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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. 
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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. 
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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! 
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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. 
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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. 
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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. 
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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. 
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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. 
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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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Saturday, 17 October 2020

REVIEW: The Last Five Years at the Southwark Playhouse


The Last Five Years at the Southwark Playhouse received rave reviews with numerous 5-star ratings flying around, with the Southwark Playhouse being a breeding ground for incredible revivals there was no doubt in my mind that this one would live up to the reviews it received, and it certainly did! 

Following a couple, Cathy and Jamie, we watch the journey of their relationship unfold on stage but in a very unique way. Cathy's side of the story is told backwards and Jamie tells his from beginning to end. Similar to that of Merrily We Roll along, of which I personally am not a fan of, this form of storytelling is used wonderfully in this piece. 

Only familiar with a couple of the songs (bad musical theatre fan!), I was really interested in seeing this piece in its entirety. The use of Cathy's story being told backwards was such a powerful tool in the storytelling, as it unfolds you understand the pain and hurt but also, as they’re told separately, begin to form your own opinion of what you’re seeing. 

Being a huge fan of Jonathan O’Boyle, his work on this musical certainly does not disappoint. There is so much in this piece that is so thorough and detailed that this review could easily be a 27-page analysis. But I won’t bore you, all I have to say is see it for yourself. 
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REVIEW: Buyer and Cellar at Above the Stag


Originally performed by Michael Urie, Buyer and Cellar premiered in the US in 2013. Written by Jonathan Tolins, the show is told by Alex More, a struggling actor, in a one-man play. More tells us about the story of when he got a job working in Barbra Streisand’s basement that she has transformed into an idyllic shopping mall to house the spare possessions she has collected over the years. His story splits between his interactions with Babs herself, her husband James Brolin, Streisand’s housekeeper and his own boyfriend. 
 
Buyer and Cellar was meant to play its run in March at Above the Stag, but due to the global pandemic it just missed its press night. So it is the natural choice for the theatre to make its come back with! In terms of the measures the theatre have adapted to ensure its patrons safety, its been pretty well looked after. Social distancing was very thorough and with drinks being delivered to your seats they really have gone the extra mile to not only ensure everyone's safety is top of the list but also your comfort. In this fairly new building, its a very comfortable and spacious venue which is perfect for adapting to the measures for everyone's well keeping. 

Starring Aaron Sidwell who people may know best from Eastenders but is no stranger to the stage with numerous musical, play and Shakespeare credits, he brings to life Alex and all his counterparts with such an effortless flare. His character switches were by no means impressions or caricatures but his physical changes and slight vocal shifts define each and every person well enough for us to become familiar with them all. As a one-man play, the whole thing rides on him and he really does pull it off, making the hour and a half performance fly by. 
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Tuesday, 1 September 2020

REVIEW: Sleepless: A Musical Romance at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre


Based on the original screenplay ‘Sleepless in Seattle, a film I have not seen (don’t come for me), this musical adaptation just doesn’t work. We have no need for it in our modern-day society. This may be an ok story to switch on in an evening whilst cooking dinner but as a theatrical experience in 2020, it just doesn’t do anything for us. The romance of the story is lost completely in the production and it doesn’t allow us to escape from our reality enough to forgive that. 

Michael Burdette (Book Writer), Robert Scott (Composer) and Brendan Cull (Lyrics) are the creative team behind the piece, unfortunately, this particular show just doesn’t click into place. The comedy and romance is missed and the music just doesn’t do what we need it to do.  

This show doesn’t have a style, it’s not sure if it’s in the modern era of music with a pop theme, if it’s a more classical musical theatre sound or a Sondheim feel in the score. It's confusing and unfortunately none of it is memorable. Most shows have at least one or two numbers that are staples and you remember walking out of the theatre but this one doesn’t have that, the songs just all mix together into one.  
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Tuesday, 11 August 2020

REVIEW: Fanny and Stella at The Garden Theatre at The Eagle


This is my first trip to the theatre since everything shut down in March and what a pleasant experience it was. My first time visiting the Eagle in Vauxhall and I was greeted with politeness and exceptional hospitality by the staff. They are doing everything they can to create a space that is safe but still enjoyable and comfortable for all. The show itself is socially distanced both in the audience and onstage, with a few subtle jokes in the piece addressing it! But to tell you the truth, you wouldn’t even notice. Which is a huge credit to the creators. 

The setting is the beer garden of the pub and whilst this may seem a little weird, its dressed like the best outdoor fringe venue you’ll ever experience. As far as I’m aware, an outdoor venue like this has never been done and this is a prime example of how to do to it well and I hope this opens doors for the future as to what we could possibly see in times to come on the fringe scene. 

Fanny and Stella tells the story of Ernest Boulton and Frederick William Park, they were two young men who, in 1871, were put on trial in London for dressing as women. A new piece by Glenn Chandler and Charles Miller, brought to the stage by Peter Bull for LAMBCO productions and directed by Steven Dexter, this classic Victorian-Vaudeville style musical is truly wonderful and Dexter has done a brilliant job at transforming this pub beer garden into a pretty fringe theatre. With musical staging by Nick Winston, his work is almost like the sprinkles on top of the cake. It adds flair and campness that this piece thrives on. 
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Thursday, 27 February 2020

REVIEW: The Prince of Egypt at the Dominion Theatre


The Prince of Egypt, based on the biblical story, was a hit film in 1998 grossing over $218 Million, making it the most successful non-Disney animation at the time and this new musical version comes into the West End after a handful of productions around the world. This is one of the most exciting productions to come to the West End in a long time; in a time where we see countless revivals, jukebox and 80’s film adaptations, this is a breath of fresh air into our industry. Even though its based on a film, this original concept goes far beyond what we’ve seen before. 

The shows main issue is the Book, similar to that of a pantomime it likes to explain everything we’re seeing rather than let the audience interpret the actions. At times, the book made the acting look pretty bad as its not natural nor does it benefit the story. The cast are incredible talented but all are let down by the stale book. 

Scott Schwartz, the son of writer Stephen Schwartz, directs the show and although the concepts, imagery and staging were interesting the show was based around the Choreography so you start to ask the question of where did the directors job actually start. Saying that, Sean Cheesman’s work on the show was stunning. A mix of contemporary, lyrical and traditional choreography that we’ve never seen on this scale on the West End stage. 
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Wednesday, 5 February 2020

REVIEW: The Wedding Singer at the Wembley Park Theatre


Based on the 1998 hit movie, The Wedding Singer settles down for a couple of weeks in Troubadours Wembley Park Theatre. The Theatre, which was only founded in 2018, is the new building on the theatre scene. It is located in the former Fountain Studios, which housed shows such as The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent. My first trip to this space and I very impressed, the front of house space creates a more sociable and relaxing environment. The actual auditorium was closer to a cinema layout for this show rather than a theatre; the seats were comfy with drink holders in the seats in front and everybody had enough space. For someone who visits theatres regularly this was a strange but very welcomed change. Also, the staff were friendly and enforced the welcoming and relaxing atmosphere of the space. 

But unfortunately the wonderful venue can’t save this show. 

Robbie (Kevin Clifton), a Wedding Singer, gets dumped by his Fiancée (Erin Bell) on his Wedding Day and has to climb back to normality where he realises the love of his life has right in front of him all along. But she’s engaged to someone else. He flies to Vegas to stop the marriage and everyone lives happily every after. Sounds thrilling, right?
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Wednesday, 22 January 2020

REVIEW: Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at the Apollo Theatre


Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, the original British musical, is still standing strong in the West End. Opening back in 2017 after a hugely successful run in Sheffield, the show launches a UK tour this year alongside a new film adaptation, so it's clear to say this musical is going nowhere! 

Following the story of 16-year-old Jamies New in his quest to become a Drag Queen, he decides to go to prom in a dress however this isn’t received the way he thought it might be. 

The show remains to be one of my personal favourites on the West End; it has heart and passion in it with loads of comedy and lightness to it. It remains tight and fresh as the day it started. 

The show welcomes its new cast in, including the new Jamie, Noah Thomas, who hasn’t even finished drama school yet! He plays the role with a real truthfulness in it, similar to the qualities we saw in original Jamie John Mcrea. He has a naivety and an innocence with confidence that just pulls you in straight away and we really go on the journey with him. It is a finely crafted performance that for any performer, let alone someone still in their third year, is a huge achievement. 
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Wednesday, 18 December 2019

REVIEW: Curtains at the Wyndham's Theatre


Although a well known Broadway show, Curtains hasn’t had much attention in the UK. Whilst its been a favourite of drama schools and the occasional small scale production around the country we haven’t seen a fully mounted production of it, until now. Its been making its way round the country and is making a Christmas pit stop at the Wyndham’s Theatre in the centre of London's West End. 

The show is set in a theatre in Boston where a new musical production of Robin Hood is in previews with hopes to go to Broadway. The show stars a huge film star who turns out to be dreadful and is shortly killed off. The theatre is sectioned off and no one is allowed to leave the building as there is a suspected murderer amongst them. As the show tries to find rehearse its new star theres a couple more killings, a love story and a couple of show rewrites by the detective, we eventually find out who committed the crime.  
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Monday, 9 December 2019

REVIEW: Whistle Down the Wind at the Union Theatre


The Union Theatre present their Christmas musical, the 1989 musical version of Whistle Down the Wind (not the Andrew Lloyd Webber one) based on the 1959 novel and 1961 film of the same name.

Cathy, Nan and Charles discover a mysterious man in their barn who they are convinced is Jesus Christ whilst the village is going crazy as there is a convict on the loose. The three children end up bringing all their friends to the barn to meet him whilst all keeping it a secret from the grown ups. In the end their father finds out about the man hiding in the barn and alerts the police however the children team up to form a barricade around the barn to stop the man being arrested, the barn gets set on fire and once distinguished the man has disappeared but there has been a cross painted on the wall. 

The story is all based around the children's belief into something they haven't any proof is true, which could be seen as a metaphor for religion as a whole. They give complete trust to this strange man who could have a dark history. 
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Tuesday, 5 November 2019

REVIEW: The Green Fairy at the Union Theatre


The Green Fairy is a new musical playing at the Union Theatre. It follows Jo and along the course of the show we discover all about Jo, her past and all those issues she’s faced which now have affected her relationship with her daughter. The show uses ‘The Green Fairy’ as a conscious for Jo, although the show has no relation to or doesn’t feature absinthe in any way this is an interesting way for us to follow Jo’s story. 

This piece has a lot of themes; child abandonment, alcoholism, friendship, homosexuality and marriage to name a few. My struggle with the show was that I didn’t really understand which one of these were most important, they were just all thrown in there to add drama but to me the focus wasn’t clear enough. 

Sold on the poster as a ‘Queer Pub Musical’, this isn’t correct. Yes, the piece does feature a lesbian relationship however this is not the centre of the show. And actually, credit to the writer for this, this never comes up as an issue or problem in the story. It is merely falling in love with someone else, rather than realising that the character is gay. But having seen the show, this is not the marketing route to go down as it sets an expectation that it will not fulfil, not in any bad way at all, just in the way that this is not what this show is about. 
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Friday, 18 October 2019

REVIEW: He’s Behind You - The Slasher Panto at The Pleasance Theatre


He’s Behind You - The Slasher Panto has been brought to the Pleasance Theatre by PopHorror with some London Drag stars featured in the leading roles 

The show tells us the story of how a mysterious killer (dressed up as Daisy the Cow) is going around killing all of the fairytale characters and the remaining ones must uncover the killer and save the fairytale world. 

What is wonderful about this cast is that the types of drag we see are so inclusive, in a culture where the world is obsessed with RuPaul’s Drag Rae this show opens up your eyes to the types of Drag we have available at our finger tips are its glorious. 
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