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Tuesday, 16 July 2019

INTERVIEW: Louis Gaunt, currently starring in the new UK tour of Grease the Musical

Louis Gaunt is current playing the role of Kenickie in the new touring production of Grease the Musical. His other credits include Manfred in Sweet Charity at the Nottingham Playhouse, Standing At The Sky's Edge at the Sheffield Crucible and playing Will Parker in Oklahoma! at the Grange Park Opera which he won the 2018 The Stage Debut Award for Best Actor In A Musical. We caught up with Louis whilst in rehearsals for Grease before he heads out on tour. 

Tell us what we can look forward to in this new production of Grease. 

Audiences can look forward to a vibrant & youthful performance of a production that pays homage to the truth of the subjects and matters tackled in Grease and the 1950s era. 

What is it like to be part of a brand new production of Grease, the first of its kind to tour the UK?

Very privileged to be part of such a magical piece of theatre, that audiences from all over the UK will be able to see a little bit of themselves in the show. 

Grease is obviously one of the most well known musicals in the world, but tell us a bit about your exposure with the show prior to getting cast in it. 

I had only ever seen the film version of Grease the Musical, so when I was able to get my hands on the script for this production, my mind was opened entirely to what Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey we’re portraying. There are so many finer details in the musical that are kind of washed over in the film. 

Thursday, 4 July 2019

REVIEW: The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾: The Musical at the Ambassadors Theatre

For almost forty years, Sue Townsend’s books have delighted readers of all ages. Adrian Mole and his friends have been translated into 33 languages and sold over twenty million copies worldwide. Despite being set in the 80’s, these beloved characters and the world they live in are timeless. Composer-lyricist duo Pippa Cleary and Jake Brunger quickly earned the trust of Townsend, despite not being the first to pitch a musical version. So taken with their ideas, she sold them the necessary rights for just £1. Townsend very sadly passed away in 2014, never seeing the musical premiere in her hometown of Leicester for the following year.

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾: The Musical is a constant thrill. We follow Adrian’s quest to win the heart of new girl Pandora Box, and the collapse of his parents’ marriage, with Mole himself narrating through his regular diary entries. Cleary and Brunger supply an original score packed full of numbers that feel like classics by the time the second chorus comes around. Gone are the days where child actors sing nursery rhyme lyrics and give two-dimensional performances. In this show, the juvenile leads are intelligent and sink their teeth into complicated material, clever lyrics, and melodies that often stray from the beaten path. Shows like Matilda and School of Rock have proven just how much our youngest stars are capable of nowadays, and this show certainly allows them to soar.

INTERVIEW: Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky, currently starring in the new UK tour of Grease the Musical

Rhianna-Louise McCaulsky is currently playing the role of Rizzo in the new touring production of Grease the Musical. Her other credits include ensemble & cover Zahara in Bat Out of Hell at the Dominion Theatre and ensemble & cover Nabalungi in The Book of Mormon at the Prince of Wales Theatre. We caught up with Rhianne-Louise whilst in rehearsals for Grease before she heads out on tour. 

Tell us what we can look forward to in this new production of Grease. 

We’ve got some cool new songs which haven’t been used since the original production, we’ve gone back to the original script and really tried to focus on the truth of the characters. They are working class teenagers growing up in 1950s Chicago and the creative team have really tried to concentrate on that. 

What is it like to be part of a brand new production of Grease, the first of its kind to tour the UK? 

I am so excited about this new production. It’s so nice to be a part of something that we have had the opportunity to mould ourselves. It’s been a very hands on collaborative rehearsal process. I still have to pinch myself sometimes. 

Grease is obviously one of the most well known musicals in the world, but tell us a bit about your exposure with the show prior to getting cast in it. 

My family practically raised me on Grease. That’s why it was so funny that I got the part of Rizzo, because I have been watching it since I can remember. I used to sing ‘There Are Worse Things I Could Do’ at every opportunity.

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, 19 June 2019

INTERVIEW: Mazz Murray, currently starring as Donna in Mamma Mia! at the Novello Theatre

Mazz Murray is best known for her run as the Killer Queen and longest serving cast member in the West End musical, We Will Rock You. She is currently playing Donna in Mamma Mia at the Novello Theatre after having previously played Tanya in the same production. She has also not long finished playing Mama Morton in Chicago at the Phoenix Theatre. She made her theatre debut playing Patsy Cline in The Roy Orbison Story across the UK and has appeared in Rent, Smokey Joe's Café, Fame, Only The Lonely, Boogie Nights and Pippin.

You’re returning to MAMMA MIA! after having previously played Tanya. What made you want to return to this show? 

The opportunity to play Donna.

And how is it seeing the show from a different characters perspective? 

It’s like a completely different show and experience. 

What are your favourite moments from the show to perform as Donna and which ones did you love doing as Tanya? 

It’s so new at the moment - I’m enjoying all of it, especially singing the songs.

What have you enjoyed most about returning to this show? 

Gosh, seeing the wonderful friends again that are still here – both backstage/ onstage and front of house.

Monday, 20 May 2019

REVIEW: Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens at the Union Theatre

Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens tells the story of lots of different characters who have lived with HIV and have passed away from AIDS. Each character has a quilt square to contribute to the ‘Names Project AIDs Memorial Quilt’ and along the way we get an insight into the characters lives.

This is not a musical, it is not a play, it is not poetry, it is not a song cycle. Its none of these things but all of them at the same time. What every LGTBQ+ piece of theatre has tried to achieve in the past 10 years, this play does with no problems. 

What is stunning and so important about this story is that it is not strictly a LGBTQ+ story, of course there are those elements to it and it is important for this community to have a piece like this, but this particular story calls out to every single person on this earth.

There is a sense of unity within the cast and creatives, everything just slots together like a jigsaw puzzle. The cast have a passion and need to tell this story which means they’re pouring everything they have into this piece. This show is seamless, I’m not sure where everybody’s jobs started or finished which to me says that this was a perfectly assembled team.

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.

Sunday, 28 April 2019

If the SIX Queens were RuPaul's Drag Race contestants

Whilst watching an episode of RuPaul's Drag Race after having seen SIX the musical at the Arts Theatre, we wondered who we'd like to see in the All Stars version! Now this is the lip sync we'd love to see... Tweet us who you'd like to see play each Queen! 

Catherine of Aragon | Bob the Drag Queen 


Thursday, 14 March 2019

REVIEW: 9 to 5 at the Savoy Theatre

9 to 5 originally ran on Broadway 10 years ago with Megan Hilty, Stephanie J Block and Allison Janney in the leading roles. This was followed closely with a UK tour production, similar to the broadway production but with a few tweaks and song changes. What is amazing is that it has taken 10 years for the show to finally make it to the West End, ever since I first heard the cast recording I have been dying to see it come to London, I got my wish and it is running at the Savoy Theatre in a ‘strictly limited season’. 

Inspired by the original 1980 film starring Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, 9 to 5 tells the story of three work colleagues who find themselves having to conjure up a plan whilst they kidnap their boss and take over the office, running it the way it should be. 

The show is very relevant to whats going on in our world today; equality is a big factor to this show and its portrayed in such a crude way by Franklin Hart, Jr (played by Brian Conley) that it is shocking. Although the issues are important unfortunately the writing doesn't handle them in the best way, it comes across a little too crass when it could be a little more subtle. Franklin often tells random jokes over the course of the show that are sexist and they just feel like they’re in there for show and not for any contribution to the story. 

REVIEW: Six at the Arts Theatre

Having seen this show, and reviewed it (read my original review here), I was very much looking forward to heading back to see this show again and to see how its improved. Since its run at the Arts Theatre back in 2018 it has been on a short tour of the UK and is now back to stay (for the foreseeable future) at the Arts Theatre. 

When you walk into the Arts, both the front of house and the auditorium, you feel a sense of intimacy. Personally, I’d advise you get there early as it gets very busy in the foyer but the team that work there and the charm of the place are really delightful. The space is small but perfect for this piece, any bigger and I think we’d feel a disconnection with the Queens. They really feel like they’re talking directly to you so the intimacy of this theatre really works in their favour. 

Having seen the show before, I can see some changes in the production. Not that I saw any flaws in the show before, but the writing is tighter, choreography is slicker and musically it sounds so much better. With the success of this show, one could say “If its not broke, don’t fix it”, but what I admire about the creatives on this is that they are clearly striving for more than just a good recipe for a show. They are true creators and are striving for excellence. A quality that will go very far in this industry. 

Thursday, 7 February 2019

REVIEW: Ghost the musical at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking

Adored by millions and regarded as one of the most iconic films of the 90s, Ghost made stars of Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze and helped sales of pottery wheels rocket around the world. 

The musical version follows the story of the film faithfully and brings all the original characters to the stage, focusing on the love story of Molly and Sam and the betrayal of best friend Carl.

Rebekah Lowings is a strong and commanding presence as Molly who portrays ambition, love and heartbreak in equal measure with ease. Her voice has a good range and has great power and tenderness.

Vocally, Niall Sheehy’s Sam was excellent but the characterisation felt weak and undeveloped. There lacked a genuine chemistry early on between Molly and Sam meaning that for large parts of the show, you never really invested in the relationship. 

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

REVIEW: Head Over Heels (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

What do you get when you mix the most successful female rock band of all time with musical theatre? The answer is Head Over Heels, a new musical comedy featuring the iconic songs of the Go-Go’s that recently closed on Broadway. It was described by Time Out New York as “a saucy and boisterous celebration,” and the cast recording certainly conveys that feeling.

The album suffers from some of the same pitfalls as most “jukebox musicals.” One being that when a recording artist’s existing canon is used as the score, there generally isn’t a narrative that can be discerned by listening. The songs stand on their own and if you haven’t seen the show, you won’t have any idea how they move the story forward. A few of the tracks on Head Over Heels feature bits of dialogue from the production, but out of context they are just confusing. Also, tonally, there isn’t much variation. Almost all of the songs feature the same pop rock, synth sound that the Go-Go’s are known for. 

Monday, 1 October 2018

If Heathers the Musical was on 25 years ago...

With all the Heathers buzz thats going around it got us thinking, if this show was on 25 years ago who would be in it? Well, that made our minds go crazy and we had to put our dream casting into an article for you! Make sure you tweet us your thoughts and ideas! @PocketSizeBlog

Veronica Sawyer | Lea Salonga or Linzi Hateley

Carrie Hope Fletcher plays the role in this West End production and does it ever so brilliantly! Instantly we thought of Lea Salonga and Linzi Hateley, both would sing the role incredibly and I'm sure would have played it just as well as Ms Fletcher. 

Jason "J.D." Dean | Norman Bowman or Jason Donovan

The slightly crazy and misguided role is being played by Jamie Muscato in the shows London premiere, but after seeing Norman Bowman and Jason Donovan in countless shows over the years we're sure they would have been a perfect match back in the day!

Thursday, 26 July 2018

FIRST LOOK: Fame the Musical, on tour around the UK

Keith Jack, Mica Paris and Jorgie Porter star in the new UK Tour of Fame – The Musical opening at Manchester Palace on 20 July for a brand new 30th Anniversary Tour.

Based on the 1980 phenomenal pop culture film, Fame – The Musical is the international smash-hit sensation following the lives of students at New York’s High School For The Performing Arts as they navigate their way through the highs and lows, the romances and the heartbreaks and the ultimate elation of life. This bittersweet but uplifting triumph of a show explores the issues that confront many young people today: prejudice, identity, pride, literacy, sexuality, substance abuse and perseverance.

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. 

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

REVIEW: The King and I at the London Palladium

Opening in 2015, this revival of the Rogers and Hammerstein's 1951 musical was a hit on Broadway. It won four Tony Awards; including Best Revival of a Musical, Best Leading Actress, Best Featured Actress and Best Costume Design. This production comes over to London where is plays at the historic London Palladium. 

Personally I am not a huge fan of Rogers and Hammerstein's work, I find a lot of their work to be dated and not relevant. But this show proved me wrong, it was as relevant as ever with the references to building walls around the country and trying to westernise the culture. It actually was quite shocking to see how our modern political struggles are represented through this period piece written over 60 years ago. 

Through Bartlett Sher and Christopher Gattelli’s visions, this production of The King and I is a true thing of beauty. Its tight and fresh but still has that classical feel to it that we a crave when seeing a Rogers and Hammerstein piece. 

The sets by Michael Yeargan are actually quite simple, of course there is a lavishness to them but in the bases of the design its simplistic and not busy which is just perfect for this piece and it is framed wonderfully by Catherine Zuber’s stunning costume design.

Monday, 2 July 2018

REVIEW: West Side Story at The Great Hall, Bishopsgate Institute

This week The Bishopgate Institute, in partnership with Musical Theatre International presents Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s classic West Side Story. This is The Bishopgate’s in house production and is set in The Grand Hall in traverse. 

Written sixty years ago this show, like the original star crossed lovers tale is a classic. This is Bishopsgate’s first solo venture in to the Non-professional Theatre scene after working with Centre Stage London in 2016 when the co-produced Ragtime in Concert. 

I use the term ‘Non-professional’ as AmDram always makes me think of village halls and Tinkly out of tunes pianos: this is far from it. 

First off it’s such a treat to sit in Bishopsgate’s Great Hall listening to a full orchestra playing Bernstein’s masterpiece. It’s no wonder West Side Story is so timeless. Conducted by Ben Ferguson, the orchestra bring every moment and nuance to life. It’s resplendent to say in the least. 

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

DREAM CASTING: Frozen the Musical

Alice Fearn as Elsa

Currently starring as Elphaba in Wicked in the West End, Alice has to be the best Elphaba we have ever seen in the shows history. Her portrayal of the role was original and incredibly layered whilst her voice absolutely blew me away! She'd smash this role and 'Let It Go' would be a highlight in the history of the West End

Gina Beck as Anna

After her stunning performance in Show Boat and her heart warming performance in Matilda, we think Gina would be a wonderful Anna. She has the heart and the enthusiasm and we know she'd win everyones hearts over.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

DREAM CASTING: Mean Girls the Musical

Charlotte Wakefield as Cady Heron 

Fresh from her run as Polly Baker in the UK tour of Crazy for You, we'd love to see Wakefield belt out those songs as Cady Heron! 

Jodie Steele as Regina George

She has the sass and she has the voice! After seeing her blow the roof off in Heathers the Musical at The Other Palace, we think Jodie would be the perfect Regina for the London production!

Friday, 1 June 2018

REVIEW: Shrek the Musical at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking

Brought live to the stage as a family musical, based on the smash-hit animated film, Shrek: The Musical tells the not-so-classic fairytale story of Shrek, a lone ogre who lives in a swamp and how he comes to take on a quest to battle a fire-breathing dragon to save the beautiful princess who lives in the highest room in the tallest tower. By his side is his "noble steed" – a talking Donkey. Wonderfully light-hearted and quick-witted, Shrek The Musical is a delightful family treat for the whole family. 

A Broadway recording of this show is available on DVD Starring Brian D'Arcy James and Sutton Foster, and it's safe to say I could recite along with every word. I loved that production and so was very excited to see what this UK tour brought to the stage. Lots of things have been changed for a British audience which is understandable, however there were cuts and changes made which I simply couldn't understand. For Example, "I Know It’s Today" is a beautiful trio sung by 3 versions of Princess Fiona as she grows up over time. In this production, we had Laura Main's Princess, accompanied by puppets which she has supposedly made during her 8,423 days stuck in her tower. It just didn't work. The beauty of the song was lost and what was supposed to be funny fell flat. This was a reoccurring theme throughout the evening unfortunately. 
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