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Monday, 2 March 2020

REVIEW: The Creature at the Rose Theatre Kingston

The image of Frankenstein's monster was defined by Boris Karloff's 1931 performance as the monster but recent stage productions have tried to reinvent the story and image. The tour of Frankenstein in late 2019 adapted by Rona Munro had the original author Mary Shelley on stage narrating the story but stuck closely to the original book. Ciaran McConville takes a very different approach using the original plot of Shelley's book, as a starting point to create a very modern prometheus and then the alumni of the Rose Youth theatre, all around the age Shelley was when she wrote the original, stage this fresh version for a short run at the Rose Theatre in Kingston.

The story is transposed to a modern setting in modern costume with a quirky ethereal feel with only the setting of the ship's cabin where Frankenstein meets Captain Ralf Wile (Francis Reffern) 300 miles from the coast in an ice flow has a sense of period. McConville cleverly retains the essence and structure of the original story while he weaves in many modern themes with references to Alzheimer's, Parkinson disease, Kurdish mercenaries, pestilence, refugees in Europe, terrorism, loneliness, grief, suicide and computers. The video of humanities horrors committed on others provides a strong underpinning of the underlying themes in the book. It makes for an fresh take on the story with a wonderful twist towards the end that though hinted at along the way provides an intriguing conclusion. 

Friday, 19 April 2019

REVIEW: All You Need is Love at Cadogan Hall

Flying Entertainment, the producers of All you need is love , are building a portfolio of tribute shows building on the success of their West End hit, Thriller (now in its 10th year) and this latest addition combines the musical talents of some of the West End cast of Let it be with the National Philharmonic Concert Orchestra to produce the concert that never happened with the Beatles performing many songs that they never sang on stage together. In all they present nearly forty songs from the extensive and varied Beatles catalogue over the two hour show.

This is a celebration of the Beatles songs and the focus is on the music with the orchestra enhancing the sound of the Fab Four. In Cadogan Hall, the fifth show of the current ten venue tour, the set, animated graphics on the large screen and colour washes of moving lights were disappointing and well short of the publicity blurb description of a spectacular multi media concert. Only occasionally do the graphics add something as in the sixties street scene projected behind "the long and winding road'. But in the end it does not matter as the music is enough and when the full orchestra backs the boys it is a wonderful rich well balanced sound.

The performers present a passing resemblance to the original stars with the help of a variety of wigs, occasional moustaches and studied mannerisms but they capture the Liverpudlian roots of the the sound with each getting at least a couple of turns on lead vocals.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

REVIEW: Finders Keepers at the Park 90 Theatre

Hot Coals Theatre is celebrating their 5th anniversary with a residency at the Park 90 theatre in Finsbury Park for the month of April. This innovative and imaginative duo of Jo Sargeant and Claire-Louise English are creating a reputation for excellent physical theatre and clowning and their latest show Finders Keepers will appeal to all ages. 

Directed by Caroline Parker MBE, in this production they play a father and a daughter living in a junkyard whose daily routine is disrupted by an unexpected delivery and together they have created an integrated (d) deaf accessible show which is charming and touching to watch and full of good physical gags and business. Jo and Clare-Louise delight in playing the cartoonish twits and without words convey their story and emotions while interacting gently both with a cute puppet and with the audience. In particular a charming sequence when they react to audience laughter and silently ask for quiet to let the puppet sleep which simply creates more laughter.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

REVIEW: Evita at the New Wimbledon Theatre

Evita premiered in 1978 in London’s West End, making a star and legend out of Elaine Paige who starred in the title role. Since then such woman as Patti LuPone, Siobhán McCarthy, Madonna, Louise Dearman, Rachael Wooding and Elena Roger have tackled this mammoth of a role. And now its Emma Hattons turn, fresh from her acclaimed run as Elphaba in the London production of WICKED. And not only does she knock it out of the park, she knocks it out of this world! 

Emma Hatton brings so much to the role of Eva, at the start she sounded a little too poppy for the score but as the story went on she sang beautifully. Her ‘Don’t cry for me Argentina’ was simple but stunning. I’ve never experienced tension like that in a theatre. You could hear a pin drop. And for such a tiny lady, she sure has a huge stage presence. Make sure you catch this girl in this show, a performance I’ll remember for a long time.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

REVIEW: Dead Simple at The Mill at Sonning

The theatre at the Mill at Sonning offers Dinner Theatre for up to 215 people and always presents an appealing season of plays. First up this year is an adaptation of a Peter James’s novel set in Brighton and based around his detective superintendent Roy Grace, first presented at the Dartford Orchard Theatre in 2015 followed by a nationwide tour.  Peter James’s novels detective mysteries with twist and turns that are said to mean you can’t put the book down. This tale certainly keeps you guessing.

This story is based around the stag night prank on Michael Harrison that goes horribly wrong and sets up an ever changing set of events that spiral towards the dramatic conclusion.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

REVIEW: Death Takes a Holiday at Charing Cross Theatre

It's the year 1922, a wealthy family is driving home after celebrating the engagement of Grazia (Zoë Doano) and Corrado (Ashley Stillburn) when, due to excessive speed, the young bride-to-be is thrown out the car. Seconds before the crash, we see her standing on the seat in a black lace dress of gothic flavour, defying the wind with her arms outstretched and singing the uplifting 'In the middle of Your Life' with the rest of the company. Astonishingly, she survives the accident unscathed, landing safely in the arms of a nameless man dressed in black. Her carefree attitude has unwittingly seduced Death (Chris Peluso) and he decides to take a weekend off to spend it with Grazia at the family's villa in northern Italy. Assuming the human features of prince Nikolai Sirki from Minsk, Death strives to grasp the meaning of love and will soon find out that this feeling is even stronger that death itself.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

REVIEW: Sunny Afternoon: The Kinks Musical at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking

Fresh from its run at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London’s West End, Sunny Afternoon, the hit musical based on the music of The Kinks launched it new tour at Woking’s New Victoria Theatre in outstanding fashion.

Sunny Afternoon was the recipient of four awards at the 2015 Olivier Awards including Best New Musical and Outstanding Achievement in Music for Ray Davies. Sunny Afternoon features some of The Kinks best-loved tracks including You Really Got Me, Lola, Waterloo Sunset, Tired of Waiting For You, Sunny Afternoon, Dedicated Follower of Fashion and more!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

REVIEW: Wicked the Musical at the Apollo Victoria Theatre

It is not often you find someone unfamiliar with the story of Wicked, but as I took my seat in the middle of the stalls in Row H, I was greeted by a lovely couple who had travelled down from Durham to see the show. They told me their daughter lived locally to the Apollo Victoria Theatre and had insisted that while they were visiting her, 'Wicked' was the show to see, but they had no idea what they were in for. "Is this a musical or a play?" they asked... I proceeded to tell them this was not my first visit to the musical, and that I had previously seen Emma Hatton (Elphaba) when she was stand-by for the role back in April 2014, and that even when she was so new to the show, she blew me away. I assured them they were in for a real treat, and I was absolutely right. 

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Liza (on an E): Theatre Review

Liza Menelli is playing the Vaudeville Theatre! Well... Kinda! Australian star Trevor Ashley brings his hit cabaret show, Liza on an E, to the West End for the first time. Having previously been a hit in other countries it was just a matter of time before it came over to London. In this show Liza (Ashley) covers subjects from her mother to film appearances to her marriages. 
This controversial show is so well put together and is the perfect length, before hand I thought it was going to be a drag queen singing songs for two hours but it wasn’t like that at all! The two act show is about 2 hour and 10 minutes in total but doesn’t feel like that at all, at no point did I get bored.  This show will have you trying to catch your breath through laughter at some points but also completely drawn into the emotion Trevor Ashley portrays on stage in songs like ‘Losing My Mind’. His impersonation of Liza is astonishing, if you closed your eyes you would barley know any difference. But this isn’t just a tribute or impression show, its also some what of a piss take! The way he would use Liza’s signature giggle and hand gestures were just hilarious. 

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Desperately Seeking the Exit: Review

Desperately Seeking the Exit is a self exposing, one man show about what happened behind the scenes on the musical Desperately Seeking Susan which is based on the 1985 film of the same name; the show premiered in 2007 at the Novello Theatre. It received negative reviews across the board and just fifteen days after opening it announced its closing date. Over recent years new musicals have really struggled in London and in this show Peter Michael Marino opens his heart to the audience and tells how his baby was twisted and changed to be something completely different and the story of its downfall.
Its hard for anyone to open up about anything personal but opening up about something that flopped so publicly and to complete strangers much be extraordinarily hard. I struggle to call this a stand up show because its more than that, its not just a man standing there telling jokes; Its an insight as to what really happened and what his role was in the creation and the over throw of the show. There is still a part of me that wanted him to go in deeper, I wanted to know some of the darker things about some of the struggles he must have faced whilst trying to put this musical on and it felt like he had held somethings back which, to be honest, is completely understandable because the type of audience he is attracting here in London are the type of people that could turn around and say “thats my friend you’re talking about” so I can see why somethings have been left out of it! 

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. 

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time: Theatre Review

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Bit of a mouth full isn’t it?! Based on the much loved novel by Mark Haddon, This recent National Theatre production had a majorly successful run at the Cottesloe. The production was also shown throughout cinemas worldwide in the National Theatre Live programme. The production has now transferred to the Apollo Theatre in London’s West End and has extended its initial run by 14 weeks, now finishing on the 31st August.  
This touching story is about 15 year old Christopher who has Asperger Syndrome, one of his neighbours Dogs gets killed and he decides to become a detective and find out who did this, along the way he finds out things he wish he never knew and also finds his mother. Although Christopher has Asperger Syndrome it is never actually said in the play, I think it’s very important that as an audience you don’t watch the play knowing he has this otherwise it becomes an observing experience. The clever thing that Simon Stephens has clearly done in his adaptation of the production is to not make reference to it, as an audience you can clearly see this fact about Christopher but by this not being pointed out you can then freely go on the journey with the character and the experience of watching the play becomes an emotional experience and one that means you can really understand this fascinating boy.  

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Burn The Floor: Theatre Review

Burn the Floor was originally conceived after a special performance for Elton John’s 50th Birthday in 1997 and two years later the show made its world premiere in the UK in Bournemouth. Since then it has played in over 300 cities. The show played the Shaftesbury Theatre in 2010 between the closing of Hairspray and the opening of Flashdance and has now returned thirteen years after it originally opened in the UK to fill the theatre before ‘From Here to Eternity’ opens in October. 
The show is made up of a selection of all different dances, from Rumba to Jive and The Waltz to the Tango. This sassy production provides a range of beautifully executed dances that will make you want to join them up there. The energy that was oozing off that stage was tremendous. Although the show doesn’t have any sort of narrative as a whole it still is a fabulous showcase of the astounding dancing skills that were on that stage. 

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Singin' in the Rain the Musical: Theatre Review

Based on the 1952 film of the same name, Singin’ in the Rain has been running at the beautiful Palace Theatre since February of last year. The musical has announced that it will close after a year and a half in the West End in August 2013 and will embark on a UK Tour and will return to its original home, The Chichester Festival Theatre, for a limited run. Everyone knows the classic Hollywood film starring Debbie Reynolds and Gene Kelly; it has to be one of the best musical films of all time. This production of the show does it justice! Following the story of silent Movie star, Don Lockwood, and how he, his best friend (Cosmo Brown) and his new girlfriend (Kathy Sheldon) must save this new ‘talkie’ movie so Lina Lamont doesn’t humiliate the studio. I’m not going to say anymore as I’m sure you’re familiar with the plot, but if you’re not then go checkout my review of the original cast by clicking here. Not going to lie, the story isn’t the most thrilling plot but it’s not meant to be; its light entertainment. Nacio Herrb Brown and Arthur Freed’s music and lyrics are beautiful; the full score oozes the classic Hollywood feel and is very pleasant to listen to.
Simon Higlett is the designer on the production, the set doesn’t really change throughout the whole show apart from minor changes but this really works, it’s a no fuss design that works in every location. Higlett has obviously taken into consideration every feature of the show and has catered it to work with them and it is faultless.


Sunday, 24 February 2013

Top Hat the Musical: Theatre Review

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers created the roles of Jerry Travers and Dale Tremont in the 1935 film of Top Hat, that one sentence would make anyone think ‘why hasn’t this been made into a musical sooner?!’. But in late 2011 the musical premiered at the Milton Keynes Theatre before embarking on a UK Tour and after that the show transferred to the Aldwych Theatre in London’s West End in April 2012. The show opened with Tom Chambers and Summer Strallen in the lead roles (With Charlotte Gooch taking over Strallen in November 2012) and since opening it has an almost entire new cast.
I've never seen the movie before nor do I know anything about the plot so going along to see this musical was pretty exciting for me. Jerry Travers (Gavin Lee) is a Broadway star and comes over to London to open a new show. Whilst there he stays with Horace Hardwick (Clive Hayward) who is producing the show, whilst in their hotel he awakes Dale Tremont (Kristen Beth Williams) who is staying below them and Jerry instantly falls in love with her, however she mistakes him for Horace who is her friend Madge’s new husband so she gets very disturbed when she realises this because they’ve basically fallen in love. They all go (separately) to Italy where Dale confronts Madge about this and after lots of tap dancing and plenty of scene changes the whole thing gets resolved.


Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Cabaret the Musical: Theatre Review


The premier production of Cabaret opened on Broadway in 1966 with a US Tour and a West End production opening in 1968. The iconic film starring Liza Minnelli was released in 1972 after the success of the musical. After three West End revivals and two Broadway revivals the show returns to London, playing at the Savoy Theatre after a short UK tour. The musical is based on the play ‘I am a Camera’ which was adapted from the novel ‘Goodbye to Berlin’.
The story focuses on nightlife at the Kit Kat Club in World War II Germany following the relationship between English Cabaret performer Sally Bowles and American writer Cliff Bradshaw.
This recent revival reunites the creative team from the 2006 London revival at the Lyric Theatre, however they’ve re-imagined the show and given it a new life but stuck to the original idea that they put together for their last production. Rufus Norris really understand this production and what he wants to give to the audience, he’s presented an intelligent but entertaining piece which presents the story in a way in which the audience are completely engaged and the links he has created between the Kit Kat Club and 1931 Germany is astonishing.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Loserville the Musical: Theatre Review

Loserville is a new musical written by James Bourne and Elliot Davis, the show previously played at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds and ran from the 18thJune to 14thJuly 2012. The musical then announced that it would transfer to the Garrick Theatre in London's West End, opening on the 1stOctober. The show tells the story of 17 Year Old Michael Dork who is obsessed with computers. He and his friends are the losers of the school which is run by the 'popular kids', Eddie and his girlfriend Leia. Then a new girl comes to the school, Holly, who is also a geek. She starts working with Michael on his computer project and she gives Michael the credit he deserves whilst also falling in love with him. It's the classic 'High School Musical' and 'Glee' storyline, very cheesy. I honestly thought I'd hate this show, I added up everything I had heard, all the things I'd seen and the way it had been marketed in my head and that made me have my doubts about the show. However it impressed me!

Spamalot the Musical: Theatre Review

Spamalot is a musical comedy which has been “lovingly ripped off” from the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail. As much as it stays true to the Monty Python legacy it also is packed with jokes about musicals, TV and the music industry which means there is definitely something for everyone in this show. The original Broadway production opened in early 2005, closing four years later. The West End production opened in September 2006 in the Palace Theatre, this production closed only a week before the Broadway production closed (January 2009). A UK Tour was planned in 2009 but this was cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances however the tour went ahead the following year. The UK Tour finished mid 2012 and transferred back to the West End, playing at the Harold Pinter Theatre and later transferring to the Playhouse Theatre.Other productions have opened in Las Vegas, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Hungary, Sweden, France and loads of other places!
The show follows King Arthur and his knights on their journey to find the Holy Grail. The show has been scaled down a lot from the original production, just one set with a few small changes. Even though Hugh Durrant’s designs are very ‘panto’, it still fits in with the context of the musical. So even though it’s got a very cheap feeling to it, it still works. The only thing that is sacrificed is the dramaticness of the Lady of the Lake entrance which was, if I’m honest, dreadful. Eric Idle has done a brilliant job with the Book, Lyrics and Music (music with John Du Prez), they’re genius! It is truly a Musical Comedy, possibly one of the funniest musicals ever to be written.

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