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Monday, 30 January 2023

REVIEW: Noises Off at the Phoenix Theatre

Farce is one of the finest theatrical traditions rooted in the British obsession with manners and respectability. A heady brew of slapstick, confusion and mixed messaging between frustrated characters. From Shakespeare through Oscar Wilde to Noel Coward and more recently Henry Lewis, the genre constantly reinvents itself. Noises Off by Michael Frayn is one of the best and makes a welcome return to the West End at the Phoenix Theatre.

This is the classic play within a play, as a stressed company of actors rehearse for a provincial run of 'Nothing On'. The outer play splits into three distinct acts but portrays a single act from three different perspectives. First, there is the 'technical' or dress rehearsal, where all the glitches are supposedly ironed out. Secondly, the act is played on the first night but shown from backstage. And finally, the act is shown from the front of the house, where the backstage shenanigans and eventual consequences begin to make sense.

Saturday, 14 September 2019

REVIEW: Come From Away at the Phoenix Theatre

“On the northeast tip of North America on an island called Newfoundland there's an airport. It used to be one of the biggest airports in the world and next to it is a town called Gander…”

It’s September 11th, 2001. The people of Gander see their lives turned upside down as 38 planes are diverted to land at their airport following the horrors of the plane bombings into the World Trade Centre buildings in New York City. Almost 7000 “plane people” from all around the world find themselves frightened, exhausted and far away from home. Come From Away tells their story and how the Newfoundlanders rallied together to make them feel as close to home as they could during their stay. 

This week marked the 18th anniversary of the attacks of 9/11, so emotions were high at the Phoenix Theatre as the show began. This was my first visit to the show and I was there with very high expectations but was not once disappointed. 

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

REVIEW: Come From Away at the Phoenix Theatre

In the midst of the ‘Casting stars in lead roles’ era, there is nothing more refreshing than seeing a piece of theatre that is jam packed with incredible, hard working actors at the top of their game and telling a beautiful story as a unified company. 

I’m about to make a BIG statement here, but I’m pretty certain that anybody who has witnessed this masterpiece will completely back me up; Come From Away is, by a clear mile, the best piece of theatre to hit the West End for as long as I have been around. Yes; it’s even better than Hamilton. 

‘Award-winning musical Come From Away arrives in the West End following critical acclaim on Broadway. Playing at London’s Phoenix Theatre, Come From Away is the moving musical that brings to life the true stories of the 7,000 stranded passengers and the small town in Newfoundland that brought them in. With tensions running high, uneasiness transforms into music that soars through the night, and life-long friendships are created. With musical numbers including “Welcome to the Rock”, “Me and the Sky” and “Something’s Missing”, this Drama Desk Award-winning production is created by Irene Sankoff and David Hein, and is directed by Tony Award-winner Christopher Ashley. A thrilling, emotive and uplifting new musical, Come From Away runs at the Phoenix Theatre.’

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

REVIEW: Chicago at the Phoenix Theatre

Kander and Ebb’s long running musical ‘Chicago’ returned to the West End earlier this year and recently introduced a new set of leads into the cast. The show is famous for a long list of hit songs including “All That Jazz”, “Mr Cellophane” and “Razzle Dazzle” to name only a few. Fans may be familiar with the 2002 film version, which remains fairly faithful to the stage show. Top billing in this instance is given to Alexandra Burke as wannabe vaudeville star, ‘Roxie Hart’ and Duncan James as the silver tongued prince of the courtroom, ‘Billy Flynn’. Stunt casting receives a lot of criticism in the press, however I am pleased to report that the current stars of ‘Chicago’ have stagecraft enough to make the show an enjoyable couple of hours.

That being said… there is no doubt that Burke is talented, but her soulful vocals feel somewhat out of place in 1920’s Chicago and she never really convinces us of any kind of struggle or character journey throughout the show. She moves well, but next to the dazzling Laura Tyrer as a pitch-perfect Velma Kelly, she struggles to demonstrate the sharpness and specificity needed for Anne Reinking’s fosse- inspired choreography. Fans of the singer will surely enjoy her performance, and it makes for an interesting change from the usual portrayal of Roxie but not necessarily appropriate to the piece as a whole.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

REVIEW: Chicago at the Phoenix Theatre

Chicago still remains to be one of the sexiest shows on the West End. Not surprisingly, this musicals themes seem more relevant today, than ever. The celebrity obsessed culture, media twisting news telling and the American sense of patriotism are very reminiscent of our times. 

Its simplistic style and theatrical devises are cleverly used and are still as fresh as ever in this West End revival. Keeping in the true Bob Fosse style, Ann Reinking brings a fresh take to the musical, still keeping the essence of the original production but bringing a fresh energy with a star cast who ooze everything this musical is supposed to be. 

Leading the band, we had Ian Townsend. Now this band, slapped right bang in the middle of the action, showed us why we love live theatre. It reminded us of the hard work and beauty that goes on behind (or under) the scenes that we usually don’t see. The orchestration of this score in this production was wonderful and I couldn’t take my eyes off this talented bunch of musicians. 

Friday, 10 July 2015

REVIEW: Bend it like Beckham at the Phoenix Theatre

This musical is incredibly dated, I am shocked to see how many stereotypes are used in the production. It is 2015, the vast majority of the public do not find stereotypes funny anymore. We have moved on, we do not need every single indian character to be the comic relief and a cultural stereotype that is 10 years out of date. And why were all the female footballers butch women? This is dated and actually quite offensive. I find it very lazy that the writers and director have gone down this route because its not what we need in our society and its incredibly unimaginative. Its a shame because the aunts in the show had quite a few funny moments, but because every single indian character was matched up to them in the writing it meant nothing was funny. 

Thursday, 5 June 2014

RONAN KEATING to star as Guy in ONCE from November

On 17 November 2014 Ronan Keating will join the West End cast of Olivier award-winning musical Once, to play the leading role of Guy.
Ronan Keating said: "I was truly bowled over when I first saw Once. The music and storyline are so incredibly moving and combined with John Tiffany's direction, I believe it's a modern-day masterpiece. It's unlike anything else I've ever seen. When I was asked about playing the lead male (who is a busker in Dublin) I was completely overwhelmed because I knew it would be perfect - this was my home town, my people, and the place where I began my own music career. But as exciting as that is, it's scary too.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

David Hunter and Jill Winternitz to star in ONCE

Photo Credit: Darren Bell
David Hunter and Jill Winternitz are set to take over the leads in the West End production of Once.
Hunter, who originally joined the show in July last year understudying the role of Guy, and Winternitz will have their first performance together on Monday (12 May 2014). The show's current leads, Olivier Award-winner Zrinka Cvitešić and Arthur Darvill, have their last performance on Saturday (10 May).
Hunter's theatre credits include One Man Two Guvnors (National Theatre, UK tour and Adelphi Theatre), Seussical (Arts), The Who's Tommy (Prince Edward), The Hired Man (Leicester Curve), Spinach (The Royal Exchange, Manchester), Moving On (The Lowry, Manchester) and Love Shift (The Royal Exchange).

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Once the Musical: Theatre Review

Based on the film of the same name, Once the musical has transferred over from Broadway to London’s West End. The original production opened off-Broadway in December 2011, closing the following month and transferring to the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre in February 2012 on Broadway.  Winning multiple Tony Awards, it still remains to be a huge success over seas. Before opening at the Phoenix Theatre in the West End, Once made a stop in Dublin (where the show is set) proving majorly popular with audiences already  its future is certainly looking pretty good at the moment!  
The musical follows the story of how the lead male (named simply, Guy) is helped and inspired to take his music career further by Girl (Maybe the writer couldn’t think of names...). They get a band together and record some songs, fall in love but don’t do anything about it. Can’t believe how they spread that over two and a half hours? Neither can I. 
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