this show has grown to play huge West End houses like the Vaudeville and Apollo theatres, it moves to its biggest house to date, the Lyric Theatre. 

Produced by the incredibly talented performer Tom Duern, who is about to feature in the cast of the All-Male H.M.S Pinafore, he pulls together an incredible lineup of performers who blow us out of our seats. On top of that, he manages to have time to drop in and give us a few songs. Performing This is Me from the Greatest Showman and featuring in a performance of Make Me Happy from the Wild Party alongside Rebecca Gilliland and Eve Norris, his vocals are out of this world and he reaches notes I didn’t even know were possible! 

Friday, 28 January 2022

REVIEW: Frozen at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane

Frozen became the highest-grossing animated film of all time in 2013 when it was released, it was later over taken by its own sequel and the Lion King remake in 2019. After the huge success of the film almost 10 years ago, it was a natural step for Disney to adapt this story for the stage. 

In what appears to be a come back for Disney theatrical, Frozen joins the list of Disney musicals that are playing here in the UK. Joining the long running Lion King in the West End and on tour, Mary Poppins over at the Prince Edward and Beauty and the Beast and Bedknobs and Broomsticks playing across the country, Frozen plays at the ever iconic Theatre Royal Drury Lane. But does the Musical live up to the success of the film?  

Following from their success with the original animated film, Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez write the additional songs for the show. Whilst the classics that we loved from the film like ‘Let it Go’, ‘Do you want to Build a Snowman’ and ‘Love is an open Door’ still remain in the show, the additional material doesn’t match the same level. The new songs aren’t memorable, apart from the new song for Elsa ‘Monster’ which is a great addition, the others just don’t hit the mark and fall flat. 

Sunday, 12 December 2021

REVIEW: Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club (Playhouse Theatre)

This production of Cabaret is probably one of the most anticipated productions of the year, with a star cast and a mysterious element to it the excitement for this show is at an all-time high. There have been multiple productions of Cabaret over recent years, in the UK we’re used to seeing the Bill Kenwright production which has toured numerous times and has made a couple of pit stops in London, so this new and fresh take of the show is very welcomed. 

As you walk into the theatre, you enter the KitKat club. The main entrance is out of use and the audience are guided through the stage door (although this isn’t the case for some tickets), through some dark corridors you enter the immersive space of the underground bar. You are immediately drawn in and then enter into the main space, passing through another theatre bar into the newly renovated auditorium which is now an in the round space with regular theatre seating, two separate dress circles and even table seating around the stage. This makes you feel totally a part of the story however there is a disconnect between the immersive side of the show and the piece itself. 

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

REVIEW: Chicago at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley

Chicago proves why it's been around for a while and it is definitely here to stay. This black box production uzes class and establishes itself as a classic musical theatre piece. If you’ve not seen Chicago, where have you been?! This version of the show opened in London back in 1997 and has refused to leave our stages and this production validates exactly why. 

This has to be one of the classiest shows on the circuit at the moment and even though the style of the show could be of an acquired taste, it sure has something for everyone. With impeccable choreography, humour pouring through it and relevance to our lives today this show is what the country needs. 

The light humour in the piece carries through and with the talented cast it's very easy to watch but then when the harder hitting moments come, they hit pretty hard. In a world where celebrities are created through social media and, arguably, have no ‘real’ talents, this shows message and meaning carries through to modern-day. 

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

REVIEW: Back to the Future at the Adelphi Theatre

A cult classic with a huge following, this show has been tipped to come to the West End for a long time. With their preview period in Manchester cut short because of the pandemic, it finally hits London and plays at the Adelphi Theatre. Now, don’t come for me, but I have not seen the film! I know, I know, it’s a classic and everyone has seen it apart from me! However, walking into the theatre with an open mind was actually a refreshing thing as to not know anything about a show is a rarity! Helped along with the audience, I knew exactly what references were from the movie and what were new additions.

When Marty McFly sees that his good friend Doc Brown has had an accident with one of his inventions, he gets into his time travelling car to get help, little does he know that it’ll in fact send him back in time to the exact date his parents met. Whilst his mother is busy falling head over heels for him, Marty must think of a way to make sure his parents meet and fall in love to insure he and his siblings exist in the future. A classic empty plot we have seen a lot from big blockbuster 80’s movies but nonetheless, a storyline we can escape into. 

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

REVIEW: Jersey Boys at the Trafalgar Theatre

The Trafalgar Theatre reopens in its newly refurbished state with the smash-hit musical Jersey Boys. Returning to the West End after a four-year absence it's clear why this show is still entertaining audiences. The show ran for nine years in London before closing in 2017 and with its return comes a fresh remounting of the original production. 

This jukebox musical follows the story of the Four Seasons, from the groups' original conception right through to their break up and reunion. A true rags to riches story, this is a moving, exciting and interesting telling of the Four Seasons back story. Using the four men's different accounts of what happened, the show manages to move incredibly fast but always keeps the audience with them and at no point do you feel you’ve missed something or are lagging behind. An example of perfect storytelling that many musicals like this should take a couple of notes from. 

As a huge fan of the music, it feels so wonderful to hear it live again in this newly refurbished theatre. The Trafalgar, formerly Trafalgar Studios, has been changed from having a main space and a studio space to being one larger two-level theatre. Although the space is still fairly small compared to other West End houses, it means the piece becomes more intimate from wherever you’re sitting. At times it feels the music needs to be played in a bigger house to get the full effect of the incredible songs but the smaller auditorium also works in the shows favour as it brings the story and characters closer to the audience, almost as if we’re all living through the story with the characters. 

Thursday, 27 May 2021

REVIEW: Here Come the Boys at the London Palladium

Here Come the Boys is one of the few West End shows that are reopening theatreland, with a two-week slot at the London Palladium to see the lights of the theatre on and to feel the buzz around the theatre once again it was exciting and very much needed. 

The show was meant to open in January at the Garrick Theatre before hitting the road but the pandemic has put a stop to that. Pushing their opening back to 2022, a window popped up at Londons most famous theatre and they’ve moved in to push through the opening of the West End. 

Starring Aljaž Škorjanec, Graziano di Prima, Karim Zeroual, Nadiya Bychkova, Pasha Kovavlev and Robin Windsor alongside dancers Ash-Leigh Hunter, Giada Lini, George Michaelides, Grace Cinque-White and Mick Scott, the show is directed and choreographed by Gareth Walker. 
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